Living

weapons of grass destruction

Old gumball machines give guerrilla gardeners easy ammo

For the guerrilla gardener on the go, why be bothered with making your own seed bombs? Greenaid’s repurposed candy dispensers will arm you with grenades of greenery for all those times you’re deep in urban war zones and remember you’re not packin’ peat (or seeds). Helping the natives beat rebel plants is now as easy as taking candy from a gumball machine. Greenaid / thecommonstudio.com —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive The Grist List, our email roundup of pun-usual green news just like this, sent out every Friday.

The eyes have it

Ask Umbra on eyewear, faux eco efforts, and Easter baskets

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I need to replace my eyewear—the lenses need updating and the frames are damaged—and I’m wondering what the most sustainable choice is. Frameless seems likely, but if I want to go with a frame (Coke bottle lenses, anyone?) then is metal the way to go? Blindly,Hope K.Providence, R.I. A. Dearest Hope, As a fellow four-eyes, I feel you on the eyewear woes. I’ve worn glasses since I was a wee little Umbra, valiantly reaching out of my crib for my spectacles each morning so I could get back to perusing my pureed-carrot–stained …

Oh, reel-y?

Watching the green screens at the Environmental Film Festival in D.C.

HomegrownSpring and the Environmental Film Festival both burst into full bloom at the festival’s start in the Nation’s Capital last weekend. Eco-movie buffs, many having withstood record snowfalls in Washington, D.C., this winter, eschewed the beauty of the outdoors to watch the beauty of the outdoors indoors in the form of a wellspring of eco-conscious cinema. And there was a lot to see. In its 18th year, the festival, which ends Sunday, is in the midst of screening an ambitious 155 films over 12 days at some 56 venues around town. Not in freezing, old theaters in some overrun city …

Oliver twist

What’s that funny-talking TV chef doing in my West Virginia hometown?

It’s about 8:45 a.m. and I’m sitting in an audio booth, waiting to talk to Brit celebrity chef Jaime Oliver on the other end of a high-quality line. I’m his third, set-‘em-up-and-knock-‘em-down “interview” of the morning. The night before he was on Letterman. He’s 15 minutes late, and I have an uneasy feeling. Not about him being late. And not about being a cog in the hype machine for a TV show. No, I’m uneasy — downright queasy — because Oliver’s new show, Food Revolution, takes aim at “America’s unhealthiest town.” And it’s my hometown: Huntington, West Virginia. I work …

Tom's Kitchen

A fast-and-furious weeknight skillet dinner

In Tom’s Kitchen, Grist’s food editor discusses some of the quick-and-easy things he gets up to in, well, his kitchen. Forgive him for the lame iPhone photography. —————— Last night, I wanted something fast and simple for dinner–that also tasted really good. I hadn’t been grocery shopping for a while, and nothing much is coming off the farm except eggs. I did a little survey of what I had on hand. A few red potatoes. A small sweet potato. Farm eggs, and garlic from last season. An onion. A bunch of mustard greens that needed to be used. So here’s …

CAN WE STAR THIS AUDIT OVER?

Whoops: Energy Star approves gas-powered alarm clock

This (ahem) “space heater” earned a government Energy Star rating.Photo: Government Accountability OfficeWell this is embarrassing: Federal monitors granted the Energy Star stamp of approval to a number of bogus appliances, including a gas-powered alarm clock and an electric space heater with a feather duster taped to it. The Government Accountability Office submitted the fake items in an audit to test the integrity of the well-known efficiency program. The New York Times describes how it worked: The fake companies submitted data indicating that the models consumed 20 percent less energy than even the most efficient ones on the market. Yet …

food fight

HFCS study authors defend work against attacks

Photo: BoekeMarion Nestle, along with other nutritionists have joined the Corn Refiners Association in criticizing the recent Princeton study on High Fructose Corn Syrup. Indeed the very title of Nestle’s post on the subject — “HFCS makes rats fat?” — seems to question the well-established practice of using rats to test hypotheses regarding human nutrition. While I personally found her objections unpersuasive, she raised several issues with the researchers work that have been echoed far and wide. She questioned the methodology of the study as well as whether there was indeed a direct comparison made between HFCS and sucrose. She …

Don't have a cow

Ask Umbra chews the fat with Moby

Whatever you do when you meet Moby (eventually, we all will), don’t tell him you enjoy his book. “That’s a strange word to use,” he said when I did the very thing I’m telling you not to do. My face briefly turned the same shade as my hair as I attempted to explain how exactly it is I enjoyed reading about the grisly perils of factory farming in the newly released collection of essays, Gristle, which the musician and long-time vegan edited along with Miyun Park, the executive director for Global Animal Partnership. Once I regained my composure, Moby and …

one-night (climate) stand

Celeb couple awkwardly asks you to dim the lights for Earth Hour

On Saturday at 8:30 p.m. local time (wherever you are) join 30 U.S. states, 3,100 U.S. cities, 121 countries, and celeb couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen (in both their homes), by turning off your lights for World Wildlife Fund’s 4th annual Earth Hour. And what a more inspiring couple to promote the event than the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback (who looks like he was trapped in the corner of his kitchen) and his supermodel wife? Watch the videos below (and check out Brady’s heavy-handed cover-up 17 seconds in):   OK, maybe not the most inspiring, but who really …