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SKB on NPR re: PVC

Everything you wanted to know about toxic shower curtains, in my dulcet tones

Here I am again on the Environment Report, this time chatting about toxic shower curtains. Everything you ever wanted to know on the subject, complete with Psycho shower-scene screeching, allusions to shower-curtain licking, and quips about exhibitionism.

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How to green your day job

Simple steps are the key to a greener office. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to waste we go. Nope, those aren't the lyrics the Disney dwarves belted out en route to the daily grind, but in today's world they're right on the money. Most skyscrapers, offices, and cubicles are eco disaster areas, squandering massive amounts of energy, water, and paper while spewing out toxins and trash. It's enough to make a person downright weepy (not to mention grumpy and wheezy). You're probably thinking there's not much you can do to help, short of swearing off computers and jobs altogether -- right? …

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Wall*E

I saw Wall•E the other day with my kids and I found it absolutely rapturous, particularly the first half-hour or so. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up nominated for Best Picture. Not only is it a creative triumph, but it manages to convey "lessons" (ugh) about "environmental stewardship" (ugh) in a way that isn't didactic or overbearing. It's really something. I was going to try to write a profound post about it, but luckily Frank Rich takes on that task today, so just read him.

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Umbra on fans versus AC

Dear Umbra, I'm a girl trying to make it in a big, hot, airless city -- New York, that is. We're in the middle of a heat wave that will soon end, but the longer heat wave we call summer will continue, so I wonder: when the interior of my apartment is up to 93 degrees and I have no less than three fans oscillating, am I using more energy than I would if I purchased and used one energy-efficient air conditioner? What's the best choice here? Elizabeth Q. New York, N.Y. Dearest Elizabeth, I was in New York during …

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Should you add the latest green-living books to your library?

It's easy writing green, or so this year's deluge of eco-tippy books would indicate. But are any of the latest feel-good, change-a-light-bulb tomes decent? No doubt our own volume, Wake Up and Smell the Planet, is still No. 1 on your toilet tank -- but we thought we'd take a look at how the recent entries stack up, from the titillating to the downright doorstop-worthy. Going Green: A Wise Consumer's Guide to a Shrinking Planet Sally Kneidel, Ph.D., and Sadie Kneidel Fulcrum Publishing, May 2008 Green on the cover: Minimal, although the row of shopping carts inexplicably induces vertigo Tone: …

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How author Betsy Block convinced her finicky family to mend their dietary ways

In her new book The Dinner Diaries: Raising Whole Wheat Kids in a White Bread World, Betsy Block writes compellingly about trying to feed one's family and oneself in a nutritious, sustainable, economical, and harmonious way -- and dealing with various likes and dislikes within the family dining unit. Betsy Block Photo: Andrew Pockrose I imagine reviewers will liken the experience of reading this book to sitting and talking at the kitchen table with a trusted friend, and they'll be right. How do I know? Because Betsy is my trusted friend, and I am sitting at the kitchen table of …

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Seven green leaders reveal their favorite reads

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bad books bite. Photo: margolove Which books and magazines are tempting today's environmental movers and shakers to keep the CFLs burning late into the night? Grist asked seven movement leaders for their recommended reads. (Been burning the night oil yourself? Add your own favorite reads in the comments section below.) Van Jones. Van Jones Founding president, Green for All Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R. Brown Unbowed by Wangari Maathai Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots by Kevin Danaher, Sharon Biggs, and Jason Mark The Last …

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Well-Arrested

No, he didn't ride a Trek to the premiere of his new movie (I can hear the cars-aren't-green comments already!), but Jason Bateman did show up in a BMW Hydrogen 7 -- billed as "the world's first hydrogen-powered car for everyday use." Um, maybe if your "everday" activities include winning a Golden Globe, playing an irresistible rocker wannabe, and warming the Hancockles of our hearts ...

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An interview with author Bruce Barcott

Bruce Barcott. In his new non-fiction book Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, environmental journalist Bruce Barcott follows Sharon Matola -- a former Air Force survival specialist and circus-tiger trainer turned zookeeper -- as she fights the construction of a hydropower dam in her adopted country of Belize, and attempts to save the nesting site of the country's last scarlet macaws. During her years of battle, Matola -- known throughout Belize and beyond as the Zoo Lady -- wrestled with corrupt politicians, the habitual Belizean suspicion of outsiders, and her own impulsive nature. Though her campaign to stop the Chalillo …

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Umbra on exerting yourself in traffic

Dear Umbra, I bus, bike, or walk to work 98 percent of the time. I was wondering, when I'm biking (or walking, for that matter), am I inhaling more pollutants than those around me who are emitting them from their gas-guzzlers? Your answer won't change my habits, since I'm not going to drive to work anytime soon -- I'm just wondering if I'm the one paying the price for my enviro-friendly commuting? Thanks for your help! Sara Tucson, Ariz. Dearest Sara, What dedication. Even if biking is slowly filling your lungs with particulate silt, and a car is truly the …

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