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.

Feeling Fat And Lazy? Do Something About It, May Is Bike Month!

bikemonth Feeling Fat And Lazy? Do Something About It, May Is Bike Month!

For those of us looking to find an excuse, any excuse, not to ride our bikes — too far, too hot, too many cars, helmet hair — spare a thought for our bicycled brethren, or “wheelmen”, of the late 1800s, who braved “rutted roads of gravel and dirt and faced antagonism from horsemen, wagon drivers, and pedestrians”. It’s a great opportunity to pay tribute to our two-wheeled predecessors of The League of American Bicyclists (who lobbied for paved roads, amongst other things) by partaking in Bike to Work week, running May 12-16, or for the more unfit/realistic among us, Bike to Work Day on May 16th. The Bike to Work efforts are part of The League of American Bicyclists broader Bike Month initiative. Their website offers 50 ways to inspire us all to ride bikes, ranging from the serious to, quite frankly, the rather silly. Suggestions include: riding with your child to school (good idea); planning a cycling vacation (sure); wearing spandex to your next board meeting (I think this one’s more of a deterrent); renting a classic bicycling movie (couch potatoes love the vicarious biking experience); and decorating a cake with a bicycle theme (surely this one is a cop out!). Maybe I’m being harsh. Or maybe the League just has a wicked sense of humor.

If you need more encouragement, here’re a few suggestions of my own. Riding a bike will help you: save money — with gas heading to whopping $4 a gallon, driving a car is expensive but riding a bike is free; lose weight — downing a caramel latte and a muffin on your morning motor vehicle commute adds calories, whereas a 30 minute bike ride burns 150 calories or more; and finally, saving the environment — forget your age or your shoe size, your carbon footprint is the figure du jour, and as peddle power generates no carbon emissions, you can feel good about planetary well-being.

As for me, I thankfully have an excuse. I’m working from home next week. True story.

(via the League of American Bicyclists and Inhabitat)

Fitness Tips From the Most Important People on the Planet

celeb fitness tips Fitness Tips From the Most Important People on the Planet

You know how it is with celebrities. We want what they have. Keira Knightley shops with a Anya Hindmarsh tote. Must own. Cameron Diaz buys a Prius in powder blue. Must drive. Brad Pitt volunteers in New Orleans. Must donate. Lindsay Lohan wears black spandex leggings for a month. Okay, we’re passing on that one. But you know what I’m saying: celebrities wield immense power to make us mere civilians suggestible to (almost) anything, even… exercise.

Who better to inspire us to hit the gym or ride a bike or something than Britney, Mario and Kim? And here are all the sweaty details. (Hooray — finally, some positive news surrounding Ms. Spears!) It seems the songstress of toxic fame (that’s a reference to one of her songs, I’m not just being mean) has impressed her trainer Marx Corliss with her dedication, shedding 15 pounds in four weeks by way of 500 abdominal exercises a day. Ouch. Well, that’s one way to burn off all those Starbucks beverages and Cheetos.

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Anything Is Possible In Your Exotic Eco Boudoir

eco boudoir 02 Anything Is Possible In Your Exotic Eco Boudoir

Want to turn your run of the mill bedroom into an exotic eco boudoir? Please. That’s like asking if you want Barack Obama to be President. Of course, you do. Well, in the case of former, you’ll need a couple of key items: low lighting, soft music, sexy lingerie, a lover, sweet scents and pillows — lots of pillows.

Luckily designer Catriona McKechnie’s Eco Boudoir range offers boudoir essentials “fashioned out of biodegradable and naturally produced materials, free of chemical interference, including hemp and natural silk, and Italian woven bamboo fiber.” Everything you need under one New York City luxe boutique.

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Orange Roughy Getting A Rough Deal

orange roughy1 Orange Roughy Getting A Rough Deal

VU for vulnerable. That’s how the World Conservation Union’s Red List categorizes the orange roughy. Which means it’s “considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild”. So, to prevent them going the way of the Dodo, you’d think we’d simply stop catching them, right?

Err, wrong. According to a 2003 report by the World Wildlife Fund and Traffic, reckless and unregulated deep water fishing is rapidly causing the demise of the orange roughy.

Orange roughy favor the deep ocean seamounts and plateaus off the coast of New Zealand and Australia, Namibia and the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Once known as slimeheads, orange roughy were renamed by New Zealanders because of their bright orange color and rough scales. (And because — let’s face it — it sounds more appetizing than “slimeheads”.) The PR campaign has certainly worked a treat. In a land where convenience is king, Americans can’t get enough of the boneless, mild tasting, firm white fillets that seem perfect for freezing. According to TerraNature, the US is, in fact, the biggest importer of the orange roughy, “importing more than 19 million pounds annually in recent years, accounting for nearly 90 percent of documented catches”, while New Zealand is the main supplier “providing more than 60% of United States imports in 2002″. I knew those hobbits were trouble. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Breedability of Endangered Tiger Not as Grim as Previously Believed

endangered tiger breedability Breedability of Endangered Tiger Not as Grim as Previously Believed

There is no one endangered species that’s more important than another. However, in the case of tigers, their majestic beauty and awesome power make the fact that they’re indeed in trouble all the more unbearable. The New York Times reports that “there are only about 3,000 remaining in the wild, down from about 100,000 a century ago.”

Ironically enough, it seems their status as the most potent symbol of Asia is what makes them vulnerable. Tigers are under threat due to illegal poaching (their body parts are used illegally in Chinese medicine), loss of habitat and loss of prey.

But now for the good news.

Of the 15,000 to 20,000 tigers in captivity — namely in zoos, breeding facilities, circuses and private homes — it was previously thought that only 1,000 of them could be used in managed breeding programs which are “designed to preserve genetic diversity among Bengal, Sumatran and other tiger subspecies.” The rest were considered “generic”, meaning that they’re hybrids or of unknown genetics. However, a new study by Shu-Jin Luo and Stephen J. O’Brien of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute, published in Current Biology, suggests that these generics are not so generic after all.

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The Walmart Organic Cotton Monster Is Loose And Hungry. Prepared To Be Stepped On!

walmart takes all organic cotton 01 The Walmart Organic Cotton Monster Is Loose And Hungry. Prepared To Be Stepped On!

When you think of socially responsible retailers, Walmart probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind. And rightly so. The world’s largest corporation has come under fire from grassroots organizations, environmental groups, labor unions, women’s rights campaigners (and just about everyone except shoppers in middle America) over its sometimes questionable policies and business practices.

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Junky Styling Suits You

junky styling 01 Junky Styling Suits You

The origins of the modern suit can be traced back to 19th century England and the tailors of Saville Row. Two hundred years later, London remains at the suit’s epicenter. But this time, it’s recycled, not new, and it’s women (not men) who are making waves — or should we say ruffles.

Junky Styling’s shop and work studio is located on Brick Lane in London’s East End. According to their myspace page, the company “specializes in taking old suits and reinventing them into beautiful coats, jackets, dresses, skirts, corsets, etc., and full range of accessories that make up two collections every year.”

Junky Styling is the brainchild of best friends, Annika Saunders and Kerry Seager, who credit the idea of refashioning garments to their own experiences as impoverished teenagers growing up in 1990s London. Desperate to don something fabulous with which to go clubbing, the enterprising duo purchased men’s suits from second hand stores before deconstructing and reconstructing the pinstripes and tweeds into brave, new creations.

junky styling 02 Junky Styling Suits You

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Lindsay Lohan Goes From Swapping Spit to Swapping Clothes

lindsay lohan visa clothing swap 02 Lindsay Lohan Goes From Swapping Spit to Swapping Clothes

Lindsay Lohan never fails to surprise. In fact, I reckon the singer/starlet/train wreck is a walking paradox. From Cirque Lodge to the Chateau Marmont… from being ranked Forbes’ 3rd richest Young Hollywood Top-Earner to rumors of cash-strapped photo selling to the paparazzi… and from a critically acclaimed performance in “Mean Girls” to her 2008 Razzie Award winning performance in “I Know Who Killed Me”. Seems Lindsay’s got just about every area covered.

Even, evidently, the green space. Seems Ms. Lohan is trading in her signature designer duds for something sustainable. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Sea Lions 1, Fisheries Service 0

sea lions 01 Sea Lions 1, Fisheries Service 0

Now, I know you’ve all been on tenterhooks (or flippers) since my earlier report this month over the controversy surrounding the sea lions of the Columbia River dam. You’ll remember how the National Marine Fisheries Service wanted to trap or kill 85 sea lions annually because of their voracious appetite for salmon? Well, the Humane Society sought an emergency order to contest this federal authority and I’m happy to report they won. Sort of.

Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted the emergency order, saying: “The lethal taking of California sea lions is, by definition, irreparable. This logic also applies to the salmon consumed by the sea lions.” The court said the reprieve would only apply to the spring chinook run and that it hoped the case would be resolved by next year. The federal authorization recommended an annual take of about 30 sea lions. A full appeals court is scheduled for May 8th in Pasadena.

sea lions 02 Sea Lions 1, Fisheries Service 0

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SF Bay Area to Tax for Carbon Emissions

martinez shell oil refinery san francisco bay area SF Bay Area to Tax for Carbon Emissions

Want a surefire solution to curbing carbon emissions? Tax them. That’s exactly what the savvy air quality regulators in the San Francisco Bay Area are attempting to implement. In what is believed to be a first for the nation — a government body will charge businesses for contributing to climate change.

The agency in question is the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which plans to bypass inaction in Sacramento and Washington by (according to the New York Times) charging industries “4.4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide emitted.” The agency, which already has independent authority to charge industries for other pollution, such as particulates, says this new fee “would be stretching its mandate to include carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases.”

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The Magic Kingdom of Mushrooms

magic mushrooms superfood 011 The Magic Kingdom of Mushrooms

Remember when the term “supermodel” meant something? Namely, Linda, Christy, Naomi, Claudia, Cindy and Kate? Now the word is so overused, there must hundreds of so-called “supermodels” in the skies, on the runways and at the end of cigarettes. Well, the same thing is happening with “superfoods”. Suddenly, there seems to be a lot of them out there. Like mushrooms. But are they really a “superfood”? Let’s see…

Before we embark on their health giving properties, here’s a bit of interesting background on the ‘shroom, kindly sent to us by Mushroom Matrix. Did you know that mushrooms are neither a plant nor an animal, but in fact have their own kingdom? In the 1960s, they were given special classification as the “Kingdom of Fungi”. With an estimated 1.5-2 million species on earth, fungi could theoretically outnumber plants 6 to 1. And just like animals, they inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

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In Season For Spring | Dandelion

spring detox with dandelion 01 In Season For Spring | Dandelion

Spring has arrived. The season of new life in the plant and animal kingdom. In the human kingdom, spring symbolizes growth, renewal and possibly a new handbag. And with pie season officially over, it’s the perfect time to detox. Now, without getting all master-cleansy or juice-fasty on you, here’s a simple way you can benefit from a wonderful seasonal detoxifier — dandelion.

The word dandelion comes from the French for “lion’s tooth”, a reference to its coarsely shaped leaves. In modern day French, the plant is called “pissenlit” which means “urinate in bed” because of it’s diuretic properties. But more on that later…

spring detox with dandelion 02 In Season For Spring | Dandelion Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

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