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26 posts from May 2012

May 17, 2012

Test Your Bike IQ: How Much Does it Cost?

How much does it cost to repair a bike?You know it. You love it. The bicycle is a clean machine in a carbon-fueled world. To celebrate Bike to Work Week and National Bike Month, we put together a quiz to test your transportation IQ.

Q: On average, the annual operating cost of a car is $8,220. How much does it cost per year to maintain a bike?

A) $308

B) $3,020

C) $20

Continue reading "Test Your Bike IQ: How Much Does it Cost?" »

May 16, 2012

Test Your Bike IQ: If They Build It...

Bikes on the Brooklyn BridgeYou know it. You love it. The bicycle is a clean machine in a carbon-fueled world. To celebrate Bike to Work Week and National Bike Month, we put together a quiz to test your transportation IQ.

Q: Biking and walking are popular modes of transportation — about 12 percent of all trips made in the U.S. are by bike or on foot. What percentage of federal transportation spending funds bike and pedestrian infrastructure?

A) 12 percent

B) 1.6 percent

C) 75 percent

Continue reading "Test Your Bike IQ: If They Build It..." »

May 15, 2012

Test Your Bike IQ: Pedals vs Pumps

Run errands by bikeYou know it. You love it. The bicycle is a clean machine in a carbon-fueled world. To celebrate Bike to Work Week and National Bike Month, we put together a quiz to test your transportation IQ.


Q: Bikes are ideal for short excursions to the grocery, post office, or library. Whether by car, bike, or foot, what percentage of trips occur within two miles of home?

A) 40 percent

B) 15 percent

C) 82 percent

Continue reading "Test Your Bike IQ: Pedals vs Pumps" »

May 14, 2012

Test Your Bike IQ: Bikeways vs Highways

Bike laneYou know it. You love it. The bicycle is a clean machine in a carbon-fueled world. To celebrate Bike to Work Week and National Bike Month, we put together a quiz to test your transportation IQ.


Q: The city of Portland, Oregon, has won praise for its city-wide bicycle network, which cost $60 million. How many miles of urban highway would that amount fund?

A) 362 miles

B) one mile

C) 21 miles

Continue reading "Test Your Bike IQ: Bikeways vs Highways" »

May 10, 2012

Green Moms: Kid-Safe Cleaners

Cleaning products

Green moms, you inspire us. This Mother's Day, we've got cost- and earth-saving tips just for you.

Tip #4: Use kid-safe cleaning products.

Expectant mothers should limit their exposure to harmful chemicals, and replacing household cleaning products with DIY or organic, non-toxic options benefits children both before and after birth.

According to Inhabitots, the Environmental Working Group warns that the following toxins should be avoided in baby products: 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-DIOL (or Bronopol), BHA, DMDM Hydantoin, Oxybenzone, Triclosan, Boric Acid and Sodium Borate, Dibutyl Pthalate and Toleune. Those are a lot of ingredients.  

A safer list?  Make your own cleaners with baking soda, table salt, white vinegar, olive oil, natural soap, lemons, organic essential oils, spray bottles, and natural sponges. Check out our ingredient lists for natural stain removers, silverware polish, and even shoe deodorizers!

Bonus: We've got Mother's Day covered! Send your mom an e-card, browse gift ideas, and check out our Mothers in Nature slideshow.

--Image from iStock/Sadeugra

May 09, 2012

Gorilla Goes to Emergency Room

Gorilla 4718 035Over the weekend, the Nebraska Medical Center opened its doors to a unique patient: Tubby the gorilla. Apparently, Tubby (his given name is Motuba) got into it with another male gorilla at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

During feeding time, zookeepers responded to a commotion in Tubby’s enclosure and noticed that his canine tooth was sticking out at an odd angle. He was sedated and transported to the hospital, where handlers covered him with a blanket and rolled him through the emergency room doors.

“It’s possible that he was punched by another gorilla, but we’ll never know what happened for sure,” said Doug Armstrong, director of animal health at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

Gorilla 4718 110Tubby, who’s in his mid-twenties, was brought to the hospital because his injury required a CT scan. Doctors diagnosed a fractured jaw and operated on him in the scanning room. He is now convalescing back at the zoo, where he’s expected to make a full recovery. Good for Tubby, who probably isn’t happy with his soft diet of microwaved vegetables and mushy biscuits.

HS_JakeAbrahamson (4)--Jake Abrahamson is the editorial assistant at Sierra


Images courtesy of Francois Bates 

Other Zoo News: Check out this video (below) of Shanthi the elephant playing harmonica.

Continue reading "Gorilla Goes to Emergency Room" »

Green Moms: Cloth vs. Biodegradable Diapers

Green diaper

Green moms, you inspire us. This Mother's Day, we've got cost- and earth-saving tips just for you.

Tip #3: Know your diaper options.

One of the most heated discussions in the mommy blogosphere is on the efficacy of cloth diapers -- whether the waste reduction is outweighed by the laundering required and if the clean-up is worth new mothers' already-limited time. To make the debate even more interesting, some moms are ditching diapers altogether.

We asked a few moms to weigh in.

Cloth: Sierra Club employee and green mom Kelly G. opts for cloth diapers, so we asked her to share her story: "Using cloth diapers has been great! We always knew we would go in this direction and it couldn't be easier. Many parents have misconceptions about cloth diapers. I would say if you're thinking about it using them you should at least try it! I highly recommend using a service to help you out for the first few months."

Diaper Free: Actress and green mom Mayim Bialik traded diapers for "elimination communication" with her children. "When I first learned about it I thought it was the craziest thing I’ve ever heard," Bialik told Sierra magazine. "But it’s being talked about a lot more. It’s a diaper-free movement that’s based on the fact that children give signals. It’s a really profound level of communicating with your child. My second son was dry by 11 months."  Read the complete interview.

Biodegradable: On-the-go mom Erin B. normally uses Huggies, so we asked her to give compostable diapers a try. Here's what she had to say about the new line of biodegradable diapers from Elements Naturals: "It worked really well. They were very absorbent. I didn't like the material, which felt plastic-y, but the diapers seemed to do the job."

Tell us what you think in the comments!

Bonus: Do you remember the Million Baby Crawl?

 --Image from iStock/Julie Fairman

The Art of "Vegan Taxidermy"

Heron sculpture by Aimée BaldwinAimée Baldwin's bird sculptures are as lifelike as the best models in a natural history museum. Yet they don't involve any loss of life or toxic preservatives.

Thus her name for them — "vegan taxidermy."

Baldwin, a 36-year-old sculptor in Berkeley, California, creates her stunningly detailed birds out of crepe paper, papier-mâché, and other low-tech art supplies.

Woodpeckers. Warblers. Great blue herons. . . . Every piece is one-of-a-kind. Baldwin spends from 10 to 80 hours on each one, depending on its size. 

Baldwin's love of nature began as a child. But she never applied it to her artistic work until about ten years ago, when a friend with an art supply store asked for help showing customers what they could create with a special line of heavy-duty German crepe paper.

The paper was traditionally used for paper flowers, and Baldwin started out making party favors.  But she was inevitably drawn to wildlife.

Burrowing owl  by Aimée Baldwin"I moved into birds because I like animals and creatures, and the paper works well for feathers," she said.

Baldwin builds her birds from a Styrofoam core, layered with papier-mâché. She adds wire for legs, "sculpting goo" for bills, and glass taxidermy eyes — the only part of the bird she doesn't make by hand.

Then she painstakingly paints and cuts the crepe paper for feathers.

But before all that, she studies her subjects. In photos, field guides and web sites.

And ideally, in the field.

"I'm definitely more inspired if I get out and see birds doing things," she said. "They don't sit still or let me get close. But I prefer to see live birds moving around. It says a lot about their personality."

Continue reading "The Art of "Vegan Taxidermy"" »

May 08, 2012

Green Moms: Swap Meet!

Baby shoes

Green moms, you inspire us. This Mother's Day, we've got cost- and earth-saving tips just for you.

Tip #2: Trade baby gear.

Vintage fashion is in, and there's no reason babies can't take advantage of the trend.  Frugalista moms can exchange baby clothing and outgrown gear through online or in-person swap meets. These pocketbook-friendly swaps also help reduce clutter and avoid waste (not to mention the carbon footprint of manufacturing new car seats and baby furniture).  

Websites like thredUP and SwapBabyGoods can facilitate the process. If you're feeling gregarious, organize your own champagne- and cupcake-laced night with a few pals and some hand-me-downs.

Bonus: Learn how to dress your baby like an eco-athlete!

--Image from iStock/Michał Rojek

May 07, 2012

World Financial Center Hangs Garbage Chandelier

Katharine Harvey chandelierIn 2006, Canadian visual artist Katharine Harvey dreamed of creating an installation that exceeded the limits of her pocketbook. “I wanted to build a waterfall, and I wanted to make something big, but I didn’t have much of a budget at the time,” she said. She was in search of affordable materials that might resemble water when it occurred to her: plastics.
From that point onward, Harvey began to collect discarded plastic. She would go down the street with her car and pick up bottles and other packaging, which she would wash, de-label, and string together for a series of mesmerizing installations. Between projects, she stored her heap of materials in a friend’s barn, where they awaited future use.
Six years later, many of those same materials can be found hanging in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center in Manhattan. This April, on the eve of Earth Day, Harvey and four assistants hung 450 pounds of water bottles, salad boxes, toy packaging, and egg cartons above the Garden’s marble staircase. Taken together, these materials do not resemble trash; they resemble a shimmering chandelier.
The chandelier, originally installed at Toronto’s Brookfield Place, is framed perfectly by the architecture of the Winter Garden. “It’s the best placement I’ve ever had for a piece I’ve done in a public space,” Harvey said. “It’s placed in the middle of the staircase, and people can practically walk above it, or in the middle of it, or further down.” Harvey also noted that the chandelier is “made out of transparent materials, which have an interesting relationship to the glass ceiling in the winter garden. There are all these interrelations between the transparency of the piece and the glass. The lighting is fantastic.”

Continue reading "World Financial Center Hangs Garbage Chandelier " »

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