<![CDATA[GREENISH THINGS - HOME]]>Tue, 23 Feb 2016 10:50:28 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Is Fairphone the Greenest Cell Phone Ever Made?]]>Mon, 22 Feb 2016 18:45:02 GMThttp://www.greenishthings.com/home/february-22nd-2016
Do you bike to work? Hug trees? Buy only organic fair trade sunglasses and save baby whales on weekends? Congratulations you’re living sustain…wait, what’s that in your pocket? Is that a smartphone?
We all have one (well, not all of us, I'm looking at you insufferable flip phone connoisseurs) and by now we probably all know how truly dirty, both environmentally and socially our favourite little electronic devices actually are (unfortunately the luddites have earned the moral high ground on this one.)
But what’s a (non-luddite) greenish person to do? Everybody needs/wants a phone, and trying to find a responsible option feels like trying to answer a multiple choice question where options A,B,C, and D are all wrong and there’s no option ‘E’. Well one Dutch company, Fairphone thinks it has the answer.
Newsweek has called it “the world’s first modular smartphone”. Ifixit.com says it’s “a wakeup call to an entire industry”.
What makes the Fairphone so special? A few things, first, the phone is modular. This means repairing rather than replacing your smartphone when it nose dives onto a pointy rock, or a toilet. Being able to fix your own phone means less unnecessary electronic waste and less money out of pocket. The phone is so DIY fixable that ifixit.com gave it a 10 out of 10 rating for ‘fixability’, the highest rating it has ever given to a smart phone.
Fairphone also claims that its components are recyclable. Simply send your damaged components or whole phone into the company and they’ll take care of the rest.

What about sourcing? Since the manufacturing stage of most electronic devices is the most polluting and socially destructive part of its life cycle, a truly green phone must totally rethink this aspect. FairPhone has made this a part of its mission by focusing on establishing sustainable supply chains. To this end, the Fair Phone 2 contains fair trade gold from Peru and conflict free tungsten from Rwanda.
 While this might not seem like a big deal, it is when you consider that conflict minerals fund wars that kill millions, all so we can have the newest gadget to capture the perfect #selfie.
Humane Working Conditions A Priority
On the manufacturing and labour front Fairphone seems to be making an effort to clean up an industry that is known for its inhumane and toxic working conditions. Their website states that they have set up an elected 
“system of worker representation” through their ‘worker welfare fund’ allowing workers to raise concerns and make suggestions to their employers. ​While this is laudable, actually keeping track of worker conditions on the ground so far from their base of operations in the Netherlands might prove challenging. 
Mixed Reviews
 While user reviews for the Fairphone 2, which sells for 529€, have been mixed, most have welcomed the company’s commitment to innovation and respect for workers and the environment all while creating a decent product.

Most importantly, in successfully bringing the Fairphone to market for a reasonable price, its makers have set a new standard for what is possible in terms of responsibility and sustainability in the electronics market. What remains to be seen is if the big players will follow the lead of the little guy trying to be green.

Want to learn more on the subject? Below are some links you might find helpful:

Manufacturers Website:
Great article discussing conflict minerals

Bloomberg article on the dirty business of recycling electronic waste:

<![CDATA[Camelbak Eddy Insulated Bottle Review´╗┐]]>Sat, 20 Feb 2016 11:59:47 GMThttp://www.greenishthings.com/home/camelbak-eddy-insulated-bottle-review
Before I tell you about the Camelbak Eddy Thermal Insulated Waterbottle let me tell you a little story:

 Some kids have  blankies, some have binkies. I had a bottle. One of those plastic open ended baggie type deals with a chewy silicone nipple meant for  weaning babies off breastfeeding. I had it well beyond the age when it was socially acceptable to have a bottle.

I imagine people side-eyed the hell out of the 6 year old with the bottle nipple hanging out of her mouth like a tiny marlborough man sucking on a smoke. But I guess people assumed it was a kid comfort thing, so they let it slide without too much razzing. 
To be honest, I think kid me just really liked staying hydrated. Frozen Canada is like the sahara on a dry day (but with no sun, no heat, and virtually no camels). Anyway, try as my mother might she couldn't pry me away from my bottle. Long story short, by the time she finally got me off the sauce I was old enough to install the bag, fill it, and remember to bring it with me to social events. I was self sufficient. ​ Like a prepper or a really organized addict.
But then one day, my mother found the ultimate hiding place that I never sussed out. And I moved on. So that is why you might understand why I'll never forget the way I felt when I got my first camelbak. Nice ergonomic bottle shape. Check. User friendly silicone nipple. Check. Easy to clean and keeps things cold even in tropical heat. Check. And to top it all off somehow between my weaning at 7 years old and now, constantly toting and sucking on a bottle has become acceptable. De rigeur even. I approve.

Bottom line Camelbaks are like bottles for babies, but for adults. Adult bottles, for baby adults.
The important stuff:

Q: Does it leak?  
A: Almost never. if you leave it upside in your purse or on your pillow it might leak/dribble (like small animals and boyfriends) so I'd call it virtually leak proof, especially if you flip the silicone  bite valve back into the closed position

Q: How easy is it to drink out of the Camelbak Eddy?
A: Like taking a baby bottle from a baby... and then drinking from it... only there's a straw, so no tilting your head back and looking like a giant ridiculous baby. Perfect for when you want to sip continuously without leaving an open container of water beside your laptop. Seriously though, in 2009 Camelbak paid some science people at Pepperdine University to do some science stuff and look into the nipple on these things. The study showed that people consumed 24% more water with the Camelbak Eddy style bite valve bottle than they did with wide mouth or screw cap bottles. While this might seem like a big increase, it's not surprising to me I find myself sipping continuously and mindlessly out of the Camelbak Eddy, so I'm going to go ahead and believe the Camelbak funded scientists.

Q: How long will the Camelbak Eddy insulated stainless steel bottle keep things cold?
A: In my experience if you fill this sucker with ice and water in the morning and then forget it on the kitchen counter instead of bringing it to work because you are fundamentally disorganized, It will still have a bit of  ice in it by the next morning. Pretty nifty. Great for the beach/sports/bakeries/steam rooms/steam engines/the surface of the sun . Fill it with ice, drink the water and then refill it again for all day refreshment.

Q: Will it hold flavours?
A: The stainless steel will not, so you might be tempted to put coffee or mulled wine/whiskey or something in it.
 They also don't recommend it for hot drinks because of the plastic. Remember hot chocolate in styrofoam cups? No? Picture throwing a nerf ball into hot lava.
Q: Any drawbacks to the Camelbak Eddy Water Bottle?
A: Weight and capacity are a bit of an issue. Because it is double walled it holds less liquid than other bottles of the same size. It's also a bit heavier. That being said, this is quickly forgotten when you take  an ice cold swig of water (gin and tonicand then proceed to drop the bottle and not break it. .

Q: Is it green?
A: Very few things are perfectly green. This is definitely greener than a plastic disposable water bottle but lets be honest, anything is greener than single use disposable plastic. An econoline with a hole in the gas tank, a soyuz rocket on a joy ride, dogs smoking cigars for the fun of it. All infinitely gentler on the environment than plastic bottles, but I digress.

The Camelbak Eddy insulated bottle is made from medical grade stainless steel which takes a lot of energy (read pollution) to manufacture, so that's kind of a bummer, But the fact that it's not plastic or aluminum means that it does not need to be lined with any potentially harmful materials to protect the inside, so it's a healthier and more durable option. The Camelbak Stainless Steel Eddy bottle is also extraordinarily hard so you can keep the bottle indefinitely. Drops and dings will not mean replacing the bottle. To be fair, the cap could wear out, but I have yet to change the bottle I bought 5 years ago. I suspect most people would lose the bottle before the thing actually breaks.

 How many Greenish Things does the Camelbak Eddy insulated water bottle deserve?  

                                                                      4.5 out of 5 Greenish Things

<![CDATA[Does Healthy Eco-Friendly Meat Exist?]]>Fri, 19 Feb 2016 19:22:21 GMThttp://www.greenishthings.com/home/does-healthy-eco-friendly-meat-exist
The other day my mother was unpacking her CSA basket (shout out to Lufa Farms here in Montréal) when my sister-in-law commented on the meat she’d gotten from a local, ostensibly sustainable farm.
“I heard that they mistreat their animals and the meat is not as pure as they say”
It got us wondering if we were being naïve in thinking that there is such a thing as “virtuous meat”. If you’ve ever paid a premium for fancy supposedly sustainable meat you may at some point have thought to yourself "is it worth it?". 
Tasty meal or eco menace?
There’s no question that the carbon footprint and environmental impact of the livestock that we eat is enormous. Nitrogen fertiliser, chemical pesticides and herbicides, and intensive land use combine to make eating meat definitively ecologically irresponsible. According to the peer reviewed journal Climatic Change, Meat eaters have dietary carbon emissions that are twice that of Vegans.
If you love a good t-bone like me, this knowledge is devastating, and that’s before you start thinking about how cute farm animals truly are. While all of this should give you pause, do not despair, there are choices we can make when choosing the meat we buy that have a lighter footprint on the earth and less negative impact on our health.
Here are some options that make meat well, more “greenish”:

Hormone Free Meat:
This is more on the health impact side of things, but it’s an important consideration. Studies have shown an increased risk of hormonal cancers from consuming meat that contains elevated levels of synthetic and natural hormones. The incidence of hormonal cancers has increased since 1975 coinciding with an increase in the administering of hormones to livestock:
 breast cancer has increased by 23 percent while prostate and testicular cancer have seen an incredible 60 percent increase in the U.S. where hormone use is heaviest. Not surprisingly U.S. meat is banned in many countries.

​While correlation is easier to prove than causation, where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. The bottom line is that adding hormones isn’t necessary to turn a cow into a great steak, and scientists can’t agree on their safety. Stear clear of added hormones in meat if you can.
​Antibiotic Free Meat:
In the world of health care, antibiotic resistance is a catastrophic result of the overuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals. When I battled a nasty strain of pneumonia that made it feel like an elephant was dancing the chacha on my chest, I was so grateful to have the miracle of antibiotic therapy to keep me alive. Anyone who has ever contracted MRSA knows the importance of Antibiotics. Buying meat and animal products that have been produced without the use of antibiotics is one way to prevent them from unnecessarily ending up in our waterways and in our bodies creating tougher to kill, more dangerous strains of bacteria.

Free Range/Grass Fed Meat:
This one’s a bit trickier. Lamb, beef and pork are the most carbon intensive animal proteins, while chicken, eggs and duck are the least intensive. Unfortunately, whether you feed them clover in a meadow while yodelling Sarah McLachlan’s greatest hits or you lock them to a feed trough in a dark hangar, they all produce the greenhouse gas methane. That's because methane is the result of decomposition and all living things release this gas at some point in their life cycle. 
The benefit of free range and grass fed is that it’s less stressful for the animal, it also requires less pesticides, herbicides, nitrogen fertilizer and fuel to grow, harvest and process the feed that is given to livestock raised in feedlots. ​One criticism of free-range livestock is that it requires more land. This may be true of mismanaged free range farms, but with livestock rotation and smart land management, free range animals can actually use less land than feed lot animals.

​All of this is just a small part of trying to source environmentally friendly and healthy meat and just one piece of the puzzle of eating and living more sustainably. At the end of the day, the only truly sustainable way to eat a meat is to inform yourself, eat less, and buy from local reputable farms and butchers. Your body and your environment will thank you.