Posts filed under ‘recommended’

Read This

urbanhomesteadbookI got this book as a christmas gift and it’s turned out to be the best present I ever received. It’s called The Urban Homestead, and it was written by an LA couple -Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen – who have a real knack for sustainable living in the urban environment. They cover all sorts of things, from making your own homegrown booze to city bike travel, but my favorite parts of the book are the sections on growing food. These guys have a full-fledged food forest in their back yard, and have also cultivated all sorts of crops on the road median out in front of their house. The book offers a slew of tips on mulching, container gardening, irrigation, and is a great place to start if you’re interested in growing some food but don’t have tons of experience. It’s been a pleasure to read this time of year, while I make decisions about what seeds to buy and daydream about digging in the dirt.

The authors also have a blog, which I recommend checking out, too – the web ads a layer of interactivity and accessibility to the authors that I can really appreciate. These guys are real pros – and they can write, which is always a plus. And they have chickens, which I’m kind of jealous about (for some reason I’m finding myself increasingly draw to animal husbandry – unfortunately I think my cats would torture and perhaps even kill a chicken if given the chance).

Big props to Kelly and Erik – you’re an inspiration! And if you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, you’re welcome to stay at my house and help me make my yard into an urban oasis.


January 31, 2009 at 5:41 pm 4 comments

Second-Hand Reads

book2I just wanted to take a second to make a shout-out to a long beloved but oft overlooked entity: the used book. In a time of economic and environmental woe, the used book is a cheap and green way to entertain yourself and reward others throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Yesterday I picked up my mail and was pleased to discover that my expected delivery from had arrived. Just a week earlier, I went online and paid $3.50 for the book ($7.50 with shipping), which happens to be a 1977 paperback edition of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath“. This is a classic piece of American fiction that I’ve never read before, but have recently been compelled to pick up after reading another book, “Stuffed and Starved” by Raj Patel.

“Stuffed and Starved” gives an informative and well-researched overview of our ailing global food system, and although it’s not as artfully written as some other works in its genre, particularly those authored by Pollans, Schlossers and Lappes, it is a must-read for anyone who cares about food, nutrition, environment and social justice. But more to the point, Patel’s book regularly quotes Steinbeck, and inspired me to read “The Grapes of Wrath” (which I will, starting today).

A new copy of “The Grapes of Wrath” will run you at least ten bucks, so I really scored with my $3.50 copy. Plus, my copy has a nice yellow coloration and some lovely coffee (or maybe chocolate?) stains on the cover, which give it character and a light fragrance. I am a strong believer in judging books by their covers, and I can tell that this is going to be a good read. And new books are tainted with carbon footprints and the blood of happy young forests, which is simply awful.

So if you’re planning to buy a book (or anything else, for that matter), try and get it used. I promise it will be better for your wallet, better for the planet, and it will look cuter on your coffee table.

December 10, 2008 at 4:54 pm 1 comment

Clean Coal Reality Check

Al Gore’s Reality Coalition just put out this new ad campaign – it’s funny, because it’s true.

December 4, 2008 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

Guilt-Free Sneakers

It’s been over a year since I wrote this post about my old sneakers. They were good shoes that held up for a long time, and my only regret was that they weren’t even the slightest bit green. So when the time came to get a new pair of shoes a few weeks ago, I remembered the stabbing guilt that tortured me after last year’s shoe purchase and made a point of getting something green to sink my feet into.

I settled on these:


These sneakers are made by Simple, a shoe company that makes a great product and is working to attain “100% sustainability”. The company does make leather and suede shoes (from environmentally-friendly tanneries), but most of their products are vegan, made of green materials like recycled paper, hemp, organic cotton, recycled rubber and plastic, and even coconut shells (for buttons).

My sneakers are comfortable, attractive (although they’re getting dirty – I should have known better and gotten a darker color!), and they were affordable, to boot. I highly recommend visiting the Simple website if you have feet and care about the environment.

December 1, 2008 at 3:53 pm 1 comment

Tuna Test


 The New York Times published an article last week about some new research that showed really really high (scary high) levels of mercury in tuna found in sushi restaurants in New York. For those of us who love sushi, tuna, and fish in general, this is bad news. My personal recommendation is just to stop eating tuna, especially bluefin tuna, because aside from being mercury-laden, it’s also over-fished.

But, if you just can’t live without it, and want to find out the maximum amount of mercury tuna that your body can handle safely, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Tuna Calculator. As a woman of child-bearing age, I am basically told not to eat any tuna at all (boo). Apparently, mercury has this nasty habit of causing brain damage in fetuses. Pretty lame.

Also, if you want some more info about the mercury-in-fish situation, Consumer Reports provides a decent overview. It even answers the question “how the heck does mercury get into fish in the first place?” (here’s a basic answer for those of you who are too lazy to click on the link:

1. coal and other fossil fuels are burned up to make power for our TVs and cuisinarts and whatnot

2. the smoke from the power plants contains mercury, and blows all over the place – including into the ocean

3. here the mercury gets absorbed by plankton and other tiny organisms at the top of the water, then fish eat those little guys, then bigger fish eat those fish

4. the mercury gets caught up in the fish’s fatty tissue and never comes out until that guy with the funny hat and the super sharp knife slices it up and puts it on a plate in front of you).

The End. Watch out for the fishies.

January 31, 2008 at 9:01 pm 1 comment

People Power


Isn’t this a sweet new alarm clock? I bought it for myself the other day, after the cheap plastic one I’d been using for three years self-destructed. I didn’t want to get another cheap one, because I need an alarm clock that will be with me for the long-haul, so I looked for a sturdy, metal model that could put up with my morning crankiness, as well as being repeatedly knocked off my night stand by my cats.

So this is the clock I found. I bought it at a small local appliance store and it’s nice and sturdy, which is great, but it has one more feature that I think is totally cool: it’s people-powered.

Now, many of us may look at the back of this alarm clock in confusion and perhaps mild disdain, because it’s quite old-fashioned. I, however, see it as a symbol of the future. (more…)

January 30, 2008 at 6:45 pm 1 comment

Story of Stuff


I highly recommend checking out this video and passing it along. It’s about 20 mins long, so you should set a little time aside to watch it, but it’s highly worthwhile and very informative.


January 22, 2008 at 5:47 pm Leave a comment

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