How to Control Pests with Natural Products

February 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Pesticides, Slideshow, Tips

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  Do you spray toxic chemicals around baseboards, leave poisoned bait in dark corners, bug-bomb your home and office, or douse yourself (and your kids) with DEET to keep pests at bay? Using pesticides might rid your surroundings of pests, but what are you doing to your health in the process? ~ Julia Wasson, Publisher […]

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Oceans of Plastic Stew

July 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Environment, Front Page, Litter, Ocean, Slideshow

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It’s mighty easy to throw away a plastic bag or plastic cup-lid, and then think nothing of it. Into the wastebasket it goes — out of sight, out of mind — and then into the trash bin, and then into the waste truck, then to the landfill. Plastic indefinitely clogging our terrestrial landfills constitutes its own problem, but an alarming amount of this detritus ends up in our drainage systems. It may take years, but these scraps may eventually find themselves adrift in the ocean — ultimate receiver of the continents’ freshwater output — thousands of miles from their factory origin, let alone the site of their discarding.

In recent years, firsthand observation has borne out the predictions of oceanographers: Much of this marine litter, as it’s called, ultimately turns up contained in and by the loops of rotating currents called gyres that mark each ocean basin. The spin of the earth and the heat-driven coasting of winds help create these prevailing current configurations. Ocean-borne debris is drawn into the encircling “highways” of the gyre, then edged into the calm waters of its center — where they remain….

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What’s the Big Deal about Asbestos?

March 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Asbestos, Blog, Cancer, Front Page, Health, Slideshow

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They sound so harmless: tiny mineral fibers, interspersed throughout rock deposits, mined for their natural insulating qualities. Just how bad can these asbestos fibers be?

Just ask any of the 3,000 Americans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma in any given year – or any of the thousands of others diagnosed with different asbestos-related diseases: Asbestos is much more dangerous than it sounds….

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redleaf Water Introduces Biodegradable and Recyclable Water Bottles

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One of the strongest arguments many consumers make against bottled water is the massive amount of waste that ends up clogging our waterways when bottles are discarded as litter. To counter this problem, redleaf Water, a Canadian based, premium bottled water company, recently released what they’re calling “the industry’s first biodegradable and recyclable water bottle.”

It’s not a perfect answer. Redleaf Water’s bottle biodegrades in landfills over slightly less than four years in most conditions, according to marketing manager Patrick Hillis. But four years is much better than the predicted hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years that some researchers claim.

“The bottle can also be recycled regularly,” Hillis explains. “It won’t harm any of the other plastics.” …

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Iowans Take Action to Ban BPA in Baby Products

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There’s good news for the children of Iowa today — though it’s not quite a done deal yet. The Iowa Senate passed a ban on Bisphenol-A (BPA) in the manufacture of certain children’s products sold in the state, including baby bottles, baby bottle liners, sippy cups, pacifiers, and teething rings.

A synthetic estrogen, BPA is used to harden clear plastics in all sorts of products, such as water bottles, containers for storing leftovers, plastic eyeglasses, ice cube trays, beer and soda cans, baby food jar lids, thermoses, and cell phones. It’s even likely to be in the cash register receipt you get at the grocery store. And, you can find BPA in the plastic lining inside cans of food and in some children’s toys….

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Notes from India: We Are Poisoning Our Planet

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How does one think or write about pollution of water and soil (not dirt, as this website makes an effort to point out) without spreading guilt in the heart of people who take their humanity seriously? It’s not easy, though you will notice I have tried. There isn’t a new fact that I bring to you — but just the fact that we have so much inertia of inaction and perhaps more so in thinking.

All of us use the three-pronged plug for electrical appliances. The third, thicker pin is for the earth. So with any amount of electricity we consume, the earth has to be a party to it. This is fine, scientifically, but it reflects our attitude towards the earth, which we symbolically call “Mother Earth” in most societies. What if, someday, our mother stops taking all the third-pin electricity?

Just now this is a hypothesis of nonsense. But a very similar thing has happened. In many instances, the earth has stopped cleansing itself. If the earth had legs, she would have run away from us by now….

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The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment

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Frustration. That is the best way to describe the experience of reading The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment. Page after page reveals the history of industries spewing toxins into our air, water, and soil and a government more apt to look the other way. Presenting the conflict through the lens of individual action and human cost, authors Benjamin Ross and Steven Amter provide an engaging and unsettling account of U.S. pollution.

Turning to the first page of The Polluters, the reader is presented with an image that will haunt the pages of the book: the funeral procession of a victim of the Donora (Pennsylvania) Smog. The burial takes place as smoke from the offending factory rises along the horizon….

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Karmic B.S.™ Sanitized Bovine Excrement – A “Greeting Jar” with Laughter, Bite, and Good Karma

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“Hand someone a jar of Karmic B.S.™ sanitized bovine excrement, and their first reaction is likely to be confusion,” says ecopreneur Joe Hennager. “They see the bull and the yin-yang in our logo — and the pile of bull poop — and they usually look up with a question in their eyes.

“But the second they tip the jar to read the punch line on top, they burst out laughing. They get it. The person giving them the jar is saying, ‘This is full of B.S. & so are you!’

“The idea of karma is that you get what you give,” says Hennager, who also happens to be my husband and the co-owner of Blue Planet Green Living. “The yin-yang symbol in our logo represents the idea of ‘what goes around comes around,’ which is another of the punch lines we use. After all, this is real, sanitized B.S. (and you know what that means). When someone gives you B.S., you can give it back — literally — with our adult novelty gift.” …

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Eye of the Whale by Douglas Carlton Abrams

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Intrigue. Romance. Danger. Life. Death. Loyalty. Betrayal. Eye of the Whale has what it takes to get a reader’s pulse racing clear to the last page. But there’s more to this novel than a mystery. After years of thorough research, author Douglas Carlton Abrams has skillfully woven a tale that teaches as much as it entertains. Abrams combines hard scientific facts about the pollution that threatens the world’s sea creatures with a page-turning thrill ride.

Eye of the Whale is an excellent literary vehicle for making the current threat of pollution immediate and real. The author accomplishes this by creating characters — not all of them human — that readers come to know and care about. From a mother whale who begins a new, mysterious song that carries around the world to a ravenous shark whose violent kills are simply a means of survival to a male whale stranded in a California river, the animals have compelling plot lines that draw the reader in.

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ChasingGreen Website – Simple Ideas, Practical Tips for Green Living

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ChasingGreen is a young website with great content and a lot of promise. I was completely taken aback by the site’s ease of navigation and the solid information it provides. “Going green” is a topic that has been discussed for years and has consumed much of our time and energy. But the process is actually comprised of many small steps. And, as ChasingGreen clearly shows readers, most of those steps are relatively easy, such as choosing one brand of coffee over another or mowing your lawn with a mower that consumes less gas….

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Green Cleaning for Every Budget

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Since World War Two, more than 80,000 new chemicals have been introduced to the market. Consumers come in contact with about 3,000 of these chemicals every day in the form of cleaning products, such as air fresheners, dishwashing detergent, and floor cleaners. These products can be accidentally ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through skin contact. Unfortunately, cleaning your home with harsh, chemical cleaning products often fills it with more toxins and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than were there to begin with, making your home even less healthy than before you “cleaned” it.

Luckily, there are several ways to ensure that your home stays clean — the green and natural way. It can be difficult to comb through every ingredient on a product label, and it can be expensive to invest in a green-certified vacuum and other cleaning items. Hiring a cleaning service is sometimes the best route to take if pressed for time. Look for a cleaning service that offers an eco-friendly option, which means that they will clean your home with green-certified products and methods….

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Super Natural Home by Beth Greer

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Every once in a while, I’ll read a book so filled with helpful information that I want to remember every single thing it says. Super Natural Home by Beth Greer is that kind of book.

From the introduction, where I learned that the author had been healed of a 5 cm benign tumor in her chest by changing her diet, to the fact-filled chapters jam-packed with tips and suggestions, to the list of resources in the back, this is a book that gives value on every single page….

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2010 Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Among Largest Ever, Scientists Say

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The delicate ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico was wounded long before Katrina stormed ashore, and her wildlife was poisoned by chemicals streaming down the Mississippi River long before BP stirred a few million gallons of crude into her waters. The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) has been monitoring hypoxia — lack of oxygen — in the Gulf waters since 1985. Much of this hypoxia is caused by agricultural chemicals and farm animal waste products that flow into the Mississippi from 19 states to the north. (Iowa alone is estimated to be responsible for 25% of the farm chemicals and fecal matter pouring into the Gulf.) Efforts are underway to reduce the agricultural pollution that is contributing heavily to the Dead Zone, but more must be done to make a positive impact on the area.

Yesterday, Blue Planet Green Living received an email from Dr. Nancy Rabalais, Executive Director of LUMCON, with the group’s latest report. The following information is reprinted from “2010 DEAD ZONE – ONE OF THE LARGEST EVER,” dated 1 August 2010, from Cocodrie, Louisiana….

“The area of hypoxia, or low oxygen, in the northern Gulf of Mexico west of the Mississippi River delta covered 20,000 square kilometers (7,722 square miles) of the bottom and extended far into Texas waters. The relative size is almost that of Massachusetts. The critical value that defines hypoxia is 2 mg/L, or ppm, because trawlers cannot catch fish or shrimp on the bottom when oxygen falls lower….”

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Take Action Today to Support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

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In our house over the past two years or so, we’ve been carefully examining every personal care product we buy. If you’re a long-time reader of Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL), you already know that we are huge fans of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database. Today, we received […]

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Notes from India: 1984 – Bhopal

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Posts in Blue Planet Green Living’s “Notes from…” category provide readers with a personal viewpoint, often an essay, from a writer whose views are intrinsically linked to their own nation or locale. In this case, we present reflections on a needless and gruesome tragedy that occurred 26 years ago in Bhopal. Those responsible for operations […]

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California Green Chemistry Initiative to Improve Consumer Safety

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Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is determined to provide the United States with safer consumer products.

“More and more consumer goods are recalled lately because of the chemicals they contain,” Movassaghi said in a phone interview with Blue Planet Green Living.

Consumer products manufacturers will be required to “show they’re not using harmful ingredients, or face restrictions including a possible ban on selling those products,” according to a press release from Movassaghi’s office….

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Scented Cleaning Products May Harm Your Health

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Cleaning products that are artificially scented with smells like lilac, lemon, pine, and tropical rainforest may be popular with consumers, but the fragrances themselves shouldn’t be. Each fragrance is potentially made up of hundreds of chemicals — many of them toxic, according to Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE).

“It’s basically chemical soup in a lot of these products,” Switalski says.

WVE is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health. The group compiled What’s That Smell?, a landmark report that examines the health effects of hidden fragrance chemicals.

Women are disproportionately affected by the chemicals in fragrances since they use them more frequently than men. They also experience more health effects from the fragrances, such as skin rashes, headaches, and breathing problems. Plus, they can pass chemicals on to their children during pregnancy and breastfeeding….

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Love Those Fruits and Veggies – When They’re Safe to Eat

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Hungry? How about a juicy peach? Imported grapes are sooo delicious. Apples are yummy. And cherries are a snack straight from Paradise.

Or not.

Fact is, every one of those conventionally raised, scrumptious food choices is laden with pesticides — dozens of different pesticide chemicals. According to an article on About.com, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiled information about pesticides “from approximately 96,000 studies by the USDA and FDA of the 49 fruits and vegetables listed between 2000 and 2008.” EWG then created a handy Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, which lists the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen.”

When I first read EWG’s list last year, I was more than a little chagrined to see many of my favorite foods listed in the Dirty Dozen. I truly love 11 of the 12 foods: “peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes, grapes.” (I’m not so crazy about celery.) These are many of the foods I most enjoy. And being almost-entirely a vegetarian, they’re foods I depend on for their nutrient value — especially kale….

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This Borrowed Earth by Robert Emmet Hernan

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As the Gulf of Mexico continues to fill with oil due to BP’s negligence and our own government agencies’ lack of oversight, we are experiencing an environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions. Tragically, this isn’t the first human-caused environmental disaster — and given our track record as stewards of this planet, it’s futile to fool ourselves that it will be the last. In his book, This Borrowed Earth: Lessons from the 15 Worst Environmental Disasters Around the World, Robert Emmet Hernan describes in detail 15 environmental disasters we must remember so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

In the book’s Introduction — penned merely months before BP’s so-called “spill,” Hernan wrote, “If we forget how and why these disasters happened and what horrible consequences emerged from them, we will not avert future disasters.” As a society, we seem to have done just what Hernan feared: We’ve forgotten. And so another disaster is upon us.

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, writes in the book’s Foreword, “In an age where we’re once again ideologically committed to ‘loosening the reins’ on private enterprise, it’s sobering to remember what has happened in the past. In an age when new technologies are barely tested before they’re put into widespread use—genetically engineered crops, for instance—it’s even more sobering to contemplate a seemingly iron-clad rule: every new machine or system seems to fail catastrophically at least once.” …

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What’s Your Steel IQ?

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When artist Alli ReauVeau talks about steel, the medium on which she paints, she gets passionate. And one look at the gorgeous artworks she creates convinces us that steel is a perfect “canvas,” indeed. But there’s much more about steel that ReauVeau admires from a construction and architectural viewpoint — and she knows whereof she speaks.

ReauVeau is co-owner, along with her husband, Alan Bendawald, of Steel IQ™, suppliers of an environmentally friendly construction product called Bare Naked Steel™. ReauVeau serves as Education Specialist for the company, sharing the message that Bare Naked Steel is the best steel for construction, for architectural design, and for the planet….

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