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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be efficiently lit

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is up; once it's lit on Nov. 28, we can no longer deny that The Holiday Season is in full swing. We can, however, ogle the tree guilt-free, as the towering evergreen will be lit by energy-efficient LED bulbs and powered in part by solar energy.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Umbra on reheating coffee

Dear Umbra, As a web developer for a certain respectable online magazine somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, I drink a lot of coffee to keep me alert and my very demanding employers happy. However, in my constant imbibing of the dark elixir, I'm concerned about the energy use involved. Specifically, I can only drink coffee piping hot, and sometimes when I take a break from being wired and resume my regimen, what little coffee is left is ice cold. So I toss out the chilly remainder (about one-fourth of the original pot) and put in another pitcher of water. So …

Read more: Food, Living

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NBC’s vast green wasteland

What a dud NBC's Green Week turned out to be. I thought that: The shows would find clever ways to promote green themes. This would launch NBC on its way to becoming greener. Not! Indeed, the only good news is that the shows bombed across the board. Looks like viewers aren't suckered by greenwashing. As for No. 2, you can't even find a single reference to being green on nbc.com today (you have to click on the tiny "corporate info" item at the bottom, and then look for the "Green is Universal" link under Headlines). But, amazingly, what you will …

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Are you brave enough to say no to a high-stress holiday?

The problem with Christmas is not the batteries. The problem isn't even really the stuff. The problem with Christmas is that no one much likes it anymore. Start thinking outside the cart. Photo: iStockphoto If you poll Americans this time of year, far more of them regard the approaching holidays with dread than anticipation. It has long since become too busy, too expensive, too centered around acquiring that which we do not need. In fact, it's the perfect crystallization of the American economy -- the American consumer experience squeezed into a manic week, a week that people find themselves hoping …

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10 great ideas for “stuff-free” holiday gifts

So you want to give ... nothing to your loved ones this holiday season? Or at least nothing that'll end up on a dusty shelf or in a landfill? Consider these stuff-free gift alternatives. Tangible gifts are so 20th century. Photo: iStockphoto Purchase carbon offsets Plane flights during the holidays can be packed with irritations: crying babies, sick people hacking and coughing around you, passengers invading your personal space. But the biggest irritation might be outside the plane: all those greenhouse-gas emissions are giving the planet a serious migraine. Help your loved ones feel less guilty by offsetting the emissions …

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Celebrate Buy Nothing Day on Friday; no purchase necessary

Thousands of people the world over plan to celebrate what's usually the biggest shopping day of the year by ... not buying anything. That's right, it's almost time for Buy Nothing Day, celebrated Nov. 23 in the U.S. and Canada and Nov. 24 in the rest of the world, drawing attention to how easy it is to stop, drop, and not shop. The poor, the hungover, and the lazy aren't the only ones getting in on the no-buying action. Activists across the globe will be staging events at malls and sprawling superstores near you, encouraging people to take a day …

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Green products largely guilty of greenwashing, says study

A study of 1,018 "green" products from big-box stores has found that all but one were marketed with false or misleading eco-claims. Researchers from TerraChoice Environmental Marketing called out products for committing the "Six Sins of Greenwashing": a hidden tradeoff (e.g., toxin-loaded electronics touting their energy efficiency); no certifiable verification of green claims; flat-out lying about certification; vagueness (e.g., products claiming "all natural" status, which could include hazardous substances that occur naturally); irrelevance (e.g., products claiming to be CFC-free even though CFCs have long been banned); or a lesser of two evils situation (e.g. organic cigarettes). Cascade paper towels were …

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California sues over lead-tainted toys

The state of California, which never met an environmental fustercluck it didn't want to litigate, has filed a lawsuit accusing 20 companies -- including Mattel and Toys R Us -- of making or selling products containing "unlawful quantities of lead."

Read more: Living

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On organic Christmas trees

Dear Umbra, Is there such a thing as an organic Christmas tree? How chemical-intensive is conventional Christmas-tree farming? If I want a Christmas tree, what's the most eco-friendly way to go? Your fan, Lisa Seattle, Wash. Dearest Lisa, Since you are not only a fan but also my senior editor, who told me you are considering purchasing your own Christmas tree for the very first time this winter, the "Christmas spirit" has suddenly come upon me. A whole lot of trees. But are they organic? Photo: iStockphoto Lisa, there is such a thing as an organic Christmas tree, and there …

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A gift guide for eco-minded shoppers headed to big-box stores

More Advice Looking for more holiday gift ideas? Check out our past gift guides: Gifts Recommended by Grist Staff and Readers Even More Gifts Recommended by Readers Gifts for Young Folk Gifts for Every Stereotype on Your List When it comes to gift-giving this holiday season, 'twould be best to give nothing at all but experiences and bits of wisdom. But if you happen to find yourself wandering a big-box store (or you know that's where Aunt Edna does all her shopping), are there green gift options? We set out to investigate, hitting up the big-box trifecta: Target, Wal-Mart, and …

Read more: Living