Thursday, April 30, 2009

Captain Planet Takes you Green Shopping

No later than last weekend, the annual Alpha Gamma Sigma(AGS) Club's State Conference was in Ontario, California where I was lucky enough to attend as a part of the Diablo Valley College Chapter. AGS is a state-wide honor's society that fund raises, serves the community, distributes scholarships to members, provides guest speakers with valuable knowledge, and so much more. During the conference, we were able to select from numerous workshops which varied from salsa dancing to leadership skills to shopping! Yes, you heard it right and you guessed right. That was the workshop I attended in hopes of obtaining beneficial information that you, the reader, are about to learn from.

Our guest speaker, Deborah Page, began the workshop by presenting a video called, "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard which provides interesting methods of seeing our world's consumption issue. She argues that we are currently living "a linear system in a finite planet" with steps consisting of extraction to production to distribution to consumption and finally to disposal. This way of living, Leonard believes, should be modified by pulling out the disposal step, and thus linking consumption back to extraction to create a circular cycle that will be beneficial to the maintenance of our Earth.

You may watch Leonard's factual and fascinating video here:

In addition to the video, Deborah Page displayed a powerpoint with facts about our Earth's current, weak state due to the pollution from over-consumption such as how 3% of the water on Earth is fresh, but 2% is locked in icebergs; therefore, oly 1% water is left for us to drink, and we're currently polluting it!

Furthermore, Page expressed how humans have been experiencing a need to buy ever since World War II when President Eisenhower stated that our "economy's ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods". Crazy, right? Page also advised us to check out an environmentally-conscious movie named "Affluenza" which translates to meaning an addiction from suffering of what we don't have. In other words, the WANT over NEED effect that's overwhelmed our Earth's resources, landfills, oceans, air, and so on.

Before we the end of our workshop with Mrs. Page, she produced us with a sheet noting "Tips for Beating Affluenza" which included:

1. Before you buy, ask yourself:
Do I need it? Do I want to clean it? Could I borrow it from a friend, neighbor, family member? Could I substitute something I already have for it? Were the resources used earth-friendly? How many hours of work will I need to pay for it?

2. Avoid the mall. Go hiking or play ball with the kids instead.

3. Figure out what public transportation can save you (time, money for gas and parking, peace of mind).

Become an advertising critic. Don't be sucked in by efforts to make you feel inadequate so you'll buy more stuff you don't need.

For the rest of the tips, Click Here.

Being able to attend a conference that has no direct work toward aiding the environment, and yet still felt the need to hold a workshop dealing with such an important topic as green shopping truly amazed me and brought about new, eye-opening information I wasn't aware of before. This just goes to show how our Earth's global warming epidemic has influenced people to truly learn what they can do to help out because the first step to a cleaner, healthier planet is education.

Peace&Love, Everyone.
-Dr. Green T

Works Cited:
"The Bug Stops Here." Tips for Beating Affluenza. PBS. 1 May 2009.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day Celebrations!!

For those living in a cave for the last few years, yesterday was our beloved Earth Day! Such a day when we show love for our planet by emitting less CO2 into the atmosphere, eating organic, locally-produced foods, and hugging as many trees as we can. Thankfully, I'm sure many of you were very aware of yesterday's happenings as some celebration of sorts most likely took place at a location nearby.

At my institution of Diablo Valley College(DVC), our Environmental Club worked hard to put together several displays throughout the campus for students to enjoy on such an occasion. Whether they were passing by on their way to class or stopping in the quad for a lunch break, the posters, club table, and electric red Electric car beside the library were sure to grab their attention. By educating individuals of the Earth's current crisis, we take the first step in opening their eyes to what they must do to help our planet from further harm.

One very important and environmentally-friendly network which graced its presence on our campus was Chevron Energy Solutions who has begun constructing "energy efficiency improvements and solar power generating systems" in Contra Costa College, Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College (1). This company is there are solar panels over the DVC parking lots as well as high-efficiency lighting, ventilation, and heating throughout the Contra Costa Community College District(CCCCD) campuses. Such improvements are expected to bring about electrical reliability because of the new infrastructures, less cost due to complete solar dependability, and even better monitoring of the energy production and consumption on campus.

Curious to learn more about this project? Hear more from Tim Leong from CCCCD here:

In addition to the presence of Chevron Energy Solutions, a representative of The County Connection held a booth dedicated to alternate methods of transportation. However, because I have already discussed this issue in a past blog, I won't go into much detail of what they had to offer because there hasn't been any major changes worth mentioning.

On the other hand, a carpool incentive program is currently in action as those who carpool to work or college may receive a $60 gift card! This is a project from 511 SF Bay Area which requires an application to be filled out pledging individuals of their carpooling agenda. Perhaps this sparks some magical light bulb in your mind? Well, go ahead and sign yourself up for this eco-conscious program here: I applaud you.

All in all, I do hope everyone had a fantastic Earth Day as it's main purpose is to show love for the planet that is our one and only home. Destroying it is essentially destroying ourselves as well as demonstrating a lack of respect for the sole reason we are able to thrive today. On that epic note, keep in mind that, "When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves." ~David Orr
Peace&Love, Everyone.
-Dr. Green T

Works Cited:
(1) "Contra Costa Community College District Solar Power/Energy Efficiency Project." Chevron Energy Solutions Company 2. Print.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Guide to Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Ever heard of GE or GM foods? Wonder why all foods can't just be organic instead of the specially labeled ones that cost extra? For those who don't know, Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM) of foods consists of the unnatural insertion of genes into the DNA of animals and crops. Unfortunately, GMOs are created with either genes from insects, bacteria, viruses, animals, or even humans. These additives in our foods have a possibility of causing environmental, health, and economic concerns.

As far as the why, farmers find that using chemical pesticides wards off the insects that fester on the crops. Also, because third world countries contain individuals with a low intake of the necessary vitamins and nutrients, genetically engineering certain edibles to have these minerals prevents malnutrition as well as avoids nutrient deficiencies.

(For a more detailed explanation on GM foods, Click Here.)

Now, let's get to business: how to avoid genetically modified organisms as stated by "Center for Food Safety".

Tip #1: Buy Organic
Any product you purchase that has a label certifying its organic make, this is a basic green flag that there were ZERO GMOs used in the production of that item. Just remember, the food must be labeled "100% organic", "organic", or "made with organic ingredients" to be distinguished as truly non-GMO.

Tip #2: Look for "NON-GMO" Labels
Some brands have the decency to put out "non-GMO" type foods which require a little more effort to locate. Only thing is some of these products may include soy lecithin in their ingredients wich is an "At-Risk" ingredient, so beware.

Tip #3: Avoid At-Risk Ingredients
Try to avoid products composed of any crops such as corn, soy, canola, or cotton (also known as the "Big Four") made with GMOs. I know that sounds difficult, but just try to make sure it's organic!! :] Also, be on the look out for sugar beets which may or may not have entered the list of GM crops recently. I suppose it depends on the product.

Tip #4: Buy the Products listed in THIS SHOPPING GUIDE

After studying that guide and whatever else you can on GM foods, you will be a Non-GMO Pro in no time with a healthy body to boot. You'll be living free from any harmful pesticides that linger on the numerous produce selections sitting in grocery stores today. It's always better to be safe than sorry!! :]

Peace&Love, Everyone.
-Dr. Green T

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Make-Over Your Make-Up

It dawned on me the minute I finished my concealer only to find that the case it was manufactured in is not recyclable. What do I do then? Dump the packaging to a popular beautifying tool without a second thought in my mind? That certainly wasn't the case after I had painfully disposed of my concealer in a trash bin, and decided to move onward in hopes of discovering a more Eco-friendly brand of cosmetics.

For those who haven't heard, PlantLove by Cargo Cosmeticsis a company that has become well-known for its environmentally-friendly production of lipsticks. Each lipstick tube is made out of corn, and if you plant the flower paper boxes that the lipsticks are packaged in, then a plethora of wildflowers will begin to grow. Pretty amazing, right? You can find these products at your local Sephora store or online.

Another interesting corporation is LUSH Cosmetics which presents the opportunity to purchase 70% of their products online without the packaging. In addition, they claim that they "use post-consumer recycled, recyclable and biodegradable materials whenever possible" ("Protect the Planet"). Not to mention, they don't test their products on animals and even have videos on their website promoting their environmentally- and animal-friendly mindset. LUSH Cosmetics even goes as far as to dedicate a page to "11 Tips for a Greener Life"! A truly respectable company in the environmental world if ever there was one.

While trash is a major cause of the pollution that is affecting our environment, there is also the issue of the ingredients used in products which lead to toxic chemicals being emitted into the air as well. This is why it is also important to search for more organically-based items during your shopping excursion.

Finally, after much researching, I must say that Verde' Maison is the cosmetic company that deserves a lot of recognition for being the first organic as well as all natural cosmetic, skin, and bath store in the USA. Verde' Maison's decision to sell products without any "parabens, propylene glycols, petrolatum, & sls's" stems from the founder's discovery that parabens contribute to cancer. With this in mind, it is quite obvious that this brand has taken the lives of their consumers into serious account. Unfortunately, they do not present any information on their packaging materials, but it can be assumed that they are just as conscious about their waste as they are the health of the buyers.

It's definitely not easy to constantly be aware of the environment when shopping for everyday products. Fortunately, there are ways to easily discover such Eco-friendly items like surfing the Internet, scanning through environmentally-conscious books and magazines, or even just browsing in your local stores. The Huffington Post, for example, has an online article titled: "Earth-Friendly Makeup: How To Be Nicer To Your Face And Your Planet" (go here: Check it out as well as anything else you can in order to better educate yourself on how to live and love an organic lifestyle. :]

& now I leave you with an interesting video I found on youtube of a young girl experimenting and reviewing EcoTools, brushes made from sustainable and recycled materials. Yay Earth!

"Because sometimes the most important ingredient is not what you put in, but what you leave out." -Verde' Maison

Peace&Love, Everyone.
-Dr. Green T

Works Cited:
Cooney, Roxana & Sean. "About Us." 2008. Verde' Maison. 4 Apr 2009.

"PlantLove." 2008. CARGO Cosmetics. 4 Apr 2009.

"Protect the Planet." 2008. LUSH Cosmetics. 4 Apr 2009.

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