Thursday, October 30, 2008

Did you text me?


The power of we is greater than the power of me. This is the motto of Nokia, whose attitude in the eco-business and more sustainable living is getting attention. Nokia recently launched “we:offset” - the world's first CO2 emissions offsetting tool for mobile phones. Working with Climate Care, the carbon offsets will help fund projects around the world that focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions.


It starts from very simple things such as adding a reminder in all Nokia phones to unplug the charger from the wall socket once the battery is full. In fact, if all Nokia phone users remember to do this, the electricity saved would power 100,000 average-size European homes. Or reviewing the environmental catalogue that tells users how much material is used in a phone to even energy consumption and recycling.

The other cool thing that Nokia has going for them is their biopolymer phone coverings. Biopolymers are biodegradable plastics that breakdown into mini-pieces in the landfill. They are typically cellulose-based, meaning derived from starch, sugar or other proteins.
For Nokia, they have an Evolve product, which is basically the cover on the phone is that either reusable or biodegradable – fantastic!

To learn more about how (we) the younger generation is keepin’ it real and discussing more important (either on their phone or in cyberspace), check it out at
Connect2Earth.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dirty Mouth?


I love gum! It’s like crack. It’s like morning coffee. It’s like a sweet explosion in your dirty mouth. The kicker though is that “party in your mouth” flavor leads to a whole recipe of chemicals. I’m not talking about gum base, or glycerol, or the calorie-free aspartame.

I’m referring to the devil – formaldehyde.

A recent article detailed out the wonderful recipe for a simple stick of refreshing gum:

SORBITOL: A sugar mixed with a little hydrogen atoms creates a compound found in most peaches, plums and fruit. I won't substitute gum for the fruit food group.

ASPARTAME: About 200 times stronger than sugar, which breaks down into mini toxins like methanol and then formaldehyde. Should we be worried? I would.

ACESULFANE K: The “K” is for potassium, like in bananas, but totally artificial and doesn’t metabolize – meaning you can pee it out.

SODIUM BICARBONATE: Yummy, white polish which is the unique selling proposition. It’s short for good ole baking soda.

MALITOL: A mild sweetener, great for diabetics (ha!), yet large doses causes bloating and diarrhea. Don’t take that dare challenge of 15 sticks of gum!

Source: Wired Magazine

Monday, October 27, 2008

Where do pumpkins go?

A friend and I were discussing the benefits of eating locally grown food. You know the usual perks of less toxins, supporting the community, reducing your carbon footprint, not having to pay an arm and a leg for groceries at big retailers. And we started to share stories about food, especially in rural areas, including co-ops, and began to wonder where does all the extra food go? Even non-profits have policies that don't allow them to accept food from farmers due to liability... can you believe it?! I'm mean people are hungry nowadays, especially between the downtown streets of Cleveland to the rural farms of BFE. And as the Halloween season kicks off, what does Wal-Mart do with all their extra pumpkins? I mean, come on...it's food damn it! Is it going to waste? I don't see people lining up to add extra waste to their compost bins. What do you think? Where does it all go? Up to the Arctic with polar bears?

Monday, October 20, 2008

PCBs with bacon and eggs, please.

For those of you that like a greasy, spoon meal once in a while, you need to know order no PCBs with your breakfast. What the hell am I talking about? The secret is not in the sauce, but in the Teflon. Teflon is associated with PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), which are the top-dog nasty toxins known for messing with our endocrine system.

According to research, Teflon releases nasty toxins, especially PCBs, into our food through the good ole’ cooking process. A classic fried egg is all it takes along with a few scratches here and there on the actual surface of the frying pan. You might be thinking so what? My cast iron pan gives me a little extra protein (and a little lead) in my meal and I really don’t want to soak my pots and pans after cooking; hence the Teflon coating.

The problem is that Teflon is an endocrine disruptor. The chemical cocktail is transforming thyroid levels for young men and women by altering the thyroid gland which secretes important hormones that regulates your brain, metabolism, nerves, energy levels and much more. Too many cases are popping up of young teenagers needing “synthroid” the classic prescription of choice by doctors to help regulate one’s thyroid gland, and at such young ages it is an indication linked to the on-going phenomena of PCBs in our food, furniture, and other household products.

Trust me - you’ve seen these people who are have unregulated thyroids, but it is hard to detect unless you have your blood taken and screened for low or high levels of thyroid. Usually, their eyes are more “buggy” and popping out, which is a symptom of hyperthyroidism (high thyroid). The opposite is extremely sluggish, depressive feelings followed by weight gain, which is hypothyroidism (low thyroid). The other indication often seen with younger children are neurological disorders, low birth weight, and depressive responsiveness.

And so what if you have a little “PCB” in your body? Chances are we all do, but we can at least reduce our risk and the amount by knowing what we put in our body. Check out the links for more information and health implications.

PCB Exposure in Children and EPA Health Implications.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Yummy, More Chemicals

Do you ever wonder what's really in your bottled water? For starters, the plastic that you are drinking out of it isn't that great. It's non-biodegradable, probably has chloride, sprinkled with a little phenol and formaldehyde. Sure, you can argue that's better than tap water....but how do you know? You think the "proper" labeling will save your blood from having Bisphenol A.

It is the same question that scientists have been asking for two years and now the Environmental Working Group has published the results. The study's lab tests on 10 brands of bottled water detected 38 chemicals including bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium. Some came from tap water that companies use today for their bottled water, other contaminants probably leached from plastic bottles. All of which is not good! Eight brands did not have contaminants high enough to warrant additional testing; however, two brands did. They revealed chlorine by-products above California's standard, and were identified as Sam's Choice sold by Wal-Mart and Acadia of Giant Food supermarkets. If we smart we would have taken the same approach as Gothenburg, Sweden. The city decided to stop buying bottled water all together due to "environmental concerns." What's next? Do you part to save what is left of this dirty world!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back Seat Drivers

Seems like everyone nowadays is talking about carbon footprints and reducing emissions. It doesn't get any better than biking to work, in Bozeman Montana, with your dog, in 30 degree weather. How about that for reducing footprints?

Source: Patagonia, Pascal Beauvais

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Picnic at the End of the Universe and Still Green!


When is the last time you had a picnic? Think...

Going to McDonald's or Chiptole doesn't count and if you lived in France today, you would think twice about your picnic supplies. Why?

The environmental minister of France, Jean-Louis Borloo, announced a "picnic tax" on throw-away plates, cups and cutlery, as part of a drive to slash pollution and energy consumption. It pertains to items made of non-recyclable plastic or paper, and would represent about 90 eurocents per kilogram. Doesn't sound like a lot compared to a $700 billion ballout, eh?

But all of this adds up...and the minister has a strategic plan. The measure is the latest in a series of initiatives by France to lower its bill for imported energy and its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). The country is trying to encourage energy efficiency in the home (and outside of the home) through a bonus system especially for cars in which taxes are increased or lowered according to the vehicle's carbon pollution. The system is soon to be extended to televisions, light bulbs and other household gadgets.

Wouldn't you like for Uncle Sam to reward you for good, green behavior? They already do. Click here.
Image Source: Eric Hart Photography
Source: Wired Magazine and France 24 News, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Break the Bottled Water Habit

Two things in life really bother me.

The first is lazy people. The other is lazy people who continue to waste things.

And if you all want that American dream that most of you "lazy" people talk about, then start by going viral and spreading the news about the "Break the Bottled Water Habit". The grand prize is $5,000 along with other tiered rewards.
We have a chance here to make a real difference on keeping our drinking water clean and actually drinkable while reducing carbon emissions and stop wasting plastic bottles. What I mean is that, with our help, a campaign to Break the Bottled Water Habit, co-sponsored by the Center for a New American Dream and by Corporate Accountability International, could go viral on the internet and we could turn the blogosphere into the ACTIONosphere.

Here's what you and I can do:
1. Make this post go viral, if you're willing, by emailing, Digging and blogging
2. Sign the Break the Bottled Water Habit pledge
here.
3. Write letters to your grocery stores and restaurants asking them not to stock bottled water (see sample letter
here).
4. Get yourself a reusable bottle and fill it with tap (like
Sigg or Nalgene).

Get off your butts and go!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If You Give Up - They Give Up

As an observer of true, unique and relevant messages...this was one of the top 5 ads from AdForum this week. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Soup de Jour - Toxins

As the saying goes, "It's not what you know, but who you know..." I would have to respectfully disagree as nowadays it is your individual ignorance that makes you part of the uninformed group. So, that is my job and responsibility to educate and inform you fellow bloggers as to what is really out there in the environment - today's lesson is toxic chemicals.

Let's start with an easy one - Melamine.

What is Melamine? It is a reaction product (a.k.a. trimer of cyanamide) that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin. Yes, that's right - a plastic. We interact with it everyday from countertops, dry erase boards, foam in our mattress, glue and other housewares.


Why use it in food? Melamine is sometimes illegally added to food products in order to increase the protein content. When it is added to water - a reaction occurs, typically a cloudy, milky reaction allowing companies to get away with diluting their products with water. This industrial toxic has become infamous based on recent cases found in Chinese-made milk products that have sickened nearly 53,000 children in China, killing four. Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety is testing everthing now including milk powder, yogurt, butter, baby food, soy products and other frozen confections.

Let's test your knowledge now with Bisphenol A (BPA).

What is BPA? It is chemical building block often used to manufacture polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. This toxin helps to make plastic lightweight, durable, optically clear, and has excellent electrical and heat resistance. Because of these attributes, polycarbonate is used in a wide variety of common products including digital media (e.g., CDs, DVDs), electronic equipment, automobiles, sports safety equipment, and reusable food and drink containers.


Why does it matter? BPA has been extensively researched and has gained infamous press coverage for "leaching out" of polycarbonate. Basically, those toxins are breaking down and presenting themselves into whatever is contained in the plastic. A classic example is Nalgene, manufacturer of drink containers. I give them credit for quickly eliminating water bottles from the shelves of Dicks Sporting Goods and REI stores and now marketing BPA-free products.

The research, backed by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the EPA, NIH and well documented in Nature and Science have explained that this nasty environmental contaminant is the devil on your endocrine system, especially for children going through puberty. Scientists are still divided as to what types of "diseases and cancer" it causes. Some just to name a few include breast and prostate cancer, ADHD, and type 2 diabetes. Others are worrying that BPA affects the maturing brain in unspecified ways...hey, why wait to find out? According to an article quoting the National Institute of Environmental Health Science’s Chris Portier as saying that “there’s sufficient evidence now to give people who want to be prudent—especially parents—a reason to avoid BPA.” Let's not argue about this and get it out of our everyday products where possible.


Last quiz question...


What is Atrazine? The world’s most popular herbicide-weed killer is an endocrine disrupter in frogs. Many articles have exploded into allegations of ethical misconduct by Syngenta and bad science.

Why does it matter? The story of this toxin is extremely important and starts with Tyrone Hayes in 1998. He holds a biology degree from Harvard University and a doctorate in amphibian development from Berkeley, where he was tenured at a young age of thirty and later became the university's youngest full professor. The science community refers to him as a Rock Star since he was part of an "expert panel" that did research funded by Syngenta. Make a long story short, his career with Syngenta went extremely bad when his team's research confirmed that atrazine was associated with hermaphroditism in frogs 100 percent of the time.



It is well known that when Hayes discusses these findings at public presentations, grown men shift uncomfortably in their chairs when he explains, "The gonads, instead of sperm, have eggs, and the frogs are chemically castrated because they do not make testosterone."

Atrazine, sold by Syngenta to many corn, sorghum and sugar cane farmers, brought in profits of $1.1 billion in 2007. Do you see the conundrum? Money coming in - yet toxins are running off into the water system with evidence found in basic creatures such as frogs. The debate is more about how much atrazine is released! Hayes research took 800 frogs, with half used in a control set, and exposed them to 0.1 ppb (parts per billion) of atrazine. The threshold from the EPA is set at 3 ppb. Field studies have already found that atrazine levels following agricultural usage patterns (heavy crop dusting and preparations) have spiked high in the 50 parts per billion range in 40 watersheds especially in the Corn Belt region.

Fast forward to the year 2000, studies supported by Syngenta convinced the EPA that the "mechanism" by which atrazine causes cancer in rats is not the same in humans. The EPA backed off and Hayes resigned from Syngenta. In 2002, the EPA was trying to decide whether to re-register atrazine for continued commerical use. The controversy still continues and Japanese researchers and toxicologists are testing frogs up to 100 ppb... the results are still disturbing. Click here.

Source: Baker, Nena, The Body Toxic, Copyright 2008, Chapter 2, pgs. 57-73.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Greenhousing Nirvana

Not everyone gets to experience living in a green neighborhood everyday. It is a unique and special experience, which comes with an expensive price tag. Unless your home has been devasted by a hurricane, or you are a millionaire that can afford a newly constructed, eco-friendly paradise…it makes it hard for the average American to live in a non-toxic, hypoallergic, low embodied energy, post-recycled hut.

But who says we can’t dream, right? Here are some acknowledgements to architects from Living Homes and Dwell that have been hard at work.




Most of these stylish homes average between $175/sf - 250/sf (includes all fees, site work, and finishes) Most of the “green” features will help homeowners save roughly $1,500 per year on utility bills, but that ROI calculation won’t make up the difference anytime soon. And that’s not the point! Many homeowners are motivated by other means such as tax credits from their state/county and better yet simply enjoy living in a home that creates less damage on the environment.

Again not all green, eco-friendly homes have to be a West coast dream house costing at least one million dollars…look to the Micro Compact Home for answers. Featured in
Wired – my favorite magazine (April, 2007), this cube price was only $96,000 including delivery from Europe. It includes the basic bedroom, bathroom, kitchen with a few amenities such as a fire alarm and drawers.

The downside: Working in a cubicle all day could make it hard to go home to one.

The upside: Makes you appreciate the environment even more!

Source: Dwell, Wired

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tap Water or Money Water

A $425 billion dollar industry.

How did a handful of corporations steal water?

Check out the movie trailer (Be patient and let it buff/load)

Or go to YouTube here