Yellow Pages Directory Inc

Month: December 2012

Benefits of the Simple Houseplant

Most everyone enjoys having a houseplant in the indoor environment which we reside in. Whether we purchase it ourselves or receive as a gift, it makes a nice decoration and enhances the view. I often heard that plants are capable of cleaning the air indoors, I looked into it a little deeper. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that potentially hundreds of organic, damaging chemicals are at any given time living inside our homes and buildings. They are released into the air we breathe, and they give off gas from walls, ceilings, clothing, carpet and maybe even the furniture. Is there a simple remedy? Houseplants can assist in the removal of chemical vapors around the home, this is a nice asset to an already pretty décor.

The best houseplants to keep for their cleaning properties, low-maintenance, and resistance to insects and humidification are listed as these few species: Areca Palm, Arrowhead vine, Bamboo palm, Dwarf Date Palm, English Ivy, Ficus allii, Golden pothos, Lady Palm, Peace lily, and the Rubber Plant. Our homes and offices are sealed in and much of the furniture and home products (carpets) are made of synthetics. These synthetics give off gases, toxins, particles and pollutants. Plants are considered organic filters, they absorb the pollutants given off by synthetic house hold materials, carpets, plastics, etc. breaking them down within the internal structures of the plant. They save us from the full impact of chemicals in the atmosphere of the home.

It is a scientific fact that indoor houseplants have the ability to improve the air quality. Plants and their root microbes are a natural biological cleaning machine. Plants use two well known processes to move chemicals in the air to their roots. Leaves absorb certain chemicals in the air and transport them inside plant tissue down to the roots, and plants pull air down around their roots when moisture is emitted from leaves during transpiration. Plants with higher transpiration rates are able to move larger amounts of air. This is controlled by humidity. Plants attempt to balance humidity levels for their optimum well-being by controlled release of moisture from their leaves. When humidity is high, plants emit less moisture into the air then when humidity is low. This is the general scientific reason plants benefit our indoor environment.

The animal/plant/microbial world is balanced harmoniously so that we reap the benefits from each other. We are dependent upon these interactions form our existence. The next time you look at a simple houseplant whisper a thank you to it. Perhaps it can feel the appreciation.

Shrinking Packaging Requires Larger Wallets and Landfills

By:  Lee Ann Rush

By now, everyone who’s ever set foot in a grocery store has noticed that a can of coffee isn’t a pound of coffee anymore.  Those once-ubiquitous metal coffee cans, fast giving way to bagged gourmet beans and single-serving pods (of course they’re convenient, but don’t even get me started about the waste inherent in that type of packaging!) no longer hold sixteen ounces of Savarin, Maxwell House or Chock Full O’Nuts.  Folgers has even switched to plastic cans but, not to worry, they have the recycling symbol embossed on the bottom!  No, today’s coffee cans contain well under a pound of coffee; the net weights sold by three different  brands whose cans I had around the house are 10.5 oz., 11 oz. and 11.3 oz.

Granted that we’re all paying more money for less product, but there are other issues with shrinking packaging that may not be as apparent.   How can a consumer compare coffee prices when all the packages seem to hold different amounts, short of shopping with a calculator?  While I’ll admit to doing just that on occasion,  it’s not just the coffee aisle where the calculator is necessary.   When was the last time you bought a half-gallon of ice cream?  The containers used to be brick-shaped and 64 ounces.  Now, they’re all rounded (better to obscure the size) and most have shrunk from 64 to 56 ounces and now to “1 qt. 1 pt.” which translates to 48 oz., although that weight isn’t printed anywhere on the package; the actual weight is cleverly obfuscated by appearing in metric measurements.  Slick, huh?

Laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, cooking oil and toothpaste are a few other examples of multiply-downsized consumer goods; it’s even getting difficult to find a five-pound bag of sugar, although the sale price of a four-pound bag is the same as what five pounds cost just a year or two ago. The sacks, however, look exactly the same unless you happen to notice the small “4” way down at the bottom; the manufacturers prefer that you don’t.

We pay more, we take home less product per unit purchased, and consequently we have to buy those products more often.  This means that we also have more packaging to throw out.  Where 10 gallons of ice cream purchased in half-gallon containers would leave 20 empty cardboard bricks, it takes 26.6 of today’s 48 oz. oval tubs to package the same 10 gallons of ice cream, and the tubs all have separate lids.  Those plastic Folgers coffee cans are even more problematic:  ten pounds of coffee in the metal 16 oz. cans (which were often re-purposed to hold cooking grease, hardware or other household items) now requires roughly 14.2 plastic cans.  Does everyone recycle their household plastic?  You get the picture.   Shrinking packaging makes for more units of packaging, causing both an increased use of resources to create the additional packaging and a greater strain on the environment to dispose of it.  I’m contemplating some new uses for those empty plastic coffee cans; any suggestions?

The Look and Feel and Impact of Cotton

My favorite material whether in my clothes, sheets, towels, blankets, is most definitely cotton. It is soft, breathes and easy to care for. I have seen cotton plants and know how it grows, but is the process harmful to our environment. I guess we don’t really think about this very often. Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural condition, the cotton balls will tend to increase the dispersion of the seeds. The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. Cotton is divided into two main categories. There is GM cotton which is Genetic Modified cotton and there is Organic Cotton. Genetically modified (GM) cotton was developed to reduce the heavy reliance on pesticides. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) naturally produces a chemical harmful only to a small fraction of insects, most notably the larvae of butterflies and moths, beetles, and flies, and harmless to other forms of life. The gene coding for Bt toxin has been inserted into cotton, causing cotton to produce this natural insecticide in its tissues. It is not affective against all pests, however, and still other pesticides are required at certain times. Organic cotton is derived from plants not genetically modified, certified to be grown without the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals, example, fertilizers and pesticides. I am aware that when you buy clothing or other articles they will state if the cotton is organic or GM. , the actual product is not any different, and because we can’t really control the way its made we simply buy what is available.

Cotton is considered the world’s “dirtiest” crop. It requires and uses a heavy amount of pesticide, also the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Cotton is a gigantic industry. From American Pima, Egyptian, to Asiatic and Upland, cotton is used in so many products from clothing to bedding and beyond. There are even products that we are completely unaware that they contain cotton, examples are surgical supplies and yes currency (which is made from linen and lint cotton). This indicates that the pesticides used in growing and production of cotton is huge. According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides are applied to cotton. Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. Aldicarb alone is one of the most dangerous insecticides and has been noted to be able to kill a human being with just one drop. Synthetic fertilizers used for the growth of cotton , is also an issue, due how much cotton is produced. It can take almost a 1/3 pound of synthetic fertilizers to grow one pound of raw cotton in the US, and it takes just under one pound of raw cotton to make one t-shirt. WOW. Another factor is the actual processing of cotton to raw materials, which adds pollution to our wastewaters with dyes and other hazardous materials that are added and used in the conversion process.

Whether we choose organic cotton or GM cotton, the amount that is needed to meet our needs is large enough to cause issues with our environment. We can only hope that the production and processing plants will make every effort to keep providing us with the material we so love and being careful with our surroundings as well.

O TANNENBAUM

It’s Christmas time again. So many of us are decorating our homes and deciding if we want to get a real Christmas tree this year or reuse our fake one. Maybe even purchase a new one. The real ones always do smell better but create a fire hazard after they have dried out. The real question is: Which is better for our environment? Well upon researching this subject , I was surprised to find out that each has its own damage to the environment almost equally.

The most eco-friendly way to have a Christmas tree is to buy a live tree with its roots in tack from a local grower, this way it can be replanted in your yard after the holiday has passed. The drawback is that live trees are dormant in the winter, they tend to “wake up” and begin to grow again in the warmth of your home. This means that once replanted in the cold outside temperatures it does not have a good chance at survival. The next option is to purchase a live tree from any local sellers that are easy to find and affordable. Christmas trees are formed as agricultural products, and they often require repeated applications of pesticides over their typical eight years life cycles. Most buyers are not concerned with these issues, only how much profit they can make. There is an alternative, Environmentally Conscious Christmas Tree Farms are organizing themselves to work with farm extension agents and agricultural officials to maintain and create real and verifiable farm sustainability standards. The Coalition of Environmentally Conscious Growers, is an organization formed in Oregon in 2007 to ensure that growers are utilizing sustainable farming practices with the production of Christmas trees. Growing trees offers many benefits that help the land rebound and diversify. As Christmas trees take root, we are growing and preserving soils. Another important way Christmas trees impact the environment is controlling runoff by changing the timing of the release of water in a beneficial way. The real tree has its disadvantages, but as we can see many advantages as well.

Now in defense of the fake tree. Yes, it does not get replaced every year, but environmental study finds that the best way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to choose and use an artificial tree for ten years or more. To use it for just one year and discard has no benefits at all. Fake trees are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC, otherwise known as vinyl), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic. The production pollutes neighborhoods and effects our health as well. Finally, discarding these trees fills our already over filled landfills. Christmas trees bring us joy and light up the holidays, but consider the long term damage to our environment by the choices we make.

Built-In Obsolescence — Good for Business; Bad for the Planet

By: Lee Ann Rush

“They don’t make ’em like this anymore.”  How often have you heard that line spoken?  More than a few times, I would wager.  One of the unfortunate realities of modern life is that consumer goods are designed and manufactured to last only a finite (read: short) length of time before they break down and must be replaced.  This practice of creating built-in obsolescence may guarantee the manufacturers a steady stream of business as people grudgingly purchase new items ranging from clothing and gadgets to home appliances and vehicles, but it’s not just the consumer who’s paying the price.   All of this stuff we throw out has to go somewhere.

When was the last time you changed a light bulb?  At my house, when one bulb goes more are guaranteed to follow in short succession; I’ve changed several in just the last week or so and there’s one out in my chandelier that I haven’t climbed up to investigate yet.  Have you noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to find traditional bulb-shaped light bulbs, and that when you do, they cost more than they did just a few years ago?  Of course, traditional bulbs are still cheaper than the new “energy smart” bulbs.  Wait, you might say; those new bulbs that look like coils of DNA may cost a bit more, but they’re designed to last for five years, so certainly they’re a better value.  Really?

It might surprise you to learn that early light bulbs could last indefinitely; there are incandescent bulbs in Livermore, California and Fort Worth, Texas that are documented to have remained working after first being lit over 100 years ago.  The technology exists; it’s simply not being utilized.   Where would the market for light bulbs be if each bulb lasted a lifetime?  No, that would be bad for the bottom line.  Better to manufacture bulbs that will last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and then try to build a market for a far more expensive product by touting its energy efficient qualities and claiming it will last for five years.  Tell that to the people of Livermore!

Of course, this isn’t just about light bulbs.  The strategy of businesses that market products imbued with built-in obsolescence to guarantee repeat business and the additional revenue it generates lies in direct opposition to the tenets of green living and environmental preservation:  re-use, repurpose and recycle.   A disposable society is not an environmentally-friendly one.   Rather than worrying about getting people to switch to more costly “energy smart” bulbs, GE and its ilk might do better to revisit the way they “bring good things to light.”  Livermore and Fort Worth ought to be included on the itinerary.

Advertisements

Add Your Business

Add your business to Yellow Pages Goes Green®

No More Printed Yellow Pages