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This year’s Cleantech Forum: Less sexy, more efficient

Looking for new ways to get in the cleantech game.Photo: emilydickinsonridesabmxIt's a rite of spring, the annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. Venture capitalists, startup entrepreneurs, and various hangers-on gather at an upscale hotel to network, pitch, and hopefully clinch some deals. There are scores of these green biz conferences, of course, and after awhile they all tend to blend together in a mashup of hype and prognosticating. Still, the Cleantech Forum is one I make an effort to attend, and not just because it's a short BART ride from Berkeley. Over the years, I've found the confab to be …

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How two 15-year-old Girl Scouts (and Grist readers) changed Kellogg’s

It'll take some willpower, but don't have "samoa" until they stop harming the planet.Photo: Laura TaylorWhen Kellogg’s announced this week that it is moving to limit the deforestation caused by the palm oil it uses to make Frosted Flakes, Keebler cookies, Rice Krispies, and Girl Scout cookies, it represented an enormous achievement for two 15-year-old girls from Michigan. You may remember Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen from my article two weeks ago, "Are Girl Scout cookies killing orangutans?" They’ve been working for several years to get Girl Scouts USA to switch from palm oil to more planet-friendly and healthier alternatives …

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Nicholas Stern: We need a new industrial revolution

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. This is the second in a three-part interview with economist Lord Nicholas Stern on climate policy. You can watch part one here. Lord Nicholas Stern, one of the world's most prominent climate economists, believes that the fight against global warming will lead to the next industrial revolution. In the second part of an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, Stern describes the scale of the challenge to wean civilization off its dependence of unsustainable fossil fuels. Since the consequences of failure are on the almost unimaginable scale of global war, this challenge is a necessary one. Stern …

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Sustainable Apparel Coalition delivers the eco-skinny on your skinny jeans

Wheredja get those jeans?I spend a lot of time shining a light on murky areas of the food system, but what about the industrial-apparel complex? Just as the food we eat has a material basis and a history, so do our clothes. It turns out that I know a lot more about the (grass-fed, local) beef I ate last night than I do about the (non-organic) cotton T-shirt on my back. Recently, a group of apparel-industry companies banded together to launch a tool to help consumers -- and the industry itself -- figure out the environmental impacts of our clothing …

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What if you updated your electronics like you update your wardrobe?

Photo: George MacklinDesigner and TED fellow Dominic Muren wants you to update your electronics like you update your wardrobe. In other words, he thinks you should be able to replace or update only what gets worn out, instead of tossing and re-purchasing everything you own at one whack just because one part is busted or old or doesn't fit your lifestyle anymore. Who really ever buys all new clothes? Instead, we modify a little at a time, replacing parts that wear out, of adding new pieces as our lifestyle changes. I needn't point out that clothing is one of the …

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Why companies don’t care about climate change

Businesses would be more interested in saving trees if money grew on them.Cross-posted from TriplePundit. In 2009, I cofounded a company called CO2 IMPACT to develop high quality carbon offset projects in the Americas. While I have a Ph.D. in business, I have frequently been too focused on my values to justify the business case for a lower carbon footprint. I guess I care too much about what we are doing to the planet and what we are leaving behind for my son, Mateo. Along the way, I have learned a painful lesson that hopefully can help other aspiring climate …

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Why climate change is now irrelevant to clean energy

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 15.0px Arial} span.s1 {text-decoration: underline ; color: #1f0199} Clean energy isn't about climate change any more, it's about China. So says cleantech investor Alex Taussig. That's his takeaway from last week's summit of ARPA-E, the government agency tasked with funding energy innovations so crazy or with such far-off payouts that no private company would ever touch them. "It used to be that the [three] legs of the cleantech stool were Economics, Security, and Environment," Taussig blogs at GigaOm. But in an uncertain political and economic climate, the environment has taken a back seat to a …

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Ask Umbra on refillable cleaning supplies

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I'm trying to cut back on plastic waste and am wondering if you know of places that offer things like cleaning supplies in bulk, so that I can refill and reuse my old containers? Thanks!Lyda L.Harlem, NY A bottle walks into a bar and asks for a refill ...Photo: Dave PinterA. Dearest Lyda, I like the way you think. What better way to clean up our acts than with cleaning supplies? The message in the bottle in this case: It's practical and saves resources. The reusable bottle goes back to the days …

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The Climate Post: Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, including Fox News, goes carbon neutral

"Maybe climate change is a hoax, but my company is going to reduce its footprint anyway."Photo: World Economic ForumAn email has linked Fox News to deliberately casting doubt on climate change, but their parent company -- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp -- seems to take climate change very seriously. News Corp announced it is now carbon neutral, claiming it is no longer contributing to global warming. It's no small feat for the huge company, which also owns the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. On the site for the company's Global Energy Initiative, Murdoch never utters the words "climate change" or "global warming," but he says: …

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New number quantifies greenness of your unitard

Something in the water.Photo: Google MapsDenim sucks -- at least, environmentally speaking. If there's any doubt in your mind, check out the image to the right. New York Times writer Tom Zeller Jr. found the Google Maps photo of Xintang, China, the No. 1 denim producer in the world. That dark blue stuff? That's dye from the jean-making process flowing into a river. Not feeling guilty yet? As Jess Zimmerman wrote last month, a single pair of jeans drinks up over 180 office water coolers' worth of H20, between cotton production, jean manufacture, and laundry. Ugh. Even if you aren't …