Living

Junk raft journey

Homemade garbage barge about to make landfall in Hawaii

Three humans, 15,000 soda bottles, and a Cessna plane body are about to make landfall in Hawaii after an epic 2,000-mile, three-month journey from the west coast to raise awareness about the mind-numbing amount of plastic fouling the world’s oceans and wildlife alike. Aching for cold beer and something other than sushi for lunch, these folks have made some pretty interesting observations (including lots of plastic) from their junk-derived craft, and it’s all here in their blog.

Less driving means less dying

Some good news about high gas prices

I’m a bit late on this, but it’s still worth mentioning. Via The New York Times: Traffic deaths in the United States declined last year, reaching the lowest level in more than a decade, the government reported Thursday. Some 41,059 people were killed in highway crashes, down by more than 1,600 from 2006. It was the fewest number of highway deaths in a year since 1994, when 40,716 people were killed. You can’t attribute the entirety of the decline to reduced driving: law enforcement and vehicle safety both play important roles. But driving less and slower driving matter a lot …

From Hangover to Helmet

Hangover helper Yet another reason to down organic booze. As if we needed one. Swingers In a perfect world, there’d be no energy crisis because everyone would bike and bus. But it sure ain’t a perfect world, so we’ll settle for bike rack art and bus stops with swings. Finnish line We’re all about encouraging litter-picker-uppers, but is it strange that these trash bins are more polite than most people we know? Twiggin’ out Scientists have proposed genetically engineering trees to self-ferment themselves into usable fuel. Hopefully, they’ll soon turn their attention to sandwiches that self-assemble themselves into usable lunch. …

Tired of waiting for efficiency

Our right to know about fuel-efficient tires

I’m always fascinated by the “1 percent solutions” to energy. It seems to me that in order to address both climate change and fossil fuel dependence, we’ll need a few big structural changes, but we’ll also need a lot of 1 percent solutions — and maybe a bunch of quarter-percent solutions too. And the advantage of the 1 percent solutions is that they’re often exceedingly easy; and so cheap that they actually put money in your pocket. So I enjoyed Cindy Skrzycki’s column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer this morning on low rolling resistance tires: A study by the National Academies …

What is the carbon footprint of McCain's countless homes?

McCain’s carbon dioxide bill is about 10 times the average American’s

I’d estimate it’s about 150 tons of carbon dioxide, some 10 times that of the average American. But someone should ask Senator McCain. After all, he says he wants to require all Americans to cut greenhouse gas emissions 60 percent to 70 percent by 2050. As probably the whole country knows by now, John McCain does not know how many homes he owns. But the number seems to be between seven and 12, depending on whether you count his Sedona ranch as one house or six. Given how conservatives beat up Vice President Gore for the supposed energy excesses of …

Olympic trials: The air not there

Athletes play down pollution concerns, Beijing gives in to weather

Not so bad. That’s what Olympic Canadian cyclist Svein Tuft thought of the air quality when he raced on Saturday, Aug. 9 (Air Pollution Index: 78) for six and a half hours outside of Beijing. As The New York Times reported, Tuft made short shrift of the pollution fears: The pollution concerns, he decided, “have been a massive hype.” And Tuft isn’t alone in his pollution dismissal. Wimbledon champion and Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal told the Associated Press, “The problem is the humidity, no? … The (truth), I didn’t feel nothing (from) the pollution. That didn’t affect … me. …

Wall*E and Kleenex

The film Wall*E had a strong environmental theme. Now Kleenex tissues are featuring Wall*E on their packaging. Odd. As Greenpeace says: If you look on the bottom of these boxes, you’ll see a little recycled symbol that says: “This box is made from 100% recycled paper.” What you won’t see on the bottom of that box is a message telling you that the tissues inside it are made from centuries-old trees that were cut from forests that had been around for as much as 10,000 years — until [Kleenex owner Kimberly-Clark] came along with its clearcutting practices, that is. Nor …

A guide for greener back-to-school shopping

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be an exercise in conspicuously ungreen consumption. Eco-friendly school supplies made of recycled and organic materials are easier than ever to find. One great place to start shopping is TheGreenOffice.com. And the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice has a handy back-to-school shopping guide that helps you avoid products containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a nasty type of plastic. To give you just a taste of what’s out there, we’ve rounded up a few fun, green products: NewLeaf notebooks. NotebooksEcojot’s happy, whimsical creations use 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper, as do NewLeaf’s notebooks. DolphinBlue’s notepads are …

When the tomato harvest gets out of hand, the tough get canning

Too much of a good thing? Photos: Kurt Michael Friese For a tomato-loving gardener, what’s the only thing more frightening than a failed crop? Try an overabundant one. You become terrified that any of these jewels will go to waste. The specter of fruit flies congregating on the compost heap brings regret of over-ambitious spring garden planning. Even in my restaurant garden, which has the advantage of a commercial outlet, the burden of preserving it all can be heavy. Well, take heart, gentle reaper: There is plenty that can be done with all that red, green, and gold bounty. This …