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"Chicago Six" Take Two Windy City Coal Plants

Direct action against polluters seems to be gaining momentum.



It sure does feel like the discontent over the dirty energy (and dirty money) that pollutes our country is mounting. Today, a group of peaceful activists in the Windy City—they're already being called the "Chicago 6"—have entered the controversial Crawford coal-burning plant and, standing on a pile of coal, unfurled a banner that reads: "Close Chicago’s Toxic Coal Plants.”

The two plants that that activists are calling to be closed down are located in the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods, both economically disadvantaged areas in Chicago's south side. The plants, which haven't been updated for decades, are the city's two biggest points of air pollution.

“As a physical education teacher I am alarmed at the high number of students with asthma due to these toxic coal plants," said Gloria Fallon, a public school teacher in Chicago, who has lived in Chicago's south side her whole life and who participated in today's protest. "Every class I teach has four to seven students who suffer from horrifying respiratory illness. I can no longer sit back and watch my students and my community being sacrificed for dirty coal.”

The plants in question were the subject of a recent letter from 350.org founder (and sometimes contributor) Bill McKibben to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, urging him to "close down the two aging coal-fired power stations that pour pollution into your local air, and that produce huge quantities of the carbon dioxide now rapidly warming the earth."

While this protest itself probably won't get the plants shut down, it could focus public attention on the issue. Tomorrow the city votes on a Clean Power Ordinance, which would require the owner of the two plants, Midwest Generation, to update them with new pollution prevention measures.

But I'm mostly just struck this kind of direct, nonviolent action is picking up steam. In the past few months we've seen Bidder 70's trial for disrupting the oil and gas leases in Utah and anti-mountaintop removal protesters arrested at the White House. This past Monday dozens were arrested at the Department of the Interior following the Power Shift march.

Power to the people (as long as it's not from coal)!

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via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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