The following post is written by guest blogger, Annmarie Kostyk. Annmarie has had a love affair with food since she was a toddler. Her passion is chocolate, and her academic and professional life are centered around it. She has been collecting and consuming chocolate bars from all over the world and currently has a collection of over 140 chocolate bars!
The World Cocoa Foundation is the most prominent organization in the world addressing the monumental problem or child and slave labor in cacao producing countries. In the 19th century, the labor force on these plantations came from slave labor from Africa. Eventually the slaves became workers with the most minimal wage. The free and low cost labor allowed the cocoa to become more available to the masses.
Today the African workers are still paid minimally. The Ivory Coast, the leader in cacao production, pays a mere $165 annually, the Brazilian workers $850 annually.
In 2000, the BBC produced a documentary on children who were being stolen from their families and forced into slave labor on the cacao plantations. The children work over 12 hours a day, some are beaten, have no breaks, are not fed properly and are kept in prison-like conditions. This problem is limited to a few of the larger plantations in over one million West African cacao plantations, still no child is safe. (more…)
Oh sweet metamorphosis! Artist Michelle Stitzlein’s ‘Moth’ series is a collection of large, incredibly detailed, sculptures of moths created from recycled items such as: license plates, car parts, piano keys, broken china, rusty tin cans, electrical wire, bottle caps, mirrors, trash can lids, bicycle tires, scrap wood, aluminum siding, faucet handles, oil drum lids and phone hand sets.
An individual 11-foot wide moth can take Stitzlein three weeks, working eight hours a day, to complete. Her sculptures can be broken down into pieces to be moved from place to place for reassembly and display.
Take a close look at each piece to fully appreciate the full array of recycled items that comprise each amazing piece.
more photos after the jump: (more…)
Want to take a really big step toward being a more evolved ‘green’ person? Start by installing a water filtration system on your kitchen tap and then pour that newly cleansed agua into a reusable, BPA-free, water bottle like this 24 oz. model from Aladdin.
If you don’t have the cash for the filtration device you can still avoid buying all those ubiquitous individual water bottles. Stop filling your shopping cart and the landfill with bottled water containers, and start save yourself some money.
Not nearly as sexy as the Kor One bottle we recently featured – but way less expensive.
Fits in most car cup holders. Comes in blue, green and purple.
$11.99 @ aladdin-pmi.com
Let’s face it. We would all love to use wind or solar energy to power our homes, but neither one comes inexpensively! But, until they’re made more affordable and easy to own, geothermal makes an advantageous alternative to the conventional energy sources we use now. Geothermal heat pumps work in a similar manner to regular heat pumps; but, instead of using heat from the air outside, geothermal pumps capture heat found beneath the ground. And, because the first 10 feet below the earth’s surface maintains a steady temperature of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, it can be installed just about anywhere!
The source lies right beneath our feet, keeping energy local, and lowering our dependence on foreign oil. And, studies report that about 70 percent of the energy used in geothermal heat pumps is renewable energy, so greenhouse gas emissions are kept low. Although, they may be more costly to install initially ($2500 per ton of capacity) than ordinary heat pumps, they can cut your energy bills by over half! According to the EPA, the average energy bill for a household of two people is about $105 per month. Now, that’s a whole lotta savings when added up over the years! But, it doesn’t stop there.
Since October 3, 2008, homeowners and business owners can earn up to $2000 in federal tax credits when they install a geothermal heat pump. So, not only can you save on energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint, you can also put some money back into your pocket! In fact, surveys indicate that 95 percent of people that own geothermal heat pumps would recommend the system to their friends and family.
Want to know where you can get one? Check out TerraSource for a do-it-yourself geothermal system package. Or, go to geoexchange.org to find a professional near you.
graphics: (top) consumerenergycenter.org