How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Read the full story from the National Wildlife Federation.

Brightly colored butterflies can be a welcome addition to your wildlife garden, not only because of their beauty, but also because of their usefulness in pollinating flowers.

Attracting butterflies involves incorporating plants that serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly. The insects need places to lay eggs, food plants for their larvae (caterpillars), places to form chrysalides and nectar sources for adults.

When you create a pollinator garden and certify it with National Wildlife Federation, it also counts towards the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.

Don’t toss that sour milk! And other tips to cut kitchen food waste

Read the full story from Minnesota Public Radio.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

This is what chef Dan Barber demonstrated earlier this year, when he temporarily turned Blue Hill, his Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City, into an incubator for garbage-to-plate dining.

Barber’s intent was to raise awareness about the vast issue of food waste. As we’ve reported, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the U.S. each year. The typical American family tosses out about $1,500 of food yearly.

All this wasted food is the largest component of solid waste in our landfills, and when it rots, it emits methane — a potent greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

So, you may be wondering, what can I do in my own kitchen?

Beyond Sprawl: A New Vision of The Solar Suburbs of the Future

Read the full story at Yale Environment360.

The concept of the “solar suburb” includes a solar panel on every roof, an electric vehicle in every garage, ultra-efficient home batteries to store excess energy, and the easy transfer of electricity among house, car, and grid. But will the technological pieces fall in place to make this dream a reality?

Microbeads: The Very Tiny Troublemakers

Read the full opinion piece in the New York Times.

The Great Lakes are being threatened by an invasion of tiny plastic orbs called microbeads, but lawmakers for one state that depends on this huge freshwater ecosystem have failed to do anything about it. That state is, of course, New York, where lawmakers this year sat on a good bill to ban these unnecessary bits of plastic.

That left local governments to try to do the state’s job by banning these plastic irritants, county by county.

Purchasing green can be good, but buying less is better

Read the full story in Treehugger. Particularly relevant on the Friday before Pollution Prevention Week (#P2Week).

Many companies offer token green products with the hope that consumers won’t see how unsustainable the whole system is to begin with.

Where to Buy a Safe Couch

Read the full post at CityLab.

Recently I wrote about the high rates of cancer among firefighters, which many researchers believe are driven by their exposure to flame retardants and other chemicals in burning furniture.

But it’s not just firefighters’ health that might be threatened by flame retardants, which still lace most furniture and electronics. Even in the absence of a fire, our sofas and TVs are constantly sloughing off these chemicals, which some studies link to thyroid and other endocrine problems.


New wearable technology can sense appliance use, help track carbon footprint

Read the full story from the University of Washington.

In today’s smart home, technologies can track how much energy a particular appliance like a refrigerator or television or hair dryer is gobbling up. What they don’t typically show is which person in the house actually flicked the switch.

A new wearable technology developed at the University of Washington called MagnifiSense can sense what devices and vehicles the user interacts with throughout the day, which can help track that individual’s carbon footprint, enable smart home applications or even assist with elder care.

In a study to be presented this week at the 2015 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing, MagnifiSense correctly classified 94 percent of users’ interactions with 12 common devices after a quick one-time calibration, including microwaves, blenders, remote controls, electric toothbrushes, laptops, light dimmers, and even cars and buses. Even without the calibration, MagnifiSense was still correct 83 percent of the time.