Natural Living — Pollution

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Going Green Starts at Home 4

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]Space-filling model of a part of a PVC chain Space-filling model of a part of a PVC chain[/caption] Did you know that the EPA not only considers indoor air to be much more polluted than outdoor air, but it is one of the top 5 human health concerns? It is no wonder when you consider that most homes contain toxin soaked carpeting, formaldehyde soaked particleboard, toxic household cleaning supplies, PVC, offgassing, dry cleaning, plastics and much more. If it was manufactured in a lab, odds are it is not good for you or your family. The short and long term dangers are compounded if you have children or pets. The good news is that it is not terribly difficult or expensive to start going green at home. Gaiam has a nice article called 5 Easy and Cheap Ways to Green Your Home and the list includes: 1. Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking in lead, pesticides and other contaminants. The good news is, your home will stay much cleaner too. 2. Get rid of vinyl (PVC) which is commonly found in shower curtains, kids toys and backpacks. Look for the #3 or letters PVC. Why get rid of it?
"PVC frequently contains notorious phthalates to make it soft. According to the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, these phthalates are known to cause liver and kidney damage, endocrine disruption, reproductive system damage and, possibly, cancer, and they can easily leach out of PVC. And finally, harder PVC often contains lead and cadmium, two heavy metals that have also been linked to a host of health issues, including cancers." Gaiam.com
3. Switch to green cleaners because traditional household cleaners turn your indoor air and surfaces into toxic hazards. There are many green cleaners on the market today and they are a step in the right direction but making your own cleaners with vinegar, baking soda and salt is the most healthy, inexpensive, non-toxic and earth friendly way to clean your home. 4. Use indoor plants. They look great, are positive feng shui and yes they absorb toxins from the air. The best plants for toxic absorption are ficus, spider plants and English ivy. 5. Open your windows even if it is for a few minutes a day and yes, even in the winter. Even adding a little fresh air to the mix will help dilute the toxins in your household air.
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Biodegradable Utensils Are Great For Composting 7

By Duong Vicki Summer means barbeques, family gatherings, picnics, beach parties, and even more barbeques! Summer is the time of year that all your good dishware and silverware stay in their cupboards and drawers and you utilize nothing but disposable plates and cutlery. But did you ever consider how much waste that adds up at all the landfills? So many plastic utensils end up piling up landfills and aren't being recycled, because who would even think to recycle that? A better alternative that does the job and is good for the environment that's now catching on in the market is biodegradable cutlery [affiliate link]. Made from corn starch and other biodegradable "plastic" fillers, eco-friendly utensils are on the rise in popularity. Contrary to belief, they will not fall apart on you if you use them in hot items like soups, and they will not break if you use them in cold foods or desserts like ice cream. Biodegradable utensils work just like their normal plastic counterparts; the only difference is that they won't pile up in landfills and can even be used in your compost bins. For the avid gardener who likes to compost, these eco-friendly utensils can be highly beneficial to your garden. After you're done using these utensils, toss them into your compost bin or heap instead of the trash can. In most cases, the packaging that the utensils come in is also biodegradable, which means you can add that to your compost bin, too. Since they're made out of corn starch and other eco-friendly materials, these biodegradable utensils will not harm your compost heap, adding to your nutrient-rich compost. Do keep in mind that if you plan to toss these utensils into your compost bin that it can take anywhere from six to 18 months for them to fully decompose. So the next time you're planning your big summer barbeque or food outing, consider using the eco-friendly alternative versus the regular plastic ware. Not only would you be reducing waste at landfills and giving back to the earth's soil, you'll feel good knowing that you're doing your part to protect the earth while enjoying the barbeque. About the author: For a wide selection in chipper shredders and lawn sweepers, be sure to stop by Composters.com Shop for biodegradable plates & utensils [affiliate]

Solar Energy Pros and Cons 57

Solar Energyby Bryan Wong Solar energy can be used for electricity, central heating, hot water, cooking, for producing salt and even for desalination. Solar energy comes from the sun's rays. Solar energy is very environmentally friendly. However, when the sun rays enter the earth's atmosphere it is quite dilute. While solar energy is considered to be a very environmentally friendly energy source, it still comes with some disadvantages. Let's discuss some advantages and disadvantages of solar. Let's start with the main advantage of solar energy. Solar energy is clean. To produce electricity or heat with solar energy you only need the sun rays. There is no need to use fossil fuel in combination with sun rays to produce electricity or heat. You just need a solar energy collector or solar power panels in order to collect solar energy. Solar energy is less expensive than electric heating. That is another big advantage of solar energy. By just using solar energy you can save a lot of money on heaters. In return you will get lower electric bills and it also means that you don't have to maintain heaters. If you live in a remote area where there are no power-lines solar energy can be the solution. There are remote areas where power companies have no means to access your home. Solar energy is a great alternative because it provides you with anything from heating water, electricity, and even cooking. Another great use of solar energy is for desalination in areas where fresh, drinkable water is scarce. Solar energy evaporates brine and leaves the salt crystals in the bottom of the basin. The water in turn condenses back in another basin where it is now drinkable. Although all of the above is very useful solar also has some disadvantages. These disadvantages also need to be discussed to paint a better overall picture. The main disadvantage of solar energy is that it's dilute. This means you have to have a lot of solar collectors installed around your house. Solar energy may be very cheap but the solar collectors are relatively expensive and require maintenance in order to work properly and efficiently. If you decide to use solar energy you need to calculate the return on investment in order to know if the investment will be worth it. One big disadvantage is that you need the rays to make use of solar energy. If you are situated in a part of this beautiful planet where there is not much sun light then this could be a problem. In other areas, the sun's rays are almost always covered in clouds making solar energy collectors useless. You should first know if the sunshine in your area is abundant for the majority of the year. Of course if you live in desert areas like in Arizona or Mexico produces a lot of sunshine for the most part of the year and is ideal for solar energy collecting. Lastly, the sun only shines during the day. Real Goods Solar Living SourcebookTherefore is you need electricity or hot water during the night, like many of us do, it can be a problem. You will need a backup system like the 'old' utility grid or you will need to store the electricity for later use. There are battery systems that can store solar energy for later use. Solar is very clean and an alternative to conventional heating and electrical systems. Although this is true it is also good to mention the disadvantages of solar energy. If you are considering using solar energy you must read this first to make a balanced decision.... About the Author: Bryan Wong is the owner of the solar information website www.GetEasyInfo.com/solarpower - A great website that shares quality Info, News and tips on solar energy. Buy the book: Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook [affliate] Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/gaylon/286488601/

Google Promotes Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles 1

Plug inGoogle.org, the charitable arm of search engine Internet company Google recently launched a campaign aimed at the development of plug-in hybrid vehicles. This is in connection with Google.org's mission of "helping with global poverty, energy, and environment". The new initiative towards the protection of the environment is called the RechargeIT program. Under the said campaign, Google.org earmarked $1 million for grants to institutions which are undertaking developmental experiments on the practical use of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Aside from that, the institution also announced that they are planning to provide $10 million to fund the actual development, adoption and commercialization of plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as electric cars. According to the institution, they are willing to fund any development of vehicle-to-grid technologies. The Brookings Institution received a $200,000 grant from Google.org which will be spent in its hosting of a conference next year. The said conference which will be held on the spring is aimed to promote the use of plug-in hybrid technology. CalCars also received a $200,000 grant from Google.org to support its effort in educating the public on the advantages of using plug-in hybrids. The Electrical Power Research Institute also received a $200,000 grant which will be used in the development of plug-in technologies. Google.org also awarded a $100,000 grant to Plug-in America which will be used to support the group's public awareness in the use of plug-in hybrids. The Rocky Mountain Institute also received a grant worth $200,000. The said grant will be used by the RMI in the development of a practical plug-in hybrid vehicle which hopefully will be adopted by car manufacturers. Dr. Larry Brilliant, the Executive Director of Google.org, has this to say at the launching of the initiative: "Clean energy technology can dramatically shift how we make and use energy for our cars and homes by charging cars through an electric grid powered by solar or other renewable energy sources, and selling power back to the electric grid when it's needed most. This approach can quadruple the fuel efficiency of cars on the road today and improve grid stability." Plug-in hybrid cars are more environment-friendly than hybrid cars since its battery pack can be recharged via a common household outlet. For hybrid vehicles, the only way that the battery pack can be charged is by the use of the alternator or when the brakes are activated. Aside from providing grants which will promote the development of environment-friendly vehicles, Google has also taken a step to make their company headquarters more environment-friendly. The company announced that they are now using solar electricity on their Mountain View, California headquarters. Google's solar panel installation can produce as much as 1.6 megawatts - this is estimated to be the equivalent of the power needs of 1,000 average California households. According to the company, their solar panel installation is the largest of its kind in any corporate campus in the United States. "Google is committed to using its resources to help solve the global climate challenge," says Dr. Brilliant. "Google.org is a hybrid philanthropy, bringing together the active engagement of the broader Google corporation, as well as investments in for-profits, traditional grants, policy work, and public information. RechargeIT brings together all of these elements to help accelerate progress on plug-ins," he concluded. by Anthony Fontanelle About the Author: Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop Buy the book: The Electric Car[affiliate link] Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/ppdigital/2058130092/