Insight News

Tuesday
Sep 16th

Health

Greening the office

Greening the officeDear EarthTalk: What are some simple things I could do to green the office I work in?
-- James Raskin, Framingham, MA


No matter how green your office may be already, there is surely room for improvement somewhere. Here are 10 suggestions to help get you and your co-workers further along on the path to office sustainability:

(1) Take your Office’s Green Footprint: The website TheGreenOffice.com, an online retailer specializing in green office products, makes available a free Office Footprint Calculator to gauge what kind of effect you and your co-workers are having on the environment and identify how to make improvements.

(2) Save Trees: The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year. Refrain from printing when you can, use both sides of a sheet, and recycle so that the recycling industry will have raw material.
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Finding organic cotton

Finding organic cottonDear EarthTalk: I always thought cotton was eco-friendly, but I recently heard otherwise. What’s so bad about cotton? And where can I find organic cotton clothing? -- Jamie Hunter, Twin Falls, ID

There’s a lot “bad” about conventionally grown cotton—cotton grown with the aid of synthetic chemicals, that is. The Organic Trade Association (OTA), a nonprofit trade group representing America’s burgeoning organic cotton industry, considers cotton “the world’s dirtiest crop” due to its heavy use of insecticides. The nonprofit Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) reports that cotton uses 2.5 percent of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16 percent of the world’s insecticides—more than any other single major crop.

Three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides, as determined by the World Health Organization, are well represented among the top 10 most commonly used in producing cotton. One of them, Aldicarb, “can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin,” says OTA, “yet it is still used in 25 countries and the U.S., where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater.”
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Wild turkeys

Wild turkeysDear EarthTalk: How are wild turkeys faring in the U.S.? Occasionally I'll see some crossing the road, but how well could they be doing with all the development going on around them? -- Harley Barton, Hingham, MA

No one can be sure how many tens of millions of wild turkeys roamed what was to become the continental United States when the Puritans dined on them at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 near Plymouth Rock, but there were obviously enough of the birds to make them easy prey. By the late 1700s turkeys across the frontier were being harvested with reckless abandon. The food shortages that accompanied the Civil War accelerated demand for wild turkeys, and their numbers started to dwindle to startlingly low levels. By the early 1900s, only some 30,000 wild turkeys remained; the birds had been extirpated across almost half of their former range.
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Locally-grown food.

Locally-grown food.Dear EarthTalk: I know that local food has health and environmental benefits, but my local grocer only carries a few items. Is there a push for bigger supermarkets to carry locally produced food? -- Maria Fine, Somerville, MA

By eating locally sourced foods, we strengthen the bond between local farmers and our communities, stay connected to the seasons in our part of the world, promote crop diversity, and minimize the energy intensive, greenhouse-gas-emitting transportation of food from one part of the world to another. Also, since local crops are usually harvested at their peak of freshness and typically delivered to stores within a day, customers can be sure they are getting the tastiest and most nutritious forms of the foods they like.
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“Young, Professional & Dying: Current Health Threats to Generation Next”

(NNPA) - This year’s annual National Urban League conference covered current issues concerning African Americans today. The “Young, Professional & Dying: Current Health Threats to Generation Next” workshop provided answers to daily stressors that young Black men and women face. Dr. Edward E. Cornwell, Surgeon-in-Chief at Howard University Hospital, was the moderator, as each panelist tackled current health threats.

Dr. Kalahn Taylor-Clark, research director at the Engleberg Center for Healthcare Reform, expressed one of her early stresses in graduate school. She remembered Caucasian males and females occupying her classrooms, while Taylor-Clark was the only Black woman.

“We tend to see fewer and fewer of ourselves when we get to high positions, which causes stress for African American women.” And because of this, Black college-educated women have the highest rate of infant mortality.
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Bringing local foods to the Red Lake Nation and surrounding communities through Anishinaabeg Maawanji’idiwag Farmers Market

RED LAKE, Minn. — Red Lake Maawanji’idiwag Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP)  will coordinate the Anishinaabeg Maawanji’idiwag Farmers Market to bring local foods to community members beginning August 6, 2010 from 2:00-6:00 p.m. and every Friday thereafter until October 1, 2010 at the Red Lake Hospital Complex, State Hwy 1 east of State Hwy 89, 30 miles north of Bemidji, MN.
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New law protecting youth from tobacco products takes effect August 1

A new state law protecting Minnesota youth from the harmful effects of tobacco products takes effect Aug. 1. The Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act was passed by the 2010 Legislature and signed into law by Governor Pawlenty.

The new law applies existing state tobacco taxes and regulations to new smokeless tobacco products which attract young customers because they are low-cost. Specifically, the law:
•    Expands the definition of tobacco products to include any product that contains tobacco and is intended for human consumption.
•    Requires all tobacco products and tobacco-related devices to be sold behind the counter so they are not easily accessible to youth.
•    Prevents the sale of new tobacco products and e-cigarettes to youth.

"Tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in this country," said Minnesota Assistant Commissioner of Health Patricia Adams. "While cigarette smoking among Minnesota youth has declined since 2000, there has been no change in the percentage of students smoking cigars or little cigars or using smokeless tobacco. This new law will help young people avoid the harmful effects of tobacco by decreasing their access to today's new generation of tobacco products."
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