Saturday, January 21, 2012

Eco-traveling and translations services

One way to learn more about the environment is to travel. Traveling is fun, and a person’s eyes can be opened to new ideas. When you come home you look at your home city with fresh eyes.  If you are going to travel to a land where the people speak a different language than you, you might want to check out translation services first. One service is Rosetta. As I look over their site it seems they are mostly for business. You could check them out for your personal travel. They translate documents and will do something called cuchotage or whispered simultaneous interpreting. (Chuchotage is French.) This type of interpretation is good for groups of four or less.

Eco-travel is something that is growing in popularity. The word eco-travel can mean two things, either traveling to see environmental wonders (or everyday sites), or it can refer to what kind of a carbon footprint you leave on the environment. Do an Internet search for eco-tourism and see what you might find.

Last year my daughter and I went on our first cruise. It was a vegan cruise, meaning all the food was plant-based – no meat, dairy or eggs. We had a great time and we also did some exploring at the ports. It was fun to see different plants and different topography than we have at home. We experience several languages on this cruise: Italian, Bahasa Indonesia, German and Spanish. The ship was an Italian ship and many of the people in charge were Italian. Many staff members doing the menial work were from Bali. Also the passengers were a mix of people from the U.S., Italy and Germany. In Porto Rico we had a tour guide who tried to teach us Spanish with a Porto Rican flare.

All activities were in English so you didn’t have to worry about service. 

Everyday little things like shopping choices make a difference

It’s those little boring things that a person does everyday that can contribute to society. I find that every consumer decision I make is also an reflection of my commitment to the environment. For example, purchasing a shower curtain can be a reflection of your conviction to the environment. I kept the same shower curtain for years, because I didn’t want to throw my old one in the landfill AND because I was worried about off-gassing of PVCs a new plastic curtain would produce. PVC is polyvinyl chloride. It contains phthalates, which is a toxic plastic softener, used in the coating of shower curtains. Phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, cancer, and liver and kidney disease. You’ve heard about them in plastic baby bottles.

Today I have been asked to blog about shower curtains for, you might want to check their links to shower curtains. I will see if they have some environmentally friendly shower curtains.

In looking over their selection at I don’t see any that specifically advertise that they do not contain PVCs, but one option you have is to pick a cloth curtain.

Another topic I’ve been asked to blog about is a square teak table for 8. If you follow this link to the site you will see tables. I would say to choose a table that is made in the United States, close to you. Teak typically is not grown in the United States.

The third topic I’ve been asked to mention is a bedding comforter with a Mario theme. As I look at the link I see most are made of polyester so you will have decide if you want all natural fabric or if your child’s desire for a Super Mario them overrides the environmentalist in you. Sometimes you have to give in to keep peace in the family.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Minnesotans thank the EPA

By Rebecca Bischoff

Environmental reporter/writer

On a sub-zero day in day in Duluth Minnesotans gathered at the Environmental Protection Agency office near Lake Superior to thank the agency for issuing strong new mercury pollution safeguards. They presented a large thank you card signed by local Duluthians and a banner made by Girl Scout Troop 12965. In December, the EPA finalized strong public health safeguards to limit mercury and other toxic pollution from coal power plants.

Caption: Dr. Carl Richards, Director of the Duluth EPA laboratory, shakes hands with Sierra Club member John Doberstein as he accepts a thank you card signed by Duluthians in support of stronger mercury emission regulations for coal power plants. To Richards left is a banner made by Girl Scout Troop 12965.

Attendance included members of the Sierra Club, the Duluth faith community, Duluth City Council, Izaak Walter League, and University of Minnesota Duluth students.

Sierra Club member John Doberstein said the new safeguards will slash mercury emissions from coal power plants by up to 90%.

City Councilor Linda Krug said she has heard from citizens concerned about Lake Superior’s water quality. “Toxic levels of mercury in Lake Superior are not what we want for Duluth, Minnesota, or America.”

Pastor David Carlson of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church spoke of the importance of creation care and being a voice for the voiceless. “They [wildlife and future generations] can’t help it, but we can,” he said of environmental issues.

Sportsman Darrel Spencer of the Izaac Walter League said his family’s diet consists of large amount of wild game. “It sickens me that we have to limit our fish intake in [waters as pristine as] the boundary waters.”

Kate Mensing, a member of MPING, a UMD student group that focuses on issues of environmental and social justice, said her group was involved because mercury pollution “affects both wildlife and citizens.”

According to the EPA, these new standards will prevent up to 150 premature deaths in Minnesota annually and create up to $1.2 billion in health benefits each year.

Rebecca Bischoff has a degree in environmental science from Northland College, Ashland Wisc. She lives in Duluth and is interested in fitness and nutrition and all issues relating to environmental protection.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Contribution by Stevie Kirby

My husband refuses to use a GPS. We got one a few years ago and I thought it was the coolest thing because it would save us so much time by keeping us from having to look up directions. We keep the GPS in my car because that is the car we use more frequently when we are going somewhere with our whole family. Whenever my husband is going to drive somewhere, he always looks up directions online. He says that he wants to use our clear Dallas internet to make sure that we have directions in case something happens to the GPS. However, once he gets in the car, he refuses to look at the GPS and only uses his written directions. I told him that he needs to trust modern technology because it is safer to use the GPS than trying to read a piece of paper while driving. His response was that the GPS does not always go the quickest way and that sometimes the GPS is incorrect. I do remember one time when we were going to a wedding and the GPS told us to turn on a road that did not exist and we ended up being late to the wedding. I still think it is safer to travel with a GPS than reading paper while driving. I guess it does not hurt to have a backup though.