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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Benzene Exposure In Hot Cars and How To Minimize Risk

I just got this information in an e-mail from a friend and reader of my blog - thanks for sharing Laurie!
Your car's manual may say to roll down the windows to let out all the hot air before turning on the A/C. WHY ?

Car Air Conditioning

Please do NOT turn on A/C as soon as you enter the car
Open the windows after you enter your car, and then turn ON the AC after a couple of minutes
Here's why: According to research, the car's dashboard, seats, a/c ducts - in fact ALL of the plastic objects in your vehicle, emit Benzene, a Cancer causing toxin. A BIG CARCINOGEN. Take the time to observe the smell of heated plastic in your car, when you open it, and BEFORE you start it up. 
In addition to causing cancer, Benzene poisons your bones, causes anemia and reduces white blood cells. Prolonged exposure will cause Leukemia and increases the risk of some cancers. It can also cause miscarriages in pregnant females
Acceptable Benzene level indoors is: 50mg per sq.ft.
A car parked indoors, with windows closed, will contain 400-800 mg of Benzene.
If parked outdoors, under the sun, at a temperature above 60 degrees F.
the Benzene level goes up to 2000-4000 mg, 40 times the acceptable level. 
People who get into the car, keeping the windows closed, will inevitably inhale, in quick succession, excessive amounts of the BENZENE toxin. 
Benzene is a toxin that affects your kidneys and liver. What's worse, it is extremely difficult for your body to expel this toxic stuff from your body.
So friends, please open the windows and door of your car - give it some time for the interior to air out - before you enter the vehicle.
Thought: 'When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.'
This is what says.  It is not the air conditioning in the car but the Benzene producing agents that cause cancer. Read the whole article here.

I think this is very important to know - please keep in mind with the warm weather (hopefully!) coming up.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

About Birthday Presents

My son just turned five. FIVE!!! How did that happen???
Usually an opportunity for relatives and friends to show their love and affection by giving him stuff.
We are very lucky to have a family who always asks us (not him! Who knows what he would ask for!) what he needs, and we normally pick activities and/or classes that he likes.

I made him a doll from recycled and reused materials, just like I did for my other son for Christmas, and a crocheted airplane (pattern from Ana Paula Rimoli, again) that he asked for, and he was very happy.
My husband organized a used microphone and microphone stand for him (he loves to sing and perform!).
His best friend's parents gave him coupons for some activities like minigolf and bowling, and guess what? This is, I believe, his favorite gift! He took the coupons to school for show-and-tell and can't wait to actually do it.

My point is that it is very well possible to come up with gifts that don't add to the landfill and don't require energy to be made - aka used or selfmade items.
The sooner our kids (and us, too!) learn that presents don't have to come in fancy packages and that it's ok to receive used items, the better.
Oh, and we don't need wrapping paper or gift bags, either. Unless it's reused, of course.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Waste-Free Lunches


Lately I spend quite some time in my son's preschool class - it might be because his younger brother is getting more and more interested in what's happening in there and refuses to leave.

I have to say though that what I see there around lunchtime is devastating: most kids are generating a big amount of waste, as their caregivers pack their food in in single-use plastic bags, aluminum foil, or wax paper, or they purchase single-serving items that come in their own disposable package.

What's the problem with this?

Landfills are getting fuller and fuller. Incinerators pump contaminants into the air. Communities are battling over who will accept the nation's trash. We all enjoy the conveniences of pre-packed foods (or at least some of us do), but very few of us are willing to allow new landfills and incinerators to be built in our own backyards.

I want to say most of the garbage we produce comes from the packaging on the food we buy, and lunch foods are no exception. On average, a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school!

What can you do to reduce lunch waste?

Get a good supply of reusable containers (if you buy them new, avoid plastic), made for example of stainless steel. There's a whole bunch of stuff out there, including containers for sandwiches, hot stuff, little eatables like carrots or fruit, sauces, water bottles etc. etc.
Don't buy prepacked foods - they're more expensive and less healthy.
Skip the disposable stuff like napkins, silverware and plastic water bottles. You teach your child (and/or yourself) a valuable lesson and save a lot of money.
I would also stop the habit of juice-boxes. The amount of garbage this habit creates is just ridiculous and having juice every day is just not healthy anyway.

This is What "Waste-free Lunches" says a waste-free lunch looks like:

A Typical American Lunch

  • sandwiches sealed in plastic bags
  • fruits and vegetables in plastic bags
  • prepackaged chips, cookies, fruit bars, granola bars, cheeses, and fruit leathers
  • prepackaged yogurts, apple sauces, and puddings
  • crackers, pretzels, chips, and other snack foods sealed in plastic bags
  • disposable juice boxes, juice pouches, soda cans, water bottles, and milk cartons
  • plastic forks and spoons
  • paper napkins
  • reusable lunchboxes and disposable paper and plastic bags

A Waste-Free Lunch

  • sandwiches and other main dishes, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and treats in a reusable lunch container
  • cloth napkins
  • stainless-steel forks and spoons
  • reusable drink containers
  • reusable lunchboxes
*With this type of lunch, lunch food items can be bought in larger quantities. The packaging can be left at home for reuse or recycling. Waste-free lunches are not only a wise environmental choice, but they are less expensive as well.


According to Waste-free Lunches, you can save about $250 per school year by packing waste-free lunches, and that is just the monetary saving, environmental and health savings not even included!

There are numerous ways to get reusable containers, bottles and other utensils. If you live in NNJ, I'd like to recommend go lightly - a green store with an owner that really, really cares about the environment. Another recommendation is Yellow Margosa, founded by a fellow green mom who offers environmentally friendly lunch boxes, containers and other cool stuff.

Happy waste-free lunching! Let me know how your change is going, please!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Got Hooked!

The ones who are regularly visiting my blog might have wondered why there are so few posts lately.
Well, I got a new hobby - I re-learned how to crochet, and I hot hooked :-)
A few weeks ago I got three bags of yarn from a nice lady who actually wanted to throw it all away (totally locked out!), and ever since I can't stop crocheting. This is the first little buddy that I did:
The pattern is from Ana Paula Rimoli, whose wonderful, inspirational books I both own (she's coming out with a third one in April). Ana also has a blog, check it out when you have a chance!

"WauWau", as my boys named him, can be seen at the go lightly shopping window for the next weeks, maybe months as I started doing another round of decoration (it's not completed yet).

I'm amazed at what you can do with very little leftover yarn. Get your hook out, get some patterns and get started - it's so much fun!