Living

Act like you care

Hollywood’s next green generation

We know. There’s nothing green about owning a 20,000-square foot house, or flying in a private jet, or stocking a wardrobe the size of a studio apartment. Famous actors indisputably leave a much larger carbon footprint than the average citizen. But their celebrity gives them a far greater ability to influence others, so their efforts toward eco-consciousness can make a difference. Two years ago Grist published a list of green actors. Now we give you an updated version: some younger, fresher faces whose greenness may not be as dark or deep as that of Robert Redford and Ed Begley Jr., …

Throw the book at 'em

Is it time to get rid of phone books?

When was the last time you looked up something in the phone book? What did you do the last time you got a free phone book dropped off on your doorstep–did you recycle it? If you’re like most people these days, your answers to those questions are probably “I don’t remember” and “No.” WhitePages, an online directory service, recently released the results of a survey it conducted indicating that only 15.9 percent of U.S. adults recycle their old or unwanted phone books, and that U.S. citizens are largely unaware of the environmental impact of printing and delivering so many phone …

Faux-Thoreaus take blows

No Impact Man, Elizabeth Kolbert, and the civic sphere

Elizabeth Kolbert’s latest essay for The New Yorker is another triumph, a perfectly pitched marriage of style and substance. It’s about Colin Beavan’s blog-turned-book-turned-movie No Impact Man, Vanessa Farquharson’s Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days, and other recent experiments in (well-to-do, white, urban) asceticism. Kolbert’s dry wit is underappreciated. You gotta love this paragraph: Farquharson’s “green-ovations” range from the significant (“sell my car”) to the useful (“turn down my thermostat,” “fix things rather than replace them”) to the downright ditzy (“go to eco-friendly spas,” “shop at green …

Just Add Elbow Grease

Ask Umbra on green cleaning

Send your question to Umbra! Editor’s Note: It being the dog days of August and all, Umbra Fisk has trotted off for a well deserved vacation. In her absence, we’ve decided to dust off some oldies but goodies from the archives. And since we were dusting, we thought we’d start with this timeless green cleaning advice. Enjoy! Q. Dear Umbra, I’d like to start making my own environmentally friendly cleaning products for my home. Are there any books or websites you would recommend for cleaning “recipes”? Rachel A. Dearest Rachel, No bleach required.You’ll be disappointed if you were expecting elaborate, …

Let's get non-physical

Digital downloads are greener than CDs

Several studies have looked at the climate impact of internet infrastructure and information technology, and other studies have attempted to compare the relative efficiency of internet retailing vs. traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. A new study takes a different spin on the subject, comparing the energy embodied in physical products with their digital, network-based counterparts. The result is hardly shocking, but it’s kind of fun nonetheless: a life cycle analysis reveals that downloading music digitally creates less than one sixth the carbon emissions of buying it from a retail store (pdf). The study compares six scenarios: Music purchased from a traditional retail …

Tune in

Dave Matthews Band offers free music downloads for eco-pledges

Photo: Ryan Eilders via FlickrDuring their 2008 summer tour, the Dave Matthews Band encouraged 160,000 fans to carpool, diverted 8,000 cubic yards of waste from the landfill, employed 550 volunteers to educate fans, and reduced their carbon footprint by almost 8.5 million pounds of CO2 (through eco-efforts and offsets). This year, they are continuing that commitment with their So Much to Save campaign. Fans who recycle a can (or ten) at a Dave Matthews Band show this summer will receive a download code for the exclusive So Much to Save 2009 album featuring songs from the band and supporting acts …

Spokespeople

Climate Riders use pedal power to raise awareness

Courtesy Brita Climate RideHow far would you go to fight climate change? How about 300 miles? Hundreds of cyclists will pedal from New York City to Washington, D.C., in late September to do just that. The Brita Climate Ride is a multi-day bicycle ride that raises money and awareness for climate change action. The riders will depart New York City on Sept. 26 having raised $2400, the proceeds of which will go toward three climate/bike advocacy charities: Focus the Nation, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and Clean Air – Cool Planet. During their five-day ride, they’ll hear from experts like climate scientist James …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: Cash for cukes edition

This week’s verse was contributed by the White House as it worked on plans for a farmers market. Check out more climate poems from Grist. First we thought cars were the fix, so Congress made a bet:Give people cash and they will trade their clunking old Corvette.And boy, they did! In drives — uh, droves — till we ran out of dough.Now sliiiightly more efficient rides are always on the go. If we can’t change the climate with a 2 m.p.g. bribePerhaps there is another way we can convert this tribe.They still love dirty coal and oil and gas and …

It ain't over til it's over

Seattle’s bag-fee supporters still smiling despite setback

Photo: ceegee-ceegeeAdvocates of Seattle’s Referendum 1, a proposal for a disposable-bag fee that was soundly defeated in Tuesday’s primary election, may have lost a battle. But Brady Montz, chair of the local Sierra Club chapter and leader of the effort to pass the referendum, feels confident that the war against plastic bags is going well. “We’ve never had a vote before where 42 percent* of people decided, ‘I want to pay for my plastic bags,'” he said. “How well did the first votes on gay marriage work? How well did the first votes on drug legalization work? These things, they …

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