Cities

Bike to work, bike from work

Today is Bike-To-Work day. If you don’t have a job and are feeling left out, you have other options. Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to wait out the recession than to take a bike tour. It’s cheap, especially if you camp. It’s the right speed to see a country. It’s carbon-free, natch. And people receive you much differently if you show up under your own power, versus hopping off a bus or train with a horde of other backpackers. For a taste of the possibilities, I recommend Ray Kreisel’s self-published e-book, A Different Kind of Freedom, chronicling …

When the rubber hits the road

Gear up for Bike to Work Week

It’s Bike to Work Week, which means it’s the perfect time for you to dust off that two-wheeler and start pedaling (or feel a bit smug-er about already being a committed cyclist). For tips on converting to a cycle-based commute, check out our handy how-to or the entertaining Umbra video at the bottom of the post. And for those of you with a more adventurous spirit, check out the Urban Assault Ride. Sponsored by New Belgium Brewery (makers of Fat Tire ale, natch), this bike-based scavenger hunt will send you all over the city in a race to complete a …

Radiant Cities: Getting (Retro)Fit

In some cities, the greenest buildings are already built

It’s a cliché of life in New York: on even the chilliest winter days, windows are flung open to let free the over-cranked, inefficient steam heat. “We literally blow money out the window,” says Nancy Biberman, founder of the Bronx-based WHEDCo, a family and affordable housing non-profit. About a third of New York’s building supply was built before 1939 — long before sustainability and greenhouse gases were on anyone’s radar screen — and very little of it can be classified as green. That’s true of the newer housing stock too, for that matter; a recent study showed that New York …

So Long, Saturn

I sold my car, and I couldn’t be happier … I think

It’s all yours.iStockI recently committed a subversive act: I sold my car, and I’m not buying a new one. I’d thought that I’d feel virtuous and free — and I do — but it’s turned out to be a bit more complicated than that. Never too attached to my particular car, I considered it transportation, not a reflection of who I am. My job as an environmental reporter has taught me about the hazards of car ownership, from pollution and materials waste to sprawling, disconnected communities to oil politics — even obesity. Yet in spite of living for 14 years …

Climate Savings Bond

Pinko bastion spawns capitalist solution to solar financing

Berkeley is Fox News’ nightmare. The city’s political spectrum runs from center left to left of Lenin. Malcolm X not only has an elementary school named after him but his birthday is a public holiday. The best pizza in town comes from a workers’ collective (veggie only) located across the street from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse — she who would smash the agricultural-industrial state. And did I mention Breast Freedom Day at People’s Park? A lot more solar panels like these could be installed across California if more cities adopt Berkeley’s model for financing installation.City of BerkeleyBut this hotbed of …

The Headlines You Don't See

Green building in the West Bank

At the West Bank’s first green-building conference.Courtesy Eric Pallant Read more about Eric Pallant’s eco-explorations in the Middle East. Al Quds University in Abu Dis, Palestine, hosted the first Green Building conference in the West Bank this week. It wasn’t just students who showed up — there were suits, too. Forty-nine people attended, and the audience held a fair share of regional environment ministers, deans, and reporters. I was the invited keynoter. It is a difficult thing to fly into a developing country — the United States Department of State coordinated my visit — and to know I burned up …

Flushed Away

For some eco-pioneers, solving the sludge problem means getting their hands dirty

Part 3 of Grist’s special series on poop. Laura Allen, a 33-year-old teacher from Oakland, California, has a famous toilet. To be honest, it’s actually a box, covered in decorative ceramic tiles, sitting on the cement floor of her bathroom like a throne. No pipes lead to or from it; instead, a bucket full of shavings from a local wood shop rests on the box next to the seat with a note instructing users to add a scoopful after making their “deposit.” Essentially an indoor outhouse, it’s a composting toilet, a sewerless system that Allen uses to collect her household’s …

A change (a change!) would do you good

Is ‘lifestyle change’ to be feared?

Brad Plumer has a nice little video over at TNR today, playing off Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski’s comment that meeting our climate goals will mean cutting back on consumption and consumerism — that is, it will require the dread “lifestyle changes.” Brad notes that efficiency and renewable power don’t necessarily force any lifestyle changes. (A vacuum cleaner that uses less electricity, and gets its electricity from wind power, is still a vacuum cleaner — you still vacuum with it.) There may be some, particularly in transportation (smaller cars), but a low-carbon America will look a lot like a high-carbon America, …

Hizzoner's Progress

15 green-leaning mayors

Climate change is a global problem — but as of yet, there’s no global solution. That’s why mayors across the U.S. are taking action, from building green to organizing bike rides, from redeveloping downtowns to cutting emissions. Here are just a few of the municipal leaders who have worked to take our collective future into their own hands. Bloomberg unveils his grand Plan.PlanNYC 20301. Michael Bloomberg, New York City. Pop.: 8.2 million Call New York the accidental eco-city: cram millions of people onto an island, and you’ve got to figure out how to build up, not out. Throw a big …