Green lifestyle

The language of sustainability

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Sustainable thinking has hit the mainstream. From e-readers that bypass the resource thirsty book industry, to smart meters that help householders save energy, many of the technology products that are launched these days have some kind of sustainability angle.

This is having a profound effect on the language we use and the way we think about sustainability. New technology is transforming our views about consumption and introducing new words into our lexicon that have sustainable thinking at their heart.

Seattle Assesses Fine to Homeowners for Wasting Food

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

The push for increased sustainable methods can be seen everywhere these days — certainly when it comes to local efforts to pare down on what we toss in the landfill.

Massachusetts’ ongoing effort to increase composting throughout the state is one such example, which will require any company or facility that disposes of at least a ton of organic material a week to compost its food scraps and other compostable materials. The disposal ban takes effect on Oct. 1 and affects more than 1,500 businesses, hospitals, public offices and facilities. Connecticut and Vermont have similar bans for wasting food that exceeds a 2-ton limit on organic waste per week.

The city of Seattle has also embraced the composting idea with a bit more of a creative edge: In an effort to encourage residents to stop wasting food, the city council passed an ordinance this last Monday that allows households to be fined $1 each time that garbage collectors find more than 10 percent of organic waste in their garbage bins.

US Seed Libraries Mobilize to Protect Their Right to Share

Read the full story at Shareable.

In June, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture alerted the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg that their seed library was in violation of the Pennsylvania Seed Act of 2004. According to officials, the library would have to follow the prohibitively expensive procedures of large-scale commercial seed companies or only offer commercial seed. The first option is impractical and the second option would gut the exchange of its primary purpose to serve home gardeners who want to save and exchange their own seed.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) reported in a recent article on Shareable.net that the Pennsylvania law may only apply to commercial seed operations. Despite what may be an incorrect interpretation of the law, other states are now considering adopting Pennsylvania’s seed library protocol. This could kill a fast growing U.S. seed library movement.

The upside to the crackdown is that in the weeks since, seed librarians from across the country have come together. As David King, founder of the Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) puts it, “The phone lines and emails lines were burning up as the seed library community turned from shock and disbelief to mobilizing to protect their efforts.”

The goal now is to direct that energy toward protecting seed libraries, which are a cornerstone in efforts to foster the genetic diversity of food and strengthen food security.

An Adorable, Tiny First Aid Kit So Anyone Can Help Rescue The Bees

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Honeybees are dying around the world, and so one designer in Italy decided to create a small first aid kit in an attempt to help.

The Bee Saver gadget, a keychain holding a small bioplastic container of artificial nectar, is designed to be carried along on a walk. If someone sees a bee in need, they can set the container of nectar next to it. To attract the bee, the container is shaped like a flower, smells sweet, and is shaded a pleasing blue. If all goes well, the bee will take a sip and fly safely back to its hive.

National Library of Medicine (NLM) Resource Update: Household Products Database (HPD) now contains over 14,000 products

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Household Products Database (HPD) now contains over 14,000 products. The latest update includes a new product category “commercial/institutional”. Product manufacturers of the more than 300 products in this category use various descriptions,  including professional grade, professional use, hospital grade and more.

Users can locate products using the new “commercial/institutional” link under “Browse by Category” on the HPD homepage or by entering the category/description terms (e.g. commercial, institutional, professional, hospital) as a Quick Search.

The Household Products Database links over 14,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by manufacturers and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients. The database is designed to help answer the following typical questions:

  • What are the chemical ingredients and their percentage in specific brands?
  • Which products contain specific chemical ingredients?
  • Who manufactures a specific brand? How do I contact this manufacturer?
  • What are the acute and chronic effects of chemical ingredients in a specific brand?
  • What other information is available about chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine?

Information in the Household Products Database is from a variety of publicly available sources including brand-specific labels and Material Safety Data Sheets when available from manufacturers and manufacturers’ web sites.