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Grist’s ‘Shift the Gift’ campaign hits national TV — again

greg-on-hlnApparently Gristers aren’t the only ones feeling discontent with America’s holiday traditions. Our campaign to “shift the gift” this season has taken on a life of its own on Twitter and attracted the attention of two national TV news programs -- first 20/20 and now the Jane Velez-Mitchell show on HLN.

Grist Senior Editor Greg Hanscom, who is on a campaign to create the best Christmas ever for his wife and two young daughters -- without buying them any presents -- appeared with Velez-Mitchell yesterday on a spot called, “A happier, more memorable holiday?” Here it is:

Read more: Living


Umbra’s second helpings: Saving money on your heating bill [VIDEO]

Winter is coming. Unbowed, unbent, unbroken by your heating bills? Even a Dornishman could benefit from a little wiser electricity use. Here are Umbra's energy-saving tips for keeping toasty:

Read more: Living


The Grister who stole Christmas

It’s that season again -- when UPS delivery people work overtime to rush fruitcakes and ill-fitting sweaters to our far-flung friends and relatives, and Americans everywhere get into the holiday spirit by bludgeoning each other to get the bargain smartphones at their favorite big-box store.

Shift the GiftThis year, Grist Senior Editor Greg Hanscom has decided to fight back. On Black Friday, he penned an open letter to friends and family asking them to get his two young daughters nothing for Christmas, and explaining that he and his wife, Tara, are trying to put the focus on special holiday experiences rather than just amassing more stuff. The letter attracted the attention of the TV news program 20/20, which included Greg and his family in its Friday evening holiday extravaganza. The name of 20/20’s segment: “Christmas Extremists.”

Read more: Living


It takes a village to combat an apocalypse
Shutterstock / Grist

Hello Grist readers,

I'm a realist. And I tend to be a straight shooter, whether writing about energy policy or pitching in on a fundraiser. So spy puns aside, I'll just ask:

Would you give just $5 to support Grist's indispensable green news and commentary?

While dastardly adversaries can be a pain, what we really need to do is get more people talking and thinking about the issues that matter most. After all, as the saying goes, it takes a village to combat an apocalypse.

Grist readers, as any climate realist knows, procrastination will get us nowhere. We only have one more day to reach our goal and just 1,000 more donations to go. Make a donation today to help us reach our goal of 2,500 donations by Dec. 11 so we can continue making progress towards a better, brighter future.

David Roberts
Grist Department of Reality Checks

P.S. Did we mention that gifts of $50 or more will be matched by a generous, anonymous ally?

P.P.S. Rather not give online? You're also welcome to send a check: Grist, 710 Second Avenue, Suite 860, Seattle, WA 98104.

Read more: Uncategorized


Make a bow with recycled film!


When Grist advice maven Umbra Fisk asked the good folks at TerraCycle if they had any ideas for reusing old movie film, they were happy to oblige! Here are their instructions for making filmstrip gift bows -- check out their other seasonal DIY projects to see how to make bows from food packaging, ornaments from toothpaste tubes, and more!

Skill level: medium

Time: 20 minutes

Bonus: video instructions for the visually inclined

Materials you need:
50 inches of movie film or other three-quarter-inch-wide material
Hole punch
Paper fastener

  1. Cut the film into three lengths of nine inches, two lengths of eight inches, and one length of four inches.
  1. Punch holes on ends of all pieces. Then, punch holes in the center of all pieces except for the shortest piece.
  1. Create a loop with the shortest piece and insert the paper fastener through the punched holes.
  1. Take the second-shortest piece and create a loop lining up all three holes in the center. Take the paper fastener from small loop and insert through the holes in the second piece.
  1. Repeat step 4 for all remaining pieces. Insert the paper fastener through each one, going from shortest to longest. Secure the back of the bow by opening the ends of the paper fastener.
  1. Wrap your package in other recycled paper. Add your bow to the top and that’s a wrap!
Read more: Living


Umbra’s second helpings: The ultimate guide to consuming wisely

frustrated shopper

Feeling frazzled? Wondering how to sort the important from the trivial from the non-recycable? 'Tis the season. Umbra's Consumption Manifesto is the perfect guide to slowing down, consuming wisely, and taking stock of what matters -- and what really isn't worth worrying so much about. It's too lovely to not republish in its entirety:

Article One.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This brilliant triad says it all. Reduce: Avoid buying what you don’t need -- and when you do get that dishwasher/lawnmower/toilet, spend the money up front for an efficient model. Reuse: Buy used stuff, and wring the last drop of usefulness out of most everything you own. Recycle: Do it, but know that it’s the last and least effective leg of the triad. (Ultimately, recycling simply results in the manufacture of more things.)

Article Two.

Shift the GiftStay close to home. Work close to home to shorten your commute; eat food grown nearby; patronize local businesses; join local organizations. All of these will improve the look, shape, smell, and feel of your community.

Article Three.

Internal combustion engines are polluting and their use should be minimized. Period.

Article Four.

Read more: Living


A live chat with sustainability smart guy Alex Steffen

Editor’s note: The chat’s now over, but you can replay it in full.


Alex Steffen, author, futurist, and founder of the (now defunct) blog Worldchanging, chats live with Grist Senior Editor Greg Hanscom on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. PST) -- and you’re invited to join the fun.

Steffen’s new book, Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet, published over the last week in Grist and now available in Kindle edition via Amazon, is a brief but deep manual for imagining how our cities can become the solution to our climate woes.

Want to join the conversation? Check in at 2 p.m. Eastern and click here.

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy


How Walmart is devouring the food system

One out of every four dollars Americans spend on groceries goes to Walmart, as we've reported before, and the retail behemoth is on track to seize more than a third of the market. Get more facts about Walmart and food in this infographic from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. (Click to embiggen.)

Read more: Food


Umbra’s second helpings: How to be a countertop composter [VIDEO]

Dwell in a small space or urban place? You can still keep food waste from the landfill. Umbra breaks down countertop composting:

Read more: Living


Go, go, gadget Grist: Help us stay on the cutting edge

Shutterstock / Grist

Grist readers,

Can you imagine Austin Powers without his Shaguar? Or Maxwell Smart without the shoe phone? Grist can't go far without the right tech tools, either.

Your donation — as little as $5 — will help Grist stay on the cutting edge.

We have just 12 more days to outwit the nasty eco-villains threatening to tamper with our green news machine. And your support won't just thwart foes and give a boost to our clever journalists. You will make it possible for developers like me to keep Grist running smoothly. You won't see us at work -- most of our missions take place in a secret bunker -- but we're the great brains behind this operation, and we’re the reason you get your green news where you want it, when you want it. Instant gratification at its finest!

So give us a bit or a byte -- and speaking of gadgets, if you make a donation of $50 or more, you could score a Nest learning thermostat! And your $50-plus gift will be matched by a generous supporter.

Grist readers, we have just two weeks to make sure these evil-doers experience a critical failure. Make a donation today to help us reach our goal of 2,500 donations by Dec. 11.

Nathan Letsinger
Quartermaster and Web Developer

P.S. Did we mention that gifts of $50 or more will be matched by a generous, anonymous ally?

P.P.S. Rather not give online? You're also welcome to send a check: Grist, 710 Second Avenue, Suite 860, Seattle, WA 98104.

Read more: Uncategorized