Living

Everybody must get stoned

Rock the house [VIDEO]

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, so does that mean that people who live in stone houses shouldn’t throw glass? Guess we should ask Antón García-Abril and Ensamble Studio, who, according to Treehugger, have built La Trufa, or truffle, a small holiday house that looks like a big rock on the north Spanish coast. Blending impeccably with its natural surroundings, the abode is made of concrete. The builders used straw on the inside and dirt on the outside to form the structure, and then just pulled away the dirt once complete. The best part is how they …

I have a green job

A new café owner forages and finds a fresh take on sustainability

From activists to politicians, everybody loves to talk about the promise of green jobs. But in reality, who the heck actually has a green job, and how do you get one? In our new column, “I Have a Green Job,” Grist will be regularly profiling one of the lucky employed who has landed a job in the new green economy, or a green job in the old economy. Know someone with a green job and a good story? Tell us about them! A lemongrass elk meatball sandwich at Nettletown.Photo courtesy Christina ChoiThe newly opened Seattle café Nettletown sources ingredients from …

Cough, baby, cough

Burning oil sends heavy vapor toward Gulf residents

The EPA is warning that Gulf Coast residents are at risk of headaches, nausea, and other ill health effects; the culprit is air pollution from the oil burns that response teams are conducting to try to keep the big slick away from coastlines. “The BP Oil Spill in the Gulf could cause an odor similar to that of a gas station for communities along the affected coast,” warns the site the EPA set up on the disaster: Is the odor bad for my health? This odor may cause symptoms such as headaches or nausea. For your own comfort, limit your …

Gazed and confused

Looking at gorillas through crazy-colored glasses

Photo via GeekosystemObserving wildlife? Good. Inadvertently threatening the wildlife while observing it? Eh, not so good. But some bizarre-looking glasses may be the solution. According to Geekosystem, “Earlier this month at the Dutch Rotterdam Zoo, an 11-year-old male gorilla named Bokito escaped and ran rampant through the zoo’s food court, injuring a woman when he bit and dragged her some distance. Now, health insurance company FBTO is distributing eye-contact disguising glasses that allow zoo visitors to stare all they like, a behavior that is threatening to most of the great apes.” Sure, the glasses are totally creepy-looking, but they’ll hopefully …

Pretty fly

Ask Umbra on wasps, researching your own eco-questions, and energy vampires

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Every time the weather gets warmer, it’s the same: the wasps! They insist on trying to make their home in my balcony! I tried many different things, like citronella candles, but some of them apparently attract instead of repelling wasps. I don’t want to kill them; I just want to keep them away! Also, if I don’t do anything effective, the landlord will notice and will kill them himself with whatever harsh insect killer he has in hand! Please help! Thabata A. Dearest Thabata, Photo: VancityAllie via FlickrMy word processor wants to …

Bike curious

Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on biking

Dearest readers, Ready to shed the chill of winter and dust off your 10-speed? (Yes, cold-weather bike warriors, I’m aware that your bike never collects dust.) We all know biking is better for the environment than jumping behind the wheel (not to mention less expensive and healthier, assuming you follow the rules of the road). So I cruised through the Ask Umbra archives in search of some inspiration to offer the bike-curious among you. Where does your bike take you? Let me know in the comments below. Appetite for destruction. Sounds nutty to me, but even biking can get a …

The grow must go on?

How do you argue against the growth juggernaut?

I’ll be talking tomorrow to filmmaker Dave Gardner, who’s making a documentary called Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity.  He wants to hear about my choice to be a GINK — green inclinations, no kids.  And I’ll be offering thoughts about growth in general.  Any suggestions about points to make or ideas to share?  How can we best fight the assumption that what society needs is growth, growth, and more growth?  As Edward Abbey so memorably put it, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Here’s a trailer for the film, with …

Stick a fork in it

Ask Umbra dishes with Anna Lappé

Photo by KalaLeaThe next time you bite into a burger, consider this: Livestock create more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, planes, and other fossil-fueled modes of transportation in the world. In fact, our current food system—from industrial farming to packaging to transporting—contributes as much as one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions. Food’s critical place in the climate-change equation is not common knowledge. But author Anna Lappé is doing her best to change that. Lappé cofounded The Small Planet Institute with her mother, Frances Moore Lappé, author of the 1971 classic Diet for a Small Planet. And Anna …

The Day When Breast Isn't Best

A list of ghastly toxics known to be present in human breast milk—from pesticides and flame retardants to deodorizers and wood preservatives—is enough to make any new mom question the oft-heard refrain that “breast is best.” Still, most experts still agree that breast milk is the healthiest choice for both moms and babies. That’s probably why parenting magazines and doctors’ office pamphlets rarely mention chemical contaminants in human breast milk: they want to encourage breastfeeding, rather than sow doubt about it. And as a result, moms are exposed to a lot of information on the health benefits of breastfeeding, yet …

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