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82 posts from August 2010

August 31, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 31, 2010

Making the Grade: A new proposal for fuel-economy standards would require that all new vehicles are marked with a colorful letter-grade sticker; electric cars would get an "A" and the least efficient vehicles would get a"D". NPR

Something to Celebrate: The champagne industry is working on a new, lighter bottle design in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. New York Times

Salmon Summer: Scientists and fishermen are pleased to see sockeye salmon populations boom in Canada's Fraser River. ENN

Leading the Way: California legislators approved the nation's first energy-storage bill. It will require utilities to find ways to store energy so as to avoid firing up extra power plants during peak-demand times. Grist

Algal Overload: Climate change or a genetic mutation could be causing the increasing quantities of didymo algae, a.k.a. "rock snot," in California rivers, scientists say. Sacramento Bee

--Allison McCann

The 6 Most Environmentally Improved Colleges

Most improved colleges In the name of positive reinforcement, we applaud 6 surprise stars looking to increase their green GPA:

1. A year ago, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, had few eco-friendly initiatives and was committed to studying "clean coal." But after student activists rallied, university officials created a sustainability council, added native habitat, and agreed to offer organic food.

2. The University of Missouri completed a greenhouse-gas emissions report and added a sustainability office, which created an online energy "dashboard" that pits residence halls against one another in a contest to consume the least.

3. Appalachian State University, in North Carolina, staffed its new sustainability office with two full-time employees and five graduate assistants. A 100-kilowatt wind turbine also debuted, as did a solar heater that supplies 60% of the hot water for restaurants, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

Continue reading "The 6 Most Environmentally Improved Colleges" »

No Impact Week: Transportation

Bike to work during your carbon cleanse No Impact Man, a.k.a. Colin Beavan, took a yearlong vow to live a zero-waste lifestyle in New York City. The experiment inspired a blog, a book, a film - and others to embrace green habits. This week's tips will help you try a one-week carbon cleanse. Sign up here to share the results of your own No Impact Project.

Tip #2: Choose Greener Transportation Methods

Colin Beavan and his family phased out all forms of mechanized travel, including planes, cars, taxis, subways, and even elevators, for their No Impact year. For your carbon cleanse, discuss ways to reduce your family's dependence on petroleum-fueled transit. If it's not feasible to walk or bike to work, consider carpooling or taking public transportation.

Share your tips: How do you green your transportation?

August 30, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 30, 2010

Upon Themselves: The EPA, after Congress failed to pass a climate bill, is issuing new rules to compensate for what the agency had hoped legislators would. NPR

Weather Delay: Due to bad weather, BP’s blowout preventer won’t be retrieved on schedule. Yahoo! Green

Shore Neglect: Testing California’s beaches for environmental health hazards has hit a 10-year low. Failure to test enough locations frequently enough threatens to expose people to water that’s too polluted to swim in. Los Angeles Times

Reverent Lookout: Yellowstone got a new $27-million visitor center. New York Times

For Sale: State parks are considering pursuing corporate sponsorship and financial partnerships with private companies. Huffington Post Green

--Avital Binshtock

A New Reason to Lose Lbs: Your MPG

Scale weight Do you often find yourself unmotivated to get to the gym or hit the trails? New research connecting driver's weight and MPG may be just the kick you need to get out there and get in shape. The bottom line: That spare tire around your waist weighs heavily on your wallet at the gas pump.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how America's dramatic obesity increase has put a real dent in fuel economy. AutoGuide.com adds:

"The rise in obesity has forced these people, out of necessity, to buy larger vehicles, which increases gasoline consumption in the U.S. and fuel consumption increases with more weight in cars.  In 2006, a study done by Entrepreneur.com analyzed the amount of additional fuel consumed due to heavier drivers. They found that almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline per year can be attributed to passenger weight gain in non-commercial vehicles between 1960 and 2002."

Want to get a better price at the pump? Trim up. You'll feel better about your health and about how much you'll shell out at the gas station. 

--Kate Cleland

Green Fashion Monday: A Clay-Dyed Dress

Earth Creations clay-dyed dress This “Mod Hoody Tunic/Dress” ($75) from Earth Creations is a creatively designed piece that’s versatile and comfortable enough to wear for a variety of occasions: to work, out to dinner, traveling, or just around the house. It’s got a draping cowl neck and is made of bamboo and organic cotton.

Like the rest of its line (tunics, pants, dresses, and a range of other items made of sustainable fabrics, including hemp), its earthy color was created by an ancient clay-dyeing method that protects people and the planet from the dangers of modern dyeing processes. The company’s founder, incidentally, was inspired during a bike ride in the mountains to create a clothing company that solely dyes with mud, clay, and dirt.

--Avital Binshtock

No Impact Week: Trash

Bring your own mug to the coffee shop No Impact Man, a.k.a. Colin Beavan, took a yearlong vow to live a zero-waste lifestyle in New York City. The experiment inspired a blog, a book, a film - and others to embrace green habits. This week's tips will help you try a one-week carbon cleanse. Sign up here to share the results of your own No Impact Project.

Tip #1: Commit to Reusable Containers

Cut down on waste when visiting the grocery store, coffee shop, or cafe. How? Pack a reusable bag, mug, napkin, or eating utensils. When planning to dine at a restaurant, consider bringing a container for leftovers.

Share your tips: How do reduce the amount of trash you produce?

August 27, 2010

Daily Roundup: August 27, 2010

Cat's Out of the Bag: Security officials found a sedated tiger cub in a toy-filled suitcase at Bangkok's international airport. The endangered tiger has been relocated to a wildlife rescue center. AOL Travel

Coal Ash Stash: Environmental groups added 39 additional coal-ash disposal sites to a list of 98 previously documented coal-waste sites that are contaminating drinking water with toxic heavy metals. USA Today and Wall Street Journal

Whale of a Tale: Vladimir Putin assisted scientists off Russia's Pacific coast by taking a skin sample from an endangered gray whale. Environmentalists called the excursion a publicity stunt meant to draw attention away from nearby oil exploration. Reuters

Hot for Coffee: Warmer temperatures may be aiding the spread of the coffee berry borer beetle, threatening the $90 billion-per-year coffee industry. TreeHugger

Pandora on Earth: Amazon Watch and Avatar director James Cameron created a short documentary about the struggle to stop the Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon. The proposed dam would displace up to 50,000 indigenous people. Ecorazzi

--Della Watson

Cosmetics for Clean Energy

MakeupLush, the cosmetics company that creates products from only organic, vegetarian ingredients, is taking its dedication to the environment one step further with a new campaign against the Canadian tar sands.

Alongside the Rainforest Action Network, Lush is working to raise awareness about the controversial environmental, social, and political effects of tar-sand mining. Unlike conventional oil sources, tar sands are a mixture of bitumen, clay, sand, and water that must be dug up and refined into oil, a process that requires huge amounts of energy and water. 

Lush's campaign encourages America's and Canada's governments to consider clean, renewable energy alternatives such as wind and solar. 

--Allison McCann 

Mixed Greens: 3 Colleges Confused About Which Side They're On

While researching Sierra magazine's "Cool Schools" issue, we came across universities affiliated with some environmentally egregious actionsbut that were doing positive things as well. We didn't know what to make of all that, so we'll leave you to make a judgment call.

ON THE ONE HAND: Connecticut's University of Bridgeport got slapped with a $12,900 fine from the EPA in February for improperly storing and handling PCBs, a class of pollutants that Congress banned in 1979. The violation was discovered when PCBs from two power transformers leaked onto university grounds.

ON THE OTHER: Bridgeport holds an annual "Recycle Awareness Week" and cohosts an annual green-technology conference. The school also offers an environmental-health specialization.

ON THE ONE HAND: The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's board of advisers includes retired Tyson Foods CEO Greg Lee. Tyson has spewed more than 3 million pounds of toxic waste into Illinois's Rock River, where many threatened and endangered species live. Tyson also pumped 5 million gallons of inadequately treated wastewater into the Missouri River daily, an action for which the company was fined $2 million.

Continue reading "Mixed Greens: 3 Colleges Confused About Which Side They're On" »

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