Living

Energy Efficiency

A magical meter and friendly competition help one community dial back energy use

The Island Energy Dashboard gives residents a real-time look at how much electricity they’re sucking from the grid. When Puget Sound Energy announced plans to build a new substation to meet rising electricity demand on …

Living

What are we made of? One word: Plastics

This story originally appeared in Urbanite. In What’s Gotten Into Us? Staying Healthy in a Toxic World, McKay Jenkins sounds an alarm on the chemicals that we unknowingly ingest and inhale daily.Photo: J.M. GiordanoAfter the …

Samsung’s new Zombocalypse-proof appliances

Samsung's new line of energy-efficient, even solar-powered appliances that are robust in the face of power fluctuations and outages were built for Africa (that’s why they’re called “Built for Africa”), but they have “catastrophist stocking …

Living

Fleeced again: How microplastic causes macro problems for the ocean

On Black Friday, outdoor retailer Patagonia took out a full-page ad in The New York Times asking readers to “buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime.” Beside a photo of their iconic …

Living

My holiday wish? Ixnay on the iPod

The author’s beloved crap.Photo: Thomas HaydenCross-posted from Last Word on Nothing. Black Friday is behind us, and Cyber Monday too. But those are just start dates: The pressure to buy, buy, buy isn’t going to …

Green Home

Ask Umbra: Which Christmas tree is the greenest?

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Which is greener — real Christmas trees or fake? I know you answered this question in the past, but I wonder if there’s any new data? Ginger …

Living

The Greenie Pig is on a (carbon) diet

I’ve become quite the calorie-counter lately. With the holiday season upon us, I’m really tightening my belt, carefully calculating the number of calories I’d consume from all kinds of daily choices and sniffing out ways …

Stop crying: Environmental tales don’t have to be ‘The Lorax’

Cross-posted from the Last Word on Nothing. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year thinking and writing about extinction, which means I’ve also spent a lot of time drinking thinking about the tragic narrative in …

The wrong way to recycle your fluorescent bulbs: Eating them

This video is bananas. But fluorescent bulbs are not bananas. So don't eat them, like these guys do, and also don't do any of the other things in this video. Criminey. If you do have …