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Umbra on corporate holiday cards

Dear Umbra, My company wants to send out holiday cards each year, but I find it wasteful, especially because of the increased transportation load on the post office. What could we do instead? Cindy Truckee, Calif. Dearest Cindy, A stumper. I can think of three choices: No cards, paper cards, and email cards. Is tradition stacked against you? Photo: churl Businesses send holiday cards to show appreciation, remind clients of their existence, and generally keep clients a-clienting, right? Replacing holiday cards with nothing at all does not help a business meet any of these goals, so I think we will …

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NYC considers crackdown on plastic bags

New to the plastic bag-bannin' bandwagon: New York City.

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Organic food healthier than non-organic, research finds

Who woulda thunk: Organic food is healthier than pesticide-ridden food, according to preliminary results of a four-year study funded by the European Union. Researchers found that organic nosh contained more antioxidants (yum!) and less fatty acids (ew!) than non-organic. Organic milk was found to have up to 80 percent more antioxidants than conventional cow juice, as well as higher amounts of vitamin E. Organic wheat, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, and lettuce had up to 40 percent more antioxidants than their conventional counterparts, and potatoes, kiwi fruit, and carrots were found to have higher levels of vitamin C. The research has yet …

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From Spooky to Spendy

Mask your excitement Are you ready for a green Halloween, boos and ghouls? Get freaky with a pumpkin keg and vegan gingerbread massacre. We're thinking about trick-or-treating as Cameron Diaz again, but maybe we'll actually wear a costume this year. Photo: keith rocka A history of violence The Italian mafia has turned to environmental crime (because horse heads are so 1972). In other news, lead exposure may increase crime rates. Just give us back Dora, boys, and nobody else gets hurt. Photo: iStockphoto Mattel it like it is Decapitated-Barbie jewelry: fun and fashionable? Or a gateway drug to this? Photo: …

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Colleges graded on sustainability

The Sustainable Endowment Institute has released its second College Sustainability Report Card, grading the environmentaliciousness of the 200 U.S. colleges with the largest endowments. Two-thirds of the schools received better grades this time around; the average overall grade was a C+, with six schools receiving an overall A- for their efforts. The colleges were graded on transportation, administration, climate and energy, food and recycling, green building, and investment priorities, as well as endowment transparency and shareholder engagement (both of which most schools solidly failed). Among the encouraging statistics: Around half of the schools have committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, more …

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Pediatrician identifies five foods for parents to buy organic

Like the sound of organic food but don't have the wherewithal to overhaul your entire pantry? Parents should focus their funds on organic milk, potatoes, peanut butter, ketchup, and apples, says pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene. But that doesn't mean you're allowed to mash those five foods together and call it a healthy dinner.

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NYT revs up special package on cars

The New York Times published a gazillion-story special section on autos today, with many articles covering the green angle. Read up about General Motors' electric dreams, the difficulty facing Hummer marketers, waterless car washes, and more.

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Umbra on dishwashing and droughts

Dear Umbra, I am trying to be so much more green than I used to be, so your column has helped me with the nagging questions. Now I wonder about living in a drought-stricken state with water restrictions and bulging landfills. Saturday I had a wedding shower for a dear niece and invited many women relatives. I decided to forgo convenience and served everything on beautiful plates, no paper plates, no plastic silverware, no plastic cups. It was lovely, and it felt more environmentally correct than usual family gatherings which create a mountain of garbage. Plus, it didn't seem to …

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Less hunters mean less funding for conservation, states find

Many states are lamenting the declining population of a valuable species: the American hunter. Funds from hunting licenses and fees are generally directed to wildlife conservation; while the need to maintain habitat for wild critters isn't going to go away anytime soon, the number of sportsfolk in the U.S. has declined by some 35 percent since 1975. States are taking measures to boost hunter populations, including allowing novice adults to try hunting without a license, shortening safety courses, and, in Oregon, instituting a Mentored Youth Hunter Program. We hear Dick Cheney's application to be a mentor was, sadly, denied. source:

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Home lead-testing kits unreliable, says study

If you rushed out to buy a home lead-testing kit when all of Junior's toys were recalled, hope you saved the receipt: a new study says that over-the-counter kits, usually used to test paint, aren't reliable for playthings. The Consumer Product Safety Commission put 104 kits to the test and found that 56 failed to detect lead in toys, while two overachievers warned of the heavy metal where it didn't exist. Concludes the CPSC, "Based on the study, consumers should not use lead test kits to evaluate consumer products for potential lead hazards."

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