Archive for May, 2010

CNN Presents: Toxic America

toxicamerica Must See TV: Toxic America. We Are Making Ourselves Sick.


The Good Human is always keeping us up to date…….CNN is presenting “Toxic America” : We are Making Ourselves Sick. 

This two-part series hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta can be seen on CNN , June 2-3 at 8 pm EST.

 The first part profiles a year-long investigation into Mossville, Louisiana whose citizens believe that toxic chemicals from local plants are making them sick.

The second part investigates Toxic Childhood and how chemicals can be passed to babies during pregnancy.

If you happen to catch this special please return to A Sustainable Life and comment on this post. What’s your opinion of the findings? What did you learn? What topics in the show would you like more information on?  Did your views on chemicals change as a result of what you’ve seen?

National Don’t Fry Day

Don't Fry Day information at

Tomorrow, May 28, 2010 is Don’t Fry Day (not fry as in cook…but fry as in sunburn). As millions of Americans enjoy outdoor activities during the Memorial Day holiday the EPA along with the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention encourages the public to practice sun-safe behaviors through its Sun Wise program.

Local communities including Cobb County have gotten on board and are participating in the program. Studies show that melanoma incidence in Cobb County is more than 50% higher than the national average. In response to this study, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners have pledged to encourage all county students and their families to learn about and practice “sun safety.”

Protect yourself from harmful UV rays using the slip, slop, slap, wrap and seek method.

  • Slip on a shirt (to protect your skin)
  • Slop on sunscreen (SPF 15+)
  • Slap on a hat (preferably wide brimmed)
  • Wrap on sunglasses (to protect your eyes)
  • Seek shade (especially during midday hours)

What will you do to protect yourself from the sun this holiday weekend?

Top 10 Most Polluted Cities in US

Air Quality is a hot button environmental issue….after all everybody needs clean air. Each year the American Lung Association ranks the nations most polluted cities. Check out the 2010 listings for Ozone pollution.

1.  Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA

2.   Bakersfield, CA

3.  Visalia-Porterville, CA

4.  Fresno-Madera, CA

(Anyone recognize a trend here?)

5.  Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, CA-NV

6.  Hanford-Corcoran, CA

7.  Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX

8.  San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA

9.  San Luis Obispo-Piso Robles, CA

And rounding out the top 10 the only east coast cityto make the list

10.  Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC

Where does Atlanta rank? Which city has the best air quality?

 Im glad you asked…the Atlanta metro area ranks #19. Fargo, ND and Lincoln, NE ranked among the cleanest cities in all categories.

Ozone is the primary ingredient in smog (smoke and fog) and it can wreak havoc on your lungs and respiratory system. But not all ozone is bad…ozone in the upper atmosphere protects us from the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. On the other hand ozone at ground level can cause serious health problems.

Protect yourself from ground level ozone by avoiding prolonged outdoor activities when high levels of ozone are reported in your area.

Thanks to The Good Human for sharing this info.

Effects from the Gulf Oil Spill-Seafood

Its estimated that the oil spewing into the Gulf could top the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. That being said USA Today reports that most Americans will not feel a direct impact because Louisiana only produces 1% of the seafood we eat.

  • An alarming 83% of our seafood comes from abroad.
  • Even 90% of our shrimp (America’s most consumed seafood) comes from Thailand, Indonesia, Ecuador, China and Vietnam.
  •   Louisiana produces only 4% of the shrimp we consume.

How noteworthy is it that what can easily be described as a catastrophe may not have a direct impact on our seafood supply? Has our world become so small (we get our seafood from halfway around the world) that Americans will not understand the severity of what’s going on in the Gulf? Send your thoughts and comments.

Inside the Gulf Coast Oil Spill

We all know that oil spills of any kind mean bad news. Even in the driveway oil stains remain long after our car is repaired. More disturbing is that it is impossible to determine how many gallons of oil are escaping into the Gulf each day. PBS has provided a website with spill stats to put the problem in perspective:

  • The Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire on April 20 and sank on April 22.
  • The Coast Guard has deployed 41 miles of boom (a floatable barrier to contain a floating substance on the surface of the water)
  • 75 boats and 2,000 personnel
  • Oil gushing at 210,000 gallons/day can fill an Olympic sized swimming pool every 3 days
  • If spill continues at same rate it will be the nation’s largest oil spill in history by June 13th
  • 27,000 jobs are dependent on Louisiana’s fishing in industry
  • 47% of all Louisianans live in coastal areas

Even if you’re not a Gulf Coast resident this is still an important issue. As seen in this diagram, not only are the Gulf States at risk but wind and currents could cause the oil slick to travel up the eastern seaboard.


This week we will look at how this spill could affect you and why we should be concerned.

The Success of Upside Down Gardening


Topsy Turvy Tomato Tree

If you’ve been to a store in the past couple of years then you’ve seen a topsy turvy planter. You know the sock looking contraption that grows tomato plants upside down. Well it looks like there may be some advantages to this type of method of growing veggies. The product is growing in popularity, in fact the company reports that sales are up 50% and 20 million have been sold since they hit the market in 2005. 

 The advantages include…. 

  • -space saving
  • -no need of additional equipment including stakes and cages to keep the plants from toppling
  • -less opportunity for the plants to be attacked from fungus and insects
  • – less weeds
  • -better delivery of water and nutrients

 A New York Times  article profiles an Atlanta gardener, Michael Nolan in a piece about upside down gardening. It seems that Mr. Nolan has found success planting vegetables in 5-gallon buckets and hanging them upside down. He notes that to help the buckets retain moisture he plants flowers or herbs in the top. Other suggestions are to top the planters with mulch or lids to keep them from drying out.

 Anyone tried this….tell me what you think?

Eco-Friendly Celebrities

Given the popularity of television programs like TMZ and Inside Edition it seems like we can’t get enough of celebrity news. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite eco-friendly celebs and how they’re looking to raise environmental consciousness.

  1.  The Dave Matthews Band offsets pollution produced by their tours by funding projects including tree plantings and constructing wind farms.
  2. Harrison Ford, Vice Chairman of Conservation International, has a Central American ant named for him and has won awards for his environmental efforts.  
  3. Barenaked Ladies and Neil Young run their tour vehicles on biodiesel.
  4. Sting founded a Rainforest Foundation to protect rain forests and the indigenous residents that reside there.
  5. Brad Pitt founded a program to build green homes in New Orleans.
  6. Darryl Hannah owns a solar-powered farm in Colorado.
  7. Vegetarian and PETA supported Alicia Silverstone launched a  “green” website. Check out The Kind Life .
  8. Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson arrived at this years event donning a custom-made tuxedo made of hemp.
  9. Ed Begley Jr. lives in a home entirely powered by the sun and currently has a green living reality show on Planet titled, Living with Ed.
  10. Leonardo DiCaprio opts to fly on commercial flights instead of private jets, drives a hybrid and has an eco-friendly condo in NYC. 


Saving Money at Home: The Bathroom

Here are some easy, money saving tips for your bathroom.

  • Turning on the faucet for a quick rinse…use the “cold” lever, using hot water for a quick rinse uses energy to heat the water even though it may not make it to the faucet.
  • Use a low-flow showerhead. Newer models are more efficient and use less water, conserving resources and saving money on utility bills in the process.
  • Turn off the bathroom vent as soon as you are finished using it….it can drain the house of warm or cool air.
  • Take showers instead of baths. An average bath uses 15-25 gallons of hot water while a shower 5-minute shower uses less than 10 gallons.
  • Fix leaky faucets. One small drip can waste up to 250 gallons of water per month…or 3,000 gallons of water down the drain.

Think that you don’t have the skills necessary to DIY. Try your local hardware store….the helpful asssociates can assist you in finding just what you need to save money…and resources.

Green apps for your iPhone

Check out the appolicious advisor for a list of “green” apps for your iPhone.  These apps allow you to calculate your carbon footprint, find local farmers markets  and rate common household products for “green-ness.”  How “green” are your favorite products?

Saving money at the pump

I _____________ (your name here) hereby agree to pay more per gallon at the gas pump than I am already paying, and get nothing in return.


Sign Here

If you’re like most Americans you would never agree to these terms. But this is what we do when we top off our gas tanks at the station to make the sale a round number. “Topping off” occurs when you add more gas after the gas pump nozzle clicks off.

 Did you know…..

  • In some areas gas stations have recovery systems to prevent gas vapors from entering the atmosphere. Any additional gas you pump “after the click” can be returned to the stations storage tanks.
  • You need room in your gas tank for gasoline to expand. If you top off your tank the extra gas may foul your vehicles vapor collection system; causing your vehicle to run poorly and have higher emissions.
  •  Your tank may overflow contributing to air pollution and depleting your wallet. Remember you pay for the gas that spills onto the ground.

 So how does the pump know that your tank is full?

There is a sensor at the tip of the nozzle and when the sensor is covered with gas…the pump clicks and gas stops flowing.

When the pump clicks, trust that your tank is full, drive away and save money in the process!