Living

Immigrate expectations

Why environmentalists should get involved in immigration reform

How many enviros can you spot in this picture?Photo: Salina CanizalesI grew up in a family that sorted recyclables, reused containers until they were no longer reusable, and walked whenever and wherever we could. We turned off our lights and carefully monitored our energy consumption. We made sure that we didn’t leave the water running, and my sisters and I competed to take the shortest showers possible. Our travel often took us to nature preserves and national parks, where we learned about the importance of wildlife and conservation. Sounds like a typical childhood for a kid in an environmentally conscious …

looking good for your age

A Happy Meal still looks ‘fresh’ on its first birthday

A newborn Happy Meal.Joann BrusoHappy birthday to you, you look just like new. A year later you can’t tell, and the fries still don’t smell. Happy birthday, dear Happy Meal, happy birthday to you! This is what a Happy Meal looks like before — and after — Joann Bruso put it on her shelf for one year. This is what she had to say after staring at Ol’ McDonald’s little box of joy for so long: NOPE, no worries at all. My Happy Meal is one year old today and it looks pretty good. It NEVER smelled bad. The food …

Circuit breakers

Four obstacles facing electric bike popularity

In part 3, I promised to describe the obstacles that are keeping electric bikes from taking hold in the Pacific Northwest in the way they have in China. Here are four. 1. Immature technology As BikeHugger’s master blogger (and e-biker) DL Byron points out, electric bikes may be past the garage-tinkerer phase of development, but they’re still complicated, imperfect devices, plagued with breakdowns and performance issues. Battery care, for example, is still challenging, though it’s vastly simpler than it used to be. 2. Bike culture Photo courtesy Looking Glass via FlickrIn Asian and northern Europe cycling cities, bicycles are ubiquitous …

Politicians, urine trouble

Performance issues in Chicago men’s room reek havoc on water conservation

Sustainable Sanitation via FlickrThe backup in the bathrooms of Chicago’s City Hall is so foul that no amount of Pepto Bismol is going to help. Well-meaning politicians installed waterless urinals in the public men’s room to save a little water, but they were pissed to learn about the stinky flood of urine building up behind the bathroom walls. Corroding copper pipes are taking a leak all over the Windy City’s efforts at holding its water use down. Apparently the ratio of water-saved-to-wafting-stink became too much for the politicians, who have been forced to work with their own stench for a …

population: powering down

New York City gets big reaction to new sex symbol

When the Big Apple’s health department tried putting out free condoms, it found the recipients were less than stimulated by the wrapper’s appearance. To sex it up, the city held an online contest to design a new package, 15,000 voters got in on the action, and of course, one hot symbol nailed it. The condom design that came out on top? The international sign for the power button. Six million of these limited-edition rubbers will hit the roads of New York City, turning on sex lives and (hopefully) powering down overpopulation. After all, New Yorkers are all about power: power …

Flipping the Switch?

Should electric bike sales be subsidized?

Photo: Flickr via Imnop88aAs I argued in part 2, electric bikes could be forerunners for electrifying the whole transportation sector. They’re sweeping into urban areas in China by the tens of millions. New technologies are improving e-bike performance. And powerful institutions are aligning to speed battery innovations. Many observers now believe e-bikes will grow rapidly in North America, including in the Pacific Northwest. Colorado-based market analysts Pike Research, for example, predict that U.S. sales will quadruple from 250,000 e-bikes in 2010 to more than 1 million in 2016, as shown in the chart below. (Asia is left off the chart, …

Meet me at the food court

The secret mall gardens of Cleveland

Photo: Gardens Under GlassThe shopping mall is not dead. In Cleveland, in fact, it’s growing green: cucumbers, lettuce, herbs and even flowers.   In the former Galleria at Erieview mall, a project called Gardens Under Glass is taking root, part of a grand plan to transform malls into greenhouses. It’s just one of many Cleveland-based projects, suggesting that this rust belt city might have a few sustainabilty tricks to teach urban centers everywhere. Vicky Poole, who heads up marketing for the Galleria, conceived this project after looking at a photograph of plants growing in a cafe window. Hmmm, she thought, imagining …

Bike Curious in Rhode Island (video)

Bike Curious? You’re not alone. Between 2000 and 2009 there was a 43% increase in bicycle commuting in the US. But in Amsterdam they’re doing it more. More than 85% of Amsterdam residents ride their bikes at least once a week.* Are we missing out? Watch Professor Chris Menton as he travels his morning commute to work in Rhode Island. It looks cold, there’s snow on the ground, but he manages to ride his bike to work at least four times a week. The Department of Transportation has made a real commitment to bicycling as a means of everyday transportation. …

Fashion faux pas

Chanel gives global warming the cold shoulder in Paris fashion show

Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld made a clothes call about his thoughts on global warming during Paris Fashion Week. Unlike those other designers who prefer diamonds, Karl flooded the runway with real ice: a 240 metric ton iceberg sculpture in a room that was chilly in temperature, but not in reception to his global cooling theme. Karl may make fake fur mod, but he’ll only appease the polar bears until they start sweating out of their skin. Personally, we’re not convinced Karl’s wooly wardrobe and climatic condescension are quite yeti ready-to-wear. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive our …