a book by Elizabeth Royte
"Refuse reflects truth," writes Brooklyn based journalist Elizabeth Royte. "We underestimate how much booze we drink; we overestimate our leafy greens." To uncover the truth about her own consumption patterns—and what really happens to the waste she makes—Royte literally got her hands dirty, spending almost a year sorting and weighing her household trash, then following it to its final destinations. Few would want to ride on a garbage truck, much less paddle around a landfill or subject their senses to the "back end of New York"—the city's sewage-processing system—but we should all be grateful that Royte made the at-times-pungent journey. As the author came to realize, keeping trash out of view just makes it easier for us to produce more of it.
a book by Heather Rogers
Since all things die or wear out, garbage can seem natural and inevitable. Heather Rogers's social history of trash upends that and other misconceptions. The author shows how cold war–era inducements to produce and consume more combined with a cultural preoccupation with cleanliness (which translated into single-use servings and loads of packaging) to create the mess we're in.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
a book by Daniel Imhoff
The author isn't focused on the classic shopping-bag choice. He wants readers to reevaluate the role packaging plays in our lives and the toll it takes on the environment. Daniel Imhoff packs his book with thoughtful analysis, innovative solutions, and surprising facts—for example, 10 percent of all lumber cut in the United States is used to make shipping pallets.
THE GLEANERS AND I
a film by Agnès Varda
The time-honored practice of gleaning—picking up the remains of a crop after the harvest—is defended by the French as an idealistic, if idiosyncratic, part of their culture. When scavenging goes beyond the fields and into the city, things get more complicated. Filmmaker Agnès Varda gathered elegant images and provocative dialogue for this tribute to today's gleaners, who are as likely to search for battered furniture as they are for misshapen potatoes.
a book by Ted Botha
Scavengers in New York City have to be stealthier than their French counterparts, since anything thrown away becomes city property once it hits the street. Illegality discourages none of Ted Botha's colorful subjects—not the humble can collector, the anarchists living off free food, or the part-time treasure hunter who once found a tricorn hat from the Revolutionary War in a pile of old landfill.
Old traffic signals shine when they're reincarnated as modern lamps
by San Francisco–based designers Daniel Krivens and Nicholas Lee. Each
fixture is unique, but the raw material is hardly in short supply since many cities are replacing their red, green, and amber stoplight lenses with energy-efficient LED models. greenlightconcepts.com
Americans toss out more than 100 million cell phones every year.
Recycle yours through CollectiveGood, collectivegood.com.
U.S. sales of organic products are expected to almost double from 2003 to 2007.
Kimbal Musk, co-chef/owner, The Kitchen
(Diane Huntress Photography)
Earth-friendly eating is pure pleasure at this upscale Boulder, Colorado, bistro. The building is powered entirely by wind, the cooking oil is recycled into biodiesel fuel, and the menu of local and organic foods is as sophisticated as Musk's training at the French Culinary Institute in New York.
Q:What's most rewarding about running the Kitchen?
A:Just making people happy. It's amazing how many customers tell me how glad they are that we're successful. A restaurant can be busy and profitable and still do good things.
Q:What do you want diners to remember when they leave
A:That they've truly eaten Colorado food. It's not just bison and game meats anymore.
Q:What are your favorite local ingredients?
A:Colorado peaches are shockingly good. The corn is wonderful. And this summer's tomatoes were amazing. We do a grilled peach, grown on the western slope of the Rockies, with a Berkshire blue cheese from Fort Collins on top of
bruschetta—a slice of heaven.
—interview by Molly Pindell
Nearly nine in ten parents say they would be likely to purchase environmentally friendly products if they were available where they shop.
This handcrafted choker (left) does more than make you
look chic: It helps support 160 Ugandan families with
a living wage. Their crafty co-op turns old magazine pages into colorful beads (right) for necklaces, anklets, and bracelets—including some sporty guy-friendly wristbands. beadforlife.com
Feast on This
Eating greener doesn't mean giving up traditions.
Holiday revelers are opting for organic turkeys
in increasing numbers. Find out where you can get your own healthier bird—raised in open spaces without antibiotics or growth stimulants—at
theorganicpages.com (select "farm-grown products: meats, poultry"). For further culinary inspiration, check out the Organic Holiday Menu Guide at
Going My Way?
Pairing up with compatible carpoolers is a snap with NuRide, a Web-based
service that helps users find their perfect match based on location, time of travel, even car-model or smoking preference. To sweeten the deal, drivers and riders earn gift certificates from sponsors like Old Navy and Starbucks. The service is limited to the Houston, New York Tri-State, and Washington, D.C., areas, but it's bound to catch on fast. nuride.com
Reducing the number of cars on a congested road by 5 to 10 percent through
ride-sharing can minimize delays by 10 to 30 percent.
A new BBC reality show, No Waste Like Home, sends an eco-guru into British households to green-over their profligate lifestyles.
Surf-folkie Jack Johnson toured sustainably this summer, traveling exclusively in biodiesel-fueled vehicles and selling organic-cotton concert tees and posters from 100 percent recycled paper.
Yoga-gear manufacturer prAna is racking up karma points by investing in renewable wind energy on behalf of its retailers and employees to offset the electricity their stores and homes consume.
The venerable magazine Consumer Reports has launched a new online guide, GreenerChoices.org, devoted to ranking "products for a better planet."
Lamp photo: Joe Schopplein; Jewelry photos:Charles Steinberg, MD; Carpool illustration: Thorina Rose