Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why all these Products when Baking Soda Works Just Fine?

In today's day and age, there is a specialized product for everything. We have a multitude of products to help us keep our hygiene up and our houses clean which expose use to countless chemicals which are untested by the FDA and are thought to be dangerous to our health. Let me present baking soda, the miracle all-in-one product. Baking soda has the ability to neutralize products that are seen as either acidic or basic. Too add on to the fun, it does not contain harmful chemicals and endocrine disruptors that are harmful to the environment and our health like many hygiene and cleaning products do. Here is a nice post from the Care2 Be Green blog that highlights forty uses.

Here are some uses that I noticed that are particularly easy, useful, and still reduce exposure to chemicals:

2)To Freshen Your Mouth-Many mouthwashes contain alcohols that have lead to a increased risk of oral cancers of 900 percent (according to Australian Universities . This can be replaced by a safer alternative of mixing baking soda in water which kills odors without the increased risk of cancer.

5)Body Deodorant- Many deodorants contain parabens which have been known to mimic estrogen (endocrine disruptor). It is best to avoid as many of these estrogen mimics as possible and baking soda provides a great alternative that neutralizes odors much like its use as a mouth wash.

12-26) Anything in the cleaning section- All these uses simply call for mixing baking soda with water and help to prevent the use of harmful cleaners such as bleach, fabric softeners, etc. which contain a lot of phosphorus which leads to algae blooms and harms wildlife. These cleaners also contain other compounds such as ammonia, triclozan, naphthalene, phenol, sodium nitilotriacetate, and many other chemicals which have been linked to cancers, respiratory and skin irritations, hormone changes, and more.

27-36) Deodorizing off the body-From shoes to carpets and closets, just putting a box of baking soda or dashing it on a surface is enough to help neutralize just about any odor around the house

Baking Soda is versatile and easy to use just about anywhere around the house and even throughout the body. It is green and relatively cheap and reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals that surround us in our everyday lives.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pesticide Rich Foods

Organic food is a growing trend. The idea of organic food is to exclude the use of synthetic materials in the production of agriculture such as fertilizers and pesticides. In this post, we are going to focus on the reduction of pesticides.

Pesticides damage the nervous system, reproductive system and other organs. They also lead to developmental and behavioral abnormalities, disruption of hormone function (endocrine disruptors) as well as immune dysfunction. These chemicals remain in the fat deposits of our body for weeks and months. There are several foods in particular that either have large amounts of pesticides applied to them or absorb pesticides particularly well. These include apples, strawberries, potatoes, and cherries. These are some of my favorite foods! With the organic food craze, this means that many of these foods can be bought at a comparable price organically and these foods do not have to be avoided in total. But even with that there are several foods that do not need to be purchased organically because they are pretty much pesticide free.

Here is a slide show from Daily Green that shows the 12 foods that should be eaten organic to avoid pesticide consumption.

Here is another slide show with 15 clean foods that do not need to be purchased organically.

Organic foods offer a safer alternative in many cases in terms of pesticides, but are not always necessary to protect your health.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Green Bike

Two days ago, I was biking along the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to Georgetown when along the way I stopped in at my buddy's workplace, Big Wheel Bikes. There I saw the hybrid electric bike. This new age bike can use battery power or manual pedaling to get from point A to point B. I took it for a spin myself, and found it was quite fun. You would be surprised to find that it has quite the get up as well with no manual input. Its battery has a range of 15-22 miles per charge with top speeds of 20 MPH. The battery can be charged by taking it off the bike and plugging the battery in at home or at work. A basic hybrid bike costs about 1400 dollars. For me, the college kid who is about to enter the real life in a year, my eyes lit up. This is a great alternative to a car which would set be back at least around 10,000 dollars. The up keep costs include a bike tune up about every year or two and charging the battery at home. A car costs approximately .91$ per 10 miles while the electric bike costs .02$ per 10 miles. The bike also does not need insurance or a license and registration to drive. The bike saves thousands of dollars in up front costs, and hundreds if not thousands per year after that in upkeep and costs for fuel. If you live close to work and have bike paths between work and home, the electric bike would provides a great alternative to a car trip. It is fun, saves money on gas, and saves green house gases as well. In all, the bike seems like a great green investment that will have paybacks for years.

Here is a basic hybrid bike which is priced at 1399$ and has all the features listed above. If you are looking for a longer range option with a higher price tag, here is another bike with a range of 35 miles per charge and that can go 20+ MPH that costs 3499. Still, both options are greener than the new electric car at around 1/10th the price and even the most expensive bikes are 1/5th the cost of a new, traditional gas car.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Parking Lots, Opportunities for Green Change

Because of "Urban Sprawl", land has become a premium in suburbs that were once deemed rural. Over the past decade, parking lots have become an opportunity to maximize land use. In some cases, they have become green projects. These parking lots have been made into parks, condominiums with artificial wetlands to stop runoff, and in some cases, solar power generators.

But where do these parking spots go? Many times these parking spots are simply placed underground or in multilevel garages eliminating the need for the traditional parking lot and optimizing land use. Parking lots are seeing a change from level plains of asphalt to more efficient, greener structures that allow for land to be used efficiently.

Here is a great article from Time Magazine that tells more about the suburban parking lot change to combat urban sprawl. This is just another example of the type of thinking it will take to create an efficient, sustainable world (a lower need for parking spots would be nice too :)).


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Move for Climate Change

The support for climate legislation has seemed to take a turn for the better. Here is a letter from 60 big companies (including Google, The Big Three automakers, Pepsico, Duke Energy and Honeywell) and environmental groups to President Obama that calls for climate legislation to be passed.

Dear Mr. President and Members of the U.S. Senate: We are a broad and diverse group of businesses and organizations that believe America must take control of its energy and economic future while enhancing our national security. We are writing to urge you to move forward this year on comprehensive energy and climate legislation that preserves and creates American jobs while protecting our environment.
The time to act is now. The U.S. needs a comprehensive energy and climate policy that will get us back on track by creating American jobs in the new, low-carbon economy.

The United States has an opportunity to lower greenhouse gas emissions and become the world's leader in a burgeoning clean energy economy. We face a critical moment that will determine whether we will be able to unleash homegrown American innovation or remain stuck in the economic status quo. Much as the transcontinental railroad ushered in an unprecedented era of expansion, innovation and economic growth, the transition to a diversified clean energy economy offers extraordinary opportunities for environmental and economic rewards. Americans need and deserve a comprehensive energy and climate policy and we urge you to take action without delay.

We are businesses with revenues of over $1.2 trillion and more than 1 million employees; as well as environmental, faith-based and labor organizations representing millions of Americans, all saying that we must secure America's clean energy future.

It's time for Democrats and Republicans to unite behind bipartisan, national energy and climate legislation that increases our security, limits emissions, and protects our environment while preserving and creating American jobs.

Ten years ago, it was hard to imagine that big corporations would call for such a major green step in legislation. Today, the problem is real and it has great potential to create massive changes that the world will have to adapt to, costing the human population trillions of dollars and changing the ecological world forever. The effects of climate change are already being seen here in the US. We are seeing the effects from smaller snow packs, disappearing glaciers, and 50/100 year floods happening on the same river in the same decade. This change is happening faster than we think and it needs action. It is great to see some support from an area on constituents that have traditionally been opposed to green legislation.

I found the comparison of options between "American innovation" and "economic status quo" to be quite powerful. This shows that the change will take effort and change, but the ability to make these changes are what makes America become so appealing. We have the power to create change to prevent a climate catastrophe. If inaction is taken, America will become second to other nations that choose to lead the way in stopping climate change and become a part of that "economic status quo". This is going to be a monumental movement meaning huge changes in lifestyles that are needed to prevent disaster, but if action is take out correctly, America will be the great innovator that can lead the world once again.

As much as I don't like Notre Dame, here is a great video from Notre Dame's commencement by Brian Williams with his confidence that America has the power to change. It is both moving and comical.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bottled Water is Scary

If I had not scared you away from bottled water already because of BPA, here is another reason to avoid it. In a recent study carried out by at Montreal's C-crest Laboratories in Canada, over 70% of bottled water from leading brands of bottled water had bacteria levels that were beyond the level considered to be acceptable. In some cases the water had 100 times more bacteria than was permitted. These levels are set by the NGO United States Pharmacopeia.

Read more one the article at The Montreal Gazette

Bottled water contributes to an amount of plastic swirling in the Pacific Gyre the size of Texas. Bottled water should be limited to emergency circumstances and should not be consumed on a day to day basis because of the potential trouble posed to our health from pharmaceuticals and BPA in the water and the amount of waste that is created with each plastic bottle.