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82 posts from February 2010

February 24, 2010

Green Biz: What's a Carrotmob?

Carrotmob In 2008, K&D Market, a small liquor store in San Francisco, found itself with an unusual problem: too many customers. A line for the lone cash register spilled out the door and around the block. The overflow came courtesy of Carrotmob, a recent form of activism focused on patronizing businesses that promise to improve their environmental efforts.

Carrotmob creator Brent Schulkin believes consumers can employ "organized spending" to influence business practices. He approached 23 San Francisco liquor store owners with a proposal: Using the Internet, personal contacts, and publicity outlets, he'd rally a burst of customers to the store that pledged to divert the largest percentage of a day's profits toward ecofriendly improvements. K&D won, with a promise of 22 percent.

Continue reading "Green Biz: What's a Carrotmob?" »

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Evolution

Books about environmentalismEvery Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week, we're recommending books about Darwin and evolution.

Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation (by Michael Keller; illustration by Nicolle Rager Fuller, Rodale, $19, Sept. 2009): If you’ve always wanted to read Darwin’s seminal work but are a little intimidated by the prospect, this illustrated version provides a fun alternative. Using a graphic-novel format, the book explores the tenets of Darwin’s theory while also relaying the story of his early scientific exploration and delving into the influence of his work.

What On Earth Evolved?: 100 Species That Changed the World (by Christopher Lloyd, Bloomsbury, $45, Nov. 2009): This hefty tome is the high school biology textbook you wish you’d had. Using interesting anecdotes and clever historical and cultural references, Lloyd explores evolutionary theory by way of the 100 most influential organisms, from smallpox to the potato to the sperm whale, always emphasizing the species’ modern relevance and impact.

The Young Charles Darwin (by Keith Thompson, Yale University Press, $28, Jan. 2009): Why was Darwin able to successfully understand evolution when many scientists had failed? This biography attempts to answer that question through the exploration of his early education as a medical and theology student, as well as his five years aboard the HMS Beagle. Through close analysis of Darwin’s notebooks and early drafts of Origins, Thompson provides an engaging analysis of the development of scientific genius.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Evolution" »

Green Your ZZZs: Stay Warm with Blankets

Use fabric scraps to make a quiltYou may spend a third of your life sleeping, so you might as well snooze in a bedroom that's healthy and eco-friendly. This week, we'll give you tips for a greener night's sleep.

Tip #3: Use Extra Blankets in Winter

Save energy and money by turning down the thermostat and throwing an extra blanket on the bed. As with sheets, look for natural, organic fibers when purchasing a new blanket. Even better, skip the "new" part and make your own quilt from recycled sweaters. 

Share your tips: Have you found a great place to buy eco-friendly quilts?

February 23, 2010

Daily Roundup: February 23, 2010

Take Two: In April, the U.N. will reconvene in Bonn, Germany, to resume the negotiations that began in Copenhagen regarding an international climate-change treaty. Washington Post and AFP

Villain Village:
A new study shows that sexual predators converge in cities that play host to the oil and gas industries. Up to three times as many such criminals settle in those areas as they do in nearby tourist or farming towns. Nature

Two Birds, One Shot:
Three of the world’s 330 or so remaining California condors died of lead poisoning after eating the carcasses of animals shot by hunters using lead bullets. Los Angeles Times

Acid Influx: According to new research, the world’s oceans have become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution, having absorbed a third of human-caused carbon emissions. Scientific American

Good Judgment:
American Idol judge Simon Cowell has agreed to give up eating meat one day each week. Ecorazzi

--Avital Binshtock

Arguing With a Climate-Change Skeptic? There's an App for That.

SkepSci_hirez2 If you find yourself in an argument with a climate-change skeptic, you can find the perfect riposte just a few taps away on your iPhone. Skeptical Science, a site that compiles peer-reviewed research about climate change, is now available as an iPhone and iPod app.

If the skeptic you encounter presents a specific argument, know that Skeptical Science offers evidence to rebut the ten most common claims, including “The climate has changed before,” “There's no consensus,” and “Models are unreliable.” 

You can also search for a rebuttal via three main argument categories: “It’s not happening,"  “It’s not us," or “It’s not bad.” After you make your selection, you'll get a summary of the skeptic’s argument, a summary of the scientific research about the subject, and links to detailed graphs and academic papers.

--Jessi Phillips

Great Green Hotel Guides

Green hotel Thinking about a quick getaway this spring? Consider spending the weekend after Earth Day in an eco-friendly hotel to celebrate everything our planet provides. Those boutique eco-hotels can get pretty pricey, though, which is why Travelzoo is launching a new section of their site which pairs green-seeking travelers with the best deals on LEED-certified hotels.

Travelzoo is adding the section because, after conducting a consumer survey, they concluded that most Americans would be happy to stay at eco-friendly hotels, but only if they cost the same as the non-green alternatives. The site goes up April 1 in honor of Earth Day (which is April 22), but you can get a sneak preview now, and mark the date so you’ll remember to check out travelzoo.com/green when it launches.

Want a green hotel guide to tide you over until then? Try It’s a Green Green World, a site that provides hundreds of detailed reviews for destinations across the globe. Also check out the Green Hotels Association (which we've recommended before). And since traveling isn’t always the greenest of endeavors, we’ve also provided some tips for eco-friendlier vacations.

--Sophie Matson

Green Your ZZZs: Sustainable Sheets

Sleep easy on organic sheets You may spend a third of your life sleeping, so you might as well snooze in a bedroom that's healthy and eco-friendly. This week, we'll give you tips for a greener night's sleep. 

 Tip #2: Opt for Organic Sheets

Skip the petrochemical-derived synthetic bedding by choosing natural-fiber sheets. Sustainable fibers include untreated organic cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo. Sheets marked "permanent press" or "no iron" may have been treated with formaldehyde, so embrace wrinkles to avoid the chemicals. If you purchase new sheets, remember that your old sheets can be reused as cleaning rags or made into draft snakes

Share your tips: What type of sheets do you prefer?

February 22, 2010

Daily Roundup: February 22, 2010

Fishy Refusal: Japan plans to ignore any ban emplaced on the fishing and trading of bluefin tuna, even if the initiative comes from the U.N.; the nation consumes about 80 percent of the bluefin tuna caught in the Mediterranean Sea. New York Times

Secondhand Smog: A new study says that ozone pollution produced in Asia is wafting over to the U.S., making it harder for Americans to keep their air clean. Kansas City Star

3 R’s – Plus an E:
California approved a new environment-centric curriculum. Beginning this spring, elementary through high school students will get an environmental education during science and history classes. Teachers will have free online access to the curriculum. About.com

Cleaning Time:
Yesterday, the EPA unveiled a five-year, $475-million restoration plan to clean the Great Lakes of pollution and invasive species including Asian carp. The plan will require annual progress reports to determine whether adequate progress is being made. Los Angeles Times

Further crystallizing Avatar’s strong environmental message, director James Cameron says that the DVD and Blu-ray of the smash-hit film will be released on Earth Day, April 22. Ecorazzi

--Avital Binshtock

Tea, Green: 5 Experts Serve Up Their Favorite Eco-Friendly Brews

Tea is humanity's oldest flavored beverage and remains its most popular. The fragrant leaves have linked hemispheres, spawned revolutions, and inspired religious rituals. But the global tea industry also has an ugly history of deforesting, damaging biodiversity, and overusing pesticides. To promote more-enlightened sipping and, by extension, production we at Sierra magazine beseeched five tea experts to name their most preferred brew. As with last issue's coffee connoisseurs, we imposed two caveats: They couldn't plug a product to which they have financial ties, and the endorsed tea had to come from a company immersed in environmentally responsible practices. Here are their recommendations.

David KarrDAVID KARR is the cofounder and director of Sebastopol, California's Guayakí, the top North American seller of yerba maté. His teas are organic, rainforest-safe, fair-trade certified, and produced with solar power.Ten Tea

"TEN TEA's Organic Oolong is from Wuyi Mountain in China's Fujian Province and a favorite among gong fu tea drinkers. This handpicked oolong is organic, which is rare in the world of oolong teas but gaining in popularity. Prepare the tea according to the instructions and the resulting infusion will be full-bodied with floral notes and a long, nutty finish." Organic Oolong, $11.50 for 4 oz.

Continue reading "Tea, Green: 5 Experts Serve Up Their Favorite Eco-Friendly Brews" »

Green Fashion Monday: Upcycled Tees

Looptworkstee-sm 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.

Looking to bulk up your T-shirt collection? Check out these comfy ones from Looptworks, a company that pledges not to use any new material in its manufacturing process. Instead, it rescues excess material to produce its line of tees and other apparel, a process that's increasingly being called "upcycling." (The average textile factory produces 60,000 pounds of preconsumer waste per week!) Quantities of each print depend on the amount of fabric available, rendering each T-shirt a limited edition. $28.

--Wendy Becktold

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