All posts tagged: environmental benefits

What the Housing Shortage Is Doing to American Environmentalism

What the Housing Shortage Is Doing to American Environmentalism

Environmentalism has never been a stable ideology, and its adherents have never been a monolithic group. But, in Minneapolis, the green community has fractured as a wide array of self-described environmentalists find that they don’t agree on very much anymore. Back in 2018, Minneapolis generated national headlines for being the first major American city to eliminate single-family zoning. Under a plan called Minneapolis 2040, the city legalized duplexes and triplexes in all residential neighborhoods. The plan led to a frenzy of ambitious regulatory changes meant to yield denser, transit-accessible, and more affordable homes across the city. The stated goals of Minneapolis 2040 included housing affordability and racial equity, but supporters also stressed the environmental benefits of funneling population growth toward the urban core instead of outlying counties. “All the evidence and data shows that when you reduce your carbon footprint by, for instance, not having a 45-minute commute in from the suburbs … it helps the environment,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told me at a downtown ice-cream shop in September. “It’s really simple, right?” Maybe. …

‘Plant-Based’ Peanut Butter … And Shampoo … And Booze

‘Plant-Based’ Peanut Butter … And Shampoo … And Booze

Several years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to eat more plants. Doing so, I assumed, would be better for my health, for animals, and for the planet. Besides, it would be easy: The rise of plant-based meat alternatives, offered by companies such as Impossible Meat and Beyond Meat, made it a breeze to eat less meat but still satisfy the occasional carnivorous urge. I could have my burger and eat it too. Or so I thought. Meat alternatives, I found, cost more than their conventional counterparts and are made with complicated ingredients that raise doubts about their healthiness—and even then, taste just okay. Other people have had similar concerns, part of the reason the popularity of those products has declined in recent years to such a degree that Beyond Meat is reportedly now in “survival mode.” But beyond the meat aisle, the “plant-based” label lives on in virtually every food product imaginable: instant ramen, boxed mac and cheese, Kraft singles, KitKat bars, even queso. You can now buy plant-based peanut butter. You can …

Gluten-Free Pasta Could Be So Much Better Than This

Gluten-Free Pasta Could Be So Much Better Than This

To my grandmother, who has lived her entire life in Italy, gluten-free pasta is “una follia”—nonsense, madness. A twirl of spaghetti or forkful of rigatoni should provide a familiar textural delight: a noodle that is both elastic and firm, holding a distinct, springy shape that your teeth can sink into with some, but not too much, resistance. That is all because of the gluten in wheat. Upon taste-testing some popular brands of pasta made from ingredients such as rice, corn, and chickpea flour, I understood my grandmother’s doubts. The various noodles retained a firm, if not al dente, shape at the lower end of their packaging’s recommended cook time. But approaching the upper end of the range, the noodles became soft and eventually collapsed; penne ripped in two by the time it was on my fork. Even when the noodles didn’t turn limp, they were almost sticky against my teeth. And the pastas had faint aftertastes: of overcooked rice, of tortilla chips, of chalky chickpeas. When paired with a sauce, these defects were less noticeable—but …

The Real Reason You Should Get an E-bike

The Real Reason You Should Get an E-bike

Today’s happiness and personal-finance gurus have no shortage of advice for living a good life. Meditate daily. Sleep for eight hours a night. Don’t forget to save for retirement. They’re not wrong, but few of these experts will tell you one of the best ways to improve your life: Ditch your car. A year ago, my wife and I sold one of our cars and replaced it with an e-bike. As someone who writes about climate change, I knew that I was doing something good for the planet. I knew that passenger vehicles are responsible for much of our greenhouse-gas emissions—16 percent in the U.S., to be exact—and that the pollution spewing from gas-powered cars doesn’t just heat up the planet; it could increase the risk of premature death. I also knew that electric cars were an imperfect fix: Though they’re responsible for less carbon pollution than gas cars, even when powered by today’s dirty electric grid, their supply chain is carbon intensive, and many of the materials needed to produce their batteries are, in …