Green News

Watching your waste

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/30 at 01:32 PM

I recently read a news story out of the U.K. about a group of women who were trying to shed the pounds from their waste, not their waist. They were apparently involved in an innovative scheme to help women cut their food waste and shopping bills in half. The idea was to use "simple, old-fashioned home economics". 

The National Federation of Women's Institutes teamed up with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), the Government's packaging waste agency, to create 10 "Love Food" groups. These groups teach women how to "waste less, be more efficient cooks and to cut shopping bills – with the aim of reducing the 6.7 million tons of food the UK wastes every year".

"We throw away a third of the food we buy in the UK, so to cut back that waste by 50 per cent is outstanding," said Julia Falcon, a campaign manager for Wrap. "We can see that groups who decide to share their experiences with each other, and tackle this problem together, work extremely well."

In this case, the women organised groups in 10 UK towns. With a grass-roots approach, they held monthly meetings where they discussed food storage, shopping, meal planning and preservation. It sounds much like a home-economics course, but the results were impressive. According to the article, "their households reduced waste from an average 4.7kg (10.4lbs) a week to 2.2kg (4.9lbs) a week".

The projects really highlights the environmental impact of food waste. According to Wrap's estimations, the UK's food waste generates "18 tons of carbon dioxide a year – the same as a fifth of the cars on the road. Much of the food thrown out ends up in landfill, where it emits methane, a damaging greenhouse gas".

I was intrigued by the results of the Women's Institute's initiative and wanted to learn more about WRAP's lovefoodhatewaste campaign. I found that the website is loaded with excellent tips on reducing your grocery bill, keeping your food fresh longer, time saving, recipes, food storage, measuring portions, and much more. It is well worth a bookmark!



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Green personal care

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/22 at 12:20 PM
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In a recent posting, we discussed concerns about the use of Tricolosan in personal care products and other household items. There are, however, many questionable chemicals used in personal care products. In one of the Green Guide videos the host suggests using the Green Guide Smart Shoppers card when shopping for personal care products. This card lists the "dirty dozen chemicals in cosmetics". You can download the Green Guide Smart Shoppers card and take it with you the next time you are out buying your soaps and creams.

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Video about plastic water bottles

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/22 at 11:50 AM
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If you prefer watching a video rather than reading your information, then here is a good video about the plastics we use everyday. It discusses the various plastics we use around the house and explains which plastics are safe and which are not.

The National Geographic Green Guide provides short video clips on all sorts of environmental issues. We have been enjoying many of the green home makeover videos from the Green Guide.


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Canada leads ban on BPA

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/20 at 10:50 AM


Six months ago, Canada announced that the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) was a hazardous substance. This past Saturday, Ottawa officially listed bisphenol A on its list of toxic substances and said regulations prohibiting the importation, sale and advertising of baby bottles containing BPA would come into force in 2009. Measures will also be taken to reduce the amount of BPA that is released into the environment. 

Tony Clement, Minister of Health, said, "In 2007, we issued a challenge to industry under our Chemicals Management Plan to provide information on how they manage bisphenol A. Today's announcement is a milestone for our government and for Canada as the first country in the world to take regulatory action." 

The federal government has allocated an additional $1.7-million over the next three years to fund research into the effects of bisphenol A. The government says that this research funding is in addition to " major studies currently underway at Health Canada and Environment Canada". It is meant to help "address key knowledge gaps in both the Canadian and international scientific community, and inform Government decision-making should further actions be required".

Although current levels of bisphenol A found in baby bottles are believed to fall below the danger threshold, "due to the uncertainty raised in some studies relating to the potential affects of low levels of bisphenol A, the government of Canada is taking action to enhance the protection of infants and young children," Health Canada said in the statement.

There were also environmental concerns behind the ban. Environment Canada scientists are warning that, "bisphenol A is entering the environment through wastewaters, washing residues and leachate from landfills. It also breaks down slowly in the environment when there is a lack of oxygen. The combination of the slow break down of bisphenol A and its wide use in Canada means that over time, this chemical could build up in our waters and harm fish and other organisms".

Environment Minister John Baird said, "our government did the right thing in taking action to protect the health and environment for all Canadians".


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Nature of Things season premier tonight with David Suzuki

Posted by TheGreen on 10/16 at 10:05 PM
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Award winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster is hosting the Nature of Things season premiere tonight. Most of us know the Natures of Things and actually most of us grew up with the show. David Suzuki has won three Gemini Awards and an ACTRA Award as Best Host. Most importantly in relation to this website,, is the fact that David Suzuki is a forceful environmentalist who is not afraid to say what is on his mind. David Suzuki was recently quoted as say that those scientists that don't believe in climate change are "shills" for big corporations. Furthermore he feels Canada should be consider international outlaws for opting out of the Kyoto agreement. In February of this year, David Suzuki spoke at McGill University and suggested that students find a way to get our leaders jailed who ignore science as it is a criminal act.

So, you may love him or you may hate him, but the simple fact is clear, David Suzuki is trying to help our planet and we can learn a lot from him.

About the author: TheGreen

Top 9 reasons not to use Triclosan

Posted by TheGreen on 10/15 at 01:04 AM

Related story

  • Recently, Health Canada recommended avoiding antibacterial products because they kill good bacteria that fight bad germs, and because of concerns over antibacterial resistance(1).
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered triclosan as a pesticide.
  • In the laboratory, triclosan-resistant bacteria can be produced fairly readily by serial passage in increasing triclosan concentrations(2).
  • Soap and water are as effective for hand washing as products containing triclosan(3).
  • Triclosan is appearing in human breast milk and poses potential toxicity to fetal and childhood development(4).
  • Reports suggested that triclosan can combine with chlorine in our city tap water to form chloroform gas(5).
  • Triclosan is weakly androgenic, causing changes in fin length and sex ratios of fish(6).
  • The chemical formulation and molecular structure of this compound are similar to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth, relating it to dioxins and PCBs. The EPA gives triclosan high scores both as a human health risk and as an environmental risk. Triclosan is a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals which is suspected of causing cancer in humans(7).
  • The American Medical Association draws this conclusion: "The use of common antimicrobials (triclosan) for which acquired resistance has been demonstrated in bacteria as ingredients in consumer products (antibacterial handsoaps etc) should be discontinued, unless data emerge to conclusively show that such resistance has no impact on public health and that such products are effective at preventing infection"(8).
  • List of Triclosan and Triclocarban free products.
  • List of products containing Triclosan.
  • Note that some companies are being pro-active and removing Triclosan from their products. Proctor and Gamble are on of those companies.


About the author: TheGreen

No more Triclosan in our house

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/14 at 01:03 PM

On the subject of antibacterial soap, our favourite no nonsense scientist, Dr. Joe Schwartz (Ph.D., director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society) has this to say: 

"Washing with soap and water is enough, except in a hospital environment ... You don't want to use a jackhammer to kill an ant when stepping on it will do". 

As soon as we started reading the reports on the damage that antibacterial soap can cause, we disposed of whatever we had left in the house. I actually found it rather disturbing that we were bringing our jug of "Softsoap" to the hazardous waste depot. It smelled so nice and seemed so clean. We had read, however, that there was cause for concern regarding the levels of Triclosan (the antibacterial agent used in the soap) on the development of tadpoles in our waterways. I did not want to start emptying my almost full jug down the sink.

It has been about half a year that we have not been using any antibacterial soap, whether at home or elsewhere. I often see dispensers in stores and restaurants labeled "antibacterial", and have started instructing our children to wash their hands with the regular soap whenever it is available. We recently, however, stayed at a lodge where the choice was not clear. There was a soap dispenser on the wall and a bottle of antibacterial soap beside the sink. The kids naturally went for what was easiest to reach. In this case, we took a moment to explain our concerns to the lodge administration, and received a favourable response.

In the meantime, I have also discovered that Triclosan may be found in a couple of other household products that we use. Any products using Microban and Biofresh, for example, will contain Triclosan. According to Wikipedia, Triclosan is used in many common household products including Clearasil Daily Face Wash, Dentyl mouthwash, Dawn, the Colgate Total range, Crest Cavity Protection, Pepsodent, Softsoap, Dial, Right Guard deodorant, Sensodyne Total Care, Old Spice and Mentadent. I also found a research paper by M. Angela McGhee, Ph.D., Biology and Marine Sciences, that provides clear brief description of the damaging use of Triclosan. The and Grinning Planet websites provide detailed information and lists of products containing Triclosan. Please note that these product lists may not be entirely up to date. 

One of the products on the Grinning Planet site is Old Spice High Endurance deodorant. This is a product that we use. We put in a call to the 1-800 number provided and were informed that as of 2007, Old Spice no longer contains Triclosan. We suggest that as you go through the lists of the products mentioned on the websites above, you might also take a moment to call the manufacturing companies. 

Related Story 1


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Canadian scientists urge: vote for the environment

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/08 at 11:36 AM
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More than 120 of Canada's top global warming scientists joined to call for "strategic voting" in next week's federal election. An open letter was sent to major newspapers across the country on Tuesday, in which the Conservative governments' record on climate change was heavily criticized. 

The letter is signed by Canada's top climate experts, many of whom contributed to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that earned a Nobel prize. It outlines the urgent need for the federal government to take action and pleads with voters to take the environment seriously.

"While it's clear the public accepts that global warming is a threat, it seems people have simply no idea how serious this issue is," the scientists write. 

The scientists believe that "the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere has already reached levels that will cause significant effects to the Earth's ecosystems". 

"Global warming is a problem that must be dealt with now, before it's too late," says the letter. "Any further delay will only increase the risks of damage and costs of action."

The letter criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to focus on emission intensity, not emissions reductions.

"Reducing emission intensity means that you continue to pollute, but do so more efficiently," it says.

"The overall net effect of the federal regulation would be to allow a tripling or more of greenhouse-gas emissions from the oilsands sector by 2017, and possible continued increases after that. Frankly, no matter how you try to spin it, that is not a reduction."

The scientists support the implementation of a carbon-tax like that proposed by the Liberals, and/or a cap-and-trade system such as the one offered by the New Democrats.

"The carbon tax provides price certainty, is easier to implement, more transparent, easy to make revenue-neutral and less open to abuse," the letter says.

Andrew Weaver, a major contributor to the 2007 IPCC report, helped co-ordinate the letter's distribution. He said that it was meant to highlight the risks posed by the Harper governments policies.

"I think extraordinary times take extraordinary measures," said Weaver in an interview. "Scientists don't agree on a lot, but there is a real great sense of urgency within our community and we have witnessed Canada move from a position of international leadership to a position of international obstructionism over the past few years and we're worried."

The letter has been posted online, in English and French, at:

About the author: Environment Smart