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The latest news, food for thought, recipes you’ll love, great advice on everything from raising kids to nurturing bees, plus videos designed to entertain, educate and enlighten. If you’d like to find out what’s on our mind – or let us know what’s on yours -- this is place to be.

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Finding Furniture

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Author: the Inkslinger

As someone who recently moved to a “new” house and is doing a bit of furnishing, I’ve been concerned about what those furnishings might do to our new home’s air quality. This excellent article from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle shows why.

It’s something not a lot of people realize: home furnishings can be a prime source unhealthy formaldehyde, flame retardants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other chemical bugaboos that get loose and pollute indoor environments. Things to watch out for range from out-gassing formaldehyde from pressed wood products to stain and fire-retardant treatments. Here’s a quick list of ways that my wife and I are trying to keep these things down to a minimum as we try to find a place to sit around here:

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Correcting Toyota’s Wrong Turn

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’ve had a few things to say about Toyota’s disappointing decision to oppose efforts to increase average fuel efficiency standards to 35 mpg by 2020. And apparently we’re not the only ones. Nine environmental orgs have come together to create a new website, TruthAboutToyoya.com and jump start the effort to convince the automaker to do the right thing.

There are going to be rallies at Toyota dealerships to call attention to the issue and some full page ads in big national newspapers. Hopefully by the time it’s all over, Toyota will figure out that its penny-wise-pound-foolish stance is driving its image (and sales) into the ditch, and the company will change its mind and actually be the responsible caring carmaker its marketing department keeps telling us it is. Visit the web site and check out what’s up. And if you’ve got a Prius or were thinking about one and maybe aren’t so much anymore, the most effectove action you can take is to tell the company how you feel. (There’s a page on the new website that makes it easy to send your own message.)

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Now THIS Is Scary…

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Author: the Inkslinger

Checking in for a quick second to forward this creepy article
from Seattle’s KOMO-TV about the spooky stuff lurking in Halloween costumery. Talk about things things that go boo in your body… Parents and everyone else be warned about these untreat-like tricks being played on our little boys and ghouls. We gotta think for ourselves and be precautionarily proactive on stuff like this so it doesn’t haunt us later. Don’t think just because it’s for sale that it’s safe. These deregulated days there are absolutely no guarantees. Caveat emptor.

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Where Green Is Greenest

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Author: the Inkslinger

Unless they’re being offered by gap-toothed late-night comedians, I’m generally not a big fan of top ten lists. Or bottom ten lists for that matter. Or really rankings of any kind. What rates, why doesn’t, and why is so subjective that most attempts to order a given subject from best to worst quickly devolve into exercises in abject absurdity for one reason or another, not the least of which is who can really know?

Still, sometimes we can learn a few general things from such lists, especially if they’re based on some kind of objective methodology (though the sceptic can always argue these, too!) So it is that we find Forbes magazine with a new ranking of the greenest states in which our fair state of Vermont ties with Oregon for the number one position. Here in the Green Mountains we’ve got a really low per-capita carbon footprint, which helped vault us to the top of this particular heap.

I’m guessing Vermonters are winning the greenstakes because so many of us heat with wood, and we’ve got to have one of the highest rates of Prius ownership in the world. (Those things are so everywhere here that my daughter and I are able to amuse ourselves on the road with a spot-the-Prius game.) We also have an official state office dedicated to promoting energy conservation that spends more per citizen on the task than any other state. And we are second only to Hawaii in terms of the least amount of toxic waste produced.

See where your state ranks and then see if you can beat us next year…

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David Gershon and the Low Carbon Diet

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We are working with David Gershon's program (presented in his book Low Carbon Diet) at 7th Gen and in local Verm

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Fit to Bee Tied

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Author: the Inkslinger

Our Sage of Scent, Eva Marie, sent us this great bee article
yesterday. It’s an excellent recounting of the general state of affairs where our pollinating friends are concerned.

It appears things are so broken so many ways it’s simply a wonder that honeybees survived this long without a major malfunction. That’s the what’s really surprising about colony collapse disorder. Not that it happened. But that it didn’t happen sooner.

We have really got to get away from the idea of agriculture as industry and find our way back to the wisdom that will reconnect our food to Earth’s great cycles and allow us to see it not as a product to be manufactured with ruthless efficiency but as an elemental force summoned from soil and air and rain and sun through a human/nature partnership. We must grow our food in a process that honors the mystery of it all and takes great care to work within the balance and harmony that makes life possible. If we don’t, the bees haven’t a chance. And neither do the species, certain bipedals included, that depend on them.

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Peter Senge on Sustainability

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Peter Senge, MIT lecturer and sustainability systems thinker (Fift

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Exposed On the Radio

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Author: the Inkslinger

Last month’s issue of the Non-Toxic Times reviewed the new book from investigative journalist Mark Shapiro, Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power. This is an important work not because it outlines the many ways Americans are being harmed by toxic products and the laissez-faire regulatory climate that places corporate protectionism ahead of consumer protections but becauase it addresses what this means for our economic future and American influence in the world.

Shapiro argues that in a world trending toward green, strong regulations based on the Precautionary Principle will serve a country well both ecologically and economically (as in Europe) and that those nations that don’t follow this path (as ours is currently refusing to do) won’t be able to compete in a global marketplace with higher environmental standards and so are destined to lose out in a big way. Excellent thesis and I totally agree. Ironically, in the long run, all these corporations that say regulations harm business and the economy are just shooting both in the foot.

All of which is a somewhat roundabout way of mentioning that Shapiro was on California’s KQED radio last week. The program is archived here for your auditory illumination . It’s very much worth listening to and the book is one everyone should read. Especially all these recalcitrant business types…

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This and That From Here and There

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Author: the Inkslinger

It’s going to be a little quiet around here during the next couple of days as most of the staff heads to the hills outside Stowe for a two-day retreat. That makes it a perfect time to dump my virtual in-box out on the table and see what seems post-worthy.

A new survey finds that Americans are getting ahead of the political curve when it comes to the climate crisis. 62% think that we’re headed for major trouble if we don’t act decisively and soon. Encouragingly, 40% say a presidential candidates position on this burning issue will be extremely or very important to them. Still, we apparently aren’t quite ready to put our money where our viewpoints are. 67% are against carbon taxes on gasoline and 71% are against taxes on electricity. In other words, we don’t want to pay the price of global warming but we don’t want to pay the price of avoiding it either.

But here’s the thing: with a little investment, we could all cool out. According to a study released last week by the alarmingly named National Security Space Office, we have the technology necessary to build a bunch of giant solar space things that could collect enough energy from the sun every year to supply the entire world with all the power it could squander seven times over. The energy would be beamed back to earth via lasers or microwaves (will we also be able to set our bowls of ramen noodles outside for convenient heating?). Of course, we’d have to build these orbiting juicers and get them up there, but with crude oil closing in on $100 a barrel, giant solar space things are actually getting cost-competitive. Something tells me that if you (ahem) taxed petroleum and other energy sources to account for the environmental damage they cause, we’d be launching them even as I write.

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