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Strangers in the backyard

Why save the planet if you don’t know who lives here?

There were plenty of depressing numbers out there this Earth Day, from dwindling numbers of moose in Minnesota to ongoing honey bee decline. But to me, this takes the Prozac-frosted cake: a study found that while young people could identify a thousand corporate logos, they couldn't identify even a handful of plants and animals in their backyards. Will future generations care about protecting the planet if they can't even pick a starling out of a lineup? How can we start to change that? The No Child Left Inside Coalition has a simple idea: get 'em outside:

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Ontario plans to ban garden pesticides

Photo: Laura Gibb The province of Ontario plans to ban the sale and use of garden pesticides. The legislation would keep lawn-owners in Canada's most populous province from using more than 70 chemicals present in more than 300 products. Critics cry double standard, though, as Ontario's golf courses, farms, and forests would be exempt from the ban. If approved, Ontario's pesticide regulations will be the toughest in North America -- which really isn't saying much, since the only other North American province or state with any sort of pesticide ban is Quebec. One day after Ontario introduced the ban, Home …

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Umbra on planning a lawn

Umbra, I'm not a big fan of lawns, but I do want some nice grass cover on at least part of my yard, especially the steep slope on the side of the house. I was looking into native grass species, but from what I've found so far the warm weather grasses native to the Northeast are more like hay than the stuff on a typical lawn. Should I just suck it up and buy some grass seed, or do you have a better idea? Dennis Hopatcong, N.J. Dearest Dennis, A lawn has its place in the American Life. As long …

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Join the Flock

Browse the web like an eco-chic geek

The eco-revolution will not be televised. This time, it's on the web in the form of a sleek new web browser at Flock.com. If you want to keep tabs on the latest green scene while staying caught up on whatever your friends are doing, then the Flock Eco browser is all you need. Based on the Mozilla/Firefox setup, Flock allows you to be logged into all your social networks at once -- Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, etc. -- while at the same time collecting your fave green media and RSS feeds in one place. Because Grist is partnering with Flock …

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More Pollan blogging: morals vs. values

Everyday choices depend more on culture, infrastructure, economics, and values

I see Maywa beat me to the "I really like Michael Pollan, but ... " post. I too was disappointed with Pollan's answer to the question of "Why Bother?" As in, why bother taking personal steps to reduce one's contribution to climate change? I will say this, though: the article did sharpen my thinking about why I think we should bother. One of the things I've always admired about Pollan's writing is his knack for delivering sly polemic that hangs equally on scientific arguments and common sense. It's a neat trick that makes simple acts like reading an ingredients label …

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Virtual water, part 2

Interactive poster from German designer

German designer Timm Kekeritz took the "virtual water" data that Sarah posted about from Waterfootprint.org and created this cool interactive poster. We featured Timm's work in the February issue of Seed (not online, but Treehugger wrote about it), which prompted me to order a giant paper version of the double-sided poster. With one side devoted to "footprints of nations" and the other side showing the water "inside" products, this enormous and graphically riveting wall-hanging makes a very cool, if intimidating, addition to any interior décor.

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Quit recycling

Celebrate Earth Day by ditching annoying green clichés

I'm all about the three R's that have been the standby of every Earth Day since 1970: reduce, reuse, recycle. Got it. Even so, this Earth Day, I'm beseeching the world to do the unthinkable: stop recycling ... those annoying green clichés, that is. I think it's gee-golly-swell that environmental issues have started gaining such mainstream momentum recently, but if I read, see, or hear another overly trite use of "It is/is not easy being green!" or "An Inconvenient X," I think I'll start puking mini green recycling symbols. And enough already with the "Make every day Earth Day!" e-cards …

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Putting a bounty of paper towels to the test

Are your paper towels poisoning the planet? OK, I admit it: it's not the sexiest product to test. Hard as I tried to convince a recent pair of weekend houseguests to take part in my experiments, they left without touching a single sheet. But paper towels are an everyday item that can make a big impact -- not just on your countertops, but on the planet. (And hey, we can't all get the beer-tasting gig.) Conventional paper processing is intensive -- not only does the quest for virgin fiber lead to massive deforestation, but the manufacturing process typically involves chlorine, …

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Pollan envy

For people involved in the TV business, I imagine watching The Wire -- David Simon's novelistic depiction of big-city dysfunction on HBO -- generates mixed feelings. On one hand: Damn that's good. On the other: Damn. That's really good. It makes what once seemed excellent appear merely adequate; what was once adequate now worthless. It has transcended its medium and made those still laboring within its received limitations seem ... diminished. That's how I feel when I read essays by Michael Pollan. Take his cover piece in New York Times Magazine's current green issue: "Why Bother?" It is profound, but …

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