Living

How about... "prosumer"?

Stop calling Americans “consumers”

I was at a small meeting on peak oil Friday – Executive Summary:  We’re peaking now! James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, was there.  He is in the Mad Max/Lovelock/Wall-E school of dystopia, and so I have a number of disagreements with him (see “Why I don’t agree with James Kunstler about peak oil and the “end of suburbia“). He did, however, say one thing that really strike a chord.  He said we should stop calling Americans “consumers.”  It pigeonholes all Americans and also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That seems to me a reasonable point, and I will endeavor …

Heavy on the Ice, Light on the Cream

A review of six non-dairy ice creams

This is part two of a two-part series on organic ice cream; see our previous review of conventional, dairy-based ice creams by Tom Philpott. Cow juice alternative?The Sheppard family has what you might call an ice cream problem. When I was 8 and my brother was 5, we went to Disney World. After a day of themepark excitement, my brother started walking with a pronounced limp. My mother asked him what was wrong. “My leg hurts,” he replied. “I need Mickey Mouse ice cream.” Another time, when I was about 12, my father lurched up from his chair in our …

Tuning in

Rothbury Music Festival rocks sustainability mission

Photo: kuba425 via FlickrWhile your standard summer music festival may consider its primary mission to be “rocking out,” the Rothbury Music Festival being held this weekend in Michigan states its purpose to be “harnessing the spirit of the music festival community into a durable social movement.” Then again, Rothbury isn’t your standard summer music festival. The festival organizers consider it a “party with a purpose,” and for the most part, that purpose — as showcased by their greening initiatives and educational events — is sustainability. Now, this is not to say there won’t be rocking out; headliners this year include …

Handle With Care

Ask Umbra on moving cross-country

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, We have to move a small apartment from New York to LA. We can rent a diesel truck that gets 8-12 mpg (yikes — but the best we could find) OR sell the furniture, ship some stuff, and fly. Both options are about the same price, but which is more environmentally friendly (considering airplane pollution, waste of dumping and buying new stuff)? Is there any other cheap and green solution? Much obliged! SarahNew York A. Dearest Sarah, Are you chasing your dream of making it in show business, or just trying to …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: OMG They’re Voting! edition

This week’s poem features dubious meter and indubitable passion. Fritter some time away by checking out a few previous climate poems. All eyes are on Waxman-Markey this week.From the orbs of ObamaTo the peepers of the meek. I’m just beside myself!Will it pass, is it lame, should we love it anyway?Did the Ag folks make it worse?Were they just making hay? So many questions on a solitary bill.So many argumentsEcho from the Hill. While ACES seems to freeze us all, the world’s still turning.Hopers have to Cope.Coal keeps burning. Gordon wants to start a fund, in dollars or in pounds.And …

He was a lover, not a fighter

A reading from the book of Jackson

I never cared for Michael Jackson. I’m just going to get that out of the way right now. He entered my fourth-grade consciousness as a zipper-sporting pop star burnt by Pepsi, and it just got weirder from there. The face heard round the world.murilo campos via flickrBut now I find I can’t stop thinking about him. His impact. His astonishing role as global ambassador. Disturbingly thin, oddly hued, possibly pedophilic global ambassador — but global ambassador nonetheless. Look at those fifty shows in London that were supposed to kick off next month: they sold out in less than a day, …

The Grist List: From Poo to Potato

A loo that turns poo into fuel, and more

LooWatt LooWatt, oh baby, me gotta goMeet the LooWatt: a waterless eco-commode made from poop that turns your #1 and #2 into CH4. It’s the diaper genie of the sustainability set.  

Bone of Contention

Ask Umbra on meating your needs

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Hi Umbra, I was shopping in the commissary (our lovely military grocery store) this afternoon when I noticed the “reduced for quick sale” meat section. [As a former vegetarian], I literally feel the weight of the world when I buy meat … but when I saw this meat, it occurred to me that it was going to be thrown away within the next day or two if someone did not purchase it. To me, this is a worse crime: To have had that animal suffer a cruel factory farm existence only to have its …

Would you like frogs with that?

Frogs in the forest: the new canaries in the coal mine

Dr. Kerry Kriger cracks a smile during his visit to Grist’s Seattle HQ.Russ Walker / GristOn Tuesday, the staff at Grist devoured frogs for lunch.  Well, not exactly. We sat down with conservation biologist Dr. Kerry Kriger of the newly minted nonprofit Save the Frogs! — one of several stops he’s making in Seattle during a country-wide speaking tour. As one of the lone voices raising the alarm for amphibians, Kriger dished about the worst disease ever to hit wildlife, why it’s such a big deal that one-third of amphibians are threatened with extinction, and just how many people actually …