Keeping Mattresses Out of Landfills

The idea of sleeping on a brand-new mattress easily conjures up a smile because people know they’re in store for a better night’s sleep. Goodbye lumps, sags and achy backs. Hello sweet dreams and waking up feeling refreshed.

resting place

Regardless of what type of mattress will best fit your queen bed dimensions, you have to move the old one out to make room for the new, and therein lies the conundrum of how to dispose of a mattress in an environmentally friendly manner.

According to industry reports, 40 million mattresses are purchased in the United States every year. If you think about all the places that require a bed, from private homes to hotels, hospitals, universities, correctional institutions, etc., that statistic isn’t so surprising. However, the industry also reports that 20 million mattresses are discarded every year, which creates an environmental hazard if they all head to landfills.

Mattresses have become a blight on landfills because they do not compress properly. After all, some of them are filled with springs, so they spring back. Mattresses also take up a lot of space, an estimated 23 cubic feet of landfill space per mattress. So when you do the math of 50,000 mattresses dumped per day, that’s another 1.15 million cubic needed every day

Renewed

In recent years, mattress manufacturers and retailers have joined efforts to reverse this trend by investing in recycling endeavors. It’s worthwhile to point out this is different from “renovating” mattresses, a process some say is questionable because there’s little regulation preventing renovators from simply sewing a new cover over old, dirty, maybe infested mattresses and selling them to unsuspecting customers.

Rather, recycling involves dismantling the mattress and/or box spring and farming out the materials to be used in other applications. For example:
Steel innersprings are sold for scrap metal.
Foam and fibers are shredded and repurposed into carpet padding or insulation.
Wood frames are chipped up to be used in mulch, animal bedding or even biomass fuel.

In fact, nearly 100% of mattress materials can be recycled.

Making an Effort

Mattress recycling centers have popped up across the country in recent years, some in conjunction with departments of corrections and other organizations dedicated to reengaging disenfranchised workers.

Their customer base is growing, too. Both the U.S. Navy and Hilton Worldwide have gotten behind the recycling movement. In less than three years, each organization has sent thousands of mattresses to be recycled. Of course, these efforts will make a big impact on managing landfills, but every household can do its part, too. The International Sleep Products Association maintains a database of mattress recycling centers at www.sleepproducts.org.

Still, it’s a small sector within the recycling industry, and sometimes the operational costs exceed the prices businesses can garner for the resulting materials. Because of that, many charge a fee to take mattresses off of people’s hands; it’s nominal, often less than $15 or $25.

However, knowing you are not contributing to the landfill overuse is priceless and should help you sleep better.

What is the Most Eco-Friendly Grill Method?

Many people are grill fans, even fanatics, but at the same time we are all more aware of the impact our every action has the environment.  Therefore, the question is; what is the most eco-friendly method grilling?

Grill fuels

We have all read the gas grill reviews and the charcoal grill reviews and seen the pieces on electric grills.  But let’s take that information and look at it through a green looking glass

Grilling outside eco-friendly
Enjoy smart grilling outdoors

and see what it all means.

Gas grills use either propane or natural gas, and both of these are a non-renewable fossil fuel, meaning once it’s gone, its gone.  These grills do work quicker than most options and can have less cleaning involved which means fewer chemicals necessary.  They also throw out less smoke when in use.  Therefore, environmentally, if you want a gas grill, head for a high quality one which is energy efficient and has a refillable gas tank.

Charcoal grills, and with them wood burning grills, are the ones which are preferred for the taste they give wood.  But charcoal released as much as double the amount of carbon as a gas grill.  added to this, charcoal and lighter fluid used to ignite some of them, are significant contributors to ground-level ozone, according to the EPA.  They also put particulate matter into the air which can affect people especially with respiratory conditions.  On the turn side, using lump charcoal, as opposed to briquettes and a charcoal chimney instead of lighter fuel, the carbon cycle result of the grill is much more neutral.

Electric grills are a good green option if you home runs on green electricity, perhaps solar power.  Otherwise, they have a high carbon footprint, though they do have the speed element which is present in gas grills.

Some of the newer styles of grills which are greener than traditional options include pellet grills, as well as hybrid grills.  These use a little electricity, small amounts of charcoal and wood for flavouring to get a better all-round taste, but are hard to find.

Other tips

There are a range of other tips to make your barbeque party a little more environmentally friendly, some of which are surprisingly basic.

  • Don’t use throw away plates and cups and single serve utensils and napkins as this increases the amount of rubbish you are sending to landfill.  Instead, use washable crockery.  Plus you can collect leftovers in the fridge to use the next day

 

  • Plan the meal with environmental impact in your thoughts; eliminate beef and opt for chicken or dish, consider larger portions of vegetables instead of side dishes.  Added to this, grill food which can be used for other meals, therefore increasing the amount of meals you get from a single use of the grill

 

 

  • Try to use organically and pasture raised products wherever possible.  Labels on food will guide you to this as well as to making sure your seafood is from sustainable sources.

 

  • Prepare meat beforehand to remove excess fat by searing which means you will not need to cook so long on the grill and also have less chance of food sticking, which will require less cleaning products to remove.

 

  • If you do go for beef and have chosen a grass-fed option, take care when cooking this as it can be over-cooked easier than grain-fed beef.  It is recommended to sear the meat first then grill on a lower temperature

Conclusion

There are lots of little changes which can be made to grilling habits which will allow you to continue with a favor summer pass-time, but also do a little more for the environment.

Great Lakes

Mystery Virus of the Great Lakes

What is VSHV?

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) is a pathogen that infects salmonoid fish species, causing them to develop anemia and die from massive hemorrhaging in their internal organs, skin and muscles. The sickness has decimated fish populations in areas

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus
VHS

ranging from Washington State to western Europe to the Great Lakes. Signs of the infection are not always present, but include eyes that bulge, bloated abdomens, red color tints to the eyes and tints to the skin, gills and fins that cause them to look bruised. This disease has killed off fish en masse in the Great Lakes since 2005. There are thought to be different forms of the sickness that cause different symptoms, some biological in nature and others behavioral. The behavioral symptoms include abnormal swimming, along with constant flashing and circling. Because there are not always signs present that indicate an active infection, or that a certain fish carries the disease, it is very hard to prevent the spread of this very real threat to the fish population in the Great Lakes area.

 

How was VHSV discovered?

The disease was first found in Northwestern fish species in 2005. At that time, fish in the area were dying in large numbers. VHSV was first documented by ichthyologists as a pathogenic disease in the 1950s. At that time, it was affecting salmonoid species in western Europe. In 1988, it was found in fish that had swum in from the Pacific near Washington State. Freight liners are suspected to have carried the virus into the Great Lakes area. The deadly virus that had infected 28 different species of freshwater fish in each of the Great Lakes by January 2010. No significant fish mortalities occurred in 2008 or 2009, not because the problem had been taken care of, but because the fish were carriers of the disease, but somehow unaffected by its symptoms. The virus is no threat to humans, but there is no cure for the disease in fish. The reason some fish seem to be unaffected by the disease is thought to be related to either the presence of unknown stressors in the environment or the lack thereof. Since the discovery of the disease, there have been some advances in diagnosing the disease, but no advances in treating it.

Is VHSV really that bad?

In terms of its effects on both the fish and its ecological impact on fish populations, VHSV is a dreaded disease. In terms of its impact on humans, VHSV is not known to infect species other than fish. However, the New York State fishing industry suffered a great economic loss due to the infected fish populations. It cost the state $1.4 billion dollars to be exact. That was just during one year. Looking through a larger lens, however, anything that affects species in such great numbers is bound to have an impact on the ecosystem as a whole. Until a cure is found for VHSV, it is important that fish known to be infected be quarantined as much as possible to prevent the further spread of the disease. Many different organizations currently contribute time and money to the search for a treatment that will stop the disease from potentially eradicating entire species of salmon.

What are we doing about it?

In Europe, the heron was responsible for the spread of VHSV, but the birds are not affected by the virus: they only carry it. The virus can also be passed from fish to fish, spread to fish by birds, through eggs that have contamination present and even from fish bait that comes from waters that had infected fish populations. Freight liners and even small boats and their accessories are thought ways the illness spreads. Making sure that boats, trailers, nets and any other equipment that traverses different lakes and streams are thoroughly cleaned using an EPA- approved disinfectant like DuPont’s Virkon Aquatic or highly concentrated doses of chlorine bleach. There are disinfecting stations all over the Great Lakes regions that carry all the necessary supplies. Boats are not the only way to transmit this virus, but sanitizing water vessels is the best method of prevention that exists.

Eco-friendly cars

With all the incentives to drive an eco-friendly car, both for us and mother nature, it makes it more and more difficult to choose just six vehicles for the annual Mother Nature News: Best Green Cars list. We seem to be in the early stages of a movement in car history. The hybrid car has become the ordinary. They are even making hybrid sports cars and SUV’s.

However, a few cars seem to always come at the top of the list. They have had the hybrid concept down for some time now, and worse, they know it. Well, maybe it’s not worse for the environment, but it’s worse for their competitors!

What are the best green cars available? We have given you a rundown of the best six cars named to Mother Nature News. We have included the pricing and all the specs needed to make an accurate decision on the best eco-friendly car for you. They definitely aren’t the most stylish available, however, if the environment and gas mileage are important to you, you are definitely going to want to check out these rides!

Unfortunately, none of the SUV’s or trucks made it into this list. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic buys, especially if you are going to buy an SUV one way or another.

Chevrolet Volt: Although Chevy is relatively new to the hybrid game, the Volt isn’t a back crack at it. The gas mileage is excellent, they have an superb eco rating, and the incentives for buying one makes it a win/win for everybody. America hasn’t quite caught onto the hybrid market as much as Toyota, but this isn’t a bad try.

Toyota Prius C: The Prius is the centerpiece of hybrid vehicles. Everybody knows that a Prius is and the purpose it serves. This speaks to why there is two Prius’ on this list. Toyota has been absolutely dominating the hybrid market, and they will continue to the way things are going.

Toyota Prius V: Here she is, another Prius. This is a slight upgrade from the previous Prius. This comes with all the features, excellent gas mileage, etc. It really just leaves a small footprint, and that’s what we look for in these types of cars.

Nissan Leaf: Alright, the elephant in the room, we think the name is incredibly lame. I mean the Nissan Leaf? Give us a break. Now that we got that superficial discrepancy out of the way, great car.

Volkswagen Passat TDI: Here is the Nordic’s crack at a hybrid. They do everything extraordinarily, so there is really no reason they won’t do well in the hybrid market.

Mitsubishi i: Mitsubishi has limited options for a hybrid. This car should be a great pick up, however. We are big fans of Asian cars.

There you have it. The top six cars names to Mother Nature News. We are very impressed with the advancements being made on the hybrid car front. We hope you are impressed enough to pick one up for yourself!

 

Another Gun Control Article – But This One is Smart

The debate over gun control continues; both sides arguing their reasons and facts. Should gun laws remain as they are, become stricter, or do we take guns out of the hands of civilians altogether? Some advocates are so strict that they say all guns should be stored in locked gun safes.

A responsible gun owner who obtains their gun legally and keeps it locked away in a gun safe will argue that he should be allowed to keep his firearm under the second amendment. But for every gun owner that stores their firearm safely and responsibly, how many others are purchasing firearms illegally or leaving them out in the open easily accessible?

The New York Times reports that twice as many children die each year due to gun related accidents than as victims to cancer. In fact, there is an alarming amount of gun related deaths reported as accidents each year, all which could have easily been avoided.

Those that would argue the case for stricter gun laws and gun control would cite all of these accidental deaths where the blame really lies at the feet of a negligent gun owner. Do we really need to crack down on our gun laws and make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to own handguns and firearms?

Or should the focus be on educating gun owners on gun safety and proper storage? Many gun enthusiasts would argue that if they have purchased a handgun for their home for self defense and protection, that locking an unloaded gun inside of a gun safe really doesn’t provide protection. What are the chances that you can get to the key to unlock the safe, retrieve the firearm and load it before you’re attacked?

On the other hand, what are the chances that an innocent child will come across your “hiding place” and retrieve a loaded gun out of your bedside table or from between the cushions of your bed? These accidents are devastating and horrifying. Worst of all, they are easily avoided.

For now, while the laws on personal gun ownership continue to be debated over, it would seem the best course of action is to educate gun owners. Perhaps there is a way to make gun safes mandatory with gun purchase – not that you can guarantee its use once the new firearm owner is back home. Another option would be mandatory classes; teaching gun owners about gun safety.

Gun safes don’t have to be expensive. There are inexpensive, simple to use models available in most stores. Some are more expensive and use electronic locks. Some require keys to open and others a code that you push in. Some are very large, and others small enough to fit underneath a bed. The important thing is that gun owners are locking their gun up safely, out of reach of children.

Why National Gun Laws Will Never Work in America

There are very few things American’s love more than their guns. More weapons and firearms are owned in the United States than any place else in the world. However, despite countless school shootings and other incidents involving firearms, the United States, its government and the people it represents have yet to change any real weapons law or ban many of the weapons that have been used in these shoots. Other nations have run into similar issues before, and in order to prevent further acts of violence many of these nations (including the United Kingdom)ended up banning many of these weapons commonly used in acts of violence, such as automatic rifles and handguns. However, while there are some weapons that are prohibited inside the United States, it is one of the most lax nations on the entire planet when it comes to gun laws. Gun laws in the United States will never work, and while some law makers continue to try and introduce these new laws into congress, many of the laws ultimately will never see the light of day. Gun Safety requirements will get tougher, which may force firearms to be secured, but here are some of the great reasons that America is so protective of it’s firearms.
Several reasons why national gun laws will never work in America are:
- It’s in the constitution
- Guns are already heavily prevalent
- NRA Lobbying

National gun lawsIt’s in the Constitution

Whenever a debate regarding fire arms comes up, most gun supports cling to the one fact that “it’s in the constitution.” While this is the case, congress included “the right to bear arms” in the Constitution back when muskets could only fire one round a minute and King George could break down a citizen’s door at any minute. Times have drastically changed since then, and while it is up for debate whether or not congress would have included the same stipulation if they had envisioned automatic rifles with the ability to fire off several hundred rounds per minute, the fact that it is in the constitution makes it almost impossible to prevent individuals from owning laws or for law makers to pass any sort of gun law into the books.

Guns are Already Prevalent

Even if the United States were to enact a new law prohibiting or requiring much stricter security around specific weapons, such as a handgun, which kills more individuals inside of the United States annually than any other kind of gun, there are so many guns already legally owned on the streets that it would prove incredibly difficult for change to take place. Chicago recently passed laws banning handguns, but Chicago currently sits as the most violent city in the nation. This is because individuals already own handguns, and they are not going to give them back. In fact, it might take a full generation, if not longer, for these gun laws to take any affect at all.

NRA Lobbying

The NRA is one of the largest political lobbying groups in the entire country (right next to the teacher’s union). This makes it almost impossible to pass any sort of gun law, as NRA lobbying essentially prohibits that from ever happening at all.

Affordable Care Act

Why the Affordable Care Act is Good and Bad

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare is one of the most controversial new laws under President

Affordable Care Act
PPACA

Obama’s administration. The promise for millions of uninsured Americans was free healthcare, but the solution isn’t exactly free. However, it has helped over 100 million Americans already. Whether you approve of the healthcare act or you just don’t know what it all means for the average American, there are some advantages and disadvantages to ACA that you should know about before making up your mind. Many of the provisions of the law upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012 will be rolled out in 2014 with more roll-outs through 2022. This is a balanced look at the pros and cons of ACA. 

Let’s Start with a Recap

ACA was signed into law in 2010, but it was highly contested in Congress. A Supreme Court ruling on June 28th, 2012 upheld the law. Some of the provisions started immediately such as new regulations on insurance companies, but many of the major reforms such as universal healthcare do not start until 2014. As stated by President Obama, the goal with ACA was to give Americans access to more affordable, quality health care.

The Good of ACA

Some 25 million people are expected to be insured by 2020 thanks to ACA. The healthcare act provides preventive care and regulations on insurance companies. In addition, insurers have to justify any increases over 10 percent and spend at least 80 percent of premium directly on care. Another regulation is that they cannot charge women more than they do for men. Young people also benefit from ACA as they can remain on a parent’s insurance plan until the age of 26. Three million people have already taken advantage of this option. Here’s some more specific advantages:

  • Insurance companies cannot drop you if you are sick or make a legitimate mistake on an application.
  • Life-time or annual limits are no longer allowed.
  • You can rapidly appeal insurance decisions.
  • All pre-existing conditions must be covered.
  • Preventive care must be provided at no cost to you.
  • Preventive services include yearly check-ups, immunizations, counselings and screenings.

The Bad of ACA

While ACA has helped millions of Americans so far, there are also 30 million Americans who will still be uninsured by 2020. There have also been various problems with implementing the ACA marketplace online, which has prevented millions from even accessing the qualification process to receive healthcare through the healthcare act. In addition, many Americans currently without insurance do not like the insurance mandate that requires you to pay a fee.

If you are a high earner, it’s likely that your taxes will increase to cover ACA. The Medicare payroll tax increased for those who make over $200,000 a year. Here are some of the more specific cons for ACA:

  • Individual mandate states that you have to get health coverage by January 2014, get an exemption or pay a fee if you earn too much money.
  • Not all states have to expand Medicaid.
  • The Healthcare.gov marketplace that allows people to sign up for coverage hasn’t worked properly since its release. It currently cannot support its traffic, and many applications have been lost or unprocessed.
  • No coverage can be denied, which means that the costs of insurance must go up to cover the care of sick individuals.
  • Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals have been limited in some cases.
  • Insurance premiums have increased as insurers have to provide more services under ACA.
  • While everyone must be covered, it doesnt bring down the cost of healthcare or offer free healthcare as once promised.
  • It has been projected that more than 87 million Americans will lose access to their current health care plan.
  • There is a current shortage of healthcare professionals that will likely be exacerbated by the increase in millions of insured Americans.
  • ACA also makes it so that pharmaceutical companies pay an extra $84.8 billion over the next 10 years, which will likely increase the costs of prescription drugs.

The advantages and disadvantages to the ACA come down to cost, technical problems and healthcare shortages. While the costs may decrease for some Americans and provide insurance plans with more coverage that can’t be denied, other Americans will end up paying more for ACA.

Solar Flare Storm

What Are Solar Flares

Solar storms and flares affect Earth on a regular basis. In 1859, when auroras were visible in

Auroras
Auroras

Hawaii and as far south as Cuba, scientists began trying to understand these mysterious solar events. To this day, some sensationalized reports make solar storms and flares seem like rare and potentially life-threatening events. The truth is, solar flares and storms are relatively common and not as dangerous as they sound. Here are some answers to a few common questions about solar flares and storms.

What are solar storms and flares?

A solar flare occurs when the sun releases unbelievable amounts energy in a short period of time — as much energy as millions of hydrogen bombs exploding all at once. A sudden brightening of the sun can be observed during this type of solar event, since it affects all layers of the solar atmosphere. Solar flares originate at active sunspot regions, and it is more than just an eruption of hot gas: light waves from all across the electromagnetic spectrum are ejected from the sun during a solar flare. As these electromagnetic waves approach Earth, the areas surrounding Earth’s atmosphere are affected first, followed by effects on Earth from those waves that were able to penetrate the atmosphere.

NASA explains it this way,“ A solar flare occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. Radiation is then emitted across virtually the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves at the long wavelength end, through optical emission to x-rays and gamma rays at the short wavelength end.” Because the amount of energy released is the equivalent of millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at the same time, its impacts are far reaching.

How do solar storms and flares impact us?

When a solar flare happens, a large amount of x-rays and uv radiation can affect Earth’s ionosphere. These waves can also interfere or completely block out long-range radio communications. Radars or any other device working on the same wavelength, can be affected. There also may be an increased risk of skin cancer for those who get high amounts of exposure to radiation during a solar storm. Those at highest risk are those at highest altitudes.

Why are Solar Flares a Problem?

Solar Flares can trigger geomagnetic storms, or Solar Storms. These storms can disrupt radio communications, GPS signals and power grids, and they occasionally trigger complete radio blackouts when they occur. Another problem presented by solar flares is ultraviolet rays and gamma rays– radiation that is mostly absorbed by our atmosphere, but can cause serious health problems when humans get too much exposure. Skin cancer is one of the primary dangers to humans from solar flares and storms. Sunblock should be used when in the sun at any time, but especially after a solar flare.

Who is impacted the most by solar flares?

Astronauts are affected by solar storms, also called geomagnetic storms, as are people at high altitudes during such events. People on airplanes, for example, are at higher risk for getting too much exposure to high amounts of radiation brought about by solar winds. Solar flares can also increase aurora activity. The northern and southern lights are more active immediately following a solar flare. Some geomagnetic storms have caused auroras that produced stunning light shows as far south as Hawaii and even Cuba. Other effects can range from dropped cell phone calls to GPS failures.

When solar storms and flares occur, there is generally no immediate danger for anyone, except perhaps astronauts. The interference with radio signals is the most extreme effect, so cell phones may drop calls and GPS devices may stop working for a few minutes. The northern and southern lights may look more spectacular than usual, and may appear in regions where they can’t normally be seen. Slathering on a little extra sunscreen would be a good precaution to take after a solar event is reported. If a phone call has to be made during a solar storm, using a landline can prevent dropped calls. If relying on a GPS during a solar storm, bring a map for backup.

Effects of Logging to Earth's Environment

The Effects Of Over-Logging On The Environment

Over-logging has caused a serious decrease in the amount of forest we have across the globe. There are many effects of over logging and deforestation including loss of

Clear Cutting
Clear Cutting

ecosystems, endangering species, polluting the land and climate change. However, the personal use of a chainsaw has little to no effect on the environment on a grand scale and is still a safe and handy tool to use on your personal property, or wherever it is legal to cut. 

Most logging companies use a method of clear cutting in their business that is considered environmentally friendly from a legal standpoint. They strip one part of the land and go on to a different portion of it so that there are still many trees remaining in the area. This leaves something of a patchwork quilt looking space where you have large sections of trees next to random bald patches. The logging companies will also replant the areas, but with no regard for the undergrowth or even the same kinds of trees that grew there previously. Lumber companies do nothing to sustain a healthy ecosystem when they clear cut, which can cause big problems for the environment.

One of the biggest problems with deforestation is the effect it has on climate change. We need trees to support our atmosphere. We now know that much of our oxygen supply is generated by trees, and when oxygen levels go down, carbon dioxide levels will rise. When carbon dioxide levels rise the temperature also rises, causing devastating effects on the planet and all who live on it.

Another way that trees support our climate is by providing a canopy to keep a forest floor cool and moist. When a forest is removed, the soil dries up and temperatures will take a dramatic rise or fall. This will, in effect, turn a once vibrant forest into a desert wasteland. This has already happened in many parts of the world where over-logging has caused their surrounding deserts to expand, closing in on farmable land and adding to the global hunger epidemic. It is possible to reclaim desert land by replanting trees and introducing more water to an area, but with lacking funds it is difficult to keep up with the amount of land lost.

Over-logging has a huge impact on climate change and the environment, but this should not discourage someone from using a chainsaw for personal purposes. When a portion of forest is clear cut it wipes out the entire system of foliage and underbrush. When you use a chainsaw you preserve the underbrush and only take what you need. Cutting down a few trees at a time will not have a negative impact on the forest, and leaving the underbrush will help keep the forest floor healthy to promote new tree growth. Cutting down trees might also have a positive impact depending on where you do it. In certain places where the foliage is thick, thinning out a few trees will allow room for the others to branch out and thrive.

We all owe it to our planet to take care of it. Over-logging is responsible for a huge portion of the deforestation around the world and this affects everybody in some way or another. You cannot trust a corporation to put the needs of the environment over the needs of their bank account, therefore it falls to us, the consumers, to make responsible decisions that help to decrease a negative global impact. We need trees to provide oxygen and to make homes for all the creatures that depend on them. However, when you need that wood for your campfire or lumber for your next workshop project, you shouldn’t feel guilty about using your chainsaw to cut what you need.