Category Archives: Health

Hudson River Ramble activities: bike, hike, boat, play, sightsee

Hudson River Ramble activities16 years of fall activities bring thousands out to enjoy the Hudson River Ramble and Hudson Valley in southern New York State. Take a look at through the activity choices in the website and Guidebook and head out to enjoy the culture and natural beauty of this region. There’s truly something for everyone.

Every September, participation continues to grow. ‘Ramblers’ come not only from the Hudson Valley region and New York State, but from other regions of the country as well to discover the riches our Valley has to offer. Whether you are interested in a challenging hike, bike ride or paddle, an inspiring walk through the grounds and homes of some of the Valley’s most notable artists, authors, and Great Americans, a trip back in time to experience the significant role the region played in the Revolutionary War, or a family-fun festival or river exploration event, the Hudson River Valley Ramble truly offers something for everyone!

Peepoople bags turn people waste into valuable fertilizer

peepoople bagsThe production of Peepoople bags is being subsidized by its creator, Anders Wilhelmson, but this brilliant idea could become completely self-funding once it catches on more in developing countries. The bags currently cost users 3.4¢. FastCompany writes:

For less than four cents a bag, Peepoople’s mobile toilet takes dangerous waste and turns it into valuable fertilizer. Peepoople makes bags for going to the toilet, but not any old bags. Inside are chemicals that break down the poo and pee into fertilizer. Peepoople’s bags not only help contain dangerous waste, offering alternative sanitation in slums and refugee camps. They also begin to turn the feces into a positive material that can nourish crops.

The business was started 10 years ago by Anders Wilhelmson, an architect, urban planner, and professor at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology … (who) started to think of the bag – which he considers a sort of mobile toilet, something akin to what a cell phone is to a landline.

We need Green Infrastructure, and EPA infographic shows why

EPA GI infographicThis EPA infographic may just be the mother of all Green Infrastructure elucidations. It shows many different ways to incorporate GI in communities and how this helps us conserve water, reduce energy use, reduce flooding risks and make both buildings and Planet Earth, cooler.

Wikipedia‘s Green Infrastructure definition is pretty empty: it doesn’t help us paint a mind picture of what GI is.

Green Infrastructure or blue-green infrastructure is a network providing the “ingredients” for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature.

But American Rivers helps us understand the scope and relevance of Green Infrastructure.

Green infrastructure is an approach to water management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle. Green infrastructure is effective, economical, and enhances community safety and quality of life.

It means planting trees and restoring wetlands, rather than building a costly new water treatment plant. It means choosing water efficiency instead of building a new water supply dam. It means restoring floodplains instead of building taller levees.

Green infrastructure incorporates both the natural environment and engineered systems to provide clean water, conserve ecosystem values and functions, and provide a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife.

Borrow an air quality monitor from the Pittsburgh Public Library

Speck air quality monitorNPR reports on a groundbreaking Pittsburgh library innovation: the Carnegie Mellon Library is lending out the Speck air quality monitor (cost $200) to help residents stay healthy.

The small, WiFi-connected device detects and calculates the level of fine particulate matter, particles that are invisible to the naked eye and just a tiny fraction of the width of a human hair. The lower the count, the better the air — and the fewer risks to health.

A high presence of particulate matter can exacerbate problems like asthma, lung disease and allergies. But the loanable air monitor is helping residents find and fix the source of the problem.

Librarians help people with job searches, research and were the country’s most outspoken defenders of residents’ civil rights and privacy in post 9/11 America.

In a ceremony tonight, the American Civil Liberties Union will present the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty awards to four Connecticut librarians and the president of a New York Internet Service Provider (ISP) who stood up against the Patriot Act and refused to violate the privacy of their patrons and clients.

This is one more reason to appreciate our public libraries and the fine men and women who staff them. Thank you guys!

If your library doesn’t have a Speck to lend out, make a request that they get one.

Louisiana Reps vote to ban schools on waste sites

Campaign to ban construction on toxic waste NOLAThe Campaign for Toxic-Free Schools in New Orleans and Louisiana reports that the Louisiana House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 180, which would prohibit the construction of new schools on waste sites. The bill now goes to the Louisiana Senate – let’s all pray that it passes!

An April 2015 Times-Picayune article provides background on this issue.

Menstruation Activists spread the word: healthy menstrual products are also eco-friendly

Sustainable CyclesWould you believe there’s something called Menstruation Activism – and that women who promote it via Sustainable Cycles are cycling across the United States to bring awareness to women everywhere about menstruation products that are healthier for us and better for the environment?

The Guardian report on menstruation products shares excellent information on what’s being done around the world to bring this universally taboo subject into the light. It should be easy to discuss and address the health and environmental concerns that are associated with ‘female hygiene’, as it’s a subject that affects 50% of the world’s population directly … and the environmental problems caused by unsustainable products affect everyone.

What a revolutionary idea. I love it!

Wow. Sen Menendez IS NOT opposed to GMO food!

EWG GE labeling won't cost moreI’m normally a Bob Menendez fan but WOW, today I’m so disappointed. The Senator wrote to tell me that he doesn’t believe that states should have the right to label GMOs. And he doesn’t believe in GMO labeling at the federal level either. In fact, Sen Menendez made it clear that he does not oppose the genetically engineered modifications of our foods.

The single reason states have started trying to pass their own GMO labeling laws is that the federal government won’t pass laws to allow United States citizens and residents to know what’s in our food. Vermont is the first state to require GMO labeling of all foods.

Here’s the letter Sen. Menendez sent me:

Dear Ms. Wei:

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this critical issue.

As you may know, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to deem any food destined for human consumption as misbranded if it has been genetically engineered or contains genetically engineered ingredients, unless such information is clearly disclosed. The bill labels food as genetically engineered if it is an organism that is the product of intentional genetic engineering or contains any ingredients that are intentionally genetically engineered. This legislation has been introduced before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which I am not a member of. However, should the bill be presented for a vote before the full United States Senate, I will be sure to keep your views in mind.

As the Garden State, New Jersey has a proud reputation as a leader in many agricultural fields, and I am committed to preserving this legacy. While farmers have naturally modified crops to improve growth and yields for centuries, recent advances in genetic engineering have raised questions about the safety of some of these food products. I believe we must be prudent when approving genetically modified food but I also recognize that unnecessarily labeling inherently safe products, could actually risk confusing and misleading consumers. It is vitally important that we fully understand the impact of these practices on our food supply and our health while harnessing the advantages of modern science and innovation.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the implementation of food labeling set forth by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Foods that must be labeled include most prepared foods, such as breads, cereals, canned and frozen foods, snacks, desserts, and drinks. Foods that do not have to be labeled are called “conventional foods,” which include raw produce such as fruits, vegetables and fish. I continue to believe these standards should be regulated on the national level by objective scientific experts in the FDA rather than through a patchwork of state regulations that could have the unintended consequence of confusing consumers. Please know that I will continue to look for ways to ensure that Americans have access to appropriate and accurate nutritional information, without misleading consumers or imposing overly onerous requirements on food producers.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance. You may also visit my website ( to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.

Learn more about why you should care and find out how the Non-GMO Project can help you get there.

Ask Trader Joe’s CEO for clarification on GMO policy

Trader Joe's and its big food vendors
Trader Joe’s says it doesn’t carry any GMO products but that can’t actually be true as a lot of its products list sugar as an ingredient. Over half of US sugar is beet sugar which is heavily GMOed. If you want natural sugar, you should look for cane sugar specifically.

Furthermore, it seems like a major Trader Joe’s vendor is ConAgra, which is one of the big companies fighting against GMO labeling laws and spending mega-bucks to do so.

I like Patrick‘s idea (commenter on GMO Awareness):

I suggest folks contact ALISON MOCHIZUKI, Director of Public Relations at TJ’s, and request a response.

If you’ve got an idea too, let’s hear it.

Ban on (styrofoam) polystyrene containers spreads to NYC

polystyrene defined by Wikipedia

On Jan 1, New York City’s polystyrene foam ban went into effect, joining the city to the ranks of Rahway, Secaucus and the Verona public school district in New Jersey and dozens of other cities across the country. NYC is the country’s largest city and last year collected 28,500 TONS of the stuff, a material which the city has determined is practically impossible to recycle. Because styrofoam lasts for 500 years, the ban will start reducing environmental impact in the year 2515.

The 7th grader responsible for pushing the ban in Verona schools is Lucas Konrad-Parisi.
“Styrofoam never degrades, it has dangerous chemicals in it, they can leach out – and it seemed they were throwing so many of these out each day,” Lucas explained to a reporter at the time. “They have a recycling bin in the cafeteria, but you can’t recycle Styrofoam.”

The Northern Illinois University Department of Biological Sciences published a paper cautioning students about the dangers of foam containers:

What happens when we add hot food or drinks to Polystyrene?

Polystyrene contains the toxic substances Styrene and Benzene, suspected carcinogens and neurotoxins that are hazardous to humans. Hot foods and liquids actually start a partial breakdown of the Styrofoam, causing some toxins to be absorbed into our bloodstream and tissue.

Polystyrene food containers leach the toxin Styrene when they come into contact with warm food or drink, alcohol, oils and acidic foods causing human contamination and pose a health risk to people. Avoid drinking tea with lemon, coffee with dairy cream, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages and wine from Styrofoam cups. Red wine will instantly dissolve the Styrene monomer. Do not eat oily foods from Styrofoam containers.

Do not microwave food in Polystyrene containers

Over 100 US and Canadian, as well as some European and Asian cities, have banned polystyrene food packaging as a result of the negative impacts to humans and the environment.

And offers this suggestions on what to do if polystyrene is still being used where you live or work:

What can we do?

1. Be aware of the harmful effects of using polystyrene products and tell others.
2. Use reusable cups instead of foam cups.
3. When shopping for groceries, select items that are unwrapped, or wrapped in non-
polystyrene materials: (e.g. vegetables, eggs, meat)
4. Ask local takeaway restaurants and food suppliers to use a more environmentally
friendly form of food packaging other than Styrofoam. Many alternatives are now available made from materials such as post-consumer recycled paper and corn- plastics.

Ask (for a ban on) polystyrene in food packaging. There are many alternatives that will have less impact on the environment.

If you want to know more about how bad styrofoam is, take a gander at the Sierra Club’s testimony to the Massachusetts legislature on its harmful effects and Harvard’s Polystyrene Fact Sheets.