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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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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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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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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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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Slow Death by Rubber Duck

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The information in Slow Death by Rubber Duck doesn’t make for relaxing reading, even though the authors, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, do a masterful job of translating statistics and technical data (sometimes very technical) into highly readable prose. The problem is, the book is about a very unsettling topic.

When I first received my review copy and read the introduction, I was struck by the experiment that forms the basis for the book: The authors voluntarily and quite deliberately exposed themselves to toxic chemicals — lots of them.

Now, why would these men risk their health by loading their bodies with toxins? Isn’t that irresponsible? I wondered. It sounded so dangerous. And, from the way they tell it, their families were none too thrilled by their participation, either….

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KSCA Would “Change the Paradigm” to Protect Kids’ Health

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When it was enacted in 1976, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) automatically assumed that some 62,000 chemicals were safe, even though their effects on humans had never even been tested. Equally scary, as each new chemical is introduced, the burden of proof rests on the EPA to show that a chemical is hazardous in order to restrict its use — and that, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “rarely happens.”

If enacted, the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act (KSCA) would change the process of approving chemicals for the marketplace in several significant ways. According to CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in a recent television broadcast, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) will soon reintroduce the bill proposing KSCA, which would change “the paradigm from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent, in the sense that [a chemical] has to be tested before it can actually come to market.” …

To find out more about the health risks facing our children from toxic chemicals and why KSCA should be enacted, interested persons are invited to attend Dr. Landrigan’s talk, sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Title: “Children’s Health and the Environment: Target for Prevention”

Speaker: Dr. Philip Landrigan

Date: March 19, 2010

Time: 3:30 – 4:30, Reception to follow

Location: Livestrong Board Room, 2201 E. 6th St., Austin, TX

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Naturally Clean – The Seventh Generation Guide to Safe & Healthy, Non-Toxic Cleaning

December 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Chemicals, EPA, Front Page, Green Cleaning, Tips, TSCA

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When my kids were small, I wanted to give them a clean, healthy home to live in. Our home was clean, no doubt about it, but was it healthy?

Naturally Clean by Jeffrey Hollender and Geoff Davis (with Meika Hollender and Reed Doyle) debunks the myth that a clean home is automatically a healthy home. Cleanliness in itself isn’t bad (though it can be taken to extremes, according to Chapter 20), but the chemicals used in those cleaners can be deadly. “The decision to stop using synthetic chemical cleaners is one of the most important ones you’ll ever make for the health of your family and the safety of your home,” say the authors….

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My 5, Lauren Sullivan, Reverb Co-Founder

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In Friday’s post, Blue Planet Green Living talked with Reverb co-founder, Lauren Sullivan, about the Reverb’s work greening rock bands and connecting concert-goers with local nonprofits. Today, we asked her to answer two questions we like to ask our interviewees.
1. What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?
2. If you had two minutes with President Obama, what would you say to him? …

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Wilson’s Apple Orchard – Eco-Friendly Farming Yields Bumper Crop of Family Fun

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Drive a little more than 4 miles north out of Iowa City on Highway 1. Turn east down Dingleberry Road for a little less than a mile, and take a right down an unpaved road. Soon you arrive at Wilson’s Apple Orchard, a local Iowa City landmark that you won’t soon forget. Ask just about anyone in the Iowa City – Solon area, and they’ll tell you about a family outing they took to Wilson’s when they were kids, about their own child’s recent preschool field trip, or a romantic apple-picking outing with their date. Young and old, Wilson’s Apple Orchard figures into the fond memories of generations of Iowans.

Paul Rasch bought the grounds from previous owners, Robert “Chug” and Joyce Wilson, last year. When asked about the environmental practices he is putting in place in his new venture, Rasch comments that there are three main environmental concerns associated with farming: manure, erosion, and pesticides. Wilson’s Apple Orchard has no livestock, so manure is not a concern. Rasch does no tilling, so the soil is stable. That leaves only pesticides to deal with…

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Indie Film “A River of Waste” Issues Urgent Call to “Vote with Our Ballots as Well as Our Forks”

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“Only after the last tree is cut down, the last of the water poisoned, the last animal destroyed… Only then will you realize you cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian Prophecy

So begins the documentary film A River of Waste, setting the stage for a discussion of how agriculture in the U.S. — and indeed, much of the world — has left behind the family farm and turned into profits-at-any-cost Big Ag. And there are costs — costs to the animals kept in filth and confinement; costs to the environment in air, soil, and water pollution; and costs to the health and well-being of people.

This excellent indie film presents a story that has been carefully researched and seamlessly assembled to show consumers just how dangerous CAFOs are. But it doesn’t stop there; it presents solutions in the form of regulations and practices that are common in the European Union…

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California Green Chemistry Initiative – “Rethinking the Way We Create Everything”

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California Department of Toxic Substances acting director Maziar Movassaghi told Blue Planet Green Living that the Green Chemistry Initiative is working to rethink the manufacturing of products.

MOVASSAGHI: It’s a really fundamental shift for environmental regulation. We don’t wait for stuff to reach the waste stream. And we don’t think of waste as garbage, but as nutrients. If you think of waste as nutrients, you require that at the end of a product’s use, you should be able to grind it up, throw it in the ground, and have it be a nutrient for an organic product. Or, if it doesn’t fit that model, it should be able to be reused in an industrial process.

Now, whether it goes to create energy for material productions or whether it goes back into the reuse of the product, those are two ways of approaching it. But it’s really a different way of looking at our waste, as “waste is food.” …

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