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82 posts from August 2010

August 24, 2010

Bob Burnquist: Skateboarding's Organic Ripper

Jamie Mosberg / Digital Action Sports Network
Fifteen years ago, an unknown skateboarder arrived in the U.S. from Brazil and began crushing the competition. Bob Burnquist came with a fresh crop of tricks and an appreciation for the environment that was unprecedented for a skater. He went on to co-found the Action Sports Environmental Coalition (ASEC) in 2001 and now runs a small organic farm in Southern California.

Q: How do your environmental views dovetail with your career?

A: I felt I had to connect on some level with my sponsors or else it wouldn't make sense. I've turned down some, like energy drinks, that would have paid a lot of money. Ipath has been using hemp for a long time, and Toyota hybrids are a natural fit. I skated a couple of contests on bamboo boards. It's all about being who I am and trying to hold my ground.

I understand that demand drives change. Voting with your dollars in a capitalist society is the best vote.  It's made me think about living an ideal but also juggling my family responsibilities. 

Q: Did growing up in Brazil shape your perspective?

A: I was raised in a country that's beautiful, tropical, and diverse, and I'd always eaten fresh food. So there was a culture shock when I came to the U.S. The waste bothered me, and my stomach couldn't handle all the fast food. I remember driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles and eating an In-N-Out burger. Then I drove past a huge farm with rows and rows of cows and thought, I have one of them in my stomach right now. It made me shift gears. On [skateboarding] tours, I made supermarket stops instead of eating at fast food places with everybody else.

Continue reading "Bob Burnquist: Skateboarding's Organic Ripper" »

High-Grade Goods: Take Back-to-School Shopping Back to the Earth

Costa Rica's TNF Ecopapers makes tree-free notebooks using 80% postconsumer waste and 20% banana fibers that would otherwise have been trashed. The ruled pages are printed with water-based inks. $7 to $8

These pens and mechanical pencils from Paper Mate look and feel like regular plastic but are made of biodegradable sugar-plant parts. Their packaging is plastic-free and 100 percent recyclable. $1.70 for the pen; $2.70 for the pencil

Students need to stay (a) hydrated and (b) caffeinated. Earthlust keeps bisphenol A (BPA) out of the mix with its stainless-steel water bottles and insulated mugs, which are flecked with delicate nature scenes. The family-owned company donates 1% of its profits to environmental charities—plus $1 for each of its Facebook fans. $16 to $23

Save money (and cafeteria leftovers and dozens of to-go boxes) with the reusable stainless-steel containers from LunchBots. Or, to evoke grade-school nostalgia, you could scout a thrift store or eBay for a vintage version. $13 to $17

Despite its clunky name, the Vaio W Series 212AX Eco Edition from Sony is a sleek laptop. Its plastic exterior is partly derived from cast-off CDs and DVDs, and its carrying case is made of recycled plastic bottles. Other green features include a 10-inch LED screen and a 76-page digital (rather than paper) manual. $500

The hanging organizer from Kangaroom Storage is made entirely of recycled materials and pays tribute to a generation's digital fixation, with its pattern of IM acronyms and emoticons. (OMG!) There's also a matching shower caddy. $17 for the hanging organizer; $8 for the shower caddy

--Avital Binshtock / photos by Lori Eanes

Green Your Crafting: Earth-Friendly Fibers

Yarn Crafting is a great way to build community, revitalize seemingly useless items, and encourage creativity. This week’s tips will help you keep your crafting from harming our environment.

Tip #2: Fabric Designs

If you’re into fiber crafting, try yarn made of organic merino wool, hemp, or soy for your knitted and crocheted creations. Raid your closet; you can turn old jeans into a potholder, a T-shirt into a pillow, or a sweatshirt into a tote.

Tell us: What's your favorite eco-friendly fabric?

August 23, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 23, 2010

Getting Tanked: Scottish researchers discovered how to create biofuel from the byproducts of whiskey distillation. They hope the whiskey-based fuel will be available at gasoline pumps soon. The Guardian

Green Incentive: Sanford, Maine, has reduced its garbage tonnage by 50 percent in one month following the implementation of a trash-metering system in which residents must pay by the bag for garbage pickup. ENN

Washed Up: Oil in the Gulf may be abnormally increasing the occurrence of sea animals beaching themselves. They are likely seeking oxygen, which is being depleted from the water by microorganisms that are breaking down the sludge. Bloomberg

Water Wars: New York state is withholding a water permit for its Indian Point nuclear plant, which uses Hudson River water from huge pipes that kill nearly a billion river organisms while cooling its reactors. Officials want the facility to install cooling towers, which will significantly reduce water intake, but the plant owner says the towers will increase air pollution. New York Times

Save That Gum: British designer Anna Bullus developed a way to turn recycled gum into plastic. Her products include "gumdrop bins," into which people throw their wads for recycling. TreeHugger

--Sarah A. Henderson

The Majestic Plastic Bag: A Mockumentary

As the California Senate prepares to vote on AB 1998, which would ban plastic bags statewide, Heal the Bay released a brilliant and amusing mockumentary that follows the life of a plastic bag, aiming to draw awareness to how single-use plastic bags affect the land and oceans.

The Majestic Plastic Bag, narrated by Jeremy Irons, follows a "clever and illustrious" plastic bag on its great migration "home," to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Will the plastic bag survive "one of nature's most deadly killers – the teacup yorkie," or overcome the perilous obstacles posed by "hungry sea life that feeds on the plastic"?

According to Heal the Bay, 19 billion bags are used in California each year, creating nearly 123,000 tons of waste, costing up to $3.23 billion each year in taxes used for cleanup efforts.

Heal the Bay encourages every Californian to contact his or her state senator in support of AB 1998. Click here to find out how you can help pass this monumental bill, which would make California the first state to ban plastic bags.

--Kate Cleland

Green Fashion Monday: Backpacks, Formerly Billboards

Billboard backpack It’s back-to-school time, so make sure the young people in your life are equipped with a backpack that helps preserve the future for them – and looks cool too. TerraCycle’s durable “Billboard Amped Backpack” ($24) which is made of used billboard vinyl (and a reclaimed seat belt), helps advertise that they care about the planet. It’s also water-resistant, comes with a lifetime warranty, and is made in El Salvador. Since each pack is unique, however, you won’t know which color you’ll get until you get it.

For more sustainable back-to-school picks, click here.

--Avital Binshtock

Green Your Crafting: Art Materials

Pencils Crafting is a great way to build community, revitalize seemingly useless items, and encourage creativity. This week’s tips will help you keep your crafting from harming our environment.

Tip #1: Sustainable Supplies

Invest in eco-friendly crafting materials, such as watercolor pencils made from reforested wood, plant-based glue that's VOC-free, or felt made of recycled soda bottles. Having these types of items on hand helps protect forests and keeps landfills emptier.

Tell us: What are your favorite green crafting materials?

August 20, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 20, 2010

Watch Out Oil: The government's new energy division has budgeted $400 million over two years to research new renewable-fuel technologies. New York Times

Trouble in Texas: A malfunction at BP's largest operating refinery in Texas City exposed workers and community members to more than 500,000 pounds of toxic chemicals over 40 days. Texas Tribune

Wind in the Works: Tribal members of the Campo Kumeyaay Nation are working to build their second wind farm in desert mountains near San Diego to provide city homes with renewable electricity. NPR

Dying Use: The EPA is investigating the health risks of several chemicals common in dyes and laundry detergents. ENN

Curbside (Earth) Prophet: During a recent interview, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz spoke about the importance of living green and working to reduce our carbon footprint. Ecorazzi

--Allison McCann 

Coca-Cola Offers Sweet Rewards for National Parks

IStock_000013790495XSmall If you cool off with a fizzy drink this month, be sure to reap sweet rewards with Coca-Cola for national parks.

Through MyCokeRewards and the Summer Snapshot Contest, the soda giant is giving away annual passes and family vacation packages to national parks. Coke drinkers can “upload a laugh” to MyCoke.com’s Smile-izer, too, where for each upload, Coca-Cola will donate $1 – up to $50,000 – to the National Park Foundation, and $100,000 to the park voted America’s favorite at LivePositively.com.

Though Coca-Cola isn't the greenest of companies, what with its plastic-bottle packaging and pollution-prone bottling plants, its sustainability initiatives and pro-park stance are a step in the right direction.

--Sarah A. Henderson

Movie Review Friday: BBC's "How the Earth Changed History"

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.

How the Earth Changed History (2010)

This five-part series, a collaboration between BBC and the National Geographic Channel, comes together to form an all-encompassing documentary that examines how humans have been affected by natural forces throughout history. Each hour-long segment focuses on an aspect of Earth: water, wind, fire, and deep earth. The fifth episode addresses how people are now a fundamental element of the planet.

The camerawork is stunning, treating viewers to dramatic views of every continent to show how history has been changed by geology, geography, and climate. The narrator, Iain Stewart, a Scottish geologist and professor, is charismatic, competent, and downright hilarious at times. He climbs a rock face, bathes in oil, flies in an open aircraft, sails around Pacific islands, walks into a furnace, and lowers himself into the depths of the earth, all while providing attention-grabbing commentary.

After telling us that it would take 3 million years for the earth to make enough oil for just one year's worth of our consumption, Stewart calls the present a “turning point in human history,” highlighting the need to break the link between human progress and burning fuel sources that emit carbon. He concludes on a hopeful note with a visit to the global seed vault, which is built deep enough to survive even a nuclear explosion; Stewart calls the vault an example of what can be achieved when humans cooperate.

--Kristin Baldwin

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