Archive for July, 2012

July 31, 2012

What’s Plastic Got to Do with Clean Air?

If I asked you to list the problems with plastic, you might mention toxic chemicals like BPA or phthalates; or the fact that it doesn’t biodegrade; or that animals ingest it; or that there is a toxic soup of plastic swirling around in the world’s oceans.  Those are the issues I’ve focused on for the past 5 years, so last year, when Moms Clean Air Force asked me to write a blog post for them, I balked.  ”Clean air is a vitally important environmental issue,” I said, “but my blog focuses on plastic, not air.  Plus, I’m behind on writing my new book Plastic-Free and have no time to delve into other subjects.”

Silly me.  As I researched the book, I learned about many ways that the life cycle of plastic contributes to air pollution, both indoor and out, and that reducing our plastic consumption will help to protect the air we breathe.  So here are a few reasons why those of us concerned about reducing… Read the rest

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July 27, 2012

3-D Printing: Inspiring Creativity or Just Proliferating More Plastic Crap?

Have you guys been following the hoopla about 3-D printers? Those marvelous machines that can make just about anything you want on demand?  A year ago, MyPlasticFreeLife.com reader Eleanor K. Sommer contacted me for my opinion about 3-D printers (something I hadn’t even heard of at that point) and was concerned that these machines could be another way to bring more plastic stuff into the world.  Plastic crap on demand, right?  Well, she’s done a ton more research since then and offers this guest post to share what she’s learned.  I’d love your comments after reading the post.  Some people think that 3-D printing will revolutionize and democratize innovation.   What do you think?

3-D Printing for Home and Office

Eleanor K. Sommer
www.myeconotebook.com

About a year ago I saw a video of someone “printing” a wrench. David Kaplan, a theoretical physicist at John Hopkins University, interviewed Joe Titlow… Read the rest

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July 23, 2012

Time Sensitive: The Safe Chemicals Act Will Be Voted on Finally!

07/25/2012 Update: The Safe Chemicals Act PASSED out of the Environment Committee today!  It still has a long way to make it into law, but this is a great first step.  Thanks to all who wrote and tweeted!

After sitting in committee since last year, the Safe Chemicals Act is scheduled to be voted on for the first time this Wednesday!  Two weeks ago, I wrote about how substitutes for BPA might not be safer than BPA and why we need the Safe Chemicals Act to protect us.  Last week I wrote about how endocrine-disrupting chemicals are affecting all of us, no matter how small the dose.  This Act is so important because our outdated toxic chemical legislation does not protect us from the many chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis.  Please take a moment today to let your Senator know you are watching.

Here’s what you can do:

Use the form on the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families website to send a message to your Senator:  http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6639/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11290Read the rest

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July 19, 2012

Why Chemicals in Plastics May Have Worse Effects at Lower Doses

Why is there so much debate about whether plastic chemicals like Bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates are harmful to humans in the amounts at which we’re exposed to them?  And why is it so difficult to pass regulations in the United States to protect us from these chemicals?  One reason is that regulators are accustomed to following the age-old adage that “the dose makes the poison.”  But on a conference call this morning with the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE),  I learned how it is that endocrine-disrupting chemicals like those found in plastics and pesticides actually do their most long-term and lasting damage at levels considered to be non-toxic.  But first, here’s a little basic biology:

The Endocrine System

To understand what endocrine-disrupting chemicals do, it’s important to understand what the endocrine system is in the first place.  According to The Endocrine DisruptionRead the rest

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July 17, 2012

Starbucks Trash: Behind the Scenes

Last week, I received an email from a new Starbucks employee who was shocked by the amount of waste she sees at the store everyday. Many of us do our individual part by bringing our reusable mugs for coffee, but it turns out that, according to this employee (who wants to remain anonymous to keep her job), the waste goes much deeper. I asked if I could share her rant here with you all. I’m not sure how to get Starbucks to clean up its act, but maybe you guys have some suggestions.

Jul 12 (5 days ago)

To: Beth Terry
From: [name withheld]

Message:

I recently started working at Starbucks, which sells itself as an eco-friendly, green company to the general public. Since I began work there, I have been disgusted every day with the amount of waste, not only of cups, lids, straws, and hot drink sleeves, but also by the packaging of many things that are used in the store every day.  Many things which we sell come  packaged individually wrapped, in a box of five (like… Read the rest

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July 13, 2012

Sea Cave/Goat Grave: Art from Plastic Pollution

Pam Longobardi calls her art “Interventions.”  She spends many hours gathering up plastic trash from the world’s beaches and bringing it into galleries where it can be positioned, examined, seen.  Her current expedition, Drifters Project Kefalonia:  The Giant Sea Cave Excavation, was inspired by a heartbreakingly poignant discovery she made last summer in Kefalonia, Greece.   The story and photos made me cry today, so I wanted to share them with you.  Here it is, in Pam’s own words.

In July 2011, working on my Drifters Project phase I: One World Ocean, I went to a remote beach by boat with a local fisherman.  He described this beach as having some of the most debris on the island.  It was spectacularly beautiful, but even from the crystalline water 100 yards offshore, I could see the telltale signs of plastic impact.

The amazing feature of this beach were the sea caves visible in the right hand side… Read the rest

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July 12, 2012

Are BPA-Free Plastic Products, Food Cans, & Register Receipts Safer than Those with BPA in Them?

With all of the concern about Bisphenol-A (BPA), an estrogen-mimicking chemical used in some plastics, most metal food can linings, and most thermal paper receipts, manufacturers are looking for alternative materials to use so they can tout their products as BPA-free. But are the substitutes actually safer than BPA itself? The truth is, we don’t know.  As I’ve written before, studies have been done suggesting that some BPA-free products produce the same or greater hormone-disrupting effects as BPA. There are two problems here: 1) The alternatives haven’t been sufficiently tested for safety before being swapped into products, and 2) Some manufacturers won’t even disclose what alternatives they are using.

Study Finds Increased Exposure to BPS as BPA is phased out

One chemical being used to replace BPA in thermal paper receipts is Bisphenol S (BPS).  In May 2012, the journal Environmental Science and Technology… Read the rest

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July 6, 2012

Midway Journey: A Personal Plea for Your Help

Five years ago, a photo changed my life.  I was just a regular American, choosing double plastic bags at the grocery store, drinking bottled water, living on microwaveable meals and energy bars wrapped in plastic, and buying whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without ever considering how things were made or where they were going to end up.  I gave money to Greenpeace, watched environmental documentaries, and had even worked briefly for Clean Water Action right after college, but my environmental actions did not extend to my personal choices.

Images that change lives

And then one night, In June 2007, sitting alone at the computer, I stumbled across an article about the ocean plastic pollution problem and saw the photo that shocked me like no other had.  It was a poor quality image of a dead albatross chick on Midway Island–halfway between the United States and Japan and thousands of miles from any civilization–that was full … Read the rest

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July 3, 2012

Feelgoodz natural rubber and hemp flip flops

Confession: Up until a week ago, I still sometimes wore plastic flip flops.  Granted, they were flip flops I purchased back in 2005.  And I wore them until they had holes in the heels.

But still, why would I continue to wear plastic ones after discovering the natural rubber flip flops from Feelgoodz two years ago?  It had to do with the straps.

The natural rubber straps were fine for short walks, but if I wore the flip flops for an extended length of time, the straps would irritate the top of my foot a little bit.  So I would revert to the plastic ones for a while.   Many other people love the original Feelgoodz and have not had this problem, but now, I’m psyched to have discovered that Feelgoodz is offering two alternative models with soft hemp straps instead of rubber, and they feel really great.  Just in time to save my heels, Feelgoodz sent me a couple of pairs of flip flops to review.

Soft Strapz flip flops

The Soft Strapz model comes with … Read the rest

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