Living

From Orgasm to Oscar

Llama sutra Good: Making sex-toy deliveries by bike. Better: Promising to come within the hour. Best: Calling yourself the Kinky Llama. Oh you NASA boy Dear former Apollo astronaut/current climate-change denier, you remind us of that space cadet who chased her ex-lover around in a diaper. Must be something in the air up there, eh? Soda fountains of youth Ah, remember when we sweetened things with sugar and Michael Pollan had nothing to bitch about? Pepsi does too! So drink up, America — the corn syrup comes back June 14. Green is the new irony How best to assert your …

Remake your living

Tips for landing a green job

Ah, the daily grind: An endless progression of dreary days with that pathetic guy in the next cubicle who spends half his time complaining and the other half in loud personal conversations for which the phrase “too much information” was invented. And that boss of yours? One shudders. But fear not. You can remake your living and land a green job — all in one fell swoop. Here are some career-planning basics to get you started. Got goals? One-year periods are just about perfect for career planning. Annual plans are just long enough to accommodate multiple projects that require lots …

Sales figured

Survey finds Americans still want earth-friendly products during recession

A survey released Wednesday confirms that Americans remain interested in buying environmentally responsible products even during the recession. Conducted by Boston communications firm Cone Inc., the finding is the latest in a string of surveys drawing cheery conclusions about green spending. According to Cone, about 34 percent of 1,087 adult consumers said they are more likely to buy green-leaning products in the current economic climate, while 44 percent said their environmental shopping habits have not changed because of the economy. Only eight percent said they were less likely to buy earth-friendly products due to the downturn. The survey — whose …

Umbra on beer and wine

Hi Umbra, Due to, among other things, (organic) beer, I ended up in a rather heated discussion on the environment the other day. I’m wondering if you could help clear up a couple of these more or less classic micro-level questions. Which is more environmentally friendly: lighting a cigarette with a match or a lighter? (And how bad is smoking from an environmental point of view anyway?) After hand wash: paper towel or air dryer? Paper cup of coffee or good old ceramics? Wine or beer? Kjetil M. Oslo, Norway Dearest Kjetil, Organic beer: so pure it makes drinkers forget …

From Nukes to Nincompoops

Fallout girl Meet Alyona Kirsanova of Novovoronezh. She likes long walks on the beaches of Three Mile Island and thinks nuclear fusion is hot. But will she be crowned Miss Atom 2009? We can hardly contain our excitement. Personal ads we can believe in “In search of patriotic, busy, Chicago-Hawaiian man, must like basketball and know how to do the fist bump. I saw you on TV. You said ‘Yes we can’ and talked about a clean energy future. Meet me in Canada and we’ll sweep aside the world’s dirtiest oil, the Tar Sands, and make sweet climate change solutions …

A decadent chocolate cake for your sweetie, minus the animal products

In the many years I worked in the restaurant world, Valentine’s Day meant whipping up confections for other people’s sweethearts. The pressure was steep: People scramble for reservations on the romantic holiday, and desserts are expected to impress. This year, I’ll be at home — and focusing on a Valentine’s Day sweet for my very own Valentine. I knew the dessert would have to be chocolate, and it would be a huge boon if was also dairy-free, because Phil, like millions of others, has difficulty digesting lactose. I also knew that he prefers cakes to pies, puddings, tortes, or even …

Umbra on bamboo origins

Dear Umbra, Sustainably grown bamboo is a very good choice for fabrics. But how does the consumer know it is harvested sustainably? After all, some bamboo is clear cut from old-growth stands. Even in cultivated bamboo there are some very unsustainable practices (for instance, harvesting too young). How can you know if the bamboo fabric you are buying is harvested sustainably? Gar L. Olympia, Wash. Dearest Gar, Telepathy is the only way. Close your eyes, put your hand on the fabric, and let a vision of a Giant Panda come in to your mind. If the panda is frolicking, all …

The rundown on eco-friendly ice melt

Shovel more, salt less.   In my family, perhaps in every family, there are stories so apocryphal that a simple phrase becomes a stand-in for the whole tale. One of ours is “salting the plants.” That refers to the time my mother, a high-school student prone to merry pranks, snuck in to her school dining hall at night and, well, salted the plants. Needless to say, the plants did not respond well to said prank; nor did my mother’s teachers, and her punishment was swift. If there’s one lesson I took from that story, it’s this: Man, the ’50s were …

Umbra on composting tainted food

Dear Umbra, This tainted peanut butter recall is crazy. I have a box of crackers with peanut butter. Can I safely compost them in my hot compost pile? Jane Vallejo, Calif. Dearest Jane, Let me first say I am very sad for those who have been killed in this outbreak. My deepest sympathies to their families. There’s no reason anyone should be killed by food in these modern times. It’s outrageous. Put the cracker down and slowly back away. As of this writing, the Salmonella typhimurium was traced to the Peanut Corporation of America, of course in Georgia, which mainly …

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