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5 posts from June 2009

June 30, 2009

Sunnygram for Grandma's and Grandpa's

Picture 4 You know the world is turning in the right direction when a couple of guys come up with a way to stay in touch with aging parents who can't handle email, but can still open a letter. 

Why I know about them is because another evolved male friend (Mark) flagged their service to me. Mark had another killer idea on how the flat rate could be used, what if a school adopted grandparents and used the writing exercises to teach writing and caring at the same time? 

The service is called Sunnygram, for a flat fee of $9.99 a month, your parent/grandparent can have unlimited emails sent to him/her of which will be printed, packaged and mailed once a week. What a fabulous way for far away family members to keep in touch. What a great fun pack to have arrive once a week that will allow parents/grandparents to read letters over and over and see pictures that go with them. 

I can send an email without thinking twice, but to find time to write a letter, add notes and pictures and then address and send... sometimes the smallest hold ups keep the good intentions from happening. 

Thanks Matt and Jim for thinking outside of the mailbox.

June 29, 2009

The Mom's Guide to Growing the Family Green

Picture 2 Can you imagine a world without the Internet at this point? I would not only miss the speed at which I can conduct business, but REALLY miss hearing the collective wisdom of the women who are finally are able to put their opinions and wisdom out there. Terra Wellington is one of those women, her blog MomsandthePlanet.com takes on a multitude of issues facing our planet, from toxic food to over fishing to how to buy green.


In her new book, The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green, she provides step-by-step, issue-by-issue examples for "saving the earth and protecting your family - without breaking the bank"!

That's the good news - if everyone did even 50% of what she suggests, the planet would be well on it's way to having its wrongs, righted and you would have more cash to save. 

The bad news is that the majority of the clean up task falls on YOU, the woman of the house. That's right, as the head purchasing agent, house cleaner, cook, driver, gardener... you have the responsibility to be your home's green role model. 

Great, just what you need, more stuff to do. Right? Wrong!!  If you follow her tips, you'll actually be lightening your load. Less is more. Buying in bulk the same green items you'll use all year saves trips and the aggravation of picking between 47,000 items at your local super store. I'm all for that. 

She also helps you save on things you can't see, like heat or AC and takes on low water use, which many books leave out. 

Her eco-overhaul could become a fun family project to take on one issue a month until it becomes routine. I personally like that she has a section on gardening. When you teach a kids how to garden, you grow the next generation of kids who understand that good food takes time - their time. Like chopping your own wood, warms you twice - growing your own food gets you in touch with the earth, the sun, your muscles and your pride. Nothing, tastes better than that first homegrown tomato of the season and nothing makes a kid smile more then when you announce proudly how it was grown by them. 

Whether you're growing a garden or starting a green house, Terra's book provides the inspiration, facts and action plans to get you going.


 

June 19, 2009

A Waterless Washer? Really?!?

When one washer door closes, another opens... Just when California and the Southwest as a whole is facing a massive water shortage a "Polymer-based cleaning company Xeros and Cambridge Consultants have developed what they say is the world's first 'virtually waterless' laundry washing machine prototype."

The article posted in Greenbang says that it uses reusable nylon polymer beads. The beads clean cloths faster using far less water and electricity.(saves 90% of water!)  Read the whole write up here.

What is impressive is that the creators already commissioned a Life Cycle Assessment on the product. While current products are holding back on such an intensive look at a product's impact on the environment, this group made an LCA a front end part of the product design process. Kudos! With an LCA they are able to prove that their machine has a far smaller carbon footprint than a traditional washer.

This is a great example of the new market and how buyers and sellers must work together. Buyers of this machine will be predominately women. Sellers/Makers of this machine (and other machines to come) will be mainly men. By respecting each others contribution to the eco-mix, the market will turn green much faster. 

Does anyone else have a consumer product that's been through a Life Cycle Assessment? Let me know. I'll be happy to review it. 

June 05, 2009

June 5th - World Environment Day

Today is the United NAtions World Environment Day. The United Nations started World Environment Day. Their site has a nice list of things you can/should do. Just for the heck of it, I went down the list to see what I've changed in my life. Looks like I've already incorported most things, but need to do just a bit more, including planting a tree for their Billion Tree campaign.

Taken from http://www.unep.org/wed/2009/english/content/tips.asp

IN GENERAL:

  • Plant a tree! Help achieve UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign target of planting seven billion trees – one for every person on the planet – by the end of this year! Three billion are planted. Five billion are pledged. On every continent in the world trees can be planted in June, so start your efforts on WED.  WILL DO WHEN I GET BACK HOME.
  • Find needy homes or charitable organizations for things that you no longer need or want rather than throwing it away. HAVE SEVERAL, HAVE DONATED.

DAILY ROUTINE:

AT HOME…

  • It would seem to go without saying, but many of us forget that we can save water in simple ways like not letting the tap run while shaving, washing your face, or brushing your teeth. DONE
  • Insulating your water heater will help save valuable energy, and you can go the extra mile by installing showerheads with a low flow in your bathrooms for bathing purposes to help save water. You can also put a timer on your heaters to save power. DONE
  • Using an electric razor or hand razor with replaceable blades instead of disposable razors goes a long way to cutting back on waste. And plant a tree. DEBATING THE ELECTRIC VERSION - I wonder what the the Life Cycle Assessment would be.
  • Use towels for drying your face and hands instead of tissues that are used and thrown away. Also, hang your towels to dry so that they can be reused several times. You are after all clean when you use them! DONE
  • Juice or yogurt lovers can do their bit by buying juice in concentrates and yogurt in reusable containers instead of single serving packages. DONE
  • Many of us like to leaf through the paper as we munch on breakfast, but consider reading the dailies in communal spaces like the office or coffee shops. However, if you prefer to have your own copy, make sure you recycle! READ EVERYTHING ONLINE
  • When packing your lunch, opt for reusable containers for food storage instead of wrapping the food with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. DONE
  • As you leave the house, don’t forget to switch off all the lights and appliances at the wall unit (if you have this feature) and unplug chargers as they continue to consume even if they are not charging; saving energy helps reduce air pollution. GOOD ON LIGHTS, NEED IMPROVEMENT ON CHARGERS.

GETTING TO WORK:

  • Don’t go anywhere without your cloth bag so you can just say no to plastic whenever you shop. USE CLOTH BAGS AND MY BAG BINERS to CLICK THEM TO THE CART.
  • Radical as it may seem, in today’s “the easier the better” society, the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by avoiding driving altogether. Power down and Instead try biking, walking, carpooling, public transport or an occasional telecommute. I WORK FROM HOME
  • If you have no other choice than to drive to work, look for the most fuel- efficient car model for your next purchase and keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure. BOUGHT A 38 MPG HONDA CIVIC and a bike.
  • If you’re one of the lucky few blessed with clear stretches of road on your way to work, use cruise control, as it saves fuel and also helps you maintain a constant speed. LOVE to CRUISE
  • If you’re among the majority of drivers who spend their mornings stuck in traffic, consider turning your engine off if you will be idling for long periods of time. And plant a tree. I'll plant the tree.
  • For those who suffer from road rage, remember that aggressive driving lowers your mileage, so if you want to save on fuel and save the planet while you’re at it, accelerate gradually-- something to keep that in mind the next time that bad driver cuts you off! Just count to 10 and say the planet needs me!HAVE TO WORK ON THAT ONE..

AT WORK:

  • Do you have a morning hot drink routine? Using a washable mug is an environmentally-friendly alternative to non-biodegradable styrofoam or plastic cups. YES TO REAL CUPS
  • Leave a cup and reusable bottle for water at work to eliminate buying drinks, which get served in plastic cups, or bottled water. 80% of plastic bottles are recyclable but only 20% are actually recycled. I TAKE ONE WITH ME
  • When you need a pad for lists and messages, turn over an old document and write on the back of that instead. I'll ADD IT TO MY CELL PHONE INSTEAD.
  • If there isn’t an office recycling system, start one yourself! Recycling our trash actually contributes to reducing global warming emissions. And it is estimated that 75% of what is thrown in the trash could actually be recycled, though currently only 25% is. My CONDO COMPLEX DOESN'T RECYCLE. THIS IS THE DOWNSIDE OF OC.
  • When you must have a paper copy, make sure you default your printer option to use both sides. This is an easy tree-saver! MY NEW COPIER WILL DO THAT, YEA!
  • Most computer accessories like ink cartridges and CDs and DVDs are made of materials that could be reused. Computer cords and speakers are fairly standardized, meaning they can be used for a variety of computer models and makes. SWITCHED TO MAC, LESS IS MORE.
  • Lower your office’s carbon footprint by seeing computers, monitors, printers, copiers, speakers and other business equipment to their energy saving feature and turning them off at the end of the day. And plant a tree! OK, I GET THE HINT.
  • Turning off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms is an easy way to save energy. DONE
  • If you’re in search of something to personalize your workspace, look no further than the humble houseplant. Houseplants are good for the environment because they remove quantities of pollutants present in the air. GOOD IDEA

AFTER A LONG DAY:

  • In the summer/warmer months, consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air-conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home. While you’re at it, in winter, lower your thermostat and put on a jumper. In summer, increase it and wear lighter clothes, you will also save money! RARELY USE AC OR HEAT
  • Don’t place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat as it senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air-conditioner to run longer than necessary. DUHH, NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT.
  • When cooking dinner, match the size of the pan to the size of the heating element to lower energy wastage. DONE
  • When you are feeling at your laziest, don’t throw clean clothes in the hamper to avoid hanging them up! Wear jeans more than once… Wearing them more than once is my lazy way already.
  • When you wash, use only eco-friendly products in your home. It’s best for you and the environment! And did we mention plant a tree! DONE and YES, I'll PLANT A TREE!

June 03, 2009

Women, 1,4-dioxane and the marketing fallout

This is the rest of the story - how a concern on toxic build up a consumer product goes viral.

It started with Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo, when about 1.7 million women (and men) said, "NO MORE 1,4-dioxane" to J&J. When it came to their kids even a little bit, over long periods of exposure, was too much.  That's what I read on the Sustainable Life Media site yesterday.

J&J did the expected and defended itself, but now millions more know that 1,4-dioxane is a toxic flag. The next time these consumers are looking for products and they see the same chemical showing up, you can bet they will be questioning it's purchase; even if it's a small amount used in manufacturing, their concern has been raised. [Mercury in light bulbs is a big concern as well.]

Because of this branding issue, J&J is sending representatives to the Sustainable Brandsconference going on now. In the same blurb, SLM encouraged attendees to attend the panel on Transparency & Green Materials.

This is a heart and soul issue of sustainable practices. First, questionable toxins need to be eliminated in older product lines. They took the lead out of paint, didn't they? Second, companies need to be willing to have their products certified as sustainable and that includes getting rid of the Stockholm 12 Pervasive Organic Pollutants (POP) in your supply chain.  The SMaRT Sustainable Standard does that. Third, they need to be willing to be transparent and prove what their product AND THEIR SUPPLY CHAIN uses in their manufacturing process.

The 12 POPs under the Stockholm Convention:

Aldrin– A pesticide applied to soils to kill termites, grasshoppers, corn rootworm, and other insect pests.

Chlordane – Used extensively to control termites and as a broad-spectrum insecticide on a range of agricultural crops.

DDT – Perhaps the best known of the POPs, DDT was widely used during World War II to protect soldiers and civilians from malaria, typhus, and other diseases spread by insects. It continues to be applied against mosquitoes in several countries to control malaria.

Dieldrin– Used principally to control termites and textile pests, dieldrin has also been used to control insect-borne diseases and insects living in agricultural soils.

Dioxins – These chemicals are produced unintentionally due to incomplete combustion, as well as during the manufacture of certain pesticides and other chemicals. In addition, certain kinds of metal recycling and pulp and paper bleaching can release dioxins. Dioxins have also been found in automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke and wood and coal smoke.

Endrin – This insecticide is sprayed on the leaves of crops such as cotton and grains. It is also used to control mice, voles and other rodents.

Furans– These compounds are produced unintentionally from the same processes that release dioxins, and they are also found in commercial mixtures of PCBs.

Heptachlor– Primarily employed to kill soil insects and termites, heptachlor has also been used more widely to kill cotton insects, grasshoppers, other crop pests, and malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Hexachlorobenzene (HCB)– HCB kills fungi that affect food crops. It is also released as a byproduct during the manufacture of certain chemicals and as a result of the processes that give rise to dioxins and furans.

Mirex – This insecticide is applied mainly to combat fire ants and other types of ants and termites. It has also been used as a fire retardant in plastics, rubber, and electrical goods.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)– These compounds are employed in industry as heat exchange fluids, in electric transformers and capacitors, and as additives in paint, carbonless copy paper, sealants and plastics.

Toxaphene– This insecticide, also called camphechlor, is applied to cotton, cereal grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. It has also been used to control ticks and mites in livestock.