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91 posts from March 2011

March 25, 2011

Movie Review Friday: Dive!

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.

Dive! (2009)

Limited screenings available


Though dumpster-diving has become more popular lately, many people still cringe at the idea of scavenging for food from trash bins. Not Jeremy Seifert, who wrote, directed, and produced Dive!. It's an award-winning documentary about the amount of food waste produced by American grocery chains, a conversation piece that's as entertaining as it is informative.

The film’s modest budget ($200!) is inversely proportional to its message. Along with cute clips showing Seifert’s young son playing with food that Dad finds on dumpster dives, Dive! opens with some glaring statistics that become more monumental as the film progresses: 9.6 billion pounds of food are wasted in the U.S. alone, yet 854 million people continue to go hungry around the world. So where is all this food going? Into the dumpsters, of course. To prove his point, Seifert films himself and his “freegan” friends pulling out mounds of food every night from their local Trader Joe’s dumpsters, enough not only to feed their friends and family but to store in freezers to last an entire year.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: Dive! " »

March 24, 2011

Daily Roundup: March 24, 2011

Still Shaking: A magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit Myanmar today, and could be felt as far as Bangkok, Thailand. Los Angeles Times

In Nuke's Way: Fifty workers are trying to prevent a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, sacrificing their own safety for that of others. Robots have also arrived on the scene, but their role is as yet unclear. Daily Mail and Scientific American

Back in the Green: After a two-week hiatus following Japan's earthquake and tsunami, Toyota has begun churning out the Prius and its other hybrid cars again. Wall Street Journal

Deep Down: Scientists are planning to drill to the earth's mantle, an endeavor never before attempted. National Geographic

Rising From Ashes: The EPA's inspector general says his agency didn't properly assess the risks of coal ash before approving it as an ingredient in construction projects. Washington Post

 --Avital Binshtock

Sneak Peek: Strange, Beautiful Birds' Nests

Nest photo by sharon beals Constructed from mud, grass, or spiderwebs, perched on high branches, tunneled into sand banks, or even nestled into old hats, birds' expertly crafted nests prove that architectural marvels aren't limited to the human realm.

A fascination with avian ability and a desire to “learn what birds need to be sustained both locally and globally” led photographer and author Sharon Beals to make the portraits of the bird homes featured in her new book, Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them (Chronicle Books, March 2011).

Want a sneak peek of Nests? Check out Sierra magazine's slide show, which features some of our favorites.

--Della Watson

Five Maasai Grandmothers Light the Way to Solar-Powered Huts

Solar Power Hut Five Maasai grandmothers have proved that you’re never too old to learn. After spending six months in India studying solar energy, the women brought their knowledge back to their villages for everyday use. India’s Barefoot College partnered with Basecamp Foundation (a Norway-based group interested in tourism and development) to select villages not connected to Kenya’s power grid and transform them into solar-wielding manyattas, fence-encircled hut compounds.

Known as “barefoot solar engineers,” the five illiterate women learned about solar energy via sign language, including how to interpret solar designs and install panels and batteries. Now, with their newly installed solar panels, 120 dwellings in five villages will soon be illuminated, allowing women to make beadwork indoors and children to have light by which to read and study. Solar power will also reduce the use of expensive kerosene lamps and log fires that cause respiratory problems.

--Shirley Mak

Green Your Water Use: Shorter Showers

Showerhead March 22 is World Water Day, so this week’s tips are about how to help protect our world’s water supply.

Tip #4: Clean up your act in the shower.

When you consider that showering uses 7 gallons of water per minute, it starts to hit home why you’d want to turn off that tap earlier. Low-flow showerheads certainly help — they’ll get you down to 2.5 gallons per minute — but the biggest savings occurs when you just jump in, rinse off, then get out. Need more of an incentive? This month, when you confirm to Bolder that you’ve mastered the four-minute shower, you get 50% off at Nature’s Gate and a $1 donation made in your name to WaterAid. Plus (surprise!), you'll save on your electricity bill.

 Tell us: How long do your showers take?

March 23, 2011

Daily Roundup: March 23, 2011

Here Comes the Sun: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced yesterday that he wants the entire city running exclusively off renewable energy by 2020. Grist

No Surprise Here: Two new polls indicate that 58% of Americans are less supportive of nuclear-power development following the recent disaster in Japan. Mother Jones

Coal Victory: Federal officials announced that land in Wyoming holding 750 million tons of coal will be turned over to mining companies. The announcement rekindled debate over whether coal has a place in a clean-energy economy. New York Times

Safe Soil Search: Urban gardens are growing in popularity, but scientists caution that traces of lead and other city-dwelling chemicals in the soil could contaminate crops. Huffington Post

Keep on Croakin': A population of Pacific chorus frogs is thriving in a small wetland pocket in the midst of California urban sprawl. The frogs were relocated here eight years ago when their original habitat was threatened by development. High Country News

--Tim McDonnell

Catching Up with a Former Sierra Editor

Writing about the world These days, the term "green" is more than a buzzword; it's become a way of life for many. This blog has been documenting the revolution since 2005, keeping readers posted on the latest news in eco-oriented lifestyle products, tips, movies, fashion, and books. 

If you're curious about history of the green boom that led to the creation of this blog, check out the Green Prophet's interview with Jennifer Hattam, a former Sierra magazine editor and the Green Life blog's founder.

Since leaving Sierra in 2008, the San Francisco native has been living in Istanbul, Turkey, where she writes for TreeHugger and others. Of particular interest, given the recent troubles in Japan, is Hattam's recent post on quake-prone Turkey's plans to explore nuclear power.

--Della Watson

Book Roundup Wednesday: Green Fiction

Green fiction Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending fiction with an environmental theme.

The Witch of Hebron (by James Howard Kunstler, $24, Atlantic Monthly Press, Sept. 2010): If James Howard Kunstler’s best-selling novel World Made by Hand is any indication, this sequel is not your typical post-apocalyptic novel. Still set in a post-oil era, cars, electricity, corporations, and a concrete notion of government have all become obsolete in the not-so-distant future. Yet while humans are sick and fighting, Earth is gradually healing. The Witch of Hebron touches on issues like oil's decline and the perils of climate change without being preachy, overwhelmingly bleak, or boring. For readers hoping to get their hands on a great American climate-change novel, Kunstler’s latest book might be worth a look.

Anthill (by E.O. Wilson, $15, W. W. Norton & Company, Apr. 2010): Meet the new Huck Finn, a conservation-conscious native of Nokobee County, Alabama. Part coming-of-age story and part allegory, Anthill is Pulitzer-winning author E.O. Wilson’s first novel. The story chronicles the likable Raff Cody’s journey through life, starting with his childhood adventures in the wild forests of Nokobee to his foray into the corporate world after he graduates law school and begins working for the very company that’s threatening to destroy the land he holds dear. Interspersed in the middle of the narrative are “The Anthill Chronicles,” chapters that elegantly bring in a dialogue about the connection between ant and human societies. Wilson skillfully evokes Steinbeck when he writes, “There are of course vast differences between ants and men. But in fundamental ways their cycles are similar.”

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Green Fiction " »

Farm Sanctuary Celebrates 25 Years

Farm Sanctuary Twenty-five years ago, Gene Baur was selling veggie dogs out of a VW van at Grateful Dead concerts. He was disillusioned with a food system he saw as violent and broken and wanted to do something, however small, to change it. Today, Baur’s digs have changed. He’s still fighting the same fight, only on a much larger scale.

Farm Sanctuary, the nonprofit animal-rights group founded by Baur, now calls itself “the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization,” and it's 25 years old this month. Known for rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured farm animals, political lobbying, and adamant support of veganism, the group has made great strides, Baur said: “The industry used to ignore us, but they’re now in some cases fighting us, which indicates that we’re making progress.”

The group was the force behind a federal ban on selling downed cows (those too sick to stand) as food. Because ill animals no longer represent potential profit, ranchers have an incentive to keep them healthy, Baur said: “That’s really what the ideal is, is that it improves conditions on the farm.”

Baur is also proud of helping get a veggie burger on Burger King's menu, as well as Farm Sanctuary's two expansive animal-rehabilitation facilities, one in California and the other in New York (you can stay overnight if you like). But when the group isn’t caring for animals that would have otherwise been destined for slaughter (like Opie, pictured here with Baur), it pushes its more global endorsement of veganism.

Continue reading "Farm Sanctuary Celebrates 25 Years" »

Green Your Water Use: Eat and Drink for Good

Pizza and beer March 22 is World Water Day, so this week’s tips are about how to help protect our world’s water supply.

Tip #3: Enjoy pizza and a beer.

Who says that charitable acts must be austere? We’ve found a way to eat, drink, and be merry in knowing that we're helping work toward a planet with cleaner water. Through Saturday (Mar. 26), the UNICEF Tap Project is partnering with more than 1,000 restaurants across America to encourage people to donate $1 or more for the tap water that’s usually free, with proceeds going toward solving the world’s water crisis. 

Tell us: What's your favorite water-centric charity?

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