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Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. General Questions
  2. Family
  3. Food and Drink
  4. Health and Beauty
  5. Home and Garden
  6. Socially Responsible Investing
  7. Travel
  8. Work Life

General Questions

  1. What does non-toxic mean?
  2. What is biodegradable?
  3. What does naturally derived mean?
  4. What is off gassing?
  5. How can I find out where to recycle various items?
  6. What is Greenwashing?
  7. What is global warming?

1. What does non-toxic mean?

The "non-toxic" claim implies that a product, substance, or chemical will not cause adverse health effects, either immediately or over the long-term. However, there are no specific standards for the "non-toxic" claim. From: www.eco-labels.org

2. What is biodegradable?

The ability of a substance to be broken down physically and/or chemically by microorganisms. For example, many chemicals, food scraps, cotton, wool, and paper are biodegradable; plastics and polyester generally are not. From: www.nsc.org/ehc/glossary.htm

3. What does naturally derived mean?

Typically refers to substances that occur naturally in the environment, not synthetic or man-made

4. What is off gassing?

The emission of gaseous pollutants. For example, the plastic odor from vinyl binders is an off gassing of chemicals. Many soft PVC plastics contain plasticizers to keep them flexible, but these contain harmful chemicals. From: www.cedarhousedreams.com/glossary.html see also www.pvcfree.org

5. How can I find out where to recycle various items?

Try visiting www.earth911.org and putting in your zip code. You will be directed toward local recycling facilities.

6. What is Greenwashing?

A term used to describe the practice of making products, services or behavior appear environmentally conscious or environmentally friendly when it is actually not. Often used in reference to corporate behavior.

7. What is global warming?

An increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere, especially a sustained increase sufficient to cause climatic change. Most scientists believe that a rise in carbon dioxide levels (caused by automobile, power plant, and other emissions) will lead to further global warming. From: www.hubbardbrook.org/education/Glossary/Glossary.htm See also: www.fightglobalwarming.com

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Family

  1. What are some of the major factors I should consider related to my family and environmentally conscious living?

1. What are some of the major factors I should consider related to my family and environmentally conscious living?

Consider:

  1. Selecting toys, clothing, bedding and food for your family which are non-toxic, biodegradable and naturally-derived- this protects your family and the environment
  2. Purchase Fair Trade or Fair Labor products so that workers making the products have a better chance to support their families
  3. Make romance green by choosing gifts of love which are organic and non-toxic

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Food and Drink

  1. What do food labels mean such as organic or all natural?

1. What do food labels mean such as organic or all natural?

Labels can be very confusing. There are many terms that are used and various degrees of regulation over their use. Here is an overview From: www.consumerreports.org

MEANINGFUL

"100% Organic." No synthetic ingredients are allowed by law. Also, production processes must meet federal organic standards and must have been independently verified by accredited inspectors.

"Organic." At least 95 percent of ingredients are organically produced. The remainder can be nonorganic or synthetic ingredients. One exception: Organic labels on seafood are meaningless because the U.S. Department of Agriculture has no standards to back them up.

"Made with Organic Ingredients." At least 70 percent of ingredients are organic. The remaining 30 percent must come from the USDA’s approved list.

MEANINGLESS

"Free-range" or "free-roaming." Stamped on eggs, chicken, and other meat, this label suggests that an animal has spent a good portion of its life outdoors. But U.S. government standards are weak. The rule for the label’s use on poultry products, for example, is merely that outdoor access be made available for "an undetermined period each day." In other words, if a coop door was open for just 5 minutes a day, regardless of whether the chickens went outside, the animals’ meat and eggs could legally be labeled "free- range."

"Natural" or "All Natural." This label does not mean organic. The reason is that no standard definition for this term exists except when it’s applied to meat and poultry products, which the USDA defines as not containing any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients. And the claim is not verified. The producer or manufacturer alone decides whether to use it.

See also www.eco-labels.org

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Health and Beauty

  1. What are some of the major factors I should consider related to health and beauty and environmentally conscious living?

1. What are some of the major factors I should consider related to health and beauty and environmentally conscious living?

Consider:

  1. Purchasing domestically made products.
  2. Opting for organic products that have natural, non-toxic ingredients.
  3. Buying clothing from clothing resellers such as consignment stores- that’s recycling!
  4. Always asking yourself, “Do I understand what I am putting on or in my body right now?”

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Home and Garden

  1. How do know if I am buying environmentally friendly products?

1. How do know if I am buying environmentally friendly products?

Look for a label with a description. If a product does not specify what properties (like energy efficient) or ingredients (like biodegradable) it contains which are greener options, then it is probably not environmentally friendly. Not all products are created equal. Your best bet it to look for products that distinguish themselves from similar products.

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Socially Responsible Investing

  1. What is Socially Responsible Investing?
  2. What are the main terms to be aware of related to SRI?

1. What is Socially Responsible Investing?

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is a type of financial investment planning that takes into consideration a variety of social and environmental concerns.

2. What are the main terms to be aware of related to SRI?

Screening is essentially choosing to include or exclude certain types of investments in a fund based on the values and beliefs of the investor.

Shareholder Advocacy essentially means investments are made in a company so as to affect the social and environmental practices of that company.

Community Investment and Social Venture Capital are types of investing aimed at providing communities either domestically or abroad with resources to build capacity while earning a return for investors.

Micro lending are small loans usually made with high interest to individuals unable to establish credit for the purpose of establishing a business

Investment Circle- a group that practices investment for changes they feel are important

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Travel

  1. What is Ecotourism?

1. What is Ecotourism?

Conservation International (http://www.conservationinternational.org) defines Ecotourism as, "responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people."

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Work Life

  1. What does 100% recycled content paper mean? Post-consumer?
  2. What are electromagnetic fields?
  3. What is corporate social responsibility?
  4. What is Green Seal Certification?
  5. What is LEED certification?
  6. What is Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)?

1. What does 100% recycled content paper mean? Post-consumer?

www.conservatree.org is an excellent resource for understanding paper types. 100% recycled paper is paper made from 100% recaptured paper fibers, no new fibers have been mixed in to create the paper. 100% recycled paper does not consume new trees. Post-consumer content paper contains fiber that has been diverted form the waste stream (i.e. via recycling bins) and has been recaptured to make paper.

2. What are electromagnetic fields?

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are created during the generation, transmission, and use of low-frequency electrical power. These fields exist near power lines, in your home near electrical appliances, and in the office near any piece of equipment that has an electric motor. Currently, there is no convincing evidence to link EMFs with cancer. There is enough data, however, to raise suspicion. Given the pervasiveness of EMFs in our homes and workplaces, the issue cannot be ignored. From: www.glencoe.com/norton/online/essential/appendixa/content.html

3. What is corporate social responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s obligation to be accountable to all of its stakeholders in all its operations and activities with the aim of achieving sustainable development not only in the economical dimension but also in the social and environmental dimensions. From: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_social_responsibility

4. What is Green Seal Certification?

Green Seal Certification ensures that a product meets rigorous, science-based environmental leadership standards. This gives manufacturers the assurance to back up their claims and purchasers confidence that certified products are better for human health and the environment. From: www.greenseal.org

5. What is LEED certification?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design: A voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. From: www.csbsju.edu/environmentalstudies/curriculum/greenbuildingplan/Green%20
Building%20Plan%20p12.htm

6. What is Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)?

A comprehensive examination of the environmental and economic effects of a product at every stage of its existence, from production to disposal and beyond. Also known as cradle-to-grave assessment. From:
www.desertmuseum.org/invaders/invaders_glossary.php

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