Friday, October 24, 2008

Bisphenol-A - The Ongoing Saga

First of all, I hope that newspapers never disappear. I am the kind of person who has to actually sit and read to process well. So the article I read in The Daily Green ( on evidence of government acting in the best interest of the plastics industry and the case for good journalism hit two hot buttons for me. One aspect is that we have to do what we can to keep independently owned newspaper around - even if we disagree with political leanings on any side. And the other hot button is why doesn't EVERY government agency care about all of our best interest when it comes to toxins and poisons? Call me naive.

I an including a lengthy excerpt from the article because I think it's that important and besides, we all got to choose what and how much we read. Regardless, it's food for thought. Bisphenol-A causes cancer - not a word of debate about that. I don't know about you but I would just feel better knowing it wasn't in ANY baby bottles, water bottles or lining aluminum cans. Is that too much to ask of Big Brother?

Article as follows:

Industry Wrote the Rules on Bisphenol-A
Think The Mainstream Media Is Irrelevant? The Bisphenol-A Story Shows Otherwise
October 24, 2008 at 9:10AM by Dan Shapley | comment

Buzz up!
In another sign that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is a more effective consumer watchdog than the federal government, the newspaper has turned up evidence that the chemical industry wrote the Food and Drug Administration assessment that deemed Bisphenol-A safe, despite a growing number of independent and government research to the contrary.

The Journal-Sentinel should be commended, again, for its role uncovering and publicizing industry influence on chemical risk analysis in various federal agencies. (Pulitzer, anyone?) Lest anyone fail to realize the cost of turmoil in the mainstream media, this is an example of why the health of the nations newspapers matter. The Journal-Sentinel announced plans in July to cut 130 jobs -- 10% of its full-time staff -- and that was before its parent company announced a third-quarter loss of $17.1 million, according to Forbes.

The paper's latest revelation is that the FDA used an American Chemistry Council report as the basis for its own health analysis of Bisphenol-A, an ingredient in plastics and the lining of cans. It mimics the hormone estrogen and has been linked to a wide range of problems in laboratory studies and, increasingly, human health studies.

The chemical industry, which profits handsomely on sales of the chemical, asserts its safe. The FDA, similarly -- and, not surprisingly, as it turns out -- has agreed. Canada, meanwhile has declared it hazardous and ordered it removed from baby bottles. The U.S. National Toxicology Program also expressed concerns.

The FDA is now reviewing its health assessment. One can hope that shame, if not a sense of public duty, will compel it to independently consider independent science, rather than the industry's spin.

And one can only hope that newspapers with investigative teams like the Journal-Sentinel can survive the turmoil traditional media faces. It's not that online media can't undertake investigations of the same kind, but these news gathering institutions have deep histories, long experience, and are still -- unquestionably -- relevant.

(Another example: The McClatchy news service wrote today that the White House Office of Management and Budget weakened the Environmental Protection Agency's new rule restricting airborne lead, a known neurotoxin, so that 60% fewer facilities would be regulated.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How Green Is Your Pumpkin?

Just add this to the list of the questions I never asked myself until Mrs. Green was born! Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations. My earliest memories of trick-or-treating are of walking for miles with my brother and sister and coming home with sacks of BIG candy bars. I truly thought I had died and gone to heaven – nirvana for a chocaholic!

Fast forward to Mrs. Green living more consciously. So how green is your pumpkin? VERY can be the answer! First of all, do your best to buy your pumpkin from a sustainable patch. I know they are out there. As for the pumpkin seeds, they contain omega-3 fatty acids that help with brain functioning, and if you use the rest of the pumpkin, it’s a good source of fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. And I LOVE pumpkin soup. There are lots of really good recipes around to please any palate. I have never actually used “real” pumpkin for my pumpkin pies but I know it can be done – so you can use the guts for that if it sounds better to you than pumpkin soup.

No matter what, it’s yet another great opportunity to think and act green at this fun time of year.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some University of Arizona Students are Taking Charge

What a great article by Tom Beal on the front page of the Arizona Daily Star this morning A group of students convened an action committee on sustainability last week and are going full speed ahead to say the least.

The students want to compost ALL of the University’s waste, ban Styrofoam, bring in locally grown produce AND reduce congestion in Midtown by making cars available to share on campus. But it doesn’t stop there. They also want the campus grass and greenery to be watered by collected rainwater and the showers in the dorms fed with water heated by the sun. And they want to challenge all the fraternities and sororities to recycle all of their waste. So they have covered water, materials, energy and support. I want to come up with some great resounding shout of support but can’t even begin to find the right words. Stay tuned as Mrs. Green will be calling them so we can hear details on Mrs. Green Goes Mainstream’s radio show.

Dr. Robert Shelton suggested to them that they think outside the box. And so they have.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Solon - A Great Green Gift to Tucson

I was happy to be invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of Solon Corporation here in Tucson yesterday. Even though it’s WAY out there by the airport, one of my first happy surprises was the number of people in attendance. There were hundreds of people present – all of whom were celebrating this great new business in Tucson.

Solon is a German-based company and one of the largest solar module manufacturers in Europe as well as an international leading provider of intelligent power plant solutions for large-scale projects. They manufacture state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar modules (actually polycrystalline and monocrystalline modules). A quote from one of their corporate leaders reads: “We are passionate fighters for the ecological change in the energy market. We revolutionize the usage of solar energy with our innovations. We are: The Pioneers of Power.” What a powerful statement and what a great intention.

So not only does it mean great, decent paying jobs for over 200 Tucsonans, it’s a feather in our City’s cap helping to position Tucson as one of the country’s leading solar cities. An immediate, measurable impact of having Solon in Tucson is that FORTY schools in nearby Cochise Country will be installing solar power in their schools. Do you have any idea how much money that will save their school district? And with the new solar tax credit bill passing in Congress, the school district will benefit from that as well.

Welcome to our community, Solon. Your manufacturing of solar modules makes you a partner we can all be proud of here in the Old Pueblo.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How One Guy Saved His Planet

October 15, 2008

It never ceases to amaze me how many ordinary people I run into doing extraordinary things – which in my mind makes them extraordinary! Here’s one more. I was in my friend Todd Case’s office getting some age spots removed (TMI?) when one of the staff gave me a little book. The name of it is “How One Guy Saved His Planet.” Her husband, Richard, wrote the book to simply share some vignettes about things he had done to make a difference in his neighborhood, in his home owners association and on the planet.

Here’s his introduction. “Thank you for your interest in making your corner of the world a wonderful place to be. I hope these vignettes, all based on real actions I took in my own neighborhood, motivate you to take small steps of your own.” How great is that?

Richard turned a little patch of vacant land in his neighborhood from a pile of junk to a desert habitat; after every rainy season, he cleaned out the wash behind his house, taking junk to the dumpster; and he used donated paint from a friend to wage a one person battle against graffiti.

At the end of this little booklet, Richard shares some closing thoughts which are all wonderful – such as “Make room for nature to re-emerge. It doesn’t take much help for a little mini-ecosystem to develop, even in the smallest or most unlikely place.”

I loved reading what he wrote from cover to cover. One person makes a difference – starting a small fire. Gotta love it.

p.s. If you would like a copy of this little booklet, here’s Richard’s email address:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Some Interesting Info About Carbon Footprints

There is lots of talk these days about carbon footprints. In simple terms a carbon foot print is the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that get put into the atmosphere when the goods are made, shipped and stored, and then used by consumers.

The not fun news is that the U.S. emits the equivalent of about 118 pounds of carbon dioxide per resident every day. Annually that’s nearly 20 metric tons per American – about FIVE times the number per citizen of the world at large. Yikes! So we really have some things we can change and I hope we all do - one step at a time.

The little bit of trivia (but not to be considered trivial!) about carbon footprints came from the good old Wall Street Journal last Monday. It’s the measure of six products and six carbon footprints. So here goes: Fleece Jacket – 60 pounds; Laundry detergent – 31 pounds; Boot – 121 pounds; Organic Milk – 7.2 pounds; Car – 97,000 pounds and last but not least – Fat Tire beer – 7 pounds. Without writing a three page blog, I can’t provide you will all the details of how the author measured the emissions but I can tell you he (Jeffery Ball) did his homework. Just one example of how thorough he was is his breakdown of laundry detergent. He based it on a 1.5 liter bottle, 20 loads per bottle and 9.9 pounds of laundry per load. Included in his measurement were making, using, transporting, storing and disposal of the package. It may seem like too much information but the more we know in simple, plain old English, the easier it will be for all of us to make simple changes.

The entire subject of carbon footprints fascinates me so this article was a great find. I can feel guilt free about drinking organic milk and will think twice about buying another pair of boots. All in all, articles like this are raising my consciousness one thought at a time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

U.S. Mayors Call for 'Green Revolution'

Every time I drive past the Solar Store in Tucson, I check to see if the sign about needing to hire people is still up. So far, still up. From what I hear around town, they can’t hire people fast enough because there is so much consumer interest in solar everything.

So I was not totally surprised when my friend Susan sent me an article about U.S. Mayors calling for a green revolution. From my view, that makes them really smart! Green is the area of job creation and the wheels are already in motion. Again, from where I sit, this is our opportunity to see things through the looking glass and do everything we can to be a part of the revolution.

Some excerpts from the author Barry Janoff writes: A new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for a "green revolution" and said if it takes place, 4.2 million new "green" jobs could be created in the country by 2038.

The report said the U.S. now has about 751,000 green jobs, which generally involve producing renewable energy or providing engineering, legal or research support. That figure represents less than 0.5% of all current U.S. jobs. The report was based on information provided by research firm Global Insight, Waltham, Mass.

The forecast of more than 4 million new green jobs is based on the U.S. generating 40% of its electricity from alternative fuels (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass), 30% of fuel used in cars and light trucks coming from alternatives to gasoline and diesel that electricity use in existing buildings will drop by 35% by 2038.

According to the report, some 418,000 of the current 751,000 green jobs in the U.S. are in engineering, legal, research and consulting; behind that was the field of renewable power generation with 127,000 jobs, followed by government administration with 71,900 jobs.

The top 10 cities in the nation ranked by current green jobs and the potential number of green jobs they could have by 2038 are: New York (25,021/197,971), Washington (24,287/192,165), Houston (21,250/168,136), Los Angeles (20,136/159,321), Boston (19,799/156,660), Chicago (16,120/127,545), Philadelphia (14,379/113,772), San Francisco (13,848/109,570), San Diego (11,663/92,285) and Pittsburgh (9,627/76,174).

You have to admit – this really is good green news and when major cities are committed and getting ranked, we are all moving in the right direction. And I also appreciate that not only will so many jobs be created, we will be constantly creating alternative sources for fuel – cleaner, less-dependent-on-foreign-oil kinds of alternatives!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Good Green News

In this crazy world of ours with the financial markets turning upside down, it's great to live in and explore all that's great about the "green" world. Creativity, exploration, innovation and change all abound. So let me add this to the "good things happening in green" world. You can imagine my delight when I heard from a young man named Sherif who is a graduate student at the University of Arizona who wrote to tell me several things. First, he listens to and enjoys my show. Gotta love it! And more importantly, he has taken action to make a difference. Sherif has started a wonderful website: The website is inviting and upbeat and according to Sherif "a work in progress given my busy schedule." My hats off to Sherif for taking action to make our world a greener, healthier, safer and ,yes, HAPPIER place to live. And I love that his focus starts right here in Arizona. All the very best to Sherif and I hope you will visit his website.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Good Green News About Running Shoes

I could hardly believe my eyes: eco-friendly running shows you say? One of my favorite green newsletters, Ideal Bites, gave me yet another opportunity to change to a greener practice with the purchase of my next running shoes.

There are big names like Nike (is there a bigger name?) and Brooks that offer green options which means they ARE widely available. They are made from such things are silicone-based green rubber instead of petroleum and PVC which may release carcinogenic dioxins during production. Some lines are even totally vegan and forgo leather altogether.

And a really nice recycling aspect from the place I purchase mine, The Running Store, in Tucson, Arizona. They collect and redistribute old running shoes to places in Africa. There are two organizations you can check out – One World Running and Reuse-a-Shoe if you want to recycle yours. Happy, guilt free running. Gotta love it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nature IS all it's cracked up to be!

What better thing for Mrs. Green to write about than nature? This morning I was in a beautiful place here in Arizona called Sabino Canyon by 6:00 a.m. The dawn was breaking, the air was crisp and the birds were singing to their hearts' content. When I met my Better Than Ever group to start the run (half marathon training!), we had only gone a little ways when we spotted three deer. Right after that a few bunnies ran across the road and the sun literally popped it's head up over the mountains. I actually got the hit "blog about this today" and so I am. What better thing can we possibly do to keep us mindful of preserving this beautiful planet than to actually go outside and remember why it is so very very important?

Give yourself a present in the next few days. Go somewhere beautiful and green and give thanks for it.