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78 posts from October 2008

October 24, 2008

Daily Roundup

Let Sleeping Bats Hang: Thousands of bats in Turkey can rest easy. Plans to pump water into the newly completed Havran Dam reservoir have been stalled till Spring, saving the hibernating bats from a deadly flood. Treehugger

River Wild: Water power is in the works for New York's Niagara River. A Texas energy company is exploring the possibility of installing 90 underwater turbines. Plenty

Awaiting the Revenge: Just like Halloween zombies, a great green idea is rising from the dead. The folks behind Who Killed the Electric Car are making a new movie that'll celebrate electric's rebirth. Auto Blog Green

Green Money: Want to make money and save the world? Read about sustainability in higher education with a spotlight on green MBA programs. WorldChanging

Food Fit for a Star: It's time to plan that leisurely and luxurious weekend brunch. Kick up the class with Gwyneth Paltrow's vegan pancake recipe. Oscar not included. Ecorazzi

Hang Onto Your Sharpies, Surgeons

Marking-pen President George W. Bush reportedly writes only with Sharpies. He's not the only one who favors the pen with the smudge-free ink. Apparently it's also a doctor’s preferred tool for marking incision points on a patient’s body prior to surgery. Like many other tools, Sharpies are discarded after each surgery to avoid contamination. But new research shows the alcohol-based ink kills bacteria picked up in the OR--which means hospitals could curb wasteful spending and ramp up reuse, as Discovery's Discoblog explains:

The finding is huge for hospital administrators , who are thrilled at the prospect of saving thousands of dollars by reusing the markers, which cost $2 each.

Continue reading "Hang Onto Your Sharpies, Surgeons" »

How to Beat a Hybrid's MPG

TwopeoplecarAh, the hybrid: So efficient, so expensive, and so often carrying a solo driver. With demand for hybrid vehicles holding relatively strong (sales are down, but they make up a growing share of the light-vehicle market) we decided to look at how the green machines compare to some of the most efficient, affordable, and overlooked cars on the road. Where can you find these mystery vehicles? Look to your left. They're cruising in the carpool lane.

While the Prius might be the one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the U.S. market, a Honda Accord uses less fuel than two Priuses driving the same distance. If you have three people, then heck, even piling into a Hummer would be more efficient than having each person drive a hybrid. (Of course, three people in a hybrid would be the greener choice.) If you're looking at hybrids as a way to save money on gas (rather than a way to feel environmentally virtuous), good news: you can save even more if you've got carpool buddy splitting the tab for those sips of gas.

--Michael Fox

Carbon Credits for Bridge and Tunnel Crowd

The George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey Drivers of the more than 254 million vehicles using New York and New Jersey's six bridges and tunnels every year will soon have the option to offset emissions through the region's Port Authority. According to the New York Times City Room blog, the program is a first for tolling agencies in the United States.

"We want to create a way so that our money and our patrons’ money becomes a deep enough pool of capital to invest in things," agency chairman Anthony R. Coscia told the Times in April. The idea, he said, is to eventually fund local renewable energy and cleanup projects. For now, Port Authority has awarded $2.5 million in contracts for carbon brokers to purchase credits in 2009 and 2010 and bring the new commuter offset program online next year.

Continue reading "Carbon Credits for Bridge and Tunnel Crowd" »

Movie Review Friday -- 24 Hours on Craigslist

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!

24 Hours on Craigslist (2005)
Available on DVD

Not all transactions conducted via craigslist.org count as recycling — not technically, at least. But what began as San Francisco resident Craig Newmark's personal email list of goods for sale or exchange has within a few short years become arguably the world's most active recycling/reuse network.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday -- 24 Hours on Craigslist" »

October 23, 2008

Daily Roundup

Power On: Ausra opened a solar power plant in Bakersfield, California today. Expected to generate enough power for 3,500 homes, it's a small fry compared to the 177 megawatt facility planned for 2010. MSNBC

Mass Gridlock: Americans have taken more trips on public transit this year than anytime since the Model T hit it big. Now transportation funding is on the chopping block and fares are on the rise. Will the new straphangers revert to gas guzzling? Salon

Locally Grown, DC Edition: The White House grounds cover 18 acres. What if a few of them were converted to grow food? A runner up in a contest on Vimeo.com challenges the next "eater in chief" to plant an edible landscape. Red Green and Blue

Potent Stuff: New research finds a greenhouse gas used to make flat-panel monitors and thin-film solar cells has become four times more concentrated in the atmosphere than previously thought. Uh oh. Mongabay

Mobile Home: It has six legs, runs on solar and wind power, and can creep away from a flood on any terrain. Designers say their "Walking House" prototype could offer a housing solution as sea levels rise. Daily Mail

Solar Extravaganza

Solar_power_2Think photovoltaic panels are strictly for rooftops? Think again. Solar is surfacing in the unlikeliest of places, such as these three weird and wonderful solar applications:

Green Lingerie Despite the fact that most bras are shaded by shirts, Triumph International Japan Limited has introduced a solar bra capable of generating enough wattage to power an iPod, that is, if the sun's rays are allowed to reach the undergarment's solar panel.

Power Packs When purchasing a tote bag, why stop at recycled and organic fabrics? For those who need on-the-go power, carry Reware's solar-powered bags.

Solar Shellfish To restore oyster reefs in New York City's polluted waterways, James Cervino and Thomas Goreau are using electrification. Solar powered metal spirals create a chemical reaction in seawater that causes a build up of limestone, a mineral which the oysters use to fortify their shells.

Big Bucks to Boost a Sweetener's Image

Corn High-fructose corn syrup, the ubiquitous sweetener pumped into soft drinks, bread, and a variety of processed foods, has been pummeled by nutritionists as being a gateway to obesity. Others (including corn industry representatives), cite studies showing that the body can't tell the difference between high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugar. Either way, consumption of the sweetener has been on the decline for a decade. The Corn Refiners Association is trying to change that with a new $30 million advertising campaign, Grist reports.

Health effects aside, HFCS is also an environmental issue--and not only because turning acres of yellow corn into ultra-sweet syrup requires a great deal of energy. Most corn is grown as a monoculture (meaning only one crop on a plot of land), which requires more chemical treatments than rotating crops.

Continue reading "Big Bucks to Boost a Sweetener's Image" »

2009 Fuel Economy: Prius Takes #1, Again

Hybridcar If you're shopping for a new car next year (or wondering how much your gas-guzzling neighbors are spending on fuel), the EPA has just published your suggested reading: The 2009 Fuel Economy Guide. Hybrids swept the top four spots this time, with the 2009 Toyota Prius ranking as the most fuel efficient car for the third year in a row. The three-cylinder Smart Fortwo came in at number five, making it the most fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicle.

Other standouts: Volkswagen's new diesel-powered Jettas debuted in the top ten--a sign, perhaps, of more diesels to come. According to the LA Times blog Up to Speed, the Jetta TDI is "presumptively the first of a flood of European-made diesels to hit every one of our states." Described by insiders as "50-state compliant" diesels, the new vehicles have been engineered to meet more stringent emissions standards, which allow less particulate matter and nitrogen oxide, a key ingredient for smog formation and acid rain. (Hybridcars.com has a helpful comparison of diesel pros and cons on Yahoo! Auto's Green Center.)

We've posted the EPA's top ten after the jump. You can also download the full guide here [PDF], or at fueleconomy.gov for a breakdown of winners by category (subcompact, compact, etc.).

Continue reading "2009 Fuel Economy: Prius Takes #1, Again" »

Green Pet Care -- Food

Protien_requirements_differHow green are your furry friends? This week we'll provide tips for pet owners.

Tip #4: Chew on Organics

Last year's massive pet food recall stunned pet owners, but the dirt on dog food doesn't end there. Even if it's not contaminated with melamine, conventional pet food is often made from low-grade animal byproducts, including meat from diseased livestock. Choose certified organic pet foods, which contain no pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or artificial ingredients. The Humane Society has tips for deciphering ingredients labels. If you're nutritionally inclined, you can make your own dog food. Always consult your veterinarian first to determine your pet's specific dietary needs.

Share your tips and thoughts: What do you feed your pet? Do you think it's worth the extra money to buy organic food for your cat or dog?


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