Living

Our Work's Not Finished

Screw Earth Day? Not so fast

Earth Day, to be observed for the 40th time on April 22, ranks just below motherhood and ahead of baseball and apple pie on the American cultural hit parade. Gaylord Nelson.Photo: Fritz AlbertWorldwide, organizers say a billion people will observe Earth Day this year, making it the largest secular civic event in the world. So why doesn’t it get more respect? “Screw Earth Day,” says Grist. We should live every day like it’s Earth Day, not just be on our best environmental behavior once a year. Wouldn’t that be nice? In an ideal world, every day would be Earth Day …

Give it up

Volunteer for the planet

Tip #8: Pimp yourself out for the planet. Take time out to volunteer with an environmental organization, and give the greatest gift of all: your fine self. We’re not just talking about a one-night stand here; we’re looking for commitment. A relationship, even. After all, it takes gajillions of dedicated volunteers and their sustained efforts to support the environmental and social causes that keep the world going ’round.  To get started, flip open your planner and assess how much time you have to offer. Make it a habit to donate one hour a week, one day a month, or even …

April Powers

EPA announces collegiate Green Power winners; competition fails to change power buying habits

The Ivy League is the greenest of them all, according to the EPA, which today announced the college and university winners of the Green Power challenge — a competition to motivate American schools to purchase more renewable energy. Participating schools compete within their athletic conferences to purchase the most certified green power, but conferences only qualify if each purchases more than 10 million kWh in aggregate.  University of Washington.The Ivies, anchored by University of Pennsylvania’s purchase of 192 million kWh, chalked up the best conference performance, purchasing a total of 225 million kWh of green power. Here in the Pacific …

Sound the alarm

Frontline explores “Poisoned Waters” of Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay

Photo: ehpien via Flickr.Views like this are one of the reasons we Seattleites suffer through our long, cloudy, rainy fallwinterspring season. But the beauty can be quite deceptive. Beneath that reflective surface flow poisoned waters, contaminated with chemicals from agricultural runoff, prescription meds, cosmetics, industrial pollutants, and more — reflections, you might say, of modern life. “The irony is that everybody looks at that [picturesque] scene and thinks that it’s great; everything is right with the world in Elliott Bay,” says scuba diver Mike Racine. “But in point of fact, not 100 feet away from where they are drinking a …

The green issue

The New York Times Magazine’s take on environmentalism is more interesting than most

It’s Earth Week, so the MSM is trotting out its obligatory parade of environmental coverage. The New York Times Magazine‘s green issue is better than most. Check it out: The cover story by Jon Gerter asks, Why isn’t the brain green? “Scientists are trying to figure out why it’s so hard for us to get into a green mind-set. Their answers may be more crucial than any technological advance in combating environmental challenges.” Deborah Solomon interviews Energy Secretary Steven Chu (and she’s less abrasive and irritating than usual). Jon Mooallem profiles Sandpoint, Idaho, which is trying to see the bright …

Take a Gamble

The business of Earth Day

Len SauersProcter & GambleDoes Earth Day still matter? Sure, it does — absolutely. But the reason for the day should have evolved for all of us. Instead of simply planting a new seedling and moving on, we should be looking at Earth Day in a new light. Earth Day should no longer be a jump-start to action, activism, and awakening. We all need to be far beyond that. Instead, Earth Day should now be about: celebrating with our employees, communities, and leading companies what we’ve done through the course of the year and what we plan for the future; thanking …

Environmental Organizing as Solution to Family Discord

This weekend, The New York Times Magazine ran as its cover story an article entitled “Why Isn’t the Brain Green?” (i.e. why humans don’t generally make environmental choices automatically, even though it’s good for us in the long term). And a front page Monday story in The Washington Post, chronicled how “going green” could lead to discord in families as, for example, one spouse wanted the heat on and another wanted to shiver for the planet. “You’re kind of in a perpetual state of feeling like you’re not measuring up,” said Janet Tupper, 50, of Cheverly, who is still happily …

Make a list, check it twice

Pare down the pesticides

Tip #7: Be a picky eater. Pare down the pesticides in your diet (without cutting too far into your food budget) by focusing your organic purchases on the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies that tend to be chem-laden to the core. Buying local and organic as often as possible is a good way to help the planet and, more importantly, your health, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the easiest on your wallet. Organic foods can cost twice as much as conventional goods, but not all organics are created equal. Put a paltry paycheck to good use by being picky …

Push My Buttons

Umbra advises on elevators

Q. Dear Umbra, Every time I bring a load of groceries back to the condo, I contemplate the energy and number of trips required to get everything upstairs three stories. If I think I can do it in two trips, I do, but on occasion I succumb and catch a ride. How much energy does an elevator trip use? Mike B.Calgary, Alberta A. Dearest Mike, Not much. Elevators themselves consume somewhere between 3-10 percent of a building’s total energy, but our individual rides are not the shocking waste one might assume. Readers, we are late arrivals to the elevator worry …