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This gift guide saves energy — and it’s recession-proof!

  Don't get wrapped up in holiday stress. Giving green is easy!   OK, so gas prices have eased up a bit -- but the economy's still tanking. Wouldn't it be oh-so-thoughtful to give your loved ones gifts that can help them save money this year? Gifts that also save energy, which helps ye olde planet? We hereby present six energy-saving gift arrays. Since we ain't exactly Harry & David, you'll have to do the actual creating yourself. Modify to your liking, of course -- and suggest other ideas below. CFLs: a bright gift idea. The Energy-Saver Sweater Set What: …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Best environmental book of 2008 (IMHO)

A review of The Big Necessity

Great non-fiction writing is like great fiction writing: It produces books that are hard to put down, that give you insight into yourself and others, and that change the way you look at the world. A young woman named Rose George has produced a great work of reporting and, for my money, has likely produced the best environmental book of 2008: The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. There is nothing more emblematic of our broken relationship with the earth than the way that we deal -- or, mainly, fail to deal -- with …

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How to green your giving

Give the gift of green. It's a lovely thing, giving a gift. Whatever the tradition or religion, whatever the source of the custom, there's no arguing that it's a lovely thing. However, that lovely thing has been corrupted by our out-of-whack consumer society. No longer is sentiment enough -- that sentiment must be expressed through sheer size and shininess. But hark! There's another way. Greener items abound, and greener ways of giving do too. And say what you will about our challenging economic times, they may mean we buy less -- and, in the process, give more. Want to green …

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‘Eco-flation’ could hurt sales of consumer goods

The rising cost of doing business in a climate-changed world -- aka, "eco-flation" -- could hit some companies quite hard in the next decade if they don't change their business practices to become more sustainable, according to an analysis by green group World Resources Institute. Companies that make consumer goods could see their earnings plummet up to 48 percent by 2018 if they don't jump on the sustainability bandwagon soon, the study found.

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Umbra on store-brand organics

Hey Umbra, What with organic foods being so expensive, I'm often tempted to buy the store-brand organic produce that's cropping up lately. Are the store brands as good (i.e., pesticide free) as any other brand of organic food? I can't help but be suspicious. Thanks!Confused in Jersey Dear CJ, Organic is a USDA-certified labeling program. Historically, organically grown food represented an alternative to large-scale, mass-produced, polluting agricultural techniques. Organic was and, to some extent, still is a social and ecological movement; today it is also a major branding tool. And since organically certified fresh and processed foods have been a …

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The power of peaceful protest

Review of Fields of Fuel

Back in July, I reviewed a documentary film called Fields of Fuel directed by Josh Tickell. That film recently returned to Seattle after being reedited and renamed, Fuel. I actually think this new iteration is worth seeing with the caveat that you take the conspiracy theories and convoluted defenses of food-based biodiesel with a grain of salt. The billing at Seattle's Varsity Theater website was: "Fuel exposes shocking connections between the auto industry, the oil industry, and the government, while exploring alternative energies such as solar, wind, electricity, and non-food-based biofuels. Director Josh Tickell and his Veggie Van take us …

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Lights, camera, climate action!, video

Grist video kicks off Global Day of Climate Action 2008

In honor of the fourth annual Global Day of Climate Action on Dec. 6 and the global climate talks currently going down in Poznan, Poland, Grist put together a little video to get everyone thinking about how they're acting to change the climate -- for better or for worse. We're working with other green orgs around the world, like 350.org, Friends of the Earth International and Greenpeace International, who have also posted climate-related videos on YouTube, and, with your help, we're aiming to launch a climate takeover of YouTube's Most Commented page this Saturday. That means you and all your …

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From Racy to Race

Strung out The students at Allegheny College are on clothespins and needles worrying about climate change. So they've hung their cares underwears out to dry ... hey, is that a Hood Thong? Puddle stumper This guy is really hitting the pavement to raise awareness about climate change; hope he doesn't get in over his head. Click, click, click Up on the rooftop workers pause / Their contracts have a greening clause / Can't go down while they're employed / Energy savings will be enjoyed. You're killing us We wouldn't be caught dead in fur ... but we also wouldn't be …

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O Christmas tree, how natural are thy branches?

Are Christmas trees really ever green?

"Can you decorate your Fraser fir without getting pesticide residue in your lungs and on your skin?" The NYT answers: Sure, if the tree is certified organic by the Department of Agriculture. Or if it is a Certified Naturally Grown tree, which meets the same basic requirements: it was raised without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, using sustainable methods like composting and erosion control. Unfortunately, many Christmas trees -- especially those from large tree farms in Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, and Canada -- are sprayed with pesticides. And even though we're not munching on the needles, we might still be breathing …

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