Reusable Bags Could Potentially Be Harmful?

June 28, 2010 · Filed Under News, Products

Reusable bags are great for the environment by eliminating the need for plastic bags.  We may have to be more careful now when using those plastic bags though.  According to a recent study done by the University of Arizona, reusable bags may present health risks.

The study was done by testing 84 reusable bags from shoppers in Arizona and California.  The study concluded that 20% of the bags contained E. Coli, most likely due to raw meats leaking into the fabric.  Even though the meat is usually wrapped when we buy it, that doesn’t mean that the juices can’t leak into the bag.

Some environmental groups feel the study was done to scare people from using reusable bags.  To me, the study does feel like it should be common sense to most.  If you use a bag to carry meat home with, it should be washed after use, regardless of how careful we are.

Chuck Gerba, who conducted the study, does not at all advocate we discontinue our use of reusable bags.

“You just have to maintain them and recognize the potential for cross-contamination,”

I do feel that this is something that we must be aware of, but at the same time we do not want to discourage anybody from using reusable bags.   Hopefully this study does not do that and only makes consumers more conscience when using their bags.

Product Review: Ecosavr Solar Pool Cover

June 9, 2010 · Filed Under Products

I am loving a little invention I found at the pool supply store that is designed to keep your pool warmer without a heater or solar cover.  It is called ecosavr.  This small rubber fish, that retails for about $7.00, reportedly contains a non-toxic liquid that is said to coat your pool’s surface, absorbing heat from the sun and reducing evaporation.  According to the product’s website, an ecosavr fish can raise your in-ground or above-ground pool temperature by about 4-8 degrees per month, much like an expensive solar cover would do.  The effects are said to last approximately one month. The website also states that the chemical that is released into the pool is harmless to people, pets and to the environment.  For a demonstration of how it works, visit www.liquidpoolcovers.com/videos.html.

Does it work?  Stay tuned…

The Seven Year Pen

May 10, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Products

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about money-saving printing tips.  But the truth is that I handwrite a lot more than I print.  Especially at work.  And, as of today, my office is out of pens.

Seven Year Pen

What can we do to replenish our supply of writing instruments in a world in which billions of pens undoubtedly end up in landfills every year?  Fountain tip pens are certainly an option, but they can be messy to use and seem to be rather impractical in a modern office setting.

Not using a pen at all is also an option.  But imagine talking on the phone with a client and saying, “Excuse me a moment whilst I turn on my computer so that I may take note of your contact information.”  Again, in a fast-paced business environment this seems impractical.

Luckily, I’ve found a practical solution that is both greener and, in the long run, less expensive than the conventional pen.

The Seven Year Pen is an invention that rivals the space pen (you know, the pens that write upside down and under water) in coolness.  The Seven Year Pen has enough ink capacity to write two meters every day for seven years.  That amounts to a little over three miles of writing power!  Almost even better than its green cred is the fact that the Pen is comfortable to hold, writes really smoothly, and comes in a different color and design for each person in my office to have his or her own unmistakable Pen.

Now here’s hoping I can manage not to lose my new favorite pen!

Sustainable Snacking?

May 7, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Products, Solar

I have always been a fan of Frito-Lay brand Sun Chips, as I think they are a healthier (and tastier) alternative to potato chips. The last several times that I have purchased Sun Chips at the grocery store, I noticed that the packaging had a little green “e” icon on it. After Googling the little green “e”, I was able to find out that the Green-e logo is actually a carbon offset program created by the Center for Resource Solutions (www.resource-solutions.org). Intrigued, I went to the Sun Chips website to learn more about the company’s commitment to green energy. According to www.sunchips.com, they have one factory that relies on solar power as its main source of electricity. The Modesto, California plant is currently the only Sun Chips factory (out of eight total) that utilizes solar power, but as their website claims, “it’s a small step in the right direction.”

On my most recent grocery shopping trip, I realized that there has been another change to the Sun Chips bag. Now the package advertises that the bags themselves are fully compostable and claim that they will successfully break down in about 14 weeks. Another example of “green washing” intended to draw in socially conscious shoppers? Maybe. But it seems that other companies are now following suit.

Boulder Canyon Natural Foods, which produces All Natural Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, has also introduced a compostable snack bag, unveiled during Earth Day week. Snyder’s of Hanover, not to be outdone by the other companies, has also made plans to market their organic line of pretzels in compostable packaging. According to www.sustainablelifemedia.com, Snyder’s compostable bags will be derived from plant-based materials and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 52% during the production process.

Is the switch to more ecologically responsible packaging due to a consumer demand for greener products or, is this simply a clever marketing tactic that allows these companies to add substance to their green statements? Mother Earth News asked a similar question in the article, “Mother Earth News Finds Compostable Packaging Claims Half-Baked.” After testing several brands of trash bags that were marketed as being compostable, Mother Earth News came to the conclusion that most of the bags did not break down as promised. While the magazine tested trash bags and not snack bags, it makes one wonder how the new compostable snack packaging would fare.

So, what is the bottom line here? If you do not mind the surprisingly loud crinkling of these bags, which makes secret snacking nearly impossible, then I would recommend giving one of these brands a try. If the new compostable packaging lives up to even part of its claims, then there is a clear savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and in the amount of waste left behind when you have finished the products. When faced with the choice between a snack packaged in a compostable bag versus one that is made from a petroleum-based material, I know which one I will end up in my shopping basket.

Spring Cleaning Give Away! – CLOSED

April 21, 2010 · Filed Under Contests, Environment, Green, Health, Products

Spring is in the air, and what better way to welcome the birds, bees, and sun than non-toxic cleaning products? Over the next few weeks, I will review different types of cleaners claiming to be ‘natural’ or ‘non-toxic’ but I would like to start the cleaning season with a special Earth Day Giveaway! Naturally It’s Clean is a line of enzyme-based household cleaners that is safe for children, pets, and our ecological system that has been donated to help one household ‘clean’ up their act.

With mainstream cleaning products increasingly being linked to cancer, acute health risks, and severe and irreparable ecological harm, your cleaning cabinet may need a good clean it self!

What is an Enzyme Cleaner?

Enzymes work on a biological level. According to Naturally It’s Clean’s Mike Wallrich, “Enzymes bind to the target material catalyzing it into harmless basic elements.” Basically, it latches on to whatever dirt, grime, or yuck that you are cleaning and breaks it down slowly into elements or compounds that can biodegrade.

Similar to conventional cleaning products, enzymes perform the same function of breaking down alkalines and acids. The difference is that by using a natural enzyme that can biodegrade which greatly reduces the ecological impact and health concerns. Chemical-based cleaners fight with stronger acids and alkalines and produce a toxic by-product.

Benefits:

  • Attack a specific type of bacteria
  • Removes odor
  • Continue to clean after you have sprayed it (since they are ‘alive’)
  • Use the same types of enzymes as hospitals, meaning they are safe and effective.
  • No fumes, vapors, phosphates, chlorine, or petroleum surfactants.
  • Non-corrosive
  • Non-caustic

Cons:

  • Enzymes do not last forever. Since it is an ‘active’ cleaner, don’t let it sit for several years before using it.
  • Extreme heat or cold could reduce the effectiveness of the enzymes

Health

From a human health perspective, cleaning products are one of the most commonly inhaled substances indoors by adults, children, and pets. The enzyme-cleaning agents in Naturally It’s Clean products are:

  • Free of off-gasing
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Non-toxic
  • Free of side effects
  • Safe for humans, animals, and children.

Ecology

From an ecological perspective, cleaning products can severely impact water, air, and soil quality. With products running down the drain, outside, lingering in your house, and leeching into the ground. These products are safe for our ecological system due to:

Natural binding properties that allow them to biodegrade the enzyme and the ‘yuck’ that the enzyme binds with

  • No petroleum-based ingredients
  • Type of surfactant
  • Natural colorant for the Floor and Toilet products

Is it better than my home remedy?

Impossible to say! Whether you are a cleaning product guru, like my Grandmother or not, it is hard to truly compare these products to home remedies for several reasons. First, everyone has a different home remedy. Second, everyone has different standards of ‘clean’.

What I can tell you is that the Mildew cleaner, the Floor cleaner, and their Tub and Tile cleaners all clean equally as well as their extremely toxic mainstream counterparts. As a whole, I have used these products for a couple of years now, and have never been disappointed. An individual used to cleaning with conventional products including Clorox, Ajax, and other similar brands will find them to hold up to their cleanliness standards. (Minus of course that burning sensation you feel when you inhale mainstream harsh cleaning products)

The ‘Run Down’ on Naturally It’s Clean Products

The most important thing that I learned about these products is this:

They work, naturally.

Something that I don’t take for granted with all ‘natural’ or ‘non-toxic’ labeled cleaning products. There is a significant amount of false labeling in the cleaning industry, with various standards, eco-labels, and third party certifications that can make products difficult to navigate. The two men who run this company Denny and Mike, are extremely helpful, gracious, and genuinely proud of their products. They have also gone through the certification process to sell these cleaning agents in Europe. Which compared to the loose standards in the United States, the EU’s certification process is intensive, attesting to their dedication and confidence in the safety and performance of their products.

So what are you waiting for? Enter to win their six top cleaning products kindly donated by Denny and Mike of Naturally It’s Clean and kick the chemical habitat of toxic cleaners!

Naturally It's Clean

The line of products that could be yours include:

  • Floors
  • Carpet
  • Tub & Tile
  • Kitchen
  • Mildew
  • Glass

How to Win

There are many opportunities to win this contest. You must leave a separate comment for each entry. Here’s all the ways to increase your chances to win:

  • Comment ( 1 entry ): Visit Naturally It’s Clean and tell us which of their products you like the most.
  • Subscribe to my email subscription ( up to 2 entries ): Follow Pays to Live Green’s daily articles by simply subscribing to to my email subscription service and/or RSS feed. This will give you a great chance to win and give you all the latest updates to my blog. A win-win situation. You get 1 entry for each subscription.
  • Spread the Word ( 2 entries ): You can get a better advantage by publicizing this giveaway on your blog. All you have to do is give a brief description of this contest and a link to it. Be sure to include a link to the post in a comment.
  • Twitter ( 1 entry ): Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this contest including a brief description of this contest and a link to it. Include a link to your Twitter account in the comment.
  • StumbleUpon ( 1 entry )Stumble this contest or one of my popular tools and leave a review.

When is it over?

This giveaway will end on May 5th, 2010 at 11:59 pm. We will randomly select a winner from the list of all entries and announce the winner the following day. This contest is only to U.S. residents 18 years or older.

Good luck to everybody and Happy Spring!

Concrobium Mold Control Review

April 7, 2010 · Filed Under Products

Mold is a common problem in many households which reduces the indoor air quality. The most common solution to fight mold is bleach, but the major problem is that it isn’t effective against mold, especially on more porous surfaces.  That’s where Concrobium comes in.  Unlike bleach, Concrobium actually kills the mold on many household surfaces and stays on the surface to keep it free from mold. What’s even better is that it contains no bleach or any other VOCs.

How it Works

In order to eliminate the mold, Concrobium works by hardening and crushing the mold beneath.  Let’s take an indepth look at how this product works:

The main ingredient of Concrobium is Sodium Carbonate, which is considered a safe product. Though the other two ingredients are not list since it is a patented blend, this product is EPA registered along with a safety data sheet.  It is suggested that you do wear a mask when applying since mold can be dangerous if inhaled.

My Review

I was excited when Concrobium contacted me since I just recently noticed some mold in my basement.  I received a bottle of their mold control as pictured below:

Concrobium Mold Control

Though I do not have a serious problem, there is a spot of concern is one of the corners of my basement.  After applying the spray, I can say that it worked great for my situation.  There was no harsh smells as I would normally expect in a product like this, which is great.  I sprayed the solution on the spot, let it sit and dry as suggested.  Beyond some minor cosmetic spots left behind, the mold seems to have been eliminated.

If you have a problem with mold, Concrobium can hopefully help with your situation like it did with mine.  It’s sold at most major hardware stores across the country including Home Depot, Lowes and Ace Hardware.  You can also search their ‘Where to Buy‘ section for the location nearest to you.

EconoGreen Oxo-Degradable Plastic Bags

March 30, 2010 · Filed Under Products

Jig-A-Loo recently announced their new line of oxo-degradable plastic bags in coordination with Home Depot called EconoGreen.  After being contacted by a representative from EconoGreen, I was really interested to find out more about their products.

This new line of offers a great combination for environmentally friendly and budget conscious consumers.  These bags are high quality, tough bags that are able to degrade when exposed to oxygen.  On top of that, their bags are made from 100% recyclable plastic.  Here is a great introduction to this new line of products:

What is Oxo-Degradable?

I kept hearing oxo-degradable, but wanted to do a little more research on what it was and whether it is really as environmentally as they say.  In order to make a plastic oxo-degradable, a small amount of a metal salts are added.  By adding this catalyst,  the plastic is then able to degrade when introduced to normal environmental conditions.  So this means that this type of plastic will only degrade in if exposed to oxygen.  If the conditions are right, this plastic can break down into carbon dioxide and biomass within two years. EnviroGreen provides a great video on this exact process.

There is a small debate with this new type of plastic.  Though it is biodegradable and even recyclable, it is not considered compostable.  This is due to the fact that it can not break down fast enough to be useful in industrial compost facilities.  That means that if a oxodegradable bag were to be sent to a compost facility, it would remain in it’s original form and make a less desirable product.  It seems that as long as consumers are aware of this fact, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Some are also concern that these bags may not break down as fast as advertised if not exposed to the proper conditions.  Even if the bags take slightly longer than advertised, it should still break down much faster than any traditional bag does.

My Review

The folks at EconoGreen were nice enough to send me a sample of their bags.  I am not able to attest to their ability to break down within two years within a short time, I was able to test their quality.

EconoGreen Bags

I received a set of their bags including their large trash bag and a larger bag which I think is the contractor bag.  The trash bag stood up really well, especially for something that is made from recyclable plastics and eventually degrades.  There were no tears and absolutely no leakage.  I have no usage for the larger bag yet, but I can imagine it being great for those extra leafs that I cannot fit in my compost bin and are taken by the county. For a bag that only costs the same as bags made from non-recycled plastics and do no degrade, this bags seems to fit the bill.

As I have said in the past, these types of bags serve their purpose, but should not be used more just because they are more environmentally friendly.  If you are regularly composting, your trash should reduce therefore you should need far less garbage bags.

Where to Buy?

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, these bags are carried in Home Depot stores throughout America.  If you cannot find them locally, they are available online at their own EconoGreen website.  They are priced reasonably at around $5 for most of their regular bags.  Besides just the bags I mentioned, EconoGreen carries a full line of bags for almost any purpose for your home or garden:

  • Large Trash Bags
  • Tall Kitchen Bags
  • Lawn and Leaf
  • Contractor Bags
  • Garage and Automotive
  • Wet/Dry Vac Liner Bags
  • Drop Cloths

EconoGreen oxo-degradable bags are an affordable environmentally friendly option to traditional plastic bags.  For being a bag that degrades with an reasonable time, these bags are really tough.  Give them a try and you won’t be disappointed.

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