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106 posts from October 2009

October 26, 2009

Southwest Unveils Green Plane

Southwest is trying to go green Southwest Airlines debuted its green plane last week, a Boeing 737-700 that features a 100 percent recyclable, carbon-neutral carpet, recycled seat covers, and lighter seat components. The lightweight seat covers, life vests, and foam fill will reduce the plane's load by almost five pounds per seat, making the green plane more fuel efficient. According to China View, the green plane should save about 9,500 gallons of fuel each year.

While the green plane doesn't beat the staycation for carbon savings, it is a step in the right direction. The unveiling of Southwest's new plane is only the latest greening effort in an industry that's aware of its carbon problem: In June, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) committed to a goal of carbon-neutral growth by 2020. More recently the IATA said it would approve biofuels for commercial flights by 2010. The airline industry still has a long way to go, and we're hoping that the green plane won't be its last move.

--Della Watson

Planning a trip? Before you fly, check out our tips for greener air travel.

Green Fashion Monday: Organic Panties

PACT.womens.bikini On Fashion Monday, we highlight a hip, green fashion item. Got a stylish eco-friendly product to recommend? Tell us about it and look for it in an upcoming blog post.

When greening your wardrobe, start with what's closest to your skin: your undies. Pact’s men’s and women’s underwear are made of 95% organic cotton, crafted under fair-labor conditions, and arrive in a reusable fabric bag. We love this cool, blue abstract design reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints. Best of all, 10% of the proceeds from these skivvies go toward ocean conservation. $18 to $25.

-- Année Tousseau

Green Your Halloween: Trick-or-Treat Bags

Trick or treating with a pillowcase With all the ghouls and goblins that come out for Halloween, the scariest thing by far is still the looming threat of an unsustainable world. This week’s tips are about how to slay your eco-demons on All Hallows’ Eve.

Tip #1: Bag the Plastic

When taking the little ones trick-or-treating, don’t supply them with a Halloween-decorated plastic bag or bucket. Those will likely be used only once, so choose a less wasteful option like a pillowcase or a bag that’s reusable year-round.

Tip #2: Create Vintage Costumes

Tip #3: Give Thoughtful Treats

Tip #4: Decorate Green

Tell us: How do you plan to go green on Halloween?

October 23, 2009

Daily Roundup: October 23, 2009

For the Bears: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to designate 200,000 square miles of Alaska coastline as critical habitat for the endangered polar bear. Reuters

Operation Green: Military veterans are traveling the country to advocate for a clean-energy economy with the Operation Free coalition. Forbes

Watch What You Eat: In Sweden, new labels in groceries and restaurants inform consumers of their food's carbon footprint. New York Times

Before the Storm: Philippine president Gloria Arroyo created a national Climate Change Commission to help the country prepare for natural disasters. AFP

Prepare for Takeoff: The International Air Transport Association announced that will approve biofuels for commercial flights by 2010. Breitbart

--Della Watson

Tomorrow, 350 Has a Whole New Meaning

350 350 isn’t just a number anymore -- it’s a movement. 

350 parts per million (ppm) is what scientists consider the safe upper limit for the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. We're now at a flirting-with-disaster 387 ppm. To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need get down to 350, and quick. The science is settled -- now we just need the political momentum to get it done.  

With that in mind, tomorrow, Sat., Oct. 24 has been dubbed the International Day of Climate Action. It's devoted to spreading the word about this magic number and grabbing the attention of media and world leaders as we count down to the December U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. With just a few weeks left, now isour best opportunity to make a meaningful impression on the powers that be as they finalize their negotiating positions and before they pack their bags for Denmark. And on Tuesday, the Senate is set to hold hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Bill.

Worldwide, people are planning more than 4,500 events, including rallies, parades, art exhibits, potlucks, races, film screenings, trash cleanups, and other creative actions for Saturday to show their support. Something's going on in every state; check out 350.org to search for events near you or publicize yours.

-- Année Tousseau / photo courtesy 350.org

Coal: Cheap. Abundant. Cheap.



The creative minds of Funnyordie.com are at it again with a parody of pro-coal campaigns, such as the FACES of Coal. The spoof provides a glimpse at the "wonders" of coal, which will make you laugh and then think more deeply about the fossil fuel. It starts out explaining that coal is great because it's cheap but ends with people smiling and not really knowing anything about coal. “The future is later,” one spokesperson says, who also admits that he doesn’t vote. The clueless people in the video are a reminder that we need to be more aware of how coal affects our environment and to act now and not in the future.

When the announcer says that coal is “Cheap, abundant, clean,” the words that appear on the screen are “Cheap, abundant, cheap,” a statement makes the viewer wonder about what the pro-coal campaigns are really telling us about coal and its effects. Just because coal is cheap and provides jobs doesn't mean it's a clean energy source.

Continue reading "Coal: Cheap. Abundant. Cheap." »

Eco Egos: 3 Celebs Famous For Being Green

Green celebrities No Impact Man isn't the only one capitalizing on the green movement to turn himself into a living, breathing brand name—just the latest. There's kind of a formula to it, in fact: Mix two parts desire to change the world, one part original idea of how to go about same and a dash of entrepreneurship. Then remove any fear of looking like a jackass, stir and . . . presto! You're a media phenomenon.

DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD: The privileged (of, yes, those de Rothschilds) 31-year-old Brit bought an organic farm while working in the music industry after college and seems to have been transformed by the experience. Soon thereafter, he founded Adventure Ecology, which highlights environmental issues by organizing expeditions to sensitive ecosystems. De Rothschild's team set a speed record for trekking across the Greenland icecap and he became one of just 14 people ever to have traversed Antarctica. His outdoorsmanship earned the self-styled “eco-adventurer” enough credit to be named an “Emerging Explorer” by National Geographic, and his media savvy got him a show on the Sundance Channel, Eco Trip, in which he tools around in an Outback tracing the ecological footprint of everyday items like chocolate bars and T-shirts. Next up: Sailing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on a catamaran made of recycled plastic bottles. In sum: If you like Bear Grylls, Survivorman, and Al Gore, you're gonna love David de Rothschild.

Continue reading "Eco Egos: 3 Celebs Famous For Being Green" »

Movie Review Friday: The End of Poverty?

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.

The End of Poverty? (2008)

Coming to theaters in November or sign up for information about the DVD release

The End of Poverty?, directed by Philippe Diaz and narrated by Martin Sheen, is an eye-opening look at the history of capitalism, an economic system that the film claims has created a shocking imbalance of wealth and poverty worldwide.

The documentary posits that global poverty has been a result of military conquests and slavery and colonization movements dating back to 1492 that saw the seizure of land, forced labor, and extraction of natural resources. Problems persist today because of a one-sided relationship between rich and poor nations, with the latter suffering from unfair debt, taxes, and trade.

There is no denying such a large problem that continues to spiral downward. Only 25 percent of the world consumes more than 80 percent of the planet’s resources and creates 70 percent of the pollution. If everyone lived like Americans, we'd six planets, whereas if everyone lived like they do in Burkina Faso, then only a tenth of a planet would be enough.

The film does an excellent job of illustrating an economic system that perpetuates growth of the north at the south’s expense by way of interviews with economists, activists, and poor people around the world. While watching, we get reminded that though we have glaring environmental problems to worry about because of overconsumption, many in this world are struggling just to feed their families. It's a must-see for anyone curious about how this current, unsteady economic climate arose.

--Michael Mullaley

October 22, 2009

Daily Roundup: October 22, 2009

Disbelief: The number of Americans who believe in human-caused climate change is at its lowest point in three years; a Pew poll found that only 57 percent currently do. In 2006, 77 percent did. Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Death Suggestion: Rush Limbaugh said that if the award-winning New York Times eco-reporter Andrew Revkin is so worried about humans’ impact on the planet, he should kill himself. Limbaugh also compared enviros to terrorists. NPR and Media Matters

Plane it Down: The E.U. plans to lower carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes and ships by 10 and 20 percent respectively by 2020. ENN

Windy Work:
The Southern California city of Palmdale making parking lots work double time: Their second job is to act as wind-power plants. Los Angeles Times

Magic Number:
Sixty-seven senators seem to be on board to vote “yay” on the climate bill – enough for an international climate treaty, and to pass it without concern for a filibuster. Treehugger

--Avital Binshtock

Who Knew? Saving Water Saves Energy

Saving water means saving emissions Water conservation has always been important, but people are starting to realize now that turning off the water while shaving or taking shorter showers can have even greater environmental benefits; it also reduces greenhouse-gas emissions.

Among the topics at the 2009 WaterSmart Innovations conference held earlier this month was the electricity usage for water consumption. Turning on the tap, shower, or sprinkler requires electric pumps, often run on fossil fuels, to ship the water to you. On the way out, the water requires even more energy to get treated.

This is no small matter. According to a 2005 California Energy Commission report, nearly 25 percent of America’s electricity goes to moving and treating water. While efforts are being made to improve the efficiency and eco-friendliness of municipal water and treatment plants, the most basic solution is to conserve.

Unsure of how best to conserve water at home? You can green your toilets and dishwashers (click on the links to see how) or save almost 90 glasses of water each day by simply shutting off the tap when you brush your teeth. Outdoors, you can water the yard with greywater or invest in a rainwater harvesting system.

--Michael Mullaley


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