Common items that are illegal to throw away

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Oysters, opened, ready for consumption, raw

You know the benefits of recycling, it saves the landfill, creates income for your local jurisdiction and helps manufacturers incorporate recycled material into new, upcycled products.  You also know how convenient it is to recycle most items. You may be aware that effective July 1, North Carolina became the 18th state to place a ban on “E-waste” in landfills…all electronics must be recycled, now and forever.

You may not realize that there are other state laws on items prohibited in the landfill.  Some things are also banned from the recycle bin, so look at available options before discarding these common items:

Oyster shells. NC has an innovative program to recycle oyster shells.  Why?  To help the declining oyster population, which is in jeopardy of extinction.  As an individual or a business, you can recycle your shells and they are used to form an oyster reef. By stacking several together and placing them back in the ocean, they help produce oysters and give sea life and organisms a habitat to dwell and prosper.

Here’s a bonus – one oyster has the capacity to filter almost 50 gallons of water every day.  The larger and healthier our oyster population is, the cleaner our water will be!

You can find out where to recycle shells and more about the N.C. oyster recycling program atwww.ncfisheries.net.

Aluminum cans. Aluminum is a huge commodity and easily recyclable over and over.  One can will be recycled and back on the store shelves in a month!  Why can’t we trash these?  Aluminum is harmful to the environment, takes 400 years to decompose and releases toxic chemicals when incinerated and released into the air.

Aluminum cans also amount to serious cash (instead of trash)!  A friend recently shared a great idea for aRecycling Club.  Her husband started collecting cans years ago, getting friends and family to contribute…and began a local club.  From the money he made scraping the cans all year, the club members went to the beach for a week long vacation every summer.  Why not start our own recycling club?  I’ll volunteer to be on the collection committee!

White goods, such as refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, etc.  Not only do they contain several metal components, all of which are toxic to some degree in a landfill, they often have fluoride gases (as in refrigerators).  These gases, when released into the atmosphere, are a major culprit in depleting our ozone layer.  White goods are bulky, and replaced every few years, so imagine the amount of expensive space they take up in landfill sites.  Look to your area Hazardous Waste Facility for drop off dates, and if your appliance has life left in it, consider a ‘Social Recycling’ option instead, to help your neighbor and help your earth.

A tidy stack of pallets somewhere on Universit...

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Wooden pallets. Manufacturers and contractors take note.  When you take or receive a delivery of any product or material, remove the wooden pallet and take it/send it back to the manufacturer.  These are easily reusable and when they are retired, can be broken down for scrap wood.  You can also find companies that restore old pallets or a building project like Habitat for Humanity that can use the wood for other purposes.  Never add them to your dumpster!

Plastic containers with the symbols #1 through #7.  Many recycling programs accept these items.  What’s wrong with adding them to your everyday trash (other than being illegal)?  Plastics contain numerous hazardous chemicals that leach out while sitting in the landfill for years and seep into our soil and water systems. Did you know there was 6 times more plastic than plankton in our oceans currently?  We need to reverse this environmental embarrassment and recycling all plastic is where we can make a big, and immediate

difference.

Journey to Haiti 2011

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I was honored to visit Haiti this summer and had the most amazing trip.  I started out quite scared, uncomfortable and anxious.  After just a couple of days, I released all fears and just embraced the few comforts we were afforded.  The truth was, those few comforts were luxuries to the Haitians, and I felt guilty indulging in 3 meals a day, fresh water and a semi-functioning port-a-potty.

Here is a short video of some of the trip, with an introduction of how the journey affected me.  It’s a personal message I shared with my church (Kinetic Church) and the first time I spoke about the trip.  After 12 days, I still found it hard to discuss my trip without sharing tears at the same time.  Haiti has so many problems and challenges, it’s hard to know where to start and how to help.  The feelings I had were overwhelming and still weigh hard on my heart.  Here is a glimpse of my journey:

If you are interested in helping the poorest country in the world, I now personally know folks there, which is especially important in Haiti.  They are worthy, trustworthy and doing amazing things that actually enable the local people to learn trades and help each other.  Farsight Christian Ministries, led by Levern Halstead (www.fcminc.org), take NO administrative fees, so 100% of your donations directly help the Haitians with new houses, helpful trades and education, medical attention and even a pair of goats!  Tell them Verde Mom sent you…you, too, will be blessed by being a part of this amazing organization!

The myths behind organic shampoo

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Salon-quality, “organic” shampoo needs to come clean!240px-Anderson_Sophie_Young_Girl_Fixing_Her_Hair

First, what classifies as organic?  Products, after all, are not regulated and cannot be certified as organic.  Only ingredients can be certified, by the USDA, as truly organic. Products can be found with ‘organic’ on the label and other greenwashing claims, but look for the certification and you’ll know it’s safe with no pesticides and added synthetic chemicals.

In order for an ‘organic shampoo’ to be classified (truthfully) as organic, it should be made with an organic soap base, and the only truly natural option are saponified organic oils.  However, organic soap made from saponified organic oils does not create a shampoo which is Ph balanced for human hair.  If you were to use it for long hair or color treated hair, especially, you would not be happy with the results.  The high Ph level (ranging between 9 and 11) found in natural soap causes the cuticle cells of hair to swell up.  This leaves your cells rough and your hair looking dull and lifeless.

Many of us have searched for less harmful alternatives to clean and soft hair with natural products, but they are hard to find and over priced, with questionable ingredients to boot!  You can still have beautiful hair and avoid sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, all synthetic chemicals made by man that are scattered among most commercial hair care products.  Look for natural ingredients like Organic Aloe Juice and Castor Seed Oil, Rosemary, Neem Oil, Wheat Protein and Coconut Oil.

Check out and learn to read between the lines on labels.  Look up products on the Environmental Working Groups’ website, at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com to get a hazardous rating and the list of harmful ingredients before you buy them!

silloutteofgirlingrass

Beauty at the price of obesity

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ARE COSMETICS MAKING US FAT?

fat belly by Michelle Meiklejohn

Picture compliments of Michelle Meiklejohn

If you’ve tried diets and exercise, and haven’t seen the results you deserve, look in your bathroom.  Lurking on the shelves, in the drawers, in the shower and on the sink are some probable causes.  That’s right!  Unknown to most of us, our common, everyday personal care products could be the cause for our extra pounds.

Soaps, shampoos and cosmetics found on the stores in the U.S. have synthetic, petroleum-based chemicals that should be illegal.  Many are known Carcinogens, and they are linked to Endocrine Disruption.  Not only may they contribute to tumor and cancer growth, they are wreaking havoc on our hormones.

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families are trying to change the laws to help protect us, check them out on facebook or their website to help support their important efforts.  Their coalition includes cancer specialists, nurses, parents and concerned citizens everywhere.

Don’t take my word for it, see what The National Resources Defense Council wrote on this topic:

http://www.onearth.org/article/is-your-shampoo-making-you-fat



Solar highways could replace utility companies

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Sun shining

Compliments of Freefoto.com

Imagine a world where there were no power lines.  Therefore, we never had power outages or downed electrical lines.  Where no coal was needed to be burned for energy. No nuclear power plants were needed.  No need to deplete our precious fossil fuels or drill in our oceans. In fact, we may not even receive a power BILL.  How could all that be possible?

Think of the one source that is unlimited, unmatched, more powerful than anything in the Universe. The Sun!  The mega light.  The source of life for all living things.  An incredible 10,000 degrees (Fahrenheit) of heat, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  All we have to do is channel it and we’ll have all the energy we could ever want, all the power we could ever use and it would be free!  The vision depends on advanced solar technology…the implementation and then the ongoing management of a massive infrastructure like no other….but it’s not out of reach.  It’s actually more practical than you might believe.

The technology has arrived.  Take a look at the concept of solar-powered highways.  Replacing all of the asphalt in the U.S. with glass solar panels would generate enough power to provide energy for the entire globe.  The entire globe!  The idea in similar concepts has already broken ground in Oregon, is proposed in Italy, Santa Monica and other places.  Santa Monica’s proposed “serpent solar highway” will include charging stations for electric cars.solar-serpent-solar-highway

Since we constantly replace and repair the asphalt on our road systems, which is not at all practical, why not start thinking about better options?  Asphalt is petroleum-based and it’s prevalence in our society (think 25,000 square miles of roadways in the lower 48 states!) promotes our dependency on oil. Haven’t we fed the pockets of the oil companies and the Middle East long enough?

The other incredibly useful purposes for a solar-powered highway are 1) it can melt ice and snow to make travel safer and 2) it incorporates changeable signage to the roads electronically 3) it can replace stop lights, or at least power them 4) it can detect weight at cross walks to keep pedestrians safer.solar highway sign at pedestrian crossing

Here’s a bonus feature of this particular product:  they use waste materials from the landfill and the ocean, mixed with organic material, to make the internal support structure.  Does it get any better?

Watch this video and you will see what a great option this appears to be.  Yes, cost is an issue…but can we afford to stay on our current path? Absolutely not.  This road pays for itself…and for all the electrical power use in the world… so that’s a pretty big return on our investment, wouldn’t you agree?

We must start to embrace and implement renewable, sustainable ideas like this one.  I applaud the engineers and producers of this concept and plan to support their continued efforts.

http://www.wimp.com/solarhighways

Mineral Oil is not what you think

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Part Four of a Series:

Exposing greenwashing and

chemical toxicity in our

trusted products

Different Minerals

Image via Wikipedia

Mineral Oil

It sounds innocuous enough…after all, minerals are all good, vitamin-enriched substances straight from the earth, right? Sounds pretty Organic doesn’t it?  Well, petroleum oil is also organic but we don’t want it on our skin!  Mineral oil, by the way, is a by-product of petroleum.  Yummy, put some synthetic fragrance in it and watch it fly off the shelves, onto our skin and directly into our bloodstream!

Mineral oil is found in many cosmetics, it’s a cheap filler they claim helps hold moisture into your skin.  Through our commercial everyday cosmetics,  we expose our skin and bodies to it regularly.  What does it do?  It’s the equivalent of putting plastic wrap around your skin.  It interferes with the skin’s ability to do what it was meant to do all day, every day. It clogs pores. Our skin sheds itself and rejuvenates itself constantly, and needs to breathe, as your largest organ, in order to do that.  Our skin also removes toxins from our bodies.  Mineral oil on our skin has been shown to slow down skin function and cell development, leading to acne and other skin problems, as well as premature AGING.

So the very problem of baggy, aging skin, which we buy cosmetics because of the false claims to help us, is exacerbated by the ingredients found inside those products.  There may be evidence from the big manufacturers that claim Mineral Oil (or baby oil, which is just scented mineral oil) is safe in small doses.  Even if you believe them, why promote more dependency on oil?  Here are some clinical findings about Mineral Oil and its effects:

http://home.caregroup.org/clinical/altmed/interactions/Drugs/Mineral_Oil.htm 

If you’re still a skeptic, just consider children for a moment, and look at what brighthub.com has to say:

“Mineral oil, also commonly known as baby oil, has a sad history of harming infants and small children. The risks are very real. Children have been known to inhale the oil and as a result many have died a slow death of asphyxiation. One child is reported to have struggled for a very long 28 days to breathe before death occurred.

In 1991 a lawsuit ensued against Johnson & Johnson after their 15 month old child suffered permanent brain damage.”

Read more: http://www.brighthub.com/environment/green-living/articles/63879.aspx#ixzz1QbTcnGOj

There’s cash in your trash! Recycling in the 21st Century

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Picture of a Caterpillar 826C landfill compact...

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Do you realize there is some serious cash in your trash?  Before you go digging into last night’s leftovers and this morning’s coffee grinds, take a closer look at the much bigger picture.

Futurists say that we’ll be employing Landfill Divers soon…divers that go into landfills and sift through years of trash, to find and retrieve recyclables.  Why?  Because recyclable materials are not garbage, they don’t belong in a landfill.  Because the laws will dictate that we recycle just about everything.  And, because there will be a viable market for all types of materials.

Does this give us license to add to the landfills?  No, but it does give us a snapshot of just how valuable our trash can be, now and in the future.

Renee Goodnight, Community Outreach Coordinator for Kannapolis, explained it well when she said, “Throwing recyclable materials into the landfill is like digging a whole and putting money in it!  Recyclable materials are valuable resources and we must start thinking about recyclables differently from our common garbage”.

Locator Map of Cabarrus County, North Carolina...

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Starting next month, 2 neighboring small towns, Kannapolis, NC and Concord, NC are both moving into the 21st century of recycling with new, improved curbside pick up programs.  Both cities will start accepting commingled materials, so there is no sorting involved.  They accept all recyclable items, meaning everything that there is a market for is picked up and reused by somebody, for some purpose.  You can mix your glass, plastic #1-#7’s, paper and even empty aerosol cans together.

The cities estimate that 50% of our currently generated waste will now be recycled!  That is a large step in the right direction, especially considering that one of these towns had NO curbside recycling program in place at all.  People here and all over the globe are going from never recycling to this advanced curbside program, ours comes complete with 96-gallon rolling cartons.  I’m sure you know people who never recycle…because of the inconvenience of sorting and bagging and taking them to their local facility, and who can blame them?  It’s a task not many are willing to add to their busy “TO DO” list.  With the 21st Century recycling programs, automated trucks and manufactured sorting, half of our daily waste will be diverted from the landfill – hallelujah!  That is serious progress in one large step and should give us all hope for the future of our garbage.

There are many other programs across the world, and the industry is evolving rapidly.  Here is another article from The Brink Tank on “Cash in your Trash” that speaks to the same issue, a goldmine of garbage…and an investment in our future!

THE FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Do you have to pay to recycle?

Many folks ask, “Why don’t they PAY US to take our recyclables?”  It’s a fair question, and the answer is found within the confines of franchise agreements, contract negotiations and landfill access.  Some recovery facilities pay for the materials, while others pay nothing.  Sonoco will be paying Concord and Kannapolis for their materials, helping to fund the programs.  Up to now, however, our recycling facility in Mecklenburg County would take your recyclables but did not provide any compensation for them.

Check out their website, Sonoco Recycling is a world leader in recycling, collecting 3.5 million tons of paper, plastic, metal and other materials annually. Their history started in the 1920’s and they currently operate more than 40 recycling facilities.

In Kannapolis, where there are no landfills, residents will pay $3.20 per month for the convenience of curbside services.  The City of Kannapolis pays tipping fees on top of the state taxes to dump all solid waste.  Therefore, the more you recycle in your new bin, the less landfill waste is generated and the more money the city saves at the dump.

One of Dryden, Ontario's Landfill's. This one ...

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All of our recycling efforts go right to the bottom line, so try to fully participate in your local program, regardless of how far it’s come.   It is estimated by the City of Kannapolis that if only 20% of it’s residents participate, it will result in $130,000 less landfill dumping fees.  Kannapolis has a population of less than 50,000 so imagine the possibilites…and do the math.  It’s easy to see that recycling by all of us really does add up to serious cash flow!

We should all be inspired to recycle, as often as we can and as much as we can!  Not only does recycling help our local government budgets, but it also creates jobs for our local, state and regional, even national market.  Now that we’ve arrived full force into the 21st Century, let’s take advantage of the technology at hand.  You can be proud to watch the cash from your trash add up all year.

Could brain development be inhibited by our shampoos?

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Part Three of a Series:

Dermatology products

Image via Wikipedia

Exposing greenwashing and

chemical toxicity in our

trusted products

DEA, TEA and MEA

Why should soft, thick hair come with the price tag of “Carcinogen” attached?

Should we be concerned with brain development disruption for unborn fetuses?

Why are our drug stores full of products that have concerning ingredients?

I don’t have a chemical degree, so it’s hard to read and understand labels in commercial products.  There are some that are most disturbing based on the research out there.  I’d like to err on the side of ‘prove it safe’ rather than take my chances…but the FDA disagreed with that approach when they made our personal care products a self-regulated industry.

Remember the old saying, “Coffee, Tea or Me”?  Try to avoid the ingredients “DEA, TEA or MEA”!

Read what Science Daily wrote about DEA as one of the concerning ingredients here.

While the long term effects of our minimal exposure to toxic ingredients in our everyday products is unknown, we do know some disturbing facts:

Fact #1:  Europe has banned many toxic ingredients from personal care products, but they are still available in hundreds of products in the U.S.  One of these toxins is DEA, or Diethanolamine.  DEA is used as a wetting or thickening agent in commercial shampoos, shaving creams, bubble bath, soaps, hairsprays and sunscreens.

Fact #2: More than 100,000 tons of DEA are sold each year in the U.S., so it’s a very commonly used ingredient, unless you seek out genuine organic, toxic-free products.

Fact #3: The National Toxicology Program reported an increased chance of liver and kidney tumors in mice when DEA was put on their skin.  There is evidence that it blocks the production of the nutrient choline, which is essential for brain development, especially for our unborn children.

Fact #4:  DEA can also show up as a contaminant in products containing related chemicals, such as cocamide DEA.

Try to avoid these ingredients, if you believe, like I do, that the mice who were tested are evidence enough for me to steer clear of these toxins:

  • Cocamide DEA
  • Cocamide MEA
  • DEA-Cetyl Phosphate
  • DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate
  • DEA Lauryl Sulfacte
  • Lauramide DEA
  • Linoleamide MEA
  • Myristamide DEA
  • Oleamide DEA
  • Stearamide MEA
  • TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  • Any product containing TEA or Triethanolamine

“Germ fighters” present serious health concerns (exposing Triclosan)

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Part Two of a Series, exposing greenwashing and

chemical toxicity in our trusted products

Triclosan

Decorative Soaps

Compliments of Wikipedia

Since 1995, the anti-bacterial soap industry has boomed into a $16 BILLION dollar a year industry.  We all bought into the  belief that we needed it to keep germs at bay.  What has happened is just the opposite, it has stripped the good bacteria right along with the bad…leaving us more susceptible to bacteria than ever, not to mention with extremely dry skin as a result of using it daily!

Triclosan is under review by the FDA and is associated with some very concerning health issues.  It has been suggested by the American Medical Association that we avoid Triclosan at home, as it may be contributing to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. An advisory committee to the FDA found that household use of antibacterial products provides no benefits over plain soap and water. There is also NO evidence that Triclosan provides an extra benefit to health in our products, beyond the use of it in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis.

Triclosan can be found in many products, not just antibacterial soaps.  Anything labeled antibacterial or “fights germs”, or “protects against mold”, even claims like “odor fighting” or “keeps food fresher, longer”…all lead to the fact that Triclosan is in the ingredient’s list.  You can find it in many places and products, such as:

  • soap and dishwashing liquid
  • anti-bacterial soaps and lotions
  • towels
  • mattresses
  • sponges
  • personal care products
  • shower curtains
  • toothbrushes
  • phones
  • kitchenware and plastic food containers
  • shoes
  • flooring and carpets
  • cutting boards
  • clothing and fabrics
  • toys

Antibacterial Soap on hand

The European Union has classified triclosan as toxic to aquatic organisms, as wastewater treatment does not remove all of the chemical and it ends up in water sources.  It’s use in cosmetics is restricted in Japan and Canada.

What are the health risks associated with Triclosan?

Triclosan is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity. Low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Regular use may exacerbate skin disorders like Eczema, contribute to Asthma, and increase skin sensitivity.  Triclosan is extremely drying to the skin, just look at any health care provider’s hands who uses it regularly, and you will be convinced.