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Grist List: Look what we found.


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This school district saved $1.5 million just by turning off lights and stuff

If you turn me off I will buy you a textbook.

The Lake Stevens School District in suburban Seattle has saved itself $1.5 million since 2010. But the students and teachers haven't been required to do anything particularly special or innovative or requiring costly technology to save this rather princely sum. They have merely been very vigilant about turning things off.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Chicken farmers replace antibiotics with oregano oil

Give this chicken some oregano oil and call me in the morning.
normanack
Give this chicken some oregano oil and call me in the morning.

Animals raised to be food get diseases easily. There's a lot of them hanging around in one place, waiting to die, so it's not terribly surprising that they get sick. Precautions have to be taken, which is why these animals have long been given antibiotics. The problem with antibiotics is that feeding animals too many of them breeds disease-resistant germs. But it's possible that a solution exists, and bonus: It sort of seasons chickens from the inside. Oregano oil may be a natural solution to protecting chickens from germs without antibiotics, and also probably making them taste like pizza.

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World’s largest gluten-free pizza weighs 50,000 pounds

largest_gf_pizza

Chefs in Rome have cooked up the world's largest gluten-free pizza, inexplicably named "Ottavia" (I mean, it's inexplicable that a pizza has a name; "Ottavia" is a perfectly good name for a pizza if you're going to name a pizza, I guess). It's the size of an Olympic swimming pool and weighs 50,000 pounds, so good luck eating a slice, although you could possibly make a large tent out of one and live in it if necessary.

Read more: Food

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Peer-to-peer bike share Liquid is like AirBnB for bicycles

'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, every creature wanted to take a break from togetherness and have a little alone time. Or at least leave the living room. May we recommend Liquid? It's a peer-to-peer bike-sharing service. Just search nearby for a friendly bike owner who's willing to rent out her bike for a few bucks an hour, and you're off and pedaling.

Treehugger explains:

Let's say you are a small family and find yourself at the mercy of distant relatives in the Portland suburb of Hillsboro, and then find yourself further stranded without a car. If you know about Liquid, you can rent a beautiful bakfiets (one child an easy haul) for just 10 bucks a day, or a Surly longtail bike (two kids or a kid and a light adult, no problem) for $20 dollars a day, and easily, two-wheeled freedom is yours.

According to Liquid, the average daily price for a bike is $18, which in a city like New York ain't bad.

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Here is an elephant who thinks it’s an ostrich

ostrich_elephant
Willy Thuan

Well, or possibly he's trying to dig a hole to ... hmm, what's opposite Thailand? I guess more or less Peru. Maybe he's trying to dig a hole to Peru.

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These teeny, sparkly sequins are actually functional solar cells

glittersized
Murat Okandan

Sandia National Laboratories has created solar power cells so small it calls them "glitter-sized." And they look like snowflakes. AND they're just as efficient as normal solar cells, all while using one-hundredth of the material that a normal solar cell would use to create the same amount of energy.

The drawback, as with much solar technology, is that right now creating these cells requires cutting-edge techniques -- microelectronic and microelectromechanical, in this case -- that make production expensive. But the Sandia creators expect the price to come down enough that one day we'll be wearing solar panels around like they’re jewelry.

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Sand sculpture of 500 Santa Clauses has an environmental message, somehow

fat santa
Sudarsan Pattnaik

Sculptor Sudarsan Pattnaik and 30 of his students carved 500 Santa Clauses (and one Jesus) into a beach in Puri, India. They were aiming to break a world record:

santa head

But also to send a message about global warming:

go green
Sudarsan Pattnaik
Read more: Uncategorized

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Grist List’s best bike stories of 2012

Finding non-car ways to get around is a crucial part of making life on Earth sustainable. But bike-culture types can be really off-putting (search your feelings; you know it to be true). So we try to bring you cool bike designs, bike accessories, and bike-related stories to make the world of human-powered conveyance look more accessible. Here are some of the most popular ones from the last year.

London's elevated bike network

"A London architect is trying to convince the mayor that the way to expand the city’s bike infrastructure is not on the streets but in the air. His firm calls the idea SkyCycle, and it looks totally awesome, like a cross between the High Line and the credits of Futurama."

A couple that moved all their worldly possessions by bike

"Granted, they were only moving a mile down the road, they’re skilled bikers (he works at a bike shop), and one imagines that they aren’t the sort of people who have an overwhelming amount of stuff. But for short hops, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to move house with nothing but 25 friends, a LOT of pizza, and a 300-pound-capacity bike trailer."

The cancer surgeon who rode a little girl's bike to work to avoid traffic

baucom_bike

"Breast cancer surgeon Catherine Baucom is six feet tall, but she rolled up to work last Wednesday on a little girl’s pink bicycle. Baucom had been stuck in nightmarish traffic after a serious accident that shut down the interstate, but she knew her patient was waiting at the surgery center. So she hopped off the highway, drove to a friend’s house, and commandeered his 8-year-old daughter’s bike."

Read more: Uncategorized

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Grist List’s best weird creatures of 2012

Yes, we consider it our duty to bring you cute animals. But just as good needs evil, and light needs darkness, and Mars needs women, cute animals would be nothing without weird, sorta ugly animals. Besides, weird ugly animals are awesome. Here are some of our favorites from the last year. Warning: Don't read to the end if you don't want your eyes traumatized a little.

The cutest endangered species

axolotl
Ethan Hein

"If you’ve never seen an axolotl, behold: It’s a Mexican salamander with a face like an anime character."

Baby echidnas

"We will pass lightly over the fact that normally, rather than eating out of a human’s hand, the baby echidna would drink milk that its mom excreted from glands on her back. Because that is weird, but it is not cute. Forget about that and just look at its peculiar little snout!"

Photobombing stingray

Stingray-Photobomb

"Since the invention of photography, there have been 35 animal photobombs that were rated the most passionate, the most pure, the most likely to make me pee myself a little bit. This one leaves them all behind."

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Grist List’s best genius kids of 2012

Particular obsessions inevitably emerge as we try to bring you the coolest sustainability-related stories from around the internet. One of those, for whatever reason, is genius kids and teens. You guys love them! And with good reason, because they give us hope for the future (or anyway, I presume they give you hope for the future, because you are a decent person; they just make me feel horribly jealous and old). Here are your favorite prodigies from the past year.

The fifth-grade girl who discovered a new energy-storing molecule

"Man, what were YOU discovering when you were 10? Masturbation and Faith No More?"

The Omaha teen who donated her ungrateful friends' fruit to the hungry

kelli_schilken

"Under new healthy-lunch guidelines, students need to take at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal — but the controlling socialist anti-pizza agenda stops short of actually forcing them to eat it. Technically, they’re allowed to take a fruit and throw it out, play hacky sack with it, draw a face on it and teach it to sing 'Habanera,' etc. High schooler Kelli Schilken found this wasteful, so she pioneered a school program called 'Fine, You Spoiled Brats, If You Won’t Eat That Apple We’ll Find Someone Who Will.' We may be paraphrasing a bit."

The 10-year-old girl who made Jamba Juice stop using styrofoam

mia_hansen
Mia and Sara Hansen

"Usually, stories of the '10-year-old girl vs. multinational corporation' format are heartwarming, but only because everyone learns a valuable lesson about the importance of trying and cooperating and sticking to your beliefs even when you can’t win. But Mia’s petition got a response from Jamba Juice within three weeks. They called her on the phone, and sent her a letter promising that they would get rid of styrofoam in their stores and switch to an “environmental alternative” by the end of next year. That’s an unusually quick and decisive reaction, even for adult activists with a ton of resources. For a fifth grader with an online petition, it’s extraordinary."

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