Living

The toxic assault on our children

Can we protect kids from the toxic trappings of modern life?

From Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to current headlines in the news, there’s long been mounting evidence that we’re being poisoned by everyday items in our lives. I was crushed by the revelation that my trusty Nalgene bottle was leaching bisphenol A into my Brita-filtered water. The first time I had to purchase my own housecleaning supplies, I found myself torn between a well-marketed fear of germs and a wholly legitimate fear of toxic compounds. Like it or not, the unnatural creations of the chemical industry are everywhere. The facts of our chemical-laden reality are at once alarming and overwhelming. Philip …

Market rules in D.C.

White House hosts farmers market

Michelle Obama at White House Farmer’s MarketPhoto: Obama Foodorama Cross-posted from Obama Foodorama. Despite rain and cold temperatures, today’s opening of the new White House Farmers Market drew quite a crowd. “I’ve never seen so many people so excited about fruits and vegetables!” First Lady Michelle Obama told the crowd gathered a few blocks from the White House. Agriculture Secretary Secretary Tom Vilsack turned out for the Market’s debut, along with White House chefs Sam Kass and Bill Yosses. The White House Farmer’s Market will run through the fall. Mrs. Obama selected some fresh produce from The Farm at Sunnyside, …

It won’t stop burning, Doc

Burning Embers climate design contest has a winner [UPDATED]

Update! The people have spoken; we have have a winner. Presenting the nifty Tracing Emissions mobile (and a gallery of entries). Photo courtesy spike55151 via FlickStory: In June I wrote about Burning Embers, an art and design competition that invited students to create illustrations that reflected the causes and effects of climate change. The idea was that we need more compelling imagery than the sometimes-drab, sometimes-confusing graphics in policy reports. Well, four intriguing finalists have been selected—a video, a photo essay, a set of “animal cards,” and a mobile (the last is my favorite). Ji Lee, creative director of the …

Bag it!

Plastic bags are the enemy of the ocean

Courtesy Save the BayListen up all you Gristers who live along the California coast: This Saturday is Coastal Cleanup Day. Join your friends, neighbors, frenemies and complete strangers in a community-wide effort to get the plastic crap out of the ocean. Plastic isn’t just a problem way out in the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch. For example, the folks at Save the Bay have put together a pretty neat interactive to show you just how bad plastic pollution is in the Bay area. Find out how you can join the Coastal Cleanup fun: S.F. Bay Area, San Diego, Los Angeles. And …

Placemakers

An interview with solar activist Anya Schoolman

This interview is part of a series on people who are making their communities smarter, greener places to live. Got a nomination? Leave it in the comments section or send it along to us. All signs point to solar for Schoolman and her neighbors.For a while, things were looking gloomy. The founders of Washington, D.C.’s Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative had their hearts in the right place; they even had their paperwork in the right place. But they hit snag after snag as they tried to fulfill the dream of converting their neighborhood to solar power: Contractors who didn’t want to …

FAQ YOU

Ask Umbra on combating climate denial

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, This “year with no summer” and some alleged statistics I have seen quoted about earth-wide temperatures for the last ten years have resulted in claims that the earth is not heating — it may even be cooling. What about it? Arthur WaskowShalom Center, Philadelphia A. Dearest Arthur, The oceans are too getting warmer!That would be great. The planet needs some cooling, and humans certainly aren’t doing anything to help. But let us remember the difference between weather and climate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does confirm that summer 2009 in the …

Ditto

With Patrick Swayze’s death, perhaps the year could take a rest

The past few months have taken a mind-boggling assortment of icons, pop and otherwise, from our midst. As a green media outlet, we face a challenge on these somber occasions: How to pay tribute to people whose departure is felt by so many, but who might not have strong environmental connections. We don’t want to be in the business of creating artificial “ecobits” in which we glom onto some one-off quote from five years ago and use it to claim that, say, Patrick Swayze was a conservationist. It also doesn’t feel quite right to fall back on our usual schtick, …

Pulling out the Jay Game

Celebs to race Ford’s electric cars on Jay Leno’s new show

Jay Leno’s electric slide began long before the “Green Car Challenge.”Photo: Alan Light via FlickrOn his new show, which launched Monday night, Jay Leno will flaunt to the world his crush on electric cars. Leno’s show will feature the “Green Car Challenge,” wherein celeb guests race against each other in specially built Ford electric cars for the best lap times on a specially built race track. The first guest in the hot seat will be Drew Barrymore (an obvious guest to kick things off, since we all know she likes riding in cars with boys), when she appears on the …

how now, green Dow

Is the Dow Jones Sustainability Index worth a damn?

Recently, the web has been abuzz with stories about (and press releases from) companies ranked highly by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index review. The vaunted stock ticker-picker turned its eyes to green a full ten years ago to track the financial performance of “sustainability-driven companies worldwide.” Each year it releases a review of the companies in the index, using their economic, environmental, and social performance to rank them (and sometimes remove them). And the companies, in turn, use it as an excuse to make eco-happy headlines. So what’s with all the hubbub? And is it important to us mere mortals, …