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38 posts from February 2012

February 15, 2012

Repurpose Your Plastic: Compact-Disc Dumbbells

CDs

In the immortal words of Mr. McGuire from The Graduate: "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. . . . Are you listening? . . . Plastics." This week, we'll provide tips on how to reuse and recycle everyday plastic items.

Tip #3: Recycle CDs Creatively

Scratched your favorite CD beyond all repair? Unsure of what to do with your enormous hair-metal collection? Think before you throw those CDs away — they are not biodegradable, and when incinerated, give off nasty toxins. There are multiple CD recyclers all over the country that would be happy to take your unwanted collection. But if you're feeling more creative, you can make CD coasters, clocks, lamps — even dumbbells. Plastic jewel cases can also be turned into art.

--photo courtesy of iStock/panchof

February 14, 2012

Tesla's New Model X, Unveiled

IStock_000018771835XSmall

 

Tesla Motors unveiled the Model X electric crossover Wednesday night. It is a mix between an SUV, a minivan, and a sports car: The battery-powered vehicle seats seven, accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in seconds, and features Back-to-the-Future-inspired doors that open upward, which Tesla has termed "falcon wings" (?!?). It is expected to cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000.

Don't worry about jealously eyeing one on the road any time soon, however; the Model X is not expected to hit Tesla showrooms until 2014.

Skip to the 15:30 mark in the video below (yes, the video is almost half an hour long) to see the new model.

--Justin Cohn / image courtesy of iStock/MariaPavlova 

Continue reading "Tesla's New Model X, Unveiled" »

Repurpose Your Plastic: Plastic-Cup Lamp

Plastic lamp

In the immortal words of Mr. McGuire from The Graduate: "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. . . . Are you listening? . . . Plastics." This week, we'll provide tips on how to reuse and recycle everyday plastic items.

Tip #2: Create a Stylish Lamp from Plastic Cups

Advance warning: Plastic at high temperatures can melt and/or smell absolutely terrible, so make sure you are using a lower-temperature bulb. Conserve energy by turning off the lamp when you leave the room.

This idea comes from A Bit of Green, who gives original credit to The Art Foundation (taf) in Greece. Of course, we know that you always opt for reusable, eco-friendly glassware, but if your not-so-green neighbor has just thrown a massive kegger and you find hundreds of plastic cups littering the ground, save them from the landfill by crafting this simple, architectural beauty. All you need are the cups, a stapler, a bulb, and a lamp holder. 

--photo courtesy of A Bit of Green

February 13, 2012

Girl Scouts Refuse to Crumble

Girl Scouts awarded by UNOn Wednesday, the United Nations awarded 16-year-old Girl Scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva the first ever International Forest Heroes Award for North America.

Five years ago, the two Girl Scouts raised concern over palm oil, an unsustainable cooking oil associated with rainforest deforestation, and an ingredient found in every Girl Scout cookie. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), also on the frontline in fighting deforestation, nominated Tomtishen and Vorva for the award to recognize their international success in raising awareness about the devastating consequences of palm oil production.

Through Project ORANG (Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girls Scouts), a grassroots campaign of their own making, the girls spread the word that palm-oil production destroys rainforests and orangutan habitat in Southeast Asia. 

The award is only one of many accomplishments achieved by the girls thus far. Girl Scouts of the USA responded to their campaign and worked with Kellogg's, the cookies' producer, to use "sustainable" palm oil by 2015. 

But don't sign off just yet Bruce, this cookie is not crumbling. Tomtishen and Vorva say Kellogg's and Girl Scouts of the USA are headed in the right direction, but caution that the "sustainable" certification has holes — the oil could still come from deforested areas. Through a Change.org petition, they're calling on the companies to make the cookies completely rainforest-safe. Over 58,000 people agree. 

Continue reading "Girl Scouts Refuse to Crumble" »

Repurpose Your Plastic: Milk-Jug Craft Projects

Gallon jug

In the immortal words of Mr. McGuire from The Graduate: "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. . . . Are you listening? . . . Plastics." This week, we'll provide tips on how to reuse and recycle everyday plastic items.

Tip #1: Reuse Your Old Milk Containers

The gallon milk jug may be the mother of all bulky plastics, but there are many ways to reuse the empty container before you toss it into the recycling bin. With just a pair of scissors and a marker, you can turn a gallon milk jug into a stylish quasi-lunch box, purse, or gift box. If your lunch-box needs are already satisfied, don't fret: the repurposing possibilities are endless.

Tip #2: Create a Stylish Lamp from Plastic Cups

Tip #3: Recycle CDs Creatively

Tip #4: Educate Yourself on Plastic Recycling

--image courtesy of iStock/luxcreative

February 10, 2012

The Diving Beetle's Sexy Tower of Sperm

DivingbeetleWhen insect expert Dawn Higginson first squinted an eye and peered down the laboratory microscope at the diving beetle sperm before her, she was bewildered. The gyrating mass (seen here), seemingly animated with a life and logic of its own, made her question whether the slide had accidentally been contaminated.

"It took me a while to figure out what I was even seeing," says Higginson, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona's Center for Insect Science who recently analyzed sperm from 42 different species of beetle. "We had no expectation that the sperm were gonna behave like this." 

Continue reading "The Diving Beetle's Sexy Tower of Sperm" »

February 09, 2012

Green Your Valentine's Day: Caring Cards

Recycled Valentine's Day cardOn Valentine's Day, don't forget to extend your love to Mother Earth. This week's tips should help you do just that, even as you celebrate the biggest Hallmark holiday there is.

Tip #4: Go for greener greetings. 

When you consider all that's needed to manufacture Valentine's Day cards — trees, water, bleach, dye, transportation, and shipping — and the fact that many of them ultimately end up in the landfill, making your own cards and envelopes and buying recycled (Papyrus and Hallmark have both made strides toward this) start to sound like pretty good ideas. Consider e-cards too: PaperlessPost.com and Pingg offer some great designs. 

Tell us: Where do you shop for greeting cards?

February 08, 2012

Name Toronto Zoo's Newest Polar Bear Cub

Polar bear cubThe Toronto Zoo's absurdly cute three-month-old polar bear cub needs a name — and you could choose the critter's moniker. On March 31, zoo officials will give the naming rights to one lucky and creative contestant.

There's no cash associated with the prize, but at least you could brag about having some kind of tangential parental role in this epic little fur ball's life — priceless. 

The zoo will accept entries until March 16. 

--Ryan Jacobs/image courtesy of Toronto Zoo 

Green Your Valentine's Day: The Sweet Stuff

Valentine's Day chocolateOn Valentine's Day, don't forget to extend your love to Mother Earth. This week's tips should help you do just that, even as you celebrate the biggest Hallmark holiday there is.

Tip #3: Choose Conscientious Cocoa

What's Valentine's Day without chocolate? When choosing sweets for your sweetheart, look for brands that are organic, local, and shade-grown. Why organic? Of all crops, cocoa takes second plase for using the most pesticides (number one is cotton); when producers stop using planet-harming chemicals, chocolate tastes better. As for shade-grown, that label means the cocoa under it was grown under indigenous trees, which therefore got preserved. Also, try to resist the convenience of that frilly heart-shaped box with all those paper wrappings tucked into plastic. Instead, go for a less packaged option. In general, names to avoid include M&M/Mars, Hershey, and Russell Stover in favor of Green & Black's, Newman's Own Organics, and Endangered Species.

Tell us: What's your favorite chocolate brand?

February 07, 2012

High-Efficiency Suds

Bob Schildgen is Mr Green

Hey Mr. Green,

We just bought a high-efficiency washer.  The instructions say to use a "HE" detergent. What should I look for in these detergents and what brands do you recommend?

—Michael, in Nevada City, California

First, read the label carefully to make darn sure you’re getting an authentic HE detergent. Some companies claim that their product is “HE Compatible,” when it’s just an ordinary detergent, warns the American Cleaning Institute. HE detergent is a must for an HE machine because regular detergents are so sudsy that they interfere with the machine’s agitating action, resulting in substandard cleaning that threatens its environmental virtue. This excess sudsification may result in deposits of gunk inside your high-tech machine, making it host to infestations of malodorous mold and bacteria. Cleanliness being next to Godliness, your machine is thus a sanctuary, not be defiled by such intruders.

Suds get in the way simply because high-efficiency washers use only about a half to two-thirds as much water as ordinary machines, according to the EPA. (Readers can learn more about these water- and energy-saving washers, at the EPA’s Energy Star site. Your tax dollars at work.)

Continue reading "High-Efficiency Suds" »


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