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49 posts from July 2008

July 31, 2008

Movie Review Friday -- Waterworld

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Friday selections. Each week we review a film with environmentally or socially-responsible themes that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD.

Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 words or less and look for your review in the next Movie Friday!

Waterworld (1995)
Available on DVD

When it came out back in the innocent days of 1995, Kevin Costner's aqua-apocalyptic epic Waterworld was reviled as, at best, a seaborne version of Road Warrior in which ragtag forces of good and evil do battle many leagues above the carcass of a flooded Earth. It also weathered scorn for being one of the most expensive movies ever made (adjusted for inflation, its $175 million price tag ranks sixth all-time). Its production cost, of course, pales in comparison with how much we're going to have to pay to deal with the future that it portends.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday -- Waterworld" »

Green Your Meal -- Share the Green Clean

Next time you're heading to a dinner party and scrambling to find a little something for the hosts, swing by the household cleaners aisle. Easy Green Living author Renee Loux recommends bringing a basket of low-impact cleaning products. Grocery stores increasingly stock plant-based liquid soaps, so you can pick up a tasty baguette in the same trip.

Share your tips: What's your standby green gift?

July 30, 2008

Textbook Downloads -- Green or Not?

Laptop_outsideIn four years, a typical college student in the U.S. spends $4,000 on textbooks. Not being of a generation to stand by and get squeezed, young scholars are starting to scream about rising costs. After all, an average student spends less than half that amount on alcohol in the same period, according to data from 2005.

But we know students care about more than beer budgets. How about the fact that four years' worth of college textbooks use the paper equivalent of yields from at least six 40-foot trees? With publishers furiously putting out new editions (New York Times Digital Domain columnist Randall Stross explains why ), the environmental footprint of college texts could swell to mammoth size all too soon. Not pretty.

Continue reading "Textbook Downloads -- Green or Not?" »

Green Your Meal -- Dessert

Celebrating this summer? Snag the last of the rhubarb from a local farmers market or CSA and finish off your meal with strawberry and rhubarb crisp (Chicago’s Green City Market offers a tasty recipe). If the key ingredients aren't available in your area when life calls for a crisp, try raspberries, guava, or kiwi as strawberry stand-ins and cranberries or quince in place of rhubarb, depending on what's in season. Visit localharvest.org for places to buy local produce in your area. --Leigh Barkley

Share your stories: Have you joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? Has it changed the way you cook, eat, or think about food?

July 29, 2008

When Trees Draw

Tree_on_white_istock_000005038383xs There was a time when we considered elephant artists to be breaking news. These days, it's not uncommon to encounter paintings by pachyderms, chimpanzees, cats, and dogs. But drawings by trees? Now we're shocked.

The arboreal art is the work of British artist Tim Knowles, who attaches writing implements to the tips of tree branches, then lets nature take over.  "Akin to scientific experimentation and investigation," writes Knowles, "the results of my projects [although operating within carefully developed controls and parameters] are unpredictable and outside my control." As the wind blows the tree's pen-tipped branches, a unique image is created.

Nature reaps varied rewards for its creativity. While the sale of some Asian elephants' paintings helps to fund sanctuaries that provide food, shelter, and veterinary care for the endangered species, it doesn't look like the trees will be reimbursed for their artistic efforts.

Should tree drawings be considered art? Tell us what you think!

Source:  Inhabitat

Green Your Meal -- Ceviche

Ceviche_plate Ah, ceviche: a citrusy, summer-perfect seafood salad. Make it sustainable by opting for fish that the Monterey Bay Aquarium lists as a best choice in its Seafood Watch guides. If you’re near the Chesapeake Bay, try local wild-caught striped bass. Living elsewhere? Try Spanish or king mackerel, wild-caught Alaska salmon, bay scallops, or any tuna variety listed as a best choice. Bonus: The citric acid in a ceviche marinade tenderizes fish and helps inhibit bacterial growth, so you can "cook" sans-heat on muggy summer nights. --Leigh Barkley

Share your tips: What is your favorite refreshing dish or drink for a dog-days dinner party?

July 28, 2008

Clothing Swaps and Frugalistas

Actress Lindsay Lohan, queen of the recyclable tabloid headline (“Another Scandal for LiLo!”), staked out a new domain for promoting reuse this summer: Visa Swap, the United Kingdom’s annual vintage and gently used clothing fest. Lohan’s was the fashionably furrowed face of this year’s three-week-long extravaganza, in which people traded unwanted clothes, shoes, and accessories for points. Earlier this month, swappers used their points to buy stylish second-hand stuff brought in by fellow participants. Anything not snapped up went to the charity Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development, which collects and sells used clothing to help fund projects like a solar-entrepreneur-training program in northern Malawi. Scandalous!

Of course, the idea of trading clothes is older than even the most dated dress in your closet. But today's economy and shopper's heightened awareness of environmental and social issues have infused swap soirees with a new buzz. Clothing Swap founder Suzanne Agasi touts swaps as a way to do right by the planet, while London's Sun traces the trend to so-called frugalistas--would-be fashionistas hit hard in recent months by the credit crunch who have found new (well, new-to-them) ways to revive their wardrobes.

Continue reading "Clothing Swaps and Frugalistas" »

Return of the Victory Garden

Tomatoes_in_hand_istock_00000604151 Chalk up another victory for local, sustainable food:  Slow Food Nation's Victory Garden is growing strong on the lawn of San Francisco's Civic Center. Named after WWII-era victory gardens, the project is designed to provide a community food source.

Encouraged by the U.S. government to plant gardens to combat food shortages, ordinary Americans produced between 30 and 40 percent of the country's vegetables during the 1940s.

San Francisco's newest victory garden was planted with the help of volunteers, including the staff of Sunset magazine. Even when they're not helping Slow Food Nation plant seedlings, the folks at Sunset take local eating seriously; their "One-Block Feast" initiative transformed a backyard into a locavore's smorgasbord.

"The swell of interest in local eating," says Margo True, food editor for the magazine, "seems to be the happy manifestation of so many things:  the economy, distrust of imported food and industrialized food, better understanding of the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in our diet, and the green movement." In tough times, edible gardens gain popularity. As silver linings go, a delicious backyard feast isn't too shabby.

Continue reading "Return of the Victory Garden" »

Green Your Meal -- Seasonal Foods

Tomato_lover_2 You don't have to be Popeye to enjoy a green meal. Whether you’re sweltering in the nation’s capital or keeping cool in the Windy City this summer, try recipes based on local, seasonal ingredients to keep the environmental impact of your grub to a minimum. This doesn't mean you have to give up on favorite dishes that call for ingredients from far away places. Rather, you can whip them up with a little creativity and substitutes from local harvests.

Don't know where to begin? Start with foods available at a nearby farmers market or raid the produce aisle for basil, bell peppers, green beans, summer squash, and tomatoes--all in season during July and August.

What's your favorite seasonal recipe? Have you found good substitutes for delicious but long-distance foods? Share your tips and ideas here.

July 25, 2008

Movie Review Friday -- Thunderheart

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Friday selections. Each week we'll review a film with environmentally or socially-responsible themes that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD.

Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 words or less and look for your review in the next Movie Friday!

Thunderheart (1992)
Available on DVD

Based on real events of the 1970s American Indian Movement, director Michael Apted's Thunderheart stars Val Kilmer as an FBI agent with Sioux heritage dropped into a politically charged investigation. Graham Green costars as a tribal policeman and Chief Ted Thin Elk delivers a quirky performance that just might convince you that a Mr. Magoo-like spiritual adviser is exactly what’s missing from your life. Stark vistas of the badlands and South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation frame the reluctant cultural enlightenment of Kilmer's character, while pollution from uranium mining along the reservation's river emerges as a possible motive for murder.

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