Green Living Tips

Green Living Tips

Ruff part of town: Ask Umbra on dog-friendly cities

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I liked the article on pedestrian-friendly cities, but what I really want to know about is dog-friendly cities.  There has to be a green message in there … or maybe just a peace and well-being message. I hate my city (Wichita) for being so pet-unfriendly. Where should I live to be able to take my dog with me while I run my errands, shop, eat, and play? Amy S. LemleyWichita, Kan. You lookin’ at me?Photo: Rollan BudiA. Dearest Amy, Thanks for your letter. You must have sensed through the ether that I’ve …

Urban Agriculture

Too chicken: Why and how to raise chickens in the city

No matter how broke you are, chickens can help you keep some dignity about you.Photo: Stu MayhewWhen last we fetched up, babydolls, Broke-Ass was waxing pedantic about the primacy of stocking the pantry as nutritiously and cheaply as possible. One alert soul commented: “Where are the eggs? Nature’s most perfect food with as many ways to fix them as your imagination can accommodate.” A flawless observation, “jjfahl“! As it happens, Broke-Ass has so many damn eggs that, at times, she feels that she might prefer to shove bamboo shoots underneath her fingernails than to sup upon another oeuf. This is …


The iPhone is the new Prius

Ditch the car and get a bike, a transit farecard, and a smartphone.Photo: NoktonCross-posted from Shareable. Two years ago, my California driver’s license expired. Living in Chicago at the time, where the smart resident uses bikes or public transit to avoid traffic, I hadn’t found a compelling reason to get behind the wheel of our car in months. With plenty of other pressing tasks on my to-do list, renewing or replacing an expired out-of-state license quickly plummeted to the bottom of my priorities. Two years later, the license is still expired, and I’m happier, healthier, and richer for it. There’s …

Critical List: Fracking connected to flammable tap water; eco-friendly paintballs

Remember those people with flammable tap water? Yup, hydrofracking is responsible, according to Duke University scientists. Chile wants to dam two incredible rivers, despite opposition from both locals and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. A judge in Utah shut down Koch Industries' search for the clever people who sent out a fake press release claiming the company had embraced the idea of climate change. A quote from the Kochtopus’ inner monologue: “How dare you, Utah judge? Nobody says Koch Industries believes in science and gets away with it! Nobody!” Angela Merkel is kicking other world leaders' butts on clean energy policy. …

New app lets you identify the few remaining trees

Wouldn’t it be nice to get to know trees while they’re still around? Leafsnap can help. The new app, developed by a team of researchers at Columbia, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution, contains a database of beautiful photos of leaves, barks, flowers, and fruits. All the lazy naturalist has to do to identify a tree is take a picture of one little leaf. It turns out, however, that you can't just point your iPhone camera at a tree, snap a picture, and find out what in the world it is. After gathering a leaf, fruit, flower or other …

Green Living Tips

Barking up the wrong tree: Ask Umbra on printing emails

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Can you bring some balance and common sense to the Wall Street Journal‘s aw-shucks oversimplification of the issue of to print or not to print emails? I learned about it from a few colleagues’ change in email signatures, encouraging people to print their emails to promote a “sustainable” industry. I was amused at first, but now I’m getting worried. Greenwashing a wasteful habit is trivializing and dismissing a serious contribution to our landfill issues and carbon footprint. Bit o’ Sunshine Don’t get too cozy with the idea of printing out reams of …

Green Living Tips

Care about the forest? Here’s what you can do

Who cares about the forest? That’s the question author/artist Franke James explores in this creative personal story commissioned by the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada. Check out the visual essay below, or watch it as an animated video.

Green Living Tips

A very, very, very fine house: Ask Umbra on communal living

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, How do I reduce my carbon footprint in a house full of people? Hannah HulsePort Orchard, Wash. A. Dearest Hannah, How best to keep it cool in a communal house?Photo: You’re on one of those reality shows where they all live together, aren’t you? America’s Next Big Brother of the Jersey Shore, I think it’s called. I’m glad you wrote in — now I have your autograph! Maybe I can barter it at the farmers market for some of their lovely goat’s milk cheese. Communal living, filmed or not, is tricky …

Sustainable Farming

Give a cluck: Ask Umbra on secret backyard chickens

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Have you heard of the underground backyard chicken movement, and would you recommend it for people who want chickens, regardless of city ordinances? DenineWestminster (no state specified, maybe to protect innocent chickens) Some chickens have to keep a low profile.Photo: Taber Andrew BainA. Dearest Denine, Don your feathered fedora, pull it low over your eyes, and let’s venture into the subterranean realm of secret backyard chicken coops. (Perhaps they will be the new speakeasies.)  First, anyone interested in the issue should peruse this immensely thorough and useful piece by Jill Richardson about …

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