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Complaints Choir looking for members

Got good chords? Got stuff to bitch about? The first official U.S.-based Complaints Choir is forming in Chicago, and they'll be debuting on Nov. 3. The Complaints Choir is performance art -- people send in their complaints about life, the world, the environment, whatever's pissing them off, and then everyone gets together and makes a song out of them. Think the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for cynics, or at least people who are fed up with all the crap. A lot of the complaints have eco-themes -- the Finnish version of the choir notes that we've chopped down all the trees …

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What would convince you to give up your car?

Current TV wants to know

Current TV wants to know. Tell them here. And while you're at it, check out the :60 Seconds to Save the Earth Ecospot Contest on the Current site. The best short video message crafted to inspire action against climate change will win a Toyota hybrid, plus exposure on Current TV, MySpace's Impact Channel, and more. The contest is sponsored by Current TV and the Alliance for Climate Protection, in partnership with Grist.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Lead, Swallow, or Get Out of the Play

Mattel adds to recall of millions of lead-painted toys In yet another blow to Big Toy, Mattel Inc. yesterday recalled some 9 million China-made playthings. While most were sets containing potentially swallowable magnets, the toymaker also pulled 253,000 lead-painted die-cast cars. Earlier this month, Mattel pulled an additional 1.5 million toys thought to be colored with lead paint, the first time it had ever issued a recall due to that toxic substance; the dangerous-toy recall boom kicked off in June with RC2's pullback of 1.5 million lead-painted Thomas the Tank Engine trains. All of the recalled toys originated in China, …

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What's your shoe size?

You know what they say about enviros with big feet …

Each of these pairs of shoes represents a different (real) woman in a new feature at Marie Claire: "Whose Carbon Footprint Is the Smallest?" See if you can guess: THE URBAN HIPSTER "I eat out way too much. I drink bottled water. I do the club scene a lot. Am I busted?" --Nikea, 29, public defender THE MOUNTAIN MAVEN "Even my cappuccino maker and hair dryer are solar-powered." --Melissa, 33, land-conservation program manager THE GLOBE-TROTTER "I've never learned how to drive. I always use public transportation." --Josie, 26, marketing manager

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Electric cars a-comin'

Comin’ ’round the bend

Coming to a showroom near you: a $30,000 all-electric sedan with a top speed of 80mph and a range of 120 miles per charge. Why the low price? It's made in China, with cheap labor and advanced lithium ion batteries that came out of government-funded research. There's competition: Phoenix Motors has a four-door utility truck with similar performance capabilities that it's planning on selling to the public around the same time. And Tesla Motors, makers of the $100,000 all-electric Tesla Roadster which is expected to enter limited production by the end of the year, has plans to enter the sedan …

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It Only Hertz a Little

Rental and car-share companies get hip to hybrids Fueled by consumers' green interests, rental, car-service, and car-sharing companies are increasingly turning to hybrids. (Hear the collective sigh of relief from guilt-prone enviros who cringe with every tap on the rental accelerator.) Big renters Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis have all recently added several thousand Toyota Priuses and other hybrids to their fleets, and smallish company EV Rental Cars, based mainly in California, is all-hybrid. Upscale car-service companies such as L.A.-based Evo Limo and New York-based OZOcar also give low-emission rides around town. Car-sharers like Flexcar -- which has a 30 percent …

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<em>The Real World: Hollywood</em> goes green

Sign me up

This is the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in an energy-efficient house, work together, and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting green. From the press release [PDF]: The Real World house will include everything from solar energy solutions to bamboo flooring, recycled glass counters, some sustainable furniture and recycled vintage décor, energy star appliances, a solar heated swimming pool and energy efficient lighting. Additionally, Bunim-Murray Productions has taken measures to reduce its environmental impact by adopting more environmentally-sound production practices on set. They also are working …

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The Ditty Bops

A green band that’s really green

Last week, headed to the Lanesplitter for a Tune-Up, quite by accident I ended up seeing the Ditty Bops at the Freight and Salvage. I'm glad I did. The music was sweet and smart and catchy. But music aside, the show was eye-opening. Bono, step aside: Here's the new standard for what it means for musicians to engage in activism. At Vote Solar, we are periodically invited to table at shows where big name acts have decided to incorporate an activism component to their tour. It's kind of them to do -- but unless the artist is willing to talk …

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On the Ball: Actually, off

A linky post

Oy vey. A "vacation" (read: four-state, four-family, Midwestern extravaganza) has left me decidedly off the ball. Prepare for heavy linkiness, and my apologies that much of this is not terribly current. There's a Dead Meat Olympics? Who knew? Steve Nash (heart!) is opening an environmental gym in Vancouver. London Olympics 2012 update: Amphibians are being relocated and organizers are clearing sport venues of arsenic, asbestos, lead, ammonia, and coal tar. How thoughtful. In related news, Milwaukee Public Schools closed 25 playing fields after realizing that application of sewage-sludge fertilizer on the fields could have been, you know, toxic. Beijing Olympics …

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Life's a beach

And then you die

According to a new report released this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council, there were 25,000 beach closings or "swimming advisory days" in 2006. That's 28 percent more than in 2005, and the highest number since they started keeping records on that sort of thing. Some 1,300 days of closings were attributed to sewage spills and overflows, and even more were closed because of "fecal contamination," which reminds me of that gross-yet-informative Flushie video that I posted on a while ago. According to the report: Exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites in contaminated beach water can cause a wide …

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