Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is biodegradeable clothing in your future?

Could biodegradeable clothing be in your future and save jobs in the US? NC factories are now manufacturing scarves and socks from a corn-based fabric to help reduce impact on our environment.

Here's the report from WIS TV in Hickory, NC...

North Carolina company making biodegradable clothing
February 5, 2007
Bryce Mursch -

(Hickory, NC-NBC) Feb. 5, 2007 - Clothing made from corn could be saving hundreds of North Carolina textile jobs from heading overseas. Four North Carolina factories now produce socks and scarves from a corn-based fabric.

The machines humming at Catawba Valley Community College may be spinning the next hot seller in socks. That's where textile plants send newly developed fabric for testing as US companies try to figure out how to fend off foreign competition.

"It's hard to predict what the consumer is going to buy or what's going to be the hot thing next," said Dan Saint Louis. He runs the hosiery technology center in Hickory, a lab that recently perfected the latest invention in clothing fabric made from corn.

Jerry Collins with Twin City Knitting said, "It's a new yarn that we're introducing, but we're very pleased in the interest that people are showing it."

Four North Carolina companies now produce clothing made from ingeo, the patented cloth that looks and feels like cotton, but is actually a man made fiber derived from plant sugars. The fabric is biodegradable and has become a big seller in Japan.

"They are very very environmentally conscious. They don't have places for anything extra in their landfill," said Dan Saint Louis.

Scientists have also developed clothing made from bamboo and crab shells, a niche in manufacturing that companies say will save jobs and is creating room for expansion in a very competitive industry.

"It would be hard to compete with us," said Dan. "That's the name of the game for us."

You'll pay between eight and nine dollars for a pair of socks made from corn.

Several department stores including Nordstrom and REI now sell this and deals are in the works with other major department stores.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Not always easy being green

Taking the high road is not always the easiest thing to do.

A news article in the February 26, 2007, News and Observer about a proposed "10-story Greenbridge condominium and retail project in downtown Chapel Hill will conserve energy and resources. It will have geothermal heating, planted rooftops and a system that uses rainwater to flush toilets."

Exerpt from the article...
February 26, 2007
News and Observer
Lisa Hoppenjans, Staff Writer

Developer: It's not easy being green
Eco-friendly condos face vote
CHAPEL HILL - In August 2002, Tim Toben found himself three hours north of Reykjavik, fishing for atlantic salmon knee-deep in a glacial stream.

Toben, a former corporate CEO, had been invited to Iceland by Bill McDonough, a green architect whom Time magazine hailed as a "Hero for the Planet." The other guests included a former chemist for Greenpeace and the head of a British solar electric company. They fished during the day. In the evening, they broke out wine and talked shop.

"What became really clear to me on that trip was that global warming is the greatest challenge and threat that humanity has ever faced," Toben said. "The next conversation was what we each could do." Read more...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another strike against smokers

A major apartment fire this week in Raleigh, North Carolina, is caused by discarded "smoking material" according to investigators quoted in the following news item. This points out yet another significant reason to work toward reducing or eliminating smoking. This again underscores the view that smokers just don't care about others around them and do careless things like throwing out cigarette and cigar butts without concern for the consequences.

The following is from a story line in the News and Observer...
February 24, 2007
News and Observer
Barbara Barrett and Sarah Lindenfeld Hall, Staff Writers

'Smoking material' blamed for blaze
Dozens forced to flee and leave their possessions return to find ashes, rubble, investigators -- and condolences
RALEIGH - Investigators said Friday that a cast-aside bit of "smoking material" ignited one of the worst conflagrations in Raleigh's history, a five-alarm fire that wiped out a budding townhouse community and left 26 families homeless.

Residents returned Friday to the charred remains of their sofas, photographs and shoes, and wrestled with the unsettling reality of their homelessness.

"It's bad when you wake up in the morning and you don't have underwear to put on," said Ryan Richardson, 24, as he waited to get back into his townhouse. "Everything, you take for granted. You automatically get up, take a shower, shave. You can't do that anymore." Read more...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cheney downplays global warming

Our Vice President has taken a stand against current views on global warming, placing him squarely at odds with the majority of climate scientists. As usual the policy with this administration is to admit nothing and not address many real issues facing the nation.

Much of the current thinking by experts suggests that the global warming trend is being caused by mankind through the burning of fossil fuels. Without significant changes this trend could continue and alter living conditions as we know them.

From ABC News as reported from Sydney, Australia February 23, 2007...

EXCLUSIVE: Cheney on Global Warming
Vice President's Views At Odds With Majority Of Climate Scientists
Sydney, Australia, Feb. 23, 2007

In an exclusive interview today, ABC's Jonathan Karl asked Vice President Dick Cheney about the topic of global warming, a subject Mr. Cheney has rarely addressed in the past. The vice president agreed that the earth is warming but, like President Bush, maintained there is debate over whether humans or natural cycles are the cause-- a position that puts the administration at odds with the vast majority of climate scientists.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- made up of thousands of scientists from around the world -- reported earlier this month they are more certain than ever that humans are heating earth's atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. In Australia, for example, the IPCC said that rising ocean temperatures brought on by global warming could make Australia's Great Barrier Reef "functionally extinct" by 2050.

Here is a portion of the transcript from Jonathan Karl's conversation with Mr. Cheney:

JONATHAN KARL: I want to ask you about another issue that's been a subject of controversy here in Australia, global warming. Did you get a chance to see Al Gore's movie?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I have not seen Al Gore's movie.

JONATHAN KARL: Doesn't surprise me.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: He didn't invite me to the showing.

JONATHAN KARL: The premiere, huh?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not that I had planned to go anyway.

JONATHAN KARL: But what's your sense, where is the science on this? Is global warming a fact? And is it human activity that is causing global warming?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Those are the two key questions. I think there's an emerging consensus that we do have global warming. You can look at the data on that, and I think clearly we're in a period of warming. Where there does not appear to be a consensus, where it begins to break down, is the extent to which that's part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it's caused by man, greenhouse gases, et cetera.

But I think we're going to see a big debate on it going forward. But it's not enough just to sort of run out and try to slap together some policy that's going to "solve" the problem. Kyoto I think was not a good idea -- not adequate to task. It didn't cover nations like China or India. It would have done serious damage to our economy. We decided not to go down that road. The Senate had rejected it overwhelmingly anyway.

But what we're doing with research, we're spending more money on research than anybody else, probably the rest of the world combined in this area. We've set targets for ourselves in terms of increasing energy efficiency, that is reducing the amount of energy per unit of output. And we're doing better at meeting those targets than I think virtually anybody who signed up with Kyoto. Most of the folks who signed up with Kyoto are not going to meet the targets.

But going forward, if we are going to have a policy, we've got to find ways to do that are not inconsistent with economic growth. You can't shut down the world economy in the name of trying to eliminate greenhouse gases. But there are some answers out there -- nuclear power, for example, is one of them. And getting the United States back into the nuclear power game I think would be a significant benefit -- both in terms of producing the energy we need, but at the same time not contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

JONATHAN KARL: So you think the jury is still out about whether or not this warming we're seeing has been caused by human activity?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Some of it has, I think. But exactly where you draw the line? I don't know. I'm not a scientist. I talk with people who supposedly know something about it. You get conflicting viewpoints. But I do think it is an important subject, and it will be addressed in the Congress. I think there will be a big debate on it in the next couple of years.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Build a green pc...

Your PC contributes to global warming and to a degree (no pun intended) helps run up your electric bill. An article from PC Magazine compares energy requirements of several home appliances including your PC and monitor.

One way to help address the issue is to buy a new PC that was manufactured with "green" concepts in mind. Another is to build your own green pc. How to do this is described in this article...

PC Magazine
January 31, 2007
By John Brandon

Global warming is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, which trap heat so it can't escape the atmosphere. Although cars, factories and power plants do most of the damage, the computer is at least partly to blame. A PC uses 200 to 400 watts, depending on its configuration and use. By comparison, a refrigerator uses about 725 watts, but a DVD player uses only 25 watts, and your TV is right around 100 watts. A high-performance gaming rig with a powerful graphics card, multiple hard drives and optical drives, a flash memory reader, and a 30-inch LCD might consume as much as 750 watts! Leave such a beast running constantly and you might see an extra $40 to $50 on your monthly electrical bill. Ouch.

Yet PC energy consumption is only part of the problem. The manufacturing process for computer parts also has an effect. The typical computer these days contains significant amounts of lead, which is used in soldering motherboards, processors, and other parts. Since the average lifespan of a PC is just three years—according to the EPA—the toxic effects of disposal are quite high. Read more...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

School can be warm and friendly

Wake Technical Community College is following Greensboro's lead to show that that school can be friendly to the environment and be a warm and comfortable place for students. Northern Guilford in Greensboro, which opened in late January, is the latest and most extensive example of environmentally friendly school design in the state. Expanding on the concept, Wake Technical Community College is constructing an entire campus where all buildings meet recognized standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. Next year, students will attend classes in the first two buildings on the new northern campus. It will be the state's first green community college campus.

From the 2/11/07 News and Observer

Eco-friendly school has lessons built in
By Wade Rawlins, Staff Writer

GREENSBORO - The first thing people notice in the newly opened
Northern Guilford Middle School is the light. Soft, warm light. It bounces off the roof and pours into classrooms through south-facing windows. It bathes the gymnasium in the sunlight of an outdoor playing field.

"The light is wonderful," said Jane Van Middlesworth, a band teacher. "You know how it feels when you're outside -- it's warm and energizing. I think all schools should be like this." Read more...

Monday, February 5, 2007

Smokers just don't care

Trying to stomp out smoking in public places always brings out strong feelings on both sides. It really would make public places nicer for everyone if a simple ban could be put in place to eliminate smoking. Everyone would benefit from it.

The North Carolina Legislature is trying once again this year to eliminate smoking in all state owned buildings to help improve everyone's health. Since this is a tobacco state no doubt this will bring out a barrage of negative comments from all as the debate proceeds.

Some of the well known smoking issues:

  • Smoking causes cancer and other health problems
  • Second hand smoke contributes to sickness in non-smokers
  • Smokers litter - flip butts on the ground, out car windows, anywhere that's easy
  • Smokers dump auto ash trays in the road
  • Smokers waste LOTS of money on cigarettes
  • Smoke always drifts from smoking areas into non smoking areas
  • Smokers care absolutely nothing about health of other people

The following exerpt is from a simple statement typical of a non-smokers view reported in the February 4, 2007, Pantagraph daily newspaper in central Illinois that immediately triggered a round of nasty comments back and forth in the community. Sample comments from their viewers are included...

From the Pantagraph in central Illinois

Smoking ban triggers a problem with litter

Sunday, February 4, 2007 12:44 AM CST

The recent non-smoking ban passed has been awesome. It has a flaw. I have noticed cigarettes droppings in several locations around town. What can be done to keep America clean.

Brenda F.

Copyright © 2006, Pantagraph Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

Note: All views and opinions expressed in reader comments are solely those of the individual submitting the comment, and not those of the Pantagraph or its staff.

Sample reader responses...

Well........ wrote on February 05, 2007 3:19 PM
It annoys me to see all the chewing gum that is on the sidewalks and everywhere else. Let's ban chewing gum too. It's full of sugar and bad for teeth. Isn't that a health hazard too?????

Jipsi wrote on February 05, 2007 1:04 PM
You said, "Since the ban evicted a large paying clientele from the businesses that needed them." I'd like to know who has been "evicted?" From what I have read, the "paying clientele" who went to these places prior to the smoking ban, are still alowed at the very same places they've always gone.

lightning wrote on February 05, 2007 12:56 PM
while we're banning smoking from parks, lets go ahead and ban lightning too because that is the cause of most forest fires. Bad God!

to Life is good wrote on February 05, 2007 12:48 PM
so to para-phrase- nothing about the ban can be negative, nothing is bad except smokers. The ban is good, I am good, smokers evil. Just wanted to get your position clear. By the way what are you popping to live in such a dream world??

excuse me wrote on February 05, 2007 12:39 PM
have you looked at new cars in the last 10 years? They have been made with out ashtrays! As far as outside the resturants they have been that way for years. We had ashtrays inside.. All I have to say is hush up, and quit trying to be a saint, I am sure you have tossed something on the ground from time to time, just don't blame us!

Wake up people wrote on February 05, 2007 12:27 PM
Stop whining about the cigarette butts. If you are truly worried about litter worry about the other items that make up 99% of litter. Oh wait - you just want to blame everything on smokers......The Iraq war? Must be the smokers!! The raising of our electric rates? It's those dang smokers!!! The Bears losing the Superbowl? If only the smokers weren't around we would have won!!!! Yes, you sound this stupid!!

Woodford Pundit wrote on February 05, 2007 10:28 AM
The obvious solution to this perceived problem is a ban on littering. Oh, wait; I guess there already is. Isn't there a fine or something. Oh, wait; same thing as with the smoking ban. Perhaps a ban on banning would solve the whole thing, since the ban on littering hasn't worked out so well. Seems to be an enforcement problem. Oh, wait; that's right, we can enlist citizens at large to enforce these things on other citizens. Yep, that should do it. Posses to enforce the littering and smoking bans. That's what I was trying to say.

Smokey wrote on February 05, 2007 9:59 AM
The problem with cigarette smokers littering is not a new issue. Smokers have ashtrays in their cars but usually choose to flick it out the window (wouldn't want that nasty smell in their car of course). Some who don't mind the smell, will wait until the ashtray is full and then empty it at a stoplight. Looks real nice especially after it rains and forms a clump of butts. But my favorite thing about smokers is when they smoke at restaraunt and enjoy a nice smoke before or after a meal. They take a nice big drag off the cigarette and then exhale their smoke over their shoulder, away from THEIR faces and others at THEIR table. Stupid smoking ban, now if I want to smoke, I'll have to buy my own cigarettes.

IL is not your ashtray wrote on February 05, 2007 9:01 AM
This needs to be the state's slogan to smokers. Too many smokers are disrespectful or ignorant of their littering. Smokers, stop making yourselves look like a fool and contain you butts. Illinois is not your ashtray!

Duh wrote on February 05, 2007 8:44 AM
What did you expect? You told us to go smoke outside, so we did. I've noticed a great many places since the ban that haven't added anywhere outside to place a cigarette when you're done smoking it. Others have a can for butts but since it's still right next to the door it's actually illegal to smoke anywhere near it. Smokers pointed out that this would be one of the effects of an indoor smoking ban, but no one listened.

no difference wrote on February 05, 2007 7:03 AM
Smokers threw their trash around before the joke of a ban, too. They've always been inconsiderate litterbugs who think their addiction is above littering laws. If there's no trash can in front of a store, go find one, or, here's a thought - don't smoke on your way there! But no, you're too addicted and have to have your fix. How's this - say I can't drive home without stuffing a cheeseburger in my mouth, so I'll be sure to throw the wrappers in your yard because I don't want to dirty up my car.

Grow up folks wrote on February 04, 2007 10:14 PM
Take responsibility for your mess. Why should I clean up after you? I don't like seeing butt trash all over. So you want to leave it to the stores, bars to clean up after you. Great, let them raise their prices so they can pay someone to be your maid. Didn't your Mom's teach you how to clean up after your selves. Is leaving trash your childish why to get back at someone for the ban? Who's it hurting. Not the B/N aldermans, board members or mayors. Only visitors. What a lovey site for them to view. You act like Bloomington/Normal is the only place to have restrictions on smoking. We are really behind many states. 22 state have a smoking ban in all public places 17 states have restriction on smoking in public places (IL) 12 state has no smoking ban\restrictions AZ, IN, KY, MS, NC, NM, OH C TN TX,WV, WY You should consider relocating to one of the above states. You can smoke all day, still leave your trash for someone else, but at least it wouldn't be here.

LittleMac wrote on February 04, 2007 4:22 PM
Geez, Brenda had me worried. I've been out in the yard for a couple of hours picking up plastic pop bottles, beer cans, Big Mac wrappers, homework assignments, bubble gum wrappers, styrofoam insulation, used arena tickets, and what's left of the latest edition of the 'Prima Donna Post'. Then I came in and read Brenda's letter. About 'droppings' and how a 'non-smoking ban' had been passed. I hadn't heard of that one and was not looking forward to having to smoke. Now, after reading these posts, I'm relieved that everyone in B/N will not have to smoke. Thank you to whomever didn't make us start to smoke. But, I'm worried worried that Lexingtonites may think they will all have to light up this afternoon. Just in time for the Super Bowl. And are thinking that, thanks to Brenda, the ban on the 'non smoking ban' may not be the ban they originally thought was not being banned.

Li'l Johnny wrote on February 04, 2007 12:15 PM
Here is what the Bloomington City Code, Chapter 38 : Section 21 : Litter Prohibited - Penalty, says about littering: It shall be unlawful for any person, in person or by his agent, employee or servant to cast, throw, sweep, sift or deposit in any manner in or upon any street, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way or other publicly-owned property in the city, or in or upon any river, public water, drain, sewer or basin within the City, any kind of litter. Nor shall any person cast, throw, sweep, sift or deposit any litter anywhere within the City in such manner that it may be carried or deposited, in whole or in part, by the action of the sun, wind, rain or snow, into any of the aforementioned places. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100.00 nor more than $500.00 for each offense. (Ordinance No. 2004-62) I would love to see a few $100.00 tickets written. The word would get around and maybe, just maybe the trash and litter problem might abate a little. (We have met the enemy and he is us!)

Attorney wrote on February 04, 2007 6:58 AM
More cigarette butts, and empty cigarette packages, have now been added to the litter that some people throw out for others to clean up. It is nothing new to see people throw a butt out of a car window, but neither is seeing someone discard an empty beer can, a soft-drink cup, or occasionally a whole bag of refuse. Some people just don't care about their environment or that others will have to clean up after them. Others may be angry about the smoking ban and throwing their butt down is their way of getting back at a community that "wronged" them. Business owners affected by the ban should make provision for a butt receptacle, but some may see it as not being their law or responsibility. When State Farm first started its indoor ban 15 years ago, smokers could be seen standing along Regency Drive and they just threw down their butts onto the sidewalk. "Like a good neighbor", State Farm did try putting receptacles out and did periodically clean up the mess, but eventually moved the smoking area closer to its building. Maybe Bloomington’s "beer gardens" are a good idea from a housekeeping perspective.

jipsi, Can't Resist: The Answer wrote on February 04, 2007 6:06 AM
What can be done? I have the ANSWER. Repeal the silly, over-micro-managing ban and allow BUSINESSES to, once again, provide a warm, safe place for THEIR CUSTOMERS to relax and enjoy a sportscast, a noisy band, the dingy surroundings, a blue collar game of pool, a beer and a smoke, if they so desire. The smokers have a place to go, the non-smokers have places THEY can go (there WERE restaurants and taverns ALREADY catering to a non-smoking base of regulars) and the streets are cleaner and sidewalks quieter, less littered... "

jipsi wrote on February 04, 2007 5:59 AM
WHOOOOEEEEE! And see how this will only get worse.... Since the ban evicted a large paying clientele from the businesses that needed them, there have been protests about the "dingy" and "smelly" appearance of the abandoned businesses (with demands the businesses self-finance makeovers to 'fix the problems'), complaints about the NOISE (these from people who OBVIOUSLY are just now stepping out and into the nightlife world -- NEWSFLASH: nightclubs and taverns were and always will be loud and noisy places, the healthier the business, the bigger the crowds, the more noise, REGARDLESS of smoking/non-smoking patrons... stick to the COFFEE HOUSES and JUICE BARS if you need PEACE and QUIET, or STAY HOME!) and now, someone bemoans the LITTER of butts from smokers who have had to "take it outside"??? I think the City/County are going to start becoming more and more embarassed by their decision (and the contituents they BELIEVED were the saner), based on the so-silly whimperings that continue amongst this group..."