Smells like Green Spirit

Marketing major at Champlain College. Passion for traveling, sustainability, and animals. Enjoy photography, yoga, and being outdoors.

Bottle to pen. Made from 85 percent recycled materials. (Taken with instagram)

Bottle to pen. Made from 85 percent recycled materials. (Taken with instagram)

Butter on Fire!

Chemicals used to prevent or dampen fires in electronics, furniture and upholstery are showing up in our food chain.Yumm…

Researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas found high levels of the flame retardants known as PBDEs in a sample of butter.

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The scientists say the contaminated sample was just one of ten samples tested, but the levels were so high the researchers are calling for government health officials to begin inspecting and investigating food samples at all stages of processing.

Some pretty scary stuff…

Theses aren’t jellyfish-like creatures, it’s all garbage. Pretty cool but kind of disturbing…U.K. artist Mandy Barker shot this ocean scene out in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Read more at  Treehugger.

Theses aren’t jellyfish-like creatures, it’s all garbage. Pretty cool but kind of disturbing…U.K. artist Mandy Barker shot this ocean scene out in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Read more at  Treehugger.

Plankton Vs. Plastic: How Garbage Impacted The Health Of Our Ocean

In humans, BPA, which is found in plastic, has been linked to obesity, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, low sperm count in men, brain disorders, and a slew of other diseases. But did you know it can also affect fish?

Studies have shown that BPA can affect growth, reproduction and development in aquatic inter vertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles, with fish being the most sensitive species reported at very low exposure levels. Releases of BPA to the environment exceed 1 million pounds per year, and evidence also indicates that it can currently be found in municipal wastewater. Now you might be asking yourself, how does BPA from plastics get into the ocean?

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The answer is garbage, literally. BPA can contaminate the environment either directly or through degradation of products containing BPA, such as ocean-borne plastic trash. Ever heard of the North Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s a mass of plastic, twice the size of Texas, floating in a current between San Francisco and Hawaii. In this area, there are 46 times more plastic than plankton. The plastic eventually breaks down into particles so small that fish mistake them for food. And the debris that wash ashore has created miles of coastline coved with plastic instead of sand.

Right now we can’t take back the garbage we threw out there. Maybe technology can help us out with this one. But until then we can stop using so much plastic. Try a reusable glass water bottle, or bring a cloth bag with you to the grocery store instead of plastic bags. Love Bottle makes glass water bottles with some really neat designs. And most grocery stores sell reusable bags for less than a dollar, or get a customized bag at Custom Grocery Bags, made from Eco-friendly materials. It’s easy to do your part, start a trend. A little goes a long way.

BPA in DVD’s, Water Bottles, & Sports Equipment

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the scandals behind the chemical BPA, also known as Bisphenol-A. It’s in the lining of cans and bottles, baby bottles, dental sealants, water coolers, sports equipment, household electronics, and just about everything else that is mass produced. It has been linked to obesity, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, low sperm count in men, brain disorders, and a slew of other gloomy diseases we hope to never contract. But if this stuff is so bad for us, then how on earth did it end up in almost everything we come into contact with?

Back in the day, 1936 to be exact, a paper was published in Nature declaring that the chemical BPA was considered for use to be an estrogenic drug. The idea is already starting to sound pretty darn questionable…Well then in the 40’s and 50’s, the chemical industry began to use BPA to manufacture the plastics and epoxy resins (used as linings for metal food cans) that we are familiar with today. But according to the FDA, low dose exposure is harmless to humans. It’s also pretty cheap, so they decided… why not use it in everything! The legitimacy of BPA was based on only 2 studies, which were ironically funded by the chemical industry, who also just so happens to profit from BPA (a measly $7 billion a year industry.) However, over 200 independent peer reviewed studies have show concern for our exposure to this venomous chemical. Pretty frightening, right?

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So what can you do about this? Canada has already outlawed the use of BPA completely, Minnesota and Connecticut have banned it from reusable food and beverage containers, and Chicago and New York Suffolk County have applied similar bans. So why not join the movement? Write to one of your local officials, or better yet all of them! Here in Vermont we have Peter Welch, Patrick Leahy, and Bernard Sanders.

The website for the documentary Tapped has a great tool that gives you all the contact information you need. It’s also an excellent documentary and I would highly recommend it.

Simply go to the Take Action tab and select Ask Congress To Fund Our Water Infrastructure in the left column. Enter your zip code or select your state and your ready to go!

E-Waste: Where Some Cell Phones Go To Die

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So now that you know your computers, cellphones, and other unsuspecting electronics contain an array of nasty chemicals that can harm your health, as well as the environment, where does all this stuff go when your done? Well if you didn’t dispose of all your old electronics properly, as advised with the new electric waste law in Vermont, it will actually end up halfway across the world!

50,000 tons of e-waste is imported to India from developed countries every year according to Manufacturers’ Association of Information Technology, and the German Agency for Technical Cooperation in India. I know some of you may be thinking, “Oh, thats kinda cool. All my old electronic crap made it all the way to India, maybe ill go there one day too.”

Little did you know however, that men and women in small groups burn the wires they dig up from e-waste, and soak them in open acid baths (which is illegal) to retrieve the copper inside. They then sell what they can retrieve, where only a few kilos can earn about $3 to $5 a day. There are also high health and environmental risks of their methods of material recovery. Extracting metals like copper in open acid baths releases toxins, heavy metals, and brominated flame retardants. These acid and chemical residues then contaminate the water and soil where local people drink and eat.

I know this is pretty heavy stuff to associate with something as simple as how you choose the throw away your old electronics. But hey, I think it’s time to wake up and pay more attention. We owe it to the planet and the rest of the world to make that extra effort for being as lucky and privileged as we are. So next time think twice about how you choose to get rid of your old stuff, and remember that it may end up in the place you least expect it to be.

Things You Didn’t Know About Your Favorite Electronics: E-Waste

Did you know that some of your electronics contain substances that are considered dangerous to the environment and human health when disposed of improperly? Any appliance that runs on electricity has the potential to cause damage to the environment, even your precious laptop computers and portable music players. Arsenic, lead and mercury are only some of the hazardous substances hidden in your electronics. These nasty substances can then leach into the soil and groundwater, which we then drink. Sounds pretty gross right?

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Luckily there is hope here in Vermont with the new electronic waste law. It bans the disposal of certain electronic devices and provides convenient collection. Some of the various devices include computers, monitors, printers, computer peripherals, and televisions. The best part about it is that they are all accepted for FREE. Other electronic devices are accepted, although there may be a fee to dispose of those items.

We all know the iPhone 4s and the Kindle Fire is going on many Christmas lists this year. So just remember when you’re chucking your old junk away, that all the nasty stuff used to make it is harmful to our fragile environment and to your health!  Take a second or two out of your day and find the most convenient collection location. It won’t cost you a thing. You can even sell Grandma’s ugly sweater she gave you again this year for some extra cash to dispose of those pesky items that require a fee. Go ahead and get a jump start at a more environmentally conscious new year.

Trash Cans That Save Money on Gas

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Picking up the garbage is expensive.  Public trash receptacles typically cost around $500-$1,800 each. But the real expense associated with waste collection is the cost of sending crews in trucks around to empty those containers and take the rubbish away. Garbage trucks get really, really bad mileage – typically under 3mpg.  A city may spend anywhere from $1,000-$4,000 each year on collection operations per receptacle.

Trash is piling up. Have you noticed the ever increasing wall of trash lining city streets, while walking to school, work, or even just a day in the park? Or trash cans that are so full that the garbage is overflowing? Citizens in developed countries throw away an average of about 10 pounds of trash a day.

The folks at BigBelly Solar may have the answer.  They created a garbage can with a built-in compactor. And get this, it’s powered by solar panels. Very cool. It’s also has an alert system that notifies the sanitation mucky-mucks when the unit is filled up.

Each BigBelly compactor can hold up to five times the volume of ordinary trash receptacles, reducing collection demand up to 80% and eliminating four out of five collection trips, saving time and money on gas, as well as preventing those overflowing garbage cans you often see (especially here in New York City). By eliminating the demand for collection by garbage trucks and using solar power trash cans to compact trash, the BigBelly system can cut CO2 and other vehicle exhaust emissions by as much as 80%. Companion recycling bins can also be integrated with the trash compactors.

The BigBelly Solar program pays back pretty quickly.  It’s been successful in cities, parks, beaches, zoos, arenas, and college and university campuses in 48 states and 30 countries.

It seems that BigBelly has created a real game changer in the way we look at waste management. It’s something that everyone should be thinking about.  What can you do as a consumer in your community? Our world is changing and the environment needs our help.  Step up and make some noise about this. Seriously. Reach to your local politicians, school and office sustainability managers.

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.

Cab Sharing in the City

Sharing a cab with Cabcorner’s app can make traveling in the city much easier and more affordable.

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CabCorner connects people located in the same general area who are headed the same direction around the same time. It allows you to split the fare, offering a more affordable and greener transportation option than solo taxi travel. CabCorner’s most popular feature is the “Fare Calculator,” which forecasts the cost of both solo and shared taxi rides. Also included is a comprehensive listing of local cab companies, to ensure that a nearby taxi is just a phone call away.

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To use, simply select  your city, enter the departure address, desired time, date, and destination. Keep in mind that cabs can also make multiple stops along the journey if you have more then one destination. It is recommended to post your journey in advanced to allow others to get the chance to join your ride, and to give you more options of rides to join.

The tool will then search for rides that meet your input criteria, connecting you with riders that leave on your desired day and near your meeting point. It will display the estimated shared costs, and show you the route of each rider. You can then click to join the ride, review details, and message the rider to get to know them if you prefer. Finally meet your “cab companion” and hail a taxi at the nearest “cab corner” or simply hail you’re own cab and pick them up on the way.

If you’re looking to meet people in an interesting way, decrease your environmental impact, or simply save money, visit CabCorner.com or download the application from the iTunes store.

Does sharing cab rides mean less overall cab activity on the street and a way to reduce our carbon footprint? Could ride sharing be another angle on increasing fuel economy? Perhaps. Let us know what you think.

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.

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"There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go."

 

- Richard Bach

16 cents of each dollar you spend on food goes to the farm. What happens to the rest?

16 cents of each dollar you spend on food goes to the farm. What happens to the rest?