Category Archives: Eco-Science

Hand washing vs. Dishwashers

Believe it or not, using a dishwasher is significantly more energy efficient than washing by hand. Who knew? I sure didn’t. 

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Do you unplug your cell phone charger?

Do you unplug your cell phone charger when you’re not using it?  I used to leave it in all the time because I figured since it wasn’t charging anything it wouldn’t be pulling any electricity.  Apparently I was wrong; it and so many other appliances draw so much more power than I’d ever known.

I’ve always unplugged my microwave when I wasn’t using it because, really, I’d use it for a few minutes to heat something up and then through the rest of the day it’d sit there with the clock on telling absolutely no one the time.  And with my stove already telling me the time, why do I need multiple appliances telling me something I already rely on my watch and my cell phone for?  Sure it’s somewhat inconvenient to keep resetting the time on the microwave before I go to use it, but should I leave it plugged in just for the few seconds of convenience?  The average microwave draws about 3.08 W/hour when it’s just sitting idle with the door closed.  Yes, it’s not a lot, but consider this:  According the United States Energy Information Administration, in 2011 the average US household used 11,280 kWh of electricity.  If  about 420 people only used their microwaves when they cooked something and unplugged it the rest of the time they would be able to save 11,280 kWh of electricity.  Only 420 people.  How many people are in the average American city??

Now what about cell phone chargers?  When the charger is just plugged into the wall without your cell phone attached to it it draws 0.26W/hour.  Assuming that you only have your phone plugged into the charger for just as long as it takes to charge (I’m giving everyone some leeway here and saying it takes 5 hours to charge your phone) that means the charger will pull 4.94 W/day or 1.8 kWh/year.  Again, not a whole lot when you think about it as just one person.  According to Wikipedia, there were 327, 577, 529 active cell phones in the US in 2012.  If everyone unplugged their charger when their phone was finished charging we would save 590 million kWh of electricity per year.  Using the EIA figure again, this means that if everyone in the US unplugged their cell phone chargers when they weren’t using it we would save enough electricity to power 52,273 homes for an entire year!  52,273 homes for an entire year!!!!

Think about all the other appliances that you leave plugged in when you aren’t using them: your tv, dvd/bluray, stereo, computer, coffee machine….need I go on?  

If you’re interested in seeing how much electricity is used in a variety of common household appliances check out this table

It’s really not that costly or inconvenient to throw your TV and all the attachments on a powerbar and turn them on before you turn on the TV.  Or unplug your cell phone charger when you disconnect your cell phone.  Just sayin’.

Sodium Coco Sulphate vs. Sodium LaurylSulphate 

I have already posted on sulphates once (previous post) so I won’t go into crazy detail about how sulphates aren’t dangerous.  Yes, that’s right.  Despite the bad reputation they are nothing scarier than an irritant and an allergen.  So, if you aren’t bothered by the harsh stripping qualities of sodium lauryl sulphate, don’t you worry and keep on truckin’!  For those of you looking for a ‘cleaner’ alternative, don’t go looking for sodium coco sulphate.  It ain’t much better. Continue reading Sodium Coco Sulphate vs. Sodium LaurylSulphate 

A Little Bit About Teflon

The chemical PFOA (perflourooctanoic acid) is a chemical found in Teflon and other non-stick pans is found in 95% of our bloodstreams and it binds to tissues indefinitely and is considered a likely human carcinogen.  Although health officials insist that chemical exposure through cookware is minimal at best, Health Canada does recognize that “non-stick coatings are a risk if they are heated to temperatures greater than 350 degrees Celsius or 650 degrees Fahrenheit.” Surely my pot or pan on the stove doesn’t get that hot, does it?  A study conducted in 2003 by the Environmental Working Group showed that a pan placed on a burner on the highest setting (like when you’re trying to boil water fast) heated up to about 720 degrees Fahrenheit in just five minutes.

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The Shocking Truth About Cotton

The very last part of my eco-diva transformation was my wardrobe.  I’ve never been into the super trendy pieces, but rather focused on more simple designs that would last through the years.  Occasionally I splurged, of course, but for the most part I tried to be sustainable.  And I tried to stick to natural fabrics: cotton, bamboo, silk, wool, that kind of thing, thinking that the environmental impact would be less with fabrics like this than, say, rayon or polyester.

But after a little eye opening reading I was shocked to hear the truth about cotton.  Something that seemed so natural and safe is actually one of the worst fabrics out there that you can buy.  Here’s why:

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Parabens, Sulphates and Phthalates. Oh my!

Ah the power of media.  One little report comes out saying that a chemical, by product or synthetic dye ‘could’ be bad for you, even though the findings may be unsupported or inconclusive, and the response from the public is dramatic.  Then the suppliers have no choice but to figure out alternatives to these products to satisfy the new demand for products free of these ingredients regardless of whether their danger has been confirmed.

Continue reading Parabens, Sulphates and Phthalates. Oh my!