Thar She Blows

A nosy review of recycled facial tissue

As any sensitive nose knows, the quest for facial tissues that are gentle on you -- and the earth -- is nothing to sneeze at. Is it possible to find a strong, soft schnoz-swiper that doesn't strip the forest?

Umbra on smoke detectors

Dear Umbra, How should we safely dispose of old smoke detectors? Don’t they have small amounts of radioactive material in them? We tried bringing them to our town’s recycling center, which refused them, and the board of health would not take them at the hazmat pick-up day. It seems really wrong to toss them in the trash (our trash is incinerated). If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate it. Laura S. Natick, Mass. Dearest Laura, Thank you for this letter, for I have learned much from looking into the answer. E.g.: People! Laura is right. Smoke detectors contain radioactive …

From Foxx to Foxy

Zircon man Now, we ain’t sayin’ Jamie Foxx is a gold digga. But he ain’t messin’ wit no blood diamonds, neither. Get down boy, go ‘head get down. Photo: Monica Morgan/WireImage Is that a green thumb, or are you just happy to see me? Attention men: We cannot stress the impotence, er, importance of this message enough. Grab a hoe and spend a little time gettin’ dirty every week; after sowing your seed, everything’ll come up rosy. Bob and weave Ohhh … Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! Adorning organic cotton T-shirts is he! SpongeBob SquarePants! …

Ruminations on the Obama era, with a side of spicy peanut sauce

A time for reflection (about food, of course). Photo: Caroline Härdter Even those of us in the hectic world of restaurants must occasionally take a break, and so it is that Inauguration Day found me in the High Desert north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I took the train from my home in Iowa and am now enjoying the healing waters at Ojo Caliente and reflecting on the new world we’ve entered. Much has been said about the myriad ways this milepost in history marks profound change: in matters of state, matters of race, matters of politics and compassion; and …

Umbra on gift cards

Dear Umbra, I received a gift card this holiday season from a friend to a company which I generally avoid due to its subpar eco-practices. Since my friend has already given the money to this company, do I forgo my moral objections and use the card, or is there another way I can make the most of this generosity without sacrificing my beliefs? B.S. San Diego, Calif. Dearest B.S., Alea jacta est. Your gift card is akin to scrip. If it is not redeemed, the store will be the one receiving a money-for-nothing gift. Which is probably worse than a …

Links to enviro news and more

Sundance goes green as environment takes spotlight

PARK CITY, Utah — Environmental movies with a message are taking center stage at the 25th Sundance Film Festival, with films ranging from vanishing bees and threatened dolphins being screened here. “We are ravaging the earth. We need to think how we treat our resources but more importantly how we treat the people,” said director Joe Berlinger in an interview with AFP. Berlinger’s latest documentary “Crude” in the US Documentary Competition is the riveting story of five Ecuadoran tribes as they seek justice from oil giant Chevron. “We as a society fill our gas tanks but don’t think where these …

The Grist List, 16 Jan 2009

From President to Pep

Yes, we garbage can This week, someone with designs on the future will take the old and broken and turn it shiny and new. We speak, of course, of Nancy Judd. But we've got high hopes for that other guy, too. Photo: Katie Maccauly

Umbra on raw milk

Dear Umbra, My husband was raised with milk straight from the cow that he milked himself every morning, so he and his parents are very into organic milk. However, I am concerned about the benefits/dangers of some of the milk they are giving to our toddler. Could you elaborate on the differences of non-homogenized vs. homogenized, non-pasteurized vs. pasteurized, and any issues/benefits of drinking milk that is from a local farm but does not follow FDA regulations? Meaning it can’t legally be sold to you because it doesn’t follow all of the processing regulations that are required for milk to …

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