Green News

How to hang toilet paper

Posted by Environment Smart on 02/04 at 12:52 PM
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It has always bothered me when someone hangs the toilet paper with the paper rolling off from underneath. I simply do not like having to search for the end of the paper. It seems the natural way of the roll to have the paper come over the top. Well, now I have found someone who has taken the time to explain in detail why my way of hanging the toilet paper is, in fact, the correct way. Not only that – it also reduced waste of toilet paper.

According to the article, Essential Life Lesson #1: Over is Right, Under is Wrong, "Toilet paper has a natural curve, a way of being that lends itself to certain orientations on the toilet paper spool."

Complete with diagrams, the article explains how the "over-hung" method allows for both "the most visible free sheetage and the least amount of sheetage free from the roll to do it." It continues with arguments in favour of the "over-hung" method when it comes to the "one-handed tear".

"The natural curve of the over-hung method allows the roll to stand fast after a one-handed tear, but the under-hung method creates a calamitous tendency in the roll." This often leads to wastage of paper as it runs off of the roll and bunches on the floor.

For those of you who would like to further impress other with your vast scientific know-how, there is available a Overhanging Public Service Hanger Brochure (PDF). 

About the author: Environment Smart

Radical Recycling

Posted by Environment Smart on 01/08 at 02:18 PM

I like to think of myself as a creative person. I make my own art and crafts. I teach fine arts and craft arts. As a result, I am a collector of stuff to use for creative projects. Much of this stuff would otherwise have headed for the recycling bin. My projects are, however, small in comparison to what I came across recently. Here are 10 of the World’s Most Radical Recycling Projects

  • A Buddhist temple made of beer bottles
  • A bridge made of recycled paper tubes
  • An outdoor recycled art gallery
  • Shipping containers as sleek, modern homes
  • A jumbo jet hostel
  • Giant ‘Trash People’
  • Designer dresses made of maps and coffee filters
  • A scrap metal park
  • Dirty diapers transformed into diesel
  • An industrial waste rock garden



About the author: Environment Smart

Ultra-violet health concerns over CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights).

Posted by TheGreen on 01/07 at 02:35 PM
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We caught wind that there are new potential health issues with CFL's. This time, it is the potential Ultra Violet light that is emitted from CFLs. Although, all CFL's emit this wave length of light, some emit it at higher amounts than others.

GE's website has this to say:

Do light bulbs (such as compact fluorescent bulbs) give off hazardous amounts of ultraviolet (UV) light?

Regular fluorescent light bulbs used in your home and office do not produce a hazardous amount of ultraviolet light (UV). Most light sources, including fluorescent bulbs, emit a small amount of UV, but the UV produced by fluorescent light bulbs is far less than the amount produced by natural daylight. (Ultraviolet light rays are the light wavelengths that can cause sunburn and skin damage.)

Your safety is important to us; that's why, for all of our light bulbs designed for general public use, we strive to minimize the amount of UV light emitted.

If you're looking for a low-UV bulb for an especially sensitive area (like a photography dark room), try our Saf-T-Gard® bulbs. They block most ultraviolet light emissions, and they're also shatter-resistant.

The wikipedia has some good technical information:

Some manufacturers make CFL bulbs with an external nano-particle coating of titanium dioxide.[33] The manufacturer claims that the titanium dioxide when exposed to UV light produced by the CFL can neutralize odors and kill bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.

A PDF from Liverpool Univeristy has a PDF online that gives a fair amount of technical information on UV radiation from CFL bulbs. Here is an except:

New research by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has shown that some energy saving Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs can emit ultraviolet radiation which can lead to sunburn in some extreme circumstances. Precautionary advice is that open (single envelope) CFLs (Fig. 1) should not be used where people are in close proximity (i.e. closer than 30 cm or 1 ft) to the bare light bulb for over 1 hour a day. For such situations open CFLs should be replaced by the encapsulated (double envelope) type (Fig. 2). Alternatively, the lamp should be moved so that it is at least 30 cm or 1 ft away.

To give a little perspective to this train of thought, the Australia's Governmental agency for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (ARPANSA) has weighed in with some good information from their online fact sheet "Ultraviolet Radiation Emissions from Compact Fluorescent Lights":

At the measurement distance of 10 cms, which was considered to be the closest distance that people would be to the lamps, even in desk top applications, 4 of the CFLs had allowed exposure times shorter than 8 hours, while a further 2 CFLs had times of approximately 10 hours. For comparison purposes, the allowed exposure limits will be exceeded in typical midday summer sunshine in approximately 6 mins in Brisbane and 7 mins in Melbourne.

My take is simple: Live life in moderation and all will be fine. Our house is mostly CFL bulbed out now--meaning that we have mostly CFL bulbs throughout the house. Our savings, being in Quebec are not what one in say Ontario might see, but we like the light, and feel good about the small contribution we are making. 

One caveat discovered this year, don't use CFL bulbs in out door unheated locations. They don't last very long and are a pain to use in the winter when it takes 15 minutes for them to warm up. Apart from that, until the LED gets is next round of improvements with Nano technology coatings, we will sit tight.

About the author: TheGreen

Trash filled water vortex is collecting our plastics

Posted by TheGreen on 01/07 at 02:17 PM

There are five major ocean gyres--areas of ocean where the currents swirl around in a large circle, some the size of Texas. The two most prominent ones are in the North Pacific. These gyres have been dubbed “the Asian Trash Trail” the “Trash Vortex” or the “Eastern Garbage Patch”. The most popular visitor to these trash vortex's in the ocean are plastics. A large quantity in the form of plastic bottles, which can break down into smaller parts and float around for ages. According to this Greenpeace article, "The plastics can act as a sort of 'chemical sponge'. They can concentrate many of the most damaging of the pollutants found in the worlds oceans: the persistent organic pollutants (POPs).  So any animal eating these pieces of plastic debris will also be taking in highly toxic pollutants."

The very thing that makes plastic items useful to consumers, their durability and stability, also makes them a problem in marine environments. Around 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year of which about 10 percent ends up in the sea. About 20 percent of this is from ships and platforms, the rest from land.

To help you visualize the vortex, Greenpeace has an animated picture showing how the current congregate all the plastics into a small area in the pacific ocean.


Click here for the full animated version of this map.

About the author: TheGreen

Check your return on investment

Posted by Environment Smart on 01/07 at 12:47 PM
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There are plenty of good reasons to go green. Your concern for the environment should be at the top of the list, but I would rank financial savings right up there as well. If you take a look at the big picture and do a bit of number crunching, you will see that going green does not necessitate having a lot of green. has a few tools that will help you to calculate how you can save the environment while saving some of your hard earned cash in the process.

“ is America’s leading free ‘Green’ home remodeling resource for anyone that wants to save money and the environment as well as create a healthier home and overall lifestyle,” says CEO Charlie Szoradi.

The GREENandSAVE website offers an RIO (return on investment) ranking system that helps you to calculate your long term savings for over 50 green home remodeling projects. When using this RIO calculator, you should keep in mind that the calculated savings are based on the difference between non-green and green options. For example, the RIO calculator shows that installing a programmable thermostat can innitially cost you $115 over a regular thermostat. The annual savings, however, could be as much as $180. Making this a savings of $1800 over a period of 10 years.

The GREENandSAVE website also offers a carbon counter and a 2009 family green guide with great tips for parents and children. Check how your home measures up and how you and your family can work as a team to make improvements for the sake of your health and the environment.


About the author: Environment Smart

One Million Acts of Green - have you contributed yet?

Posted by TheGreen on 12/11 at 02:50 AM
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If you have not heard about or contributed to, then now is the time to do it. Head on over to this initiative that is setup by the CBC. We entered all the things that we have done recently that are considered acts of green. 47 in all! If you don't feel like entering your acts of being green, then at least head on over to and maybe you will get some going green ideas. Here is the link to the One Million Acts of Green website.

About the author: TheGreen

Christmas is coming – buy less stuff this year

Posted by Environment Smart on 12/01 at 05:07 PM
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Christmas is just around the corner, and many of us are already out there shopping for gifts. This year, our family has vowed to buy less STUFF. As a crafts-oriented person, I have always tried to make as many of my own gifts as I have time for. Our adult friends really appreciate this. They value the time and effort that went into the making of the gift, as well as the environmental consciousness of something made, often with recycled materials. They also appreciate the move away from the commercialism of Christmas. We all have enough STUFF.

The children appreciate the hand-made gifts as well, but they are still overwhelmingly drawn to the latest, greatest toys advertised on TV. We don't want to deny our kids the thrill of receiving a gift that they have been longing for, but they are also being reminded that they already have enough stuff. They already understand that they have more than most children in the world. They are also understanding the concept of wastefulness in terms of trendy toys losing their appeal quickly. What we are still working on, however, is the more complex system of how the toys they want impact on the environment. This where a great little video called The Story of Stuff is being helpful. Annie Leonard explains the cycle of stuff from extraction, to production, distribution, consumption and disposal. Simple animation graphics help to illustrate these concepts.

This is a good time of year to be teaching our children about how stuff happens.

About the author: Environment Smart

Pay for your shopping bag at Loblaws

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/28 at 01:41 PM
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BRAMPTON, ON, Nov. 27 /CNW/ - As a cornerstone to our 20th anniversary of PC(R) GREEN products and our ongoing commitment to respect the environment, Loblaw Companies Limited is pleased to announce that effective Earth Day 2009 (April 22, 2009) all corporate and participating franchise stores nationally will no longer provide complimentary plastic shopping bags at check-out. Loblaw will continue to encourage customers to use alternatives to plastic bags, enhance its offer of affordable reusable bag options and charge $0.05 per plastic shopping bag, when they are requested by customers.

It is excellent news that Loblaws is taking initiative in the area of plastic shopping bag use in the grocery chain stores. 

In our opinion, there is no need to even offer the $0.05 bags. $0.05 is not much of a deterrent for many people, unless you happen to live in a green-minded community where shame plays a role. Customers will more easily get into the practice of bringing their own bags if they need to buy a $1.00 bag each time they forget their own. The grocery chain stores in the Netherlands have a shopping bag vending machine set up in the store. If you forget your bag, then you buy a new one.

We do a good deal of our grocery shopping at the local Provigo, Maxi and Loblaws stores. Whereas, we started regularly using our own sturdy shopping bags about 8 years ago, we did sometimes leave them in the car and would end up using the store's plastic bags. It was very helpful when Loblaws introduced their reusable shopping bags. We could buy a couple when we forgot our original bags. We also found the bags to be useful for shopping elsewhere. We now have a trunk full of shopping bags, and no longer forget to bring them into the store.

About the author: Environment Smart