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The PristinePlanet.com Newsletter
10 June 2007 — Issue #32
Editor: Michael J. Ross
Environmental News
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Pollution-Fighting Paint

When architects design commercial and other nonresidential urban buildings, they have a number of options when choosing the building's exterior material — it's "skin". For any choice other than tinted glass, they also have the option of painting that outside surface. This extra layer of protection against the elements can prolong the life of the building's walls and roof, but it also contributes to environmental degradation, since the paint must be manufactured from chemicals, and either breaks down slowly over time, or becomes part of the rubble if and when the building is demolished.

But what if that paint could make a positive contribution to the urban ecology, by reducing airborne pollution? What if the paint could reduce levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to smog and respiratory problems? That is the purpose of a type of paint developed by a British firm, Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, and originally intended to be called "Ecopaint" — an apt name. It utilizes the same photocatalytic process of the smog-busting cement developed and tested in Italy. Yet it has the advantage of being applicable to far more surface areas.

The paint's base is polysiloxane, a polymer made from silicon. The active ingredients are spherical nanoparticles, with diameters of only 30 nanometers, made of calcium carbonate and titanium dioxide (TiO2). The porosity of its polysiloxane base is sufficient to allow nitrous oxides to diffuse though it, and then adhere to the nanoparticles. When sunlight strikes the painted surface, the nanoparticles absorb the ultraviolet radiation and use that energy to convert the nitrous oxides into nitric acid, which is either washed away by rain, or neutralized by the calcium carbonate (which is alkaline), and thus converted into carbon dioxide, calcium nitrate, and water. Another advantage to the use of nanotechnology, is that the particles are so tiny that the paint is initially colorless and clear, and thus receptive to coloring pigments.

The more smog that is neutralized by the paint, the more that the paint itself is transformed, which raises the issue of longevity. According to the manufacturer, for a typical 0.3-millimetre layer in a heavily polluted urban environment, there will be enough calcium carbonate to last at least five years. Once the calcium carbonate has reached the end of its effective lifetime, the titanium dioxide will continue to break down nitrous oxides, and the resultant nitric acid will begin to discolor the paint, thereby providing a visible indicator that the paint should be replaced, having served its purpose.

Member Profiles
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Crystal Baby Organics

Conventional baby clothing and bedding products usually contain a host of chemicals that can irritate a baby's skin — most commonly the result of harsh detergents and chlorinated water, but also as holdovers from the manufacturing process and the use of unnatural materials. Barbara Hodal, DC, witnessed the effects of this problem on a first-hand basis, as part of her work as a Illinois-based chiropractor. With a strong interest in helping her patients and other parents protect their young ones, as well as a growing interest in the use of organic products, she took advantage of a professional sabbatical to plan and launch an online business that would offer a large selection of organic clothes and linens, designed specifically for babies — especially the extra sensitive ones. Thus was born Crystal Baby Organics, in June 2005. Barbara specifically sought out small, independent manufacturers of organic cotton and wool baby items, who are as committed as she is to environmentally responsible practices. In addition to the clothing and bedding items, her friendly Web site makes available baby accessories, exclusive children's music CDs, and even a gift basket. Discover the organic difference today.

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Simple Family Living

A sizable number of PristinePlanet.com's member companies were partly inspired by their founders wishing to develop home-based businesses, which would allow them to spend more time with their families, as well as reducing or even completely eliminating their professional impact upon the environment, in the form of commuting to an office every day. Simple Family Living is no exception. Its founder, Christina Moran, wanted to create her own job that would make it possible to take care of her children at home, and provide their schooling. Her Web site was launched in June 2006, after half a year of planning and development — obvious from its clean design and attractiveness. Her product line initially focused on eco-friendly baby carriers and children's toys, and now encompasses 13 additional categories: art supplies, baskets, bath supplies, bedding, crafts, clothing, kitchen items, knitting supplies, gardening products, shoes, tea, and yoga products. Yet Christina's focus is still on the high-quality and selection of the items that she carefully chooses — well reflected in the many compliments that she has received from satisfied customers. In addition, she uses the USPS to reduce transportation costs (environmental and otherwise), opts for organic and fair trade products, and ships out orders using recyclable packaging, and even reused packaging whenever possible. Visit her Web site, where you will be delighted by the selection of environmentally friendly items.

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Karma Market

Centuries of global trade have made it possible for consumers in wealthy nations to remain oblivious as to the environmental and sociological costs of their buying decisions. Admittedly, there have been countertrends in recent years, such as pressure being brought to bear upon companies that employ children in Asia to manufacture sneakers and clothing, for pittance wages. For many decades, the status quo has prevailed in the area of precious stones and jewelry, which is a multi-billion-dollar industry. However, a brightening ray of hope is now being seen, as more consumers demand jewelry products that are certified fair trade, and as a growing number of socially responsible businesses are emerging to satisfy that need. Karma Market, based in San Diego, is one such business. Founded by Rebecca Berggren in the spring of 2006, Karma Market is designed to offer a wide range of stylish jewelry and accessories, all handmade by artisans whose lives are enriched when shoppers in the United States and other countries choose their fair trade products. These craftsmen are not the only ones to benefit from this choice, as evidenced by one lady who was delighted to find trendy necklaces at Karma Market that she was able to give to her nieces, thereby educating them about fair trade and economic justice, in a fun and impactful way. So if you or anyone you know is in the market for attractive and unique jewelry, and you would like to make another "deposit" in your "karma bank", choose Karma Market, and in turn make a positive difference in the lives of those hard-working artisans.

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Barefoot Herbs / Barefoot Kids

Raising healthy children in the modern world is challenging enough, but can be an even greater challenge when the parents want to minimize their ecological impact upon the natural world. They usually are well aware of the ongoing problems, such as disposable diapers contributing to our landfills, and an alarming portion of babies and children being fed factory-produced foods and prescribed chemical-based medicines. These ecologically-minded parents have a helpful resource, in the form of Barefoot Herbs / Barefoot Kids, which makes available a large number of natural remedies, clothing, and other products for youngsters. Business owners Scott Noroozi and his wife Abby started their enterprise in October 2006, in Bloomington, Indiana — a town noted for its green initiatives. They were inspired by personal interest in sustainable living, local demand for these specialty products, and a desire to bring together in one online location the healthy herbs and children's products that are equally of interest to parents hoping to stem the tide against unsustainable medicine and consumerism in America. On their Web site, Scott and Abby offer vitamins, teas, essential oils, handmade soaps, and a remarkable variety of herbs: organic bulk, encapsulated, liquid, homeopathic, and herbs specifically designed for mothers and children. In addition, there are children's products, including baby carriers and slings, cloth diapers and accessories, organic clothes, shoes, toys, and breast-feeding supplies, as well as skin care and other body care products for babies, children, and adults. Explore their site to learn more about natural parenting.

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Sensatia Botanicals

The human skin is not only our largest organ, but it is quite remarkable in how it protects us from the elements. However, it was never designed to be able to handle daily contact with chlorine, preservatives, and other harsh chemicals. Yet that is precisely what people do when they lather their bodies with conventional soaps, and rinse with unfiltered tap water. Fortunately, there are far more healthful alternatives, including those offered by Sensatia Botanicals, whose Web site features natural and organic soaps that are far more healthy than the cheap stuff that so many people and hospitality establishments settle for. Sensatia Botanicals has a wide variety of handmade soaps, body washes, facial creams, bath salts and powders, aromatherapy items, and even an all-natural insect repellent. The business was founded in 1999, by Michael R. Lorenti Jr., as a profit-sharing co-op, in the small fishing village of Jasri, Karangasem, on the island of Bali. As a result of Michael's deep commitment to helping the local citizens and giving back to the community, plus the tremendously positive response by clients, the business quickly grew from three employees to 24, in only 18 months! One such satisfied customer discovered their Garden-Grown Loofah sponge soap, while staying in a hotel, and was so taken by the product that he finished off the entire bar of soap in a single shower. He wanted to have enough for the next 175 days, and ordered an equal number of bars! Now anyone in the world can make a similar discovery, courtesy of Sensatia Botanicals's tasteful Web site. Treat your skin to wonderfully aromatic soaps made from the finest raw botanicals.

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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.