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.

Mass Frog Extinction | Dashing Hopes of Finding Prince Charming

frog extinction skin toxic 01 Mass Frog Extinction | Dashing Hopes of Finding Prince Charming

Those of you hoping to find Prince Charming by kissing a toad had better start considering other dating options, like match.com. The chances of this fairytale ending coming true are getting slimmer by the second. Scientists warn that frogs and their cousins, the toads and newts, could disappear entirely within 20 years. That’s right, extinct. But this time it’s not because of global warming, rather a deadly virus.

London Zoo’s amphibian expert Iain Stephen said: “Over the next 20 or 30 years we could be talking about the biggest mass extinction since the dinosaurs” (via The Sun). Some of the cold-hearted amongst you could argue: big deal. The death of dinosaurs didn’t adversely affect humankind. Quite the contrary — it’s allowed us to thrive (while inspiring us to create animated masterpieces like the Flintstones). With frogs, however, it’s different. Frogs play an important role in the food chain: “They typically live on insects, worms and snails (and) in turn, they are eaten by birds, fish and mammals such as badgers and foxes”. Losing them would upset the fragile balance of nature.

frog extinction skin toxic 03 Mass Frog Extinction | Dashing Hopes of Finding Prince Charming

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The Americana | What Every Kitchen Wants To Be When It Grows Up

kitchen americana eco 03 The Americana | What Every Kitchen Wants To Be When It Grows Up

That the Italians know a thing or two about design is an understatement. After all, this is the nation that brought us Alessi, Prada and Ferrari. Italy is also at the forefront of gastronomic world. Where would we be without grilled eggplant, mushroom risotto and frothy soy cappuccinos? Not bulging out of our Prada pencil skirts probably, but that’s by the bye. Given the country’s two great loves, it comes as no surprise that the Italians have created the perfect kitchen…apparently just for us.

kitchen americana eco 02 The Americana | What Every Kitchen Wants To Be When It Grows Up

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Apple iStairs | Natural, Sexy, Alluring, Illuminating & Of Course Completely Rethought

apple glass stairs Apple iStairs |  Natural, Sexy, Alluring, Illuminating & Of Course Completely Rethought

What is about Apple stores that make them so irresistible? Obviously, the Buddhist mantra of eliminating all desire came well before the creation of the iPhone, iPod and MacBook Air. But awesome products aside, there’s something about the user friendly yet high design of the layout that whispers: “Come on in… and bring your credit card.”

London design firm Eckersley O’Callaghan was enlisted to help Apple transition from hardware supplier to global retailer with “the creation of spaces that matched their pioneering brand values and providing a fitting showcase for their cutting edge design.”

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Hotel Palomar | The New Green L.A. Getaway

green hotel palomar westwood 03 Hotel Palomar | The New Green L.A. Getaway

Sure, Los Angeles may not make it into America’s top 10 greenest cities (or 50, for that matter). We admit our penchant for air pollution, stretch Hummers and conspicuous consumption leaves plenty of room for improvement. But amongst the strip malls and smog, there are pockets of green. And like everything in Los Angeles, you need an insider to help you find it. So, for all you visitors to the City of Angels, here’s my tip for a sleek, stylish and environmentally friendly hotel opening this month.

The Hotel Palomar in Westwood provides a luxury boutique experience that chooses environmental responsibility because it’s “simply the right thing to do”. The hotel, part of the Kimpton family, incorporates more than 40 eco-friendly practices into their daily operations. Things like in-room recycling, energy efficient lighting and water efficient features. They also boast natural toiletries — a huge relief, having endured über drying chemical body washes on more occasions than I care to remember.

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Edward Norton Wants Green Building For Low-Income Families

edward norton green building Edward Norton Wants Green Building For Low Income Families

Forget the cinematic tale of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, here’s the real-life account of Mr. Edward Norton’s recent trip to the nation’s capital. The actor, director and producer (not to mention Yale graduate) testified earlier this week before the United States House of Representatives select committee on energy independence and global warming.

Norton, an Enterprise Community Partners Board trustee, environmental activist and proponent of affordable housing, asked Congress to make a commitment towards green building for low-income families. “Green and affordable must be one and the same and we need a national commitment,” said Norton. “Low-income people and communities suffer disproportionately from housing challenges, energy costs and the effects of climate change. We can make progress on all these issues, create green jobs and lock-in long-term environmental benefits by making green affordable homes a national priority.”

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Nature-Inspired Light Block From Brave Space Design | Retro with Modern Ethical Appeal

light block brave space design Nature Inspired Light Block From Brave Space Design | Retro with Modern Ethical Appeal

If you’re into modern modular home furnishings with hint of retro cool, look no further Brooklyn based green designers Brave Space Design. These guys have been racking up column inches in the hippest design publications — from Dwell and cool hunting to Surface and Plenty — and it’s easy to see why. The video game-inspired Tetrad Flat Shelving is a playful design classic, while the functional landscape of the Mountain Coat range rolls whimsical and practical into one. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Rogan Gregory Hits Target | Ethical Designs From An Unlikely Retailer

rogan ethical target clothing Rogan Gregory Hits Target | Ethical Designs From An Unlikely Retailer

Target’s GO International banner offers the hoi polloi a chance to wear designer clothing for a fraction of the price. In the past, the Minnesota-based corporation has collaborated with cutting-edge designers like Alice Temperly, Proenza Schouler, Loeffler Randall, Patrick Robinson and Jovovich-Hawk. But this time it’s different. For its eleventh GO venture, Target will be delivering certified organic clothing by teaming up with ethical icon Rogan Gregory.

Gregory is rock star in the green fashion scene, carving a niche with his own label, Loomstate, as well as Ali Hewson and Bono’s label, Edun. So, what would tempt this stickler for sustainability to join forces with a mass retailer like Target (who — let’s face it — hasn’t had the most stellar environmental record to date)?

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Pittsburgh Wins an Award, But L.A. Still Rules

pittsburgh wins a green award 01 Pittsburgh Wins an Award, But L.A. Still Rules

Here’s some big news for the week: the city of Pittsburgh wins an award. Hooray! The twentieth largest city in the United States, which is home to over 2 million people, takes home the prize for… oh, wait — hang on… better re-cork that champagne… Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Waterfowl Die in Fowl Water as the Maple Leaf Oozes Oil

ducks die water maple leaf oozes oil1 Waterfowl Die in Fowl Water as the Maple Leaf Oozes Oil

I’ve gotta say that I hate noise-makers. I don’t like them on New Year’s celebrations or birthdays, or even when some idiot feels the road is more his than someone else’s and lets them know with an ear-splitting honk. As far as I’m concerned, the world is noisy enough and there’s little need to add to that.

But here’s an exception where it would have come in handy. MSNBC reports that 500 ducks died after landing on a toxic pond in Fort McMurray, Alberta. This is the first time in 30 years that such an incident has occurred in the Syncrude Canada Ltd.-owned oil sands. Aside from the obvious query of why we need a toxic pond in the first place, Alberta Premier, Ed Stemlach, has questioned why noise-making cannons were not deployed to scare off the birds.

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Loup Charmont | A Force of Nature and A Protector of the Planet

loup charmont 03 Loup Charmont | A Force of Nature and A Protector of the Planet

While David Blaine holds his breath for 17 minutes, I’ve been using that time productively by unearthing the coolest raw green designer talent. While this latest find may look like it walked off the set of “Gone with the Wind”, it’s actually straight outta Brooklyn. Loup Charmont means “the charming wolf” — a beautiful force of nature, fierce protector and loyal pack nurturer.

In human terms, this translates to a romantic array of flowing floor length halter dresses, tunics, sarongs and string bikinis. The bloomers, nightie and plantation dress, while historically inspired, are so in the now. Designer Kee Edward’s collection is made entirely from organic, sustainable cotton fibers, with her driving force being her goal to “do no harm in the world”. Not only are there any no synthetics or toxins in her production, there are no dyes. Everything comes in a natural color palette.

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Perc No Perk When it Comes To Dry Cleaning

perc natural organic green dry cleaning 01 Perc No Perk When it Comes To Dry Cleaning

I’m stoked to learn that my aversion to buying “dry clean only” clothing serves more than just my personal laziness — it’s actually beneficial to the planet. We all know that all too familiar dry cleaner smell, right? Well, it turns out that the sweet yet sour, steamy aroma has a name: “perc”. Which sounds kinda cute until you find out it’s short for perchloroethylene. According to the EPA (as quoted by Plenty): “Perc is a nervous system toxin and probable human carcinogen [which] has been linked to headaches, nausea and reproductive problems.” Apparently 85% of dry cleaning shops use this chemical solvent. And it doesn’t end at the cleaners. The toxins then exude from the clothes that are bound in plastic dry cleaning bags and find their way into our homes. Scary, huh?

Luckily, Plenty offers us some alternatives:

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Can GM Recover From Delayed Response to Fuel Efficient Vehicles?

gm hummer h3 01 Can GM Recover From Delayed Response to Fuel Efficient Vehicles?

General Motors, the not so flattering subject of Chris Paine’s documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, is feeling the pinch of previously pulling the plug on the EV1. I mean, duh. The recent launch of the flashy Tesla rubbing salt into their wounds can’t possibly feel good. But GM is putting a brave face on past errors by throwing themselves into the world of green. Their website proudly announces that they have the “most models with EPA-estimated 30 mpg or higher highway fuel economy.”

Ryan Mickle of Triple Pundit attended a recent presentation in San Francisco by GM Chairman and CEO, Rick Wagoner, where he spoke on the future of the company with a firm focus on green technology. As we all know, after 76 years of being America’s number one car manufacturer, GM lost the top spot to Toyota — a move which can in part be attributed to the success of the Japanese carmaker’s green fleet, including the hugely popular Prius.

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