Living

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: Breath-catching edition

They’re not just poems, they’re vaguely educational poems! Check ‘em out. After the fence-jump frenzy, this week is sweet relief.Bill passed! And all react to that with gasps of disbelief. Just breathe.Yet as it was each time the bill got closer to the floor,We must remember that it’s in for hurdles, many more. The good news is the Democrats could soon be pulling rank inClimate votes, thanks to the win of Senator Al Franken. But back to now: assaults are spat at all the House “defectors” Malkin and Beck berate, while Rush randomly hectors. They hardly even cared that California …

Contain Your Excitement

Ask Umbra on moving boxes

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I will be moving soon, and a friend suggested buying cheap but durable plastic storage bins with lids as an alternative to traditional moving boxes (or whatever empty boxes I can find from local stores). The idea is appealing, especially for a lot of stuff that I typically keep stored in closets or my basement, because I wouldn’t have to unpack when I get to my new home. But I’m sure there has to be an alternative to plastic when it comes to storage bins. What are the alternatives for lidded storage …

Size does matter

Starbucks brews global green-building plan, renovates Seattle shop

Photo: Sarah van SchagenStroll into the newly renovated Starbucks coffeehouse in Seattle’s University Village and the décor may feel more familiar than you’d expect. The menu boards are made from the chalkboards you may have scribbled on at nearby Garfield High School; the shelving is from old bleachers you may have sat upon; the leather accents near the bar are from your old shoes and car seats; and the ash-wood community table that stretches the length of the store and patio (one-third of it is outside) is salvaged from a tree that fell in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. It’s part of …

How about... "prosumer"?

Stop calling Americans “consumers”

I was at a small meeting on peak oil Friday – Executive Summary:  We’re peaking now! James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, was there.  He is in the Mad Max/Lovelock/Wall-E school of dystopia, and so I have a number of disagreements with him (see “Why I don’t agree with James Kunstler about peak oil and the “end of suburbia“). He did, however, say one thing that really strike a chord.  He said we should stop calling Americans “consumers.”  It pigeonholes all Americans and also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That seems to me a reasonable point, and I will endeavor …

Heavy on the Ice, Light on the Cream

A review of six non-dairy ice creams

This is part two of a two-part series on organic ice cream; see our previous review of conventional, dairy-based ice creams by Tom Philpott. Cow juice alternative?The Sheppard family has what you might call an ice cream problem. When I was 8 and my brother was 5, we went to Disney World. After a day of themepark excitement, my brother started walking with a pronounced limp. My mother asked him what was wrong. “My leg hurts,” he replied. “I need Mickey Mouse ice cream.” Another time, when I was about 12, my father lurched up from his chair in our …

Tuning in

Rothbury Music Festival rocks sustainability mission

Photo: kuba425 via FlickrWhile your standard summer music festival may consider its primary mission to be “rocking out,” the Rothbury Music Festival being held this weekend in Michigan states its purpose to be “harnessing the spirit of the music festival community into a durable social movement.” Then again, Rothbury isn’t your standard summer music festival. The festival organizers consider it a “party with a purpose,” and for the most part, that purpose — as showcased by their greening initiatives and educational events — is sustainability. Now, this is not to say there won’t be rocking out; headliners this year include …

Handle With Care

Ask Umbra on moving cross-country

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, We have to move a small apartment from New York to LA. We can rent a diesel truck that gets 8-12 mpg (yikes — but the best we could find) OR sell the furniture, ship some stuff, and fly. Both options are about the same price, but which is more environmentally friendly (considering airplane pollution, waste of dumping and buying new stuff)? Is there any other cheap and green solution? Much obliged! SarahNew York A. Dearest Sarah, Are you chasing your dream of making it in show business, or just trying to …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: OMG They’re Voting! edition

This week’s poem features dubious meter and indubitable passion. Fritter some time away by checking out a few previous climate poems. All eyes are on Waxman-Markey this week.From the orbs of ObamaTo the peepers of the meek. I’m just beside myself!Will it pass, is it lame, should we love it anyway?Did the Ag folks make it worse?Were they just making hay? So many questions on a solitary bill.So many argumentsEcho from the Hill. While ACES seems to freeze us all, the world’s still turning.Hopers have to Cope.Coal keeps burning. Gordon wants to start a fund, in dollars or in pounds.And …

He was a lover, not a fighter

A reading from the book of Jackson

I never cared for Michael Jackson. I’m just going to get that out of the way right now. He entered my fourth-grade consciousness as a zipper-sporting pop star burnt by Pepsi, and it just got weirder from there. The face heard round the world.murilo campos via flickrBut now I find I can’t stop thinking about him. His impact. His astonishing role as global ambassador. Disturbingly thin, oddly hued, possibly pedophilic global ambassador — but global ambassador nonetheless. Look at those fifty shows in London that were supposed to kick off next month: they sold out in less than a day, …

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