P.W. McRandle, for the Green Guide

P.W. McRandle is senior research editor for the Green Guide, the premier source of information for environmentally conscious consumers. To subscribe to the Green Guide, click here.

Bottled water flies off the shelves, but smart money is on filter systems

Thirsty for facts on bottled water? When the United Nations declared 2003 the International Year of Freshwater, they likely weren’t thinking of Perrier. And yet bottled water has become freshwater’s most high-profile face, from Evian to Dasani and scores of other brands that now crowd store shelves. Why have products that cost 240 to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water soared in sales since the 1980s? According to the World Wildlife Fund, in 1976 U.S. consumption of bottled water was 5.7 liters per person; by 1999, it was 35 liters per person. Americans say one of the main …

Tips on greener computing

OK computer. U.S. consumers are being cheated out of the chance to buy the greenest possible computers, according to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and other environmental groups that have joined forces on the Computer TakeBack Campaign. The campaign’s latest report card examined 28 computer manufacturers’ practices regarding hazardous materials, worker health and safety, and systems for taking back used products. CTBC found that fewer relatively eco-friendly computers are offered for sale in the U.S. than in countries with stronger environmental regulations, such as Japan and European Union nations, which have worked to eliminate hazardous materials from electronics and required …

Get the word on seafood that’s safe to consume

The dish on fish. It’s been a winter of bad news for seafood lovers. A joint draft fish advisory from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. EPA added tuna — America’s second-most popular seafood after shrimp — to its list of mercury-containing fish that should be restricted in the diets of pregnant women and young children. A separate new study found unhealthy pollutants in far higher amounts in farmed salmon than in their wild kin. And, as reported in the February issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, Great Lakes’ sport-caught fish contain PCBs, DDT, and PBDEs, though the …

How to find cleaner, greener beef and fix our broken food-safety system

In December, the vision of a “downer” cow stricken with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) caused indigestion in more than a few Americans, especially those who’d eaten beef in one of the six Western states in which the “mad” cow’s meat might have been sold. The potential hazards of this disease have been apparent since Britain’s disastrous handling of its mad cow crisis in the early 1990s, which led to the deaths of 137 people. But did the U.S. heed any of these lessons? We look into the lax regulations that let mad cow catch hold in the U.S., the risks …

The green take on insect repellents and sunscreens

As summer finally rolls in, most of us are eager to shed our layers and splash in the surf or hike through the woods. Along the way, we might slap on some SPF 30 sunscreen to ward off skin cancer and hose down our arms and necks with skeeter repellent. But rather than go wild with DEET and just any old high-SPF sunscreen, it’s best to consider some potential health and environmental hazards first. Here follows a look at some of the more problematic products and their less-toxic alternatives. Bug Repellent The mosquito cost. Photo: Centers for Disease Control. Insect …

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