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82 posts from April 2011

April 29, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 29, 2011

Bear Market: Three Alaskans face prosecution for selling walrus tusks and polar bear hides. Reuters

Dark Knight: Buckingham Palace refused requests to keep the building illuminated following the royal wedding. U.S. broadcasters complained that the 12:30 a.m. lights-off policy would interfere with live coverage during prime-time viewing hours. Telegraph

Boldly Going Where No Cephalopod Has Gone Before: NASA plans to send squid embryos into space. Treehugger

Hooked on Helping: A study of volunteers in New York found a correlation between environmental stewardship and engagement with other civic affairs. Science Daily

Behind the Music: Researchers devised tests to measure personality traits in birds. Scientific American

--Della Watson

Tomorrow: The DEA Will Take Your Drugs

PillsTime to clean out cabinets and rifle through drawers: If you've got unused or expired prescription drugs, now's your chance to get rid of them.

The Drug Enforcement Administration hosts its second National Take-Back Initiative tomorrow from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time at more than 5,100 sites across America. Grocery stores, parks, pet-adoption centers, and more will open, under the scrutiny of local law enforcement, to accept unwanted prescription medications of any kind so they can be disposed of properly, safely, and (we hope) eco-consciously.

“Unused or expired prescription medications that are languishing in the home are a public-safety issue, which can lead to accidental poisoning, overuse, or abuse,” said DEA spokesperson Casey McEnry. And don't worry if you're trying to discretely dispose of a dubious pill bottle left behind by your shady college pal: The take-back day is completely anonymous, McEnry said.

Continue reading "Tomorrow: The DEA Will Take Your Drugs" »

Virtual Book Club Brings Nature Lovers Together

There's no need to hop in the car to attend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's new nature-themed book club, America's Wild Read. The online-only group lets bibliophiles around the world participate, and the virtual club's first book is acclaimed biologist E. O. Wilson's novel Anthill. For readers who don't want to commit to an entire tome, the discussion will also include two essays: "Thinking Like a Mountain" by Aldo Leopold and "Once and Future Land Ethic" by Curt Meine. Discussions begin online on May 1, and the virtural book chat starts May 15.

--Della Watson

Craving more eco-reads? Check out the Green Life's Book Roundup Wednesdays.

San Francisco Leads the Way in Urban Agriculture

Urban agriculture After years of a being tailored for large-scale, industrialized production, the U.S. food system isn't the most welcoming place for organic or micro-level farmers. Last week, though, San Francisco's mayor, Ed Lee, planted a seed to change that when he passed a new ordinance to make urban agriculture much more accessible to those living within city limits.

Hailed as "precedent-setting," the new legislation makes urban agriculture legal in all city zones, greatly reduces the cost to convert vacant city-owned lots into gardens, and allows urban farmers to sell their produce to restaurants and residents legally.

With some 50 gardens, San Francisco is already a leader in the growing urban-ag movement, along with other cities including Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Kansas City, New York, and Milwaukee. As the movement grows, local legislatures are heeding the call of food activists and taking steps to reform their zoning codes. The result for residents is increased access to locally grown food, a chance to participate in a community-based system, as well as greener and more livable urban spaces. 

--Rosie Spinks

Movie Review Friday: Bananas!*

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film or television event with an environmental theme. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Bananas!* (2009)

Limited screenings and available on DVD


Fredrik Gertten’s Bananas!* is highly controversial, having inspired Dole to sue for defamation, libel, and slander. Besides revealing some majorly ugly consequences of food production, it presents a classic David-and-Goliath story (though the ending is not quite as clear) in which a major corporation is the evil giant.

The premise is compelling: A group of banana workers in Nicaragua claim that the pesticide DBCP, which the EPA suspended in 1977 but which Dole continued to use in other countries, caused sterility in workers and even deaths. The resulting Tellez v. Dole case was the first time that agricultural workers from a developing nation were heard in a U.S. court.

Emotional stakes are immediately raised during the opening scene, a bleak funeral procession. And throughout the film, there are heart-wrenching interviews with family members of dead banana workers. But the film becomes most charged when it shows the archival footage of the courtroom battles pitting Juan Dominguez, a charismatic attorney representing the banana workers, against Dole's equally formidable lawyer.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: Bananas!*" »

April 28, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 28, 2011

Whirlwind of Disaster: Tornados tore through six Southern states; Obama declared a state of emergency in Alabama. Los Angeles Times

Nuclear Power Down: The Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, the second largest in the U.S., has shut down due to the thunderstorms and tornadoes in Alabama. Reuters

None Too Sweet: Sugar farmers in Oregon are filing a lawsuit against several corn processors for their attempt to market high-fructose corn syrup as an equivalent to sugar. San Francisco Chronicle

Shark GPS: Scientists may be able to use shark-fin DNA to determine which coastline the fins came from, making bans easier to enforce. TreeHugger
Furry and Flammable: Dogs have manmade flame retardants in their blood at levels 5 to 10 times greater than those found in humans, new findings report. Yahoo! Green

--Shirley Mak

Polytechnic High School Students Fight Trader Joe's Food Waste

Polytechnic High School students Following a school-wide screening of Dive!, Jeremy Seifert’s documentary about food waste in America, nine seniors at Pasadena's Polytechnic High School took it upon themselves to urge Trader Joe’s to adopt a corporate policy for zero food waste. Currently, Trader Joe’s, like many grocery stores, doesn't take an official stance on food waste, so it remains up to individual managers to decide what each store does with its surplus. Much of it ends up in dumpsters.

Though Trader Joe's professes to be your friendly neighborhood store, "they’re not fulfilling a large portion of that view, especially when the food is staring you right in the face in the dumpsters," said Jordan Kutzer, one of the Polytechnic seniors.

Through a class called "Memoir and Social Change," teacher Julie Davis helped the students organize to send more than 100 letters to Trader Joe’s headquarters via Dive’s Eat Trash! campaign. In response, Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s VP of marketing, paid the class a visit. While the students were grateful for the opportunity to speak with Sloan, they were ultimately disappointed by his reaction to their concerns.

According to student Daniel Lizardo, “The gist of what he said was that he didn’t think Trader Joe’s customers care about sustainability and we know for a fact that’s not true. We’re all consumers of Trader Joe’s, we all love to shop there, and that’s part of why we chose to take this initiative."

Continue reading "Polytechnic High School Students Fight Trader Joe's Food Waste " »

A New Plan to Green Our Schools

Green schools It's a fact that's not exactly bright green: By age 15, more than 40% of U.S. students have a sub-par understanding of environmental science, at least according to this report.

However, this week, the Department of Education announced its plan to improve that stat via its new Green Ribbon Program.

The program's goal is twofold: first, to produce a generation of environmentally literate students and second, to lower schools' carbon footprint. The DoE hopes this will produce students that are ready to face the world's challenges and find solutions — and reduce energy costs by as much as $1 billion per year.

Continue reading "A New Plan to Green Our Schools" »

Green Your Royal Wedding: The Food

Wedding dinner As we count down to Friday, we decided to celebrate the nuptials of Prince William and Catherine Middleton by offering royal-wedding-inspired tips. This week, we show you how to green your wedding just like Wills and Kate — even if you're not exactly British royalty.

Tip #4: Opt for organic, local fare.

Rumor has it that Swiss chef Anton Mosimann, a friend of eco-minded Prince Charles, will prepare a wedding dinner at Buckingham Palace using organic, local ingredients. Green your wedding menu by opting for sustainable fare. You could even one up the royals by serving a vegetarian meal.

Tell us: What's your favorite low-carbon dish?

April 27, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 27, 2011

Heavy Breathing: The American Lung Association ranked the American cities on air pollution; 8 of the worst 10 are in California. Santa Fe, New Mexico, is cleanest. Ecocentric (Time)

Cozy Corporations: BP says it'll be back in the Gulf to drill this year. Also, it's becoming clear that those who were supposed to regulate Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were purposely lax. Yahoo! Green and Greenwire

Break it Down: A new logo was introduced to mark products made of or packaged in biodegradable plastics. Greenspace (Los Angeles Times)

Disruptive Behavior: The southern U.S. states are being pummeled by unusually severe weather, including tornadoes. At least 11 are dead. Some wonder whether climate disruption is to blame. AP and The Fayetteville Observer

Happy Hoofers: Good news for Nepal's endangered rhinos: Their population has significantly grown over the past two years, thanks to protection efforts. ARKive

--Avital Binshtock

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