13 posts categorized "Some Ugly Numbers"

March 03, 2011

EWG's 2011 Bottled Water Score Card

http://www.startalie.com Still buying bottled water? Check out how your brand stacks up. According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, there are some questions you should ask before shelling out up to 1,900 times more for bottled water than tap water.

  1. Where does the water come from?
  2. Is it purified? How?
  3. Have tests found any contaminants?

According to their study, among the ten top-selling brands, nine (Aquafina, Dasani, Crystal Geyser and 6 of 7 Nestle brands) don't answer at least one of those questions.

Why are these companies so hush-hush about something as simple as water?

"Bottled water companies enjoying this massive commercial success may suspect that their customers would turn away if they knew that most of them draw their product from municipal tap water (BMC 2010, Food and Water Watch 2010), or that the plastics used to make the bottles can be laced with chemical additives that leach into the water (EWG 2008)." - EWG Bottled Water Score Card

With Canada's Bottled Water Free Day just around the corner (March 10th) this is a great time to take the pledge to say NO to bottled water. Filter your own tap water at home, or use a filtering bottle - you'll save money and resources in the process.

For more facts about plastic bottles click here, and check out our selection of safe, reusable water bottles here



November 10, 2010

The Story of Electronics

We've been anxiously awaiting the latest film from Annie Leonard and crew - The Story of Electronics. At last it's here, so check it out and share it with your friends!


May 18, 2010

Plastic Pollution is Worse than Any Oil Spill

001plasticbag1dm_800x517 In a recent short, but thought provoking blog post, 5 Gyres reflects on an eye-opening interview with famed oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer. "Oil is organic, it will go away, plastic never goes away and kills more animals every year than any oil spill," he says.

We can't help but wonder what might happen if the media treated the plague of plastic pollution in our oceans with the same fervor they've applied to reporting on the recent oil spills.

Read the post here.

February 15, 2010

Running the Numbers by Chris Jordan

1242247972 Take a look at our plastic bag counter on the right. Can you even come close to comprehending a number so huge? Photographer Chris Jordan doesn't think so, but with his new series of photographs Running the Numbers he's trying to put it into perspective for all of us.

In a statement on Seed Magazine's website, Jordan says, "I’m trying to translate these numbers from the deadening language of statistics into a visual language that allows some kind of comprehension." 

The work is beautiful and staggering - hundreds of thousands of disposable items ranging from aluminum cans to cell phones artfully arranged and easily digestible. 

Jordan's 112 page book, including 60 color illustrations, is available for purchase on his website: http://www.chrisjordan.com

January 12, 2010

Is your tap water safe?

Tap-water According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 315 pollutants have been found in American tap water since 2004. Of these contaminants, 49 were found in one place or another at levels above government guidelines - which means sketchy drinking water for 53.6 million Americans.

The study also states that water utilities spends 19 times more on water treatment chemicals a year than the federal government spends trying to prevent pollution in lakes and rivers in the first place. 

The EWG compiled their data into a user-friendly interactive resource that covers 48,000 communities in 45 states and Washington DC. You can look for your city's ratings here.

Chicago, our hometown, was rated number 34. With 15 pollutants found, our top concern is combined radium, which is usually found around uranium deposits. So are we turning to bottled water? No. Many bottled waters are tapped from a municipal source, so they're subject to the same pollutants as what comes out of your tap at home.

The EWG recommends deciding what is most important to you - a decent filter at a decent price, removing as many contaminants as possible, or removing a specific contaminant - and investing in a water filter. Check out their handy water filter buying guide if your city isn't rated as high on the list as you would have liked.

October 29, 2009

Plastic Planet

We've been watching clips of Plastic Planet all afternoon, even when they aren't in English they're pretty compelling. Director Werner Boote examines the safety (or lack thereof) of plastic products, which immediately forces the viewer to also question these things we've all filled our houses with. (We read the translated version of the official site, it's not perfect but it helps.)  

You can read more about the film in this post from The National. It looks like for now the film is only being shown in Germany, Austria and Poland but we'll keep you posted as more countries are added.

October 23, 2009

Midway: Message from the Gyre by Chris Jordan

1255628127 We've covered the work of photographer Chris Jordan in the past - his documentation of American consumption is a chilling reminder of the effect our use-and-toss mentality has not just on our physical environment, but on the other creatures who inhabit it.

In his latest series, Midway, Jordan presents us with image after image of dead albatross chicks killed by their own mothers who fed them trash floating in the ocean. The artist notes, "not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way."

In his blog, Jordan chronicles his time spent photographing the phenomenon on Midway Atoll. In an entry entitled "From here forward..." his wife, poet Victoria Sloan Jordan writes:

"How can I possibly continue to contribute to the stream of plastic into our waterways and oceans after seeing the albatross stuffed with plastic?   Matches, people.  Glass, metal.  Re-use!  Forget recycling, it’s not happening, and when it’s plastic it’s called down-cycling, anyway.  What happens when we are up to our eyeballs in fleece and carpet and plastic decking?"

The photographs are raw, disturbing and emotional - and we hope as you look at them, you also find them inspiring. Be inspired to consume less now.

September 29, 2009

Planetary Boundaries: A Safe Operating Space for Humanity aka Wake Up, We're Blowing It


According to a new paper published in the latest issue of Nature called Planetary Boundaries: A Safe Operating Space for Humanity, there are 10 separate biophysical systems crucial to humanity’s flourishing and we've already exceeded three of them. 

In their digest of the article, Grist discusses the notion of "carbon blindness" - the idea that most people see climate change as a single problem with a single solution. (Reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.) As they put it, "... the Nature paper makes clear that as politically, intellectually, or even spiritually inconvenient as it may be, the problem we face is much larger and more systemic than carbon in the air."

There's no doubt that this information is daunting, and knowing that the fate of the world lies squarely on our (its inhabitants) shoulders is humbling to say the least. But as William James said, "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." Read the paper and ask yourself what you can do to keep the seven other crucial systems as far from the tipping point as possible.

We all have the power to start consuming less right now. Basic steps we promote like taking only what you need, reusing what you have and cutting down disposables. Grist quotes Marshall McLuhan as saying, “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” And we're inclined to agree.

June 10, 2009

Driving a Hummer > Non-recycled TP?

Toiletpaper We were absolutely shocked to discover this article from Guardian (UK) in which Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says "Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution."

According to the article, more than 98% of toilet paper sold in the US comes from virgin wood, whereas in Europe and Latin America up to 40% of toilet paper comes from recycled products.

We can personally vouch for the quality of recycled paper products - we use them every day in our office! Definitely check out microfiber cleaning cloths to use in place of paper towels and Marcal 100% recycled content toilet tissue - they're both easy ways to stop contributing to that ridiculous 98%.

Read the entire article here.

May 27, 2009

Bags by the Numbers

342596518_45c8e83505_m According to the EPA, U.S. consumes over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps each year.

The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.

Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a $.05 or $.10 credit per bag for bringing your own bags.