Saturday, March 29, 2008

Skin Deep: What's In Your Favorite Beauty Product?

The Environmental Working Group is promoting a user friendly database and rating system that will help you evaluate the safety of your personal care products. The "Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database", is a simple to use tool that scores the safety of these products based on the known or suspected hazards of their ingredients. Products are ranked as "low hazard", "moderate hazard" or "high hazard". When you select an item, a breakdown is provided of the questionable ingredients and possible health ramifications. You may find your favorite company has cosmetics in each of the three categories. The information appears to be well researched and comprehensive. You can search for all products with a low hazard score or conversely, items with a high hazard score. If you don't see one of your companies represented, you can request that it be added to the database.

The site states that manufacturers are pretty much left to use their own good judgement when it comes deciding what ingredients to use in cosmetics. I think that recent examples of companies being left to use their own good judgement, without oversight has not always proven to be in the best interests of the consumer or our economy. As with many of these sites, there is a "take action" section that allows you advocate for better products and information disclosure.

Bottom line - beauty is more than skin deep!

Get Free Stuff in the United Kingdom

If you live in the United Kingdom and need stuff or have some things to giveaway (aka recycle), check out the website Recycle. The services are comparable to Freecyle, an organization committed to reducing landfills by encouraging others to donate items to individuals or organizations in need for such items.

It's Okay to Blackout Tonight- Participate in Earth Hour

We always knew Australians were a wild bunch. On Saturday, March 28th, millions of Australians blacked out by turning off their lights for an hour in recognition of Earth Hour. Thousands of businesses and organizations participated in the event which highlights the climate change and the need for action. Included in the voluntary black out were Sydney landmarks, the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. For those of us just waking to Saturday, March 28th, we still have time to participate in this global event, which encourages us to turn off our lights between 8pm and 9pm. Many are going further and turning off all non-essential electronics. See the post "Lights Out for the Earth" for some fun ideas on how to spend your hour.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Green Event Calendar: Meet Eco-Conscious Individuals and Businesses

Feeling like you are alone in your socially responsible green lifestyle? Fear not! Zerofootprint has developed a comprehensive global green calendar of events that will allow you to find and meet other like minded individuals. The goal of the organization is to empower large groups of individuals, institutions, and businesses around the world to unite with the goal of reducing the collective carbon footprint. If you don't see your event posted or another popular green event, you will soon be able to add it directly to the site. I did not see the African American oriented green event, Dream Reborn on the calendar, so I know the listing is not complete. The hope is for more environmentalists and activists of color to use this calendar, so we can communicate and network more effectively.Using the calendar and participating is a good way to increase our visibility in the green movement. Please pass this information on to your network. I am going to include a permanent link to the event calendar on this site for your reference.

Get some knowledge, meet some fun and conscious people and party hard!

Eco Friendly Towels at JC Penney

Soft, eco-friendlier, affordable bamboo/cotton towels can be found at a mall near you or online. These feel very plush and soft. I don't usually shop at JC Penne', but will have to give them another chance now that they have introduced their Simply Green line of home goods. You will find these types of eco-friendly items at other large retailers as well. Not sure if this is a case of corporate greenwashing, but at least it is a step in the right direction. Let's hope it is sustainable. ATTENTION: No longer carrying this line. Target does carry a line of organic cotton towels. (8/20/2009)

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Green Baby Shower: Give the Gift of Health

Blankets, toys and clothes are cute and fine gifts for baby. Those cute little Baby Phat dresses and tiny Nike Dunks are just over the top, but we love it! If you really want to show your love and concern for the new bundle of joy, share some knowledge with mama, papa and grandma along with a green and socially responsible version of your traditional gifts. Talk to them about choosing chemical free personal care and feeding products for their child. You know as black people we love to use Vaseline, baby powder and baby lotions to keep our children glowing and clean. We slather them in sunscreen to protect their skin from getting burned or too dark (that's a whole separate unfortunate psychological issue folks). If you read the labels on these products they are full of parabens, unknown chemicals, fake fragrances and petroleum. Baby bottles are being made with BPA-2, a chemical that is linked to hormonal issues in developing babies, chemical sunscreens are linked to hormonal abnormalities. Toys have been found recently to contain unsafe levels of lead. Many of these exposures will affect our children's mental and intellectual health now and physical health later in adulthood. Encourage your new parents to be as conscious of what they surround their baby with as they are in who will surround their baby. Toys R Us has made a commitment to better toy safety. Target and Wal-mart have dozens of affordable healthy and organic products for babies. I mention these companies because many parents have a shower registry with these firms and shop there. A good start will be to encourage them to take this brochure to their first pediatrician visit an to engage a discussion on environmental health and child development. Hopefully you can enjoy the food, fun and celebration of a new life while knowing that your contribution will have an impact for life!


Drugs In Tap Water: What are Doctors Saying?

Doctors have organized and expressed their concern over the safety of our drinking water. Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) was formed in 1961 as a means for doctors to organize, research and advocate on issues surrounding environmental health. The organization has many accomplishments, including winning a Nobel Peace Prize. PSR has a comprehensive site covering many topics, including drinking water issues and the impact on your health. In addition to providing statistics and information, suggestions are provided to empower you to protect yourself and your family from toxic water. For more information on water filtration systems and advocacy, see Black and Into Green's post on assessing your water and filtering systems.

Personally, I am pleased to know that the knowledge gap between the practice of medicine and environmental health knowledge is not as wide as I have assumed. I was especially encouraged to have this conversation with my doctor's office, who shared some research with me in the area of pollutants, chemicals and cancer. Does your physician practice socially conscious medicine? If not, perhaps you can encourage her to learn more about the mind, body, planet connection.

Be safe, healthy and aware.

See for Yourself: Will Your Coastal City be Underwater

Climate change seems so nebulous and distant at times. How is it going to impact me really? We often ask ourselves that question consciously or subconsciously. If you are one of 53% of Americans living in or around a coastal area, this mashup created by MIBIZAAR (this guy is a mapping genius) lets you see for yourself in a visual map, titled "Nation Under Siege". The map provides a graphic image of your area showing the potential impact of a 1 meter or 3 foot rise in sea levels. Current projections show that sea levels could get there by 2100 if we continue to emit greenhouse gases at current rates. I'm not sure if the impact of the fast growing economies of China, India, South America or Russia have been factored into the current rate equation, so if could happen sooner. The mapping information is derived from climate change studies analyzed by Architecture 2030. This is a non-profit organization, founded by architect Edward Mazria to educate the public and builders on the negative impact of increasing greenhouse gas levels. The map provides a solid visual of new water coverage over U.S coastal areas. The first thing that will come to your mind are the horrific images of floating bodies, desperate citizens, death, confusion and apathy in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. While we may not be around in the year 21oo (unless they come up with some hellified medical technology), our children and grandchildren will. You know that insurers and developers are planning for this now, so why shouldn't you? Do what you can now to reduce your impact and advocate for others, including businesses and governments to reduce theirs to avoid this unpleasant scenario.

Keep reading Black and Into Green for more on environmental issues affecting your life and your communities.

MIBAZAAR: See List of Drugs in Your Drinking Water

MIBAZAAR: Presciption Drugs in United States Drinking Water

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mission Accomplished.jpg

Today was my last day of radiation treatment. I'm healed and plan to stay that way through God's grace, healthy eating of toxic free foods, breathing of clean air, conscious living and helping others. Let's all take a minute to celebrate the gift of life!
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lights Out for the Earth: Earth Hour 2008

On March 29th, 2008 at 8pm, citizens and businesses from all over the world will be powering down for an hour in recognition of Global Earth Hour. The premise of the event, which started in Australia, is to reduce global carbon emissions by encouraging businesses and individuals to turn of the lights for an hour. The biggest city in the states so far to sign up is Chicago, Illinois. Yes, the Sears Tower will go dark for an hour. Some are using this time to plan some fun events during this hour of darkness. What would you do with an hour without electricity? Here are some ideas:

  • Invite over some friends for hot chocolate or mocktails and have a candlelit get together
  • Send the kids to bed early and have a great time with your mate
  • Gather the family around and share stories of the past or play some fun games
  • Finally get around to meditating
  • Take a warm bath surrounded by scented candles
  • Enjoy an evening stroll with your family, friends or neighbors

If this sounds fun, sign up for more information and ideas at Earthhour.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Last Minute Green Easter Basket Ideas

Procrastination has unintentionally led me down the path of creating green eco-friendly Easter baskets. Generally, I do a great job of buying eggs, candy and toys for the holiday, but always forget something- fake grass, dye for the eggs, baskets. God blesses me by helping me to find items around or outside of the house as replacements. The baskets look so good, that I permanently incorporate the substitute. Guess I was always harboring a green subconscious. Try using some of these items in your baskets to give back to earth on the day that we celebrate the gift of life:

  • Use baskets, purses, or large colorful bowls that you have at home to hold goodies
  • Replace fake plastic grass with pretty cloth napkins, real grass, leaves or lettuce (the kids will think the Easter Bunny was really there)
  • Use natural dye for your eggs, or use the plastic eggs from previous years
  • Purchase fair trade or ethically traded chocolate and explain the significance to your children (you can find in organic section of grocery store or healt food stores)
  • Incorporate spring blooming flowers and branches from the garden
  • Add a mix of carrots, celery sticks, fruit leather and nuts to the usual mix of sugar sweets
  • Write a nice note to your children expressing your love, pride and hope
  • Instead of buying useless, throw away toys, donate to a charity in your child's name
I guarantee with these healthy, planet friendly substitutions, your family will have an Easter to remember!

The Green Guide

Need help going green? Want to help a friend or neighbor live a healthier and eco-friendly life? National Geographic is publishing a new quarterly magazine titled "Green Guide". A subscription is $15 a year or $25 for two years. It can also be found in the magazine section of most stores. Some of the articles I found to be useful in the inaugural issue:

  • "Save $60 a week- and the planet" tips were timely and practical
  • "Improving Indoor Air Quality" a must read for anyone suffering from allergies or asthma
  • "Chalkley's Garage" a green garage makeover
  • "Lose 142 pounds (of carbon) a week
  • "Beauty Secrets" takes a closer look at a product's label to help you find healthy cosmetics
  • "Cracking the Code" picking the best plastics for storing your food and drink

The Green Guide website complements the issue.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vegan Soul Food: Good for Your Soul and Your Planet

For those of you extending your celebration of Meat Out Day through the weekend, check out these soulful vegan recipes. From my personal experience, the easiest and best tasting soul foods to convert to vegan are as follows:

  • Greens - saute with onions and herbs in olive oil, cook in vegetable broth, add hot peppers, a splash of vinegar of choice
  • Cabbage - throw some onions, carrots and garlic in the pot, add red pepper flakes
  • BBQ Tofu - Grill in a non-Teflon based grill pan, season with your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Cornbread - Use egg replacement powder, soy or rice milk, and olive oil
  • Sweet Potato Casserole - Replace sugar and milk with maple syrup and almond milk
  • Rice and Beans - Use lots of onions, celery and peppers, use smoky chipotle peppers
  • Spaghetti - Use black or kidney beans or Boca ground meat replacement, add some onions, green pepper, lots of garlic and your favorite tomato sauce

Bon Appetit!

Eco-Friendly Hair Care

I am loving Burt's Bees products. They are paraben and phthalate free and have been a nice replacement for The Body Shop and Pantene products that I love, but now avoid because they contain every kind of paraben you can imagine. Today I used the Raspberry and Brazil Nut Shampoo and Conditioner. I was concerned at first about how they would work on a black woman's thick mane, but found the results to be superb. That just goes to prove that anything with brazil nuts in the mix is going to be awesome. My hair smells good, feels good and looks great! I really like the fact that reading the ingredient list is more like reading a smoothie recipe than reading a spec sheet for an industrial floor cleaner. You will be tempted to taste these products, but stick to using them as marketed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Eat Green: Global Meat Out Day

Mom was on to something when she prodded (or forced) you to "eat your vegetables". On March 20th, tens of thousands (maybe more) of meat eaters around the world will be eating their vegetables by going vegan and green for a day. That means no animal products, including dairy or eggs. A vegan diet has many healthful benefits from reducing stroke risks to cancer risks, as noted in previous posts and greatly reduces your carbon footprint. The website has a comprehensive calendar of events scheduled across the United States and other countries to promote this eco and animal friendly diet. The site is very informative and easy to follow. You will find a vegan starter kit, a meatout action kit, recipes, e-cards, restaurant listings and other items of interest. I have not yet gone vegan, but have reduced my consumption of meat products, including dairy and eggs to once a day, with the goal of preserving my health and reducing my carbon footprint. I do notice a difference in how I feel overall. My struggle is getting enough protein without resorting to consuming a ton of soy products, not to mention how good macaroni and cheese tastes with baked chicken! So whether your goal is to show sensitivity to animals, the planet or your body, the Meatout could help you get there.

My son just found this very helpful Vegan Food Pyramid. Check it out.

Organizing a Green Lifestyle

I have been eagerly waiting for this day with the hope of starting down the path of organizing my green lifestyle. Today the Unclutterer site featured a post titled "Environmentally Friendly Uncluttering". I thought the post that was going to help us manage some of the issues that arise from recycling and reusing. While the article provides some great macro ideas that support and outline the benefits of going green from an efficiency perspective, there are not a lot of micro level, specific ideas that address some issues faced by those of us living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Some unique green organizing issues that could be explored:

  • Recycling Storage - paper, plastic, electronics
  • Winter Composting - what to do with those food scraps with 17 inches of snow in the yard
  • Reusing - what to do with your stuff that you are planning to reuse (eventually)
  • Recycling and reusing away from home - where to keep stuff you acquire at the office, restaurants, grandma's house
  • Activism and Advocacy- managing your letter writing and community efforts

I guess I was seeking something like Lifehacker meets B. Smith, Martha Stewart or Danny Seo. Unclutterer does plan to do more later this spring around the issue of organizing for greenies, so let's hope that there are more specific ideas provided. In the meantime, it would be nice to hear from you what works to keep you streamlined and green.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Save Money, Save the Planet, Save Yourself: Stop Buying So Much Stuff

We are facing recession, layoffs, higher gas prices, higher food prices, water shortages, unpredictable weather events, greater personal dissatisfaction and wondering what to do do about it other than pray for the best. I may have found some solutions in this 20 minute online film clip, "The Story of Stuff" produced by activist, Annie Leonard. After hearing about it a few weeks ago, I finally had the chance to watch it this evening (warning for the impatient like myself-there are a few breaks for buffering, but worth the wait). I highly recommend that you watch it and pass it on to your network. The film highlights the cycle of goods or stuff that we use, from the point of material extraction, to the point of disposal of the finished product. It fills in the blanks in terms of the cost to the environment, our health and the survival of populations around the world. It kind of answers the questions you may have asked yourself like, "Where does stuff come from?", "Who makes these goods?", "Why do I have so much junk?", "Why do I never have enough?", "Where does it go when I throw it out?" If you haven't asked yourself those questions, you will after viewing this film, it will truly raise your consciousness about your everyday actions. Action steps are provided at the end of the film. Once you become more mindful of the impact of and motivation to buying stuff all the time, I believe you will subconsciously start to question and adjust your attitude, buying habits and lifestyle in general. You will advocate for better processes and controls in the production of goods, feel better and more secure with (and love) what you have and who you are, and have more money to pay for the essentials and contribute to the disadvantaged. Peace.

The Village Green: Teaching a Class II

The last few days have really opened my eyes to how completely uneducated people are on environmental and health issues. Two people this week told me that buying a hybrid was not worth the money. (I am going to research this) Two more expressed the need to drive powerful vehicles. All complained about gas prices. What?! Others routinely throw recylable materials in the trash without a second thought and eat whatever tastes good and is convenient. It occurred to me how mindlessly we go about living our lives, almost as if we are on autopilot to destroy ourselves and the world. I realize that I was one of those individuals in the past and I am truly amazed at my cavalier attitude towards sources of items that I consumed. Anyway, when you talk to people it is really difficult to figure out where to even start to educate them. Sometimes I feel like I'm all alone in my endeavor to be green. I decided to start one neighbor at a time through teaching a class at our local community and recreation center. This weekend the catalog arrived with the class listed in the schedule. I was pretty excited to see the class in the Home and Garden lineup! The class is titled "Going Green: A Primer on Sustainable Living". Now the tough part, finding attendees. The plan is to go door to door with a copy of the program and some strong rap to entice my neighbors to sign up. We have a new neighbor that I will pry with a "going green" gift basket, consisting of reusable tote bags, recycling trash bags, organic garden items and information about the city's recycling program. Even if some neighbors can't attend, the solicitations will be a great way to plant the seed of responsible and sustainable living in their consciousness. I could certainly use the company. What are you doing to educate your family, neighbors and friends on living sustainably? What works, what doesn't?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Candidates Green Voting Records

The League of Conservation Voters can provide information about the voting records of public officials. Interested? Click here. I will continue to seek other sources of information on this issue.

Reports of Drugs in the Tap Water

By now you have read about the reports of all of the drugs and various substances found in our drinking water and tap water. I have included a link to a previous post that highlights the following:

  • How to determine what is in your local drinking water
  • Selecting a water filtration system that meets your specific needs
  • Understanding water treatment facilities
  • What you can do to advocate for the highest level of water processing

Don't think that bottled water is any better than tap water because it is not treated to screen out these additional pharmecutals and toxins.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring for Fair Trade Chocolate this Easter

Just a reminder to look for fair trade chocolate to fill those Easter/Resurrection Day baskets. How hypocritical is it to give this candy to our little ones in the name of Jesus, when our children overseas are slaving away to provide this product? Many of our children would be better off with healthier treats anyway. Perhaps you can involve your children in a letter writing campaign to companies that have not signed a commitment to end abusive child labor practices and unsustainable farming practices. Check out this article that circulated by Global Exchange around Valentine's Day to find out what companies care about our children and which companies care only about making money. Remember money talks and B.S. walks. Let your green dollars to the talking.


Stay Organized While Going Green

Having problems managing clutter in your attempts to reuse and recycle?
Apprehensive about throwing stuff away? Are your electronics, old cell phones and batteries piling up as you wait for the right time to drop them off at a recycling center? Help will arrive on March 19th just in time to do some green spring cleaning. I will create a post linking to a site called Unclutterer which will give us helpful tips on staying organized while going green. The article will also be published that day on Planet Green's site.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Village Green:Environmental Calendar of Events

Are you a person that likes to celebrate with others? Always looking for an excuse to have a few friends over? Enjoy being part of a global community making positive contributions to the earth? Well, have I got some ideas for you! Checkout the new link added titled "Global Environmental Calendar of Events". The calendar is put out by Global Stewards, an organization that supports and teaches sustainable living principles. Featured in the calendar are events you may be familiar with - Arbor Day and Earth Day, in addition more unknown events including, TV -Turnoff Week, Meat Out Day and World Solar Tour Week. Not only are the dates listed, but ideas for activities are included to help you spread the love for our beautiful planet. So go out and change the world-one day at a time.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sustainable Eating: Going Green with Good Grub

Well it's Sunday afternoon and many of us are digesting a tasty, home cooked meal prepared by some loving hands. We do love us some good tasting grub. The problem is that often good tasting is not always good. Not good for our bodies, our communities or our planet. Bryant Terry is a brother who is committed to changing this situation. Mr. Terry is a talented chef, writer, and food activist. He is one of the many prominent community activists that will be speaking at Green for All's Dream Reborn Conference the weekend of April 4th. Loving to eat just as much as the next person and though I have always tried to be a conscious eater, I have stepped it up in the last year. Initially, the focus was on eating even healthier food to nourish my body, but upon reading about the alarming issues facing farmers, our food supply, our communities and our planet, I really started paying attention to food issues in general. Issues from the soil and seeds used to grow our food, corporations that control our food supply, to packaging materials selected to contain our food. Chef Terry and his partner in cooking, Anna Lappe', have a wonderful, comprehensive site called EatGrub that promotes their book, Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen. The site is as visually appealing as I'm sure their meals are and is a one stop shop for sustainable food information. I really liked the featured recipes, the shopping lists, the community food audit and the take action sections (something I am working on for this blog). I may even try to have a Grub Party as suggested by the duo to promote good sustainable eating habits with my extended family. The site is as warm and cozy as sitting at Grandma's kitchen table enjoying her good food, conversation and wisdom. So before you start your meal planning for this week, take some time out and get your grub on!

Organic Yoga: Stretching and Sipping for the Cure

I would like to thank one of our readers for this post. I have had good intentions about taking yoga classes for several months now after being introduced to it in a healing retreat for black women cancer survivors (studies show that yoga can reduce risk of recurrence by reducing stress). I even purchased a video and a mat, but have yet to do a downward facing dog pose. A couple of weeks ago, a comment was submitted suggesting a yummy tea by Yogi Tea, called "Chai Redbush". Our reader seemed so satisfied and entranced by this beverage, I just had to have it. This week on my bi-weekly sojourn to Whole Foods, I headed straight for the tea section and found the Yogi Teas on the bottom shelf. I'm sure this was a strategic move on Yogi Tea's part to get you to do the downward facing dog. The choices were tantalizing, "Chai Redbush", "Mayan Cocoa Spice", "Mexican Sweet Chili", "Tahitian Vanilla Hazelnut"...and all organic,I wanted them all! They are really tisanes (herbs and spices) and not true teas, so most contain no caffeine. I really wanted to try the one with cocoa beans, but decided to go for the "Chai Redbush" remembering our reader's words. Once home, I settled in for a steamy, creamy cup and lo and behold, I had accidentally purchased the "Mayan Cocoa Spice" (chocoholic karma). Well, it was so deliciously spicy and smooth, it made my evening. I even tried out the simple yoga breathing exercise on the box. This experience peaked my curiosity, so I decided to go to the website. The site was informative, interactive and fun. I learned that the spices selected for the teas are reported to have therapeutic properties. Good tea, healthy living, tranquility-that's all the motivation I need to get down with yoga. It would be nice to hear your stories about how yoga heals you mentally and physically.

Cool Green Stuff: Boom Modern

Excited about redecorating my living room, today I wanted to stop by a cool neighborhood shop, Boom Modern, that specializes in vintage modern furnishings. Modern furnishings fit nicely with my Africentric decor, primarily because the forms are very simple, organic and inspired by African art. I discovered this shop on my way out of Starbucks a couple of weeks ago (actually, I have seen it for a couple of years, but finally decided to go in). I like this establishment because although the pieces are 30-60 years old, they look very "au courant" and chic. Kind of like something Barry Gordy or Diana Ross would have owned back in the day, but fresher. This is probably why the style is called "modern". I also like the store because it doesn't have that musty odor that you find in a lot of antique and vintage stores. Well, blizzard like conditions have forced me to alter my plans to find some cool green stuff this weekend. Not to be deterred, I took a greener approach to shopping. Can we say "Froogle"? I was delighted to Boom Modern with a full online catalog at Think you may be interested in modern furnishings? Check out this article on selection and sources from Domino Magazine. Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cool Green Stuff

On a lighter note, I am doing some redecorating of my living and dining room. I'm in the market for some cool green stuff. In the spirit of reducing the consumption of unnecessary goods, I have recycled, reused and repurposed as many items as possible. My rooms are crying for some love. There is now an opportunity to contribute to the green economy and explore some eco-sensitive and healthy products for my home. On the list- low voc paint, a coffee table, a few small but funky chairs, and a bureau. Fortunately, Domino Magazine, a publication dedicated to fashionable home decor, has designated the March issue to green living. The issue is packed with great design ideas, room by room product information and green living tips. Three eco-conscious homes from various lifestyles are featured- suburban, urban and rural. One caveat to this issue - you might have to take out a second mortgage to afford many of the items featured. To avoid additional debt, the plan is to keep costs low by shopping primarily at vintage, second hand and antiques stores. Craigslist is another option. (I don't have the time or patience to go to estate sales or garage sales). This approach will enable me to shop local, reuse other people's cool stuff and have a little fun with living a green life! I will keep you posted on my efforts.

Eco-Terrorism meets Eco-Terrorism

The following message was left at the smoky, fiery scene of a multi-million dollar development featured in the 2007 "Street of Dreams" showcase in Snohomish County near Seattle, Washington: "Built Green? Nope BLACK!". What is that supposed to mean? Law enforcement officials suspect a group known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) of starting the blaze, which destroyed five 4000+ square foot McMansions that were marketed as built green. The ELF group originated in the United Kingdom and is accused of being an eco-terrorist group. Why would an eco-terrorist group torch a sustainable development? It doesn't make sense. While the developers took pride in creating this green themed housing development, others were disputing these claims of being environmentally responsible for several reasons. 1) The location of the homes contributes to urban sprawl and lack of habitat for wildlife 2) One could question the eco-friendliness of a 4000+ square foot home 3) The homes were built on a natural aquifer and threatened the only natural source of drinking water for about 20,000 nearby residents. For many residents, the "Street of Dreams" was a "stream of nightmares" and the true eco-terrorists are the developers.

It appears that the developers made a significant effort to develop a sustainable, eco-friendly housing project, but were in the long run more motivated by green dollars than green values. This incident gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "green is the new black".

Monday, March 3, 2008

Worry Free Eco-Friendly Food Containers

Since learning about the potential dangers of bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates and other barely pronounceable product components, I am carefully scrutinizing ingredient and package labels. I was pleasantly surprised today to see a creamy tomato sauce container labeled "BPA free" and a bulk salad container promoting its biodegradeability. The latter was made out of corn and is labeled as being compostable. Amazing. It looks exactly like a normal petroleum based plastic container. Turns out that while these corn based containers do require considerably less energy to produce and don't release as many toxins in the environment during processing, there are some issues with compostability. The containers require a specialized composting that can't be done in your backyard. Some recycling centers don't accept them, because they don't mix well with other plastics. Whole Foods stores in some cities will accept used containers for recycling. So while not perfect, these types of containers are a start in the right direction for better and safer products for consumers and the earth. Look for these types of safe and eco-friendly products in your stores. If not available, ask the manager or email headquarters to request that they start using them. These containers have been on the market since 2004, but more consumers are requesting environmentally beneficial products and retailers are listening. Green money talks!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Plastics to be Wary of: BPA

You have probably heard a lot about baby bottles and toys made with BPA (Bisphenol-A), PVC and other toxic substances, that are being linked to hormonal issues and cancers. I have posted on this in the past. Glass baby bottles, stainless steel water bottles and sippy cups are selling out in some areas. The plastics seem to cause the most problems when exposed to hot substances or liquids. You can identify the most dangerous plastics by turning the item upside down and looking for the number inside the recycling triangle. The number 7 is not lucky in this application. It is the most likely to leach the chemicals that are causing the stir. I have attached an overview of the problematic plastics that I found on Wikipedia. I know Wikipedia is not always the most accurate source of information, but most of the information in this overview seems consistent with what I have read from other sources. I like the Wikipedia approach, because it is very comprehensive and easy to follow. Feel free to add your feedback on this topic. If you are looking for stainless steel water bottles, check out my recommended products on the sidebar. Personally, I am going old school and trying to use more products in glass and cardboard containers or fresh foods that don't require long term packaging. Good luck!