This fun, weekly segment is sponsored by Essentia, The Only All Natural Memory Foam Mattress in the World!
Every week we discuss an entry from this hilarious and totally practical book, Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson.
What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is energy that is generated from naturally replenished resources like sunlight, wind, geothermal heat, tides, even rain.
About 16% of global energy consumption comes from renewables.
What’s the 84% of non-green energy doing?
Choosing green power could make a big difference for the environment because electricity generation is the largest industrial polluter in the country (as we discovered in last week’s Eco Friendly Printer KNOW YOUR GREEN Quiz)
Electricity generation currently produces:
- About two-thirds of the annual U.S. emissions of sulfur dioxide, the main cause of acid rain and very small soot particles. These fine particles are believed to be responsible for the largest share of the 50,000-100,000 deaths caused by air pollution in the United States each year.
- About 30 percent of the nitrogen oxide emissions, which stress forest ecosystems and combine with organic compounds in sunlight to form smog. High smog levels can also trigger heart and respiratory problems and contribute to air pollution deaths.
- About 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions. This heat-trapping gas causes global warming, which may lead to increased droughts, flooding, disease, ecosystem disruption, and severe weather.
- Toxic-metal emissions (such as mercury and lead) and nuclear waste.
How do you buy renewable / green energy?
- Green Pricing is an optional utility service for customers who want to help expand the production and distribution of renewable energy technologies. With green pricing, you do not have to change your electricity provider. Instead, customers choose to pay a premium on their electricity bill to cover the extra cost of purchasing clean, sustainable energy.
- Green marketing is the sale of green power in competitive markets, where consumers have the option to choose from a variety of suppliers and service offerings, much like they can choose between long-distance telephone carriers. The key difference between green marketing and green pricing is that with green marketing, you are actually switching electricity providers.
- Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs or sometimes “green tags”). A REC represents the environmental attributes or benefits of renewable electricity generation (usually one credit = one kilowatt-hour). RECs can be purchased in almost any quantity and are usually available from someone other than your electricity provider.
[from green-e, the a leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market]
Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)
Energy Tax Rebates (federal)
Listen to this week’s 5-min segment – SNiG #17 – Buy Renewable Energy
Green Divas – Sleeping Naked is Green #16:
No New Plastic
The Big Plastic Bummer
According to Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: a Toxic Love Story, the world consumes over SIX HUNDRED BILLION POUNDS OF PLASTIC ANNUALLY, and it does NOT biodegrade for hundreds of years.
According to the United States International Trade Commission, in 2008, U.S. consumption of imported and domestically produced Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags was reported to be 102,105,637,000 – [from BagMonster.com]
- AKA Pacific Trash Vortex
- Central North Pacific Ocean
- high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre
- Estimates of size range from 270,000 sq mi to more than 5,800,000 sq mi. (0.41% to 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean)!Some media reports, have it up to TWICE THE SIZE OF THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES! No one really knows the size, because you can’t see large items from a boat. The mass mostly consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite. [Wikipedia]
Plastic Bottle Plague
In the US alone, an average of 230 plastic bottles PER PERSON go to landfills every year. That’s enough crushed bottles to fill the Rose Bowl EVERY TWO WEEKS! [greensmart.biz]
What Can We Do?
- Do the plastic-free experiment and TRY not to bring any new plastic into your house – trust me, in one week, you’ll have a heightened awareness of just how much plastic is in our world.
- Minimize plastic use by:
- Remembering re-usable bags for shopping
- Buy in bulk
- Re-use what you can
Listen to our interview with Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: a Toxic Love Story
Listen to this week’s 5-min segment – SNiG #16 – No New Plastic
Green Divas – Sleeping Naked is Green #15:
Find a Green Real Estate Agent
What constitutes a ‘green’ Real Estate Agent?
A realtor that understands all aspects of green living, green building materials, energy efficiency and general concepts for sustainability as they relate to homes, buildings and other dwellings.
There are certification programs for green realtors:
What do green real estate agents know that regular agents don’t?
Focus on energy efficiency, renewable and alternative energy resources, and environmental sensitivity in building design elements. They should understand or and be able to offer additional professional references to qualified contractors for the following:
- energy ratings & audits
- renewable energy sources – solar, wind, geothermal
- green design
- green building materials
- energy efficient mortgages – Low rates, discounts for green-certified properties*, great programs, total transparency, mindful green-certified business
- Best solution for EcoBrokers, LOHAS and Cultural Creatives
- Indoor air quality
- Water quality
U.S. Green Building Council (runs the LEED program)
Find an earth-friendly, green, realtor
National Association of Realtors – Green Realtor Finder
Listen to this week’s 5-min segment – SNiG #15 – Find a Green Real Estate Agent
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a socially responsible, market-based standard for products made in developing countries, where working conditions and pay may not be regulated and may be considered unfair or unjust to the workers. It creates better trading conditions, whereby socio-economic and environmental sustainability are a priority and the producers derive a more direct and substantial benefit from their work.
Fair Trade Products
Handcrafts, coffee, sugar, cocoa, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold.
According to the Fairtrade International (aka FLO – the product certification system associated with around 90% of all Fair Trade products sold annually around the world) sales 2010 data report for sales by consumer country and by product category.
- Global sales grew by 27% from 2009 – 2010 to $5.8 billion
- U.S. sales grew 5% to $1.3 billion
- Canada sales grew 6% to $330 million
- UK $1.8 billion (up 40%).
- The biggest growth was reported in the Czech Republic (386%), South Africa (315%), and Australia/New Zealand (258%).
- Gobal sales of fair trade commodities grew: sugar was up 41%, and cocoa was up 153%. Coffee, grew 19%.
- Sales of wine, sports balls, and quinoa each more than doubled. Sales of fruit juice, herbs & spices, bananas and fresh fruit declined.
How to Find Fair Trade Products
- FairTradeUSA.org – they have a nice campaign called Make Every Cup Fair to help raise awareness about fair trade coffee and tea in particular and ask that folks take a pledge to drink only fair trade coffees and teas.
- FairTrade.net – offers more information on certification, producers, products, etc.
Listen to this week’s 5-min segment – SNiG #14 – Drink Only Fair Trade Tea
Green Divas – Sleeping Naked is Green #13:
Buy Dry Beans in Bulk
According to the FDA, we create 80 MILLION TONS of waste directly related to packaging and containers every year!
Obviously, buying in bulk helps reduce packaging waste.
Join a food Coop!
- Storefront coops usually have a good variety of bulk foods including:
- Nuts & Seeds
- Herbs & Spices
- Liquid Cleaning Products
- Find or create a local coop or buying club in your neighborhood!
Organize a bulk buy with your small coop or buying club and divide larger bags of items
Arm yourself with the right containers to gather and store your bulk items
- Re-usable non-plastic bulk bags
- Sealed glass jars are better than plastic
Some hints for bulk food buying
- Remember to weigh your container before you fill it, so they can deduct it when weighing at the register!
- Most coops provide stickers and pencils so you can write the price per pound or the weight before you get to the register.
- Use your common sense – if the bins don’t look clean or the food in the bins is discolored or funky, don’t do it. Most storefronts are good about keeping their bulk food bins clean, but it’s good to be careful.
Listen to this week’s 5-min segment – SNiG #13 – Buy Dry Beans in Bulk
Green Divas Sleeping Naked is Green #12:
Make Your Own Cosmetics & Skincare Products
- Average woman uses 12 personal care products daily
- Average man uses 6 personal care products daily
- EACH PRODUCT CONTAINS A DOZEN OR MORE CHEMICALS – many which are toxic!
- The Average woman exposes herself to over 167 chemicals on her body and face during her daily beauty regimine!
- Over 80,000 chemicals used in personal care products in the US – ONLY 200 OF THEM ARE TESTED FOR SAFETY!
The chemicals used in these products aren’t only bad for those who use them, but they are bad for the people who work every day to manufacture them and they end up in the environment also.
A few common toxic chemicals found in every day personal care products
- MORE . . . cosmeticdatabase.com
These chemicals are known to cause things like:
- Neuro-developmental Disorders
- Lung Tumors
- Liver & Kidney Tumors
- Genital Abnormalities
- Lowered Sperm Count
Excellent short videos:
GOOD REASONS TO MAKE YOUR OWN!!!
- For almost everything you need to make awesome, organic, natural and clean home-made beauty produccts, Check out Mountain Rose Herbs
- Hand Lotion – recipe
- Cranberry Lip Balm – recipe
Listen to this week’s 5-min segment – SNiG #12 – Make Your Own Cosmetics & Skincare Products
Green Divas – Sleeping Naked is Green #11:
Don’t Shave Your Legs
Two billion disposable razors end up in US landfills every year – YIKES!
Aside from the razor, think of the water, soap, packaging, etc.
What’s a green diva to do?
- Spa experience
- Different, stripless wax. Less ouch.
- Natural ingredients minimize ingrown hairs and poor reaction
Similar to waxing, but supposed to hurt less.
- Preserve Razor– yogurt cup-powered (from 100% recycled plastic) handle
- Razor Gator– Razor Extender – extends disposable razor head up to 6 weeks!
- Natural & Organic Shaving Creams or just use the extra soap as you shampoo or wash.
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG #11 – Don’t Shave Your Legs
We produce 20 – 50 metric tons of e-waste every year ONLY ABOUT 15% OF IT GETS RECYCLED!
What does land in our landfills annually is about the equivalent of tossing 100,000 fully loaded 747s! Can you say YIKES!
So, What is eWaste?
Discarded . . .
- Cell phones
- TVs, DVRs, etc.
- Even refrigerators
One problem is that many electronics are frequently replaced:
- Cell phones every 22 months!
- Computers every 2 years
- Portable music players (ipods, etc.) every 2 – 3 years
- DVD player every 4 – 5 years
- TVs about every 10 years
2% of the average municipal waste stream is eWaste = enough to fill over 60 landfills!
- The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled, the rest go directly into landfills and incinerators – not good.
- 70% of heavy metals in landfills in the US, comes from eWaste
Electronic toxins are a hazard to US and the environment!
Antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Dioxins, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, PCBs, PVC – the LEAST of these are poisonous, most are carcinogenic and highly toxic to our vital organs.
Of course, the most affected by these toxins, are those that are deconstructing it – too many are men, women and children who work largely unprotected in countries like China, Ghana, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Ahhhhhhhh . . .
Responsible Disposal of eWaste!
- Donate used electronics to local charities (such as cell phones to battered women’s shelters). Check out Goodwill Industries which uses their recycling program as a job training program, so its a win, win, win. Cell phones are often recycled to battered women’s organizations. Check with your local phone store, if one doesn’t do it go to the next one, more do than don’t, but some don’t.
- Find an e-cycling program near you – PLEASE try to verify that they DO NOT send their eWaste overseas!
- Get Active – California had the right idea when they passed the Electronic Waste Recycling Act in 2003, which requires consumers to pay a fee for certain types of electronics, and that money is redistributed to recycling companies that are qualified to properly recyclethese products. If you aren’t in CA, what is YOUR state doing
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#10: Dispose of eWaste Responsibly
The good nutritional news – Loaded with:
Lauric Acid – properties include: antimicrobial, antibacterial, antioxidant, antifungal, soothing
- Hair care
- skin care
- stress relief
- maintaining cholesterol levels
- weight loss
- increased immunity
- proper digestion & metabolism
- relief from kidney problems
- heart diseases
- high blood pressure
- dental care
- bone strength
Virgin v. Refined
The virgin variety is pretty much like it sounds – closest to its original, natural form. It comes in a jar and is mostly solid. It melts quickly and happens to be delicious, but not generally used for high-heat cooking.
The refined kind is more processed, but is best used for frying or high-heat cooking. Check wikipedia’s descriptions of the various types of coconut oil
A few of our favorite ways to use coconut oil
- Polish Shoes
- Oil your skin in the shower after washing
- Add oil to your bath
- Use as a personal lubricant
- Use as a cooking oil, make sure you use refined, which is good at high temperatures
- Use on toast instead of butter
- Check out this post that features 80 uses for coconut oil
Check out GD Meg’s post about coconut oil on EatDrinkBetter.com
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#9: Use Coconut Oil to Shine Your Shoes
- low in Saturated Fat
- very low in Cholesterol and Sodium
- good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus
- a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
Did you know . . .
- Pumpkin flowers are edible
- The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake
- In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the fillings
- Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites
- The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds
- Pumpkins are 90 percent water
- Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats
- Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine
Check the blog for GD Lisa’s Pumpkin recipes!
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#8: Eat Your Pumpkins
- Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land and uses 16-25% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop.
- Cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop
- Chemicals used in the processing of cotton pollute the air and surface waters
- Pesticides used in the production of conventional cotton include orthophosphates such as phorate and methamidophos, endosulfan are highly toxic to farmers
As of 2007, 265,517 bales of organic cotton were produced in 24 countries and worldwide production is growing at a rate of more than 50% per year.
Great organic cotton under garments for men and women – PACT
Awesome organic cotton underwear for women (made in US) – HankyPanky.com
What makes a Bra Green?
- Using more sustainable fabrics such as bamboo, organic cotton, and rPET (recycled plastic water bottle fabric)
- Jill Milan – high-end vegan, eco-friendly handbags and fashion items
- Icebreaker– Check out the Baa Code! you can meet the sheep (and farmer) that provided the wool for your specific garment!
- You can recycle your old bras @ breastoasis.org and brarecyling.org
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#7: Buy Organic Cotton Underwear
Ingredients: chlorhexidine, chlorine, hexachlorophene, iodine, chloroxylenol (PCMX), quaternary ammonium compounds (benzalkonium chloride), triclosan, and active alcohol.
Alcohol based sanitizers are flammable, can irritate the skin, and have been found to be able to enter the bloodstream if significant amount is applied.
- Triclosan – is an antibacterial and antifungalagent found in the environment.
- Triclosan inhibits photosynthesis in diatom algae which are responsible for a large part of the photosynthesison Earth
- Some studies have shown that triclosan acts as a endocrine inhibitor in certain types of animals, including rats, dolphins and bullfrogs.
- Reports have suggested that triclosan can combine with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a probable human carcinogen
Natural Alternatives – Other Than Washing Your Hands!
GD Meg’s Fave – Dr. Bronner’s Organic lavender spray
Recipes to Make Your Own Natural Hand Sanitizer
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#6: No More Hand Sanitizer
Eco-Villages, Co-Housing Communities, Urban Housing Cooperatives, Residential Land Trusts, Student Coops.
Book Sharing: LIBRARIES!?
Listen to this week’s 5-min segment – SNiG#5: Share, Borrow & Barter More
No more dry cleaner plastic bags!
Green Garmento – Eco-friendly dry cleaning tote
Reusable Bag Depot – Another Eco-friendly dry cleaner tote
Recycle those wire hangers!
3.5 billion hangers end up in landfills every year!
Hanger Hamper – container and tote for wire hangers
Green Dry Cleaning?
- 85% of the 35,000+ dry cleaners in the US use perchloroethylene (PERC) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process
- PERC is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC)
- Minimal contact – cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and skin and respiratory irritation.
- Prolonged exposure has been linked to liver and kidney damage, and cancer.
- wash your delicate items at home & Take to a local cleaner for pressing only or
- professional wet cleaning and liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning? VOC-free
- Liquid CO2
- Hydrocarbon is NOT green – it is petroleum based and often claim it as ‘organic’; not as toxic as PERC, but still a VOC
- GreenEarth Method – silicone based solvent called siloxane or D-5 – bad for environment
California is in the lead and committed to phasing out PERC by 2023, offering grant money to cleaners that switch from PERC to CO2 or wet cleaning.
Great post on Green America about the Greening of dry cleaning
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#4: The Dirt on Eco-Dry Cleaning
Bamboo cutting board – is it really eco-friendly?
The good bits:
- It takes between three and five years to be ready to harvest, compared to 30-50 years for its hardwood counterparts
- It produces more oxygen than a forest of comparable size
- Prevents erosion
- It can grow without pesticides or chemicals
- It is totally degradable and regenerates on its own
The potentially bad bits:
- manufacturing process that converts it to usable material isn’t good
- flooring for example: has to go through tons of steaming or fires in a kiln – energy-intensive
- some flooring manufacturers use formaldehyde adhesives
- the creation of bamboo fabric is more disturbing and for another segment . . .but when looking for bamboo fabric look for Litrax from Sweden which makes it’s fabric in a much friendlier process
Other GD ideas for a green diva kitchen
- use cloth napkins
- non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners
- sponges & dish clothes
- reduce food packaging
- but recycle what you get
- buy local as much as possible
- remember re-usable bags when shopping
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#3: Eco-Bamboo?
Buy Ceramics only from Potters who use Recycled Clay.
Terra Keramik – Eco friendly table wear/ tea & coffee mugs- Artazza.com
Sarah Cihat – Recycled Dishware – “an excercise in sustainablity that reincarnates exsisting products” – SarahCihat.com
Terra Green Ceramics – Eco friendly recycled content ceramic tiles – Terragreenceramics.com
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#2: Recycled Ceramic
Leave the do not disturb sign on your door during the entire duration of your stay. This will keep the maids out and save energy on unnecessary laundry, vacuum usage as well as the use of toxic cleaning products.
Learn the best method and most green travel with the least impact on the environment.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – “Air travel accounts for 3.5% of human contributions to global warming”
Eco Travel Sources:
Orbitz.com – has an eco-tourism page with how to rent a hybrid car
Terrapass.com – to calculate carbon footprint
Listen to this 5-min segment – SNiG#1: Eco-Travel