Living

It Might as Well Be Spring

Ask Umbra on sparkling water

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dearest Umbra, We and our colleagues use sparkling water as our substitute for cokes, coffee, beer, etc. We have heard some really bad things about bottled water, and are of course aware of the fact that it is up to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water. But oh those sparkles … can you share your astute opinion and a comparison of the brands of sparkling waters with us? (Our favorite happens to be La Croix.) We’re pro-rivers and clean water, but we don’t want to steal other people’s. Cheers, Liz and Cindy Alabama …

Crazy About Carseats But Not Climate?

Child safety? A Father’s Day call for a longer view

Every year around this time, the father in me starts thinking deep thoughts about why I’ve dedicated my career to environmental awareness and, in particular, helping people who don’t consider themselves activists understand why environmental issues should matter to them. In more recent years, it’s morphed into an almost singular focus for me on why the climate crisis should matter to all of us. For me, it’s simple. It’s the kids. As a parent, I want to do everything I can to make sure my kids are exposed to fewer hazards than I was. I always laugh when my own …

Candid Cameron

Cameron Diaz films eco-documentary, takes on role as planet’s publicist

“How do we make this little planet of ours a big star?” asks actress Cameron Diaz in the cover story of Marie Claire‘s July issue. “The planet needs a publicist.” And this bubbly blonde is just the gal for the job. She’s long been an environmental activist — running around with an MTV video crew for her 2005 show Trippin’, which took her to exotic locales all over the world — but it wasn’t until she attended the TED conference recently that she really felt the push to do something a bit more serious. These days, she’s doing a lot …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: apocalypse edition

This here is a cinquain! My seventh-grade teacher would be so proud. Check out the growing collection of weekly climate-news poems. Report: We’re in trouble. Frost, blight, drought, pests, high seas. We should move to safer ground now! But where? NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco and Obama science adviser John Holdren unveiled the government’s new, massive report on climate change impacts.Kate Sheppard / Grist

Going bananas

Can we be ‘green’ and eat tropical products, too?

In Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. Lettuce know what food worries keep you up at night. ———————- Is your green cred slipping? Dear Checkout Line,We try to buy local food whenever we can. Some things just seem doomed to have air miles on them, though. Is there anywhere in the U.S. that can grow bananas? Or coffee and tea?Best,Pat Dear Pat,Personal confession: If frequent-flyer miles were assigned to my coffee habit, I could probably commute from New England to Tibet for free. After doing …

The House Doctors Are In

Symptom: High utility bills; Diagnosis: Full energy efficiency workup

Photo illustration by Tom Twigg / Grist The red Honda Fit from a local car-sharing service pulls into the driveway of a suburban San Francisco Bay-area home, and two clean-cut young guys in khaki jump out and start unloading a Ghostbusters array of gadgets — something resembling a giant black megaphone, a glowing tube attached to a video screen, and a handheld device that looks like it was pilfered from Dr. McCoy’s sick bay. Meet the “greenup” team from Sustainable Spaces, a four-year-old San Francisco firm that conducts residential energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits to shrink a home’s carbon …

The Grist List: From Beer Soap to Banana Skins

Beer Soap turns lager into lather, and more

BudwasherNext time you bathe, boys, lager up with a bar of Beer Soap, guaranteed to do a better job of attracting the ladies than, uh, just the beer alone.   (Click below to see the next item in this week’s Grist List—or view them all on a single page.)                

Jam session

I find my thrill in blueberry preserves–and so can you

As we approach the summer solstice, long, hot days spur a growth frenzy in the garden. That explosion of fertility produces the excesses that I live for. I love being swamped by 100 pounds of the fragile soft fruits of summer. It is a race against time. I must work quickly in order to get the fruit processed while it is at its prime. There is no satisfaction quite like turning the problem of too large a harvest, bound for the compost heap, into a prized condiment that will brighten the rest of the year. Have you pancakes and eat …

Welcome to the JP Green House

In which we chronicle the creation of a groundbreaking eco-home

Editor’s note: This month, Grist contributor Ken Ward and his partner Andrée Zaleska begin chronicling their conversion of a rundown, 100-year-old store into a green home that serves as both family living quarters and a public space for climate activism, green building education, and community gatherings. Recently, I visited the pair for a tour of the space — and an up-close glimpse of their dreams. When the JP Green House is finished, it will be a marvel to behold. From the eco-insulation to the stage for community performances, from the backyard beekeeping to the front-stoop organizing, the house will be …