The Green Life:

« October 2006 | Main | December 2006 »

25 posts from November 2006

November 30, 2006

Fair Treat

Fair Trade partyFair-trade parties give the Tupperware model a sustainable twist by offering edible, wearable, and decorative products that support workers and environmental initiatives in developing countries. While some organizations will provide hosts with goods to sell, you can do it yourself by supplying educational pamphlets, a few donated samples, catalogs to order from, and fair-trade coffee and sweets to entice guests. sierraclub.org/trade/fair_trade

(Illustration by Mark Matcho)

Big Issues on the Big Screen

Manufactured LandscapesTwo Sierra favorites are going to be making a splash at Sundance. The directors of Blue Vinyl will premiere their latest movie, a documentary about climate change, at the prestigious film festival in January. Everything's Cool follows a group of "self-appointed global warming messengers...on a high stakes quest to find the iconic image, proper language, and points of leverage to help the public go from embracing the urgency of the problem to creating the political will necessary to move to an alternative energy economy." Sounds a little wonky, but based on their engaging, personal last film, we'll give Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold the benefit of the doubt.

The event will also mark the U.S. premiere of Manufactured Landscapes, a Canadian doc about Toronto-based photographer Edward Burtynsky, whose uncomfortably gorgeous images of large-scale environmental destruction have wowed me for years.

See you at the movies!

November 29, 2006

Tip Sheet

Gift_2Spread a little love for the planet along with your holiday cheer. Green gifts are often unique and more meaningful than run-of-the-mill purchases, and they're easier than ever to find:

  • Buy recycled, organic, fair-trade, and other environmentally friendly items like those found at greatgreengoods.com and greenpages.org.
  • Give green experiences such as a certificate to an organic restaurant, a produce subscription to a local farm (find both at localharvest.org), or a membership in a cycling club or car-share program (such as zipcar.com).
  • Make activism giftworthy by combining an inspiring book or DVD (get ideas at sierraclub.org/sierra/letstalk), a compact fluorescent bulb, and some organic treats in an attractive, reusable container. (Gogreengift.com sells a prepackaged version.)
  • Wrap it right with a reusable gift bag (such as wrapsacks.com), or make the wrapping part of the gift by swathing it in a scarf or other fabric.

For more ideas, visit newdream.org/holiday and www.coopamerica.org/programs/shopunshop.

November 28, 2006

Eaters' Oasis

In the ultimate eco-eating experience, environmentally friendly food would be cooked by energy-efficient appliances in a kitchen built with safe, salvaged materials (floor-to-ceiling suggestions from GreenHomeGuide.com are outlined below). But it doesn't take a big investment to add some sustainable flair to your meals. Set the table with recycled-beer-bottle tumblers; some colorful, naturally lacquered bowls made of fast-growing bamboo; and a sleek serving tray made of an old washing-machine drum. An in-kitchen composter will take care of the scraps.

kitchen diagram

1. natural light
2. compact fluorescent fixtures
3. low-toxicity paint
4. formaldehyde-free cabinets
5. bamboo cabinet doors
6. salvaged-stone countertops
7. natural linoleum flooring
8. on-demand hot water
9. ecofriendly cleaners

(Diagram courtesy of greenhomeguide.com)

Fast Fact

High-definition TVs use up to 64 percent more electricity than similar-size conventional sets (pdf link; see Table 5).

November 27, 2006

Outspoken Advice for All Your Disposal Dilemmas

Mr Green In the November/December 2006 issue of Sierra, Mr. Green explains what to do with your old Energizers, offers some ecumenical advice to a churchgoer concerned about Styrofoam and stewardship, and reconsiders the garbage disposal.

Not sure what to buy or how to get rid of something? Send your thoughts and questions directly to Mr. Green, or weigh in in the comments section.

November 21, 2006

Keepin’ It Local on Thanksgiving

If you're still plotting out your menu for Thursday's big meal, consider incorporating some local foods into your holiday repertoire. Guests at the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) Sierra Club's "Cooking Locally for the Holidays" meal last week feasted on roasted winter squash soup, smoked pastured turkey with stone-ground cornmeal and squash dressing, roasted root vegetables and southern cooked greens, and a dessert of pumpkin roulage--all prepared by local chefs and caterers using fresh, local, in-season ingredients.

Thanksgiving1"Small family farmers are better for the environment," Sierra Club representative Peggie Griffin told the Tuscaloosa News. "It's also better for the local economy, because...when we spend our food dollars with small family farmers, we are keeping money in our community." Added local caterer Walter Flowers, "The locally grown products are much fresher and healthier, too."

Thanksgiving2For more tips, check out Worldwatch's coverage of "families and individuals [who] have committed to generating one dish, or even their whole holiday meal, from sources within 100 miles of their homes" (the 100-Mile Thanksgiving challenge) and the seasonal ideas for vegetarians over at Grist and the Organic Consumers Association.

November 20, 2006

GarbageScout, RIP

VacuumsMuch to my boyfriend's chagrin, I'm a sucker for free stuff on the street. I don't always pick it up, but I love checking it out (and often photographing it), and I've got this habit to thank for a faux-gilded mirror frame, a nice set of candles, and some other little treasures. So I was stoked when I heard about GarbageScout--a New York-based online mapping system for people to report cool stuff that's been put out to the curb--and a little bummed when I learned that founder James Nachlin had recently shut the site down. Somewhat ironically, he'd been plagued with a spam problem--real junk getting in the way of good "junk."

I still think it's a great idea, and hope some tech-savvy trash-lover starts it up again. Seems like there's a lot of new mapping sites that could work well for this sort of thing.

Any other junk fans out there? What's the best thing you've ever recycled from the street?

November 17, 2006

Think Globally, Buy Locally

Buy LocalTomorrow is Buy Local Day, so whether you're getting started on your holiday shopping, or picking up something practical for yourself, bypass the big chain stores (they're gonna be way crowded anyway) and make your way to the neighborhood mom 'n' pop. Sponsored by some of the Green Life's favorite groups (including The Center for a New American Dream, Co-Op America, Global Exchange, and the Organic Consumers Association), Buy Local Day encourages consumers to "vote with their dollars" and support stores that build community rather than tear it down to build a mammoth parking lot.

What's your favorite local store, and what's the best thing about shopping there?

November 16, 2006

Put a Cork in It

Wine snobs have it right: Sealing bottles with real corks (pdf) is the way to go. Unlike synthetics, they're biodegradable; require little energy to make; and are sustainably harvested, providing jobs for rural communities. (The material comes from the cork oak's bark, which can be removed without damaging the tree.) But the trend toward other toppers could destroy the commercial value of--and the incentive to protect--2.7 million acres of Mediterranean forests. More wine, anyone?

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top

Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2009 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.