Archive for November, 2006

Risque Reusability

Monday, November 20th, 2006

From Japan, we have a unique example of reconfiguring an everyday item in order to give it additional practical uses.

Terra Daily reports:

A lingerie maker, in a bid to discourage Japanese from using plastic bags, on Wednesday unveiled a bra whose cup padding unfolds to become a handheld shopping bag.

Lingerie maker Triumph has regularly designed bras aimed at drawing attention to social issues and to raise its own profile. Last year it unveiled a bra that can be heated in a microwave so as to help save on indoor heating costs.

The “Bra Rangers” — named in a nod to the television characters that morph into superheroes — come with matching underwear whose pocket has the inscribed message, “No more plastic bags!”

The bra-turned-bag is made of polyester fiber created through recycling. The bra straps can be tied onto the bag as ribbons.

While the “eco bra” might not be everyone’s cup o’ (green) tea, it’s an inspiring (and amusing) example of how one can put boring old “stuff” to fun and creative new uses.

Holiday (re)Gifting Tips from the Greenies

Friday, November 17th, 2006

I’d like to pass along some holiday tips from the the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and New American Dream. Though consumerism can run rampant during the holidays, there are a number of ways to ensure that your gifts are as sustainable as possible.

The NRDC’s November ’06 issue of This Green Life is packed full of suggestions for a ‘green’ holiday. Though they do urge readers to buy less, don’t despair! The NRDC reassures us, “But enough of this grinchiness. No one wants to give up on the holidays or the sense of abundance that the season bestows. The only question is how to be generous without bankrupting the earth.”

Some of their ideas include:

Give things people need and can use, rather than products plucked from the shelves simply because they look good.

Choose gifts made of sustainable materials — bamboo rather than wood, hemp, organic cotton and wool, fleece made from recycled soda bottles, post-consumer recycled paper, natural cosmetics and organic, fair-trade chocolates and coffees.

Buy locally made products, as the energy used to transport goods to the stores is one of the huge, hidden environmental costs of the holidays.

Look for used things with a provenance. Old books and maps, retro clothing, antique jewelry and the like are one-of-a-kind gifts that collectors and aficionados will appreciate.

Give things that reduce energy usage, such as commuter bicycles, solar-powered products, battery rechargers and carbon offsets.

Avoid excessively packaged products. The packaging wastes resources without adding value and, if made from plastic, can release toxins after being discarded.

Give tickets for concerts, shows, museums, sporting events, outdoor activities or parks.

Give a party rather than presents — and tell your guests that the party’s gift-free.

Give of yourself. Promise a shift of babysitting or dog-walking or a service that uses your special talents or skills, such as a webpage, a bridge lesson or home improvement help.

Swap contributions. Set up a registry listing your favorite non-profits at http://www.whatgoesaround.org and suggest to your friends that they register, too, so you can give to their causes while they give to yours.

Do be sure to check out the latest issue of This Green Life (available here) for more eco-friendly holiday advice.

Also of interest: the NRDC’s Green Gift Giving Guide, which features a number of green presents and vendors.

The New American Dream’s most recent newsletter also focuses on environmentally conscious holiday tips.

Visit their website, and

* Download a free Simplify the Holidays Organizer Kit (The bad news: registration is required. The good news: totally free!)

* Celebrate Buy Local Day (Hint: It’s tomorrow!)

* Find an Alternative Gift Fair

Happy holidays!

How big is YOUR footprint?

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

The following is an excerpt from the most recent edition of the World Wildlife Fund’s eNewsletter:

Human footprint too big for nature

The world’s natural ecosystems are being degraded at a rate unprecedented in human history according to WWF’s 2006 Living Planet Report. It shows that on current projections we will be using two planets’ worth of natural resources by 2050 – if those resources have not run out by then.

The Living Planet Report is WWF’s periodic update on the state of the world’s ecosystems. It describes the changing state of global biodiversity and the pressure on the biosphere arising from human consumption of natural resources.

The Living Planet Report includes information on both the “Living Planet Index” (“the health of the planet’s ecosystems”) and the “Ecological Footprint” (“the extent of human demand on these ecosystems”).

While the report is certainly grim, the good news is that there are a number of ways that we can reduce our demands on the ecosystem – that is, reduce the size of our footprints. Many of these focus on the “3 R’s”: reduce, reuse, and recycle. In addition to regifting your unwanted stuff via Freecycle, the WWF recommends sending eCards versus paper greeting cards, using rechargeable batteries, and buying products with less packaging, to name but a few examples.

You can view the WWF’s complete list, “How you can help the environment in your daily life,” here.

Also, if you’d like to calculate the size of YOUR ecological footprint, check out http://myfootprint.org.