JUNK SCIENCE: Green Is The New Black

junksciencecartooncarrot.jpgELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: Pollution and degradation of the environment happens in many, many unpredictable ways. It’s not just big business and the Feds — yours, mine, everyone’s personal, everyday actions have unforeseeable consequences on the environment as well. Everything is interrelated to extents we can’t even imagine. Rwanda has banned the use of plastic bags for environmental reasons. The bags are trashy, don’t disintegrate, and who would have guessed they would do so much harm to marine life? Plastic bags are made from non-renewable natural resources like oil. Rwanda has switched to raffia bags, woven from the dried leaves of tropical palms. F*cking Rwanda, the home of genocide and government-sponsored rape, doing environmental stuff? So why can’t we switch, too? Oil. We love it. We want to use it in as many different and crazy ways as we can. We want double bags too. Everygarbagedump.jpg purchase, no matter how lightweight — put it in a double bag please. You wouldn’t want to be one of those people who brings a reusable cloth bag to the store? Or would you?

Sustainability is the new buzz word. You’ll be hearing it more and more often, and hopefully you’ll start living it. A sustainable lifestyle means that your actions won’t have negative consequences on future generations. Sounds impossible. Yeah, well it’s not easy, that’s for sure. Ladies, are you on The Pill? Well you’re screwing the environment. Say what?! It seems female hormones from birth control pills have a gender-bending effect on fish. If you’re on the Pill you’ve got hormones in your urine, and they get flushed down the toilet into rivers (and our drinking water). A third of the fishes in English rivers are changing sex due to this bizarre addition of female hormones to river water. Weird, huh? If you’re not having sex on a consistent basis, get off the Pill. There are other, healthier methods of birth control if you’re not doin’ it steady…

(This column is in celebration of my environmental-lifestyle video’s domination of Free Speech TV (FSTV, Dish Network Channel 9415) on Wednesday, Dec. 13. Tune in tomorrow to watch “Green Tea Party: It’s Elemental” and learn how changing simple things in your everyday life can have a positive impact on this rapidly- disintegrating planet we call Earth. Air times: 4:30, 7:30 and 10:30 a.m.; and 9:30 p.m. EST The video is great for kids — believe me, it’s a lot more fun than this column.)
You know that alternative medicine you switched to because the pharmaceutical industry is so screwed up? Well, you’re messin’ up the environment. An upswing in use of alternative medicines has fueled billions of dollars in the illegal trade of some of the world’s most endangered plants. And, especially in the case of Chinese medicine, the illegal trade of endangered animal species as well. Read the ingredients and know the source of your alternative treatments.

Have you cut down on red meat? Are you’re trying to decrease the amount of “bad” fat you eat and increase your intake of the heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids? Fantastic! So you’re eating more fish, right? Bad move. The oceans are really polluted. But that’s not all, folks. We’re over-fishing like crazy. Ecologists have predicted that we’ll actually run out of seafood in our lifetime if we don’t scale back both on the pollution and the amount of fish we kill each year. Become a flexitarian, someone who’s vegetarian at least part of the time.

What could be next?
Mother’s milk, it’s the best thing for your baby. But startling new studies have found in breast milk trace amounts of not only Teflon, but rocket fuel as well! Don’t even bother to switch to cow’s milk. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection says Teflon and rocket fuel are in the moo juice, too. It’s grim. What to do?

Let’s forget it all and go party.
Green is the new black, at least in the Netherlands. Rotterdam had a new, sustainable disco, Off Corso. Get this, the dance floor in this club generates energy! Is that like the coolest thing, like, ever? Dancing on the floor, which is spring-loaded, generates enough energy to run the club’s sound and light systems. Opening night featured “biological beer,” whatever that is, and club-goers could customize their outfits with fair-trade clothing accessories. On tap for the future are toilets that use rain water, walls that will change color with the increase/decrease of body heat, and the “relax roof,” Garden of Delight, a roof top garden where you can munch on fair-trade oke fruit.
Except for the fact that the clubbers depicted in the ad for this club are the most squeaky-clean-cut group of people I’ve ever seen, I so want to go there. Who has frequent flyer miles? Call me!

If you can’t reuse, at least recycle.
In the UK, you can now recycle your drink bottles, cans and plastics in reverse vending machines (RVMs). Instead of spewing out crappy junk food, the company reVend & Spend’s new innovation can identify, collect, sort and process used beverage containers for recycling. A drinker deposits the used beverage container into an RVM. The machine then reads the bar code on the container to figure out what its made of, and then sorts, crushes and shreds it. Currently the machines, which run on only 40 watts of electricity a day, can hold up to 1,000 containers. The RVMs can also be fitted to monitor usage and publish recycling statistics. This feel-good feature can be used by schools or organizations to hold contests and grant awards for the most recycling. I feel so good already! The machines can also be fitted to issue coupons and vouchers.
In the U.S., individuals and small startup companies are doing a lot, too. We’re just not as hip and fun as they are across the ocean. Lindsay Smith, a former Hollywood screenwriter, has developed and is marketing rubber sidewalks. The sidewalks are supposed to be nice and bouncy to the feet and they allow trees to grow without roots upending the sidewalks (a major problem out in the ‘burbs). But the biggest bonus is that these rubber sidewalks are made entirely out of recycled tires. If you don’t already know it, old tires are a huge burden on the environment. Burning them is super toxic so they end up laying around junk yards collecting rain water. Yeah, so? These rain water filled tires are a major breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Remember, how I said everything is interrelated in ways we can’t even imagine? Three words, West Nile Virus. The more old tires, the more mosquitoes — they bite you, you could get sick. Maybe die. The tire/mosquito thingy is such a big deal that even Philly has started a program to get rid of old tires.

Unfortunately, it’s not at all green.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Fiend is Philadelphias Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart. Most people don’t know it yet, but that will change. Miss Fiend is host of the Big Tea Party. But enough of my yackin’, here’s Elizabeth with the 411 on her column: “Most people don’t think about the fact that science doesn’t determine our government’s regulations and recommendations for health and the environment, it’s sleazy politicking and backroom lobbying that makes the rules and I would like to bring this fact more to the forefront,” she says. “My philosophy is decidedly anti-big business/governmental lobbying but in line with the science of (my idol, ok crush) Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard University School of Public Health. There’s an edge to it, but it’s not goofy new age-y stuff with no basis in fact. And besides all that, I am the most fun of all the health advocates. I’m the only one who consistently wears pink and is brewing absinthe in her kitchen (excuse me, that’s illegal, infusing absinthe).” Word.

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