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Recycled plastic products gain ground

The New York Times has an interesting article up about recycled plastic products. They're profiling a company called Recycline, which makes those bright green recycled plastic cutting boards, strawberry red colanders, and even toothbrushes. According to the article: Recycline's products, sold under the Preserve brand, make new products out of things that would otherwise be likely to end up in landfills. The company uses mostly recycled polypropylene, much of it from yogurt and cottage-cheese containers, along with some sustainably forested wood and recycled paper. On one hand, the idea of recycling plastic, rather than tossing it into a landfill, is …

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Target your peak oil message to your audience

Peak oil is all over the place. The cover of the Wall Street Journal, CNN, you name it. The peak has tipped into the consciousness of the world. And those of us who were aware before are going to be fielding some questions. So it pays to have a response ready for the latecomers. It has occurred to me that there must be a simple way of explaining peak oil to everyone -- but most solutions have concentrated on creating a single simple method of explaining peak oil, when what is needed is a highly specialized approach, designed to help …

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Lessons from a sustainable-food conference at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Information you can eat. Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder A couple of months ago, I wrote about how the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California comes up with its wallet-sized cards -- the ones that tell us what seafood choices are sustainable. I got so interested in the topic that when I got an invitation to attend the aquarium's annual Cooking for Solutions conference, I couldn't pass it up. The event brings together high-profile chefs from across the country who are devoted to sustainability, and puts them in the same room with luminaries from the sustainable-food world. For me, it was …

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Harrison Ford’s chest wax as PSA

Remember that whole "Harrison Ford got a chest wax to illustrate the pain of deforestation" thing? Yeah, here's the resulting PSA for Conservation International: Check out the behind-the-scenes footage.

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Umbra on water conservation

Dear Umbra, We are doing a NW Earth Institute discussion course on sustainability here at work, and someone asked, "Is it necessary for us to conserve water here in Portland despite seeming abundance and replenishment? If so, why?" My response was not as strong or compelling as I would like. Can you help? Rick ReberPortland, Ore. Dearest Rick, What was your response? It's hard to be more compelling if I don't know the compellingness standard. I will still make an effort, despite having incomplete information, because I know it is important to be compelling. Likewise, it is important to try …

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Wired magazine bursts a blood vessel doing its contrarian thing

To your right, you'll see the cover of this month's Wired magazine. The premise of the issue is that climate change is now the only eco-problem that matters, but to solve it, we'll have to slaughter the sacred cows of environmentalism. (2001 called. It wants its framing device back.) So what are these heresies that Wired's Strawman Enviro so clings to? The Tired: Yes, yes, nuclear power is the only way to stop climate change and enviros who don't embrace nukes are like silly children. So counterintuitive! (See also: Prius not the end-all be-all!) The Ill-informed: Carbon offsets are a …

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Small-town politics meets big-time energy crisis

Last night I went to the town meeting where I live, which -- well, if you've never lived anywhere podunk enough to have a town meeting, you're missing out. This one was just as I remember them from my childhood, though PowerPoint has replaced mimeographed pages: ambition, exhaustion, confusion, and the one crusty, bearded guy who has to argue every point. After a presentation by the head of the municipally owned utility, a tall, thin audience member in a tan suit and lavender tie approached the microphone. "Can you tell me what your short- and long-term plans are for incorporating …

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Coming to terms with the reality of a world of refugees

There's definitely a survivalist streak building in the environmental movement. Mainstream newspapers are starting to run stories about survivalism. There are quite a few people who hear that the energy peak or climate change is coming and believe that building up their stocks of ammo and heading for the hills is the way to go. I recognize, even if I do not share, that impulse: It is the impulse to protect your own, the panic you feel when you realize that your society, which on some level is supposed to protect you, hasn't planned ahead for this one. And so …

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A dozen men’s shaving creams get put to the blade

The best a man can get? For men, shaving surely ranks as one of our most bizarre daily rituals: We take a razor-sharp blade, scald it hot with water, and scrape the hair off of our faces and necks -- even the regions over our jugular veins. Yikes. And to complicate matters yet more, we tend to lubricate the process with gels and foams full of all sorts of dodgy and toxic chemicals. Like the hard slap that greets the hapless shaver's face in the '70s-era aftershave commercial, perusing the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetic database is a bracing …

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Ted Glick on two new books that address capitalism and the environment

"Capitalism as we know it today is incapable of sustaining the environment." -- James Gustave (Gus) Speth, in The Bridge at the End of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability The Bridge at the End of the World, by James Gustave Speth "In the late 1980s, Tony was arguing that global warming might force us to fundamentally alter capitalism. He believed that the struggle against nature was the irreconcilable contradiction that would force systemic change." -- Les Leopold, in The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi I …