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When eco-keener meets enviro-slacker

Rebecca Dube, Globe and Mail

Rachelle Carson cries out in horror when she sees what her husband has done.

“Noooo!” she wails. “No, no, no, no! You can’t! It’s ugly!”

The target of her wrath: A bright red barrel her husband, actor and hard-core environmentalist Ed Begley Jr., has placed beneath the drain spout on their patio to catch rainwater for irrigation.

“I’m trying to balance things out,” he pleads. “This is because of the long showers you take.”

She is unmoved. “Either this goes,” she growls, “or I go.”

“I get a two-fer,” Mr. Begley says brightly as she stalks away.

Ah, the course of green love never did run smooth.

Environmental enthusiasm has spawned a new relationship woe: the green gap.

It’s an inconvenient truth, but love and friendship can go sour when one partner is eco-obsessed and the other thinks wind power means a hairdryer. The usual negotiations over whose turn it is to take out the garbage have a new twist.

Couples and roommates now bicker over whether it’s acceptable to trash those grotty takeout containers instead of scrubbing them clean for recycling.

Mr. Begley and Ms. Carson illustrate the comic plight of a greener-than-thou relationship in Living with Ed, an HGTV reality series that premieres in Canada on Sunday, Oct. 7.

The show follows Mr. Begley as he cleans the solar panels on his roof, pedals an exercise bike to generate energy to run the toaster and hatches green schemes such as the rain barrels – to the alternating chagrin and amusement of his long-suffering wife, who seems to have envisioned a different sort of life when she married a Hollywood star.
(20 September 2007)
For some hints on bridging “the green gap,” see Sharon Astyk’s The Sustainable Marriage.

Green language: how green issues are changing our language

Alison Benjamin, Guardian
Carbon footprint, carbon-neutral, and carbon trading are no longer obscure terms banded about by environmental anoraks. They are new entries in the latest edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, which means they have officially entered the English language.

With the plethora of newsprint and commentary about climate change in the last couple of years, reflecting its meteoric rise up the political and media agenda, it is perhaps little surprise that these green buzzwords have entered the lexicon.

So next time someone looks at me blankly when I tell them their Chelsea tractor is increasing their carbon footprint, I can add “A large, four-wheel-drive vehicle used in urban areas” is causing a rise in “the amount of carbon dioxide emitted due to the activities, especially the consumption of fossil fuels, of a particular person” (

…What has the SOD missed? Just this morning I have heard the following new green term ‘carbon positive’ , when you offset more Co2 than you emit. I spoke about ‘personal carbon trading’ – a system whereby individuals are given permits to produce a particular amount of carbon dioxide which they can trade with other people – and I wrote about ‘reverse vending’ – a vending machine that pays you to recycle your plastic bottle. How long before these terms enter every day parlance?

My money’s on a term I’ve just coined ‘carbon lite’ – for consumer goods that are produced using little CO2.

What green terms do you think should be added to the dictionary?
(20 September 2007)
How about:
peakist / peakoiler / peaknik

Making Garbage Visible in All Its Stinky Glory

Emily Gertz, WorldChanging
The two-week “Zero Waste to Landfill” challenge is on at the American Public Radio show Marketplace Money. Program host Tess Vigeland has dared listeners to join her in carrying every piece of trash they generate for two weeks, revealing quite viscerally just how much garbage each person is responsible for sending to a landfill.

…I like this. It’s an amusing, creative way to reveal a serious environmental and resource issue, one that is typically invisible to most of us — and thus largely unaccounted for in our actions, and inconsistently calculated into the cost accounting of our all-growth-all-the-time economy, or how we regulate it. It’s easy to look at the numbers and numb out at the scale of how much garbage we create, or feel aghast at American wastefulness; it’s harder to convey that it’s a problem we’re all responsible for creating. What’s also neat is that Vigeland is trying to go beyond stunt-programming and make this an experiential collaboration between the show and its listeners — who, if they take on the trash challenge, can also post stories and photos on the web site
(20 September 2007)

High gas prices could make you skinnier

Study: Extra $1 in gas prices could cut obesity by 15 percent after 5 years

Higher gasoline prices may slim more than just wallets, according to a new study from Washington University in St. Louis.

Entitled “A Silver Lining? The Connection between Gas Prices and Obesity,” the study found that an additional $1 per gallon in real gasoline prices would reduce U.S. obesity by 15 percent after five years.

The report, written by Charles Courtenance for his doctoral dissertation in health economics, found that the 13 percent rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to falling pump prices.
(11 September 2007)