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94 posts from June 2010

June 24, 2010

Beasts of Burden: The Best Backpacks for Two Hours — or Two Months

Whether you're headed out for a sunset stroll or a multi-month slog on the Appalachian Trail, you'll want to shoulder the latest in comfortable, Earth-minded packs. Not hooked into what's new? We've got your back.


CHICOBAG's DayPack rePETe, made of 95 percent recycled content (mainly water bottles), easily swallows a couple of snacks, a Sigg, and some sunscreen for a hike or bike ride. Back at home, you can stuff it into the small attached pouch. Other niceties include stretchy bottle pockets and a carabiner that's 97 percent recycled aluminum. ChicoBag was started in 2004 after its founder, Andy Keller, toted some trash to his local landfill and was horrified by the mountains of plastic he saw. 5.6 ounces; holds 20 liters; $20; chicobag.com


When you're up for an overnight trip, the easily compressed JANSPORT Salish keeps you light on your feet. It features a hydration tube, a padded back and belt, a detachable hood, vented shoulder straps, conveniently placed compartments, and several lashing points. JanSport raises funds for and donates gear to Big City Mountaineers, a nonprofit that takes urban teens on wilderness adventures. 59 ounces; holds 34.4 liters; $120; jansport.com/cloudripper

Continue reading "Beasts of Burden: The Best Backpacks for Two Hours — or Two Months" »

Green Teen Week: Sustainable Style

Foldedclothes Now that school's out for summer, green teens can focus more on their eco-friendly deeds. With that in mind, this week's tips are geared toward youngsters.

Tip #4: Set a Trend

Teenagers are always looking to sport the latest designer duds, but fashion trends are often short-lived. Instead of throwing away old clothes or burying them in the back of your closet, check out some of these clothes-swap sites and get involved.

Just got to buy something new? Opt for greener garb – GreenLoop is a site that pulls together hundreds of environment-conscious brands that use sustainable materials and are committed to low-impact production.

Tell us: How do you stay eco-friendly while staying in fashion?

June 23, 2010

Daily Roundup: June 23, 2010

Square One: A federal judge turned down the Obama administration’s proposal for a six-month moratorium on deep-water oil drilling; the administration says it will file an appeal as soon as possible. Los Angeles Times

Toxic Trails: California’s Gold Rush left behind minerals including lead, arsenic, and asbestos that are now proving to be harmful to hikers and bikers in the Sierra Nevada recreational areas. San Francisco Chronicle

Killing Krill: An environmental nonprofit’s decision to condone krill harvesting in already unstable Antarctica has aroused criticism. New York Times

Million-Dollar Question: West Virginia’s coal industry costs the Morgantown area $97.5 million per year, says a new study, leading citizens to question whether it's worth such a heavy price. Register-Herald

America the Beautiful: This fall, an EPA project called Greening America’s Capitals will help make all 50 state capitals, plus D.C., into more sustainable cities. ENN

--Kristin Baldwin

Carbon-Offset Cheaters in the Hot Seat

Green greed A coalition of environmental watchdog groups is calling for an investigation of the U.N.'s carbon-trading program, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), alleging that some companies are cheating the system. According to the activists, chemical manufacturers have been ramping up production of the refrigerant HFC-22, which creates the heat-trapping gas HFC-23, to sell millions of dollars of carbon-offset credits for destroying the greenhouse gas.

About 20 companies, mostly in China and India, are under scrutiny for possible CDM abuses. According to the New York Times, one CDM expert, Lambert Schneider, has data suggesting that the firms design their business models around the bogus cash flow. "What I found most astonishing," he said, "is that many of the plants produced exactly the amount [of HFC-23] where they are eligible to get credits for."

--Della Watson

Book Roundup Wednesday: Environmentalism's Past, Present, and Future

Book reviewEvery Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week we’re recommending books about the past, present, and future of environmentalism.

This Borrowed Earth: Lessons from the 15 Worst Environmental Disasters Around the World (by Robert Hernan, $12, Palgrave Macmillan, Feb. 2010) This tome recounts some of the past century's worst environmental disasters: Chernobyl, Bhopal, and Exxon Valdez included – calling attention to the greed, ignorance, and apathy that causes these events, but also the inspirational and exceptional individuals that arise to restore the damaged communities and environments. Hernan reveals the striking similarities between several of these catastrophes, shedding light on how similar calamities can be avoided in the future.

Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism (by Paul Wapner, $22, MIT Press, Mar. 2010) This book highlights the current state of nature – and it’s not pretty – arguing that the human world has encroached on every inch of the natural world. Wapner explores the idea that there's no such thing as nature itself anymore, and the implications of this on future of environmentalism. He believes, though, that the "end of nature" presents a great opportunity to bridge both ends of the environmental spectrum – those who wish to live in harmony with nature and those who seek to master it – in a way that strengthens future environmental policies.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Environmentalism's Past, Present, and Future" »

Will Overpopulation Become Less of a Problem?

Mom and baby We’ve been hearing for years that overpopulation is one of the main challenges facing the environment. Scientists say there are simply not enough resources on the planet to meet the energy needs of the 9 billion people predicted to exist by 2050.

Quietly, though, women all over the world are choosing to have fewer babies. Especially in developing countries, women are embracing their independence and pursuing careers, waiting until they’re older to have children, and having fewer of them. Modern medicine gives babies a better chance of surviving past infancy, which means that women feel that fewer pregnancies are necessary. In the U.S., the birth rate has been dropping since the 1960s, more sharply over the last few years.

A stable population may help solve environmental problems such as climate change and water scarcity, excellent news for an already-stressed planet.

--Sophie Matson

Green Teen Week: Eco-Music

Outdoor concertNow that school's out for summer, green teens can focus more on their eco-friendly deeds. With that in mind, this week's tips are geared toward youngsters.

Tip #3: Listen Up! 

Summer concerts and music festivals attract thousands of teens, but those large crowds leave a big footprint. Still want to rock on but without the eco-damage? Check out some of the big-time summer festivals - Lollapalooza, High Sierra, Bumbershoot - that incorporate green initiatives. Many artists, Maroon 5 and Jack Johnson among them, offset their tours' carbon emissions and plan for backstage recycling and compostable food ware. Here are some verdant ideas for your eco-playlist

Tell us: Who are your favorite environment-minded musicians? 

June 22, 2010

Daily Roundup: June 22, 2010

Simian Coup: A ten-year study of Ugandan chimps revealed the animals' tendency to wage war on neighboring chimp communities to expand their territory. New York Times

Vote of Conservation:
A Senate committee approved a set of preservation-oriented bills; one will establish a protected area of nearly 50 square miles in western Oregon. Greenwire

Kingly Charity: Larry King’s telethon raised $1.8 million in aid for the Gulf oil disaster. Celebrity participants included Ryan Seacrest, Cameron Diaz, Sting, and Deepak Chopra. Ecorazzi

Backing BP: At an oil-industry conference in London, execs from several companies called on Obama to lift the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. San Francisco Chronicle

Dead Wood: Despite a logging ban in Madagascar, poachers continue to cut timber from a national park in the island nation’s northwest. Authorities believe the shipments of rare, highly-coveted rosewood are headed for China. Mongabay

--Sophie Matson

Hotel Extravagance Going Green

Green hotel luxury Just when you think luxury hotels can’t get ritzier, they’re going green in ever-exclusive ways. High-class lodgings are emphasizing green gestures over greenbacks, and several, including Hyatt, have well-developed sustainability policies.

Guests of all U.S. Ritz-Carlton hotels will soon drink an estimated 5 million bottles of water annually from biodegradable, 16-ounce containers made of plant materials instead of the hotel's signature plastic version, which is being phased out of its 40 domestic and Caribbean locations.

San Francisco’s upscale Fairmont became the lavish chain’s most recent location to be equipped with bee colonies. The four hives will eventually house 50,000 bees, which will pollinate the opulent property’s culinary garden, provide honey for restaurant dishes, and, most importantly, help sustain bee populations, which have declined by 3 million colonies since 2006 in the U.S. alone.

Continue reading "Hotel Extravagance Going Green" »

Ovie Mughelli: The NFL's Green MVP

Ovie Mughelli It’s a long shot that the starting fullback for the Atlanta Falcons would care enough about the environment to spend much of his time teaching at-risk youth about its problems. But Ovie Mughelli, at 30 years old and 245 pounds, is the NFL's greenest star, aiming his eco-efforts at underprivileged kids. He hosts a free football camp to draw them in, and once he’s got their attention, puts on an environmental workshop to educate them about sustainable living.

He was studying to be a doctor before he was drafted. Now that he’s a professional athlete, he buys 40 seats per game for children who display “positive attitudes and passion to improve.” We talked to him to learn more about his commitment to young people and his passion for the environment.

Q: How do you get kids to care?

A: Inner-city kids aren't worried about the environment. They're more concerned with violence, drugs, or getting something to eat that night. They think going green is unattainable and expensive, so I tell them there are ways that actually save money, like using less water and turning off lights. I teach that they can start with practical lifestyle changes.

This message is clear for people from private schools and the suburbs, but for underprivileged kids, the message isn’t as prevalent. So I try to use football to bring kids toward me and at least give environmentalism a chance. That’s how I’m able to get to them, using the pedestal people place me on for good.

Continue reading "Ovie Mughelli: The NFL's Green MVP" »

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