Go green, save green

How to green your grocery shopping on a tight budget

Three months ago, my husband and I took a magnifying glass to our finances, examining a mountain of bills and receipts. We had two main concerns: paying the lingering tab for the birth of our second son (now one), and finding a way to afford a year of preschool for our highly-energized, insatiably-curious three-year-old. We pored over our monthly spending and came up with a budget we thought our family of four could live on. We made cuts all over the place. One major change was canceling satellite TV. That alone freed up $90 per month. We also scaled back …

Micture This

Peeing in the shower goes, um, viral

Dearest Readers, Today brings news — oh, and wildly spreading it is — of an ad campaign in Brazil aimed at convincing people to save water by peeing in the shower. Here is the video, and here is the website, if you are seeking extra credit for your Portuguese skills (beware, it starts with a series of yes-or-no questions). Great minds think alike: Just two weeks ago, I made a video advising shower-peeing as a water-saving, money-saving step (see below). And my whiz-dom extends even further back: it was a bit more than two years ago that I first addressed …


Kimberly-Clark, Greenpeace hug it out

Greenpeace USA Engaging in a bit of a lovefest, Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark announced today that the paper-products giant has finally agreed to clean up its act. It will source the fiber for its tissue products, under brand names that include Kleenex, Scott, and Cottonelle, from “environmentally responsible sources,” including those that are FSC-certified and recycled. The company has also committed to end the purchase of non-FSC fibers from Canada’s Boreal forest by 2011. For its part, Greenpeace will drop the five-year-old Kleercut campaign that has long urged Kimberly-Clark to quit destroying the Boreal just so cold-sufferers can experience a softer …

Two Prongs Make a Right

Ask Umbra on smarter outlets

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I recently spent several months in New Zealand and was impressed with the simple energy-saving electrical outlets they used. Every outlet is equipped with a small switch allowing you to “turn off at the wall” whatever device you have plugged in. I want to replace my current outlets with ones such as those in NZ but I’ve never seen anything similar being used in the States and cannot find a retailer. I’m sure they have to be out there somewhere — any ideas? Casey F.Austin, Tex. A. Dearest Casey, No outlet?Since telling …

Tour de fab

Would you trade your car for a bike?

Would you trade your car for a bike? That’s what the folks behind the Tour de Fat want to know. New Belgium Brewing’s now-annual cycle celebration is pedaling to Seattle this Saturday — and they’ll be taking a car off the hands of one (lucky?) local driver and handing him a cool commuter bike in return. (Patrick explains why he wants to reduce his wheelprint from four to two.) So what else does the Tour de Fat offer aside from the car/cycle swap-o-rama? A six-mile bike parade leaves Gas Works Park at 11 a.m. — think Solstice cyclers … but …

The shark of history bends toward justice

It’s time to end the practice of shark finning

This post is co-authored with Discovery Channel GM & President John Ford. —– Photo: Willy VolkEvery half-second a shark is killed for its fins, so in the time it takes you to read this post, hundreds of sharks will die. “Finning,” as the practice is known, is decimating shark populations world-wide. Every year up to 73 million sharks are caught, stripped of their fins, and left for dead in the ocean. Shark fins are a delicacy in many Asian countries, and the market is expanding to other parts of the globe. Fishing boats can save cargo space and pack more …

Don't Drink the Water

‘Tapped’ documentary pulls plug on bottled water craze

Only about a fifth of the plastic water bottles purchased in the United States are recycled.Courtesy producers of TAPPED.Tapped, a new documentary about the bottled water industry from director Stephanie Soechtig and the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car?, is a pretty damning look at how consumers have been tricked into spending too much money on water packaged in plastic and quite often not as clean as what’s available from the faucet. I knew bottled water sucks, but I didn’t know it sucks this much. Not only is it a clear waste of resources (only 20 percent of plastic …

At Fault

Ask Umbra on power-strip alternatives

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Hi Umbra, I know that the little trickle of electricity that so many appliances use even when they are “off” adds up to a significant amount of power. I also know that a power strip with an on/off switch can help. But there are places in my house where a power strip is pretty inconvenient. In the kitchen, I’ve begun using the test and reset buttons on the GFI outlet as on/off switches for the coffee maker and its little clock. It seems very handy — but I can’t help but wonder if in …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: Forgery edition

There once was a firm known as BonnerWhose tactics were lacking in honor.“Can’t get white letters read?We’ll forge brown ones instead!”Oh Bonner, you should be a goner. Whose words these are I think I know.AFLCIO2008 via flickr