Erik Hoffner

Erik Hoffner works for Orion magazine and is also a freelance photographer and writer. Follow him on Twitter: @erikhoffner.

Not so bright

Why you shouldn’t recycle that bright-orange paper

One of the thorniest questions I used to get as a recycling educator for the awesome grassroots recycling company EcoCycle in Boulder, Colo., was why ‘astrobright’ papers weren’t recyclable. You know this stuff: the super-dyed paper used by everyone from bands to Girl Scouts to make posters announcing their bake sales and death-metal guitar battles. It’s often bright orange, but also comes in every other shade imaginable. The dye used to make these papers is so bright that it has the effect of washing your white clothes with one dark blue T shirt and are hence called ‘beater dyes’ — …

National River Heroes announced

River Network is a crucial national organization working to build the capacity and effectiveness of grassroots activists and groups that work to improve water quality. This weekend at its annual River Rally in Baltimore, 6 new River Heroes will be named. Here’s your sneak peek: Dr. T. Allan CompFounder and Coordinator of the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team (ACCWT) and the Western Hardrock Watershed Team (WHWT). An employee of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Comp works through the ACCWT and the WHWT to support the efforts of small community/watershed groups in mining communities of Appalachia and the …

Coal Ash Dumped on the Disadvantaged

In December, a coal slurry impoundment owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) gushed 50 times more toxic waste than the Exxon Valdez in a well publicized and inevitable disaster that unjustly ruined many homes and downstream ecosystems. So how to describe what’s happening to the sludge currently being dredged from waterways and swimming pools? More injustice, as reported today by The Institute for Southern Studies: “TVA is sending the spilled coal ash waste from Tennessee to landfills in Taylor County, Ga. and Perry County, Ala. The choice of these communities for disposal of the waste raises environmental justice concerns, …

Tired of rearranging your closets? Why not play with some genes?

OMG, it’s DIY GMOs

I learned of a newly popular hobby for the masses thanks to a recent edition of Food Chain Radio podcast: amateur gene tinkerers. It’s such an obvious plot for a Michael Crichton book, featuring an innocent experiment wiping the planet’s motherboard. Why let corporations and academics in their ivory towers have all the fun? Just join DIYbio and you can access all the info and encouragement you need to extract DNA and poke it WHERE IT DOESN’T BLOODY WELL BELONG without the hassle of safety protocols (why destroy novel organisms in an autoclave when you can just flush them down …

WV activist the second to win the green nobel for fighting MTR

Gunnoe gets Goldman

Proud to say that one of the Orion Grassroots Network’s own, Maria Gunnoe, an organizer for Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, has won the “environmental nobel” for her courageous grassroots activism to end mountaintop removal (MTR) in the face of fierce intimidation: Grist’s own Ken Ward has the story in today’s Charleston (WV) Gazette. Maria Gunnoe is one of seven recipients of the 2009 Goldman Environmental PrizePhoto: Tom DusenberyGunnoe was forced to hire a guard dog and install surveillance cameras around the perimiter of her home to fend off coal company goons. Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch in WV …

Documentary touches the heart of ocean acidification

A Sea Change on film

Ocean acidification is an issue that may not be on everyone’s lips, but its causes, solutions, and dire impacts if gone unaddressed are the same as climate change. A Sea Change (check the trailer below the fold) is a new documentary on the subject that follows retired educator Sven Huseby on a mission to Norway and Alaska to investigate the problem of too much atmospheric carbon and its detrimental acidifying effect on the marine food chain, through the lens of his sweet relationship with an ocean-loving grandson. The film won acclaim from the audience at its DC Environmental Film Festival …

Heirloom tomato debate

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that George Will keeps repeating his half truths to deny the degraded state of the climate, but what exactly Scientific American was thinking with this article about how heirloom tomatoes are “hardly diverse and are no more “natural” than grocery-store varieties” is a mystery to me. Except that sacred cows make the best hamburger, maybe. Open pollinated tomatoes are definitely more diverse than their hybrid descendants thanks to traits bred for or discovered over generations (the 10 extra special genes mentioned right in the article itself), and having been developed this way via selective breeding rather than hybridizing technologies, …

Hot climate? Try on some sizzling shorts

The makers of the film “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy“ (one of whom, Randy Olson, I interviewed for Grist, here) are holding a video contest among students at three universities that hosted screenings of Sizzle last month (Cal State Fullerton, Univ. of Missouri, and SUNY Stony Brook). Their assignment was to make 60 second videos that were both silly and serious, ie similar to “Sizzle,” and relating to climate change. From among 34 submissions, the 7 finalists are now posted at where you can view them and cast your votes. The top three voter getters will be announced on …

Why it will be very hard to save sharks from extinction

Here’s a video from a restaurant in Hong Kong which illustrates how much trouble the world’s sharks are in. If this woman’s reaction to the kitchen being ‘all out’ of shark fin soup is representative of the expectations of people in just Hong Kong, then sharks are in for a lot more senseless finning in the years ahead.

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.