Living

Winter Warmers

Ask Umbra on water bottles, gas dryers, and tea lights

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Hey! This whole freakin’ deal about aluminum, steel, and plastic bottles is bewildering. I wanted to get a BPA-free Nalgene, but should I buy an aluminum instead? I don’t have or see the use to spend $20USD for a darn bottle. What’s the best way to go? JayDayton A. Dearest Jay, To sip, perchance to dream.Hey yourself! This can indeed be a bewildering topic, made even more so by recent revelations that one trusted brand of aluminum bottle contained BPA in its lining. Even though it’s a New Year, I’m going to …

Renewable energy is in big demand as states try to cut carbon emissions

Everyone Poops – – and a few spin gold

Thanks to the global effort to cut carbon, we could soon be spinning waste of all kinds -- including poop -- into big bucks.

Dispatches From Someone Who Got Lucky

How do I find a green job?

This is the time-honored question, one I get asked so frequently, from very qualified individuals, that I decided to answer it online. It is heartbreaking (and encouraging) how many skilled and interested people are looking for work in the sustainability field. The good news is the sector is growing exponentially. If you ask anyone in the field they’ll probably tell you they got there by luck. That’s certainly true for me. I’m less smart, strong, and fast than other candidates, and much less skilled. But I happened to be in the right place at the right time. That said, there …

Farm team

It takes a community to sustain a small farm

A local grocery store in Pleasantville, Iowa.Wikimedia Commons These days it seems the most popular person to be in the food system is the “local farmer.” Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, and their size and popularity grow all the time. Local food is trendy–even the First Family is in on it. But as anyone who has ever raised grain or livestock can tell you, the farmer is not the only person in the chain of players from her farm to your fork. In addition to producers, your food chain includes processors, distributors or transporters, and retailers. In other words, …

Chemical Soup for the Soul

Editor’s Note: Anna finished this post (and a few more) before she went on maternity leave. She gave birth to a healthy girl, Audrey, on December 13. My husband Gus and I have been lucky. I’m 36—and therefore considered an “elderly primigravida” on my charts at my doctor’s office (that’s “pregnant old-timer and first-timer” in layman’s terms). I’ve had a healthy pregnancy—so far—and we avoided the nightmarish saga of infertility that many acquaintances have suffered. But our story, as typical as it sounds, could be becoming a thing of the past—unless we demand better protections from toxic chemicals for our …

New Year Resolutions

Lose 10 pounds? Get a new job? It’s that time of year again and carbon could make your New Year's resolutions much more successful - - and profitable.

Auld Lang Sigh

Ask Umbra on judging greenness

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I consider myself to live simply and in an environmentally conscious way. I have been having trouble with those who also are “green” but seem to be smug about it, ostentatious even, maybe hypocritical when judging others who appear “un-green” based on superficial things like my clothes. How do I stop being judgmental of the judgmental? MeghanBurlington A. Dearest Meghan, Howsabout we spend less time being shocked by people’s green choices and more time getting good stuff done.I chose your letter to kick off the New Year because I think it reminds …

The quintessence of Mackeyism

John Mackey and the limits of “conscious capitalism”

John Mackey: will the unfettered market bring him down? Photo: JOEM500, via Flickr Author’s note: In the original version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that Mackey had resigned from the Whole Foods board. Actually, he resigned from the chairmanship of the board, but retained his seat on the board. I regret the error. ———– Under pressure from a variety of shareholders, Whole Foods founder John Mackey has stepped down as chairman of his company’s board of directors. He will continue serving as CEO. Just before the announcement, The New Yorker ran a long and entertaining profile of Mackey by …

The Woody Loves It

George Will doesn’t get “This Land is Your Land”

The columnist George Will recently wrote about the new movie Up in the Air. While breezily discoursing on the emotional pain of the worst unemployment record in decades,  Will happened to mention that the “opening soundtrack” to the movie, featuring a new version of Woody Guthrie’s classic This Land is Your Land, was (and I quote) “weird.” Check out the song for yourself, via the interesting free music site LaLa: Will, the bow-tied baseball-ed embodiment of white-bread conservatism, is about as stuffy as a man can be, so it’s no surprise that he completely misses the point of this funkified …

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