Is Your Fish High in Mercury? Safe Harbor Knows

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I once heard a story about a lonely man who ate a tuna sandwich for lunch every day for 20 years. His cause of death? Mercury poisoning. I can’t say if this is true or not, but it certainly gets the point across: There could be something fishy in your fish…

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Hog CAFOs Can Affect Human Health

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Iowa produces more corn, soybeans, pigs, and egg-laying hens than any other state in the US. There are approximately 100 million farm animals — and only 3 million people. Animal feces is actually the state’s largest product. MRSA bacteria — which causes the flesh-eating disease — and swine flu are growing problems. Concerned about these facts, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) contacted Dr. Alan Kornberg, a physician who serves on the board of directors of the Farm Sanctuary. We asked Dr. Kornberg about the human health effects associated with farm animals in confinement…

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My 5: Robyn O’Brien, Allergy Kids

June 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Activists, Blog, Books, Front Page, My 5

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Blue Planet Green Living asked author Robyn O’Brien, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

ROBYN O’BRIEN:

* Accept that DOING ONE SMALL THING can make a difference! …

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SunRidge Farms – Organic Treats from an Eco-Conscious Company

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One of the many fun parts of my job is to review product samples that we receive here at Blue Planet Green Living. Of course, when goodies are involved, I have to share. And the products I’m writing about today are definitely in the goodies category. SunRidge Farms sent us three packages of treats (Organic Sunny Worms, Organic Yogurt Pretzels, and Hickory-Smoked Almonds), so I enlisted the aid of my daughter, Lindsay, and my husband, Joe. They were more than willing to act as test subjects …

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Kiawah Island Golf Resort – An Eco-Friendly Vacation Choice

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Picture yourself at a lush island resort. The melodic call of sea birds and the sound of breaking waves beckon to you. Nature’s splendor surrounds you in all directions. Three bountiful meals await you at your choice of 12 dining venues. Your hotel room features luxurious furniture and every amenity you could ask for. The golf course is minutes from your door. If this sounds like an idyllic vacation spot, it is; South Carolina’s Kiawah Island Golf Resort is all this and more …

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San Ramon Eco-Festival – “Good, Green Fun for Everyone”

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Want to learn how to live an eco-friendly life and have a great time doing it? You can do both by attending the first annual San Ramon, California, Eco-Festival. This family-friendly event will be held at Bishop Ranch Civic Center on August 29 and 30, 2009.

The event will be open Saturday, August 29, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, August 30, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eco-Festivals, sponsor of the event, aims to help people “live simple and cost-effective green lifestyles”…

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Tiny Houses Offer Sustainable Living Alternative

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Gregory Johnson doesn’t have a bathroom in his house. In his 7’ by 10’ home, his office, kitchen, and bedroom are all just a footstep away. One side of his house is his office. On the opposing wall is the kitchen. The bedroom is the loft, accessible only through a hole in the ceiling. As I looked inside his tiny home, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How does he live here?”

I find it difficult to imagine living in a home this size; perhaps you do, too. But what if everything you needed in a dwelling could be condensed into a 140-square-foot house? Could you live in a house without a toilet, a shower, or a refrigerator? How would your life change? …

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To Meat or Not to Meat – Humane Is the Question

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My son and his girlfriend arrived today from California for Joe’s daughter’s wedding. They’re omnivores, as are the rest of the offspring from our blended family. Whenever we have a family gathering, my three look forward to an old family recipe (graciously handed down from their dad’s Italian grandmother), Italian beef. This presents me with a dilemma.

Joe and I are trying hard to swear off meat. We’re not entirely successful, because food allergies limit access to other sources of protein: dairy, soy, and some nuts. We do need protein, of course, and we were starting to feel less-than-healthy on our vegan diet. But we do not want to support the factory farms that treat animals as mere commodities…

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A Stroll through the Farmer’s Market

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What to have for dinner? It’s that ever-present question that we ask ourselves night after night, meal after meal. To keep things fresh, I love to take a walk through the farmer’s market to determine my dinner. Early summer at the Iowa City downtown market provides many ingredients to build wonderful meals. Farmers are offering great abundance from their fields now, including fresh strawberries, glistening radishes, green onions, fresh-baked breads, tomatoes, cilantro, and dill …

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Good-bye, Mr. Rabbit

June 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Iowa, Leisure, Wildlife

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Time. There never seems to be enough of it. I am always running late. Too many things crammed into too little time.

A few months ago, in a hurried sprint to my car, I noticed a rabbit in my backyard. Nothing unusual about him, he was just one of those run-of-the-mill brown rabbits. He kept a wary eye on me, but he made no effort to run away. He just stood there next to my little trellis garden, peacefully munching on grass. He seemed to be mocking me. I was the one scurrying off to a consulting appointment, all suited and tied, my watch in hand, saying, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”…

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Dirty Industries Have a Long Tail of Consequences

June 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Asbestos, Asthma, Blog, Cancer, Front Page, Health, Industries

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In recent years, there has been a great deal of national attention focused on the improvement of industrial environmental standards. Even as we attempt to rebuild our economy, we seem to be focused on not only restoring industry, but also using this as an opportunity to do it in a way that is not environmentally destructive. This provides us, the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center (MAA Center), and many others the opportunity to improve all aspects of these industries, including the workplace hazards among workers and the all-too-common health hazards affecting members of the surrounding communities…

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Event Banners Get New Life as RetroActif Fashion Accessories

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Take a walk through any major city, and you’ll see tall banners fluttering from light poles or hanging from rooftops on the sides of a museum. Most are colorful and attractive. Some are splashy, with eye-catching designs. Nearly all are time-sensitive, advertising this month’s music festival, tomorrow’s convention, or next weekend’s exhibit.

Because banners have to survive the elements day and night — often for months at a time — the material they’re made from is generally not biodegradable. So what happens to these used banners? Do they retire to a storeroom to collect dust, or make a one-way trip to the landfill?

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My 5: Monica Shuman, Co-Founder, RetroActif

June 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5

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Blue Planet Green Living asked Monica Shuman, Co-Founder of RetroActif, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

MONICA SHUMAN:

* Increase awareness of being eco-friendly…

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Grameen Bank – “Working toward a Poverty-Free World”

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On October 13, 2006, Professor Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh stepped to the podium in Oslo, Norway, to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. The work for which Yunus was being honored had started a financial revolution of sorts in 1976, when he turned the banking industry on its head by giving microloans to poor people. With the success of his initial loans, he founded the Grameen Bank. (The definition of Grameen is rural or village in the Bangla language.)

“We were happy that the world has given recognition, through this prize, that poverty is a threat to peace,” Yunus writes on the Grameen Bank’s website. “Grameen Bank, and the concept and methodology of micro-credit that it has elaborated through its 30 years of work, have contributed to enhancing the chances of peace by reducing poverty. Bangladesh is happy that it could contribute to the world a concept and an institution which can help bring peace to the world”…

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Kiva – “Make a Small Loan, Make a Big Difference”

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When someone with an entrepreneurial vision lives in a developing nation, they often need only a little capital to turn their dreams into reality. Costs are low, relative to the developed world. And a small amount of money — by first world standards — goes a very long way. But even “a little capital” is out of reach when the person has a daily struggle to buy the barest of necessities.

Raising capital for a micro-enterprise can be an insurmountable problem in a third-world country. Entrepreneurs who have nothing but their vision to use as collateral are generally considered a poor risk by institutional investors. The harsh reality is, without an infusion of capital — often as little as US$100 — they must give up their dreams. But with micro-loans through Kiva, entrepreneurs are turning their dreams into income, and lifting themselves and their families out of poverty…

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Megan Lisman, Intern

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Megan Lisman is transitioning from being a junior at the University of Iowa to her final year of college, during which she is hopes to avoid falling into the dark abyss of senioritis. Megan is spending her summer as an intern at Blue Planet Green Living to keep her mind fresh and to save it from melting into a puddle in the humid Iowa City air…

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Heifer International – A Sustainable Solution to Poverty

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“Lifting people out of poverty doesn’t come from the outside in; it’s an inside-out job,” says Christine Volkmer, spokesperson for Heifer International. The organization she represents is known worldwide as having a highly effective method for helping one family at a time to not only survive, but prosper. More important, families helped by Heifer International also commit to share, passing on the benefits they have received…

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Make a Difference in Hunger, One Person or Village at a Time

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When most people I know talk about hunger, we are referring to a rumbling emptiness in our stomachs that makes us look forward to our next meal in a few minutes or, at worst, a few hours. We get hungry, but we are far from starving. Yet I have known plenty of kids whose only meals were the breakfasts and lunches they received at school. I’ve seen hungry people standing in line waiting for a free lunch. This is what hunger looks like in the U.S. and most other industrialized nations…

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Swallowing Your Pride to Put Food in Your Stomach

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I was at the local food bank today, having given a ride to a friend. He’s talented and capable, but temporarily out of work and low on resources in this tough economy. The experience was a painful one for him, and I write this with his reluctant permission. He wishes to be anonymous, he says. He’s embarrassed that he has to avail himself of these life-saving services. He’s not alone….

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Climate Change Reporting Contest Announced

June 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Climate Change, Front Page, UN

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Today, on World Environment Day, global media assistance organization Internews invited print, radio, television, journalists, and bloggers to compete in the first-ever Earth Journalism Awards. Professionals and amateurs are encouraged to submit their original climate change reporting to the competition.

“Accurate, understandable reporting on climate change is essential in order to engage the public and their leaders to work for the best policy solutions,” said James Fahn, the Director of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network. “Particularly in the developing world, where most of the impact of climate change is being felt, citizens have an urgent need to understand what is at stake…, and local media are the key to this understanding.”

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