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Spray foam insulation can pollute the indoor environment

Making your home more energy efficient is certainly good for the planet and will cut your heating/cooling bills, but there is also the possibility of chemical off-gassing, the release of chemicals into the homes atmosphere. According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), most common spray polyurethane foam insulation contains methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, or MDI, a synthetic chemical that has been linked to asthma, lung damage and even death. Continue Reading →

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Lax policies allow dollar stores to offer harmful products

© Amy Roe

A new national study found over 80 percent of products sold in dollar stores contains at least one hazardous chemical “above levels of concern.” A Day Late and A Dollar Short by California-based Campaign for Healthier Solutions looked at the four largest dollar store chains — Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and 99 Cents Only — which operate over 21,500 stores in this the U.S., have a total annual sales of over $36 billion, and whose customers typically are low-income and residents of color. Continue Reading →

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Overuse of antibiotics on livestock comes with consequences

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The development and widespread adoption of so-called “antibiotics,” drugs that kill bacteria and thereby reduce infection, has helped billions of people live longer, healthier lives. But all this tinkering with nature hasn’t come without a cost. The more we rely on antibiotics, the more bacteria develop resistance to them, which makes treating infections that much more challenging. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overuse of antibiotics by humans — such as for the mistreatment of viral infections — means these important drugs are less effective for all of us. Besides the toll on our health, researchers estimate that antibiotic resistance causes Americans upwards of $20 billion in additional healthcare costs every year stemming from the treatment of otherwise preventable infections. Continue Reading →

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Turn the green movement brown

(l-r) Gina McCarthy, Robert Raben and Rhea Suh

Robert Raben, founder of an influential public relations and government affairs firm, The Raben Group, recalled the moment about a year ago that kicked his personal commitment to expand diversity within the environmental movement into high gear. Speaking to a standing-room-only briefing at the National Press Club recently, he told how he was a guest of a prominent environmental organization at its annual dinner. Continue Reading →

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Nonprofit releases Dirty Dozen Guide, a list of food additives to avoid


By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

Contributing Writers

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment through research, education and advocacy, launched its “Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives” in November 2014 to educate consumers about which food additives are associated with health concerns, which are restricted in other countries, and/or which just shouldn’t be in our foods to begin with. EWG hopes the new guide will help consumers avoid unhealthy foods and also influence policymakers to develop more stringent rules for food producers moving forward. According to EWG, more than 10,000 food additives are approved for use in the U.S., despite potential health implications. Some are “direct additives” deliberately formulated into processed food. Others are “indirect,” that is, finding their way into food during processing, storage or packaging. Continue Reading →

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Add a Minnesota-grown Christmas tree to your shopping list

Minnesota Christmas tree growers look forward to another great season of local, fragrant Christmas trees thanks to overall good growing conditions this year. Many tree farms are stacked with a variety of trees and were ready to open the day after Thanksgiving. Happy Land Tree Farms Owner, Ken Olson shared “Thanks to all the rain we had on our farm, our trees are in really great condition. We had a great growing season and our new plantings did well.”

The eight-to-12-year growth of Christmas trees poses a unique marketing challenge, “Christmas tree growers look far ahead to estimate customer preferences,” said Minnesota Grown Spokesman Paul Hugunin. “Farmers provide continuous care and attention to each tree as it matures.” Trees are formed and sheared over time to help create the iconic Christmas tree shape shoppers desire. Continue Reading →

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Yes, you can save money, energy even during Old Man Winter

CenterPoint Energy’s rebate team members share their best checklist for the holidays

CenterPoint Energy’s rebate team members, (l-r) Chekelea, Ruth, Kelly and Fianna, shares a clip-and-save low-cost/no-cost checklist to help readers save energy and money on home heating bills this holiday season. It seems as if Old Man Winter is back and hit us earlier and with a colder start than last winter. “November 2014 went on the books as the ninth-coldest November recorded,” said Tom Hultquist, National Weather Service Science & Operations Officer. “Now that it is December, our customers will be impacted by higher winter heating bills due to colder temperatures and wind chills causing us to turn the heat up,” said Kelly Chase, supervisor for energy saving equipment rebates for CenterPoint Energy. “I gathered my rebate team to prepare a checklist to share with our customers this cold holiday season. Continue Reading →

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