Vanessa Kerr

Vanessa Kerr is an editorial intern at Grist.

The toxic assault on our children

Can we protect kids from the toxic trappings of modern life?

From Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to current headlines in the news, there’s long been mounting evidence that we’re being poisoned by everyday items in our lives. I was crushed by the revelation that my trusty Nalgene bottle was leaching bisphenol A into my Brita-filtered water. The first time I had to purchase my own housecleaning supplies, I found myself torn between a well-marketed fear of germs and a wholly legitimate fear of toxic compounds. Like it or not, the unnatural creations of the chemical industry are everywhere. The facts of our chemical-laden reality are at once alarming and overwhelming. Philip …

How much is that brainwashing in the window?

Our addiction to cheap stuff has become very expensive, new book argues

American retail is riddled with cheap, fall-apart merchandise. We know this. Sales are a ploy to get a shopper to spend, as opposed to a boon for penny pinchers. Right. And how much mileage do we get from that old, overused adage, “You get what you pay for”? More than we’d like to admit. So why is Ellen Ruppel Shell’s new book, Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, so shocking? Shell deftly weaves a compelling, cautionary tale out of disparate strands: the psychology of manipulating shoppers, the environmental costs of our lust for inexpensive things, the deskilling of the …

Long live the green

10 green royals

What comes to mind when you think of royalty? Luxurious palaces, the Queen of England, and overused puns on Marie Antoinette’s infamous one-liner? How about chemical-free gardens, recycling, and sustainable seafood? Ruling families from around the globe are using their media magnetism and sovereign sway to draw attention to a variety of eco-causes, fighting climate change, greening their homelands, and making sure all that cake we’re eating is organic too. 1. Prince Charles of England An outspoken proponent of fighting climate change, Prince Charles has an across-the-board interest in environmental issues. He’s advocated for tropical rainforest preservation through The Prince’s …

Hop on the ban wagon

Disposable-bag restrictions around the U.S. and the world

Seattle voters will decide on Aug. 18 whether to impose a 20-cent fee on all paper and plastic bags from grocery, drug, and convenience stores. But it’s not the first U.S. city to restrict disposable bags — nor even the first in Washington state. In Edmonds, Wash., north of Seattle, the city council voted in late July to ban disposable plastic bags at retail outlets (excluding those used for produce and bulk foods). The ban will go into effect next year. Even green-leaning western Washington is behind the times in comparison with San Francisco, which enacted the nation’s first ban …

Who liberates the liberators?

Terrorism laws are wrongly being used to round up eco-activists, says author Dean Kuipers

Rod Coronado.“Rod Coronado is not a terrorist,” says Dean Kuipers, author of Operation Bite Back: Rod Coronado’s War to Save American Wilderness and a longtime writer about the world of eco-activism. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, during Rodney Coronado’s radical sabotage campaigns on behalf of animals and the environment, terrorism was generally considered to mean violence against people. Feeling strongly that the loss of any life was wrong and that casualties would harm the movement, Coronado took care to not hurt anyone as he liberated animals and burned down research facilities across the American West. Charged with arson in …

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