Global Plants is a community-contributed database with more than two million high resolution plant type specimen images found worldwide, many digitized from glass slides. These contributions are through the Global Plants Initiative (GPI), an international undertaking by leading herbaria to digitize and make available plant type specimens and other holdings. It also includes expedition travelogues, letters, photographs, botanical paintings and drawings, a nd reference works, with links to related research articles on JSTOR. The image viewer feature examines and measures plant specimens and savable in “MyPlants.” It does cost and use you use their calculator to estimate the cost for your institution. (note: did you know JSTOR resources are free in Africa and many other developing countries!)
Non Toxic Gifts December 10, 2012
Check out these great sources to make your holiday gift giving less toxic!
The Non-toxic shopping is a great aggregator of information on the topic and includes links to database on toy testing, an article on finding responsible clothing companies, searchable information on fragrances toxicities, links to site on non-toxic art supplies, and offers help for finding green products made in the USA
Check out US PIRG’s toxic toys list – download the PDF on Toy Safety or view on your mobile device; and a link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s searchable database on safe products.
Before buying anyone cosmetics check out the real ingredients from the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
Other tips for toxic-free gift giving from ToxicFreeNC!
- Look for safer materials to start with—items made from wood, cotton, wool, metal, glass, etc. will contain fewer toxic chemicals. However, remember that products labeled as “natural” or “non-toxic” aren’t necessarily so, because those labels don’t refer to any specific standards.
- Silicone is not necessarily safe, especially not in the oven, or in kids’ mouths. It often contains siliconates, which have been identified as cancer-causing chemicals. Instead, look for toys made from wood or latex, and kitchen gear made from stainless steel, ceramic or tempered glass.
- When looking for rubber duckies and other soft toys for young children, try to find natural rubber or latex. (PVC and vinyl are highly toxic.) You can sometimes identify PVC/vinyl products by looking for the recycling #3 label.
- Skip “junk jewelry” for older kids, which can include heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and sensitizers that can cause allergic reactions. If you purchase jewelry, look for products made of real silver or gold–it’s a bit pricier, but it’s safer will last longer and can be passed down through your family’s generations.
- Indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air quality due to the cleaning products, pesticides and fragrances folks often use at home, chemical off-gassing from furnishings and of course, mold, dander and dust. Give gifts that encourage your loved ones to spend more time outdoors.
- Know your body products. If you will be purchasing perfumes or other personal care products, check out the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It’s a great, easy-to-use website that helps you learn about what’s in the products you’re using AND find safer replacement products. Cosmetics aren’t well regulated, but preliminary testing has revealed heavy metals in make-up and endocrine-disrupting phthalates (often listed as “fragrance”) in make-up, bodywash, shampoo, cologne, body spray and a host of other products.
Slavery Footprint November 1, 2012
Launched last fall, this website asks the single questions “How Many Slaves Work For You?” – a survey you can take to see how many indirect modern slaves work for you. Their goal is educating people to create a free market by free people. Deep within the supply chain, clothing you buy, electronics you purchase, food you eat, comes from somewhere with people involved in the making of it. This site simply, with some nice graphics, walks you through examples of how your purchases start with raw materials, then manufacturing, companies/brands …to you. With many people often underpaid, in poor conditions, possible child labor – AND often producing detrimental environmental aspects – through the entire process. Take the survey and find out how many slaves actually work for you. Then you can truly say it was Made in A Free World!
Creative Recycling October 15, 2012
We recently hosted film night showing Terra Blight - a feature-length documentary exploring America’s consumption of computers and the hazardous waste we create in pursuit of the latest technology – at my university. Featured in the is film and leading our post film discussion were members of Creative Recycling. Creative Recycling was wonderful to discover! They started in Tampa in 1990 but are now up and down the east coast, in almost 19 states and growing. They provide state-of-the-art lifecycle management solutions for surplus, obsolete and end-of-life electronic products. Those leading our post film discussion were from the local Raleigh plant which is an actual processing facility, working with municipalities, businesses, schools, government, etc. Their goal is to teach others how to do recycling and then pick it up and process it from them
We need to shift focus and think of recycling electronics as a commodity (this is why they don’t call it e-WASTE) & job creation (they have 80-100 jobs at any one facility & growing!). They can generate money from just about every component of electronics they process. Their unique processing plant [photo!] allows for the recycling of electronic components in a single computerized process – up to 24,000 pounds of recyclables per hour (or 800 monitors) and in an environmentally safe manner taking less than five minutes for a single item to complete the recycling process!
Is Creative Recycling anywhere near you? Check out the map to see and stay tuned as they are growing nationally!
- Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CreativeRecyclingSystems
- Follow them on LinkedIN: http://www.linkedin.com/company/creative-recycling-systems
new DataONE portal August 2, 2012
DataONE, the Data Observation Network for Earth is “the foundation of new innovative environmental science through a distributed framework and sustainable cyberinfrastructure that meets the needs of science and society for open, persistent, robust, and secure access to well-described and easily discovered Earth observational data. [about dataONE] “ It is a collaboration of universities and government agencies, organizing and serving vast amounts of highly diverse and interrelated scientific data. Through a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF), this community-driven organization features nodes at the University of New Mexico, UC Santa Barbara, and University of Tennessee, and the California Digital Library (CDL) with searchable access to data, and ability for funders, users, developers, educators, and any other stakeholders to gather and contribute to DataONE products and services. Check out their data, education, resources or how you can participate!
Looking for a tool to help your institution with ideas and methods for promoting more environmentally sustainable environment? Madeleine Charney, librarian at University of Massachusetts Amherst, created this Take Action Checklist. It has got an academic angle but could be applied for other types of libraries as well. Use it to reflect on your institution’s involvement in the sustainability movement and determine else you can do to bring the voice and resources of your library to the table. As Charney says librarians are “adept at gathering, synthesizing and disseminating information. We are born organizers!” This document also includes resources for librarians to support this process such as through listserv, webinars,and reading materials.
Green Apps! April 20, 2012
In honor of Earth Week, there are a number of green apps available and worth checking out.
The Verde app (only for iPad) is FREE – usually $5 – from now through Sunday/Earth Day. The Verde app helps you perform an energy audit of your home. (or office or school etc). Once downloaded you choose you zone (geographically) and your energy rate (app can find it for you) and then go through various categories – adding your various appliances such as lighting, gadgets, etc. You choose which specific types in each category from lists and you can customize this data. The app will show you appx costs for your device and usage. A final report can also be emailed and used to help cut back on costs and usage!
For those wanting to get outside for the weekend, check out the FREE AllTrails app (for iphone and android) – assists with finding trails, GPS Tracking, and Topo maps for the hiking, camping, mountain biking, and National Parks. Sierra Club also has a FREE trail app called Trail Explorer (for iPhone only)
Special thanks to brown biggers for the suggestions!
The Energy of Innovation March 30, 2012
For the last few months, people have been sharing innovations that will improve how generate or use energy with the project of the Center for Innovative Media at George Washington University called Planet Forward. Plant Forward has been airing bi-weekly episodes on Bloomberg TV starting in February 2012. The episodes show our county’s current cycle on smart communities and introduce real characters from the online video submissions, fact-checking their ideas and exploring the technology or science involved and the experts compare the ideas. There are just seven finalists. If you missed the PBS Special, The Energy of Innovation, you can view it online now.
Second Nature – a higher education resource organization March 27, 2012
Second Nature, a non-profit organization has been working for over 12 years to bring Education for Sustainability (EFS) concepts nationwide in higher education. Their mission is “to create a sustainable society by transforming higher education by supporting senior college and university leaders in making healthy, just, and sustainable living a foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.” They have many well-known partners including AASHE. They support or offer many programs, including Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium, Advancing Green Building in Higher Education, and the Higher Education Sustainability Federal Policy Advocacy. They link to some good resources including articles, fact sheets, reports and speeches that were produced (in whole or part) by members of the Second Nature team. You can also follow their blog for updated and useful information!
Top Environmental books for Youth February 20, 2012
Top 10 Books on the Environment for Youth: 2012.
By Ian Chipman
Published February 15, 2012 (in Booklist)