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Posts Tagged ‘environment’
Choosing safe chemical free, eco-friendly fabric and furniture for baby can be more difficult to navigate than originally thought. When choosing nursery items for your little ones be aware of two main things that can make their way into fabrics and furniture- VOC’s (volatile organic compound) and PBDE’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers).
VOC’s are commonly found in paints, lacquers, glues and cleaning supplies. When in high concentration their fumes can penetrate the human system. In acute cases they can cause throat/eye irritation. But with long term, high concentrations they have been known to accumulate in kidneys and livers, and even lead to cancerous growths.
Your child can avoid long term exposure to VOC’s if you keep furniture and toys with high concentrations of VOC’s out of their everyday environments. The best way to do this is to buy furniture for their nurseries that are made out of solid wood. Pressed wood furniture and toys often has high amounts of glues and toxic finishes. Also, look for reclaimed woods for an even more sustainable option. In addition, pay attention to finishes with high toxic amounts, and instead choose natural finishes and lacquers.
PBDE’s are found in many fabrics because of their flame resistant features. With long term exposure these chemicals can build up in the endocrine and nervous systems. In an animal study high amounts of PBDEs led to hyperactivity, hormone discrepancies, and cancer. Crib linings, couches, duvets, and carpets are often particularly high in these chemicals. To avoid PBDE’s in your baby’s everyday environment choose cotton, bamboo fibers, or wool products that are certified organic and contain low amounts of flame retardants.
Gardening seems like an eco-friendly no-brainer. After all, you are keeping plants alive while they, in return, soak up more of the carbon you produce and provide you with fresher air. It’s a beautiful symbiotic relationship — as long as you’re gardening green. Here are a few tips to start!
A plushy front lawn has long been an object of desire for suburban dwellers, so much so that NASA estimates 40 million acres of lawn exist in the United States, making turf grass our most irrigated crop. On top of that, over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are used on lawns and gardens per year, not to mention all of our carbon-spewing, gas-guzzling lawnmowers. Think of all the water that goes into feeding our front lawns, and all the water we could save by replacing that springy sod with some lovely indigenous plants! Since native species are already adapted to your climate, they require much less attention and valuable resources to keep them healthy. This site lists nurseries in your area that specialize in selling native plants, including grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs.
But any plants you grow around your home will need some extra love sometimes. Don’t break out the garden hose just yet, though! Why not try installing a rain barrel under a gutter to store water? Harvesting rainwater allows you to save on your utility bills and to save drinking-quality water for your fellow humans.
Your plants might also need your help in warding off pesky weeds. For a natural solution to chemical pesticides that can and will seep into the groundwater supply, here’s one recipe that relies only on vinegar, salt, and liquid detergent.
Next, do your plants a giant favor and give them the gift of compost! Composting is just like throwing your garbage away, but instead of sending your nutrient-rich food scraps to a landfill, you’re sending them to your backyard to decompose into a delicious vitamin mush. Not sure where to start? The EPA can show you how.
Finally, for those of you city-dwellers out there who don’t have the luxury of space for gardening — let alone composting — behold the concept of the “community garden.” The American Community Gardening Association has a list of plots where environment-loving cosmopolites nationwide can grow their own food!
Everyone knows plastic in landfills is bad for the environment. Left to its own devices, a plastic bag might not decay for 500 to 1,000 years. But Mother Nature, as it turns out, may be able to provide her own solution to one of its larger challenges — with a particular species of fungi native to the jungles of South America that feeds on polyester polyurethane.
You know polyester polyurethane better as spandex, tires, garden hoses, that foam cushion material used in furniture, or any of its hundreds of other applications. It’s a very common plastic that doesn’t biodegrade because microorganisms typically feed on organic food and paper scraps instead of man-made polymers. It does photodegrade, however — ultraviolet radiation from the sun will cause it to fall apart — but since the invention of plastic itself is only about 50 years old, it’s difficult to say for certain exactly how long the process takes. And never mind the fact that landfills are typically covered with a layer of earth and lined with clay to prevent seepage, so any plastic dumped there isn’t likely to see sunlight.
Enter Pestalotiopsis microspora. The fungus, discovered by a group of Yale students visiting Ecuador as part of the school’s annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory, is not only able to feed on polyurethane alone, but able to do it in an airless environment — much like a landfill.
In a report published by the American Society for Microbiology, the student researchers called their finding a “promising source of biodiversity from which to screen for metabolic properties useful for bioremediation.” So, take heart! Your bald car tires, smelly old gym shoes, and used Spanx may not be destined for eternal life in a landfill after all!
Will Matt Damon and John Krasinski star in the next Erin Brockovich? If rumors surrounding upcoming feature film The Promised Land are true, the answer is yes.
The Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant of Good Will Hunting and Milk fame, centers around the problem of “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, a controversial oil drilling technique that environmental groups attribute to a slew of water and air pollution problems. As more of a factual drama than a documentary, the script is co-written by Damon and Krasinski, based off a first draft that Damon commissioned from writer Dave Eggers, known for his novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and for writing Where the Wild Things Are and Away We Go.
This all-star team is set to begin filming in Pennsylvania later this month. Rosemarie Dewitt (Mad Men, United States of Tara) joins the cast as a schoolteacher caught up in the conflict between Damon’s and Krasinski’s characters — which, from the sound of things, are rival corporate executives in the business of natural gas drilling. Few other details of the plot are available, with the iMDB page only revealing that “a salesman experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town.” Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading) will play Damon’s rule-abiding business partner.
The film is set for release in 2013, but if you’re in the Pittsburgh area you might catch some of the filming — it’s slated to run through early June.
Does fracking really pose a serious health concern? While the US Environmental Protection Agency is still working on a detailed study of the increasingly common practice, environmental organizations like earthjustice.org have documented “fraccidents” — suspicious problems in communities surrounded by drilling sites.
Using this method of drilling, a high-pressure cocktail of water, sand, and certain chemicals (specifics are not made publicly available) is injected into rock layers sometimes one mile beneath the surface in order to free the natural gas trapped there. Once the gas is extracted, used fracking fluids are sent to sewage treatment plants — but everything can go awry when toxic chemicals leak into groundwater. In some areas, levels of arsenic, mercury, and methane have been shown highly above federally acceptable amounts. In 2011, one Pennsylvania well exploded, causing fluids to spill freely into a nearby creek feeding into the Susquehanna River.
Check out earthjustice.org for more information on the controversy until The Promised Land hits theaters next year!
Eco-friendly projects around the world are not only helping prevent further damage to our environment but are also improving the economy. All over Africa there are programs being developed to provide jobs to employe women and even children. The programs are designed to bring awareness to the unimaginable living conditions and the economic situations.
BeadforLife is an organization that allows women to work. The women make bracelets, necklaces from recycled materials and even shea butter. The profits made from the sales are used to develop the community and enrich the lives of many women. Since the larger part of the population lives in extreme poverty, new members are always joining. The goal is not to give handouts or aid but to enable the members to live independently.
Fashion, Love, Africa is an another organization located in Kenya. Mothers, grandmothers who can not afford food or do not make a steady income are given an opportunity for work. They make purses from recycled consumer plastic bags. Each bag is unique and varies in size, shape and even color, since it is handmade. The ten dollars earned from each sale is put into a fund that will provide money for loan, child care, and relocation programs.
Programs like, the two described above, are a good way to help the people in countries that are suffering economically. It is also incredibly easy to contribute. You can volunteer, you can donate to the programs, and you can buy the products for you or your loved ones. A small purchase, such as a 5-15 dollar bracelet can change the lives of not only one, but several women in Uganda and other third world countries.
Are you ready to take your eco-friendly lifestyle to a new level? When you book a vacation, do you ever think about the impact that it might have on the environment? Most people tend to overlook this little, yet vital detail. There are many types of vacations that are environmentally safe and they are suited for different budgets and tastes. An eco friendly getaway doesn’t have to mean going on a camping trip and living in tents. More and more resorts are redesigning their hotels to make them more sustainable. Some of the world’s most luxurious resorts are now offering their clients a relaxing getaway plus an opportunity to do their part in reducing the environmental damage. These hotels used to be rare and hard to find but now they are located everywhere from Europe to El Salvador and even Africa.
If you have a more acquired taste, there are a number of vacation spots that will truly surprise you. One of the more unique vacation resorts is called Ariau Amazon Towers and is located in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. If you book here you will spend your time in a room suspended 10-20 meters above the ground and the only way to get around this hotel is by walking on wooden catwalks that connect all the rooms. Nowhere in the world will you find a pace that is more connected with nature yet still able to provide luxury amenities.
Looking for something even more dramatic? How about living in a recycled drain pipe? A hotel in Austria provides exactly those type of accommodations. The interior of DasPark is decorated with a full size bed, storage, art work and interior lighting. Bathroom facilities are located outside. Although not for everyone, this hotel does provide an experience that is going to be hard to forget.
No matter what type of vacation you enjoy, may it be luxury or extreme, you can find eco-friendly hotels and resorts across the entire world.
TerraCycle is a company that has been riding the eco friendly wave since 2002. Today TerraCycle has grown to be an international business. It produces everything from school products to organic soil. The reason this company is unique is for the fact that they use trash donated by people to make most of their products. TerraCycle collects recyclable and even not recyclable products.
Not recyclable products such as tooth brushes, or bags from chips and candy wrappers are used to make/decorate various other products. For example, you can see a jewel case made from Cheetos bags, or a tote bag from Capri Sun packages. These items are truly one of a kind. Along with these products TerraCycle also carries fertilizer, household products and even fences. Everything you might want or need you can find on their website.
TerraCycle not only offers great products but also opportunity for people to be more environmentally conscientious. It is incredibly easy to join the team, all you have to do is sign up, collect trash and then send it to the company headquarters. Not only will you be helping cleaning up our environment, but also with your help TerraCycle will be able to produce many other quality products.
It’s a hard to imagine that in the 1950’s we were more eco-friendly than today. With all the innovative technologies to help save energy and new ways to live green, shouldn’t our generation be more environmentally safe? The main difference between then and now is transportation. A person in the 50’s usually walked or took public transportation. But today living without a car is hard to even think about. We take the car to school, work, to meet up with friends, etc. The carbon dioxide levels rose 20% from 1958 to 2009.
Nowadays people are also buying everything in much larger quantities. Think about the last time you went grocery shopping? Did you get only the things that you need, or did you buy many items in bulk? In the 1950′s, average American households consumed 144 pounds of meat per person, this number rose to 222 per person by 2007. This does’t just apply to food, but also to clothes, to home décor items, and to electronics. The amount of energy we use has also increased in dramatic quantities. An average household now has two or more TV’s, a computer, a laptop, a couple of phones, and other electronic powered devices. Energy consumption is now about 3 times as high as it was in 1950.
All is not lost though! Looking back to the 1950’s we can start to reduce our carbon footprint. Instead of taking your car everywhere, maybe ride your bike or walk? When you’re not using your electronic devices, turn them off. When buying things for yourself or your home, ask yourself, do you really need this? Simple steps like that can have a great positive impact our environment.
A few years ago it was fairly difficult to find organic food in supermarkets and even harder to find restaurants that served organic meals. Nowadays there are whole stores devoted to just green/organic produce and restaurants are offering more diverse food choices made from all natural products. But are organic labeled foods really organic? There is now emerging a new way to experience fresh grown, organic food and it’s called Biodynamic dining.
Biodynamic dining is completely chemical free way to prepare all the food served at the restaurant. The vegetables and fruits are grown without using any harmful pesticides. The final product also does not contain any additives that are not found in nature. To add to this, some restaurants also have their own gardens where they grow most of the produce that they use. The meat comes from animals that are living on biodynamic farms. This whole process ensures that the people, eating at biodynamic restaurants, receive fresh, completely organic and high quality food.
Biodynamic dining first starts with biodynamic farms where the chefs get most of their produce. The farmers begin this process even before the seeds are planted. To improve soil quality they use the manure from their animals as a natural fertilizer. Once the seeds are planted, each individual seed is cared for. There are two factors that separate organic farming from biodynamic farming. Biodynamic farms use horses to cultivate the land, instead of tractors, to ensure that no chemicals are absorbed by the soil and the food is harvested and grown according to the different lunar cycles. Many people say they can distinctly taste the difference between regularly grown food and food grown on biodynamic farms. This type of dedication to the land, and to every plant is what makes biodynamic farming such a unique and not widely practiced process.
To experience this exceptionally grown food for yourself, try these restaurants. Bon Appétit!
1. Manresa in Los Gatos California
2. Aziza in San Francisco
3. Terre à Terre in Brighton, UK
4. D-Tox-Me in Adelaide, Australia