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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Over-pup-ulation?

Americans are choosing chihuahuas over children

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Michael Bennett

Since 2007, women haven’t been popping out as many babies (maybe it’s that pesky recession?). But they’ve been enjoying the company of something ELSE cute and tiny and full of shit: small dogs. And that's better for the population and for resource use overall.

Roberto A. Ferdman points out the trends on Quartz:

Birth rates in the US have fallen from nearly 70 per 1,000 women in 2007, to under 63 last year -- a 10% tumble. American women birthed almost 400,000 fewer little humans in 2013 than they did six years before. The drop-off has come exclusively among 15- to 29-year-olds.

birth-rate-chart-various-ages

Meanwhile, dogs under 20 pounds have doubled in popularity since 1999. They’re now Americans’ most common type of pup. Euromonitor research analyst Damian Shore says it’s not just an interesting correlation; women are totally choosing tail-wagging friends over someone whose college you have to pay for. As he told Quartz:

There’s definitely some replacement happening there ... There are more single and unmarried women in their late 20s and early 30s, which also happens to be the demographic that buys the most small dogs.

Read more: Cities, Living

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I don't think you're ready for this jellyfish

Diapers and tampons could soon be made from jellyfish

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Spreng Ben

First there was the Diva Cup. Then came the sea pearl. So what’s next for sustainable menstrual solutions? Jellyfish! Uncross your legs, ladies, and get this: Scientists broke down jellyfish flesh and used nanoparticles (for antibacterial purposes) to create a highly absorbent, biodegradable material called "Hydromash."

According to Capital Nano, a company raising funds for the product:

The Hydromash absorbs more than several times its volume and biodegrades in less than 30 days (faster than any other bio-degradable products such as bio-degradable diapers made out of pulp.)

Take that, Playtex! Hydromash has the potential to be used for almost anything that you use absorbent paper products for -- sponges, paper towels, and even diapers.

Here are two reasons why we hope Hydromash makes it to the mass market.

Read more: Living

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These stylish fair-trade clothes support at-risk women

Raven + Lily

Think of Raven + Lily as the anti–Forever 21. Rather than making new gewgaws outta plastic, the sustainable clothing company upcycles materials like bullet casings (!) and silver coins. Plus, it pays a fair wage to HIV-positive women and victims of sex trafficking, abuse, and other trauma. (Its prices also set it apart from Forever 21, although they’re far from Prada-high.)

And unlike Forever 21, you can actually feel good about wearing things from Raven + Lily, instead of slightly nauseated and wondering if those burned-smelling jeans are making you sick. Raven + Lily offers healthcare along with a safe job so women in Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and the U.S. can get a leg up out of poverty. Its Kenya Collection, for instance:

Features hand-carved wooden and beaded jewelry that empower women from the Esiteti community to eradicate female genital mutation, as well as to be the first generation to send girls to school.

Awesome, right? The company is careful to make the best use of local resources, investigating what fabrics and materials local women have access to and where their design skills lie. This video explains more about the bullets-to-beads story and turning conflict into art:

Read more: Living

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The week in GIFs: Raising our eyebrows

The week's green news has us skeptical, judgmental, and just plain confused. (Last week: genies, junk, and Mary Jane.)

Only 28 percent of Fox's climate segments are accurate:

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Tumblr

Ohio cracked down on pollution from fracking:

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Reaction Gifs
Read more: Living

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Salamanders are doing their best to stave off climate change

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Bill Bouton

If we can't get through to Republicans, at least we have one slimy little crawler* that's helping to mitigate climate change. A new study indicates that woodland salamanders help keep carbon out of the atmosphere, thanks to their diet of insects that feed on dead leaves.

Here's how it works: Salamanders eat mostly "shredding invertebrates," bugs that survive by ripping leaves to pieces and eating them. Shredding the leaves releases their carbon into the atmosphere -- but when there are fewer shredding invertebrates, leaves stay on the ground and decompose, with their carbon eventually being absorbed safely into the soil. By eating the shredders, salamanders help carbon be directed into the ground and not into the air.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The future of genetically modified plants could include potatoes with tiny hamburgers in the middle

hamburgato

io9 has a roundup of where genetically modified plants could be going in the next few generations, and it's a heck of a lot weirder than tomatoes with fish genes. Writer Daniel Berleant envisions oak trees that reproduce via spores and wheat that can fix nitrogen in the soil as well as beans, but shit gets really wacky when he starts talking about modifications that would make produce taste better. Here are some of his weirdest visions for the future of food:

Hamburgatoes: If you can make Quorn, a fungus that tastes like chicken, why can't you make carrots that taste like potato chips, or "potatoes with small hamburgers in the middle"? Presumably this means a small amount of potato-based matter that tastes and behaves like hamburger, but I'm preferring to envision cutting open a potato to find a fully dressed burger on a bun.

Read more: Food

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This is the sweetest, mushiest bike map you’ve ever seen

Click to embiggen.
Click to embiggen.

Vincent Meertens and his girlfriend Larissa tracked all their bike trips for a year, and the result is a dense, cross-hatched map of their travels as individuals and as a couple. It's like one of those Facebook relationship pages, but centered on biking.

Meertens' routes are picked out in blue and Larissa's in red. The paths mark their solo activities, their favorite haunts, and their adventures together (although Meertens was more zealous about tracking and some of the blue-only routes, like the one around the perimeter of Manhattan, are actually trips they took as a couple). The yellow dots are places where they took photos.

Read more: Cities, Living

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Even “green” K-Cups kinda suck for the environment

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Mother Parkers

We recently found out that K-Cups, those single-serve thingers you use in your office's Keurig coffeemaker, create so much trash that debris from the ones sold just in the last year would circle the planet almost 11 times. And if that wasn't enough to drive you back to old-school percolators, try this on for size: Even the new "EcoCup," billed as a green K-Cup alternative, is pretty crappy for the environment.

The EcoCup, made by coffee company Mother Parkers, is designed to work with Keurigs and to provide single servings of coffee grounds or tea with a slightly less disastrous environmental footprint. The main innovation? It's recyclable. But, uh, not that recyclable, according to Treehugger:

Read more: Food, Living

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These gorgeous sustainable travel mugs won’t leach harmful chemicals

Given the recent ruckus about BPA-free plastic being not that safe after all, we get it if you’re resigned to drinking water straight out of clouds. But could there be another option?!

Hells yes -- and it doesn’t involve permanently tilting your neck skyward, either. Dryad Coffee made trees you can drink from ... or to be precise, olive wood and white oak travel mugs that are dishwasher safe, minimally porous, and free of the chemicals in plastic and metal cups.

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Dryad

Dryad is just wrapping up a successful Kickstarter campaign that’ll allow the brand to certify its wooden mugs with the Forest Stewardship Council, so you won’t be hydrating at the expense of old-growth forests. (You have three days left to make a $30 donation for a cup or $40 for a travel mug -- or less if you just want good karma.)

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Dryad

Here’s Dryad’s timeline if you wanna snag a mug of your own:

Read more: Living

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Forget cows — people are now going Smart car tipping

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Fred Scharmen

Youthful San Francisco hooligans don’t exactly have access to a field of snoozing cows. What CAN they tip? Smart cars. And on Monday, four were flipped over in San Francisco neighborhoods. Reports the Associated Press:

[Officer Gordon] Shyy said ... police were looking for multiple suspects wearing black hooded sweatshirts who were in the area at the time of the destruction.

You rebellious teens with your hoodies and raging hormones and pent-up aggression! The prank seems merely silly on the surface, but it could actually point to underlying class-based tension in one of America’s most spendy cities.

Police said they didn't know whether the attacks were a prank or another episode in escalating tensions among some residents who blame the tech industry for rising rents and cost of living.

As Shelley Gallivan, who inherited one of the Smart cars when her 70-year-old dad died, told the AP:

Read more: Cities, Living