Business & Technology

Reusing big boxes

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while: on Slate, Julia Christensen has a slideshow essay showing how some communities have repurposed abandoned big box retail spaces. My favorite is the one in Austin, Minn., where they renovated an abandoned K-Mart to become a Spam museum. Yes, a Spam museum. And not the email kind either.

GM asking students to help greenwash

How my intern stood up to Big Auto

Even as it begs for a big taxpayer bailout, GM is still spending billions on marketing, peddling its giant gas-guzzlers to Americans who want them less and less. It has even got the cash to try and enlist college students in its efforts to greenwash. My intern, Meg Imholt, is also the president of EcoSense, American University’s environmental group, and happened to be the target of GM’s latest cynical marketing attempt, which she chronicled on Greenpeace’s blog: Usually filled with listserv emails, notes from Mom, and reminders from professors, rarely anything stirring appears in my Inbox. However, Saturday brought …

Panels for Powell's!

Northwest bookstore goes solar, gets compared to candy

Photo: Thomas Hawk Hearing the news that Oregon darling Powell’s Books is getting a crapload of solar panels is akin to learning that Santa recycles or Mother Teresa loved to compost. Yep, Powell’s — especially the block-long location in downtown Portland with color-coded rooms — is that beloved. Construction has already started on a 100-kilowatt PV system topping the warehouse in northwest Portland. And in December, Powell’s will start using the sun’s juice from one of Oregon’s biggest solar panel installations, which will reportedly pay for itself in five years. And for all you Doubting Debbies, sure, the Northwest is …

Powell’s Books goes partly solar

Independent bookseller Powell’s Books, based in Portland, Ore., will go partly solar next month with a 100-kilowatt solar system affixed to its warehouse that will provide enough juice to power about one-quarter of its online bookstore,, that’s housed inside.

Humane Society sues fur designers and purveyors

The Humane Society of the United States has sued a handful of fur retailers and designers for allegedly misrepresenting some real fur products as fake fur and for improperly labeling other fur products as coming from foxes, rabbits, or raccoons when they’re really made from a species of dog in Asia, according to the suit.

Ceres founder Joan Bavaria passes away

The environmental community is mourning the death last week of Joan Bavaria, a pioneer of socially responsible investing and founder of Ceres. In 2007, she opined in Grist about the future of SRI.

Nokia is greenest electronics company, says Greenpeace

In its 10th Guide to Green Electronics, Greenpeace deems Nokia the greenest company, followed by Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Toshiba. But, says Greenpeace, neither those companies nor most of their techie brethren are supporting global efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions or making much headway on cutting their own.

Lithium on my mind

Carmakers hope to head off lithium shortages

According to this article from the BBC, production of hybrid and electric cars may be stifled by a shortage of lithium at some point in the next decade. Mitsubishi’s general manager in La Paz, Eichi Maeyama, said: The demand for lithium won’t double but increase by five times. There is plenty of lithium out there, but half of the reserves are in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. This would explain why Mitsubishi has a man on the ground negotiating for lithium supplies. Note that they didn’t quote a general manager from an American car company. Here’s the …

Car crash

Who’s to blame for the crisis in the auto industry?

Detroit is in a free fall. Some say it’s their own doing by deciding to push big gas guzzlers rather fuel efficient cars. With that choice, the Big Three maximized their short-term profits but conceded the auto market of the future to foreign companies. There is plenty of blame to pass around. Executives made exceedingly poor investment decisions. Union officials were blinded by the good times and failed to protect their members’ future. An army of lobbyists was hired to protect the industry from tighter laws. The most recent casualty: Congressman Dingell made one too many concessions to the auto …

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