Tag Archives: plastic

Stop Buying Water for Your Shower

We all know that bottled water is bad.  It’s usually just tap water put into plastic bottles and dropped off in pallets at our local grocery store.  You end up paying dollars for something that costs cents when it comes out of the faucet in your home.  Add in the plastic waste and you get a bad environmental actor that no one wants to defend.

But what about your shampoo and shower gel?  Look at the first ingredient.  I am betting dollars to donuts that the first ingredient listed is water.  How much water?  Seventy to eighty percent depending upon the formulation. [1]  Shower gel is in the same boat and considering its rise to prominence over bar soap I am guessing that most people have multiple bottles of what is mostly water in their showers. [2]

Every one of those bottles of shampoo and shower gel are just a step up from buying bottled water.  I have always been a bar soap guy finding the entire loofah and shower gel combo unsatisfying on a number of fronts.  Foremost among those is what wondering what is lurking in the folds of that loofah that do not get clean.  Sorry for that image, folks.

Bar soap is the easy answer to shower gel.  Hell, it’s also one of the easiest things to get from a local provider because almost every farmers market I have been to over the past decade has a soapmaker or two.  Or you could get the soap that I like the bestPacha’s Dirty Hippie.

The shampoo angle seems a little harder until you do a little digging.  I would not have thought twice about it until a friend re-gifted me a Lush Seanik shampoo bar.   All I could remember thinking was why I did not come across this concept sooner.  Now, I do not care to afford Lush’s products although I do love their ingredients and social bent.  Once the Seanik bar ran out I bought some J.R. Liggett Old Fashioned shampoo bars and I am working through them currently.

Bar soap and shampoo bars come with none of the packaged plastic waste that comes from shower gel and liquid shampoo.  If we really want to make a change in the way we consume things we really need to examine the nature of the products that we buy and the packaging that those products come in.  A little paper wrapper seems like a much better solution than an empty plastic bottle.

 

  1. http://chemistscorner.com/how-shampoos-are-made/
  2. http://fortune.com/2016/08/25/bar-soap-declining-sales/
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Friday Linkage 9/4/2015

Damn, I looked up and it was September. Without cable and no more HDTV football season will not be the same. Listening to games on the radio, however, gives me the opportunity to spend some time in the shop working on a handful of projects that have languished most of the summer.

On to the links…

MidAmerican Energy Announces New Wind Farms—By the end of 2015, MidAmerican will get 42 percent of its power from wind versus 36 percent from coal. That is an impressive renewable energy footprint that is only going to get bigger with the construction of these recently announced projects.

Simple Solar From Cedar Falls Utilities — Crowdfunded Community Solar—Iowa has a long way to go with regard to climate change mitigation, but there are a lot of good things happening on the ground. Cedar Falls, famous for its public internet company, is also getting into the community solar game.

Xcel Energy Taking Heat for Slow Rollout of Solar Garden Program in Minnesota—Meanwhile, Xcel in Minnesota seems to be doing everything to kill the community solar project with a thousand cuts.

Solar Power on at Large and Small Scale—Ahhh, infographics. How I have missed thee:

Solar-The-large-and-small-case-01-1

Solar Energy Means Jobs, Savings, and a Low-Cost Future—Solar is good. ‘Nuff said:

solar-in-missouri-means-jobs-savings-low-cost-future-ILSR

Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable, And It’s Not Using Natural Gas As A ‘Transition’—Hawaii is going to try and make the leap to all renewables without taking the baby step of using natural gas as a bridge fuel. I wish them the best of luck because the islands can be a laboratory for the rest of the United States.

Florida Public Service Commission OKs FPL’s Plan To Purchase & Shut Down 250 MW Coal Plant, As Means Of Getting Out Of Costly PPA—This is how you know coal is troubled. It is easier for a power company to buy and shut down a plant as a means of avoiding contractual power purchase obligations than to go ahead with the contract.

Digging into Big Coal’s Climate Connections—The great thing about bankruptcy of a public company in the U.S. is the enormous amount of information that becomes public as a result. Alpha Natural Resource’s bankruptcy is pulling the curtain back on climate shenanigans.

Unicornomics—If you want to understand right wing thinking in the 21st century you need to understand that it is based on the belief that reality and facts are secondary to dogma. I want a unicorn farm, but that does not mean I am going to get a unicorn farm.

Farmed Fish could bring Us Cheaper Food, but is it Ethical?—Aquaculture is the future of the fish on our tables because we have trashed and overfished the oceans. There are a lot of problems with aquaculture, but we can try to work through those for a better system.

9 of 10 Seabirds Have Glow Sticks, Lighters, Toy Cars, Other Plastics in their Guts—We have trashed the planet, the animals are paying the price, and we have to figure out a way to start cleaning up after ourselves.

Climate Change Means One World’s Death and Another’s Birth—The world is going to change. It might change at a pace that is understandable on the human being’s lifespan. This is unprecedented.

The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South—This story kind of bummed me out because kudzu was the plant from a horror movie in my youth. It was the cautionary tale that every biology teacher used to illustrate the folly of trying to mess with nature.

Friday Linkage 6/5/2015

The week just flies when you get a bike ride in for six straight days. I could get used to this life if the weather would just continue to be pleasant. Fat chance of that happening as the summer humidity is already starting to build here in Eastern Iowa.

On to the links…

Solon Farm Converts 25 Acres into Largest Hopyard in Iowa—I cannot wait to enjoy some of these local hops in a tall glass of Big Grover Brewery beer.

Research Downplaying Impending Global Warming is Overturned—If all this is looking a lot like what happened to tobacco companies in the 1990s it should because a lot of the same players are involved on the side of industry. They just shifted issues and are still getting paid to spread disinformation and lies.

The Beginning Of Wildfire Season Means More Bad News For Drought-Stricken West—No one knows how big or bad this wildfire season will be, but considering how dry California is right now there is the potential that it could be huge.

The Texas Floods Are So Big They Ended the State’s Drought—I doubt that the solution will be long lived, but it is amazing how much rain the storms in Texas brought to bear.

Disturbing Infographic Shows How Plastic is Clogging our Oceans—Hint, it’s a lot:

plastic-buildup-720x6888.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smart

New Report Suggests U.S. Can Meet Its Climate Goals Without Congressional Action—We have the tools to address the worst aspects of climate change and it does not require a functioning legislative branch of government. Imagine that.

Regulators Give Green Light to Largest Minnesota Solar Energy Project—$250 million spread over 21 sites is a lot of solar in a state more associated with hot dish and passive aggressive behavior than harvesting the sun. Is Minnesota the United States’ Germany when it comes to solar PV?

Insane Solar Jobs Boom About To Get $32 Million More Insane—Here is when things start to snowball. As jobs become realized and the sector becomes attractive to investment the ancillary jobs in R&D, program management, etc. will start to flourish. There may be hope for us yet.

Coal Industry Received More Than $73 Billion In Last 8 Years—War on coal my ass. The world spends billions every year propping up this dirty fuel.

How Renewable Energy in South Africa is Quietly Stealing a March on Coal—Coal is dead. Developing countries are trying to get out from under the long term entrapment of coal fired power and renewables are the go to source because they are not dependent on the old paradigm.

Meat Giant Hormel To Gobble Up Slightly Smaller Meat Giant Applegate Farms—“Big organic” just got even bigger as the purveyor of everyone’s favorite canned meat product is buying the maker of those ubiquitous chicken sausages that come out during grilling season.

We’re Eating Less Meat—Yet Factory Farms Are Still Growing—It’s like the Lorax. These operations just keep on biggering and biggering. Everyone needs a thneed.

It’s Raining Nitrogen In A Colorado Park. Farmers Can Help Make It Stop—Between nitrates in the water and nitrogen in the air modern farming is a very dirty business. Unsurprisingly, modern management and practices can reduce the impact significantly.

Invasive Carp Caught Farther Upstream on St. Croix River—This is a big deal for the water ecosystems of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region because these invasive species decimate local populations of fish.

The Real Sharing Economy Doesn’t Require Apps, Just Kindness—The “sharing economy” is a buzzy term for something that people in closer knit communities have been practicing since the dawn of time. When you know your neighbors it’s a lot easier to ask someone to borrow a tool you might use once a year. Trust me, I own a pickup and I am everyone’s friend about once a year.

Friday Linkage 4/10/2015

Do you ever have those weeks at work where you look up and it’s Friday morning? The problem with those weeks is a lot of time is spent not actually doing you “day” job, but instead focused on some parallel project. Whoever told me that mergers and acquisitions was an exciting field of work during b-school was not telling the whole truth.

On to the links…

California’s Worst Drought in 1,200 Years in Pictures—I have not been to California since the current drought cycle began, so it is shocking to see these pictures. Remember, this is a mega-drought cycle that could last decades.

Barclays Ends Financing of Controversial Mountaintop Removal Mining—In 2013, Barclays was the biggest financier of mountaintop removal mining in the world. Imagine you worked in an industry where the single biggest source of private capital ceased operation. Ouch.

U.S. Power Sector In 2015: More Renewable Energy, Less Carbon Emissions—The price of a portfolio of renewables is low enough that it competes on its merits against fossil fuels. One of those merits is that once installed renewables do not require constant refueling. Sure, oil is at a low price right now but who believes that will be true in five years?

How to Maximize Renewable Energy Options for New Mexico—Renewables is all about location. In Iowa, it makes more sense to deploy wind power because of our wind energy infrastructure and constant wind speeds. In the American southwest the portfolio looks quite different. Even between Arizona and New Mexico the portfolio may look different.

Rethinking the Grid: Personal Power Stations in Your Garage—In some ways, traditional utilities are pushing this model to the forefront by adjusting their pricing schemes to harm solar power producers at a rooftop scale. What happens when more and more customers disembark from the grid?

Spain Got 47 Percent Of Its Electricity From Renewables In March—Granted, Spain’s economy is still in the proverbial toilet but including nuclear the country got approximately 70% of its power from non-carbon sources. Amazing.

Indian State Plans 25 GW of Solar, Gets 40GW—Rajasthan blew past its solar target of 25GW in the next few weeks as businesses have signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) for over 40GW of solar. Imagine exceeding your targets by 60%. Wow.

Detailed Projections of Coral Bleaching—Coral bleaching, which is equivalent to a coral reef dying, will impact different reef ecosystems at different rates and spreads. It is still a damn shame that it is happening at all.

Scientists Have Found A New Way To Save The World’s Coral Reefs, And It’s Pretty Fishy—Coral reefs are an ecosystem. We have forgotten the impact that fish have on this ecosystem as fishing and aquarium collection have devastated fish populations.

Microbeads: Solving a Big Problem of Little Bits—Plastic microbeads should be outlawed. It’s pollution that we can only control at the source.

Friday Linkage 12/19/2014

It’s amazing how you can wake up one day and someone actually decides to do something resembling leadership. It was silly that for over five decades we have had such an antagonistic policy towards Cuba. If it was really about human rights and democracy…well, we would not trade or have diplomatic relations with countries like China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and so on. It was really about a small cadre of politically connected Cuban exiles pressuring Congress to keep the embargo in place because it gave them a reason to exist.

I want to wish everyone the best over the holiday season. I will be taking a break for a couple of weeks to enjoy time with my family and hit the slopes in Colorado.

On to the links…

Product of Mexico—Take the time and read the entire L.A. Times series on the conditions and economics surrounding the production of food in Mexico that is bound for the U.S. It is shocking and sad, but it is essential.

Coal, an Outlaw Enterprise—Almost since its inception the coal mining industry has been one of scofflaws. Only recently, as coal’s power to influence has waned, is there an effort to actually punish the industry for polluting our environment and killing its workers.

First Solar Jumps Into Community Solar—First Solar, a really big damn solar panel maker, is partnering to help develop community solar gardens. So, for people who cannot afford a full install or have a site that is not conducive to solar a community solar garden provides the opportunity to partake in the clean energy revolution.

17% Of Household Energy Comes From Rooftop Solar In Queensland—Think about that number for a moment. 17% of the power in one Australian state is generated locally. Distributed generation is grid demand destruction.

Australia’s Rooftop Solar PV Surpasses 4 GW—Australia is sunny , so it should not be surprising that so much solar has been installed. The really stunning number is that is estimated that 40% or so of households in Queensland (see above) and South Australia have solar panels installed.

Can Japan Exceed 10 Gigawatts of Solar Capacity Installation in 2014?—Damn, 10GW is a behind-load of solar. If Japan gets to that number approximately 2% of the nation’s power will come from solar photovoltaic. Damn.

Asia Pacific Solar PV Market Set To Reach 10 GW Q4’14—These are some nice numbers in terms of regional solar installations. Led by Japan (see above) and China there is a lot of panel installation being done.

One Texas City Plans To Get Over Half Of Its Power From Renewables By 2025—Okay, it’s Austin. So, it’s not like Houston or Dallas is making this claim. But, it is Texas and that means something when it comes to optics.

Solar Rises in Malaysia During Trade Wars Over Panels—Apparently, the winner in the trade war between the U.S. and China over solar panel dumping and tariffs is Malaysia. Interesting.

IKEA To Start Selling Solar Panels In Switzerland—I just hope that the solar panels come with better instructions and more than a cheap ass Allen wrench for install. Some meatballs would be nice as well.

Losing Weight makes your Lungs a Potent CO2 Emitter—Great, so if I lose a few pounds I am really just a gasbag contributing even more to global warming.

Are Republicans Really Behind Tesla Sales Bans? Data Offers Clues—I doubt if it is conscious conspiracy, but there does appear to be some sort of correlation. Aren’t Republicans supposed to be all free market and what not? Oh right, it’s only a free market when it’s a subsidy or protection they do not like. Just like Obama is only an imperial president when he does stuff they do not like, otherwise he is a do nothing president.

How we can Reduce our Dependency on Plastic—We use too much damn plastic and rarely think about it for a moment:

plastic-infographic

Friday Linkage 12/6/2013

Man, oh man did it get cold over the course of this week.  On Monday it was 50-ish degrees and Wednesday was so foggy that school got delayed by two hours.  Come Thursday it was in the low teens and the mercury was still dropping.  Why do I think that this is going to be one of those bone chilling cold winters?

On to the links…

Secretive Right-Wing Group Continues Its War On Clean Energy—ALEC has a whole host of problems right now, including campaign finance violations and sponsor loss, but that has not stopped these darlings if the right wing from continuing to fight solar power.  Clowns.

Missouri Gas Pipeline Explosion Causes 300-Foot Fireball—No matter how many times the pipeline industry tries to sell the public the line about safety, a story comes out where a pipeline has leaked or worse exploded.

Mounting Microplastic Pollution Harms “Earthworms of the Sea”—Is there any place that the plastic pollution from humans is not impacting?  I cannot think of any place.  I bet it is even on the freaking moon.

Marine Reserves Enhance Resilience to Climate Change—So little of the oceans are protected in marine reserves, but the value of these reserves is becoming more apparent every day.

Unless Your Pot is Organic, You’re Probably Inhaling Pesticides—I found it really interesting in Doug Fine’s Too High to Fail that many of the above board growers were trying to do away with the nasty chemicals.  If it’s going to be medicine, it should probably not have pesticides sprayed all over it.

In the FDA’s Action on Trans Fats are there Lessons for GMO Labeling—Grass roots effort beat back trans fats, maybe something can be done about GMOs.

As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500—I am a huge single payer fan.  As a matter of fact, I want the system to be Medicare for all because the insanity that is talked about in this article goes away.  For anyone who thinks that the private sector is always more efficient has never been involved in hospital billing.

Scientists Warn Obama Against Burning Trees To Produce Electricity—Cutting down trees, specifically to burn them for electricity is insane.  It’s not going to be a net positive outcome no matter what way you slice it.  Here in eastern Iowa biomass from trees was used recently to power the University of Iowa, but that source was from trees felled and damaged in a strong summer storm.

Are Bio-Fuels Worse than Fossil Fuels—This debate will probably never disappear from the public sphere.  It is my belief that if second generation bio-fuels can be brought to commercial scale that there is a place in the future energy portfolio for them.

Why It Makes No Sense To Call Wind Tax Credits “Welfare”—Conservatives love using the word welfare to describe things that they are opposed to because they spent the better part of 25 years creating a series of erroneous images to describe its recipients.  It just does not happen to be welfare when it is something being given to their donors.  That’s just hypocrisy.

Free Mike Roselle From Jail: Free Appalachia From Mountaintop Removal—  Government will silence voices of dissent even when those voices are merely asking that the government enforce the laws, rules, and regulations that are already on the books.

15 Gorgeous Photos Of The Old Cincinnati Library—The pictures from this long gone library are amazing.  It’s also sad that we have lost so many of these buildings to wrecking balls in the name of progress.  Will anyone lament the cookie cutter buildings that replaced these amazing old structures?

Friday Linkage 11/22/2013

The holiday season is almost upon us and that means…shopping!  When did shopping become a newsworthy item that is covered in all sorts of outlets?  I remember people going out the day after Thanksgiving when I was a kid, but now people prepare for the day weeks in advance like armies preparing for an invasion.  Granted, the parking lot of your average big box store can seem like an uncoordinated amphibious landing.

On to the links…

It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System—Corn is king.  Spend any time in Iowa, rural Illinois, or other parts of the middle United States and you will begin to understand the power of King Corn.  However, we should not think of corn as food.  It is primarily grown for fuel and feed.  It’s also time to rethink our obsession with growing the stuff at any cost.

Amendment To Farm Bill Could Be End To Humane Farming Standards—Steve King, from the great state of Iowa, is a complete ass.  It looks like he is further showing how he is a hypocrite and in the pocket of industry.  When it comes to issues that he supports, like denying women choice and being a bigot when it comes to marriage, he wants the states to decide if it favors his position.  On the other hand, he wants to deny states their rights when it impacts his pocket book.

How Industrial Agriculture Has Thwarted Factory Farm Reforms—We live in an era when mega sized agriculture companies ride herd over the interests of public health and safety.  Just look at the inability of anyone to address the rampant use of prophylactic antibiotics in the factory farms of the U.S.  It’s disgraceful.

Kauai County Council Override Frees Way For GMO Bill—The Kauai County Council, which is what the island wide government is called, has overridden the veto of a bill that would place regulations and restrictions on pesticides and GMO crops.  The bill had pretty widespread support on the island and was obviously opposed by the agriculture cartels that have major operations on the island.  In response there was pretty healthy protest.

Hawaii’s Big Island Bans Biotech Companies & GMO Crops—It looks like biotech will have to cross the Big Island off their list of places to operate.  The anti-GMO sentiment on the Big Island is pretty heavy.  Recently, some papaya trees have been chopped down in what is thought to be a protest about GMO crops as most papaya trees are grown from GMO stock.

Google Earth Launched High Resolution Deforestation Map—In business school you are beat over the head with the maxim that “you get what you measure.”  Measurement requires easily accessible tools and it looks like the problem of deforestation just got a powerful new tool in the form of Google Earth.  Never underestimate the power of putting information in the hands of motivated individuals.

Look Who’s Eating Your Plastic Now: A Whole Unprecedented Ecosystem—I would like to say I am surprised by this development, but nature was sure to respond in some way to the glut of discarded plastic that is mucking up the planet.  The scary part is that this new ecosystem might wreak massive changes to the existing order.

A Carbon Tax Would Cut The Deficit By $1 Trillion—These numbers are nothing new.  The problem arises from the fact that obstructionist Republicans, owned outright by anti-tax zealots like Grover Norquist, won’t even entertain the idea of a tax on something because they fear losing a primary battle to someone even more extreme.  It’s hard to imagine some candidate more extreme than most of the Republicans in Congress but just wait until the primary season prior to the 2014 midterms heats up.

WalMart’s Carbon Emissions Soar Despite all the Green Talk—I would like to see WalMart be a good actor, but let’s just call it like it is…WalMart sucks at life.  No matter what changes this company makes it will be a community and planet destroying menace until it goes the way of so many retail giants before it.

Country’s Largest Public Power Provider Takes Next Major Step to Move Beyond Coal—When a large player in the power market makes a move away from coal it’s a big deal because their absence from the market reduces the demand for coal which starts the supply chain down a death spiral.  As more coal plants shut down it becomes harder for the existing supply chain to produce coal at an attractive price which leads to more shutdowns and so forth.

Too Much Public Funding Is Going Into Coal Projects in Key Countries—Why are countries still subsidizing coal?  Developed countries are investing billions in coal projects worldwide and that is a damn shame.  There needs to be a global moratorium on the development of coal.

Arizona Solar Energy Fight Ends With $5 Monthly Fee—Rooftop solar in Arizona was fighting a pitched battle with the utilities in the state.  In the end, a small concession was made to the utilities in the form of a $5 fee.  This is a big win for distributed solar in the southwestern U.S.

Can We Eat Our Way To A Healthier Microbiome? It’s Complicated—The composition of the bacteria in our stomachs has gotten a lot of attention lately and the research coming forth shows that a great deal of our current health malaise may be related to changes in that composition.  The problem that is being discovered is how to reverse the trend.

Splenda’s Dirty Little Secret: It’s Terrible for the Environment—Put down the little packet of artificial sweetener!  All artificial sweeteners are a fool’s errand in trying to fool our bodies that we are eating sugar.  Too bad it turns out that you get the bad effects of sugar without actually getting to eat something sweet.  Oh, and it’s accumulating in our water.  Great.

How Can Deserts Turn Into Grasslands?—The ideas presented here are interesting.  The other component to remember is that these are environments that have already been severely impacted by humans already.  Using livestock to remediate our damage is interesting.

‘Digesting’ Food Waste Can Turn Trash Into Money—Why we even have trash is beyond me?  We pay to throw away something that could be used to generate electricity.  Silly.

Biofuels and Climate Change: Pulpwood to the Rescue?—I am still hopeful that developments in second and even third generation biofuels will prove fruitful.  As much as I want to see the future of personal transportation electrified I know that the adoption curve will never be fast enough to mitigate the horrors of climate change.

Why Toyota Constantly Improving the Prius’ Fuel Economy is Something of a Fool’s Errand—I would not say it’s a fool’s errand as long as the technology utilized in the Prius flows down into more mass-market and less fuel efficient models.  I think of the Prius not as the answer, but as the vanguard of the technologies that will proliferate making all vehicles more efficient.