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Planes talk

Disney’s “Planes” sequel is an excuse to talk to your kids about climate change

planes-sn.jpg
Disney

I saw the Disney film Planes: Fire and Rescue over the weekend with my 11-year-old son Justice. It’s not my favorite animated movie series, but I thought it would be a calmer, more ambient version of the kind of anthropomorphized stories Justice and I have sat earmuffed through at the movies lately, like Transformers and Planet of the Apes.

I’m not mad we went. It did a better job of explaining the inconsolable wrath of wildfires for us two East Coasters than I could have ever done for my son. And it managed to pack in a subplot about water scarcity.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Ask Umbra: What should I do with my nasty old pillows?

pillowdog
Shutterstock

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. My pillows are getting gross. I've thought about washing them, but I can only do two at a time in the washing machine, and I live in Southern California where we're in the midst of a nasty drought. So, I've thought about throwing them away and getting new ones, but I hate the thought of them just sitting in a landfill. Which path to clean pillows is better for the planet? And if you have any recommendations for eco-friendlier pillows in general, I'll take 'em!

Amy
Glendale, Calif.

A. Dearest Amy,

While I admire your commitment to water conservation, there’s no need to force your pillows into early retirement. Just as you wouldn’t toss your clothes, dishes, or bedsheets after getting a bit grimy (I hope), nor should you contribute to overconsumerism with a new set of pillows, which require raw materials, water, and energy to produce – and that you don’t really need.

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Punky Rooster

Punk strife and farm life pair remarkably well

ruralpunks
Eve Andrews / Shutterstock / Sergio

Here is something you’ve almost definitely never thought about: Rural punks! Punks in the country!

How does that even work, exactly? Does a shredded Black Flag T-shirt go with a Dodge pickup? Can one maintain a deep-seated rage against pigs (the police) while feeding pigs (the farm animal)? Is piercing your eyebrow with a safety pin in the middle of a cow field more or less transgressive than doing it in the bathroom of whichever shitty warehouse show is happening on a Thursday?

Thanks to Modern Farmer, we can now ponder these questions throughout the day and for the rest of time. Tyler LeBlanc interviewed the founder of the Grind, a zine for rural punks founded by a woman whose honest-to-God, government name is Gretchen Bonegardener.

You can read the whole interview here, but we’ve cherry-picked the best excerpt:

Read more: Food, Living

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It’s going to take more than swim lessons to undo the effects of racism

free-swim
Free Swim

If you haven’t caught the documentary Free Swim, about the paradox of an island in the Bahamas where the natives don’t know how to swim (you can catch it free on online), it’s worth a look -- especially if you’ve followed our own Grist-ian summer coverage of the often painful stories behind American swimming and beaches (found here, here, here, aaand here). That pain comes, in part, from a history of racism that has excluded black people from public swimming areas and taken their land to build beach resorts.

Free Swim strokes through similar themes. Here’s the trailer:

The film focuses on the Deep Creek village on the southern end of Eleuthera, a thin sliver of an island in the Bahamas -- 110 miles long, but only about a mile wide. We know poverty besets the region because of the shanty shelters, abandoned farms, and the rusts and ghosts of industrial buildings throughout the landscape.

The children don’t seem “poor” -- they dance in the streets, twist braids on the porch, and make music from discarded empty bottles -- but they dream of going to big cities like New York and Los Angeles. They think they won’t make it because they are scared of the water they’d need to cross to get there.

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Slow your roll

Stephen Colbert can’t wait to belch exhaust all over bicyclists & hybrid cars

Greens had Stephen Colbert seeing red, so he was excited to hear about a new anti-environmentalist trend: coal rolling. "Coal rollers modify their diesel pickups to get shittier mileage and belch as much pollution as possible," explains Jim Meyer. The dirty pranksters then kick up black clouds on bicyclists, pedestrians, and hybrid cars. As Colbert points out, "The only other way to keep a Prius away from you is driving over 45 mph."

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Algal Pints

Another reason kelp will win over hipsters’ hearts: craft beer

beer
Valentyn Volkov

Yesterday, I gave you the top reasons why kelp could bump out kale as hipsterdom's star vegetable -- it's environmentally friendly, nutritious, and delicious (maybe?). If seaweed really wants to reign king, what better way to win cool hearts than becoming an ingredient in craft beer? (There's no such thing as Kale Light.)

Turns out, kelp is already a step ahead of me. On July 15, the Marshall Wharf Brewing Co., in Belfast, Maine, began pouring the Sea Belt Scotch Ale. Sugar kelp is a main ingredient.

Brewery owner David Carlson had reason to believe his experiment would be a success: What gets kids excited these days like weird ingredients, especially if they're locally sourced? But, as NPR reports, he approached the experiment with reasoned caution:

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Mailed it

This rogue bicycle pony express delivered mail in 1894

If any of the cyclists who participated in the great bicycle messenger mail route were still alive to tell the tale, it would make the ultimate "when I was your age story."

Picture this: San Francisco, 1894. The Pullman rail strike in Illinois cuts off all rail service west of Detroit, leaving California train-less and thus, mail-less. One "enterprising citizen" and bicycle salesman Arthur C. Banta decides to create a fixie chain gang relay along a 210-mile stretch from San Francisco to California's Central Valley with eight primary riders. He charges $0.25 for stamps, 10 times the price of standard mail at the time.

I can just hear the conversation now:

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Goodbye, everyone! A massive hole has opened at the End of the World

yamal_holeattheendoftheworld
Bulka

Well! It was nice knowing yinz, because Doomsday is upon us. According to Scripture, the first two signs of the apocalypse are:

1. A goblin of the underworld shalt sign a princess with a voice of gold to his record label, and so the two will beget a heavily Auto-Tuned music video starring a mythical beast.

2. And lo! For a chasm shalt suddenly appear at the End of the World.

We’re two for two! Tuesday, The Siberian Times reported that a massive hole measuring 262 feet in diameter suddenly appeared in the Yamal region of Siberia. Gee, what does Yamal mean in the language of the Nenets, the region’s indigenous people? “The end of the world.”

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Ask Umbra: Are organic cherries worth the extra expense?

UmbraCherries
me and the sysop

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. While I go organic as much as I can, the inability to buy organic cherries is the price I pay for a low-paying job cleaning up our gorgeous environment. Since I cannot bear to live life without a few fresh summer cherries, I buy the regular ones. My mother insists that in this case, using that fruit wash stuff is the way to go. But it's expensive! Does it REALLY do a good job of getting pesticide residues off of the surface of fruit, or does a good spray of plain old water do just as well?

Karen
North Bend, Wash.

A. Dearest Karen,

I wholeheartedly agree: No one should be confined to a life without fresh summer cherries. Or strawberries. Or blueberries. Mmm … Methinks a trip to the farmers market is in order, stat.

As you note, though, even in-season cherries can be pricey, with organics still more so (and that’s not considering the premium you’ll pay for those tasty kings-among-cherries, Rainiers). We here at Grist love organic produce: It’s free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, making it healthier for you and the planet. But if your budget can’t swing it – I’m going to go into some tips on that in a moment, mind you – you can still reduce your pesticide exposure from the conventional variety.

Read more: Food, Living

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Good riddance, ocean, you were terrifying and gross anyway

Humpback_Anglerfish_(Melanocetus_Johnsonii)
Javontaevious

When I put a fishy face to the victims of ocean acidification, overfishing, and pollution, my brain usually goes off into Christian Riese Lassen territory. Orcas leap through the ocean at sunset. Coral reefs teem with diversity, each fish more lovely than the next. Sea turtles circling the globe? Why the heck not.

You know what never made it into the ocean diversity art on my seventh-grade geography folder? This guy:

Read more: Living