Monthly Archives: February 2011

Surprise! Not All of the Most Eco Friendly Cars are Hybrid or Electric

eco friendly honda civicThe buzz about hybrid and electric cars being better for the environment may be loud and on the front page of all the news outlets, but here’s a fact: not all of the most eco friendly cars out there are hybrid or electric. According to the private American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)’s fourteenth annual  environmental ratings chart, it’s a gas-powered car that takes top honors.


The Honda Civic GX, a traditional gas-powered car, scored fifty-four points in the survey and took top honors for the eighth consecutive year. This year second place went to the Nissan Leaf and third place to another gas-powered car- the two-seater Smart Fortwo.

In fairness, the next three spots were taken by hybrids – the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic and Honda Insight, respectively). Ford’s new Fiesta SFE (Super Fuel Economy) and the Chevy Cruze Eco followed. Rounding out the top twelve were the Chevy Volt and three gas-powered cars, the Hyundai Elantra, Mini Cooper and Toyota Yaris.

Said ACEEE vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan, while announcing the results (which included five new models in the top twelve), “We’re seeing an increasing number of highly efficient gasoline options from both foreign and domestic automakers along with the first electric vehicles.”

It may be surprising to you that hybrids and plug-ins weren’t dominating the list, but as Therese Langer, ACEEE’s transportation director explained, it actually makes sense. “Vehicles running on electricity emit nothing from the tailpipe, but their ‘upstream’ emissions can be substantial depending on where they’re charged. As U.S. power generation becomes cleaner, these vehicles scores will rise.”

We love this survey because it’s not just about what comes out of the tailpipe, but a three-sixty look at fuel consumption, emissions that create global warming and climate change and pollution and emissions associated with battery manufacture and disposal. Hybrids actually lose points because of their batteries.

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10 Energy Saving Tips at the Office

1. Turn off the lights
Remember to hit the switch on your way out for that well-deserved lunch break. The energy savings from 10 million office workers turning off unneeded lights for 30 minutes a day is enough to illuminate four million square metres of office space.

2. Remove yourself from junk mail lists
The last thing you need is another office supply catalogue or credit card offer. But before tossing out junk mail, call the company and ask that your name be removed from its mailing list. Have contacts e-mail you instead. Almost 50 percent of all catalogues are never opened, yet nearly 62 million trees are destroyed and 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce them every year.

3. Send your monitor to sleep
Screensavers are designed to save your screen from burn in, not to save energy. Monitors are responsible for more than one third of a computer’s energy consumption, so conserve energy by putting yours to sleep or powering off altogether when you’re away from your desk for more than 10 minutes.

4. Use the stairs
Your brain gets exercise all day, so why not exercise your body? Get your heart pumping by taking the stairs instead of the lift. It’s good for your health and saves electricity.

5. Make your printer’s toner last
If you’re printing rough drafts or documents for internal purposes, change the printer’s settings to economy mode and avoid printing in colour if possible. Economy mode uses up to 50 percent less toner and prints twice as many pages as higher quality settings. Printing on both sides slashes the number of sheets used by 50 percent.

6. Leave the car at home
Public transport may not be perfect, but there are alternatives: why not walk (if you live close enough), hitch a lift with a colleague or try going by bicycle?

7. Recycle paper
If it tears, it can be recycled: from magazines and manila folders to plain paper and post-it notes. Manufacturing recycled paper generates 74 percent less air pollution than creating paper from scratch and saves trees, water and energy.

8. Buy 100 percent recycled paper
When you’re buying paper for the office, make sure it’s 100 percent recycled and, ideally, non-chlorinated. The chlorine used for bleaching is one of the biggest polluters in the paper-making process.

9. Recycle and reuse office supplies
Washing and reusing the plastic plates and cutlery you get with takeaway food is an easy way to cut down on waste at work. Use mugs rather than disposable plastic cups and don’t forget that things such as batteries, printer cartridges, DVDs and CDs can be recycled, too.

10. Curb phantom electricity
Many appliances still use energy even when they’re turned off. Items left plugged into the wall, such as a mobile phone charger or laptop adapter, can leak more than 20 watts of power. Plug office equipment into a power strip instead and turn it off at night and on weekends.

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Do Not Fly at Night

Flying during the day is greener and bluer.

airplane photo
Digital Vision/Getty Images

We all know that flying in an airplane takes a terrible toll upon the environment. Skipping one flight saves as much CO2 as going vegetarian for an entire year. And going vegetarian is one of the greenest things you can do in terms of CO2 savings.

But in this fast-paced, modern world, plane travel is almost unavoidable. Our society revolves around being able to transport ourselves and each other over vast distances. Until we can change the way the world works, we just have to make decisions that are more environmentally friendly and hope we get it all figured out before global warming does some serious damage.

One thing that you can do to reduce carbon emissions when traveling by plane is by booking a flight in the daytime instead of at night. Contrails left by airplanes at night have a greater impact on global warming than the ones left in the day.

From News in Science

At certain altitudes, aircraft produce contrails – condensation trails caused when the plane’s hot exhaust hits the chilly atmosphere.

These contrails have a surprisingly big but also complex effect on the climate.

Because they are clouds, they trap heat that is emitted by the Earth’s surface, creating a “greenhouse effect” that adds to warming.

Yet during daytime, these clouds have a cooling effect because they are white and thus reflect some of the Sun’s energy back into space.
As weird as it sounds, flying during the daytime can help reduce your carbon footprint. So if you have a choice of when you are going to fly, opt for the afternoon flight. It’s the greener way to fly.

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Ecotourism Threats: Are We Really Following Environmental Protection?

Many argue that ecotourism does not offer enough  environmental  protection.  In fact, some believe that ecotourism threats will actually damage the very environments that ecotourism strives to preserve.

Ecotourism Threats
One of the problems that ecotourism poses is the overall impact that ecotourism has on the environment. Ecotourism does not only impact the areas where travelers visit. It takes energy in the form of airplane fuel, bus or automobile fuel and/or boat fuel to reach remote areas. The resulting energy consumption is not always taken into consideration when looking at the effects of ecotourism. In a sense, ecotourism might be considered wasteful.

When tourists travel, they need places to stay or “stage” before they start their journey. This means clearing land, building facilities such as hotels and developing support industries. Even though these facilities may not be in the area that ecotourists spend most of their time, they still must be available. This could be added as an indirect negative to the environment.

Another threat ecotourism poses is that some of the ecosystems where ecotourists travel are extremely fragile. Over time, even small groups of people who strive to be as careful as possible can still have a negative impact and upset the local ecosystem.

Since some ecotourists want to observe the drama of nature, tours for these types of travelers are scheduled to coincide with breeding or hunting seasons. Again, this could prove to be disruptive to the natural cycle of life.

Another problem associated with ecotourism is that if the moneys generated by this type of tourism are mismanaged, the environment will be the victim. In addition, corruption and greed could add to a negative impact on a local ecosystem as well.

One of the tenants of ecotourism is to have as little impact on local cultures as possible. The reality of this is that once different peoples come into contact with each other, they are both affected. It can be argued that as the world becomes smaller with this merging of cultures, it is inevitable that even remote cultures will change through exposure to other peoples. Whether this is a negative or positive advance remains to be seen.

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McDonald’s targeted in US health ad

Unhappy meals: American doctors’ TV ad features a corpse holding a hamburger and the line ‘I was lovin’ it’. McDonald’s, which has thrived in the recession, isn’t laughing.

McDonald’s fast food is graphically linked to health problems in this ad from a doctors’ group urging viewers: ‘Tonight, make it vegetarian’

It is an image to sap the flabbiest of appetites. An overweight, middle-aged man lies dead on a mortuary trolley, with a woman weeping over his body. The corpse’s cold hand still clutches a half-eaten McDonald’s hamburger.

A hard-hitting US television commercial bankrolled by a Washington-based medical group has infuriated McDonald’s by taking an unusually direct shot at the world’s biggest fast-food chain this week, using a scene filmed in a mortuary followed by a shot of the brand’s golden arches logo and a strapline declaring: “I was lovin’ it.”

The line is a provocative twist on McDonald’s long-standing advertising slogan, “I’m lovin’ it” and a voiceover intones: “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”

The commercial, bankrolled by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), goes further than most non-profit advertising and has drawn an angry reaction from both the Chicago-based hamburger multinational and the broader restaurant industry.

The National Restaurant Association criticised it as “irresponsible” and said it was an attempt to scare the public with a “limited” view of nutrition. A McDonald’s spokesman said: “This commercial is outrageous, misleading and unfair to all consumers. McDonald’s trusts our customers to put such outlandish propaganda in perspective, and to make food and lifestyle choices that are right for them.”

The commercial, to be aired initially in the Washington area but potentially in further US cities, comes amid an increasingly lively debate in the US about healthy eating. The first lady, Michelle Obama, has made nutrition a signature issue and is leading a campaign to encourage physical fitness and improved diets – particularly among American children, a third of whom are overweight.

The recession has hardly helped the healthy eating cause. McDonald’s has enjoyed a relatively prosperous financial crisis as diners opt for its affordable offerings in place of more expensive high-street restaurants. Its global profits for the six months to June were up 12% to $2.3bn, powered by sales rises both in the United States and Britain.

The PCRM’s director of nutrition education, Susan Levin, made no apologies for singling out the golden arches: “McDonald’s is one of the biggest fast-food chains in the world. Its name and its golden arches are instantly recognisable. We feel we’re making a point about all fast food when we talk about McDonald’s.”

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Antibiotics in Our Food

What are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are substances used to destroy specific types of bacteria and other microorganisms for the treatment of infection. They are often created and synthesized from other microorganisms, while they are found to act on the vital processes inside the cells of bacteria, interfering in the creation of bacterial proteins, thus leading to the destruction of the harmful elements.

Each antibiotic has its own spectrum of bacteria which are susceptible to damage by its action. But there are also strains of bacteria that become resistant to a certain antibiotic. In case that occurs, the treatment should be changed to a different type of antibiotic. This is the reason why a bacterial culture is usually recommended to people whose bacterial infection is of unknown cause. Identification of the actual bacteria causing the disease is vital for diagnosis especially in determining which antibiotic to be prescribed for treatment. On the other hand, too much of the wrong antibiotic in the body may lead to the formation of resistant strains of the same bacteria.

Antibiotics in our food

In modern conventional farming, animals such as cows, pigs, and chicken are given antibiotics and hormones to promote the growth thereof. Unfortunately, this can cause resistant bacterial strains to occur. The utilization of growth hormones can also cause the animals to wear down earlier than expected. As a consequence, the milk from cows undergoing antibiotic growth therapy will show elevated levels of growth factor. This growth factor has been shown to be elevating the risk for cancer for milk drinkers.

The increase in the number of pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to bacteria is already becoming a major problem. This can mostly be accounted for the giving of antibiotics to animals in farms. Its contribution to the problem is even greater than the excessive prescription of antibiotics to humans by physicians. These animals are given these antibiotics in order to enhance their growth as well as prevent diseases from occurring in stressed, jammed farm animals. Studies have shown that farm animals use more than half of all the antibiotics used in Australia as compared to people. For this reason, the World Health Organization has suggested a decrease in the antibiotics use in agriculture.

The Organic Alternative

In organic farming, the need to enhance the growth of animals is answered by taking better care of the farm animals by providing their needs, keeping their barns clean and other maintenance procedures. Some even go to the extent of making them feel at home wherein they let them graze in the mountains instead of staying indoors all day. Here, antibiotics are also used but only when necessary.

It is always important to take care of oneself by eating the right amount and kind of food, especially the processes wherein certain foods undergo. It is saddening to know that not all the food that we eat is really natural and nutritious as we like to think they are. Advances in agriculture and science, specifically the creation of antibiotics, have helped in ensuring the health of a majority of living organisms, but these also pose a threat to our general welfare if they are misused or abused.

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Top 10 Best Organic Beer Brands

Organic Beer Brews Are Beneficial for Health & the Environment

Elliott Bay Brewing Company was the first brewer of certified organic beer in King County, WA. The company has been involved in recycling programs since 2006 when it began an initiative toward 100 percent composting and recycling at their brewing facility. To further offset their energy consumption, the company purchases wind power credits and continues to find new ways to help sustain the environment both locally and globally. Most all of the beer brewed is made with 100 percent organic ingredients certified under the USDA. Its award-winning Organic Hop Von Boorian blend is a Belgian-style India Pale Ale with “through-the-roof hoppiness.”

Eel River Brewing Company, the true American pioneer in organic beer brewing, first set up shop in 1995 at the former site of the Clay Brown Redwood Lumber mill yard in Fortuna, CA. Soon after, ERB received the Gold Medal for their Climax California Classic brew — named after the Climax Engine, a steam locomotive that used to carry logs out of the forest. Many awards later, the microbrewer became the first in America to brew with 100 percent organic ingredients. ERB eventually turned the old lumber mill brewing site into a Tap Room & Grill, and moved its brewing operation to another historic mill in Scotia, CA. The new brewing site now operates with biomass power, using mill leftovers such as wood chips, bark, scrap lumber and clippings. The company offers many types of unique, award-winning infusions like the famous Organic California Blonde, Organic India Pale Ale, and Organic Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout — a dark Russian beer made with the finest Pacific Northwestern hops, designed to keep you warm during those long winter months.

➢Located in Maine, Peak Organic is a small brewing company with a selection of distinctively delicious ales, handcrafted with quality artisan ingredients. Co-founder Jon Cadoux began perfecting his craft at home back in the 1990’s, seeking out the best ingredients from local organic farmers. Years later, the company was established by Cadoux and a few of his friends in Portland. In 2009, Peak financially helped Maine farmers harvest organic hops on a commercial scale for the first time since 1880. What really sets Peak apart from other organic brewers is the creativity and care behind their blends. From their original Maple Oat Ale with real organic maple syrup and Maine-grown organic oats, to their King Crimson Imperial Red with malt and pine tones, this organic brewer is a great choice for those looking to help the planet without sacrificing good taste.

Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown organic ale is crafted with organic wet hops and barley grown at the brewery in Chico, CA. The company normally does not produce organic brews, although this one is its specialty — and for good reason. The Estate Ale is a delectable blend with earthy, grapefruit-like notes and a savory, crisp quality. Sierra Nevada not only provides delicious, artisan brews, but also focuses on lowering its environmental impact by recycling, generating their own electricity with a large solar array, and treating wastewater with a proprietary two-step anaerobic treatment system, as well as fueling their boilers with the leftover methane from that system. An excellent choice for beer and environmental advocates alike.

➢Berkley, CA-based Bison Brewing began using organic ingredients to do their part in helping the environment. Bison encourages organic farming because it saves around 50 percent more energy than conventional farming, nourishes plants and soil, and prevents water pollution attributes to pesticide runoff. According to their site, the EPA attributes 70 percent of the pollution in America’s rivers and streams to conventional farming methods. The brewery offers a wide variety of award winning brews, from the most popular year-round Chocolate Stout blended with cocoa and organic malts, to the seasonal Gingerbread Ale seasoned with roasted barley, caramel, chocolate and black malts. Not to mention, the company has started a “Drink Neutral” program which encourages organic beer lovers to reduce their environmental impact by filling out a pledge to make a small contribution to help offset their beer consumption. Beer reviews and more can be found on Bison’s website.

Pinkus Organic homebrews has roots in the Northern Germany town of Munster, when the founders Johannes Muller and his wife Friederika Cramer set up shop in 1816. The fifth and sixth generation of the family now own and operate the famous Pinkus-Muller Pub/Brewery. Dedicated to quality brews, Pinkus began brewing organic beer in 1980 and was the world’s first brewery to use organically-grown barley malt and whole hop blossoms. The company brews Organic Münster Alt (or Ale), Organic Ur Pilsner, Organic Hefe-Weizen, and Organic Jubilate — a rich, dark lager with a hop finish.

➢Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery started out as a small brewpub in 1988 and has been brewing tasty, handcrafted ales ever since. Its first beers were Black Butte Porter, Bachelor Bitter and Cascade Golden Ale. Since then, the company moved locations and now operates with a 50-barrel traditional gravity brew house and a 131-barrel Huppmann brew system from Germany. Deschutes currently has only one organic brew, the award-winning Green Lakes Organic Ale, which is the first beer brewed with Salmon-Safe certified hops. Using 100 percent organic malted barley and a mixture of Liberty and Sterling hops, this home-grown concoction is both smooth and satisfying. The company is also involved in many community organizations and contributions to promote a healthy and happy planet.

➢Located in Olympia, WA, Fish Tale Organic Ales are a line of completely organic, deliciously handcrafted beers using the finest hops and barley available. Dedicated to both health and environmental sustenance, this brewer works hard to supply a product that is pure and natural — completely free of pesticides or chemicals. Fish Tale has a wide variety of award-winning organic blends available: Organic India Pale Ale; Organic Amber Ale; Organic Blonde Seasonal Ale; Winterfish Seasonal Ale; Soundkeeper Organic Pale Ale; and Organic Wild Salmon Pale Ale.

Butte Creek Organic Brewing Company – located in Chico, California – boldly designates itself as “the official beer of planet Earth”. In 1998, the brewer decided to experiment with sustainability and released its first organic offering: the Summer Organic Ale. With the success launch of its seasonal blonde, Butte Creek now offers organic brews year-round with its delicious handcrafted pale ales, pilsners and porters. To boot, the seasonal Spring Run Organic Pale Ale has a portion of its proceeds donated to Chinook salmon restoration efforts.

Lakefront Brewing, located in Milwaukee, WI, has a large selection of award-winning brews with one organic blend and even a gluten-free option for those with wheat allergies. Organically-brewed Lakefront Organic ESB is an extra delicious British-style Extra Special Bitter blend with citrus and malt tones, and the distinctive New Grist beer is gluten-free –brewed with sorghum rice flour instead of wheat.

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