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The PristinePlanet.com Newsletter
10 February 2007 — Issue #28
Editor: Michael J. Ross
Environmental News
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Windows Vista Bad for Environment?

During the five years that Microsoft was developing the Windows Vista version of their flagship operating system, organizations and individual computer users have had somewhat of a breather in the endless upgrade cycle that was introduced with the PC itself — in which users are forced to upgrade or completely replace their PCs every several years, so that those machines have the processing power and data storage space required to run the latest operating systems and applications. In the early 2000s, PCs with 128 megabytes (MB) of system memory, two gigabytes (GB) of free space on the hard drive, and a 300 megahertz (MHz) microprocessor, were — and still are — capable of running Windows XP — even the Professional Edition. The only other hardware requirements were the same ones seen in the 1990s, and accepted by everyone: a SVGA-capable display monitor, a CD-ROM or DVD drive, a keyboard, and a mouse. Most if not all of those PC users could reasonably expect that the next version of Windows would at least run on their existing machines (read: investments), albeit perhaps a bit slower, or at the worst, requiring a doubling of RAM to 256 MB.

But with the introduction of Windows Vista, released to the general consumer on 30 January 2007, those more-than-adequate PCs suddenly became less-than, and the previous hardware requirements seem almost quaint. Specifically, Windows Vista is a power- and space-hungry operating system/ogre, demanding no less than 512 MB of RAM and an 800 MHz chip — a more than doubling of the processor speed, and a phenomenal quadrupling of required system memory. But that is just the bare minimum for a PC to be deemed "Vista Capable" (barely). To reach the status of "Vista Premium" (i.e., the recommended specifications), a PC will need an entire gigabyte of RAM, a 1 GHz chip, 15 GB of free space on the hard drive (which can be no smaller than 40 GB), a DirectX 9-capable graphics card, a DVD drive, audio output, and Internet connectivity.

This is a dramatic increase in the hardware requirements just to run a PC operating system — or, more precisely, a Microsoft PC operating system, since Linux runs just fine on the older PCs, and may receive a large boost in market share as a result of Vista's requirements. This is in addition to the draconian limitations to consumers' digital information management abilities, imposed by Digital Rights Management (DRM), which has been embraced by Microsoft and other technology product behemoths.

Hardest hit by these changes will be individual PC consumers, who usually do not have the deep pockets necessary for frequently replacing their home(/office) computers. Upgrading their existing machines, will likely not be an option for most PC users, unless they have fairly new motherboards, because the bulk of the motherboards in use are not able to support 1 GHz microprocessors, assuming that they can even handle 1 GB of RAM. Those PC users who elect to open up their purse strings and take yet another step forward on the hardware upgrade gerbil wheel, will be buying new PCs, and for the most part discarding their old ones.

But what will happen with all that supposedly obsoleted hardware? Environmentalists worldwide are concerned that the junked PCs and individual components, will end up in landfills, where the plastics and heavy metals can degrade and make their way into the ecosystem, including our water supply. A spokesperson for the UK Green Party quipped that "Future archaeologists will be able to identify a 'Vista Upgrade Layer' when they go through our landfill sites."

Environmentalists and Windows critics alike are encouraging individuals, commercial companies, nonprofit organizations, and governments everywhere to consider the alternatives to upgrading to Microsoft Vista. These options include extending their use of less burdensome versions of Windows, such as XP or even 2000, or switching to just about any flavor of Linux, which runs natively on PCs. The latter option has the added benefit that it will make it easier to avoid any current and future DRM-induced problems in controlling how and where you can access and enjoy the multimedia files that you have purchased.

The online dictionary Answers.com defines a "vista" as a "distant view or prospect, especially one seen through an opening, as between rows of buildings or trees." Or piles of perfectly good computers in the junkyard, if this new operating system is any indication of what lies ahead for the computer world.

Member Profiles
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For busy shoppers searching on the Internet for a variety of natural and organic products, it would be quite convenient to be able to find most if not all of the items on their shopping list, from a single source. One online retailer that clearly hopes to fulfill that need, is HerbTrader. The company's Web site may be low key and almost modest, but the number of different products that they offer is anything but modest. In fact, they presently carry no fewer than 8000 individual products, in such areas as home care, cooking, health and wellness, beauty and personal care, and pet care.

Even though the company itself is fairly young, having been launched in December 2006, they have over 30 years of experience in the natural products industry, as a subsidiary of Frontier Natural Products. Not only do they feature items that can help the eco-conscious individual lead a more "green" lifestyle, the people behind the company are equally committed to doing their part as well. For instance, they recently converted over to using 100 percent green power — generated from solar, wind, and geothermal sources — in order to reduce the environmental impact of the company's operations.

Visit their Web site today, and discover just how well HerbTrader has done in offering a tremendous number and variety of natural foods and other accessories for your busy life.

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Sage Baby

When wise parents decide to raise their children as healthfully as possible, they oftentimes first focus on improving their children's diets with organic and other more natural foods. This is a laudable first step, but unfortunately those same parents frequently fail to address all of the other sources of pollutants in their children's lives. In fact, those children will likely end up being exposed to pretty much the same levels of chemicals and airborne pollutants as they were before the dietary changes, because those pollutants are found in everyday household products and children's items, in concentrations much greater than those found in conventional foods. Common furniture, carpet, and paint emit gases that usually make indoor air many times more polluted than the air outside, even on smoggy days. Almost all conventional household and personal cleaning products are riddled with parabens, chlorine, preservatives, and other chemicals dangerous to the human body — especially for youngsters.

Recognizing this widespread problem, the founders of Sage Baby — Francesca Olivieri and Susan Gluck-Pappajohn — decided to make it easier for mothers to learn more about and to obtain healthy products for their babies and young children, beyond natural foods. In 2005, these eco-entrepreneurs began selling such products to mothers in New York City, through a series of trunk shows. In response to the great success of the shows, and the demand for more products from repeat customers, Francesca and Susan launched their Web site in February 2006, so that people worldwide can easily select and order healthier alternatives, such as organic cotton clothing, bedding, and towels; organic skincare products; non-toxic toys; non-toxic cleaning products and air purifiers.

Francesca and Susan know firsthand how avoidable pollutants can significantly reduce the health of mother and child, and that wise parents should instead choose sagacious and health-promoting products for their babies!

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Countless eco-enterprises are born out of the personal experiences and green lifestyles of the business's owners. Heather Greene, founder of TerraLunaSol, is no exception. Even as a teenager, Heather was involved in the organic community, for instance, working at a natural food store in Portland. Decades later, she has her own family, and they live on a small farm, near the central coast of Oregon, where they enjoy the community and simplicity that country life can provide. Yet this relative isolation also made it difficult for her to conveniently find the natural and organic products that she wanted, in order to make her family's home environmentally healthy. As she researched and located top-quality natural products from scattered sources, she decided to create an eco-store that would bring them all together, thereby allowing people just like her to find all of these items in a single place.

TerraLunaSol, through its Web site, makes available an intriguing variety of eco-manufactured products, including: clothing for babies, children, women, and men; home furnishings; kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom supplies; air circulation fans for gas and pellet stoves; pet supplies; cushions for yoga and meditation; solar-powered products, such as rechargeable batteries; even handmade decorations and ornaments, crafted by a women's co-op in India.

Heather Greene notes that the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun are vital resources for humanity, both physically and spiritually. How these celestial bodies connect with one another offers us insight and inspiration for the choices we make in our lives. Connect with healthy choices that you can make in your own life. Connect with TerraLunaSol.

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All material copyright © 2007 PristinePlanet.com™, except for Environmental News articles copyright © 2007 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.