the TAO of CHANGE

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Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

Shower Curtain Safety – NO PVC Needed

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I have shower envy. I used to have a shower with a door – no curtain required. My first choice is a solar outdoor shower (at work on that one…) but right now I have a stall with a shower curtain. It was easy to find a naturally antibacterial hemp version but after the first year, I noticed mold growing on the bottom. I did more research, discovering that while hemp is mold resistant, it only works well in an airy bathroom and dry climate. Since I have neither, I have mold. I’ve been squeaking by for awhile, making the most of tea tree oil in the wash, but have been waiting and watching for a solution – determined to not go back to the evils of Plastic and PVCs.

Recent research and a Report has recently been done at The Center for Health, Environment and Justice, testing shower curtains from Kmart, Walmart, Sears and Bed, Bath & Beyond. The smell belies the concentration of chemicals when you open the package, though as it turns out it’s worse than that. There are nearly 108 compounds present in the typical shower curtain, seven of which have been identified by the EPA as hazardous air pollutants. Vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen that causes liver cancer and has also shown to emit toxins linked to damaging the central nervous system, respiratory and reproductive systems.

The Center has sent letters to 19 major retailers, informing them of the report and encouraging them to stop selling products containing PVC. The report will hopefully bring attention to the lack of regulations and guidelines governing indoor air pollutants.

Fortunately, I was led to Healthgoods.com yesterday (through a site I visit frequently -  LIME.com) which let me know that I wasn’t the only one trying to go plastic-free, but looking for a solution to curtain mold. Healthgoods.com offers all kinds of pvc-free curtains, INCLUDING one which was mold-proof even in humid climate. In fact, it is made from 100% RECYCLED polyester – details here. I’m darn excited to have found the solution I needed. It was worth the wait. I’ll let you know more when it gets here.

In the meantime, click on the link to listen and read about the Report on shower curtains and PVCs everywhere.

Convenience or Luxury? more on eco-travel

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

As it usually happens, if you spend time thinking about something and you’ll soon hear more about it. This hotel business has me thinking a lot about the difference between convenience and luxury. And, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that luxury is not only wasteful, but greatly overrated.

I’m grateful for a way of life which allows me considerable convenience, but too much of a good thing simply makes many of us lazy, bored, neurotic and unhealthy. Electrical appliances and oil-dependent machines take over what was once, all in a day’s work. The consumer products “as seen on tv”, individually wrapped anything – and even things like yoga mat bags – baffle me. I don’t even have to mention the mess “convenient” paper cups and plastic bags has gotten us into.

But, back to hotels. Convenience which crosses a certain boundary becomes a luxury – something we can enjoy, but need to be wary of. Often, as a consumer, I feel ridiculously pampered. Luxury hotels (as well as restaurants and stores) pander to our desires to elevate our fragile egos to royal proportions and we buy into it – literally and figuratively. This is all part of what has made the process of hotel-greening a slow and resistant one, according to an article I found yesterday in Mother Jones magazine.

Despite my excitement over the Kimpton chain’s commitment to social and environmental practices, it turns out that it’s still only a fraction of this industry which actively engage in the process of becoming more sustainable – and, as reported by Kimberly Lisagor, Kimpton is the only chain using non-toxic cleaning supplies. Even more shocking, it turns out that the energy cost of an average single hotel room is $2,196 per year – equal to the energy use of an average American household for the same period.

Bottom line? It’s up to us (as consumers) to ask for what we want and then be willing to get out of the lap of luxury. The Green Hotel Association recommends that travelers can and should demand green services, helping dispell the myth that standards set by an excess of amenities. Call ahead to request nontoxic cleaning products, BYO toiletries (shampoo/body bars are airline friendly), turn off the AC, heat, lights and other appliances, avoid maid service, use less water and linens.

The biggest difference you can make is to travel less when possible and opt for the “staycation” otherwise. And when you really gotta/wanna hit the road, check the links below for B&Bs, hostels and earth-friendly hotels and enjoy the “luxury” of greener travel.

For lists and reviews of greener accommodations, visit GreenHotels.com, EcoTourism.org and ItsaGreenGreenWorld.com.



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