Packaging waste #1

Packaging Waste

Until around the turn of the 21st century before it officially had a name, road rage was just simply thought of as impatient drivers with intolerance toward anyone else sharing the road with them.  These days it seems that you can’t turn on the television or surf the internet without hearing some new “rage” related condition, such as the likes of email rage, computer rage, Myspace rage, phone rage, internet rage, believe it or not “line range” where an elderly woman was run over by a shopping cart, but get ready for it, now there’s “wrap rage”.

The smart people at Amazon.com heard the cries and frustrations of a nation and answered their call by creating “Frustration Free Packaging” for their physical products.  If you’ve opened a toy encased in plastic you’ll no doubt have experienced this for yourself at some point, short of needing an instruction manual, or a hammer to free a toy from its plastic prison.  After a while, even Barbie’s Mona Lisa smile turns to a smirk at your unwrapping incompetence.

Amazon.com has aligned themselves with some big name market players like Mattel, Fisher-Price, Microsoft, Transcend offering around 19 products containing considerably less wasteful packing materials that are not only 100% recyclable but have themselves been created from at least 50% recycled materials.  CEO Jeff Bezos intends to employ this type of packaging for all of Amazon.com’s physical products in the future.

Keeping their eye on the eco-prize has its share of long terms benefits such as reduced waste ending up in the landfills, its affiliated partners building a reputation of being cleaner and greener while saving money on reduced production costs associated with this new, minimized packaging.  Green definitely has its rewards.

In addition to reduced packaging waste, Amazon.com has devised a way to further help the environment by using its employees “Amazonians” to identify and amend any inefficient energy practices within its organization.  And if the name Amazonian wasn’t special enough, this group of  people are known as the “Earth Kaizen’s”, Kaizen translated from the Japanese phrase meaning “change for the better”, an apt name for a group dedicated to making that happen.

Earth Kaizen’s are essentially all employees from Amazon.com at every level whose fingers are all on a common pulse for the conservation of energy.  As an example, Earth Kaizens in the Lexington, Kentucky, fulfillment center realized that a large amount of the bulk storage facility went unused during weekends yet the power remained on at all times.  120 lights were permanently turned off resulting in the savings of nearly 500,000 kilo-watt hours, enough electricity to generate power to over 30 homes in Kentucky for a whole year.

The bid to go greener isn’t just a passing fancy with Amazon.com who recently diversified by adding a “green” range of products to their inventory, which you can find on Amazon’s “Green Page”.  It sports products for every aspect of life from electronics to baby products, home and garden supplies, children’s toys, grocery and household supplies, wind and solar power generator kits, books, shoes, etc.

Amazon.com’s Green Page has 3 different sections for the green enthusiast, Ease Into Green, Eco Chic and Go Extreme Green.

Their “Ease Into Green” section is for those wanting to do their part for the environment in baby steps by incorporating little green aspects into their daily lives, like using greener household alternatives in lieu of their less eco-friendly regulars, light bulbs, storage containers, garbage bins, etc.

Eco Chic is their range of clothing constructed from sustainable materials as well organic products for baby, beauty and bathroom and a range of environmentally sound furniture.

Go Extreme Green is for the diehard green buffs who want to take their green living to the next level.  The types of products this
market want are alternative energy sources to help them live semi independently or completely off the main power grid, eco-designed shower heads for conscious water use and hydroponic kits to grow their own gardens.

If you want to purchase your everyday household items while helping the environment at the same time, then Amazon.com’s Green Page is the way to go, whether you want to ease into green or jump with both feet into it, Amazon.com has the solution for you.

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HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN - JULY 21: Bottl...

Plastic Bottles

It turns out that plastic is not as solid as we thought it was. There are several types of plastic used in our homes that have been found to leach cancer-producing toxins, and many of them are commonly used to store food and beverages. The dangerous effects of these plastics range from hormone disruption, obesity and reproduction problems to cancer.

Some people question the research and say there hasn't been evidence to prove that plastics actually harm humans. But why take the risks, when there are easy and safe alternatives? Here are the plastics to avoid.

#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is dangerous because of the dioxins produced during manufacturing. Dioxins are known to cause cancer, and they accumulate in fatty tissue, so are not easily flushed from our systems. The flexible type of PVC is commonly used to wrap meat in the US contains phthalates, which are suspected of causing cancer and problems with hormonal development. The hard type of PVC has been used in the building industry to make residential and commercial plumbing pipes which carry drinking water.

#6 PS is polystyrene, or styrofoam, which is commonly used for disposable plates, cups and carry-out containers. The styrene has been found to leach into foods, and may cause cancer or hormonal disruption.

#7 PC contains bisphenol A (BPA) which causes problems similar to those caused by phthalates. Other potential problems include possible insulin disruption which may lead to pancreas problems including Type 2 Diabetes. This type of plastic is commonly used in plastic baby bottles, plastic eating utensils and microwave oven cookware, as well as to line the metal containers of canned foods.

The good news is that there are some plastics that are safe to use. They have proven to be stable enough that they don't transfer chemicals into food or the environment. Here's a list of the most common plastics that are considered to be safe.

#2 HDPE has not been shown to have any negative health effects, and is recyclable.

#4LDPE is being used for beverage containers, and has not been shown to leach chemicals.

#5PP has not been shown to have any negative health effects, but is difficult to recycle.

#1 PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is most commonly used for beverage containers like sports water bottles. They are recyclable, but are only intended for a single use. Some studies have shown that the PET leaches into the beverages when these bottles are stored for long periods of time (several months), so they’re far from ideal. But the harmful effect of leaching appears to be limited to gastrointestinal distress with no long term effects.

PLA (polylactide) is made from starchy plants like corn. There is no need to recycle them because they biodegrade in less than 2 weeks.

Of course, the safest thing is to avoid using plastics whenever possible. That way, you won’t be adding to the growing surplus of non-biodegradable plastic that is multiplying all over the planet.

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Getting the most out of your car means your engine needs to be working at maximum efficiency while burning minimum fuel.  Here are some tips that will enable you to extend the life of your car while saving money and the environment by simply maintaining your car the eco-wise way:

Regular Care And Maintenance Of Your Car

It’s important that you regularly measure your tire pressure.  This has a two-fold benefit:

1. When the tire pressure is at the optimum level you actually use 15% less gas.

2. You increase the life of your tires by 15%.

Change your oil every 3,000 to 4,500 miles if you make short runs under 6 miles at a time, if you frequent city traffic with many stops and starts, if your car tows a trailer or heavy load regularly, or if you drive in salty, sandy or dusty conditions.

If your oil isn't changed often enough this can result in advanced engine wear and tear with the loss of fuel economy and overall performance which means accelerated oil consumption and with it, increased carbon emissions.  Doing this on a regular basis will not only extend the life of your engine but keep your car in optimum working condition while helping it burn less fuel.

Check and replace windscreen wipers when the rubber in them has worn out, if you don’t, not only will they be ineffective, but they may also scratch the windscreen causing you to replace them earlier and pay more money in the long term.

Water Conservation

Most people aren’t aware that how they clean their car can be almost as important to the environment as how you maintain it.  It only takes 1 quart of oil in our waterways to contaminate 1 million quarts of water so it pays to know what we’re putting into our storm water drains.

Before you wash your car, especially as it gets toward those summer months, are there any water restrictions currently in place?  Car washing is likely to be out if your area is experiencing drought conditions and will likely to be the first activity to be restricted.

Hosing your car while on your driveway should be avoided because not only does it waste water but it introduces dirt, grease, detergents, oil and gas residue into storm water drains eventually ending up in our river systems which gradually make their way into our oceans, the very oceans that we depend upon for our survival.

Instead, place your car on a grassy area to minimize the amount of water run-off.

Using biodegradable vegetable oil based soaps to wash your car are a good option as they readily breakdown if any runoff escapes down storm water drains.  If you opt to use car shampoos always wash your car on your lawn as these types of shampoos usually contain phosphates similar to those found in fertilizers.  The reason why this is a disadvantage is because it artificially introduces nutrients to photosynthetic algae where there otherwise would not have been, enabling them to overgrow clogging natural waterways and killing marine life by overwhelming entire ecosystems.  You can opt to use phosphate free alternatives in place of the regular kind.

It’s ironic that manufacturers include this component to their cleaning products knowing that it will eventually end up in our waterways, tighter regulation needs to be put in place while a ban on phosphates in all cleaning products become a reality.  The positive outlook is that at the state level change is gradually taking place.  Through greater awareness policy-makers are working to ban the use of phosphates in cleaning products with the state of Virginia joining the cause to phase out the use of phosphate based cleaning products by 2010.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/10/AR2008031002744.html

Using a sponge and bucket or a watering can takes a little more time than using a hose but can save a lot more water, in fact using a hose to wash your car uses four to five times more water than a humble bucket and sponge alone.  This is because when using a hose you’re unaware of the volume of water you use, however a set amount of water as you would when using a bucket not only saves on your water bill but you save our greatest precious resource in the process.

Don’t let water go to waste.  Using “grey” water to wash your car can get maximum usage out of the same water.  Grey water is typically water that has been recycled from the other processes such as water from your laundry for example.  Collect the water in a bucket as it drains off during a rinse cycle to wash your car with.  This ensures you get double the use from the same batch of water.

Washing your car in the shade ensures slower evaporation, helping conserve water and avoids telltale streaks on the paint finish.

Eliminate the use of expensive chemical finishing treatments.  Armed with a simple chamois with some good old vigorous polishing is the best way to achieve a streak free finish.

Getting the most out of your car through eco conscious methods will not only ensure you save money but will extend the life of your car too.

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