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How to Clean Silver Jewelry the Natural Way

Silver jewelry often gets tarnished and this is because oils from our skin tarnish the metal. The common method of polishing silver, however, has toxic chemicals.

Here is a natural way to polish your silver jewelry!

1. Wash your jewelry with dish soap and then rinse without drying. This removes excess dust and oil.

2. Line a small pot with aluminum foil and fill with enough water to submerge all the jewelry in.

3. Stir baking soda into the water using a couple of teaspoons per item of jewelry.

4. Bring the water to a boil, but then remove from heat right when the water starts boiling. 

5. Drop your jewelry into the water, making sure it touches the foil. 

6. Leave the jewelry in the water for a few minutes occasionally moving the pieces around with tongs.

7. Remove your jewelry from the pot and then dry the pieces with a clean cloth.

With this method, you are removing sulfur buildup on your jewelry, which will keep your silver nice and shiny.  

Making a Switch to Green Energy

Did you know that electricity production is the most polluting industry in the United States? This is because the majority of the electricity is generated from dirty, non-renewable fossil fuel sources like coal, natural gas, and oil. 


Photo Courtesy from QZ Prod

But there is a solution: making a switch to green energy. Green or clean energy, on the other hand is 100% renewable because it is made out of resources that are naturally replenished like water, sun, and or wind. And although green energy will not solve all the environmental problems that exist, it is a start and a commitment to being more conscious about our behaviors and how they impact the planet. 

Green energy will be slightly more costly than what we normally receive from the market and energy companies, but the pollution we will be diverting is worth those few extra dollars. We have to think about the future for generations to come, and this is one step towards preserving what we have left. 


Photo Courtesy from Diegoterna

In the long run, there are obviously environmental benefits through green energy, but also economic ones. First off, we will be eliminating the release of harmful chemicals into our air, water, and soil that contribute to climate change, mercury poisoning, smog, acid rain, and respiratory diseases. We also will decrease the harm to land that fossil fuel production requires. Economically, we will be increasing job opportunities in the green employment sector, supporting and developing America's own energy source, and encouraging development in rural areas because these areas have the resource potential and space the renewable facilities will need. 

And it is extremely easy to initiate -- it only took us less than an hour in total to get in touch with a helpful spokesperson that walked us through the process, explained things clearly, and successfully helped us make the switch. 

If you're in New York here are two great options: 

https://gogreenlightenergy.com/

https://www.greenmountainenergy.com/

Both these companies have fixed rates and work with your current supplier to provide the energy, which means you still pay your bill in the same place, so there's no confusion. 

If you're not located in New York, a quick Google search of your city and green energy should lead you to some local companies that can help you easily transition to clean energy. 

It is our duty to do as much as we can to protect our earth for the generations to come. We cannot neglect the severe damage or simply sit idly and take no action to prevent further pollution and harm. It is our kids and grandchildren that will be living on the same earth, so we should do as much as we possibly can to protect what we have now. 

 

Plastic-Free For Absolute Beginners: 7 Tips for Getting Started

From Treading My Own Path on June 1, 2017


Photo Courtesy from Treading My Own Path 

When we’re new to living plastic-free or zero waste, just looking at the journey ahead of us can seem a little… daunting. On one hand, we’re eager to make changes, and excited to be making a positive impact on ourselves and the planet. But what first steps to take?

 

1. Don’t throw anything away!

Before you begin, don’t just throw all your plastic in the bin, or dump it at the charity shop. Whilst it can be tempting to “begin again with a clean slate”, it creates a huge amount of waste. If your main motivation for embracing plastic-free living and zero waste is to reduce waste, this is completely counter-productive.

In time you’ll be able to decide whether you can re-purpose things, pass them on to someone who will use them, or use them up yourself. You’ll learn the best way to dispose of things responsibly. You’ll also know whether you need to replace them.

Plastic-free and zero waste living is a journey, not a race.

2. Remember change takes time, and the more time you spend on it, the faster you’ll see results.

Going plastic-free or zero waste is about changing habits, and change takes time. Like any habit, if you practice every day you’ll get there faster. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

Yes, you can go plastic-free or zero waste and work full time, have children and pursue other hobbies. You will just make slower progress.

Take into account how much time to have to spend learning new habits, and set yourself realistic goals. If your expectations exceed what’s likely or practical for you to achieve, you’ll end up disappointed and disheartened.

3. Go to your regular stores with new eyes.

Bulk stores (especially those that have been established with waste-free and plastic-free living in mind like The Source Bulk Foods) are an ideal place to buy packaging-free groceries, but in the beginning, don’t rule out your regular stores completely.

Instead, take a little extra time, and go to your regular stores and walk up and down every aisle, looking at every single product. Look for products in glass, cardboard, or paper.


Photo Courtesy from Treading My Own Path

When we shop, we often operate on autopilot. We don’t browse the overwhelming choice of products. We tend to buy the one we always buy, or we choose what’s on offer. Now is your chance to look with a different parameter – plastic-free.

You might find there are more alternatives than you realised.

4. Get your reusables ready.

When you first go zero waste or plastic-free grocery shopping, take more reusables than you think you’ll need. As well as reusable shopping bags, take reusable produce bags, glass jars, and glass or plastic containers with lids of various sizes.


Photo Courtesy from MJ and Hungryman

Almost everyone has reusable shopping bags; if you don’t, I recommend looking for natural fibres rather than plastic ones that will eventually end up in landfill.

There are many options for reusable bags, and if you sew you can make your own out of old net curtains or bed sheets. If you can’t sew, handmade reusable produce bags can be found via Etsy, an online marketplace for people who do know how to sew.

Photo Courtesy from Onya Life

If you don’t have glass Pyrex or stainless steel food containers, consider using plastic in the short term until you know which sizes work best for you. Glass and stainless steel is an investment, so knowing what you need is helpful before you splash out. If you’re ready to invest, this directory of online zero waste and plastic-free stores might be helpful.

(There are other bits and pieces you might find you need, like cutlery, a water bottle and a coffee cup. You can find the day-to-day reusables I carry in my handbag here.)

5. Look for bulk stores, Farmers Markets and health stores in your local area.

Before you step out the door, it makes sense to look on the internet. Are there any bulk stores close by? Are there any cooperatives that might have food in bulk? What about bakeries or farm shops? Italian grocery stores often have dry goods in bulk, and well-stocked deli counters. Check when local Farmers Markets run, and where.


Photo Courtesy from Miami and Beaches

You can call places to find out if they have a bulk section, but nothing beats going to have a look. Even if bulk isn’t an option, there might be plastic-free and lower waste solutions. Just having a browse can open your mind to some of the potential.

6. One change at a time.

Rather than change everything at once, focus on one thing at a time. It makes sense to tackle things in the order they need replacing. With food, fresh produce comes first, like fruit and vegetables, milk, and bread. Then there’s longer life fresh stuff like yoghurt and cheese. Then there’s dry goods, and it might be a few months before you need alternatives for some of these.

The same will apply in the bathroom, the cleaning cupboard, the wardrobe and the rest of the house.

Work on replacing things as you need to.

7. Join the community!

Zero waste and plastic-free living is a movement, and a movement needs people! You will find it so much easier and far more rewarding if you connect with others on the journey. You’ll be able to share ideas, vent frustrations, ask questions and guide others.

Not everyone has the support of family and friends, at least not at first. Finding a community of like-minded people will give you a strong support network to keep you motivated.

If you can find people locally to connect with, that’s awesome (if you don’t know where to look, the Transition Town movement is a good starting point). If not, there is plenty of opportunity online – and these groups will welcome you with open arms!

Remember, no-one has all the answers on the first day! Plastic-free and zero waste living is a journey. Enjoy the process, have fun, and know that everything you’re doing makes a difference.

Read the original article here

Got Broken Stuff in NYC?

Photo Courtesy from The Verge

From We Hate to Waste on May 11, 2017

WISH YOU COULD GET MORE STUFF FIXED IN NYC?

Repairing is so important, it deserves to be the 4th R. But how to findrepair shops in NYC?  A product with a lifetime warranty?

Good News: We have more repair options than you think. Read on to learn more, as well as pick up some tips for the other 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce

1. Order coffee ‘to stay’. Patronize take-out restaurants that offer washables — and reduce all that plastic and aluminum container waste.


Photo Courtesy from Secret Nutritions

Reuse

2. Carry reusables like coffee mugs, water bottles, lunch bags, utensils, and shopping bags.


Photo Courtesy from MJ and Hungryman

3. Take a second look at secondhand — oftentimes it’s better than new! Locate thrift and vintage shops near you at DonateNYC. Buy refurbished electronics at the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s E-waste  Warehouse in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Find treasures at the best flea markets in NYC.  

   
Photo Courtesy from TimeOut NYC


Recycle

4. Find out if your building is eligible for in-building collection of clothing and textiles, electronics and organics (food scraps, yard waste, food-soiled paper). If not, drop off clothing and organics at local greenmarkets. Drop off electronics at various collection sites around NYC or return them to manufacturers.


Photo Courtesy from Earth911

5. Learn how to recycle cell phones, home improvement waste, appliances, and ink and toner cartridges. Learn which plastics CAN’T go into the recycle bin. Bring plastic bags and other film waste back to retailers.

Repair 

6. Get broken lamps, electronics, furniture, bikes and more fixed at PopUp Repair and Fixers Collective events in Manhattan and Brooklyn.


Photo courtesy from The New York Times

7. Host your own repair cafe in your school, senior center, temple or church.

Read the original article here.

Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells

Photo Courtesy from AVIXYZ/FLICKR

By Crystal Gammon on June 23, 2009

Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells

Used in gardens, farms, and parks around the world, the weed killer Roundup contains an ingredient that can suffocate human cells in a laboratory, researchers say

Used in yards, farms and parks throughout the world, Roundup has long been a top-selling weed killer. But now researchers have found that one of Roundup’s inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.

The new findings intensify a debate about so-called “inerts” — the solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances that manufacturers add to pesticides. Nearly 4,000 inert ingredients are approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, is the most widely used herbicide in the United States.  About 100 million pounds are applied to U.S. farms and lawns every year, according to the EPA.

Until now, most health studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate, rather than the mixture of ingredients found in Roundup. But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.

One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.”

“This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen. “Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens.

The research team suspects that Roundup might cause pregnancy problems by interfering with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal fetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages.

Monsanto, Roundup’s manufacturer, contends that the methods used in the study don’t reflect realistic conditions and that their product, which has been sold since the 1970s, is safe when used as directed. Hundreds of studies over the past 35 years have addressed the safety of glyphosate.

“Roundup has one of the most extensive human health safety and environmental data packages of any pesticide that's out there,” said Monsanto spokesman John Combest. “It's used in public parks, it's used to protect schools. There's been a great deal of study on Roundup, and we're very proud of its performance.”

The EPA considers glyphosate to have low toxicity when used at the recommended doses.

“Risk estimates for glyphosate were well below the level of concern,” said EPA spokesman Dale Kemery. The EPA classifies glyphosate as a Group E chemical, which means there is strong evidence that it does not cause cancer in humans.

In addition, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture both recognize POEA as an inert ingredient. Derived from animal fat, POEA is allowed in products certified organic by the USDA. The EPA has concluded that it is not dangerous to public health or the environment.

The French team, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, a University of Caen molecular biologist, said its results highlight the need for health agencies to reconsider the safety of Roundup.

“The authorizations for using these Roundup herbicides must now clearly be revised since their toxic effects depend on, and are multiplied by, other compounds used in the mixtures,” Seralini’s team wrote.

Controversy about the safety of the weed killer recently erupted in Argentina, one of the world’s largest exporters of soy.

Last month, an environmental group petitioned Argentina’s Supreme Court, seeking a temporary ban on glyphosate use after an Argentine scientist and local activists reported a high incidence of birth defects and cancers in people living near crop-spraying areas. Scientists there also linked genetic malformations in amphibians to glysophate. In addition, last year in Sweden, a scientific team found that exposure is a risk factor for people developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Inert ingredients are often less scrutinized than active pest-killing ingredients. Since specific herbicide formulations are protected as trade secrets, manufacturers aren’t required to publicly disclose them. Although Monsanto is the largest manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides, several other manufacturers sell similar herbicides with different inert ingredients.

The term “inert ingredient” is often misleading, according to Caroline Cox, research director of the Center for Environmental Health, an Oakland-based environmental organization. Federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert,” she said. Inert compounds, therefore, aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless – they simply don’t kill insects or weeds.

Kemery said the EPA takes into account the inert ingredients and how the product is used, whenever a pesticide is approved for use. The aim, he said, is to ensure that “if the product is used according to labeled directions, both people’s health and the environment will not be harmed.” One label requirement for Roundup is that it should not be used in or near freshwater to protect amphibians and other wildlife.

But some inert ingredients have been found to potentially affect human health. Many amplify the effects of active ingredients by helping them penetrate clothing, protective equipment and cell membranes, or by increasing their toxicity. For example, a Croatian team recently found that an herbicide formulation containing atrazine caused DNA damage, which can lead to cancer, while atrazine alone did not.

POEA was recognized as a common inert ingredient in herbicides in the 1980s, when researchers linked it to a group of poisonings in Japan. Doctors there examined patients who drank Roundup, either intentionally or accidentally, and determined that their sicknesses and deaths were due to POEA, not glyphosate.

POEA is a surfactant, or detergent, derived from animal fat. It is added to Roundup and other herbicides to help them penetrate plants' surfaces, making the weed killer more effective.

"POEA helps glyphosate interact with the surfaces of plant cells," explained Negin Martin, a scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, who was not involved in the study. POEA lowers water's surface tension--the property that makes water form droplets on most surfaces--which helps glyphosate disperse and penetrate the waxy surface of a plant.

In the French study, researchers tested four different Roundup formulations, all containing POEA and glyphosate at concentrations below the recommended lawn and agricultural dose. They also tested POEA and glyphosate separately to determine which caused more damage to embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.

Glyphosate, POEA and all four Roundup formulations damaged all three cell types. Umbilical cord cells were especially sensitive to POEA. Glyphosate became more harmful when combined with POEA, and POEA alone was more deadly to cells than glyphosate. The research appears in the January issue of the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

By using embryonic and placental cell lines, which multiply and respond to chemicals rapidly, and fresh umbilical cord cells, Seralini’s team was able to determine how the chemicals combine to damage cells.

The two ingredients work together to “limit breathing of the cells, stress them and drive them towards a suicide,” Seralini said.

The research was funded in part by France’s Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering, a scientific committee that investigates risks associated with genetically modified organisms. One of Roundup’s primary uses is on crops that are genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate.

Monsanto scientists argue that cells in Seralini’s study were exposed to unnaturally high levels of the chemicals. “It's very unlike anything you'd see in real-world exposure. People's cells are not bathed in these things,” said Donna Farmer, another toxicologist at Monsanto.

Seralini’s team, however, did study multiple concentrations of Roundup. These ranged from the typical agricultural or lawn dose down to concentrations 100,000 times more dilute than the products sold on shelves. The researchers saw cell damage at all concentrations.

Monsanto scientists also question the French team’s use of laboratory cell lines.
“These are just not very good models of a whole organism, like a human being,” said Dan Goldstein, a toxicologist with Monsanto.

Goldstein said humans have protective mechanisms that resist substances in the environment, such as skin and the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which constantly renew themselves. “Those phenomena just don't happen with isolated cells in a Petri dish.”

But Cox, who studies pesticides and their inert ingredients at the Oakland environmental group, says lab experiments like these are important in determining whether a chemical is safe.

“We would never consider it ethical to test these products on people, so we're obliged to look at their effects on other species and in other systems,” she said. “There's really no way around that.”

Seralini said the cells used in the study are widely accepted in toxicology as good models for studying the toxicity of chemicals.

“The fact is that 90 percent of labs studying mechanisms of toxicity or physiology use cell lines,” he said.

Most research has examined glyphosate alone, rather than combined with Roundup’s inert ingredients. Researchers who have studied Roundup formulations have drawn conclusions similar to the Seralini group’s. For example, in 2005, University of Pittsburg ecologists added Roundup at the manufacturer’s recommended dose to ponds filled with frog and toad tadpoles. When they returned two weeks later, they found that 50 to 100 percent of the populations of several species of tadpoles had been killed.

A group of over 250 environmental, health and labor organizations has petitioned the EPA to change requirements for identifying pesticides’ inert ingredients. The agency’s decision is due this fall.

“It would be a big step for the agency to take,” said Cox. “But it’s one they definitely should.”

The groups claim that the laws allowing manufacturers to keep inert ingredients secret from competitors are essentially unnecessary. Companies can determine a competitor’s inert ingredients through routine lab analyses, said Cox.

“The proprietary protection laws really only keep information from the public,” she said.

This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.

Read the original article here

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