Living

Ask Umbra: Is rubber mulch really eco-friendly?

A reader wants the scoop on rubber mulch from recycled tires. Umbra mulls it over.

‘Waking Mars’ is the most amazing game about gardening you’ll ever play

New iOS app “Waking Mars” is a game about gardening, botany, and ecology, which sounds boring — especially if you’re about my age, and your primary school teachers tried to get you to learn about ecosystems via some clunky games …

Frank Lloyd Wright goes solar, posthumously

Taliesin West, the iconic desert home created by Frank Lloyd Wright, is about to go net-zero, which means it will produce as much energy as it consumes.

Pro hockey player loves organic food and worms

Andrew Ference plays defense for the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, so you'd think he'd be a meathead who mostly drinks beer and scratches his balls. But it turns out he shops with his kids at Whole Foods like …

Mailbox-sized libraries bring book-lending right to your yard

Running a library is easier than you think. Forget the degree in library and information science and the carefully chosen prudish getups with easy-pull ripcords that turn them into sexy outfits. All you need is a box on a stick …

How to turn one piece of recycled cloth into 14 outfits and a bag

So the Lorax movie may be effing up left and right, but take heart, nostalgia-trippers: you can still own a real-life Thneed! The Versalette is a cylinder of domestically sourced, domestically made, recycled, organic fabric, whose ingenious construction allows it …

The Oscar goes to … ‘Tar Sands: The Movie’?

This year's Oscars didn't exactly move the climate conversation forward. But can you imagine a world where luminaries like George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh, and Matt Damon lend their powers to "Tar Sands: The Movie?" We can.

How to turn an abandoned oil silo into an awesome sustainable home

Once we either kick oil for good or descend into Mad Maxish fuel-based anarchy, you’re going to want to set up a pretty good personal Thunderdome. And if we’re way past peak oil anyway, why not nest in an abandoned …

Ask Umbra: Is it bad to leave chargers plugged in?

A reader seeks clarification on energy-sucking phone and laptop chargers. Umbra divulges the juicy truth.