Skip to content

Earth Day, In Denver

Today is April 22nd, also known as Earth Day. Today is a day that everyone is supposed to go the extra mile to do something positive for the environment. All across the country, many major cities have several Earth Day events which the public can attend. Denver, happens to be one of those cities. In fact, this article from FOX31 Denver, lists several of the events being held in and around the city.

DENVER — Wednesday is Earth Day and there will be events throughout the metro area.


More than 50 sustainable businesses, organizations and city agencies will be at the annual Earth Day Fair at Civic Center Park. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Mayor Michael Hancock touring the event from 11:45 a.m .to 12:45 p.m.

Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel

A Project C.U.R.E. Earth Day plant sale will be held at the hotel (1550 Court Place) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium (700 Water St.) will have a Party for the Planet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a nature-themed scavenger hunt, conservation crafts and activities, animal feedings and an interactive dive show.

The Alliance Center, Denver

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado will host a recycle and reuse drive at The Alliance Center. The public can bring items to be recycled or reused from noon to 7 p.m. at the center’s parking lot (1536 Wynkoop St.)..

Foundations Academy, Brighton

Students from Foundations Academy in Brighton will plant flowers outside the school from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Students will also hang signs around the school about recycling and help students learn more about how to help Earth.

Merryhill Preschool, Highlands Ranch

Preschoolers at Merryhill Preschool in Highlands Ranch (9345 S. Colorado Blvd.) will release thousands of ladybugs back into the environment from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Colorado State University, Fort Collins

Colorado State will host a volunteer tree planting as part of its designation as a Tree Campus USA. The trees will be planted at 2 p.m. near Danforth Chapel.

Say Goodbye to Microbeads

I remember the first time I washed up using soap which had microbeads, it almost felt like I was cleaning myself with sandpaper. While I’m sure there are many people out there who love the little pieces of plastic added to certain soaps to help with exfoliation, I was never really a fan. Apparently, people concerned with keeping our waterways safe and free from contaminants aren’t fans either. As you’ll read in this article from Seventh Generation, those tiny pieces of plastic, while maybe good for your skin, can be harmful to the aquatic life, that mistakes it for food, which live in our rivers and lakes. So, say goodbye to microbeads, and say hello to cleaner, safer waterways.

Keep Microbeads Out of Our Waterways

Thanks to new laws, exfoliating microbeads—tiny grains of plastic in soaps and toothpaste that can’t be screened out of wastewater, and now pollute lakes and rivers—are on their way out, but maybe not soon enough for waterways throughout the continent.

Most water treatment plants in the country aren’t equipped to filter out objects at the tiny scale of plastic microbeads. For years, that exfoliating plastic grit from face and body soaps, toothpastes, and more flowed down the drain, right through treatment plants and into lakes, rivers and bays. The organization 5 Gyres found concentrations of up to 600,000 microbeads per square kilometer in samples taken from the Great Lakes.

The plastics don’t degrade—they accumulate. Small wildlife may mistake these bits for food, but they can’t digest the plastic. Mussels and other filter feeders—organisms that act as kidneys for bodies of water—get clogged with microbeads, which can remain in their guts for as long 48 days. The plastics that make up microbeads also attract poisons in the water, including diluted polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS) and DDT. Microbeads accumulate these toxins and concentrate them at levels up to one million times the level in the water around them.

Further up the food chain, larger animals that eat small fish and invertebrates may inadvertently consume an indigestible meal of microbeads. They ingest all the attached toxins and accumulate all the plastics in their own guts, too. The plastic doesn’t go away.

In early June, Illinois became the first state in the country to formally ban microbeads. Several other states have bans in the works, but individual state bans may not be necessary. A nationwide ban may pave the way to phase out microbeads altogether. Major manufacturers that produce microbead products have agreed to cooperate with the bans, and some will voluntarily eliminate microbeads even without a ban.

Unfortunately, between the bans and manufacturers’ phase-out timelines, microbead products will still be available until at least 2017, and as late as 2019 in some places. That’s another 3-5 years of toxic accumulation in the Great Lakes, and in rivers and bays all over the country. Fortunately, no one has to buy microbead products. Avoid body care products that list polyethylene and polypropylene in the ingredients, as these are the primary plastics used to make microbeads. Even better news, exfoliation is as close (and free) as your own kitchen.

Salt and sugar each offer their own properties for skin care, while being much more gentle on skin than harsh microbeads. Mix two parts salt or sugar with one part oil of your choice— try one of our Boosts, or olive and coconut oils both work well. Use handfuls to scrub your face and body, and wash away the residue with your daily cleanser. (Bathtubs may get slippery if you use the scrub in the shower, so take care getting out!)

For now, there’s no way to scrub these plastics from our waterways. But we can keep more from flowing in, starting with our own sinks.



Is There a Link Between Pollution and Diabetes?

When it comes to serious disease in the United States, one of the most common is type 2 diabetes. The common causes of this disease are fairly well known, dietary choices, lack of exercise, and genetics are the usual suspects. But another culprit may surprise you……pollution! According to research, some pollutants may be a contributing factor for the ever growing diabetic population. This informative article from Seventh Generation, identifies several of the culprits and ways you can avoid them.

Fat Chance: Does Pollution Cause Diabetes


We can debate many things, but the type 2 diabetes crisis isn’t one of them. It’s an epidemic, and the causes seem pretty clear: diet choices, sedentary living, and expanding waistlines are paving the way. But there may be another culprit, and it’s a doozy.

To recap, something is seriously awry. Over 8% of all Americans, some 26 million people, have diabetes, and 1.9 million new cases are diagnosed every year. In addition, roughly 79 million additional U.S. adults have prediabetes, the condition that often leads to the disease.

Those kind of numbers have public health officials clutching their worry beads. They’re so big that many are wondering if something is up besides the readings on our bathroom scales. Are other forces also tilting those scales, affecting our metabolism, and making it easier for us to get diabetes?

The answer is no – there’s no something else. There’s a whole unhealthy horde of potential “diabesogens” and we’ve heard from all of them before:

  • Air pollution. At least eight studies have found a connection between exposure to air pollution and insulin sensitivity or diabetes.
  • Phthalates. High levels of certain phthalate break-down products in the body have been linked to diabetes onset.
  • Bisphenol-A (BPA). A 2013 study of children found a correlation between BPA exposure and obesity, a key diabetes trigger. Another study tied BPA directly to diabetes.
  • High fructose corn syrup. Researchers studying diabetes in 43 countries discovered a connection between the disease and consumption of this common food ingredient.
  • Perfluorinated chemicals. Several of these compounds are associated with disrupted insulin production and diabetes itself.
  • Pesticides. Exposures to organochlorine, organophosphate, and carbamate pesticides have been linked to the metabolic issues associated with the onset of diabetes.

So far there’s no evidence that definitively declares any of these a direct cause of diabetes. We’ll need a lot more science before we break out those headlines. But the hints we’ve got today are more than enough to suggest precautionary actions like these:

  • Question everything. Scrutinize product labels and don’t use things whose safety is unknown or suspect. When we train ourselves to habitually examine everything we do, buy, and use from an environmental perspective, we help build a much healthier life for our families.
  • Pack your plate with fruits and vegetables. Some help stabilize blood sugar. Others contain phytonutrients that improve metabolism and help the body detoxify itself.
  • Read food labels and choose those with no-to-low sugar and no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Avoid key sources of phthalates like fragranced products, air fresheners, cosmetics, and vinyl.
  • Steer clear of perfluorinated products like stain-proofing fabric treatments and non-stick cookware.
  • Skip products with BPA like canned foods, dental sealants, polycarbonate plastics, cash register and ATM receipts.
  • Use HEPA air filters if you live in an area prone to air pollution. They’ll help keep indoor air safer to breathe.

A Little Earth Day Quiz

Yesterday was Earth Day, a day when everyone is supposed to try to do something which benefits the planet. Of course, people should try to do what’s best for the planet everyday, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Here is an article and quiz from CNN, to test your knowledge of the Earth and pollution. Some of the answers may surprise you.

Hey Earthling, it’s Earth Day; time for a quiz

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) — There’s a popular saying about our planet and humankind’s negative effects on its ecology:

“We treat this world of ours as though we have a spare in the trunk.”

Since the nearest planets that could possibly sustain life appear to be more than 1,200 light years away, it may be wise for Earthlings to do what we can to preserve the nice place we already have.

Since 1970, every April 22, Earth Day reminds us to do just that.

If you think we have more pressing matters to deal with than keeping Mother Earth in shape, consider the people of Afghanistan.

Earth Day: Beautiful places for wildlife Earth Day: Beautiful places for wildlife

Climate change impacts the world

In 2011, the Green Club of Afghanistan planted more than 28 million trees. That’s nearly one tree per person in one of the world’s most war-torn nations.

Or, turn your sights to the beaches of California where a group of volunteers collected more than 3 million pounds of trash that could be recycled, and that was just a day’s haul.

The best intentions and actions are driven by knowledge, so here’s a little quiz to help you bone up on ecology:

The Quiz

1. How many pounds of trash did the United States create, per person, every day in 2010?

A. 1.23 lbs.

B. 3.46 lbs.

C. 4.43 lbs.

Answer: C — Less than 5 pounds may not seem like much, but if you multiply it by 365 days, that’s 1,617 pounds of garbage per person over a year.

2. The seven worst metropolitan areas for ozone pollution are all in California. No. 8 is in another state. Which is it?

A. Phoenix

B. New York

C. Houston

Answer: C — Houston, but some metro areas that may surprise you are not far behind, like Charlotte, North Carolina.

3. What percentage of hybrid car owners replace it with another hybrid when it’s time to get a new car?

A. 79%

B. 45.2%

C. 35%

Answer: C — Only 35% of people who buy a hybrid once buy one again. With all the praise they receive, isn’t it surprising so few drivers buy a second one?

4. About 70% of the Earth is covered with water. Only a relatively small amount of it is potentially potable fresh water. How much?

A. 1%

B. 2.5%

C. 7.3%

Answer: B — Only 2.5% of water on Earth is fresh water. And 70% of that is locked up in polar ice.

5. Though fresh water would seem somewhat precious, Americans use a lot of it every day. On average, what is the approximate daily water use of each household?

A. 25 gallons

B. 50 gallons

C. 300 gallons

Answer: C — 300 gallons. That’s what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. Meanwhile, more than 750 million people (more than 10% of the world’s population) still don’t have adequate access to drinking water, according to the United Nations.

6. A lot of the water Americans consume lands on their lawns. What percentage, on average, is used for outdoor purposes?

A. About 10%

B. About 30%

C. About 60%

Answer: B — About 30% of U.S. residential and commercial water goes for outdoor use. And up to 50% of that evaporates if you water in the heat of the day, the EPA estimates.

7. Which of the following takes the longest time to break down?

A. Plastic six-pack holder

B. Hard plastic container

C. Disposable diaper

Answer: A — A plastic six-pack holder takes 450 years to disintegrate. Consider the impact of plastic water bottles, which take as long to biodegrade. The International Bottled Water Association says that in the top 10 global markets alone, people consumed more than 61 billion gallons of bottled water in 2011.

8. Which of the following accounts for the greatest percentage of total waste in the United States?

A. Paper

C. Plastics

D. Glass

Answer: A — Paper is by far the No. 1 item Americans dispose of. But it is also the most recycled material.

9. How much solid waste does the United States produce in one year?

A. 50 million tons

B. 150 million tons

C. 250 million tons

Answer: C — 250 million tons, says the EPA. That’s more than 1,000 times greater than one of the largest cruise ships in the world.

10. Which of the following countries had higher emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, per capita, in 2008 than the other two?

A. United States

B. Russia

C. Australia

C — Australia emitted 26.08 tons of carbon dioxide per person in 2008. For comparison’s sake, a full tanker truck can weigh between 12 and 25 tons. U.S. and Russian per-person emissions that year were 22 and 15 tons, respectively.

How Important Is Good Indoor Air Quality?

BLOG-BREATHINGWhen most people think of pollutants in the air, they tend to think of the air outside of the home as being most harmful. However, the quality of the air inside your home may actually be worse than the air outside. This article from Informed Green Solutions, gives you a look at some of the causes for poor indoor air quality and the effects it may have on your family’s heath.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Indoor Air Quality is a term used to describe the levels of pollution found in the air in our buildings.  Most people spend up to 90% of their time indoors and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have determined that levels of indoor pollution may be two to five times greater than outdoor levels.  In some extreme cases, levels of indoor pollutants were 100 times higher than outside levels.

What products or factors affect indoor air quality?
Many products affect indoor air quality.  Some of the most common include:

  • Cleaning products and processes used in the building
  • Personal care products used by occupants
  • Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Building furnishings and floor coverings — furniture, fabric finishes, adhesives, and carpet may emit formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Copiers and other office equipment —can emit ozone, VOCs, and other toxic chemicals
  • Construction materials — paints, insulation, pressed wood, and plywood products can emit formaldehyde and other VOCs
  • Pesticides used in or around the building

What are the health effects of poor indoor air quality?

Building inhabitants should not have to be concerned that the air in their homes and buildings could be making them sick. The facts tell us that we do need to be concerned and become involved in order to protect our health and that of our children.

  • Sick building syndrome (which causes occupants to experience acute health and comfort effects) — up to 40% of the population experiences one or more symptoms weekly as a result of exposure to poor IAQ in buildings.
  • Asthma — a recent survey shows that nearly 8% of the US population has asthma. 10 million children under the age of 18 were reported as having been diagnosed with asthma in 2007 and nearly 4 million reported experiencing an asthma episode or attack during the previous 12 months.
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)— an estimated 5% of the population suffers from severe sensitivity to low levels of chemicals, another 10% to 15% of the population is moderately sensitive.
  • Rhinitis – Rhinitis has increased dramatically over the past 30 years and affects millions of children and adults. School air quality has been implicated in an increased incidence of rhinitis.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – 5 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD.6 Recent research has found links between exposure to organphosphate pesticides and ADHD.

How The Greenest Cities Handle Their Trash

No matter what city you live in or how “green” the city’s policies may be, there is still going to be trash. How the trash is handled however may be completely different, especially if you do happen to live in one of the greenest cities in the world. In this article from GOOD, you learn how some of these cities handle their trash problem a little differently.

The greenest city in the world, depending on who you ask, might be San Francisco, California, or Curitiba, Brazil, or Copenhagen, Denmark, or Vancouver, Canada. These cities and others like themhave freed their citizens from car-dependency, switched to clean energy, and made room for green spaces that let everyone breath a little freer. But one key function they’ve also worked hard on? How to deal with their trash.

It’s convenient to think of the trash can as a black hole into which scraps and discards and mistakes disappear. But these cities know better. Producing more trash means wasting more money and using up more resources that could be put to better use. Here are a few lessons from some of the greenest cities in the world on taking out the trash.

Waste has worth. Before tossing that piece of trash, consider: Is it really so useless that it needs to be thrown out? The smartest cities have realized that much of what’s considered waste can actually be a resource. Curitiba, for instance, has a municipal shepherd whose flock takes care of the lawns in its extensive park system. In any other city what would be a pile of grass clippings headed off to a landfill, there becomes food. In places like Singapore and Murcia, Spain, waste gets turned into energy. Curitiba also recognizes the value in keeping the city clean: a municipal program will trade a bag of food for a bag of trash, which helps manage waste in lower-income neighborhoods. (Mexico City just started a similar initiative.)

Use less. To avoid dealing with trash, don’t create as much to begin with. When Singapore decided to start improving its waste situation, the city worked with packaging companies to minimize the amount of waste its citizens would need to dispose of.

Make rules. San Francisco leads the country in “landfill avoidance”—it sends only about a quarter of the waste it creates to the dump. The city managed this incredible feat by setting goals and the laying down rules to ensure that they were met. In 2002, the city’s Board of Supervisors decided that by the decade’s end 75 percent of all waste would be diverted from the landfill. But in 2009, although more waste than ever was being recycled and composted, it didn’t look like San Francisco would make its goal. So the city enacted a simple rule: Every property in the city needed to separate its waste into trash, recyclables and compostables. The city still didn’t quite meet the goal, but with an unheard of 72 percent rate of waste diversion, it’s hard to criticize the effort.

These concepts can apply not only to cities, but to individual households. Those vegetable scraps you usually throw away can be used to make stock. Investing in a growler means that beer bottles won’t pile up in the recycling. And just like San Francisco, anyone can make it a house rule to separate waste into three streams.

Should Plastic Bags Be Banned?

Almost every grocery store cashier asks you the same question, “paper or plastic?”. It seems that there is a good chance that the “plastic” option may be gone pretty soon. Here is an article from The Wall Street Journal, about the possibility of a ban on plastic bags.

Which side are you on?

The Positive Effects Of A “Green” Home

When most people decide to “go green”, they are usually doing so with improving the environment outside of the home on their mind. By recycling, using biodegradable products, reducing pollution, and just helping to maintain the ecological balance on Earth we can help to create a cleaner, healthier environment. While improving life outside of the home is reason enough to decide to “go green”, it is not the only benefit.

When you think of pollution, most people think of places like the L.A. freeway or The Lincoln Tunnel in New York City. But what you don’t think of is your very own home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution can sometimes be up to 30 percent worse than outdoor levels. A large reason for this is because of the cleaning products we use to clean our homes and the harsh chemicals they contain, which can pollute the air and even make you sick.

According to research, many common household cleaners contain compounds that can lead to asthma, infertility, eczema, and even some birth defects…..not to mention just poor air quality. The way to combat this problem is to use natural cleaners (such as vinegar, baking soda, etc…) or use green cleaning products (and if you hire a cleaning service, be sure to hire one that uses green products in lieu of harsh chemicals). So, while “going green” not only protects the environment from chemicals and harsh pollutants, it can also keep your home and family safer and healthier.

Plastic Bags in Boulder – Update from the Boulder City Council

Earlier this month, we covered the City of Boulder’s upcoming agenda item regarding possible regulation of plastic and paper bags.  The Boulder City Council met on May 15th to discuss the range of options for regulating the use of plastic and paper bags.


Plastic bag litter

End of the line for plastic bags?

During the summer of 2011 a number of community members and groups asked City Council to reduce disposable bag use in Boulder through an ordinance and began collecting petition signatures to spur the council to action.  As a result, the council tasked the city staff with exploring options for achieving this goal and invited large stakeholders to take part in the exploratory phase.


Based on the research, the staff presented five possible options at the council meeting:

  1. Fee or tax on plastic and paper bags;
  2. Ban on plastic bags with a fee on paper bags;
  3. Ban on plastic and paper bags;
  4. Educational campaign only; and
  5. No action.

If the chosen approach was an ordinance, its scope would need to address the type of businesses it would apply to, which could include either one or a combination of the following:

  • All retail businesses;
  • Retail businesses over a determined size threshold;
  • Businesses defined as “Food Stores” in the sales tax system;
  • “Food Stores” over a determined size threshold; and/or
  • Business defined as “Eating Places” in the sales tax database.

The city staff took a comprehensive approach to decide on the best option, including researching the results of other municipality’s ordinances on bags; the impact on local businesses big and small, consumer impacts and environmental impacts.

Based on their research and findings the staff recommended the following:

Option 1 – A fee on both disposable plastic and paper checkout bags

A bag tax would have to await voter approval, while a fee can be implemented in the near-term through an ordinance. This option:

  • acknowledges the life cycle environmental impacts of both types of bags, supporting a shift away from disposable bag use in general and not from one type of bag to another;
  • creates an effective financial incentive to change behavior;
  • is acceptable to all of the large grocers since it minimizes their implementation and administrative costs;
  • retains consumer choice and convenience; and
  • helps offset the city costs for implementation, administration, education and strategies to minimize impacts to low income consumers and tourists.

Scope of ordinance: Apply to food stores

This option:

  • targets a majority of bag use in Boulder while maximizing clarity of the ordinance;
  • avoids confusion for businesses around who must comply; and
  • minimizes city resources required for administration, enforcement and monitoring of exemptions and threshold levels.

As mentioned in the meeting minutes (large PDF) the staff felt that including additinoal business types would have a diminishing impact on reducing bag use and would demand more city resources to implement.  The staff state that this ordinance could be expanded in the future if need be.

The meeting minutes (large PDF) includes lots of additional background and data that the city staff used in determining what course of action to recommend.

So readers, what do you think?  Did the city staff make the right decision? If you were on the staff, what would you think based on the data?  Do you feel that a fee on paper and plastic bags will give you an incentive to buy reusable grocery bags?

Image credit: InfinityGivingCircle - Flickr

Traditional Lawn Care Versus The “ecoLogical Way”

It’s official Spring is here! Have you scheduled your spring cleaning yet?  How about a spring cleanup/prep for your yard?  Lawn pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are associated with an increased risk of cancer, neurotoxicity, birth defects, liver or kidney damage, reproductive effects and endocrine disruption. These are not chemicals you want in your yard and you certainly don’t want to track them into your home! John DeFilippi owner and founder of Boulder’s ecoLogical Lawn & Tree Care is our guest blogger.

Guest Blogger: In 2008, owner and founder, John DeFilippi realized it was time to offer an environmentally safe alternative to traditional lawn care that is dependent on chemical applications and synthetic fertilizers as well as pollution-spewing lawn equipment. He began researching the philosophy behind organic lawn care and consulting with the country’s leading experts and soon realized that the formula was simple: Conventional lawn care treats symptoms – Alternative lawn care solves problems. So in 2010, ecoLogical Lawn & Tree Care embarked on its first season of business, built upon eco-conscious principles and a promise to keep people, pets and the planet safe as Boulder’s first complete earth-friendly alternative to lawn and tree care. John was nice enough to take the time to tell us more about his business. 

How is ecoLogical nontoxic?

We never use toxic lawn chemicals, pesticides or herbicides in our turf care programs. Organic applications, high quality fertilizers and a dedication to improving and nurturing soil quality and microbial balance are our safe and effective methods for a healthy, green lawn.

  1. Gas-powered lawn equipment burns 580 million gallons of fuel per year and contributes to 5% of urban air pollution.

How is ecoLogical cleaner?

We only use cordless-electric or propane-powered mowers and equipment that are recharged with solar or wind energy.  Our equipment emits 3,3000 times less hydrocarbons and less than half the carbon dioxide than gas mowers.

  1. Pesticide run-off pollutes ground and surface water threatening the safety of drinking water and can endanger wildlife and family pets.

How is ecoLogical safer?

Our eco-friendly applications are free of chemicals and thus nontoxic to humans, pets and the environment.

  1. Expensive lawn pesticides and herbicides can add up financially and don not treat the root of the problem. In fact, these chemicals deplete soil nutrients and are only reactionary.

How is ecoLogical cost-saving?

Alternative lawn care saves you money by replacing on costly chemicals (which have short-term effect) with less expensive pest prevention techniques such as integrated pest management (IPM). IPM gets at the root of the problem such as increasing soil health, biodiversity, and monitoring bugs and weeds before they become pests.

  1. Lawn care accounts for more than 30% of total water usage in the United States

How is ecoLogical earth-friendly?

Our water conservation initiatives and irrigation management consulting encourage responsible water usage and help cut-down on household consumption.

  1. Gas equipment can run up to a potentially dangerous 100 decibels of noise

How is ecoLogical quieter?

Our electric mowers are up to 75% quieter