Information about how to live a greener lifestyle, from shopping to household cleaning.
LED BULBS BEAT INCANDESCENTS IN LIFECYCLE ASSESSMENT
A comprehensive life cycle assessment study conducted by German lighting manufacturer, OSRAM, has found that the total energy used by an LED bulb from manufacture to disposal is only one fifth of that required by incandescent models. The study, "Life Cycle Assessment of Illuminants," details the energy required for raw material production, manufacturing and assembly, transport, use, and end-of-life management. Incandescent lamps were reported to use approximately 3,300 kWh during their entire life, compared to less than 670 kWh for LEDs. OSRAM expects that the market will shift in favor of LEDs in the coming years as developing technologies yield even greater efficiency throughout the product's entire life cycle.
OREGON DEQ STUDY HIGHLIGHTS BENEFITS OF TAP WATER
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's new assessment of drinking water delivery systems bolsters the argument to "reduce first, then recycle." The study, "Life Cycle Assessment of Drinking Water Delivery Systems: Bottled Water, Tap Water, and Home/Office Delivery Water," evaluates 48 different delivery scenarios among several variables to determine their overall environmental effects. Whereas common knowledge holds that tap water is an environmentally preferable method to bottled water, many often point to the buildup of used plastic bottles in landfills around the world as the culprit. This study, however, finds that it is not the disposal that has the greatest environmental impact, but the manufacture of the bottle itself. Regardless of whether a plastic bottle is 100% recycled or thrown in a landfill, its environmental impacts are still far greater than the tap water delivery system because of the energy and resources needed to produce the bottle in the first place. Even the best-performing bottled water scenario, requiring a light-weight recyclable bottle, has overall global warming effects greater than 46 times those of an identical volume of tap water.
Dave Bonta and Stephen Snyder, New Green Home Solutions: Renewable Household Energy and Sustainable Living. Green living begins at home, and New Green Home Solutions tells you how. Most of the energy-derived pollution we produce comes as a direct result of our homes-how we heat them, how we cool them, how we keep them well-lit and full of things that make our lives so comfortable. The good news is that we have tremendous power to create change
New Green Home Solutions offers easy “whole house strategies” for using renewable energy. “The days of building cookie-cutter mcMansions are over, and the era of thinking about the real cost of a house has begun. And this is the guide to doing it with enormous elegance, real frugality, and a commitment to the health of the world beyond your walls.”
– Bill McKibben, author Deep Economy
, Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth
. Jim Merkel, currently a Corinth, Vermont resident working as Dartmouth's Sustainability Manager, quit his job as a military engineer following the Exxon Valdez disaster and has since worked to develop tools for personal and societal sustainability. He founded the Global Living Project to further this work and conducts workshops around North America on this topic.
The book builds on steps from Your Money or Your Life so readers can design their own personal economics to save money, get free of debt, and align their work with their values. It uses refined tools from Our Ecological Footprint so readers can measure how much nature is needed to supply all they consume and absorb their waste.
Combining lyrical narrative, compassionate advocacy, and absorbing science, Radical Simplicity is a practical, personal answer to twenty-first century challenges that will appeal as much to Cultural Creatives and students as to spiritual seekers, policy makers, and sustainability professionals.
Michael Brower, Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. In these pages, the Union of Concerned Scientists help inform consumers about everyday decisions that significantly affect the environment. For example, a few major decisions - such as the choice of a house or vehicle - have such a disproportionately large affect on the environment that minor environmental infractions shrink by comparison.
Learn what you can do to have a truly significant impact on our world from the people who are at the forefront of scientific research.
, Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks at a Pessimist's World
. Consultant, raconteur, and musical performer Alan AtKisson sees a parallel between Cassandra's situation and that of today's environmentalists - concerned citizens and scientists who see the world hurtling toward self-destruction. Is it true that most of the human race could care less about their dire warnings? "AtKisson provides us with a bridge passing over the brink of despair to the crest of an enticing future. He enables the reader to join the pioneers who embrace the ideas techniques, and practices of sustainable living - the people who are "believing Cassandra."
On a nationwide and global level, we can greatly reduce our resource depletion by basing our economy on "Development" instead of "Growth."
Growth can be defined as increasing the total number of resources extracted and used up. Development can be defined as finding more efficient and less material-intensive ways to meet our needs. Development means being smart and thinking our way into a sustainable future without sacrificing what we call our standard of living.
The Development scenario contends that services might just as well be provided without the use of materials. For instance, many of us would like the service of learning about what's going on in the world. Currently, we buy newspapers to fulfill that service. The actual paper is not what we need, it's the information on it. If we could read the Times, the Globe, and the Wall Street Journal on our computer with comfort and ease, the same service would be provided without the destruction of trees, the use of harsh chemicals, the burning of fuels to move the material, and the waste product at the end.
The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350.
Our first job is to make sure everyone knows the target so that our political leaders feel real pressure to act. Reaching 350 ppm will require unprecedented international cooperation. 350.org will bring millions of new voices to the table, united by our common call to action.
The Donella Meadows Institute, a local organization http://www.donellameadows.org/ focuses on understanding the root causes of unsustainable behavior in complex systems to help restructure systems and shifts mindsets that will help move human society toward sustainability. Their staff includes biologists, writers, social scientists, system dynamics modelers, and facilitators bringing a wide variety of experiences and skills to their work.
The New American Dream, a national organization, http://www.newdream.org helps us to "Live Consciously, Buy Wisely, Make a Difference." By changing our consumption patterns on a household level, we can greatly reduce our waste stream with no real effect on our "standard of living."
1. Farm raised salmon
Several studies, including one performed by researchers at Indiana University, have found that PCB's and other environmental toxins are present at higher levels in farm raised salmon than wild salmon.
Pregnant women, women of child-bearing ages, and children should be very careful when choosing fish due to high levels of environmental toxins including mercury found in many fish. Check out our Safe Seafood Tip Sheet to see what the environmental and health risks posed by different fish.
Developed and manufactured by DuPont as the world's first synthetic fiber, it is made by from liquefied wood pulp. Unfortunately, turning wood into rayon is wasteful and dirty, because lots of water and chemicals are needed to extract usable fibers from trees. Only about a third of the pulp obtained from a tree will end up in finished rayon thread. The resulting fabrics usually require dry cleaning, which is an environmental concern as well as an added expense and inconvenience.
Much of the our rayon sold comes from developing countries, such as Indonesia, where environmental and labor laws are weak and poorly enforced. There is mounting evidence that rayon clothing manufacturing contributes to significant forest destruction and pollution in other countries.
3. Beauty/Body Care with Phthalates and Parabens
Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals linked to birth defects that are used in many cosmetic products, from nail polish to deodorant. Parabens are preservatives used in many cosmetics that have been linked to breast cancer though more research is needed. Phthalates are not listed on product labels and can only be detected in laboratory tests. To be safe, choose products from companies that have signed on to the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.
4. Cling Wrap
Many people don't realize that cling wrap may be made with PVC. #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) leaches toxins when heated or microwaved and it is an environmental problem throughout its lifecycle.
5. High VOC Paints and Finishes
Volatile organic compounds or VOCs can cause health problems from dizziness to lung and kidney damage and are infamous for polluting both indoor and outdoor air. VOCs are found in products including paints as well as finishes used for wood, such a stains or varnishes. There are now a wide array of low or no-VOC paints on the market. Look for paints certified by Green Seal (www.greenseal.org).
Source: Co-op America
|1. Styrofoam cups
Styrofoam is forever. It's not biodegradable.Alternative:
Buy recyclable and compostable paper cups.Best option:
Invest in some reusable mugs that you can take with you.
2. Paper towels
Paper towels waste forest resources, landfill space, and your money.Alternative:
When you do buy paper towels, look for recycled, non-bleached products Click on the following link for a helpful list: www.nrdc.org/land/forests/tissueguide/walletcard.pdf
Best option: Buy dishtowels or rags to wash and reuse.
3. Bleached coffee filters
Dioxins, chemicals formed during the chlorine bleaching process, contaminate groundwater and air and are linked to cancer in humans and animals.
Alternative: Look for unbleached paper filters.
Best Option: Use reusable filters such as washable cloth filters.
4. Overpackaged foods and other products
Excess packaging wastes resources and costs you much more. Around thirty three percent of trash in the average American household comes from packaging.
Alternative: Buy products with minimal or reusable packaging.
Best Option: Buy in bulk and use your own containers when shopping.
5. Teak and mahogany
Every year, 27 million acres of tropical rainforest (an area the size of Ohio) are destroyed. Rainforests cover 6% of Earth’s surface and are home to over half of the world’s wild plant, animal, and insect species. The Amazon rainforest produces 40 percent of the world’s oxygen.
Alternative: Look for Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.
Best Option: Reuse wood, and buy furniture and other products made from used or salvaged wood.
6.Chemical pesticides and herbicides
American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year. The EPA found at least one pesticide in almost every water and fish sample from streams and in more than one-half of shallow wells sampled in agricultural and urban areas. These chemicals pose threats to animals and people, especially children.
Alternative: Buy organic pest controllers such as diatomaceous earth.
Best Option: Plant native plants and practice integrated pest management. Plant flowers and herbs that act as natural pesticides.
7. Conventional household cleaners
Household products can contain hazardous ingredients such as organic solvents and petroleum-based chemicals that can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor environment, positing a particular danger for children. The average American household has three to ten of hazardous matter in the home.
Alternative: Look for nontoxic, vegetable-based, biodegradeable cleaners.
Best Option: Try making your own green cleaner using vinegar, water, and castile soap.
8. Higher octane gas than you need
Only one car in ten manufactured since 1982 requires high-octane gasoline. High-octane gas releases more hazardous pollutants into the air, and may be bad for your car.
Alternative: Buy the lowest-octane gas your car requires as listed in your owner's manual
Best option: Make your next car purchase a hybrid. Or ditch the car and take public transportation, ride a bike, or walk.
9. Toys made with PVC plastic
70% of PVC is used in construction, but it is also found in everyday plastics, including some children’s toys. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Also, additives, such as lead and cadmium, are sometimes added to PVC to keep it from breaking down; these additives can be particularly dangerous in children’s toys. PVC is also the least recycled plastic.
Alternative: Avoid plastics that are labeled as “PVC” or “#3.” Look for #1 and #2 plastics, which are easier to recycle and don’t produce as many toxins. Use sustainable construction materials.
Best option: Take action to tell manufacturers to stop using PVC plastics, especially in children’s toys.
10. Plastic forks and spoons
Disposable plastic utensils are not biodegradeable and not recyclable in most areas.
Alternative: Use compostable food service items. Companies such as Biocorp make cutlery from plant materials such as corn starch and cellulose.
Best option: Carry your own utensils and food containers.
Source: Co-op America
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