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Colleges, high schools move to be more bike- and pedestrian-friendly

High gasoline costs as well as concerns about the environment have been prompting schools across the country to make their campuses more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Pressure from parents and students is one big factor in the shift, but another key seems to be a growing awareness about sustainability. A number of colleges are launching bike-sharing programs, some U.S. high schools are aiming to reduce car traffic around their campuses, and plenty of colleges and high schools are looking to expand sidewalks and bike and pedestrian trails to improve car-free access to campus. Some high schools in California are even looking …

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Wal-Mart urges Federal Trade Commission not to define ‘carbon offsets’

In comments to the Federal Trade Commission earlier this year, Wal-Mart asked the agency not to define the terms "carbon offsets" or "renewable energy certificates" in order to keep the terms flexible and to retain their "less tangible nature." The Federal Trade Commission has been in the process of updating its green-marketing guidelines and asked Wal-Mart and others to weigh in. Consumer advocates like Consumers Union have been advocating for clear, specific definitions to avoid misleading green claims. "Claims are already being made on products that are confusing, misleading, and potentially deceptive," the group said in its comments to the …

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Umbra on calculating CO2 weight

Dear Umbra, I know CO2 is a gas as other greenhouse gases are, and gases are sometimes lighter than air. So I'm wondering: how can gases be weighed in tons? That's a hell of a lot of gas to weigh even one ton, let alone the millions of tons that are reported to be causing climate change. (No, I'm not Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe in disguise.) James N. Oklahoma City, Okla. Dearest James, Science. It is confusing. Oh, for the Dark Ages, when all was explained by unquestioned religious authorities, and the common people never needed to have a critical …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Gore and Edwards, not sitting in a tree

Joel Makower makes a fantastic point here: Why aren't Gore and Edwards working together? Or rather, why aren't those fighting climate change working with those fighting poverty? I know Van Jones et al have done great work on this, but it obviously hasn't reached the upper echelons of the left. These are not silos, not separate undertakings. It's all one fight now, the fight to refashion a culture that can endure.

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Packin' meat

Online game ‘PackMan’ tries to give ‘Pac-Man’ a green spin

Joining the ranks of online games with varying eco-plausibility like "Ocean Survivor" and "Catstration" is "PackMan," or Packaging Man, a creation of the Dogwood Alliance. The organization aims to protect Southern forests from packaging-heavy (and tree-hungry) corporations; the game takes aim at fast-food execs in particular. The intro of "PackMan" depicts colorful villains wielding phallic chainsaws while informative text scrolls by, and a "take action" link at the game's end encourages players to contact the CEOs of 11 major fast-food companies. Said Campaign Director Scot Quaranda in an Aug. 5 statement, "Southern forests, the jewel of the American landscape, are …

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For-profit, common good

Using the power of business for people and planet

There are two critiques of Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken's book on the enormous scope of the worldwide grassroots movements for change, that I'm interested in, one being the notion that the fact that there are millions of grassroots groups at work all over the world providing basic services, fighting for justice, and improving the lot of the planet is not necessarily something to celebrate. Rather, it signifies the failure of modern society to pursue the common good. Fair enough, but that's our reality at the moment. The other critique I've heard is that Hawken celebrates the contributions of the nonprofit …

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How to green your grocery list

Make your list and check it twice. Lately, the world news has been filled with stories of hungry people struggling to feed themselves as food prices rise dramatically. Even in the U.S. and other wealthy countries, where the situation is not as dire, people have been altering their eating and spending habits to adjust to the higher bills. It can be hard to focus on eating greener when the very staples you need cost more than usual. Fortunately, there's a veritable cornucopia of ways to green your grocery list while keeping your costs in check: everything from prioritizing organic purchases …

Read more: Food, Living

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Employers scramble to make commutes less costly

Recognizing the very real possibility of losing quality employees to jobs with shorter, cheaper commutes, employers across the country are scrambling to help their workers save on gas. Many companies have started to strongly encourage telecommuting, even paying for at-home workers' laptops, Blackberrys, and/or wireless connections. Microsoft has leased extra office space miles from its Washington State headquarters, closer to where many employees live. Other businesses are trying out four-day work weeks, organizing vanpools, or doling out gas cards, bus passes, raises, and even bicycles. "We had 14 calls last week and nine of those named high gas prices as …

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Mel Gibson talkin' to De Niro about eco-thriller

Stars align for Edge of Darkness

Mel Gibson: Hey, De Niro, you wanna star in an eco-thriller with me? Robert De Niro: You talkin' to me? Gibson: Yes, I'm talkin' to you. It's called Edge of Darkness; it's based on that BBC miniseries. Are you familiar with it? De Niro: You talkin' to me? Gibson: Yeah, it's about this homicide detective (that'd be me) who uncovers government and corporate cover-ups when his environmental activist daughter is murdered. De Niro: You talkin' to me? Gibson: Yes, Bobby, I'm talkin' to you. You'd play the CIA operative trying to cover up the evidence. De Niro: Well, then who …

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Top 15 green brands

Gen Y chooses style over sustainability

What companies do today's trendsetters consider to be the top 15 green brands? It's not who you might think ... A survey of 100 Gen Y'ers (born 1979-1993) asked which brands they perceived to be most eco-friendly. Here are the top 15: Whole Foods Trader Joe's Toyota Honda Google Aveda Zipcar American Apparel Ikea 7th Generation Apple The Body Shop Starbucks Netflix Method The aim of the survey, the consulting firm said, was to "discover which companies are going beyond the niche segment of hard-core Greenies to win over influential Gen Y's." In making their selections, those surveyed told Outlaw …

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