Saturday, January 5, 2013

What You Don't Know About Your Water Bottle

FriendsForAGreenWorld wants to spotlight your choices which move us toward a 100% sustainable energy future.  Let us know what YOU choose, today and everyday, that brings us closer to this goal.  Large or small - your choice makes a difference.

One important choice we each make everyday: drinking water. Buying disposable water bottles is harmful to you and to the environment. The solution is to use green products and make eco friendly choices.

According to the American Water Works Association bottled water costs up to 1,000 times more than municipal drinking water.  Even if it were only 100 times more it would still be an extremely expensive water delivery system.  In fact, it's shown to be as high as $10 per gallon - making even our current gas prices look downright affordable.

The global consumption of bottled water reached 154 billion liters (41 billion gallons) in 2004 and making the bottles to meet Americans' demand requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually.  The Earth Policy Institute reports that this is equivalent to the fuel used by 100,000 cars for a year.    A YEAR.

It's been estimated that we currently use up to 2.7 million tons of plastic globally each year to make the disposable water bottles.  The types of plastic varies and with each one our environment's toxic burden increases.  As an example, PET generates more than 100 times the toxic emissions compared to the same amount of glass.  It weighs less, so transporting it generates less emissions, but it's  damage to the environment overall is greater due to it's higher emissions and disposable nature.

What are the options?  All have an energy price tag.  Stainless steel, glass, LDPE - all require energy, oil, etc., but they have one big plus.

Kleen  Kanteen
The major benefits of the three listed above is that they last so very much longer than any disposable water bottle available.  By the very nature of their shelf-lives they limit the cost to our environment.  The Nalgene LDPE bottles I recently purchased from have lasted 4 years, our Kleen Kanteens - even longer.

Take a moment to make this small choice - we'll all be so glad you did. 

Then let us know, so we can share it with everyone.  When others read about your action, they will be inspired and your personal choice will be made more powerful.

Remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than
thinking that a little won't matter.

To Bag Or Not To Bag - Your Trash

Have you ever been confused about using plastic trash bags just to send your trash to the landfill?  

Isn't there an alternative?   

How 'bout  a compostable trash bag.


Or so I thought.  

Then I learned that compostable trash bags, when used as a bag for landfill waste, add to the problem of methane generation. They are designed to be composted and work really well for that.

Methane v CO2
This is an important issue for us because methane has a more potent effect on the warming of the earth's atmosphere than CO2.

"Methane is the second largest contributor to global warming. It is a very effective greenhouse gas, 20 to 60 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the next 100 years. Emissions of methane have grown dramatically; methane emissions from human-related activities now represent about 70% of total emissions, as opposed to less than 10% some 200 years ago.

The effect of reduced methane emissions on mitigating global warming is powerful. Because methane has a fairly short atmospheric lifetime, and because it is so effective in trapping heat, efforts to reduce methane emissions will have a rapid impact on mitigating global warming." Gina Rodriguez

So, what are our choices?  We can't use plastic bags because they photodegrade and leach toxic chemicals into the ground, which very well may one day leach into our water or our food.  We can't use brown paper bags - they don't degrade in landfills due to the lack of oxygen. Bio-compostable bags don't work as an environmentally sustainable choice either.

What is the solution to our personal waste management plans -  we recycle and we compost; what about the stuff going to the landfill?

The best advice I've seen so far is - NO BAG AT ALL for the landfill-destined trash. Use a small trash can that can be easily rinsed out in the sink and because it fills up quickly, you'll be motivated to take it out and empty it often.

It seems like a strange concept. Are you willing to give it a try?

Send us YOUR story - tell us the sustainable choice you made today.  We need to hear about everyone making sustainable choices - you will educate and empower us to follow your example.  Thank you for all that you do.

Remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than
thinking that a little won't matter.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

3 Keys To Clean Indoor Air


In a word: VOC's; in 3 words: Volatile Organic Compounds

From M
"These chemical compounds vaporize at room temperature into gases from multiple liquid or solid sources. The individual chemical compounds may differ in level present in any one location; however, the combination of multiple VOC's is of serious concern. These gases emanate from a vast number of items in the home and school and are suspected of causing "sick building syndrome." A few of the common sources are
pesticides, solvents, cleaning materials, air fresheners, bleach, household cleaners, spray product propellants such as furniture wax or hair spray, and nail polish and remover. These products contain an array of chemicals such as benzene, chloroform, vinylidene chloride, and formaldehyde, many of which are known carcinogens. VOC's will likely be higher in new construction and indoor air. "
(bold italics are mine)

For most of us removing the actual building materials that release harmful gases is unrealistic, but there are three actions we can take today to effectively reduce the amount of poison we and our children are exposed to.

One: DO NOT USE toxic cleaning products.

Two: Install an excellent multi-stage air filter that ionizes without producing any ozone.

Three: Make your own safe cleaning products: How to make a non-toxic cleaning kit - Follow the link to find 8 easy and economical recipes for creating a green housecleaning kit. At the end of the article you'll find an easy to read pdf and shopping list. These recipes will cost significantly less in dollars and in health.

Remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than
thinking that a little won't matter.

What Procter & Gamble Don't Want YOU To Know

Choosing an eco friendly life creates a win/win. A win for your family, and a win for our green earth. The products we buy make a big difference in our health and the health of the planet. Have you thought about the difference using green products will make?

There are many toxins in everyday products. Become informed, make good choices and learn how to live a more environmentally friendly life.
Check what you need to know to protect your family by visiting the Environmental Working Group.

Here's a funny video that gives some helpful information:

Remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than 
thinking that a little won't matter.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

MusicWood - Love Your Wood, Use It Responsibly

There's a wonderful campaign created by GreenPeace called MusicWood.  When all the trees that guitars, violins, violas, basses and cellos are made from are cut down - what will the world sound like?

It reminds me of the Lorax and the Onceler.  There are more business people in the world today who realize that the resource they make their money from must be sheperded, stewarded and husbanded - if those are actually words.

Fortunately, for us and for them.

Where Are The Green Jeans?

Remember Mr. GreenJeans?  If he were alive today he'd probably be sporting real green jeans, although after reading a number of recent articles I'm not sure there is such a thing.

Non-Organic Cotton - bad, very bad.  More insecticides than any other single crop!  The spraying contributes to greenhouse gases, poor air quality, and since you and your children may be breathing that air in, sickness and even death.  The runoff poisons our groundwater.  Frogs, fish and flora all suffer for the "comfort of cotton".

Organic Cotton - not so great.  Yup, you read it, organic cotton jeans aren't compatible with sustainable living.  Precisely because they don't use pesticides, the yields are up to (or down to) 50% lower and that creates the need for even more land to be used to grow the cotton.  Another unsustainable feature:  all cotton requires about 1,500 gallons of water to the grow 1 1/2 pounds - the amount used for a single pair of jeans.  That's enough drinking water for a family of 4 for nearly 2 years.  Don't even get me started about the dyeing - the conventional dying alone makes jeans a poor eco-choice.

I don't have any personal experience with hemp or bamboo fabric jeans - I'm going to have to go to our local Hemp Shak and take a look.  As with organic cotton, the processing and dyeing can still be uneco-friendly, so the label must say "certified organic" in order to ensure the fabric as earth safe and human safe.  This involves a substantial cost to the manufacturer, so we probably won't be seeing these at a big box anytime soon.

Bamboo Fabric Store
Bamboo fabric is superior in that, like Hemp, it won't deplete the soil even after decades of planting with proper management.  Bamboo also doesn't require replanting - the stalks are left in the ground and the shoots ..... they shoot right back up.  No tractors and whatnot to put exhaust into the air and therefore a more sustainable choice.

It's a complicated issue with lots to learn about - my suggestions are to begin with OnEarth's article and also visit Natural Life Magazine's article.  There's plenty of information out there - maybe start with something as simple as organic bedding.  The great benefit to you and your family is that the 1/3 of your day spent sleeping will have fewer toxins near your skin. 

Remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than 
thinking that a little won't matter.  

Share your story with us - what choice, big or small, were you able to make this week that brought all of us one step closer to a sustainable lifestyle. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

5 Tips For Choosing A Water Filter

We are fortunate to live in a country where water is piped directly to our homes. The days of hauling water from an outside source are over for Americans. However, there is a price we pay for this convenient and somewhat safe system. Somewhat safe because we make a trade - our water is disinfected and much disease is prevented, but what we disinfect with has its own dangers.

Chlorine is universally used to chemically disinfect water. It kills germs, bacteria and other living organisms. Chlorine readily passes through the cell wall and attaches to the fatty acids of the cell, disrupting the life sustaining functions. Chlorine doesn't distinguish between a bacteria cell in the water or pipe and a human cell in your body. We know chlorine kills, that's why we use it; that it doesn't stop killing cells just because it enters our body is an important piece of information.

Chlorine also transforms into some very dangerous carcinogenic substances, like, trihalomethanes. These form when the chlorine interacts with organic material in the water that is being disinfected. Nearly all municipal water sources have been tested and shown to have trihalomethanes. The removal of these is recommended before drinking, washing or bathing in water.

One half of our daily chlorine (and trihalomethane) exposure is from showering. Chlorine is not only absorbed through the skin, but also re-vaporized in the shower, inhaled into the lungs, and transferred directly into the blood system. In fact, the chlorine exposure from one shower is equal to an entire day's amount of drinking the same water, according to some estimates. Add to this the fact that vaporized chlorine forms toxic compounds, such as chloroform that remains in the air in your home long after the shower is over.

"Almost two decades have passed since known or suspected human carcinogens were first found in municipal water supplies. One of them, chloroform, produced by the chlorination process, exposes millions of Americans. The potential for a major public health problem is unquestionably there, and yet, progress has been slow." 
-Dr. Peter Isacson, M.D., Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine.

Families with young children, people with compromised immune function and the elderly are particularly at risk when exposed to toxic chemicals. 

There are many point-of-use filtration devices which reliably remove harmful substances from household tap water. The EPA has a pamphlet available online and further information can be found at the National Resource Defense Council's website.

The ability to control your family's water quality is priceless, but the cost of the tools to do the job doesn't have to be astronomical.

Use these 5 Tips For Choosing A Water Filter
  • Research a variety of providers and technologies. 
  • Make sure the system doesn't waste water while cleaning it. 
  • Make sure the filtration system doesn't strip the water of all minerals and energy. 
  • Choose a system that provides water of the proper pH for the body. 
  • Confirm the manufacturer's claims with the Water Quality Association and the National Sanitation Foundation.

Remember, doing a little is more fulfilling than 
thinking that a little won't matter.