Save the Environment by Wearing a Pair of Jeans

Just about everyone would like to make a contribution to help out the environment in every small way they can. For most people, this simply means throwing that empty cereal box in the recycling bin instead of the trashcan. Those who really take the issue to heart and have the financial resources can take it a few steps further and have their home fitted with solar panels or drive an electric car.

There is now a whole new way the average person can make more of a difference and it is even easier than recycling. To make a positive environmental impact, all people have to do is wear a pair of jeans. Yes, that is right; wearing a pair of jeans in public can actually help the environment.

Scientist Tony Ryan and fashion mogul Helen Storey have worked together to come up with a brand new pair of jeans that are described as “super cleaner denims.” The two discovered that a dangerous pollutant known as titanium dioxide can stick and cling on to denim like a magnet. Once the compound is on the jeans, it can be completely neutralized when the jeans go in the washer.

Ryan and Storey are currently working on a project called Catalytic Clothing, which is a line of fashion apparel with a theme on environmental awareness.

Roughly 1.3 million people die prematurely as a result of exposure to toxic emissions, which are produced mainly from vehicles and factories. Poor air quality can cause asthma and respiratory illnesses.

There is still much to be studied though theoretically speaking, people in the future can actually protect the environment simply by walking around in their favorite pairs of denims. This seems like a completely plausible scenario given that there are more pair of jeans than there are people in the world. This finding combines fashion with environmental awareness; it is the best of both worlds.

Apple Rated Poorly For Its Massive Energy Use

Large corporations often own many factories and warehouses from which their products are produced. This means consumption of energy, and lots of it. Greenpeace has been keeping tabs on mega corporations and grading them based on the amount of energy their factories consume.

Among these corporations include Apple. While this tech company may be the leading brand in mobile devices, it does not fare so well when graded according to the energy it uses to fuel its production line. While Apple’s score did improve in recent months, it is still not receiving a passing grade. When it came to infrastructure siting, Apple was given a “D,” an improvement from the “F” that it received a few months prior. It also improved from a “D” to a “C” when it came to greenhouse gas mitigation, energy efficiency and renewable energy investment.

To give the company a little credit, it is showing efforts that it is dedicated to making its facilities more eco-friendly. It just recently announced that it has plans to make one of its data centers run entirely off of renewable energy by year’s end. This includes the addition of bio gas fuel cell and solar array installation. A spokesperson for the company announced that its two main data centers in California and North Carolina are expected to be completely independent of coal by February of 2013.

Greenpeace has praised Apple for its commitment of making its facilities run off of renewable energy sources but continues to chide the corporation for its overall dismal record. It also blasted Apple for its apparent lack of transparency, as the company has consistently been beating around the bush when it came to releasing energy consumption records of its facilities.

In terms of grading, Apple falls against other mega giants. Corporations like Yahoo, Amazon and Google all received better grades from Greenpeace.

Erin Brokovich? No. Heany!

“It’s kind of fortunate we have the same name,” Erin Heaney said of Erin Brockovich. Then Heaney described the biggest obstacles of her environmental work, her kinship with Brockovich seems to reach beyond the surface:

“There’s a lot of organized money out there who will ensure theirs is the story that’s told … I always knew I wanted to be watching those in power and calling them out if they weren’t protecting those who they were supposed to be protecting.”

Heaney is 24-year-old executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, a Tonawanda, N.Y.-based organization seeking to protect the right of area residents to “breathe clean air and live, work and play in a healthy environment.”

Members of the Clean Air Coalition have been deeply concerned with Tonawanda Coke, a foundry coke plant reportedly emitting dangerous levels of benzene, a known human carcinogen. Recent air quality studies detected upwards of 75 times the amount of benzene permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and in 2009, coalition members including Heaney staged a massive protest at the firm’s headquarters gates.

“I drove up to the industrial area and was totally blown away,” she recalled. “I could see a coal-burning power plant, several chemical storage facilities, petroleum storage tanks … I knew right then and there that this was what I was supposed to be doing. It was a very powerful moment… My perception of the environmental business before I became involved with it is that it was all about individual responsibility,” she said. “We get a lot of challenges both from industries and elected officials who get their money from them. We don’t have power in money, we have power in people.”

In June, members of the Clean Air Coalition found levels of benzene to be at more than 10 times the level considered safe by the EPA following a fire at Buffalo’s Niagara Lubricant Plant.

The group also conducted research about emissions at one of the city’s truck plazas, servicing some 20,000 cars and 5,000 diesel trucks daily. Usually, residents collect their own air samples by an inflatable tool known as “the bucket.”

In the future, Heaney said that she hopes the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York will expand into yet more neighborhoods. She however has detected interest in her organization on both the national and international levels.

“A lot of people hear our name and think we might be a bunch of tree-hugging hippies… But going green isn’t a choice, a lifestyle, or a philosophy…”

New Oil Sands Ad

A campaign designed to re-brand Canada’s oil sands as an ethical alternative to fuel from states with questionable human rights records was scheduled to take to the airwaves on Sunday along with a number of television spots appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The 30-second advertisement suggests that North Americans, via the purchase of more than 400 million barrels of Saudi Arabian oil from last year, helped bankroll a state that doesn’t allow women to drive and does not allow women to leave their home without a male guardian, and believes a woman’s testimony in court is only worth half as much as a man’s testimony.’s Alykhan Velshi; said in a statement that the “public information ad” will run exclusively on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada for exactly one week.

Velshi said:

“The Oprah network’s programming – which includes lifestyle issues affecting women, women’s health, and entertainment – in my view fits nicely with a campaign promoting Canada’s oil sands as an ethical alternative to misogynist conflict oil from regimes like Saudi Arabia…”

Greenpeace’s Mike Hudema said Velshi is issuing a “very appealing argument” and “dangerous” defense of the environmentally unsound oil sands by framing energy buys as a choice between supporting a liberal democracy like Canada or conflict oil from oppressive regimes.

“It really presents us with a false question … when the reality is, we have a lot of different choices about how we produce energy… We are 100 per cent independent of government and industry,” he said in an email.‘s campaign will likely expand in Canada and into the United States if public donations on its website keep on flowing, according to Velshi.

“This campaign is designed to keep us locked in an outdated fossil-based economy that potentially could decimate the entire
planet if we do not get our greenhouse gas emissions in check, and I think that is the most dangerous part of this campaign…(It’s) going to give people more excuses and give our politicians more reasons to delay action…To me, it is very immoral,” Hudema added.

Daryl Hannah Arrested at Tar Sands Action

Actress Daryl Hannah joined more than 500 people who have been arrested since August 20 for a sit-in protest outside the White House. The movie star was one of nearly 100 people were arrested last Tuesday for protesting the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Daryl Hannah was seated by the White House sidewalk and refused to move under orders from U.S. Park Police.

According to the Financial Post, Hannah was heard shouting, “No to the Keystone pipeline” as she was being handcuffed and taken away by city police officers.
The planned Keystone XL pipeline is set to run from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta to refineries on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. It is currently waiting on approval from the White House.

In a blog post for the Huffington Post Philip Radford and Daryl Hannah wrote:

“This week, President Obama will find hundreds more people in front of the White House — us included — willing to go to jail for peacefully protesting the President’s short-sighted decision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama’s decision on this enormous fossil fuel project will not be a quiet deal with oil industry lobbyists; it will be witnessed by millions of voters who had hoped that President Obama would have the vision to get America off of oil with a moonshot program for oil-free cars by the next decade. Instead, oil profits have been pitted against the world that our children will live in, hooking America to some of the highest polluting oil without moving America quickly to a foreign oil-free future.”

On Friday, the State Department found that the pipeline would not have a “significant impact” on the environment and suggested that the project should go ahead. Over the weekend, an interview aired of a former State Department official saying that Clinton would likely approve plans for the pipeline.

Earlier in the month, an editorial in The New York Times opposed the pipeline:

“We have two main concerns: the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, and the fact that the extraction of petroleum from the tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does.”

Bill McKibben protest leader of Tar Sands Action said:
“It’s clear that this message is spreading out of Washington fast. This has become the test for the president to show the country and the global community that he’s serious about climate change.”

Save the bag Coalition

According to the California Supreme Court Manhattan Beach is permitted to ban retailers from using plastic bags without the prerequisite of going through a lengthy environmental study on the benefits and increasing practice of using paper bags.

Save the bag coalitionOn Thursday, a unanimous court ruling maintained that “substantial evidence and common sense” show that the ban would not indeed harm the environment. The ruling will in effect overturn an appellate court decision.

The Save the Bag Coalition, an industry group filed a lawsuit in order to overturn the ban enacted back in July of 2008. The coalition made the argument that paper bags have a much greater negative effect on the environment than plastic bags and demanded an immediate in-depth environmental study before the ban actually would go into effect; a necessary precaution.

Justice Carol Corrigan rejected that argument and insisted that there would be no environmental harm caused by the ban.

According to one article written on the topic:

“Paper bags have a greater environmental impact than plastic bags, and therefore, you would not create a policy that banned plastic and forced everyone to use paper only,” said Dick Lilly, the manager of the waste prevention program for Seattle Public Utilities. After much analysis, that city spurned the San Francisco model in favor of a fee on all bags, meant to spur shoppers to bring their own — a goal San Francisco officials embrace, but do virtually nothing to promote. Key elements of the S.F. model, in Lilly’s estimation, “could be a catastrophic mistake.”

Let the Dead Sea Live

The water level in the Dead Sea is dropping nearly 4 feet (1.2 meters) per year. Israel is campaigning to have the Dead Sea – the earth’s lowest point and repository of precious minerals – named one of the natural wonders of the world. And at the same time, it is in a race to stabilize what it deems “The world’s largest natural spa” so hotels on its southern end are not swamped and tourists may continue to bask and float in the lake’s therapeutic waters.

Alon Tal an Israeli researcher says that:

“In five to 10 years, (the water) would flood the hotel lobbies, no question.”

The Dead Sea is divided into a southern and northern basin, located at different elevations, largely disconnected and miles (kilometers) apart. This means the rising waters of the southern basin cannot pour into the shrinking basin in the north.

Heavy industrialization is the cause of the waters on the southern basin to rise. A few chemical companies have built evaporation pools there to extract lucrative minerals. Tons and tons of salt are left annually on the floor of these pools, causing the water to rise 8 inches (20 centimeters) per year.

Israel’s tourism and environmental protection ministers are endorsing Tal’s proposal: An intricate $2 billion plan to chip off the salt buildup on the part of the lake which is rising and send it by conveyor belt to the northern end which is shrinking.

The Problem with Camels

Recently, the Australian government proposed that killing camels should be an officially recognized means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The country down under has the world’s largest wild camel population; an estimated 1.2 million – and they consider this to be a growing environmental problem.

Every camel belches an estimated 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of methane per year; that is equivalent to a metric ton (1.1 U.S. ton) of carbon dioxide in its impact on global warming. This is roughly one-sixth the amount of CO2 that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says an average car produces per year.

A bill to create a carbon credit regime will go to a vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and is expected to become law within weeks.

A government registry will be set up to determine what actions would qualify for carbon credits, and bureaucrats are expected to decide by the end of the year whether killing camels will be among them.

The government’s parliamentary secretary for climate change, Mark Dreyfus, said he hopes the proposal wipes out camels from the Australian wild.

“Potentially it has tremendous merit, because feral camels are a dreadful menace across the whole of arid Australia”.

Dreyfus said at an Associated Press meeting Thursday.

Eco Contraceptives

There are a plethora of environmental concerns pertaining to a number of contraceptives, especially ones containing hormones. For instance, with sex hormones being detected in the drinking water of nearly 41 million Americans, prescription drug pollution is becoming a pressing problem. Synthetic estrogens in wastewater even feminize male fish; our own hormonal systems might also be vulnerable.

And then, for non-hormonal contraceptive methods, there is the issue of waste. Even condoms may become a problem considering that 437 million of them are sold in the US every year. While latex is a natural material, the additives in most condoms compromise biodegradability. On top of this, the non-recyclable wrappers create their own mountain of waste.

Here are some good things to know:

  • Fair-trade condoms are made of 100 percent natural latex from sustainably managed rubber plantations, fair-trade condoms such as French Letter are also vegan, since they do not contain the dairy product.
  • Lambskin condoms are made from natural lambskin which is biodegradable.
  • Both diaphragms and cervical caps are reusable, which makes them a smart contraceptive candidate where waste is a concern.
  • Copper IUD remains the gold standard for eco-friendly contraception. They are almost 100% effective, hormone-free, and last up to 10 years.
  • Governor Paterson of New York is not Fracking Around Anymore

    Gov. David Paterson Environmental groups celebrated when Governor David Paterson directed a seven-month moratorium on natural gas drilling sites in New York; however, environmentalists feel that this still isn’t good enough.

    The outgoing governor, a Democrat, vetoed a bill last week which, if passed, would have suspended all new natural-gas drilling permits until the date of May 15 or later. Instead, he issued an executive order prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing of horizontally drilled wells.

    Also known as fracking, high-volume hydraulic fracturing consists of the blasting of millions of gallons of chemical-laced water, found thousands of feet under the ground, to shatter shale and release natural gas trapped inside.

    Medium Fracking oilIn vetoing the Legislature’s oil and gas-drilling moratorium, Paterson said it would have been applied to all low-volume, conventional, vertically drilled wells, and effectually pulling the plug on an industry which has operated safely for decades.

    Low-volume fracking on vertical wells uses thousands of gallons of water per well, as opposed to 8 million gallons per horizontal well used in high-volume fracturing.

    Governor Paterson’s budget office estimated that this broad a ban would end up with the loss of thousands of industry jobs, cease landowner payments and reduce state and local revenues from permit fees and taxes significantly.

    According to the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, the Legislature’s moratorium would have threatened the viability of more than 300 producing companies and about 5,000 jobs.

    The oil and gas association said the Legislature’s bill would have severed the number of months drilling could take place next year by half, resulting in a net loss of up to $800,000 in real property taxes and $1.4 million in royalty payments.