Skip to content Skip to site navigation
Grist List: Look what we found.


This DIY solar backpack looks tricky but doable

Whether you hike, camp, or just drunkenly lie in the sun at Coachella, a solar backpack’s an outlet-free way to juice up your gear. But you might not have upwards of $200 lying around. If you ARE rich in time and patience, Treehugger’s got a tutorial via Instructables for wiring up your own solar bag.


Here’s the gist of it: You attach four encapsulated two-volt/200-milliampere solar panels together, fusing their wires with a soldering iron (you have one of those, right?). When you end up with a positive and negative cable, you connect it to a battery box to charge four NiMH batteries. That part looks pretty tricky -- please don’t electrocute yourself (or get into a soldering gun battle ... that shit burns!).


This app lets you narc on wasted energy


There’s no reason for offices to be lit up all night if no one’s around. If seeing a bright skyline pisses you off as much as it inspires awe, LightsOut will help you channel your annoyance.

The app LightsOut was just born at Boston’s Cleanweb Hackathon earlier this month, where it won the grand prize, so you can’t blame creator Spencer Lawrence for not having a slick, fully functional app yet. (It should be more user-ready in seven months, after help from an accelerator program.) Lawrence, a former energy auditor, and his friend John Massie got plenty of inspiration for LightsOut just by walking around during the hackathon:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Apple will now recycle your old products and give you store credit

Luke Dorny

Forget smashing your old iBook Office Space-style. Just send it back to Apple, and if it isn’t ancient, you could get some sweet sweet store credit. Even if it is ancient, Apple will recycle it for you.

Here are the deets from Apple:

When you recycle with Apple, your used equipment is disassembled, and key components that can be reused are removed. Glass and metal can be reprocessed for use in new products. A majority of the plastics can be pelletized into a raw secondary material. With materials reprocessing and component reuse, Apple often achieves a 90 percent recovery rate by weight of the original product.


Jon Stewart jokes with the EPA’s Gina McCarthy about Texas, burning trash, and his Hummer

The Daily Show

"Are we clean yet?" That's how Jon Stewart got rolling on his interview with EPA head honcho Gina McCarthy last night.

She called climate change her top priority -- “the biggest public health challenge that we face, as well as the biggest economic challenge we face” -- and emphasized that the EPA's proposed rules cracking down on carbon dioxide from power plants will be coming out in June.

“All these regulations put the mom ‘n’ pop oil companies out of business!” Stewart protested.

But McCarthy made the point that avoiding environmental apocalypse does not mean causing economic apocalypse. She boasted that the EPA over its 40 years has cut air pollution by 70 percent while the nation's GDP has doubled.

Watch the whole segment, including Stewart joking about burning things in his backyard, bragging about his "Hummer within a Hummer within a Hummer," and taking a jab at Texas:

Read more: Living


For cleaner air, plant a tree in your belly button


Happy Earth Day! Have you planted a seed in your belly button yet? And if not, why not? Let two dudes in crop tops convince you (green stuff starts at 1:35).

Rhett and Link, seemingly the American Flight of the Conchords, are convinced that “These [trees] are gonna get massive and absorb a lot of greenhouse gases.” Why hug a tree when you could rock it as navel jewelry?

Then things get weird(er). After realizing “We carbon-offset ourselves!” the guys decide that justifies driving separate Hummers door-to-door selling DIY mini coal plants for children. Bizarre, but we can’t resist outfits so clearly inspired by Mean Girls.

And you have to admit, planting a maple sapling in your umbilical-hole is less repulsive than using it to store your barbeque sauce.

Read more: Living


aw, nuts

Turkey’s nutty green idea for heating its eco-city? Pistachios


Pistachios may be a lot of hard work compared to Cheetos, but at least their shells could double as heating fuel. That is, if authorities give the OK for their use in a planned Turkish city.

The new eco-city will be built in southeast Turkey’s Gaziantep region, with housing for 200,000 people. The heat’s gotta come from somewhere, so why not from nature’s snack wrapper? Writes Gizmodo:

The region exported 4,000 tons of pistachios last year -- just think about how many shells that is. The pistachio shells could be burned for biogas that is then used for heat, providing up to 60 percent of the city's heating needs.

Here's more background from AFP:

Read more: Food, Living


When it comes to climate change, don’t think of the children


No one wants their grandkids growing up in an apocalyptic world with soup-thick air and crusty land. Making the abstract idea of climate change more personal and immediate is a good way to make people care ... right? But as Greg Lusk argues, the “child trope” -- “Let’s leave a safe, clean world for our descendants!” -- is flawed and not all that effective.

For one thing, this “Think of the children!!!!!” alarmism ignores the fact that kids are part of the problem (see: overpopulation). And for the kidfree, children aren’t exactly a compelling reason to care. Should I ride the bus to lock down a better future for ... my cat’s kittens’ kittens? (If she weren’t already spayed, that is.)

Then there’s the fact that climate change is already happening -- shit’s in the present, not the future! As Lusk writes:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


i've got sole, but i'm not a soldier

These shoes are completely made out of recycled trash


Consumerism constantly promises that THIS ONE THINGIE will make you happy or hot or successful. In that moment of swiping your debit card, it’s hard to imagine ever trashing your new panacea. And yet most things end up in the garbage (even stuff that makes a pit stop at Goodwill).

That’s the message behind Everything Is Rubbish, a recycling art project by a trio of British guys. Charles Duffy, William Gubbins, and Billy Turvey wanted to make a statement about the millions of pieces of plastic that end up in the ocean every day. They gathered plastic trash on U.K. beaches, disinfected the crap out of it, heated it up, smashed it into sheets, and created shoes out of it. It's oddly mesmerizing; watch:

So why shoes?

Read more: Living


The week in GIFs: Mark Ruffalo edition

Mark Ruffalo won our "Who's your fave green celeb" poll, plus we're way overdue to stare at gifs of him.

Power plants lost their legal bid to douse you with mercury:


There's now a gnat named after Bill McKibben:


The IPCC report was censored:


Fracking can make you sick in a number of different ways:

Read more: Living


People of color contribute least to smog, yet breathe more of it. WTF?

Esparta Palma

Get a load of this: It’s not poor people whose nostrils get the dirtiest air. It’s people of color -- even wealthy ones.

It’s true, you can’t 1,000 percent separate race and class, but new findings from the University of Minnesota found that race, more than income, determines who smog hurts the most. Writes ThinkProgress:

When low-income white people were compared to high-income Hispanic people, the latter group experienced higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. Altogether, people of color in the U.S. breathe air with 38 percent more nitrogen dioxide in it than their white counterparts, particularly due to power plants and exhaust from vehicles.

Unfair, especially because people of color produce less air pollution than white people (African-Americans, for example, emit 20 percent less CO2 than white Americans). So why is this happening? You know, other than racism? Writes Atlantic Cities: