Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013: Environmentally Friendly Gift Ideas

Still looking for a gift or two this holiday season? Hark!  There are alternatives to contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the chemically thick gyre of marine debris that permeates the ocean deep, with a gift laden with plastic or those that seem so fine but were carved with wood from one of the planet’s last remaining boreal forests.

Gift giving doesn’t have to exact an environmental toll or proclaim your net worth. It can be as simple as the gift of time. "Time is where we are. Time is where we’ve been," writes poet Anthony Zeigler. "Time is being lost and found again." 

Here are a few simple ideas:
  1. In the Pacific Northwest gifts can be home-grown plums or mulled wine wrapped in festive ribbons and bows and recycled glass. Even well-scrubbed carrots, parsnips, beets, sun chokes or a mix, become extraordinary when individually wrapped in tissue paper, nestled together, and topped with a colorful card. No garden? Double hark! Many farmers' markets remain open all year long. There are pippin and wine sap apples, red curry and butternut squash, frozen roasted peppers for soups and solar evaporated and hand harvested sea salt from the San Juan Islands. They make terrific gifts, boast the farmers!
  2. Gift certificates from a farmers' market or organizations committed to reclaiming the local food movement are also environmentally friendly.  Take 21Acres, the Woodinville center for sustainable living, growing and eating, which has reclaimed farm land and offers classes such as: "Venturing into the Kitchen," "Right Sizing: Less Stuff-Less Stress," and "Irrigation Water Management."
  3. An overlooked gift idea might be membership in one of the region's parks. Parks foster trees, unsung heroines in capturing carbon as well as habitat which provide refuge for critters and critical ecosystem services in a time of rapid climate change. With state and federal cutbacks, membership draws people in to a park community where they’ll spend money for food, lodging, gas, and sports equipment, and in so doing, ensure the park's longevity. Blake Island Park, for example, a stone's throw from downtown Seattle, is a peaceful beach camping retreat. The southwest corner of the island has a stand of venerable old growth Doug firs for inspiration and solace – say those in the know. Only accessible by boat, there's a small marina and mooring cans around the island. And if you don’t have your own boat, take the Argosy harbor tour boat.
  4. We’ll call this an environmental gift with funk. Boogie down (or up) to the Re-Store in Ballard or Bellingham. Here you'll find salvaged and vintage building materials and home d├ęcor (along with two very friendly cats.) There are door knobs (the "k" is emphasized, say the staff) of all makes and models – natty glass ones are as low as $25 bucks. Wooden cabinet knobs are an even better deal, 25 cents each. Attach them to a 2 by 6 "weather" board at 30 cents a foot and you have a handy coat rack! What gift-longing friend could resist? And there’s more!  Windows at the Re-store – the better to see the light return – can be transformed into a greenhouse, an art frame, a cabinet, a planter. Some cost as little as $5 per frame.
Happy gift hunting. May all your holidays be sustainable and bright.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013: Let the Feast Begin: Community Food Kitchen and the Good Food Revolution

As all foodies know, a good food revolution has been underway for decades. The latest addition to the mix are community food kitchens where cooking, tasting and growing food come together to nourish and build -- especially in communities most harmed by the industrial food system. We visit one such kitchen at Seattle's Rainier Beach High School and catch up with Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, on tour of the region’s urban food hot spots.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31, 2013: Arctic Oil Meets Greenpeace Activists Who Land in Jail: Colleagues on West Coast Raise Concerns

Imprisoned Greenpeace activists in Russia – jailed for putting a banner on an oil platform in the Arctic Ocean - were on the minds of colleagues sailing down the West Coast of the US on Greenpeace’s newest ship, the Rainbow Warrior III. The "Arctic 30" have been charged with piracy, a first in Greenpeace history, and could face 15 years in jail.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7, 2013: Should GMO Foods Be Labeled? Industry & Public Showdown as State Prepares to Answer the Big Question

GMO foods are again on the hot seat on the West coast. Last year California’s Prop 37 to label genetically modified organisms at the grocery store was narrowly defeated, 51 to 49%. This year in Washington the issue is giving rise to conflicting claims and a record 21.9 million flooding the state, with over 17 million coming from opponents lead by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto and Dow and the remainder from proponents lead by Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, the Organic Consumers Fund and Mercola Health Resources. Martha Baskin takes a look.

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Full Transcript: Given the high stakes - over 90% of all corn, canola and cotton is genetically modified with high percentages in six other crops and experiments underway in others - it’s no surprise that conflicting claims about I-522, the ballot initiative requiring labels on genetically modified foods at the grocery store, are flying fast and furious. Proponents call it a consumer ‘right to know’. “We already label farm raised fish. If salmon is genetically engineered the label should say so,” says a fisherman in a Yes on 522 ad. In a NoOn522 TV ad, opponent Dan Newhouse, former director of the state Department of Agriculture, opens with this, “the food labeling regulations in I-522 conflict with national standards and make no sense.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013: This Plum’s For You! Giving Gardens Make a Dent in Hunger While Congress Fiddles With Food Stamps

As debate broils in Congress to reduce food assistance programs, demand at food banks in communities all over the nation is high. In Seattle some food banks receive organic produce from "giving gardens," or gardens dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables and donating it to those in need. At these food banks, organic produce is as popular as it is anywhere. Martha Baskin has our story.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013: What Will It Take for Wild Salmon to Return in Record Numbers? Warming Waters Present New Threat with Dams an Ever Present Danger

Chinook salmon returns are setting records on the Columbia this year. But 80% are hatchery fish. 13 wild salmon populations in the region are listed as endangered and 11 are threatened. It’s illegal to catch wild salmon, as any fisherman knows. In our story, Martha Baskin catches up with wild salmon advocates and fisherman who talk about salmon’s latest threat, warming waters.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 1, 2013: Bakken Crude Oil Heads to Northwest: Climate Action on the Columbia River

Days after a lease was approved for the largest crude oil terminal in the Northwest, the Port of Vancouver on the Columbia River became a hot spot to stop it. "Summer Heat Climate Action," a project of 350.org and local organizations, is committed to keep fossil fuels in the ground and out of the export and domestic markets. If nearly a dozen other terminals go through, the amount of crude being piped by rail into the region would be on par with Keystone XL, over 800,000 barrels a day.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013: The Nation’s Largest Public Food Forest and “Boulevard of Beans” Take Root

After nearly three years of planning, Beacon Hill, Seattle, USA is on its way to becoming the nation’s largest public food forest. While nearby Beacon Avenue has been re-named a "Boulevard of Beans" for the variety of beans climbing fences and trellises all along the avenue. Some neighborhoods have it all!

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Friday, June 21, 2013

June 20, 2013: Don’t Drip & Drive - Fix That Leak! Puget Sound Starts Here

Don’t Drip & Drive. Fix That Leak! Every year 7 million quarts of oil and other auto fluids wash into Puget Sound contaminating water and harming marine life. Looking for a way to address the issue the Department of Ecology and Seattle Public Utilities are teaming up with community colleges to offer free workshops to help you not "drip and drive." They’re drawing eager participants. Inspecting cars, Green Acre Radio learned, is serious fun.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13, 2013: Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment

Students on more than 300 campuses across the US are behind a growing movement to get schools to drop stocks in oil, gas, coal and tar sands from their investment portfolios. Among them are students at the University of Washington. Students are rallying at the University’s Board of Regents today to draw attention to the issue. Martha Baskin reports.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24, 2013: A New Phenomenon: Diving for Spawning Herring in Elliot Bay

Once one of the most abundant fishes in coastal waters, many populations of Pacific herring, a cornerstone of the marine food web, have been on a downward spiral. A new population spawning in Elliot Bay may show the tide is turning. Marine ecologists are diving into near shore waters to determine their genetic identity. It’s not yet clear if the population will take up permanent residence.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 14, 2013: On the Edge: A Poverty-Wage Slam and Reality Check

As low-wage service jobs become the new normal for millions of families, more and more poverty-wage workers are rising up to demand good jobs and opportunities for a better future. At a recent "poverty-wage story slam" workers from retail, fast food, home care and other poverty-wage industries talked about living "on the edge."

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Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6, 2013: Hot and Hungry Planet: World Wildlife Fund Urges Humans to Make More With Less

On an increasingly crowded, hot and hungry planet, the earth’s capacity to meet population demand for natural resources is severely strained. The future of wildlife and biodiversity is at a tipping point. World Wildlife Fund Chief Scientist Jon Hoekstra says we need to make more with less. Green Acre Radio caught up with him before a Seattle talk, "Making More With Less: The Challenges of Living on a Finite Planet." Hosted by World Wildlife Fund Partners in Conservation, the talk will be held on Tuesday, May 7th at 6pm at the Palace Ballroom, 2100 5th Avenue. Call 888-495-4401 for information.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

April 26, 2013: A Window on Ocean Acidification and Phytoplankton, the Base of the Food Web

A row of space-age domes off the Washington coast may provide a peek at the future. Not the future of space travel but the effects of increasingly acidic oceans on phytoplankton, the base of the food web. Scientists and students at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island are engaged in the nation’s first controlled-ocean research tool in coastal waters where co2 levels are almost double those in the atmosphere.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013: 21 Acres of Farmland Holds Its Own in Wine Country

Can farm fresh creamy nettle soup compete in wine country? If 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living has its way, grapes won’t be the only local product getting a ‘value-added’ lift when its turned into wine and its value increases as much as five fold. But the completion is stiff. Woodinville wineries want land to build hotels for their customers. Those committed to growing the local farm movement - even stinging nettle - want land and infrastructure to nurture other Washington grown produce.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5, 2013: A River for All? Environmental Justice and the Duwamish River Valley

Ever since Seattle’s only river was declared a Superfund site, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition has advocated on behalf of the communities who live near it. In a new report, the Coalition and Just Health Action say the EPA, who is legally responsible for cleaning up the river also have an obligation to the communities whose lives have been impacted.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 27, 2013: Mason Bees to the Rescue: Gentle Pollinators Emerge to Solve Food Crisis

When gardeners talk about bees, the buzz is usually about honeybees. After all, honeybees pollinate fruit blossoms and produce sweet amber honey. But with colony collapse disorder decimating their numbers, gardeners are turning to an unsung heroine, the native mason bee. These gentle, solitary bees are pollinating powerhouses. One mason bee can do the pollinating work of 100 honeybees. A local mason-bee entrepreneur has taken note. All he needs are bee-raising partners to help increase their population and ensure the nation’s food supply.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013: Puget Sound Energy’s Green Reputation Gets A Black Eye: Sierra Club Sues Utility Over Ownership in Coal-Fired Power Plant

Why is the state’s largest electric utility with a reputation for clean energy burning coal for 20% of its power supply? The Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Information Center are asking the same thing. The two are seeking a court order requiring Puget Sound Energy and other owners to install modern pollution controls at the Colstrip Generating Facility in eastern Montana. The coal plant is one of the biggest greenhouse gas polluters in the West.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March 5, 2013: A Multi-Million Dollar Military Expense Not in 'Budget Talk': Construction of a 2nd Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor Nuclear Submarine Base 20 Miles from Seattle

One military expense that’s not discussed in budget talks is construction of a $715 million dollar explosives handling wharf at the Navy’s Bangor Nuclear Submarine Base. The base occupies five miles of shoreline on the northern edge of Hood Canal, Puget Sound’s western arm. It manages the third largest collection of nuclear warheads in the country. A National Environmental Policy Act lawsuit was filed against the Navy last summer. Legal wrangling kept the case on hold. But last week the 9th Circuit said its first responsibility was to resolve issues raised by the suit and the case would move forward. Martha Baskin has our story.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

February 25, 2013: Legislation to Ban Tris Flame Retardants Hits Snag: Third Try by Toxic Free Legacy Coalition to Remove Its Use in Sofas and Children’s Products

Of the estimated 80,000 chemicals used in everything from sofas and mattresses to baby bottles and car seats, only 200 have been assessed for health risks. Individual states have succeeded in banning chemicals one at a time. In Washington, foes of the toxic flame retardant Tris have proposed legislation to not only ban its use, but make sure manufacturers find less toxic alternatives.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15, 2013: Can Farms Save Puget Sound Shellfish?

An unusual new program is using upriver sustainability measures to improve conditions for salmon and shellfish downstream.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 5, 2013: Solar Comes to Washington With Grassroots and Non-Profit Efforts

One of the grayest corners of mainland USA, is slowly going solar, one community at a time. Solarize Washington, a program of Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED), couples non-profit know how with grassroots energy. First a community finds interested homeowners, then Solarize Washington hosts a workshop complete with group discounts and know-how from solar installers. Martha Baskin has our story.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24, 2013: Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children In An Age of Environmental Crisis - Interview with Author and Biologist Sandra Steingraber

Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring carried warnings of the dangers of pesticides. Yet toxic chemicals are still on the market today. In her book, Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, acclaimed biologist and author Sandra Steingraber lays out a plan to get chemicals out of our lives and reform the industry once and for all. Martha Baskin caught up with Steingraber via phone from her home in upstate New York where she’s engaged in a citizen uprising against hydro-fracking.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17, 2013: Unfazed by Power Shifts, Environmental Community Sets Priorities for 2013 Legislative Session

A coalition of environmental groups is wasting no time in setting priorities for the legislature. “Clean Energy Solutions”, “Toxic-Free Kids and Families” and “Conservation Works” are the buzz words. Themes range from putting people back to work and stopping giveaways to dirty fuels, to protecting waterways across the state from polluted runoff. On a recent Saturday activists learned how to lobby their legislators. But not everyone was convinced the priorities were urgent enough for the next generation. Martha Baskin has our story.

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