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

Diapers and tampons could soon be made from jellyfish

jellyfish_sprengben1
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.

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WINDË Power

IKEA makes big investment in wind energy (some assembly required)

Let's hope that couch holds up in a stiff breeze.
Shutterstock
Let's hope that couch holds up in a stiff breeze.

IKEA -- though not exactly a friend to forests, and way too fond of dubious meatballs for our taste -- still wins greenie points for having a Scandinavian way with alternative energy. Ninety percent of its massive warehouse stores will soon host rooftop solar panels, including sunny south Florida's largest solar array, and Brits will be able to buy solar panels in U.K. stores starting this summer. On Thursday, the company one-upped its own clean cred by announcing its investment in a giant wind farm in Illinois.

Hoopeston Wind is the most recent in a series of wind investments by IKEA, including several farms in Canada, where the furniture behemoth is the largest retail wind investor. The Illinois farm will produce 98 megawatts of electricity when it comes online in 2015, or enough to power 34,000 Expedit-enhanced homes. That's more than twice the electricity that all of IKEA's U.S. operations consume, and about 18 percent of the company's global consumption. All of those megawatts will be sold locally, and IKEA will count them toward its overall renewable energy goal: to be totally carbon-free by 2020.

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No Bunk: Wendell Pierce is the greenest celeb in the game

We're on a quest to give your favorite celeb a fruit basket for supporting green causes. Here's why you should vote for Wendell Pierce.

A: C’mon man, it’s Bunk from The Wire, our favorite detective who kept a cigar in his mouth and a “fuck” in every quote.

B. Because he said in The Wire, “The Bunk can’t swim. I ain’t too good at floatin’ either.”

C. Because he’s from New Orleans.

D. Because he cared so much about the food desert problem in New Orleans that he opened a bunch of grocery stores that sell local, organic produce.

E. Because those grocery stores deliver (since a huge percentage of New Orleanians don’t have cars, and the city has poor public transit).

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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:

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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:

judging-you-anderson-cooper
Tumblr

Ohio cracked down on pollution from fracking:

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Reaction Gifs
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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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The brutally dishonest attacks on Showtime’s landmark climate series

"Years of Living Dangerously" screen shot

The good news is the video of episode one of Showtime’s climate series, Years of Living Dangerously, has been getting great reviews in The New York Times and elsewhere.

The bad news is the Times has published an error-riddled hit-job op-ed on the series that is filled with myths at odds with both the climate science and social science literature. For instance, the piece repeats the tired and baseless claim that Al Gore’s 2006 movie An Inconvenient Truth polarized the climate debate, when the peer-reviewed data says the polarization really jumped in 2009, as you can see in this chart from The Sociological Quarterly:

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Percent of Americans who believe the effects of global warming have already begun to happen, by political ideology, from Aaron M. McCright and Riley E. Dunlap. Click to embiggen.

As I said, Years of Living Dangerously — the landmark nine-part Showtime docu-series produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jerry Weintraub — has been getting great reviews. Andy Revkin, often a critic of climate messaging, wrote in The New York Times Monday:

… a compellingly fresh approach to showing the importance of climate hazards to human affairs, the role of greenhouse gases in raising the odds of some costly and dangerous outcomes and — perhaps most important — revealing the roots of the polarizing divisions in society over this issue.

George Marshall, “an expert on climate and communication” — who is also often a critic of climate messaging — wrote me:

What impressed me about the two episodes I watched was the respect that it showed to conservatives, evangelicals and ordinary working people. ... it is still the best documentary I have seen.

The New York Times op-ed is from the founders of the Breakthrough Institute (BTI) — the same group where political scientist Roger Pielke Jr. is a senior fellow. It pushes the same argument that Pielke made in his fivethirtyeight.com piece — which was so widely criticized and debunked by climate scientists and others that Nate Silver himself admitted its myriad flaws and ran a response piece by MIT climatologist Kerry Emanuel eviscerating Pielke.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Ask Umbra: How do I wipe out a yard full of weeds?

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Shutterstock

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. Weeds have taken over the yard of a house that hasn't been maintained. Can you please recommend an environmentally friendly way to get rid of them?

Adriana F.
San Jose, Calif.

A. Dearest Adriana,

I love gardening questions. They allow me to virtually escape the stacks and spend the day mentally frolicking in a sunny, flower-filled yard. And with spring finally springing in so many places, yours is a timely query indeed.

It sounds like the weeds in question aren’t in your yard, Adriana, but perhaps you’re keen to remove a neighborhood eyesore. (If people actually still live in this house, though, you should probably have a chat before descending on their property with hoes and trowels.) It also sounds like you’re dealing with an advanced infestation. Even so, you probably know what I’m going to say first: The best way to deal with weeds is … weeding!

Read more: Food, Living

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

ecocup
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:

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