Living

Green Home

Greening Barbie’s Dream House

Architect Barbie is building a new Dream House, and she needs help! Members of the American Institute of Architects can submit plans that fit Barbie's criteria, which include a house that "should reflect the best sustainable design principles." But Barbie's …

Green Home

Dim bulbs: Umbra on the supposed dangers of CFLs

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, My sister recently posted a story about CFLs causing cancer to her Facebook feed. Is there anything to this latest attempt to vilify the little lamps? Brian Spokane, Wash. Are these maybe …

Living

How to build a better playground

This story was written by Shanti Menon. In her new book Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, Berkeley-based environmental planner Sharon Danks explores the ways in which landscape design, architecture, child development, and nutrition converge in the schoolyard. …

Cities

How commuting can ruin your marriage

At least in Sweden, people who have a long-distance commute are 40 percent more likely to separate or divorce. That’s the finding of Erika Sandow, a Swedish social geographer who studied more than two million partnered commuters for her dissertation …

Green Living Tips

Mushrooms make short work of dirty diapers

As a sustainability solution, cloth diapers were never fun. Even the most eco-minded have been known to quail in front of a pail of soiled nappies. But a team of researchers has come up with an excuse for switching back …

Business & Technology

Turn your car into a car-share

So you’ve successfully reduced your car usage, and now you have this hunk of metal sitting around outside your house, like a garden gnome that needs annual emissions inspections. Why not share it, and maybe make some money? Car-sharing service …

Pollution

Worried about radiation in breast milk? Still best to keep breast-feeding

How can we best protect the wee ones?For survivors of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, there have been so many concerns: access to clean water and food, the need for shelter, the threat of disease. It’s the same awful list …

Scary Food

Breaking: California to vote on BPA ban today

If I find out there’s BPA in this bottle, I’m going to throw a tantrum like you’ve never seen before.The California State Assembly today will vote soon on a bill to protect our most vulnerable residents — babies and toddlers …

Green Living Tips

Cup o’ woe: Ask Umbra on single-serve coffee alternatives

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I work in an office of serious coffee drinkers. We have a Keurig single-cup coffee brewer that everyone loves because it allows them to choose their own roast and flavor. But all …