it's about how to save our planet from global warming.
Why?? cause not just ME stay in this planet there are YOU, THEM, OUR KIDS AND MANY BEAUTIFUL THING. so come on let's save OUR PLANET!!

Nov 21, 2009

Sick-care industry responsible for 8 percent of US carbon emissions

The Journal of the American Medical Association has published a report conducted by the University of Chicago that estimates nearly 10 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from the health care industry. Findings reveal that hospitals are the number one polluter with pharmaceuticals at a close second.

Jeanette Chung, PhD, and study co-author David Meltzer, MD, PhD, procured their findings by analyzing 2007 health care spending numbers through the environmental input-output life cycle assessment (EIOLCA) model. By capturing both direct and indirect environmental effects caused by day-to-day health care industry actions, the model was able to assess the carbon intensity of each dollar spent on various activities and come up with an estimate.

The high energy demands of operating and maintaining hospitals account for their number one position as health care carbon emitters. Similarly, pharmaceutical companies expend tremendous amounts of energy in researching drugs, manufacturing them, and transporting and distributing them.

The goal of the study was to draw attention to the environmental impact of health care in general and to highlight the possibility of improving environmental efficiency in health care. The study's authors hope to bring awareness to the issue of carbon emissions and to encourage innovation that will make the health care industry cleaner with less negative impact on the environment.

Researchers suggest that hospitals can improve their environmental impact by purchasing goods and services from environmentally-friendly suppliers, as well as implementing recycling programs. Architecturally, hospitals can take more advantage of natural sunlight by implementing facility designs that capture natural light and utilize it for energy, light, and temperature control.

The University of Chicago Medical Center has a sustainability program of its own that requires 90 percent of hospital cleaning supplies to bear Green Seal Certification. The center also operates a recycling program that deflects 500 pounds of plastic waste each day from landfills to recycling plants.

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program is another option facilities can strive to achieve by implementing energy efficient designs and technologies. LEED recognizes building and community designs that strategically aim to improve energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved environmental quality, and concerted stewardship of resources that recognizes their environmental impact.

From a preventative perspective, the health care industry needs an ideology overhaul that redirects the focus from symptom treatment to healthy lifestyles that incorporate nutrient-dense diets rich in superfoods and living, whole foods. Proper nutrition and preventative natural medicine will keep people out of hospitals and away from pharmaceutical drugs, which will in turn have a positive impact on the well-being of the populace and on the environment. -naturalnews

Nov 18, 2009

Alanis Morissette on Green Tips for Rock Stars

Hers include conservation of power ... and lions.

Pardon the pun, but Alanis Morissette thinks rock stars "Oughta Know" about ways to green up their lives.

The ex-Nickelodeon star and alternative music icon tells Spin Earth that musicians can pursue a rock agenda and an environmental agenda at the same time.

Some of the things she does herself include using biodiesel-fueled buses on tour and giving unused backstage food to shelters, which is "both environmentally considerate and helping other human beings."

"For me, it's everything from shutting off the light in my hotel room to not running the water for too long, to using the same towel over and over again until you can't."

These days, Alanis also is writing a book and running in marathons.

She just finished a Nov. 1 event for the Maasi Wilderness Conservation Trust. The money from the event went to the Simba Project, which prevents the killing of lions and other large predators through a livestock compensation program in East Africa.

Alanis runs with headphones, and her marathon mix includes Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead and "Survivor" by Destiny's Child.

Morissette's latest album, "Flavors of Entanglement," features a song called "Citizens of the Planet." -planetgreen.discovery

Recycling Lipstick + Non-Petroleum Jelly

This is a great way to use up those colours of organic lipstick you are not very fond of. It is possible to create new colours. Recycle the small left-over organic lipstick that is left in the bottom of the tube or pot.

Petroleum jelly has such a wealth of uses (including a base for recycled lipstick).It is nice to know how to prepare your own healthful non-petroleum substitute.

Many over-the-counter salves, oinments, liniments and cosmetics have petroleum as a base. We all know crude oil, sometimes called petroleum, is a fossil fuel that was produced deep in the earth through a process that took millions of years to complete.

Recycling Organic Lipstick into LusciousLipgloss

Only use certified organic lipstick and non-petroleum jelly - Why eat chemicals?
Women are now aware that they can ingest, at worst 12 kilograms of lipstick and chemicals in one lifetime. That is why you can have a beautiful smile without the worry of chemicals, lead, aluminuim, artificial colourings, petroleum jelly,preservatives and sunscreen.

Keep a record of what organic lipstick you use and how much in case it turns out to be a really beaut colour. You can control the hardness of the product by using less or more beeswax acording to preference. It it doesn't turn out quite right, simply toss the experiment back into the top of the double boiler and melt it down again. Add a little more of whatever you need. Have fun!

Recycling Lipstick

1 tablespoon non-petroleum jelly (recipe below)
organic lipstick the size of a small pea
1/2 teaspoon grated beeswax

In the top of a double boiler, over barely simmering water, melt beeswax and jelly together until both are well combined.
Add the piece of organic lipstick.
Continue to add small amounts (if necessary) until the desired colour is achieved.
Pour into small lip balm tub or tube and allow to set.
You can improve the healing quality of this by adding the contents of one 400 IU natural capsule of Vitamin E.

If you are doing a few, for easier pouring, use a rubber band to hold tubes together. Then they stand upright easily. Use a Soap Crafters dropper cap or Pipette to fill them. Keep filling until they are a little overfilled. This gives each lip gloss a rounded top and not a sunken in one. After a couple of hours they will be cool, put on caps and clean up to label. They are ready to use!

An Easy Lip Gloss

Follow directions as for lip gloss above and combine:

1/2 tablespoon olive / organic coconut oil
1/2 tablespoon sweet almond oil
pea-size piece of organic lipstick
1 teaspoon grated beeswax
200 IU natural vitamin E capsule (as a preservative)

The difference between these two Lip Glosses is a matter of consistency and which one you prefer.

Chocolate Lip Balm

1½ oz grated beeswax
1 oz organic cocoa butter
1½ oz shea butter
2 ozs. sweet almond oil / organic coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons flavour oil - peppermint EO / lavender EO or combination / organic vanilla powder
recycle chocolate colour lipstick or use 2 tablespoons organic cocoa powder
400 IU vitamin e oil capsule

In a very small pan, add the beeswax and melt over the lowest setting. (or use a double boiler or a steamer with ingredients in a glass jug).
Once melted add the cocoa butter chunks and shea butter, let melt, and
then add the sweet almond oil or coconut oil, lipstick or cooa pwder and vanilla powder. Heat through. Add the openedVitamin E oil capsule.
Remove from stove and pour into a glass measuring cup for easy pouring into lip balm containers.

Add the flavour oil, or if you would like to make more than one flavour with this recipe, separate into different glass jars or cups and then add the
flavour. If the mixture starts to harden, place in the microwave for a few seconds to re-melt and then pour.

Recipe makes 6 ozs. Store in 'fridge.This lip balm leaves a smooth, non-greasy feeling and will not build up or cake on your lips.

Use Leftover Lipstick

2 teaspoons beeswax
2 tablespoons, sweet almond oil or coconut oil
5 drops essential oil (such as orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, coconut or mint)
2 drops vitamin E capsule
(optional: to tint, up to 1/4 teaspoon lipstick)

female_lips__smile_xs.jpgMelt the oil and beeswax together. Remove from heat. If colouring, stir in the lipstick. When the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, stir in essential oil and the vitamin E. Transfer to a small container.
Stir occasionally while cooling.If a thicker gloss is desired, increase the amount of beeswax. (Experiment with other additions such as organic cocoa / carob powder, crushed peppermint, cocoa butter, vanilla bean, oil of cinnamon, oil of camphor or eucalyptus for soothing chapped lips, wheat germ oil, etc.
Add oil-based ingredients to the oil phase, and water-soluble ingredients to the water phase).

(Petroleum jelly -aka Vaseline)

Petrolatum is found in one of every 14 products on the market (7.1 percent of the products assessed by EWG), including 15 percent of all lipstick and 40 percent of all baby lotions and oils. FDA restricts petrolatum in food to no more than 10 parts per million, and requires petrolatum used in food packaging or drugs to meet impurity restrictions for PAHs (21 CFR 178, 21 CFR 172.880).

But the agency allows any amount of petrolatum of any purity in personal care products, many of which are applied directly to the lips and swallowed.

Manufacturers would find no legal impediments to using the same unregulated petrolatum in personal care products as can be used in shoe polish.

Among the studies linking the petrolatum impurity PAHs to breast cancer is a Columbia University study in which researchers found that the breast tissue of women with breast cancer was 2.6 times more likely to contain elevated levels of PAHs bound to DNA (called DNA adducts) than the breast tissue of women without breast cancer (Rundle et al. 2000). The National Toxicology Programs finds that some PAHs are reasonable anticipated to be human carcinogens, and the State of California lists a number of PAHs as carcinogens in its Proposition 65 program (NTP 2002, OEHHA 2004).

Petrolatum is listed as a probable human carcinogen in the European Union's Dangerous Substances Directive (UNECE 2004).

http://www.health-report.co.uk/petroleum_petrolatum_health_concerns.htm

Non-Petroleum Jelly

This is a great multi-use formula.Protects, heals scrapes and rashes.Use for a little gloss to your lips.Dab some on fingers and toenails to impart luster and shine. As a base for homecrafting cosmetic,beauty and skincare products.

A softer or firmer gel can be made by changing the amount of beeswax used. Try the recipe as written, then decide if it suits or if you would like to change the next batch to a different consistency. For a softer gel, use 1 oz. of beeswax. For a firmer gel, use 1½ oz. of beeswax. For a very soft gel - more like an ointment in consistency - use 1/2 oz of beeswax.

Combine 1¼ oz. grated beeswax and 3/4 cup sweet almond oil (or organic coconut or olive oil) in the top of a double boiler. With water in the lower pan at a simmer, thoroughly melt ingredients together. Remove from heat and pour into suitable container(s). This recipe will fill two 3½ to 4 oz. containers. This allows one jar to be used 'as is' and the other to be used as a base for products you wish to make.
Optional - add 12 drops of grapefruit seed extract as a natural preservative.- Will keep for one year.To make a lighter consistency, can mix with a hand beater after heating.

Enjoy and happy handcrafting! -ecobites

Nov 17, 2009

35 Ways to Winterize Your Home (Without Poisoning Your Family)

Stay cozy all winter long with these ideas.

There are hundreds of tips on the Internet for winterizing your home but many of them aren't too eco-friendly. If you don't want to huff toxic chemicals all season check out these tips for a warmer home and healthy breathing all winter long.

Tips for Winterizing Your Home, Safely :

1. Consider using green alternatives to traditional insulation. There are several options including cellulose and spray foam.

2. Learn from the old timers! Plant evergreens close to your home and consider planting a windbreak on your property. A windbreak can save up to 30% in energy costs.

3. Your attached garage can add to the difficulty in heating your home. It is a large, unheated space that usually shares a wall with either the kitchen or the den. Either way, keeping it warm helps keep the whole house warm. Take a look at the instructions to make this garage solar heater.

4. Install a permanent furnace filter to save waste and to keep your air clean.

5. Wrap the windows in plastic to keep out those arctic blasts.

6. You can also use bubble wrap to cover your windows. The air in the bubbles helps to insulate even more.

7. Sew a draft stopper

8. Install weather stripping

9. Use non-vinyl blackout curtains to trap the heat in and keep the cold out.

10. Add a door sweep to each exterior door.

11. Head to your local feed store and buy straw bales to place around the foundation of your home. This will block cold air and help keep the floors warmer, especially if you have pier and beam.

12. Have your furnace serviced to make sure that it is running properly and safely.

13. Check the duct-work where it is exposed. Our house is old and pier and beam and all the duct work is under the house. Over the course of a year raccoons and other visitors may pull at it, tear it, or loosen it from the registers. We almost always have to repair a few ducts.

14. While you are checking the duct-work consider insulating it as well. This helps keep the heated air warm as it moves through unheated spaces under the house or in the attic.

15. Reverse the direction on your ceiling fans. This will push the hot air down and help it recirculate through out the house.

16. Install foam insulation gaskets around your electrical outlets and keep the outlets covered when not in use.

17. Installing storm doors and windows can save you up to 45% on your energy bill.

18. Move furniture off your vents.

19. Consider these high efficiency heating tips.

20. Cover your water heater with an insulating blanket. Here is a video by Sierra Club that shows you how.

21. If you have an old fashioned radiator use a fan to help spread the warm air and a put a reflector behind it.

22. Buy organic cotton thermal long johns for everyone in the family.

24. Wear layers of clothing made from breathable organic fabrics.

25. Eat soups to help keep your body temperature up.

26. Shut the door on rooms you don't use, if there are any.

27. If you live in an old house, live in it the way they used to. We have a fireplace in the kitchen and a kitchen door. We spend many winter days around the kitchen table with the fireplace crackling (we have had a lot of trees fall the past year) and the door closed. We keep the heat to the other areas of the house very low.

28. Improve the air quality of your home. Sealing your thermal envelope too tightly can be dangerous if you don't look out for your air quality. Get a heat recovery ventilator if you seal your house up tight.

29. Grow some herbs and vegetables inside. Not only are they great to add to soups and stews but plants filter toxins out of the air.

30. Open the curtains on the south/west side of the house during the day to get the most of the sun's warmth. Close up at night to keep out the cold.

31. Cold feet? Put a little ground cayenne or ginger in your socks. You can do the same with mittens but don't do this with small children. If a finger goes into an eye it is painful!

32. Put hot baked potatoes wrapped in a piece of flannel in your bed about 15 minutes before you plan to get in it. Your bed will be warm and you will have potatoes ready to make hash browns at breakfast.

33. Another old fashioned fix it to hang a thick curtain in front of the door. Use the round hangers and you can easily push it aside to open the door.

34. If you have a two story house the upstairs will always be warmer than the downstairs. Plan on spending more time up there.

35. Bake bread. It is fun, it warms up the house, and it tastes great. -planetgreen.discovery

Nov 15, 2009

How To Keep Insects Out of a Composting Toilet

The biggest myth that you will hear about composting toilets is that they do not attract any insects. The truth is, the compost in most composting toilets is very attractive to a particular type of insect; fungus gnats.

How To Guide

Composting toilets really are not attractive to other insects due to the fact that the waste is decomposing so rapidly. The fungus gnat is really the only pest that one needs to guard against.

Fungus gnats are primarily attracted to decaying organic matter, mostly because of the amount of fungi that is present on decaying organic matter. This means that the waste in a composting toilet will always be attractive to these pests.

Fungus gnats, while unsightly, are not biting insects, nor are they harmful to humans. For most people who own a composting toilet, the problem with fungus gnats is the “ick factor” of having an insect fly around that you know has been crawling over your poop. For this reason, most composting toilet owners want to get rid of them.

Keeping them Out

In order to prevent introduction of a fungus gnat population, specific moisture guidelines should be followed. If the composting toilet is too dry (which is most frequently the case), fungus gnats will populate like mad. They love dry but damp conditions. If you up the moisture level to where it should be for an ideal compost, which is between 40 and 60 percent, you will be far less likely to have a fungus gnat population.

For most dry composting toilet owners this means adding a bit of extra water to the pile (on top of urine) once every few days. The pile should look dark brown, not light brown as it would be if it was dry. If you want to be extremely adventurous you can purchase and use a moisture meter; the ideal range is between 4 and 6 for the meters which range between 1 and 10, with 5 being the most preferable number. You will also notice that toilet paper is not breaking down quickly enough when your compost pile is too dry; if your toilet paper is disappearing quickly then your moisture level is correct.

If you have a composting toilet with a fan, it should be turned off when not in use. If you don’t want to smell urine when you unplug the fan, you can set it up on a timer to turn off after you leave, and go on for a short time per day while you are gone. If a fan is constantly drying out the compost, you will get gnats.

This measure will not work to kill an already thriving population; it will only control it. To kill them, you actually do need pesticides.

Why Not Natural?

While it would be excellent to use more natural remedies like tea tree oil or pyrethrins in composting toilets to kill off an insect bloom, organic and natural ingredients do not have the necessary persistence to kill off the eggs. If you start applying pyrethrins after seeing just one or two gnats, you may be able to get them, but the reality is that naturally sourced treatments just biodegrade too fast in a composting toilet. A lot of consumers will try natural remedies before moving on to the harsher chemical treatments; I would argue that it is best to hit it with the chemicals initially to both ensure that the population doesn’t get out of hand, and to not waste resources.

Degradation of Pesticides in Compost

I had the pleasure of meeting with a scientist at a Canadian university to talk about this very topic. There have been studies which show that Resmethrin and Chlorpyrifros, two popular pesticides, actually break down in compost. This study details how it happens.

Malathion is also recommended in places where Resmethrin is not available. Chlorpyrifros should be avoided as it is more harmful than the other two, although Malathion and Resmethrin are by no means at all friendly.

This does not mean that these chemicals are happy and cozy; they should only be used when necessary. Some may even be banned in your region, and if that is the case, you are left with organic methods only. The environmental benefits that a composting toilet offers far outweigh the need to very occasionally use these chemicals on them. In my experience, a small insect outbreak occurs in each dry composting toilet once every year, if moisture levels are not “kept on top of”. If moisture levels are monitored, you may never see a fungus gnat in your life.

How To Apply

You will want to up the moisture level of the compost to the 40 to 60% mark. If insects have been introduced, then you may need a few good soakings with water to get it where it needs to be. Keeping it there will help control the adult population. The added moisture will also help the pesticide circulate throughout the entire compost mass, so soaking the pile before pesticide application is the best way to go.

The pesticide should be applied throughout the entire unit, not just in the composting chamber. Remember that your unit is vented to the outside, so you will be breathing in a minimal amount of the pesticide. Even so, tie a towel around your nose and mouth or use a mask during application just to be on the safe side. Put on rubber gloves as well to protect your hands.

This must be applied once a day until the insects are gone. If you see one or two, you still need to apply the pesticide as the eggs are still present. I would even advise doing it a day or two after you notice no visible population just to make sure you are hitting the eggs.

Compost Too Wet

You may also notice not just fungus gnats but other kinds of insects if the compost is too wet, or anaerobic. The compost will also smell bad, which it won’t if it is too dry. In order to dry out your compost, leave the fan on and have the males urinate somewhere else. If it is a perennial condition, you may need to introduce wood shavings (anything but cedar - this will kill your compost) into your bulking material to keep too much moisture from being trapped in the peat moss. The same protocol for pesticide application applies here, excepting of course adding water before you begin.

Which Designs Are Less Likely To Get Insects?

Designs that can maintain a good amount of moisture in the composting chamber will give you the greatest measure of success. The more moisture you can keep in the chamber without overwhelming it and making it septic, the less likely it is that you will get insects.

Effectiveness / Result
Prevention

Insects will never invade a composting toilet where the compost mass has the correct moisture levels.

Control

Gets rid of insects in a composting toilet.

The Facts

Remember that these are suggestions only and you should contact your composting toilet manufacturer for the best way of killing pests in your specific model. Some of these items, such as adding water, may be detrimental or unneccessary in one-chamber designs.

Other Possible Solutions
Au Naturel

If you need to go all natural, the only option is really pyrethrins. This is an ingredient in many "natural" insect sprays that you can buy in local hardware stores. In my experience, application of pyrethrins will only control the insect population, and will never get rid of it entirely unless you catch it really early on in the infestation.

Less Peat Moss

Fungus gnats are naturally attracted to peat moss. If you mix up your bulk as half peat and half wood shavings, you will automatically reduce the incidence of insects. -supergreenme

Nov 13, 2009

Be Like Bono With Playback Recycled Concert Wear

The New York company makes clothes in colors like Water Cooler Blue.

You're probably familiar with the extra large T-shirt purchased at a concert that starts to wear out after one trip through the washer. Some musicians are trying to redefine the T-shirts of old with ones made under sustainable practices.

Among them are U2, Wilco, Phish and Dave Matthews Band. They're buying their shirts from a Brooklyn, New York-based company called Playback, which produces apparel through recycling. The T-shirts are made using old soda bottles. Hoodies are made from leftover cotton scraps. Long-sleeve sweatshirts are made using old x-ray film. Additional chemical dyes are left out.

That means the clothing comes in natural, unique colors like "Beer Bottle Brown," "Soda Bottle Green" and "Water Cooler Blue."

After all, records aren't selling like they used to (see mp3s and file sharing), and bands are relying more on merchandise to bring in bucks. Why not sell stuff that's better quality and more planet positive? Or, as Playback calls it, clothing that "oozes love and devotion to the planet."

Playback clothing is designed to be worn for years, the company says. We're talking double-needle stitching, minimal shrinkage, antique brass zippers, grommets and tips, extra-thick draw chords and elastic cuffs.

Playback is Gore-wear, too. It was started by Adam Siskind after he saw the Al Gore documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." Siskind had been using recycled yarn in his clothing business, and realized the idea could be expanded into a more sustainable clothing line.

And sustainable isn't just a slogan for these guys and gals. A life cycle analysis of Playback products conducted by Yale University graduate students concluded that Playback sweatshirts outperformed conventionally made sweatshirts in 23 of 25 environmental categories including global warming potential, waste generated and fossil fuels used.

The company has sold more than 100,000 shirts so far this year, and estimates its clothing has saved more than 856,000 bottles and more than 71 million pounds of textile scraps from the landfill.

How do they do it? That's a patent-pending process. But one that you can wear on your back, for about $75. The shirts are sold at concert venues and via artist web sites. -planetgreen.discovery

Tampons and pads use cotton fibres that, in most cases, have been bleached. This bleaching process can leave low amounts of dioxin, which is of concern particularly in tampons. Dioxin is highly carcinogenic.

Fibres that remain behind after a tampon is expanded in the uterus are also causes of fibroids in the uterus later in life. If these fibres contain bleached cotton, the danger of cancer is even higher.

Most commercially available tampons also contain viscose rayon and other synthetic fibres which have been shown to increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome through accelerated bacterial growth in the vagina. Tampons manufactured with cotton only have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of TSS.

Solution Go Green Living Tips

All-Cotton Organic Tampons & Pads
These products are manufactured with no synthetics and unbleached cotton, for the most part. As with any green product, you should research the brand before adopting them as your regular product.

Super Green Me Tips

Organic Tampons and Pads – Having an Environmentally Friendly Period

Avoid Tampons Entirely

Technically, to reduce the risk of fibroids, you should avoid tampons entirely. Most women will not want to do this, but it does seem like the common sense thing to do. Women who have fibroids or cysts may want to avoid tampons in order to avoid aggravating them.
  • Sponges
The menstrual solution for women of ancient times, sea sponges are often available at natural health food stores. Sponges cannot be advertised as menstrual products as the FDA does not advocate this use, but women have been doing it for thousands of years.
  • Menstrual Cup
Products like “The Keeper” or the “Diva Cup” are meant to be used by older women past childbearing age. These menstrual cups are reusable and simply collect the flow and keep it from leaking out. Similar in application to a diaphragm, menstrual cups circumvent all of the traditional problems with tampons and pads.
  • Buy Tampons that Use BioPlastics
Some organic tampon brands use cellulose based plastic-like material rather than the more common polyethylene, which causes problems environmentally both in its manufacture and its disposal.
  • Cloth Pads
Cloth pads are reusable and washable pads that are available from most natural health food stores.

Effectiveness / Result
The Facts
  • 26% of the world’s pesticides are sprayed on cotton. Low levels of the pesticide remain in the cotton, even after treatment.
  • There is no “safe” dose of dioxin, which accumulates in fat cells and is a carcinogen. Any dioxin in a tampon is bad for your health. One millionth of a gram can kill a guinea pig.
-supergreenme

Nov 11, 2009

Help Wyclef Jean and Timberland Reforest Haiti

Purchasing eco-friendly boots can plant trees on the singer's native island.

Facing environmental degradation, economic hardship, and political turmoil, the people of Haiti have a lot to worry about. One of the island's most famous living natives, Wyclef Jean, is working hard to change that. He says:
People seem to know Haiti only by the statistics about how bad things are there. The majority of its 8 million residents live on less than $1 per day. Unemployment is close to 80 percent, and more than half the population is under 21 years old. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Now, thanks to Wyclef's efforts and a partnership with Timberland, you can help improve the situation in Haiti.

Wyclef has teamed up with Timberland to sell a new line of eco-friendly footwear and apparel. Including 16 different boots, t-shirts designed by Haitian children, and an assortment of eco-friendly clothing and hats, the portions of the profits from the line will support the Yele Haiti foundation.

Timberland has pledged $2 from every pair of boots to support the foundation's reforestation projects. As Wyclef explains:

The objective of Yele Haiti is to restore pride and a reason to hope, and for the whole country to regain the deep spirit and strength that is part of our heritage.

Even the small contribution a pair of boots might make will help. -planetgreen.discovery

Nov 9, 2009

The Mysterious Golden Toad

Location: The Golden toad’s habitat is 4 kilometres of cloud forest on the Cordillera de TilarĂ¡n in Northern Costa Rica. This mountain has an elevation of 2000-2100 m. The convergence of tectonic plates produced the mountain and its unique geographic condition

Year of extinction: 1992

About: Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes), other common names are Monteverde Golden Toad, or the Monte Verde Toad

Appearance: The Golden toad was discovered in 1967 and is an extreme example of sexual dimorphism, which means there is a marked visible difference between males and females. The male is a brilliant orange or golden colour, and the female is black with red regions outlined in yellow.

These differences do not appear until adulthood.

The Monteverde toad is the only toad that never exhibits any grey or brown. The male measures 39-48mm and the larger female 42-56mm.

Reproduction:
  • Little is known about the Golden toad because it is rarely been seen outside of its breeding season. During April-June’s rainy season, the toads appear in enormous numbers in rainforest puddles.
  • The males outnumber females 8:1 and have a high sex drive which urges them to mate with any moving object. The result of this is they will molest other mating pairs and form “toad balls” made up of 4-10 clasping males.
  • A successful mating produces 200-400 eggs.
  • It takes 5 weeks for the surviving tadpoles to grow into mature Golden Toads.
Food supply: The Golden Toad eats smaller invertebrates, insects, etc.

Lifestyle: Although not a lot was learned about the Golden Toad, similar species that live in the area habitually stay in underground tunnels. It is thought that this is also the case for the Golden toad, which may explain why few are seen outside of the breeding season.

Reason they are extinct:

1. It is thought that Climate Change is the main reason which led to the extinction
Climate changes are thought to explain the Golden Toads disappearance. Before the erratic weather of 1987, it is believed that a possible 30,000 Monteverde toads existed. Several were gathered in 1987, only 10 were found in 1988. The last Golden toad that was seen was in 1989. A concerted 5 year search effort was made before the species was declared extinct in 1992. Erratic weather patterns and rising temperatures have affected amphibians and their habitats across the globe.

2. Sensitive breeding conditions
Three months is a narrow window for breeding to take place in. This and the select geographic area of the Monteverde toad have left it vulnerable and inadaptable to change. If the rainy season is heavy the tadpoles are washed out of their pools. If the rainy season is light, the tadpoles desiccate along with the drying pools.

3. UV penetration
Recent studies show that increased UV penetration has a significant effect on amphibian reproduction. It lowers resistance to the common fungus saprolegnia.

4. Pollution
Pollution has weakened the immune systems of all amphibians. Research in 2000 found that a similar species was severely afflicted with chytridiomycosis, a skin disease from a normally harmless fungus. The disease causes amphibians to suffocate as they attempt to breathe through their skin.

5. Pesticides
The pesticide atrazine is commonly used in Costa Rica. Airborne contact is known to have serious effects upon the sexual development of toads and frogs.

6. Declining Habitat
Declining rain forest areas due to climate change and man have forced species into smaller habitats. This increases contact and the spread of disease.

Amphibians are often exploited by science for their role as a model organism. They are used for ecological, embryological, physiological and genetic research.

Amphibians and their importance

Amphibian species have been dying off at alarming rates. The 2005 Global Amphibian Assessment found that nearly 1/3 of amphibian species are threatened and 129 species became extinct since 1980.

Amphibians are a barometer for pollution because they take oxygen and water in through their skin.

Species diversity encourages evolutionary adaptation. Lowering gene pools means less hardy and adaptable species.

Amphibians are a major link in the food chain; insect consumers and a food source themselves to many animals.

Amphibians are the source of many known and yet unknown elements that may contribute to huge advances in medicine and cures for disease. The skin extract from one South American frog blocks pain 200 times better than morphine. -supergreenme

Nov 7, 2009

re:Use Canopy Upcycled from Plastic Cups by BIOS Design Collective

One of the main principles of permaculture is that “the problem is the solution.” Problem: tons of waste cups created by attendees of the OutsideLands concert in San Francisco. Solution: a fabulous recycled cup canopy. BIOS Design Collective tapped a keg and invited their friends over for a canopy party, building a gorgeous wave of concave color at Stable Cafe just in time for Architecture and the City.

They started by stringing steel cable mesh above the Stable Cafe patio in equidistant lines. Designer Chris Chalmers created the layout for the cables using a definition created by Grasshopper, a graphical algorithm editor. Laminated cards depicting sections of the canopy helped volunteers to place their multi-colored cups in an artistic– and precisely algorithmic– fashion.

As the keg drained, revelers clipped the cups onto the cables with special, laser-cut plastic clips. We wonder what the next BIOS installation will be– plastic clip jewelry? Regardless, the resulting canopy was stunning in its form and precision. The BIOS blog boasts that the keg for the party cost more than the materials to create the canopy. We’ll drink to that. -inhabitat

Nov 5, 2009

Nature Deficit Disorder

The Disconnect Between our Children and the Environment Nature Deficit Disorder

Do you remember catching lady bugs, or picking shapes out of clouds as a child? Perhaps you rode your bike, or went down the road to a friend's house for the day. Streets used to be full of children playing, shouting and running around. Now, a drive down any suburban street will reveal quiet yards and chirping birds, but no children. On a recent trip to a rural town my mother began to complain about kids playing basketball in the street, and then suddenly stopped, remembering that this is how things used to be. Kids used to play outside, where did they go?

What is Nature Deficit Disorder?

Nature deficit disorder was first coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. The term has been used to describe the shift from unstructured play time outdoors to highly regimented play, often indoors or with electronics. The result is that children don't have any connection with their natural environment, and according to Louv, this increases the occurrence and severity of disorders such as ADD and other behavioral and emotional disorders.

Why is this Happening?

Since the 1970's kids have spent an ever increasing amount of time indoors for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the giant leaps we have made in technology. From black and white televisions we have grown to life-like videogames, miniscule music players, and hundreds of channels on the television. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend almost 6 hours a day hooked into some electronic device (television, videogames, or other media). When you can have virtual experiences, why bother to go outside and have your own?

Safety is also a huge issue for parents, as is time. It seems like we hear about the kidnapping or murder of an innocent child every week, and the problem isn't going away. Parents are afraid to let their children roam the streets and woods, for fear of who might be out there. Thus, it is far safer to keep kids inside or at structured activities like sports or camps. These days most parents work, and thus have little time to supervise their children at outside play. By the time most parents get home they just want to relax.

What are the Implications of Nature Deficit Disorder?

Louv firmly believes that a lack of connection to nature intensifies problems like ADD and other behavioral and emotional disorders. Science, it seems, is with him. Recent studies have found that contact with nature helps calm children with hyperactivity disorders, and have helped inner-city girls develop better self-discipline. Nature can help ground kids in a way that no amount of therapy or drugs can.

Of course, nature therapy isn't just for troubled children either. It's important to realize that the next generation, this multitude of electronically overdosed kids, is going to be the next steward of the planet. If nature is simply words on a page or a lesson to be learned, then kids have no connection to it. If you have no connection to nature, how can you care enough to save it?

What Can you Do?

If you are a parent the best thing you can do is let your child go outside and play! Give him unstructured time to use his imagination; you may just be surprised at how creative he is! With strict schedules and regimented play kids have no chance to grow creatively, but in the woods you child can pretend to be anything from a dinosaur to a cowboy, and he can see how precious our natural world is.

You can also volunteer to help teach children about nature. Bring fossils or plants in to school and help kids learn about everything from tracking to plant identification. If kids can touch and feel the natural world they will make the connections that will stay with them for a lifetime.

So, the next time the sun is shining send your kids outside, and don't let them come back in until they're nice and dirty! -supergreenme

Nov 4, 2009

Harvard Scientists Create Dirt Powered Bacteria Batteries

Harvard scientists believe in the power of the good earth — literally. A team at the Boston-based college have created microbial fuel cell (MFC) batteries that derive energy from naturally occurring bacteria in soil. If the product takes off, the eco-friendly batteries could provide power for some of the 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who lack access to electricity.

The MFC batteries, which were recently honored as one of Popular Mechanics‘ 10 Most Brilliant Innovations of 2009, were first tested in Tanzania in 2008. The MFC came in the form of a five-pound bucket, and was made up of a graphite- cloth anode, chicken-wire cathode, mud with manure, a layer of sand which acted as an ion barrier and salt water which acted as an electrolyte. All components were hooked up to an electronic power-management board. The charge coming out of the device is strong enough to charge a cell phone or power LED lights.

This summer, Lebone (the company formed by the Harvard team) instituted a pilot program in Namibia. So far, 100 MFCs have been buried in dirt and can provide power for several months to Namibian families who lack access to electricity.

The system is ideal for developing nations because the MFCs are cheap to produce, easily made and eco-friendly. In fact, it seems a shame that this tech is only being used in Africa right now. We don’t know about you, but we would be thrilled to bury some MFCs in our backyards and use them to power our small electronic devices. -inhabitat

The Southern Day Frog: Biodiversity Lost

The Southern Day Frog was a dark, mottled frog with fairly smooth skin and few warts. His belly was lighter colored, ranging from cream to blue-grey. Unlike some frogs, this species' toes were not webbed, but rather had broad fringes around each digit. The Southern Day Frog also lacked vocal sacks. His call was like a soft chuckling that was repeated every four or five minutes in rapid succession.

Habitat

The Southern Day Frog populated the South-Eastern Queensland region from Coonoon Gibber Creek in the north to Mount Glorious in the south near Brisbane. His main range consisted of the Blackall, Connondale, and D'Aguilar Ranges, preferring altitudes above 350 meters. The Southern Day Frog lived mostly in montane rainforest, usually by a rocky stream. They preferred clean running streams to those with mud. The Southern Day Frog was not partial to dry climates and needed to rehydrate often, thus he was always found within twenty meters of a stream.

Lifestyle and Diet

The Southern Day Frog was a diurnal frog, beginning his activity with the sunrise and settling in for the night with the sunset. He was a generally active frog, frequently hopping into the water and swimming. Frogs would also sit for periods of times on rocks, basking in the sun's warmth. When threatened, the Southern Day Frog would leap into the water and hide underneath rocks or debris. This is where he would stay at night as well, in order to avoid predators.

The Southern Day Frog was a prolific hunter of insects, preferring to hunt on the forest floor instead of the streams. Tadpoles were bottom scrapers, foraging for food at the bottom of ponds.

Reproduction

Southern Day Frogs reproduced from October to May, though warmer weather heightened breeding activity. The female frog would lay her eggs in clumps underneath rocks or foliage and the male would lay on top of her, fertilizing the eggs while she laid. Tadpoles could be found year round, and were of a moderate size.

Reason they are extinct

Recent studies have revealed three main reasons as to why the Southern Day Frog went extinct. The first factor has been identified as global warming. The Southern Day Frog has a limited tolerance for temperature variation, and a sustained change could be seriously detrimental. Decline of the frog has also been attributed to a micro-organism or fungus that the frog could not deal with.

Thirdly, and most importantly, is the interference of human beings. Deforestation, habitat destruction, and feral pigs have all played their parts in driving the Southern Day Frog to extinction. Feral pigs not only destroy frog eggs, they also muddy streams, making them uninhabitable for the Southern Day Frog.

The Southern Day Frog disappeared first from the D'Aguilar range (1975), then the Blackall range (1978), and then finally the Connondale range (1979). The frog has not been seen since then despite efforts to find it, and was thus declared extinct by IUCN in 2002.

The Southern Day Frog is only one of many amphibian species to become extinct recently, the phenomena is occurring all over the world. Frogs are an important indicator of environmental health and biodiversity, and their disappearance does not bode well for our future. -supergreenme

Nov 2, 2009

Top 10 Reasons to Go Green - Teenagers

1. Going Green is the Cool Thing to do

Everything is going green. The movie stars, the magazines, the movies... even your makeup, ice cream bar and Hollywood favorites are now being kind to the planet. Stars like Jack Johnson donate money from their CDs to environmental causes. Leonardo Dicaprio just made an environmental documentary. Major magazine Vanity Fair just featured university students making their schools green. If there has ever been a trend to pick up, this is it.

2. A Whole Bunch of Funny Shirts at Your Disposal

Green fashion has hit the racks. Our favorite is "FLICK OFF" from flickoff.org, which means flick off your lights, of course. Then there's "Hotter than I should be" from the World Wildlife Fund. There are plenty of clothes companies not only putting out green slogans, but using bamboo or organic cotton to make clothes. Now you can find great clothes and get people thinking at the same time.

3. Make Friends, or More-than-friends. Pick up!

It's hard to find people who you really get along with. Going green can help you pick up hobbies and activities where you'll be able to meet people who share your interests and enthusiasm. These people can provide an awesome network of lifelong friends and you'll have a great time going green with them! And maybe you'll have a spark with someone who belongs to your school's energy saving committee or who volunteers at your local community garden. Now that's cool.

4. Build Your Resume - Show Community Responsibility

In today's world, you're going to need every edge you can get to find the job of your dreams. Belonging to an environmental group in your community or school or participating in local conservation efforts looks great on your resume. Employers will know that you're a person who cares about the community and the planet. "Green collar" jobs are the jobs of the future, and you'll be giving yourself an advantage in this market.

5. Living Sustainably is Living Smart

Most average Europeans consume much less than the average North American. It's not because it's easier for them to be green, but because they've decided to live more intelligently. By getting your cell phone and banking statements electronically, you'll be saving paper and rainforests, plus you won't have all that annoying extra paperwork lying around your room. Try to think of ways that you can reduce your waste and live smarter. The sky is the limit!

6. Set the Best Green Example

These days, there's a lot of bad behavior out there. Bad behavior brings you bad karma. I know you wont listen to this, but you will learn for yourself. You probably see it in your schools and in your groups of friends. But instead of buying into their bad habits, form some great ones of your own! Be a role model in your community and the rewards will come back to you tenfold. You can do this in so many ways, including setting up a waste reduction program in your school, volunteering at your local farmers' market and even just taking your bike to school instead of going in a car. You'll be amazed at how quickly your good habits will start to catch on!

7. Save Money by Being Green

When you're saving up to go to that big concert, you'll need all the help in the money department that you can get. And what's the point of driving to your part-time job when you spend so much money on gas getting there? If you take public transit or your bike you'll be saving a lot of money that you can put towards better and way more fun things.

8. Get Money, Go Eco

You can use environmental volunteering towards getting scholarships or being accepted for special programs and opportunities moving towards college or university. Your school will be impressed if they know that you're contributing to the school or your community in a meaningful way and will give you great reference letters. "I spent the evening volunteering for an environmental group" sounds a lot better than "My dog ate my homework".

9. Feelin' Good and Giving out Positive Vibes

Feeling and looking good depends on what you put into your body and what you do with your body. If you eat good food, you'll feel and look good - it's simple. Eating well is also usually good for the environment - less red meat, less packaging, and more in-season and local foods are good for your health and the environment. It's also super for your health to ditch the computer once in a while and spend the afternoon biking in the park, walk to the movies with friends instead of driving or hike on the weekend with a group of friends.

10. Get Your Parents Off Your Back

You're probably sick and tired of your parents nagging you to do everything. If you take your own initiative to change a lot of your bad, energy-wasting behaviors, maybe you can start nagging them for a change! Encourage them to bring recyclable bags or to cut down on the amount of time they spend in their cars. Pretty soon you'll be the good role model in the house and they'll probably cut you some slack the next time it's your turn to do the dishes. It's win-win! -supergreenme

Oct 30, 2009

Shipping Container Health Clinics For Developing Countries

Good design has the potential to provide better education, access to safe water and improved health care. Take for instance our very own Emily Pilloton of Project H Design, whose design projects are bringing vast improvements to their surrounding communities. Along the same line, a new non-profit initiative called Containers 2 Clinics is creating modular health care clinics for developing countries. To do so, they are rescuing shipping containers and then outfitting them with all the necessary equipment to treat women and children. Not only is this company delving into the fascinating world of shipping container architecture, but they are developing a much needed service for humanitarian aid.

The start-up organization’s plan is to retrofit and standardize shipping containers for use as health care clinics. These structures could be shipped in a standard way and easily transported on the back of a flat bed truck to the needed location. The standard configuration would consist of two shipping containers, renovated to allow space for patient consultation rooms, a laboratory, an office for staff and an inventory area. A container clinic could serve as a stand alone facility or augment a current facility. The containers are modified to provide ventilation, lighting, sterile lab and consultation space. At this time, the containers are meant to connect with current utility lines drawing on power from the grid, but they could easily be adapted to run off solar or wind power for off-grid applications.

Along with providing much needed health care facilities for developing areas, Containers 2 Clinics also plans to provide additional value in the world of health care and the local community. C2C will also be a vital part of a data collection system to capture health and epidemiological data to gain a better understanding of disease vector control. Staff for the clinics will be found within the local community and job training will be provided by C2C. The clinic model also includes a low-cost pharmacy for medicine and essential health commodities, which will help provide revenue for the clinics as well as a chance for local entrepreneurship.

Currently Stack Design Build, a Rhode Island-based green builder, is constructing the first prototype, which should be complete this November. This is definitely an exciting humanitarian design concept that could have incredible results. Low-cost and easily transportable, these standardized clinics could become part of the solution for better health care in many parts of the world. -inhabitat

LED-Equipped Solar Timbuk2 Bag Creates a FLAP at PopTech

Attendees at this year’s PopTech conference in Camden, Maine, were handed the Swag Bag to End All Swag Bags on Thursday: a messenger that transforms into a portable, solar-powered light source. A collaboration with Timbuk2 and the Portable Light Project, the FLAP (Flexible Light and Power) is a next-generation messenger bag with solar panels that can be charged in the day, then used to power a built-in LED light—or a small mobile device—at night.

CLEAN, MOBILE ENERGY

Renewable energy that is untethered to one spot isn’t a new concept to The Portable Light Project—the nonprofit has been working with the Rocky Mountain Institute to create portable solar textile kits for impoverished communities living without electricity. These energy-harvesting textiles offer the promise of clean, mobile technology for education, healthcare, and economic development, along with the potential for self-sustaining renewable energy even in the face of extreme poverty.

These energy-harvesting textiles offer the promise of clean, mobile technology even in the face of extreme poverty.

Buoyed by Timbuk2’s manufacturing expertise, working on the FLAP offered both teams of designers the unique opportunity to draw up, prototype, and field test a new—and affordable—multipurpose energy-generating and lighting design—one that could serve developed and developing nations, as well as be adapted to local materials and skills.

MODULAR, FLEXIBLE DESIGN

With a detachable flap that incorporates the solar panel, LED reading light, and a mini-USB port for charging small devices, the FLAP can be used to cast light or power a cell phone with or without the rest of the bag attached. Ingeniously, the flap’s reflective inner lining helps increase the range of the LED light, creating a makeshift lantern.

The detachable flap allows you to use the LED light and USB port with or without the rest of the bag attached.

Practicality and real-world performance, of course, was key, and White African and AfriGadget editor Erik Hersman was tasked with carting 10 partially fabricated bags and 10 solar light kits through Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. Feedback ran the gamut, from quibbles over the oversized nature of the American-style Timbuk2 bags to observations that the electronics would need to be ruggedized for African use.

It’s what you might call a work in progress, admits Sheila Kennedy of the Portable Light Project. “The FLAP bag is a freeze-frame snapshot in our ongoing process of collaboration,” she says. -ecouterre

Oct 27, 2009

Smog

What is this?

Smog is a type of air pollution that accumulates in the lower atmosphere over towns and cities, emanating from vehicle exhaust pipes, factories and especially where a great deal of coal is burned. The word “smog” was coined and became fashionable in the early 20th century. It is a so-called “portmanteau” word. This means two words have been conflated to form a new word. The two root words in this case are smoke and fog.

Although this might have accurately described London smog early last century, today the word is a misnomer as smog commonly is a mixture of smoke and sulfur dioxide, not smoke and fog, which is simply moisture in the air. Modern smog is not as visible as smog of coal-burning origin but mainly from vehicular and industrial emissions that are acted on by sunlight to form secondary and less visible pollutants that also combine with the primary smog to form photochemical smog. The sum total of smog on earth is causing the ozone layer to degrade, leading to global warming and climate change, with inevitable consequences for life everywhere on the planet.

What impact does it have?

Smog constitutes a major health problem in most large cities. Ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide are especially harmful to the old and the young, and those suffering from heart and lung conditions. It is well-known that people with conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis are susceptible to the ill effects of smog. The lungs are simply unable to cope with the pollution in the air. Smog also causes eye and nose irritation and interferes with the body’s immune system, increasing the risk of illness. There is a proven link between the number hospital admissions and the ozone levels in the air, especially in warm summer weather. Some government agencies have estimated that the number of premature deaths caused by the presence of smog number in the thousands in large cities.

What has been done about it?

The Kyoto protocol, an agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), has since1997 when it was introduced to 2008 been signed by 182 nations. This was the first international attempt to global co-ordination to reduce the amount of photochemical pollution, which is alleged to have created and to be widening the hole in the ozone layer. The nations that have ratified the treaty committed themselves, with effect from 2005, to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and five other so-called greenhouse gases (GHG), namely methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, CFCs and water vapor, or to engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of the GHG.

Is this action working?

The United States has not ratified the treaty and the other main culprits namely Mexico, European Union, China and South East Asia have had little success in trying to reduce the amount of smog produced in their industrial cities.

Why is this?

Politics and economics have hampered governments from reaching their emission reduction goals.

Should it continue? On one side, there are those who are against

On one side, there are those who are against the entire notion of the Kyoto protocol and who say that global warming arguing that it has not been scientifically proven, although admittedly this a minority. Others see the Kyoto protocol as a scheme to slow the growth of the world’s industrial democracies, or a kind of global socialism initiative. Other critics of Kyoto are environmental economists who say the costs of implementing the treaty will outweigh the benefits. They see the protocol as fatally flawed -- too optimistic, unfair or impossible to implement. Some critics argue that 1990 should not have been used as a base year for all the signatories. Other critics are simply lobbying to protect their vested interests in heavy industry.

Should it continue? On the other side, there are those who are all for it

On the other side, there are those who are all for it, the 182 governments that ratified the treaty in particular. They had clear mandates from their electorates, in the case of the democracies, to accept the treaties. However several signatories, such as India and China, did not commit themselves to reducing emissions but merely to monitoring and reporting them. Some of the signatories, small countries such as Niue, the Cook Islands and Nauru, actually felt that Kyoto did not go far enough. It is worth noting that a UK government sponsored report (Stern Report) into the economic effects of climate change said that one percent of all global GDP was needed to counter the effects of climate change and the consequences could be a recession worth up to a quarter of global GDP. Green organization and NGOs are vociferous about Kyoto. Friends of the Earth have even taken countries to court for failing to reduce emissions. That being said, it is probably desirable, in the absence of anything else, that Kyoto’s ideals be pursued and developed as a global initiative. -supergreenme

Young Professionals


1. Gain a competitive edge, build your career

By being attuned to popular citizen concerns and staying current on green practices and technologies, you can help your employer solve environmental issues specific to your workplace. This makes you look good and can be very beneficial for your career. Helping your employer stay green reflects well on the company or organization and can help attract clients.

2. Practice what you preach

Maybe you're a professional that works in the environmental field, but have yet to adopt some environmental practices yourself. By adopting current environmental practices, especially those you may deal with at work on a daily basis, lends you credibility and shows others around you that the ability to be green isn't just theoretical, that it actually works in the real world.

3. Expand your career possibilities

There is increasing media focus on environmental problems, and citizens are becoming more concerned about the impact we are having on the health of the environment. The number of environmental problems that need to be tackled in combination with citizen and media focus on these problems means there is demand for environmental professionals. Society needs environmental engineers, lawyers, marketers, policy makers and business people. Going green can help you expand your career possibilities.

4. Gain experience

Volunteering for a local environmental group or starting your own green business can be a great way to get experience and fine tune skills employers are looking for. By being in charge of your own experience, you solve the "No job without experience, no experience without a job" dilemma.

5. Save money

Many of the things you might do to be green are not only good for the environment, but also good for your bank account. For example, hanging your clothes to dry saves power, and using sustainable modes of transportation (like biking and the bus) are much cheaper than owning a car. Some actions might require a large initial investment, but will save you money over the long run. Purchasing energy efficient appliances can save money on your water and electricity bills for years to come.

6. Gain valuable time

When you live so close to your work that you can walk or bike, you cut out long commuting times you would otherwise be spending stuck in rush hour traffic. This leaves more time for the activities you enjoy the most.

7. Keep fit and healthy

By walking, biking and taking the stairs instead of elevators, you'll have effortlessly fit some exercise into your day. In addition, you'll get to your destination without generating greenhouse gases, and help reduce smog in your city.

8. Meet new people

Getting involved in green initiatives by carpooling, listening to speakers and working with environmental community groups can be a great way to meet new and interesting people who share your interests.

9. Get to know the city you're living in

Maybe you've moved to a new town for a job or are moving back to your hometown after having been away for years of school and work. Getting involved in local environmental groups can help you connect (or reconnect) with local issues, from waste planning to urban development and local food from your city.

10. Help create your future

You're young and you've still got lots of time left on the planet. Help create a desirable future for yourself and your children. By acting responsibly today, you can help ensure resiliency and health of the earth's ecosystems. -supergreenme

Oct 24, 2009

Stencils and Mud Make for Artful Eco Graffiti

Youngster Jesse Graves has been running around Milwaukee stenciling his artistic messages of eco-sanity on sidewalks, walls, and concrete pylons. But lucky for his lungs and his criminal record, he's doing it with mud instead of paint. Graves, who signs his work MSR (mud stencils rule), writes: "I use mud or earth because it is a fundamental life-giving substance, logical for my messages. Mud stencils are an evolving medium, intended for art and social justice, not corporate advertisement."

Graves' iconography is well suited to the muddy medium (or maybe it's vice versa): his pieces show a cow dreaming about eating grass instead of industrial corn feed, he adds "compost" to the reduce/reuse/recycle loop, and a wispy dandelion says "eat wild." Most of his pieces are pretty bite-sized, but some are larger, like this one created to protest abuses at the Tamms prison in Illinois.

We've seen moss become graffiti-esq public art, and we've seen activists use pressure washers to create "reverse graffiti." Graffiti has been used to bring attention to scummy beaches, and by Greenpeace on Hewlett-Packard's roof.

Graves gives his recipe on his website. To do your own mud stencils you'll need: a utility knife, a roll of mylar, a sponge, and tape. He also seems to use a paint roller for some jobs. Oh yes, and mud. Graves suggests mixing it with a whisk to the consistency of peanut butter. We wonder how different muds would yield different colors and textures.

Although Graves writes his graffiti under the pen name of MSR (mud stencils rule), he isn't trying to hide his identity. In fact he invites anyone else working with similar materials to contact him directly. In this video, the too-young-to-shave propagator of the mud stencil art describes his approach. -treehugger

All Natural Homemade Mouthwash Recipes

Mouthwash is a neat little invention. It’s an easy way to feel like your mouth is totally clean and fresh smelling in a matter of seconds…and you can achieve all of this without a toothbrush on hand. It’s no wonder that mouthwash is so popular. My only question is this: Why should we grow so acquainted with pouring chemicals into our mouths, supporting the production and manufacturing of products that cause pollution, and spending money we don’t have to spend? There are natural ways to make mouthwash from items you very well may have around the house. Here are a couple recipes. Enjoy!

Spearmint

Boil 6 ounces of water and 2 ounces of vodka together. Add in 4 teaspoons of liquid glycerin and 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Remove from heat and let cool. When cooled, add 10-15 drops of Spearmint oil and shake the entire mixture together well.

Rosemary Mint

Boil 2.5 cups of water. Add in 1 teaspoon of fresh mint leaves, 1 teaspoon of rosemary leaves, and 1 teaspoon of anise seeds. Let this boil for about 20 minutes. Once it is cooled, you’ve got your mouthwash! -Elizabeth Seward/Planet Green

Oct 22, 2009

Ten Reasons Why School kids Should Go Green

1. Because you’ve got energy and enthusiasm!

You’ve got all sorts of energy and enthusiasm; just the qualities that are needed to help solve some of the most interesting and also most complex problems. Your energy and enthusiasm can also help inspire others who are working on the same problems.

2. Learn about cool new technologies

Many of the newest technologies have been designed to decrease their negative environmental impact. Others have been designed specifically to tackle the problem. Either way, learn about new and exciting technologies that reduce your negative impact on the planet.

3. Develop good habits from an early age

By going green while you are still young it will become natural and easy for you to live sustainably. Teach yourself early for good habits through the rest of your life.

4. Get outside and have fun!

By walking or biking to school you get a bit of play time on the way to school. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air and nature around you!

5. Get great ideas for science fairs and projects

By going green, you will start finding challenges in your everyday life that need solving. These can lead to great ideas for science fairs, like Daniel Burd, who won the Canada-wide Science Fair for having found a way to make plastic bags degrade faster!

6. Teach your parents and family how to go green

Being in school you have a great opportunity to learn about some of the environmental problems our world faces and the new and emerging ways we might be able to solve those problems and go green. You can help show your family how to solve those problems through leading by example.

7. You’ve got the freedom to speak out and act on environmental issues

While you’re still young, you’ve got plenty of freedom and time to speak out and act to solve the environmental issues. Take advantage of the opportunity for as long as you have it; make your voice and your opinion heard!

8. Help solve environmental issues

Be a part of the solution! You have the power to work towards a better world, so make a commitment to doing so. Teach others, learn how you can become greener, and find new ways to live sustainably.

9. Expand your career possibilities

There in an increasing demand for people who are aware of environmental problems, and for people who work to solve these issues. By learning from a young age, you’ll be well prepared when it’s time for you to go to work.

10. Meet new people

Getting involved in green projects, like starting a compost or garden at your school, gives you a great chance to meet new friends who will have the same interests. -greenandsave

Oct 20, 2009

Eat Less Meat for More Sustainable Living


Overconsuming Meat Hurts the Planet and Your Body

People mistakenly believe that they need protein from animal flesh to survive. This is only true if you’re stranded at the North Pole in winter with no provisions! The reality is, you should eat less meat. Animal flesh provides too much protein for the human body to process, which leads to obesity and cancer. Rampant meat consumption harms is not sustainable for your body, and it’s definitely not environmentally sustainable for the Earth.
  • More than one-third of all grain in the world is used to feed livestock instead of people
  • Growing massive quantities of grain for cattle requires more toxic, cancer-causing pesticides and herbicides
  • Cattle take up 24 percent of the world’s land mass; massive deforestation occurs, including in the Amazon rainforest, to make room for pasture
  • Overgrazing depletes rich topsoil
  • A full one-half of all water consumed in the U.S. is to grow grain to feed cattle
  • It takes only 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat, but it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce on pound of meat
  • If water used by the U.S. meat industry weren’t subsidized by taxpayers, ground beef would cost $35 per pound.
  • It takes one gallon of gasoline to produce one pound of grain-fed beef
Factory Farms

Many people also mistakenly believe that the cows, pigs and chickens they eat are raised on sustainable, environmentally friendly family farms. But the ugly truth is, cows, pigs and chickens come from massive factory farms, also called confined animal feeding operations. These massive operations are the polar opposite of sustainable living and being environmentally friendly.

Manure

Livestock in confined animal feeding operations produce 500 million tons of manure. This manure is not processed in an environmentally sustainable manner. It is sprayed onto croplands at rates the ground cannot absorb or stored in open-air waste lagoons. These behemoth pits leak and spill into groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes, killing wildlife and posing serious health risks to humans.

Waste

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cow, hog and chicken waste has contaminated 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and polluted groundwater, which supplies underground drinking water aquifers, in 17 states.

Solution

Eat Less Meat to Help Conserve Natural Resources

Go Green Tips

Eat chicken, fish and vegetables instead of red meat one day per week; this will reduce the same amount of global warming and greenhouse gases as driving 1,000 miles less

Eat less meat by limiting yourself to no more than three meat meals per week.

Eat less meat, especially red meat and dairy products, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Cows produce an inordinate amount of methane gas. That’s right, cow farts exacerbate global warming and climate change! You have to remember, thousands upon thousands of cows are pent up in buildings the size of several football fields; they never venture outdoors into fresh air.

When you do eat meat, opt for organic and/or local sources. These sources are raised in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, and they contain more nutrients. If you really want to go green, go grass-fed!

Don’t forget about fish in your quest to eat less meat: It’s a lean source of protein. But don’t eat more than once per week to reduce mercury intake. Types that are harvested in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner that also provide omega-3 fatty acids are wild Alaska salmon and sardines.

Super Green Tips

Eliminate beef, pork and poultry from your Eat Less Meat Diet Strategy altogether. It’s easiest to go green in this manner gradually over time by choosing to eat less meat instead of going cold turkey. This will give your teeth time to adjust to softer textures.

Shifting to an entirely meat-free diet reduces global warming and climate change greenhouse gases the same amount as driving 8,000 miles less

Protein
When you eat less meat, it’s very, very important to remember that your body still needs protein. Ideal protein sources for the human body include beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, hummus, nut butters and the occasional fish. You should get more protein than carbs at every meal and snack.

Save the planet and your health

When you go green and eat less meat, you’re not only saving the planet, but you’re saving your health. Let’s just say that you don’t want to know what animals in confined animal feeding operations are fed. But here are some hints: stale junk food from bakery outlets; other dead animals, which causes Mad Cow Disease; and other animals’ feces. Now that’s something that will definitely make you want to eat less meat! -supergreenme

Oct 18, 2009

Ice Caps Melt Faster than Ever

The Arctic ice caps are melting at a faster rate than scientists had predicted, a rate in which there will be little ice present within the next decade and is expected to melt completely within the next 20 to 30 years, according to expedition leader, Pen Hadow.

Hadow lead a 73-day expedition across the ice caps making over 6,000 observations and calculations. These measurements included the thickness of the ice, density of the fallen snow, along with the temperature of the sea and climate.

Along the 250-mile trek they found the average thickness of the ice to be 6 feet, typical in a first year piece of ice. These new findings allowed Cambridge Professor, Peter Wadhams to calculate these new findings in the cap’s ever increasing melting rate. Wadhams concluded, “In about 10 years, the Arctic ice will be considered as open sea.”

Once the ice is completely melted the earth will begin to change drastically and temperature will increase even more. These changes can include flooding, more extreme weather conditions, and stronger carbon emissions. This unexpected increase in the level of melting contributes to the importance of a global change. -greenandsave

Oct 15, 2009

Heroes’ Greg Grunberg: ‘How I’m Really Saving the World’

An Exclusive Interview with the Actor-Activist

Some celebrities create clothing lines. Others sponsor colognes. Greg Grunberg has created an eco-friendly iPhone app.

Greg, who plays the mind-reading cop Matt Parkman on Heroes, has started a mobile couponing application called Yowza!!. He took time out of his day to chat with Green & Save about his current projects and future plans.

Quite simply, Yowza!! is replacing the printed coupon. Although many retailers jumpstart ad campaigns by creating paper advertisements, coupons, and flyers, Yowza!! provides a more targeted, effective way to reach consumers—without all the paper waste. Instead of spreading the word through cardboard signs or window decals, Yowza!!’s first approach is to reach consumers through emails, texts, and social media outlets.

Yowza!! uses GPS technology to find retail locations within a certain mile radius—stores are listed with locations, contact information, and three money-saving offers. To access the deals, users either show a coupon code to the cashier or pull up a scannable barcode directly on their phone screens. Retailers are no longer at the mercy of paper advertisements floating around with outdated information because Yowza!! enables them to make changes and distribute new deals within minutes.

As altruistic as it may be to help both the environment and people’s wallets, the business plan makes sense. The product is free on the user’s end, whereas retailers pay to feature their special deals.

What, you ask, would inspire Greg to create this?

The idea began one day when he and his family went to Bed Bath & Beyond but left their coupon at home. Greg immediately started brainstorming for ways to change the whole system. “My character on Felicity [an entrepreneur who invents items ranging from edible marzipan boxers to a sleep mask/alarm clock combination] was kind of written for me,” Greg laughed, “and it was basically me. I’ve always been business-minded, and my father’s always had different businesses. I always try and come up with a new idea, the next big thing, that’s just how I’m built, how I’m wired… This is gonna be a global company. There’s nothing that’s gonna stop us from going all over the world, and it’s exciting!”

A self-proclaimed control freak, Greg is the sort of person who has trouble sitting by when there’s something to be done. “People look at what I’m doing, and they’re like, ‘When does that guy have a moment to sleep? How does he take his kids to school?’”

For the record, he does, in fact, take his kids to school.

One of his key aims is to convey his environmental consciousness to his children. “I’ve been paid over the years by different companies to do different things,” Greg said. “I don’t do it unless I’m passionate about it.” He points to a series of commercials for the Honda Insight Hybrid. “That was something that I could easily talk about,” he remembered. “We have solar panels on the roof and we recycle. And, you know, we watch our gas consumption and our carbon footprint… We’re trying to teach our kids.”

Greg’s message is one of empowerment. Whether that means pursuing environmental goals, starting a business, or supporting a meaningful cause, his message to his children and others is, “Just do one thing.”

When his oldest son Jake started suffering from epileptic seizures six years ago, Greg jumped to action by working with the National Epilepsy Foundation. “I have the ability to do a major, major thing and affect the whole world, really, by creating talkaboutit.org [an epilepsy awareness campaign],” he said. He also started a rock band called Band from TV to raise money for charity. Band members include Hugh Laurie and Jesse Spencer from House, Teri Hatcher and James Denton from Desperate Housewives, Bob Guiney from The Bachelor, and Heroes costar Adrian Pasdar. The band donates all proceeds to various charities and they have raised over $2 million for charities ranging from the Epilepsy Foundation to the Conservation Fund over the past three years.

From the aptly-named Band from TV to Yowza!!, the success of these endeavors hinges upon Greg’s celebrity, and he’s not ashamed to admit it. “Yowza!! is absolutely a bulletproof, incredibly intuitive, easy-to-use app for the consumer and also for the retailer, but it’s also got a celebrity attached…Across the board I’ve used my celebrity, and I’m proud to do it because I’m passionate about it.” He has accessed a huge audience via Twitter alone. He recalls his wife laughing at him, “Why do you care to tell people that you’re eating pasta right now?” Now, however, nearly a million people follow him personally, not to mention those following Yowza!! on Twitter.

How does he balance his never-ending projects? “I’m just kind of saying yes to everything and seeing how the chips fall. There are times when I… can’t go to a certain event, I can’t do certain things… Heroes obviously comes first, I have to shoot when the schedule comes up, but I just try and make it work. I have two great partners with the business, and I have the greatest partner in the world at home… But, you know, it’s just like anything else… You take it day by day.”

In the end, I couldn’t help but ask: Can we expect to see Matt Parkman shopping with canvas bags or being green in other subtle ways?

“You know what, I actually never even thought of mentioning that to the producers! I’m gonna do that, I’ll definitely say, why don’t we show that? It doesn’t have to be a story point, but no, that’s a really good idea… Saving the world and saving the world!” -greenandsave