Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Five "blood" products besides diamonds (reprint from Brilliant Earth)

  • AUTHOR:  BY GREG KRAUSS
  •  
  • JEWELRY NEWS | WEDNESDAY, APR 16, 2014
People are increasingly becoming aware of an unfortunate fact: many diamonds have histories of bloodshed and exploitation. In Africa, civil wars fueled by “blood” or “conflict” diamonds have claimed an estimated 3.7 million lives. Diamond mining is also riddled with troubling labor and environmental practices. Go to some diamond mining areas in Sierra Leone or Angola and you’ll find child labor, ruined landscapes, and diamond diggers earning a dollar a day.
The good news is that the word about blood diamonds is slowly getting out. More and more consumers want diamonds, and particularly engagement rings, sourced from areas free of conflict and human rights abuses. Less well known is that lots of other products have such a bad reputation that they've also earned a “blood” or “conflict” label. Here are five such products that you might not know about, along with tips on what to do.

CONFLICT MINERALS

That monthly smartphone bill of yours may be high, but the true cost of your smartphone could be higher. A civil war in eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed more than 5 million lives since 1998. Rebel groups obtain much of their financing from gold and as well as tin, tantalum, and tungsten. These “conflict minerals” are used in a range of products, including jewelry and electronic devices such as smartphones.
U.S. legislation passed in 2009 requires certain large companies to publicly disclose whether their products contain conflict minerals from Congo. The law has convinced some companies to change their sourcing practices. (Intel, for instance, has announced that all its microprocessors are now conflict free.) But consumers can also help by steering clear of conflict minerals.

BLOOD RUBIES & COLORED GEMS

Rubies, sapphires, and jade are stunning gems. Sapphires, especially, are growing more popular. But not every colored gem has a happy history.  In Burma, also known as Myanmar, colored gemstone mining relies on child labor and forced labor. Mining profits also fund a brutal conflict between the military and ethnic minorities in Burma’s northern Kachin State. As of September 2013, the conflict had forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes.
Although Burma’s military dictatorship ended in 2011, the United States has maintained a ban on Burmese sapphires, rubies, and jade due to ongoing abuses. That ban, however, is difficult to enforce, because the gems are being smuggled into China and Thailand and then re-exported. Consumers should recognize that it’s possible to buy rubies and sapphires from select, ethical sources. But consider avoiding all newly mined jade, since the vast majority of it comes from Burma.

BLOOD IVORY

Four elephants are killed every hour. More than 30,000 elephants are slaughtered every year. Elephant poaching in Africa has risen sharply of late, driven by rising demand for ivory in China. Some of Africa’s most vicious militant groups, including the Al Shabab wing of Al Qaeda, are taking the lead in the ivory trade, using the cash to finance more violence. “Blood ivory” is a fitting description, given the funding for militants and the senseless killing of elephants.
Although a treaty bans the international trade in ivory, smugglers have paid no attention. In a rebuke to the ivory trade, the Obama administration crushed six tons of illegal ivory last year. President Obama also has announced a ban on almost all ivory sales in the United States, the world’s second biggest ivory market. Ivory is one product that consumers should best avoid, for ethical and now legal reasons. It’s also possible to take action by signing this online petition.

CONFLICT PALM OIL

Next time you head to the snack machine, don’t just count calories. Take a look at whether you are consuming any palm oil, an ingredient found in crackers, potato chips, canned soups, and half of all packaged foods. This relatively unknown ingredient has hidden social and environmental costs. In Indonesia and Malaysia, palm oil plantations are gobbling up rainforest, endangering orangutans, threatening forest-dependent communities, and exploiting workers. In Malaysia alone, up to 200,000 children may work on palm oil plantations.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the group leading the campaign against what it calls “conflict palm oil,” has identified 20 influential snack brand companies that have the power to change how palm oil is produced. The group doesn’t ask people to avoid all palm oil, but it does call on consumers to make their voices heard. Through RAN’s web site, it’s possible to send a letter—or a photo of your palm with a message scrawled on it—to the major snack brand companies.

BLOOD CHOCOLATE

One of the most beloved foods out there—chocolate—has a dark side you might not know about. Cote d’Ivoire produces about a third of the world’s cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate. But cocoa production there has a troubling history. For many years, cocoa funded rebel militants in the country’s north. The conflict is now over, but the focus has shifted to another problem: child labor. Anywhere from 300,000 to one million children, some of them trafficked, work on cocoa farms in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Many have never tasted chocolate themselves.
A group called Stop the Traffik is working to raise awareness and pressure the major chocolate manufacturers to change their sourcing practices. According to the group, there’s no need for consumers to give up chocolate—thank goodness. Stop the Traffik recommends buying certified chocolate instead. (One option, for instance, is chocolate made from fairtrade cocoa.) The group also suggests organizing a chocolate fondue party to educate your friends and family.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The coolest and hottest thermostat ever (Honeywell review and giveaway)

And do we mean ever! This thermostat will keep you cool or warm whenever you need it.

Our Daily Green was contacted over the winter to test out the latest product from Honeywell. We received a Wi-Fi Color Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat (retail value: $200+), and installed it in our home.

Immediately, we were impressed by the interface. From a purely aesthetic view, you can actually choose the color of the screen to match your decor. But beyond that, the precision programming options are incredible. From a daily option based on when someone is in the home, this thermostat is simple and straightforward.

But beyond all the immediate benefits, is the amazing smart phone APP and remote benefits.

Imagine heading out for the day and forgetting to reprogram your thermostat to know the house would be empty. Why heat a house that nobody is in?

Honeywell's APP solves that problem. Within seconds, you can pull up an APP to turn off or lower your furnace/air until you will be back in the house. Remotely. Yes, you can adjust the thermostat without even being in the house.

The instructions are clear and concise; we've included a photo journey of our installation:
Ease of installation is an important factor: clearly labeled wires and easy to follow instructions result in a painless and accurate installation. Simply remove each wire as instructed, re-label and reinsert.

WiFi Thermostat



Like a kid with a new toy, we've been testing our new thermostat whenever we head out and about. We've paused, lowered, stopped and restarted it to see how well we can control it from afar. No difficulties to report and truly, we can imagine tremendous savings. Picture this: You no longer have to heat or cool a home where nobody is in the home. You can adjust the temperature so that when you are home, it's a comfortable temperature. 

Honeywell WiFi Thermostat considers today's homeowner and today's issues. It's the right thermostat for our times. 

We are honored to offer one free Honeywell WiFi Thermostat to give away to one of Our Daily Green's readers. (follow link to see if your home is compatible). 

What's in it for us? Well, this is the disclosure part, we received our thermostat free of charge. We are excited about it and want to share it with you. To qualify for our giveaway, we are inviting you to tell your friends about Honeywell and Our Daily Green. We work hard to bring you the latest and most relevant news in the world of energy savings and green living. We want you to tell your friends how you heard about our giveaway. 

To enter, please post about the giveaway somewhere on social media, either Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Include a link to this post as well as a mention of #Honeywell and #OurDailyGreen. Leave a comment on this post with the link to your entry.

Good Luck!

Thermostat APP
Honeywell Wi-Fi Color Touchscreen
Programmable Thermostat

One entry per person, accepting entries up until April 27th, midnight EST. To qualify, you must comment and include a link of your shared post. 


Sweepstakes

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Allergy season bursts onto the scene (from repost.us)

Our Daily Green is affiliated with The Allergy Kit, a safe, at-home, drug-free allergy treatment.


Allergy season bursts onto the scene (via Repost Video News)
Cedar is a major allergy right now. Oak and hickory will begin pollinating in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Zabada clean is natural, safe, and effective (product review)

In January, Our Daily Green received a cleaning kit from Zabada clean to test and review for our readers. Not only did we receive the merchandise, I also had the opportunity to talk to the company founder, Damian Pike, from Australia, where Zabada is a household name under the label ENJO.

Our Daily Green's communication with Zabada began when they were preparing their US product launch. Though we were unable to attend (it was in California, we're in Ohio), they took great care in sharing information about their product and how it would revolutionize the way we clean in the United States.

As Americans are starting to learn more and more that killing bacteria only makes it more resistant, we need to rethink what it means to clean our homes. The Zabada cleaning system is a household staple under the name ENJO in 20% of the Australian households.

In their San Francisco launch, Zabata proved that chemicals are not necessary for a clean surface, water and good fibers are.

From the press release:
Zabada’s environmental thought leaders toured San Francisco this week, demonstrating how the company’s microfiber cloths (when combined with water) decrease bacteria levels from household areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and floors. The science of this process is proved by using a bacteria monitoring device called a Lumitester to measure bacteria levels on a surface before and after cleaning with Zabada. Bloggers, high end restaurateurs and eco-friendly activists marveled at the demonstrations, where the Lumitester’s speedy measurements showed that Zabada’s microfiber products removed exponentially more bacteria than leading household chemical cleaners, including those claiming to be “environmentally friendly.”
Zabada Clean
enter referral code 4389

We actually meant to clean our house and post this review sooner than April, (much to Our Daily Green family's chagrin), but now that we've used Zabada, we're believers! You can clean with water and their tools.

We especially love the cleaning mitt pictured in the photo to the right. It did a fantastic job on our bathroom mirror and glass shower doors. See the video below for a demonstration of the product. Add water, wipe and dry. It's that simple.  Think about how many paper towels that will save!

For tougher cleaning problems, as pictured below, we asked Zabada about hard water stains. As you can see from the door of our front loading washing machine, we had a tremendous calcium buildup. We took photos before, during, and after cleaning with their Calcium Dissolver. We used the same product in our sinks but the images were not as easy to demonstrate how effective the product was.


Before

During

After


If the photos or my willingness to share the crud inside my washing machine door, for the sake of a review, haven't convinced you, try it for yourself. Check out the different ways Zabada can make your house sparkle without chemicals.

disclaimer: Our Daily Green received the bathroom cleaning system and the calcium dissolver in exchange for this review. Our opinions remain our own. Our opinion will always remain, cleaning isn't fun. But at least with Zabada, it's safe and effective. 

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