People frequently ask how it's possible to keep up with the latest environmental news, considering how fast things are changing. There are several glossy magazines whose eco-reporting is quite impressive -- for example, E magazine and Buzzworm. But if you want "just the facts" and what to do about them, I can particularly recommend two publications. One deals primarily with "green products." The other focuses on what's happening in Washington.
The Green Consumer Letter is a six-page newsletter full of practical tips and new product news. It's published monthly -- an annual subscription is $27 a year. To order, write to Tilden Press, 1526 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, or call (800) 955-GREE.
A few sample items from recent issues:
*"A new Flush-N-Save Valve can turn most toilets into ultra-low water savers. The device, which retails for $14.95, fits all existing toilets of 3.5 gallons or larger, says the manufacturer. . . . The valve will cut water use to about 2.45 gallons per flush, a savings of 55 percent over the older 5.5 gallons-per-flush tanks in many homes. For more information, contact Trademark Sales & Marketing, 1920 American Ct., Neenah, Wis. 54956; (414) 727-1818."
*"With all the hoopla over McDonald's abandonment of polystyrene hamburger boxes, it's been all but overlooked that Wendy's has switched from boxes to bags for its Kids' Meals, saving 2.6 million pounds of trash a year, and that Jack-in-the-Box has replaced polystyrene packaging with more expensive foil wrappers."
*"Oscar Mayer gets the nod for the worst new product introduction: lunchables, mixtures of cheese, luncheon meats and crackers packaged in compartmentalized plastic containers, with plastic and cardboard packaging. Even the enclosed napkin is individually wrapped."
The Audubon Activist is published 11 times a year by the "direct-action wing" of the Audubon Society. It's an eight-page tabloid that outlines what you can do to protect the environment by influencing lawmakers.
Members of the Audubon Society who specifically request the Activist get it free -- the only requirement is that they have to pledge to write at least two letters and make at least two phone calls on behalf of the environment each year. Cost to join the Audubon Society: $20 a year. Send your membership fee and pledge to: Audubon Activist, 950 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022. Sample items from recent issues:
*"A National Academy of Science report released in June confirmed that of all human activities, shrimping is by far the leading cause of turtle mortality. The academy estimated that as many as 50,000 endangered Kemp's Ridleys and Loggerhead Sea Turtles drown in shrimpers' nets annually."
*"We're very worried that President Bush is backing away significantly from his strong campaign pledge that there would be 'no net loss' of America's wetlands during his administration. . . . Urge your senators and representatives to vote against any measures that weaken section 404 of the Clean Air Act."
*At the end of each article, the Activist gives you names and addresses of officials to contact to instigate government action. One issue of the Activist will give you plenty to think about -- and plenty to do.