Sarah Backhouse

Sarah Backhouse

Ethnically ambiguous with the accent to prove it, I’m thrilled to be on the cutting edge of this brave, new green world.

Even Non-American Idol Fans Can Appreciate Green Finale

american idol the green finale Even Non American Idol Fans Can Appreciate Green Finale

I personally couldn’t give a rat’s about who wins season seven of American Idol – saccharine covers of Celine Dion’s greatest hits equal ear murder, not must-watch-telly in my household. But I’m definitely in the minority. More people tune into this ratings monolith than voted in the last Presidential election. Let’s hope this time round, people are just as inspired about Barack (or Hilary) and John as they are David, David, Jason and Syesha.

But I digress. With the Idol finales around the corner, Fox Broadcasting Corp has made an interesting announcement. They’re going green. And not just in the money variety. The Murdoch-owned network is choosing renewable energy to power the two-night American Idol finale at L.A.’s Nokia theatre. Renewable power, including solar, wind and hydropower, will be provided by LA DWP’s “Green Power for a Green L.A. Program” to keep the carbon count down.

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Greenpeace Drama on the High Seas | Activists Confront Taiwanese Vessel

greenpeace high seas taiwanese activists Greenpeace Drama on the High Seas | Activists Confront Taiwanese Vessel

I love drama on the high seas. And Greenpeace activists certainly delivered earlier this week, painting the word “pirate” on the side of a Taiwanese fishing boat in Pacific international waters. Greenpeace accused the long-line fishing vessel “of hunting down precious marine species — including an endangered turtle — in international waters north-east of the Solomon Islands”, an area Greenpeace wants declared as marine reserves.

Boarding rubber duckies launched from their mother ship, the Esperanza, Greenpeace activists confronted the vessel called “Ho Tsai Fa 18” and began to “free the fish, sharks and endangered turtle caught on its hooks” as well as (possibly displaying pirate-like behavior themselves) taking one of the vessel’s radio beacons and a fishing line. Greenpeace resorted to these drastic measure due to inaction on behalf of international fishing authorities.

greenpeace high seas activists Greenpeace Drama on the High Seas | Activists Confront Taiwanese Vessel

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Which Green Fashionista Are You?

green fashion fashionista Which Green Fashionista Are You?

You know me. Always up for some social analysis — especially of the socially conscious variety. So, when I spied Green Daily’s “Four types of green fashionistas”, I couldn’t resist exploring and extrapolating. Which category would I fall into? (Not that it’s all about me, of course.) Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Midge Orchid Thought Extinct Since 1852 Found on Private Australian Land

midge orchid1 Midge Orchid Thought Extinct Since 1852 Found on Private Australian Land

China’s been under such fire lately.Thank goodness for field naturalists. These tireless volunteers brave the elements, brambles and blisters in an effort to preserve precious native flora and fauna, as well as promote nature conservation and protect endangered species. (This, while the rest of us are hanging out in malls, watching the Wire or dating.) It sounds like tedious work, but the rewards are huge when it pays off — as was the case for Kevin Bonham, a local field naturalist in Tasmania, Australia.

Bonham chanced upon the “dense midge orchid” — a species of plant that was long thought extinct. (The last one was recorded in 1852.) And it’s not just one or two — an officer from the Threatened Orchid Project says an incredible 60 patches were found on private land. (Just what he was doing on the private land was not reported.) ABC News quotes him as saying: “They’re tiny, so they’re only 4 to 7 centimeters tall and very fine, so unless you’re really down on your hands and knees looking, you’d just miss them.” (Okay, what he was doing on private land down on his hands and knees is probably best skipped right over.) Furthermore, “you’ve got to be there at that right window when they’re actually in flower to actually see them or else there’s nothing above ground, just a tuber below ground.”

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Can Tomatoes Slow the Aging Process?

tomato 051 Can Tomatoes Slow the Aging Process?

Prevention. That’s the most commonly used buzzword when it comes to skincare. Washing your face with the proper soap prevents clogged pores. Using the right moisturizer prevents wrinkles. Great advice if you’re just starting out, but what about those of us who’ve already overzealously worshipped the sun or partied a bit too much during college? What then?

The most common answers to this question “a healthy diet”, “at least eight glasses of water perday” and “plenty of rest”. But can healthy eating, adequate hydration and lots of sleep undo the effects of sun damage and a few too many Marlboro lights?

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Hotel Triton | Green and HOT Pink

hotel triton green pink Hotel Triton | Green and HOT Pink

While I think it’s safe to say we’ve moved past the eco = “green with leaf motifs” phase, I’m finding the hot pink decor with strategic splashes of lime green that adorn the eco suites of San Francisco’s Hotel Triton both garish and inexplicable. I mean, am I right in assuming that people who opt for eco travel don’t have the same design aesthetic as someone seeking a quickie wedding in Vegas?

If so, no-one briefed the interior designer.

The hotel, established in 1991, is a brainchild of nine artists (aaahhh, now it all makes sense). I know, I know. It’s not very peace, love and Haight Ashbury of me to slag the hotel. But the aesthete inside me refuses to be silenced. What can I do? It’s a disease! But where (in my opinion) the design misfires, the intention is spot on.

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Barcode: Beats Boiling a Kettle

barcode nightclub vauxhall south london 01 Barcode: Beats Boiling a Kettle

Who would have guessed I’d find myself back in the London club scene. Ah, I remember the ritual like it was yesterday. Leaving our cozy Soho apartment in the dead of winter, dressed in a thousand layers. Arriving at the club by midnight, disrobing (the outer layers), dancing til dawn, eventually re-robing and heading home as the piss weak sun struggled to radiate any warmth whatsoever. Thank god those days are over for me, but I’m more than happy to pass the lollypop to the next generation of clubbers. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Stewart + Brown | Organic Pioneers

There’s nothing like giving birth to inspire inflated ideas of one’s own creativity. It’s like, wow, I just created human life, what can’t I do? Er… well, a lot actually.

Luckily this wasn’t case for Karen Stewart and Howard Brown, whose ethical clothing brand Stewart + Brown was born, alongside baby Hazel, back in 2002.

Spying a hole in the fashion industry for high quality, stylish clothing with minimal impact on the planet, the couple decided to capitalize on their complementary skill set. Karen is a trained painter cum designer who had previously worked at Urban Outfitters and Patagonia. Howard is a graphic designer and brand development guru who also worked at Urban Outfitters as well as Microsoft, X Games and Anthropologie. Together, this husband and wife design duo have created a collection of flirty, functional and highly fashionable pieces.

stewarbrown fashion gliving 09 Stewart + Brown | Organic Pioneers

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Farmaesthetics Makes Organic Herbal Natural Skincare | Not Petroleumcare Like The Other Guys!

farmaesthetics 01 Farmaesthetics Makes Organic Herbal Natural Skincare | Not Petroleumcare Like The Other Guys!

Check out all of the awesome things Texas has given us: oil; the evangelical mega-churches of the Bible Belt; “Dallas” the TV show; and the dynasty. No, not the TV show — the Bush dynasty. But it’s not all bad. Texas is also the birthplace of Brenda Brock, daughter of a seventh generation Texan farming family and the brains behind sustainable skin care line Farmaesthetics.

It was after to moving to Rhode Island that Ms. Brocks began making her handmade herbal skin care preparations — all concocted from fresh ingredients grown at her organic farmstead — to the delight of her friends and family. Nine years later, Farmaesthetics is a favorite of beauty editors, posh retailers and luxury spas.

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DIY Moped Reduces Pollution by Firing Out Cleaner Air

dyi airpowered scooter 02 DIY Moped Reduces Pollution by Firing Out Cleaner Air

It may not have the horsepower of a Harley or the sex appeal of a Vespa, but Jim Stansfield’s Puch moped has an important distinction: it runs on air. Stansfield, a University of Bristol aeronautics graduate, says his moped can actually reduce pollution. “It actually fires out cleaner air,” says the 37-year-old.

The moped has a range of 7 miles and a top speed of 18 mph — which is plenty far and fast enough for getting around urban centers. As to its revolutionary power source, the Puch is pimped out with a pair of carbon-fiber air cylinders, the type “used by fire fighters as breathing apparatus in burning buildings”. These cylinders power two rotary air engines which drive the rear wheel. Unlike electric scooters which can take sometime to recharge, the air moped can be refilled from a larger cylinder in a matter of seconds. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Organic Fashion By H&M Popping Up Like Those Damn Pinkberries

hm organic fashion 01 Organic Fashion By H&M Popping Up Like Those Damn Pinkberries

I heart H&M. Or Hennes as it’s called in Europe. In London, Hennes and TopShop are the two staples for fashionistas to get cheap yet cutting edge clothing – a slinky tee to go with designer jeans or shirt-dress you could dress up with a fabulous belt. Here in the States there are so many inexpensive retails stores (Target, Forever 21, Old Navy, American Apparel, Loehmanns, Ross) that it’s utterly confounding. I’ve lived here for four years and am still absolutely clueless on where to shop for basics. Oddly the higher end posed no problem, I drifted to Neiman Marcus and Barney’s like a leaf in a current. But one can’t live in Jimmy Choos alone. Which brings me back to Hennes, rather H&M.

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The Sun | Saving the World One Headline at a Time

thesun gogreen headlines 01 The Sun | Saving the World One Headline at a Time

British tabloid The Sun is world famous for its jingoistic headlines (Gotcha, Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster); colorful editors (including my former boss, Kelvin MacKenzie and now the first female editor, Rebekah Wade); incessant pandering to the lowest common denominator (with articles about celebrity, celebrity and more celebrity) and the institution that is Page Three (topless chicks between the ages of 18-28). Yes, America, I said topless. All natural breasts, though.

More recently, it seems the tabloid is pulling its mind out of the gutter and aiming it at the altogether higher ground of global warming. As well as celebrating a special “green week”, the paper’s online version now has a section dedicated to the environment called Go Green. Stories include: “Face to face with climate change”, where journalist Sebastian Lander kayaks around Alaska; “N-ice maiden’s naked plight” (no-one does headlines quite as well as The Sun) about 21-year-old Spanish student Ines Reverter’s naked dingy boat ride in an Alaskan fjord; and “Grolar bears are global warning” on the emergence of a grizzly polar bear hybrid in the wake of warmer temperatures. Admittedly nothing that would be published in Nature, but it does appeal to the masses. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

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