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Heroines for the Planet: Executive Producer of MAKERS.com Betsy West

April 12, 2012

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Betsy West is the executive producer of the recently-launched MAKERS.com, an AOL/PBS-backed digital platform showcasing hundreds of inspiring video interviews from women of all generations. She’s the woman behind the camera asking questions, eliciting empowering stories from world-changing women.

MAKERS.com is a first-ever initiative to catalog women’s stories of achievement on such a scale, and there’s no one better for the job than Betsy — she’s blazed a trail for women in her own right. Betsy rose to high-powered positions at major TV news networks at a time when men ruled the roost. Her senior roles at “Turning Point” (ABC), “Nightline” (ABC), “60 Minutes” (CBS), “48 Hours” (CBS), and “9/11” (CBS) have earned her 22 Emmy Awards (is that all?) and two duPont-Columbia Awards. In 2006, she joined the Oscar-nominated production company Storyville Films, and in 2007 was appointed a professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Betsy has co-produced the feature documentary “Constantine’s Sword” and is executive producer of “The Lavender Scare,” currently in production.

When you’re as well established as Betsy is, you can more than hold your own with impressive interview subjects like Madeleine AlbrightSandra Day O’ConnorCondoleezza Rice, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, among many others.

Betsy graciously allowed me to direct some questions at her for a change.

Lindsay:  Many of the women you interview for MAKERS broke barriers and furthered the women’s movement around the same time that you did just that. Was this something of a personal project that had been living deep inside of you?

Betsy: Absolutely. When I started my career as a television news producer, opportunities were just opening up for women.  I was always grateful for the trailblazing women — everyone from Gloria Steinem to Barbara Walters — who paved the way. But like so many workingwomen, I was very busy developing my own career and didn’t have a lot of time to look back! This project has been a chance to hunt down dramatic stories of women’s progress, like the stunning tale of what happened when runner Kathrine Switzer entered the Boston Marathon in 1967! I’ve also been amazed to find inspiring and enlightening stories from women in all fields—from Supreme Court Justices and Secretaries of State to a coal miner, a firefighter and the first female NBA referee! Playing a part in preserving these stories for future generations has been such a privilege (and lots of fun!)

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 Lindsay: Fusing AOL’s and PBS’ backing of the initiative, how has MAKERS utilized cutting-edge video and mobile technology to tell these compelling stories?

Betsy: Thanks to the combined resources of AOL and PBS, MAKERS is one of the first, large-scale projects to take advantage of cutting-edge technology to preserve stories and make them easily accessible to everyone over a long period of time. In both its scale and reach, it’s an unprecedented initiative. Ongoing updates to the MAKERS.com website will launch new stories with interactive social media elements allowing users to explore and share the exclusive content. MAKERS.com is optimized for mobile with a specially created iPad App, which will allow users to access MAKERS.com where and when they want.

And, in addition to the groundbreaking women selected by the producers with the help of an advisory board, MAKERS.com extends to also profile the stories of a new generation of women who continue to have an impact on society in new and profound ways.

Lindsay: You’re also working on a three-hour documentary for PBS, “MAKERS: Women Who Make America” set to air in 2013. Why did you and your team feel that this documentary needed to be created to complement the online initiative?

Betsy: When my partner Dyllan McGee first recruited me to this project five years ago, I was stunned to discover that there had never been a documentary about the women’s movement. This was one of the most transformative events in the 20th century, and yet there has never been a full accounting on television or film. Now I am grateful that we have an opportunity to tell this story as part of the MAKERS initiative that takes advantage of new technology to give us a larger, more dynamic platform than a traditional documentary. Our hope is that with MAKERS, the unique combination of a robust online resource rolled out over time and a major PBS television broadcast will invite sustained dialogue about how far women have come and where we need to go in the future.

Lindsay: What are your hopes and dreams for Makers.com and the documentary?

Betsy:   I hope that millions of women and men, girls and boys, will love watching the MAKER stories—that we will surprise them, make them laugh, make them understand new perspectives and inspire them to think about their own lives in new ways.

Lindsay: Why do you feel the word “feminism” gets many people so riled up? Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Betsy: I think it’s one of those words that over time have come to mean different things to different people. Some members of younger generations who didn’t live through the women’s movement may associate feminism with a style that seems to them outdated or unnecessary because women have attained a more equal footing. But if you ask them if they believe in equal rights for women in work, politics and society, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”  I think the definition of a feminist is someone who believes in fairness for everyone—women and men. And, yes, I am one!

Lindsay: Have you personally ever experienced discrimination, or someone telling you that you couldn’t do something because of your gender?

Betsy: In my career I have experienced my share of sexism, some moments funny in retrospect. There was the boss at ABC Radio News who gave me my weekly schedule in a note titled, “My Little Pumpkin.”  The boss who, angry about a mistake I’d made, screamed in front of a newsroom of men, “You are the reason there shouldn’t be an Equal Rights Amendment.”  More seriously, in 1988, when I was under consideration for my first executive producer job at ABC News, I was told I would have to share the job with a colleague, a man with fewer credentials and who was openly hostile to women. I turned down the job, but was made an executive producer a few years later.

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Lindsay: In an interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton, she spoke to you about the importance of women having role models. Who have been mentors to you throughout your career?

Betsy: I continue to be inspired by Diane Sawyer, who is one of the smartest, most thoughtful and hardest working journalists I know.  She is also extremely generous and taught me so much over the ten years we worked together at ABC News. I was also lucky enough to work with Barbara Walters on several documentaries. When I was getting reading to do MAKER interviews, I copied Barbara’s technique of writing each question and its potential follow-ups on a file card in order to practice and rearrange the order quickly. Meredith Vieira, with whom I worked on a number of documentaries, taught me about keeping a perspective on my life and never losing my sense of humor.

I also learned so much from my fellow producers over the years—Kyle Gibson, Julie Hartenstein, Phyllis McGrady, Susan Mercandetti, Ann Reynolds and many others. In the 1980’s, before most of us got married, the women at Nightline used to call ourselves “news nuns” because there was no time for anything but work.  We gave each other a lot of support and encouragement. We still do. 

Lindsay: You’re hard at work on a documentary in production called “The Lavender Scare,” which tells the story of the U.S. government’s campaign in the ’50s and ’60s to fire every federal employee suspected to be gay. How, and why, did you get involved with this film? And how will it inspire your audience?

Betsy:  I had never heard about The Lavender Scare until my former CBS News colleague Josh Howard told me about it. I was shocked to learn about this sanctioned persecution of homosexuals that lasted for thirty years. I encouraged Josh to make a documentary revealing this hidden history, and eventually signed on as an executive producer to help make it happen. Josh has already gathered the most extraordinary interviews, and I know that people will be amazed by this story and inspired by the bravery of those who fought to end the injustice.

Lindsay: What feat are you most proud of?

Betsy:  That’s a humbling question after the experience of interviewing the MAKERS!  I haven’t braved violence to integrate lunch counters in the 1960’s like Diane Nash, or convinced an all-male Supreme Court to overturn laws that discriminated against women, like then-attorney Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or campaigned for justice for women around the world like Hillary Clinton!  But I am proud of being part of the team bringing these stories and many more to a wide audience.

I’m also proud of and grateful for my family, my filmmaker husband Oren Jacoby and my feisty 17-year-old daughter Jane, on her way to becoming a MAKER herself.

 

This interview was originally published for Eco-Chick.com. 

This Week’s Top Eco Stories

April 12, 2012

by Lindsay E. Brown

NASA Scientist: Climate Change is a Moral Issue on a Par with Slavery
Jim Hansen, one of the most influential and respected figures in climate science, likened global inaction on climate change to the refusal to end the slave trade. In his lecture yesterday, he proposed a global carbon tax which he based on the latest analysis of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and their impact on global temperatures and weather patterns.

California’s Unregulated Fracking Problem
The film Gasland exposed the perils of fracking. Now we’re catching wind that the earthquake-prone state of California has been turning a blind eye to fracking, and its Governor, Jerry Brown, may be trying to sweep it all under the carpet.

Matt Damon to star in ‘The Promised Land’ Anti-Fracking Movie
While California state may be turning its back on fracking, Hollywood star Matt Damon is attempting to tackle the issue head on. He’s co-wrote “The Promised Land,” a film about hydraulic fracturing which he’s set to star in. We know little about the plot, only that “a salesman experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town.” A star-studded cast will join him, including Jim Halpert from the Office, aka Jon Krasinski.

Pink Slime versus LFTB: Family Farmers Rally at Iowa State University to Protest Collusion Between Industrial Meat Production and our Political System
Today a rally will be held in Iowa to counter meat industry spin, protesting the deliberate propaganda put forth by industrial meat producers and our political system.

The recent controversy surrounding pink slime has brought to the public’s attention — through a barrage of media reports — that an estimated 70 percent of ground beef in the U.S. contains an inferior grade beef parts mixture known as pink slime, or “lean, finely textured beef.” You may have seen the images. LFTB is a low-cost filler made from leftover trimmings, once relegated to pet food and other byproducts. Because all beef trimmings are at risk for E. coli or Salmonella contamination, the company, Beef Products Inc., adds a mixture of ammonia and water (ammonium hydroxide) to kill bacteria. The product, which is 90 percent lean, is then mixed in with other, higher fat content ground beef.

Robin Wilson’s New Healthy Home Bedding Collection
There’s long been a need for a line of hypoallergenic and healthy bedding available at affordable prices. Well, now we can all rest with peace of mind. Robin Wilson’s recently-launched collection of eco-healthy bedding will give you the good night’s sleep you deserve.

Prius and Volt Set New Sales Records Thanks to High Gas Prices
At least there’s some good to come out of the exorbitantly high gas prices that have put a dent in many Americans’ wallets. If you can’t walk or bike your way around town, there’s no better way to drive — and curb costs and gas emissions — than in a fuel-efficient vehicle. Toyota’s Prius sales were up 52 percent in February compared to the previous year, and Chevrolet’s Volt sold 2,289 units in March.

Here’s a fun tidbit: Oil-rich, former President George H.W. Bush bought his son Neil a Volt last week. We’re not kidding.

Google Saves Energy By Cooling Its Building With Ice
Google’s a pretty progressive bunch, so it’s no surprise that the company’s new $700 million data centers in Taiwan will include thermal storage systems which use ice at night to cool buildings during the day. Watch this video and learn about these systems.

Less Snow, Means Several Cities See Savings
The unusually warm weather required fewer expenditures for many cities on snow and ice removal. The savings were significant, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so gleeful about the dramatic change in weather. What do you think? We’d love to hear from you.

FDA Rejects  A Call to Ban BPA
Tisk, tisk. We’ve reported countless about the dangers of BPA, but the FDA seems to not see a need for a ban. Interesting. Well, now you can do something about it. Check out the steps that you can take if you’re as unhappy about this decision as we are.

Have a tip you’d like us to include in our next roundup? Tweet @LauraSeydel and@LindsEBrown using hashtag #EcoRoundup

Photo Credit : AP

Originally published at LauraTurnerSeydel.com

Top Eco Stories Week of 4/4/2012

April 12, 2012

APRIL 4, 2012


by Lindsay E. Brown

Earth Hour Sweeps Across North America
If you happened to be touring a city this past weekend and noticed a famous landmark’s lights go out suddenly, you weren’t going mad, nor were any fuses blown. At 8:30 p.m., March 31, 1.3 billion people in more than 5,400 cities in 147 countries turned off their lights for an hour in their support for climate change action. New York City’s Empire State Building, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the Eiffel Tower, and Buckingham Palace were among the many well-known landmarks that went dim worldwide.

Start Stockpiling Maple Syrup
If you love the gooey stuff as much as I do, according to this article, it might be time we start stockpiling it. Maple syrup farmers have been hit hard by this year’s out-of-season warm temperatures, and it’s been devastating to their syrup production.

Don’t Miss “Foul Water Fiery Serpent” on PBS This Month
Few know about Guinea worm disease and the havoc it’s wreaked in Africa. For thousands of years, the Guinea worm parasite has caused disabling pain, infecting people who drink water contaminated with the worm’s larvae. After growing inside the victim for a year, the adult worm — up to three feet long — emerges from the body through an agonizing skin blister that can incapacitate and cripple. The disease spreads when blisters are immersed in water and the worm releases its larvae, continuing its life cycle. My sincerest apologies if your appetite for lunch has vanished.

In 1986, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of Guinea worm in 20 countries in Africa and Asia. GWD typically strikes poor communities that do not have safe water to drink. But after a 23-year eradication campaign led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the Atlanta-based Carter Center, the total number of Guinea worm cases has been dramatically reduced. This film follows the dedicated health workers engaged in the final battles of the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease from Africa.

LCV Releases 2011 National Environmental Scorecard
For over 40 years, the National Environmental Scorecard issued by the League of Conservation Voters has been the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health and energy issues. 2011′s scorecard reflects the most anti-environmental session of the U.S. House in history. “In 2011, the House Republican leadership unleashed a truly breathtaking and unprecedented assault on the environment and public health, the breadth and depth of which have made the current U.S. House of Representatives the most anti-environmental in our nation’s history,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski.

Find out how your Senators and Representatives voted on issues that directly affect you, your family, and your community.

For 25 U.S. Cities, Last March Was Hottest on Record
Last month was the warmest March on record across half of the United States. The  warmer-than-normal month had many of us breaking out attire reserved for the Summer months.

Aerosmith Heats Up Summer With ‘Global Warming’ Tour
Speaking of heat and summer, Aerosmith just announced a new tour, called “Global Warming.” But will concert proceeds go toward efforts to combat climate change?

Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous
At hundreds of sites scattered across the 27,000 square miles of Navajo land in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, remaining uranium mines are exposing communities to hazardous levels of radiation. For nearly five decades, these mines supplied materials to the United State’s nuclear weapons program.

Navajos unknowingly inhaled the radioactive dust and drank contaminated well water, and many of them fell ill to cancer and other diseases. This article examines who’s to blame.

America’s Top Ten Most Polluted Waterways
You might consider having a peek at this list before you or your children dive into any waterways this Summer. According to a new report from Environment America Research and Policy Center, industry discharged 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers and streams in 2010. The article includes a list of the bad guys who are responsible for the pollution.

Have a tip you’d like us to include in our next roundup? Tweet @LauraSeydel and@LindsEBrown using hashtag #EcoRoundup

Top Eco Stories Week of 3/28/12

April 12, 2012
MARCH 28, 2012

by Lindsay E. Brown


Michelle Obama Joins Kids for White House Garden Spring Planting
Michelle Obama got her hands dirty on Monday planting vegetables and various other plants with schoolchildren at the fourth annual White House Kitchen Garden spring planting. The effort is part of her broader initiative to promote healthy eating.

Passing on Gas: Driving Rates Falling Across the Board
This is good news for the environment and the wallets of those who forgo cars, but not-so-great news for carmakers and big oil companies. (I have far less sympathy for the latter.) Recent figures show that driving is continuing to decline, not just among the youth, but across the board.

EPA Imposes First Greenhouse Gas Limits on New Power Plants
The EPA issued the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on new power plants, in a move that could presage the end of conventional coal-fired facilities. “Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a statement.

The Continent Where Climate Went Haywire
“From floods to cyclones to fires of unimaginable ferocity, climate change has unleashed a host of plagues on Australia,” writes Linda Marsa in her report from the land down under.

Toward a Drug-Free Burger: Ruling May Curb Antibiotics in Meat
The FDA must act to address the growing human health threats resulting from the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed, according to a New York federal court ruling issued last week. The court ordered the Obama Administration to tell pharmaceutical companies that the government might be moving to ban some popular antibiotics for use in meat production. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by the NRDC, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) last year.

“This victory will help protect American families against superbugs and other drug-resistant bacteria,” wrote Peter Lehner, the executive director of the NRDC, in a post (worthy of a read) after the ruling.

Both Coasts Watch Closely as San Francisco Faces Erosion
U.S. coastlines are taking a beating, with waves and rising seas from climate change and strong storms chipping away at locations like San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. Now, everyone is waiting to see how San Francisco will respond: spend millions trying to rescue the beach, or retreat, and let the ocean fall where it may.

The Brilliant Economics of Green Buildings
Green buildings have gone mainstream! There’s been explosive growth in green building, with a third of all commercial construction being green in 2010. This amounted to a $54 billion market for commercial green buildings, and by 2015, green buildings in the commercial sector are expected to triple. Find out what’s driving the change.

McDonald’s to Replace Styrofoam Cups with Paper
The fast food chain announced plans to swap out styrofoam cups for paper cups at 2,000 of its stores. If customers respond well, they’ll do everyone the favor of using paper cups at all of their 13,000 plus stores. Not only is styrofoam no friend of the environment, but it can also release potentially toxic breakdown products, particularly when heated.

McDonald’s is doing this because 29.3 percent of their investors indicated they wanted stronger environmental policies for the restaurant chain’s beverage containers.

Now, we’ll cross our fingers that investors and customers of other fast food companies, like Dunkin Donuts (ahem), demand that styrofoam be phased out as well.

Have a tip you’d like included in our next roundup? Tweet @LauraSeydel and @LindsEBrown using #EcoRoundup


Heroines for the Planet: Green Drinks NYC Founder Margaret Lydecker

April 12, 2012

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Before Margaret Lydecker founded Green Drinks NYC in 2002, there wasn’t a place for Manhattan’s like-minded, eco-conscious professionals to get their networking on. Margaret changed that, and now many of us wouldn’t know what to do without her monthly events.

Whether you’re a dedicated monthly green drinker or not, you’ve in all likelihood heard of Green Drinks NYC, even if you don’t live or work in the Big Apple. Over the years, Margaret has aided in the launch of 200-plus chapters globally (there are now 800-plus chapters worldwide). She’s helped build the global Green Drinks brand, in the coolest way imaginable: by connecting green businesses and professionals at the local level.

I went to the most recent Green Drinks NYC, and observed Margaret calmly and graciously working the room. She’s the face of Green Drinks– never letting a name or a face slip her, which is highly impressive considering she has literally met thousands of individuals at her events over the past 10 years. But Margaret also runs the show, delegates to her staff and Green Drinks volunteers, and ensures every minor detail goes off without a hitch.

I wanted to get to know the woman behind Green Drinks NYC who has effectively connected so many people. Margaret revealed the challenges she’s faced, how her passion for sustainability began, her thoughts on greenwashers, and how she manages to keep it all together.

Lindsay: You were way ahead of the game back in 2002 when you founded Green Drinks in NYC, and now you’ve expanded internationally. Is there a particular feat you’re most proud of?

Margaret:  I am most proud of having the opportunity to create something of value and meaning to people in the professional green field in New York City.  We have a tremendous community of incredibly diverse people!  Our networking events are lively and friendly and built around being open to new ideas, making introductions, giving people access, beefing up their rolodex of contacts, sharing ideas and being inspired by other people.  In 10 years, I’ve helped Green Drinks expand to 200-plus new cities and now we are in over 840 cities total worldwide.  I have also had the good fortune to travel to several chapters abroad – a real treat to drop into a local community of green comrades anywhere in the world and have them be just as excited to meet you.

ml5Margaret with Sylvia Earle

Lindsay: Has Green Drinks surpassed your wildest imaginations, or did you always believe it would evolve into something so great?

Margaret: I had no idea it would grow into something so big and have such a far-reaching impact on people!  I think the turning point was when we were getting over 300 new subscribers joining our mailing list every month for a couple of years, we knew something was working.  It originally evolved out of my own interest in connecting with other-liked minded people. I felt, if I was this passionate about environmental issues, there must be others out there that feel the same way. … I wanted to surround myself with those people. I heard that voice, “If you build it, they will come”, and they keep coming.

Lindsay: What were some of the challenges you’ve faced since launching the business?

Margaret: The biggest challenge has been finding a balance between Green Drinks being a charitable activity I do in my “free” time vs. taking it on full time. There is so much to do! We are an all-volunteer organization, but because of our size (largest of the 800-plus chapters world wide) and location, we have unique challenges and higher risks and costs than most of the other Green Drink chapters, which present more time-consuming problems. We also want to keep the events relevant, interesting and fun every month, so balancing all of the details of the monthly events along with my consulting work, exercise, and having a personal life, is challenging.

Lindsay: Can you tell me more about your consulting firm, Brite Green Sustainability Advisors? It must be thrilling to help companies evolve into more environmentally and socially conscious businesses.

Margaret: Brite Green grew out of the need for specific research and focus on greening specific things from my clients; whether they are designing a new consumer product and need ideas on green materials or packaging options, chain of custody research or retail challenges, I have been able to guide them to better options. My work also includes greening large scale television productions, award shows and red carpet events.

greendrinksGreen Drinks NYC event at Environment Furniture

Lindsay: What sparked your passion for sustainability? Did you grow up very environmentally conscious?

Margaret:  My spark came from several different points in my life growing up. First as a young child, having a resourceful family as my example who encouraged reusing, recycling, using hand-me-downs, with a strong focus on sports, gardening, nature and being outside. Then later when I was 20, I went on a 97-day NOLS backpacking semester, which influenced me greatly, and changed the course of my life! Hiking outside everyday, taking classes on glaciers, while sitting on a real one, sleeping under the stars every night, you can’t help but develop an intimate relationship with nature. You simply see things differently. I returned from that trip wanting to share what I had learned with everyone I knew. I was fiercely protective about conserving our National Parks, and beautiful places for future generations to enjoy. A few years after that, I rode my bicycle across America for 3 months, biking 4500 miles, biking each day through the changing landscape and colors of the sky, camping on farms, city parks and churches along the way. I really connected with farmers and rural communities. This also had a big impact on my life.

Lindsay: You must be a pretty organized person. How to you keep it all together, and find balance in your life?

Margaret:  I can always be more organized! I didn’t find my balance right away, and was frankly overwhelmed at time with all the people I was meeting on a daily basis in NYC, but over time you realize that no matter how much good you are trying to do for your community or the world, without regular exercise, healthy eating, drinking water, decent sleep and taking time for your friends and family, it won’t be worth it unless you can take care of YOU.  Balance is critical. I love to garden and cook, really helps me relax and be creative. Last summer I enrolled in an artisan cheese-making course at UVM! I volunteered on a farm making cheese, hanging out with cows and getting connected with more “real” things – not just life on the computer.

Lindsay: Over the years, you’ve met thousands of green businesses. Have you noticed an increase in companies “greenwashing,” or purely painting a picture that they’re eco-focused simply for marketing or even networking purposes?

Margaret:  Unfortunately yes. There is a disconnect between the marketing aspect of green products and the actual problem companies introducing these green products are trying to solve. Americans are heavy marketers, and despite the good intentions, they are often, instead, contributing to the problem. It is easy to use language to sell “values.” We need to work closer with our scientific community, non-profits, and other groups to get to the heart of the problem we are trying to solve, and be honest about it.

Lindsay: If you had to choose one motto with which you live by, what would that motto be?

Margaret: Oh so many good ones, but I love this quote: “What we think, or what we know, or what we believe, is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.”  —John Ruskin

Interview originally published at Eco-Chick.com.

{Wednesday Roundup} 3/21/2012 This Week’s Top Eco Stories

March 21, 2012

Frozen Planet Premiers to Rave Reviews

Discovery Channel’s new documentary series, Frozen Planet, premiered this past Sunday to stellar reviews. Here’s one more. If you’re a fan of 2007’s Planet Earth, then this is a must-see, as it was filmed by the same acclaimed documentary team. Narrated by Alec Baldwin, Frozen Planet explores what rising temperatures could mean for the people and wildlife living in the coldest regions of the world.

Watch Frozen Planet this coming Sunday with the family. I promise the series’ never-before-filmed sequences and stunningly beautiful scenery will blow your mind.

May-Like Weather in the East, While Snow Slams the West

While the eastern half of the United States is experiencing May-like weather, the West is dealing with what the National Weather Service is calling “an unprecedented onslaught” of heavy winter storms for this time of year. You’ll want to have a look at this bizarre weather map.

Brazil Bars Chevron Executives from Leaving Over Spill

Chevron oil execs are being held accountable by a Brazilian court for an oil spill which occurred off the coast of Rio de Janeiro back in November. 17 American executives from Chevron and Transocean Ltd. were barred from leaving Brazil while a federal court considers criminal charges against them for the nearly 3,000 barrels of oil spilled.

Ray Mabus, U.S. Navy Secretary Defends Biofuels Investment

By 2016, the United States Navy aims to obtain 8 million barrels of biofuel to power a strike group that’s being called the “Great Green Fleet.” But this initiative is ruffling some Republicans’ feathers in Congress. Alternative fuels require no drilling, and can be produced in the United States, but perhaps its greatest benefit comes straight down to simple economics. “The only way we can afford to get the number of ships, the number of aircraft that we need is to change the way we get fuel,” Mabus said.

#OWS Call for Occupy Earth Day, Global Month of Action

OWS efforts have mostly targeted banks and corporate greed but now, the Occupy movement is focusing in on climate issues. The movement has issued a call to ‘Occupy Earth Day,’ beginning March 23rd and continuing through April.

Is it Safe to Play Yet? Going Extreme Lengths to Purge Household Toxins

A new trend in parenthood is the purging of toxic chemicals in the home, at all costs. Might some parents be taking their toxic fears a bit too far? Read this article and let us know what you think.

Germany’s $263 Billion Renewables Shift Biggest Since War

Could Germany become a role model for economies all over the world? According to this article, time will tell. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is planning to build offshore wind farms that would cover an area six times the size of New York City and erect power lines that could stretch from Baghdad to London. The plans call for 17 of Germany’s nuclear reactors to be replaced with renewable energy such as solar and wind.

This post was originally published on LauraTurnerSeydel.com. Have a tip you’d like included in our next roundup? Tweet @LauraSeydel and @LindsEBrown using #EcoRoundup

DIY Removable and Reusable Wallcovering: A Renter’s Dream

March 20, 2012
Casart-KRC_Stripe-ECRemovable and reusable vertical stripe from CasartCoverings.com

I’m sort of obsessed with the entryway to my modestly sized Brooklyn apartment. Sure, it’s pretty small, but there are so many good things about it — a high ceiling and two large closets among them.

There’s just one thing that has really bugged me about my entryway since the moment I’ve moved in: the walls. They are just so … white.

I am somewhat comforted knowing I’m not alone. Boring white walls are the conundrum every renter faces: To paint the walls (and then have to paint them back) or not to paint them.

My entire apartment has white walls, and my boyfriend and I have found a way to make them work by adding colorful pieces such as mirrors, photos, shelves, and paintings. But the barren walls in my entryway were really bothering me; they just needed a little more drama.

And then Casart Coverings entered my life, and my dull entryway issues were resolved. The company creates really beautiful and reusable wallcoverings that are easy-to-remove, so you can peel them right off when it’s time to pack up and repurpose them at your new place. They come in all patterns, colors and styles, and they’re recyclable and made in the United States.

ecCasart-KRC_teal-seafan-on-oysterRemovable and reusable horizontal stripes from CasartCoverings.com

I love the look of stripes on a wall, so I decided to order them for my entryway from Casart Covering’s nature-inspired, Karen Robertson Collection. The stripes are available from 3 to 24-inches wide, and there are 35 colors to choose from!  Each stripe can be installed vertically or horizontally, depending on the look you’d like to achieve. All without needing to tape, measure or paint, and you can even reposition them easily.

striped-bathroomBlack stripes available at Casart Coverings

I’m going to go to town with my stripes, and install them vertically and evenly-spaced. But there’s no limit to what you can do with them, which will make a striped DIY wall project in your home great fun.

They’ll be a part two following this post, as I plan on sharing how my striped entryway turns out! Now I’m just anxiously awaiting the arrival of my stripes; and counting down the days until I don’t have to look at white walls upon entering my place.

 

Originally published at Eco-Chick.com. Like this post? Follow Lindsay on Twitter: @LindsEBrown

Black and white bathroom image via Elle Decor. All other images courtesy of Casart Coverings.