Living

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  

The Grist List: From Lob to Lorax

That smarts! Dutch pranksters go car-tipping, and more

Dutch treat Forget cow-tipping. Dutch pranksters are all about car-tipping these days, dumping dozens of lightweight Smart cars into Amsterdam’s canals. What tossers! Image created by The Sun

Going Postal

365 days of junk mail

In December 2007, in “Junk Mail Box,” I lauded ad-mail slayer Catalog Choice and argued for US and Canadian Do Not Mail registries. Soon thereafter, I began using Catalog Choice assiduously at home. I also refreshed my subscription to the Direct Mail Association’s Mail Preference Service. I wrote to ValPak to plead for a reprieve from their thick wads of coupon mailers (my own letter carrier gave me the address). I was about to start calling other direct mailers myself, demanding they take me off their lists. First, though, before putting more of my own time or money into de-spamming …

It's crafty all right

Is this a green home?

I’m thinking about reporting on this house as an example of sensible environmental design reproducible for the masses. Can anyone help me decide? This is a press release (emphasis mine): We handle parenting author, environmentalist, and “The Crafty Mom” Mary Lyon who recently built her 6,700 square foot spectacular “green” home in Brentwood, California. Below is some info on this amazing house, which Mary describes as “The Jetsons meets the Flintstones.” … Parenting author, environmentalist, and “The Crafty Mom,” Mary Lyon recently built her “green” house. The 6,700 square foot three-story passive solar home (including a basement) is equipped with …

Jimmy Fallon, iPhone home

Solar chargers, real and imagined

The real news of the day: there’s now a solar-powered charger for iPhones. The more entertaining news: At Comic-Con this weekend, Jimmy Fallon dressed up as a solar-powered superhero called “Recharger” and tried to sell his idea to, among others, Jon Favreau, Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, and that hot guy from Lost. This skit is way too long. Enjoy.

Sun in the Fun

Ask Umbra on solar pool heaters

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, With all the rain we’ve had this year, the pool water doesn’t get a chance to warm up in between rainstorms. We are trying to design a passive heating system. We’ve thought about flexible one-inch black hose (if we can find it) attached to the filter and laid out around the pool, but are there any solar energy systems already out there that we could use? JerriWaterbury A. Dearest Jerri, Why yes there are, and they are quite similar to your recent black hose invention. Whether they will have any effect on …

On EV street

Tesla speeds past financial troubles, opens retail stores across country

Five months ago, Tesla Motors appeared to be following in the footsteps of other American automakers. Lay-offs, a dearth of financing, and a spring recall of 70 percent of delivered Roadsters prompted speculation that Tesla might soon be the next casualty of the economic downturn. But Tesla proved just too cool to fail. In May, German automaker Daimler injected $50 million in the “we’re this close to profitability we promise” EV maker for a 10 percent stake and a deal for Tesla to supply the batteries for the test series of Daimler’s smart electric drive. And then in June, Uncle …

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