1602: Slick Water

slick-water-andrew-nikifourkIt is no secret that mainstream media coverage of environmental issues is slow-moving, and many stories go un-reported in the press. Climate change deniers spout their ideology with reckless abandon. Enter my guest this week, Andrew Nikiforuk, an award winning environmental writer based in Calgary, Canada, who has written a new book about the hydraulic fracturing industry entitled Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry. The book traces the saga of Jessica Ernst, and the path she takes to hold Encana Oil and Canada’s environmental government agencies, responsible for secretly fracking hundreds of gas wells around her home, in a rural area northeast of Calgary. A cover-up ensues, which leads Ms. Ernst to take legal action against the various parties for their role in contaminating land, water and air in her community. For more information andrewnikiforuk.com and to amazon.com to check out his new and older works.

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Just One Word: Plastics

At times it feels we’re just doomed to suffer in the toxic choices of our every day lives.

By Susan Lutz

I snapped the glow stick. The green, fluorescent light lit the way – the kids on Halloween safer because of the glow. The plastic glass I bought for my son this summer had the Minions on it. If I put it in the freezer, it would keep the contents cold long through the summer day. At times, it feels as if everything is toxic; everything is plastic. At times it feels we’re just doomed to suffer in the toxic choices of our every day lives.

There isn’t a day that passes by that I don’t feel guilty about a dangerous, toxic, or bad-for-me product our family consumes or uses. We occasionally buy water in plastic bottles. I go to the grocery store and sometimes forget my cloth reusable bags. After a few weeks, I’m stunned at the pile of plastic bags in the corner. I dutifully recycle my paper, plastics, and metals, yet I know recycling isn’t a solution, just a band-aid to a bigger problem.

So many of our conveniences trace back to our love of plastics. I recently watched The Graduate again and was stunned by the accuracy and the irony of the iconic line said to Benjamin as he debated what to do with his future:

I want to say one word to you. Just one word…Plastics.

The benefits of plastics and many other chemically based products made in our society are far reaching. Medical, educational, and at-home use of plastics grew leaps and bounds: think bags for blood transfusions, the parts in computers, the covers on our phones, the stuff that holds pens together, the fibers in our clothes, and so on…..

How do we turn things around? Just passing the tetra boxes in the grocery store makes me sad. I wonder if it’s impossible to change the course we’re on. I can’t predict what we’ll do to our planet, and ourselves, but I can obtain peace of mind and enough good habits to overall lessen my carbon footprint and instead chip away at improving our lives and obtaining a better balance of our existence.

What if we all used plastics less than we did the day before? I reuse glass bottles as my daily water bottles when out and about. Though not perfect (they sometimes break!), I feel it’s a tiny step I want to take in reducing my own personal toxic footprint on the planet.

I forgive myself when I don’t make it – when I forget to recycle or when I buy face paint with lead in it for Halloween. (I threw it out and made a DIY face paint from zinc oxide and chlorophyll!). But more times than I fail, I succeed. I’ll remember next year how to make the green face paint. As the end of the year and the holiday rolls around, I’ll buy less. And I see wonderful strides in our community. I see vegetable trays at children’s gatherings and a lot less candy floating around. If we all bought plastic water bottles once in a while or used the same computer two extra years, we’d make a huge dent in reducing the toxicity in our environment.

Make choices knowing that they make a long, long impact on our planet. Now, there’s just one word we must think about. One word to take us to our new level: consciousness.

 

 

 

#1535: Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Jordan-C-the-many-shades-of-greenMicrobeads are not part of a kids craft project, they are tiny plastic particles which are entering the wildlife and human populations. My guest this week, Jordan Christensen, is the Program Coordinator for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and she is working to put pressure on our elected officials to ban the use of microbeads. She is also working on projects to limit raw sewage and toxins from entering the waterways, as well as reducing use of chemicals in schools. We have to write letters to our local and national representatives to let them know that Earth comes first. Go to www.citizenscampaign.org for more information.

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#1532: The Green Living Guy

Seth-LeitmanDo the electric slide into an EV (electric vehicle), and plug into a greener way to travel. My guest this week, Seth Leitman, a/k/a Green Living Guy, brings his expertise on vehicles that are electrifying the roadways. From Ford Fusion to Mitsubishi to Tesla, we learn about how the car industry is heading towards a more electric future. Seth’s Green Guru Guides and soon to be videos, are great tools to help you become a more sustainable Earthling. For more information go to greenlivingguy.com

#1532: The Green Living Guy by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

#1531: A Modern Day Johnny Appleseed

Samuel-Robinson-ed-1Almost born on the Brooklyn Bridge, salvaged in Manhattan, and raised on the Brooklyn side. Sounds like a punk rocker was born, but it was the life beginning of this week’s guest, Samuel Robinson. Sam is a Green Living Consultant, Horticulturalist, Sculptor and blogger. He is the modern day Johnny Appleseed, as he cruises around the streets of NYC in his 1961 Willys Farm Jeep, distributing plant seeds and spreading the green message across the urban landscape. Sam is working on bio-remediation projects to help clean the water in the Gownaus Canal, which has turned into a toxic brew over the last several decades. We all need to take action and let our elected officials know that green spaces and clean waterways will improve the quality of life in the city, and legislation is needed to do that. If Paris can go green, NYC can go green. For more information go to greenwoodrobinson.com

#1531: A Modern Day Johnny Appleseed by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

#1525: 2015 Clearwater Music Festival

Abba-and-M-clearwaterNeither rain, nor fog, nor soggy dew could dampen the spirit of the Clearwater 2015 Festival. We spoke to many environmental activists and green entrepreneurs who are creating ideas, and spreading the message about the need to be proactive stewards of Mother Earth. Music echoed throughout the festival, with many performers motivating the populace to take a stand and raise their voices on environmental and social justice issues. Music icon David Crosby, sang new songs with lyrics that commented on the nation’s current state of affairs, and implored people to email, call or show up at the offices of their elected officials and make some noise. Pete Seeger would have been proud to see his vision perpetuated. For more info go to clearwater.org.

#1525: 2015 Clearwater Music Festival by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

The Environmental Hazards of Consumerism

By Susan Lutz

Products stacked high. Priced low. That’s the box-store shopping model we’ve come to accept. Shoppers expect cheap bargains, and for the most part, get it. From my small college town in Minnesota to Central America, I’ve watched Walmart build and consumers follow. I watched as the college town almost died out. Buildings begged for renters, to buyers rather than shoppers. Today, we watch the scope of Walmart’s impact reach for the skies, adding a negative carbon footprint at a fervent pace.

Walmart’s positive green press spins differently. Walmart reports all is right with the company’s clip to reduce emission and go green. However, The Institute for Local Self-Reliance reported that Walmart is guilty of going in the opposite direction and increasing greenhouse emissions with no stop in sight. In addition, many of Walmart’s products do not reflect the consciousness of a company dedicated to sustainability.

About ten years ago, Walmart started issuing it’s own, Global Responsibility Report. In developing countries, it’s hard to keep people away from the lure of the American brand (though many products are not made in America). I found the stores overpriced. The appeal for many, as Walmart knows, is the location. It was on a bus line, the parking lots are huge, and taxis even wait outside. Everything sat under one roof. A lure, even to this shopper, who couldn’t resist when the rain poured (the parking was not only huge, it was covered), and I needed some over-sized paper for my child’s school project.

Walking the aisles of these big box stores feels overwhelming and too much. Do we need purple and green and pink toilet paper? Are those products a “green” company should support. Jeffrey Hollender, founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation, Inc. took a look at what companies are doing to confuse customers into thinking a company is going green, when in fact it’s not:

“In essence, Walmart is saying, ‘Hey, Walmart shopper, here’s a totally unsustainable product from one of our supposed Sustainability Leaders.’”

What do we do? Walmart and other consumerism-toilet-paper-whole-green-simple-lifebox-stores are now planted as an option for shopping, for everyone, for everything. What do we need? Do we need so much? The visual of green and pink toilet paper is one I’d never thought of until now. Walmart’s not just going to go away. We’ve helped create it. Yet, it must change. It’s too important. They’ve got the power to do it. We’ve got the power to demand it.

I returned to my college town a few years ago. It had made a bit of a comeback. The diner I cooked for was gone. But a few coffee shops and new stores had taken hold. It’s the main street of postcards. The place where community gathers and owners greet customers. Between the Walmart model and the main street, a model exists where we can reduce our impact, empower local retailers, and promote that which truly is good for the planet.

End the Use of the Tiny, Terrible Microbead

By Susan Lutz

microbeadsScrub some natural face cleanser on at the end of the day. Feels wonderful. A shea butter body cream can only be good, right? Read the ingredients. Many of the cosmetics on the shelf today contain microbeads. What’s a microbead? I hadn’t heard of them either. Yet, they are now so proliferate in many of the products we use, approximately 69 NGOs from 33 countries are supporting the campaign to end the use of the microbead, according to beatthemicrobead.org.

What exactly is a microbead? Imagine a teeny, tiny bead of plastic. Now, image something smaller. Microbeads replace more natural ingredients, especially in health and body care products like scrubs, creams, and toothpaste. The tiny beads, less then 1mm, are composed of polyethylene, polypropylene, polymethyl methacrylate, or nylon, in short, plastic. Use a microbead for seconds, rinse, and it goes down the drain to stay in the environment forever. The cycle of water pulls the plastic fibers all the way to the oceans. They don’t break down. Instead, they mush into plastic-like goo; floating, unnoticed by a fish that eats a smaller fish – tasty, yet environmentally deadly. Catch the bigger fish and the contaminant ends up back on our table, in our mouths. See anyone pick up a tiny piece of plastic on the ground and eat it? That’s exactly what’s happening.

How did this happen? And, right under our nose? All of these ingredients are approved and “safe” to use. Safe bet companies are making money on the short-term benefit of making a product cheaper, getting it on the shelf quicker, and selling more than we really need. Natural ingredients take more time, most likely more investment – in the short run. (And, I’m not even talking about organic ingredients yet, just “natural” like putting in more real shea butter instead of cutting the real product with these tiny plastic beads.)

Step in a movement to end those tiny, terrible microbeads. Like so many other products we discover for the quick, availability and cheaper price, we buy it: plastic bags, the k-cup, or processed food. The ramifications of our choices always, not sometimes, but always come back to bite us in the bags and beads. Without seeing the long-term effect before we eat too much sugar or throw all or allow GMO modification of our food, we suffer the consequences of our choices and have to work to not only end the use of the danger, but also find ways to reinvent how to educate, make healthy choices, and show our children things like tiny microbeads just are a bad decision.

A movement has started to ban the microbead. Annie Leonard, founder of The Story of Stuff, began an idea to look at our prolific use of stuff. Her animated movies are short, great for anyone – I’ve showed them to my kids – and poignant. She’s always working on a solution. Pointing out the problem is one thing, doing something about yet another. Learn what products carry microbeads and stop using them. Check out sites that offer more information on microbeads and how to join a campaign to ban the bead.

So, let’s get started, below is a list of companies and products as posted from beatthemicrobead.org that contain microbeads. You can get the full list, for many countries, on their site.

A few examples of products with microbeads as listed by beathemicrobead.org:

Ahava: Dead Sea Essentials-Relaxing Almond Exfoliating Body Cleanser – Polyethylene (PE)

CVS Pharmacy: Oil Free Scrub – Polyethylene (PE)

Neutrogena/Johnson & Johnson: Deep clean gentle Scrub (oil free) – Polyethylene (PE)

Note the brands; be familiar with the all the chemical names of the microbead. Changing brands, really going natural or organic is a choice not just for better skin or whiter teeth, but a choice that makes a difference for our children and our planet.

Simple Green Cleaning Ideas

DSCN2621The simplest spring cleaning ideas can be found around the home. Under the sink and in the cupboard are ingredients with the power to clean easily and organically. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is very inexpensive. Available at any store in the pharmacy and health and beauty section, the bubbling action gets up stuck on grime and sanitizes as it works. Food grade hydrogen peroxide is an even safer, cleaner way to go, though a bit more in cost.
2. Baking Soda: Scrubbing made easy and cheap. Put this cleaner on tough stains and scrub. Many like to mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda and call it the miracle cleaner. I always wear gloves when cleaning.
3. Vinegar: Most know about vinegar as a glass cleaner. Old newspapers make a great wipe as paper towels can leave a trace of paper flecks behind.
4. Lemon: Clean with the power of a natural sanitizer with lemon. I love to use the last drops on my cutting boards. After drinking down a delightful fresh lemon drink, drop the rind down the garbage disposal and in an instant get a fresher system and smell.
5. Room Freshener and deodorizer: Mix half alcohol such as vodka (as has no smell) and water. Then add your favorite essential oil like peppermint or bergamot.

#1517: 2015 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

Veg-Food-Fest-the-many-shades-of-green-podcast-squareBe Kind to Animals, Don’t Be Cruel, Eat Your Veggies. All these phrases come together on this week’s program, as we celebrate vegetarian cuisine and cruelty free living at the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival. We spoke with Zoe Weil, Co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, Nora Kramer, Founder and Executive Director of YEA (Youth Empowerment Action) Camp, Annie Hauck Lawson, Founder of Brooklyn Mompost, Susan Hargreaves, Founder of Animal Hero Kids, and Isis Phillips, Executive Director of Indy Kids. It was a pleasure speaking with all this dynamic and amazing women, who do so much to make the world a better place. For more information on these organizations go to humaneeducation.org, solutionaryschoolnyc.org, yeacamp.org, brooklynmompost.org, animalherokids.org, indykids.org and nycvegfoodfest.com

#1517: 2015 NYC Vegetarian Food Festival by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

#1514: Bringing Zen Into Your Life

anjie-cho-1514_2

What steps can you take to enhance the flow of chi? How do you create functional, sustainable and balanced spaces in your home by using Feng Shui techniques? What does the color green represent on the BAGUA MAP, and how many shades of green are there? Find out by tuning in, as this week’s guest, and friend of the show Anjie Cho and I discuss how to put some Feng in your Shui. Her new book: 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces, is a must read to bring zen and harmony into your life. Anjie is a LEED certified green architect, and is a BTB Feng Shui practitioner. For information go to holisticspaces.com. Her new book is available on amazon.com

#1509: Bedford 2020

Bedford2020_trans-01This week’s program takes place at the Bedford 2020 Summit and Solar Action Day. We spoke to Andrew Revkin, writer of the Dot Earth Blog for the New York Times, as well as Peter Olmsted, East Coast Regional Director for Vote Solar. We also spoke to Mayor Michael Cindrich of Mt. Kisco, NY about the solar projects on his agenda. Keynote Speaker Amory Lovins, of The Rocky Mountain Institute, spoke about new energy technologies that are on the horizon for the future of electricity. It was a gathering of innovators, educators and community, all working to promote solar and other renewable energy, in an effort to help create actionable solutions to green house gas emissions. A special thank you to Heather Flournoy for her hard work and hospitality. For more information go to bedford2020.org, dotearthblogs.nytimes.com and votesolar.org