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October 16, 2009

Mayim Bialik's Latest Role: Green Mom

Mayim Bialik We know her as Blossom, that spunky adolescent on that eponymous sitcom. But since the series ended in 1995, Mayim Bialik, now 33, has truly blossomed. She’s earned a neuroscience Ph.D. from UCLA, married her college sweetheart, taken on more acting roles, and had two sons. It was that latter development that led her to be the spokesperson for Holistic Moms Network, a nonprofit promoting mothering practices she already espoused: a vegetarian diet, elimination communication, Waldorf-inspired education, a mostly media-free environment, bedsharing, slings instead of strollers, and homemade hygiene products. When Sierra interviewed her by phone, it was over happy background noises made by kids and cats.

Q: So you’re ramping up your acting career again?
A:
Yeah, I guess I am. I was on the path to being a research professor. I just found that it wasn’t going to be compatible to be away from my children all day.

Q: Many child actors seem to grow up into Hollywood’s materialism. What was your path to going the other way?
A:
I come from a very poor background. My grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe, so I always identified with a modest lifestyle. My mom is hip, trendy, and loves shopping, but maybe I inherited the spirit of my great-grandmother and shtetl living. Even when I was 11, I always felt out of sorts getting dressed up. But I enjoyed performing and pretending and felt very comfortable on stage. I never thought I’d become famous. I just enjoyed making people laugh. I’m an old-fashioned performer. I like to sing, I like to dance, I like to have a script and make it come to life.

Q: Why is it important for you to be an environmentally conscious mom?
A:
I feel a strong personal responsibility as a member of the planet to live this way. For me, it’s worth the effort, time, and research to make it work. We have a collective responsibility for the planet that I’m going to leave to my kids and their kids.

Q: What are the most important elements involved in green mothering?
A:
Gentle discipline. Not hitting, not yelling, being a compassionate parent to your child’s needs. Raising sensitive, happy, secure children is the best gift we can give.

Q: How do you raise kids holistically when their friends are eating junk food?
A:
I think when you’re with your child, a lot of these issues aren’t as scary. I know what they’re eating and I know what they’re doing. Their friends’ parents understand his vegetarian and no-TV needs. I give him age-appropriate messages. It’s just like most parents don’t allow alcohol or cigarettes. I tell him that everyone does things differently and that’s OK. It’s very important to us to raise nonjudgmental children who don’t go finger-wagging. When he’s driving himself around, he’s going to make his own decisions, but fast food isn’t something I’m gonna facilitate. Still, at some point he’s going to make his own decisions. You give your children wings so they can fly.

Continue reading "Mayim Bialik's Latest Role: Green Mom" »

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Slay the Vampires!

Boo! In a couple of weeks, ghouls, ghosts, and goblins, among hundreds of candy-ravenous characters, will be haunting the streets. What will provide the biggest scare of all on Halloween, however, is not the costumed creatures. Lurking unnoticed in every house, sucking energy with their deadly fangs, are none other than plugged-in electronic appliances.

Though these devices may not be in use, vampire power – the energy they use while turned off or in stand-by mode – is drawn, wasting some $10 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

Supplying the stake and garlic to help combat the vampires is iGo, Inc., which makes chargers for mobile devices. Their site promoting Vampire Power Awareness Month offers tips and tricks about how to save energy and money, iGo Green “vampire-slaying” products, and a tool to calculate your home's vampire-energy loss. So stop bleeding and start saving.

--Michael Mullaley

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Movie Review Friday: The Great Squeeze

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.

The Great Squeeze: Surviving the Human Project (2008)

Available on DVD

The Great Squeeze is a documentary about how our reliance on fossil fuels has created endless consumerism with dramatic social and environmental consequences. Through anthropologists, economists, and biologists, we hear a message that isn’t exactly new: If we continue down this path, we'll ultimately change Earth's makeup, and humans will go extinct.

However, the film does a great job of crystallizing this message, explaining exactly what we've been doing wrong and how it's affected the planet, laying out the problems that threaten our survival. These include India's and China’s growing industrial economies, the freshwater shortage, and overfishing. These aren't just regional difficulties, the film argues; if one nation fails, it'll affect the rest of the world.

Thankfully, the filmmakers leave viewers with hopeful thoughts about how to redesign communities and downgrade our consumerism to adopt a more sustainable economic model. However, there is an overwhelming element to the documentary, since it's so wide-reaching and covers multiple dimensions of climate change. However, it's definitely worth watching and sharing with others, and its message should not go ignored.

--Julie Littman
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October 15, 2009

Daily Roundup: October 15, 2009

Unhealthy Hydration: Drinking from plastic water bottles, according to a new Harvard/Centers for Disease Control study, raises bisphenol A (BPA) levels in the body by almost 70 percent. BPA is linked to cancer, birth defects, brain damage, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. ENN

A Billion Reasons:
Billionaire George Soros announced that he’ll invest $1 billion in clean-energy technologies and put $100 million toward starting a climate-policy group. Ecorazzi

Not in the Books:
Lawyers agree that current international law isn’t equipped to address the upwards of 1 billion people expected to become climate refugees by 2050. Reuters

In Depth: A plan to build sea-floor observatories around the world for monitoring and researching purposes, funded by more than $100 million from the economic stimulus, is now underway. Nature

Bad Boy: One of the EPA’s most-wanted fugitives, a Utah man, was nabbed in Florida, shot, wounded, then sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sun Sentinel

--Avital Binshtock
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Celebrating Blog Action Day 2009

It's Blog Action Day There was a time when advocates for the environment felt like salmon fighting to swim upstream. Today, green thinking is the stream. Blog Action Day is an annual event that cultivates discussion around an issue of global importance and this year's topic is climate change. With more than 9,000 bloggers in 151 countries writing about global warming, there's no reason for environmentalists to feel alone anymore.

We write about environmental issues every day, but we're especially encouraged by the Blog Action Day posts from blogs that aren't usually focused on climate change. For example, Kay Bell at Don't Mess with Taxes told her readers how to get tax breaks for installing solar panels and Mike Schramm at the Unofficial Apple Weblog wrote about five world-saving iPhone apps.

If you're new to our site, we encourage you to check out some of our previous posts about the simple things you can do to protect the environment every day, such as unplugging appliances when they're not in use, avoiding bottled water, opting for reusable shopping bags, and commuting by bike. You can get these quick tips delivered directly to your inbox if you sign up for our Daily Green Tip emails.

--Della Watson

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Opt Out of Phone Books to Save Trees

Yellowpages Ever found yourself craving a slice of your favorite pizza but not being able to remember the place's number? You used to look it up in the phone book, right? Today, though, chances are you'll just look it up online. So why are 5 million trees still being cut down to publish paper phone directories?

Banthephonebook.org, sponsored by White Pages, is working to stop phone companies from sending customers these wasteful products.

The campaign’s site points out that 80 percent of consumers would rather have an opt-in program by which they'd request a phone book instead of having it automatically delivered. Just another way we can help stop deforestation and unnecessary waste.

--Julie Littman

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Lonely National Parks Seek Visitors

Swam.traill Meet Congaree National Park. It's a peaceful marshland in South Carolina boasting old-growth floodplain forests, tranquil fishing spots, and a 50-mile paddling trail for canoeists and kayakers. 

But as of August, Congaree had only gotten about 63,000 visitors in 2009. Compare that to the 3.5 million Yosemite gets each year and we're left thinking: where's the love?

Don’t get us wrong – we adore the heavy hitters on our national park lineup. Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and others of the in-crowd have rightfully earned our affection. But there's a whole realm of overlooked parks packed with prime hiking, camping, and paddling opportunities. Visit them, and you can expect fewer gift shops and more chances to connect with nature.

That's why we were delighted when the Los Angeles Times ran a photo essay about Congaree and more of our least-visited national parks. It has us itching for our tents and hiking boots.

-- Année Tousseau

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Green Your Hair Care: Styling Products

Girl.combing.hair Last winter we recommended a few green shampoos. This week we're offering more tips on eco-friendly hair care.

Tip #4: Style Green.

Look for natural hair-care products that don't contain any petroleum-based ingredients. Healing Scents' gels scored high on the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Safety Database, as did those from Kiss My Face.

If you eschew styling products, you get green bonus points. But you still might want a brush. Ambassador makes plastic-free ones from sustainable, non-exotic woods and bristles shaved from farm-raised boars. They come in recycled packaging printed with soy ink.

Share your tips: What are your favorite eco-friendly styling products?

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October 14, 2009

Daily Roundup: October 14, 2009

Big Ag Barks: The American Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest farmer's group, is launching a campaign against climate legislation. Green, Inc. (NYT)

Get Out of Here: Ireland is banning the production of genetically modified crops and starting new labeling for GM-free products. ENN

Truth is Out: A 2007 EPA report which scientifically proved climate change to be a threat, but was ignored by the Bush administration, was released to the public. Los Angeles Times

California Paradox: California is one of the nation’s leaders in alternative energy, but state regulations are slowing down clean-energy projects. Wall Street Journal

Trees, Please: Two new studies prove that forests and oceans are more cost-effective than carbon-capture technologies when it comes to reducing carbon. Ecologist

--Kyle Boelte

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Walking Hard for the Money

To the avid multitasker/workaholic who spends hours each day sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen (but who also likes to squeeze exercise into the day): Your life just got easier. You can now burn calories and lose weight without ever having to leave your desk. Check out the chuckle-worthy video above to see how.

The human body has evolved the ability to walk 30 miles per day, but the average American walks only two. TrekDesk has the good intentions of reducing obesity and cutting healthcare costs with its desktop work station that attaches to a treadmill. People can meet their walking, fitness, and health goals all while staying at their desk.

We know that walking improves health – studies by the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Diabetes Association prove that it reduces the rates of most cancers, the number of initial heart attacks, and the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and strokes.

But what this treadmill-turned-desk offers in convenience, it lacks in satisfying another basic human need: to push away from that ever-alluring desk and to put one foot in front of the other in the places in which we evolved to do so. In nature.

--Michael Mullaley

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