EWG RELEASES DIRTY DOZEN AND CLEAN FIFTEEN LISTS

Strawberries

The Environmental Working Group has recently released this year’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.

Based on tests of 48 popular produce varieties, the Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the greatest concentrations of pesticides. Consumers should, if possible, purchase the organic versions of these fruits and vegetables to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals. The Clean Fifteen is a list of 15 fruits and vegetables that contain the most insignificant concentrations of pesticides.

THE DIRTY DOZEN

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Imported nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Imported snap peas
  12. Potatoes

THE CLEAN FIFTEEN

  1. Sweet potatoes
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Cantaloupes
  4. Grapefruits
  5. Eggplants
  6. Kiwis
  7. Papayas
  8. Mangoes
  9. Asparagus
  10. Onions
  11. Frozen sweet peas
  12. Cabbage
  13. Pineapple
  14. Sweet corn
  15. Avocados

All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed prior to consumption.

For the entire list, visit The Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

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TIPS FOR A SUSTAINABLY EGGSCELLENT EASTER

Easter Eggs

The Easter Bunny will soon be hopping our way! Enjoy these tips for a holiday celebration that is as sustainable as it is eggciting!

  • Use locally produced foods for your holiday meal.
  • Did you know that the White House traditionally uses wooden eggs instead of plastic eggs for the annual Easter Egg Roll? Use wooden eggs instead of plastic eggs for your celebration, too. If you must use plastic eggs, choose recyclable eggs or biodegradable eggs made from corn plastic. Recycle your eggs when your celebration is complete or store them and reuse them for next Easter. Or, look for unique ways to reuse your eggs. Use them to store small items such as craft beads, buttons or loose change … use them as learning tools to teach numbers, colors and motor skills … decorate them with the names of herbs and plants and use them to adorn your garden and mark your seedlings. There are many possibilities!
  • Choose natural grass such as raffia or shredded paper that can be recycled instead of plastic grass for your Easter baskets.
  • Use baskets made of natural fibers such as wood, wicker or seagrass instead of plastic baskets, and reuse baskets every year.
  • To reduce plastic and paper waste, fill baskets with homemade treats instead of wrapped candies and practical alternatives to plastic favors such as seed packets, books, soy based crayons, school supplies and wooden puzzles.
  • Use natural dyes to color Easter eggs. Spices, fruit and vegetable skins, fruit juices and vegetable juices can create beautiful eggs. Try beets, red cabbages, red onions, yellow apples, blueberries, pomegranates, cranberries, red grapes, paprika, chili powder and turmeric. For spices, mix one cup of water and 2 tablespoons of spice with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. For fruit and vegetable skins, mix one cup of water and the skins of 6 fruits or vegetables with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. For fruit and vegetable juices, mix one cup of juice with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Soak the eggs in the solution for 30 minutes to 24 hours, depending on the depth of the color you want to achieve. Once the eggs are dyed, place them on a rack to dry.

FOR MORE IDEAS AND INFORMATION …

Sustainable Easter Ideas on Pinterest

Sustainable Easter Ideas from The Huffington Post

A More Sustainable Easter Basket

20 Eco-Friendly Easter Egg Ideas

Natural Egg Dyeing Tips

50 Homemade Easter Candy Recipes

 

 

Going Green at the Office

Staff Report, Fort Bragg Environmental Management

(Scroll to the end of the post for a printable poster!)

Many Americans spend much of their days in an office, and for the 144 million members of the work force, the office can be a “home away from home.” By incorporating sustainable practices into the operations of the office, one can save natural resources, conserve fiscal resources and turn a “home away from home” into a healthy, efficient environment.

Recycled Content Post-It

Here are some easy ways to “go green” at the office …

ENERGY CONSERVATION
– Use task lighting and natural lighting when possible.
– Use the power saver feature on electronics such as copiers and printers.
– Set office thermostats in accordance with Army regulations: 68 degrees (+/- 2 degrees) in the heating season and 78 degrees (+/- 2 degrees) in the cooling season.
– Power down computers and other electronics at the end of the duty day.
– Unplug electronics and appliances when the office is to be unoccupied for a long period of time, such as a deployment or holiday.

SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION
– Arrange a carpool with colleagues.
– If possible, consider cycling or walking to the office.
– Consider the Fort Bragg Sustainable Shuttle when traveling on post.

WASTE REDUCTION
– Circulate office notices electronically.
– Distribute, review and store files electronically when possible.
– Request publications such as newsletters and magazines to be delivered electronically.
– Use both sides of the paper when printing and copying.
– Reuse office supplies as much as possible.
– Replace disposable items with reuseable items.
– Always recycle paper and other recyclables!

RESPONSIBLE PURCHASING
– Complete a thorough inventory of office supplies prior to ordering to avoid waste.
– Purchase paper and other products with a minumum of 30 percent recycled content.
– Purchase non-toxic and less-toxic versions of materials such as cleaners and inks.
– Purchase energy efficient and water efficient products.

INNOVATION
Consider innovative ways to be sustainable and resource-conscious at the office. Does your office present any unique opportunities to “go green?” Share your ideas on Facebook.

WANT TO POST THESE IDEAS IN YOUR OFFICE? SELECT THE IMAGE FOR A PRINTABLE POSTER!

Green Office Week Poster

GUIDING LIGHT: HOW TO DECIPHER LIGHT BULB LABELS

vector lightbulbs icon

As of January 1, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 prohibited the manufacture and import of traditional incandescent light bulbs, which have been rendered obsolete by energy efficient and durable alternatives. In addition, the legislation requires new bulbs to consume 30 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and to produce at least 20 lumens of light per watt of power consumed. Thomas Edison’s invention that has served as a standard method of home illumination for 134 years does not measure up to this new standard, and as a result, will soon disappear. It’s the end of the light bulb as we know it.

The compact fluorescent light (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs that are now available meet or exceed EISA standards. But, when selecting one of these new bulbs, consumers may encounter a set of new considerations as well.

EISA requires the placement of informative labels on all light bulbs. There are several standard pieces of information on these Lighting Facts labels that help consumers choose the proper light bulb for their needs.

BRIGHTNESS

The brightness of a light bulb is measured in lumens. A standard number of lumens generated by a CFL or LED can usually be equated to the wattage of a comparable incandescent bulb.

450 lumens = 40-watt incandescent or 4-watt LED or 11-watt CFL
800 lumens = 60-watt incandescent or 8-watt LED or 15-watt CFL
1,100 lumens = 75-watt incandescent or 13-watt LED or 25-watt CFL
1,600 lumens = 100-watt incandescent or 20-watt LED or 30-watt CFL
2,600 lumens = 150-watt incandescent or 28-watt LED or 55-watt CFL

So, if one wishes to replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a CFL or LED bulb, one would choose a 15-watt CFL or an 8-watt LED. They all emit 800 lumens.

ESTIMATED YEARLY ENERGY COST

The estimated yearly energy cost for a light bulb is based on a standard of three hours of illumination each day at a utility rate of $0.11 per kilowatt hour, or kWh. Efficient bulbs will have a lower estimated yearly energy cost, but these amounts will vary based on an individual consumer’s rate of use and the rate of utility cost.

LIFE

The life of a bulb is based on a standard of three hours of illumination each day but will vary from consumer to consumer. Traditional incandescent bulbs have a life span of about 1,200 hours whereas CFLs and LEDs have life spans of 10,000 hours and 50,000 hours respectively.

LIGHT APPEARANCE

CFLs and LEDs also include a color temperature range and a Kelvin (K) rating that indicates the hue of the light generated by the illuminated bulb. Some bulbs generate warmer, yellow toned hues that are most comparable to traditional incandescent bulbs while other bulbs generate cooler, blue toned hues that most mimic natural light. Generally, a higher K number implies a cooler light temperature.

2700 K = warm, yellow toned light
3000 K to 4100 K = neutral, white light
5000 K to 6000 K = cool, blue toned light

ENERGY USED

The energy that a light bulb consumes is expressed in watts. Energy efficient bulbs have a lower wattage. Some labels also list a bulb’s efficacy in lumens per watt (LPW). The most efficient bulbs will generate more LPW, thus providing more illumination but consuming less energy. For example, a 15-watt CFL or an 8-watt LED produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb, but they use less power to do so.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

CFLs and other lamps containing mercury (LCMs) will feature a Contains Mercury label. LCMs must be recycled properly to prevent mercury from entering the environment and posing threats to our natural resources and to public health. Visit the EPA Guide to CFLs for more information on LCM recycling, or contact the Fort Bragg Hazardous Waste Reclamation Office at 396.2141.

Some bulbs even have a Color Rendering Index (CRI) that indicates the accuracies of colors as seen when the bulbs are illuminated. For the interior of a home, consumers should choose bulbs with a CRI of at least 80 for truer color appearance.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Consumer Reports Light Bulb Buying Guide

 

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT …

Light Bulb Finder

Let There Be Light on the New Bulb Law

Article by Jonelle Kimbrough, Fort Bragg Environmental Management

The New Year ushered in new resolutions, as usual. But, the arrival of 2014 also ushered in a new regulation on a common consumer product: the light bulb. As of January 1, new federal standards prohibited the manufacture and import of 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs – the most common bulbs used to illuminate homes across America. Although some opponents of the law have doubted the need for and viability of the regulation, supporters have claimed that the mandates do have some merit. And, when all is considered, the benefits of the new alternatives to the incandescent bulb often eclipse the disadvantages.

Compact fluorescent bulb - resting on blue background

The legislation that regulates the manufacture and import of the traditional incandescent bulb is part of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which was signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2007. EISA is designed to decrease American dependence on foreign sources of energy, increase our energy independence and security, protect consumers and enhance the efficiency of consumer products, facilities and vehicles.

Contrary to popular concerns surrounding the law, EISA neither bans incandescent bulbs nor demands the use of certain alternative bulbs.  Consumers will not be required to immediately discard existing incandescent bulbs, and they will not be required to replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs). Instead, EISA requires newly manufactured bulbs to consume 30 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and to produce at least 20 lumens of light per watt of power consumed. The average incandescent bulb converts only five to ten percent of the power it consumes into light and produces only 15 lumens of light per watt of power consumed, so the technology that has served as the industry standard for 134 years is essentially obsolete.

Traditional incandescent bulbs will still be available for sale and purchase until the current supply is exhausted. Certain incandescent bulbs including colored bulbs, candelabra-base bulbs and specialty bulbs such as those used in refrigerators and incubators are exempt from the law.

Although consumers will not be forced to use CFLs or LEDs, there are many advantages to replacing incandescent bulbs with their more efficient counterparts. Watt for watt and lumen for lumen, CFLs and LEDs consume less energy and boast longer life spans than incandescent bulbs. According to the United States Department of Energy, a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 13 to 15 lumens per watt (LPW) of power consumed whereas a comparable 15-watt CFL produces 53 to 63 LPW. A comparable 8-watt LED is even more efficient, producing 70 to 100 LPW. The average 60-watt incandescent bulb lasts for 1,200 hours while a comparable CFL lasts for 10,000 hours and a comparable LED lasts for 50,000 hours. Considering the cost of use and the cost of replacement, CFLs and LEDs will ultimately conserve fiscal resources as well. Energy efficient bulbs can save $40 to $135 in utility costs every year, per the Environmental Protection Agency.

Although they carry many advantages, CFLs and LEDs do have some detriments. CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury. The mercury content in most Energy Star rated CFLs is regulated and minimal, though, and it should not pose a threat to the environment or to public health if the bulbs are handled and recycled properly. CFLs do not achieve immediate full illumination, and they can be susceptible to humidity. They are also initially more expensive than incandescent bulbs. While a standard incandescent bulb costs about $0.50, a comparable CFL costs about $3. LEDs are perhaps the most environmentally sound and most expedient alternatives since they contain no mercury and provide instant full illumination. Additionally, they are more durable than incandescent bulbs or CFLs. However, since each LED bulb costs an average of $10 to $30, they are also the most expensive alternatives to the incandescent bulb. Despite these concerns, new technologies and increased demands will lessen the environmental impacts, public health concerns and initial costs tied to CFLs and LEDs, and in the end, their minimal power consumption and their impressive life spans will create a significant return on investment.

Energy efficient light bulbs will contribute to a decrease in America’s energy consumption as these alternatives become the standards for home illumination. As we decrease our energy consumption, we will also decrease our utility costs and decrease the environmental pollution associated with energy production. Furthermore, we will decrease our demand for finite and foreign sources of energy, and we will eventually reach our goals of energy independence and security.

For more information on energy efficient light bulbs, visit the Consumer Reports Light Bulb Buying Guide.