In the planet's currently most populous country, ecology has certainly not kept pace with the economy. Over the years, China's unprecedented economic growth has put a terrible strain upon the country's natural resources, leading to widespread and severe pollution of air, land, and water — not just within China itself, but for neighboring countries that are being impacted by toxic air and water that knows no boundaries. Prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics, Chinese authorities made every effort to improve air quality for the benefit of the athletes and other visitors to Beijing, including shutting down nearby factories and even trying to control the weather to induce greater rainfall to clean the air of pollutants.
Yet the country is also making limited efforts that promise much longer-term solutions. One of these is the transformation of Dongtan — currently a wildlife preserve — into a city that may be close to Shanghai in terms of distance, but far ahead in terms of environmental sustainability. If all goes as planned, Dongtan will be the first city in China with zero net carbon emissions. According to a series of articles and videos published by Clean Air through Green Roofs (an environmental blog), Dongtan is intended to be energy self-sufficient through a combination of biofuels, solar power, and wind power. It will be composed of extremely efficient buildings organized into dense, walkable neighborhoods — eventually housing half a million people. Its food will be produced by a network of advanced organic farms. No carbon-emitting vehicles will be allowed within the city, and at least 90 percent of all waste will be recycled.
This massive project is being designed by the London-based Arup Group, for Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC), which will have the authority to make all final decisions. Arup Group will utilize a proprietary system, Integrated Resource Management (IRM), which can optimize the use of land, living space, energy, waste, and water — resources all in limited supply within China. The project is being funded primarily by HSBC — whose history as a major bank in the region extends back to 1865 — and Sustainable Development Capital LLP (SDCL) — which focuses on projects that are environmentally and socially responsible.
Even though the urban planning will leverage the most up-to-date ecological techniques — including green roofs — individual architects and developers will be allowed to create buildings that reflect Chinese culture. The massive skyscrapers characteristic of Beijing and Shanghai, will never rob the sunlight from Dongtan's green roofs, because no building will be allowed to exceed eight stories.
We can only hope that Dongtan proves to be a successful city in its own right, and can in turn serve as a springboard for China, as well as the rest of the world, to eventually make all of our cities clean and green.
Professional aromatherapists — as well as nonprofessional consumers interested in trying aromatherapy themselves — have many reasons for seeking top-quality essential oils. For instance, such products are generally more potent, and created in a more environmentally responsible manner. Andrea Butje and Cindy Black, founders of the Finger Lakes School of Massage in Ithaca, New York, discovered that their aromatherapy certification students wanted a reliable source of top-notch essential oils. But many of the existing vendors were not up to their high standards. So the pair sought out organic essential oils, and sold them to the students on a casual basis — running their operation literally out of a closet! This brick-and-mortar effort proved more trouble than it was worth, so it was reborn as an online business, Aromatics International, which was formed in November 2006, with their Web site debuting in March 2007. Now the two offer essential oils online that are certified organic, or wild crafted, or unsprayed (i.e., de facto organic, because even though the farmers have no organic certifications — due to the high cost — they never use any herbicides, pesticides, or other unnatural chemicals). Every batch of oil is tested for purity using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and always properly handled, stored, and shipped. Furthermore, Andrea and Cindy make every effort to support growers by purchasing directly from them — many of whom are in developing countries.
In 2006, Elena Lipson and her husband resolved to live a more ecological lifestyle, and they moved from California to Bellingham, Washington, after their son was born. Like many parents nowadays, they became increasingly concerned with the toxicity present in conventional baby clothing, diapers, and other related items. In fact, when their son had a case of diaper rash, the couple found that switching to organic diapers, bedding, and lotion, completely cleared up the problem. But despite months of research, they discovered that there was a clear lack of information, natural baby products, and other resources for equally concerned parents. Thus they founded LaLaNatural.com as a way to earn a living while caring for their son at home, and also as an expression of their commitment to a healthier life in harmony with nature. Their Web site offers many types of toxic-free products for creating a healthy home in which to raise a child: organic bedding, clothing, accessories, diapers, kitchen and bathroom supplies, wool blankets, slings, toys, and more. Visit this unique online organic boutique, or call for personable customer service, to learn more about how to protect your children and other family members from the countless chemicals polluting our homes and our planet.
As residents of Sudbury, Massachusetts, Peter Totfalusi and his wife, Renee, share a deep love and respect for nature, and it is reflected in their eco-friendly lifestyle. Yet they found it challenging when trying to locate products and retailers in their area that shared their green philosophy. On the other side of the same coin, they were disappointed with the conventional Web-only green retailers, partly because such venues do not allow the customer to touch and smell the products offered, and thus experience the tangible advantages of ecologically superior offerings. Consequently, in August 2006, Peter and Renee created Perfectly Natural, a combination online and physical store that melds the best of both worlds: Anyone who wishes to travel to their brick-and-mortar retail location in Sudbury, can enjoy the advantages of examining the natural products and asking questions in person. At the same time, prospective customers worldwide can order any item from Perfectly Natural's Web site, which also serves as a 24x7 global resource for environmental information. Peter and Renee offer green products in a wide variety of categories, including apparel, electronics, home decoration, water bottles, pet supplies, and products for children and infants, including toys and natural body care items.
Like so many loving pet owners, Kim and Gail Rahn Frederick wanted to provide their four-legged family members with natural, organic, and human-grade food treats, as well as other eco-friendly pet supplies. But their efforts were frustrating, as the couple discovered how difficult it can be to find such products locally — even in their hometown of Portland, Oregon, which is widely regarded as one of the most green American cities (in more ways than one!). So in May 2007 they created Urban Leash & Treat, making it much easier for pet owners to find these desired items. Both founders bring valuable and complementary skills to the team: Kim is an experienced veterinary surgical technician, and subsequently became adept at retail inventory, merchandising, and distribution. Gail has a background in software architecture, Web development, e-commerce, and mobile software. Their online store offers a large selection of verifiably natural pet products in a range of categories, including edible treats, chews, bones, toys, pet beds, collars, recyclable tags, and much more. Kim and Gail carefully scrutinize their suppliers to ensure top-quality, and then all of the chosen products are happily tested by local dogs and cats. Urban Leash & Treat is quite supportive of their community, often donating products to charity auctions and participating in other fundraising events. Portland residents can look forward to a retail storefront, scheduled to open in early 2009.
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