Posted by: annazotova | August 18, 2010

Energy misconceptions

I had to re-post this article from the New York Times environmental section, because it was too funny not to.
The article tells you about some common delusions about energy savings.
The part that made me laugh was about 2.8 percent of respondents believing that they significantly contribute to energy savings by relaxing and sleeping more! How convenient? “Hey there, I’m not coming in to work today – I have some energy savings to do!”
The sad part is that most of the people still perceive cutting down their energy use (by simply switching the devices off or using them less) as more important than investing in energy efficient products. And energy efficient products are the key to master energy savings, according to university research.
This is not to discourage using your electric devices and cars less! Every little bit helps. I’m just trying to say that “little bit” is no longer enough.

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Posted by: annazotova | August 9, 2010

The great energy challenge

If you are one of those people, who really wants to reduce their carbon footprint, but doesn’t know where to start, the National Geographic Great Energy Challenge is for you.
It doesn’t matter what your reason is to start living greener: care for the environment, desire to live a healthier lifestyle, cut your bills down or because it’s just trendy. As long as you decided to do so – you are on the right track!
In many cases people simply don’t realize how much harm they bring to the environment (or their wallets) by just engaging in their everyday activities. Sometimes it only takes to point it out to them and they will change their ways. Of course there has to be a better alternative, and this alternative better be more convenient.
National Geographic does exactly that. They help you see how much more money you spend by not following “green” guidelines and how much environmental damage this brings.
They also suggest the ways how to improve your everyday activities to both save your money and benefit the environment!
And all this is done in a fun interactive way!
Accept their challenge today and start living a greener life tomorrow!

Posted by: annazotova | August 4, 2010

The Tierra

I had lunch with a friend the other day and we were talking about environmental issues. She turned out to be the “not-so-concerned” citizen and her views in fact got me thinking – we need all the education and help we can get. From the government, scientists, schools, media, anybody, who is even slightly worried about the future of the planet.
Baba Dioum once said that “in the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught”.
And so I praise every new source out there that might help my “not-so-concerned” friend and billions of other “not-so concerned” people to realize that we need to act and act fast.
The Tierra is a new site, which focuses on environmental issues, including, but not limited to renewable energy, water conservation, recycling and transportation solutions. It also attempts to provide reviews of environmentally-friendly items.
It is a community site and if you have anything to say, please help out and write a review or an article.
Meanwhile I’ll be scouting for other educational resources and pester my friends and family until they start to care.

Posted by: annazotova | March 18, 2010

How to donate and not spend a dollar!

Just a quick one today. Was walking past Whole Foods and was handed this flyer, saying “We will donate $2 on your behalf to Whole Planet Foundation.” I decided – why not and registered my email when i got back to the office – took me a minute.

I thought I’d share it with all of you who wants to make a difference and can’t afford it 😉 I give you Tasting Table!

Cheers!

Posted by: annazotova | March 18, 2010

Goodbye, Scrubbing Bubbles!

I have two problems with my household cleaning: too much cleaning products and too much chemical impact from these cleaning products. Some time ago I violated the cardinal rule of chemical cleaning – mixed up Scrubbing Bubbles with Tilex. Oh my, did I regret that when a couple of hours later nothing could cure my burning headache. My mouth felt like I had ate a pound of paper, my stomach was turning inside out.. I’ll spare the rest of the details. I felt fine the next day, but the relationship between me and Scrubbing Bubbles was never the same.

It took me a while to start questioning the safety of everyday household items, like Windex, Comet, Lysol, even Yankee Candles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not über paranoid and I frequently use advertised cleaners to clean my apartment, but if there’s a relatively easy alternative, which will also help the environment and won’t leave me sneezing, aching, itching, etc., I will switch without having a second thought.

So I set myself on a task of researching what it is in those household products, that we might want to avoid. My first discovery was the so called MSDS or material safety data sheet, which provides pretty much all the necessary information needed to asses how dangerous the product is for you and for the environment. The only problem with this is that manufacturers are not required to make this information available to the general public. So unless you are an employee working with potentially harmful substances, fire department or an emergency planning official – lots of luck finding that information on some products. It took me two evenings to find a very evasive document written on behalf of Yankee Candle Company, Inc., explaining why it is exempt from providing MSDS on its finished products.. Their main excuse it “trade secrets” – fair enough; and they also claim that there were no instances in 30 years of manufacturing there was no evidence of harm to employees. Good enough for some.., but I will limit my usage of Yankee Candles and try to air my apartment out as often as possible without catching a cold.

MSDS sheet for Windex did not really contain any scary revelations. The only low level hazard was indicated in the fire/flammability ratings. SC Johnson (the manufacturer of Windex) does mention that you should wear protective clothing, when using Windex, but hey, they have to cover every possible loophole for a lawsuit. I actually went beyond the MSDS with Windex and checked out the ratings for its ingredients individually. None of the ingredients sounded too hazardous, but there’s still a certain level of toxicity in all of them. Isopropanol can have a toxic effect on a human if left untreated; ethylene glycol can be fatal if ingested in sufficient amounts; ammonia can be irritating to eyes and skin and lead to hazardous compounds if mixed with bleach, for example, or a poisonous gas may result. None of the ingredient have been identified as a major environmental contaminant. So nothing too scary, but nothing too great either. My suggestion would be, stay away from it if you can and if you cannot – don’t drink it or take a bath in it.. (humor intended here)

So it won’t feel too bad if I occasionally clean my windows with Windex, given of course that I recycle the container. Moving along to my sparkling bathtub and tiles – hello, Tilex, from The Clorox Co.! It was really easy to find MSDS for Tilex. The sheet was not as positive as Windex though: eye irritant; skin irritant; may cause nausea and vomiting if swallowed; may aggravate asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, heart conditions and obstructive lung disease. Sorry, Tilex, I love the way you clean my tiles, but you are going straight into recycling and will no longer be welcome in my apartment.

And finally I’m getting to my nemesis – Scrubbing Bubbles. What does your MSDS say about you? Potential health effects: may irritate eyes; may irritate skin; may cause nose, throat and lung irritation; may cause abdominal discomfort. Ut oh! Those reactions sound way too familiar. A low health hazard and one of the higher fire hazards. No environmental impact information, but that’s enough for me personally. Scrubbing Bubbles, you will join Tilex in the recycling can.

I will stop here and not review every cleaning product I have in my closet for now. I will definitely check every one of them, like I did with my friends Windex, Tilex and Scrubbing Bubbles and will hopefully help the environment along the way.

Also, if you are asking me what I suggest to use instead of all those discarded cleaning products,
here’s a link
to a very neat article advising on how to substitute your commercial cleaning products with natural recipes our grandmas used.

Posted by: annazotova | March 14, 2010

Answer to the global warming sceptics

In the recent light of increased skepticism towards global warming it is most important to not fall for panicky statements about conspiracy theories. Maybe the warning about the Himalayan glaciers meltdown by 2035 and rainforest eco-tastrophe by 2050 are proven invalid, but it doesn’t mean that we all should relax and continue watching how utilities and industrial plants dump billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Science is not devoid of mistakes. After all, scientists are not gods and there will always be theories that are false. But the main argument is irrefutable: climate is changing and humans have a lot to do with it. To assure the public even more, that the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) work is attested by the wider scientific community, the United Nations have recently brought in an outside panel to validate IPCC research.

Here are a few popular arguments of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) proponents:

  • Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases cause our planet to warm by absorbing some of the heat radiation from the earth.
  • The majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels, the rest comes from deforestation and land use.
  • Current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if highest in at least 800,000 years and if the emission trend continues it will have serious climate impacts.
  • In order to avoid radical climate change, emissions need to be significantly cut – the sooner, the better.

    Politicians have the power to put caps on industrial emissions; but every one of us can make a difference by cutting our own carbon footprint. There are loads of resources off- and online suggesting how to cut individual carbon emissions. These are just a few simple steps everyone can adopt without giving up too much.

  • Drive as little as possible. Bike, use public transportation, carpool whenever you can.
  • Recycle, and it will reduce your carbon emissions by 1,500 – 2,000 lbs per year.
  • Plant a tree and help the planet recycle a ton of carbon dioxide.
  • Skip meat at least once a week to save 35,000 gallons of water.
  • Use less hot water.
  • Adjust your thermostat 2 degrees down in the winter and 2 degrees down in the summer to save up to 1 ton of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Substitute your regular light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs and save up to 150 pounds of carbon dioxide per bulb per year.
  • Invest in reusable grocery bags.
  • Turn off electronics when not using it.
  • Buy less packaged products.

    Every little step towards greener lifestyle will increase our fighting chance for a healthy planet.

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