Neither 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.
By Susan Lutz
Scrub 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.
This 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
How does the after-world connect to the green world? Why pollute when you are dead? Christina Orban-La Salle, Director of Programs, Tours and Visitor Services at the historic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, famous for the tale of the Headless Horseman, is my guest this week, and we talk about a new trend for interment, “green” burials. Most common burials are harmful to the environment, as embalming fluids are toxic, and cement vaults and caskets are not earth friendly. There is now a movement to leave a better legacy by choosing a more natural burial, which is in tune with the harmony of the cycles of life, and is more spiritual, meaningful, and ecologically regenerative. It is a topic that most people shy away from, but it is important to integrate conservation and death care, in order to restore the natural earth. For more information about Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and the River view Natural Burial Ground, go to sleepyhollowcemetery.org
The need is greater than ever to be involved in the growing sustainability and food movement. The threats that our agriculture industry pose on climate change and human survival are blatantly obvious at this point, yet it seems that many US politicians have forsaken their duty as representatives of the common good of America while instead succumbing to the pressures of politics and corporate interest. For the sake of being concise, I won’t get into the details of the destruction that Monsanto Company and similar operations are causing to humanity and to nature. For a summary of these details, click here.
Today, I am focusing more on the dilemma of Michael R. Taylor slithering his way from atop multiple powerful positions working for Monsanto Company to holding America’s health in the palm of his hand as head honcho of the FDA. And last but not least, I hope to begin to show you all how gravely this affects us all.
To start off I want to ask a question. When did it become acceptable in this country to let someone switch so freely between the position of corporate lobbyist/lawyer and policy maker in the same field? That is what FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food and Veterinary Medicine Michael R.Taylor did. Also, do me a quick favor and google the relationship he has had with King & Spalding, a law firm that has a history of representing Monsanto. This, my friends has been called by Marion Nestle, who wrote Food Politics, “a classic example of the revolving door.”
There are those who argue for Taylor’s innocence however. Bill Marler who wrote Mike Taylor and the Myth of the Monsanto Man, claims that after knowing of him (not directly knowing him) for nearly 20 years, he is convinced Taylor is non-partial to Monsanto. Taylor himself is quoted in the article saying, “The government has clear rules about what a person can and cannot work on under those circumstances (potential partiality to an industry),” Marler then establishes his line that Taylor “follows those rules very carefully.” Marler continues to explain that when Taylor held the Deputy Commissioner for Policy (FDA) in the mid-’90s, the FDA Ethics Counsel said that he could work on general policy matters, such as policies for food labeling, but that he was precluded from any involvement in specific product approvals of interest to Monsanto. HOLD ON!
Seeing as one of the biggest US food policy issues right now is the requirement of food companies to label GMO foods, this seems like an issue that former Monsanto lawyer and VP of public policy at the largest GMO company in the world should not be engaging in! American health is at stake!
Also, according to PF Louis in his article Biotech industry at war over GMOs; millions of dollars funneled to lawmakers, “Monsanto Mike (Taylor) was able to influence the approval of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which forces cows to yield more milk while causing infections that require antibiotics. So many milk and other dairy products became contaminated with the synthetic hormone rBGH, antibiotics, and infected cow blood and puss.” If you are unaware of the futility that over antibiotic use in factory farms is causing modern medicine please check out some of these links. I encourage you to explore the topic in more detail.
Long story short, America’s reckless agricultural techniques and lack of quality governmental oversight has created a situation in which Americans are falsely assured by their own government about the safety of their food. It is a situation that still has its solutions though. What we need is mass education which will contribute to a snowballing in consumer awareness about the importance of the local and sustainable food movement. It has started to take hold around the world but with EVERONE’S help, we will begin to change. Their have been sparks of change so far, but we need to keep the passion strong to get the fire roaring. As we eat locally and buy from small farms, food becomes much healthier, less mysterious, and more tasty. While food transportation costs and emissions are reduced, air becomes cleaner in cities and communities become stronger through community farms and other CSA projects. If you take away one thing from this blog, let it be to buy food that comes from within 100 miles of where you live!
I want to end this Green Stream blog with a note of optimism, because although there are many problems with our current food regulatory system and agricultural sector, there is much we all can do.
Buy local and Stay Green!
Find out more info about eating clean and stayed tuned for The Many Shades of Green’s interview with Ashley Spivak from Clean Plates!
It’s that time of year again, when consumerism and family collide into what we call the holiday season. To help you incorporate sustainable choices into your gift giving, decorations and food, we’ve invited Elissa Olin from Green in BKLYN, Ashley Spivak from Clean Plates and Eva Radke of Film Biz Recycling to share their tips and ideas. greeninbklyn.com, cleanplates.com & filmbizrecycling.org
A river runs through it, and it is up on the roof. Tune in to find out how my guest Gennaro Brooks-Church, Director of EcoBrooklyn, created a river on a roof, which uses gray water and rain water filtration systems to cut down on water use, while creating a beautiful waterscape. We also discuss ways to keep your home more energy efficient, by using less waste, via reusable materials and installing passive heating and cooling systems. Water is a precious commodity, and we talk about the sewage/water issues affecting the neighborhoods closest to the Gowanus Canal. Gennaro is building green to keep his “Build It Forward” mantra alive for future generations. For more info go to www.ecobrooklyn.com