By MJ Deschamps
With fast fashion and quick turnover key commercial ingredients of today’s garment and apparel industry, excess textile production is prompting the sector to gravitate towards more recycling and re-use of materials, to conserve energy, increase sustainability and lower raw material costs. (more…)
BARRINGTON, R.I. (AP) — Answering the question ‘paper or plastic’ could get a lot easier in one Rhode Island town if local leaders support a call to ban plastic shopping bags.
Hundreds of residents and more than a dozen business owners in Barrington are pushing to scrap the sacks, which they say take up valuable landfill space and litter streets, streams and shorelines. But critics — including an alliance of plastic bag manufacturers — say prohibiting the ubiquitous bags would only reduce consumers’ options while doing nothing to help the environment.
The Barrington Town Council voted on Monday to direct the town’s solicitor to draft a proposed ban. The move follows a recommendation by the town’s Conservation Commission to prohibit plastic shopping bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bag. Under that recommendation, shoppers could also purchase paper bags for 5 cents each.
“It wouldn’t be a big deal to me,” said Linda Alves, who was shopping for home office supplies Wednesday in Barrington, an affluent town 20 minutes from Providence. Alves opened the trunk of her car and pulled out two reusable bags. “I have so many of these things, who needs the plastic?”
San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic shopping bags back in 2007. Several cities have followed, including Los Angeles and Seattle. The bags are banned throughout Hawaii. Westport, Conn. is the only New England community with such a ban.
“It’s a matter of changing habits, and that’s not always easy,” said Jonathan Cunitz, a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting and an advocate for the ban, which went into effect in 2009. “But people are now more conscious of the environment and we don’t see plastic bags on the street or on our waterfront.”
But an organization founded by plastics manufacturers to fight proposed bans argues that outlawing the bags could threaten more than 30,000 plastic bag manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Donna Dempsey, spokeswoman for the Washington D.C.-based American Progressive Bag Alliance, said the plastic bag has gotten a bad rap.
Walmart, Nike, Target, JC Penney, Levi’s and fellow members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition have unveiled the group’s index for measuring the environmental impact of apparel products across the supply chain.
The Higg Index is an indicator-based tool for apparel that allows clothing manufacturers and brands to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and product design choices.
This 1.0 version of the index was developed for apparel products and measures environmental outcomes in water use and quality; energy and greenhouse gas; waste; and chemicals and toxicity.
Future releases of the index, slated for 2013, will include footwear products and social and labor impact areas, the coalition said. The index eventually will be expanded to include quantitative data and metrics and feature an improved scoring method.
The current version of the Higg Index asks practice-based, qualitative questions to gauge environmental sustainability performance. It’s based on the Eco Index and Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool. However, the Higg Index has been significantly enhanced through the pilot testing period, the coalition said.
The tool includes a Materials Sustainability Index, a cradle-to-gate assessment tool to give designers and the global supply chain information on the environmental sustainability of materials.
A group of 30 manufacturers and retailers launched theSustainable Apparel Coalition last year to improve the environmental and social performance of the apparel and footwear industry, from water consumption and chemical use to waste and embedded energy in products.
Last month, Nike partnered with Random Hacks of Kindness in the Open Challenge for Sustainable Materials, an initiative that asks apparel designers and developers to use sustainable materials listed on the Nike Sustainable Materials Index.
Article by Marc Gunther at Greenbiz.com: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/07/26/behind-scenes-sustainable-apparel-coalition?utm_source=E-News+from+GreenBiz&utm_campaign=21c7056b94-GreenBuzz-2012-27-07&utm_medium=email
The story of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition begins with a letter designed to get the attention of even a busy CEO. At the top: the logos of Walmart and Patagonia. John Fleming, who was then Walmart’s chief merchandising officer, and Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, signed the letter, which invited chief executives of some of the world’s biggest clothing companies–fierce competitors, ordinarily — to join together to develop an index to measure the environmental impact of their products.
Their pitch, in part, read like this:
Creating a single approach for measuring sustainability in the apparel sector will do much more than accelerate meaningful social and environmental change. Standardization will enable us to maximize sustainability benefits for all buyers without investing in multiple sustainability technologies and certification processes, and ultimately empower consumers to trust claims regarding sustainably sourced apparel.
Finally, as an industry, we will benefit from the unique opportunity to shape policy and create standards for measuring sustainability before government inevitably imposes one.
…The time is right and the need is great for the apparel sector to move forward now, without further delay, in unison, with strong partners like you.
It was a risky proposition. What if it turned out that a competing company had a better sustainability story to tell? Would consumers be given access to the index? NGOs? Regulators? Most big retailers knew that they had very little visibility deep into their supply chains. Did they really want to find out, for example, that a supplier to one of their suppliers, in a factory they had never visited in China or Vietnam, exploited workers or dumped pollution into a nearby river? Any meaningful index would require companies to ask tough questions and, eventually, face demands from others to share what they had learned.
The letter went out on October 1, 2009. Less than three years later, despite those risks, the apparel industry has made major progress towards creating a global sustainability index, the Higg Index, to measure and score products, factories and companies. A first version was released today by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the nonprofit group that developed the index.
Its vision? Nothing less than “an apparel and footwear industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities.” The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) hired an executive director, Jason Kibbey, in January, and today it has more than 60 members, representing brands, retailers and suppliers who together account for more than a third of the global apparel and footwear industry.
Here at MantraMeds, our scrubs are made from recycled plastic but we like to emphasize that making our planet a more sustainable place means practicing all 3 R’s: Reducing, Reusing & Recycling. Here is a great article from HuffPost Green on reducing use of plastic on all your fresh summer produce!
I started shopping at my farmers market this summer. I’ve noticed people putting fruits and vegetables directly in their totes, without taking the plastic bags some vendors offer. But how do you keep produce fresh in the fridge without the plastic?
Not long ago, I asked myself that same question. I had recently invested in a large set of organic cotton reusable produce bags, and while I was feeling mighty proud of myself each time I ventured out to the market (look how eco-friendly I am! Who needs those wasteful plastic produce bags?), the scene in my fridge a few days later was less than pretty.
Stored in plastic, fruits and vegetables would have normally stayed fresh for at least a week. But left in my new reusable bags, all my beautiful produce fast turned into a wilted, spoiled mess. (Even the “crisper” bin seemed to do just the opposite, no matter what the setting.)
I’ve written before about the enormous environmental implications of wasted food; needless to say, my cloth produce bags were not coming close to offsetting the yearly 34 million tons of food waste to which I was now contributing.
But obviously, there were reasons to avoid the plastic bags, too (wildlife-destroying pollution, needless oil consumption, endocrine-disrupting chemicals). They also didn’t seem necessary: After all, plastic produce bags only came into being in the 1960s; plastic grocery bags, a decade later. There had to be a way to keep my fruits and veggies fresh without them.
Enter Beth Terry. As author of the blog My Plastic-free Life and the recently released book Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, Terry knows how to keep everything from persimmons to parsnips fresh with nary a plastic bag in sight: She’s lived plastic free (and not just in the produce department) since 2007.
Terry’s storage methods come largely from Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets in Berkeley, CA, which createdthis guide on how to store more than 60 kinds of fruits and vegetables. But being the plastic-free pro that she is, Terry of course had some suggestions to add. With her help, I’ve created a condensed version for you that includes her input, below.
*Note: While the Ecology Center guide occasionally calls for paper products, Terry tries to limit these; she opts for cloth bags or plastic-free reusable containers instead. (“While plastic is truly problematic, all single-use disposable bags and wrappers have an environmental footprint,” she says.) She suggests a variety of different bags and containers on her site.
This is a guest post from Tom Szaky, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of TerraCycle, which provides free waste collection, and then turns that waste into sustainable products. View our previous post about TerraCycle here: http://mantrameds.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/terracycle-outsmart-waste/
Widely quoted estimates suggest that 90% of the ‘stuff’ we buy is discarded within 6 months of purchase. What’s worse is that 10% of this “stuff” ends up going to some type of waste-to-energy facility, while the remaining 90% of America’s waste ends up in a landfill.
With over 360 million Americans and counting producing on average about 4 pounds of waste a day, it is clear that our recycling systems need to be expanded to accept a wider range of materials, and fast. Worse yet, even commonly recyclable packaging formats such as PET and HDPE plastic bottles are only recycled at an estimated (and paltry) 25%.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to go green…
Revolution is sometimes necessary, if never comfortable. Thomas Jefferson knew this when he and his revolutionary colleagues laid out their grievances before dissolving the bands that connected them with the King of England. We celebrate the success of that revolution every year, and for good reason.
This Fourth of July, a couple hundred years later, there’s another revolution afoot, with the potential to shake up the way America does business, interacts with other nations and pursues happiness. “Green” is more than a buzzword. It’s a path forward for a great nation seeking to produce its own energy, shore up its security and provide sustainable prosperity for its people.
Jefferson didn’t spend a lot of ink on energy policy in the Declaration of Independence, but a selective reading of his “indictments” against the King almost sound like a treatise on sustainability. (At least, the whole argument for untangling ourselves from that rotten King of England is framed as aligning human behavior with natural law and the “powers of the earth.”)
So, this Fourth of July, start participating in the next revolution, one that embraces good-old American ingenuity and hard work on the path toward a brighter future for our great nation.
Read more about how to Declare Your Independence from Oil, Waste, Factory Food, & Suspect Chemicals: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/declare-independence-47062306#ixzz1zUmsAlEd
At their recent commencement, more than 5,000 graduates at George Washington University joined hundreds of thousands of other students across the country in forgoing traditional polyester gowns for versions made entirely from bits of melted plastic.
By Maggie Fazeli Fard, The Washington Post
When George Washington University’s Class of 2012 marched across the Mall in D.C. to accept its degrees recently, the nation’s backyard was transformed into an eco-fashion runway.
Sure, the men wore dress shirts and slacks while the women donned colorful spring dresses and shoes that wouldn’t sink in soft soil. But on top of these outfits, each GWU student sported the newest trend: gowns made from plastic bottles.
More than 5,000 graduates at GWU joined hundreds of thousands of other students across the country in forgoing traditional polyester gowns for versions made entirely from bits of melted plastic.
“The ‘green’ gowns look and feel the same, and the students were really excited,” said Robert Blake, the manager of the GWU bookstore and a member of the university’s regalia committee. “For us, this was really a no-brainer.”
The eco-friendly fashion statement is part of a larger effort by colleges and universities to reduce the carbon footprint of commencement ceremonies.
Read full article here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2018289998_greengowns27.html
Only 30% of people in the Southern region of the United States had curbside recycling collection in 2008. Eighty-four percent of people in the Northeast had curbside recycling. The South also has the most landfill facilities – 726, in contrast with 134 in the northeast. [EPA]
Fact courtesy of Busch Systems – like them on Facebook
Making recycling make sense
Variation in recycling programs, unclear labeling, and inaccurate recyclability claims make proper recycling a challenge. The How2Recycle Label was created to provide consistent and transparent on-package recycling information to consumers.
We created a special version of the label for plastic bags and films that are accepted primarily at retail stores with plastic bags. For more information, see plasticbagrecycling.org.
Another label is coming to popcorn, yogurt and other products, but instead of adding to the visual noise caused by some confusing labels, this one is designed to give plain and simple recycling information.
The How2Recycle label, created by nonprofit GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition(SPC), will pop up on 10 companies’ products throughout the summer and into 2013. The label explains the recyclability of each component of the package, clearly stating the material each part is made from and adding special instructions if needed.
“When consumers think about sustainability, they think about recyclability, so having that transparent communication is really important,” said Anne Bedarf, SPC’s senior manager.
The standard recycling symbol means a material is widely recycled, while the symbol with a slash through it means the material isn’t recycled. The addition of the phrase “check locally” means the material is recycled in limited areas. The label with the phrase “store drop-off” is for plastic bags, wraps or films that are accepted at many grocery and retail stores.
The How2Recycle label is already being used on two Seventh Generation products — a limited edition 180 oz. detergent bottle and new 22 oz. pre-wash spray — and more than 50 products at outdoor gear company REI.
Both companies are members of the SPC, and fellow members ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG), Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ: COST) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) will join them in using the label on Orville Redenbacher popcorn, Kirkland Signature brand products and computer accessories.
Consumers appreciate labels
Transparency was one impetus behind the birth of the label, which started as discussions among SPC members in 2007 about greenwashing in brand labels. Concerned companies asked the SPC to research material and recycling labels, which ultimately led to the SPC asking its members to develop their own ideas for what an informative recycling label should look like.
The SPC took those ideas and spent much of 2010 speaking with governments, trade associations, recyclers and the Federal Trade Commission to get input before rolling out the How2Recycle label.
The label is partially based on the On-Pack Recycling Label in the United Kingdom, which also breaks down each packaging component and declares how commonly it’s recycled.
Bedarf said studies of the U.K. label found consumers appreciate that companies are clear about the recyclability of their packaging, even if the materials can’t be recycled.
Danielle Peacock, an SPC project associate, said the same thing is happening here.
“U.S. consumers are also finding that just knowing that the company is making an effort means a lot to them,” she said. “They think highly of the company just for using it.”
One of our MantraMeds Insiders took our sustainable medical scrubs to Panama on a medical mission. His team performed routine dentistry for people in need while there. He wrote us:
The scrubs were great thanks so much. I was in Penonome, Panama for 2 weeks doing dental work in poor communities. I appreciate you getting me the scrubs so quickly and exchanging sizes, ya’ll made it really easy. They were the best looking scrubs in Panama.
Find out more about the MantraMeds Insider Program here: http://mantrameds.wordpress.com/insider-program/
Sign up to become an Insider here: http://www.mantrameds.com/insider-signup
Earth 911 is a great resource for everyone from diehard recycling enthusiasts to people who are just considering recycling. This search option allows you to find a facility near you that will recycle anything under the sun! Just look at all the different types of plastic you can recycle. Go to http://search.earth911.com/ to see for yourself!
“From fair trade coffee to organic designer fashions, Ethical Ocean will help you find the products that make the world a better place.” Join the movement w/ their Facebook App
Repreve Recycled Fiber that we use in MantraMeds Scrubs sells their eco-friendly materials to tons of cool companies! Check out this one – American Flora - Founded by a veteran dancer, American Flora is a line of dance and yoga wear that emphasizes a woman’s true femininity, athleticism and beauty. They create boutique high-performance garments inspired by our passion for dance and the beauty of our natural world. Smart design and extensive use of eco-friendly Repreve® fabric ensures each piece in our collection provides the ultimate combination of luxury, comfort and performance. American Flora is made in the United States from 100% US sourced material.
On Earth Day, we met a representative for The Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Earthspun Apparel & MantraMeds are working out plans to do a lesson at TCMU on the sustainable fabrics we use in our clothes!
Check out this video from the Recycled Regatta at Waterfest 2012! Click the image below or go to the following link to view Youtube video. http://youtu.be/-qt-0Kxc72Q
People who are interested in a career improving their community might be interested in a masters degree in human services from an online school.
We all know recycling is good for the environment, but many don’t realize the ways recycling can positively impact their own community. These days, there are more than just moral incentives for communities to establish recycling options and encourage participation.
Here are five ways the benefits of recycling can hit close to home:
1. Creates Green Jobs
Recycling has become a major industry that reaches far beyond your average curbside pickup program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2010 employment in green goods and services accounted for 3.1 million jobs in the United States. The green job potential grows exponentially the more communities invest in their own recycling efforts.
It’s easy to associate green jobs with what we see most often, such as curbside collection services, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot to do with recycling that goes on behind the scenes.
Once a recyclable material is collected, it usually requires processing to transform it into a valuable material that can be reused. From there, those refined materials get manufactured into new products made from recycled material.
None of these steps can take place without businesses and employees to collect, transport, process and manufacture recovered materials. When put in the context of the numerous types of materials collected, such as glass, plastics, paper and metal, it is easy to see how the potential for green jobs adds up.
Green Lessons Our Moms Taught Us
Read full article on Earth911: http://earth911.com/news/2012/05/08/green-lessons-our-moms-taught-us/
Moms teach their children a variety of lessons as they grow up – from how to tie their shoes to the importance of spending quality time with loved ones. As we get ready to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, Earth911 couldn’t help but realize that many of the values our moms imparted are actually very eco-friendly – whether Mom was an enthusiastic eco-advocate or not. From finding new uses for scraps others might have thrown away to encouraging us to stand up for our beliefs, here are five green lessons our moms taught us.
1. Family and friends are more important than material possessions
You know your mom would like nothing more than to spend some quality time with her kids this Mother’s Day – and would prefer this gift of time over flowers, jewelry and other store-bought presents.
This is just one of the values mothers pass down to their children that happen to be very green: Spending time with your loved ones is more important than buying the hottest new car, latest designer outfit or just-released electronic gadget.
Of course, prioritizing your friends and family and living green doesn’t mean quitting your job and avoiding new purchases altogether. But what’s better for the Earth – and your family – is to buy only items you need and think carefully about each purchase, opting for high-quality goods that will last for a long time. Remember, the first “R” of the famous “three R’s” is to reduce: When you reduce your unnecessary purchases, you end up consuming fewer resources and disposing of less waste.
In fact, this philosophy of buying only the necessities and abstaining from impulse shopping has freed up time for two eco-moms, Béa Johnson whose family strives to lead a zero-waste lifestyle and Meg Hourihanwho is spending the year trying to avoid new purchases.
“Now that we’re not burdened by stuff, we have more time do things we truly enjoy. I have more time to play with my kids,” Johnson told Earth911 last year.
2. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal
No matter how old you are or how many Michelin-rated restaurants you’ve eaten in, there’s nothing quite like the comfort and warmth of your mom’s best homemade meal.
And while Mom may have whipped up home-cooked meals to save the family money or to promote better health, it turns out that home cooking is a great way to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
By steering clear of takeout lunches and frozen dinners, you’re cutting down on food packaging, including many materials which cannot be easily recycled through local collection programs – such as polystyrene foam clamshell containers or frozen food packaged in plastic bags. You can further reduce your waste when cooking for yourself by buying in bulk to avoid packaging or choosing products packaged in materials that are recycled in your community.
Cooking from scratch also gives you more control over the meal’s ingredients, so you can pick organic, free-range and local choices to reduce your environmental impact.
3. Stand up for what you believe in
Mothers don’t just impart important values to their children; they also remind their kids to actively pursue their principles and defend their beliefs when they are challenged.
If sustainability is your passion, there are plenty of things you can do in your local community, school or workplace to make a difference and make your mama proud.
To prevent usable items from ending up in the landfill, organize a citywide garage sale or bicycle repair and recycling program in your community. You can also start a food scraps composting program at your school or a recycling program at your office or apartment complex. Or volunteer your time weeding and tending plants at your local community garden or picking up litter at a local beach cleanup event.
Read full article on Earth911: http://earth911.com/news/2012/05/08/green-lessons-our-moms-taught-us/
Pepper – the Eco Friendly Dog
By Gia Machlin
This is Part I of a two-part post on how consumers can use Eco Labels to distinguish the green from the greenwash.
After years of making fun of dog owners in the city, I became one myself: a city dweller with a canine friend. Meet Pepper. Of course now I think having a dog in the city is the best thing since sliced bread, but I still feel somewhat ridiculous picking up after Pepper does her business on the sidewalk. Luckily we have those tidy little poop bags to help us out and keep the mess to a minimum. I realize that using an old newspaper is probably more eco friendly, and I may just switch to that, but as I was getting used to this dog walking concept, using the bags just seemed much less disgusting.
So I walked into the pet store and asked for biodegradable poop bags, and the clerk pointed me to some bags hanging in a display case. On the packaging, there was a picture of the earth with some recycling arrows around it and the words “earth friendly.” If I didn’t happen to be in the sustainability field, I might have taken this information at face value and bought the bags. But I didn’t recognize the symbol as representing a reputable eco-label and I looked further. Nowhere on the packaging did the product claim to be biodegradable, compostable, or made of renewable materials. In fact, the bags were, as far as I could tell, no different than any other plastic poop bag. But I’m sure the manufacturer fooled a few customers into believing their product was “greener” than the next. How is this possible?
It’s possible, because there is very little regulation around what companies can claim as “green,” “eco friendly,” or “earth friendly.” Not that there isn’t any regulation – in 1992 the Federal Trade Commission came out with the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims also known as the “Green Guide“. This regulation has been updated several times, and in October 2010 the FTC proposed major updates to this section of the Federal Register (the proposed updates have yet to be finalized). So this is all good, and the FTC has started to enforce these rules, but the rules are new, and in some cases unclear, and the door is still open for all the “greenwashers” and their claims for now.
So, as a consumer, knowing that the door is still open for marketers to make all kinds of green claims, how do you know what’s green? Well the first thing to know is that nothing is truly “green.” Everything we buy has some kind of environmental footprint. A product’s footprint is calculated using many factors: the material used to make it, the energy used to manufacture it, the gasoline used to transport it, the electricity needed to operate it, and the waste created when ultimatelydisposing of it. But a product can be “greener” than another. (The most environmentally friendly option is not to buy anything new at all and reuse what’s already out there!) So how do we know what’s “greener?” Currently, we at EcoPlum believe the best option is to buy products that have are made of recycled materials, have been certified green by independent organizations or that have earned a reputable eco-label.
Now, how do you know which Eco-Label is reputable? That’s the topic of Part II of this post. But, for now, here is a list of eco-labels we have found be run by independent non-profit or government third parties that appear to have no vested interest in the products or companies they certify.
[Note: the EcoPlum Online Boutique carries only eco friendly products that have been certified green, have a third party eco-label, or are made of recycled/upcycled materials.]
Gia is the President and CEO of EcoPlum, Where it Pays to Buy Green®. EcoPlum is the green shopping rewards site with eco friendly products and green living ideas that makes it fun, easy and rewarding to go green. Under its loyalty program, buying green at EcoPlum online earns EcoChipz rewards points, good for coupons in its shop or donations to environmental causes.
May 08, 2012 11:06 ET
Health Care Professionals Return From CleanMed Ready to Green Health Care
Conference Provided Education, Tools, Motivation to Speed Health Care Sustainability
WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – May 8, 2012) – Health care professionals from across the country are returning to work today with renewed energy and tools for engaging in sustainable health care after attending CleanMed, the nation’s most important conference on health care sustainability. With information on new products, procedures and tools to help hospitals green their operations, including a new free program developed by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, plus a strong business case, hospitals now have every incentive to begin reducing their environmental footprint.
“At CleanMed, we provided more than 50 multidisciplinary educational sessions that made the business case for health care sustainability as well as highlighted the health concerns of climate change and environmental impacts,” said Laura Wenger, executive director ofPractice Greenhealth, one of the host sponsors of CleanMed. “We are also providing tools, education, practice guidelines and other assistance to hospitals to help them engage in sustainable operations, and we hope they will take advantage of these programs.”
The Healthier Hospitals Initiative, started by Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harmand The Center for Health Design, along with eleven major hospital systems, provides free “How-To” guides and technical assistance for hospitals to engage in sustainability in six areas of hospital operations. Hospitals can enroll for free and proceed at their own pace. The goal of HHI is to speed the engagement in sustainability across the health care sector. A presentation on each of the six areas or “Challenges,” was made at CleanMed for attendees to become more familiar with the program.
“CleanMed has an undeniable re-energizing component to it,” said Gary Cohen, President and Founder of Health Care Without Harm. “Attendees are inspired by each other. As attendees see what can be done, they bring back new ideas and information that they need to push their programs forward. And of course, the main reason health care is engaged in this effort is to improve public health, which touches the mission of every hospital and speaks to health professionals, most of which entered their field with this goal in mind.”
The nation’s epidemic of chronic illnesses, much of which can be attributed to environmental factors, is behind the push for accelerating sustainable health care. Heart and lung disease, obesity, cancer, asthma and other chronic illnesses all have environmental components. Treating chronic illness consumes 75 percent of today’s health care expenses.
During CleanMed, Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm announced its annual award winners. Jackie Hunt Christensen has been named the recipient of the 2012 Environmental Health Hero Award, the highest award bestowed by HCWH. Presented annually, the Environmental Health Hero Award recognizes an individual whose professional accomplishments have significantly contributed to advances in environmental health science or policy. Ms. Christensen is a founder of HCWH and served as one of three co-coordinators who ran the organization following its formation.
“At Health Care Without Harm, with Gary [Cohen] and Charlotte [Brody], I learned to think — and work — both inside and outside ‘The Box.’ I think that strategy has been the key to the campaign’s many successes,” said Christensen.
Health Care Without Harm’s Nurses Work Group, along with The Luminary Project, has named Dr. Stephanie Chalupka, EdD, APRN, PHCNS-BC, FAAOHN, as the 2012 Recipient of the Charlotte Brody Award. Dr. Chalupka is Professor of Public Health Nursing and Chair of the Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing at Worcester State University and also holds an appointment as a Visiting Scientist in the Department of Environmental Health, Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology Program at the Harvard School of Public Health. The award recognizes a nurse’s endeavors towards “brilliantly lighting the way to a healthier environment and inspiring other nurses to do the same.” Other awards were presented by HCWH honoring nursing students, as well as achievements in waste management.
More than 280 hospitals and supporting businesses received awards from Practice Greenhealth, including six inductees to the Environmental Leadership Circle, Practice Greenhealth’s highest award, which honors facilities that exemplify environmental excellence and are setting the highest standards for environmental practices in health care. Those hospitals are Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Madigan Healthcare System, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, MetroWest Medical Center/Framingham Union Hospital and MetroWest Medical Center/Leonard Morse Hospital.
CleanMed’s companion conference, CleanMed Europe, will take place in Malmo, Sweden, on September 26-28, 2012. CleanMed’s next US conference will be held on April 24-26, 2013 in Boston, Mass.
As you may know, MantraMeds scrubs are cut from a blend of Texas Organic Cotton & Repreve Recycled Polyester, which comes from recycled post-consumer plastics! Found a great website that can serve as an awesome resource for information and trends in recycling plastics. Check it out!
Many community recycling programs are accepting more and more plastics*—and you may be surprised to learn how many types of plastic packaging can be recycled into new, useful products!
- Beverage bottles made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic are collected in most curbside programs. This plastic is often melted, stretched into a fine thread, and then woven into soft, durable fabrics used to make things such as clothing, upholstery, and carpeting. (Tip: it’s okay to leave the caps on the bottles; they’ll be removed and processed separately at the recycling facility.)
- Detergent and cleaning product bottles are usually made with high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a strong, corrosion-resistant plastic. It is often recycled into outdoor furniture and other durable products such as plastic lumber, park benches, roadside curbs, truck cargo liners, trash receptacles—and new bottles. (Tip: rinse your bottles with water before tossing them in the recycling bin to remove remnants of the detergent or cleaning product.)
- Plastic bags are often made with HDPE or low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic. These bags are collected at many chain grocery stores and large retailers, including Target, Walmart and Lowe’s. Plastic bags generally are recycled into plastic lumber for decks, fences and furniture – and into new plastic bags. (Tip: before recycling bags, be sure they are free of food remnants, and remove any zipper closures. Plastic wraps from drycleaners, newspapers, and many consumer products can be collected with plastic bags.)
- Plastic containers for products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and margarine are now collected in many curbside programs. They are often made with polypropylene (PP) plastic that is recycled into things such as battery cables, landscape borders, cafeteria trays, and furniture. (Tip: some grocery store chains [e.g., Whole Foods] also collect these containers).
- Plastic foam used to make packaging often is made with polystyrene (PS) plastic that has been expanded with air. Innovative recycling programs can turn foam packaging into insulation, picture frames, building products—and new packaging. (Tip: some shipping companies, such as UPS, accept polystyrene foam packing peanuts for re-use.)
When you consider all the different types of new products that can be made with post-consumer plastics, it’s easy to see why they are such valuable materials. Getting the whole family involved in collecting plastics around the house is a great way to make sure this resource doesn’t go to waste. So recycle these and other everyday products—every day.
* Recycling programs differ greatly; check to see what can be recycled in your community.
Check out these other great articles by Plastics Make it Possible: