Tag Archives: water

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/

Friday Linkage 10/2/2015

The Tesla Model X came out this week and I want one. But, at a starting price of $80K I might be better off looking at used Nissan Leafs costing under $10K. When will the Model 3 come out?

Note, there will be no Friday Linkage next week since I will be spending the week in Los Angeles evaluating suppliers for my job.

On to the links…

Coal Mine Starts Continue To Decline—This is the second step on the journey to the death of coal. If fewer mines are opening than fewer mines will be operating further eroding the ability of the fuel to be effectively and efficiently pulled from the ground. Let’s kick coal while it is down.

Is Cargill Backsliding on its Promise to End Deforestation?—Few large corporations are as hard to pin down on issues than Cargill. As a privately-held firm it is not beholden to the same reporting rules that allow shareholders to extract information from publicly-held firms. Perhaps public pressure can take some of the slack and get Cargill to be a good corporate citizen. I am not holding my breath.

Nearly Half of U.S. Seafood Is Wasted Annually, New Study Shows—Food waste is the single biggest environmental issue that we have control of in our own homes and through our consumption patterns. Every piece of food that we throw away is a wasted opportunity to reduce our impact on the world.

Batteries May Curb Sales by Power Companies, Moody’s Says—If the large scale deployment of energy storage technology is truly able to reduce peak demand power companies may lose a major source of profit. Power becomes very expensive and profitable for power companies when it comes at peak times.

Solar Hit ~7% Of Spain’s Electricity This Summer—Damn, 7% from solar is impressive any way you slice it.

Brazil Doubles Its Solar PV Target To 7 GW By 2024—What is the target in the good ol’ U.S.A.? Right, we do not have a national target for solar.

North Carolina Passes 1 GW Of Installed Solar—That seems like a lot of solar for one state that is not known as a particularly sunny locale.

Fracking has a Big Water Footprint, but That’s Not the Whole Story—The extraction of fossil fuels is a story about water. Without a lot of water it would not be possible.

Electric Buses Could Lead to Significant Savings Even for Smaller Cities—Why the government is not pushing electric buses and garbage trucks I will never understand. These vehicles seem like perfect candidates for conversion.

Saving Electricity—Spend a few minutes going through the various categories to see where you could be saving a lot of watts. Since I cannot get solar panels in the near term—thanks homeowner’s insurance—I am going to try and reduce my rolling twelve month usage below 300 kWh.

‘Thirsty’ Concrete Absorbs 880 Gallons of Water a Minute to Minimize Urban Floods—Why is this stuff not replacing hard concrete and asphalt in southern climes affected by heavy seasonal rains?

What is this Stuff: Cobra Verde

The downside to spending a lot of time wandering the grocery store with your daughter looking for lactose free items is that you end up with things in your cart you may have never thought about buying before. Case in point:

Cobra Verde

In the refrigerated section at New Pioneer Coop in Cedar Rapids I came across this little bottle of Cobra Verde. What is Cobra Verde you ask?

It’s an all-natural energy drink with a pretty simple ingredient profile: water, green coffee extract, citrus, ginger, and cane sugar. It happens to be made in Iowa City just a short drive from my home in Cedar Rapids so that makes it local as well.

As a die-hard coffee loyalist and someone who has never been a fan of energy drinks—I don’t want wings, honestly—I was hesitant to crack open the lid and take a drink. Silly me. This stuff is awesome. It does, however, pack a heavy caffeine kick so if you are drinking this at some other time than early in the morning be advised that your sleeping rituals might be disturbed. I drank a bottle after a late afternoon bike ride to Urbana and spent the early evening running around like a meth head.

Do you want to know how to make Cobra Verde even better? Mix equal parts Cobra Verde and carbonated water from a Sodastream for a bubbly delight. It cuts down on the caffeine jolt and mutes some of the flavors, but there is just something fun about bubbles. I am a sucker for bubbles.

If you happen to be in eastern Iowa or Chicago Cobra Verde Retailers.

Friday Linkage 5/15/2015

Where did May go? I know that I have a similar sentiment a lot of months, but May really got to the halfway mark pretty fast without me noticing. Here is to hoping that summer can be a slower and lazier season than spring has been thus far.

On to the links…

Iowa Landowner Claims he was Offered Prostitute by Oil Pipeline Rep—This story is getting a lot of play here in eastern Iowa as the debate over a proposed Bakken oil pipeline is really heating up. If anyone is surprised that an oil company would act like this does not know oil companies. Seriously, read about oil company hospitality suites in the 1980s.

Renewables = 84% of New Electricity Generation Capacity in 1st Quarter of 2015—Yes, 84% of the electrical generation capability added in the first quarter of 2015 in the United States came from renewables. For the first time utility scale solar tipped over 1% of the total U.S. generation capacity. Dig it.

Tesla’s Powerwall Home Battery is already Sold Out through 2016—If you wanted to get a Powerwall home battery you are out of luck until sometime after we choose a new president.

MIT Report: Today’s Solar Panels Fine For Tomorrow’s Needs—We have the technical tools right now to supply the world with clean and green power from the sun. Any further efficiencies will only make the economics better in the long term.

Coal Investments are Increasingly Risky, says Bank of America—The real war on coal is occurring between coal companies and the investment community, which sees the industry as an increasingly riskier place to put their money to use. This is truly the death knell because modern corporations run on debt and financing. It is the lifeblood of large scale economic activity.

Oil And Gas Wells Are Leaking Huge Amounts Of Methane, And It’s Costing Taxpayers Millions—Basically, oil and gas exploration companies are allowing a lot of methane to leak out of wells drilled on public lands. Remember that these are the same oil and gas companies that pay lower than market rates for the right to drill on public lands. What a scam.

In Wyoming, Taking A Photo Of A Polluted Stream Could Land You In Jail—Like “ag gag” laws this law is just waiting for court case to blow open the cozy relationship between lawmakers, polluters, and the chilling effect such a relationships have on free speech. Isn’t it amazing how right wingers love the second amendment, talk about freedom constantly, and are the first in line to trample any freedom that does not involve a firearm?

Is Corn Ethanol Breaking The Law?—Uh oh. Inevitably, farm state lawmakers will pass a correction to this little piece of legislation that will remove the illegality.

Buh-Bye, Corn Ethanol: Joule Makes The Same Thing From Recycled CO2—I would love to fill my truck on ethanol derived in this manner.

First Large-Scale Hemp Processing Plant begins in Colorado—One of the overlooked part of the marijuana legalization in Colorado was the concurrent legalization of industrial hemp. Hemp will not be an instant agricultural miracle, but it could become part of a broader portfolio of options for farmers.

Who Controls California’s Water?—The story is a little more complex than Chinatown makes it out to be, but the problems can be traced to policies that can be changed. Maybe.

Monsanto Bets $45 Billion on a Pesticide-Soaked Future—You can buy organic all day long, but the big companies pushing pesticides and herbicides are betting big on a future where we continue to soak our fields in their deadly chemicals. Who do you think will win?

Sri Lanka First Nation to Protect all Mangrove Forests—Mangrove forests are those great unsung ecosystems. Threatened, like swamps, because they seem like a hindrance to development but the value is not realized until the ecosystem is gone.

M&Ms Candy Maker says, “Don’t eat too many”—Sugar is the equivalent of a drug. It’s addictive and it causes health problems. Now, the pushers are telling consumers that it is a bad idea to eat too much of their own product.

The Brutal Reality of Life in China’s Most Polluted Cities—You do not need to spend $10 and see the new Mad Max movie to witness what a scarred hellscape would be like in the future because China has done all the work for you without the explosions or insane cars.

Friday Linkage 3/27/2015

Congressional Republicans are the best. In both the versions of the federal budget released by the House and Senate the signature achievement of the Obama administration—Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act—is repealed. However, taxes enacted by that law are used to help close budget holes even though the entire law is supposedly repealed. Gotta’ love the voodoo economics of Boehner and McConnell’s caucuses.

On to the links…

Industry Experts Believe In 70% Renewable Electricity By 2050—The climate might be out of time by then, but a growing consensus is pointing to a future where we no longer need to burn fossil fuels to meet our energy needs. Let’s accelerate this transition.

Costa Rica Has Gotten All Of Its Electricity From Renewables For 75 Days Straight—Heck, Costa Rica was 100% renewable for more than 2 months. Imagine that kind of power mix on a global scale. A lot of this success is based on hydropower being available—just ask drought stricken California how much hydropower can disappear—but it is amazing nonetheless.

North Carolina Solar Boosting North Carolina Economy—Renewable energy is good for local jobs. Period.

SunPower’s 379 MW Solar Power Plant (“Largest In The World”) Mostly Done, 6 Months Ahead Of Schedule—It feels like solar is really a snowball rolling downhill picking up size and speed. You can either be for the change or get run over by the change. Choose wisely.

California Is The First State To Get More Than 5 Percent Of Its Power From Large Solar Projects—Combine utility scale solar with distributed or rooftop solar and you have a winning combination for the renewable energy future.

For Every New Coal Plant Being Built, Two Are Being Cancelled—The story would be a lot more dire for coal if China could kick its addiction to the black rock. In Europe the ratio of halted, shelved, or cancelled to completed coal projects is a healthy 7:1.

Utility Company To Buy Coal Plant Just To Shut It Down—Coal is dying and when private companies are taking these kind of actions you know that no matter how much Mitch McConnell babbles about a “war on coal” the time of King Coal has passed.. Good riddance.

Energy Giant Enel Plans Coal Phaseout—Let the floodgates open and begin the epic decline of coal.

The Biggest Source Of U.S. Carbon Emissions Is Coal Extracted From Public Lands—Maybe now is the time to really declare a “war on coal” and stop the extraction of coal on public lands in the U.S. If you want to dig up coal and fry the climate…fine, do it on private land. See how well that plan works out.

Climate Change: China Official Warns of ‘Huge Impact’—China is in trouble in a changing climate. A country with a long history of famines this is a huge admission.

Back from the Brink: Success Stories of the U.S. Endangered Species Act—The Endangered Species Act is a punching bag for right wing blowhards to criticize decisions made in the defense of spotted owls or snail darters. Rarely, if ever, do these same blowhards take a moment to consider the success of the legislation.

Sea Turtles Test Urban Waters In Southern California ‘Jacuzzi’—Just an interesting little story that reminds me of Electric Beach on Oahu.

New Report Shows That The Most Popular Weed-Killer In The U.S. Probably Causes Cancer—It just makes me seethe when I see people buying jugs of RoundUp to kill weeds in their yards. Nothing like putting a nasty chemical in your yard just to kill a plant you have deemed undesirable. Never mind the whole might cause cancer thing.

Road Salt is Polluting our Rivers—Every winter I wonder about the salt and crud laden runoff from snow covered roads polluting waterways. It looks like my hunch was correct. Maybe everyone should just give crews time to clear the roads before jumping out to drive on the white stuff.

Depaving Cities, Undamming Rivers—Here’s How We’re Undoing the Damage—If we are going to have a livable planet we are going to have to not just preserve what we can but also rehabilitate what we have damaged.

Maryland Has A Plan To Turn Chicken Poop Into Energy-We should eat less factory farmed chicken and other meat, but what is raised produces a lot of poop. We should use that by-product to do something useful like generate electricity. 200,000 tons per year is a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start.

Ten Tips to Save You 25,000 Gallons of Water—World Water Day was this week and here is an infographic to get you thinking about conserving water, our most precious resource:

Ten-Tips-to-reduce-water-Infographic-2

Friday Linkage 6/20/2014

Kind of an odd week. I was busy, kids activities on three of five weekdays, but I cannot really point to anything else that sucked up my time. Yet, I am sitting here on Friday wondering where the time went. Interesting.

On to the links…

Obama To Dramatically Increase Pacific Ocean Marine Sanctuary—Hell yes. The U.S. may be maligned for many things, but our system of national parks and monuments is second to none. This one move will more than double the area protected oceans across the globe. At times liberals and progressives are frustrated with President Obama because he appears to be cool to their concerns. However, when the final accounting of history is done I believe that his presidency will be looked upon favorably by the left.

Power Plant Limits Prompt War Of Stats As States Prepare To Take On Clean Up—Like Obamacare before it, the new power plant regulations set down by the EPA at the president’s direction are going to get a lot of attention from publicity seeking Republican officials in red states. Count on it.

Obama’s New Emission Rules: Will They Survive Challenges?—The irony to any legal challenge will be that the Supreme Court set the stage for the regulations by saying that the EPA had the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. In some ways the legal challenge has already been made and it failed.

Coal’s Share of Energy Market at Highest Level since 1970—Here is why the emissions rules are important. Without any action nations will continue to burn coal willy nilly until the planet is fried.

Despite Heat, Low Electricity Prices In Texas Show How Wind Is Good For Consumers—Wind generation peaked with the heat and offset the increased demand for electricity. Huh, seems like a pretty compelling case for expanding wind power.

Texas Utility Doubles Large-Scale Solar, Says It Will Be Coal-Free By 2016—Solar has to be hitting its stride when even Texas is getting in on the game. Granted, going coal free is not the same as going carbon neutral as a lot of the coal capacity is being taken up by natural gas. Baby steps.

Germany Breaks 3 Solar Power Records in 2 Weeks—Just reading about how much solar is deployed in Germany makes me wonder what the U.S. would be like if Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and California deployed solar to the same degree.

5 Unexpected Countries that are Leading the Way on Renewable Energy—Sometimes we forget that there are a lot of other countries out there making a lot of progress on renewable energy that might not get the attention of the U.S. or Germany or Japan.

Cable TV Boxes Become 2nd Biggest Energy Users in Many Homes—As if we needed another reason to cancel our television subscriptions and call it a day. Just sitting there all day long these shelf trolls are sucking down electricity at a rate that rivals any other electronic device in our home save for the refrigerator.

From Untended Farmland, Reserve Tries to Recreate Wilderness from Long Ago—With so much of our landscape affected by humans it is time to restore some of that landscape to a more natural state. I always think of the idea of the “Buffalo Commons” when I read about efforts like this in Europe.

The Whole City of Florence can Fit in One Atlanta Cloverleaf—If you want to be amazed by the amount of sprawl in America just look at this comparison. Damn.

What’s Up With That: Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse—So, our solution to traffic congestion for the last sixty years or so has been to build more and wider roads, Guess what? Those roads are just going to be as clogged as the roads that preceded them. WTF.

The Green Lawn: American Staple or Water Waster?—Let me save you the trouble of the argument…it’s a waste. Lawns suck up water, chemicals, fertilizer, gas to mow, and not to mention our time to create an artificial green carpet. Ugh.

Greenpeace Loses $5.2 Million On Rogue Employee Trading—A total WTF moment. Why is Greenpeace messing around in currency trading? I am glad my dollars were not donated to these folks.

Can One Of The World’s Most Ubiquitous Products Clean Up Its Act?—Palm oil is ubiquitous. The production of palm oil is also an environmental disaster. I think the question is less how we clean up palm oil and more how do we use less palm oil.

‘Pink Slime’ Is Making A Comeback. Do You Have A Beef With That?—You just knew that the makers of pink slime…err, lean, finely textured beef were just waiting for the furor to die down and prices to go up so that they could shovel some more of this slop into our food supply.

How Food Companies Trick You Into Thinking You’re Buying Something Healthy—The moral of the story is that if it is in a package it is probably doing something misleading. If you start off with that assumption you will be a lot healthier in the long run.

These Popular Plastic Bottles May Be Messing With Your Hormones—Great, so BPA was bad but the replacement may be just as bad. I should just stick to stainless steel and glass. Safer that way.

12 Sea Turtle Facts That Prove How Cool They Are—People just love sea turtles. Nothing gets a group of snorkelers excited quite like a sea turtle swimming amongst them. You can spend an hour easily watching these graceful swimmers laze about the water.

Friday Linkage 3/28/2014

Getting back to work after more than a week of vacation is hard. Total first world problem, but it is almost impossible to get back into the groove. Having a house full of sick travelers does not help either. Is there anything worse than coming home on a plane full of people hacking and wheezing knowing that you will be doing the same thing in a few days? I know, total first world problem again.
On to the links…
Solar Power Is Now Just As Cheap As Conventional Electricity In Italy And Germany—Grid parity is a big deal because it means that it costs no more to deploy renewables versus traditional fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, or nuclear—yes, I lump nuclear in with fossil fuels because fissile material is mined and fusion is a pipe dream.
Soon The Ocean Will Be Generating Power Near Seattle—Tidal power is slightly less of a pipe dream than fusion and right below large scale offshore wind in terms of primetime readiness. It seems like advocates have been telling us for decades that tidal power can be a major player, but the projects never seem to materialize or reach their potential.
Hog Wild: Factory Farms are Poisoning Iowa’s Drinking Water—The hog industry totally has the government in Iowa bought and paid for because the problems of CAFOs outweigh whatever economic gain they might provide. Ugh!
Are We Becoming China’s Factory Farm?—It looks like our agricultural industry is focused on satisfying the growing appetites of Chinese consumers rather than protecting the welfare of our own citizens. Great.
Coal Ash Ponds: How Power Companies Get a ‘Bypass’ on Regulations Against Pollution—Like manure lagoons from CAFOs, coal power plants have been able to skirt regulations for years. After several spills and contaminations I hope the tide is turning toward some form of real control.
Does Comfrey Really Improve Soil?—Confrey is one of those miracle plants of the sustainable garden world that seems to take care of many problems. A lot of organic and/or sustainable gardeners use comfrey leaves to make a fertilizer tea or use it to supercharge compost piles or improve the soil. Here is some evidence that it may actually be improving the soil. I am thinking about conducting a similar experiment myself.
Taxpayer Dollars Teach that Evolution is ‘wicked and vain’—Every time I am amazed by the ignorance of climate deniers and Republicans in general I need to remember that the same people who form the rabid base of that political ideology are the same ones still fighting for creationism. Yep, Jesus rode a dinosaur like a cowboy.
Let Food be Thy Medicine—I am glad to see that the medical community is finally waking up to the positive powers that diet can have on people’s health. It’s not rocket science, but there is often a disconnect between the doctor’s office and the kitchen when in reality there are very real linkages.
How to Make Microwave Popcorn in a Plain Paper Bag—I love popcorn, but I often find myself craving it at work which means microwave popcorn is the only answer because there is no stove and my Whirlypop stays home. With this method I could be nuking a bag of Tiny But Mighty for an afternoon snack at my desk.
Beneath Cities, a Decaying Tangle of Gas Pipes—The explosion that leveled a building in Harlem brought attention to the rat’s nest of cables and pipes that sit just below the surface of our cities. Infrastructure is amazing to me in that it works at all when you consider the complexity, operating environment, system stress, and age.
Turn a Cordless Drill into a Solar Drill—I love solar for so many reasons. I also love checking out solar projects that are easy. Check this one out.
Super-Cheap Paper Microscope Could Save Millions of Lives—This just seems amazing.