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Archives for April 2014

Climate Change and Tornadoes

Photo Credit: Ks0stm

Photo Credit: Ks0stm

Next month will be the anniversary of the massive tornado outbreak that killed 26 people in Oklahoma. A quick drive through Moore and you will see the cleanup and rebuilding is still underway.

Last night tragedy struck Oklahoma again, as a tornado outbreak killed at least 16 people in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Iowa. With the threat of tornadoes still looming in the southern states, people are asking what impact climate change has on these storms. This is not an easy question to answer.

Last year after the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Scientific American asked climate scientist, Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., if climate change could be causing more tornadoes:


“The main climate change connection is via the basic instability of the low-level air that creates the convection and thunderstorms in the first place. Warmer and moister conditions are the key for unstable air. The oceans are warmer because of climate change.

The climate change effect is probably only a 5 to 10 percent effect in terms of the instability and subsequent rainfall, but it translates into up to a 33 percent effect in terms of damage. (It is highly nonlinear, for 10 percent it is 1.1 to the power of three = 1.33.) So there is a chain of events, and climate change mainly affects the first link: the basic buoyancy of the air is increased. Whether that translates into a supercell storm and one with a tornado is largely chance weather.”

Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., talked to Accuweather about this issue.

“As the planet warms with more greenhouse gases, we really don’t have very strong evidence as to what will happen with severe thunderstorms… 

As the planet warms, the moisture content of the atmosphere will also increase. And that’s the basic fuel that drives thunderstorms. It’s where the storms get their energy from… as we warm the planet that will increase the energy available for producing storms… The other primary ingredient, the shear that organizes the storm, is likely going to decrease.”

There is currently not enough evidence to prove a link between tornadoes and climate change. However, there are links between climate change and extreme weather.

“The rise in natural catastrophe losses is primarily due to socio-economic factors. In many countries, populations are rising, and more and more people moving into exposed areas. At the same time, greater prosperity is leading to higher property values. Nevertheless, it would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change. The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge as set out in the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report.” – read more

More research is being done all the time to look at how climate change is impacting our weather and one thing is clear, we are entering uncharted territory.

Green Oklahoma’s Best of 2014

bestof2014

Happy Earth Day! Today as we celebrate the earth, we also want to celebrate the local businesses that help us live environmentally friendly lives. There were a lot of great nominates for Best of 2014 and a lot of votes. They were all great businesses and we appreciate all of them!

Now it’s time to announce our winners and runners-up.


Best Eco-Friendly Retail Store: SHOP GOOD
Runner-up: Green Bambino

Best Eco-Friendly RestaurantThe Wedge Pizzeria
Runner-up: Local

Best Eco-Friendly Bakery– Farrell Family Bread
Runner-up: Backyard Bounty Bakery

Best Eco-Friendly Farm– 10 Acre Woods
Runner-up:  Canyon Ridge Farms

Best Eco-Friendly Grocery StoreNative Roots Market
Runner-up: The Earth Natural Foods 

Best Eco-Friendly Service– 2 Green Chicks
Runner-up: TIMECAR

Best Organization– Oklahoma Sustainability Network
Runner-up: Cloth Diaper Oklahoma

Best Green Blog- Carless in OKC
Runner-up: An Organic Wife

Thanks to everyone for their nominations and votes. Be sure to check out the winners and runner-ups.

Also check out all of the great Earth Day events going on around the state this week.

Earth Day in Oklahoma

In celebration of Earth Day there are events all over Oklahoma. Here are some of the great events going on around Earth Day this year. 

ECU Party for the Planet
Where: East Central University in Ada
When: April 22nd, 2014 from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.

UCO Earth Day
Where: University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond
When: April 22nd, 2014 from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.


OSU-OKC Earth Day Fair
Where: OSU-OKC in Oklahoma City
When: April 22nd, 2014 from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m.

Earth Day Rally for Climate Change Action
Where: State Capitol South Plaza in Oklahoma City
When: April 22nd, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Earth Matters Film Series
Where: Circle Cinema in Tulsa
When: April 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.

Sciencefest
Where: Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma City
When: April 24th, 2014 from 8:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Herbal Affair & Festival
Where: Sand Springs
When: April 26th, 2014 from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Natural Parenting Expo
Where: Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, OK Expo Hall in Oklahoma City
When: April 26th, 2014 from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.

The Great Cloth Diaper Change
Where: Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, OK Expo Hall in Oklahoma City
When: April 26th, 2014
Line up at 10:30 a.m.
Event start at 11 a.m.

Oklahoma City Zoo’s Party for the Planet
Where: Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma City
When: April 27th, 2014 from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Norman Earth Day Festival
Where: Reaves Park in Norman
When: April 27th, 2014 from 12 p.m.- 5 p.m.
If you know of other events you can leave them in the comments below or email us.

And don’t forget to vote for the Best of 2014 by April 21st at 11:59 p.m.

Best of 2014- Voting Open

bestof2014

 

The nominations are in, now it’s time to vote! Voting is open until midnight on April 21st. Winners will be announce on Earth Day, April 22nd.


Please only one vote per person.

Vote Here

Best of 2014- Nominations

bestof2014

It’s time for the second annual Green Oklahoma’s Reader’s Choice Awards. We want to know what your favorite local Oklahoma green businesses, organizations, and blogs are.

Nominations are open now through April 12th. We are taking nominations for the following categories.

  • Retail Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Natural Farm
  • Natural Grocery Store
  • Green Organization
  • Green Service
  • Green Blog (not including us, of course)

The nominations must fit the following criteria.

  • Must be locally owned, not a chain.
  • Environmentally friendly (organic food, recycled materials, alternative energy, non-toxic products, etc…)

The top 5 nominations in each category will be finalist and the finalist will be voted on by the public.

Nominations are now closed.

Plastics 101: The Recycling Process

plasticrecyclingWe look at the bottom of our plastics in search for a code number 1 through 7. This code, as previously explained in last month’s post, identifies the type of plastic resin. It also facilitates the recycling process as the type of resin an item is made of limits the products it can recycled into. For a printable list of resin codes, click here.

How are plastic resins recycled?  There are five basis steps to the Recycling Process (sometimes referred to as down-cycling):

  1. Sorting – After plastic is collected by the recycling company, it is sorted by resin type.
  2. Washing – Plastic items are cleaned of all adhesives and labels. You can help make this job easier and cheaper for recycling companies by doing the bulk of this process yourself.
  3. Shredding – Plastic is shredded by large machines and made into small pellets.
  4. Identification and Classification – So far, the plastic has been identified by the eye alone. Now, the small pellets are chemically tested to ensure accurate classification.
  5. Extruding – Finally, the plastic is melted and extruded into clean, properly identified pellets. (note, often the plastic resin is still not 100 percent pure)

The plastic is then sold or used to fill orders to manufacturers who create the new plastic product. Here is a list of the seven types of commonly used plastics and what they are frequently recycled into.


1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)
First developed in 1957, the more commonly known name for this type of plastic is polyester. You can find PETE in the following items:

  • Nylon and polyester clothes
  • Bed sheets
  • Cosmetics
  • Household cleaners
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Water and Condiment bottles
  • Jelly and Peanut Butter Jars

PROS: Not known to leach chemicals, unless it contains BPA
CONS: Some studies have found that antimony is leached from water bottles made from PETE after prolonged use in heat; BPA has been linked to breast and uterine cancer

Commonly Recycled Into: Tote Bags, Furniture, Carpet, Paneling, Fiber, and Polar Fleece

2. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Along with PETE, it is the most commonly used and versatile of plastics. HDPE resists UV rays, can tolerate high temperatures, and is dishwasher safe. It is found in a variety of items:

  • Landry detergent bottles
  • Milk jugs
  • Folding Chairs and tables

PROS: Not known to leach chemicals, no known health concerns.

Commonly Recycled Into: Pens, Recycling Containers, Picnic Tables, Lumber, Benches, Fencing, Detergent Bottles, Crates, Garden Products, Office Products, Automobile Parts[i]

3. Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)
PVC might be the most difficult plastic to recycle, next to 7. It is incredibly durable and resists impurities, but it is also the most chemically dangerous. PVC can be found in the following items:

  • Shower Curtains
  • Cling wrap
  • Clothing
  • Inflatable structures
  • Waterbeds
  • Pool toys
  • Car interiors
  • Vinyl flooring

CONS: Known to leach chemicals, SHOULD BE AVOIDED[ii]; Not as widely recycled as 1 or 2

Commonly Recycled Into: Paneling, Flooring, Speed Bumps, Decks, and Roadway Gutters

4. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
This type of plastic was created in 1954. Polypropylene is excellent at withstanding heat. Research is mixed regarding the safety of polypropylene. Regardless, it is used in much of our plastic food packaging:

  • Bread and frozen food bags
  • Packaging material
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Squeezable bottles

PROS: Not known to leach chemicals
CONS: Not as widely recycled as 1 or 2

Commonly Recycled Into: Compost Bins, Paneling, Trash Cans and Liner, Floor Tiles, Shipping Envelopes

5. Polypropylene (PP)
A very strong plastic with a high melting point, it is a likely candidate for reusable food containers such as:

  • Yogurt and margarine containers
  • Plastic cups
  • Baby Bottles
  • Kitchenware, microwavable plastic containers and lids2

PROS: Recycling becoming more common; dangerous during production process, but not known to leach any chemicals after the fact. Dishwasher safe
CONS: Not as widely recycled as 1 or 2

Commonly Recycled Into: Brooms, Auto Battery Cases, Bins, Pallets, Signal Lights, Ice Scrapers, and Bicycle Racks, Flower pots

6. Polystyrene (PS)
This plastic can be converted into either foam, made 97 percent of air, or a tougher, yet brittle substance like that used for CD cases. Here are some of the items PS is found in:

  • Foam Insulation
  • Disposable cutlery
  • CD and DVD cases
  • Egg Cartons
  • Foam Cups & To-Go Foam from restaurants

CONS: According to the Foundation for Achievements in Science and Education fact sheet, long term exposure to small quantities of styrene can cause neurotoxic (fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping), hematological (low platelet and hemoglobin values), cytogenetic (chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities), and carcinogenic effects. Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).[1]; Not as widely recycled as 1 or 2

Commonly Recycled Into: Egg Cartons, Vents, Foam packing, Insulation

7. Other
Any plastic that doesn’t fall under a 1 through 6 ends up with a 7. Bio plastics are also given the label 7. Other items include:

  • Microwave Ovens
  • Eating Utensils
  • Baby Bottles
  • 3 and 5 Gallon reusable bottles
  • CD and DVD cases
  • Electrical Wring

CONS: Made  with biphenyl-A (commonly known as BPA) that can leach into your food – a chemical that simulates the action of estrogen; rare recycling availability.

Commonly Recycled Into: Plastic Lumber and Custom Made Items

Although all plastics should be avoided whenever possible, we can conclude that there are some plastics safer to use than others – 2, 4, and 5 – as they have not been known to leach chemicals after production.[iii][iv][v].


NOTES:

1 For more information visit Baby Green Thumb.
2  Saying something is microwavable only means that it will not change the shape or melt during the process, it does not imply that it is safe or that toxics will not be released. /small>

 


SOURCES:

[i] Bear Board. (2014). What is HDPE?
[ii] T Jones (2010). Danger! It’s PVC, Plastic Number 3. GreenDepot: Blog
[iii]Amanda Wills. (2009). The Ultimate Plastic Breakdown. Earth 911.
[iv] Brian Clark Howard. What Do Recycling Symbols on Plastics Mean? Good Housekeeping.
[v] Jeffery M. Smith. (2012). 3 Plastics to Avoid. Esquire./small>

Photo Credit: Michal Ma?as