The last straws?

Dear EarthTalk: What’s the deal with some restaurants no longer offering straws to their customers? What’s so bad about sipping your drink through a straw anyway?

Jeffrey Edwards

Seattle, Wash.


Environment at risk under current administrationm

Dear EarthTalk: Now Trump is going to allow the importing of elephant “trophies” after all! Where do things stand overall now in the fight to protect endangered species, especially as wildlife now also face threats from climate change?

Mark Harrison

Sumter, S.C.


What will the summit do?

Dear EarthTalk: How did the Global Climate Action Summit coming up later this year in San Francisco come about and what do organizers hope to accomplish?

Jamie Smith

San Jose, Calif.


Declogging drains — the safe way

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that the chemicals we use to unclog backed-up drains are harmful to our health and the environment. Can you suggest safer alternative products or methods?

Amy Smith

Rome, N.Y.


Talk about ‘intentional communities’

Dear EarthTalk: What are so-called “intentional communities”? And are there any in the U.S. that are sustainability-focused?

Elissa McNeal

Washington, D.C.


Are there affordable ways to clean indoor air?

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve been having trouble sleeping and my doctor suggested that indoor air pollution could be a contributing factor. Do you have any tips for how to improve my home’s air quality without breaking the bank?Jennifer Abromovitch

Putney, Vt.


Train or bus: Which is more eco-friendly?

Dear EarthTalk: I always assumed the train was the greenest form of mass transit, but a friend told me I would be better off taking the bus. Could this be true?

Jane McNeil

New York, NY.


Talk about climate change and real estate values

Dear EarthTalk:How will climate change affect real estate values?

Jeremy Willson

Oxnard, Calif.


It’s not surprising that questions like these are on readers’ minds today, given the relentless hurricanes in the Southeast, the devastating wildfires in California and other climate-related “Acts of God” bedeviling Americans recently. No doubt, climate change is already having an effect on real estate values.

Green gifts ideas

Dear EarthTalk:  I want to set a good environmental example with my gift-giving this holiday season. Any tips on how — or even better, what — to give greener?

Jane P.

Bowie, Md.


The  Waterpebble is a great gift for anyone trying to lead a greener lifestyle. This gadget tracks how much water you use in your shower. After programmed, it signals a yellow light at your half-shower mark and flashes red when it’s time to turn off the faucet.

What’s a gift idea for a strict vegan recipient?

Dear EarthTalk:  I’m looking for cool holiday gift ideas for a strident vegan who won’t tolerate items that make use of animals or animal products. Any ideas? 

Doug Halpern

Washington D.C.