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September 2009

09/30/2009

World-Changing Celebrity Spotlight: Gisele Bundchen

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The face of some of the world's most exclusive products has now become the new face of global environmental action. On September 20, 2009, Brazil-born Gisele Bündchen, one of the most recognized top (and long-lasting) supermodels of all time, was designated Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at new York's Washington Square Park Fountain.

As Goodwill Ambassador, Gisele Bündchen will help UNEP in its mission to raise awareness and inspire action to protect the environment. The new Goodwill Ambassador will help focus attention on some of the biggest threats facing the planet, climate change and environmental degradation.

Gisele Bündchen, a true environmentalist in her own right, said: "I'm really honored to join UNEP's work on the environment. The environment has always been my passion. I grew up in a small town and I had the opportunity to live surrounded by nature. I couldn't have asked for a better childhood. We must act now, so future generations have the same opportunity. Mother Earth is our fundamental life-support system, and by becoming aware and responsible now, we can assist in preserving the planet."

She added: "I have been working on environmental issues for a long time and agreed to become a Goodwill Ambassador to be part of a global and far-reaching organization. Now it's about action on a global scale to secure a healthy future for the next generation, wherever they live in the world." On climate change, Gisele noted, "Climate change is something we can't deny? It affects all of us. At the end of the day, it's our planet? we all have to feel accountable."

The mother-to-be is due in December, so she’ll be making the world a better place for her new baby.

(Source: UNEP)

For more earth-friendly living info from RTM, visit our Earth Tones section.

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09/29/2009

How To Kill Bad Moods with Eco-Therapy

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According to The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, antidepressants should not be used as first-line therapy for mild to moderate depression. What do they recommend in its place?

Eco-therapy: getting outdoors and getting active in a green environment.

Example: After conducting a study of 20 people, comparing a walk in a country park with a walk in a shopping centre, the University of Essex concluded that a walk in the country is much more effective in reducing depression. While walking in general reduced depression, the shopping center atmosphere increased tension and decreased self-esteem in individuals. In a survey of 108 people who commonly take part in green activities, 90% said it was the combination of nature and exercise that had the greatest effect on them.

Some facilities don’t have the resources to provide correct counseling, and instead either send patients home with drugs or empty-handed. Unless your depression is severe or you can afford a facility with real counseling practices, you may want to try easing depression and/or stress your own way: go somewhere that’s been proven relaxing in your past, or find a serene park or trail that you can visit when you need to feel better. While eco-therapy has been proven in some severe cases, it can be used on people who are generally happy but are struck by a bad mood or are facing unhappy circumstances.

Another study cites eco-therapy a possible treatment for ADHD in children.

(Source: BBC News, Antidepressant Prescribing Soars)

For more eco-advice from RTM, visit our Earth Tones section.

 

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09/28/2009

How to Camp Responsibly: Leave No Trace Principles

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Camping seems like such an eco-conscious way to see different parts of the country, but it too can have ill effects on the environment. Being in a natural environment could mean disturbing a natural environment. Leave No Trace, whose traveling trainers drive their Subarus from site to site across the country, assist outdoor enthusiasts with reducing their impact. They offer these basic principles for roughin’ it on a campsite:

 

Plan ahead: Visit a campsite in small groups when possible, and consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Repackage food to minimize waste and deter wildlife.

 

Good campsites are found, not made: Camping on durable surfaces like established trails or campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow to lessen your impact. When hiking, walk single file through the middle of the trail to prevent its expansion.

 

Pack it in, pack it out: Disposing of waste properly is one of the biggest tenets of the Leave No Trace principle. Everything you bring to the site should leave the site with you. Pack out all trash, leftover food, litter, toilet paper and hygiene products.

 

Leave what you find: Look, but don’t touch is the simple rule that protects environments from being disrupted by human activity. Don’t disturb the area by taking rocks, plants, or other natural objects.

 

Minimize campfire impacts: Use established fire rings instead of creating your own. Only use sticks from the ground, or bring your own fire wood.

 

Respect wildlife: Do not follow, approach or feed wild animals. Feeding animals only hurts them in the long run; it damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.

 

Be considerate of other visitors: Don’t camp close to another site – let nature’s sounds prevail.

 

Click here for more information on Leave No Trace, or to host the traveling trainers on your next camping trip.

 

Visit RTM's Earth Tones section for more responsible tourism advice.

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09/25/2009

Long-Lasting Green Rechargeable Batteries

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By Sara Hoffman

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Frustrated with using up normal batteries all the time, or using rechargeables whose ability to recharge dwindles almost as quickly as those normal batteries? I had given up on using any electronic that requires batteries for this exact reason (not that batteries are especially good for the environment, anyways). But when I got to try UltraLast Green Everyday Rechargeables, I had to go back to using my three-year old camera that used (or should i say devoured) AA's as the true test of these batteries' worth. I had gone through packs and packs of rechargeable batteries, and all of them ended up idling in the junk drawer (One rechargeable battery can keep up to 1,000 disposable alkaline batteries out of landfills? Right).

My old, brand-name batteries would literally get tired after 5 or 6 charges. So I put these new green batteries in my old battery-guzzling camera, turned it on, put it in my purse, and went to work. Came home, put the batteries in the charger, and completed this cycle for weeks. I've got a lifetime supply of AA batteries, bundled into a dozen little green capsules.

The batteries are ready to use right out of the pack. When installed in low power consumption devices, including remote controls, clocks, flashlights, and other common household applications, UltraLast Green Everyday Rechargeables will keep their charge up to 6+ months. They can be charged as many as 500 times, for up to 3 years.

The batteries can even be purchased with a solar charger ($30) - which can be connected via USB to charge other devices like computers and cell phones. Some USB connectors are included, but most electronics come eqipped with a special USB cable anyways, so most electronics can be charged via solar.

Besides the solar charger, why are they green? Because these batteries last so long in both high-usage and low-usage devices, and can be recharged, they have their own cycle and will cycle through it in your home for at least three years, rather than just getting used up and tossed into the garbage, or losing their ability to recharge fully and ending up in the junk drawer. They can be recycled through the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) program, and are packaged in eco-friendly materials, including recycled cardboard and recyclable PET plastic.

Based on my sampling of the batteries so far, I'm pretty sure twelve of these guys, a wall/car charger and a solar charger is all I'll ever need for a lifetime supply of batteries.

For more product reviews from RTM, visit our Travel Products section.

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09/24/2009

Suffering from Bag-nesia?

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Bagnesia Symptom: You often find yourself standing at the register regretting that you left your reusable bags in the car or worse yet, at home.  You must have bagnesia! Possible cures?

1) Bagnesias reminder kit: including a compact reusable bag, reminder door hanger, reminder steering wheel wrap, wrist lanyard key chain, carabineer clip

2) Bag the Habit shopping and produce bags: The shopping bags are stylish a-lines with padded handles that fold into small carrying pouches, the produce bags are mesh and can carry anything from vegetables to baked goods.

 

3) "Paper or Plastic?": The words you don’t want to hear when you can’t come back with a “neither”. When you've forgotten your bags, simply remind yourself to bring them next time, and think of a place you could've left them that would be easier to remember (such as your car). However, if you’ve got the right state of mind, taking home a few plastic or paper bags isn’t such a bad thing. Use your paper bags to fill with paper products for the recycling bin or make your own shipping envelopes, and use plastic bags as garbage can liners or bring them back to the store to fill with produce.

 

Based on the economic facts, I wouldn't recommend turning in your plastic bags for recycling: it costs $4,000 to process and recycle 1 ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32. So, many bags that are collected for recycling are actually just shipped to China and incinerated (according to Christian Science Monitor).

 

For more green liiving tips from RTM, visit our Earth Tones section.

 

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09/23/2009

Four Great Green Things to Do This Fall

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Apples With temperatures evening out, it’s time to stop cranking the A/C but not yet time for turning on the heat and burning eco-logs in the fireplace. The fall leave-turning effect and the cool, crisp air of autumn inspire most to appreciate nature in a different way than summer did. Summer was about beaches, flip flops, and getting tan. Fall is time for hiking, apple orchards, neighborhood get-togethers, and jumping in piles of leaves. Some of the things we do in fall are already eco-friendly, but here are some tips to make your fall transition even greener.

Reuse Your Raked Leaves: This year, feel good about what you do with those unwanted beacons of fall. Instead of piling the leaves into a trash bag and sending them off to the dump, turn those leaves into a compost pile by piling them, adding a layer of dirt in between each foot of leaves, sprinkling on some lime or ashes and checking the moisture level weekly. You can also add the leaves to a compost pile you’ve already created.


Visit the Local Farmers’ Market: As the weather cools down after summer that was almost too hot, many farmers’ markets are back up-and-running with fresh produce. So, if you have a craving for some local and organic goods grab your reusable bags and head over to the local farmers’ market. It’s the best way to grocery shop while taking part in and supporting your community.


Go to a Cider Mill: A classic fall activity, cider tasting and apple picking at your local orchard is a fun way to enjoy locally grown produce and create family memories. Plus, you can often tour the farm or taste more homemade treats, such as donuts and fresh pies.


Visit a Pumpkin Patch: Whether it’s carved up for Halloween or stuffed for a fancy feast, nothing represents fall quite as well as a pumpkin. During this fall holiday season, instead of snatching up a pumpkin at your local grocery store, take the family to a pumpkin patch. Enjoy a hay ride and pick out the prettiest pumpkin. And don’t forget to recycle by baking the pumpkin seeds!


For more green living advice from RTM, visit our Earth Tones section.


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09/22/2009

An Eco-Friendly Way to Fight the Swine Flu

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Handsan A recent government report suggests that as many as half of the United States population could be infected with the swine flu virus this fall and winter. About 30,000 to 90,000 deaths are projected, especially in children, young adults, and adults with health conditions. Eleven states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time. Any reports of widespread influenza activity in August and September are very unusual. This will be a huge strain on hospitals in affected regions. So why are we taking normal measures to prevent its spread?

The Center for Disease Control adheres to the philosophy that the best prevention strategy to the spread of the Swine Flu is clean hands, and the next best thing to washing thoroughly and frequently is having hand sanitizer available.

However, hand sanitizer's not always such a quick fix. Sure, alcohol based solutions products kill >99% of germs and bacteria on contact. Though, their effectiveness lasts for just a minute or so, requiring constant re-application eventually drying skin to the point of cracking. They are very unsafe for children and they have no real effect on fungus or viruses. Benzalkonium Chloride or Triclosan based solutions are extremely toxic to the environment and humans if ingested.

But a new sanitizer, Prefenz Botanicals hand sanitizer is a silica based technology that immediately destroys all harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses including H1N1, HIV, SARS and MRSA. The active ingredient, AMOSILQ, is a silica complex that dries into a film on the skin and protects against pathogens that one might encounter during any given day. It does so by slicing the cell wall of the pathogen, hence destroying it, upon contact for up to 24 hours without re-application. It is still active for up to 10 hand washings.

"Prefenz is so eco-friendly that you can drink it without experiencing any harmful effects, so it's safe for all ages,” said company president Aaron Powers. They offer two bottle sizes on-line; a 1.5 oz bottle for $8.99 and an 8 oz botle for $17.99.

For more environmentally-friendly product reviews from RTM, click here.

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09/21/2009

The Very Best Greener Cleaners

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Cleaners Buying the new "green" versions of cleaning products can be scary. As environmentalists, we feel compelled to use up every product we buy, regardless of whether it works or not. These cleaners have proven themselves over and over.

In the Laundry Room:

Concentrated Detergent: Nellie's Laundry Soda
Chemical-Free Dryer Sheet Replacement: Dryer Balls
Chloirine-Free Bleach Alternative: Oxo Brite
For Eco-Treated Delicates: Ecover Delicate Wash
Instead of a Bleach Stick: Ecover’s Stain Stick

 

In the Kitchen:

Biodegradeable & Plant Based: Ecover Dishwashing Liquid
Residue-Free: Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Powder
In place of Disposable Paper Towels: TWIST Sponge Cloth

 

In the Bathroom:

Concentrated Handsoap: Dr. Bronner's Classic Liquid Soap
No-Guilt Miracle Worker: Ecover Limescale Remover
Drain Cleaner: Unfortunately, nothing out there yet works better than plain old Drano.

 

To eco-clean your car, visit RTM's Planet Driven section.

09/18/2009

Greener Gadgets 2009

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Riti printer Want to know what’s coming up in the world of green engineering? And I don’t mean engine-engineering, just brilliant new ways of making household appliances and thus our lifestyles more sustainable. Check out the Greener Gadgets Design Competition winners and support your favorites all the way into production. Here are some of our favorites:

 

The RITI printer: This small green printer uses no electricity and no ink. What does it use? Leftover coffee grounds or tea dregs, and a little manual push. Read more here.

 

LIGHTIMUS is a reversible light with no switch: all you do is flip it over at night when you’re ready to use it; it spends its day accumulating sunlight. Flip it back when it starts to fade in the morning, and its green lifecycle is complete. Read more here.

 

The E-Tree book: Made to teach children green living from the get-go, this interactive digital play book allows children to make energy themselves, rewarding them with the growth of a digital tree and charging of its built-in batteries. Read more here.

 

The Indoor Drying Rack is a simple yet innovative idea: dry your clothes inside, without wasting the electricity of a dryer, and without showing your delicates to your neighbors. Read more here.

 

For more green news from RTM, visit our Earth Tones section.

 

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09/17/2009

How To Buy the Best "Green" Natural Make-Up

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Natural_pop Attention luxury beauty junkies with an eco-conscience: green brands like Cargo PlantLove and Eco-Tools can keep your make-up bag well-stocked and your green heart warm. It'll be (literally) a smooth transition between animal hair or synthetic brushes and Eco-Tools' new - and inexpensive - bamboo ones. The tools, found in drugstores or online, come in convenient sets or singles, include responsible packaging and are a total steal, especially since they last so long. It still feels like my bamboo blush brush is straight out of the package after a year of using it.

The PlantLove section of Cargo products at Sephora is a one-stop-shop for all the green (not literally) high-end makeup products you could want. With it's adorable yet biodegradeable packaging and botanically-infused ingredients, PlantLove is the only prestige color brand to carry the globally recognized Ecocert natural designation for its comprehensive environmental commitment. For example, if you plant the lipstick box, it will grow wildflowers - seeds are planted in the earth-friendly outer wrapping, the rest of the package will biodegrade in 46 years.

The products are highly recommended not only for their quality but because the ingredients are actually beneficial in the long run - remember, a large percentage of everything you put on your skin seeps into your body and can cause longer-term problems. Organic products are loaded with antioxidants, healthy oils and other organics that you'd actually want to put in your body.

All PlantLove products get the Sephora natural seal, a set of standards created by Sephora since other natural standards are not regulated by the FDA; many other Sephora products have this seal. Put it all together by adding bamboo brushes - from kabuki to lash & brow -at the drugstore, and you've got it in the green bag! 

For more eco-style advice, visit RTM's Earth Tones section.  

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