Living

Walk it out

What to do when haters diss livable communities

Haters gonna hate. Click to see him walk it out, for realz.Omar Noory, http://thisisallido.com/work.html We can’t be certain, but we’re pretty sure this comic is commentary on a recent heated exchange between the Secretary of Transportation and a certain Missouri senator who be hatin’ on sidewalks and “livability”: “When did it become the responsibility of the federal DOT (Department of Transportation) to build sidewalks?” 1991, to be precise. If haters gonna hate, just put on your Happy Feet and walk it out. (Hat tip to Kevin Buist’s blog on the image.)

a-pear-ant hit

Supermarket medleys are a fruit-smashing success

The world may be a vicious place, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all pear up to make it a cherry-er place. “Look at what’s in your cart, then look at what’s in your heart.” Who knows? We all might eat our fruits and veggies more often if we could squish ‘em together in organic musical movements like this one: This fruit salad brought to you by Improv Everywhere. Watch Grist’s video interview with the group’s founder, Charlie Todd.

car culture

Nothing will drive the suburbs away

Photo: FrankMaurer FlickrThe news that GM will cease production of Hummers revived the brewing argument that suburbia is in fatal decline.  Hummers are the perfect corollary to McMansions, symbols of excess, leftovers from the roaring aughts that now seem outlandish, indulgent and environmentally offensive. No buyers for Hummers plus no buyers for homes in far flung suburbs equals The End.  NPR’s Marketplace recently reported that “drive-until-you-qualify” suburbs are facing a rash of foreclosures because high gas prices make them undesirable; even a decent mortgage rate can’t compete against $3-a-gallon gas.  Ghost Town Suburbia, a made-for-TV movie in the making. Which …

Fecal matters

Peepoo bags help the developing world take off a load

A rotting Peepoo: what a load of crap.Photo: Sustainable sanitation via FlickrWhen poor people don’t have a loo, They pee and poo wherever it’s easy to, But it’s gross for them and the planet too. So Peepoople invented a biodegradable loo. It’s a little bag for doing numbers one and two, And after they planted it, they saw that it grew Tasty food for people to chaw and chew. Don’t sweat bad microbes on the doo-doo. This potty bag zaps them right off too. So if you can’t find a potty, get a clue, And pick up and plant the …

Density is destiny

Teeny tiny tiny digs [slideshow]

Urban apartment dwellers are nothing if not scrappy. New Yorkers, of course, are famous for stuffing themselves into shoe boxes with hotplates.  But there’s more to the story than affordability. More of us are choosing to minimize our footprint. Less space, less stuff, less stress. The cliche holds true in this sense: the less space we require, the more sustainable our cities become. If density is destiny, the apartments in the slideshows below are over-achieving examples.  You’ll never complain about closet space again. Got a closet?  You’ve got a bedroom.   No closet for  your bedroom?  Then, by all means, …

Clubs: Not just for sandwiches

Ask Umbra’s Book Club launches

Dearest readers, You know what an extraordinary book nerd I am. And the secret’s out: I know many of you are, too. That’s where the splendiferous new Ask Umbra’s Book Club comes in, because there’s just too much book love to keep all to myself.     Here’s how it’ll work: I’ll announce a juicy eco-minded book at the beginning of each month, giving you a few weeks to track it down and drink it in. Then we’ll have a no-holds-barred, message-board-style discussion for four days at the beginning of the next month.   This isn’t your standard, granola-snorting (ouch!) green …

A sail of two davids

A rich guy’s guide to saving the oceans

To save the oceans (A checklist) Be heir to a vast fortune Be named David Get a “green” boat Sail around the world to promote education and awareness about dismal ocean health Remind everyone you’re on a boat, Mother Earth, don’t you ever forget! Challenge other heir David sailing around world in support of oceans to a duel of boat awesomeness. Or heir apparent hotness. David Rockefeller Jr. sails Around the Americas for ocean awareness. No nautical-themed pashmina afghan necessary. Photos: aroundtheamericas.org Versus David de Rothschild and his drive, er, sail to bottleneck plastic pollution on Plastiki, the water vessel …

Drill baby drill

Garden Girl TV: indoor gardening, part three

In this episode, I show you how to build the shelves for your indoor garden. Mine are up off the floor about 14 inches, which ensure my seedlings get as much direct sunlight as possible. This is a power tool moment, but don’t worry. It’s easy. I’ll show you how.   Can’t get enough of Patti Moreno?  We know how you feel.   Get a wealth of advice at Garden Girl TV.

Paved paradise?

Asphalt becomes a developer’s best friend

Photo: jgrimm FlickrNobody loves a parking lot, its endless heat-trapping concrete where visitors wander for what feels like eons, searching for their car. At least, nobody loved them until recently. Suddenly, greyfields–underutilized squares of asphalt–seem like goldmines. (Okay, this happens to be the title of a book on the subject, though it covers dead malls more than parking lots). In municipalities across the country, parking lots are getting reincarnated as everything from outdoor food markets to condos. But those are individual projects. In Long Island–itself a region so caked with traffic that people refer to its central highway, the Long …

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