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Friday Finds: Coffin' Up Green


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08 April 2011, 4:51 AM
Congress for sale, radiated water, noisy pollution
In an effort to draw in new customers, some burial services are going green. Photo courtesy of Rob Shenk.

Consumers dying to snatch up wooly coffins
Eco-conscious consumers looking for a greener afterlife can now be buried in woolen coffins, reports Time magazine. Recently, a hundred-year-old family run mill in West Yorkshire, England, started making the wooly coffins in an effort to find new revenue sources amidst Britain's diminishing textile market. So far the company is doing pretty well with its lightweight, low impact coffins. Locally, it sells about 50 to 60 Natural Legacy coffins per month and has distribution centers set up in Finland, Holland, Germany and Australia. Best of all, wool is biodegradable, which means someone's last resting place could be both comfy and eco-friendly, though a bit on the scratchy side.

Koch congressional payouts put environment on layaway
This week, The Center for Public Integrity turned its investigative eyes onto the eyebrow-raising sums of money that Charles and David Koch, the diabolic duo of Koch Industries, use to lobby Congress and shape federal law. As owners of the country's second largest private corporation, the Koch brothers are able to spend millions of dollars on rolling back or preventing any government regulations they deem harmful to the corporation, including limits on toxic chemicals like dioxin, asbestos, formaldehyde and benzene. Koch has also shoved major cash donations into putting the kibosh on any legislation that will cut carbon emissions. Luckily, Earthjustice is working to beat back efforts by Koch and others to strip the EPA of its carbon-regulation authority. And now you can, too.

Japan radiates the water
Earlier this week, Japan began dumping thousands of tons of radioactive water into the ocean, reports the New York Times. The Fukushima plant's operators are dumping the water in an effort to clear a path to the reactors' cooling systems and bring the situation back under control. Though Japanese authorities maintain that once the radioactive water is diluted in the ocean it will not harm aquatic life, some research says otherwise. Environmental journalist Elizabeth Grossman recently reported that "studies from previous releases of nuclear material…show that such radioactive material does travel with ocean currents, is deposited in marine sediment, and does climb the marine food web." As members of the top of the food chain, humans may find out the hard way that pollution plus dilution is not the solution.

Noisy places equal unsafe spaces
It turns out that your noisy neighbor could be killing you, or at least reducing your quality of life, reports New Scientist. According to the world's first comprehensive report on the health effects of noise, exposure to excessive noise is the second leading cause of ill health (air pollution is the first). Noise exposure from things like highway traffic, industrial machinery or even that cute but obnoxiously loud dog can cause heart disease, raise blood pressure and even increase the body's stress hormones. Luckily, governments can enact measures to reduce noise, such as introducing standards to make vehicles quieter and installing noise barriers between busy roads and residential areas. Or, if that doesn't work, there's always good old-fashioned ear plugs.

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