Today’s lesson in who Is trying to kill you takes us to municipal water supplies, where violations of the nation’s Clean Water Act have now become rampant. According to a harrowing report by the New York Times, polluters have violated the act over a half million times in the last five years, dumping heavy metals (lead, nickel) and other dangerous chemicals into the water, usually without recourse.
Ever run to the drug store for a tube of toothpaste and find that your meager purchase results in a receipt the length of War and Peace? Two-foot long receipts are increasingly common these days, as retailers embrace technologies allowing them to microtarget customers. The colossal waste of paper comes at a cost, not only in felled trees but on man hours spent on changing tape and fixing broken printers.
You may want to think twice about covering up that stench in the bathroom by lighting up 25 votives. A new study by researchers at South Carolina State University found that “paraffin-based candles — the most popular kind — emitted toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene.”
Triclosan, a chemical widely used in antibacterial soaps, is turning up in dolphins. The agent gets into oceans after traveling from, for instance, your bathroom sink into wastewater streams. Though 90 to 98 percent of the chemical is broken down before it reaches fresh water, even the small percentage that remains becomes significant due to antibacterial soaps’ wide use.
The New Scientist has an editorial this week arguing that consumerism is “eating the future.” Author Andy Coghlan sees the modern environmental crisis as the result of a Darwinian struggle: “Not only are [humans] simply doing what all creatures do: we’re doing it better.”
Midwest utility Xcel Energy wants to charge anyone using solar panels a monthly fee for sustainably generating their own energy. According to company spokesman Tom Henley, “We just don’t think it’s fair that customers that don’t have solar panels on their homes should subsidize these solar panel customers any further.” Huh?
Reader Steven bought some cheap fountain pens from Sam’s Club. Perhaps unaccustomed to such a small purchase, Sam’s Club had trouble finding the appropriate packaging.
CVS asks: How about some dead trees and a bunch of ads with that purchase? Not in so many words, of course: that would actually give shoppers a choice.
Those green reusable bags that are all the rage? The plastics industry this week released a study concluding that they are nothing more than bacterial totes, which might be scary if it were true. BarfBlog looked at the study’s methodology and then ate through its main points.
A study by the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh states that when comparing getting a flash drive from Buy.com versus a physical retailer, Buy.com ends up being about 30% less damaging to the environment. To reach their conclusion, the researchers compared transportation, packaging, warehousing, and energy usage both by the consumer and the retailer.
Harsh chemicals aren’t just bad for you and the environment, they’re bad for your wallet too. Cleaning most things, from clothes to your kitchen, can be done greenly and cheaply with these six nifty do-it-yourself cleaning recipes from Consumer Reports…
Reader Marc would like Amazon to stop shipping bubbles of air all over the country. He ordered two items that would have been fine to ship in an envelope — but instead he got the usual large box with several air bubbles. This makes Marc mad.
Just what the hell is “organic” dry cleaning? Nobody really knows. [NYT]
Douglas writes, “Coinstar wants you to ‘recycle’ your coins in their machines, and save the environment! Minus their 8.9% fee of course.” They even have a little wizard on their website that estimates how many parts of the environment—water, energy consumption, and geological waste—you save by putting those coins back into circulation, instead of hoarding them like the polar bear murderer you are. They don’t provide any source for these estimates, though, and we’re not convinced you’re doing anything “green” other than lining Coinstar’s pockets.
Gregg saw this cheerful environmentally-friendly message on the side of his Sam’s Club soda cup. Wait, what? We guess it saves Sam’s Club fuel costs to ship the cups, but that sounds more like a profit-friendly quality. Gregg notes another benefit of the cup: “[it] may never biodegrade but at least it’s easy on my drinkin’ elbow.”