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104 posts from September 2009

September 30, 2009

Daily Roundup: September 30, 2009

Take This Club and Shove It: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's opposition to the climate bill prompted utility companies Pacific Gas and Electric, the Public Service Company of New Mexico, and Exelon to resign from the chamber. Nike, still a member, criticized the chamber's stance on clean energy legislation. San Jose Mercury News and Reuters

The Big Picture: Apple has expanded its disclosure of the environmental impact of its products. The Apple Web site now includes a life cycle impact section. Green Inc.

Sweet and Sour: Researchers at Brigham Young University have developed a fuel cell powered by a combination of glucose and a common herbicide. Science Daily

Homecoming: A California utility company has agreed to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, which will open a historic salmon spawning ground. Los Angeles Times

Put a Lid on It: The EPA announced new procedures that will regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from large facilities such as power plants, factories, and oil refineries. Associated Press and Reuters

--Della Watson

Swapping Your Way to a Greener Life

Swapping a vase

We all know that opting for secondhand goods is a effective (and inexpensive!) way to green your life. So we were curious about SwapItGreen, a nifty new site that facilitates online bartering.

Here's how it works: A point system functions as currency. You post an item on the site, assigning it a “price” in points, not dollars. Someone “buys” your item at the point value you’ve set, or bids another number. You get the points from the sale, and ship to the buyer. As the "seller," you absorb the cost of shipping -- but with the points earned from your sale, you can buy things. Money isn’t completely removed from the equation; every time you buy something, you pay a transaction fee (for example, the fee for a vintage Burberry raincoat is $1; the fee for a Dell Inspiron laptop is $15).

Continue reading "Swapping Your Way to a Greener Life" »

Book Roundup Wednesday: Environmental Injustice

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 about environmental injustice.

Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (by Jeff Biggers, $27, Nation Books, Jan. 2010): Biggers's book about coal mining in Illinois analyzes the ruins of his family’s strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest and takes a serious look at the human and environmental costs. His region is a historical hotbed for coal, and this volume provides a worthy look into the negative impacts of a dirty fuel and generates considerable thought about whether America should continue to invest in coal.

Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (by Riki Ott, $22, Chelsea Green, Nov. 2008): For a firsthand look at the effects the Exxon Valdez oil spill had on Alaskans, as well as the dangers of America's oil addiction, this is the ideal book. Former Prince William Sound fisherman Riki Ott writes of the financial, social, and psychological impacts the 1989 disaster had on the people of Cordova, Alaska. The book is neatly divided into chronological sections, detailing through her lens the time leading up to, during, and long after the spill, including the shocking decision that reduced the fine from $5 billion to $500 million.

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Environmental Injustice" »

Watch Out For Greenwashing

Consumers must watch out for greenwashing

With more Americans buying green products, it's becoming clear that people are looking for ways to minimize their impact. However, with green consumerism becoming a growing business sector, shoppers should watch out for companies that resort to greenwashing – false marketing of a product's supposed environmental benefits.

According to a study by Grail Research, the vast majority of U.S. consumers are committed to buying green products but nearly two-thirds feel that price is the biggest deterrent to green purchasing. Product labels and word of mouth, the study found, have bigger influences than television advertising and print media.

Through all the hype of protecting the environment, though, a company's true colors can be lost in translation. That is why, for a high percentage of people intent on going green, tools like the Greenwashing Index can  be valuable; the site allows visitors to post ads guilty of greenwashing and rate them on a one-to-five scale, with one being “authentic” and five “bogus."

Continue reading "Watch Out For Greenwashing" »

National Parks Week: Pick Your Favorite

Share your love of the parks

We're celebrating the new Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-episode series that airs this week on PBS, with tips about enjoying and protecting our natural heritage.

Tip #3: Show Your Support

Channel your inner John Muir and become an advocate for wilderness preservation. It could be a rewarding experience: Add your name and the name of your favorite park to the Sierra Club's list of 100,000 Champions for National Parks by October 4 and you could win a trip for two to Yosemite and San Francisco.

Share your tips: What have you done to protect wild spaces?

September 29, 2009

Daily Roundup: September 29, 2009

Tsunami Alert: An magnitude 8.0 earthquake hit this morning near American Samoa, triggering a tsunami that will likely traverse the South Pacific; Hawaii is on alert. NPR and CNN

Expensive Problem:
The World Bank estimates that developing nations will need up to $100 billion per year for the next 40 years to combat global warning’s impact, including floods and droughts. Yahoo! News

Senate’s Solution:
The Senate’s new climate-and-energy bill mandates a 20 percent decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020 – more stringent numbers than what the House voted for in June. Los Angeles Times

Over the Hump?
Humpback whales may soon be removed from the U.S. endangered-species list; they have rebounded from near extinction, thanks in part to a 1966 hunting ban. ENN

Quite Super:
New York City has launched a program called “One Year, One Thousand Green Supers” to train 1,000 superintendents to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprints. Mother Nature Network

--Avital Binshtock

NYT Shines the Spotlight on Eco-Movies

Environmental movies are gaining more attention these days

Ken Burns's documentary, airing all this week on PBS, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, is the latest in a recent spate of environmental movies and programs. Some, like the New York Times, are citing this as a new age of cinema. The truth is that environmental films, fiction and non, have been around for a while.

While the Times is a little late jumping on the environmental-movie bandwagon, it's good that they are; influential films like The Cove and Food Inc. are getting considerable attention. Besides being highly engaging movies that reveal important issues, they act as a call to action, inspiring viewers to help induce change.

However, this isn't to forget or discount pre-Inconvenient Truth movies like Earthlings, The End of Suburbia, The Corporation, or  Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price.

Whether you're an avid documentary fan or have never even seen an environmental film, you can glean your way through the Sierra Club's own hefty list of past and current eco-films from here (the Green Life reviews a different eco-movie every Friday), as well as join the Green Films Fan Club on Climate Crossroads.

--Michael Mullaley

Author Atwood's Green Book Tour


Canadian author Margaret Atwood plans to bring a new kind of book tour to the U.S. next month. While promoting her novel, The Year of the Flood, set in a post-apocalyptic world, she plans to make her tour as green as possible.

Instead of profiting from her stops, she will donate admission fees and any additional fundraising proceeds to environmental organizations including the American Bird Conservancy, Farm Forward, Oceana, and WildEarth Guardians.

While on tour, Atwood and her cohorts are living a strict green lifestyle. The author has taken what she calls "the Vegivows,” which include refraining from drinking bottled water, staying only in eco-friendly hotels, and whenever possible, promoting local talent and serving only local and organic foods.

Her U.S. tour starts Oct. 4 in Denver. After that, she'll travel along the West Coast, hitting Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Visit her Web site to view the complete tour schedule.

--Julie Littman

Tour de Fine Art

Bike art

So you’ve known for a long time that bikes are great. They’re fun, easy to use, and get you to your destination without spewing carbon dioxide.

But bikes are much more than that. There’s a whole cultural movement being built alongside these two-wheeled beauties. You can see it at bike coops, like BICAS in Tucson, Arizona, where all types of people come together to work on their bikes. And then there are “bike-in” movie nights in cities like Austin, Texas, where a new spin is put on date night. 

Bike art has also gained prominence in recent years, and with it art auctions to benefit local bicycle coalitions. But now it's hitting the big time with a new exhibit at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, in Ridgefield, Connecticut. "Bike Rides: The Exhibition" is being put on with help from former Talking Heads front man and bicycle advocate David Byrne, and features works of bicycle-related art as well as bikes from cyclists like Lance Armstrong. (David Byrne also has a new book out, Bicycle Diaries.)

Continue reading "Tour de Fine Art" »

National Parks Week: Save Money and Gas

Travel in groups

We're celebrating the new Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-episode series that airs this week on PBS, with tips about enjoying and protecting our natural heritage.

Tip #2: Travel in Packs

Most parks charge by the carload, so getting the gang into one vehicle is good for the environment and your pocketbook. Better yet, travel with senior citizens—anyone older than age 62 can pay a one-time $10 fee to get an America the Beautiful Senior Pass, which gets your entire carload in for free to every park.

Share your tips: How do you motivate friends and family to explore the outdoors?

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