Eco CornerBy Jake Reiner
Choices for Sustainable Lifestyles
Need a Byline?
SunPower Solar Panels
Solar panels have been around longer than you think; since 1883, to be exact.
So why aren’t we getting all of our energy from the sun?
P.V. (photo-voltaic) cells make electricity by energizing silicon with sunlight.
The drawbacks are efficiency and cost.
Until now the cells only converted seven percent of light into electricity, and the payback time on installation cost was 20 years.
But as sales have increased, production cost is dropping, and SunPower of California is now making panels with 22 percent efficiency.
Japan now accounts for 30 percent of all sales in the world (Germany is the top with 39 percent and the U.S. third at nine percent).
Another incentive to install them is that you can now sell your excess power to the grid.
Your meter will actually spin backwards, and the power company will owe you money.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap
Most modern soaps are synthesized from petroleum, that black oily stuff we fight wars for. Yuck. Dr. Bronner’s soaps are all organic, 100 percent eco-friendly and made from natural, fair-trade oils such as coconut, hemp, almond, lavender and peppermint.
An icon of the ’60s and '70s counter culture, Dr. Bronner used his soaps to promote ecological businesses and his “All-One” message of peace (written in fine print all over the bottle).
These amazing liquid soaps can be used as shampoo as well as for face and body. Gentle on the skin, they leave no residue, and the fragrance of the essential oils is rejuvenating.
Non-animal tested, 100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging. Employee profit sharing. Best of all, they are finally on the shelves in Japan. (Most recently spotted near the checkout of the Don Quixote store in Shibuya.)
H₂O In Japan
H₂O. Water. You know the story; all living creatures on Earth came from the sea, and the human body is 70 percent water. In another sign proving that businesses are catching on to the eco-trend, bottled water sales are booming. There are more than 80 types of water available in markets across Japan.
In addition to straight water, many stores are now stocking slightly flavored carbonated waters with no sugar or additives. Stay away from the “No-Calorie” and “Calorie-Off” waters because they are filled with artificial sugar substitutes (much worse than the real thing).
Victoria's (dirty little) Secret
Thanks to a two-year ad campaign by Forest Ethics—attacking Victoria’s Secret printing catalogs on paper made by clearcutting Canada's boreal forests—the lingerie retailer has decided to relent and go green.
The felling of trees to produce paper for the 360 million annual catalogs was destroying endangered Caribou habitat in the great white north. They will now be printed on paper made from sustainably harvested FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified fiber.
Thanks to the pressure applied by Forest Ethics, Victoria’s Secret has also agreed to look for even more ecological friendly ways to produce their catalogs. So now you lust with a clear conscience.