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Grist List: Look what we found.


Graduation caps and gowns made from recycled bottles

Michigan Tech student Emily Baker. (Photo by Sarah Bird.)

Seniors at Michigan Tech will be sporting the finest in recycled-bottle couture at their commencement next month. The school's graduation caps and gowns just look like the standard Hogwarts-uniform deal, but they're actually made of recycled water bottles. 

Read more: Living


Fruit flies drink when they can’t get laid

Photo by T. Chapman.

Today in "nature is weirder than you ever thought possible" news: When male fruit flies are deprived of sex, they turn to alcohol. Really.

Read more: Animals


Navy’s new training area may harm endangered whales

Photo by the Department of Sustainability & Environment.

Right whales may get screwed for being in the right place at the wrong time. That’s because the U.S. Navy wants to build a $100 million offshore training range in the very same area as the endangered whales’ regular swimming zone. Ah yes, the age-old battle of whales versus sailors -- I seem to recall this usually ends with someone getting eaten, and it isn’t a whale.

The Navy wants to install an undersea array of cables and sensors for training warships, submarines and aircraft about 50 miles off the Atlantic coast of southern Georgia and northern Florida. Environmentalists have sued to block the project, saying it's too close to waters where right whales migrate near shore each winter to birth their calves.

A coalition of environmental organizations is suing to block the training range, claiming that the Navy approved the facility before finishing up its study of how often right whales visit the 500-square-mile site. The suit went before a federal judge yesterday, but no decision has been made either way yet.


McDonald’s sets itself up for a new social media fail

A voluntary picture voluntarily uploaded to the public internet.

Sure, McDonald's got bitten on the ass last time it tried to tick "leverage social media" off its corporate to-do list. But what is it supposed to do, learnApparently not, since it's back in the Twitter game, and this time it's chosen a hashtag that sounds filthy even before the haters get their hands on it.

Read more: Food


Crocodile incubator saves species from extinction

Don’t look now, but baby crocodiles might be UNEXPECTEDLY ADORABLE. And the best part of this video, from Cuba’s Sabanalamar animal nursery, is that these babies represent new hope for a vulnerable species. Cuban researchers at the nursery are using specially designed incubators to hatch American crocodiles, helping to save the species from extinction.

Click to go to video.
Read more: Animals


San Francisco saves gas by making better parking spaces cost more

In San Francisco, a parking place costs more the more people want to use it. This might sound like common sense, but it's actually a radical experiment in keeping people from circling endlessly, looking for a spot and wasting gas.

Since 2010, the pricing for 7,000 metered spaces in the city has changed in real time based on demand. The idea is that raising prices in high-demand areas will send some customers elsewhere or make them park for shorter periods, leaving more free spots and decreasing circling-the-block-looking-for-a-freaking-spot time. The New York Times crunched the city's data from the program and found that -- hey! -- it's working:

Read more: Cities


New fashion line creates a year’s worth of outfits with only 10 items of clothing

Many of us try on more than 10 items of clothing in a single morning. Malaysian fashion label “We are ULTRA” wants you to wear only 10 articles throughout the entire year.

The label’s new ULTRA 10 line aims to cut back on consumerism and waste by offering up a minimalist wardrobe crafted from sustainable fabrics. ULTRA 10 features 10 items of clothing that can be mixed and matched into an array of outfits intended to last all year.

So far, the industry’s critics have embraced its appeal, winning the 2011 Ethical Fashion Forum INNOVATION Award. The 10 piece wardrobe’s "modular and multifunctional pieces" includes a 4-in-1 Coat/Dress/Jacket/Skirt and a 2-in-1 Jacket/Vest. Their clever arrangement of zippers, cuts and accessories gets you from the banquet to the bar in a single outfit -- most of which is sustainably sourced or recycled fabrics.


Critical List: A new Chevron oil spill in Brazil; Vladimir Putin didn’t shoot a tiger

Chevron has suspended work at a drilling site off the coast of Brazil after finding an oil leak near the site of November’s spill.

Vladimir Putin wants everyone to think he's all manly, but there's evidence that the "wild" tiger that he "tranquilized" was taken from a zoo to stage the stunt.

Chinese, South Korean, and European-flagged fishing ships are hauling in huge illegal catches off the coast of West Africa.

Read more: Uncategorized


New York has a subway system just for garbage

Part of the Roosevelt Island garbage tube system. (Photo by Urban Omnibus.)

New York's Roosevelt Island is like Futurama for trash: Underneath the island, a system of pneumatic tubes whisks garbage from trash and recycling bins off to the processing center. Now the company that built the tubes, Envac, wants to expand to more of the city.

Read more: Cities, Infrastructure


New frog species found in Staten Island

Photo by Brian Curry, Rutgers University.

Most folks assume Staten Island holds little more than Italian restaurants, mob wives, and a huge landfill. But another resident has just been discovered on New York City’s most disrespected borough: a new species of frog!

Scientists recently discovered a new species of leopard frog on Staten Island. The hopper went unnoticed for so long because it looks more or less exactly like another type of leopard frog -- it just sounds different. And, ya know, because the science community is more used to finding undiscovered wildlife in remote, pristine places, rather than urban metropolises. (The center of this new frog’s range? Yankee Stadium.)

Read more: Animals, Cities