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24 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in water pollution, chemicals in drinking water, pharmaceuticals

Clear But Not So Clean: Pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water

water pollution, chemicals in drinking water, pharmaceuticals

Although our drinking water is clear, it does not mean that it is free of all harmful substances – hence water filters. What is bewildering to me is that we have this amazing grasp on the existence of germs even though we cannot see them. But when it comes to harmful chemicals in our drinking water, food and home, we often seem completely dumbfounded that they are there. Why is there this gap between understanding “unseen” germs and acknowledging the existence of “unseen” chemicals?

15 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in parabens, phthlates, dyes, fragrance-free

In Contact With Chemicals: Our skin is a gate not a wall

body products, shampoo, lotions, cosmetics, perfumes

While researching for this topic, I came across some interesting online articles and blog posts that made me decide to give a small human biology lesson first. I found that many people were unsure whether the human skin is permeable or not, and therefore questioned whether we could in fact absorb chemicals used in our clothes, cosmetics and other beauty supplies through our skin.

13 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in single-crop fields, monoculture, agriculture, shade-grown coffee

Single-Crop Fields: Mass-production gone wrong

single-crop fields, monoculture, agriculture

Have you ever known of a forest that had only one type of tree? Taking it a step further, have you ever seen any natural landscape made of just one type of plant? The answer is no because the natural landscape is made-up of hundreds of thousands of plants that developed and evolved based on survival and efficiency. Every plant has a specific and important role in the grand scheme of the natural landscape. And yet we continue to try and defy these natural ways with our single-crop fields. Why?

10 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in food not lawns, landscape, lawns, yards, pesticides, composting, rain barrels

Yards: Our love affair with grass

food not lawns, landcape, lawns, yards, pesticides, eco-friendly yard maintenance

It is amazing how grass became what American yards are made of- the canvas in which everything else is put onto and around. And it seems we really do not question this fact. It just is and at this rate forever will be. Now I do not have anything against soft green grass, but our yards are more than this status symbol and conformity. They can serve a much higher purpose, if we put forth a little effort and ingenuity.

9 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in sprawl, low-density, city development

The Costs of Sprawl: Looking beyond the numbers

low-density, sprawl, suburbia, city development, urban sprawl

It is easy to get caught up in a numbers game like costs per-capita when talking about suburbia also known as sprawl or low-density development. One example is that many homebuyers like to point out that the suburbs offer “more house for your money” when compared to many neighborhoods in or on the skirts of a city. This may be true, but like so many things today there are many hidden costs to our lifestyles. Even more importantly there are other factors that play an even greater role in our neighborhood decisions.

3 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in city living, green living, eco-friendly lifestyle, adaptations

The Decision – Moving From Suburbia to The City

community, city living, suburbia, urban living, simplify, green living

My husband and I used to live in “suburbia”, in a little house that was once owned by his grandparents. He fixed it up with new kitchen appliances, newly finished floors and an amazing new landscape design. We were also within a few blocks of his parent’s house and where he grew-up. I thought this is it- a home of our own, a small quiet neighborhood and a modest place to settle down.

3 Jun. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in cars, car-free, transportation, public transit

Car-free to Car-filled and Back to Car-free

cars, automobiles, transportation, car-free

Although some may think our country unexpectedly turned into a car-loving nation, it was actually very strategically planned. With powerful automobile giants like GM, legislation, national security and a decline in city quality of living, cars and highways thrived and public transportation was short-handed.

27 May. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in manufacturing, food, products, transportation, pollution, life cycle assessment

Oranges Year Round

manufacturing, food, products, transportation, pollution, life cycle assessment

It is a wonderful feeling to walk into a grocery store and see all the different fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. The options can be overwhelming, but exciting at the same time because I can eat oranges year-round or eat cheese made in France. But the reality of having oranges year-round is not all good. Transportation of products, for example, is a huge factor in pollution. Plus determining the quality of the food, tracing all of its origins and regulating the industry are concerns we must consider with the year-round access to products all over the world.

23 May. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in consumers, products, shopping, manufacturing, environmental health

Shopping and Industry Practices on Autopilot

consumers, products, shopping, manufacturing, environmental health

We know we can go to the grocery store or department store and pick up a frozen pizza and blue jeans, respectively. And now days we can walk into Walmart and purchase both of these items. But do you really know where all these products come from and what is really in them?

Now, you may look on the tag of those jeans and see that they are made in Thailand, China or India; or that your pizza was made in Chicago or Detroit. There is still this disconnection between us and our daily lives and our products and food, which needs to be mended.

14 May. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in power plant, electricity, energy

Flick of A Switch

Power Plant

Air pollution is synonymous with cars and power plants; and companies are using that general knowledge to sell products and services, and to revamp their image as “green”. However, cars and power plants are only a small part of the “air pollution” puzzle. Residential and commercial buildings account for 41 percent of our total energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Transportation, in comparison, is only 29 percent of our total energy consumption.