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35 posts from August 2007

August 21, 2007

Daily Tip : August 21, 2007

Too inconvenient to take transit to work? Start or join a carpool: Reducing the number of cars on a congested road by 5 to 10 percent through ride-sharing can minimize delays by 10 to 30 percent.

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August 20, 2007

Daily Tip : August 20, 2007

More than 2.5 million tons of electronic waste is dumped into landfills each year. Find a responsible recycler for your old computer at www.computertakeback.com.

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August 17, 2007

Back-to-School Cool

Red and gold are the colors most commonly associated with fall, but it's easy to make back-to-school season a green one for your kids. From school supplies to lunches to special gifts, you can find cool alternatives that reduce waste and lessen toxic exposures:

  • 3.4 million tons of paper are purchased during back-to-school season. If every student used 100 percent recycled paper--available now at Staples and most other major retailers--we could save millions of trees.
  • More than 14 billion pencils are produced every year--enough to circle the globe 62 times. Consider buying refillable pencils that can be used for years, or EarthWrite recycled pencils.
  • Making lunches for school every day creates an average of 67 pounds of garbage per child--or more than 18,000 pounds per school--each year. Reduce waste (and save money) by avoiding disposable packaging and single-serving items. Instead, buy foods in bulk and portion them out in reusable bags and containers.
  • Go organic for lunch. It's not only healthier for your child, it's better for the planet.
  • Plastic containers can leach toxins into kids' drinks, so look for a reusable metal bottle like the hip ones from Sigg or Klean Kanteen. If you do pick plastic, opt for safer plastics #1, 2, 4, and 5.
  • Buy a backpack that's PVC-free, which means not made out of vinyl, or better yet, one made from recycled materials (check out Earthpak, REI, or Rewarestore.com). Another thing to look for is a lifetime guarantee, so if your kids' pack needs fixing, you can send it back for repair instead of buying a new one.
  • For the gadget-loving older student, a solar-powered cell-phone charger comes in different fun colors and makes a great back-to-school gift. Solar-powered chargers also work for iPods, game players, and digital cameras. (Your college-bound kid not so into gizmos? We've got plenty of other great gift ideas.
  • It's never too early to teach kids that re-using is important and fun. Have them figure out the amount of money that can be saved by re-using last year's supplies, and use some of that cash to take them out for ice cream or another treat.

Daily Tip : August 17, 2007

I've been trying, when possible, to bring my own containers when we go out to eat. That way, we can avoid using any disposable containers to bring home leftovers.
--Submitted by Sandra Moskovitz

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August 16, 2007

Uh-oh, Elmo!

Those of us who live in places with lots of older buildings are probably a bit resigned to the idea that we've been exposed to lead from the chipping paint in that shabby-chic Edwardian rental we shared with a multitude of roommates. But the recent recalls of more than a million lead-contaminated toys--Elmo_lead_recall including this karaoke Elmo--were still shocking. In yet another unintended consequence of globalization, the toxic ingredient that the U.S. banned from paint in 1978 has come back into our homes in the form of die-cast cars, action figures, and children's jewelry, most of it made in China.

The Sierra Club has been trying for a while to get the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the EPA (which was not so long ago toying with the idea of dropping some of its health standards for lead air pollution) to crack down on lead in children's products. The CPSC is now making noise about a ban, but until that happens, here's what you can do:

For more tips and information about the health effects of lead, visit sierraclub.org/healthycommunities/lead.

Daily Tip : August 16, 2007

Only 10 percent of cosmetic ingredients have been screened for safety. Find out what's in your favorite brand at safecosmetics.org.

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August 15, 2007

The People's Choice Awards

Lbc_contestIt's time to vote--no, not for Alias and Ellen, but for the best, most environmentally friendly building and building-component concepts. This clever, student-designed modular row house is just one of dozens of easily disassembled, reused, or adapted innovations up for a public-selected award in the Lifecycle Building Challenge. The winners of this national competition will be announced on September 20 at the West Coast Green ecobuilding conference in San Francisco, but to have your say, you have to vote today!

Daily Tip : August 15, 2007

Hungry? Grab an apple or some carrot sticks. The average American eats only one-third the recommended amount of produce each day.

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August 14, 2007

Cinema du Sol

It seems fitting to show a movie about global warming using the energy of the sun instead of fossil fuels. But everything from comedies to retro sci-fi to early Scorcese is fair game for the Solar-Powered Arts Festival in Manhattan. Starting tomorrow night with the new climate-change documentary Everything's Cool, the SolarOne center will follow its dance and music events by hosting outdoor screenings of six films, with audio generated by the building's 88 solar panels and tasty snacks for sale from the organic gourmets at Build a Green Bakery.

Daily Tip : August 14, 2007

The main solvent used in dry-cleaning, perchloroethylene (or perc), is a likely carcinogen that also contaminates our soil and water. Opt for greener alternatives like wet cleaning (a kind of high-tech version of hand-washing) and liquid-CO2 dry cleaning. Or just avoid clothes that require dry cleaning in the first place.

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