Grab Bag Wetting Your Whistle…
Why It’s Not So Easy Anymore:
The Battle of the Bottle continues……. Environmental activists and eco-legislators (or those who are currying favor by appearing so) are leading the charge to ban plastic bottles containing BPA (Bisphenol A). BUT, the BPA industry and it’s biggest clients are not going down without a fight, because, from their point of view, BPA has been a very successful chemical, in both performance and economy. A bunch of these companies, under the umbrella of the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, convened on May 28th, 2009 to strategize how they could counter the negative BPA tide. Attendees included Coca-Cola, Del Monte, Alcoa, Crown, and Grocery Manufacturers of America, among others. The minutes of their meeting were obtained by the Environmental Working Group, and can be read here. It was not their most shining moment. Minutes reflect that meeting attendees discussed using “fear tactics” to dissuade people from choosing BPA-free packaging. Hmmmm.
For more in-depth reading, the current legislative status of the BPA issue is laid out in this short article from the June 5th, 2009, issue of the Christian Science Monitor. This article also discusses the most recent research on the topic; one study being conducted on Harvard students who drank from BPA containers for a week (see the results in the article).
On top of the BPA issue, dioxane is another hazardous by-product in some plastics. Add to that the environmental issues associated with bottled water (manufacturing, then disposing of all that plastic, energy and emissions consumed/released while driving cases of water around the country, or around the world, etc.).
While lawyers and legislators and lobbyists (oh, my!) argue this one, I’m drinking my filtered tap water at home out of glass bottles. I like keeping conveniently sized bottles in the fridge…. call me crazy, but water tastes better when it’s really cold, in glass containers.
You can have fun thinking of glass containers you can use. If you want to buy a few of the same kind, you can buy individual bottles or cases of myriad shapes, colors and sizes of bottles online.
I even went the extra mile and had some custom waterproof (labels are dishwasher safe) labels made, with a photo image and custom type I was able to design and upload. Check out Simply Labels here. There is some psychology behind the whole bottled water phenomenon, and I’m riding that wave in an effort to get friends and family on board with this whole “bottle your own” program. If I’m going to compete with any of the above bottles, I better attempt to make it look good 🙂
If your tap water isn’t pristine (and few are anymore, with chloramine, fluoride, lead, e.coli and who knows what in it) consider a good filter system. Consumer Reports suggests you match your filter’s strengths to your water’s weaknesses:
Want to know what’s in your water? One way to find out is to check your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all water systems to provide their customers each year.
The reports aren’t the liveliest of documents, so you might be tempted to toss yours out unread. But that could be a mistake. Our recent analysis of CCRs from the 25 largest U.S. cities revealed that only three claimed no federal water-quality violations. Though none of the other 22 water systems were consistently unhealthy, all had some samples that contained significant quantities of contaminants–things like lead, chlorine, and E. coli. Some samples in Boston, for example, had lead levels more than 45 times the federal limit.
Homeowners whose water comes from private wells on their property can face an even greater unknown because it isn’t surveyed or reported on in CCRs. Fortunately, our tests of 27 water filters–everything from carafes to systems for the entire house–found models suitable for removing many common contaminants. Nor is there any safety reason to reach for the bottle. Often advertised as a “pure” and “natural” alternative to tap water, bottled water, though generally safe, is actually less regulated than municipal water supplies. Indeed, some is filtered from the tap.
Almost as easy as turning on the tap. Water filters have become simpler to install and more convenient to maintain. Several undersink and reverse-osmosis models use simple screw-on plumbing connections instead of saddle valves, which require drilling into the cold water supply line, and can leak. And many refrigerators have built-in filters for their water dispensers. Across types, more filters feature electronic indicators that conveniently signal when it’s time for a replacement. A faucet-mounted model, the Brita Disposable, avoids replaceable filters altogether. You simply throw the whole thing out after a year’s use.
Analyze your water. First, review your CCR report. It is usually mailed to you, printed in newspapers, or posted on your local government’s Web site. For help deciphering it, go to Deciphering your water report. But remember that these reports tell you about the water in your municipality, not necessarily what’s coming out of your own tap. Only testing your home supply can do that. Call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) for the names of state-certified testing labs or for your local health authority, which might offer low- or no-cost test kits, or check out www.epa.gov/safewater/labs.
The Watersafe All-In-One Drinking Water Test Kit, about $18, is another option. It provided quick, accurate results for chlorine, lead, nitrate, nitrite, two pesticides, pH, and total hardness in our tests. Results for bacteria were less reliable and required waiting 48 hours. Ultimately, you might find you don’t need a water filter.
CR’s top recommendations for water filtration products, with scores, by category, are:
Carafe-type: Brita (68), Shaklee (61)
Faucet-Mounted: Pur (63), GE Smartwater (54)
Counter-top: Kenmore (91), Shaklee (88)
Undersink: Aqua Pur (88), Kenmore (88), Culligan (86)
Reverse Osmosis: Kenmore (75), Whirlpool (74), Culligan (73)
Whole-House Treatment: Whirlpool (43), GE (42), Kenmore (42)
Grab Bag Fitness Finder:
So… really… how fit ARE you? Don’t be afraid to ask that question. If you don’t ask directions, you’ll never get there on time 🙂 (can all the guys hear me???) It’s quite simple, really. All you need to get a pretty good idea about your fitness level (and hell, you might be pleasantly surprised!!??) is a watch or clock with a second hand, a pencil and paper, and a spot to be able to exercise, either in place or go out for a jog… just somewhere to be able to get your heart rate up to a working level. Check it out here, from the guys at Real Age.
Grab Bag Clean Up Tip:
I have mentioned The Good Guide in past posts. They are developing a large database of products and assigning a rating system to those products, based on a few different criteria:
- “Social Performance” is how they take care of their employees, customers, and philanthropic efforts.
- “Health performance” is a measurement of the content of their products and the relative health hazards associated with those ingredients.
- “Environmental performance” judges how the companies operate relative to environmental concerns such as energy, water, air pollution, toxic waste, etc.
The rating they assign any given product is an amalgamation of those categorical assessments.
Grab Bag Tear Jerker Moment:
Many thanks to Susan B. for sending these along. Now you can cry, too …
Grab Bag Matters:
From the Every Monday Matters book and website:
Ix-nay on the Fast Food:
- $120+ billion is spent every year on fast food, compared to $6 billion in 1970.
- 30% of children’s meals consist of fast food.
- 24% of high schools offer popular fast-food brands.
- 1 in 5 children between the ages of 6 and 17 are overweight.
- There is a 79% likelihood of adult obesity if a person is overweight during adolescence.
- Large portions, value meals, and supersizing create serving sizes that are double and triple the recommended daily allowance.
- Billions of dollars are spent each year on fast-food advertising specifically targeted at children.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
- Don’t eat fast food today.
- Start the habit of switching one fast-food meal per week to a healthier alternative.
- On days you do eat fast food, ask for the small size.
- Never supersize your meal. The price and value may be tempting, but your health pays the greatest price.
- Plan your meals at least a few days in advance.
- Go to the store and buy fresh or organic food.
- Pack a healthy lunch or cook dinner at home today.
With each fast-food feast, you significantly increase your carbohydrate and fat intake as well as the calories you eat. So plan your meals, simplify your schedule, cook, and eat dinner as a family. Fast food may save you minutes in your day, but it’s taking years off your life—most chains don’t advertise that on their “value” menu.
Grab Bag Funny Stuff BONUS!!:
In earlier research, Dr. Lee Berk and colleagues discovered that the anticipation of “mirthful laughter” had surprising and significant physiological effects in people. Two hormones – beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals linked to a transiently elevated mood) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with optimizing immunity and metabolism) – increased by 27 percent and 87 percent respectively in study subjects who anticipated watching a humorous video. There was no such increase among the control group who did not anticipate watching the humorous film.
Now researchers Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, a psychoneuroimmunologist, and Stanley Tan, MD, PhD, an endocrinologist, have examined the effect of “mirthful laughter” on individuals with diabetes. They found that mirthful laughter, as a preventive adjunct therapy in diabetes care, raised good cholesterol and lowered inflammation.
Love it. So take two and call me in the morning…. Laugh away, my friends…..