Fact Finding Missions

Ask Umbra on comparing green products

Q. Dear Umbra, I am a consumer who has recently convinced a friend of mine to green his business. I am now in charge of doing all of the research. My question is, how do I go about assessing the life cycle of various products? … Do you know of such a service/website? I have tried to Google things but it is very hard to get side by side comparisons. Also, do you know of a good website that rates random products according to their environmental impact? Tamara A.Munich, Germany Data, people. We need data.iStockA. Dearest Tamara, Welcome to my …

Larder starter

The non-survivalist’s guide to stocking up for hard times

Dear Lou,As a resident of South Mississippi, I think it is officially time to stock my swine flu/tornado/hurricane/foreign invasion pantry. How do I do this without filling it with a bunch of processed crap, but still manage to stock away flavorful and nutritious staples? Kelly S. Dear Kelly,This particular swine flu pandemic–which may or may not be linked to factory farms–doesn’t appear to pose much of a public-health menace. But it reminds us of an old lesson: chaos happens. Regarding pandemics, our very own government advises people to keep two weeks’ worth of supplies on hand, which is truly the …

So Long, Saturn

I sold my car, and I couldn’t be happier … I think

It’s all yours.iStockI recently committed a subversive act: I sold my car, and I’m not buying a new one. I’d thought that I’d feel virtuous and free — and I do — but it’s turned out to be a bit more complicated than that. Never too attached to my particular car, I considered it transportation, not a reflection of who I am. My job as an environmental reporter has taught me about the hazards of car ownership, from pollution and materials waste to sprawling, disconnected communities to oil politics — even obesity. Yet in spite of living for 14 years …

One Word, Infinite Possibilities

Plastic bags get a new life in Jerusalem

Read more about Eric Pallant’s West Bank wanderings in his story about keynoting a green-building conference there. There is a hamsin today, so the wind is whipping hot Saharan air and dust across the landscape. Despite the limited visibility, I can see that the cities that string south back from Ramallah, where I lectured at Birzeit University, to Jerusalem are well-kept and orderly. Palestinian military personnel stand in pairs every few miles. There is no trash in the street or in yards. Tall apartment buildings are tidy; no laundry is hanging from windows the way it does in Israeli tenements. …

Love Your Mother(s)

Gobs of green ideas for Mother’s Day

Look, Ma, no pesticides!iStock OK, it’s one thing to say Screw Earth Day, but there are some holidays you just don’t toy with. We know enough to leave Mother’s Day alone. You don’t have to pull this car over. In honor of the day, we hereby present great green gift ideas for ma. Not that you still need a gift, what with having procured the perfect item several weeks ago. But, you know, just in case: Check out our exclusive Mother’s Day eco-gift guide, covering everything from totes to treats Find out why you should buy organic flowers (and really …

The Grist List

From Uranus to You’re Welcome

Fancy pants These little eco-friendly “soy shorts” are made from tofu by-products, allowing you to help save planet earth starting with Uranus. (Click below to see the next item in this week’s Grist List—or view them all on a single page.)

Flushed Away

For some eco-pioneers, solving the sludge problem means getting their hands dirty

Part 3 of Grist’s special series on poop. Laura Allen, a 33-year-old teacher from Oakland, California, has a famous toilet. To be honest, it’s actually a box, covered in decorative ceramic tiles, sitting on the cement floor of her bathroom like a throne. No pipes lead to or from it; instead, a bucket full of shavings from a local wood shop rests on the box next to the seat with a note instructing users to add a scoopful after making their “deposit.” Essentially an indoor outhouse, it’s a composting toilet, a sewerless system that Allen uses to collect her household’s …

Where in the world is the junk wall?

Behind the scenes at Fortune Brainstorm Green 2009

What’s better than attending the Fortune Brainstorm Green 2009 and hearing Ford Chairman Bill Ford and Founder and CEO of A Better Place Shai Agassi speak? Shaking hands with Former President Bill Clinton, of course!  Not too shabby for a couple of days in Orange County.  Beyond the speakers and the networking, the artistic angle of the conference was phenomenal. “Ultimately, it was the most comfortable and eye-pleasing conference I’ve ever attended.” Herman Miller Who would have thought that a chair could be chique, ergonomic, and green all at the same time? Herman Miller did. “One of Fortune’s Most Admired …

Zac and Forth

Catching up with eco-model Summer Rayne Oakes

We first profiled Summer Rayne Oakes in 2006, introducing readers to a belly-baring, sludge-loving 22-year-old with “superhuman ambition” and a moniker that was just too fitting to be made up. Since then, Oakes has been a loyal friend to Grist; she’s done occasional fashion blogging for us, and she participated in one of our fundraising appeals. Now, a month shy of her 25th birthday, she’s almost too busy to breathe. This spring saw the launch of a shoe line and a book, and she has spoken at venues ranging from the Fashion Institute of Technology to the Fair Trade Expo …