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5 posts from October 2006

October 27, 2006

Trick or (Fair Trade) Treat

Fair Trade CertifiedIt’s not too late to celebrate Fair Trade Month by picking up some sustainable treats to hand out on Halloween. Buying Fair Trade Certified goods supports a better life for farming families in the developing world by ensuring that they’re paid a fair price for the things they produce. It also helps promote environmental stewardship, good working conditions, and community development. All that, and tasty chocolate too.

October 26, 2006

Gourmet Gas Source

Table scraps from some of San Francisco's top restaurants are being turned into fuel, thanks to a state-of-the-art digester unveiled this week at the University of California at Davis. The methane and hydrogen gas produced will initially be used to power garbage trucks and other commercial vehicles, but could eventually generate household electricity.

Could the innovation be the silver lining to the United States' overconsumptive ways? State Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Gold River) seemed to think so, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that "maybe we can now look at America as the Saudi Arabia of waste."

October 24, 2006

Take Back Your Time

Take Back Your TimeFeeling frazzled? Overworked? I know I am, and I'm not alone--Americans work longer hours than they did in the 1950s, and a stunning nine weeks per year more than Europeans do. Makes me tired just thinking about it. Toss in our consumer-oriented, car-dependent lifestyle and it's no wonder we're spending more time acquiring things and less time enjoying them. (Hectic schedules have also fueled environmentally unfriendly trends toward driving more, buying more pre-packaged food and other goods, and being less engaged with our communities.)

I'm thinking about this today because October 24 is Take Back Your Time Day, an annual event to raise awareness about the "epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment." This year's theme is "Let's Get Back to the Table." So instead of eating on the run tonight, gather with friends or family, savor some good food (locally grown or organic, of course!) and talk about things that matter. It may be just one meal, but it's time to start somewhere.

October 19, 2006

On the Bookshelf: Aftermath

AftermathThe only photographer to gain access to Ground Zero, Joel Meyerowitz spent nine months capturing the monumentality of the wreckage and the tireless efforts of the workers who reverently cleared the site. Hearing him speak at U.C. Berkeley this week added an additional, personal dimension to his richly detailed and dramatically lit photos, 400 of which were recently published in a book, Aftermath.

One image depicts a group of NYPD arson detectives who took Meyerowitz under their wing. All twelve members of the squad, he said, are now sick, just a few of the many victims of the toxic post-9/11 air.

October 16, 2006

Rally 'Round the Rainforest

Saving the rainforests may no longer be the environmental cause du jour for eco-minded celebrities, but these primal, species-rich landscapes still need protection from logging, climate change, and mining and drilling. Rainforest Action Network (RAN) suggests seven days' worth of political and personal actions you can take during World Rainforest Week, which starts today. A few easy ones:

  • Bring your own mug to work, school, or your local cafe. Some coffee shops will even offer a small discount if you do. (I get 10 cents off at my local Peet's, which adds up to about $25 a year for this java junkie--enough to buy two pounds of beans!) Better yet, fill 'er up with some shade-grown coffee, which is grown under canopy trees in a forest, instead of on cleared land.
  • Ride your bike, walk, or take public transportation instead of driving. Sound too tough? Just try it for a day; you may get hooked.
  • Send a letter to ConocoPhillips and ask the oil company not to drill in the Amazon.

Another thing to do is eat less red meat--millions of acres of rainforest are cut down in order to graze cattle. According to RAN, 55 square feet of rainforest are destroyed just to make one fast-food burger. I think I can cut back on a quarter-pounder or two; how about you?

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