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New study links BPA to heart disease and diabetes

Ubiquitous chemical bisphenol A is linked to heart disease and diabetes, says new research released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The Food and Drug Administration recently declared that BPA is safe; the new study's release was timed to coincide with an independent panel's review of that conclusion. Researchers studied urine samples from 1,455 American adults; BPA was detectable in 90 percent of the samples, though all were within currently recommended exposure levels. However, participants with the highest levels of BPA in their urine had nearly three times the chance of having heart disease than those with …

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A Grist special series on college eco-activism

It's that time again. College students have settled into their dorms, started their classes, checked out some parties, and started cramming for the gnarliest pass-fail test of all time: saving the planet. Not all students are engaged in green endeavors, of course, but fast-growing numbers are -- and the results have been eye-popping. Students today join green frats, launch green business ventures, and host green bashes. At many U.S. colleges and universities, buildings are going efficient, cafeterias are serving local and organic fare, administrators are pledging to fight climate change, and some lucky students are even getting degrees from new …

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‘Transition Towns’ get ink

The Christian Science Monitor -- one of the best of a dying breed ---does an excellent job on the "Transition Towns" movement here.

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Ace reporter joins Environmental Health News

Marla Cone to lead expanded news operation

Award-winning environment reporter Marla Cone is leaving the Los Angeles Times to join the ranks of nonprofit journalism, becoming the top editor of Environmental Health News starting today. Cone, whose work at the L.A. Times includes a series of articles highlighting the environmental threat posed by brominated flame retardants and investigations into the health of ocean ecosystems, will spearhead an expanded news operation dedicated to producing original, investigative journalism on environmental health issues. For too long, environmental health issues have received little attention from major media organizations, Cone said. "It's a very complex, very nuanced beat requiring deep understanding of …

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'The car of the perpetual future'

The Economist agrees with me on hydrogen

When the world's uber-centrist magazine of choice runs a headline almost identical to mine, you know it's all over. Especially when one of that magazine's leading energy columnists, Vijay Vaitheeswaran, used to sing that technology's praises (here). Here's the bottom line: But the promise of hydrogen-powered personal transport seems as elusive as ever. The non-emergence of hydrogen cars over the past decade is particularly notable since hydrogen power has been a darling of governments worldwide, which have spent billions of dollars in subsidies and incentives to make hydrogen cars a reality ... Here's the fatal flaw in the H2 economy: …

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From Wiener to Whimper

Rubbed the wrong way Climate-change impact aside, here's another reason not to have meat in the house: "The victims told deputies they awoke Saturday morning to the stranger applying spices to one of them and striking the other with an 8-inch sausage." The Iceman steameth Seems Mr. Kilmer is making a Val-iant effort to bring global warming to the big screen: This summer, he faced the thaw of death; now, he's taking hostages in a Turkish bathhouse for a steamy experiment. How hot will it be? We haven't the foggiest. Roads scholar This retro-awesome time-killer is all the fun of …

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Market for natural personal-care products booming in spite of economy

Despite an economic slump, eco-friendly personal-care items have Americans sitting up and paying attention top dolla. Sales are booming despite high food and energy prices, and analysts predict the products' popularity won't ebb anytime soon. Chicago-based research firm Mintel reports that sales of natural personal-care products rose 12.5 percent last year to an inflation-adjusted $465 million; it estimates sales this year will hit $513 million. A combination of eco-awareness and concern about synthetic ingredients is spurring rapid growth in the natural personal-care industry, which is growing five times faster than the plain ol' personal-care industry, according to the Natural Products …

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Energy Star program needs improvement, says Consumer Reports

The U.S. EPA is facing off with Consumer Reports over the federal Energy Star program, which rates the energy efficiency of products in more than 50 categories. In a recent article, the consumer magazine declares that Energy Star "standards are too easy to reach and federal test procedures haven't kept pace with new technology," noting that product testing by manufacturers is not independently verified. Energy Star initially aimed to set high enough standards that only 25 percent of products in a category would meet them, says the article, but now, for example, 60 percent of dehumidifiers are Energy Star-rated. EPA's …

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Judging a tomato contest, and celebrating with a fresh, tomato-y gumbo

You say tomato ... All my life, I have wanted to be a professional tomato taster. I am happy to report that on August 18, 2008, I had the chance to serve as a judge (unpaid, so, OK, not exactly professional, but still ...) in the 24th annual Massachusetts tomato contest, organized by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and held at City Hall Plaza in downtown Boston. I was actually just chilling with friends who were going to serve as judges (How pathetic is that? I am a tomato taster groupie!) when -- oh lucky day! …

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Umbra on being an energy-efficient renter

Dear Umbra, I'm an apartment dweller in the San Francisco Bay Area, where it doesn't get too cold or too hot. Still, my energy bill is much too high for my liking and I'm wondering what I can do to bring down the cost and the waste. Any suggestions for non-homeowners? Sarah J. Oakland, Calif. Dearest Sarah, Renting is a blessing and a curse: little control, and little responsibility. You don't get to make long-term, expensive investments, but you can certainly undergo behavior modifications to reduce your energy bills. I've offered the generally recommended steps over the years, and I'm …

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