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A guide for greener back-to-school shopping

Back-to-school shopping doesn't have to be an exercise in conspicuously ungreen consumption. Eco-friendly school supplies made of recycled and organic materials are easier than ever to find. One great place to start shopping is TheGreenOffice.com. And the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice has a handy back-to-school shopping guide that helps you avoid products containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a nasty type of plastic. To give you just a taste of what's out there, we've rounded up a few fun, green products: NewLeaf notebooks. NotebooksEcojot's happy, whimsical creations use 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper, as do NewLeaf's notebooks. DolphinBlue's notepads are …

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When the tomato harvest gets out of hand, the tough get canning

Too much of a good thing? Photos: Kurt Michael Friese For a tomato-loving gardener, what's the only thing more frightening than a failed crop? Try an overabundant one. You become terrified that any of these jewels will go to waste. The specter of fruit flies congregating on the compost heap brings regret of over-ambitious spring garden planning. Even in my restaurant garden, which has the advantage of a commercial outlet, the burden of preserving it all can be heavy. Well, take heart, gentle reaper: There is plenty that can be done with all that red, green, and gold bounty. This …

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The SUV bubble

No schadenfreude over the death of SUVs

You know your product is in trouble when the housing analogies come out: The market for sport utility vehicles is starting to look a lot like the housing market, spreading pain to consumers, automakers and dealers ... I am not sure this post qualifies as schadenfreude -- since that has been defined as "largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate." There is nothing unanticipated about high oil prices. That is, the death of SUVs isn't like, say, Martha Stewart going to jail. What has happened to SUVs -- "Sales of SUVs are …

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South Central Community Farm: Not dead yet

In L.A., Mayor Villaraigosa plays footsie with Forever 21 over site of former farm

Photo: loudtiger When I lived in New York City, I used to marvel at the weeds that would force their way up through sidewalk cracks. What a will to live, I thought: From clumps of dirt crammed between concrete slabs, these vigorous shoots fended off the hard, slapping heels of a thousand rushing city dwellers, just to claim a place in the sun. The effort to save South Central Community Farm in Los Angeles reminds me of those defiant survivors. Stepped on by the city, evicted two ago years by a developer who gained title to the land in a …

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How to start composting

Dig in to get the dirt on composting. Composting is a lot like sex. It's a healthy, natural process involving fertility, tumbling around, and -- when it's going right -- steaminess. On top of that, some people call it dirty. It's not our fault we're squeamish. Most Americans are praised from an early age for taking out the garbage -- not hoarding it and keeping scraps of it in our kitchens. Toss in the false mythology that composting is complicated, smelly, and wormy, and it's understandable that we've wrinkled our collective noses at it. But no longer. Today, growing legions …

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California won’t ban BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups

With 22 legislators abstaining, the California Assembly voted 31-27 Monday not to ban chemical bisphenol A in baby products. BPA is one of those things you'd like to keep out of your kid; the bill would have banned it from bottles, sippy cups, and other containers for tots. Legislators also voted 36-33 (with 11 abstentions) against a bill that would have banned equally icky chemical PFOA from food packaging. The Food and Drug Administration released a draft report Friday concluding that BPA in food containers poses no health threat, and critics questioned whether it was timed to influence California legislators. …

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'Chemical symbol H-twenty', video

A video for World Water Week

It's World Water Week, so I have an almost-legit excuse for posting this quirky, quotable video. It's part of the Look Around You series, a British spoof of '70s and '80s educational videos that takes on other scientific topics like Maths and Ghosts. Make sure you have your copybook at hand:

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Grassroots globalization

Dean’s Beans founder on the good effects of trade

On my pet topic of how business is creating grassroots good in the world, here's a great interview [mp3] from Corporate Watchdog Radio with the founder of Dean's Beans, a fair trade coffee company. Dean Cycon travels to the coffee-lands and meets directly with the communities he buys from. He's building (global) community and raising standards of living via long distance trade, and the company has been profitable from day one, so that's a real success story. His stories in this segment about how other retailers manage their fair trade programs, though, can be sobering. This is a solid listen …

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Common chemical in food containers not a health threat, says FDA

Food containers made with common chemical bisphenol A pose no health threat, according to a draft assessment by the Food and Drug Administration. More than 100 government- and university-funded studies have linked BPA to cancer, diabetes, behavioral disorders, and reproductive problems, and an April report from the National Toxicology Program declared there was "some concern" about infant exposure to the chemical. But relying largely on two industry-funded studies that say the chemical is just peachy, the FDA found that "an adequate margin of safety exists for BPA at current levels of exposure from food contact uses." Advisers will review the …

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Hydro-power

Fleet of hydrogen concept vehicles crosses U.S. as part of Hydrogen Road Tour

The BMW Hydrogen 7 "stores its hydrogen as a super-cold liquid and burns it in a V-12 piston engine; BMW claims that the exhaust from the Hydrogen 7 is actually cleaner than the ambient air," says The New York Times' Wheels blog. Dan Riehl. A parade of hydrogen concept vehicles is undertaking a two-week sweep across the U.S. The Hydrogen Road Tour, sponsored by nine automakers, the Department of Energy, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, the National Hydrogen Association, and the Department of Transportation, began on Aug. 11 in Portland, Maine and will arrive in Los Angeles, Calif. on Aug. …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living