The Green Life:

« July 2009 | Main | September 2009 »

80 posts from August 2009

August 31, 2009

Daily Roundup: August 31, 2009

They're Watching You: The U.S. Building Council, which oversees LEED certification for sustainable design and building, announced that it will begin monitoring energy and water bills from its certified buildings. New York Times

The Silver Lining: New data released by the European Union shows a 1.3 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 2007 to 2008. The global recession may be a factor, as industrial output also declined during that time. Reuters

Wait for It: U.S. senators will have to wait a bit longer to hash out a climate bill. The delay of the bill's introduction is due to a number of factors including Ted Kennedy's death, John Kerry's hip replacement surgery, and the debate over health care reform. AFP

Trashy Fashion: British celebrity Heather Mills launched her recycled fashion line. Treehugger and Ecorazzi

The E-Books Edge: A study by the Cleantech Group found that using a Kindle is less carbon-intensive than buying new books. San Francisco Chronicle

--Della Watson

Pittsburgh Shows Its Green Side for G-20

Pittsburgh is going green This September 24, the G-20 economic summit is coming to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Why Pittsburgh? The midsize city, known for its historic ties to the steel industry and a little problem with soot pollution, has recently remade itself as a hub for green jobs. The White House said that Pittsburgh was chosen to host the G-20 for its "commitment to employing new and green technology to further economic recovery and development," reported the Wall Street Journal.

Pittsburghgreenstory.org describes the steel city's metamorphosis: "Pittsburgh, once declared 'hell with the lid taken off,' has undergone one of the most dramatic environmental transformations in American history and is now one of the greenest cities in the nation."

Visitors will see this transformation in some of Pittsburgh's greenest buildings. The G-20 will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which opened in 2003 and is the first and largest convention center to score gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Delegates will also attend a welcome reception at the Phipps Conservatory, a historic structure that was recently updated and now boasts the first LEED-certified visitor center in a public garden, green rooftops, a passive cooling system, and symbiotic heating systems.

--Della Watson

Spamming the Globe

Spam pollutes Until now, we've thought of spam as virtual pollution. It turns out that all those annoying e-mails blight not only our inboxes but also the atmosphere. According to a report by McAfee, maker of spam-blocking software, Americans got 62 trillion junk e-mails in 2008.

All those male-enhancement testimonials and Nigerian investment opportunities wasted enough electricity to power 2.4 million U.S. homes for a year. The three seconds it takes to review and delete a spam message emits a 0.3-gram puff of carbon dioxide -- equal to driving a car three feet. Americans collectively spend 100 billion aggravating hours per year shedding unwanted e-mails.

--Avital Binshtock

Green Your Fashion Sense: Tees

Green tees A few months ago, we gave you advice about how to green your wardrobe. This week’s tips, about how to green your fashion sense, are different in that they recommend specific brands in specific fashion categories.

Tip #1: Tees

Everyone needs a few good t-shirts. An indie brand called Holiday Matinee sells tag-free organic-cotton ones printed with hip designs. The best part? For every shirt purchased, 20 trees are planted; 100 percent of proceeds go to Plant-It 2020. Other good-for-the-earth brands include Thomas Hillman, Revenge Is…, Tees for Change, and Gramicci.

Starting soon, look for The Green Life’s new Fashion Monday feature. Got a green fashion product to recommend? Tell us about it and look for it in an upcoming blog post.

August 28, 2009

Daily Roundup: August 28, 2009

Bad Gas: CFCs have been largely phased out by international agreement and are on the decline. Now, say NOAA researchers, it’s time to concentrate on nitrous oxide, which may soon become the leading threat to our ozone layer. ScienceDaily

Done Coasting: Amid criticism of the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts (or lack thereof) to restore the Louisiana and Alabama coastlines, President Obama announced he will assign a federal task force to the coastal restoration. Grist and Bloomberg

Diesel Wins: The EPA awarded $20 million of Recovery Act funding to clean-diesel initiatives. ENN

Baby Talk: India should not accept "legally binding reduction targets" for its population, said the country's environment minister. Before controlling the Indian population, he suggested, Americans should learn to get along with one car instead of three. Guardian

Invasive Species: Piranhas are usually found in the Amazon basin, the Orinoco, and the rivers of the Guyanas. Which is why England’s Environment Agency was surprised to find a dead one in the Devon River. It was likely a pet dumped after outgrowing its tank. BBC

--Sarah F. Kessler

"Cool Schools" Garners Much Media Coverage, Encourages Rivalry

Cool Schools CoverWhether it comes in the form of heated cheering at football games or comparing Princeton Review rankings, healthy rivalry can help us identify with our colleges, take pride in them, even hassle them to do better. At Sierra magazine, we're happy to see rivalry extending beyond a school's touchdown average and GPA to include eco-friendliness.

Sierra's "Cool Schools" package has generated a lecture hall's worth of conversation about what what makes a school green, and what colleges should be doing to be more sustainable.

Since Sierra released its third annual review of colleges' environmental performances last Thursday, publications like the Los Angeles Times and wire services like Reuters have used it to report on the environmental successes of colleges. Blogs are abuzz, too: coverage by Grist and Treehugger have generated debate about which schools deserve to be called greenest. 

The best part about rivalry, we hope, is that it encourages schools to strive for a "cooler" rating next year, as they might aim to have a winning sports season.

Learn where your college stands, and join in the debate, at Sierra's Cool Schools page.

--Jamie Hansen

Amping Up Outside Care at Outside Lands

Green concert If you’re rocking out to Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and Jason Mraz at the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival this weekend in San Francisco, the thirst you work up dancing might inspire a new appreciation for clean water. If so, chat up the folks from the Global Water Challenge while filling up your reusable water bottle.

GWC, along with 10 other green nonprofits, will be camping out in the festival's "Eco Lands" section. While there, you can also charge your cell phone with solar power, trade recyclables for merchandise, recycle your cell phone, and attend environmental talks.

In addition to the green-themed oasis, the festival incorporates a solar-powered stage, a farmers' market, and efforts toward a high waste-diversion rate to minimize the event's impact on Golden Gate Park and the planet.  A "passport program" further encourages sustainability by rewarding people who bike or take the bus to the festival, register to vote, or volunteer.

That's enough to make even those who'd rather hike than jam think, "Rock on."

--Sarah F. Kessler

Movie Review Friday: Tapped

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Tapped (2009)

Now screening in select cities and available for preorder on DVD

If you eliminate the scourge of bottled water, you will be eliminating one of the biggest problems facing our environment. —Charles Moore, founder, Algalita, and discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Tapped is a condemnation of one of the most ubiquitous acts of consumption today, the purchase of bottled water. The scathing new documentary reveals a litany of damaging effects as it follows this environmental scourge from production to “disposal,” including the Pacific Ocean’s floating continents of plastic debris twice the size of the continental United States.

Along the way, the directors demonstrate how corporate greed combines with a lack of government oversight to allow bottled-water giants Coke and Pepsi to continue bottling water during recent droughts in Georgia and North Carolina, and encasing it in cancer-causing chemicals.

--Justin Guay

August 27, 2009

Daily Roundup: August 27, 2009

The Potter Phenomenon: Fictional character Harry Potter (and his owl, Hedwig) may have inspired an owl-adoption trend. Long-lived and difficult to care for, the owls are often abandoned, says the owner of U.K animal sanctuary that houses the rescued animals. Ecorazzi and Telegraph

Three's a Crowd: Researchers successfully created monkeys with genetic material from two mothers and one father. Washington Post

Green Light for Gas: Australia's federal environment minister Peter Garrett approved an A$50 billion liquefied natural gas project that will be the country's biggest resources development deal. Reuters and Canberra Times

The End: California will soon be out of the car manufacturing business. The state's last auto plant is scheduled to close in March. Los Angeles Times

Lead Case: More than 1,300 children in central China tested positive for lead poisoning caused by pollution from a manganese processing plant. Two environment officials are being investigated for dereliction of duty. Associated Press

--Della Watson

Energy Efficiency Means More Money for Schools

Going green saves green As the green movement continues to gain ground, students, faculty, and alums want to claim a school with excellent eco-credentials. But schools that go green receive a benefit beyond bragging rights: they can save money. According to the EPA, schools in the U.S. spend around $6 billion annually on energy bills, which is more than the combined costs of textbooks and computers. So switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off lights and computers when they're not in use, and updating heating and cooling systems benefits the environment and the bottom line. Schools in the EPA's Energy Star program use 30 to 40 percent less energy than the average educational facility. Oregon's Gresham-Barlow school district managed to save over $1.3 million with the program. With many school districts facing funding cuts, $1.3 million in savings goes a long way--it's roughly the equivalent to the fulltime salaries for 24 teachers.

--Della Watson

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top

Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2009 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.