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65 posts from December 2010

December 14, 2010

Honoring John Muir's Botanical Legacy


"But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks," John Muir once wrote. The conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club had a passion for the beauty of plants, and traveled far and wide to collect specimens, preserving them in his pockets. It was his love of these small tokens of nature that contributed greatly to his desire to preserve the wilderness.

Now, in a traveling exhibition, Muir's little-known passion for plants is being celebrated across North America. Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy traces the botanist's travels throughout Canada, Indiana, the American Southeast, California, and Alaska. The exhibit showcases high-resolution images of his plant specimens on canvas and paper prints. The show, born out of a collaboration between photographer Stephen J. Joseph and Muir scholar Bonnie Gisel, highlights the complexity of the structure and patterns of plants, and includes pages and drawings from Muir's journals.

Nature's Beloved Son will travel to museums, botanical gardens, and parks, and will open on Jan. 9 at Bedford Gallery in Contra Costa County, California, where Muir lived on his family's ranch from 1890 until his death in 1914. The striking collection of botanicals emphasizes Muir's understanding of the need to protect our natural world, and should inspire visitors to do the same.

--Molly Oleson

Cold-Weather Comforts: Fireplace Usage

Wood Fire Now that you've winterized your home, what to do to wait out the snowstorm? This week's tips provide a few ideas to keep you busy without hurting the planet

Tip #2: Think Twice About Fireplaces

Everyone loves sitting around a roaring fire during winter. But too much wood-burning can really blacken the sky. To prevent air pollution, light fires only for special occasions; all that coal in the hearth is bound to soil Santa's suit. You can also look for an EPA-certified fireplace when you are planning installation.

Tell us: How do you green your fireplace?

December 13, 2010

Green Fashion Monday: Reclaimed Moth Sweaters

Moth sweater 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.

Moth-eaten sweaters get a second life with Stella Neptune's funky moth patches, which are made from recycled cashmere and screen-printed by hand. Get a ready-made recycled cashmere sweater for $140, or apply the colorful patches to your favorite holey garment with the applique kit ($25). 

--Natalya Stanko

Cold-Weather Comforts: Share the Music

Record Player Now that you've winterized your home, what to do to wait out the snowstorm? This week's tips provide a few ideas to keep you busy without hurting the planet.

Tip #1: Buy Music Used and Local

There are few better ways to drown out howling winter winds than by playing your favorite '80s power-cheese ballad. But what about the environmental price of all those plastic jewel cases and newly printed vinyl? Next time you're at your local record shop, rummage through the used bin. When you've overplayed an album, sell it to someone else, or recycle your vinyl records.

Tip #2: Reconsider Your Fireplace

Tip #3: Track Animals

Tip #4: Give a Coat

Tell us: How do you keep your winter activities green?

December 10, 2010

Daily Roundup: December 10, 2010

No Boars Allowed: Michigan officials declared feral pigs an invasive species. Detroit Free Press

What Goes Around Comes Around: Three Brooklyn business managers and a landlord face felony charges for illegally dumping raw sewage and restaurant grease into a creek that flows into Jamaica Bay. New York Daily News and Wall Street Journal

Under the Sea: To protect the country's reef system, Belize banned all forms of trawling in its waters. Oceana 

Thinking Outside the Big Box: Wal-Mart's latest grant to its land conservation program, Acres for America, will protect 218,000 acres in four states. According to the company, the program has already preserved more than 625,000 acres of wildlife habitat. Treehugger

EPA OK: A federal court blocked an appeal by oil refiners, utilities, and the state of Texas meant to delay the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas regulations. Washington Post and Reuters

--Della Watson

Parents, Tell Your Kids: Unplug and Get Out!

Encourage kids to go outdoors When doctors begin writing "outdoor activity" prescriptions, you know we have a problem connecting with nature. In the United States, children 8 to 18 years old spend an average of seven and a half hours a day indoors using electronic media, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. So when the only exposure kids have to the great outdoors is what they see on TV and computer screens, some severe cases of "nature deficit disorder" can result. 

With the launch of his website RecreatingWithKids.com, longtime outdoor industry veteran Eugene Buchanan hopes to help kids avoid trips to the nature doctor. The site includes news updates on outdoor programs, events and initiatives, reports on family-friendly destinations, and how-to guides for activities like biking, camping, paddling, and climbing. And it's full of inspiring tales of 12-year-olds climbing 50 peaks in 50 days and 7-year-olds becoming Junior Rangers at National Parks.

"Hopefully it will help encourage families to participate in outdoor activities," Buchanan said. "That's the future of the entire outdoor industry."

Continue reading "Parents, Tell Your Kids: Unplug and Get Out!" »

Movie Review Friday: The Kids Are All Right

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Friday selections. Each week we review a film with environmentally or socially-responsible themes that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD.

Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 words or less and look for your review in the next Movie Friday.

The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right is a family film for a new generation, in that it is the story of a family unit comprised of a lesbian couple, Jules and Nic (Julianne Moore and Annette Benning), their two children Joni and Laser (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson), and the sperm donor responsible for their existence, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). At its core, it tells of the tight bonds of family and the struggles of a marriage, but also works as a realistic cross section of social issues and attitudes in the current era.

Director and co-writer Lisa Cholodenko builds the characters and allows them to cultivate relationships with each other, at which point the acting, especially from Moore, just runs away with the story. The environmental aspects of the film lie in the background, as Jules works in landscaping and after starting to work for Paul, she begins to adopt his greener, organic ideas. This drives the more white-collar, derisive Nic crazy, and her mocking attitude toward sustainable concepts spills out after too much wine while out to dinner with friends. Minute as they are, the green facets are made all the more interesting by the strength of the performances.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: The Kids Are All Right" »

December 09, 2010

Daily Roundup: December 9, 2010

Coyote Cops: Sixty wild coyotes fitted with radio collars are patrolling downtown Chicago and controlling rodent populations. They're supposed to be there, police say. NPR

Green Pope: The Vatican quietly helped the U.S. lobby states to join the Copenhagen Accord on climate change, according to WikiLeaks. AFP

Pregnant Daddies? Scientists created mice from two fathers using stem-cell technologies, an advance that could help preserve endangered species. Slate

Bad Money: Consumers can't avoid BPA, since the toxic compound is in most receipts and in 95% of dollar bills tested, says a new study. Huffington Post

Swept Away: Offshore wind power hasn't been put to use yet, but ambitious developers are proposing large farms, like a 270-square-foot setup off Rhode Island's coast that would send 1,000 megawatts by cable to neighboring states. Green (NYT)

--Natalya Stanko

Show Some Arctic Love with Shirt.Woot

Save the polar bears The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge turned 50 this week and it's still as ruggedly beautiful as it was back in 1960 when President Eisenhower took the first step toward protecting the land and all the beloved polar bears and majestic caribou who live there.

Now it's time to give the Arctic a birthday present: permanent protection from Big Oil.

Tomorrow, Shirt.Woot will help the Sierra Club spread the word by hosting an Arctic-themed T-shirt "derby," a.k.a. the site's weekly design contest. You can participate by submitting your T-shirt design to Shirt.Woot, or by voting for your favorite. The derby begins at noon on Friday, December 10 and the winning shirt will be available for purchase the following Friday.

Continue reading "Show Some Arctic Love with Shirt.Woot" »

Rounding the Horn (in a Kayak)

Cape Horn On New Year's Day 2011, Justine Curgenven and her partner, Barry Shaw, will embark on a 1,000-mile journey around Tierra del Fuego, at South America's southern tip. Oh, and they're going to do it in a kayak.

The pair hopes to be the first to ever successfully kayak the length of this treacherous route. Before the Panama Canal was built, rounding Tierra del Fuego via Cape Horn was perhaps the world's most dangerous shipping path. A hundred years later, not much has changed. Curgenven and Shaw will have to contend with strong winds, mammoth waves, jagged rocks, and frigid temperatures during their 70-day paddle along the archipelago's rugged coastline.

Continue reading "Rounding the Horn (in a Kayak)" »

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