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26 posts from May 2007

May 21, 2007

Fast Fact

Americans throw away almost 100 billion plastic bags each year; only 1 to 3 percent are recycled.

May 19, 2007

Green Gifts for Your Grad

With the school year drawing to an end, high school and college seniors are getting ready to begin the next phase of their life. Celebrate your grad's achievement with a green gift that will ease (or at least honor) the transition:

  • For the gadget-loving grad: A sleek and sturdy Solio solar charger, will juice up their ubiquitous cell phone, MP3 player, or portable game player on the go. Its fan-blade design collects a lot of energy, but folds up nice and compactly.
  • For the grad on-the-go: A solar backpack or messenger bag from Reware, Voltaic Systems, or Clear Blue Hawaii will charge the same kinds of small accessories as the Solio, and hold lots of gear too. The fabric on some of the Reware bags is even made out of reclaimed soda bottles.
  • For the cyclist grad: A CD rack or picture frame made from old bike parts.
  • For the grad that likes to wear their passions on their sleeve: A special accessory. Tarma's recycled stainless-steel wristbands and pendants are great for sporty types (both male and female), while aspiring writers might cherish cufflinks or earrings made out of old typewriter keys.
  • For the not-so-neat grad: A basket of green cleaning supplies.
  • For the urban grad: A year’s membership in a local car-sharing service, or a green city guide (e.g. the Greenopia guide for San Francisco or Los Angeles, The Big Green Apple for New York).
  • For the grad who’s moving far away: A train ticket for a visit home or some recycled stationery  so they’ll write more often (maybe).
  • For the grad who might otherwise live at McDonald’s: A set of bamboo cookware (durable and easy to clean) and a good cookbook for cheap and healthy food.
  • For the grad on a budget (and aren't they all): A green coupon book with discounts and free offers at environmentally friendly businesses in their new home (e.g. Green Zebra in SF, Chinook Book in the Pacific Northwest, Blue Sky Guide in the Twin Cities).

May 18, 2007

Carnival of Creativity

The tech-savvy and the thrifty, the crafty and the curious will descend on the San Mateo Fairgrounds in northern California this weekend for the Maker Faire, an annual event that organizers are calling "Woodstock for inventors and tinkerers."

Makerfaire_weekend_300x250A spin-off project of Make and Craft magazines, the Maker Faire celebrates DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit, which often involves the ingenious--and environmentally friendly--reuse and reimagining of ordinary materials. Our friends over at ReadyMade will be there, hosting a timed MacGyver challenge competition and showing off some of their latest projects, while the good folks at Swap-O-Rama-Rama will be hosting a refashioned fashion show. All this, and fighting robots too.

May 17, 2007

Urban Bright

It's been a big week for urban greening. With the mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, there are now 500 "Cool Cities"--home to 64 million people--in the United States, each of which have committed to reduce global warming pollution by increasing energy efficiency, transitioning to cleaner vehicles, and switching to renewable power.

CoolcitiesInternationally, 16 cities will get a green "makeover" thanks to the Clinton Foundation, which has partnered with multinational banks and energy service companies to retrofit buildings from Mexico City to Mumbai with energy-saving technologies that will cut power consumption by up to 50 percent.

"Climate change is a global problem that requires local action," former President Clinton said, announcing the program yesterday. "The businesses, banks and cities partnering with my foundation are addressing the issue of global warming because it's the right thing to do, but also because it's good for their bottom line."

May 15, 2007

On the Move?

If you're looking to relocate, NRDC columnist Sheryl Eisenberg has just written up a great set of sustainable factors to consider when searching for a new home. From her May column, "I [Heart] New York (and Other Green Towns)":

  • Is the home located in an existing community on previously developed land?
  • Is there a "Main Street" style shopping area close at hand?
  • Are there appealing parks, plazas and public gathering spots?
  • Are there crosswalks, sidewalks... and walkers?
  • Are there bike paths...and bikers?
  • Are there any farmers' markets in the area?
  • Is there convenient public transit?
  • Is your place of work nearby?
  • Is the water supply clean?
  • Is air quality good?
  • Does the town have a decent recycling program?
  • Does the community have a commitment to managing growth?

For more ideas, check out Sierra's July/August 2006 cover story on green cities, the Sierra Club's "Building Better" reports on America's best development projects, and SustainLane's rankings of the country's 50 largest cities on a comprehensive set of sustainability criteria. The Center for a New American Dream has also published a helpful article on the subject, including its own set of "Tips for House Hunters."

Advice on recharging and recycling

Hey Mr Green In the May/June 2007 issue of Sierra, Mr. Green considers the merits of using a Prius as a power source and offers tips for getting your workplace on the recycling bandwagon.

Curious, concerned, or just generally confused about environmental issues of all stripes? Send your thoughts and questions directly to Mr. Green, or weigh in in the comments section.

May 14, 2007

Fast Fact

Changing your car's air filter every 12,000 miles (usually about once a year) can increase your mileage by up to 10 percent.

May 12, 2007

Fashion Forward

The days of the dowdy environmentalist are très passé: It's easier than ever to do good while looking good too. Here's how:

Opt for organic
Make a fashion statement by supporting designers and manufacturers that care about the planet and are making everything from beach wear to little black dresses out of pesticide-free cotton and wool. Check out Blue Canoe and Patagonia for stylish outdoor and workout clothes; Wildlife Works, No Enemy, and Mission Playground for trendy tees; and Under the Canopy, Of the Earth, and Stewart & Brown for dressier duds. If you can find local options, all the better.

Go alternative
Hemp isn't just for Rasta gear anymore; while it still can't be grown in the United States, imported hemp is making its way into lots of clothes, providing a durable, pesticide-free option for many outfits. Fast-growing bamboo makes lightweight, quick-drying fabrics, while plastic soda bottles are being recycled into fleece.

Continue reading "Fashion Forward " »

May 11, 2007

A Taste of Fair Trade

As people gather tomorrow to taste coffee in San Diego, buy rugs in Boise, or listen to world music in Tallahassee, they’ll be united by a common cause: ensuring that workers around the globe are paid a fair wage for their work.

WorldfairtradedaySimilar events are taking place in two dozen countries as part of World Fair Trade Day, an annual celebration of Fair Trade and a way to spread the word about its benefits, which include community development and environmental sustainability. To spotlight how better wages for adult workers improve children's lives too, this year's theme is "Kids Need Fair Trade" and the variety of family-friendly activities planned make it an excellent pre-Mother's Day outing--or an opportunity to get in some last-minute shopping for Mom.

You can also support Fair Trade year-round by joining Oxfam and Co-op America's consumer campaign to get more Fair Trade products in local supermarkets.

May 10, 2007

Pop Corner

Gw6rushmore_2With its scantily clad models luxuriating on a beach in front of a half-submerged Mt. Rushmore, it was hard to tell how seriously clothing maker Diesel took its global-warming-themed ad campaign. But the March Sports Illustrated cover photo of Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis knee-deep in a flooded base-ball stadium bore an unambiguous message: "Time to pay attention." After describing how climate change is affecting sports--including shorter ski seasons, fewer fishing opportunities, and summer days too hot for football practice--author Alexander Wolff writes, "We don't have the luxury of looking on from the sidelines. We must become players too."

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