Katharine Wroth

Don't get Glad, get even

New ads give recycling a smackdown

OK, I was watching bad TV last night, and this ad came on for Glad ForceFlex trash bags. Apparently these are very exciting trash bags because they stretch, which makes them better for bulky items. Such as, according to this chipper ad: cardboard boxes and two-liter soda bottles. Glad! Have you heard of a little thing called recycling? I know your success depends on people not recycling. But do you have to be such wankers about it? (In fairness, I should note that the company donated its stretchy bags for the Great American Cleanup. Which is noble and all. But sort of cancelled out by the "just chuck it!" campaign.) Even though my letter to eBay didn't get a response, I'm going to continue my crusade and pen a note to the good folks at Glad about this one. (And not just because of Umbra's encouragement.) We'll see what happens.

Beery, beery good

High energy costs don’t get in this brewery’s way

Hey, I don't want to get a reputation. But here's more news from the beer-and-rising-energy-costs front: The New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colo., is hopping on alternative energy instead. To wit: The company uses methane captured from its wastewater to help power its facilities, and uses a biodiesel blend in its delivery trucks. No big surprise from an outfit whose employees voted, waaaay back in 1998, to make it the nation's first wind-powered brewery. When it comes to sustainability, New Belgium is "pretty impeccable," fellow beermeister Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery told Fortune Magazine in 2003. "They're the people the rest of us look up to."

A league of their own

Now your $9 ballpark beer comes in an eco-cup

It's a single piece of news, but a revolution in its own right: starting Friday, the Oakland A's will serve drinks in compostable cornstarch cups, and provide compostable cutlery too. McAfee Coliseum staffers will dig the items out of the trash at the end of each game -- pausing only briefly to wonder if they should have taken that internship with Dad's friend's company instead -- and ship the whole beery, mustardy mess to a composting facility. It's all part of stadium manager George Valerga's plan to reach a 75-100 percent recycling rate. And the San Francisco Giants are considering composting too. OK, OK, California did pass a law requiring special-events venues to increase their recycling. But hey, whatever it takes to make America's ballfields greener. Let's go A's!

Baby you can waste my gas

Now we know where it all went.

According to a new report, U.S. drivers stuck in traffic wasted 2.3 billion gallons of fuel in 2003 -- 69 million more than in 2002. This sobering fact brought to you by the Texas Transportation Insitute's most recent -- and somewhat incongrously named -- Urban Mobility Report.

Bush and Busch

Even the beer industry is running out of energy

Noted, in a Slate article about declining domestic beer sales: "Why are brewers crying in their beers? In part, they're facing the same difficulties as other manufacturers. Costs for raw materials and energy are rising, and they're having difficulty passing costs along to consumers." The writer goes on to say, at great and happy length, that the real reason Bud and its ilk are a bust is because Americans have turned into a bunch of namby-pamby Cosmo drinkers. But his quick economic aside is a nod to the fact that the energy crisis creeps into all kinds of corners. How long do you s'pose the brewers will "have difficulty" passing those costs along? And you thought the only environmental beer fear was genetically modified crops.

Just as I thought

Men pollute so they can take over the world

Men: Can't live with them. Can't overpopulate without them. A new study of Swedish fishermen suggests that pollution alters the ratio of chromosomes in sperm. But the news isn't half-bad: those in the study -- which focused on exposure to POPs, or persistent organochlorine pollutants -- harbored more Y chromosomes than X. Which means, if any of them settle down with a Swedish fisherlass, they might just create more boys than girls. Dudes, we're on to you. Pollute this place with your "mercury's good for you!" logic and feeble regulations. Mess with your own sperm. Then make more of you to inherit the earth. Hell, you can have it.

I can ski clearly now

Indoor ski slopes are the desert’s hot new thing

A while back, I wrote about indoor ski slopes blooming in countries including Japan, England, and the U.S. of A. Seems it's an upward trend: The United Arab Emirates has just joined the herringboning hordes. Yes, that's right, the world will soon have its first desert skiing area, thanks to enterprising developers in Dubai. Will we end up in a world where all the snow and ice is gone, and the only way to ski is indoors, in the desert? Will the desert still be the desert? And in the meantime, how much power does it waste to run these mounds of gluttony? Suddenly I feel like Andy Rooney.

Little-known facts from a country on the edge of your consciousness

293,966 — population of Iceland3 4,117,827 — population of Kentucky2 10 — percentage of Icelanders who believe elves “definitely” exist4 0 — number of successful elf surveys conducted in Kentucky 11.5 — percentage of Iceland that is covered by glaciers1 3,240 — square miles covered by the largest glacier, Vatnajökull1 2 — tectonic plates visible at Thingvellir National Park5 2.5 — centimeters a year by which those tectonic plates separate5 1,075 — years since the world’s first parliament was held at Thingvellir6 70 — percentage of national export income derived from fishing3 2 — years since the government announced its …

Live for 'Today'

NBC gets wet and wild

Everyone's favorite perky morning show is preparing to run a May series on fifty things to do before you die, and they're asking web-surfing mortals to rank the choices, which range from "write a poem for someone you love" to "drive a NASCAR race car." I'm not crazy about this panic-stricken approach to wringing every pre-approved, glorious moment out of life. But I was curious to see how many of the items would get people snout-to-snout with the outdoors. The answer is 15. And what does pop culture want us to want to do?

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