Saturday, March 14, 2009

Feature Review - Samantharoma Wrinkle Repair Complex - by Mary Gatch

After trying many options to no avail, I was thrilled to find a natural deodorant that actually works! From miles of walking to hot yoga, Samantharoma Deodorant keeps me smelling sweet all day. Samantha from Summerville makes this product, and it outscores over 800 rated products and achieves the best score (zero!) on the 0-10 hazard rating on the Cosmetic Database.

After following in love with the Samantharoma Deodorant, I decided to try Samantha's Wrinkle Repair Complex. I figured I could use all the help I could get. I trusted her product and ingredients as the wrinkle repair complex also scores a zero (lowest rating) hazard score on the Cosmetic Database.

It is hard to perform a good control test with environmental variables such as sun exposure, quality and quantity of sleep, stress levels, and more. So, I decided I would apply the wrinkle repair complex to just one side of my face (the right side). I applied it morning and night just dabbing a few drops where I have the most, well umm, 'character'. My signs of wisdom now include smile lines, squint lines, deep-in-thought forehead lines, and the probably there since birth - furrowed brow (it's really genetic - you'll have to check out the picture of my son to believe it).

Well, after this two-week experiment, I was quite pleased with the results. Rather than clog your e-mail with photos or scare the unprepared, you can click here to see the two sides of my mug shot subject to the following warning. In the interest of avoiding a smile and showing some detail, these photos are not flattering and perhaps down right scary! But, they do show a considerable difference in the right and left side of my face.

You'll also get to see the adorable picture of my son highlighting our genetic proclivity to the furrowed brow. Most amazingly, the right half of my furrowed brow just about disappeared after two weeks with the Wrinkle Repair Complex.

As a bonus and as Samantha had indicated, it also reduced my rosacea. It was all enough to convince me, and now I'm a regular and happy user - on both sides of my face.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Top 10 Things to Improve Our Carbon Footprint

What are the top 10 things we can all do to improve our carbon footprint?

Our carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by our lifestyles. There are many websites that allow you to measure your current carbon footprint. You’ll find a good calculator at

In determining the Top 10, it’s important to consider the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The pie charts were developed by Robert A. Rohde based on information from the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research. The charts shows the sources of man-made greenhouse gas emissions by contributing sector for the year 2000. The overall chart is further broken down into charts for each of the 3 primary greenhouse gases using the same colors to represent the eight contributing sectors.

Below, in order of importance, are 10 things you can do to lower your greenhouse gas emissions.

Top 10:
  1. Eat less meat
  2. Consume less fuel
  3. Support or switch to renewable energy sources
  4. Lower heating and cooling cost
  5. Buy locally-produced goods when possible
  6. Use less water
  7. Improve lighting and appliance efficiency
  8. Reduce waste (e.g., packaging and disposable bags, bottles, and cups)
  9. Recycle
  10. Compost

Some of you may be surprised by the #1 item on the list. The order of items 2 through 10 is somewhat arbitrary and debatable, but there’s only one action that stands out for top billing - reducing our meat consumption.

In 1987, as our global population surpassed 5 billion people, we also reached another milestone. We crossed over the point at which the earth is able to regenerate the amount of global resources consumed within a year. We entered a new era with the ecological equivalent of deficit spending.

As our population grows every year and as more people around the world strive to live the ‘American Lifestyle’, our ecological deficit is growing rapidly.

According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meat production generates more greenhouse gas emissions (14-22 percent of global emissions) than either transportation or industry. Most of the emissions stem from beef production with a pound of hamburger resulting in about 32 pounds of CO2 emissions.

To tie this back in with the pie chart, here are the primary ways that meat production contributes greenhouse gases:

‘Land Use and Biomass Burning’ – the primary reason for the destruction of rainforests and other forest land is to clear land for cattle. It requires 20 times as much land to grow food for a meat-eater versus a strict vegetarian. As 10’s of millions of acres are burned or cleared each year, a massive amount of stored carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Further, we lose the ongoing ability of these forests to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

‘Agricultural Byproducts’ – in large part, this is a nice way of saying cow burps, flatulence, and poop. As cows digest grass and grains, they produce methane gas as a byproduct. Pound for pound, methane gas is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at creating a greenhouse affect. The earth’s estimated 1.5 billion cows are believed to be the primary source for the steady and alarming rise in methane in our atmosphere. Another byproduct of cow manure is nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of CO2.

‘Transportation Fuels’ – raising cattle requires a lot of fuel. From the tractors and trucks to grow and transport the grains to feed the cattle to the trucks transporting the steer and packaged meats, there are many moving parts. The fuel used to power the vehicles and produce the styrofoam and plastic packaging is another large contributor to greenhouse gases. According to a Department of Commerce study, one third of all raw materials in the United States are used to produce meat, dairy products, and eggs; the production and transport of these raw materials requires massive amounts of fuel.

‘Power Stations’ – about half of the world’s fresh water consumption is used for livestock production. When water is siphoned upstream of hydroelectric plants, it often results in a shift of power generation to more carbon-intensive methods such as coal-fired power plants. In many places, the inadequate supply of fresh water requires energy-intensive desalination of sea water. And, a significant amount of electricity can be saved by reducing irrigation water and the associated energy required to treat and distribute the water.

If you’d like to learn more and to gather more incentive to cut meat consumption, I highly recommend John Robbins’ landmark book – Diet for a New America. It will change your perspective.

The first item in the Top 10 is perhaps the easiest and most effective in so many ways. By reducing our meat consumption (especially beef), we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint. And, in addition to improving the health of the planet, you can improve the health of your family.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Living With Garbage

Vancouver city workers went on strike for 3 months. Services including the issuing of city permits, public libraries, city daycare centers, YMCA facilities, park maintenance, and, most noticeably, trash pick-up were all suspended during this period. Management personnel were able to perform certain duties deemed critical to civic survival (including, parking meter enforcement much to the irritation of Vancouverites), but the public was generally expected to get by without services that most had taken for granted.

Vancouver is renowned as a clean, modern city. Its coastal location, hydro-generated electricity, and clean-air initiatives help to keep its air quality among the best of North American cities. Glacier-fed water reservoirs ensure a clean, natural source of water. And a blend of public and private waste management services generally keeps the city free of trash. However, during the three-month strike, piles of garbage (regular trash, yard waste, and household recycling) were both unsightly and a public health concern.

But the situation was not as bad as it could have been. The city endured a strike of similar duration five years ago and people learned valuable lessons that ameliorated the severity of the more recent strike. During the intervening years, several things occurred:
  • recycling rates increased, removing a lot of renewable materials from the waste stream (5 to 10 cent bottle return fees encourage recycling of beverage containers)
  • a city initiative to encourage composting (the city provides a 50% subsidy for the cost of home composters) removed much organic refuse from both kitchen and yard work from the waste stream.
  • Vancouver citizens learned to shop more responsibly, avoiding products with bulky packaging, reusing shopping bags, and giving reusable things away rather than putting them in garbage bins.

The garbage strike did provide ample opportunity for analysis of garbage bin contents (in the same way that you get to know houseguests all too well when their stay extends into weeks and months). Vancouverite's love of take-out sushi and Chinese food was tempered by consideration of the myriad food containers that would require disposal. People deferred the purchase of items once considered necessities over concern of what to do with the packaging and any items being replaced. Relegating food waste to composters greatly reduced the stench coming from the bulging garbage bins. And although the city was not collecting from recycling bins, diligent separation of recyclable materials freed up valuable space in the overloaded garbage bins.

Another bright side to the strike was that it promoted camaraderie among citizens, in the same way that any adversity draws together those people suffering its consequences. Neighbors collaborated on garbage strategies, swapping space in garbage bins for space in yard waste containers, or encouraging others to contribute to their composters. Shopkeepers congratulated people for reusing shopping bags from home. People rummaging through recycle bins to collect bottles to exchange for cash were no longer intruders but welcome entrepreneurs.

It is encouraging that so many Americans are taking steps to reduce their portion of their community's waste stream without having to endure a garbage strike. Less garbage means reduced landfill space requirements, less water pollution associated with groundwater seepage from landfills, and decreased air pollution from the burning of garbage. Composting of kitchen and yard waste generates organic fertilizer for gardening. Recycling, in addition to less waste, means less mining and associated pollution. Citizens adopting these everyday habits serve their community and the planet well, and should there be any disruption to garbage service, make everyday living that much better!

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