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94 posts from June 2010

June 22, 2010

Green Teen Week: Rebel Responsibly

Teenager 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 #2: Walk the Wild Side

Teen years are often a time of bold experimentation – but you can change your appearance without changing how you treat the environment. If you like to match your hair color to the season, consider dyes that use natural, organic ingredients, such as Ecocolors (but remember that any permanent hair dye contains trace amounts of toxins).

As for tattoos, the inks haven't been FDA-approved, but some artists use vegan pigments free of harmful chemicals. Health concerns considered, you’re better off with body piercings – but buy your new hoops and studs from organic, eco-friendly jewelers such as OneTribe.

Tell us: How do you rebel responsibly?

June 21, 2010

Daily Roundup: June 21, 2010

Bleeding Red: To date, BP has spent $2 billion responding to its oil disaster. Meanwhile, an offshore platform in Egypt started gushing oil into protected, life-filled parts of the Red Sea. A source said that it started days ago and “the companies responsible didn't notify anyone.” Bloomberg and AFP

Lost Livelihoods:
The most recent estimates state that 1 million jobs could be lost because of the massive oil slick tarnishing the Gulf of Mexico. TreeHugger

The Supreme Court overturned a lower court's decision in a move that will allow Monsanto to continue selling pesticide-resistant alfalfa seeds. It was the high court’s first-ever ruling regarding genetically modified foods. Greenwire

Local Earnings:
The Department of Energy is awarding more than $60 million to 20 communities that are pursuing sustainable-energy projects. Matter Network

A Flighty Wind:
Hurricane Celia, the first Pacific hurricane of this year’s season, is strengthening near Acapulco, Mexico, to 80 miles per hour, but isn’t expected to hit land or to affect oil-export facilities. Reuters

--Avital Binshtock

Discovering the Forest, Shrek-Style

Shrek1 DreamWorks and the North Face have teamed up to produce a series of public-service announcements called the “Discover the Forest ” campaign to encourage kids to discover nature and better connect with untouched places.  

According to the National Institute for Play, American children spend 50% less time outdoors than they did 20 years ago. The popularity of television and video games has left many kids bereft of the benefits of being in natural surroundings, including improved physical and emotional health.

The new TV, radio, outdoor, and web PSAs feature Shrek playing with children in the forest and nudging kids to get outside and explore nature because there are “surprises everywhere.”

The campaign's website proffers games, help finding local places to visit, and a downloadable activities packet for kids to take with them into the outdoors.

--Kate Cleland

Green Fashion Monday: Kenneth Cole Tees for Gulf Relief

Fashion Monday kenneth cole t shirt 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.

Kenneth Cole is leading the fashion industry's response to BP's oil disaster by donating 100 percent of profits from the sale of this T-shirt ($35) to cleanup efforts through the company's nonprofit, Awearness. The shirts are customizable, with your choice of 12 slogans and 14 colors, and are sold on Kenneth Cole's Facebook page. Helping to clean up the Gulf earns the company big points. However, as with Kenneth Cole's other products, the shirts aren't made with sustainable materials.

--Della Watson

Green Teen Week: Tune Your Tech

Computer picNow 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 #1: Gadgets Galore 

Most teens love having the latest gizmos, so if it's absolutely necessary to buy a new iPod, camera, or cell phone, consider environmentally preferable options and products that contain fewer toxic elements, are energy-efficient, or use recycled materials to encourage manufacturers to design green. As for the stuff you're replacing, be sure to donate or recycle it. Used computers that still work can be given to families or schools that couldn't otherwise afford them, which would also prevent more e-waste from heading to the landfill.

Tip #2: Rebel Responsibly

Tip #3: Set a Trend

Tip #4: Eco-Music

Tell us: What are your favorite eco-friendly electronics? 

June 18, 2010

Daily Roundup: June 18, 2010

Coal Tragedy: The death toll in Colombia after yesterday’s coal-mine blast is at 18 and continues to rise. New York Times

Cleaner Garbage: Alaska’s major trash-removal company is changing food grease (collected from more than 240 restaurants), into biodiesel to fuel its garbage trucks. Anchorage Daily News

Harsh Prediction: Humans "will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years" if we continue our current rate of consumption, warns Frank Fenner, a well-known scientist who has himself been around for almost a century. Daily Mail

Pan-African Plan: The Global Environment Facility has pledged $119 million to the “Great Green Wall” project, which aims to reforest Africa from west to east. The Age

Waste Not: A company called TerraCycle is rapidly gaining fame for turning trash into items such as kites, insulated coolers, and office supplies. Telegraph

--Kristin Baldwin

Want Freedom from Oil? The Sierra Club Will Plant a Flag in D.C. for You

Freedom from oil As the massive oil slick continues to threaten the Gulf region's wildlife and economy, public outrage over the BP disaster is growing. If you're feeling frustrated too, consider participating in the Sierra Club's Freedom from Oil demonstration in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, June 30.

Don't live near the capital? Not a problem. Plant a virtual flag online, and the Sierra Club will plant a real flag on the National Mall to send a message to President Obama that we want a clean-energy future. More than 8,000 people have already taken action.

Continue reading "Want Freedom from Oil? The Sierra Club Will Plant a Flag in D.C. for You" »

Rating the Rations: A Taste Test of Freeze-Dried Hiking Foods

Does packaged hiking grub have to taste like gruel? Our young tasters say no.

Ask a group of John Muir Trail veterans to recommend their favorite store-bought backpacking meal, and you're likely to get an earful on the nutritional and spiritual benefits of DIY dehydration. But not many people have the time or inclination to make "mango leather." So we recruited six young adults from Leadership Excellence, a group affiliated with the Sierra Club's Inner City Outings program, to blind taste an array of commercially produced freeze-dried fare. Our volunteers sampled 15 entrees and five desserts and scored them on a scale of 1 to 10. Their bravery will help keep the rest of us from gagging around the campfire. --Avital Binshtock


1. AMERIQUAL | Beef Enchilada in Sauce | Score: 9.2 | A company that produces generic-looking meals ready to eat (MRE) for the U.S. military pulled a surprise runaway win. Tasters praised the authentic Mexican flavor, calling it meaty and "delicioso." Ameriqual's unappetizingly named Chicken, Pulled With Buffalo Style Sauce also scored well, garnering compliments for its sweet hotness—though more than one person thought it was tuna. $2.50; ebay.com

2. MOUNTAIN HOUSE | Macaroni and Cheese | Score: 7.6 | As one taster put it, "Who doesn't love mac and cheese?" Most of the others echoed that comfort-food sentiment, though a few suggested cooking the pasta longer than the instructions recommend. The company's Turkey Tetrazzini was also well received, inspiring favorable comparisons to Rice-A-Roni and "the inside of a potpie." $6.35; backcountry.com

3. BACKPACKER'S PANTRY | Organic Garden Vegetable Couscous Score: 6.2 | "Different in a good way" was the general verdict on this course, which earned praise for its seasonings and texture. $7.90; backpackerspantry.com

4. NATURAL HIGH | Spicy Thai Chicken | Score: 5.7
Opinions varied wildly, from "Yes, yes, yes!" to "Hate it." Even these young palates could detect the dish's Thai origins. Some compared it to Top Ramen. $6.75; campsaver.com

5. MARYJANES FARM | Organic Curried Lentil Bisque | Score: 5.5 Our oldest taster (the only one in her 20s) loved this bisque but pointed out that adults would probably appreciate its full-fledged curry flavor more than kids would. A few said the green, soupy substance was "missing something." $6; shopping.maryjanesfarm.org


1. MOUNTAIN HOUSE | Blueberry Cheesecake | Score: 9.3 | There was hearty applause all around for this creamy and "berry, berry good" concoction that had many asking for seconds. $6; wildernessdining.com

2. [TIE] ASTRONAUT | Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream | Score: 7.2 | Most were delighted by this dessert's melt-in-your-mouth quality, comparing it to cotton candy and whipped toppings. $2.70; astronautfoods.com

2. [TIE] ALPINEAIRE | Deep Dish Peach Crumble | Score: 7.2 | Although most tasters mistook the peaches for apples, this warm confection's cinnamony goodness won them over. $6.65; alpineaire.com

Click here to read how the rest of the freeze-dried offerings stacked up.


Keren Osman, 18

Yendis E. Richard, 24

Aziza-Cree Evans, 18

Marquise Andrews, 17

Jazmin Bell, 18

Nicolette Hafiz, 19

Continue reading "Rating the Rations: A Taste Test of Freeze-Dried Hiking Foods" »

Give Summer Gas Prices the Slip

Pumping gas Summer officially starts on Monday, bringing with it longer days (and more time to get outside), but also higher gas prices.

To keep air pollution to a minimum, the EPA sets more stringent regulations for the composition of gasoline during summer. This translates to higher costs for gas stations; they very graciously pass the buck to consumers in the form of increased gas prices.

Avoid paying too much at the pump by choosing alternative modes of transportation during your summer travels. Take a train or bus to your destination – not only is mass transit more efficient, it also eliminates the stress of sitting in traffic. Once you arrive, consider low-carbon transport like walking or biking.

If you must drive, up your fuel efficiency by not idling, observing the speed limit, and coasting to a stop instead of slamming on the brakes – your passengers will thank you for that last one.

--Sophie Matson

Movie Review Friday: “Life” on DVD

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.

Life (2009)

Available on DVD

BBC does nature filmmaking like no one else quite can. After the phenomenal (but not surprising) success of Planet Earth, the network invested $22 million to produce its follow-up series, Life. The hordes who eagerly awaited the 11-part television event weren’t disappointed: it was filled, as expected, with goosebump-inducing wilderness sequences, brilliant use of slow and fast motion to illustrate some of our planet’s most captivating phenomena, and ample instances of elegant cinematography.

This month, the DVD version was released, with every high-def episode included on four discs. Bonus features include deleted scenes and ten short features about how the crew made its magic. Oh, and if you’re not an Oprah fan, you can opt for “music only” mode.

Two of the series’ major themes (in addition to hunting and surviving) are mating and parenting, so this set could be the perfect Father’s Day gift for the man who gave you life. Though many of the meticulous, devoted progenitors depicted are female, four species dramatically play out how patriarchs in the animal world can invest everything in their offspring. Click these links to see how the clown anemonefish provides constant care, how the giant bullfrog tenderly and strategically saves his babies’ lives, how the gorilla serves as a bodyguard for youngsters, and how the weedy seadragon carries his eggs before they hatch.

Even if you don’t buy Dad the DVDs, you can still invite him to watch the harrowing and touching spectacle with you – Life is re-airing on Animal Planet Sunday nights through July 4.

--Avital Binshtock

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