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The PristinePlanet.com Newsletter
1 November 2008 — Issue #49
Editor: Michael J. Ross
Environmental News
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Jet Fuel from Algae

Throughout its multi-decade history, the commercial airline industry worldwide has seen human resources as its primary expense; in contrast, jet fuel has always been a nontrivial cost, yet never a significant threat to profitability, or even the continued existence of the carriers. But in this tumultuous new environment of dwindling global oil production, sharply rising fuel prices, and governmental mandates to reduce carbon emissions, the airlines of the industrialized countries — the United States especially — are under pressure to find alternatives to the kerosene that has traditionally powered their aircraft.

Ethanol is frequently touted as a viable and eco-friendly replacement for kerosene, particularly by American farmers, who stand to gain the most by ethanol legislation (and subsidies and tax credits). Despite corn-based ethanol possibly being the most inefficient and water-intensive alternative energy source — energy net negative, according to some impartial calculations — the corn farm lobbyists managed to convince the US Congress to push through an unwise energy bill in December 2007 that requires refineries to use 36 billion gallons of ethanol per year by 2022. Even though at least 21 billion gallons must be manufactured from nonfood raw materials, this senseless burning of food to make fuel will probably continue to push food prices much higher in the future.

Fortunately, private enterprise is not waiting for a better solution from government officials, lobbyists, or others feeding at the public trough. Four industry players — Airbus, Honeywell, International Aero Engines, and JetBlue Airways — announced on 15 May 2008 that they are teaming up to develop a second-generation of aviation fuel, "bio-jet", utilizing algae and other biomass. They hope to supply nearly 30 percent, if not more, of all commercial aviation jet fuel by 2030. The new biofuel is intended to be a fully equivalent replacement for kerosene jet fuel that will not require any engine modification, which can add considerably to overall costs.

However, critics point out that even if this consortium is able to achieve its stated aims, as long as the sizable growth rate in commercial aviation continues at its current pace, then the total amount of jet kerosene emitted into the atmosphere, will exceed even today's alarming amounts. This is partly the result of demand for air travel in foreign countries outstripping any declines in US and European travel during the ongoing economic downturn. From an ecological perspective, therefore, perhaps the only way that those emissions will truly be reduced, is for worldwide commercial air travel to decline significantly and never recover. Given that emerging markets such as China and India already have middle classes exceeding the total US population, then it is possible that the only factor that could stop the ongoing environmental damage, is for all liquid fuels to become prohibitively expensive for business and leisure jetting around the globe.

Member Profiles
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Because humans spend approximately a third of their lives sleeping (or at least trying to!), it is imperative that bedding garments be comfortable. Yet many people suffer from "night sweats", for a variety of reasons: anxiety, intemperate climates, and nightmares, to name just a few. Regardless of the cause, night sweats can be agony for the victims, who usually find conventional bed clothing to be of no help, since it tends to trap the moisture, leading to irritated skin, itching, fungal growths, and exhausted sufferers. Fortunately, bamboo and other organic fabrics are ideal for the manufacture of sleep garments, because they effectively wick away the moisture, allowing it to evaporate more easily. These types of sleep and lounge wear are the exclusive focus of ComfyNights.com, which was founded in Brooklyn, New York, during the first quarter of 2007, by Isaac Stroh and a long-time friend. The pair of eco-entrepreneurs now find that the most enjoyable aspect of their business, is the many messages they receive from grateful customers, who are able to once again enjoy the most restful third of their lives, in their new moisture-wicking sleepwear.

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Craftsbury Kids

Many older adults have fond memories of enjoying childhood toys that were much simpler, durable, eco-friendly, and fewer in number than the piles of cheap plastic products that fill the toy closets and garage sales of today. Some of those favorites had been handed down from earlier generations of the family, while others may have been contemporary for their time — such as Lego and wood blocks — yet they encouraged children to use their imaginations to the full. Cecilia Leibovitz, of Montpelier, Vermont, was so inspired by her own healthy childhood play that in 2003 she founded Craftsbury Kids, an online store offering a unique selection of natural, attractive, safe, and fair trade toys that are independently designed and handcrafted — to celebrate the freedom of artistic expression and the pure joy of childhood. Also available are children's clothing, organic baby gifts, and art items. Their heirloom quality ensures that they can be enjoyed by your children, and passed down to their descendants — much better than the piles of disposable junk that crowd landfills and storage units across the country.

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Green Frog Garden Furniture

Long gone are the days when people would set out their used glass milk jugs, knowing that their "empties" would be picked up by the milkman, steam cleaned, and reused, over and over. Nowadays, in our disposable world, plastic and cardboard milk containers have taken the place of those durable and sensible glass bottles, and may or may not be recycled, or at least used for some other purpose. Fortunately, the HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic utilized in milk jugs and other consumer items, is now seeing greater recycling. Joining this worthy trend is Jerry Wilkinson, who has a background in woodworking, carpentry, construction, and site management. In January 2008, he founded Green Frog Garden Furniture (GFGF), which sells beautiful outdoor furniture made of recycled HDPE plastic, known as "polywood", which has such a high density that it can be cut and drilled just like solid wood. Yet unlike wood, it will not split, splinter, rust, rot, warp, or decay. GFGF, located in Petaluma, California, also offers Adirondack-style chairs in Western Red Cedar (WRC), as well as a top-quality, double-walled, insulated pet house that is intended to be far more durable than the cheap plastic and single-walled wood alternatives.

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Norwex Enviro Products

Prior to widespread electrification throughout the industrializing countries, homemakers used methods of food preservation that were more natural, with less ecological impact. For instance, the archaic term "icebox" nowadays refers to a refrigerator; but back then, it was truly an ice box. Preservation of milk was supplemented by dropping a silver coin into each milk jug, thereby employing the antibacterial properties of silver, which were well known in that era, but largely forgotten nowadays with the proliferation of electricity-powered modern appliances. Yet that precious metal is making a comeback as a respected bacteria fighter, as seen in a growing number of consumer products, such as undergarments, that have silver embedded in their fibers. Silver can be especially effective against household germs, as illustrated by the antimicrobial cleaning and personal care items retailed by Norwex Enviro Products. The company was formed during the 1990s by two Canadian women who realized the huge potential of this product line, which was originally developed in Norway. In fact, laboratory tests have shown that the Norwex Antibac Enviro Cloths, used in conjunction with plain water but no chemicals, can neutralize more bacteria than household bleach and a regular cotton cleaning cloth, even after hundreds of washings. Today, countless people around the world are using the Norwex microfiber cleaning cloths within their own homes, and rediscovering the germicidal power of silver.

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All material copyright © 2008 PristinePlanet.com™, except for Environmental News articles copyright © 2008 Michael J. Ross. All rights reserved. No portion of this newsletter can be copied without express written permission from its copyright holder.

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