Living

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 …

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 …

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.” …

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 …

14 Green Couples

It seems everyone’s going green these days — but some couples are doubly committed to the cause. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we take a look at 14 prominent pairs who share a certain planetary …

Not going carbon neutral, eh?

Canadian athletes urge Olympic committee to fulfill eco-promises

Sara Renner. Photo: Arnd Hemmersbach via Flickr Canadian Olympic skier Sara Renner depends on winter weather to do what she loves, but over the last 15 years, she's seen more unpredictable ski seasons and more races being canceled due to lack of snow. "I am concerned about the future of the sports we love," she says, "but also about the next generation of Canadians, who will be left to deal with even more serious climate change impacts if we don't act now." Renner and more than 70 other Canadian athletes recently shared these concerns with the organizing committee in charge of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. The snowboarders, speed skaters, kayakers, windsurfers, hockey players, and even a unicyclist signed their names to a letter urging the Vancouver Organizing Committee (Vanoc) to fulfill their promise to make the Games carbon neutral. The letter was sent via the David Suzuki Foundation, a science-based organization Vanoc had previously consulted for an estimate of greenhouse-gas emissions that would be produced by the Games. The foundation came up with a figure equivalent to 65,000 cars on the road for one year -- and said that nearly 70 percent of that would be due to indirect emissions from athletes, sponsors, media, and spectators flying in for the event. Although the Olympic bid organizers have said since the beginning that they wanted to fully offset the impact of the Games -- and in fact, make it the greenest ever -- Vanoc now says they do not plan to account for that air travel. And this is the point with which the 70-some athletes take offense. Below, a snip from their letter:

From Buckle to Bike

I’ll stop the world and belt with you Dear firemen, the way you swing those big, thick hoses around really gets us steamy. But now that you’ve finished spraying, do you mind helping a sister …

Umbra on gas engines and biodiesel

Dear Umbra, I take it that a conventional engine cannot be converted to biodiesel? Jann T. Helotes, Texas Dearest Jann, The short answer is no — you cannot use biodiesel in a conventional, unmodified gasoline …

Umbra on heat and pipes

Dear Umbra, In your January 6th video advice, you warn people not to set their heat below 55 degrees for fear of frozen pipes. My question is, “On what do you base the 55 degree …

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