Important carbon-saving programs are being launched below the radar, often by local governments, private companies and even ambitious individuals. The best initiatives use novel approaches and innovative thinking to achieve real emission reductions, tapping into and modifying consumer habits and ingrained business practices.
Mayor Richard Daly might be determined to transform Chicago into the greenest city in America (see main story), but his tree-planting initiatives, building improvements and promises to secure 20 percent of the city’s electricity from renewable sources might not be enough to outshine cities such as Seattle and San Francisco.
The wine industry is seeing a lot of green these days—green energy. Several wineries in California’s Napa Valley are taking advantage of the state’s high quotient of sunny days by installing solar panels to mitigate their electricity costs.
It’s no big surprise that the environmentally friendly Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington is buying renewably generated "green power," but the appearance on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annual top 10 list of schools like the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois is more eye-opening.
Have you ever driven by a school in your community at night and seen the lights blazing, when you know the building is empty? Do you wonder how much money and energy that wastes? The United States Department of Energy has an answer for you, sort of. If your school district is typical, one of every four dollars it spends on energy is unnecessary.
Every day millions of parents put their children on big yellow school buses, trusting that they will be healthy and safe on their route to school. The fact is, however, that the 24 million kids who ride buses an average of an hour and a half every day are also being exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust that can affect their health.
The state-initiated Organopónico Bolivar I is the first urban, organic garden to show its green face in Caracas, Venezuela. The country now imports about 80 percent of the food that it consumes. To Noralí Verenzuela, the garden’s director, the new greenery represents a positive step. "People are waking up," she says. "We’ve been dependent on McDonald’s and Wendy’s for so long."
On a warm April morning, John Keeley’s farm southeast of Portland, Oregon is lively with sound. His two dogs bark as they dash around the farm’s dark wooden buildings; his sheep and lambs bleat as they waddle across rolling green fields. Birds twitter, and turkeys cackle. But the white boxes scattered around his 85 acres are mostly silent.
Gulf Coast residents, already faced with some of the nation’s toughest environmental challenges, didn’t really need Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to emphasize their vulnerability. Environmental groups were also affected when hurricanes devastated these communities and exacerbated the alarming environmental threats.
Soft drinks can be found almost anywhere in the world, but nowhere are they as ubiquitous as the U.S., where 450 different types are sold and more than 2.5 million vending machines dispense sugar-sweetened beverages around the clock.
Since the 1950s, multi-level marketing (MLM) companies like Amway have sold billions of dollars worth of products to consumers through independent individual distributors, who take a cut on every sale they make as well as on the sales of other "downline" distributors they have recruited. These days, a new crop of green companies has adopted the MLM business model to sell various types of environmentally friendly merchandise.
Planning your next vacation? How about Nicaragua? Or Cambodia? What about Borneo? All of these destinations have thrown their names into the tourism market, thanks in large part to ecotourism, which the New York Times called "the buzzword of 2006." Here are 10 top rules for getting the best out of your ecotourism experience.
Gardening is the world’s most popular and enduring recreational activity, feeding the spirit and the body, reducing dependence on the florist and the supermarket, and, when done organically, curtailing the use of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. But gardens can also feed your health: By growing your own medicine, you can reduce your trips to the doctor and pharmacist.
If, as Buddha said, it’s true that the word manifests as the deed, +E (Positive Energy) Awareness Apparel is on the right track to making our world more just, safe and healthy. The company’s 100 percent certified organic cotton t-shirts, tanks and baby clothes feature key words such as "Bang" and "Dirty" on the front, with the explanation of a related social or environmental issue on the back.
In the wake of corporate scandals at Enron and elsewhere, stock market investors are becoming increasingly aware of the power of voting their "proxies." Anyone who owns a single share of stock in a publicly traded company can weigh in on a variety of resolutions on corporate governance and social and environmental issues. Proxy voting is an increasingly important tool to nudge companies toward cleaner and greener behavior.
In this, the year Paul McCartney turns 64, a new wave of senior citizens is upon us. The natural health industry anticipates robust sales, since many aging Boomers are buying herbal hair-loss remedies and organic face creams in their quest for the fountain of youth. The Natural Marketing Institute estimates that 60 million adults now turn to herbal supplements as part of their anti-aging strategy. So where to start with this new, natural approach to aging?
Record gas prices have prompted heated debate about the root causes, leading some to point their fingers at ethanol, which in the U.S. is usually made from corn (see "Grass to Gas," Currents, May/June 2005). Congress had recently mandated replacement of the groundwater pollutant methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) with ethanol, another additive that decreases pollution when blended with gasoline.
Prairie dogs are keystone species that endangered black-footed ferrets depend on for survival. But a century of mismanagement has reduced prairie dogs to five percent of their historic numbers (see "Open Season on "Varmints,"" cover story, July/August 2004). "The political climate for prairie dog conservation remains abysmal," says Erin Robertson of Center for Native Ecosystems.