A former intern of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, Michelle Martin, is doing something really cool to celebrate her 25th birthday. She’s raising money to bring clean water to those who need it.
Michelle started her birthday fundraiser through an organization called Charity: Water, and if she reaches her goal, she’ll bring clean water to 15 people. If she surpasses her goal, it will be even more!
If you’re interested in learning more about Michelle’s inspiring project — or pitching in even a small amount to help — check out her Birthday Mission fundraising page. Even a few dollars helps.
Photo Courtesy Charity: Water
Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and taking care of our environment. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
Start your day off right with this infectiously cute video of dancing baby ostriches.
These ostrich chicks don’t need music to bust a move. Watch the little guys twirl, whirl, zig, zag and flap their adorably fuzzy wings to the beat of their own drummers.
Photo by Fotolia/Max_olka
Various governments have passed environmental laws controlling what type of materials companies can use to manufacture products. This is for the sake of saving the environment and stopping climate change.
For example, the U.S. government passed the Clean Air Act in 1970 and all companies operating in the U.S. must follow it. The laws are designed to reduce air pollutants and stop climate change; they also address such issues as chemical emissions from factories and cars, and water pollutants.
Though the government was able to pass the Act despite the number of individuals, lobby groups, and manufacturers protesting the research, individuals and companies must increase their environmentally friendly activities in order to continue protecting the Earth, reverse environmental damage, and prevent climate change from getting worse.
Newsweek Green Rankings
Every year, Newsweek evaluates the top 500 global and top 500 U.S. companies, all of which are publicly traded, to determine how green the companies are. According to the most recent report, the 2012 Newsweek Green Rankings report, the following companies are the top four on the global list:
• Santander Brasil (Brazil) is #1 globally, #1 in Financials, and has a 85.7 green score
• Wipro (India) is #2 globally, #1 in IT & Services, and has a 85.4 green score
• Bradesco (brazil) is #3 globally, #2 in Financials, and has a 83.7 green score
• IBM (U.S.) #4 globally, #2 in IT & Services, and has a 89.5 green score
The global ranking differs from other Newsweek ranking lists, and as explained on the Newsweek website, some companies may appear twice, once on each list, though not all do. Keeping this in mind, the top U.S. companies that made the Newsweek Green Rankings list of 2012 include:
• IBM is #1 on the U.S. list, #1 in IT & Services, and has a green score of 82.9.
• HP is #2 on the U.S. list, #1 in Tech Equipment, and has a green score of 78.5
• Sprint Nextel is #3 on the U.S. list, #1 in Telecommunications, and has a green score of 75.6
• Dell is #4 on the U.S. list, is #2 in Tech Equipment, and has a green score of 74.7
Overall, the methodology Newsweek uses when determining the ranking of each company is based on three factors. These include what each company does regarding an environmental footprint (i.e. what it looks like); how each company manages their footprint, and how transparent each company is with the public concerning its environmental issues and policies. The U.S. list shows that a number of IT companies have become more than leaders in the IT industry; they have also become leaders in being environmentally friendly and using green practices.
Follow in Their Footsteps
How can a company follow in the footsteps of the top 500 global and U.S. leaders in green practices?
As an example, some changes an Information Technology or gadget and tech company can make include:
• Changing the types of chemicals used to make plastic to reduce air and water pollutants
• Computerizing as much as possible to reduce paper consumption
• Reducing the amount of plastics used in products
• Making products with biodegradable materials
Keep in mind that while using environmentally friendly manufacturing plants to create green products helps the environment, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that it also helps a company’s reputation. Because of this side effect, a number of companies utilize persuasive marketing to push their green initiatives and to try and change how consumers see their environment.
According to Brand.com, persuasive marketing is the act of explaining why consumers need to purchase a given product from a given company. Using your company’s “environmentally friendliness” factor as a selling point, showcase to consumers the changes your company has made and why it makes you stand out from the competition. The more a company can address its environmental issues, the more consumers see the company as making a difference in the environment.
For many consumers, simply knowing that a company changed its environmental practices to make greener products could be enough to change a consumer’s mind in terms of which product or service they will purchase, resulting in the consumer purchasing from that company.
Going green is not just an environmental decision, but it is also a way of life for individuals. On the other hand, a company going green is much more because consumers change everything. The good news is that while not every company has made the green list, a number of big name Fortune 500 companies have not only complied with the laws, but they have also gone above and beyond the regulations to become leaders of the green movement while watching their business missions, profits, and reputation soar. Your company can do the same by making some simple changes.
Sources: Brand.com, The Daily Beast, Earthtimes.org
Hey! My name is Seth Leitman (The Green Living Guy). I have Sustainability and Eco Consulting Services and Green Living Guy Productions! Plus, I host a radio show on Blog Talk Radio
I’ve authored and/or edited Nine Books with McGraw-Hill Professional on the Green Guru Guide series.
Photo by Description English: Biological and Technical Nutrients in the Cradle to Cradle Design Framework
Date: 21 August 2012, Source: Own work Author: Zhiying.lim
It’s that time – students and teachers are headed back to school! As you and your family get ready to learn, keep these tips in mind for a healthier, greener school year.
• Travel to school efficiently. Ten to 14 percent of personal vehicle trips made during peak morning commuting hours are taking kids to school. Increased traffic and idling vehicles create air pollutants that can aggravate asthma and other health conditions. The U.S. EPA monitors air quality at schools around the country and looks for ways to improve air quality near schools, including reducing idling from school buses. You can help reduce morning traffic and protect air quality by carpooling with other parents and kids in the neighborhood. If the weather is nice and school is nearby, encourage your kids to walk or bike to school. If you are concerned about safety, help kids map a safe route to school and make the trip with them. You can map a route using International Walk to School’s Map-a-Route tool.
• Look for recycled school supplies. Over 30 percent of our trash comes from cardboard and plastic packaging. When buying school supplies, look for pens, pencils, notebooks and notebook paper that are packed with and made from recycled and recyclable materials. Less trash means that we save space in our landfills and help reduce auto emissions from vehicles used to transport the waste. Plus, a tree is saved for every 42 notebooks made from 100 percent recycled paper.
• Power down. The average U.S. home spends 100 dollars each year to power devices while they are turned off or in standby mode. Plug computers into a power strip – when homework is done, shut down your computer and turn off the power strip to save energy. Unplug cell phone chargers, camera chargers and other charging cords when they aren’t in use. These “energy vampires” draw a small amount of energy when they are plugged in, even when they are not connected to a device.
Photo courtesy of US Department of Education.
(Sources: US EPA. “Clean School Bus USA” ; \ International Walk to School, “Community Benefits” U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, “It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air” ; US EPA. “It’s Our Environment: Going Green as You’re Going Back to School”; Energy Star. “Standby Power and Energy Vampires.")
With all this talk about toxins and toxicity in green living, I thought it would be a good idea to explain what toxicity means. It’s not that you now have to jump onto a website like www.recovery.org for toxic withdrawl or anything. It is that more of the products that we know to clean our homes, drink our water or breathe into our lungs have toxins in them which can leave devastating effects. So in essence going green on this issue is like going into recovery since these the toxins are in our body and we need to get healthy.
In the year 1891, Nikola Tesla was busy spreading the AC current across the world, the telephone was gaining international popularity in Europe and the United States, and the first escalator was patented at Coney Beach in the UK. A spirit of innovation had swept the globe, and a Russian chemist named Aleksandr Dianin was about to make history.
By carefully combining different elements, he discovered the compound (CH3)2(C(C6H4OH)2, also known as Bisphenal A or BPA, a substance that has since become one of the most notorious and controversial compounds of our time. First used as an artificial growth hormone for the cattle and poultry industries as well as an estrogen replacement for menopausal women, this artificial estrogen was early identified as being capable of changing how cells grow and change. Considering what it is used for today, the history of BPA is shocking! You can protect yourself from this dangerous toxin by learning its history and what you can do to eradicate it from our society altogether.
Before BPA achieved such widespread infamy, it began being used in a way that was never intended: by the food industry. During the 1950’s industry leaders were becoming interested in developing a means of food preservation that would allow goods to safely last for longer on the shelves of stores and in homes. Even though BPA had been used for twenty years as a growth hormone in cattle and as an estrogen replacement for women, it began to be used in the lining of food containers and plastics to better preserve food and to form a barrier against bacteria and pathogens.
For example, the longstanding U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act is up for major renovation. Will lawmakers deliver what Americans need?
Writing in Ensia magazine, journalist Elizabeth Grossman states, "Synthetic chemicals permeate every aspect of our lives. Virtually every type of product we use — from personal care products to electronics, food packaging to building materials, clothing to furniture — is likely to contain materials that occur nowhere in nature. While it cannot be assumed that synthetics are hazardous or that naturally occurring substances are safe, we are now exposed to scores of synthetic chemicals throughout our lives. Many of these chemicals are in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, both indoors and out. They are in our bodies and those of newborn babies."
Story link from Ensia Magazine
Unacceptable Levels, an award-winning documentary directed by filmmaker Ed Brown, will host its Chicago screening debut on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Chicago is one of 13 locations included in the film’s summer tour.
Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940’s and opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so we can make informed decisions and healthier choices now and in the future.
Problems with BPA
Almost 5 decades later from 1891, scientists began seeing disturbing correlations between exposure to BPA and obesity, impaired brain development, various types of cancers, reproductive problems, impaired thyroid function, and many other health problems. This compound that was being used in every type of canned or bottled food in the world was the very reason behind countless health concerns, particularly those found in children and infants.
Despite numerous studies and bans in countries in Europe and Canada, the United States continues to allow companies to use BPA in various types of plastics today. There are countless organizations dedicated to raising awareness about and eradicating BPA from these industries, and victories have been achieved in the baby bottle, sippy cup, and toy industries. As of July 2012, BPA is banned completely from any all baby bottles and sippy cups.
Today, it is very easy to find safe, BPA-free bottles and sippy cups from reliable and conscientious retailers. Unfortunately, despite achievements in the baby product industry, BPA continues to be a threat because of its widespread use in household products. (Source: Bradley Russell)
In June 2013, UC Berkeley, University of Minnesota, Northeastern University, Gordon College, Simmons College, and the University of Wisconsin are among the twelve colleges and universities that are initial signers of the Green Chemistry Commitment (www.greenchemistrycommitment.org), making them part of the first national effort to transform university chemistry education. The Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) is a consortium of universities and industry partners designed to create systemic and lasting change in university-level chemistry education, and to increase the number of green chemists and scientists in the U.S. and the opportunities available to them in the field.
The Green Chemistry Commitment is organized by Beyond Benign (www.beyondbenign.com), a non-profit foundation created and led by world-renowned green chemistry scientist Dr. John Warner dedicated to providing future and current scientists, educators, and citizens with the tools to teach and learn about green chemistry in order to create a sustainable future. Beyond Benign and the Green Chemistry Commitment will be presenting a session about the GCC at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in June 2013. The GC&E conference is sponsored by the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute.
The Natural Resources Defense Council says studies have linked BPA exposure to a number of dangerous side effects, including defects in newborns, harm to the central nervous system, increased rates of prostate and breast cancer, and metabolic changes in the body that lead to obesity and insulin resistance, which are the main causes of diabetes.
The FDA has voted the ban down, but based on that information, we think everyone should personally vote it in for their households. With that being said, it is hard to know what products really are safe, so here is a handy list of products and resources to help you live BPA free!
Bottom line, with the Toxic Substances Control Act set to be on the agenda when Congress returns this fall, this topic will be back in the headlines and will be talked about as badly as toxic drugs.
Hey! My name is Seth Leitman (The Green Living Guy). I have Sustainability and Eco Consulting Services and Green Living Guy Productions! Plus, I host a radio show on Blog Talk Radio
I’ve authored and/or edited Nine Books with McGraw-Hill Professional on the Green Guru Guide series. These books include:
Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman
Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman
Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel
Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky
Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley
Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke
Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley
Build Your Own Small Wind Power System!!
and more green living books to follow.
To Learn More About Why Seth Leitman is The Green Living Guy
Photo Credit: KrystaSteen.com and Bradley Russell
What makes a piece of land a wet-land? It may seem like an easy question when the word is broken down, but when we look closer, we find that not all wetlands are wet for the same reason. Hydrology (water characteristics) is the defining feature of a wetland, and the soil and plants in wetlands are shaped by the presence of water. The amount, flow, composition and source of water helps determine the soil type and vegetation found there. Contrary to their name, wetlands may not be wet all of the time. To help identify wetlands, let’s look at one of the largest factors of wetland hydrology—water source.
• Floodplain forests, lake and riverside marshes, tidal marshes and mangrove swamps receive water from surface flow. This means that there is active cycling of water and nutrients from visible water sources like a lake, river, or the ocean.
• Fens and seeps receive water from groundwater sources. This means that the water table and soil surface reach the same height. These wetlands can be fed by an underground water source and often contain high concentrations of nutrients that stimulate plant growth.
• Bogs, cypress domes and vernal pools receive most of their water from precipitation. This means that these wetlands are replenished by rainfall and snowmelt and have limited to no connection with other water sources.
Viewer Tip: Wetlands can be found all over the country and on every continent except Antarctica. Do you know of any wetlands in your area? See if you can tell what kind of water source your local wetland depends on. How might this determine the types of plants found there? Learn more about the different types of wetlands found in the United States.
Learn more about the many benefits wetlands provide in the Wetlands Work for Us infographic above.
Infographic also available in Spanish.
(Sources: Vance, Linda K. 2009. Geographically Isolated Wetlands and Intermittent/Ephemeral Streams in Montana: Extent, Distribution, and Function. Report to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana 33 pp. EPA, “Nutrient Criteria Technical Guidance Manual: Wetlands,” http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/wetlands_chapter1-2.pdf)
Headwater streams channel water from higher elevations into larger streams and eventually the ocean, but there is another way they help literally feed the waters downstream. Small headwater streams are generally surrounded by overhanging vegetation. This riverside plant life is the start of the food chain through which energy flows and is passed between living things as streams connect and grow larger. Vegetation along headwater streams finds its way into the water in the form of branches, leaves, seeds, or even whole trees, and begins to decay.
As the stream widens, the plants and trees hanging over the waterway separate and allow more sunlight to reach the water, promoting the growth of aquatic bacteria, fungi and aquatic insects that thrive on the decaying plant matter. Farther downstream, these are eaten by larger aquatic insects and small fish, which in turn are consumed by even larger fish and other predators in deeper waters. In this way, trees and other plants that border the small headwaters far upstream of the larger rivers and coastal areas are an essential source of nutrients for the living things that feed the rest of the river system’s food chain.
Viewer Tip: Help protect streamside forests in your area. Leave a buffer of trees and other plants along waterways when clearing land or planning developments. This forested area should extend at least 25 feet away from the river on either side in order to be most effective at filtering pollutants. Protecting and restoring streamside buffers can be as easy as not mowing of a section of lawn that stretches into this area. As the lawn overgrows, a streamside habitat will naturally form to help filter rain water runoff and serve as a food source for downstream waters.
Image courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.
Republished from Earth Gauge.