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Sears and KMart will phase out PVC, Wal-Mart accused of eco-naughtiness

Big-box behemoths Sears and Kmart have agreed to phase out nasty plastic PVC from all products in their 3,800 stores. While admirable, the announcement merely makes those stores the lemmings of PVC abandonment; IKEA, Wal-Mart, and Target have all previously agreed to go PVC-free. In other big-box news, the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency has accused Wal-Mart of sourcing wood for its products from Chinese manufacturers who use Russian timber that was likely logged illegally. Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. importer of wood products, has publicly announced a goal to use only sustainably harvested wood by 2010. Meanwhile, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) …

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California yanks kids’ jewelry from stores

Bangles and baubles may make fun stocking stuffers, but beware: the California Department of Toxic Substances Control has yanked a dozen types of kids' jewelry from 11 retailers -- including Macy's, Marshalls, and the Gap -- after finding lead levels measuring approximately in the skazillions. "The problem is much more pervasive than we would like to be seeing," said Department Director Maureen Gorsen. Who deserves a tiara for being Queen of the Understatement -- but god knows what might be in it.

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Big ideas come out of Hollywood Goes Green summit

"Hollywood has gone from the capital of conspicuous consumption to the cutting edge of conspicuous conservation," Arianna Huffington declared recently. Case in point: A two-day Hollywood Goes Green summit that wraps up today. At the summit, tech giant IBM announced a plan to design new technologies that will increase computing capacity by a factor of 10 while using 50 percent less power by the end of 2010. (Which seems somewhat irrelevant to a Hollywood shindig, but a lot of computing goes into special effects, animation, and other movie-making needs.) And at a panel on marketing green messages, Paula Silver, founder …

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Another reason to procrastinate about my Christmas shopping

From the producers of "The Meatrix" and "Grocery Store Wars" comes "The Story of Stuff," a short video about production and consumption, just in time for the holiday shopping binge. Click here for the full movie (sample clip embedded below).

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Umbra on bleach

Greetings, I recently was infected with MRSA. It got better. As part of my treatment I'm supposed to use bleach in my laundry and around the house to help kill the bacteria. While I'm brunette, I feel like the stereotypical blonde about bleach. What are the environmental impacts of this chemical? Thanks, Emily Indiana Editor's Note: Oh, how Umbra would love to answer this question -- but she's been kidnapped! Please donate to Grist by 11:59 p.m. Pacific on Dec. 11, 2007, to secure her safety. The sooner we see 2,000 gifts of any size (yes, even $1!), the sooner …

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Canadian outdoor-goods retailer won’t sell plastic water bottles

Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada's largest outdoor-goods retailer, has yanked Nalgene bottles and other polycarbonate plastic containers from its shelves, concerned about toxic bisphenol A leaching from the plastic. MEC -- the Canadian equivalent of U.S.-based retailer REI -- has been one of Canada's largest sellers of the bottles. Canada's health agency is currently studying the risk posed by bisphenol A, and will comment on its research in May 2008; dependent on the outcome of that review, MEC may reinstate polycarbonate plastic Nalgenes to its stores.

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Scaling back our energy-hungry lifestyles means more of what matters, not less

The work of recent Nobel Peace Prize winners Al Gore and the IPCC, along with a veritable mountain of other evidence, clearly lays out the reality and potential costs of human-induced climate change. Most analyses have concluded that we can and must keep our economies growing while addressing the climate challenge; we need only reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we produce. We can do this, they say, by using more efficient light bulbs, driving more fuel-efficient cars, better insulating our homes, buying windmills and solar panels, etc. While we agree that these things need to …

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From Bono to Booty

And ... action! Costner's not too merry about Sherwood's fate, Bono's building a skyscraper with or without you, Gore gets animated for Futurama, Jacko goes eco, and Guns N' Roses wants you to Slash energy use. And that's just this week; next week, Hollywood Goes Green. Photo: James Devaney / WireImage.com I can't stop this eeling Yule wanna rock around this Christmas tree -- because it's electric (boogie woogie woogie!). For eels, yo. Photo: iStockphoto Postal's well that ends well Have piles of lemons? Make lemonade. Have piles of junk mail? Make art. Image: S A Schimmel Gold The best …

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High gas prices make hybrids look even better

A couple of years ago, I ran some numbers trying to figure out which was the better buy for the planet -- a biodiesel Jetta or a hybrid Prius. And I came to the tentative, but perhaps counterintuitive, conclusion that the best buy was ... wait for it ... a Toyota Corolla. The Corolla, you see, was thousands of dollars cheaper than the Prius (the runner-up), even after I accounted for all the savings on gas from driving a fuel-miser. And if you were a green-minded consumer -- someone whose top priority was reducing climate-warming emissions, say -- you could …

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Umbra on Jell-O shots

Greetings, A very important discussion among my colleagues this week: is it better to purchase reusable, petroleum-based products (plastic) or to use paper disposables? Specifically, we're talking about Jell-O shot cups. A recent (and brilliant) invention is this little plastic shot cup with a twistable ring inside. Ostensibly, a flick of the wrist will free even the most stubborn Jell-O shot and allow hours of fun. Some of my friends have argued that the traditional sucking method is more green (and more fun) because the paper Dixie cups are renewable, unlike plastic. But the plastic ones can be reused time …

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