Growing up green: How to shop for a green baby

Photo courtesy Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr I guess I’ve known all along that introducing a baby into the family meant introducing a whole slew of stuff into our lives — much of it bulky, expensive, and — often — plastic. But I’m fighting all the media and social cues to go on a shopping spree at Babies R Us. Instead, my husband and I decided to buy only one or two essential items new, like a state-of-the-art super-safe car seat. But, for the most part, we’ve managed to “go green” as we’ve outfitted ourselves for pregnancy and parenthood — from …

Tress for Success

Ask Umbra on shower caps, computers, and junk mail

Q. Dear Umbra, I’ve taken to washing my hair less and less often to keep it from drying out. Since I’ve switched to the “no-‘poo” method (baking soda followed by a vinegar rinse) it stays cleaner longer. However, I still take a shower (brief and lukewarm) most days. To keep my curly hair from becoming totally frizzy in the humidity of the shower, I typically cover it with a shower cap. My current cap is wearing out and I’m going to need a new one soon — but your simple rule of “no vinyl and that’s final!” keeps resounding in …

Ask Umbra's feeling tipsy

You never get a second chance to make No Impact — oh wait, yes you do

Dearest readers, Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man.You’ve perhaps No-ticed the No Impact swirl of late: there’s been lots of buzz about No Impact Man, the New Yorker who committed his young family to a year of zero-waste living, and his eponymous film. In late October, five thousand people participated in the first-ever No Impact Week. If you missed it then, here’s your  second chance: the Natural Resources Defense Council is sponsoring another No Impact Week beginning this Sunday — you can sign up here, then learn how to plan and carry out your own consumption revolution. (If the timing …


A surprising sneak peek at the clothesline revolution

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. Alexander Lee founded Project Laundry List as a Middlebury College undergrad in 1995, after hearing Dr. Helen Caldicott say we could shut down the nuclear industry if we all did things like hang out our clothes. He’s been true to the cause ever since, pushing for clotheslines across the land — even at the White House. Grist caught up with him to find out how hanging …

Slow food, fast trains

Random Monday thoughts inspired by a throwaway line from Mark Bittman

Yes, he occasionally gets on my nerves. But when the great Mark Bittman says stuff like this, all is forgiven (if not forgotten): I am the least impressive cook you will ever see. I am completely without knife skills, I screw things up all the time. When I’m in the kitchen I’m not obsessively trying to create the perfect dish; I’m trying to put dinner on the table. Comparing yourself to the people who cook on television is like comparing yourself to Andre Agassi. If you can drive you can cook. If you can drive, you can cook. Yes! But …

Kids Learn the Darnedest Things

Ask Umbra on climate-skeptic teachers, low-flow toilets, and more

Q. Dear Umbra, I know it’s a little early, but I had this great idea for a New Year’s resolution. Every month in 2010, I pick a certain eco-area of my life and focus on that for a whole month. So far I have: reduce energy consumption; reduce water consumption; reduce material waste; reuse; recycle; volunteerism/activism; eating local. Finally, I think December will be trying to use everything I’ve learned and put it all together cohesively. However, my list isn’t full, and I’m out of ideas. Do you have any suggestions? Happy HippieAlexandria, Va. A. Dearest HH, It’s never too …

Umbra's Just Bee-Cause

Tweet for the bees

Dearest readers, OK, so bees might not be your primary concern these days, what with health care and jobs and foreclosures to worry about. But we depend on our buzzing buddies more than you might think: for one thing, they play a key role in producing a third of the food we eat. So here’s an easy way to show your love for the bees this week: tweet! Through a campaign called Help the Honey Bees (#HelpHoneyBees), Haagen-Dazs is raising funds and awareness. As part of the campaign, from now through November 11, the company will donate $1 per tweet …

More clunker debunkers

Cash for Clunkers brought us … more clunkers!

So how did Cash for Clunkers work out from an environmental standpoint? You don’t want to know. The $3 billion federal program was kinda sorta supposed to send inefficient, high-polluting, belchy vehicles to an early grave. Instead it put a lot of new large, inefficient vehicles on the road, according to an AP investigation of new government records. The most common deals swapped old Ford or Chevrolet pickup trucks for new pickups that got “only marginally better gas mileage,” the analysis found. Old Ford F-150 for new Ford F-150 was the most common exchange. Buyers were 17 times more likely …

A Crawl to Arms

Seventh Generation launches anti-toxics campaign with wee gimmick

Seventh GenerationAt first blush, one’s enthusiasm for the Million Baby Crawl would seem to depend largely upon three things: 1) enthusiasm for babies, real and animated; 2) a penchant for baby-related puns (we’re going to rattle Congress!); and 3) interest in frittering away time on the interwebs. But that does a disservice to the intention behind this effort, which is to rally support for reform of the nation’s chemical policies. You don’t have to have babies — or even wuv them! — to want the feds to better regulate the toxics that find their way into our homes and bodies. …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.