Choosing Natural Building Materials for Improved Indoor Air Quality

You might think building a green home automatically means you’re building one with good indoor air quality. That’s not necessarily the case. There’s no guarantee eco-friendly materials are also low in pollutants. And what you put in your home after construction can have an enormous impact on air quality. Here are three ways to ensure the air you’re breathing inside your home is as good as — or better than — the air you’re breathing outside.

Feeding the Pig: The Problem with Homegrown Arts Organizations

It costs the average musician upwards of $1,000 to be a member of most music trade groups, pay for conference fees, travel, and get hotel rooms and meals. That is more than most musicians make in a year. If it costs more to be part of the garden than the garden can provide, the farmer needs to make a choice: Abandon the garden or get rid of the pig.

Comparing Soap Ingredients: Farm-Made Goat's Milk vs Corporate-Brand Soaps

Here are the ingredients listed on the Dove Brand label, with a comparison to the ingredients in our Goat’s Milk Soap. The definitions and explanations for the ingredients were taken from the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website. No interpretations or judgements were added.

Healthy Snack Invented on Indian Reservation Faces Stiff Corporate Competition

The Pine Ridge Indian reservation is not the first place you’d look for good news about creating a new kind of economy that works for everyone. Pine Ridge is home to a fast-growing natural foods company, which created a healthy new product in the booming snack-food industry. Native American Natural Foods was inspired by wasna (a concoction of cured buffalo meat and berries) to invent the Tanka Bar — which is now for sale at Whole Foods, Costco,, natural-food stores and other groceries across the nation.

Health and Environmental Effects of Triclosan

Recent scientific studies suggest that the widely used antibacterial substance triclosan is not as harmless as we thought it was. It has significant health effects on different systems of the human body, while toxic intermediate can form easily once it is released in the environment.

The Grasses are Alive and Teeming with Wildlife

Meet some of our outdoor family members as I work to comply with the lawn ordinances being forced upon us. Hopefully, more of them are still alive and are adapting to something more akin to cave dwelling than open-forested lands.

Forestry, Global Warming, and the Multi-Billion-Dollar Carbon-Credit Grab

Most forests are working forests. They are cut regularly for lumber production and other uses. Only 12.7% of the earth's forests are protected. Wood is carbon. Carbon volumes sequestered in the woods need to multiply to significantly contribute to global cooling. Without this, the carbon credit market is mostly wasted as a tool for significant global cooling. We still have time to save our forests.

Insights on Food Sovereignty from Cuba

Recently two members of the collective Grow Where You Are were selected to visit Cuba with on a food sovereignty tour. This exciting honor is still fresh in the hearts and minds of Nicole Bluh, Operations Coordinator and Maricela Vega, Agroecology Intern. Below each of them shares a bit of their reflections about local food systems and the people at the center of them.

The Exciting Herbal Resurgence

Herbalism has a rich, beautiful history and is once again finding a place in many modern homes. Now is a vibrant, exciting time to be an herbalist!

How Big Data is Becoming More Important to the Energy Industry

As the energy industry evolves, so does big data. Big data is probably best known for tracking people’s behaviors, purchases and viewpoints, but it can have many other applications. Now the energy sector is tapping into the resources big data has to offer. From renewable energy to oil, gas and coal, this data science can help many companies maximize profits, reduce costs and even lower risk.

A Royal Compost Adventure Report

Stan Slaughter gave a speech in England this April at the invitation of HRH Prince Charles. The speech described the many synergies available when we enlist the magical powers of the microbial friends around us. A section of the speech is exerpted in the blog post.

Biosolids or Biohazard? Part 2

A precedent setting legal battle is being played in Virginia's countryside. Local business owner is seeking county's permit to store and process municipal and industrial sludge inside a residential neighborhood. If he is allowed to build the biosolids processing facility - health and the quality of life of hundreds of local residents will be compromised and the permit could mean a green light to other similar enterprises mushrooming in rural areas.

Biosolids or Biohazard?

Meet Carla Jordan, the resident of a rural county of Spotsylvania, VA. This a true story of how land application of biosolids affected Carla's life and how she decided to fight for the health and welfare of her family and her community.

We Live on Planet Mother

Land-based people have a global culture of relationship with nature. This powerful experience of interconnection is extremely valuable too turn us away from the colonized food system.

Activists Fight Biosolids Land Application

Caroline Snyder, Ph.D.,is Professor Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. For the last 20 years she has researched the politics and science of using biosolids and industrial residuals as an agricultural "fertilizer". She founded Citizens for Sludge-Free Land and is a charter member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here, Dr Snyder shares with us her views on the role of anti-sludge activists.

Sludge Train: Toxic Biosolids Permitted in Virginia

The burden of municipal and industrial waste disposal is transformed into a commercial enterprise, with the careless disregard for growing concerns over the risks it poses to the human and animal health and to the natural environment.

The Sludging of Rural Communities

Agricultural use of sludge is not only detrimental to human health, but it also damages the social fabric of rural communities all across the country. Federal and state regulations are ill prepared to address medical, social and environmental consequences of this disastrous practice.

Inspiring Eco-Consciousness in Kids Without a Load of Eco-Guilt

How do you talk to young children about caring for the environment without loading them with guilt? Here are five environmental education suggestions that create natural opportunities for kids to learn about what they can do to be immersed in nature and help our planet.

Biosolids: More Harm than Good, Part 2

This is Part 2 of an interview with David Lewis, Ph.D. - formerly a senior-level research microbiologist at EPA-ORD. He currently serves as director of research for the Focus for Health Foundation.

Biosolids: More Harm than Good, Part 1

Dr. David Lewis, Ph.D., who was formerly a senior level research microbiologist at EPA-ORD, kindly agreed to an interview for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog addressing the issue of agricultural use of sewage and industrial sludge, aka – biosolids. He is one of the most prominent scientific voices in the growing opposition to biosolids land application. Dr. Lewis’ publications are frequently cited as an example of solid, unbiased scientific evidence of the danger posed by this practice.

Homesteading Simplicity

That something is easy doesn't always mean it's simple – many of the modern conveniences so much of the western world relies on, the thermostat in most conventional houses, for example, is but the end of a long and complex chain reaction with consequences far beyond our reach. Homesteading simplicity can be described as a way to limit those chain reactions, to be more in control over the effect of our actions and, to alter those effects to have a positive impact.

Shumei: A Natural Agriculture Cult

Integrating Eastern teachings to Western agricultural practices can help us develop a more holistic form of agriculture. The legacy of Fukuoka inspires us to embrace a peaceful relationship towards Nature that can take many incarnations. The core guideline behind Shumei Natural Agriculture is to follow one’s heart, not letting one’s mind steal mindfulness away, while remaining open for new ideas.

Why We Need the Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, proposed on June 2, 2014, by the Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan not only limits our carbon pollution but also injects life back into our domestic workforce.

Films on 'Green' Topics

This is a listing of some of the green-themed films that came out between 2012-2014. These films are on a variety of topics, including food/agriculture, health, energy sources, water, climate change, animals, etc.

Protect the Beach

Whether you live on the beach or 1000s of miles away, there are easy ways you can protect coastal water quality.

Smart Agriculture in Cameroon Minimizes Greenhouse Gases

At a time when greenhouse gas emissions from cars and electricity generation around the world are at an all-time high, Heifer International in Cameroon is leading initiatives and programming to help reduce such emissions from livestock production there.

Hot Tips to Stay Cool

Memorial Day signifies the unofficial start of summer and onset of hot weather. Use these tips to stay cool.

How Big is Your Water Footprint?

Explore ways to reduce both your direct and indirect water footprint. Reducing your water footprint could make a huge different to both the environment and finances.

Vandana Shiva to Visit Kansas City

Leading food sovereignty activist Vandana Shiva will present “Cultivating Diversity, Freedom and Hope” in Kansas City. Many other farming and gardening workshops and events are planned for April 17-18, 2014.

An ‘Elemental’ Undertaking: Environmental Film Humanizes the Eco-Warrior

There’s more than one way to be an environmental warrior. And some approaches work better than others. Elemental follows the stories of three environmental advocates united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most dire ecological issues affecting their respective communities. This isn’t only a story about plight and pollution, however. Rather, Gayatri Roshan’s and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee’s documentary works best as a character-driven study of eco-activism’s do’s and don’ts.

Caring About the Environment

Why do certain individuals care about the environment while others do not? Is it an intrinsic moral obligation? Are we born with an innate instinct to want to protect the earth and its natural resources?

2013 Farm Bill Should Be Healthy Food Bill

As Congress considers the 2013 Farm Bill, it has the opportunity to enact legislation that protects and supports the nation's family farmers and market gardeners, in addition to protecting consumers and the environment.

My Journey Home From Chemical Sensitivities

An introduction to Paula Baker-Laporte's future readers : about Paula, multiple chemical sensitivities, Building Biology and the role of green building in health.

The Sacred Headwaters: Goliath Defeated by 1,000 Davids

People took a stand against one of the largest multi-national oil companies in the world and resolved to fight back against Shell’s plans to annihilate the Sacred Headwaters. And we were successful. After 5 years of incredible campaigning, community organizing, hard-hitting ads, protests and a storm of media coverage, Shell agreed to forfeit its tenures in the Sacred Headwaters and public pressure catalyzed the government of British Columbia to ban all further oil and gas development in the region.

Prepare for Pesticide Spray Season - Part I

What is Pesticide Drift? “Pesticide drift” is the movement of a pesticide through the air away from the intended target. You might actually see the drift in the form of a mist. You may smell it. But it can be invisible and odorless. The spray may be applied from the back of a tractor — referred to as a “rig.” Or it may be applied from a spray plane or helicopter.

Green Goods: Useful Products and Gifts

An index of previous posts that have referenced green products. These posts have covered building- and home-related products, as well as chocolates, books, and other types of goods. Many of the products mentioned in these posts would make good gifts.

Growing Renewable Energy Sources in the United States

The Obama Administration releases its plans for new renewable energy sources.  Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, explains that the new solar energy zones span six states and keep both domestic energy and environmental preservation in mind. If completed, the power generated from these solar energy zones would provide electricity to roughly seven-million homes.  

Voting for the Environment

If you would like to be represented by more elected officials who support environmental safeguards for our air, water, and land, take a look at these resources, including the League of Conservation Voters' National Environmental Scorecard.

Global Grassroots Leaders: 2012 Goldman Prize Winners

The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious award for grassroots activists. This year’s six inspiring and courageous prize winners (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions of the world) are...

Gold Prospecting And Having Fun

Spending a day having fun prospecting for gold, enjoying the outdoors, exploring a ghost town and the high mountains.

Cycling Silk Movie Trailer: Beyond Borders

Inspiring video by two female bicycle travelers crossing borders, making friends, and documenting the human effort to keep the natural world connected despite our nation state boundaries.

Energy Star Program Launches New Initiative

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program launched its 2011 Change the World, Start with Energy Star Campaign. This campaign encourages and inspires Americans to commit to energy efficiency by highlighting grassroots efforts of individuals all over the United States.

Goldman Environmental Prize 2011: This Year's Winners

The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious award for grassroots environmentalists. This year’s six inspiring prize winners (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions of the world) are...

Green Faith

Simran Sethi explains how the green faith movement can provide common ground among different groups.

Innovative Environmental Policy to Green America

Branded as smarter capitalism, the Petition for a Green Recovery seeks a new kind of environmental policy to green America. Using financial incentives, this idea plans to create a marketplace that takes into account environmental and social costs while increasing the green jobs sector.  

Pro Sports Leagues Embrace Solar Power

The embrace of environmentalism by professional sports provides us all with a new and large opportunity to educate people worldwide about the need to do something, however small it might seem, to protect our biosphere.

Natural Sunscreen Reviews

Keep your skin protected from the sun as well as from toxic chemicals that can potentially cause severe health risks. These reviews of all-natural sunscreens explain which ingredients to avoid when choosing a sunscreen.

Revised Bill Opens Gulf to More Pollution

Important provisions in the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act have been removed, which would leave the Gulf of Mexico open to damage from unsustainable fish farming methods.

Eco-Friendly Wedding Series No. 7: Environmentally-Friendly Wedding Food Ideas

In this blog series, I’ll guide you through eight sustainable wedding issues — starting with rings, and making stops for invitations and food — that are both easy and fun to remedy. After all, it may be your big day, but that doesn’t mean you should forget the big picture. This blog is all about environmentally-friendly wedding food ideas.

How Do You Conserve Water at Home?

Water conservation can help you save big on money and energy. Here are a few ways to help you conserve water at home by simply using water-efficient appliances. 

Will You Change Your Sunscreen Habits Because of Recent Reports?

With the media reporting widespread vitamin D deficiencies and the Environmental Working Group's 2010 Sunscreen Guide reporting that some sunscreens may do more harm than good, there seem to be a few good arguments for getting a little exposure to unadulturated sunlight. What do you think? Will you change your sunscreen habits because of recent reports?

What's Your Favorite Environmental Literature?

Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Bill McKibbon, Terry Tempest Williams. Do you have a favorite nature or environmental writer? A book or story you can get lost in, that inspires you to action, or simply reminds you of how incredible nature is? Post a comment to share the titles that invite you into the wonder of the natural world — or have maybe even changed your life.

Earth Day Network Announces Climate Rally and Exciting New Website

The environmental advocacy group, Earth Day Network, is rallying environmental activism through a climate rally and a new site where the environmental community can learn about issues and events. Learn more about their efforts and how you can get involved.

Is Ignoring Our Environmental Problems Our Most Dangerous Problem?

Most people want to contribute to a positive future. But their intention is often obstructed by the things they perceive that they cannot do. In frustration, they stop thinking about it. When we stop thinking about it, we feel a sense of relief. That sense of relief is, perhaps, the biggest threat to the world’s natural environment today.  

A Safety Report On Cell Phone Radiation

Cell phone radiation has been a concern for years, but yesterday the Environmental Working Group released a report that rates the safety of cell phones on the market.

Chevron Fights Ecuador Lawsuit

Ecuadorians want $27 billion in environmental damages, in the largest environmental damages lawsuit, and Chevron says it won't pay.

Obama Asks EPA to Reconsider Auto Emissions Position

President Barack Obama signed an executive order to help reduce automobile gas emissions in the United States. This is the first of many steps that the Obama administration plans to make to improve global warming.

The Problem with Environmentalists

For decades environmentalists have been passionate about the cause and, it turns out, we were right. So why have we accomplished so little? Maybe it's the attitude.

Plant Trees by Reading Books

Eco-Libris offers people the opportunity to off-set the books they read by planting trees in developing countries.

Ready, Set, Vote!

Wondering where to vote or what's going to be on the ballot? Find answers to these and many other election questions (plus, a game!) with these resources.

What's In a Name?

Ever wonder where the name "treehugger" came from? Well I've got the answer and a few other fun facts about the subject.

Carbofuran: A Toxic Case

The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to cancel the use of carbofuran, but FMC Corporation stands in their way.

What's Green?

Canada is helping define "green" products for its advertising industry.

Conservation Land at Risk

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land could be under pressure from the perceived need for ethanol-producing corn.