WHEN IS ENOUGH TOO MUCH? Well, I’ve got a few recent media-oversaturation-gone-rampant examples, bete noires, if you will, in the Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling” (a cool track, I readily admit) being used as outro theme music + imagery incessantly during NCAA March Madness college basketball coverage to the point where it’s now only infuriating noise to me (and really, truly, I like these guys!), and an annoying omnipresent promo bug (not Black Keys related) futzing up the stellar high-def images of Discovery Channel’s new Frozen Planet series about the arctic and antarctic—this lower-right-situated onscreen bug, complete with distracting motion, was for another one of the network’s shows they’re pushing, which I can’t even remember the name of and wouldn’t watch anyway as its promotion just about ruined the fantastic experience of Frozen Planet‘s two-hour premiere!

So yes, enough can quite often be too much and a downright counterproductive media buy or tool in a world where we are already overwhelmed with the ubiquity of advertising, from our can’t-be-without, continuing-to-multiply mobile devices to entertainment events where sideline billboards constantly morph to increase their shill factor, competing with the game, the very escapist nature of which we lose when Bud Light Platinum looms large again and again in cascading digital-display rotation as our proffered beverage of choice. More-is-better, beat-’em-to-submission media buyers, can we please please please just give it a rest, already?

The story collection from which "Sales Pitch" comes

In Philip K. Dick’s short story “Sales Pitch,” all the way back from the gray-flannel-suit era of 1954 but posited in the far-flung future, our weary, bettle-browed protagonist, Ed Morris, is assaulted by in-his-face advertising on his grueling commute home from Ganymede to Terra: “Ads waited on all sides,” Dick practically sneers, “he steered a careful course, dexterity born of animal desperation, but not all could be avoided. Despair seized him. The outline of a new audio-visual ad was already coming into being.”

Annoying ads and robot salesmen continue the onslaught once he’s at home, of course, and, you’d hope, where he’d finally be able to relax. Morris seeks an exit, literally out of our solar system, to a 100-years’-behind-the-present world: “We’ll have to get used to a simpler life,” he tells his wife. “The way our ancestors lived.” Lots more happens here, but suffice it to say, it does not end well and the story is a downer, depressing parable.

Back to the present. Yeah, there are real ways (as well as well-articulated movements) to “simplify” or avoid this aforementioned saturation bombing, but when you do want to imbibe, to interact with cultural “products” or artistically driven manifestations in the pop arena or learn something refreshingly new or even just chill out and watch some hoop (and who doesn’t, even if it’s not college basketball?), do you need to keep the remote, headphones or blinders handy?

Here’s where I think we, the end-users, tune things out (like talking aloud over those annoying in-movie-theater commercials—Hey, didn’t we just drop $12 apiece to be here for purely entertainment purposes?!*) and muck up the sought-after results, the ROI, if you will, of the media buyers and their clients’ sales pitches. Yep, enough is by far too much here, and unlike Dick’s character Ed Morris, there is no off-planet escape to Centaurus, no matter how doomed the move.

On the marketers’ side, it’s an appeal to think things thoroughly through, carefully consider the time and place for each buy, especially when pondering bunching things up to beat back the competition and win a war of attrition with the consumer. In the green space, where treading lightly is even more highly valued (or has the appearance to be), there’s even a greater danger of backfiring and really irking your intended target market.

Nevertheless, yes, I still enjoy the Black Keys (“Gold on the Ceiling” not so much, despite its killer organ plunking and all-around catchiness) and plan on continuing to watch Frozen Planet (but not whatever show they “bugged” it with). Careful, select navigation and the learned ability to “detune” come with the territory, and in direct regard to these sales pitches, we ultimately vote, that is, have our say, with our wallets and online clicks.

Allen

*Or as Geoff Dyer notes in his new book, Zona, on ADD-enabling, hyperbolic coming attractions, which, in essence, are Hollywood-industrial complex advertisements for its own (often dire) products: “[T]his has become some of the most debased wonder in the history of the earth. It means explosions, historical epics in which the outcome of the Battle of Hastings is reversed by the arcane CGI prowess of Merlin the Magician, it means five-year-old children turning suddenly into snarling devils, it means wrecking cars and reckless driving, it means lots of noise, it means that I have to time my arrival carefully (twenty minutes at least) after the advertised programme time if I am to avoid all this stuff which, if one were exposed to it for the full hour and a half, would cause one’s capacity for discernment to drop by fifty percent (or, conversely, one’s ability to tolerate stuff like this to increase a hundredfold). [...] It means that there are more and more things on the street, in shops, on-screen and on telly from which one has to avert one’s ears and eyes.” [Emphasis added]

THE MAD SUGAR POP KULTCHUR RUSH OF ALL THINGS NATURAL GONE FERAL OR WERE-* seeking revenge on humankind for past, present or future injustices manifests itself realistically in John Vaillant’s The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival. The book, in great detail, recounts the December 1997 fatal attacks and eventual killing of a “vengeful” Amur (or Siberian) tiger in the Primorye Territory in Russia’s Far East.

It’s a harrowing tale on numerous fronts: from the point of view of the region’s post-perestroika destitute manual laborers and loggers, of the various families trying to make ends meet at the unforgiving taiga’s edge, of the underfunded governmental organizations and individuals trying to help them while “managing” the tigers, and of the Amur tigers themselves, largely endangered and preyed upon by feckless poachers looking to cash in across the nearby Chinese border.

Vaillant, the Vancouver, BC, author who previously penned the heart-wrenching, deservedly much-admired Golden Spruce, imbues The Tiger with a fierce, fiery energy and dramatic narrative flow that reads novel-like at times, while at others like a top-drawer fact-driven piece from Smithsonian, Nat Geo or The New Yorker. The interweaved fates of the human characters and the shock-and-awe-inspiring tigers drive the book, delivering its timely message of “We’re all in this together.” Vaillant writes:

Panthera tigris and Homo sapiens are actually very much alike, and we are drawn to many of the same things, if for slightly different reasons. Both of us demand large territories; both of us have prodigious appetites for meat; both of us require control over our living space and are prepared to defend it, and both of us have an enormous sense of entitlement to the resources around us. If a tiger can poach on another’s territory, it probably will, and so, of course, will we. A key difference, however, is that tigers take only what they need.

Instead of beating us over the head with this message, Vaillant lets it slowly develop while allowing the story to unfold, its many larger-than-life characters sharing tales of the taiga and its inhabitants, the tigers, Russia both past and present, and much more that draws a portrait of a fragile enclave on the chill edge of a teetering world.

“If there is enough land, cover, water, and game to support a keystone species like [the tiger],” Vaillant writes, “it implies that all the creatures beneath it are present and accounted for, and that the ecosystem is intact. In this sense, the tiger represents an enormous canary in the biological coal mine.” Vaillant goes on to report that, as of December 2009, fewer than 400 tigers may remain in the Russian Far East (more than 75,000 were reported to having lived in Asia last century; this number has since dipped some 95 percent).

Yes, The Tiger is a real-life bloodcurdling thriller about an Amur tiger seemingly bent on revenge, relentlessly going after a poacher who’d crossed his path and foolishly invited his wrath (like a fearsome Udeghe tale featuring the mythical tiger-like monster/malevolent spirit Amba)—in that, it’s a pretty unputdownable read. It’s also a cautionary tale about the dangers of our Anthropocene age, as Vaillant has it, “characterized by increasingly dense concentrations of human beings living in permanent settlements on a landscape that has been progressively altered and degraded in order to support our steadily growing population”—in that, too, it’s a pretty unputdownable, and eminently compelling, read.

Tiger Protection Efforts in Primorye: Organizations to Support
Udeghe Legend National Park
Phoenix Fund
Tigris Foundation
21st Century Tiger
Wildlife Conservation Society

Allen

*Yes, indeed, I’m talking vampires, werewolves, piranhas and zombies—sure, why not include our dear departed loved ones who, instead of silently nurturing the Earth six feet under, are reanimated, irascible and, of course, hungry for brains!


WITH THE WORLD YET AGAIN MIRED IN INESCAPABLE MISERY, CATASTROPHE AND DESPAIR*, along comes the electro-opiate spread of sheer sporting escapism known as the FIFA World Cup to ease and distract our troubled minds. And better yet, they’ve gone green to offset all that travel—South Africa’s a significant haul for most participants and their fans, after all—and mass consumption that comes part and parcel of such a month-long, multi-city, multi-venue spectacle.

The World Cup’s “Green Goal” program began at the 2006 games in Germany with carbon-footprint-reducing offsets front and center, and has expanded with this year’s event, with commitments to doing more and doing it better, and showing last year’s lackluster climate talks in Copenhagen a thing or two when it comes to taking a united global stand against climate change. Time to make some noise with your vuvuzela—or considering its hornetlike buzz, perhaps not.

The Green Goal program includes offsetting teams’ emissions, more energy-efficient lighting and “green passports,” which I’ll explain in a moment. Over half the 32 teams participating are offsetting the carbon they generate from travel and hotel stays, Reuters reports. PUMA alone is paying for offsets of 18 teams, which wear the athletic company’s uniforms and gear. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF), meanwhile, is behind the smarter lighting initiative, providing energy-efficient lighting in the stadiums and solar street lighting of six host cities.

The green passport is a 32-page booklet encouraging tourism that respects the environment and helps boost the economic and social development of local communities, as well as discussing green goals, plans and accomplishments. The handy guide also includes a carbon footprint calculator and information about green accommodations, restaurants and activities.

But wait, there’s more. Nine teams, thanks to Nike, are wearing jerseys made from recycled plastic bottles. There’s also a new high-speed train, the Gautrain, now online in Johannesburg, providing fast and reliable mass transit—it opened just 3 days before matchplay began at the World Cup.

Okay, so we’re talking sport here, 90+ minutes per match of diversion that often encompasses a nationalistic bent, a rather simple game that’s played the world over (yes, in the good ol’ US of A, too, and on a professional level), but there are some very positive lessons to be learned concerning the efficacious greening of the World Cup, just as there are from the game’s healthy competition, camaraderie and level playing field—just watch a game, if you haven’t yet, and pick up on its effervescent spirit, shared passion, commitment and excellence, the striving for greatness that involves teamwork as much as individual ability, focus and performance. We’re all in this together! seems to be a rallying cry.

And with the games held for the first time in South Africa, and on the African continent, which has certainly had more than its fair share of misery, catastrophe and despair, it’s encouraging to see how smoothly this world-engaging spectacle has unfolded as it nears the end of its glorious first week. We may not have witnessed a simpatico vibe at the Bonn climate talks that ended as the World Cup commenced, but perhaps by the next major climate summit in Mexico at the end of the year there may be some inspired shouting of “GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!”

Allen

*I know, when truly isn’t it to one degree or another?

LIKE AN AWE-INSPIRING EXPO OR WORLD’S FAIR DEPICTING A BRIGHTER, SMARTER FUTURE that’s here and now—that’s how the Green Festival first struck me upon attending last spring in Seattle: the buzz, the energy, the openness, the innovation, the people, the free trade of ideas and insights, and the contagious passion for wanting to actualize the world a cleaner, healthier, more-inclusive place. I like to think of it as an inspiring place where there are more yeasayers than naysayers. And now the annual two-day event, presented by Global Exchange and Green America, is back in Seattle this weekend (June 5 and 6 at the Washington State Convention Center), bigger and better than ever, with Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute just added as a featured speaker.

What else can you expect? Well, try immersion in a world already gone green in innumerable ways, and all on constant display and readily available for easy interaction, badinage and play. Not bad for $15, which gets you in both days and provides access to all speaker presentations and festival events (see the complete schedule for details). Seattle’s Green Festival will feature a Music, Arts & Culture Room, Community Action Pavilion, Green Living Pavilion, Fair Trade & Social Justice Pavilion, Local Food & Farming Pavilion, DIY Zone (featuring hands-on workshops), Green Kids’ Zone, Blue Corner (all things aquatic) and Exhibitor Marketplace. It’s a lot to take in, even spread across an entire weekend.

The not-to-miss Exhibitor Marketplace can be a bit overwhelming (there are more than 350 businesses spread throughout the exhibit hall), and my recommendation is to hit it early before it gets too crowded and difficult to maneuver in a timely manner. It’s a great opportunity to wander serendipitously and see the latest developments in green products and services, and to chat with the people either behind them or representing them. Talk about rapidly emerging markets in the new green economy—this is positive ground zero, where you’ll find everything from wind-energy-powered web host providers and sustainably grown herbs to electric bikes and green burials/home funerals (yep, you read that right, the ultimate in cradle-to-grave-and-back self-realization).

In addition to Lovins, the many speakers well worth seeing in Seattle include Amy Goodman, John Perkins, Thom Hartmann, David Korten and festival-cofounder Kevin Danaher. But this event—which also takes place at various dates in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago—is about much more than merely listening to an informed quorum of speakers: it’s about the strong vibe, getting sweaty-palmed, heartbeat-aflutter caught up in a momentum-gaining movement that transcends social, political, commercial and religious/ethical/philosophical boundaries, and becoming part of something that’s attempting to affect true positive change in an era sadly being defined by financial scandals and hardships, environmental degradation and disaster, political stalemate and savagery, across-the-board apathy and, well, let me stop there—the Green Festival is for, lest we forget, yeasayers not naysayers.

I hope you can make the Seattle event this weekend, but if not, Washington and San Francisco Green Festivals take place this fall. All aboard the brighter, smarter future that’s here and now.

Allen

“THE ARCTIC IS CARRYING THE DEEP WOUNDS OF THE WORLD,” asserts Gretel Ehrlich in her elegiac In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape [Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2010]. She continues: “Wounds that aren’t healing. Bands of ice and tundra that protected Inuit people for thousands of years, ensuring a continuity of language and lifeways and a meta-stable climate, have been assaulted from above and below, inside and out. Pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the crushing demands of sovereignty and capitalism, war and religion have severed the strong embrace of ice.”

Her timely, highly recommended book clashes great beauty (“The poet Joseph Brodsky said that the purpose of evolution was beauty,” she notes amid myriad descriptions of awe-inspiring Arctic allure) with dispassionate science (“The paradise called the Holocene is ending, and a new epoch, tentatively named the Anthropocene, is beginning—an era when climate will be forced against its cyclical ‘instinct’ to become cold again”). It’s this clash, really a jarring shift, like ice shelves themselves colliding, then violently crumbling as they part, that infuses Ehrlich’s text with its vigorous and heartrending power.

In her telling observations, she is as unrelenting as the melting ice: “Perhaps the term climate change should be changed to climate care, since it is carelessness that is bringing so many changes to life as we know it and most likely will bring much of the life of humans and megafauna on this planet to what may be the end”; or try: “When we lose an ecosystem we are losing our thumbprint uniqueness, our way of knowing the world and our strategies of survival.”

As tocsinlike and grim as this may sound, and is, Ehrlich also celebrates native ingenuity, creativity—primarily as witnessed through storytelling, myth and art—and toughened spirit—the will to survive, to balance a hierarchy of needs and to bask rather contentedly in the determinate beauty of a (still) ice-locked natural world—a little of the noble savage perhaps, but I’d never for a moment confuse Ehrlich with Rousseau. Read More »

YOU KNOW YOU’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE WHEN EVEN LOVABLE OL’ SPONGEBOB’S FULLY ABOARD. And when we’re talking venerable Earth Day, celebrating its forty-year anniversary this year, who isn’t? And if not, why not? And I say this with ambivalence as the mossy bandwagoneers are out in great force, swabbing many a deck, some probably not at all deserving, with a bright green sheen. But in this testy time of tea-party politics and residual Climategate blowback, we’ll take any heightened eco-awareness and Earth-directed cheerleading we can get. That said, you’ll find here an Earth Day list of things to do that you can do anytime; further regarding SpongeBob, his Earth Day special, “SpongeBob’s Last Stand,” airs Thursday at 8 pm/7 pm central.

#1 Spend some time off the grid.
You know, unplug, unbuckle and set yourself free … for a bit. The rat race/almighty hamster wheel will still be there when you get back, but perhaps you’ll have heard an inspirational songbird, meditated on world peace or the price of wheat, thought about family or friends you’ve been neglecting of late, imagined a cumulous the mighty prow of an ancient vessel or majestic whale’s tale, or walked a silent path on your lunch hour sans cell, iPod or other mechanical distraction. Feels good, doesn’t it?

#2 Start a great green book.
Okay, perhaps not one of your own devising, but one that will motivate and inspire and spur a dialogue with others. Here’re a couple candidates: Bill McKibben‘s got a new one, Eaarth (find out just what he’s got in mind with that extra “a”); James William Gibson‘s eco-fabulous book, A Reenchanted World, is just out in paperback; or revisit/discover a classic from Muir, Thoreau, Snyder, Carson, Leopold, Abbey, Berry, Han Shan, et al.

#3 Engage a stranger in a face-to-face conversation.
Forget—at least for a while—texting, online social media, e-mail and that ubiquitous cell, and say, HELLO, my name is ________. What do you think about _______? Pick a topic, any topic, but it’s Earth Day and its fortieth anniversary, so why not make it about our planet, ecology, the lives of plants and animals, what Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption, and resultant disruption, says about the world of today?

#4 Join a new environmental or socially responsible group and volunteer some time and/or money.
With the rampant economic upheavals that continue unabated (kind of like Eyjafjallajökull Clash of the Titansed-up to mega-Kraken proportions), even a soupçon of support can help. And there are a myriad of exceptional organizations out there fighting the good fight, locally, nationally, globally. Initiate your own web search or feel free to hit our Tilth Creative Collaborative list.

#5 Engage in some “Negawatt revolutionary” activity.
We’re not advocating some sort of apostasic militant anarchy here, but really just a simple rethink of the way you go about some of your everyday business: turning off lights when not in use, replacing traditional lightbulbs with CFLs, driving less, eating more that’s grown locally, etc. See our “The Negawatt Revolution Is Here and Now!” and “Energy Savings in Action” posts for lots more actionable details on creating these units of energy saved.

#6 Start planning your next holiday/vacation with eco-friendly considerations.
Try visiting a place like Glacier National Park rather than faraway Paris this summer. And if you can get there as fuel efficiently as possible, please do so. Glacier too far away? Check a regional gazetteer and visit somewhere closer to home.

#7 Plan your garden or start a garden for the first time.
What better way to get involved with the Earth than literally to get involved with earth! It’s still early to start planting, but never too early to start planning your new garden. What kind of veggies will thrive and where best in your plot of land (or community garden, if you lack the space yourself)? Ever try raised beds? What about an energy-efficient greenhouse DIY kit? If you’re in that new-to-gardening camp and hungry for tips, check out Oregonian scribe Kym Pokorny’s “Grow your own veggies: How to start an edible garden” story.

#8 Think “precycle” when it comes to what goes on your shopping list.
The less packaging the better, so keep that in mind when you’re getting ready to shop. I’m not advocating you go entirely bulk or buy everything in concentrate, but do you need a plastic bag for those three avocados (to, what, stop a border skirmish?)? a noncompostable container for those sprouts or to-go bagel and lox? pre-washed, already-chopped stir-fry veggies in a plastic container (c’mon, it’s not an insurmountable obstacle to buy the ingredients individually and prep them yourself)?

#9 Get directly involved with the Earth Day 2010 Campaign.
The Earth Day 2010 Action Center‘s the place to be. You can commit to Billion Acts of Green, RSVP to the Climate Rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., taking place April 25, learn about campus and environmental arts events and programs, plus plenty more. You can also connect via Facebook.

#10 Use at least one “alternative” mode of transportation—and make a habit of it.
Can you walk, jog or bike to work or where you need to get to at some point during the day or evening? Can you leave the car at home and take the bus, light rail or turn that client meeting into a teleconference with PDFs shared electronically rather than paper printouts? Can you imagine a world with less smog and less stressful congestion? See our Green Dynamind post on bike sharing, “Cycle to Work—It’s the Law!,” for more on progressive thinking when it comes to transportation.

#11 Make every day Earth Day!
Arguably the no-brainer edict of the century, I believe, and an obvious embodiment of the golden rule, but sometimes acknowledgement, leading to perspective, awareness and action, can be everything.

Allen

FAR FROM JUST FLIGHTY PERSIFLAGE or limited strictly to foreboding midnight caterwauls (think Poe’s raven, Coleridge’s albatross), birds and verse can go together quite mellifluously, rather like the images of David Allen Sibley and anthological guidance of former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins do in Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010). This gorgeous new volume of ornithological verse is as welcome a spring companion as those first lengthening, warmer days that promise a bounteous garden and more time to spend outdoors.

One of the true joys of Bright Wings, that is, in addition to Sibley’s captivating opaque watercolor and gouache paintings, is its avoidance of the obvious and cliché-riddled when it comes to poems about birds. As Collins relates in the book’s intro, “Because this gathering did not want merely to echo the work of past anthologizers, many of the obvious choices were passed over. Classics such as Keat’s and Coleridge’s nightingales, Yeats’s swans at Coole, Bryan’s waterfowl, Jeffers’s hawks, Hopkins’s windhover, and Poe’s raven have been showcased in so many books of poetry—bird-oriented or otherwise—that no editorial regrets were felt at the decision to leave them out. Instead, air time is given to many lesser-known poems, particularly more contemporary ones, in order to give the reader a better chance of being taken by surprise.”

Taking flight, then, are evocative, plumed words by poets as far ranging as Jonathan Aaron (“Cedar Waxwings”) and David Bottoms (“An Owl”) to Lisa Williams (“The Kingfisher” and “Grackles”) and David Yezzi (“Mother Carey’s Hen”)—but that doesn’t mean you won’t find Thomas Hardy (“The Darkling Thrush” ), D.H. Lawrence (“Humming-Bird” ), Emily Dickinson (“I have a Bird in spring” and “I dreaded that first Robin so” ) or William Carlos Williams (“The Birds” ). Again, Collins from his intro: “[R]ecent poems about birds may fall into the loose category of ‘ecopoetry,’ or they may remain in a state of post-Emersonian idealism regarding nature.” Whatever path they take in Bright Wings, they capture our fancy while simultaneously setting our spirit free, whether read silently or aloud, which, as with all poetry, serves them best.

I’ll let poet Juliana Gray have the parting words here, from her Bright Wings-included poem “Rose-Breasted Grosbeak”: “Oh, pretty bird! Oh, fluff and feathers, beak / and bright eye, alliterative name / in my throat!”

Allen

CYCLE TO WORK—IT’S THE LAW. An outre, inverted, viridian rift on 1984, Brave New World or newly discovered chapter from an abandoned draft of Earth Abides? Nope. Try Mexico City, the present, and its Plan Verde, an ambitious eco-policy course of action initiated in 2007, which includes a bike-sharing program (Ecobici) and municipal commitment to build 186 miles of new bike paths (budgetary woes, unfortunately, have halted the path construction for now). City government workers, as part of the plan, will soon be required to bicycle to work the first Monday of each month. The city has already purchased 2,500 bikes to give away free to citizens who complete a bicycle safety course; another 1,100 bikes are actually part of the sharing program (an annual fee of 300 pesos [~$300] gives you access to the bikes).

Bike-sharing programs, both public and private, have been around for quite a while (recall Amsterdam’s famous white bicycles in the 1960s) and currently have a lot more traction in Europe, but are starting to pick up momentum in North America. In the case of sprawling, congested Mexico City, notorious for its air pollution, the program is part of its 20+ year struggle to change its ways—eliminating leaded gasoline, establishing emission standards for cars, closing particularly bad coal-fired power plants, among other ventures. But is the city past the tipping point? Is this too little, too late? Time will tell, but at least it’s a move in the right direction, a sort of noblesse oblige, which at least goes beyond mere yeah, yeah, we’re working on that platitudinous blather.

recent brandchannel piece commented on the marketing angle of such programs: “In an effort to modernize their brands and attract tourism dollars, many cities are adopting ‘green’ campaigns aimed at reducing pollution, promoting health, and demonstrating concern for the environment.” A reality check, sure, but it’s still a plus for the environment (refer back to our post on green marketing for a refresher). Read More »

I’VE GOT A “MARCH MADNESS” CONFESSION TO MAKE: I’m doing pretty poorly with my first-round Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament choices (the eponymous bracketology in action here); as I write, I’m a paltry 15 and 8, and the day’s not done yet. Plus, my alma mater’s out again in the first round: SDSU falling to Tennessee 62-59 in a Midwest Regional rumble (Pete Thamel described the game as “low on aesthetics and high on missed shots” in The New York Times).

That said, and with scribble-scrabbled brackets flying madly about and determined bracketologists of all stripes filling out and updating their nope, nope, you’re wrong, this is the way it’s gonna be! brackets in sports bars, cafes, restaurants, waiting rooms, on public transportation, in the office, at home and abroad, what better time to consider ecologically sound printing, especially when it comes to such ephemeral, utilitarian uses.

Your best bet, of course, is to forego printing entirely and do it all electronically, on your computer or smart phone/handheld device—yep, there are numerous apps for that! (And I’m hoping Apple’s iPad, if and when widely adopted, can also help a great deal in this print-free, paper-saving realm—plus give journalism, and the quality writers who work in that realm, a boost. Go iPad, go!)

But if you opt for print, perhaps consider yourself strictly old school and want to have that physical piece—a bit tattered, torn and pilsner stained—one you can lord over friends and, well, hoopster frenemies, consider an environmentally friendly font that uses less ink. Case in point: the Ecofont. What the Ecofont lacks in creativity when it comes to its name it makes up for in its simple design: small holes in each letter, which don’t detract from readability; and it’s also sans serif, which means less whorls and curlicues that look nice but require more ink to adorn the page. The Ecofont typeface is open source and free to download and use. Free fonts, not all of them necessarily eco, are also available at ECO Fonts. It’s a little thing, unquestionably, but when applied in volume can make a big difference.

A couple of other tools to consider are PrintWhatYouLike, which helps you optimize a webpage for printing (so you don’t print all that extraneous junk, which can go on for pages!), and Greenprint, freeware which again helps optimize for printing but also works well with non-webpage sources. I also recommend you make smart paper choices; see our Green Dynamind post, “For (All) the Trees: The Forest Stewardship Council,” for more information.

And as for “ecological bracketology,” I’ve got Kansas winning it all this year, on the court and on my laptop + handheld device.

Allen

I KIND OF LIKE TO THINK WE’RE ALL RECYCLED: recycled by our very nature of being—think genetics, heredity, nucleotides, Mendelian inheritance, those determinate X and Y chromosomes, perhaps toss in and simmer the second law of thermodynamics, etc., etc. Therefore recycling, or finding new life for existing things, is as right and natural as drawing breath. From there it’s a simple step from what we normally think of as recycling to consumer-oriented services like eBay and its Green Team “inspiring the world to buy, sell and think green every day.”

eBay’s Earth Day-conscious Green Team, not one to miss such an opportunity, has launched a “Green Team Challenge” now through Earth Day, April 22—in case you missed it, this year is Earth Day’s fortieth anniversary. So yep, we’re talking consumerism, albeit “reduced,” the buying and selling of used, refurbished or vintage merchandise (as eBay puts it, “the greenest product is often the one that already exists”).

This is internet-enabled activity, certainly, to generate profit, but it also encompasses the idea of recycling, of consuming less of what’s new, making do with what’s already out there and that, in turn, gets us in a nice low-impact “spin cycle.” Thrift stores of all varieties do it, craigslist does it and the one I’m most behind, Freecycle, does it with its heart clearly in the right place. Corporate green teams have been growing in popularity the last few years (eBay’s started in 2007), and it’s certainly a huge green positive to see such (often) grassroots ventures continue to gain footholds, spark employee and community involvement, and expand company initiatives and enterprisewide practices.

eBay’s Green Team Challenge is to get their customers “to reuse what exists in the world, and we’ll do our part to make your impact come to life.” eBay has joined with Team Earth to protect three rainforests in the Congo, Brazil and Mexico, promising to protect an acre in each customer’s name who takes the challenge (plus, there’s an added pecuniary incentive and prize drawings). Information and slideshows for each of the rainforests are on the Green Team Challenge website to aid in voting. The challenge, in essence then, is an acknowledgement of self-agreendisement, of Yeah, I want to do the right thing and make use of what’s already out there, and I want others to know about it and get involved, too.

“Selling green makes sense,” the eBay Green Team site says—absolutely true!—and necessary now more than ever—in so many ways. It’s like going to the head of the class and shouting, “Let’s make every day Earth Day!”—and if only it were so simple to share this sentiment globally. But hitting eBay’s 90-million-plus active users, via the Green Team Challenge, certainly doesn’t hurt. Recycle that thought next time you’re in search of, say, vintage Hamm’s or Schlitz barware or a sturdy babystroller with low miles and a tiny footprint.

Allen