It's Pat

A test of six recycled-paper napkins

Apparently I have a confession to make: I was, until this time, unaware of the fascinating depth of the world of paper napkins. Word.osde8info via flickrTo begin with, there was my discovery that there are “lunch napkins” — the square, scratchy kind — and “dinner napkins,” the comparatively elegant, rectangular, softer kind. Seriously? I’d never noted this distinction at the store, let alone honoring it at my dinner (I mean lunch) table. More to the point, there are my newfound feelings of confusion over my lifelong paper-napkin use. Do I, like the average American, really use 2,200 paper napkins a …

Long live the green

10 green royals

What comes to mind when you think of royalty? Luxurious palaces, the Queen of England, and overused puns on Marie Antoinette’s infamous one-liner? How about chemical-free gardens, recycling, and sustainable seafood? Ruling families from around the globe are using their media magnetism and sovereign sway to draw attention to a variety of eco-causes, fighting climate change, greening their homelands, and making sure all that cake we’re eating is organic too. 1. Prince Charles of England An outspoken proponent of fighting climate change, Prince Charles has an across-the-board interest in environmental issues. He’s advocated for tropical rainforest preservation through The Prince’s …

Acid Trip

“Acid Test” documentary on ocean acidification premieres tonight

Photo: Yuriy via PicasaDive into the NRDC’s new documentary Acid Test and you’re immediately immersed in a beautiful undersea world complete with vibrant coral reefs, graceful kelp beds, and rhythmic schools of fish. But Acid Test is no Blue Planet, thanks to heavy use of green-screen technology. And what’s in front of those screens is a lot less pleasant than the fish porn projected onto them. (No offense to the scientists, commercial fisherfolk, and other experts who are doing the talking, of course — it’s more about what they’re saying.) The 30 minute film, part of Discovery Planet Green’s “Blue …

Silk Ilk

Ask Umbra on corn plastic

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I’ve been noticing lately a lot of “green” businesses and restaurants in my area using compostable plastics, usually made of corn, if I recall correctly. I can’t compost (I know, I know, but I live in a tiny apartment on the third floor with no porch or yard), and I was wondering if you could tell us any more about this plastic. Should I recycle it, or throw it away? What to do? Becky B.Jamaica Plain, Mass. A. Dearest Becky, Corn plastic = not fantastic.USDA.govDoes anyone find pictures of food appetizing? Right …

Nitrogen bomb

The obvious advantage of organic food over conventional

A bit of nitrogen with those veggies? A recent literature review [PDF] by the U.K. Food Standards Agency concluded that organic foods offer no nutritional advantages to ones grown with conventional chemical agriculture. The report quickly bounced around the media and the internets and has congealed into received wisdom. For example, in a recent chat with readers, Washington Post food politics columnist (and general policy writer) Ezra Klein engaged in the following exchange: Santa Fe, N.M.: I saw a report today on a study finding that organic food isn’t any healthier than conventional food. Is buying organic a waste of …

Cap-sacs, fanny packs, and bindles, oh my

Just say no to disposable bags — here are alternatives

While Seattleites squabble over whether to impose a fee on disposable bags, we offer up alternatives for lugging your goods home from the store (and ideas for what to do with the plastic bags you’ve already accumulated). Fantastic plastic alternatives Nothing says cool like a Cap-sac.For smaller items: With Cap-sac, the neon fanny pack for your head, conservation will always be on your mind. The fanny pack is a convenient classic. Speaking of classics, don’t forget cargo pants: no longer just for soldiers or sketchy teenage boys. ‘Roos are also handy for carting home your smallest items. I had a …

Notable quotable

How Barack Obama is like Marvin Gaye

“President Obama has lit a fire under people. He’s actively engaged in taking on big issues: energy; two wars; health care; the economy. 

I haven’t seen a brother take on so many issues at once since Marvin Gaye put ‘What’s Going On,’ ‘Mercy Mercy Me,’ and ‘Inner City Blues’ all on the same album.” – EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, speaking at the National Association of Black Journalists 

'stache into me

Our favorite green mustaches

For years, scientists have pondered the mysterious but persistent connection between ecological wisdom and the follicular phenomenon that is the mustache. Is it the ‘stache that produces the wisdom? Or does the wisdom push its bearer toward the ‘stache? Early research focused on Amory Lovins, the efficiency guru who pioneered the green ‘stache in the ’70s; while those studies proved inconclusive, recent years have brought an avalanche of evidence: green biz wiz Joel Makower, newly converted “geogreen” Tom Friedman, deft dealmaker Henry Waxman … the list goes on. Global ‘staching skeptic? Check it out.

The not-so-trivial carbon impact of pet ownership

Should Kuba have a puppy?

Who could say no to this face?Ken WardKuba, 10, has waged a brilliant campaign. Unfortunately, I’m the target. Who can say no to a puppy? It’s … Grinch-like. My parents managed the trick, but that’s because my Dad was raised on a farm and Grandpa Ken, on my Mom’s side, trained hunting dogs — so when my folks said dogs didn’t belong in a city, who was going to argue? I don’t have the background, or perhaps backbone, to peremptorily dismiss the matter, so I’ve fallen back on penny-ante arguments, the sort of weaselly excuses grasped by legislators who don’t …

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