Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Green Chemistry

Green chemistry is chemical philosophy encouraging the design of products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. It has well established principles just waiting to become routine practice.

The news is that California just released its report on the Green Chemistry Initiative. The report is comprised of six policy recommendations which include:

  • Expand Pollution Prevention to assist California businesses to lead the world in greener design and production
  • Develop Green Chemistry Workforce Education and Training, Research and Development, and Technology Transfer to meet global demand for greener materials and product
  • Create an Online Product Ingredient Network to disclose chemical ingredients in products sold in the state to allow consumers and businesses to make safer choices
  • Create an Online Toxics Clearinghouse to increase our knowledge about toxicity and hazards for chemicals
  • Accelerate the Quest for Safer Products to make the transition to more sustainable, safer products more quickly using science-based alternative analysis and lifecycle thinking
  • Move Toward a Cradle-to-Cradle Economy to leverage market forces to produce products that are “benign-by-design””

Very little is known about the thousands of chemicals that are in use without prior research of effects on human health and this initiative could be a promising start. However, let's not forget that this year California lawmakers rejected two important bills (Corbett’s bill and Migden’s Bill ) that would have banned the use of two harmful chemicals: PFOA from food packaging and BPA in products used for children under 3 years of age. But let's keep our hopes up!

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Green Team

President Obama has announced his new environment and energy team. This is going to shape our life for the near future and, hoping that this is a change for the better, for the long term. Here is a recent NYT article and an interview with him and he sounds like a pragmatist; I hope he will prove to be a great leader, this is a great time to take that position -- I happen to believe that there's a great opportunity in any crisis, and we're not lacking the latter :)

I truly hope this is the start of a new era and things will get better.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Green Christmas – Choosing the Tree

The Christmas is fast approaching and the first thing to do is to get the tree decorated. At least this is what I do; I know I should have starting shopping already as I promise myself every year – but that is coming after the tree. The first thing has to be the tree ;-). So, how am I going to choose the tree to keep it the natural way and still be green? Here is the conclusion I came after searching and searching and looking around.

There are tree kinds of tree you can purchase:

  1. The artificial tree – For me this does not make any sense at all; I dislike “fake nature” so there is no way for a plastic tree in my house. However, usually they are made of PVC and probably contain phthalates to soften the plastic; they are not biodegradable. They may be durable (it seems like they last more than 10 years) and you can save money every year by not buying a natural one, but they're still made of plastic.
  2. The fresh cut tree – this is a very nice solution and one that I practiced always. It is all natural, it is recyclable (it can be composted and used as sand and erosion barriers on beaches, streambeds, and lakes and it can be sunk into private lakes and ponds, where it provides refuge for fish). One disadvantage can be the pesticides sprayed on them. To find an organic farm closed to you you can go here.
  3. The tree with roots – this is the most eco-friendly solution. You can buy (errrr, "rent"?) the tree and after use it can be re-planted, comes in a big pot and you return it in the new year. This can also be sprayed with pesticides though and there are few places where they are offered.
My choice was again number 2 – the tree without roots. Wish you all a Merry Christmas!