Greenovation: Eco-Certified

  • When doing home improvement projects, WaterSense, EnergyStar, GREENGUARD, and FSC certifications are some to keep an eye out for. (Photo by Michelle Miller-Freeck, courtesy of FEMA)

When you’re planning a home
improvement project, you can
be overwhelmed with decisions
about the right materials, the
right quality, and the right
design. Trying to keep it eco-
friendly on top of everything
else just adds to the confusion.
Lester Graham reports it can be
as simple as finding a label:

Transcript

When you’re planning a home
improvement project, you can
be overwhelmed with decisions
about the right materials, the
right quality, and the right
design. Trying to keep it eco-
friendly on top of everything
else just adds to the confusion.
Lester Graham reports it can be
as simple as finding a label:

Julia Weinert and her boyfriend like the idea of making their place nice, but even something as simple as painting causes concerns.

JW: “We want to support environmentally friendly options and we just don’t want to be smelling it for three days out and have to be running the fans. We just want it to be convenient and we think it would be an easy thing to do.”

LG: “Well, you’re in luck. We’re at the local Home Depot and we just happen to have Greenovation.TV’s Matt Grocoff here. Matt, you’ve got some advice for her.”

MG: “And it’s really, really simple. When you’re trying to find a paint that’s healthy for you or another product, you shouldn’t have to be a chemist when you go to the store. There’s a really simple thing you can look for. Just look for the simple GREENGUARD label. GREENGUARD is an independent organization that lets you know with a simple label that that product is safe for you.”

So, none of the really strong paint smells that mean polluting chemicals are being released. GREENGUARD Environmental Institute sets indoor air standards for products and buildings. Julia and I sniffed a can of paint WITH the GREENGUARD label, and then one without.

LG: “I’ll let you sniff first.”

JW: Okay. Oh! Yeah! Oh my gosh! That is ridiculous. I mean, it smells so much stronger than this one. You can’t even smell that one compared to this one.”

A gallon of paint with the GREENGUARD label DOES cost a few dollars more, maybe as much as ten bucks.

Matt then herded us to another part of the store, the plumbing section, where Julia and I were confronted by all kinds of shiny chrome and brass faucets.

JW: “There’s a whole wall, a whole aisle of faucets here and I just don’t know which ones to look for.”

LG: “So, Matt. You got any fancy labels here?”

MG: “Absolutely. Again, if you’re looking for that eco-friendly option, a way to save yourself some money and some water, it’s simple. Just look for the WaterSense label. The EPA does EnergyStar labels for appliances. The EPA also does WaterSense label for plumbing fixtures.”

WaterSense means the fixture – whether a faucet, shower head or toilet – will use less water but still works well.

As we wandered over to the lumber section of the store, Matt told us the last label he wanted to show us is the most ignored label – and it might just be the most important one.

MG: “FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council. And what that means is they’ve made a commitment that they’re not going to be tearing down forest and clear-cutting them in order for you to build some bookshelves in your home. This is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gases is that we don’t have these forests capturing this carbon any more. Instead of having to have a PhD in forest management, you can just simply look for a piece of wood that has an FSC label on it.”

So, labels. Julia says, works for her.

JW: “It’s going to be great, taking my boyfriend around the store and showing him all these cool things I can get to make our home improvements a little more cheap and environmentally-friendly.”

LG: “Alright remind me, go over this again. What am I supposed to be looking for?”

MG: “It’s very simple. If you’re looking for paint, look for GREENGUARD. For plumbing, WaterSense. For lumber, FSC, Forest Stewardship Council certified.”

LG: “That’s Matt Grocoff, Greenovation.TV. Thanks again, Matt.

MG: “Lester, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you.”

For The Environemnt Report, I’m Lester Graham.

Related Links

Nature Profile: The Sky as Blue Kool-Aid

  • Jacoby Simmons (right) is blown away by nature. (Photo by Emma Raynor)

Today we have the latest installment in our series about people’s connections to nature.
Producer Kyle Norris wanted to find out what younger people thought of the outside world.
She spoke with one young man who said that nature can blow your mind:

Transcript

Today we have the latest installment in our series about people’s connections to nature.
Producer Kyle Norris wanted to find out what younger people thought of the outside world.
She spoke with one young man who said that nature can blow your mind:


Jacoby Simmons is your regular nineteen-year-old guy. He goes to community college
and loves to hang out with his friends and skateboard. He’s also a DJ, and he spins records at
parties as a part-time gig.


Just about every day, Jacoby spends some time hanging outside. Sitting on a park bench. Going for
a walk. But things weren’t always this way. As a kid, his life was about eating cereal and
watching TV:


“I guess nature seemed to find me in a way… I don’t remember when I started just
sitting and watching trees. And watching the clouds go by very slowly and trying to see
what images are in the clouds and whatnot.”


Jacoby says as he started to notice the world around him, it changed the way he felt:


“I stayed up all night one night just playing video games, ’cause I’m a loser like that, but I
saw the sunrise and it really, it sounds weird but it really put me at ease. I felt like
complete peace when I saw the sun come up. I mean, just
knowing that life keeps going no matter what.”


You probably get what Jacoby is saying, right? I mean, when I see the sunrise, it makes me feel
like, ‘Yeah planet, we get another day!’ Anyway, Jacoby has this other memory about
nature that’s also pretty special to him:


“Watching stars. The first time I actually looked at the stars, and I don’t mean just go
outside and oh, there are the stars, I mean like go outside and sit in the nighttime and
watch stars. That really blew my mind. It was actually the first time I went on the
backpacking trip a couple of years ago. Because there were no street lights because there
is no extra light, period. You’re in the woods and it’s total darkness and you look up and
I’ve never, ever, ever seen that many stars at that time. I almost cried because it was so
mind-boggling that there were so many stars that I just couldn’t see anywhere else.


(Norris:) “What did it look like?”


“It looked like…I guess you could say the sky looked like a big pitcher of blue Kool-Aid
and salt. Cause the stars were bright and looked like salt. It made me realize there’s just
more to life than just like school and work and making money and trying to stabilize your
life. I don’t know. Oh man, that was crazy, that was nuts.”


Have you ever had a moment like that out in nature? Where you were just totally blown
out of the water? You could.


For the Environment Report, this is Kyle Norris.

Shining Light on Women Astronomers

  • Matt Linke, the creator of "Women in Astronomy: A History" in the University of Michigan's Exhibit Museum planetarium.

Astronomy historically has been dominated by men, but women have left their mark over the years. A new planetarium show is trying to shine a little light on advances in astronomy that were made by women. And it could be coming soon to a planetarium near you. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tamar Charney reports: