Bottled Water Is A Scam

October 13, 2007

If you think you can taste the difference between Fuji brand water and ‘drinking’ water from the grocery store you’re the victim of some very powerful marketing. Turns out that a lot of Americans will choose tap water over fancy name brand water in blind taste tests. Here’s another blind taste test. More appalling is the flagrant mis-use of natural resources needed to ship ‘glacial spring water’ from the glacier to your neighborhood. Then there are the un-recycled water bottles that are made from plastic (derived from oil and natural gas) that clog landfills and beaches throughout the world. In addition to all of these environmental reasons for not drinking bottled water, it turns out that gasoline is actually cheaper(by volume) than most bottled water products.

water bottle trash

I thought clean drinking water was a basic human right. Small towns in the U.S. are witnessing their municipal water being purchased by conglomerates like Nestle Corporation, repackaged and sold back to Americans as “pure spring water”. On so many levels this is wrong. So wrong in fact the City of Burbank in California has a new bottled-water policy which calls for city employees to use tap water during official meetings and City Hall proceedings. Other parts of the country too are realizing the huge negative economic and environmental effect those ”healthy” little bottles can have. Inside the Bottle urges that everyone mobilize to prevent consumption of bottled water.

The bottled water industry even have their own website dedicated to helping people sell more of their harmful products.

The Environmental Working Group can help you determine the quality of the tap water in your area.

A trip to the water cooler will feel so much healthier if you don’t make any trash in the process.

According to Wikipedia, Bagasse is the left-over bio mass when you’ve squeezed all of the juice out of sugarcane. In addition to being explored as feed for live stock and raw material for creating bio fuels, bagasse can also replace paper in many disposable products including cups, trays, plates and bowls. After an exhaustive search I found TreeCycle, purveyors of fine recycled paper products. They sell those little coffee convenience trays that keep you from spilling milk all over your car when you are kind enough to pick up some caffeine for your coworkers. Better yet the trays are made from this material of the gods, bagasse, which happens to be sustainable and biodegradable. Hurray for responsible coffee drinking!

Coffee tray made from sugarcane.

That NY coffee cup feeling

September 30, 2007

If you have ever ordered coffee from a street vendor in NYC you will find this product particularly comforting. We Are Happy To Serve You makes a ceramic coffee mugs that look identical to their earth-thrashing paper counterparts. This is a much cooler alternative to a made-in-China plastic Empire State Building statue that just sits there doing nothing.

We Are Happy To Serve You mug

Green Moving Boxes

September 23, 2007

Perhaps, like you, I want to hoard perfectly functional cardboard boxes. For me it’s about not paying for boxes when I’m shipping things I’ve sold on Ebay. It’s also about not deforesting the planet by giving the old ones a new life. Few of us have enough space in our garages for the number of paper vessels needed to move a typical household from one home to the next.  What do you do when you want to be green but need a whole bunch? Used Cardboard Boxes to the rescue!Boxes

The prices are slightly lower than buying new boxes from the other major competitors like U-Haul, but you can rest easy knowing that you are killing fewer trees as you finally move into your country home in the woods. Ah, nature….

Paper cup manufacturer, International Paper, has created a cup that is defininitely a step in the right direction. Ecotainer from International PaperTheir Ecotainer hot beverage cup is lined with corn protein instead of plastic. According to their press release this small move to replacing the petro-chemical ingredients could save enough energy to heat over 8,300 American homes a year. They mention on the site that they also use renewable energy to produce the cup but strangely there is no mention of the cups’ virgin paper content. While perhaps a bit of green-washing from a company whose core business still relies on trees for it’s profit, they offer a slightly less evil disposable cup that is ready for use in your local Starbucks today.

I’ve been wandering how to recycle a few items lately. Styrofoam is one of those items that I’m never sure what to do with.

Styrafoam Coffee Cup

Black plastic food containers are another one. If you live in Los Angeles, the Dept. of Public Works can supply tips on what you can recycle and also how to give a new life to things un-wanted.

My green friend Courtney and I discovered a recent LA Public works ad campaign that suggests that it’s now ok to put Styrofoam in your recycling bin. You can even dial “311” from any phone to get the details. If you forgot your own cup and looking for a way to keep caffeine withdrawal to a minimum, the word on the street is to use paper over foam any chance you get, though. (Jump cut to images of cooler pieces and flip flops washing up on pristine white sand beaches in Thailand).

HowCanIRecycleThis.com opens up the discussion to it’s viewers. Tapping in to crowd-sourcing for finding recycling solutions seems like an amazingly elegant answer. This UK site does a great job of helping visitors think of ways to re-purpose certain items. Still don’t know what to do with pesky Styrofoam…

Then I found American Chemistry. While this site green washes certain ugly chemical products, it does offer valuable local resources for responsibly handling those plastics I’ve been wandering about.

Tree Hugger does it again in this article about dealing with foam recycling. Grinning Planet also offers foam cup facts. Cooking in foam can be toxic. Who knew?

Space Trash

July 20, 2007

We clearly need another planet. We are unable to take of this one in even the most simple ways. There are over 13,000 pieces of junk, each of them more than 30 feet long, orbiting the earth.
According to ABC News,”There are at least another 100,000 hunks of junk that measure between 1 and 10 centimeters (roughly one-half to 4 inches). And the number of pieces smaller than 1 centimeter orbiting the Earth is in the millions.”

Space Trash

Was this part of NASA’s design? Do we go into space intending to litter? If high velocity space trash is such a hazard for space crews how will they curb their contribution to this dangerous and expensive problem?

Mars’ gravity is not as strong as Earth’s from my recollection. When we colonize that planet at least our garbage can be jetisoned into space more easily. Or we can just take care of Earth.

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