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82 posts from July 2009

July 31, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 31, 2009

Outta Cash:  The government's Cash for Clunkers program has received such great response in its first few days that it is already running low on the dough it's supposed to cough up for each low-mileage jalopy. Due to the tremendous demand, officials are searching for more funding. NY Times

Pebble Mine Opposed: A coalition of eight native Alaskan groups have filed suit against the potentially destructive  Pebble Mine. Among the gold and ore mine's many possible impacts: it would threaten  important wild salmon habitat. Los Angeles Times

Coal Deliberation: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a West Virginia judge need not be disqualified from overseeing a coal-pollution trial, despite the judge's allegedly having interests with companies involved. Forbes

Sink or Swim: Worldwide, many fisheries have appeared to be sinking more than swimming in recent years. But new research indicates that a combination of measures is helping fisheries to stay afloat, and even begin to recover. BBC NEWS

Reviving the Dead: New plans to clean up the Gulf of Mexico's nutrient-smothered Dead Zone would involve higher water quality standards upstream -- midwestern agricultural states are not expected to be pleased. DesMoines Register

--Jamie Hansen

Get Used Baby Gear From Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa joan hart is donating used baby gear We're exited about the abundance of ecofriendly kids' products currently on the market, but the greenest clothes, furniture, and toys are often hand-me-downs. If your kids aren't too jazzed about wearing their older sibling's duds, they might be convinced by pre-owned clothes with a bit of Hollywood flair. After successfully auctioning used baby gear from Gwen Stefani and Nicole Richie, Handmedowns.com is currently accepting bids for Melissa Joan Hart's donated items. Proceeds from the monthly celebrity auction are donated to charitable organizations (Melissa's charity is Friends of the Family). Even after this auction closes on August 5, the site will still be chocked full of gently used stuff from non-celebrities. You can even donate or sell that tutu your own little starlet has outgrown.

--Della Watson

Movie Review Friday: Clueless

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Clueless (1995)

Available on DVD

You may think Clueless is just the story of a vacuous Beverly Hills teen with a revolving wardrobe, an inability to drive on the right side of the road, and a propensity to say, “as if”. But it's actually so much more. An adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, the film chronicles the journey of a young woman, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), trying to make sense of the world and create value with her life.

Cher’s ex-stepbrother, Josh (Paul Rudd), is pursuing a career in environmental law. He tries to teach her the importance of volunteering. In one scene, he tells her, “I'm going to a TreePeople meeting. We might get Marky Mark to plant a celebrity tree.” When she asks why they don’t just hire a gardener, he replies, “Maybe Marky Mark wants to use his popularity for a good cause, make a contribution.”

Cher, arguably the most popular girl in school, has only used her guile and charisma to act as matchmaker and get better grades. She tries repeatedly to solve her problems by shopping, and "helps" others through fabulous makeovers. She soon discovers that superficial quick fixes can’t sustainably improve her life, or anyone else’s.

Continue reading "Movie Review Friday: Clueless" »

July 30, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 30, 2009

A Lotta Green: A new report says the U.S. could save some $600 billion in energy costs by 2020 if we spent about five times as much as we currently do on efficiency. Reuters

Country in Peril: Iraq, a historically agricultural nation, is suffering the environmental consequences of war, mismanagement, and drought: frequent sandstorms, dry basins, dying plants, and unfertile lands. Los Angeles Times

Pollution’s Exxpensive: Exxon Mobil’s profits are down 66 percent this quarter, a result of recession-affected consumers cutting back on gas. Treehugger

Get the Meds Out: To stop the environmentally detrimental flushing and tossing of medications, the National Association of Counties is implementing a safe-medicine-return program to raise awareness of proper disposal methods. Matter Network

Maine Idea: America’s first LEED Platinum-certified supermarket has opened in Maine; the store is part of Hannaford’s 167-outlet chain. ENN

--Avital Binshtock

The Reburbia Competition: Fixing the Suburbs

Imagine a green future for the suburbs Once seen as idyllic, the sprawling, car-centric suburban neighborhoods that have overgrown the American landscape are starting to seem more like a blight. Many of these communities are struggling to recover from the housing crisis, high fuel costs, and climate-related energy concerns, while some economically devastated neighborhoods are simply succumbing to decay

But let's not give up on the 'burbs just yet.

Inhabitat.com and Dwell Magazine are sponsoring Reburbia: a design competition dedicated to re-envisioning the suburbs. The competition invites us to start thinking of ample lawns, big box stores, parking lots, and cul-de-sacs as the canvas for a greener vision of American life. The deadline for submissions to the contest is July 31. So if you've got a great idea for reusing strip malls, improving walkability, or reclaiming the front lawn, now's the time to share. With a little tinkering, the suburbs might be transformed into a place where green dreams can come true.

Enter the contest here.

--Della Watson

Green Your Art: Make Your Own

Painting the earth Artists, those consummate preservers of beauty, seem to have a keen sensitivity about sustaining the planet. If you’re an art collector, aficionado, or appreciator, this week’s tips should help you shift your collection (or simply the way you see art) into a more earth-minded endeavor.

Tip #4: Make it Yourself

You’ll save not only money, but also the environmental costs of delivery if you make your own eco-art. Artistsnetwork.com provides these useful tips: Choose nontoxic paints and solvents, reuse what you can, and opt for sustainable canvases and papers. Seeking inspiration for subject matter? That’s what the natural world is there for.

July 29, 2009

Daily Roundup: July 29, 2009

Grand Action: In a reversal to a Bush-era decision, Ken Salazar announced that the Department of the Interior will, at least for now, not permit new mining claims on some 1 million acres of public lands around the Grand Canyon. About.com

Leading the Way? Ban Ki-moon, the head of the U.N., is heading to the North Pole soon in an effort to draw world leaders’ attention to global-warming issues. Let’s hope he offsets. Dot Earth (NYT)

Powerful Beings: Turns out that the swimming of jellyfish and other marine animals might move the ocean’s water just as much as do the winds and tides. Wired Science

The Ocean Has Eyes: Scientists, after reviewing new research, suspect that coral may have eye-like elements that might enable them to see. National Geographic

Activist Actress: Starlet Hayden Panettiere is blogging about saving whales and dolphins, focusing especially on what she calls “the notorious dolphin-killing cove of Taiji, Japan.” Ecorazzi

--Avital Binshtock

Book Roundup Wednesday: Critter Books for Kids

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books that teach children to look closely at nature to discover exciting creatures.

You Can Be a Nature Detective (by Peggy Kochanoff, $14, Mountain Press, 2009): Spotting fox tracks in the snow, hearing a frog's call, or smelling a skunk's spray is just the beginning of a mystery that young "nature detectives" will be eager to solve with the help of this intriguing book.

Earl The Earthworm Digs for His Life (by Tim Magner, $16, Green Sugar Press, 2009): When an earthworm named Earl is born, he doesn't quite know what he was meant to do. As he explores his environment and finds his purpose (spoiler alert: he's meant to dig), the reader is supplied with interesting facts about the creatures that inhabit Earl's world.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Critter Books for Kids" »

Traveling? Take a Bike.

Rent a bike Next time you go on vacation, forget the taxis, the rented cars, the buses and the trains, and just borrow a bike. Park Hyatt hotels around the world will soon be offering their guests free bike rentals for up to four hours at a time so you can tour your foreign city the leisurely, healthy, and environmentally conscious way. The brand's Bicycle Valet program begins Aug.1, so if you’re planning a getaway, leave your cares and your cars behind.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until you arrive in a new, exotic locale before you go biking. Whether you’re trying to ease your commute or keep in shape, the Green Life offers great tips for bicycling right in your hometown.

--Julia Gelbaum

Just Eat It: How to Save Endangered Food

Saving tomatoes The last thing most environmentalists want to do with an endangered species is eat it. Still, that’s exactly what biologists with several sustainable food organizations would have us do.

Our food’s biodiversity is dwindling, thanks to decades of selecting certain strains for their ability to be mass-produced. Take apples, for example, as does this Miller-McCune article about the topic: 15,000 species of this favorite fall fruit once grew in North America. Now, just 10 percent remain for us to choose from.

Why is biodiversity important in the food we eat? Well, for one thing, once you move beyond its funky design, a juicy heritage tomato is far more enjoyable than one of the watery, mass-produced varieties. But food biodiversity is also critical to our survival as a species.

Continue reading "Just Eat It: How to Save Endangered Food" »

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