Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Turn Off Your Lights!

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EARTH_HOUR_3FingerClub_6560 (Photo credit: \!/_PeacePlusOne)

Saturday, March 23 marks the 7th annual Earth Hour when people from around the world turn their lights out for one hour from 8:30pm – 9:30pm.   Earth Hour started with one city and has grown to over 7000, with one country to seven continents, and with two million people to hundreds of millions of people.

Earth Hour was created to:

·     “To unite people and show our desire to protect the planet.

·     To encourage and empower people to take action beyond the hour itself

·     Create an interconnected global community and build on the momentum and action for a sustainable future.”

Earth Hour “has grown to become the largest mass participation event in history.”

This Saturday, why don’t you turn off your lights and encourage your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors to as well. It’s a small step with a big impact.  Visit www.earthhour.org for information, challenges, suggestions, kids’ activities and more on helping to build a sustainable future.

Lights out!

Information compiled from earthhour.org

 

 

Treat Your Pets With Organics!

February 07 015We have the same concerns for our pets about good health, proper nutrition and chemical exposure as we do for ourselves;  they are vulnerable to many of the same illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. As with humans,there are now many organic products and accessories for pets, as well as alternative therapies like aromatherapy, homeopathy and botanical supplements.  For example, conventional flea control products contain pyrethroids and pesticides, which can cause health problems and cancer risks.  They also pose risks to humans who touch their pet after a treatment.  I sprinkle a yeast and garlic supplement on my dog’s food to repel fleas from the inside out which seems to work with no risk. (Don’t give your pet straight garlic however.)  Flea combs, non-toxic powders, organic sprays and shampoos also work.  Here is a natural, easy-to-do flea spray you can make yourself:

Natural Flea and Tick Repellant

6 drops lavender oil; 6 drops cedar oil; 6 drops peppermint oil; 1 cup witch hazel; Combine all the ingredients and place in a spray bottle. Shake until mixed thoroughly. Shake bottle before using. This does not need to be worked into the skin. The smell will repel fleas and ticks.

Conventional pet food has preservatives, additives with little nutritional benefit, substitutes for more expensive meats, artificial colors, thickeners and sweeteners.  Many of these fillers are contaminants and potentially carcinogenic, but you can find healthier alternatives at most pet stores and supermarkets.

Most dogs spend a lot of time outside on the lawn, rolling around, digging, and sniffing.  If you are not already doing so, consider switching to organic lawn care instead of conventional which uses unnecessary chemicals and nitrogen based fertilizers, many of which are known carcinogens linked to health problems in children, pets and adults.  Lawns actually use 20 times more pesticides per acre than farms.

Organic bedding, toys and clothing made using organic catnip and organic cotton help to keep your pets healthy and keep our planet free of pollutants.  Bark your dog (and cat) up the right tree!

Is Carbonation Good or Bad?

carbonated water

carbonated water (Photo credit: LiuTao)

 

Seltzer water is a popular and healthy alternative to sodas offering the same fizzy satisfaction.  A reader contacted me recently concerned about carbonation in sodas and in water having heard that it’s bad for you.   There are some concerns about tooth enamel erosion and low bone mineral density associated with carbonation – carbonated water is thought to prevent calcium absorption, thereby, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.  The problem however, does not lie with the carbonation itself.

 

When carbon dioxide is dissolved in water, carbonic acid is formed making the water a little more acidic.   Most water, tap water included, contains small amounts of calcium, magnesium and other minerals that not only strengthen your bones and teeth, but also buffer the effects of the carbonic acid and protect tooth enamel.  According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no evidence that carbonated water causes harm to bones or teeth.  Drinking carbonated water has the same benefits as drinking still water.  Research has found a connection however, with low bone mineral density and carbonated cola drinks.  The acid in soft drinks like coke and pepsi will erode tooth enamel over time.  The flavoring agents in flavored seltzer water increase the acidity and can possibly contribute to tooth erosion as well.  You are better off drinking plain seltzer and adding a lemon or lime slice.  You get extra Vitamin C that way too.  The high amounts of sugar in soft drinks of course contribute further to their negative effects; artificial sweeteners in diet drinks are risky too.

 

What to do?  As with everything in life, moderation is key.  If you drink carbonated cola and other carbonated beverages, cut back the amount you drink and give seltzer water a try.  I think you’ll find it just as refreshing.

 

In my effort to reduce, not just recycle and reuse, I’m considering getting a home soda maker.  A good one starts around $100.00 and it’s easy (and fun) to do.  Now that’s a good way to reduce carbon emissions and keep bottles out of the landfill.

 

 

 

Information compiled from www.mayoclinic.com and Monica Reinagel, M.S., L.D./N, nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com.

 

 

 


 

Eco-College Choices

My thoughts are with all my East Coast readers as they recover from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. 

As you help your high school child navigate the overwhelming college selection process, you might want to consider commitment to sustainability along with academic excellence, location, affordability, and size. According to the Princeton Review’s latest Hopes and Worries survey, 68% of the sampled 7,445 college-bound students said commitment to sustainability impacts their college choice.

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LEED-certified Athenaeum – Goucher College  (Photo credit: elemess)

The world is definitely moving that way and colleges are getting on board. In addition to more environmental academic offerings, many schools are incorporating green building and LEED certification in their new buildings, as well as offering organic food choices including organic gardens on campus maintained by students. More schools institute recycling and other programs to lower carbon footprint.  They provide greener transportation, more opportunities for student run sustainability groups and preparation for green jobs.  Colleges and universities are increasingly moving towards greener operations and finance.

The Princeton Review tallied a green rating on 806 colleges based on “1) whether students have a campus quality of life that is both healthy and sustainable; 2) how well a school is preparing students not only for employment in the clean energy economy of the 21st century, but also for citizenship in a world now defined by environmental challenges; and 3) how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are.”  This year’s list of the 21 colleges and universities with the highest rating are:  American University, Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, California State University – Chico, Catawba College, Chatham University, College of the Atlantic, Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Goucher College, Green Mountain College, Harvard College, Northeastern University, San Francisco State University, University of California – Santa Cruz, University of South Carolina- Columbia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Vanderbilt University, and Warren Wilson University.  I’m thrilled to see that 2 of the 3 schools where my kids went, Goucher College and Vanderbilt University, are listed!

It’s encouraging to not only see change happening, but to see that institutions of higher learning are realizing the necessity of placing emphasis on sustainability as they prepare our next generation of leaders for our rapidly changing world. Of course when it comes right down to it, most kids choose their college based on something totally unexpected, like the fact that Chulula Hot Sauce was on every table in the dining room.  That was the clincher for my son!

Information compiled from Natural Awakenings, September 2012, Cool Schools and Princetonreview.com.

 

 

 

The Dump

English: Recyclables at transfer station near ...

English: Recyclables at transfer station near Gainesville, FL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The dump, recycling center, transfer station, whatever it is called in your area, is a must visit!  In our town of 30,000, we don’t have trash or recycling pick up, so most people go to the dump. There they recycle newspapers, magazines, junk mail, cardboard, plastic containers, cans, glass bottles and jars, computer monitors, television sets and for a small fee, old appliances, yard debris, bulky metal, etc.  It’s almost a local gathering spot – politicians politic there and neighbors and friends greet each other.  It’s old fashioned and fun.

While this seems a little outdated, it occurs to me every time I go to the dump that everyone needs to experience sorting and throwing recyclables in the appropriate container.  The amount of recyclables in our town alone is shocking!  Multiply that by the number of towns and cities in the US and the world.  Think of all the areas of the country that don’t recycle. According to the Clean Air Council, “Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.”  “The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year.” “Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste.”   With the garbage produced in America alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks and reach the moon or cover the state of Texas two and a half times.  And shockingly, America is not the number one producer of garbage in the world!

Recycling is only part of the answer. What we need is a paradigm shift to focus on reducing consumption at home and in the workplace.  There is a lot we can do: buy fewer disposable products, avoid purchasing products with too much packaging, service appliances to keep them working efficiently, fix things instead of throwing them away, buy local, don’t give into impulse buying, go with quality not quantity, purchase biodegradable products, check out thrift and vintage shops and always use less energy and water.  Reducing consumption is crucial to a sustainable future.

Take your kids, your friends, your students, your coworkers on a field trip to a transfer station and get a tangible look at the amount of trash we dispose of.  It’s eye-opening!

Information compiled from http://www.wisegeek.com, cleanaircouncil.org