Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly home’
When people are trying to live green, there are a few things we should try never to do. Here are 10 things you should never buy when you are living green. There are great alternatives to everything.
1. Styrofoam cups – Styrofoam last forever and does not biodegrade.
Alternative: Buy recyclable and compostable paper cups. Even better, start buying reusable mugs or water bottles that you can take with you. Great option is the Klean Kanteen.
2. Paper towels – Paper towels waste forest resources, landfill space, and your money.
Alternative: When you do buy paper towels, look for recycled, non-bleached products. Sponges made from cellulose is another option (Here is a quick look) Even better, buy organic dishtowels to wash and reuse.
3. Bleached coffee filters – Dioxins, chemicals formed during the chlorine bleaching process, contaminate groundwater and air and are linked to cancer in humans and animals.
Alternative: Look for unbleached paper filters. Even better, use reusable filters.
4. Overpackaged foods and other products – Excess packaging wastes resources and costs you much more money. Around thirty three percent of trash in the average American household comes from packaging.
Alternative: Buy products with minimal or reusable packaging. Even better, buy in bulk and use your own containers when shopping.
5. Teak and mahogany – Every year, 27 million acres of tropical rainforest are destroyed. Rainforests cover 6% of Earth’s surface and are home to over half of the world’s wild plant, animal, and insect species. The Amazon rainforest produces 40 percent of the world’s oxygen.
Alternative: Look for Forest Stewardship Council certified wood. Even Better, reuse wood, and buy furniture and other products made from used or salvaged wood. At the Secondhand or antique stores you can find old pieces of furniture that you can prevent from entering the landfills.
6.Chemical pesticides and herbicides – American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year. The EPA found at least one pesticide in almost every water and fish sample from streams and in more than one-half of shallow wells sampled in agricultural and urban areas. These chemicals pose threats to animals and people, especially children. They contaminate our food supply.
Alternatives: Buy organic pest controllers. Even better, plant flowers and herbs that act as natural pesticides.
7. Conventional household cleaners – Household products can contain hazardous ingredients such as organic solvents and petroleum-based chemicals that can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your indoor environment, posting a particular danger for children. The average American household has three to ten of hazardous matter in the home.
Alternative: Look for nontoxic, vegetable-based, biodegradeable cleaners. (See recommendations) Even better, try making your own green cleaner using vinegar, water, and castile soap.
8. Higher octane gas than you need – Only one car in ten manufactured since 1982 requires high-octane gasoline. High-octane gas releases more hazardous pollutants into the air, and may be bad for your car.
Alternative: Buy the lowest-octane gas your car requires as listed in your owner’s manual. Even better, take public transportation, ride a bike, or walk.
9. Toys made with PVC plastic – 70% of PVC is used in construction, but it is also found in everyday plastics, including some children’s toys. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Also, additives, such as lead and cadmium, are sometimes added to PVC to keep it from breaking down; these additives can be particularly dangerous in children’s toys. PVC is also the least recycled plastic.
Alternative: Avoid plastics that are labeled as “PVC” or “#3.” Look for toys that are labeled PVC free such as the Green Toys. Better yet, purchase toys like Plan Toys that are made from recycled rubberwood trees, have formadehyde free adhesives, use soy and water based ink, and packaged in recycled materials.
10. Plastic forks and spoons - Disposable plastic utensils are not biodegradeable and not recyclable in most areas.
Alternative: Use compostable food service items.
Gopi’s father is a well educated Sadar. A substantial landowner with economic means. He refuses iced water and refuses a fan in his room. He can afford air conditioning, but it is not even a consideration. Even the fan is not a consideration. He lives with the elements in his own room. Attended by 5 servents. The main servant, his personal cook and personal attendent, has been with him for 36 years. Kashore is his name and his wife and newly married son and wife, attend Nanak Singhji and all his needs. He has three homes including the home at the farm where he cooks with methane gas created from cow dung. He has been doing that for many years.
This same Sadarji, purchased a new diesel SUV when he already has a small mini van and a small car for his personal use. He purchase the new diesel SUV so that Gopi and I would be comfortable when we came to India. The contrast of operation, need, and comfort defies understanding. Only culture and contrasting values offer any explaination. This Sadarji (Sikh gentleman-landholder-farmer) is 93 years old and is in perfect health. His diet is excellent and would be praised by our standards. In fact, his food is not processed and mostly grown on his own farm or purchased from markets that grow locally.
While in India, I have eaten better and naturally healthier than most in America. Our two guests, one from Australia and one from the United States have said they do not know how they will adjust to American food once we return. Our food has almost no flavor compared to what we are experiencing. One one of our last visits, the teenaged daughter of one of our friends was asked by her parents, “Elise, why are you eating so much here when at home you barely touch you food?” Her response was simple and indirect, “Well, I guess it is because it tastes soooo… good and the food at home is bland in comparison.” I know the mother of this teenaged daughter and her mother is Greek and an excellent cook. The simple fact is that, at least in this home the preparations are simple and tasteful. Healthy and fresh. Do not think that if you all run to an Indian restaurant that you will be experiencing Indian food. Home cooked Indian food from fresh locally grow vegatables is not the same thing. Hard to explain, but true. Taste is worth the effort to eat locally grown food where ever you live.
If we all lived like Gopi’s father, the planet would be heading in the right direction. Good heart and mostly conservative uses of energy and resouces without effort or suffering.