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Earth Talk
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Tuesday, 30 November 2010 09:19

Dear EarthTalk: Where can I find information on which electronics and their manufacturers are greener than others, with regard to components, manufacturing processes and end use efficiency?
            -- John Franken, New York, NY

EarthTalkGreenerElectronics
"Nokia got top honors from the Greenpeace
Guide to Greener Electronics for the second
year in a row: All of the company’s new
phone models and accessories for 2010 are
free of brominated compounds, chlorinated
flame retardants and antimony trioxide,
three of the most toxic chemicals used
commonly in most mobile phones and other
consumer electronics today. Pictured: The
Nokia N97."  Credit this image to "William
Hook, courtesy Flickr."

Now that many consumers are beginning to care about their own environmental footprints, manufacturers are responding with loads of greener offerings. One good place to find them is the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics, which ranks the 18 top manufacturers of personal computers, mobile phones, televisions and game consoles according to their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change. Greenpeace hopes that by publishing and regularly updating the guide they can both educate consumers about their choices and influence manufacturers to eliminate hazardous substances, take back and recycle their products responsibly, and reduce the climate impacts of their operations and products.

According to Greenpeace, the top five electronics manufacturers from a green perspective are Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Philips, HP and Samsung. These companies get high marks with Greenpeace for eliminating or scaling way back on the use of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer and other health and environmental problems, which in turn makes recycling their products less problematic.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 22 November 2010 09:13

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that environmental factors could be playing a role in the increasing number of prostate cancer cases in the U.S. and elsewhere? -- Joshua Gordon, New York, NY

Prostate cancer is a growing problem for men in the U.S. as well as in other developed nations around the world. Some 40,000 American men lose their battle with prostate cancer every year—the only cancer more deadly for U.S. men is skin cancer. Age is the primary “risk factor” for developing prostate cancer. One out of every six American men over the age of 40 will develop prostate cancer, while four out of five over 80 years old will get it. Of course, genes also play a big role. The American Cancer Society reports that a man’s prostate cancer risk doubles if his father or brother has suffered from the disease. Researchers believe a genetic predisposition accounts for as many as 10 percent of all cases of the disease in the U.S.

Beyond age and genetics, though, environmental factors do likely play a role. WebMD reports, for instance, that prostate cancer occurs about 60 percent more often in African American men than in white American men, and when diagnosed is more likely to be advanced. But interestingly enough, prostate cancer rates for African men living in their native countries are much lower. When native Africans immigrate to the U.S., however, prostate cancer rates increase sharply.

 
EarthTalk®
Written by the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine   
Monday, 15 November 2010 09:21

Dear EarthTalk: I work at a fast food place and I am appalled by the amount of unpurchased food we throw away.

The boss says we can’t give it away for legal reasons. Where can I turn for help on this, so the food could instead go to people in need?    -- Ryan Jones, Richland, WA

Many restaurants, fast food or otherwise, are hesitant to donate unused food due to concerns about liability if people get sick after eating it—especially because once any such food is out of the restaurant’s hands, who knows how long it might be before it is served again. But whether these restaurants know it or not, they cannot be held liable for food donated to organizations, and sometimes all it might take to change company policy would be a little advocacy from concerned employees.

A 1995 survey found that over 80 percent of food businesses in the U.S. did not donate excess food due to liability concerns. In response, Congress passed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, which releases restaurants and other food organizations from liability associated with the donation of food waste to nonprofits assisting individuals in need. The Act protects donors in all 50 states from civil and criminal liability for good faith donations of “apparently wholesome food”—defined as meeting “all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other condition.”

 
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