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


Teen's invention boosts solar panel output 40 percent

Nineteen-year-old Eden Full is going to be taking a few years off from her studies at Princeton. That's because she's been getting a ton of grants to finish developing her SunSaluter, a technology that allows solar panels to track the sun, boosting output by 40 percent. Unlike other devices that let solar panels move to follow the sun, the SunSaluter doesn't use a motor -- instead, it turns because the different metals it's made of expand in the sun at different rates. That means Full's invention is about 1/60th as expensive as traditional solar trackers -- $10 versus $600 -- and …


Solar industry is strong like bull

"Solyndra, what's that? Something I can pick my teeth with before starting a conflagration of white-hot capitalist fire with this can of gasoline and the Marlboro dangling from my lower lip?" says Dan Shugar, CEO of solar panel maker Solaria. (I'm paraphrasing.) Seriously though, Hanner has an important message for all the haters out there: Solyndra represented only about 5 percent of the solar manufacturing capacity in North America, and its failure will hardly put a dent in the rapid growth of the industry as a whole. You hear that, Congress? There are some entrepreneurs out here creating jobs in …


Urban chicken consultant will help you realize your homesteading dreams

We know you think backyard chickens are hot, because we've been rifling through your trash and we found those back issues of Grit. Now there's a shortcut to realizing your dream of owning little tiny feathered dinosaurs that lay unfertilized breakfast bombs for you: Hire a chicken consultant. For a fee, Jennifer Murtoff will come to your house and help you set up your own little Chickentopia. Speaking as someone who baby-sat chickens for three months this summer, I can tell you that it's a hell of a lot easier to learn the craft from someone else than to try to …


Metal-wheeled bike! Sure, why not?

  It's Friday, so here's a pointlessly pretty bike. It has metal wheels, because apparently you can make working bike wheels out of nothing but sprung steel, so why wouldn't you? Also I suppose it keeps you from getting flat tires. It's not the next big thing in bikes. It is not going to get more people doing bike commutes. But it is awesome-looking. If you stay at the W Hotel in London, you can use the bike until the end of October. After that, it's going up for auction to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Read more: Biking, Cities


Watch cute kids build their own school out of bottles and trash

Especially if you're susceptible to optimistic reggae (I am!), this video of kids helping to build their own school out of bottles and trash ought to make you a little misty. It shows three months of work on a Hug It Forward "bottle school," from the collection of raw materials (kids fill plastic bottles with trash to act as insulation in the school's walls) to the construction (members of the local community learn skilled labor while helping to build the school's framework). A bottle school can incorporate over a ton of trash, cleaning up the area while enriching the community …

Read more: Green Home, Living


Even the Bush administration wouldn’t touch tar-sands oil

Even if the Obama administration approves the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadians won't be able to sell the carbon-intensive tar-sands oil to one very big energy consumer: the Obama administration. Back in 2007, the federal government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, passed a law that forbade it from buying oil that's dirtier than conventional oil. And tar-sands oil is. The Canadian government has been trying for years to wiggle its way around that restriction. The U.S Chamber of Commerce has also tried to free the Department of Defense from its shackles. But as of right now, the federal government …


Critical List: Crowdsourcing carbon solutions; New Yorkers regret drilling leases

The Maldives are going to crowdsource their carbon-cutting plan. (They’re asking international experts, not just letting any citizen drive policy. Not sure how that would work in the Maldives, but in the U.S. you’d get a lot of “shine lamps on solar panels for infinite energy!”) Should the new poster child for global warming be the city mayor who has to deal with unexpected weather extremes? Usually you hear about buyer's remorse, but New Yorkers are having sellers' remorse about turning over drilling rights to natural gas companies. Maybe the government should stop trying to "pick winners" and invest in …


Texas Republican says we should still invest in solar after Solyndra

Here's Joe Barton, a Republican congressman from Texas, explaining why the Solyndra collapse shouldn't end solar loan guarantees. Refreshing! Solyndra had "too little oversight," Barton says, but solar is still viable and other companies should get loans if there's a reasonable expectation that taxpayers won't get screwed.


Meet NYC's most-used turnstile

Public transportation aficionados have a new pilgrimage destination: A turnstile at the bottom of the escalators at the Columbus Circle stop of the New York subway. That's the most-used turnstile of the most-used transportation system in the country. The turnstile, which is probably not actually one of the ones pictured above (these are from Columbus Circle, but there are a lot of turnstiles there), had registered 1,402,766 MetroCard swipes this year as of Aug. 19. That puts it more than 4,000 swipes ahead of the next most popular turnstile, at the Jamaica Center station. Memo to the New York MTA: Wouldn't …

Read more: Cities, Transportation


Move to New York, save the planet

New York City's transportation commissioner wants you to come clog up her roads and subways. "If you want to save the planet, move to New York," Janette Sadik-Khan said at a Clinton Global Initiative panel discussion on Tuesday. Thanks to dense, car-light living, she said, New Yorkers have a third of the carbon footprint of the average American. It doesn't have to be New York, and maybe it shouldn't -- poverty has risen more sharply there than in the rest of the country in recent years, the income disparity is staggering, and unemployment rates among young adults are awful. If …

Read more: Cities