Shock and awe

Ooh, Van Jones.

Ooh, Van Jones.

Auntie Ruth is green to the eco scene. Read up each week as she weeds through the dirt and unearths new gems of environmental knowledge.

Shock. That’s the feeling of environmental-justice advocates upset by some of their eco-brethren’s support of carbon trading as a way to address climate change. Earlier this month, the frustrated coalition publicly rejected the United States Climate Action Partnership and its proposal to establish a national cap-and-trade scheme. The problem isn’t that major corporations (some of whom received billions of dollars of bailout money from taxpayers) continue to promote free-market approaches to climate change. It’s that a handful of environmental groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Nature Conservancy, stand beside them. Auntie Ruth understands the disappointment, considering how prior pollution-trading schemes didn’t reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, led to higher energy costs and created windfall profits for the worst polluters.

Auntie Ruth is a bit smitten with Van Jones. Not only because he’s so darn handsome, but also because of his commitment to creating green-collar jobs as a way to fight global warming, while lifting people out of poverty. Perhaps you’ve heard his name before: He founded Green for All (, authored The Green Collar Economy and was recently featured in a must-read article in The New Yorker. On February 4, Jones travels to Washington, D.C., for a national conference on green jobs, and earlier this month, he testified before Congress on the importance of green jobs in an economic stimulus package. Auntie Ruth is in love!

After a year of storing trash and recyclables in his basement, Los Angeles cameraman and environmentalist Dave Chameides accomplished his goal of reducing his environmental footprint. On his blog (, Chameides spent the last year chronicling everything in his waste stream, and he wrapped up the experience on December 31. He’d accumulated only 30.5 pounds of trash—that haul is minuscule when compared to the 1,600 pounds generated each year by the average American. Chameides said the garbage will end up at the Trash Museum in Connecticut, as an art exhibit demonstrating how folks can curb their waste stream. Among the stockpiled recyclables: 19 pounds of cardboard, 4 pounds of plastic bags, 12 pounds of electronics waste and nearly 70 pounds of paper. Chameides is now writing a book called 365 Days of Solutions, describing things people can do to live more sustainably.