Greenguard School IAQ Tour

Without the proper precaution, schools can be a breeding ground for illness among the millions of children that attend each year.  It is perhaps with this in mind that Greenguard Environmental Institute recently launched an interactive school indoor air quality tour on its website. The tour takes place inside a graphic representation of a school with cartoon-esque teacher and student figures. There are three discussion topics: “IAQ Impacts Health”; “Maximize Fresh Air”; and “Create a Healthier School”. Clicking on each topic takes you to a screen with plus-sign markers located on different areas of the school room shown. Each marker provides a unique fact about school indoor air quality, as it relates to that particular topic. According to the information provided in the tour, indoor air pollution  affects the health of students in various ways: it leads to higher rates of asthma and health problems which increases absenteeism and productivity and lowers teacher retention.

Higher indoor air quality standards must be in place to ensure the success of students and teachers. The tour suggests several ways to minimize indoor air pollutants in schools, including opening windows to increase ventilation and natural light (both of which increase productivity), using air filters with the highest MERV rating available for the school’s HVAC system, and maintaining proper humidity levels. In addition to several discussion topics, the tour also features a quiz on minimizing pollutants.

Children spend the majority of their days in school, but home indoor air quality is equally important. Take our Home IAQ quiz to further ensure the safety of your indoor environment.

How Much Would You Pay for a Bottle of Water?

Last week, we did a post on pairing premium fine bottled water with food – an experience termed by some diners as “epicurean.” Premium bottled water is made for rare consumption and is likely more expensive than your average bottle of Dasani or Evian. Just how expensive, you ask?

Well, that depends on the water. The suggested retail value of Fillico Jewelry Water is $150 per set of two bottles. This is not just any bottled water, however. I would venture to say it goes beyond most premium bottled waters in several ways. Each bottle is decorated with Swarovski crystals and has a shiny (king or queen) crown cap. The bottles and caps are hand made piece by piece, so production is limited to no more than 5,000 bottles per month.

Are you impressed yet? It doesn’t end there…

The crystals aren’t the only thing you’re paying for (though they probably make up a large part of the reason for price). The water inside the bottles is natural spring water from Kobe, Japan – a location famous for the Japanese wine, SAKE. In fact, Fillico shares the same source with SAKE winery. (While we’re on the subject of pairing premium bottled water with food, perhaps this water would pair well with Kobe beef.) Fillico recommends the water for special occasions such as anniversary dinners or wedding receptions. Or if your teen has expensive taste, you may want to invest in the Hello Kitty collection. This special edition Fillico water comes in five different bottles, each with its own set of colored crystals which represent a different theme: yellow (heartful), pink (cute), lavender (sweet), green (wish),  and red (friendship).

A New Solution to Our Bottled Water Problem?

Akinori Itu, CEO of the Japanese company Blest, has created a machine that converts plastic back into oil. Akinori admits that when he was a child, he didn’t care about the environment. Since then, the places where he used to play as a child have disappeared, due in part to plastic pollution. In Japan and elsewhere, there is very little space for trash disposal, and Itu hopes that his machine can help solve the problems that arise as a result. Since plastic is made from oil, Itu concluded that it must not be very difficult to convert it back. It was this conclusion that birthed his machine.

So how does it work? You simply fill the compartment with plastic trash, cover with the lid, and tighten. When the machine is turned on, the temperature rises enough to melt the plastic which produces a gas. This gas travels upward through a thin tube into a container filled with tap water which cools the gas, turning it into oil. One kilogram of plastic makes one liter of oil, which can then be processed further to create gasoline, diesel and kerosene.

Burning plastic results in harmful CO2 emissions, but converting it into oil has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent, lessening our environmental impact. Itu takes the machine into developing countries, where the dangers of plastic are less known, and uses it to raise awareness about the value of plastic. With this machine, according to Itu, plastic is no longer trash or waste, but “an oil field,” and a “treasure.”

Could this be the solution to our bottled water problem? Large amounts of oil and water resources are depleted in the production and transport of plastic water bottles and other plastic products; however, if the plastic can later be converted back into the liquid that was used to make it, our carbon footprint may be significantly reduced. But does this machine serve to enable and to justify our wasteful habits?

I’m still convinced that the best cure for any disease is prevention. While this machine could serve to recycle the plastic that is currently stored in our landfills, the only way to eradicate the future threat of plastic to the environment is to stop producing it in the first place. What do you think?