Screen your Sunscreen
An oily appearance on the surface of pool and lake water is a common sight. In lakes, this sheen may be due primarily to watercraft fuels and lubricants. But in pools, sunscreen may be the culprit. It is estimated about ten million pounds of sunscreen pollutes water bodies world wide. Chemicals and oils found in sunscreens have the potential to impact aquatic life, particularly sensitive ecosystems such as marine coral reefs. In response, many marine parks in Mexico ban sunscreens that are not biodegradable. Do your part to protect our lakes and oceans, read the ingredients to find sunscreens free of artificial fragrances, synthetic preservatives, UV-absorbers, PABA, and parabens.
Keep it Cool
Here are a few ways to beat the summer heat without breaking the bank:
- Run ceiling fans in a clockwise for a “wind-chill” effect on your skin, but turn them off when you leave the room - they circulate air, but do not cool a room.
- Turn off lights and electronics (especially computers) when not in use so they don’t generate unnecessary heat; switch to compact fluorescent lamps which use less energy and produce less heat
- Set your AC to a higher temp when you are away or asleep.
- Get a cooling system tune-up; change filter regularly, remove leaves, dirt and other debris from around the outdoor components to improve air flow and efficiency
- Seal air leaks in your duct system with foil tape or mastic; insulate ducts in crawl spaces, unfinished basements and attics
Seal air leaks around doors, windows, electrical outlets, and in attics, basements and crawl spaces; add insulation
Rather than sending them to the landfill in your regular trash, drop them off at a local Pak-Mail store for donation/re-use!
Catch of the Day
Currently, Indiana is one of the top ten users of energy per capita in the United States. The U.S. and world demand for energy is projected to rise over the next two decades, while the raw materials for energy production will peak and begin to decline, costing Indiana an estimated additional $7 billion dollars to import electricity. Energy conservation and efficiency efforts need to begin now! Investment in new technology through GE and other Indiana corporations will create jobs and allow money to be reinvested locally. Chart your own energy use and see how conservation can offset rising costs.
Internet Surfing Again?
Companies such as Google operate multi-million square foot warehouses filled with servers that run the search engine. Google’s half million servers consume $2million in electricity per month! Additionally, these units release an enormous amount of heat into the air, which must be cooled by AC. Mining the coal to create the electricity causes air and water pollution, therefore, every internet search done impacts the ecosystem. As developing nations become more tech savvy and use of iPads and iPhones grows, the problem will be exacerbated. Think before you search!
Fill up when your tank is half full to minimize the space available for evaporation. Additionally, letting your tank run low may permit settled solids to enter your fuel line and reduce engine efficiency.
Do not fill up if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks. The solids/”dirt” in the tank are stirred up as the gas is being delivered.
When you buy an appliance, you pay more than just the sales price - you commit yourself to paying the cost of running that appliance for as long as you own it. For example, running a refrigerator for 15-20 years costs as much as the initial purchase price of the unit. Next time you are comparing appliances, look at the Energy Guide label and calculate the Life-Cycle Cost. Life Cycle Cost = Initial Cost + (Annual Operating Cost x Years of Operation)
Coffee is the world's second-most valuable legal commodity after oil, with environmental and social impacts to match. More than 1.9 million tons of paper and plastic cups and plates are produced, transported, and disposed of each year in the U.S. Stop the waste; use your own mug. Despite needing to wash it, you’ll produce 30 times less solid waste and 60 times less air pollution if you used disposable paper or foam cups. Also, stir up some positive change by switching to organic and Fair Trade-labeled brands.
Put a stop to “junk mail”. The junk mail industry destroys about 100 million trees each year and its production and disposal consumes more energy than 3 million cars! Choose
the mail you receive by contacting the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and registering in their Mail Preference Service. Adding your name to the do-not-mail list is easy; you can register online.
Bottled Water Truths
Bottled water manufacturers use enticing lingo to snag you for the sell. Don’t be fooled.
- Glacial Water or Mountain Water – true to its word, but may not be a pristine site
- Spring Water – groundwater collected as it comes to the earth’s surface; can be a manmade borehole, not necessarily a natural spring; may not have been treated
- Artesian Water – from any underground source (no different than well water); may not have been treated
- Purified Water – any water with extra treatment for chemical removal, but not necessarily free of pathogens
Mineral water – contains at least 250ppm dissolved solids (might not be USDA recommended minerals)
- As much as 40% of bottled water sold is simply tap water.
- To make the plastic for the bottle took up to four times as much water than is actually in the bottle.
- It takes 1.5 million barrels of oil for the 28 billion plastic water bottles in the US each year.
- Only 16% of plastic water bottles are recycled in the US while 2.5 million water bottles are discared each hour.
- Investigate where the water was bottled – is the long travel to your grocery adding to air pollution?
Soil that washes off construction sites, farm fields and yards and “dirt’ from streets and parking lots stays suspended in the rivers making them appear "dirty". Keeping our land vegetated helps the rivers stay cleaner and reduces run-off that causes flooding. With just a little effort from each home and business owner we could see a dramatic difference. Some ideas you can use: wash your car in your yard, so the grass can filter the pollutants. Bacteria in the soil will “eat” the carbon-based oils, greases and road grime. Divert your downspouts into your garden/yard where the land can absorb the rain, rather than rushing to the storm sewers. Install a rain garden on your property to filter water and keep your property hydrated (see catchingrainfw.org).
Rivers Safe From Phosphorus
In Indiana, phosphorus was banned from laundry detergents in 1973 and dishwashing detergents in 2010 to reduce the amount reaching the waterways. Phosphorous, a naturally occurring mineral from rocks, is essential for plant and animal health, but in excess can cause eutrophication and degrade water quality by reducing oxygen in the water.
organic – for food, this label is certified by USDA. These products are free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, animal by-products, antibiotics and sewage sludge.
natural – minimal processing and free of artificial preservatives and additives.
free-range – the animal has access to the outdoors
fairtrade – system employs sustainable development and empowers disadvantaged producers and workers in developing countries. Independent regulating agency.
Its All in the Bag
Houseplants Improve Health
Indoor Air Quality
Follow these tips for better indoor air quality:
- Don’t allow smoking in the house
- Dust and vacuum regularly
- Fix water leaks promptly (within 48 hours)
- Clean up mold immediately
- Ensure all fuel-burning equipment ventilates properly to the outside
- Keep pets off soft furniture and bedding
- Test your home for radon
- Seal cracks in foundation or basement walls
- Ventilate the room when painting or using cleaning products
- Keep houseplants which purify the air
Investigate further at the EPA site
Work-Out with the Earth in Mind
Choose Your Plastic Wisely
Many products we purchase can now be found in recyclable containers. Plastic comes to mind and it comes in many different forms:
- PETE: Polyethylene Terephthalate; Commonly used in soft drinks, juice, and cough syrup containers and microwave trays (about 1/3 of all plastic bottles produced in US). Recycled, PETE can go into belts, shoes, insulation, car parts and blankets.
- HDPE: High Density Polyethylene; Commonly used in milk jugs, detergent and shampoo bottles.
- V: Polyvinyl Chloride; Commonly used in film for meat packaging and some rigid plastic containers.
- LDPE: Low Density Polyethylene; Commonly used in newspaper and grocery bags and butter cups lids.
- PP: Polypropylene; Commonly used in yogurt containers and deli trays.
- PS: Polystyrene; Commonly used in plastic cups and plates and to-go containers.
- OTHER: Other mixed resins such as PC: Polycarbonate; Commonly used in mixed plastic containers or plastic products.
Polycarbonate (#7), found in many baby bottles, can breakdown and release Bisphenol A (BPA) which may affect the endocrine system. It is important to never put them in the microwave or dishwasher or use to contain boiling liquids. Bisphenol A is an environmental estrogen – which means it is an unnatural chemical that acts like a female hormone when it enters the body. Health risks of Bisphenol A are still under investigation. Nalgene brand bottles can now be found with a “BPA-free” label.