Indie Film Describes “Certain Adverse Events” from Antibiotic Use

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“If you were to look at how prescription drugs are developed and marketed, you might never take a prescription drug again.” So begins the film Certain Adverse Events. Reading the statement on the screen, I felt the first twinge of alarm that I was about to learn more than I might really want to know. And that’s just what happened. The film showed how vulnerable we health consumers are when we take a prescription medicine. We can’t know what the side effects will be — because even the FDA and the drug companies often don’t know. A scary thought, indeed…

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Join the Fun – Help Plan Chorlton’s 2010 Big Green Festival

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The wheels are in motion once again for the second Chorlton’s Big Green Festival, which will take place on Sat 27 March 2010.

Nobody could have predicted the success of April’s festival, which brought in more than 1,500 festival goers, and saw the likes of a bicycle parade around Chorlton, wheelie bin displays, a solar/wind powered sound system, swap shops and a foot stomping ceilidh, as well as guest speakers, eco workshops and live entertainment…

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“Who Will Stay Home with the Kids When They’re Sick?”

August 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Disease, Front Page, Health, Jobs, Kids, Parenting, U.S.

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If you’re a working parent, you’ve probably faced this scenario: One or more of your kids is sick, but you’re expected to be at work. Maybe you can telecommute that day. Or maybe you have a nanny, who’s paid to stay with your kids no matter what. You might even have a willing relative, who isn’t worried about catching whatever illness your child is carrying. If so, you’re one of the lucky few.

More likely, you’re one of the millions of workers who are expected to be on the job in the office or in the fields or at the factory every day, regardless of what’s going on at home. Oh, and you probably don’t get paid sick leave for staying home with your children, do you? …

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From Swamp to Gas Pump – Cattails Take on New Role

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Cattails are among nature’s most primitive species. They were here when dinosaurs ruled. They kept baby Moses from floating down the Nile to a premature death. They’re ubiquitous, found in ditches the world over. Grown in clean water, they’re edible. Grown in wastewater, they remove pollutants from the sewage so it can be safely returned to the natural water cycle. In the process, cattails absorb the atmosphere’s increasingly abundant carbon dioxide to fuel photosynthesis, producing sugars and starches that can be converted easily, cleanly, and cheaply into alcohol used for biofuel.

Biofuels solve the same problems that petroleum fuel creates. Plants use the carbon dioxide they remove from the environment to grow. Harvested and converted to alcohol, they return that same energy when used as fuel. This is why corn has garnered a lot of attention as a source of biofuel. But corn-for-ethanol is problematic. Land devoted to growing fuel is land that can’t be devoted to growing food. And, unless it’s grown organically, corn is fertilized with materials that pollute our groundwater and contribute to global warming. Gas-powered tractors harvest it; gas-powered vehicles truck it to market. All this for a fuel source that yields – depending on which study you consult — 75 to 200 gallons per acre? There’s got to be a better way…

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Caryn Green, Contributing Writer

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under BPGL Crew, Contributing Writers, Illinois

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Caryn Green lives in Chicago, where she has spent her career in media on both the business and editorial side of the aisle. An ardent environmentalist and animal rights supporter, she is an outdoor enthusiast and adventure traveler who loves to go places you can’t find on a map…

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Coolerado AC Units Excel at DOE/NREL Performance Challenge

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, California, DOE, Electricity, Energy, Front Page, Water

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University of California, Davis issued a challenge to manufacturers to build more efficient air conditioners for the Western U.S. The objective was to exceed the 2010 U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards by an aggressive 40 percent. Coolerado Corporation, the first certified winner of the UC Davis Western Cooling Challenge, entered the program with its new hybrid commercial rooftop unit — a system using its proprietary indirect evaporative technology in concert with a traditional compressor and refrigerant system. DOE laboratory testing indicates that Coolerado’s new system, the Coolerado H80, beat the 2010 standards by 60 percent at peak demand and will use 80 percent less energy overall…

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Search the Web and Plant a Tree with Swagbucks.com

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How often do you use Google to search on line? If you’re a regular Web user, you might go there several times a day — maybe even a dozen or more. It’s convenient. It’s easy. But it’s an opportunity missed.

Swagbucks.com is a rewards-based search destination that provides users with the very same results you can get from Google and Ask. Give it a try. Go ahead, right now, if you like. Click on this link to Swagbucks.com and enter a search word or term, such as “Blue Planet Green Living.” (But don’t sign up till you read this full article; there’s a special offer below.) Then come back here to find out why you’ll want to use Swagbucks.com as your everyday search engine…

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Clean Body – The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself

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If you enjoy tongue-in-cheek humor and are looking for practical cleaning tips using old-fashioned ingredients, Clean Body will provide you with a full ration of both. Author Michael DeJong, a self-described “clean freak,” takes readers back to the absolute basics of cleanliness (he actually describes how to wash your hands) with five simple ingredients….

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Product Review – Lucky Earth Waterless Car Wash

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Car, Consumer Goods, Events, Front Page, Reviews

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Way back in June, I got an email from someone representing Lucky Earth products. She wanted to send me a sample of Lucky Earth’s Waterless Car Wash. “Sure,” I replied. “I’ll give it a try.” The sample bottle arrived a few days later, along with a packet of two “Super Cool (TM) Microfiber Towels.” By then it was early July. The items sat on a shelf until today. You can probably see where I’m going with this: I’m not a fan of washing my car.

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Middle School Students to Design Affordable Housing in Future City Competition

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WASHINGTON DC, June 2009 – Designing affordable housing for those most in need is enormously complicated. But how to do it while adhering to LEED recognized green building standards, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint?

That’s the challenge for Chicagoland middle schoolers [and students around the nation] as they prepare for National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2009-10 Future City® Competition…

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Farm to Table’s 100-Mile Menu Coming Soon to NYC

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Orchestrated by Great Performances, Farm To Table conducts the 100-Mile Menu, bringing fresh, seasonal, local foods from New York State farms within reach of New York City slickers — coming soon…

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Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

August 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Audio, Blog, Books, Front Page, Poverty, Women

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Women hold up half the sky – Chinese Proverb

Mercy Corps is inviting book clubs and reading groups throughout the nation to read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Their book tells the inspiring stories of brave women who have overcome the most terrible circumstances to set their lives on a bright new path.

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Laura Mack, Contributing Writer

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Laura Mack is an international business consultant, a facilitator of dialogue, and a writer with a passion for positive transformation of individuals, communities and organizations…

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Donovan Rypkema on “Sustainability, Smart Growth and Historic Preservation”

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Now and then, I run across an article so worthy of reading that I’m compelled to share it with friends — no matter that it was written some time ago. The article that follows is excerpted from a presentation by Donovan Rypkema, called “Sustainability, Smart Growth and Historic Preservation.” Rypkema gave this speech in 2007, to an audience at the Historic Districts Council Annual Conference, held in New York City.
You may be familiar with Rypkema’s speech, as it has circulated somewhat on the Internet. It was new to me until recently, however, and I am pleased to have Mr. Ripkema’s permission to share it with readers of Blue Planet Green Living. If you’ve never read it, be prepared to rethink some of the cherished notions of “green building.” And if you have read it before, consider reading it again. I learn more each time I do…

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Local Foods Connection – Providing Healthy Foods and Smart Nutrition to Low-Income Families

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Imagine you’re the head of a family. You’re out of work. Or maybe you have a job that pays minimum wage. Maybe you’re an immigrant, trying hard to adjust to a new country, new foods, new customs — all on a limited income. Or, perhaps someone in your family has a serious illness, and your struggle to pay for medical care leaves little to spend on nutritious food for your children and yourself. In this harsh economic climate, for many of us, eating a diet of organic foods is as much a fantasy as a taking a trip to Mars.

“As incomes drop and food budgets shrink, food choices shift toward cheaper refined grains, added sugars, and vegetable fats. The first items to drop out of the diet are usually healthy foods – whole grains, lean meats, dairy products, vegetables and fruit. Energy-rich starches, sweets, and fats, many of them nutrient-poor, frequently offer the cheapest way to fill hungry stomachs.” — Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet? Adam Drewnowski and Petra Eichelsdoerfer March 2009. A publication of the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition…

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Carbon Day Chicago Promises “Music And More For A Better World”

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This past May, the Illinois State Legislature was among the most recent legislative bodies to designate September 15 as Carbon Day, an official State holiday. State Representative Karen May and State Senator Susan Garrett sponsored the resolution.

Illinois’ Carbon Day festivities will coincide with other activities around the globe. The kickoff event will take place in Chicago at Lincoln Park, and will feature live music, a tree tour with arborist Jose Eduardo Medina, and possibly a speech by a politician involved in environmental issues, according to Brae Hattaway, the coordinator of the event. “We put a lot of effort into getting Carbon Day moving, and we got done really quickly,” said Hattaway, referring to the upcoming Chicago event. “The time to do this is now…”

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The Repurposed Home Takes Curb-Shopping to a Fine Art

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When was the last time you took a look at the old, cast-off furniture sitting in the corner of your basement or attic? You know, the pieces that were once useful and in style, but that haven’t seen the light of day for decades. Before tossing that chair in the dumpster, or letting that those end tables get musty in your basement, consider another option for your old furniture.

Lori Jacobsen, interior designer and co-founder of The Repurposed Home, can help you find new ways to use those seasoned pieces. The Repurposed Home helps customers use what they already have and make it new again. Jacobsen also does some serious “curb-shopping” to save classic pieces from the landfill….

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Ecotourism – Leave Nothing but Footprints and Goodwill

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Perhaps you’ve dreamed of vacationing at a resort on a tropical island, surrounded by a luxury hotel with every convenience you could desire: Food and drink served in abundance in any number of dining locations. Beach chairs and umbrellas on the pristine sands of an exclusive beach. A swim bar in the middle of a sparkling pool for guests only. Nightclubs with live entertainment right on the property. Sophisticated staff from countries around the world. And a direct shuttle to carry you safely between the airport and the hotel.

Why would you care to venture out and see the island, with everything you need right here? And why would you want to meet the local people, when their extreme poverty would put a damper on your luxury vacation?

Why, indeed?…

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Cap Recycling Project Earns State Fair Invitation for Young Environmentalist

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Many of us begin the journey to environmentalism as adults. Others start when they are still children. Recently, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) had the privilege of interviewing 11-year-old Jack Potter, a soon-to-be 6th grader, who began his environmental journey by collecting and recycling #5 plastic bottle caps. Jack didn’t just collect a few bottle caps, he saved nearly 1,000. And this week at his county fair, he earned the right to exhibit his project at the Iowa State Fair. Jack’s determination to make a difference impressed us, so we asked him to share a bit of his story. — Publisher

BPGL: What was the purpose of your recycling project?

POTTER: My goal for the project was to raise awareness of the fact that plastic caps are almost never recycled. When they’re not recycled, they end up in landfills or in the ocean, and that’s bad for the environment…

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My 5: Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked Ken Cook, president and founder of the Environmental Working Group, two questions we like to ask all our interviewees.

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet? (You can answer as the head of Environmental Working Group or as a parent, if you prefer.)

COOK: Those two things — my job as a parent and my job as the head of Environmental Working Group — have come together in lots of things. It’s a blessing to be able to do this work now, and have both of those sets of objectives in mind, because they do merge pretty well…

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