Green Living Means Leaving the Rat Race Behind

February 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Economy, Front Page, Health, Slideshow, Tips, Website

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Google “green living,” and you’ll get something like 64,000,000 hits (as of this post). There’s more advice on the Internet about environmentalism than any single person could possibly read in a lifetime. And it’s growing exponentially. At Blue Planet Green Living, we do our best to add value to the proposition of living a green lifestyle. Sometimes that means we point the way to another website that that has a unique perspective on the topic.

As I was reviewing comments for approval the other day, I came across a lengthy one from Patty Zevallos, who challenges readers to rethink the rat race and engage in true “Green Living” — which is, not surprisingly, the name of her blog. I was intrigued by what I read in her comment, and followed the link to Zevallos’s website….

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Natural Living Expo, March 27 & 28 in Des Moines

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By the end of March, spring will be poking her head out from behind winter’s white dress. Leaves will begin to sprout, wearing a fleeting light-green that will deepen in hue by the time the summer arrives in all her glory. Ah, spring. What better time of year to be thinking about gardening, fresh produce, and delicious natural foods?

And what better event than the Natural Living Expo to entice sun-starved Midwesterners out of hibernation?

The Fifth Annual Natural Living Expo, to be held March 27 and 28 at the Polk County (Iowa) Convention Center, promises to be bigger and even more exciting than in previous years. The Expo features natural, organic, and sustainable companies and products, live entertainment for kids and adults, and a speaker series on topics related to sustainabilty and health/wellness….

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My 5: Angela Clark, Founder/Master Connector, enrgPATH

February 24, 2010 by  
Filed under 2010, Blog, Events, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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Blue Planet Green Living asked Angela Clark, founder of enrgPATH and self-described “Master Connector, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?” Her responses follow:

CLARK: These are my Top 5 Solutions for Sustainable People and Planet:

Be Grateful. The more grateful I am, the more productive I am. To have daily gratitude takes some practice. It is easy to get caught up in the drama of life and forget to focus on all that I have, but after living both ways, I prefer to nurture the spirit of gratitude. It makes life beautiful….

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My 5: Dana L. Miller, Founder, Sustainable Earth

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked Dana L. Miller two questions we ask all our interviewees. Miller is the founder of Sustainable Earth and proponent of UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for Burns Bog in Vancouver, British Columbia.

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?

MILLER:

1. Media: Abolish the business of government propaganda, public relations, and conglomerate media in Canada and biased editorial columns. Reinvigorate investigative journalism….

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Iowa State University Holds 2nd Annual Sustainability Symposium

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Iowa State University’s 2010 Symposium on Enhancing Sustainability will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 23 and 24, in the Memorial Union on the ISU campus in Ames, Iowa. The event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday with an opening poster session and speaker, followed by a day of panel discussions and presentations….

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Wendy Sloan, Contributing Writer

February 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Contributing Writers, Iowa

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Contributing writer Wendy Sloan is a senior at Iowa State University, double majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and Psychology. She is originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., but has been living in Iowa for the last 7 years….

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Watch Out for the Green Police!

February 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Diesel, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Marketing, Slideshow

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It’s Friday, snow is falling again, and I’m in the mood for a little lighthearted entertainment. Since Joe and I don’t have a television (by choice, thank you very much), I rarely see the ads that the rest of the world sees. Today, our friend, Gregory Johnson sent us a link to the Audi “Green Police” ads, and I enjoyed them so much that I thought I’d share.

According to Audi’s “Green Police” YouTube channel, the commercials are intended as an entertaining way to make several points about how we harm the environment in our daily lives:

“As part of the lead up to their third consecutive Super Bowl ad, Audi has created a fictional Green Police unit that are caricatures of todays [sic] green movement. The Green Police are a humorous group of individuals that have joined forces in an effort to collectively help guide consumers to make the right decision when it comes to the environment. They’re not here to judge, merely to guide these decisions.” …

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Surface Hair Care Products – Gluten Free, Vegan, Not Tested on Animals

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Over the past several months, I’ve been using Surface Hair Care products as part of my daily routine. With color-treated hair (yes, I’m going gray beneath the blond), my locks sometimes get dry and brittle. The two varieties of Surface products I’ve tried are gentle on my hair and help keep it feeling soft and healthy.

Initially, a stylist friend (Carolyn at Carolyn’s Place, Studio 101, Coralville, Iowa) introduced me to the Trinity line of Surface products. She knows that I’m concerned both about the planet and my own health. Carolyn’s partner had recently been to a Surface product training in Florida and was excited about how environmentally respectful and people-friendly the products are….

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Help Rock Stars Save the Planet!

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Perhaps you’re wondering how rock stars can save the planet. It’s a pretty far-fetched notion — unless you know that 1% for the Planet has released an album of “40 rare and exclusive songs donated by leading artists to produce the first album dedicated to supporting the environment.” All proceeds from 1% for the Planet: The Music, Vol. 1 will be contributed to environmental organizations across the globe. You don’t hear those words — “all proceeds … will be contributed” — very often.

You might notice that we have a new badge on the upper right-hand corner of our website. It’s a link to purchase the album. Go ahead. Click on it. And get yourself a rockin’ good album that will put a smile on your face without leaving a big dent in your bank account….

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They’re Blowing Up Our Mountains – There Oughta Be a Law!

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In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned that the U.S. needs “continued investment in … clean coal technologies.”

But, according to Matt Wasson, Ph.D., Director of Programming at Appalachian Voices, as well as many other experts, when you look at the entire process — from mountaintop removal through burning and coal ash disposal — there is no such thing as clean coal.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Dr. Wasson about the activities of Appalachian Voices, and about coal in particular…

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Electronics TakeBack Coalition Promotes Producer Responsibility

February 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, E-Stewards, E-Waste, EPA, Front Page, Recycling, Slideshow

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Our home stands on top of a toxic waste dump.

And if you’re stockpiling obsolete electronics in the house, so does yours.

That clunky old CRT computer monitor or TV that’s currently collecting dust in the basement, attic, closet, or garage contains anywhere from 4 to 8 pounds of lead. The new flatscreen LCD monitor you replaced it with contains far less lead, so you might think it would be safer for the environment.

Actually, it’s not…

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Community Colleges Offer “Green” Classes for Kids and Adults

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Teaching renewable energy at community colleges is nothing new, according to Carolyn Teich, senior program associate from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Such courses have actually been in community college curricula for about 30 years.

But there is also a wave of new courses designed for people who want to live more sustainably. For example, Kirkwood Community College — which primarily offers classes on its Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, campuses — launched a Go Green initiative this past fall in its Continuing Education department.

A team looks at trends in the market to develop new programs for the school, says Kim Johnson, the associate vice president of continuing education programming. Part of her job is to work with that team.

Programs are planned a year in advance, she says. About a year ago, the Kirkwood team discussed the increased emphasis on “green” — especially green jobs — because of the Obama administration’s support of renewable energy technology in the Stimulus package. She also felt the community had an increased interest in sustainability and saving money….

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What Are You Waiting For? So Act, Already!

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When Stella and Greg Halpern say, “We’re on a mission to build a better world,” they have the credentials to prove it. As the founders of So Act, a new social action network that’s connecting people around the globe, the Halperns are putting their goals into action.

We wanted to know what motivated the couple to create this ambitious network. So Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with the Halperns while they were traveling in California with their daughters, three talented musicians who go by the name Truth on Earth…

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A Plea to Protect Burns Bog as a UNESCO Site

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Environmentalists tend to be a passionate lot, on fire with conviction about the importance of preservation, conservation, and the well-being of the planet. But, despite our convictions, not all of us are activists. Dana L. Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia (B.C.), is an environmentalist who not only espouses her beliefs, she follows through with focused activities that support them. Miller is a vocal and dedicated advocate for protecting British Columbia’s Burns Bog with UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Miller by phone from her B.C. home. We began by asking her to tell us what’s unique about Burns Bog and why UNESCO designation would help protect it….

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Larry Long on Bringing Woody Guthrie Home

February 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Community, Events, Front Page, Musicians, Oklahoma

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Through activism and song, Larry Long has fought for social justice and environmental preservation his entire adult life. He has also spent his life focusing on the culture and history of the people and places he sings about.

Part one of our conversation with Larry Long discussed his work with the Mississippi River Revival. Today, we look at how he brought long-overdue honor to fellow folksinger Woody Guthrie, in Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. Guthrie is best known for his folksong, “This Land Is Your Land.”

Guthrie was also known for associating with Communists, and though he never joined the Communist Party, his liberal political leanings did not always make him welcome in his hometown. In fact two water towers stand in Okemah, advertising both Hot and Cold attitudes toward being the birthplace of Woody Guthrie.

Two decades after Guthrie’s death — thanks largely to Long’s important community work — the people of Okemah finally welcomed Woody Guthrie home.

This is part two of a three-part conversation with Larry Long, whom writer Studs Terkel once called, “a true American troubadour.” You can listen to some of Larry Long’s music on his website.

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Shedding Light on Injustice in Gaza

February 8, 2010 by  
Filed under 2010, Blog, Front Page, Gaza, Media, Slideshow, UN, War

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What exactly is injustice? Injustice, put simply, is when a person, or an entire population, is denied their basic human rights — more specifically, the human rights outlined in the Geneva Conventions post World War II….

A very clear and brutal example of injustice today can be seen in the Gaza Strip. There, 1.5 million Palestinians have, quite literally, been held hostage by Israel for 43 years, since the end of the Six Day War in 1967, for nothing more than being the non-Jewish, native inhabitants of the Mediterranean lands of Palestine….

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National Cristina Foundation — Connecting Used Technology to Worthy Recipients

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“The National Cristina Foundation (NCF) is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the support of training through donated technology,” says the organization’s website. In 1984, NCF co-founders, businessman David Bruce McMahan and special education instructor Yvette Marrin experienced an “aha moment,” when McMahan’s daughter, Cristina, one of Marrin’s students, suggested her father could provide the school with much-needed computer equipment. McMahan and Marrin made a critical connection between problem and solution that resulted in the establishment of the National Cristina Foundation.

They saw a way to address the convergence of several issues: managing the increasing stockpile of millions of obsolete computers, the benefit access to computers offers disabled and disadvantaged people, and the environmental challenge of responsible reuse and recycling of outdated electronics.

“We felt sure that computers coming out of their first place of use, where they were considered of little value, could be transferred to places where they would be of great value,” Marrin stated. Since that time, the foundation has worked to assure that no functioning equipment that can be repurposed is ever wasted….

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Basel Action Network — Part of the E-Waste Solution

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The Basel Action Network (BAN), is “a global toxic-trade watchdog organization” that works to prevent the dumping of used electronics from wealthy nations to developing nations. With so many companies and charitable organizations offering to collect your used computer, flatscreen TV, or cell phone, consumers are often lulled into the illusion that our used goods are going to be used for good. Instead, many of them end up dismantled, burned, and dumped in Ghana, China, Nigeria, and other developing nations.

BAN — named for the Basel Convention, the UN-administered agreement that regulates hazardous waste shipment — is the world’s foremost organization focused on confronting the environmental and economic ramifications of toxic trade. Working to prevent disproportionate and unsustainable dumping of the world’s toxic waste and pollution on the poorest nations, BAN actively promotes sustainable and just solutions to the consumption and waste crisis — banning waste trade, while advocating green, toxic-free design of consumer products….

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The Basel Convention — Protecting Developing Nations from E-Waste

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When industrialized countries began regulating the disposal of hazardous wastes in the 1980s, disposal costs skyrocketed. The cost-efficient solution they arrived at was “toxic trading” — the shipment of hazardous waste to developing countries and Eastern Europe.

International outrage from this practice resulted in the adoption of the Basel Convention, a UN-administered set of guidelines for controlling the movement of hazardous wastes across international borders. The Basel Convention ultimately banned the export of hazardous waste from richer countries to poorer ones….

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Computer Recycling – The Downside of Upgrading

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In an era when prices for goods are escalating while product quality seems to be decreasing (“they don’t make ‘em like they used to”), electronics equipment is one bright spot on the consumer landscape. The products keep improving, and the prices keep dropping. That flash drive you’re carrying is about the size of a stick of gum, yet it has quadruple the storage capacity of the laptop you were using on the job ten years ago. With all these advancements in the computer arena, why not upgrade?

The downside of upgrading is disposing of all that old equipment. You can’t sell it, and you can’t give it away. Your local charities and schools won’t accept electronics donations — you’ve checked. So you make the environmentally responsible decision to recycle. Congratulations, you’re living green.

Or are you?

What if you knew that the obsolete cellphones, TVs, and computers you just recycled with a clear conscience are on their way to a “burn village” in China? …

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