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75 posts from May 2010

May 28, 2010

Daily Roundup: May 28, 2010

Taking the Lead: In the face of what’s now being acknowledged as the worst oil spill in U.S. history, Obama suspended new offshore-drilling projects and canceled pending lease sales in the gulf. National Geographic and About.com

Unreliable Source: After BP reported that its on-again-off-again top-kill attempt to stop the oil’s flow was working, it’s now unclear whether it is, angering some journalists over the company’s lack of forthrightness. Achenblog (WaPo) and Daily Kos

Power Moves: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), once a coauthor of the climate legislation heading to the Senate, is now proposing that the bill focus only on the electric-utility industry. Meanwhile, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is funding a proposition that would help it gain more of a hold on its market. Greenwire and Capitol Weekly

Northern Hope: Norway will give Indonesia $1 billion to support the Southeast Asian nation’s efforts to reduce its deforestation-related emissions. Norway’s Office of the Prime Minister

N’Way, Mate: Australia is taking legal action against Japan, its second-biggest trading partner, for its whaling practices in the South Pacific. Scientific American

--Avital Binshtock

Green Hotels Offer Eco-Friendly Travel Options

Green bed During your summer travels, using public transportation and dining at locally owned eateries are eco-friendly ways to complement your daily activities. But once you’re tuckered out with sightseeing each day, why not rest your head at a green-certified hotel each night?

The “Green” Hotels Association (we're not sure why they use the quotation marks) offers an extensive list of environment-conscious lodging properties. The EPA also labels 419 hotels as being Energy Star-compliant. According to the agency, the lodging industry splurges more than $7.5 billion each year on energy consumption. If that's reduced by just 10 percent, U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions will decrease by 6 million tons annually.

If there isn't a green resort near your destination, heed the EPA's energy-saving tips for the duration of your hotel stay: turn off the lights and TV when leaving your room, of course. Also, adjust the thermostat so your room isn't heated or cooled while you're out and about. You can also unplug cell-phone chargers and laptops when not in use, open the curtains to let in natural light, and reuse sheets and towels to save energy and water.

--Sarah A. Henderson

Movie Review Friday: Into the Wild

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental therem 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.

Into the Wild (2007)

Available on DVD

Into the Wild, a film directed by Sean Penn and based on a nonfiction book by Jon Krakauer, follows the true story of a new college graduate who decided to leave behind what he perceived to be his materialist lifestyle to head toward Alaska.

During Christopher McCandless’s cross-country trip, he meets interesting characters, including friendly residents of a hippie commune. When he finally reaches Alaska after a colorful two-year journey, he realizes that he's not fully prepared for the harsh environment, and that his perception of what the wilderness would be like was romanticized.

Emile Hirsch, who plays McCandless, does an extraordinary job of portraying a likable young man with lofty goals and good intentions but a lack of knowledge about the dangers of the wild, the significance of interpersonal relationships, and himself.

While this film celebrates the natural world's beauty, it also reminds us that it's crucial to respect our surroundings and to have an appropriate level of awareness about nature's dangers.

--Kristin Baldwin

May 27, 2010

Daily Roundup: May 27, 2010

Top Spill: Despite initial reports that the "top kill" efforts to cap the oil leak were working, BP halted their attempts today after noticing that drilling fluid was escaping along with the oil. New York Times

Drilling Deferred: Obama defended his administration's response to the oil disaster and ordered a six-month moratorium on new drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suspended exploratory drilling off the Alaskan coast. New York Times and Los Angeles Times

LEEDing the Way: The U.S. Green Building Council expanded their LEED certification system to include large-scale green developments such as neighborhoods and campuses. ENN

South Seas Shake: A 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. A tsunami warning was issued but has since been canceled. San Francisco Chronicle

Foreboding Forecast: The NOAA predicts that this year's hurricane season, which begins next week, will be one of the most intense on record and may bringing as many as seven "major" hurricanes. Greenwire

--Sophie Matson

For Frugal Fashion, Swapping Smartly

Clothing swap For the most stylish sustainable shoppers, revamping your wardrobe, redecorating your home, or finding that perfect funky accessory just got easier. Two new swap sites just launched, Ecobees and Bigwardrobe.Both are centered around online reuse and recycle and let users browse thousands of others' unwanted items in hopes of finding that personal treasure amid someone else’s trash. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing that your savvy steal means that the fuel and supplies needed to make new stuff got saved.

Ecobees connects members around the world and allows them to create smaller communities by specifying which items they’d be willing to pick up within a certain distance. Users can also post requests for specific items.

Bigwardrobe is a robust site that aimed toward frugal fashionistas, those that'd be attracted to labels that say Gucci, Dior, or Chanel. It's got clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories from hundreds of designer labels, so if you want to try out the latest crazy trend without feeling guilty about perhaps not wearing it next season, you can simply swap or sell to someone else! 

--Allison McCann

Where to Live, What to Do, for a Green Career

Green jobs Finding an entry-level green job can be a challenge, but there’s hope in many locations across America for those searching for a profession to feel good about.

According to a study conducted by GreenJobSpider.com, the most green-job openings are in the following states (in order): California, Washington, D.C., New York, Texas, and Colorado.

So what exactly is a green job? It's any position that supports the overall health or preservation of the environment. Some of the top-paying green careers right now include urban and regional planning, environmental law or engineering, and conservation science.

Tell us: What’s your dream green job?

--Kristin Baldwin

Green Your Laundry: Ditch Your Dry Cleaner

Dry cleaning Whether you lug a bag to the laundromat or roll a basket into the garage, you've got to clean your clothes. But doing laundry consumes a lot of energy and water, so this week we're providing tips for an eco-friendlier wash and dry.

Tip #4: Eco-Friendly Options

Rather than taking your suits to be doused in a chemical that's linked to cancer and air pollution, head to your local eco-friendly dry cleaner. (They do exist – here's a list!) Or try wet cleaning, which uses water and detergent but still presses your garments so they look polished enough for the office. If possible, avoid buying clothes labeled "dry clean only," and remember that dry cleaning isn't always necessary even if the care instructions say it is. Hand washing in cool water or in your washing machine on the delicate cycle is often a suitable alternative.

Think you're an eco-laundry expert? Take the quiz!

May 26, 2010

Daily Roundup: May 26, 2010

Plugging Away: BP’s "top-kill" attempt to stop its oil from gushing into the Gulf has begun. The maneuver, which uses mud and cement as a plug, has never been tried at such a depth. A BP executive says there's only a 60 to 70 percent chance of success. Miami Herald

Sick and Tired: Fisherman hired by BP to help with the oil cleanup reported feeling ill after working several hours in oiled and dispersant-treated water. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headaches, and trouble breathing. Los Angeles Times

Power Move: Obama visited a solar-panel manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., and spoke of the importance of domestic clean-energy initiatives that could lessen U.S. dependence on oil and combat climate change. Reuters

Rare Find: An Inuit hunter in Canada’s Northwest Territory shot and killed the second-known wild “grolar bear,” a cross between a polar bear and grizzly. Scientific American

Musical Arrangement: The first 2,000 Jack Johnson fans who agreed to participate in a Heal the Bay beach cleanup received a free ticket to the Earth-loving singer’s recent Santa Monica concert. Ecorazzi

--Sarah A. Henderson

Proof That Exercising Outdoors Burns off the Blues

Yoga Stuck in a rut? Feeling insecure? Just plain grumpy? Try exerting yourself – outdoors. In a recent issue of Environmental Science and Technology, University of Essex researchers report that what they call "green exercise" – that is, physical activity that happens in a place of nature – makes people happier and more self-confident.

After analyzing 1,252 individuals, the scientists found that after exercising outside, blood pressure lowers, mood improves, and self-esteem increases. What's more, these benefits were more pronounced than if the same amount of exercise was done indoors.

Examples of "green exercise" include strolling in a park, bicycling a nature trail, or kayaking a waterway. And, yes, gardening counts too.

The best part, perhaps, is that it doesn’t take much: according to the report, even a five-minute breather outside can improve long-term mental health.

--Sarah A. Henderson

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Making Business Greener

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 how to make business greener.

Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto (by Adam Werbach, $25, Harvard Business Press, July 2009): Werbach doesn't try to get around the fact that a business's primary goal is to make money. However, he suggests a reevaluation of how that money is acquired and saved, via an environmentally aware strategy and a new set of company ambitions (he calls them “North Star” goals). This is a guidebook for businesses of any size, and its hopeful outlook for the economy is refreshing.

Companies on a Mission: Entrepreneurial Strategies for Growing Sustainability, Responsibility, and Profitability (by Michael V. Russo, $28, Stanford University Press, Apr. 2010): We tend to trust brands with a principled mission statement. Using specific examples from real companies, Russo shows entrepreneurs and business managers the benefits of following an environmentally conscious vision. He lays out a simple set of guidelines about building credibility, capitalizing on social movements, and satisfying customers. While Russo’s views are optimistically straightforward, he doesn't shy away from attacking tricky issues (one chapter is called, "Growing Pains: Asking Difficult Questions").

Continue reading "Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Making Business Greener" »

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