Hospitals have a long road “to green”.

Over the past six days, while I have been spending an unfortunate amount of time at the hospital visiting my stepdad, I have also noticed an extraordinary amount of waste in every practice and every function.

hospital-signIt’s been mind-boggling (albeit nice and distracting too, to occasionally think about something else) but everything from all of the paper and disposable/single-use supplies, to unused but illuminated rooms, to plugged-in equipment with ’no one attached’, to the cafeteria (a haven for Styrofoam) all adds up.  While some of the waste is hazardous and toxic, I was surprised to discover that 85% of the waste that exits hospitals is actually non-infectious waste.  Now, there’s room for improvement …

U.S. Hospitals generate more than 2 million tons of solid waste per year… that’s 15 pounds of waste per patient every day. But I was also surprised to learn that 53% of the waste is actually paper!… now there’s an opportunity!  Additional percentages (between 15-17% each) exist for food and plastics.  Sounds like every hospital needs a big compost pile and a massive recycle bin! If the cafeterias alone would stop stocking Styrofoam and go back to reusable serveware and utensils, that savings alone would be amazing.hospital-building

I’m sure the other issues are a lot more complicated than I’m making them and someone will take a shot at me for not knowing what I’m talking about, but that’s okay.  Educate me.  Because the way I look at it, there are approximately 6,000 hospitals in the alone and that a whoooole lotta trash…

There aren’t simple ways to select green hospitals (and often, in emergencies, you don’t really care), but if you’re in the healthcare industry, there are so many ways you can begin helping to create greener changes and that will hopefully come soon.

For now, dad’s getting quality care and I’m absolutely at peace with letting them create his 15 pounds per day.

Trying to think green through the blues…

Obviously, with my stepdad in the hospital in critical condition, I’m feeling quite a bit blue rather than ‘thinking green’… but in between hospital visits I have been finding time to keep up on some of my green reading and preoccupy myself.
bread-tabs
I read an article on Planet Green about “10 Surprising Reuses for Bread Tabs” and I admit it made me smile.  First of all, I never envisioned so many uses for these ridiculous little tabs!… “gunk scapers”, wine glass charms, electrical cord labels?  Pretty smart actually.

But it made me smile because this kind of thinking is actually the epitome of my stepdad, Ted.  He always manages to find new uses for everything.  In fact, the car he was driving wcoffee-canhen he had the accident was made almost entirely of salvaged and reused parts… a plastic Miller Lite bottle was even converted into an overflow reservoir for one of the engine fluids!  In his garage, coffee cans, pickle jars and plastic bottles are premium storage containers.  T-shirts that have taken a beating from all of his mechanical work and “building” are turned into his garage rags.  Milk jugs are turned into drip pans and the leather from an old jacket (that got torn) was given new life by becoming the seat of one of the motorcycles he built.

I woulmilk-jugd never tell him how “green” he really is, because he would probably deny it :) but sorry Dad… all this reusing is SO GREEN!

Today, take the time to find something that can be reused instead of thinking of it as trash.  Raise your “reusable”, give thanks that you have the ability to do so and send us another little prayer … Dad is still critical but we continue to hope and pray that he’ll soon be back on his feet to let the reusing continue…

Memorial Day… and asking for your thoughts.

Last week I was wondering what I would write for Memorial Day and how I would take a “green” approach to this holiday.  Unfortunately, my post has taken a much unexpected twist…

mom_ted_kidsFriday evening my stepdad was in a horrible car accident when someone pulled out in front of him while he was driving the convertible Model-T he had restored.  He was ejected from the car and now lies in critical condition in an intensive care unit.  He suffered a severe laceration that stretches from his eye across to the back of his head, bleeding on the brain, a crushed spleen (that was removed) and a collapsed lung.  The most critical injury is now his lung because he suffers from underlying lung issues from all the years of hard work he put in at the local mill.

Ironically, it is Memorial Day and he is also a retired Navy man who paid his dues in Vietnam.  He is one of those guys with the roughest of exteriors but insides made of jello.  He would give anyone and everyone the shirt off his back… and at times, he has.  He would do anything for us, and he has.  He has been there for me for absolutely everything in my life since the day he entered, 26 years ago.

Today, I just ask for prayers.  If love could mend a body, he would be home right now.  Please keep him in your thoughts.  And this Memorial Day remember everyone who has touched your life and give thanks.  This world we live in is so fragile, but so are our individual lives.  Life would be unbearable without the loved ones who surround us.

Today’s post is written with love and admiration for Edward “Ted” Walsh… “Dad II”, “Papa Ted” and gentle soul… we love you immensely.

To the rescue: a blackout in the restroom…

My recent posts have been pretty serious… toxic mattresses, plastics overload, rainforests, genetically modified food, polluted oceans… today I’m just going to make a confession…

superheroI am The Great Public Lights Caper!

Yes, you heard it correctly…. I take a crazy and unusual pleasure in turning out public lights!  I absolutely can’t stand walking into a public restroom and realizing they are illuminated for absolutely no one.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.  Whether it’s a single restroom or a restroom with a dozen stalls, we’ve all walked in to see extraordinary amounts of lights blazing… and the room empty.

So what do I do?  When I leave, I turn them off.   I’ve “hit” libraries, museums, movie theaters, restaurants, small retailers and mega-stores.  I’ve even been known to shut down an entire Target restroom if I find a switch handy near the door.  Although, chances are someone in these heavily trafficked restrooms will walk-in meager minutes after I leave and turn them on again, I always feel compelled to shut them off.public-restrooms

I suppose I’m hoping it will have a trickle down effect.  Maybe the person that walks in after me will think they’re supposed to turn them off after THEY leave and a chain reaction will occur.  It reminds me of that old Faberge Shampoo commercial “… and they told two friends… and so on, and so on, and so on…”.

Maybe I’m just a bit crazy (yes, that’s likely!), but can you imagine the energy that would be saved if these lights were on only when they were needed.  I do, however, love walking into restrooms that have motion sensors so the lights only come on when someone enters.  Now THAT’S thinkin’!

But for now, I will continue to be The Great Public Lights Caper and hope that a little bit of my insanity catches on!  (What will YOU do the next time you leave a public restroom?… hmm, maybe you’ll think about this post, won’t you?!?) :)

Toxic mattresses… are you being poisoned while you sleep?

We’ve long been in the market for a mattress since our son is growing like a weed and, much to my dismay, he’s outgrown his toddler bed.  I’d never given much thought to mattresses aside from finding the most comforpoisontable choice, but I’m quickly learning that there is a whole lot more to the story.

I first recollected my dear friend, Kev, telling me how he began to feel sick and even experienced hallucinations the very first night he began sleeping on his Memory Foam mattress cover.  He described it as an all-over “un-well” feeling.  After a few days and nights of being sick, he removed the cover and all symptoms disappeared.  Needless to say, the mattress cover met the trash.

So I’ve been researching mattresses and the results are not good.  I’ve learned that beginning July 1, 2007, Federal Fire Retardant Regulations mandated mattress manufacturers to INCREASE the levels of toxic fire retardants, but DO NOT require them to list the ingredients in the contents! THAT is absurd… and certainly not without questions.

And what do these fire retardants contain?… boric acid, melamine, antimony and formaldehyde… all chemicals linked to cancer, and they just “upped our dosage!”.  Antimony alone causes heart muscle damage and a single dermal application has killed rabbits in laboratory tests.  (I don’t like animal testing, but that speaks volumes.)  Additional tests on Memory Foam mattresses even detected 61 chemical emissions and off-gassing from a single mattress.  All I can think about is my son’s precious body laying on these chemicals, night after night, and his little lungs inhaling those dangerous toxins.  Rest is supposed to rejuvenate us, not poison us!  But take a look.

I quickly realized that our only option was an organic mattress.  They’re made of pure organic wool, 100% organic cotton covers and 100% natural latex cores, providing even better fire retardancy than the chemicals… naturally!  We selected a mattress from Healthy Home Sleep Gallery, and although we paid more than the common mattress store brands, I have never second guessed this choice for the health and safety of our son. (They can ship anywhere in the US and if you mention Mom Goes Green, they offered to give an additional discount.)

My days with baby beds have sadly come and gone, but there are also great options for crib mattresses. The Natural Mat Company offers mattresses, as well as bedding and linensthenaturalmattcompany-135205-2, and their products are made with all natural and organic materials. They’re washable, breathable, anti-dust mite and naturally fire retardant too.  They are truly the most important and best products for baby when you consider how much time they actually spend sleeping (… you hope!)  And if I had that choice to make all over again, I would undoubtedly choose organic.  (Natural Mat products are available through Goore’s and you can also enter code: mggnm for a 10% discount!)

It’s shocking, maddening and ultimately very sad that we aren’t being protected from harsh and toxic chemicals that are literally being shoved under our noses as we sleep, so I made the choice to do what I can to protect our son by choosing organic.

Now, when our “big boy” is getting a good night’s rest, I can get a good night’s rest too.