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88 posts from November 2010

November 30, 2010

Daily Roundup: November 30, 2010

Chemicalgate? Greenpeace has accused several major chemical companies and their public-relations firms of corporate espionage, unlawful entry, and theft of thousands of confidential documents. Washington Post

Money Talks: Many energy utlities across the nation are switching to gas-powered plants as an alternative to coal-fired plants; the latter require updates that would be too expensive in the face of new environmental regulations. New York Times

Amazon Desert? Weather changes have are leaving South American rivers lower, and its forests more barren. Scientists predict that this will become more common as the effects of climate change continue to take hold. Reuters

Fertilizing Destruction? Miners in Florida are at odds with environmental groups, who argue that the cost to wetlands from phosphate mining (to make fertilizer) is greater than the benefits of job creation. Wall Street Journal

Dirty Shame: A new oil market from Madagascar oil sands, considered one of the dirtiest and cheapest energy sources, has environmentalists protesting and investors salivating. Guardian

--Ronny Smith

Thank You, EPA, for Making the World Less Toxic

Earthy birthdayThe Environmental Protection Agency turns 40 this Thursday, and we’re thanking it for its accomplishments. Over the years, the EPA has reduced 60% of dangerous air pollutants, saved Americans more than $55 million in water and sewer bills, and cleaned more than 2,000 American rivers and lakes.

The EPA isn't stopping to pat itself on the back. Today it announced two initiatives that might decrease our exposure to environmental toxins.

Since World War II, we’ve introduced more than 100,000 synthetic chemicals into the environment but have only tested a small fraction of them for toxicity. These chemicals are everywhere — our computers, cleaners, even foods — and we have no idea what they’re doing to our bodies and environment.

Here’s what the EPA is doing in response:

  • The ToxCast screening program will be a faster and cheaper alternative to traditional animal toxicity tests. It'll test methylparaben, troglitazone, and about 1,000 more tongue-twisting chemicals.

Continue reading "Thank You, EPA, for Making the World Less Toxic" »

A Sun-Powered Boat Goes 'Round the World

Solar-powered boat The name Turanor may be derived from the Lord of the Rings, but the world’s largest solar-powered boat (and the crew’s vision) is no fantasy. It cruised into the Miami Beach Marina Saturday morning on its way to proving that a pollution-free, around-the-world journey is possible with a bit of sunshine.  

“It was stunning and magnificent,” said spokesman Tarcisio Costa of the futuristic catamaran’s arrival into port. The solar-panel-covered boat left Monaco on Sept. 27; its crew hopes to finish the journey within 10 months. If successful, the PlanetSolar team will be the first to circumnavigate the globe using nothing more than solar power.

One of the goals for the Turanor (made of carbon fiber, foam core, and resin) is to demonstrate that we have the technology required for sustainability. “It’s about show and tell,” said Costa. “The boat is proof that it can be done.”

Continue reading "A Sun-Powered Boat Goes 'Round the World" »

Green Your Holidays: Trees

A live Christmas tree is delightful Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or all of them, this week's tips will help you lessen your impact while you increase your joy.

Tip #2: Decorate a Live, Local Tree

Real or fake? If you're wondering which kind of Christmas tree is better, keep in mind that Sierra magazine's advice columnist, Mr. Green, recommends staying natural. A potted, native tree is a good choice if you can plant and care for it after the holidays, or if your town has an organization like Friends of the Urban Forest that will take back your tree and plant it for you. If you don't have the space (or a green thumb) to accommodate a living tree, an organic, locally grown cut tree is your best bet.

Share your tips: Which type of Christmas tree do you prefer?

November 29, 2010

Daily Roundup: November 29, 2010

Polluted Stimulus? The Obama administration has, in the name of job creation, given billions of dollars in stimulus money to big polluters, and exempted more than 180,000 projects from environmental review, according to a new investigation. Center for Public Integrity

Muy Bueno: Mexican president Felipe Calderón announced his intention to make his nation a leader in international climate policy. Washington Post

Side of Sulfate? Sulfate runoff from Minnesota's iron mines is decimating the state's protected wild rice, experts claim. Minnesota Public Radio

Cap-and-Trade Crooks: Several eastern states that participated in a regional cap-and-trade program have been using those funds to finance non-environmental activities. New York Times

Profitable Danger: Despite years' worth of tragedies involving asbestos insulation, lobbying has kept the U.S. government from banning the fireproof material. AOL News

--Ronny Smith

Yoxi Uses the "Idol" Model for Social Change

Since the early 2000s, American Idol has dominated its primetime viewing slot, capturing the attention of millions. Now, a former executive at the company behind Idol is applying that same model to finding the next innovators in social good.

In summer, Sharon Chang started Yoxi (pronounced YO-see) after leaving her job at 19 Entertainment, the agency that signs and manages American Idol stars. Yoxi is a competition that asks three-person teams to come up with a solution to a social challenge, such as “Reinvent Fast Food.” Teams submit videos that offer their perspective on the issue, a product or idea that solves the problem, and a campaign for promoting that solution. Along the way, teams are judged by a panel of experts including Christina Minardi, a Whole Foods executive, Marion Nestle, an academic who studies and writes about nutrition and public health.

Continue reading "Yoxi Uses the "Idol" Model for Social Change" »

Green Fashion Monday: An Organic, Recycled Men's Jacket

Vicarious by Nature jacket On Fashion Monday, we highlight a hip, green fashion item. Got a stylish eco-friendly product to recommend? Tell us about it and look for it in an upcoming blog post.

This black zip-up, called the Idaho Potatoes Jacket, is from a California company called Vicarious by Nature, whose motto is “sustainably organic.” Part of the line's latest eco-conscious men’s collection, it’s made of organic cotton, recycled polyester, and a bit of spandex, and its modern cut is likely to flatter most men. You can locate a store that sells VBN near you, or find this jacket on ShopRobertson.com. $145

--Avital Binshtock

Green Your Holidays: Lights

LED Christmas lights Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or all of them, this week's tips will help you lessen your impact while you increase your joy.

Tip #1: Be Bright About Lighting

By switching to LED lights, you'll save power even while keeping the holiday spirit bright — some LED strands are even solar-powered. Instead of going overboard with a power-sucking display, get maximum impact from fewer lights by choosing a smaller tree or focusing on one central part of the house, like the front door. Just as you would with any appliance, remember to unplug lights when they're not in use.

Tip #2: Fake Tree? Get Real.

Tip #3: Choose Greener Candles

Tip #4: Save (Wrapping) Paper

Share your tips: How do you light your home for the holidays?

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving turkey We're taking a holiday break until Nov. 29.

In the meantime, you can check out our tips for how to have a greener Thanksgiving, as well as our gift guide for greener giving.

We're thankful for your loyal readership, and wish you a warm celebration with loved ones.

November 24, 2010

Daily Roundup: November 24, 2010

Fly, Eagles, Fly: The NFL's Philadelphia Eagles are adding renewable energy sources to their stadium. Las Cruces Sun-News

You Done With That? Before succumbing to the tryptophan, be sure to recycle all that sweet, sweet turkey grease. Los Angeles Times

Never Too Early: Probably insane celebri-couple Katy Perry and Russell Brand are already making green New Year's resolutions. Tiny Green Bubble

Up in the Air: Wouldn't a second airport in your city make holiday travel easier? India's environmental minister agrees with you. Reuters

Aw, Nuts: Just in time for tomorrow's gluttonous feast, here's a list of materials that are and aren't compostable to keep in mind during the inevitable post-meal cleanup. TreeHugger

--Justin Klugh

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