Like most people, I hate moving. I'm a pack rat by nature so it is painful to rummage through all the stuff that accumulates over the years in order to prepare for a move. On the other hand, it has been a good exercise in sorting what we really need to keep before packing up the store and warehouse.
We've had to tighten our belts to keep going in this economy. And the easiest way to do that is to move to a slightly smaller space with a significantly smaller rent. As hard as it is to physically move all the stuff and try to manage all of the details, it feels good to have a new and more efficient space to call home. And as moves go this one was at least fairly simple since we only moved 2 blocks away.
Our new address is 2028 28th St N., Saint Petersburg, FL 33713. Since we only moved around the corner, our phone and fax numbers are not changing. The phones are being installed on Monday, November 23rd and we hope to be open on Tuesday, November 24th. We'll still be unpacking and arranging things for a few days. Look for an announcement about our Grand Re-Opening/Open House coming soon.
Thanks for your support for the last 16 years. We're happy to be able to continue helping you make your home a Healthy Home.
Are you as annoyed as I am when you do everything in your power to recycle but your recycling center won’t take the #5 plastics that are all too often the choice of manufacturers? I also have some prescriptions which I fill regularly and have been stock piling those little #5 plastic bottles hoping to be overcome with a particularly clever creative use for them rather than toss them.
Well I finally came across Preserve Products. I don’t know why I didn’t know about them sooner but I’m glad I do now. Go to PreserveProducts.com to see what they are doing. Preserve products are made from 100% recycled plastics and 100% post-consumer paper. I love what they are creating, or should I say re-creating?
But the best news for me was their Gimme 5 program. They know that a lot of communities don’t have recycling capabilities for the #5 plastics. No problem. Their Gimme 5 efforts have made it possible for everyone to recycle those pill bottles, butter tubs, yogurt cups, hummus tubs and other food containers.
There are two methods to Gimme 5.
1 - You can drop off clean #5 plastics at participating Whole Foods stores. The Preserve Products website has a state by state listing of the participating Whole Foods stores. If you live near a Whole Foods store that isn’t yet involved, make a suggestion that you want them to get with the program.
2 - If you don’t live near a Preserve Gimme 5 location you can send them directly to Preserve Products.
Send Gimme 5 shipments to:
Preserve Gimme 5 823 NYS Rte 13 Cortland, NY 13045
If you have any questions about the Gimme 5 program or have a large shipment you’d like to send, call them at 888-354-7296.
Here’s a note from Preserve Products about the impact of shipping your #5 plastics to them:
“Before starting the mail-back Gimme 5 program, we wanted to make sure that we were taking a positive step for the environment. We produced a single factor Life Cycle Assessment to analyze the impact of the Gimme 5 program. The results showed the benefits of keeping #5 plastics out of landfills and remaking them into new products outweigh the environmental impacts of shipping them back to us. We hope that the success of our program will help convince local recyclers of the value of taking #5 plastics back in more communities across the US.”
Finally a solution for a problem that has been bugging me for a long time.
President Obama has rightfully linked our economic recovery to our environmental recovery. But we need to break the link between the corporate behavior that drove us to the brink of financial ruin in the first place and that which continues to drive us towards ecological ruin.
Like the economic collapse, our ecological collapse is being fueled by industries creating widespread social risk in their reckless and dangerous pursuit of short-term profits. What’s worse, their modus operandi includes massive public relations campaigns, philanthropy and lobbying efforts that portray their self-interested behavior as part of the societal solution. Think Clean Coal.
In the green building movement, the leading example of this behavior is the rebranding of virtually every building material as a “green” product, officially recognized by one label or another. The green label craze resembles the virus-like uptake of the financial assets known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), the so-called derivatives that brought down the financial house. CDOs purported to apportion risk, protect conservative investors and assure long-term economic stability. But CDOs, like green labels, were really a Trojan horse.
Journalist Matt Taibbi’s recent R-rated description of the CDO rage in Rolling Stone Magazine sounds like a description of green product marketing today: “Suddenly, thanks to this financial seal of approval, banks had a way to turn their shittiest mortgages and other financial waste into investment-grade paper.... The problem was, none of this was based on reality.... To get AAA ratings, the CDOs relied not on their actual underlying assets but on crazy mathematical formulas that the banks cooked up to make the investments look safer than they really were.”1
Relying upon the fraudulent AAA ratings, the most conservative investors unwittingly fueled the machinery of their own ruin. Relying upon the plethora of greenwash labels and certifications will have a similar ironic outcome – the most committed environmental consumers unwittingly fueling the industrial engines that have driven and continue to drive us towards ecological collapse.
The bad mortgages sold by Citibank and the bad debts bundled into the CDOs by insurance behemoth AIG have been labeled “toxic assets.” Their detoxification depends largely upon the full faith and credit of the US Government, i.e. the Fed’s ability to create wealth by printing money. But the Fed won’t be able to create species gone extinct and cultures extinguished under the greenwash forest certification standards authored by the timber industry, or undo the avoidable reproductive problems caused by endocrine-disrupting chemicals in thousands of green-labeled products.
Whole systems of banking, insurance and credit thought “too big to fail” have failed. We are all too aware that big ecological systems – arable land, fresh water, the climate - are under stress. Their collapse has the potential to make this economic crisis look like kids’ stuff. All it takes is another Katrina in New Orleans, or another tsunami, this time in L.A., or another Chernobyl, the plume this time spreading across the US bread basket or California’s Central Valley, or the final disappearance of honey bees. Or maybe it will be some statistically impossible combination of ecological crises, as unlikely to happen as say mortgages, insurance and credit failing all at once.
Our major industries – mining, timber, energy, chemicals, plastics – have been reinventing their images, not their industries. Ubiquitous green labels and advertising are part of the problem, not the solution. If it seems too easy being green these days, remember how easy it was to refinance your mortgage two years ago.
Mold, mildew and dust mites are a sure recipe for an allergy attack if you are an allergy or asthma sufferer. And even if you’re not, that combination is clearly not a healthy mix to be around. Now let’s throw in a big dose of pollen from oak, nettle and cedar which are blooming right now, at least in Central Florida, where my red eyes are. I’m not overly sensitive but for some reason this year I look and feel like I’ve just been to a double feature Lifetime movie presentation - sniff, sniff.
I don’t mean to make light of the situation. It is a very serious matter for those that have respiratory problems. I can help with some suggestions about how to cope during this season and the up-coming humid season we will experience soon in Florida.
The first three culprits – mold, mildew and dust mites are only able to survive and multiply in a damp environment. The key to keeping your home free from those health hazards is to get your humidity level below 60% and keep it there. That can usually be accomplished with a clean, well maintained air conditioning system. If you add a de-humidifier to your home, you can use your A/C a little less and still maintain the 60% or lower humidity level. You will have reduced the possibility of having mold, mildew and dust mites flourishing in your home by 99%.
If you do find mold or mildew developing either inside or outside your home there is a very safe and effective product for removal called Moldzyme. It comes in various sizes including concentrates for big or small jobs. The sooner you clean up the mold the better.
Also a great method to deal with mold spores and dust mite allergens is to use a laundry detergent specifically formulated to neutralize and remove those allergens as well as pet dander and pollen. Allergen Washby Allersearch is a very effective laundry detergent to solve this problem. Be sure to launder your bed linens weekly with Allergen wash. It has no perfumes or dyes and is gentle enough to wash delicate fabrics in any water temperature.
Another aid in the battle against allergens in your air is a good air purifier. IQAirmakes the most efficient filters on the market and in several sizes and configurations to fit your particular needs. The most recent addition to their line is their Perfect 16 Whole House Air Purifier. The 16 refers to the Merv rating which is the highest industry rating for air conditioning filters. The IQAir Perfect 16 is the certified whole house air purification system that effectively eliminates allergens, dust, bacteria and viruses – delivering 10 times cleaner air – Guaranteed!
Another area where it is important to focus is your bed. Allergy Control Productsmakes mattress and pillow encasings that provide complete protection from the smallest allergen particles, including both dust mite and animal allergens. If you have a wool or latex pillowyou’re one step ahead of the game because those materials cannot hold the moisture necessary for mold, mildew and dust mites to survive. Our latex mattresseswith wool filled toppers will not only support your body beautifully but will also prevent the growth of allergens in your bed as well.
If you want to keep up with the pollen count in your area, log on to www.pollenlibrary.com. They will also send you allergy alerts whenever the pollen count goes into the moderate to high level for your zip code.
Now that the stimulus bill has passed and the word about tax credits and weatherizing incentives is out, you can bet that the tin men selling "insulating" siding and new "energy efficient" vinyl windows will be out in force to sell you stuff that "pays for itself in three years" and that "the government will pay most of the cost anyways". Except these are two of the least cost-effective measures that you can take, and can significantly decrease the value of a house if they destroy its character and charm.
And when the window guy comes to call (he will), say no. The National Trust says:
There is an epidemic spreading across the country. In the name of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility, replacement window manufacturers are convincing people to replace their historic wood windows. The result is the rapid erosion of a building's character, the waste of a historic resource, and a potential net loss in energy conservation. Typically replacement windows are vinyl, aluminum, or a composite with wood, and none will last as long as the original window. Repairing, rather than replacing, wood windows is most likely to be the "greener option" and a more sustainable building practice.
In 2002 the Rocky Mountain Institute did a study of the different things you can do to save energy in your home, and listed them in order of cost-effectiveness. The numbers are probably no longer relevant (savings would be a lot greater now) but the order is- replacing windows still costs a lot of money in relation to what it saves in fuel and carbon emissions, as does gutting the house to insulate walls. Low hanging fruit like insulating attics and caulking make a lot more sense. Download the PDF here
We’re still dealing with a very serious drought here in Florida. And although the housing market has slowed down, Florida’s population is still growing without any signs of ever stopping. Now, more than ever, we must be aware of how we are using the precious water supply which we can’t live without.
According to Marian Hopkins of Treehugger.com, “While 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered by water, it is estimated that only 1 percent of those total water resources is available for human use. Currently, between 500 million and 2 billion people are living in conditions of water stress. It is estimated that this number will rise to about 5.5 billion people by 2025.
Scary numbers and we all need to do our part to use this precious resource with care. You can make a difference by adopting a water smart philosophy.
Here are 30 ways to help conserve water:
1. Place a bucket in your shower to catch extra water which you can use to water plants. 2. In the shower, turn the water off after you are wet and while you are scrubbing up. Turn it back on to rinse. 3. Okay, we’re still in the shower – get a low flow shower head. 4. Only run the dishwasher and washing machines when you have full loads. 5. Either get a kit you can add to your present toilet to reduce the amount of water you use to flush or replace your toilet with an ultra-low flow version. Check out the dual flush toilets, they save the most water. 6. Don’t pour water down the drain if it can be used for something else like watering your plants. 7. Hot water on demand saves water and energy. 8. Rainwater collection systems are a no brainer here in Florida. Start with a rain barrel or two for the garden and lawn. 9. Plant native plants. Xeriscape to avoid wasting water for irrigation. 10. Don’t over-water your lawn. Lawns only need irrigation every five to seven days. A heavy rain eliminates watering a lawn for up to two weeks. 11. Water lawns in the early morning when wind and temperatures are at the lowest to reduce evaporation and waste. 12. Check the position of your sprinkler heads regularly. Water should only land on the lawn, not on shrubs or pavement. 13. Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly to be sure they operate properly. Florida law now requires that “anyone who purchases and installs an automatic lawn sprinkler system MUST install a rain sensor device or switch which will override the irrigation cycle when adequate rainfall has occurred.” 14. Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Fertilizer increases the need for water. 15. Use mulch around plants and trees to help hold the moisture. 16. And for Pete’s sake use a broom or a blower if you must, but don’t use a hose to clean walkways and driveways. 17. Use the waterless car washing systems like Lucky Earth or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. 18. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator, or use the defrost setting on your microwave. 19. Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Get a composter as a way to dispose of food waste. 20. Don’t let water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face or shaving. 21. Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don’t let the water run while you wait for it to cool off. 22. Don’t waste water while waiting for it to get hot. Capture that water for other uses. 23. Check for leaky faucets and pipes and irrigation systems and have them repaired as soon as possible. 24. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Put tissues, that small bug, etc. in the trash. 25. Make sure to know the watering rules and conservation guidelines required by your county water management district. 26. Consider hooking up to the reclaimed water system if it is available in your neighborhood. 27. Report leaks, broken fire hydrants, errant water sprinklers, basically any unattended water losses you see to the home owner if possible or the local authorities such as the water management district. 28. Promote water conservation in your community newsletter, on public bulletin boards. 29. Encourage all your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to be water smart! 30. Do one thing every day to consciously save water. Every drop counts.
This is just a short list of ways to conserve water. If you need more ideas check with The Department of Environmental Protection for Florida. Their website is http://www.dep.state.fl.us/. There are many more ways to get involved in saving our fresh water supply. It is a fragile resource and needs all of us to care for it.
We learn from Inhabitat that Sherwin-Williams has introduced a new line of paints, and has invented a new label, GreenSure, to go with it. They list a whole pile of standards and requirements that their paints must meet to get GreenSure; no doubt they will mean something to chemists. But what does it mean to the public? Not a whole lot. But let's look at one of the standards, perhaps the most important for paints, the Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. As is shown above, Sherwin Williams' standard for VOCs is 50 grams per litre.
Now I don't know it that is high or low, but I do know that there is an independent third party standard, GreenGuard, that tests products for VOCs and gives its label to products with VOCs lower than .5 milligrams per cubic metre. For some unknown reason Sherwin Williams uses a different metric unit and there are a lot of zeros involved.
I did not believe my results so I used an online calculator and it confirmed that 50 g/l is 50 Million milligrams per cubic metre, or a hundred million times as high as Greenguard permits. Now a hundred million times almost nothing can still be almost nothing, but that is fifty kilograms per cubic metre; if paint has roughly the same density as water then it is up to five percent pure VOCs.
When you look at the four paints that have GreenSure certification, two are GreenGuard and two are not. The Greenguard ones have zero VOCs; the two that do not have GreenGuard certification have VOCs right up there near the GreenSure limit.
No doubt Sherwin Williams had good reasons for putting the VOCs in; people demand a certain level of performance, coverage, speed of drying, they probably couldn't get the paint to perform they way they wanted with no VOCs But that doesn't mean that they can call it green. Just because you don't want to comply with the established third party standard doesn't mean that the customer has to accept your own dubious invention of one.
Unless my mathematics are off by about six zeros, this product is greenwashes in a number of ways:
-it isn't third party verified. -it is rated against a meaningless standard that is incomprehensible to the public. -it is designed to confuse, listing "chemical component restrictions" like lead and mercury that haven't been allowed in paint for years. -it creates a pretty "GreenSure" graphic to give consumers a false confidence. -it blows past the standard that anyone else in the industry considers the green standard.
Really, lets cover the earth with real science and real standards, not slick marketing. As Andrew Pace of Degree of Green said so well in Inhabitat:
Their program was internally created by their own marketing people, so there is no third party verification of the claims. This is akin to Phillip Morris saying that nicotine is not addictive.”
Or as we might say, inside-job green labels aren't worth the recycled paper they are printed on.
new year is an opportunity to break away from the past and that's
especially true for 2009. We couldn't wait to say good bye to the
turmoil of 2008. As we look to our future, whether with renewed hope or
trepidation, we make resolutions to do better in the new year.
are days away from January 20, when our new president will officially
take the lead and try to pick up the pieces of this great country of
ours. The task couldn't be more daunting and we are going to have to
what can we do? The answer may be quite simple. Think
greener, live greener, be greener - lighten the load on the planet.
Make a conscious effort to reduce, reuse and recycle. It is better for
the Earth and our wallets.
of wallets (and yes, many of them are lighter these days), use yours
wisely. Even as we reduce our consumption, we still have to buy
necessities. We vote with our wallets on a daily basis but we rarely
think of it that way. Each purchase we make is a vote of confidence for
the retailer and/or the manufacturer of the product or service we buy.
As we spend our hard earned dollars we should ask ourselves:
* Does this company deserve my vote? *
Will it use the money I give it wisely? Will it put my money towards
research into greener, more efficient products or will it go to senior
management bonuses and luxury retreats? * Is this company a good corporate citizen/steward of the environment? * Will it help steer the economy out of the current downturn and in the right direction?
purchase decisions alone have more power than we realize - so let's
make them count. Look at the shift taking place in the power industry -
more and more consumers are installing solar panels in their homes.
Demand for power generated by alternative sources is higher, the
long-term economics make more sense and as a result more utilities are
adopting net metering and investing in solar, wind, geothermal etc.
Imagine being part of this type of transformation in every industry!
have been talking to you, our customers, for quite a while now about
switching to CFLs over incandescent light bulbs. We have heard all
kings of arguments against them such as "CFLs flicker", "CFLs buzz",
"CFLs don't light up immediately", "CFLs burn out faster than
incandescent", "CFLs have mercury", "CFLs won't work in my 3-way lamp", "CFLs don't work with dimmer switches", "there are no flood CFLs", "I'd rather buy LEDs".
We are here to tell you that CFLs have improved substantially in the last 10 years and the ones we offer do not flicker or buzz. They light up instantly and their use actually lowers the amount of mercury in the atmosphere
because they use so much less electricity than incandescents that they
are hands down the better choice environmentally and economically. LED lights for residential use are now available but at $40-$80 a pop, they are still too expensive for most of us.
Over the last few months we have expanded our CFL selection to include bulbs for a variety of applications indoors and outdoors - dimmables, flood lights, 3-way bulbs, candelabra base,
full-spectrum and warm-light CFLs. We have addressed every one of your
concerns, so now you have no excuses to keep using incandescents.
We think that everyone who hasn't already done so, needs to switch to CFLs NOW!
St Petersburg, FL. – I live in a very fortunate place. We have been lucky in the last couple of years to not have had to deal with a full-on hurricane. We still have had the effects of several named storms tear through the area without enduring too much damage.
If you live anywhere near the East coast or the Gulf of Mexico’s various coasts then you are either prepared or not for the next big storm.
We are, for the most part, very fortunate to be able to live here in St. Petersburg. We don’t endure winter – in any shape or form. This area gets cold now and then and we even have to deal with frost once in awhile but never winter. And in the summer we rarely ever hit temperatures the go beyond the high nineties. I grew up in the Midwest where winter is all too plentiful and summer can be hot and humid and temps can go above 100 degrees and stay there just long enough for people to die because they don’t know how to deal with it.
So living here in St. Nirvana has been a great move for me, but it still has its own mean Mother Nature reality. And if you don’t want to know how to prepare for that eventual reality, stop reading now. But if you do need some advice about the inevitability of hurricane “somebody” coming your way, pay attention. And the issues aren’t that specific to the “hurricane season” as we like to refer to it. A lot of storms, predictable or not cause the same kind of chaos all over the nation and when you’re prepared, you can be better at handling the aftermath.
I’m going to give you a couple of places to check out for a list of things to do to be prepared for a
hurricane or any storm that threatens the loss of your power, water and food. The bottom line is to protect yourself and your home.
President Bush said Monday May 5th, "It's been a while in the making and it's going to be a while that we solve the problem." Bush said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," "We're too dependent on foreign oil and we need to be exploring more at home." Bush said the rising cost of gas "troubles me a lot" because it is "like a tax on the working people."
Obama and McCain and almost all other politicians looking for your vote are talking about the economy because according to their polls that’s what the public is most concerned about right now. And near the top of the economic list of woes is the price of gas and our dependence on foreign oil. It’s killing us. Everything is tied to it. We need it to get to work and to look for work. We need it to get the kids to school, to go to the grocery store, to go anywhere. And once we get to the grocery store and every other store, we have to pay inflated prices because shipping costs keep going up. And the products that are made from petroleum by-products, and there are lots, are costing more because the price of oil keeps going up. I know this isn’t news to you. So what are we going to do?
Let’s say a miracle happens and the oil companies decide they will lower the price. We’ll breathe a sigh of relief and maybe party for a minute or two, but we can’t forget that oil is not a renewable resource and will eventually be no more. We have to look beyond oil – now. We have to continue developing alternative energy technologies that are renewable or we will always be looking for something to take oil’s place. Coal and gas are going to run out too. We’ve developed some band-aid remedies but true solutions are still to come.
As Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, declared: “It is much cheaper and much less deadly to conserve energy and increase efficiency than to send troops to protect oil interests in the Middle East.... While our soldiers in Iraq are fighting for many reasons, we cannot divorce what is happening in the Middle East from our dependence on oil.”
It’s clear to almost everyone that we have to push for a technological revolution. Our inventory of natural resources is running out. I’m seeing a rising environmental conscience developing in all of America. With both political parties agreeing upon the fact that we need to change our course, there are differences of opinions as to the approach for solving this dilemma. Generally speaking, Republicans see the solution being one where we minimize the extent of the damage we create in our stride toward progress. Keep exploring for oil and be careful to not create too big a mess. The Democrats on the other hand tend to be more protective and speak of untouchable lands and see a future with nature not destroyed by the drive for a solution and wealth. Both parties agree that conservation and increased efficiency are essential right now while we figure out a more permanent resolution. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle – one that embraces a balance between nature and progress. Wind turbines and solar panels harness natural energy available now, but they have to go somewhere. The “not in my backyard” argument still works to keep these “energy farms” off potentially valuable coastlines and near housing developments for the time being. But we have deserts and plains where they will work. And we don’t need to spoil the Gulf of Mexico or the pristine wilderness of Alaska to drill for more oil that will only delay the ultimate need for alternative options.
My hope is that we can continue to develop and progress toward an answer that leaves us less dependent on foreign oil; an answer that finds a way to develop alternative energy resources while still being careful with the environment. There is a marked difference between clear cutting and development. I’m confident that the technology will be there to solve our energy needs. I’m not confident that our politicians and the oil companies will get out of the way and let it happen. Listen to your candidates this election year. It is way past time for a different approach to the energy challenge we are facing.