July 2012 - Our Daily Green

Monday, July 30, 2012

Smoldering Planet, by: Saul Landau

Smoldering Planet

Colorado's wildfires and the record heat waves should sober up some climate change doubters.

Saul Landau
As fires raged in Arizona last summer, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) discovered the culprits.
"There is substantial evidence," the former Republican presidential candidate told reporters, "that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally."
That's right. Illegal immigrants, so he claims, set those fires to send signals, keep warm, and distract law enforcement agents. Conveniently, McCain didn't specify which particular fires illegal immigrants supposedly started — or any details of his "substantial evidence," for that matter.

Other conservatives say equally outlandish things. "Belief in man-made global warming is a lot like believing in Santa Claus," Rush Limbaugh asserted on his show.
Actual experts disagree with intellectuals like McCain and Limbaugh. Princeton University's Michael Oppenheimer, a longtime participant in the United Nations' climate science panel, blames another culprit: global warming.
"We're seeing a window into what global warming really looks like. It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster," Oppenheimer told Reuters in late June as fires rampaged through Colorado. "This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future."
In other words, the fires in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Utah should sober up some of our climate change doubters.
Few of the now former homeowners in Colorado Springs will likely pay much attention to ardent deniers of global warming. They've felt higher seasonal temperatures and witnessed earlier spring melt. They've lived through the large wildfires and lengthening fire seasons that have ravaged the west coast over recent decades.
"The record-breaking fires this year in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain region are consistent with trends [of global warming]," wrote Kevin Trenberth, leader of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in a recent scientific review. Trenberth's paper, co-authored with scientists Jerry Meehl, Jeff Masters, and Richard Sommerville, warns of an ever hotter — and out West, fire-ridden — world.
By late June, more than 32,000 people had evacuated Colorado Springs as fires wreaked havoc in the area. Flying over the city, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was stunned. "It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine," he said. "It's almost surreal."
"Climate change is clearly playing a role," said Trenberth. "There are wildfires all over the place."
Just like Rush Limbaugh, I'm no scientist. But I trust my guts — and my eyes, which have seen countless fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, melting ice sheets, and tornadoes all over the news.
How is it possible not to believe in climate change?
Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. www.ips-dc.org
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

Creative CommonsThis editorial is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cheers for green wines!

Red or white are the two colors normally associated with wine, but green wines are gaining popularity. By green, it does not refer to the color of the grape or bottle. 

Green wines aren't just about what does or doesn't go into the wine, green wines encompass how the grapes are raised, how the wine is produced, and how the wine is packaged. Green wines are gaining in popularity as folks try to make more mindful choices in their regular shopping. 

green wineThere are different levels of green for wines, from environmentally responsible to certified organic. The online wine site, Wine.com also has a symbol beside their selections to help choose a wine produced in a more "green" way. 

what are green wines infographic wine.com
Presented By Wine.com, Purveyors of fine green wine.

The preceding infographic was provided by our sponsor to help clarify green wine making. 
Our Daily Green has been compensated for this post.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Made in the USA clothing

Clothing made in USA
This past week, a lot of the headlines were made about the USA Olympic team clothing being manufactured in China. It was an opportunity for politicians and celebrities alike to decry the decision and make more headlines.

Our Daily Green is also upset, as we've long encouraged local shopping and a buy American approach, but will confess, many of the clothes we personally own and wear are not manufactured in the USA. Between thrift stores and economizing, we just didn't see many USA labels. We made an effort, but not a dedicated one. Our effort didn't even achieve our sacred 80/20 rule, but probably is more like 20/80. We would choose the USA label if we saw it, but we didn't make a concerted effort to find it.

Realizing that you're part of the problem is a good start to being part of the solution. If we don't want our nation's athletes representing the USA in foreign made clothing, we should stop representing ourselves in it. With a little digging, we discovered a company that isn't just dedicated to making the clothing in the USA, but also completely sourcing it domestically. The All American Clothing Company has a mission to:
... support USA families and jobs by producing high-quality clothing in the USA at an affordable price. By keeping our production in the USA we provide jobs and a tax base that supports our communities. We care about our country and the people in it; if we were only in it for money we would move our production overseas. We will NOT trade USA jobs for foreign profits.
Each article of clothing has a traceability code to find out which American farmer grew the cotton and source of the other raw goods, where it was milled and where the final product was assembled (a small factory in western Ohio).

The company also sells shirts, boots, accessories and outerwear, all with the same dedication to Made in the USA. It's not just a marketing gimmick, the All American Clothing Company walks the walk.

The BuyAmerican project
Our Daily Green is proud to announce that we've become an affiliate for this company. As with all the profits we made as a result of our blog, at the year end, we will donate half to a charity. Because the All American Clothing Company donates to the BuyAmerican non-profit project, half the proceeds of any commissions we earn will be donated there.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Holmes air purifier review

air purifier hepa filtersA few weeks ago, we published a preview of our Holmes Air Purifier review. We received our air purifier to review from the company.

We wanted to wait the full six week's trial period to give our best opinion, then time got away from us and it's been closer to eight weeks now. As you can tell from the photos of a new filter (green) next to the one we've used in our unit for two months (blue). There are quite a bit of dust, pollen, and general allergens being filtered out of the air, as is also evidenced by the washable front filter.

The filters are good for 12 months and there is a free online filter change reminder service available. I cannot imagine what this filter will look like in another 10 months.

All that aside, while I can see it's trapping allergens, the bigger question is if there is any improvement. Air quality is not something I have the technology to measure, but I do think from an unscientific study, that there was an improvement. We tested the purifier in my oldest child's room. While she didn't seem any better or worse, we did notice something else that was interesting.

Our family dog sleeps in her room. He also has a lot of allergies, and in summers past would spend most of the day licking and scratching himself sometimes to the point of hair loss and skin infections. We tended to spend several hundred dollars a season on different medications and special food.  This year, he has not had to visit the vet once and his discomfort is far reduced. To that end, I truly believe the only thing we've done differently is use the air purifier. For that reason, Our Daily Green endorses its effectiveness.

Seeing is believing in this case. Those impurities on the HEPA filter are not aggravating our dog's skin. He's been a much more pleasant companion this summer and we are grateful for the air purifier. There are a number of online coupons available for this product and if you or your pets suffer from allergies, you may want to try an air purifier.

Endorsed by Einstein, Our Daily Green's family dog.

No More Plastic Wrap Green

This week's Change the World Wednesday (that I'm a day late in sharing) suggestion was to:

This week refuse to use plastic wrap (aka cling film, cling wrap, glad wrap, etc). Instead, choose Eco-friendly, safe ways to store food. And, as always, we'd like to hear all about your efforts. Or ...
If you've already banned plastic wrap from your life, please review your food storage methods to see if there's any room for improvement. For example, if you're reusing plastic containers to store food consider glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers instead (old plastic containers may leach harmful toxins into your food). If you use aluminum foil to cover your food, consider covering food with an inverted plate, a lid from a casserole or pan, etc. And, please tell us about your efforts.
no plastic wrap
Guilty as charged. We don't use a lot of plastic wrap, but will admit that when faced with odd shaped leftovers, we wrestled with that roll of wrap. Interestingly, the better "cling" a plastic wrap has? The more infused with petroleum chemicals that will leech into the food it wraps. From a pure flavor perspective, cheese and meat should actually never touch plastic. That is why many butchers and delis use paper for their food, even if they still encase it in plastic.

Let's examine some of the alternatives:

  • The family teases me about hoarding jars. I don't throw out glass jars and I love reusing them for assorted leftovers when feasible. I can see what I have readily. Right now, there are peeled garlic cloves, cooked vegetables and cheese in different sized jars in my refrigerator.  
  • Waxed paper isn't such a great alternative as it is usually coated either with paraffin wax (which is petroleum based) or a formaldehyde based resin. There are some unbleached soy-based wax papers available, but honestly, the last thing I need to do when I'm shopping is read yet another label. 
  • Aluminum foil takes a lot of energy to manufacture, but it can be used over and over again. I have often joked that growing up, I didn't even realize it came on a roll, we reused it so often. It's not a great choice for acidic foods though, as the "tin" flavor will affect the food. 
  • Bowl covers which look like shower caps. The plastic will not come in contact with the food. 
  • A product I've never heard about, but now wish to try is Abeego wraps, which are a cotton and hemp fabric wrap coated with a beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil blend. These wraps are washable and durable.  They are a little pricey, but I think of such items as an investment compared to literally throwing my money away. 

  • With a little creativity and forethought, we can stop using plastic wrap and rethink how we keep our food from spoiling or drying out.

    Will you take the pledge to go without plastic wrap this week?

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Melt Spread Review

    You've probably noticed a lot of advertisements for Melt Organic Spread lately. I had seen a myriad of advertisements, so when I noticed they were following FreshGreenKim on Twitter, I sent a note to the company, asking to try their product in exchange for writing a review.

    The primary ingredient is organic virgin coconut oil. Melt also contains palm fruit oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and flaxseed oil to bring the appropriate ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 fats to 2:1, a healthy ratio for human consumption. Certain types of fat are not bad, but in fact necessary, to dispel some fat myths.

    In the past year, Our Daily Green's house has started to use more coconut oil in cooking and baking. Coconut oil displaces excessive Omega-6 fats in the diet. Healthy fat sources fuel both pro-inflammatory hormones, which fight stresses to cells, and anti-inflammatory hormones, which regulate the healing process after a threat (injury or infection) is gone.

    According to The Conscious Life (a website devoted to information, tips, ideas and opinions on how to achieve total health by taking a holistic approach to living), coconut oil is a healthy choice because:

    • About 50% of the fats in coconut oil are lauric acids, a type of saturated fatty acid that has antibacterial, antioxidant and antiviral properties.
    • Consumption of lauric acid may increase total cholesterol level with most of the increase being HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol.
    • The high saturated fat contents of coconut oil also made this aromatic oil very stable and resistant to rancidity
    • Another interesting feature of coconut oil is that it contains high levels (about 66%) of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which do not need bile salts for digestion and are easily absorbed and utilized by the body. That’s why MCTs are used clinically in the treatment of malnutrition or malabsorption syndromes.
    Melt sent me a sample of both their regular spread and their honey spread. The coconut flavor is not overwhelming and it has the smooth creamy texture of butter. The honey spread is absolutely delicious on bagels and muffins.

    We really appreciate their simple ingredient list which utilizes certified organic and 100% non-GMO ingredients, from sustainable sources. The product is also soy free, gluten free, fair trade, and kosher. There are no artificial colorings or flavorings, but instead uses annotto-tumeric for coloring and organic vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt for flavor.

    If you're interested in trying Melt yourself, we've included a link for a $2.00 off coupon.

    Our Daily Green only received samples of the product for review, nonetheless we only review products we think will be interesting for our readers. 

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Home Repair Grants

    As the summer progresses, so do the home repair projects. More and more folks are going green with their lighting and heating choices to save money and energy long term. The initial cost can be daunting and it's hard to know what choices are the most efficient or cost effective. As consumers try to navigate the choices it's nice to know that many states offer home repair grants for certain projects and choices.

    One example is The Energy Team, which offers a home energy audit in New Jersey to help homeowners find financial assistance with home repairs before they spend their hard earned money on a less efficient project. With the number of Energy Star companies and products on the market, it's wise to have an expert assessment.

    Find a company that participates with state energy offices to help analyze the most efficient methods to make repairs and upgrades. They screen contractors for LED lighting, solar water heaters, and water conservation plans as some of their services. Often, the best place to start before making a single home repair or upgrade is with a simple energy audit which can determine the most efficient changes to make and help a homeowner prioritize their work to receive the best return on their investment, saving hours of frustration and disappointment.
    Our Daily Green has been compensated for this post. To sponsor a post on one of our blogs, please click here

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    Real Food Summit

    From July 8 - July 16, the Real Food Summit will feature nine days of presentations from food and nutrition experts.

    See the website for detailed daily line-ups. Each day's podcast will be free that day for 24 hours and have live phone in question and answer sessions. At the end of the summit, all the lectures will be available for download.