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30 posts from January 2008

January 11, 2008

Grapevine

Former Talking Heads front man David Byrne is writing a book, Bicycle Diaries, about urban cycling. * Nissan is installing real-time mpg displays in all its new cars. The company predicts they will cut gas use by 10 percent. * UPS is bolstering its delivery fleet with 300 new vehicles that run on cleaner-burning propane or compressed natural gas. * Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand are racing to be the first airline to test-fly a biofueled jet. * Tully's Coffee has started an in-store collection program for cups and other compostable waste. * The Israeli embassy in the United States is switching its fleet to hybrid-electric vehicles. * California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company gave away a million CFLs last fall.

Movie Friday!

Winter weather getting you down? Escape to the movies with one of our "Film Fridays" selections. Each week we'll feature a movie with environmentally or socially responsible themes that’s currently in theatres or available on DVD.

Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 words or less and we may feature it on the e-mail list!

This week's selection:
The Yes Men
a film by Dan Olman
on DVD/VHS
http://www.theyesmen.org/movie

The Yes Men follows Andy and Mike, a pair of anti-corporate pranksters, as they pose as spokesmen for the World Trade Organization. They attend conferences and even a live television debate, planning to shock audiences with their outrageous proposals to improve global free trade in the best interest of wealthy nations. But Andy and Mike turn out to be the ones who are in for a shock. Amongst the hilarity, this documentary provides a strong social critique of the true nature of free trade, who it benefits, and who it does not.

-- Katie Mathis

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January 10, 2008

Daily Tip: Jan 10, 2008

According to the Sierra Club's Mr. Green, fueling your fire with sustainably harvested or dead trees may be the most ecofriendly way to feed a fireplace, but be sure to ignite them in an EPA-approved fireplace insert or wood stove to slash those nasty particulate emissions. And sometimes, it's better to let dead trees rot; forests may need nutrition from these arboreal corpses.

If you're still using a dirty old traditional fireplace, opt for artificial logs made of materials that might otherwise have been wasted, such as sawdust and wood chips. Because these elements are squeezed together under pressure, the logs are denser and drier than wood, so they burn cleaner and hotter while producing less soot.

Look for manufactured logs made of wood only, and avoid those that contain paraffin, a petroleum-based byproduct with dubious emissions quality. One of the biggest brands, Duraflame, has made its logs greener by phasing out all petroleum-based waxes. Some other options include recycled-paper briquettes (simplefire.com) and logs made of recycled boxes (cleanflamelog.com) and used coffee grounds (java-log.com). If only they smelled like a fresh-brewed espresso.


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January 09, 2008

Science on Tap

Global warming, stem cells, and invasive species aren't typical fodder for happy-hour chitchat. But "science cafes" bring experts to the corner pub for freewheeling conversations on just such topics. It's like the best college lectures--plus beer and minus the exams. The grassroots phenomenon started in 1998 in the United Kingdom; since then, at least 50 cafes have bloomed in the United States, bridging the gulf between great discoveries and regular Joes and Janes. To find an event in your area, visit sciencecafes.org. --David Ferris


January 08, 2008

Help for Holiday Stragglers

OK, people, it's officially the first full week of 2008, the 12 days of Christmas are over and done with, and you can't use your New Year's hangover as an excuse anymore: It's time to take down the holiday decorations. Fortunately, it seems there are many companies and groups eager to help you wrap up the season in a green way:

Lights out: This year, you finally swapped out your incandescent Christmas lights for energy-efficient LED ones. Now, what to do with those old, wasteful, tangled strands? Retailer HolidayLEDs.com is accepting incandescent holiday lights for recycling through the end of the month. Send 'em to:

HolidayLEDs.com
Attn: Recycling Program
120 W. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1403
Jackson, MI 49201

Back to nature: Cut Christmas trees can--and should!--be mulched to help create healthy new soil. Check with your local recycling and disposal company to see if they do curbside pickup or click on over to Earth911 to find a recycling location near you. The National Christmas Tree Association has stories about other cool ways that trees are being recycled around the country.

We greet again: Old holiday cards can provide cheer a second time around. Send them to CardsDirect, which will distribute those that can be reused to charitable organizations and recycle the rest:

CardsDirect 2007/2008 Card Recycling and Re-Use Program
200 Chisholm Place, Suite 220
Plano, TX 75075

Of course, you can also recycle old cards yourself, and/or turn the images into gift tags or new cards for next year.

The gift keeps giving: No need to hunt for receipts or wait in line at the store. Unwanted gifts can be swapped for what you really want online. Even gift cards can be sold back or exchanged.

Daily Tip: Jan 8, 2008

If you don’t have laundry facilities in your home, visit one of the ecofriendly Laundromats that are starting to show up in many cities. They have more efficient machines (usually front-loaders), sell detergents without harmful additives, and may also offer wet cleaning, a less energy- and chemical-intensive version of dry-cleaning. Schlep your clothes to and fro in an organic cotton laundry bag or petroleum-free (non-plastic) basket.

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January 07, 2008

Daily Tip: Jan 7, 2008

Think globally, eat locally. Food that's grown and produced nearby reduces transportation-related emissions and can also be safer because you know the source. If you have them nearby, farmers' markets and farms' U-pick or roadside stands are great places to shop. And some grocery chains like Whole Foods try to stock regional food. (Their qualifier: the food has to travel seven hours or fewer from the farm to be considered local.) But you can look at the label in any grocery store. The sticker will often tell a fruit or vegetable's origin.

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January 04, 2008

Winter weather getting you down?

Winter weather getting you down? Escape to the movies with one of our "Film Fridays" selections. Each week we'll feature a movie with environmentally or socially responsible themes that's currently in theatres or available on DVD.

Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 words or less and we may feature it on the e-mail list!

This week's selection:

Winged Migration
a film by Jacques Perrin

on DVD/VHS
http://www.sonyclassics.com/wingedmigration/

"For eighty million years, birds have ruled the skies, seas and earth," says filmmaker Jacques Perrin. "Each spring, they fly vast distances. Each fall, they fly the same route back. This film is the result of four years following their amazing odysseys, in the northern hemisphere and then the south, species by species, flying over seas and continents." With this strategy, Perrin and his crew have produced a visual treat.

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January 03, 2008

Daily Tip: Jan 3, 2008

How many phone books do you need? Stop getting those bulky throwbacks by contacting the manufacturer (their contact information is usually listed on the phone book’s inside cover) and asking to be taken off their mailing list. Use online phonebooks or search the web to find what you need instead.

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January 01, 2008

New Year, New You

Eight ecofriendly resolutions for a happier, healthier 2008

1. Bring camaraderie to your commute
Carpooling saves gas and turns traffic delays into socializing opportunities. Find fellow riders at goloco.org and zimride.com.

2. Be an informed eater
If you're torn between the trout and the halibut, text 30644 with the message "FISH" and the type you're considering to learn which is the more sustainable choice (fishphone.org).

3. Junk the junk mail
Inundated by catalogs but too lazy to call and get off their mailing lists? Just register with catalogchoice.org, which will do the legwork for you. (Services like greendimes.com and 41pounds.org stop other kinds of junk mail too--for a fee.)

4. Become a mix master
DIY kits make it easy to blend up your own nontoxic household cleansers, skin products, and pet-care items (all from eco-me.com) as well as all-natural baby food (freshbaby.com).

 5. Learn to share
At neighborrow.com and borrowme.com, you can find neighbors willing to lend you books, tools, or other things you'd rather not buy.

6. Give back on your next getaway
Count whales or plant trees in exotic locales--opportunities abound at greenvolunteers.com and in The Ethical Travel Guide (Earthscan) and The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life (National Geographic Books).

7. Just say no to bottled water
If tap water is good enough for some of the country's top restaurants, isn't it good enough for you?

8. See more meaningful movies
Sick of Hollywood fluff? Subscribe to a socially conscious film series at earthcinemacircle.com or ironweedfilms.com and get cinematic conversation-starters delivered to your door.

--Jennifer Hattam

What's your green new year's resolution? Share it with us in the comments section.

(Illustrations by Josef Gast)


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