It's becoming easier than ever to green your home with a broad array of natural and organic products that allow you to clean, garden, renovate, furnish and otherwise create a healthy living space. Serve an organic vegan meal on a reclaimed barn wood table that sits on bamboo flooring and overlooks a pesticide-free lawn. Don't forget to swap the paper napkins for washable, organic linen ones.
Farmers markets offer a variety of local foods, homemade crafts and cut flowers. In these informal settings, you can meet farmers from your region and discover seasonal foods you might not find in a supermarket. The artwork itself provides another impetus for the trip and may turn out to be more than a diversion. When spending a morning or afternoon loading up on fresh goods at your local farmers market, you'll want ...
A wide variety of household products contain ingredients that are potentially hazardous to human health, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (see References 1). You can minimize these risks by selecting household products with less-hazardous ingredients that biodegrade into harmless components.
Fair trade cotton is cotton that has been certified through a fair trade organization that attempts to ensure that cotton producers receive a fair price for their crop. Cotton is one of several products that are subject to fair trade arrangements designed to connect farmers with customers who make purchase decisions with social considerations in mind. Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, or FLO, is the ...
More Articles on Biodegradable Products
Healthy soil takes a long time to develop naturally. However, people can destroy it in a single planting season or with a single landscaping endeavor. Basic soil conservation is like preventative medicine: The better you are at keeping soil healthy, the fewer drastic measures you have to take down the road to keep your garden or lawn flourishing.
Biodegradable products are those that can be decomposed by microbes and other natural biological processes. Exposure to moisture, air and the elements enhance that breakdown. Biodegradable products include those that consist of food waste, paper, wood and fabric. In the absence of moisture and air, decomposition slows and methane, a greenhouse gas, is released.
If a product is truly organic, it will be free of pesticides -- prohibition of pesticides and chemical fertilizers is part of the definition of organic. Therefore, you can seek out organic certification labels and be reassured about pesticide use. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is the only agency in the country that oversees and approves organic certification. Local growers and vendors often sell pesticide-free products at farmers' markets, but you'll have to question them to determine the thoroughness of their organic practices.
Crooked and diminutive, the shea tree grows in the African savannah region, where the locals have long prized its nuts, rich in fat and oils. Shea butter, extracted from these golf ball-sized nuts, both moisturizes and heals the skin, making it a sought-after beauty product throughout the world. Whipped shea butter incorporates air into the butter, leaving it creamy, soft and easy to spread onto your skin. (See References 1, pp 3--4, 11) With a few basic ingredients available from natural markets or health food stores, you can mix up your own whipped shea butter at home in your kitchen.
When people pick up a cosmetic product, they often assume that the ingredients on the label have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA, however, holds very little regulatory authority over cosmetic products before they are marketed; instead, the cosmetics industry primarily regulates the safety and effectiveness of its products (see References 1). In 2007, a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that 383 cosmetic products for sale in the United States contain ingredients that have been banned in Canada, the European Union or Japan (see References 2). Learning to read ingredients labels on cosmetics helps you avoid potentially hazardous products.
Methanol and ethanol are variants of alcohol, and they have different properties and uses. Methanol is a poisonous chemical derived through synthetic processes, while commercial ethanol is produced by factory fermentation of food crops. Both substances can be used as energy sources, but methanol serves mainly as a subject of research and its use as a motor fuel in the U.S. has been largely phased out. Ethanol's role is currently larger, though its future as an automobile fuel remains uncertain.
If you are sometimes confused when navigating the different marketing terms for organic and natural products you are not alone. Everything from produce to beauty supplies to clothing carries labels that appeal to the health conscious or eco-friendly shopper. Whether or not these labels accurately define the products depends on regulations.
Homemade cleansers have an advantage as healthy replacements for the toxic chemicals in commercial cleaning products. The homemade varieties are made with simple ingredients found right in your kitchen. Baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and cornstarch are all-natural cleansers that have disinfecting, deodorizing, polishing and grease-cutting properties (see References 1, pages 67--68; References 2, page 80). You can get stubborn spots out of clothes, polish furniture or effectively unclog drains using greener alternatives that are easier on your health, the environment and your pocketbook.
Treat your skin with special care by creating simple, organic skin management products at home. Purchase the ingredients to make organic skin products at health food stores, natural-food markets or online. Choose only products labeled as organic or certified organic. These products were produced using sustainable agricultural processes without the addition of pesticides, herbicides or synthetic chemicals. Growers of certified organic products have passed review by an independent government or nonprofit organization to confirm their growing practices meet the required standards (see References 1 and 2).
The nation of Malaysia, which encompasses part of the island of Borneo as well as a peninsular land mass across the South China Sea, suffers from a high rate of deforestation. Malaysia holds tropical rainforests as well as peat swamp forests, both of which feature diverse ecosystems threatened by a number of human activities (see Reference 3). This deforestation threatens a number of endangered species, such as the orangutan, which lives only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
For vegans and vegetarians, soybeans are an important staple. They're the main ingredient in tofu and miso, an alternative to milk and cheese, and they can be dry-roasted as a virtuous snack food. In the form of textured protein products, soybeans also give vegetarians a direct meat substitute to use in tacos, pasta sauces and similar recipes. These protein products are known variously as textured soy protein or textured vegetable protein, and although they come in a multitude of forms from flakes to large chunks, they're functionally equivalent.
Many shampoos are labeled gentle but when you become aware of the effects their ingredients can have on your health and the environment, you quickly learn they're not gentle at all. Many companies add harsh detergents to clean hair, and use chemicals to make shampoo form a lather as well as look and smell pleasant. According to the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia (see Reference 1), many of the ingredients in shampoo, such as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, are known carcinogens. In addition to irritating the skin, these toxic ingredients can also potentially cause cancer. You can make your own biodegradable shampoo to clean your hair while ensuring you and your family are not being exposed to chemical ingredients that could have short-term and long-term adverse affects on your health.
Plastic is a proven hazard to the environment in several ways. Plastic products persist in the environment long after use, creating one such hazard. The plastic in landfills persists after other waste has degraded into usable earth. The widespread use of plastic within households make congestion a larger problem for landfills everywhere. Several biodegradable alternatives have been created to reduce and eventually replace plastic waste. Some of these alternatives are already available on retail shelves, available for consumers to purchase.
Driving is almost undoubtedly the most polluting activity that most people in the United States engage in daily, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see Reference 5). Emissions from driving contribute significantly to global warming, as well as local-scale pollution. In cities, emissions from driving often create smog, a condition in which pollution is trapped in an urban area. The poor air quality that results contributes to significant health problems (see Reference 2).
People worldwide of all ages help preserve the environment. Small actions turn into grassroots movements so powerful they save forests covering entire nations. Authors concerned about sustainability shape children's attitudes toward preservation through compelling stories. Teachers lead change by encouraging students to help save resources. Gardeners who compost are preservationists who help minimize landfill waste and maximize soil fertility. At home and at work, we all preserve the environment when we make ecofriendly choices.
CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons, also referred to as freons, consist of various combinations of chlorine, fluorine and carbon atoms. CFCs have been used as propellants, refrigerants, foaming agents and solvents. The U.S. banned the use of CFCs as propellents in most aerosols in 1978, and in January 1996, banned all production of CFCs. (See Reference 1) Another chlorocarbon, hyrdrochlorofluorocarbon, or HCFC, has been used largely as the replacement to CFCs. This compound is considered safer than CFCs because it breaks down more quickly, but both CFCs and HCFCs contain chlorine -- the atom that destroys ozone -- and both are greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. (See Reference 2)
Hairspray is a remarkable concoction. It converts quickly from its liquid form -- from a bottle or can -- to an airborne mist over your head. And on contact with your hair it quickly becomes a solid adhesive polymer that can hold individual hair strands in place without altering their color or texture -- yet you can wash it away with a mild shampoo. It takes an amazing array of propellants, plasticizers, surfactants, adhesives and fragrances to accomplish all that. Unfortunately, not all of those chemicals are environmentally friendly.