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82 posts from April 2011

April 27, 2011

Book Roundup Wednesday: Wild Fiction

Book roundup Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books that feature the wilderness as a main character.

When the Killing’s Done (by T.C. Boyle, $27, Viking, Feb. 2011): With his vividly eccentric style intact, T.C. Boyle embarks on a fictionalized retelling of the struggle over the fate of California’s Channel Islands. Pitting the National Park Service against animal-rights activists in a tale of gunslinging and invasive species in the New West, he presents diverse perspectives on the morality of meddling with nature. He’s well-versed in the region’s cultural and natural histories, and endows this modern-day epic with meticulous details from the lives of its characters — old-time shepherds, federal biologists, and dreadlocked PETA fans — to create a complex, compelling portrait of the havoc we wreak without assigning blame. Readers are offered the opportunity to judge for themselves. 

Caribou Island (by David Vann, $25, Harper, Jan. 2011): Set on Alaska’s forebodingly mercurial Kenai Peninsula, Vann’s depiction of a marriage disintegrating as a husband and wife attempt to build a life in the wilderness is engagingly dark. The discrepancies between expectation and reality loom as Gary and Irene become increasingly isolated, and the harsh landscape serves as a mirror for a family’s long-simmering discontent, turning characters inside out to expose the source of each unhappiness, but offering no apparent resolution to the perils of internal wilderness.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Wild Fiction" »

Green Your Royal Wedding: The Flowers

Rhododendron 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 #3: Choose local, seasonal, potted plants.

Wedding florist Shane Connolly is reportedly using azaleas, rhododendron, euphorbias, beech, wisteria, and lilac to decorate Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. These locally sourced flowers and trees will be donated to charities or replanted after the ceremony. Consider using local, seasonal plants for your own wedding decor, and remember that potted plants can be given to guests as favors.

Tell us: What are your favorite native flowers?

April 26, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 26, 2011

What's the Word, Lyrebird? The vocabulary of lyrebirds, masters of sound mimicry, tell us what’s going on when we’re not around, says new research. Individuals deep in the forest mimic chainsaws and car alarms. NPR

Too Little Too Late: Scientists say that BP is taking too long to allocate funds for researching the Gulf spill's effects, causing them to miss a critical data-gathering period. Huffington Post

Natural Beauty: The USGS posted a new online gallery featuring beautiful satellite images of Earth. USGS via Good

Community Solar-darity: The city of Oakland, California, is supporting a new “crowd-funded” renewable-energy project: Residents give $100 for solar tiles to be installed on schools and community centers. TreeHugger

Park Here: San Francisco launched a pilot real-time smart-parking system; drivers use the app to find vacant spaces, reducing congestion and pollution. Good

--Zoë J. Sheldon

Different Strokes

Can't decide what type of paddling you want to do? Here are some front-runners in almost every category of human-powered watercraft.

Available in five weights, including an ultralight, 42-pound Kevlar version that's a breeze to lift solo, the 17-foot WENONAH Spirit II sings on the water, balancing speed, maneuverability, and carrying capacity. With its convenient sliding bow seat, this easy-gliding performer can also be used for gear-intensive overnight trips. $1,400–$2,500

A multisporter's dream, the HOBIE Mirage Pro Angler provides a tackle compartment, dual storage wells, and ample room for everything from fishing rods to six-packs. It has a cozy, ventilated captain's chair and excellent stability, which makes stand-up casting easy. The foot-pedal propulsion allows you to forgo the paddle so you can cast for lunkers. $2,500

Continue reading "Different Strokes" »

WATCH: How to Build a Worm Tower


Like the idea of composting but don't want to spread the smelly stuff around the garden yourself? Why not have a squad of worms — the same ones already at work making the compost — do the work for you? Worm poop has never been this useful, or this much fun.

--Tim McDonnell

Green Your Royal Wedding: The Gifts

Gift or charitable donation 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 #2: Request gifts that do good.

In lieu of a traditional gift registry, William and Kate set up a charitable gift fund to support their favorite causes. Instead of filling your palace with a bunch of stuff you don't really need, consider following in the royals' footsteps by asking guests to help save rhinos, tigers, or elephants instead of buying you another blender or toaster.

Tell us: What's the perfect wedding gift?

April 25, 2011

Daily Roundup: April 25, 2011

Dark Clouds Brewing: Data centers, home of the mysterious "computing cloud," consume up to 2% of global electricity. Grist

Off the Menu? Chinese citizens' interest in shark-fin soup might be on the decline, indicates a new survey. TreeHugger

Bloody Sunday: Was a massive organized rabbit hunt in New Zealand on Easter a worthwhile effort to rid farms of an obnoxious pest or a barbaric bloodbath? You decide. Huffington Post

Wolf-Man Conundrum: Wolves were removed from endangered-species lists in Idaho and Montana, so local officials are hunkering down to regulate how they can be hunted. Los Angeles Times

So Long, Fido: A new database of 17,400 dog deaths reveals trends about how each breed is likely to go. Cancer killed golden retrievers, while chihuahuas are likelier to die of trauma. New York Times

--Tim McDonnell

Are Solar Panels Contagious?

Solar neighborhood Upon noticing that solar-panel installations in California showed a pattern of clustering, researchers at Stanford University set out to determine why some neighborhoods were rife with photovoltaic panels while others had none.

What they found is a positive example of the human tendency to conform to social norms: We do what our neighbors do. People are encouraged by their neighbors’ ability to pay for and understand new technologies, and local contractors become more adept at installing and maintaining them. Others simply want to keep up with the Joneses. The Stanford study found that for every 1% increase in the number of solar installations within a given ZIP code, the time that passed between subsequent installations decreases by 1%.

So if you want to make your neighborhood greener, lead by example: Install a few solar panels, show your neighbors how they work, make them envious of your shrinking energy bill. Then watch them follow suit.

--Zoë J. Sheldon

Green Fashion Monday: A Designer Resuable Bag

Envirosax Reusable Bag 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.

Make a statement the next time you go grocery shopping with an Envirosax reusable bag. Pretty and practical, each bag carries up to 44 pounds, won’t fade with washing, and will prevent plastic bags from polluting rivers and destroying plant and animal life. These lovely bags come in an assortment of designs and start at $9.

You can also celebrate Earth Day until Apr. 28 this year with Envirosax's Earth Day Pop Quiz; winners get an Eco-Chic prize pack.

 --Shirley Mak / image courtesy Envirosax

Green Your Royal Wedding: The Ring

Engagement ring The wedding of the year is here! We're celebrating the nuptials of Prince William and Catherine Middleton by offering royal-wedding-inspired tips. Here's how to green your wedding just like Wills and Kate — even if you're not exactly royalty.

Tip #1: Give a vintage ring.

When William proposed to Kate with his mother's sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring, the prince did more than honor Princess Diana's memory. Mining takes an environmental toll, so vintage bands are the sustainable choice. If you don't have access to a fabulous hand-me-down, look for retailers who specialize in ethical, recycled jewelry

Tip #2: The gifts!

Tip #3: The flowers!

Tip #4: The food!

Tell us: How did you or will you green your wedding?

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