Thursday, November 27, 2008

Skin Deep

I have written numerous posts about toxins that are in our bubble and around us in everyday household products. Yes, the classic BPA bottles, formaldehyde in our Orbit gum, and even how Teflon is associated with PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls).
But ever stop and wonder what you put on your skin?

Think about your manly Gillette shaving cream for sensitive skin or your Revoln Colorstay lipstick? You actually think these personal care products are safe? I did, until I reviewed their toxicity levels now available at Skin Deep, a free, online database provided by the Environmental Working Group which document toxins in our hair, skin, makeup, and personal care products.
Yes, they have men and women's products available for review (by brand, by type, etc.) These toxics, while deadly and crazy scary are fairly easy to determine through a red, yellow and green color coding system. The brand reports commonly explain how the basic ingredients used in your product of choice impact Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Persistence and bioaccumulation. Scary shit!

Skin Deep also helps fuel the nationwide Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of public health, educational, labor, womens, environmental and consumer groups working to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of dangerous chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives. Let's just say that Loreal, Revlon, Avon and few others weren't every happy about this campaign. Through the Campaign, as of May 2007 over 500 companies have joined the effort by signing the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Environmental Working Group is a founding partner of the Campaign.

You can read more about these public cases in a book, "The Body Toxic" by Nena Baker.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Electric Rides

Ever heard of Vectrix? If not, tune in to the sexy, 100 percent electric, eco-smart scooter.

I know the word scooter doesn’t sound that sexy, macho or masculine; however, their breakthrough in performance and affordability is worth noting.

Unlikely the traditional putt-putt scooters, which max out at 30 mph,
Vectrix has a speedy advantage. The V1 model ($8750) goes from 0 to 50mph in 6.8 seconds and can travel up to 65 miles between charges. What’s even better is this little electric scooter is the only legal scooter allowed on the freeway in the U.S. and Europe.

While only 1,000 units of V1s have sold so far, this start-up company outside of Providence, R.I. is getting more attention. The V1’s acceleration is nearly as fast as an entry level Suzuki or Yamaha. Even celebrities such as
Leo DiCaprio, Jay Leno and Jeremy Piven have purchased their eco-smart rides.

The new angle that will soon emerge for the scooter industry will be tax credits and access to carpool lanes. Until then, perhaps only early adopters and super congested cities will explore these alternative rides.


Source: Time Magazine

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chainless


Ever had your pant cuffs ripped off when riding your bike? You’re not alone.

Now you can thank Trek Bicycle for starting a new movement that will bury the greasy fingers, pant eating, rusty spoke and chain syndrome. Their latest inventions are two models this holiday season, which are chainless bicycles.

Wisconsin-based Trek adopted the technology often used in motorcycles and snowmobiles. They are hoping to put some cash in the system as pedal-pushers are trading in their vehicles for more low-tech options to get around our busy streets and congested cities. Why is this unique? It’s not really, but Trek is the first to use the technology for mass-produced bicycles.

“Other than being a quiet ride, the lighter and longer-lasting carbon-fiber composite belts won't rust, can't be cut, won't stretch or slip and won't leave grease marks around your ankles. A guard over the belt-drive and the construction of the system makes getting your pants stuck an unlikely scenario," said Eric Bjorling, Trek's lifestyle brand manager.

One version of the chainless bike, called the District ($930), is a single-speed, complete with a silver body, orange accents and brown leather seat and handles. The other, called the Soho ($990), is an eight-speed bike that uses an internal hub to adjust the speed rather than gears. How will riders,
bike snobs, and carbon conscience footprinters alike take to the new bikes? Time will only tell since they are not out for sale yet.

But take my philosophy - Burn calories, not oil!

Dirty, Dirty Coal

While our nation was busy electing a new president in early November, a significant even occurred on September 15th that well connected environmentalists are still talking about today and trying to resolve. (Ok not every environmentalist, but hard working green folks, too.).

This event on September 15th was when a human barrier was formed outside of Dominion II in Wise County, Virginia. This particular coal plant has been receiving more public press in the past months as even in June its headquarters were the center of blockades and protests. If this plant goes online, it will emit 5.3 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year. Sure it will create jobs and make lobbyists happy; however it will also be the 111th “new” coal plant in development on top of the 600 existing ones in the U.S. And yes, we know that
coal is dirty, and it generates roughly 50 percent of the electricity in the U.S. (Source: Time Magazine).

Yet, a bigger question is being asked.

Q: “Where is the disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal fired power plants that do not have sequestration programs?”

A: “Duh!”

Hard core activists like Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, and Rising Tide have already made their phone calls to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Reputations are on the line, the clock is ticking and meanwhile coal remains fairly cheap and abundant in the U.S. (so long as no charge is place on carbon emissions) So what we are really talking about is clean coal, right?

Clean coal technology has different meanings. It can be referred to as a technology that removes pollutants such as soot and sulfur dioxide from the waste process. It can also mean capturing carbon burned from coal. In the case of the Dominion II example noted earlier, there are no plans for carbon sequestration. It would simply be business as usual.

And that my fellow bloggers is how “clean coal is like healthy cigarettes.” (Quote-Al Gore)

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Energy Tax Credits - Yahoo!


A little extra dough in anyone's wallet surely won't be turned down, right? Well, if you are a home owner, keep in mind that energy tax credits have been extended into 2009. The original IRS tax credit for existing homes expired at the end of 2007 - kinda a bummer for those folks installing energy efficient appliances and on-demand water heaters.

But now with the newly enacted legislation, home owners can get more GREEN back in their pockets. The credit extends to energy efficient windows, doors, roofing and insulation as well as furances, air conditioners and heat pumps. Of course, the IRS will need records and proof including product information and a certification statements from the manufacturer indicating how the product qualifies for the tax credit.

As a back-up, home owners can use the Energy Star certifaction (www.energystar.gov) of the product, if available.
Source: Chronicle Telegram, Nov. 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Plastic Cash

Funny how the economy continues to thin out jobs for hard, working individuals that pay taxes and actually spend money towards sustainable items. Which brings me to the idea of giving to others? Why is it that some people give and often give more while others continue to consume without any regard? How do we change this disgusting habit? Surprisingly this isn't a new concept. We have been trying to change our ways for sometime, yet often fail and resort back to our neanderthal ways.

Well, kudos to one Cleveland-based company named Earthworks System. They just aren't any old company buying and selling resins, exporting scrap and developing recycling programs. They are special because they too are part of the continuous "giving cycle."


With the holidays approaching, millions of the plastic cards are heading for the hands of joyous consumers. The sad part is those ignorant fools are sending those cards to the landfills once they get their kicks of buying more consumer based goods. This thought actually inspired a Cleveland-Solon man to develop a new recycling method used today at Earthworks System.


The principle is simple.


They collect polyvinyl chloride scrap left over from the card manufacturing process, discontinued stock, canceled jobs, and spent cards. Card manufacturers and distributors donate most of the PVC, with retailers and individuals supply the rest. Earthworks then ships the plastic to a manufacturer where it's shredded and pressed into plastic sheets, ready to be made into new cards. With only being founded in 2005, the company has recycled nearly 4 million pounds of plastic.
And funny how simple things can go viral, too.. An employee at an Ace Hardware in Sacramento, CA, learned about Earthworks online and mailed an envelope stuffed with a couple hundred spent gift cards. What's next on your list to recycle?

Source: Plain Dealer News

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Starbucks to Give Free Coffee to Voters


Starbucks is giving away free coffee on Election Day to anyone who says they voted. Not bad, eh? Even if you don’t drink coffee, I suggest going and seeing how the traffic turnout will be on this historical Election Day. Even more cool, was that the chain famously announced the promotion with a quickly assembled 60-second spot that aired during this past weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live" featuring GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

While a formal estimate could not be provided by Starbucks as to the amount of free cup of joe that would leave their doors (not Joe the Plumber!), I’m sure your fav barista will still be smiling when he hands you your drink of choice.

Then at lunch time, stop by Ben & Jerry's. This franchise is also giving free scoops to voters. Who says we are living in a bad economy? We can certainly live off ice cream and coffee, right?

Source: Ad Age, November 2008