The no-fuss infrared Medisana FTN thermometer

Medisana 1Saw this on one of my favorite blog sites, the Red Ferret Journal (for disclosure’s sake, I’m their Eco Editor / regular contributor) and had to pass it on.

Mom will love this one. The Medisana FTN infrared thermometer works without direct contact or that “under the tongue”struggle. Just place it over the area above the eyebrows, between the forehead and the temple. You can be up to 5cm away (that’s almost 2 inches). That makes taking temps of sick children or infants a breeze. The temperature reading comes up in just one second.

Able to store up to 30 readings,you can set this innovative thermometer for readings comparable to those normally taken orally, rectally or under the arm. And it has an automatic switch-off that kicks in three minutes after the last reading.

Medisans 2For those who are always looking for different ways to use things, the Medisana can also be used to measure the temperature of objects  like fluids, surfaces and of ambient temperatures.

The Medicans FTN comes with 2-AAA batteries (already installed), a storage container and an instruction manual. Designed for home use only, it retails .for around $42 US.

Chicago Cubs to fans: let's recycle!

Wrigley FieldThe dog days of summer will be a little bit greener this year, at least in Chicago at Wrigley Field.

Cubs fans have a lot to be proud of. Their team has taken on recycling in a big way.

Their new “Real Fans Recycle” campaign asks fans to help divert aaround 165,000 pounds of plastic and cardboard from landfills.  This season, vendors at Wrigley Field will use compostable plates and cutlery, and plastic drink cups and napkins that are made from recycled content

The "Real Fans Recycle" logo will be on shirts throughout Wrigley Field this summer

The "Real Fans Recycle" logo will be on shirts throughout Wrigley Field this summer

Fans will see ushers nd event staff sporting cool “Real Fans Recycle” shirts made from 100% recycled material, including recycled PET plastic from which Wrigley Field beverage cups are made.

The emblazoned shirts are sponsored by Solo Cup Company, who’s partnered with the Cubs Baseball organization, Allied Waste, Free Green Canand Levy Restaurants for this innovative recycling effort.

For year-round recycling, the Cubs organization has placed 25 dual-purpose (recycling/trash) Free Green Cans  around the outer footprint of Wrigley Field that fans, residents and visitors can utilize.

Way to go Cubs!  Come on, Commissioner Selig, how about a league-wide green initiative? What a difference THAT would make!

Environmental watch group gives most sunscreens poor marks

Sunscreens aren't all what they claim to be

Sunscreens aren't all what they claim to be

Exaggerated SPF claims and potentially harmful additives are the reasons behind the poor marks most sunscreen products received poor marks in the Environmental Working Group ‘s (EWG) fourth annual Sunscreen Guide.

Out of the 5o0 sunscreens on the market today, the EWG only recommended 39 of them (8 percent).

The report shows that the majority of people under-utilize sunscreen, using only one-quarter of the recommended amount necessary to protect them from harmful rays. That results in drastically reduced effectiveness:

  • a product labeled SPF 100 actually performs like SPF 3.2
  • an SPF 30 product rating equstes to a 2.3
  • SPF 15 translates to a 2.0

FDA scientists also say that SPF claims above 50 can’t reliably be substantiated.

Reading through the report revealed some real myth-busters. These include;

  • There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.
  • There’s no proof that the higher SPF products actually perform better than their lower cousins.

Other concerns revealed in the study focus on:

  • the addition of a orm of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate. This is found in 41 percent of all sunscreens.
  • a hormone0disrupting compound called oxybenzone has been found in many sunscreens

 

“”The FDA is investigating whether this compound may accelerate skin damage and elevate skin cancer risk when applied to skin exposed to sunlight.”

All of the 39 recommended sunscreens that earned the EWG’s “green” rating for safety and effectiveness all contain the minerals zinc and titanium.

Since 1978, the FDA has been working to create and finalize regulations pertaining to sunscreen. FDA officials now say they anticipate these regulations may finally be issued next October. That means the first FDA-regulated sunscreens won’t hit shselves until at least the summer of 2012! 

So what are sun-loving consumers to do until then to stay protected?

Check out the list of recommended sunscreens, lip balms, moisturizers, and SPF-based skincare make-up products. Then be sure to follow the instructions to ensure you get the protection you need.

 

Check out the latest eco-friendly products – on the radio!

Eco Trends logo

Eco Trends - the latest green innovations are on the radio!

Green has hit the radio waves!

Eco Trends – with Debra Atlas – features the latest eco-innovations. From chemical-free baby products to eco-friendly home decor, Eco Trends presents the newest way to stay up with simple, easy affordable ways you can green your lifestyle.

Be sure to check out this fun radio feature every Tuesday and Thursdayaround 3:20pm (Pacific) or via the online archives. And spread the word about the newest eco-friendly spot on the radio!

Two eco-friendly ways to keep baby comfortable

BabyChafing and diaper rash are par for the course with babies. Moms deal with these using whatever ointments and powders were available.

With growing concerns about harmful chemicals and toxins in baby products, it’s nice to know there are eco-friendly choices that help keep babies dry and comfortable.

In 2009, Elements Naturals introduced their 100% Natural & Compostable Baby Wipes. They’re made from a man-made plant-based fiber called Ingeo, a patented product developed by Nature Works.

Linda Naerheim, CEO and co-founder of Elements Naturals LLC, says she was shocked to discover that what was considered “natural” out there in baby wipes really wasn’t. Those “natural” products used latex and petroleum by-products, the same materials used in Pampers and Huggies. Cotton wipes only have around 15 percent cotton and contain a cocktail of harsh chemicals, including parabins and endocrine disruptors that have proven to cause cancer.

Elements NaturalsSeeking a better alternative, with the help of Nature Works, she developed her 100% Natural Baby Wipes.

Larger and thicker, these wipes are chemical, fragrance and chlorine free and have no essential oils that could irritate baby’s skin.

Since its introduction last year, Naerheim has worked to improve the formula and the packaging. And the company moved its manufacturing from overseas back to the U.S.

These 100% plant-based wipes have received a lot of recognition. They’ve been featured in Parents Magazine as one of the top eco-friendly baby products, were featured in Pregnancy & Newborn magazine’s April issue in its “A” list for “green” diapering. And they’re one of the top 12 best diapering picks on Seventeen.com.

“It’s an important product,” says Naerheim.

Shockingly, over 39 billion individual baby wipes go in to landfills every year. That’s 107 million each day! They leak toxins into our soil, challenge our ecosystem and they don’t break down because of the plastic resins they contain.

Since these wipes are compostable, they help reduce landfill dumping.

“(Using this product) is one thing you can do every day to reduce your impact on the environment,” said Naerheim.

Another great baby product to help keep babies dry will be introduced within the next two months by Baby Magic, a baby product line that’s been around for over 100 years.

Baby Magic Patty CakeTheir newest, most eco-friendly product – Baby Magic Patty Cake – will be the world’s first U.S. patented, talc-free, dustless baby powder. This unique product won’t come in a plastic bottle but in a compact.

Based on the concept of women’s make-up (i.e. pressed face powder), it’s made especially for babies and their delicate skin, says Melanie Timms, Brand Manager with Naterra Intl. Inc., maker of Baby Magic products.

Decades-old use of baby powder is rapidly shifting, particularly with warnings by doctors about the dangers to infants of airborn dust and powder.

Patty Cake has lots of pluses. It’s hypoallergenic, it contains moisturizers and it hydrates skin. One of its ingredients helps repel water from baby’s sensitive skin. And it’s made from rice, not corn which can trigger allergies, says Timms.

Patty Cake has almost no fragrance and can be applied exactly where it’s needed, with no talcum cloud.

Its convenient size makes it “easier to throw in your diaper bag than a messy diaper rash cream,” Timms says. And you can travel with it, she said. “It’s airline safe.”

Baby Magic Patty Cake lasts a long time. The box says it will last for 250 applications but, Timms says, depending on the amount used, it will generally last 4 to 6 months.

A resealable package of 80 wipes costs $5.95. Elements Naturals 100% Natural & Compostable Baby Wipes are available at a growing number of retailers around the country, including some Whole Foods, and online at Diapers.com, Drugstore.com and ElementsNaturals.com. And, says Naerheim, you can request that your natural food store carry them.

Patty Cake will retail for around $8.00 or less and will be available at national retailers online and at Drugstore.com.

Gray whale sighted off coast of Israel

Gray whale 2Whales have  become common sights off the Pacific coastline, where whale watching has become a burgeoning industry. But the northern Atlantic hasn’t seen whales since the 17th or 18th century. Until now that is.

Gray whale 1A gray whale stunned scientists by its appearance last week off the central coast of Israel. It may have taken a “wrong turn” to get there as it made its way through the Arctic Northwest Passage, which, until recently, had been blocked by sea ice.

Definitely another sign of climate change, but perhaps a positive one. Could this be the forerunner of a new whale colonization of the Atlantic? Time will tell.

Nestle to quit buying palm oil linked to deforestation

Nestle logoSeems like the sustainable bandwagon is moving ahead. Contrary to my less than optimistic view when Unilever announced they’d stop buying palm oil from an Indonesian planter involved in deforestation, now Nestle is joining the party.

After a two month campaign by Greenpeace, Nestle announced plans to stop buying palm oil from Sinar Mas Group, an Indonesian lumber and chemical products conglomerate accused by Greenpeace of illegal deforestation practices. Nestle says it has partnered with The Forest Trust, a non-profit organization that works to help companies establish sustainable supply chains.  to “focus on the systematic identification and exclusion of companies owning or managing high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation.”

Nestle has set a goal of making its palm oil products 100 percent sustainable by 2015.  It’s currently at 18 percent.

Greenpeace’s campaign to “help” Nestle shift their palm oil practices included spurring consumers to take action with over 200,000 sent e-mail messages, hundreds of phone calls and countless Facebook comments.

So I’m a bit more optimistic this time around with another corporate giant making noises and taking action towards creating a sustainable supply chain. Who’ll be next to jump on this bandwagon?

Apples to Apples: Solar and Wind less costly than Coal and Oil

The following is a guest blog by Tom Rooney of SPGsolar. 

CoalEveryone knows solar and wind power are more expensive than oil and coal.

Everyone except the National Academy of Sciences.

So they put it to the test: They found coal and oil and natural gas are artificially cheap because they impose health and financial and environmental costs that all of us pay for — above and beyond the price. Whether we know it or not.

Whether we like it or not.

Sounds kind of like a subsidy, doesn’t it? It’s exactly like a subsidy.

Apples to apples? Solar and wind are often less expensive than coal and oil.

The Academy estimates that coal and oil drain $130 billion in hidden costs out of our economy. Coal is subsidized to the tune of 3 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour of energy – about 25 to 100 percent of what you pay for power.

The report comes just in time — right after the biggest energy disaster in this country’s history.

And right before a campaign to reduce support for alternative energy which some say requires subsidies and is more expensive than fossil fuels.

Coal and oilPeople like Republican functionary Christopher Horner, whose new book proclaims that renewable energy will “bankrupt” this country and is a “declaration of war against America’s most reliable sources of energy—coal, oil, and natural gas.”

Or the usually reliable Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore, who says renewable energy such as wind and solar is a plot between Big Government and Big Labor.

Before I became a card carrying member of this conspiracy and the CEO of a solar energy company, I studied for an MBA at the University of Chicago. There I was lucky enough, on many occasions, to meet the inspiration for many solar skeptics – America’s greatest economist Milton Friedman.

More than just a libertarian icon, Friedman just wanted to know what things cost. Not their price, their cost.

You do not need a Nobel Prize to see the freshman mistake of those who say wind and solar are too expensive to compete with coal and oil: They confuse price with cost.

But still we hear that coal and oil and natural gas are cheaper. Which is like the guy who throws garbage over his neighbor’s fence, then brags about free trash disposal. But really, someone else is paying for it.

The Academy said it was too complicated to estimate the largest hidden cost of energy — the price we pay in sending our best and bravest into harm’s way to guarantee our supply of foreign oil.

You want to put a price tag on that? Go ahead. Just make sure the number starts with a T. And if you throw your garbage over the fence, count that too.

—- Tom Rooney is the CEO of SPG Solar (SPGsolar.com).

Spa Baby makes bathing baby a pleasure

Even weeks' old infants can enjoy a safe bath in Spa Baby tubs

Even weeks' old infants can enjoy a safe bath in Spa Baby tubs

Parents of young babies know that giving them a bath is challenging, frustrating and rarely fun.

An amazingly innovative Canadian product called Spa Baby makes it pleasant a pleasant experience all around.

The Spa Baby is a European-style baby bath tub that lets you bathe your baby while it’s sitting up.

It goes back to the idea of bathing them in the kitchen sink, says Brandy Cameron, founder of Spa Baby Tubs, Inc.

After the birth of her baby six years ago, Cameron discovered how difficult it was to give newborns a bath and how much they disliked the process! Searching for a better alternative, she discovered that outside of North America, it was standard to bathe a baby upright.

An upright tub like the Spa Baby has a real advantage over traditional baby baths, Cameron says.

With traditional baby tubs, parents lay the baby flat on its back. Even though the water is warm, it cools quickly since it covers a large surface area. That leaves the baby’s chest and torso exposed to the air, while they lay in the water. No wonder they usually scream and fuss!

“We kind of forgot about the point of view of the baby,” said Cameron.

The Spa Baby – with its smaller surface area – uses less water than traditional baby baths – around 5 gallons. Fill it to the fill line, then carefully place the baby in it. The water comes up to around their chest. And the water stays warm for about 20 minutes, giving you time to give the baby a gentle warm bath.

“Babies relax so much they’re practically falling asleep,” she said.

You can check out a cute video of  this at http://3.ly/qJeo.

“Your baby stays in this really familiar position,” said Cameron. “like (how) they spend their first nine months. It’s comforting for your baby – and a nice experience for you.”

The Spa Baby contains no BPA, phthalates, and no vinyl, otherwise known as PVC. A lot of other baby tubs contain blends of plastics and foam materials in them.

Spa Baby is polypropylene plastic, said Cameron. “That’s as non-toxic as you can get!”

Spa Baby Eco is made of recycled plastic and no hamrful chemicals

Spa Baby Eco is made of recycled plastic with no hamrful chemicals

Cameron’s latest baby bath tub is the Spa Baby Eco, made of 100 percent recycled plastic. She got the idea for this after seeing all the new plastic being generated, especially for baby products.

“You’re kind of surprised at the amount of plastic that comes through your door when you’re about to have a baby,” Cameron said.

With the exception of toys, there’s very little baby gear made of recycled plastic, she said.

“I think,” Cameron said, “we have all the plastic we need already on the planet!”

The Spa Baby and Spa Baby Eco are both recyclable. But Cameron recommends instead of tossing them in recycling when you don’t need them anymore, why not give them to another mom to use?

That’s real recycling, she said – as in the second of the 3Rs, Reuse.

The Spa Baby and Spa Baby Eco are very reasonably priced . If you order from Spa Baby’s website, shipping’s included if you live in the continental US. These amazing baby bath tubs are  available at Spababytubs.com and on Amazon.

Can burning tires be a "green" industry?

Geneva Energy's Illinois factory burns tires to generate electricity

Geneva Energy's Illinois factory burns tires to generate electricity

An Illinois factory is seeking to become designated “green”. Thing is, they burn shredded old tires to generate electricity.

Geneva Energy LLC had been hoping the Illinois legislature would approve a proposed bill that would allow it to be added to the state’s list of renewable energy sources. Tires were, they reasoned, what they termed “reusable resources” – resources that were out there and although not really renewable, were plentiful enough.

Illinois senators,  however, didn’t agree, defeating the measure last night in a 26-17 vote.

The bill’s sponsor in the Illinois House, Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood), said passing this measure would help keep jobs in the town of Ford Heights and allow Geneva Energy LLC to apply for tax credits and grants afforded to wind farms and solar energy producers. The town currently has an unemployment rate of 29 percent.

Old tires have definitely become a resource for enterprising companies to transform into something useful. And job creation is definitely critical, especially in an area with such high unemployment.

How do you readers weigh-in on this issue?