Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By Susan Freinkel
A century ago when plastics first began to be used in everyday life, people fell in love with them. And for good reason: plastics made possible many of the benefits of modern life, from wash ‘n’ wear clothing to computers and cell phones to the replacement joints and organs that keep many of us going late in life. Yet that love affair has a darker side, much of it stemming from the careless and shortsighted ways in which plastics are all too often produced and used. Let me share five anecdotes that speak to that:
1. Plastic trash can now be found in all the world’s oceans, and on even the most remote and pristine beaches, from the Alaskan wilderness to islands bordering Antarctica.
During a visit to a beach near the tip of Point Reyes (a big protected national park in northern California) I found dozens of pieces of plastic debris, including shotgun casings, dead disposable lighters, half of a plastic patio chair, hunks of nylon rope and a bunch of pre-production pellets. When I scooped up handfuls of sand and looked at them closely, I realized the sand was suffused with tiny plastic fragments. Plastic doesn’t break down; it only breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces. That “accumulation and fragmentation of plastics” is “one of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet,” says British biologist David Barnes.
2. Plastic pollution is exacting a heavy toll on wildlife. It’s been documented as the cause of injuries or deaths in 267 different species, including seals, seabirds and amphibians like the Leatherback Turtle, a species that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Midway atoll, a tiny speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, serves as nesting ground for the Laysan albatross, magnificent birds that fly great distances in search of food for their young. Because they scavenge from an area in the ocean where plastic debris accumulates, the birds are now also accumulating plastic. Studies suggest nearly every one of the 1.2 million albatross on Midway has some quantity of plastic in their stomachs. In autopsies of dead birds, biologists have extracted toothbrushes, lighters, toy soldiers, bottle caps, pen caps, plastic fragments, and in one case, a dog tag traced to a U.S. Navy fighter who was shot down in 1944.
3. One of the plastics most widely used in medicine and in consumer goods—vinyl—can leach chemicals that may interfere with hormones. I visited a neonatal intensive care nursery where I saw a tiny fragile, premature baby who was hooked up to multiple vinyl IV bags and tubing. The bags and tubes were delivering medicines and nutrients the baby needed, but they were also leaching phthalates into her bloodstream—chemicals that can mimic testosterone and during critical points of development may affect a child’s system in ways that lead to various health problems years from now, including fertility issues, allergies, and liver toxicity.
4. We have produced nearly as much plastic in the first ten years of the 21st century as in the entire preceding 100 years. In the U.S. alone, consumption of plastic has risen tenfold since 1960. But it’s the undeveloped world where we’ll see the biggest jump in consumption in coming decades—in places like India, China or Africa where people understandably want the same consumer goods and conveniences that the developed world enjoys. Unfortunately these are also places with less developed systems for recycling and disposing of plastics, raising the specter of even worse plastic pollution.
5. Most used plastics are recycled in China. I learned this when I tracked what happened to the plastic soda bottles I put in my recycling bin and discovered they were being shipped from San Francisco to China. There the bottles would turned into polyester fiber, used to make clothing, carpet, pillows among other things. That fact is 40 years after the first recycling programs were established in the U.S., we are still recycling only about 28 percent of all plastic bottles and less than ten percent of plastics in general.
What Can We Do About Our Plastic Consumption?
Plastic is so integral to modern life that we can’t—and probably don’t—want to entirely relinquish it. But there are ways to make for a better, healthier relationship:
1. Refuse single-use freebies: Bring your own bag when shopping. Carry a travel mug for your daily caffeine fix. Tell your waiter you don’t need a straw. Instead of buying bottled water, stay hydrated from reusable bottles made of metal or BPA-free plastic.
2. Reuse where possible: Give that sandwich baggie a week’s workout; use that empty yogurt tub for leftovers.
3. Use your purchasing power to support companies that are trying to use less packaging and healthier kinds of plastic.
4. Learn what you can recycle. Find out what plastics your community recycler accepts. Explore other recycling resources: UPS stores will take back shipping peanuts; many grocery chains will take used bags and plastic film; many office supply chains will take back used printer cartridges.
5. Don’t cook in plastic. Heat can cause hazardous chemicals to leach out of some polymers, so transfer food to glass before microwaving.
Posted by charita at 11:04 AM
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Austin, Texas is already home to Whole Foods, but that won't stop a group of entrepreneurs from founding a new grocery store right in the natural food behemoth's backyard. While the new store In.gredients will also specialize in local and organic ingredients, there's one major difference between this venture and its hometown competion: In.gredients promises to be the country's first ever "package-free, zero waste grocery store."
The idea is so simple, it's surprising that no one in the United States has implemented it yet. (The United Kingdom, on the other hand, got the bulk food-only Unpackaged in London last year). Just like many people bring tote bags to the grocery store, shoppers at In.gredients will be encouraged to bring their own containers to pack up items like grains, oils, and dairy. If a shopper doesn't have his own containers, the store will provide compostable ones. It's as if the specialty bulk food section rebelled and took over the rest of a traditional grocery store. In.gredients will replace unhealthy, overpackaged junk with local, organic, and natural foods, and moonlight as a community center with cooking classes, gardening workshops, and art shows on the side.
“Truth be told, what’s normal in the grocery business isn’t healthy for consumers or the environment," In.gredients co-founder Christian Lane said in a press release. Americans add 570 million pounds of food packaging to their landfills each day, while pre-packaged foods force consumers to buy more than they need, stuffing their bellies and their trash bins: 27 percent of food brought into U.S. kitchens ends up getting tossed out.
In.gredients's founders hope to open the grocery store's doors in East Austin this fall, provided that the funding goes through.
Posted by charita at 3:16 PM
Friday, April 15, 2011
By Guest writer: LiYana Silver
Have you ever wondered if dating is a modern form of torture, an iron maiden slowly squeezing the last breaths from our hopeful hearts? Is the dating pool a mass of muck and mire to be paddled through in hopes of reaching the far-off shores of our ideal relationship? Or could dating be a transcendent experience, a meeting of gods and goddesses in shining, soul-opening moments over cocktails? Could dating be divine? I consulted four other relationship experts who offered some heavenly answers to these worldly questions and revealed a five-fold path that can illuminates our way.
Dating. It ain’t what it used to be. The entire rulebook of courtship seems to have changed. The hows, wheres, whens, whats and whys barely even resemble those of our parents or grandparents. The internet is just over a generation old, drastically influencing how and where we meet people. How do you know when is the right time to call, to have sex, to stop dating other people? What we do on dates – and why – is also open for interpretation; are you looking for a soul-mate, life-partner, mother-of-your-children or a no-strings-fling?
If my ten years of private practice as a relationship coach have made anything clear, it’s that relationships are truly complex. However, the recipe for lasting love calls for five vital ingredients, and four other expert dating coaches echo my findings. So, what are these five ingredients; what is this five-fold path we help our clients walk, amble and saunter along? It’s a concept, an acronym and a memorable verb; and it’s what most of us wish we could do on yet another agonizing date: A.S.C.E.N.D. A is for Appreciation; S for Self-awareness and Self-care; C for Communication, E for Ending the war of the sexes, N for Negotiation; and D for Divine dating.
But let’s start with what we would like so much to ASCEND from shall we? Why is dating such a misery, a drudgery and an ongoing opportunity for dashed hopes and painful rejection? Mama Gena, Queen of Pleasure, and founder and facilitator of the Womanly Arts Mastery Program, and author of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts says it’s due in part to our abundant expectations, as well as our baggage and past disappointments that we haul around with us from date to date. Our poor partner has to attempt to overcome our history of unmet expectations, hurt feelings and broken heartedness in only a few short hours.
Jordan Harbinger is a dating coach and teacher with The Art of Charm, which offers men primarily the skills of natural charisma, body language, presence and being their authentic selves without apology. He points to our – and especially men’s – prideful egos as one of the main pitfalls to pleasurable dating. With our attention on how the other person is perceiving and judging us, and how and if we are measuring up, there’s little room left to be present with our date. Add to that our fear and shame about admitting we’ve got a lot to learn about dating, relationship and social dynamics. We feel like we should already know how to be great on a date, amazing lovers and fantastic communicators. We truly need that relationship education that almost none of us actually got.
In addition, dating and mating rituals are far from clearly defined. Is he supposed to call on Wednesday for a date on Saturday? Is she supposed to text midday and demand a steamy meeting later in the evening? Reid Mahalko is a bi-coastal sex educator and coach for relationship self-esteem and sexual self-confidence. He chimes in, reminding us that although we often manage to find decent people – which used to be reason enough for our parents and grandparents to make a lifelong marriage work – that is no longer enough. We need to learn to, as Reid puts it, “date our species.” We expect more out of our relationships than ever before; sure our date needs to be a decent person, but we also expect to meet our emotional, intellectual, financial, familial spiritual, social and sexual match as well.
Hollywood’s leading love and relationship expert Lauren Frances, who counsels A-list celebrities and mentors women around the globe in creating what she calls “legendary love affairs,” adds that the fundamental underlying obstacle to enjoyable dating is our lack of clear intention. Why are we dating, to what end? What do we want to get out of courtship? Until somewhat recently, dating was a means to the endpoint of marriage, which created a lot of psychological safety.
Many of the women I work with experience what I call “Groundhog-Day Dating.” Like Bill Murray in the 1993 movie who awoke day after day destined to repeat the same painful patterns, so it is for many of us in dating. We inherit these relationship ruts from our families of origins and our culture. We are often perplexed that our hard work and good will does nothing to shift our attraction to the “wrong” person over and over again. We KNOW what to do, but we don’t.
So, now that we know how and why dating sucks so bad, how do we start to have a blast instead? We A.S.C.E.N.D.
Starting with Appreciation is key. Deceptively simple and often overlooked, appreciation in and of itself it doesn’t always solve complex issues or turn the date around, but it paves the way. And without it, the date – and likely the rest of the relationship – is headed downhill. Appreciation is afoot when you relish the experience of the date itself, approve of your own self, and acknowledge the human being you’re on the date with – even if not the right man or woman for you. “The more you honor your own journey and appreciate every step you took, the more you will draw toward you the best experiences,” says Mama Gena.
The second step of the five-fold path is Self-awareness. Get on intimate terms with what you want, what makes you happy, what thrills you, your deal-breakers, the things you can’t stand and even those things you think you don’t deserve but secretly hope for. Knowing want you want is sexy. Get really clear who and what “your species” is – as Reid Mihalko instructs – so you can see if you are on a date with them! This second step also includes Self-care. The date starts before the date; the more you invest in making yourself delicious, the more you both will enjoy yourselves. Mind follows body and body follows mind.
The third ingredient in your delicious dating recipe is Communication: words to sweetly break the ice, to gracefully extract yourself from an uncomfortable date, to get you started appreciating the human being you’re with. Be kind, be interested in this person. Rather than judgments, focus on finding commonalities and connecting on an emotional level.
Fourthly, E is for Ending the war of the sexes. In case you didn’t notice, there is a sea of misunderstanding separating us from true partnership. When we know men and women truly want (nope, not just to get in her pants or to get at his credit card), we can actually begin to have a sweet dating experience. In our heart of hearts, women want most to be seen, to receive enlivening attention, and to be noticed afresh each moment. See her, hear her, notice her, for real. Guys want to be appreciated, respected and supported in their purpose. As a teacher of mine once said, “Be happy and blame it on him.”
Lauren Frances reminds us of the fifth step, Negotiation. Dates, she says, especially first ones are mainly for “romantic research and checking for compatibility coordinates. If you are marriage-minded, ask your date if he or she believes in marriage – and listen very carefully to the answer. If he or she balks, you’ve done a great job of uncovering a serious relationship incompatibility. You WANT to scare the wrong suitors off! Harmony in relationships comes from an alignment of “mutual romantic intention.’” I always say it’s more a question of sorting through all our options than desperately hoping for this one to be The One. They can be a truly great person, but not a right fit for you. If you are not clear where you are going, it’s hard to get there.
The sixth ingredient is D for Divine Dating, where all these five steps have been leading. To turn an ordinary dating experience into a transcendent one, begin with no expectations, while holding strongly what you deeply desire. Stay present; feeling seen, heard and truly appreciated are the things of falling in love as well as lasting love. Continue to not taking anything personally, especially on first encounters. Make sure to make the date somehow meaningful, so none of your time spent with another person is ever wasted time. Although you may want a coach to help access it, remember that you have all you need inside. Although you may need a course to remind you, notice that on the other side of your insecurities is the truth of your magnificence.
Not every date will result in a happy ending, but each can be an affirmation that you are showing up for your love life fully and you are taking the right actions. Become more committed to your divine dating experience than feeling bad about your failures. Develop a point of view about your partner that is loving, even if he or she isn’t a fit for your relationship intentions. Who you are in every moment – including swapping stories over margaritas – is who you are in life and in love. Says Mama Gena, “We are each responsible for bringing the recognition of our own divinity, which allows us to see it in the other.”
LiYana Silver, Relationship Expert and regular contributor to New York Spirit, is known for her bold, fresh guidance for women and their partners, who want to ASCEND out of painful patterns and relationship ruts and into partnerships that are strong, sexy, sane and sustainable in the 21st Century. For belief re-patterning, coaching, Change Your Relationship Destiny and Reclaim Your Radiance courses, and to make the complex actionable and the perplexing pleasurable, visit her website: www.love3point0.com.
• For Mama Gena’s Womanly Arts Mastery Arts program and upcoming Pleasure Bootcamp: www.mamagenas.com.
• For Jordan Harbinger, his team of coaches and Attraction Arts weeklong programs for men in NYC in June 2010: www.theartofcharm.com.
• For Reid Mihalko’s downloadable products on sex and relationship as well as coaching: www.reidaboutsex.com.
• For Lauren Frances’ Romantic Reboot tele-classes, Online Profile writing seminars, free Manhandling PodCasts, and amazing Man Magnet Makeover Seminars in NYC in June: www.laurenfrances.com.
Posted by charita at 9:49 AM
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
More and more we are thinking of ways to be “green”, have less of an impact on our environment, lighten our carbon footprint. I recently finished reading The Green Book The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen www.readthegreenbook.com. I must admit, reading this book left me felling overwhelmed. There is so much we do that has a negative impact on our planet. Of course, there are obvious choices that are more responsible. Like driving a Prius instead of an Escalade. We can bring a canvas bag when we go shopping. We can choose not to litter. We can teach our kids to think of the bigger / planet-sustaining picture as they mature. But beyond these common acts there was stuff that really opened up my eyes. Like the choice of voice mail over an answering machine! Can you believe it? When you consider the millions of phones and answering machines plugged into the wall, sapping electricity twenty-four hours a day, you start to get a picture of small choices with big impact.
The idea behind this book was to have the reader consider each choice and multiply it by 200 million or so. Yeah – big stuff! And that can be overwhelming.
For me, the most egregious offense I have seen in the past ten years is bottled water. Single-serving beverages in general, they are everywhere and mostly packaged in plastic. Have you noticed all the real estate taken up by beverages at your grocery store and deli? There is no more room there for fruit and vegetables, i.e. real food. That bothers me.
How many plastic bottles do you buy? Think beyond beverages. Look at laundry detergent, body wash, ketchup, tennis balls. Take that number and multiply it by the number of friends you have, then you start to get an idea of the impact on our planet. Even if all of those bottles can be recycled, which would be ideal, there is still energy expended in recycling. Reuse and conservation are the ultimate goals. I encourage you to use products that can be refilled. Buy detergent that comes in a box or bag, instead of a bottle. Use a bar of soap instead of body wash. Simple stuff, but not what we tend to think about. Usually, the green option leaves you with more money in your wallet as well. Now there is some real incentive for you.
For years, I have been re-using plastic bottles to carry water when away from home. In my kitchen I have a quality water filter hooked up to my tap and I refill a bottle before going out. This was a good start for me, but I was concerned about the deterioration and leaching of the plastic into my pure water. Recently, I bought two glass “love” bottles. Two sizes, two shapes, both very beautiful. Picture the guy on a camel traveling through the desert. Does he whip our a bottle of Poland Spring? No. He carries a flask or a canteen.
Remember the days before bottled water? You could actually drink the stuff that came out of the faucet. My dad told us when we grew up, “you always have a cup to drink water if you put your two hands together.” I bet you think your bottled water is of a higher quality than what comes out of the tap? Think again. Tap water is more strictly regulated than bottled water. Sixty million water bottles are tossed each day in the United States alone! That is madness. Wait it gets better: Considering that plastic is derived from petroleum, It takes 1.5 million barrels of OIL annually to satisfy America’s demand for bottled water. Do we really need to add to our already exorbitant need for fossil fuels?
So, what can you do?
Stop drinking so much water? No! I would never advocate that. Each body function requires hydration. Actually, so many common health issues are caused by dehydration – especially headaches and constipation. What I suggest is that you invest in a good water purifier. Then, bring your water with you when you leave the house. Yeah, it is a little more work, but at least you won’t be lugging big bottles of water from the grocery store anymore. Plus, isn’t our planet and your health worth it?
New Yorkers boast about the quality of their drinking water – it is good but still not perfect. Trust me, if you saw the rusty slime that oozes off of the charcoal block every time I change my filter you would be sold on this idea in an instant. That rusty slime is what your poor kidneys have to work hard to keep out of your blood stream when you are using a wimpy filter – or no filter at all. Also, you must keep in mind, the quality of your drinking water is only as clean as the pipes and plumbing system through which it arrives.
Here are the resources:
Love Bottle, glass water bottles: http://www.lovebottle.net/index.asp
Multi Pure home water filtration systems: http://www.multipureco.com/
I beg you, think about the plastics you use and dispose of on a regular basis. Consider areas where you could cut back and eliminate overuse. And at the very least, please recycle all that you can.
If you are stumped as to where you can make changes, please call or write to me immediately. I would love to help you green-up your day!
About the Author:
As a catalyst for change in the lives of others, Veronica Winsch transformed into a wellness practitioner to motivate and empower adults and children to live their best life. Veronica believes that when you are living in the flow and light of the universe you then inspire and give permission to others to do the same. That makes the world a better place – plain and simple!
Family wellness is a major part of the work Veronica does in settings such as Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS), Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, Union City High School and in her own private practice, Holistic Living Now. Improving nutrition, one bite at a time, is her focus and using a traditional approach, she leads families into the kitchen to create healthy meals together. Veronica sees food as the catalyst for deep connection, confidence, creativity, and ensuring self-reliance. By teaching families how to cook together, she gives adults and children access to these valuable tools through each meal.
Posted by charita at 8:55 PM
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
With the number of people adapting holistic lifestyles increasing every day, much of the attention to detail is focused on everyday household items, such as alternatives to cleaners and healthier, organic food products. While taking these steps are a huge part of living green, your house’s insulation and building materials may be effecting the indoor air quality. If you’re living in a home built prior to the 1980’s, it would be wise to have the insulation checked for asbestos.
Asbestos was a common material used throughout the 1900’s in all sorts of construction, insulation, lining, and building products. It was being used from shipyards to factories, and even into home insulation. When many of these workers in asbestos containing structures began to get diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer, asbestos began to essentially be banned in most areas. With the risk of potential lawsuits due to the fact that mesothelioma life expectancy is so low after diagnosis, companies and builders were no longer taking chances with this type of construction material. While asbestos isn’t used in any modern structures, some older homes and buildings may still contain the fiber within their insulation today. If needed at all, the removal process is not a do-it-yourself project and should definitely involve a trained professional to cut out the risk of exposure.
There are a number of alternatives in insulation products that if used, will not only cut down on the risk of toxins in the home, but also improve the house’s overall environmental sustainability. There are some great organic alternatives in insulation, while some of the more popular options include cotton fiber, cellulose, fiberglass, and spray polyurethane foam or SPF. Cotton fiber uses batted material, sometimes even shards of denim that have been treated to make them fire and heat retardant. Cellulose is another great option, as it’s constructed from finely shredded paper or newsprint and made out of 85 percent of recycled content. Spray polyurethane foam is extremely easy to install and may end up being the best insulation alternative as far as efficiency is concerned. It’s said to fill cracks and spaces tighter than any other option, thus conserving as much energy as possible. Although, fiberglass has been used for a number of years as an insulation material, distributors are making strides to make it one of the most eco-friendly options around. Not only are today’s fiberglass options made from recycled materials, they have extremely higher air quality than most types of insulation.
While most people may not be at risk of toxins from their own home insulation, some residents in older homes built before the 1980’s may be exposed to some health risks. Using some of these organic insulation products will provide residents with the most safety from toxins and a higher indoor air quality than any other alternative type of insulation. Even with the newest modern homes, green insulation products and other organic building materials offer the chance to increase energy efficiency, while still being cost effective.
About the Author
Krista Peterson is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida and aspiring writer. As a Health and Safety Advocate, she shares a strong passion for the wellness of our community and environment. Krista uses her writings to spread awareness of such issues to help encourage others to live the healthiest and most eco-friendly lifestyle possible. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Posted by charita at 7:31 PM