Living

Cities

Getting their fair share: The rise of the barter market [VIDEO]

Barter markets — where people bring stuff they don’t want and exchange it for stuff that other people don’t want — are like urban sustainability Swiss Army knives. It’s amazing how many things they can do. They reduce the amount …

Green Living Tips

The great unwashed: Ask Umbra on twice-weekly showers

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, My two sons, age 12, shower twice a week, with prompting. I told them most Americans shower daily, and one of them stated flatly, “That’s crazy. It’s wasteful.” Now, I am all …

Business & Technology

Buy new sunglasses, save someone’s sight in the developing world

Men and women probably do make passes at people who use their sunglasses purchase to provide someone in the developing world with vision surgery, eye care, or glasses. Okay, the scansion needs a little work, but the point is that …

Green Living Tips

Too good to be true: biodegradable forks

Methane spoils everything. Natural gas drilling would be less risky if it didn't have the potential to release clouds of methane into the atmosphere. Methane cow farts make even grass-fed beef a less-green option than no beef at all. And …

Green Home

How to stay cool for next to nothing

Central AC is for suckers. Why are you cooling every inch of your house, even the dust bunnies under the couch, when the only part that actually needs to be cooled is your body? Having endured, sans air conditioning, countless …

Green Living Tips

Ask Umbra’s Book Club announces ‘The Joy of Less’ is next book

Dearest readers, Spring cleaning has gotten me thinking about de-cluttering — and the larger minimalist movement. It sure feels great to get rid of things we no longer use or need, but what’s to stop us from just filling up …

Climate & Energy

EPA critics are hogging the air time

According to a Media Matters report, cable news channels are flooding the airwaves with people who oppose the EPA's rules regulating greenhouse gases: They get four times as much airtime as supporters. Of 199 guests discussing EPA rules on cable …

Food

Contaminated compost? Toxins might be lurking in that bag you’re about to buy

Do you know what’s in your compost?The growing number of municipal and commercial composting operations has been one of the few bright spots in the environmental landscape, from San Francisco’s curbside composting service to this industrial-scale composting facility in Delaware. …

Cities

Websites help you choose a walkable, low-commute home

Looking for an apartment involves a lot of guesswork — if you believe Craigslist, absolutely everything is "steps from shopping and transportation!" If you want to figure out how to maximize walkability and minimize commute, you have to actually schlep …