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5 Reasons Not To Drink Bottled Water

DSC_7455.jpg, originally uploaded by The Jamoker.

Bottled water is healthy water — right?

That’s what the marketers would have us believe. Just look at the labels or the bottled water ads: deep, pristine pools of spring water; majestic alpine peaks; healthy, active people gulping down icy bottled water between biking in the park and a trip to the yoga studio. 

In reality, bottled water is just water. That fact isn’t stopping people from buying a lot of it. Estimates variously place worldwide bottled water sales at between $50 and $100 billion each year, with the market expanding at the startling annual rate of 7 percent.

Bottled water is big business. But in terms of sustainability, bottled water is a dry well. It’s costly, wasteful, and distracts from the brass ring of public health: the construction and maintenance of safe municipal water systems.

Want some solid reasons to kick the bottled water habit? We’ve rounded up five to get you started. 

Bottled water isn’t a good value

Take, for instance, Pepsi’s Aquafina or Coca-Cola’s Dasani bottled water. Both are sold in 20 ounce sizes and can be purchased from vending machines alongside soft drinks — and at the same price. Assuming you can find a $1 machine, that works out to 5 cents an ounce. These two brands are essentially filtered tap water, bottled close to their distribution point. Most municipal water costs less than one cent per gallon.

Now consider another widely-sold liquid: gasoline. It has to be pumped out of the ground in the form of crude oil, shipped to a refinery (often halfway across the world), and shipped again to your local filling station. 

In the U.S., the average price per gallon is hovering around $3. There are 128 ounces in a gallon, which puts the current price of gasoline at fraction over 2 cents an ounce.

And that’s why there’s no shortage of companies which want to get into the business. In terms of price versus production cost, bottled water puts Big Oil to shame.

No healthier than tap water

In theory, bottled water in the United States falls under the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration. In practice, about 70 percent of bottled water never crosses state lines for sale, making it exempt from FDA oversight.

On the other hand, water systems in the developed world are well-regulated. In the U.S., for instance, municipal water falls under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency, and is regularly inspected for bacteria and toxic chemicals. Want to know how your community scores? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s National Tap Water Database.

While public safety groups correctly point out that many municipal water systems are aging and there remain hundreds of chemical contaminants for which no standards have been established, there’s very little empirical evidence which suggests bottled water is any cleaner or better for you than its tap equivalent.

Bottled water means garbage

Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. According to Food and Water Watch [ http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/bottled ], that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And while the plastic used to bottle beverages is of high quality and in demand by recyclers, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are simply thrown away. 

That assumes empty bottles actually make it to a garbage can. Plastic waste is now at such a volume that vast eddies of current-bound plastic trash now spin endlessly in the world’s major oceans. This represents a great risk to marine life, killing birds and fish which mistake our garbage for food.

Thanks to its slow decay rate, the vast majority of all plastics ever produced still exist … somewhere.

Bottled water means less attention to public systems

Many people drink bottled water because they don’t like the taste of their local tap water, or because they question its safety.

This is like running around with a slow leak in your tire, topping it off every few days rather than taking it to be patched. Only the very affluent can afford to switch their water consumption to bottled sources. Once distanced from public systems, these consumers have little incentive to support bond issues and other methods of upgrading municipal water treatment. 

There’s plenty of need. In California, for example, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated the requirement of $17.5 billion in improvements to the state’s drinking water infrastructure as recently as 2005. In the same year, the state lost 222 million gallons of drinkable water to leaky pipes. 

The corporatization of water

In the documentary film Thirst, authors Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman demonstrated the rapid worldwide privatization of municipal water supplies, and the effect these purchases are having on local economies. 

Water is being called the “Blue Gold” of the 21st century. Thanks to increasing urbanization and population, shifting climates, and industrial pollution, fresh water is becoming humanity’s most precious resource. 

Multinational corporations are stepping in to purchase groundwater and distribution rights wherever they can, and the bottled water industry is an important component in their drive to commoditize what many feel is a basic human right: the access to safe and affordable water.

What can you do?

There’s a simple alternative to bottled water: buy a stainless steel thermos, and use it. Don’t like the way your local tap water tastes? Inexpensive carbon filters will turn most tap water sparking fresh at a fraction of bottled water’s cost. 

Consider taking Food and Water Watch’s No Bottled Water Pledge. Conserve water wherever possible, and stay on top of local water issues.

Want to know more? Start with the Sierra Club’s fact sheet on bottled water.

Bottoms up!

 

For those visitors to this site who say to themselves, “I understand now how to properly identify and/or expose Jamoke-ish behaviour (UK spelling) in my surroundings, but I would prefer instead to read examples of what would be considered right human action.” the following post is for you.

It’s a post that has been stuck in my “unpublished post file” for awhile…because of the concern I have people might take it as preaching or holier-than-thou-ism. But, in the end I decided to post it…(because most already know I’m holier-than-thou.) It’s a list of 50 things people can do to help the environment. It’s not my list. But, it’s a good list, in my less-than-humble opinion.

These tips we’re written by Leo Babauta of ZenHabits

1. Take a shorter shower.
If you take long showers, consider cutting it short by a few minutes. You’ll conserve water, and the electricity needed to heat up the water, lowering your utility bills and reducing your energy consumption at the same time.
2. Use a rag or hand towel instead of napkins or paper towels.
Reusing items instead of using disposable items is almost always a better thing for the environment. Reduce the need to cut down trees, the power needed to turn them into napkins, and the space in the landfill once you throw them away.
3. Don’t print at least once today.
Instead of automatically hitting the “print” button, think of whether you really need a hardcopy of that document. Can you email it instead? File it on your computer instead of your file cabinet? Read it on the computer instead of on paper? You don’t have to eliminate printing entirely, but holding off on that “print” button once in awhile could greatly reduce your paper consumption.
4. Carpool once this week.
Have a friend or family member or co-worker who makes roughly the same commute as you? Try riding together at least once. It save on fuel consumption, cuts your fuel spending, reduces greenhouse emissions, and you can get a good conversation at the same time.
5. Turn off the TV for an hour.
Reduce your energy consumption and get outside and play a sport. Or garden. Or just take a walk. You get healthy and enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings.
6. Turn off the lights.
If you leave a room, even for a little while, turn off the lights. You don’t need it, and it’s wasting energy.
7. Use a coffee mug instead of disposable.
If you routinely use disposable cups at work or on the road, use a ceramic coffee cup or a travel mug, reducing the amount of trash you throw away.
8. Use CFC light bulbs.
If your light bulb burns out, replace it with a Compact Flourescent bulb (those spiral-looking ones). They’re more expensive, but if you just replace them one at a time, it doesn’t cost much, and the energy savings is great. And as they last longer, over the long run, you’ll save money.
9. Skip the foil and plastic wrap.
Use reusable plastic food containers to store leftovers or other food in the fridge and cabinets, instead of disposable material.
10. Inflate your tires.
Many people don’t realize that their tires are under-inflated. Check the recommended pressure for your tires, and fill them up to that pressure. It only takes a few minutes, but it will save you on fuel consumption (a little) and more importantly, make your tires last longer and reduce the rubber that’s worn off your tires.

11. Clean up.
If you go to the beach or a park, leave it cleaner than when you got there. Pick up some cans and other trash that were there when you arrived. Takes a couple minutes, and makes the world a nicer place to live in.
12. Talk to your kids about the environment.
Just a 5-minute conversation every now and then about fuel consumption, greenhouse emissions, wasting food and trash, energy consumption, preserving habitats … this can help educate your children about the issues that will be affecting them tomorrow. And an educated population will do more to help the environment than anything else.
13. Reuse printed paper.
If you have non-sensitive documents that have been printed out, but are no longer needed, try marking the printed side, and using the clean side for non-official printing. In fact, if you can get your office to do this, you’ll save tons of paper a year.
14. Turn down your water heater.
Most people have their water heater’s thermostat turned up too high, wasting energy. Turn it down to 130 degrees, saving energy but still hot enough to kill bacteria.
15. Plant a tree.
It really doesn’t take much time, and over time more trees in your community can make a difference. Do a few every year, and encourage others to do the same.
16. Hang out your clothes.
If it’s a nice sunny day, hanging clothes only takes a few minutes, and you’re using solar power instead of electricity to do the job. It also makes your clothes last longer.
17. Buy a manual reel mower or electric mower.
If you’re looking for a new lawn mower, and you have a small yard, consider getting a manual one. They’re much advanced from the reel mowers of our grandparents’ generation, much quieter, cheaper, and they save on fuel and pollution. Electric mowers are also quieter and use much less energy.
18. Get a low-flow shower head.
Stop at the hardware store on your way home, and get a low-flow shower head. Takes a few minutes to install, and it’ll save gallons of water a day.
19. Lower your thermostats.
If you use heating, get by with less heat and wear warmer clothes. If you use air-conditioning, get by with less cooling and wear cooler clothes.
20. Participate or organize a clean-up.
Sure, this’ll take a little more of your time, but if you don’t have much to do on the weekends, this can be tremendously fun and fulfilling. Clean up a beach, a street, a park, a lake or a river.

21. Avoid fast food.
Instead, eat at home or at a sit-down restaurant. Fast food restaurants are one of the worst polluters of the environment, both in the massive amounts of beef they must raise, in the wasted packaging, and in the energy they use in so many ways. And they’re tremendously unhealthy.
22. Use acryllic paint.
Oil-based paints are toxic and create a lot of pollution during manufacturing. Instead, if you’re going to buy paint, buy acryllic.
23. Coat your roof.
This’ll take up an afternoon, but you only have to do it once every few years. And it’ll save you a lot of money and energy in heating and cooling over the long-term, more than making up for the cost of paint.
24. Clean your filters.
Clean the filters of your air-conditioners once a month to improve energy efficiency. While you’re at it, change your car’s filters as recommended in your manual.
25. Telecommute.
I know, sounds great, where do I sign up? But if you talk to your employer about even a limited telecommuting schedule, you can save a lot of fuel and time, and be more productive at the same time. Just be sure to get a lot more done at home than you do at work to make your case for an expanded telecommuting schedule down the road.
26. Wash clothes in cold water.
Hot water is unnecessary for most clothes. When needed, use warm water.
27. Fill your toilet tank.
Put a plastic bottle or two, filled with water and rocks, in your tank to reduce the amount of water used in each flush.
28. Buy recycled products.
As much as possible, get the recycled version of products you buy.
29. Recycle.
Sure, it’s a regular practice in some places, with curb-side pickup of recycled waste. But in other places, there’s no such thing. Instead, create a few containers for paper, plastic and aluminum waste in your home or office. When it’s full, drop it off at a local recycling center (look in your phone book) on your errands day.
30. Buy a smaller car.
You won’t be able to do this today, probably, but the next time you’re in the market for an automobile, get a smaller and energy-efficient car rather than a big, lumbering one. It’s one of the best things you can do to reduce your fuel consumption.

31. Buy a smaller home.
The next time you’re home-shopping, instead of buying the McMansion, look for a smaller home that’s big enough to meet your needs comfortably. Reducing the amount of stuff you own is a good way to need less house. It’s cheaper, and requires less energy to heat and cool. And easier to clean at the same time.
32. Look for energy efficiency.
When you’re looking to buy appliances, be sure to research the most energy-efficient ones. They may cost a little more, but they’ll more than make up for that in the long run with lower energy bills.
33. Water grass early in the morning.
Reduces the amount of water you need to keep your grass looking fabulous.
34. Plant shade trees near your house.
It’ll take awhile before they can make a difference, but shade trees greatly reduce the need to cool a home.
35. Use rechargeable batteries.
Instead of throwing your batteries away all the time, reuse rechargeable batteries. Costs a little more, but cheaper in the long run.
36. Buy used.
Instead of buying new clothing, furniture, cars, whatever, look to buy used instead. You can get them for cheaper, and still get quality — all the while reducing the need to produce more stuff.
37. Walk instead of drive.
You don’t have to do this all the time, but walking the short trip to a store, or to lunch from work, or some other short trip like that, can reduce the amount of fuel you use over the long term, and you shed some fat at the same time. Or at least burn off that morning donut.
38. Unplug appliances.
If you don’t use an appliance several times a day, it’s better to unplug it, as they often use energy even when turned off
39. Unload your car.
Remove excess weight from your car (such as stuff that might be in the trunk) to reduce the amount of fuel you use.
40. Try cycling.
Biking to work or around town can be a great way to get in some exercise and save fuel.

41. Install a water filter.
If you buy a lot of bottled water, use your tap instead. Some places need a filter to make tap water taste drinkable, but they don’t cost much and they can save money, water, and plastic bottles over time.
42. Use cloth shopping bags.
Don’t cost much, and can save a lot of paper or plastic.
43. Mend your stuff.
Try not to throw stuff away and buy new stuff if the old stuff can be fixed. Torn clothing? Takes a few minutes to sew up.
44. Compost.
It’s not hard to set one up (look it up online), and you can save a lot of waste from the landfill and help your garden at the same time.
45. Try mass transit.
Millions of people use it, and it saves tons of fuel. If you don’t already, give it a try.
46. Buy in bulk.
Reduces the need for packaging, and costs less.
47. Buy durable.
Look for long-lasting, well-made products instead of cheap, disposable ones. Use less disposable plates, cups, utensils. Use cloth diapers instead of disposable.
48. Use your oven less.
The oven not only uses a lot of energy, it heats up your kitchen, requiring more cooling. Instead, use toaster ovens, crockpots, microwaves, and electric grills when you can. And when you do use your oven, open it less — you lose 25% of the heat every time you open the oven door.
49. Join a local organization.
Just about every community has one or more environmental organizations. It’s not hard to sign up, and when you have the time, you can volunteer for things that will clean up your community and make it a nicer place to live.
50. Join Blog Action Day.
By joining the rest of the blogging community in talking about the environment for one day, you will be helping to raise environmental consciousness, with just one blog post. What can be easier than that?

In looking at the list, this household is probably at 35-40. Completing all 50 is a little hard because some of the things overlap (telecommuting vs. mass transit vs. carpooling). And, some of the things may actually conflict. For example, I think it’s probably ok to buy a bigger house as long as it is more efficient (better appliances, has shade trees, is a LEED construction, etc.) The point, however, with this list is that most of these suggstions are easy.

Now if I could just get my retired neighbors to recycle their plastic…

I heartily agree with PETA’s opinion that “fur is for animals”. I’ve never worn a fur coat and have no desire to do so. Frankly, I think humans will decide to go completely hairless in the very near future. But, that’s off topic.

Despite agreeing with PETA, I always find their commercials to be very shocking.

But, maybe that’s because I’m not the intended audience…

(btw, where exactly was the microphone?)

<This is a serious post>

Years ago I convinced (forced) my sister to buy a bike I no longer wanted. It was a Schwinn Hybrid bike, intended by the manufacturer to fill the spot between a road bike and a mountain bike. It was supposed to be perfect for a college student who needed to get to class. It could go off road if necessary. It could handle sidewalks and roads with ease. It was a Hybrid.

She hated it. And, in her defense, I’d hated the bike myself. It wasn’t tough enough to handle the intensity I expected from a bike. It bent (or broke) when I took it off-road. It was too slow when I was on-road. It was a geeky white color. It was called “Diamondback”…because snake names are tough, I guess. Although I did get a lot of good use out of it, I purchased a true mountain bike as soon as I was able (on credit at 18% interest). Despite my selfish reasons for suggesting she buy the bike, though, I did honestly think she’d really dig riding the Hybrid. She wasn’t the type that would try to tear up a bike. She wasn’t the type who tried to scare sidewalk pedestrians by speeding by them too closely. I figured the Hybrid was perfect for her. I was wrong, although her reasons for not liking the bike were different than mine. And, in the end, I think she drove over it with a car or threw it off a bridge or something.

Because of the poor experience with that bike, the word Hybrid has always carried a negative connotation for me. I saw a Hybrid as something that tried to fill two niches, but instead failed on both accounts. A Hybrid was a compromise. A Hybrid was weak. A Hybrid was not for me.

In the first 10 years of my illustrious career, my automotive manufacturing clients (of whose brands I have to drive) didn’t sell Hybrid vehicles. So, obviously, there was no thought given to them. A couple of years ago, though, these companies did start to bring Hybrid products to market. But, just like the Hybrid vehicles built and sold by the manufacturers we saw as competitors, these new products seemed to be VERY uncool and gimmicky…or they were just versions of existing products, with a much more expensive powertrain. So, I rationalized and justified not getting on the Hybrid bandwagon. “What good is a vehicle that gets great gas mileage”, I thought to myself, “if you get run over by a big truck while blissfully toodling along in the fast lane?” “Hybrids are ugly.” I said. “Who needs a Hybrid when we can just go bomb another country and take their gas?” I said. Or, “I’m stuck in this five year lease and am too far upside down to get something more practical.” Or, “I’m loyal to corn, let’s do E85 instead.” And even, “those Hybrid people are self-righteous wackos.”

A couple of things changed my thinking. And, I’m willing to admit I was wrong before. In no particular order…

First, I watched an “Inconvenient Truth” with Al Gore. It’s a powerful movie and he deserves every bit of kudos and praise he has gotten. Second, I changed jobs. I now work for an automotive client who made the sound business decision to be the leader in Hybrid technology and sales. Obviously, to be successful in my new position I needed to adopt their same mantra. Third, gas continues to get more and more expensive. Fourth, it has become increasingly evident that the type of democracy this country wants to create in the middle east would be one where a company like Exxon-Mobil would continue to report record profits…and that is not justification for even one soldier’s death (sorry for the rhetoric, but ‘gas=dead soldiers’ rings very true). Fifth, BetterHalf stated when I started the new job she wanted a Hybrid. Lastly, I realized the “eco-righteous” were suddenly cool…and I’m ALL about looking cool.

So, we got a Camry Hybrid.

With my “work from home position”, BetterHalf is now driving a lot more than I am…at least when I’m not traveling for work. So, she’ll drive the Camry Hybrid the majority of the time. But, even though it is technically her car, I am “digging” it too. But, of all of the reasons stated above for why my mind changed, the one hardest for me (and most people) to understand is the one having to do with gas prices and money saved. True, a Hybrid vehicle is a little bit more expensive. And, because of that fact most pontificators state that the increased cost for the vehicle is never going to be recovered by a reduction in fuel used. In other words, you spend the money either way…it’s a zero sum argument, they claim.

They are wrong.

The Ford Escape is what BetterHalf used to drive. It was a good family sized vehicle…not too big, not too small. She loved it. It was a good vehicle for her. And, it got 23 mpg on the highway!! So, it got a better mpg than all of the pickups and large SUVs out there. And, five years ago times were a little different. The decision to buy it back then was based on different world circumstances. Anyway, she put 80,000 miles on it. For the purpose of the argument let’s assume all 80K were highway miles. That means she used 3478 gallons of gas. At $2.00 a gallon estimated average, she spent $6956 on fuel in five years. (At $2.50 average she spent $8695…at $3 average, she spent $10,434…guess that extra dollar makes a big difference…and I’ll come back to this point.)

The Camry Hybrid gets 38 mpg highway. This is not a published or “theoretical” number. I know this number is factual and based on real world driving, because I have done it. I drove the car from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to Texas…575 miles of Interstate driving…with the cruise control set at 70 mph…and I watched the computer read-out the whole way. 38 mpg highway is what I got. Sure, I could have gotten worse mileage. I could have floored it every time some jamoke tried to box me in behind a semi in the right lane while they talked on their cell phone in the left lane blissfully ignorant of any other cars on the road. I could have driven 75 or 80 mph. But, I made good time all the while still driving responsibly.

So, at 38 mpg, those same 80,000 miles on the odometer will equal 2105 gallons of gas. At $2.00 per gallon that equates to $4210 in fuel costs over five years.

$6956 – $4210 = $2746

I can think of several things I could buy with $2746…or roughly an extra $45 a month.

But, the real wisdom in this argument comes with factoring in a higher present-day average cost for a gallon of gas. If the average was $2 five years ago, we owe it to ourselves to use $3.00 as an average going forward. We all know there’s no way the price will go down. The oil cartels…er, I mean, companies will continue to claim “refinery maintenance” or “futures fluctuation” as an excuse while they continue to collude and price fix. The Chinese will continue to require more and more oil to fuel their growing economy. And, Halliburton will continue to mystically lose millions of gallons of oil while “rebuilding” Iraq. So, anyway, let’s use $3.00 for the argument going forward. Those 2105 gallons of gas for those 80,000 highway miles will cost $6315 when using a $3 average. $6315 versus $6956, right?

What happened to the big savings? How can I justify the Hybrid?

That’s where the “pontificators” stop. That’s where they miss the argument.

Compare oranges to oranges. Compare $3 now to what $3 would have been in the past…(never minding inflationary adjustments of course…) $3 for the Escape miles and mpg would be $10,434, not $6956.

So, we’re comparing $6315 to $10,434…a difference of $4119 over five years…or about $68 a month.

Comparing the cost of gas at present…and thus the savings gained by driving a more fuel efficient vehicle…to a cost of gas in the past without including an “oranges to oranges” factor is missing the point of the comparison. The equation does change over time.

Looking at this another way, consider if we had gotten a new Escape (with the same highway mpg)…and paid $3/gallon while driving it for 80,000 miles, we’d pay again the same $10,434. The savings for the Hybrid when comparing present day to present day thus would also be the same…$4119 over five years.

Consider too, when doing all of these comparisons, that not every mile driven is a highway mile. And, consider that a regular motor gets worse gas mileage in city driving vs. highway while a Hybrid gets better mileage in the city than on the highway. For example, the Camry Hybrid is listed at 40 mpg in the city by the EPA. The Escape only gets 19 in the city. As a result, ALL of the comparisons used above were factored using the “best” number for the Escape and the “worst” number for the Hybrid. So, when real-world, day-to-day, bumper-to-bumper, gridlocked city driving is included in the calculations, know that the savings realized by the Hybrid will be about 20-25% better than the figures quoted above…that’s another $1000…

A rebuttal point to all of this could be, “so why not just get a car that gets high gas mileage? why do I need to get a Hybrid?” The answer is, “you’re right.” You could just get an econobox instead of the Hybrid and get great gas mileage that way as well. But, remember about tailpipe emissions. A Hybrid is considered a PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle). When that electric motor is running, there aren’t any nasty things being put into the air. Unfortunately the best you can do with the econobox is ULEV (Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle). A Hybrid just happens to be a little bit better in that category.

So, what about the pontificators and their argument that the higher cost of the Hybrid motor would never be recouped through fuel savings? Well, a quick scan of the Toyota website shows the MSRP for a Camry Hybrid is around $26,900. And, the MSRP for a comparably equipped non-Hybrid Camry is around $22,900. That my friends is a difference of around $4000. Never one to let one example make the argument, I also took a quick scan of the Ford website to get prices for the Escape and Escape Hybrid. Without spending a lot of time on verifying whether the features for the two vehicles were exactly comparable, it looks as if the price differential is in the ballpark of $5000.

Therefore, it does appear that when buying the more expensive Hybrid, it’ll only take 5 years to recoup the investment…thus proving the pontificators wrong.  (Using a $3/gallon cost estimate…if gas continues to go up in price, the break-even point will occur even sooner.)

So, in the end, there are lots of reasons for making the switch. The money angle just happens to be the one where I spent the majority of my time in consideration. For you, maybe the missing oil in Iraq could be the more important fact…maybe the rise of Chinese industry is a powerful determination…or, maybe being one of the “eco-righteous” is appealing. Regardless, please give it your consideration.

Yes. I’m a convert. And, compared to some, I’m a very late convert. But, I’m a convert for pragmatic and rational reasons. And, frankly, I had career obstacles previously.

The Camry Hybrid is white, by the way. But, since I don’t intend on taking it off-road it should hold up just fine.

Maybe I’ll even call it Diamondback…

He was one of the best…

NEW YORK (AP) – Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Cat’s Cradle,” died Wednesday. He was 84. Link.

and, he’ll be missed…

From TreeHugger.com, comes this wonderful How-To…How To Green Your Sex Life.

Skipping over the lube/condom/toy suggestions (which were the top 3), I thought these suggestions were especially helpful:

5. Green and sexy fun

Sexy play can be green and efficient as well. As seen on TreeHugger TV, showering together can save water (if things get steamier, we suggest taking it to the bedroom and not leaving the shower running). In the winter time, some nice warm loving before bed can get the bedroom toasty, meaning the thermostat can be lower (see How to Green Your Heating, for more). A nice bike ride for two is a fossil-fuel-free way to get the blood flowing and can also be quite stimulating, especially for the ladies. And of course the classic candle-lit dinner is a delicious way to set the mood and save on energy bills.

6. Bamboo in bed

If you’ve never experience bamboo bed sheets, you’re missing out. Bamboo fabric is silky and slippery (but not so slippery you’ll slide out of bed), wicks moisture, has natural antimicrobial properties, comes from a rapidly renewable resource, and is super sexy.

7. Eco-undies

Slinky, slippery, sexy. These are all good things when it comes to some sassy skivvies for the bedroom. Organic cotton, hemp silk, bamboo, and other renewable fibers make ultra-sexy lingerie and underwear. When browsing around, go for quality, not novelty. Buying a bedroom outfit that will be used only a couple times isn’t a great buy. Face it, unless you’re famous, nobody on Ebay is gonna buy those crotchless panties, even if you just wore them once. We suggest shelling out the extra bucks for something classy, sexy, and sustainable that can be donned when the mood is right for years to come. For something on the exotic end, check out Enamore and g=9.8. For sensible and simple, look at Buenostyle and American Apparel. For something in between, try GreenKnickers.

I also thought it interesting that the article suggested that a good place to pick up a date and/or meet potential mates was in the fresh vegetable section at the local Whole Foods. Classic!!

(apologies to Dr. Suess for “sampling” his classic for the title of this post…)

(no ham was hurt in the writing of this post.)

Or, maybe instead, how do you know if your life is a success?

What are the criteria? Who gets to decide? Is your life a failure if you go to prison? If your kids go to prison? Are you a failure if you don’t do what you want to do for a living? If you don’t do what are you supposed to do for a career?

When is it too late to fix it?

Considering that a life includes many stages and levels, maybe the answer is always subject to qualifications and/or temporary current circumstances. Maybe a person can always make amends and change. Or, maybe it is part of the human condition that we are always just a few degrees away from either success or failure…and the decisions we are always making are constantly swinging the pendulum back and forth.

The person that goes to prison can reform. The person responsible for a drunk driving accident can make amends. The person commiting adultery can quit. The person engaging in destructive behaviour towards other people can stop.

Or, maybe not.

Maybe the criteria are locked and fixed. Maybe the hands of fate don’t allow for a second and third chance. Maybe our flaws are too many to overcome. Maybe even those with apparent success are hiding significant faults.

Is religion the answer? Is acceptance of a lord and saviour enough to allow a free pass? Is it merely enough to try to succeed, in order to overcome fate? Is it only at death that we are judged as good or bad, success or failure?

Decisions made years ago, and early in life, have a bearing on incidents that happen later in life. No one is ever truly able to escape their past. Decisions made at one point with the confidence of correctness can later be determined as incorrect. Time marches on. Nothing is ever over. Does this knowledge force us into a state of intellectual paralysis?
Does enlightenment occur from the knowledge of this pendulum of good versus evil and success versus failure? Maybe those that are aware of the precarious balance are thus successful as a result, while those who are oblivious are failing…will fail…can’t stop from failing.

A four foot tall person who decides to be a center in the NBA will probably fail. A person who wants to walk on the moon, but doesn’t join NASA, will probably fail. A woman who wants to win the Person of the Year award, but embezzles all of the money from the PTA, will probably fail. So, key to the determination of success and failure is probably for there to be an outline of recognizable and realistic goals. But, conversely, goals that are too easily attained shouldn’t necessarily determine success either. Remembering to put the seat down is just not enough for a person to give themselves a gold star.

Altruism, kindness, generosity…those are universally recognizable and realistic goals. Those are goals that benefit both the individual and society as a whole. Pursuit and realization of those goals should probably allow a person to be considered as successful.

Failing to follow those guiding principles…well, failure is as failure does.

So, are we to feel sorry for those jamokes that don’t get it? Can we help those jamokes that choose to make mistakes? Can we look the other way while they fail? And, are we then also failures as long as there are those without the knowledge of this path to enlightenment…those who fail to see it…those who fail to do what is right…those jamokes who just fail? It’s a philosophical conundrum.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

“This above all,–to thine own self be true; and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.”

“All a man can betray is his conscience.”

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself . . .”

“It is no use lying to one’s self.”

“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed.”

Words down through history provide insight into the question.

Thus, ‘Honesty and Right Action’ determines success…regardless of the endeavour…anything and everything short of that is failure.