Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Eco-Friendly 4th of July Celebration




This weekend is the celebration of the Independence Day of the United States of America.  Celebrations are planned with family and friends and you wonder, how can I make it just a little more environmentally friendly?

Here are some quick tips:

Have a Daytime Party

It’s a simple concept, but one that many don’t think about.  Instead of hosting a party in and around the time that fireworks will be launched, change the time.  Hosting a daytime BBQ or party utilizes the most of natural light and reduces your footprint in the consumption of fossil fuels by running your overhead lights.  If it does turn to dusk outside, try to incorporate soy candles throughout in order to increase ambience and maintain your commitment to a “lights out” party


Use Reusable Party-Ware

Imagine the amount of waste that is accumulated in our landfills each year, especially during the peak of BBQ season!  Instead of buying paper plates, plastic or Styrofoam cups and plasticware, choose a more eco-friendly option – reusable-ware!


Recycle

For those items that can’t be purchased and reused, such as beer and soda cans, make sure to recycle them!  Provide your friends and family a clearly marked container to throw all recyclables in!  This is the easiest step you can take.

Select a “good plastic” and serve your grilled hot dogs and hamburgers on  servingware that can be washed and reused rather than collecting in our landfills!  Here’s a great and quick rhyme to help you remember your plastics:
4 – 5 – 1 and 2 …. All the rest are bad for you

Choose Propane over Charcoal

Yes, I’m sure there are many people that will be a little offended and scoff at me for that one! I’m all for the taste of smoke grilled dogs, but according to a study by the Environmental Impact Assessment Review, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”

The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg (Earth911.com)

Green your Fireworks

Have you ever seen a fireworks launch field the morning after? Ouch.  There is so much debris!  First, choose fireworks that are higher in nitrogen concentration and thus produce less smoke into the atmosphere.

Then – the next morning – take some time and clean up your mess!

Choose All-Natural and Organic foods

By creating a healthier fare for your guests, you will show your commitment to go green and cut out excess waste by not purchasing pre-packaged foods.  The thought that organic foods are more expensive than the conventional is a misconception if pre-planning and research is done prior to your shopping trip!  There are many avenues for green savings, including those on Going Green with Noah.

Malaysia Air Bans Babies from First Class : POLL


Malaysia Airline's controversial ban on infants and children under two years of age in first-class on flights has recently made headlines. According to AOL News , the ban was put into effect after the airline fielded complaints from first-class passengers who didn't enjoy their expensive flights because of bawling babies on board.
CEO Tengku Azmil has taken his defense of the policy to Twitter . The airline leader's Twitter stream seems to be a sounding board and the Azmil isn't shy when it comes to confirming or standing up for the policy, stating "We do not take infants in 1st Class whether on their own seat or on the lap. We do lose some revenue but many ppl complained," in a June 28 update.
Despite the recent attention the baby ban has garnered in the media, the policy is long standing. Azmil told Twitter users that, "Our policy has been in place since 2004, when the current 1st class config was in place."
Though Azmil asserted the recent surge in attention to the ban to a report in the Australian Business Traveller , information from CNN notes that Malaysian Airlines recently expanded the ban to include first-class flights on its recently-purchased Airbus A380 super jumbo jets. The airline expects delivery on the new planes in about a year. Until then, though, the baby ban only applies to long-haul flights on 747-400 planes between Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, London and Amsterdam. Parents and infants are welcome in the business and economy sections.
An official statement from the airline can be found in this press release.
My Take?
As a mother of one (almost two) I understand both sides of the debate.
I can understand that when paying upwards of thousands of dollars for a first class ticket on such a long flight originating in LAX, there is an expectation of modern conveniences along with a tranquil environment.  As a mother, I understand that this does not go hand in hand with an infant.
At the same time, if I wanted to fly Malaysia Air and had enough money to afford to fly my family first class, don't I then, have that right as well?  Mind you - I am far from being able to afford a standard coach class ticket within the continental US!
What are your thoughts?
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Whole Foods Deals June 29 - July 5


Whole Foods 101
  • Prices vary from region to region and store to store so the prices at your local store may not match the prices in this list. Typically, they are comparable in all areas.
  • Most stores allow coupon stacking, however a few do not. Please check with your local store for their policy.
  • Keep in mind sales typically last longer than one week so some deals may look familiar.
  • Check out the new list of Whole Foods printable coupons.
Top Deals
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Food Should Taste Good Chips $2.00
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Santa Cruz Lemonade $1.33
Organic Peaches $1.99/lb
Organic Cantaloupe $2.50 each
More Great Deals
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New and Improved: Safe Cosmetics Act 2011 - FINALLY!

Last year, I wrote an article about the Cosmetics and Fragrance industries and their lack of regulation.  This lack of regulation allows the infusion of extremely dangerous chemicals into our everyday products.  Haven't you ever considered that the increase in health problems in the United States, such as autism, cancer, etc. could potentially be caused by our environment - our products, our food?
It looks like FINALLY the Safe Cosmetics Act that was introduced in 2010 is getting a facelift and would change legislations governing cosmetics that haven't been changed since 1938!!!  Even more exciting is that companies that produce fragrances will have to disclose their ingredients list!  Why is this such a big deal?  It is a big deal because the word "fragrance" on products ranging from our perfumes and colognes to our children's shampoo and lotions is an umbrella phrase that is used to encompass the use of over 3,100 chemicals!!
Here is an article taken from the Forbes.com blog that discusses all of the specifics of this great new legislations! Kudos Washington!
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When the Safe Cosmetics Act–a bill that proposed updating the Cosmetics section of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to require companies to disclose harmful ingredients and give the Food & Drug Administration the power to recall products–was first introduced in 2010, it wasn’t big companies that protested, but small-to-medium size businesses that felt the registration and fees required by the legislation represented too heavy of a financial burden. The bill’s authors, led by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and sponsors [Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)] went to work engaging small businesses and redrafting the legislation to address their concerns. The resulting Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, introduced Friday afternoon, eliminates fees for businesses making less than $10 million, and exempts businesses making less than $2 million from registration.
However, the 2011 bill, which, if passed, would change legislation governing cosmetics for the first time since 1938, goes further than exemptions from paperwork and fees to cozy up to businesses. “We’ve worked with these companies for years–there are 1800 companies that have signed on to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics–so we don’t see this as an us versus them situation,” says Janet Nudelman, legislation coordinator for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and director of program and policy for Breast Cancer Fund. “If the bill isn’t going to work for the companies that have to implement it, then it’s not going to work for consumers or for public health, and I say that as a public health advocate.”
To that end, the revised bill also includes revisions to stipulations governing safety testing, labeling, and disclosure of contaminants. While the 2010 act required safety testing, it was unclear as to who would be required to conduct this testing. Given that most cosmetics and personal care companies buy their chemical ingredients from other suppliers (Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical among them), the 2011 bill puts the onus on suppliers to supply manufacturers with up-to-date safety tests. “Most of the suppliers are doing these tests themselves already, they’re just not required to make the results public,” Nudelman explains.
The safety testing stipulation carries over into another key area of disclosure–under the new proposed legislation, suppliers of fragrances and flavors would have to disclose their ingredient lists. Historically these industries have been exempted from such disclosure as their formulas are protected as trade secrets. “If I as a cosmetics company have to disclose my ingredients on a label, why shouldn’t fragrance companies?” says Rebecca Hamilton, director of product development for New Hampshire-based W.S. Badger Company, which manufactures assorted body care products.
In fact, such disclosure could actually be a boon to fragrance and flavor companies, particularly those that avoid any potentially harmful ingredients. Hamilton says her company has long wanted to incorporate fragrances and flavors into its products, but has steered clear because suppliers of such ingredients are not transparent about what’s in them.
“We believe in transparency– that’s a big part of our brand value–so if we don’t know what the ingredients are we don’t know if there’s something in there that would be harmful, and we won’t use those sorts of ingredients in our products,” she says. “This [the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011] would take away the secrecy around fragrance and flavor, and would allow us to use these products that we’d like to use if their ingredient lists were more transparent.”
Nudelman says other companies are pleased with this part of the Act as well. “We call this the Producer Right-to-Know, and the companies we’re working with are quite pleased with it,” she says. “We always talk about consumers’ right-to-know, but producers have a right to know as well–they are the ones that will be held liable if  a harmful ingredient sneaks into their product.”
The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 also deals with a labeling complaint some business had with the 2010 version–for certain products the ingredient list is too long and the product is too small to fit absolutely everything on the label, so the revised bill would authorize the FDA to stipulate whether a product’s ingredients need to go on the label or can be posted on a company’s website. The final big revision is in the area of contaminants disclosure: The first time around, companies were concerned that there are so many ingredients that could potentially be contaminants that if there was no one, agreed-upon list they’d be hard-pressed to meet the Safe Cosmetics Act’s requirement of disclosing all contaminants in a product. The 2011 version of the bill clarifies that the FDA is required to create a list of contaminants likely to be found in cosmetics and provide guidance to companies about which to test for and which need to be on the label.
But while some small businesses may feel their needs have been addressed, not everyone is ready to embrace the Safe Cosmetics Act. ThePersonal Care Products Council, a trade association representing the cosmetics and personal care industries (members include the Estee Lauder Companies, L’Oreal USA, and Procter & Gamble Cosmetics, among many others), had this to say in an official response to the bill:
“We are still reviewing the provisions of Rep. Schakowsky’s new bill, but we are very concerned that the approach outlined in it will further strain FDA and inevitably raise costs for business and consumers at a time when our companies, which have a superior safety track record that spans decades, need business certainty more than ever to continue to innovate, grow their businesses, and create new manufacturing  jobs in the U.S.”
Hamilton, however, argues that stricter U.S. regulations will help bring the United States in line with other countries, many of which already require labeling, disclosure and testing similar to that required by the Safe Cosmetics Act.
“I’d like to be able to say, ‘I manufacture in the U.S.’ and have that be good enough because we have such high standards,” she says. “Instead, in a lot of countries they look down on any cosmetics and personal care products made in the U.S. because we don’t have high standards.  We have to go and get additional certifications, and go that extra mile to show the quality of our products in other countries. We’d really like to see a higher baseline here in general so that it’s assumed products made here are safe.”
For its part, the Personal Care Products Council says it agrees that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act needs to be modernized. To that end, it is working with the House Energy & Commerce Committee leadership to propose what it calls, “reasonable, science-based changes to the law that will meaningfully enhance cosmetics regulation without over-burdening FDA or imposing costly and unnecessary restrictions on business.”
“Why is the Personal Care Products Council working with the Energy and Commerce Committee to draft safe cosmetics legislation when Reps. Schakowsky, Markey and Baldwin just introduced exactly the kind of science-based, business-friendly bill they say they want?” asks Nudelman. “Their time would be much better spent working to get this bill signed into law so the American people can get the safer products they want and deserve.”
By most accounts, this time around the Safe Cosmetics Act has a better chance of passage than any similar legislation has had in the past. As stories highlighting potentially dangerous ingredients such asformaldehyde, heavy metals (lead, cadmium and arsenic), and phthalatesin personal care products used regularly by everyone from adult men and women to pre-pubescent girls, it’s becoming increasingly unappealing for politicians to appear to be against such legislation. Moreover, few businesses, particularly those in the health and beauty realm, want to be seen as against safe ingredients, and all seem to agree that the FDA’s regulatory mandate needs to be updated. How pretty that modernization is remains to be seen, but no matter what, this could be a very good moment for those in the green chemistry business.
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ENDS TONIGHT! Win one Quart of Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil!

Tonight ends the Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil giveaway!



Make sure to come and enter!  Currently there are less than 130 entries, so your chances are great!

As a special extra entry opportunity for reading this article, if you fan Tropical Traditions on Facebook you will receive 1 extra entry.  This was already an optional entry, so if you've already done this, sorry - BUT if you visit Alexa.com and leave me a 5 star rating, you will receive 2 extra entries into this giveaway!

Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.


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Gender Neutral School at Swedish Preschool


preschool in Sweden wants to eliminate gender bias by referring to children as “friends,” instead of girls and boys, and avoiding gender-specific pronouns such as “him” or “her.”
At the taxpayer-funded “Egalia” preschool in Stockholm, which opened last year for children ages 1-6, boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, which is located next to the Lego bricks, the Associated Press reports.
They read books featuring gay and lesbian couples, single parents and adopted children, instead of fairy tales such as “Cinderella” or “Snow White,” which are rife with gender stereotypes.
School staff try to avoid masculine and feminine references in their speech, for example by not using the Swedish pronouns “han” or “hon” for him or her, and instead using the genderless word “hen,” which doesn’t formally exist in the Swedish language.
"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," teacher Jenny Johnsson told the AP. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."
A 2010 report by the World Economic Forum on the global gender gap found that Sweden and three other Nordic countries lead the world when it comes to gender equality. Sweden is also considered a pioneer in legalizing gay and lesbian partnerships.
MY TAKE
Really? I'm all for equality amongst race, gender, sexual orientation....but to raise your child without gender?
Maybe it's my Christian upbringing, foundation and continued devotion, but I believe that equality does not come from becoming someone you are not.  Equality comes from tolerance, acceptance and love - qualities that are supposed to be taught by parents, educators, mentors.  Only through tolerance will we ever find equal rights among ourselves.
Here is a video newscast of the new "gender neutral" school - Comment with your thoughts - Please share this article with friends through the Twitter and Facebook tabs below.  Also, do you have a second?  Please click on the button below to vote for Going Green with Noah on Top Mommy Blogs!


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