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82 posts from February 2010

February 22, 2010

Green Your ZZZs: Eco-Mattresses

Buy a greener mattress 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 #1: Sleep on a Green Bed

The next time you buy a new mattress, consider investing in a model made with organic cotton and wool. A natural latex core made from rubber trees is a better choice than a petroleum-based polyurethane core. Planet Green's list of green mattresses and a helpful chart from the New York Times are two resources for navigating the world of eco-mattresses.

Tip #2: Opt for Organic Sheets

Tip #3: Use Extra Blankets in Winter

Tip #4: Opt for Greener Night Lights

Share your tips: Have you found a comfy eco-mattress?

February 19, 2010

Daily Roundup: February 19, 2010

Deadline: Australia will challenge Japan in an international court if the country does not meet a November deadline to halt whaling operations near Antarctica. Reuters and LA Unleashed

Shore Saviors: Oregon lawmakers passed a 10-year moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling along state coastal waters. Los Angeles Times

Give and Take: New "vehicle to grid" (V2G) technology was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. V2G could use plug-in hybrid electric cars to help store excess power from wind and solar suppliers. Scientific American

The Vegetarian's Dilemma: A recent study found that a vegetarian diet of imported, processed meat substitutes is more harmful to the environment than a diet that includes locally raised beef. Telegraph and Green LA Girl

Ants Marching: Scientists using cell phone data to trace people's movements found that individuals' locations can be predicted about 93 percent of the time. The study could help urban planners create more efficient transportation and energy grids. New Scientist

--Della Watson

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered. . . Green

Ford Transit Connect Electric Image We're all for transporting people and packages by bicycle, but there's no denying delivery trucks are a crucial component of modern life. Luckily, a steady trend toward fleet-greening means that deliveries ranging from pizza to eBay purchases may arrive with a lighter carbon footprint.

UPS started adding hybrid vehicles to its U.S. fleet in 2006 while going electric in Europe in 2008. FedEx has also greened its European fleet with trucks from British electric vehicle manufacturer Modec. The United States Post Office recently contracted Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide to produce an electric mail-delivery truck. In some cities, even pizza delivery has gone electric.

What's next? Ford Motor Company recently unveiled its Transit Connect Electric (pictured above). The zero-emissions van, which is ideal for short-range routes and stop-and-go driving, seems like a good bet for small-business owners who want to go green. Expected to hit the market in late 2010, the Transit Connect Electric could mean that even more deliveries will be easy on the earth.

--Della Watson

Author Pamela Brodowsky on Eco-Tourism

Ecotourists Save the World Sipping a margarita poolside certainly has its charms, but what about using your next vacation to track gazelles in South Africa or to  study fur seals on Alaska's St. George Island? Pamela K. Brodowsky, author of Destination Wildlife and Barbaro: A Nation's Love Story has outlined these trips, plus 298 others in her new travel guide, Ecotourists Save the World: The Environmental Volunteer's Guide to More Than 300 International Adventures to Conserve, Preserve, and Rehabilitate Wildlife and Habitats, which will be released by Perigee April 6. We spoke to Brodowsky about some of her family's eco-conscious travel adventures.

Q: What inspired you to write Ecotourists Save the World?

A: A family trip to Assateague Island triggered Destination Wildlife and has been the inspiration for all these wildlife books. It ended up being such a great trip and my kids were so entertained. Camping and just being there with the wild ponies, they were completely content. Seeing that firsthand made me want to look into it more, and since then we’ve been basing all of our trips on wildlife and conservation. You get a lot more from these working vacations. They’re inspirational. They’re relaxing. Sharing that experience with kids is something everyone should do.

Continue reading "Author Pamela Brodowsky on Eco-Tourism" »

Government Goes Green

White House The federal government is the largest single consumer of energy in the country. Taxpayers ensure that federal vehicles' gas tanks are full and the lights and heat stay on in government buildings.

President Obama hopes to save money and lead the country to a cleaner energy future by making the federal government a model. In October, he signed an executive order requiring that the government reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 28 percent over the next decade. 

Obama also asked federal employees to participate in the GreenGov Challenge, through which they can submit practical ideas about improving sustainability and energy efficiency at government facilities. Yesterday, in a video posted on the White House's blog, Obama describes how successful the project has been thus far and calls on employees to put their ideas into action. The public is allowed to view the site (but not contribute), so even if you’re not a federal employee, head over to get some ideas for greening your own workplace. While you're at it, also check out our tips for an eco-friendlier office.

--Sophie Matson

Movie Review Friday: Lithium Springs

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 review of 100 or fewer words and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Lithium Springs (2007)

Available on DVD

Director Carter Lord stars as the free-spirited, treasure-searching adventurer Evanrude Jones, whose mission to find Ponce de León's treasure and the Fountain of Youth becomes intertwined with the struggle to preserve one of Florida’s littlest known but longest standing natural habitats. 

Jones is accompanied by Fred, a loyal, feisty Dachshund who lives up to the “man’s best friend” label, whether by attacking an abusive police officer or keeping lookout while Evanrude digs for fortune. Fred proves to be Jones’s voice of reason: His puppy eyes and whimpers persuade Evanrude to save one of Florida's hidden treasures just as unimaginable wealth is within reach. 

This award-winning indie flick is a lighthearted, family-friendly soft comedy with a clear and strong environmental message for all ages, especially young children.

--Nicholas Mukhar

February 18, 2010

Daily Roundup: February 18, 2010

Green Tea: Tetley, the world’s second biggest tea company, plans to source all its tea from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms by 2016. Every day, 75 million cups of Tetley tea are consumed. Reuters

Dirty Trillions:  A U.N. study says that the world’s largest companies were responsible for about $2.2 trillion in damage to the environment in 2008. Greenhouse-gas emissions accounted for more than half of the total. Guardian

Bye-Bye Boer: Yvo de Boer, the U.N. official who led contentious international climate-change negotiations for four years, will resign his post in July. Los Angeles Times

Primate Plight: Nearly half of the world’s 634 primate species are in danger of extinction due to poaching, the illegal wildlife trade, and destruction of tropical forests, according to a report issued today. Environmental News Service

Counting on the Courts: Industry groups, conservative think tanks, lawmakers, and three states have filed challenges to the EPA's "endangerment" finding for greenhouse gases. They argue that EPA regulations will harm the economy. EPA officials respond that they are required by law to begin regulating emissions. New York Times

--Wendy Becktold

Hannah Teter, Gold-Medal Snowboarder, Carves a Meaningful Life

Hannah Teter You'd expect a gold-medal snowboarder to be confident, outgoing, brassy, even. And Hannah Teter who won the halfpipe competition in Torino and is competing again tonight to defend her title is all that. What you might not expect is for her to donate her Olympic winnings ($25,000), plus all her other prize money since 2008 (almost $75,000 from some 10 events), to charity. While growing up in Belmont, Vermont, a town she says had "more deer than people," Teter, 23, developed a reverence for the greater world.

She won her gold medal at 19, an age she calls "an interesting time to peak," and immediately started looking for something more to do with her life. It was around then that she began sponsoring Kirindon, a Kenyan village of about 60,000, supplementing her contest earnings with proceeds from selling Vermont maple syrup and organic wristbands at hannahsgold.com. Because of her, Kirindon's residents should have consistent access to clean water by 2011.

She took time out of her training schedule (and from responding to the hubbub about her recent Sports Illustrated photo shoot) to answer our questions.

Q: Why the interest in Africa?

A: It's a humanitarian issue. Every 15 seconds someone dies of a water-related disease. Clean water is such a treasure that we take for granted in America. One of the goals is to equip all of Kirindon with sanitary water, using wells, boreholes, and rainwater catchments.

Q: Do you view humanitarian issues as environmental issues?

A: They are interconnected for sure. The earth is one big interconnected entity. If you hurt a piece, you hurt the whole. If you hurt the people, you hurt the environment. They end up polluting more. The issues swap back and forth.

Q: As a cold-weather athlete, are you particularly concerned about climate change?

A: As a winter athlete, I'm concerned, but I'm more concerned for reasons outside the snow-sport industry. I'm concerned for the global population, for everyone. No one is really paying enough attention. It's hard to make everyone aware of what's going on because of our unsustainable ways. Africa's tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, now has no snow.

Q: Given your affinity for mountains, how do you feel about mountaintop-removal mining?

A: Ugh! I feel like we're still barbarians when I see mountaintops getting blown up and rivers being destroyed. They go in and coal is the only thing on their mind. Coal, coal, coal. If people were more aware of all the bad things that come from it, it would quickly be made illegal. It's unreal, but it's happening. Hopefully we can make it not happen. It just takes everyone wanting it and voicing their opinion.

Continue reading "Hannah Teter, Gold-Medal Snowboarder, Carves a Meaningful Life" »

Hispanics Living Green

Book-hispanics-living-green A new book called Hispanics Living Green, by Sharon T. Freeman, details the community- and family-based relationship between Hispanic culture and the earth through stories of people who have steered environmental action away from individualism.

Sifting through its pages, you meet people like organic farmer Chris Velez, who has accepted the need of balance between conventional agriculture and organic farming. Sierra Club columnist Javier Sierra also contributes his story.

--Nicholas Mukhar

Black History Month: Public Transit

Bus seats February is Black History Month, so this week we're pairing notable events in African American history with a related green tip.

Event: On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white person. Later, she said, "I did not get on the bus to get arrested. I got on the bus to go home."

Tip #3: Parks proved that taking transit could be a political act. Make your own statement by staying as car-free as possible: Each year, public transportation in America saves 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Google Maps now provides easy-to-follow public-transit directions.

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