Clean ideas

“Clean Ideas Start With Me” – Naomi Davis

“99.9% effective at killing illness-causing germs and bacteria”. But at what cost? Surely many of us have had this revolutionary slogan embedded into our subconscious-posted with its gimmicky font and bright red color- on every Lysol disinfectant spray can there is. Sadly due to the COVID-19 and coronavirus pandemic, and after the U.S Environmental Protection Agency approved two of the products effective in killing coronavirus, Lysol spray sales skyrocketed to an increase of 50 percent. The disinfectant spray usage had gotten so severe that it caused nationwide shortages, forcing stores to strictly ration the highly demanded product. Changes in the CDC COVID guidelines has everyone desperate to stay as germ-free as the trusty Lysol slogan promises.

Society’s feeble attempt to remain germ-free has resulted in the prolonged and excessive usage of aerosol disinfectants. CDC regulations state that aerosol products must be used with extreme caution because it can cause irritation to the skin ,eyes ,airways and create other health issues. Although the product has its proven benefits, it also has been proven to create potentially life threatening problems -, way more than what is promised on the label. We must make a collective effort to sustain a clean environment without being heavily dependent on chemicals.

In 1989 NASA discovered that houseplants can absorb toxins from the air. The easily recognized “spider plant” is able to absorb strong toxins like formaldehyde, all while being nontoxic to humans and pets. The beloved bamboo, while being a tasty treat to pandas, is able to add healthy moisture levels into the air .during the dry winter months. Alas, the highest-ranked Chrysanthemum is able to eliminate common toxins such as ammonia. These well-known plants are also non-toxic to humans and pets, and extremely low maintenance. Clean Plant Therapy is a natural, cost-effective, and therapeutic way to purify the air. Studies have shown that plants increase mood productivity, memory, and concentration, while also reducing stress and fatigue. No pollution, no heavy chemicals particles being inhaled, just clean and easy breathing.

Another alternative to reduce chemical usage includes assessing one’s cleaning routine and the products being used. Substituting synthetic chemical cleaners for ones with natural derivatives is very significant way to reduce waste, or a daily routine to improve cleanliness that reduces the need to use chemicals unnecessarily. There is a multitude of options to maintain a sanitized environment without breaking the bank or compromising our health by using harmful chemicals. Although Lysol is a trusted household staple, being 99.9% germ-free comes with too many negative aspects and the cost would be sacrificing health itself, which is too high a price to pay.

 

Learn more about Naomi here!

 

Works Cited

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2020/07/16/ceo-of-durex-condom-maker- intimate-occasions-down-during-pandemic.html

https://www.epa.gov/hw/increasing-recycling-adding-aerosol-cans-universal-waste-regulations

https://www.healthline.com/health/air-purifying-plants#benefits-of-plants

Naomi Davis

Getting to Know Naomi Davis

Naomi Davis is a student at the University of Central Florida, studying social work. She is one of Ecolink’s six $500 scholarship recipients. We wanted to get to know a bit more about Naomi and her winning essay, so we asked. Here is what we learned about Naomi:

Naomi is a new student at Auburn University of Montgomery where she will major in social work. She plans to be a licensed clinical social worker so that she can help others and she would love to start her career in either Texas or Florida.

As a new college student, Naomi is taking her time to enter extracurricular activities while she adjusts to academic life. Starting college brings numerous incidental expenses so Naomi plans to use her scholarship money towards tuition.

Naomi is passionate about protecting the environment and believes the biggest danger to the environment is the carelessness of humans. She says, “We have a tendency to take Earth for granted.” For her part, she will continue to help the environment by using natural resources and products that will cut down on pollution and waste.

When asked what she would share with others over her environmental concerns? “Treat the environment like your house or apartment. You wouldn’t want pollution there, so don’t create it somewhere else.”

Ecolink is proud to award Naomi this scholarship and we wish her much success serving others in her career as a social worker. We look forward to seeing Naomi happily settled in Texas, Florida, or wherever her career and journey takes her!

Check out her winning essay here!

Sydney Manns

Getting to Know Sydney Manns

Getting to Know Sydney Manns 

Sydney Manns is a student at the University of Central Florida, studying English – Technical Communication with minors in Spanish and Hospitality Management. She is one of two of Ecolink’s one-thousand-dollar scholarship recipients. We wanted to get to know a bit more about Sydney and her winning essay, so we asked. Here’s what we learned about Sydney: 

Sydney is a busy student at the University of Central Florida. Along with her major in English-Technical Communications, and her two minors (Spanish and Hospitality Management), Sydney also finds time to volunteer! She is part of the Future Technical Communicators at UCF and she volunteers as a tutor teaching English for the Adult Literacy League. 

As an English major, Sydney does plenty of writing so she plans to put her scholarship money from Ecolink towards a new laptop! Her current computer has seen better days and with remote classes, jobs, etc. her laptop is her most essential tool. 

Sydney is very passionate about protecting the environment. She feels the biggest danger to the environment is humans. “We have a history of being wasteful, and if we don’t change our habits, then the environmental consequences will only worsen. If each person incorporates greener practices into their everyday lives—starting with conscience chemical use—then we can chip away at the harm we’ve collectively contributed and make way for a greener future,” she said. 

After graduation, Sydney plans to move to Madrid, Spain to teach English and continue her career in a remote technical writing position. 

Sydney practices what she preaches and continues protecting the environment, Sydney’s plans include trying to “minimize my waste at home, offset my carbon footprint when I travel, support companies with sustainable initiatives, and encourage others that I meet to do the same!” 

Her advice to others who share her love for the Earth: 

“Start small! Something as simple as taking a shorter shower, riding the bus, using a reusable water bottle, or choosing cleaning solutions with non-toxic chemicals has an impact on the environment whether you realize it or not. Find ways to make sustainable practices a habit in your daily life.” 

Ecolink is proud to award Sydney this scholarship and we wish her much success in both her writing career and in being a good steward of our planet.? We look forward to seeing Sydney’s future unfold as she travels abroad and passes her English skills and environmental passion to others. 

Check out her winning essay here! 

rethinking ink

Rethinking Ink – Sydney Manns

We touch chemicals every time we go to the store—the cleaning wipes for the cart, the plastic packaging of foods, the grocery bags…but what about the receipt? While the smudged black residue that a receipt’s ink often leaves on your fingers may not be the most obvious example of an everyday chemical, receipt ink is actually loaded with a variety of chemicals—and not necessarily the good kind. Receipt ink is different from the ink found in instruction manuals, term papers, art prints, and any other paper items that exit through an inkjet printer and into your outstretched hands. The ink used to markup receipts is formulated with toxic ingredients that can have detrimental effects on health, while those of inkjet papers are of a less toxic blend. But why can’t we make receipt ink too? It’s time to rethink ink. 

It’s important to understand why receipt ink is toxic in order to support the criticality motivating the need for a safer alternative. Receipt ink contains harmful BPA’s that absorb into your body’s bloodstream through direct contact with your skin (Kemler). These chemicals disrupt your body’s natural hormone chemicals, affect behavior, increase blood pressure, cause cardiovascular disease, and more (Bauer). As of now, the ink industry is relatively unregulated and many are unaware of the chemicals on the receipts they handle each day.  

While I can encourage those I’m around to go receipt-less next time they shop, receipts often print automatically or are an afterthought to transactions. Plenty of people still rely on a printed receipt from their transaction for various reasons, and eradicating receipts in favor of electronic ones isn’t the cure-all solution. In an attempt to minimize the exposure of customers to toxic chemicals, some stores have switched to thermal printing machines. These machines seem like a great solution but are not always an affordable option for small businesses and even some larger retailers. But rather than replacing an expensive machine, why not simply replace the ink?  Throwing out an old machine is wasteful and unnecessary if the root of the problem is addressed: the chemicals in the ink. 

There are several water-based and eco-friendly options for inkjet printers on the market, but not so much for the receipt-printing market. After further research, I’ve found that companies receive their ink in bulk quantities from professional chemical suppliers. These chemical suppliers also provide chemical consulting options to companies looking to become more eco-friendly and receive a consistent, high-quality product for their brand. What if these consulting companies could help formulate an ink specific to receipt printers that don’t include BPA’s or harmful VOC’s like the ones found on the market? 

If companies could swap their toxic ink for a readily available non-toxic ink that works just as well, then the chemical company would have access to every market that performs transactions—which is to say every market. Chemicals are everywhere, and so are discarded and forgotten receipts. An effort to minimize the toxicity of ink on receipts is also an effort to support safer and greener chemical usage in our everyday lives. While the idea of swapping any minor or major stores’ receipt ink is a lot for one person to perform by themselves, with careful planning and the help of a chemical consultant, this idea can become a reality, implemented small but with the ability to grow.  

Works Cited 

Bauer, Brent A. “Tips to Reduce BPA Exposure.”?Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 May 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331.? 

Kemler, Beth. “New Report: 9 Out of 10 Receipts Contain Toxic BPA or BPS.”?Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, 12 Jan. 2021, saferchemicals.org/2018/01/17/new-report-9-out-of-10-receipts-contain-toxic-bpa-or-bps/.? 

 

You can learn more about scholarship recipient Sydney Manns here!

cleaning up the chesapeake bay

Cleaning Up Chesapeake Bay – Thomas Brennan

I was fortunate to grow up around water and attend college just minutes away from the James, a river flowing down from the Appalachian Mountains and emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve lived in the Chesapeake River Basin my whole life, as do more than 18 million others. The watershed encompasses parts of six states- Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, and spans more than 64,000miles. The bay itself is over 200 miles long, stretching from Havre de Grace, Maryland to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Joining the James are the Susquehanna, Potomac, Rappahannock, andYork Rivers, the largest rivers funneling towards the Bay; but importantly, there are more than100,000 streams, creeks, and rivers serving as tributaries. To say that the bay is important to the area is an understatement.
A 2021 Gallup Environmental Survey reports that 83% of Americans personally worry about the pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs “a great deal” (53%) and “a fair amount”(30%). Awareness and action go hand in hand when people are educated and informed on how to make a difference. The challenge is harnessing that concern and turning it into a positive, desired behavior.
A Center for Watershed Protection poll was conducted with a sampling of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania residents. Among other data collected, this research surveyed residents’ knowledge and practices related to water contaminants generated from lawn fertilizer and their effect on the Chesapeake Bay. Given all respondents, 50% said they fertilize their yards an average of 1.73 times per year. As a representative sample, this tells us millions of homes are in the pursuit of a green, weed-free lawn with runoff pouring into those 100,000 tributaries towards the Chesapeake. Critically, one should note that among respondents who hired a lawn company for their lawn maintenance, only 2% cited “being environmentally friendly” as a deciding factor in selecting the business. We as a society end up faced with a population that cares deeply about the health of our waterways but is unaware of the impact they can have by utilizing environmentally friendly practices, products, and businesses. People simultaneously care for the waterways and do not understand that they contribute to the problem.
Attitudes and behaviors do not exist in a vacuum, nor do we expect them to. However, beliefs must precede a change in action if the change will be meaningful and long-lasting. Many homeowners, miles away from their closest river, do not make the connection between the fertilizer they spread on their lawn and the health of the water, fish, and waterfowl. They believe they are simply chasing a picture-perfect green lawn. A two-fold education campaign- on the interconnectedness of watersheds and environmentally safe products is crucial. Additionally, there should be increased recognition and visibility for companies creating and providing environmentally safe products. We know that a majority of Americans worry about the chemical pollution of our waters- with knowledge and education, that concern can be channeled into action.

Sources:

Brenan, Megan. “Water Pollution Remains Top Environmental Concern in U.S.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 20 Nov. 2021,https://news.gallup.com/poll/347735/water-pollution-remains-top-environmental-concern.aspx.
Center for Watershed Protection. “A Survey of Residential Nutrient Behavior in the Chesapeake Bay.”Environmental Protection Agency, ChesapeakeResearch Consortium,https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/unep_all.pdf.
Learn more about Thomas Brennan here!