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The PristinePlanet.com Newsletter
10 December 2006 — Issue #26
Editor: Michael J. Ross
Environmental News
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Click Here For Green Holiday Shopping

Green Holiday Shopping

The holiday shopping season in the United States begins, for most consumers, on the day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday", and ends just before Christmas — though for some people it is the last few minutes that the stores are open on Christmas Eve, as the more frantic shoppers feel the panic caused by their procrastination. But regardless of when the gift items are actually purchased, and whether they are obtained in a "bricks and mortar" store or ordered over the Internet, the ecological and social impact of those purchases will be felt throughout the industrial world, for years after the cash registers ring up those purchases.

The same way that all humans, animals, and plants live within a complex ecosystem — whose elements depend upon one another more than they can imagine — the economy of the United States and all other modern countries form a complex system, in which every buy and sell decision affects similar decisions of the immediate participants, sending information outwards on the countless strands that form the economic web. Consequently, when someone chooses to fill their Christmastime shopping cart with plastic, foreign-made gewgaws soon bound for the landfills, those consumers are telling the manufacturers and distributors that they want more of those products, regardless of their impact upon our planet. The message is clear in its meaning: "Send us more junk, at the lowest monetary price, regardless of its ecological price".

On the other hand, when people choose to purchase and give Christmas gifts that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible, they are sending an equally clear and influential message, but with quite different content from the conventional one: "Offer us only products that are higher quality, more sustainable, and gentler on our world". This message is just as clear and influential as the former, and delivered in the same attention-getting language that all businesses use as their primary means of communicating with the markets: money — more precisely: prices paid and prices charged.

Decades ago, just about the only way that the average urban dweller could easily opt for giving a "green" gift, was by making it themselves (or convincing the unsuspecting children that doing so was a fun game). Nowadays, some of the more forward-looking "bricks and mortar" stores are offering planet-friendly holiday gifts. But the best selection by far is to be found on the Web, where an eco-revolution is taking place in how the online retailers choose the most environmentally and socially responsible products available, and how Earth-conscious consumer's are rewarding those retailers by purchasing those products — even if it means paying a bit more — that are consistent with their values, in which they feel will have a positive impact on our environment, and all its inhabitants.

The bottom line is, when you make a purchase, you cast an economic and ecological ballot. When you vote with your dollars — including during the holidays — vote green!

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A Concrete Solution to Pollution?

Italy's major cities are known for their ancient buildings and equally priceless outdoor statues. Sadly, these congested metropolitan areas are also known for their overwhelming motor traffic, as well as the resultant vehicle emissions, smog, and acid rain, adding to that caused by industrial pollution. These airborne pollutants have no respect for historical value, aesthetic beauty, or the incalculable cultural value of preserving these ancient works of architecture and art. (Perhaps more accurately, it is the human polluters who lack these qualities.) As a consequence, ancient artifacts, such as the Roman Colosseum, are being slowly destroyed as the pollutants eaten away at the vulnerable stone that comprises these treasures — making the material porous, and thus further exposing it to deterioration. In the meantime, the nearby modern buildings, made mostly of concrete, look on impassively as their older counterparts are aged far too quickly.

But what if those modern buildings, or at least their exteriors, could help to protect their threatened ancestors? What if the cement used to make those bare exteriors, or the paint and plaster used to cover their outside surfaces, could somehow neutralize some of those airborne pollutants? That is the idea behind TX Active, a technology that has been in development since the middle half of the 1990s, and is now being deployed by manufacturers of cement in Italy, the world's fifth-largest producer.

The key to the solution is a natural process known as photocatalysis, which, in the presence of light, breaks down carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, benzene, and other pollutants. It achieves this by dramatically speeding up the oxidation that converts those substances into less harmful compounds, such as water, carbon dioxide, and nitrates. The photocatalyzer TX Active was developed by researchers at Italcementi Group. It is essentially a blend of titanium dioxide, and can be incorporated into paint, plaster, and mortar, as well as cement. In turn, the compound can be used almost anywhere in an urban environment, including repainting walls, plastering new and older homes, and repaving streets when needed.

What makes this new technology appear to be so environmentally promising, is the tremendous results obtained so far. For instance, in the town of Segrate, near Milan, there is a heavily trafficked street that serves over 1000 cars every hour. Repaving it with material containing TX Active caused a reduction in nitric oxides of approximately 60 percent. As a more extensive test, an industrial area larger than 8000 square meters, located near Bergamo, also received the TX Active treatment, and saw a decrease of 45 percent. Perhaps most remarkable of all, is the estimate (from several sources) that if 15 percent of all visible urban surfaces were covered with materials containing TX Active, then airborne pollution could be reduced by up to 50 percent, depending upon the atmospheric conditions.

As with so many ecological countermeasures, building materials enhanced with TX Active cost more than the standard ones. For example, photocatalytic paving blocks cost approximately one third more than the conventional ones. But that is simply a short-term expense, and greatly outweighed by the long-term benefits. The photocatalytic paint has even less of a premium, adding about 100 euros to the cost of all the paint needed to cover a typical five-story building. These cost differences may actually be less than the money saved from long-term cleaning expenses, since the TX Active materials prevent the pollutants from building up on surfaces.

So when in Rome, do as the Romans do, and say "Ciao!" to "cemento mangiasmog" ("smog-eating cement") — a new technology that could help conquer air pollution and help preserve the stone buildings and statues built in an era when the air was naturally clean.

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Member Profiles
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Green Nest

As citizens living in industrialized countries, when we venture out into the world every day, we are exposed to countless and invisible airborne carcinogens, among other dangerous chemicals. This assault upon our health often begins with the commute into the office in the morning, sitting in traffic, and inhaling the exhaust fumes from our vehicle and those of the other commuters, to say nothing of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by various types of plastics and petroleum-based liquids used to fuel and lubricate our cars. The damage does not end when we finally make it into the office, given that studies show how these "sick buildings" trap even more airborne pollutants than found in the smog-fill the air outside. When we eventually return home, the last thing we need is to step into an equally polluted and unhealthy environment.

Helping us to keep our homes as friendly to the environment and to our bodies as possible, is the primary purpose of Green Nest, an Internet-based company that offers a variety of products designed for natural living. Their Web site features purifiers and home testing kits for air and water, organic beds and bedding accessories, organic baby supplies, nontoxic cleaning products and insect repellents, soy-based candles, non-toxic building materials, pet accessories, gift items, and even devices designed to protect against electromagnetic frequencies (EMF). Customers really appreciate Green Nest offers its own line of many of these eco-friendly products.

Cofounders and co-owners Lisa and Ron Beres created the business in 2003, and launched their Web site in 2005. Like so many other individuals who have developed their own green businesses, Lisa and Ron were inspired by personal experience — in this case, an illness caused by a newly remodeled home. Both Lisa and Ron have a very strong interest in Bau-biologie (German for "building biology"), which is the study of how buildings affect the health of their occupants, and how we can create healthier living environments. Lisa is a Certified Bau-Biologist, and Ron is working towards his certification. Both of them are dedicated to educating their customers, as well as the general public. For instance, they offer information in a free newsletter, monthly audio tips on their Web site, and an audio CD titled "Learn to Create a Healthy Home!" . They have even been featured on the TODAY Show, Fox and Friends, and the Sally Jesse Raphael Show.

Visit Green Nest today, and learn more about how to make your home healthier for you and the environment!

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ProgressiveKid

People's attitudes towards the environment, and to the humans and animals with whom they share that environment, are usually set at an early age. That is why it can be so critical to introduce young children to the principles of living responsibly: protecting and nurturing plants and animals, valuing biodiversity, honoring the differences among people and their varying perspectives, and living up to one's full potential. These are just some of the core values shared by Julie Hall and Sarah Lane, and reflected in the online business that they also share — ProgressiveKid.

Inspired by new parenthood, as well as some professional and lifestyle reassessment, Julie and Sarah decided to make a new start, and create a Web-based enterprise that sold childrens' items that are smart, worthwhile, and deliver a positive message about the environment and humanity. They chose products that embody the power of language and a deep sense of responsibility toward other living things, as well as progressive values and a commitment to kids — hence the name of the company.

In 2004, Julie and Sarah started off by making their first products: natural soaps and balms, recycled greeting cards, and organic shirts with messages. Since then, they have broadened and deepened their product offerings, and now feature, in addition to their original products: educational toys, games, and puzzles for children; home furnishings and wall art; art supplies; kids' world music CDs; baby bath items; party boxes; hats, with some made from recycled fleece; books, including journals for young writers; lead-free lunch sacks; and gift sets and gift certificates. During the same time, they were greatly challenged by all that is involved in building an e-commerce venture, and gaining visibility on the Internet (which is one way that PristinePlanet.com can be a huge help). Julie and Sarah have continued to combine their strong beliefs in eco-conscious and socially responsible living, along with terrific products and excellent customer service, and the results speak for themselves. Their shirts are now sold in natural stores throughout the United States, and even in Australia.

Their success is an inspiring example of how anyone can develop their own online business, even if they do not have an extensive background in business development, management, marketing, and sales. For all of us Web-entrepreneurs, every day is a learning experience, and an inspiration to others who find themselves rethinking their professional paths in life, and choosing to do work that is more consistent with their personal values.

We welcome ProgressiveKid to the PristinePlanet.com community!

Member News
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Solay Wellness

Cleaning for better health: New Solay Simple with Himalayan salt. Four effective, safe, and unscented natural cleaning products that work great. Mention PristinePlanet.com and receive 2 lbs. of Himalayan salts with your order of our Solay Simple Clean Home package — a $15 value! 100% satisfaction guaranteed.


Garden of Eve

Garden of Eve offers many wonderful handcrafted skin care products, largely made with organically grown and wild-crafted ingredients. Just in time for the holiday season, Garden of Eve is making available some special holiday green gift ideas: The Holiday Trio gives you a choice of Aromatic Hand and Body Cream ( 1.7 ounces), Facial Cleansing Nectar (1 ounce), and WOW! Face Crème (0.5 ounces). Santa's Stocking Stuffers are attractive gold organza bags, each containing four 0.3-ounce containers of organic handcrafted aromatherapy moisturizer creams — perfect for travel! There are also some perfect gift ideas for the guys on your list as well. For instance, Garden of Eve for ADAM is an organic botanical face moisturizer cream, designed just for men. These products are carefully formulated with natural ingredients that give the skin what it needs to balance itself and thus maintain an even tone and healthy appearance — especially valuable when the health of our skin can be undermined by cold weather and other stressors. Be sure to visit the Garden of Eve Holiday Green Gifts page [ http://www.garden-of-eve.com/green-gifts.htm] to learn more about these skin care gifts, which are now available at special prices, and also help support the health of our planet.


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All material copyright © 2006 PristinePlanet.com™, except for Environmental News articles copyright © 2006 Michael J. Ross. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter can be copied without express written permission from its copyright holder.

Letters and guest articles posted in the Newsletter section of the Forum or sent to the publisher become the property of PristinePlanet.com, and may be edited for brevity or clarity prior to publication.