Living

Umbra on eco-friendly detergents

Dear Umbra, Like a good guilt-ridden liberal, I’ve switched to supposed earth-friendly dish detergent. And, on the basis of previous Ask Umbra columns, I don’t rinse my dirty dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Here’s the thing: About 10 percent of items are still dirty when the dishwasher pronounces things clean. So then I rewash these items, either by hand or (perhaps futilely) in the dishwasher. Doesn’t seem terribly eco-friendly. Scott D. South Portland, Maine. Dearest Scott, No one said being an environmentalist would be a tiptoe through the tulips. There are going to be setbacks, struggles, moments when …

The Best of Grist List 2008

Or are you just soapy to see me? Man Junk: “A line of organic shampoos for the discriminating scrotum.” Members only, please. Eat your hat Tried to go whole hog, but still have leftovers? Haberdash over to this site to save your bacon. Because “one always looks neat, in a hat made from meat.” Elephant out of room Hey Ranger, Coming 2 town. Meet 4 drink @ Babar? Got junk n the trunk, IYKWIM. I’ll never forget u. Luv, Elephant. We’ll undertake ‘er Feeling deathly ill? Rest in peace on one of these slightly used sofas. Sure, they were coffins …

Umbra on homegrown meat

Dear Umbra, I try to eat as many vegetarian meals as possible, but I haven’t “gone all the way” yet, mostly because my in-laws (whom my husband and I live with at the moment) raise beef, chickens, and hunt deer; and my husband and I end up with a lot of free, locally produced meat. How does this fit in with eco-friendliness? Would it still behoove (no pun intended) me to continue to push for vegetarianism? I am by no means a meat-lover and it’s fairly easy for me to pass it up, except when it comes to eating and …

Ring in the new with a ‘natural’ bottle of bubbly

Fewer chemicals in our sparkling wines? We’ll drink to that. Nothing says festive quite like the pop of a chilled bottle of bubbly. But while sparkling wine delivers a party in a glass, things are typically less thrilling out in the field. Like most wine, bubbly tends to come from grapes grown in large monocrops — vines as far as the eye can see. And they’re more likely to be swathed in a cloud of pesticide spray than in a farmer’s careful attention. These grim conditions generally hold sway at all price points, from $5 headache bait to the brand-name …

Sweetness in Seattle

Theo Chocolate is the country’s first organic and fair-trade chocolate-maker

Photo: Sarah van Schagen Stroll into Theo Chocolate in Seattle’s artsy Fremont neighborhood, and you’re bound to feel all warm and cozy. From the freshly made confections beckoning from behind the counter to the welcoming brick fireplace and mugs of hot cocoa (a new addition this winter), the storefront offers a respite from the winter chill. But descend the stairwell into the belly of the chocolate factory on one of their daily tours — adjusting your blue hairnet along the way — and you might end up more than a little disappointed. For starters, there are no chocolate waterfalls. There …

Umbra on children’s art supplies

Hey Umbra, I’ve got a niece with a second birthday coming up and I’d like to get her a present that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer or TV. So, I thought, how about an art set? What better way to get those creative juices going at an early age than some finger paint and crayons? But crayons must have some crazy toxins in them, and what about finger paint … do I need to be concerned? I’ve heard about veggie paints, but don’t know where one can find them — or how to make them. Ideas please! …

The unbearable maleness of green

NYT op-ed says mostly men will benefit from green jobs

Green jobs are great — if you’re a dude, says a recent New York Times op-ed by Linda Hirshman: It turns out that green jobs are almost entirely male … especially in the alternative energy area. A broad study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new jobs in any green area are in engineering, a field that is only 12 percent female, or in the heavily male professions of law and consulting; the rest are in such traditional male areas as manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry. And like companies that build roads, alternative energy firms …

That's what he said ...

Foodie lessons from Dwight K. Shrute

A brilliant blogger has assembled a list of food and frugality tips gathered from Dwight K. Shrute, assistant to the regional manager at The Office‘s Dunder Mifflin paper company. Below, a few gems: DWIGHT SAYS: “My grandfather left me a 60-acre working beet farm. I run it with my cousin Mose. We sell beets to the local stores and restaurants. It’s a nice little farm … sometimes teenagers use it for sex.”DWIGHT MEANS: Buy local.Not only does it support neighborhood farmers (who need security to keep randy kids away), but food that’s shipped from nearby tastes better, is better for …

From Carols to Condoms

Jingle bells, clean coal smells Click here. Discover wintry-clothed, googly-eyed coal carolers. Hear frosty lyrics like “There must have been some magic in clean coal technology, for when they looked for pollutants there was nearly none to see.” Vomit. Repeat. Buckling under pressure On the heels of the economic downturn, seems NatPo’s vegan Mary Janes have been shoe’d off the market. Was she a victim of ecoflation or was the priceyness just a step in the wrong direction? (Hey, if the shoe fits …) Shiver me timbres! What to do with all that ice once you no longer need it …

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