Yellow Pages Directory Inc

Month: April 2015

Welcome Earth Day

Each year as a tradition to myself and this green movement website, I write on the events of Earth Day (April 22nd) this year is no exception. I will focus more on some new ideas and representations of our planet Earth. The symbols of Earth Day have been similar throughout the years, including an image or drawing of the Earth itself, a tree, a flower or leaves depicting growth, or the recycling symbol (which is on our website as well). The colors used are natural colors such as green, brown or blue. There is also an “Earth Flag”, which was designed by John McConnell, and this has been described as a “flag for all people”. Earth Day promotes environmental awareness and calls for the protection of our planet.

A good way to celebrate Mother Nature and the holiday would be to introduce the younger generation to our planet, while having fun with arts and crafts. Not only will this start a tradition, but it will show the kids that it doesn’t take a lot of money to have fun. I thought of some creative ideas, here are just few. Melt some blue and green crayons to make some earth colored heart shapes; make blue and green cupcakes, shirts, etc.; upcycled bird feeders – recycle an old milk carton and make new feathered friends (my favorite due to my love of birds) with this creative nature craft. Plantable paper for Earth Day, made from recycled materials, this homemade paper has added seeds so that it can be planted. Catalog Flower Garland Tutorial – a fun flower made out of a catalog with a pictured tutorial on how to make it. These are just some of the ideas that can be done. There’s also many treats such as dirt and worm cups or Earth Day cake pops, (cute and ever so yummy looking, like mini-earths).

Earth Day can also be a day that leads us into depression, kind of like our birthdays, (a reflection of how much we have to do and the challenges that lie ahead). We can focus on appreciating how much knowledge we can gain from the Planet, be more productive, and thus, happier. There are some new and innovative toys and gadgets on the market now that are Earth friendly and educational. MuddWatt; a science experiment/toy was created by a young engineer to show that kids can take a scoop of mud and turn it into a battery. It’s the tiny microbes in our soil that actually generate power. Incredible Plate Tectonics are a hip comic book to talk about the most scientific aspects about the Earths geology. Giftsland Lokta Paper Garlands are gorgeous in design, and the garlands are almost alive as they can literally affect the level of energy and light going through a room. Geek and Co Grass Head; this toy shows us that plants are a huge part of the living Earth which do not have eyes, faces, or voices. The silliness is part of the plan in getting kids to connect to nature, because giving Grass Head as a periodic haircut is a delightful sensory ritual. Many new toys and gadgets are available locally and online that may strike your interest.

Earth Day has become a worldwide event. Not yet a true holiday, but one we can respect and pay honor to. Earth Day Network’s year-round mission is to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide, through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns.

THE SCOURGE OF THE CUTE LITTLE K-CUP

By:  Lee Ann Rush

Those ubiquitous, multi-flavored individual coffee servings sold in plastic pods known as Keurig K-Cups might have been a clever and novel idea at first, but they are quickly becoming an environmental disaster.  In 2014, billions of plastic K-Cups were sold; enough to circle the earth more than 10 times!  As bad as that sounds, it gets worse: K-Cups are NOT recyclable!

John Sylvan, the inventor of what is now called the K-Cup, is regretting his creation more and more each day.  In a recent interview published in The Atlantic, Sylvan, who sold his company in 1997, had originally intended that the pods be used primarily in office settings where they could accommodate the varied tastes of a large number of people.   He never dreamed that, by 2013, one in three households would own a Keurig or Keurig-style coffee maker.  “I feel bad that I ever did it,” admits Sylvan, “I don’t have one.  They’re kind of expensive to use [and] it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”  True enough, and while it isn’t as though Sylvan is hurting for money, he has a far greater objection to the current K-Cup scourge clogging our landfills and fouling our waterways.  Although Keurig Green Mountain, maker of the K-Cup, has claimed in its sustainability report that the coffee pods will be fully recyclable by the year 2020, Sylvan, who now works in the solar power industry, has gone on record as stating that, the way the pods are currently designed, recyclability is impossible.  “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable.  The plastic is a specialized plastic made of four different layers,” that most recycling plants are not equipped to handle.  To make matters even worse, there is a foil lid attached to each pod that must be removed before recycling.  Be honest, have you ever taken the foil top off a K-Cup before throwing it away?  I didn’t think so.

Although Sylvan has approached Keurig Green Mountain about a method he has devised to make the K-Cups sustainable, the company has turned a deaf ear.  For that reason, he, along with many other environmentalists and concerned citizens, has taken up the message, “Kill the K-Cup before it kills our planet.”  As it appears that Keurig Green Mountain, like so many other companies, will only listen to public sentiment if it negatively affects their bottom line, consumers are being urged to spread the #KillTheKCup hashtag, and to sign the petition at Change.org demanding that Keurig Green Mountain start selling recyclable coffee pods now, not possibly five years from now after they’ve destroyed even more of the ecosystem.  Keurig users can also switch to recyclable pod brands such as those made by the San Francisco Coffee Company, or try the several brands of reusable pods that will work in Keurig’s coffee machines. Or, you do what I do and stick to using your Mr. Coffee.

“DARK” ACT WOULD REALLY KEEP CONSUMERS IN THE DARK

By: Lee Ann Rush

A bill that would prevent individual states from requiring that foods containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) be labeled as such has been introduced to the House of Representatives and may come up for a vote in the near future. This proposed legislation, known derisively as the Deny Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act, would give the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the sole authority to mandate the labeling of GMO-containing products, while also setting specific standards for labels making any claims about whether or not a product contains GMOs. If passed, this law would not only overturn existing state GMO-labeling laws in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine and preclude other states from passing similar legislation, it would also hamper attempts by the FDA to pass federal food-labeling legislation and ensure that consumers are kept in the dark about what is really in the food they are eating.

Critics of the DARK Act claim that it is both a total affront to American consumers and an attack on state sovereignty. Environmental activists and food purists alike are decrying the bill, as are ordinary citizens who simply want the right to know what is in their food. According to Ronnie Cummins, the director of the Organic Consumers Association, “Understanding that they are losing the battle at the state level to keep consumers in the dark about whether or not their food is genetically engineered, Monsanto and its minions are now prepared to abolish consumer choice and overturn states’ Constitutional rights so that they can continue to force-feed us their GMO food.” Indeed. As the DARK Act is approaching a vote, 64 countries around the world have already enacted laws requiring GMO labeling, and surveys have shown that more than 90 percent of consumers believe that foods made with GMOs should be clearly labeled. “Supporters of this bill are trying to keep … basic information from their constituents,” observed Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.

Who are the supporters of the DARK Act? Well, aside from Monsanto, the bill was orchestrated by the Grocery Manufacturers Association – the trade group that represents major food conglomerates and processors who happen to also be the purveyors of genetically engineered products, a/k/a Frankenfoods. House Republicans who support the bill claim that it will provide for “voluntary” GMO-free labeling similar to the common “USDA organic” label. Thus, this proposed legislation designed to make it impossible to know what is in the food we eat is being pitched to the public under the guise of protecting Americans from “inconsistent state laws [that] would be confusing and costly for consumers,” according to Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, who introduced the DARK Act in the House of Representatives on March 25. In truth, the bill is a blatant attempt to keep individual states from following the will of the citizenry and setting their own food labeling statues. It’s “Monsanto’s dream bill,” according to Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, a food safety watchdog group.

DARK Act critics, including many food safety groups, have begun circulating petitions with an eye toward blocking this legislation. Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the consumer group Just Label It, summed up the current situation as follows: “Mandatory labeling gives consumers choices. [The DARK Act] is really diabolical and it’s really deceptive. It’s made to look like the sponsors support transparency but really prevents it. This is really about selling pesticides and herbicides.” The battle is far from over; stay tuned.

Corn-Based Biofuel: Not All It’s Popped Up To Be?

20090401_corn fuelNowadays, the buzzword on everyone’s lips in the “green” world is “biofuel.” It seems that everyone and their uncle is looking for the best alternative to gasoline; something that is effective as a basic fuel source while doing away with the many pollutants that are associated with the discovery, refinement, and use of plain’ ol’ gas. So, it’s not surprising that someone went and found a way to make fuel out of something as off-the-wall as corn. Yes, corn biofuel exists, but is it a viable replacement for gasoline? The short answer seems to be both yes and no; for the longer answer, read on.

The allure of biofuels in general, and corn-based biofuel specifically, is their supposed ability to not only reduce mankind’s carbon footprint upon the planet, but to also reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil as well. However, Gracelinks reports that, sadly, neither is the case when it comes to that fancy new fuel that makes your car smell of the delightful aroma of french fries, they said.

“Even dedicating the entire U.S. corn crop to ethanol would displace only a small share of gasoline demand. Plus ethanol does little to nothing to fight climate change,” they said. “Large-scale corn production requires farm equipment that runs on fossil fuels. Coal-powered ethanol refineries can lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions than the fossil fuel ethanol is intended to replace.”

But it’s not just the harvesting and refinement methods of corn that make it ill-adviced for use as a furl source; in a previous article on the subject, environmental blog Yellow Pages Goes Green poses the hypothesis that corn-based biofuels, in and of themselves, are actually worse for the environment than gasoline.

“A recent study funded by the federal government and released the journal Nature Climate Change throws a wrench into the theory that biofuels are better for the environment, concluding that corn-residue biofuel releases seven percent more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than gasoline in the short term,” they said. “The study claims that [Corn Biofuel] won’t even be able to meet the standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuels. The study was an attempt to quantify the amount of carbon lost to the atmosphere when corn residue (stalks, leaves and cobs) is removed from the fields to be used in making biofuel instead of staying on the ground to replenish the soil naturally. The study concluded that the process of removing the corn residue from the fields contributes to global warming, no matter how much is removed.”

Even if corn biofuel was completely devoid of any environmentally-negative side-effects, Forbes nonetheless contends in a recent article that its simple existence has harmful ramifications upon people in other ways; making this alternative fuel source is literally taking food out of people’s mouths, they said.

“In 2013 the U.S. used 4.7 billion bushels of corn (40% of the harvest) to produce over 13 billion gallons of ethanol fuel,” they said. “The grain required to fill a single 25-gal gas tank with ethanol can feed one person for a year, so the amount of corn used to make that 13 billion gallons of ethanol did not feed the almost 500 million people it was feeding fifteen years ago. This is the population of the entire Western Hemisphere outside of the United States. Some estimate that 30 million people are actually starving as a direct result of biofuel production.”

Another issue with the production of corn biofuel that needs to be addressed is the sheer amount of water needed: three liters of water are needed to produce a single liter of gasoline. By contrast, making a liter of corn-based ethanol requires between 350 and 1,400 liters of water, according to Rwlwater.com.

Does it sound so far as if corn biofuel is a bad idea? It probably does. However, there are just as many opinions to the opposite on the value of its safety and usefulness as an alternative fuel source; The Guardian has published the results of a number of studies that claim to rebuke a number of the negative findings about corn-based fuels, saying that, overall, they ARE better in many respects than gasoline…if care was taken to address some of the legitimate environmental concerns regarding its production.

“A peer-reviewed study performed at the Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory in 2012 found that biofuels made with corn residue were 95% better than gasoline in greenhouse gas emissions,” they said. “That study assumed some of the residue harvested would replace power produced from coal, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is unclear whether future biorefineries would do that.”

Regardless, the entity whose opinion matters the most on the issue of corn biofuel – Uncle Sam himself – is decisively in the positive, according to Rwlwater.com; they note that United States Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 calls for 15 billion gallons of ethanol from corn to be produced annually by 2022. The idea is that this ethanol would be combined with motor fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil.

Whether corn biofuel is a harmful mistake or an environmental boon to mankind is open to some considerable debate, with both sides bringing plenty of viable ammunition to the table to support their arguments; indeed, there are enough contrasting opinions on the safety and usefulness of corn biofuel to set off debates for decades to come.

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