The Green Blog
Finding Green in Unexpected Places
The green movement is certainly getting around these days!

Recently I saw some interesting articles about some very diverse areas which are becoming eco-friendly in surprising ways.

Who would have thought that the sport of drag racing would go green? Probably one of the most environmentally-offensive sports, drag racing is a competition in which vehicles compete to be the first to cross a set finish line, usually from a standing start, and in a straight line. The world record for a 1/4 mile standing start pass is 4.428 seconds with a speed of 336.15 miles per hour.

This fuel-guzzling sport (using a mix of methanol and nitromethane, often enhanced by turbochargers, superchargers, nitrous oxide [N2O] and specialized fuels [higher octane gas, methanol, etc.]) obviously doesn't bode well for the environment. But a new breed of enthusiasts are changing the face of drag racing with the electric dragster. There's an official association devoted to eco-friendly, street-legal hot rods called the National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA).

NEDRA exists to increase public awareness of electric vehicle (EV) performance and to encourage, through competition, advances in electric vehicle technology. NEDRA achieves this by organizing and sanctioning safe, silent and exciting electric vehicle drag racing events. A recent USA Today article said, "Electric drag racers are test-driving the technology that will eventually spill over into mass production cars, analysts say."

How Green is Your Salon? Traditional hair salons use a lot of water, energy, and chemicals in their day-to-day operations, so choosing an eco-friendly alternative the next time you need a cut and style may have more of an impact than you realize.

A green salon uses eco-friendly, chemical-free products, practices water conservation and recycling and employs energy-efficient equipment (some are even using solar to power their salons!). Many salons are offering green beauty treatments such as manicures, pedicures, waxing and massages. The beauty industry is discovering that plant-based ingredients, which were used by women centuries ago, provide superior performance without damaging the Earth.

Check out companies like EcoColors, Aveda (whose motto, The Art and Science of Pure Flower and Plant Essences™, reflects their mission to create high performance, botanically based, earth-friendly products that are good for people and the planet), MOP, John Paul Mitchell systems (the first hair care company to oppose animal testing), and Innersense, which provides search engines making it easy to find salons that use and sell their green goods. Other safe bets are user recommendation-driven guides like Yelp. Also try your luck at Spa Index or allure.com's Salon & Spa Index.

The reusable dry-cleaning bag? Recently, two major Hollywood studios have hit on a cost-efficient way to cultivate good will among their environmentally-conscious employees and the vocal and dedicated green actors who work on their lots. Both 20th Century Fox and Universal have turned over their tons of annual dry-cleaning to a local company committed to eliminating single use plastic dry-cleaning bags, 300 million pounds of which overflow landfills and clog waterways in the United States every year.

Eco-friendly La Cienega Studio Cleaners' Dmitry Tokar introduced to the studios The Green Garmento, the first affordable, reusable, multi-purpose garment bag that can efficiently replace the dreaded single-use plastic bags. In a pre-Earth Day event on the Fox lot, Tokar offered free samples of the Garmento, which is designed to hold multiple garments and is easily loaded and unloaded through a full-length zippered side opening. "The feedback was overwhelming," recalls Tokar. "By the end of the day, people from production companies to support staff to executives had all signed a waiting list for a Green Garmento."

The traditional dry cleaning industry uses tetrachloroethylene (aka perc) in dry cleaning solvent. Perc is a known cancer-causing agent, and its composition makes it resistant to breaking down once it's spilled or released into city sewage systems. Up to half the United States' ground water is now tainted with perc. There are eco-friendly cleaners out there -- find them using Low Impact Living's directory.

The best way to reduce dry cleaning pollution is to stop buying clothes which require it. With the tremendous variety of low-care fabrics available these days, thoughtful shopping can pay off in reduced cleaning costs -- and a lighter environmental footstep. Get into the habit of checking labels in the store, and press online merchants to disclose cleaning care requirements before you buy. Manufacturers respond to consumer demands -- so be demanding when it comes to your clothing purchases!