Living

Dirty QWERTY

Ask Umbra on keyboard cleaners, automatic composters, and book club

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I work in an office that is fairly environmentally conscious. However, we have a coworker who religiously sprays keyboard cleaner. How do I confront my coworker without sounding like an eco-turd? I’m just not thrilled about becoming infertile or dying. Suffocating in Seattle A. Dearest Suffocating, Is she spraying it into her mouth? Or worse yet, into your mouth? Is your coworker’s name Allison the Huffer? One of my fellow Gristies told me about an episode of A&E’s Intervention — I haven’t the stomach for that stuff myself — in which Allison …

TOUGH COOKIES

The ‘femivore': New breed of feminist, or frontier throwback?

Playing chicken: Mad Men über-hausfrau Betty Draper and Bay Area poultry farmer Alexis Koefoed. Koefoed photo: Bart NagelHave locavores and feminists — factions that a few years ago, some bloggers believed to be fundamentally at odds — become allies? That’s what Peggy Orenstein suggests in her essay, “The Femivore’s Dilemma,” for today’s New York Times Magazine. The author of several best-selling nonfiction accounts of modern women’s life (and an acquaintance of mine), Orenstein thinks that “the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming [Mad Men housewife] Betty …

Is it really a win-win-win?

Home Star gets a hearing

Home Star: Creates jobs! Slashes energy use! Saves money! All of that was said yesterday and more, during a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Congressional Research Service, the Department of Energy, and a collection of business, utility, and state advocates all testified yesterday along those lines.  Home Star is a $6 billion proposal that would create incentives for homeowners who choose to make their homes more efficient. Silver Star would offer rebates for individual measures like insulating your attic or installing an efficient new furnace (capped at $3,000 but always requiring at least a 50 …

potty pooper

Urine-separating NoMix toilet gets thumbs-up in European countries

NoMix toilet.Photo courtesy Sustainable sanitation via Flickr Being green is all about solving problems and grabbing overlooked opportunities. It turns out that there’s such a double-win in most bathrooms around the world; if we had “NoMix” toilets that separate urine from solid waste, municipal wastewater plants would have a significantly easier task (and produce more methane to generate electricity), and we could much more easily extract precious nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen for use as fertilizer (instead of using fossil fuels). So what’s stopping us from going NoMix? According to a pretty extensive review based on surveys from 7 European …

WTFood?!

12 things you should never put in your mouth [SLIDESHOW]

You cannot imagine the stuff that passes for food.  Lucky for you, we have found ample photographic evidence.  You may not want to view this on a full stomach.

Good in bed

Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on sleeping

Dearest readers, Yawn. Goodness me, I could use a nap — perhaps a nice long eight-hour nap to celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week and prep for Daylight Saving Time starting on Sunday (don’t forget to spring forward!). While I go catch a few z’s, enjoy my troll through the archives to snag slumber-related suggestions. Got any tips for beating the spring-forward slump we’ll all be facing Monday? Hit me up in the comments below. Wood you rather? When scoping out a new frame to support your sleeping self, consider one made from sustainably harvested wood. If there is an environmental …

autoneurotic

Streetfilms: Fixing the car-centric city [video]

“Fixing the Great Mistake” is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today. In this episode, Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White shows how planning for cars drastically altered Park Avenue. Watch and see what Park Avenue used to look like, how we ceded it to the automobile, and what we need to do to reclaim the street as a space where people take precedence over traffic. For more of this fantastic series, …

Pimp my double wide

McMansion modular

Remember when modular homes were going to be part  of the “green” future?  In the post-Dwell, post-postmodern architecture era, pre-fab was going to be cheap, green, hot and hip.  Yes, finally, an antidote to McMansions and an affordable alternative to ballooning home prices.  As if that were not enough,  these stylish boxes were set to erase our previous connotations, where modular meant mobile home and pre-fab equaled Lubbock double-wide. Photo: Heather Lucille FlickrExcept it didn’t happen.  Modular homes, like all homes, suffered the housing crash, though as we reported last year, there never was quite enough demand to make modular …

hugo and what army?

How many Venezuelan soldiers does it take to change a lightbulb?

An entire army, apparently. El Presidente of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, put in big orders for energy efficiency when he commanded the country’s lightbulbs get swapped for CFLs. Why the power play? A drought of hydropower has the nation in energy crisis and the military armed with efficient lightbulbs, laying waste to every wasteful incandescent in their path. The troops are battling against the highest per capita energy use on the continent, but the spoils of war will ease the shift from years of being spoiled by oil. Viva efficiency! Via inhabitat —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive …