Living

The Age of Resin

Ask Umbra on turpentine disposal

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where recently our city made a splash when our newly minted sewage system — which had been roundly celebrated for making the harbour swimmable for the first time in years — failed. Now we’re back to flushing it all into the ocean. So when it came time to clean my brushes the other day after painting our front door, I hesitated at the thought of using turpentine, knowing it would end up in the harbour. Is there a greener alternative? CeebieHalifax, N.S. A. Dearest Ceebie, Oh …

The Root of the Matter

A tasting of nine “natural” root beers yields surprising results

Nothing hits the spot on a hot day like an icy glass of all-American root beer. (Okay, if you want to split hairs: Nothing hits the spot on a hot day like an icy glass of all-American root beer when you must stay sober.) The problem is that when you take your wilting self to the cool respite of the beverage aisle, you discover that nothing in this life is simple. Perhaps, like me, you go with the simple criterion of avoiding anything produced by Big Soda and loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. Ha! If only it were this straightforward. …

socially acceptable

10 ways to support charity through social media

This post is a collaboration between Mashable’s Summer of Social Good charitable fundraiser and Max Gladwell‘s “10 Ways” series. The post is being simultaneously published across more than 100 blogs. Social media is about connecting people and providing the tools necessary to have a conversation. That global conversation is an extremely powerful platform for spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues. That’s one of the reasons charities can benefit so greatly from being active on social media channels. But you can also do a lot to help your favorite charity or causes you are passionate about through social …

Get your grass off gas

The perfect lawn doesn’t require a gas-powered mower

The following essay was written by Paul Tukey, founder of SafeLawns.org and the author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual. The perfect lawn doesn’t require gasoline or synthetic fertilizer.Muffet via FlickrGrass Happens. As a former lawn care professional, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I first saw that bumper sticker on a passing pickup truck full of lawn mowers. Insert any word of your choice to replace grass – Death, Tax, Greed, Hunger, you name it – and you will be commemorating the same fundamental inevitability. Call it twisted landscape humor, an inside joke for anyone who has …

Canvass(ing) their Ass(es) off

Making change, one door at a time

It’s officially summer, and one thing that brings, besides Kennedy yacht races on Nantucket Sound, is an army of thousands of kids with clipboards, out canvassing neighborhoods, street corners, and subway stops for green: green causes and the green of cash. This tried and tested organizing tactic is a mainstay of many groups from Sierra Club to the PIRGs (college-based public interest research groups), and is one of the biggest, most regular shows of force that the green movement has outside of climate rallies and mountaintop removal protests. It’s proven to build member rolls and donor bases, yet has many …

Trip the light rail fantastic

Seattle light rail finally opens doors to passengers

Photo: wings777 via FlickrIt’s been a long time coming, but starting this Saturday, it’ll be “all aboard!” when Seattle’s light rail trains pull into the station. The Sound Transit trains will travel 14 miles from Westlake Center, in the center of downtown, south to Tukwila, two miles short of the Sea-Tac airport. By the end of the year, the trains will reach the airport. Thanks to generous Seattle voters, this $2.3 billion “starter line” will eventually reach north to the University of Washington campus (2016) and out to other suburbs like Federal Way, Overlake, and Lynnwood on a 53-mile track …

Good policy pays off

Proof of concept: Well-crafted standards spur innovation in lighting

There was an excellent article in the NY Times last Sunday, detailing the unexpected rise of super-efficient incandescent light bulbs as a result of the standard in the 2007 energy bill. The article quotes NRDC’s own lighting and electronics efficiency guru, Noah Horowitz, and really drives home an important point – well crafted standards spur innovations in energy efficiency. Back in April, Green Inc. ran a similar story on another new technology that leads me to draw the same conclusion. These technologies would not be evolving if not for the federal standard. The 2007 energy bill set this standard covering …

Going Topless

Ask Umbra on buying a convertible

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Long story short, my parents have been thinking about buying me a car since soon I will be going to University and that way, I won’t constantly be using their cars. My mom suggested a Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, which I love the look of. However, it doesn’t appear to be very environmentally friendly. I didn’t do a lot of research since I don’t really understand all the car terms, but the website I checked said that the Mini Cooper was a lot more eco-friendly for about the same price. I was just …

HAVEN'T GONE COUNTRY

Farm City author cuts the foodie-elite snobbery from urban farming

Food writer and urban farmer Novella Carpenter is everything the elitist, foodie stereotype is not: she squat-farms near downtown Oakland, Calif., dumpster-dives to feed her rabbits, and offers to show anyone who still thinks otherwise exactly “what urban farming smells like.” Novella Carpenter and cute baby animals today, dinner tomorrow.Photo: Courtesy of Novella CarpenterIn Seattle while touring for her new book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, Carpenter took a few minutes to give Grist the low-down-and-dirty on the up-and-coming trend of urban farming. From roof-top gardens to city chickens, an increasing number of city slickers are becoming …

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