Look at the label

Let us read together the label of a nourishing lip balm with almond oil made by a known foreign firm of so-called natural and vegetable products for personal care.

Are the ingredients really natural and vegetable?

Here is the list in descending order of quantity, grouped according to the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) (ref. 4):

As written on the packaging:

  1. Paraffinum liquidum;
  2. Ozokerite;
  3. Hydrogenated palm kernel oil;
  4. Myristyl lactate;
  5. Cetyl palmitate;
  6. Cera alba;
  7. Buxus chinensis;
  8. Prunus dulcis;
  9. Buthyrospermum parkii;
  10. Ethyl linoleate;
  11. Diisostearyl malate;
  12. Parfum;
  13. Tocopheryl acetate;
  14. Propylparaben.

Let us see in detail what it is, starting from the components contained in higher amounts.

The paraffin (ref. 1) is a mixture of hydrocarbons contained in oil and in ozokerite used for candles, electrical insulators, shoe creams, lubricants, for ointments in pharmacy, and as a protection for the skin and a laxative in medicine.

The ozokerite (ref 1) is a fossil wax found in the vicinity of oil fields. It is yellow brown colored, soft and plastic.

The hydrogenated palm kernel oil is palm kernel oil hardened through a chemical reaction called hydrogenation (ref. 2).

The myristyl lactate, also called Tetradecyl 2-hydroxypropanoate, (ref. 3) is an ester of myristyl alcohol and of lactic acid.

The cetyl palmitate, also named Hexadecyl palmitate (ref. 3) is an ester of cetylic alcohol and cetyl palmitic acid.

The “cera alba” is a bleached and purified bees wax. The wax is produced by bees and is used for the construction of honeycombs. It consists primarily of palmitic ether of myristyl alcohol and free cerotic acid (ref. 2).

The buxus chinensis is a native of the American continent and is also called jojoba.

The prunus dulcis is the almond tree.

The buthyrospermum parkii is also known as shea butter and is derived from an African plant.

The ethyl linoleate is an ethyl ester of oleic acid.

The diisostearyl malate, also known as butanedioic acid or dimethyl malate, is a diester of stearyl alcohol and of malic acid.

The mixture of the perfume is not described.

The tocopheryl acetate, or tocopherol, is made of acetic acid and vitamin E.

The propyl paraben is the propyl ester of para-hydroxybenzoic acid and is an allergen (ref. 5), which means a substance that is capable of penetrating into the body, causing a state of allergy (ref. 2).

In conclusion, the ingredients are not all natural and vegetable.

This balm was for sale until a few months ago and the one that recently replaced it no longer has the ingredients written on the package.

Never stop at the writings on the labels, at the inviting colors and at the misleading advertisements. Not even trust the commercial name given to the product, even if it contains words such as “eco” or “organic”, or also “for children”, “sustainable”, and the like. Instead, it is important to carefully read the ingredients. With a little experience, it becomes quick and easy to recognize what is natural and vegetable from what is rather of chemical synthesis, or by-product of the oil and fossil fuel industry.

These directions apply not only to products for personal care, but also to those intended for house cleaning, which may contain toxic and harmful components for the health and for the environment, such as the formaldehyde contained in certain detergents for floors.

Finally, however, here is the good news.

In the European Union animal tests are banned for all cosmetic products (ref. 4).

In particular, since July 11, 2013, the European Cosmetics Regulation, which replaces a previous directive, has established:

  • the testing ban, that is the prohibition to test finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals;
  • the marketing ban, that is the prohibition to market in the European Union finished cosmetic products and ingredients, which have been tested on animals.

The testing ban on finished cosmetic products has been applied since September 11, 2004. The ban on testing the ingredients, or combinations of ingredients, has been applied since March 11, 2009.

The marketing ban has been applied since March 11, 2009 for all effects on human health, with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and toxicokinetics. For these specific health effects, the marketing ban has been applied since March 11, 2013, regardless of the availability of alternative non-animal methods.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
http://it.linkedin.com/in/ingpaolamorgese/en

References
(1) Nicola Zingarelli, Vocabolario della lingua italiana, Zanichelli.
(2) http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/
(3) http://www.chemspider.com/
(4) http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/cosmetics/index_en.htm
(5) http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Propyl_4-hydroxybenzoate#section=Top

Translation of the article: Paola Morgese “Occhio all’etichetta” published in the blog of Sostenibile.com (May, 2015).

 

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The true meaning of “zero waste”

A distorted message about the meaning of “zero waste” is being conveyed through the mass media in Italy.

This practice is being presented as a completion of the cycle of waste management, in which consumers are required to participate actively. According to the distorted information, on the citizens it should lie the burden to push the separated collection to the maximum for the economic benefit of those involved in the business of waste. The separated collection is being presented as a virtuous behavior, as an act of care for the environment and of great public spirit. It seems that anyone with sensitivity to pollution prevention must necessarily adhere to this system.

The reality is another.

It is the very concept of waste management that should be overcome.

Consumers have the right not to buy waste anymore, but only products. This means zero waste: producing no more waste, but only products or services. It means shifting the responsibility and the burden from consumers to producers.

When we buy a commodity or a service, we should demand that it has not been designed according to the dictates of planned obsolescence, and that its return upstream of the production cycle has already been organized at the expenses of its manufacturer. In use, it should not produce waste and, after use, it should not be a waste.

The production cycle of goods and services should be organized in continuous and nonlinear cycles.

A linear production cycle, which today is the most widespread or perhaps almost the only one, starting from the exploitation of resources, raw materials and energy, delivers to the consumer a product that, after use, must be disposed of by entering it in the integrated cycle of waste. In this way, resources, raw materials and energy are depleted, the environment, the society and the distributed economic prosperity are impoverished, companies that manage waste are enriched, waste increases anyway, even with the most developed separated collection.

A continuous production cycle follows instead what already happens in nature, where the biodegradable waste of the plants, such as dried leaves, is transformed by microorganisms into new raw material for the growth of the plants, like humus. The production of compost is inspired precisely to these spontaneous processes. Even with non-biodegradable waste (metal, plastic, electronic, etc.), it is possible to produce new raw materials for new productions. After use, a consumer good should not be disposed of, but returned to its manufacturer, who should have already planned its reinsertion upstream in its production chain.

Other mechanisms to not produce waste anymore consist in increasing the supply of services, replacing the sale of goods, for example, increasing rentals, expert advice and shares. The used, still working and in good condition, products to be divested may be donated to non-profit associations or to non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

It should also be prolonged the life itself of the sold products and services, and it should be enhanced the services offered by manufacturers for repair, maintenance, tune-up and for the necessary technological upgrades. Products, flexible in use and of lasting quality, should  arrive to the consumer.

This planning should be made solely by the producers of goods and services, should be included in the design of the product itself and should involve the entire supply chain. There are some companies, which are already organized in this way. As examples of virtuous producers, we can refer to firms like Herman Miller® or Steelcase®.

Consumers should demand that they could buy only products and no more waste.

The increase of the separated collection of waste is certainly a very good solution in the transient, short and medium term, but in the long-term the goal must be another, enduring and decisive.

Zero waste, does not mean engaging consumers in the burdens of the integrated waste cycle, means just not to produce it anymore, shifting all the responsibility on producers of goods and services.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
http://it.linkedin.com/in/ingpaolamorgese/en
http://www.facebook.com/manualeprogettisostenibili

References:
Paola Morgese, Handbook for Sustainable Projects – Global Sustainability and Project Management, CreateSpace, USA, 2014
http://www.hermanmiller.com/about-us/our-values-in-action/environmental-advocacy/design-for-the-environment.html

http://www.steelcase.com/discover/steelcase/sustainability/#products_end-of-use-recycling

Translation of the article: Paola Morgese “Il vero significato di rifiuti zero” published in the blog of Sostenibile.com

 

Sustainability in project management

On last January 14, 2015 there has been an international webinar, which involved some of the leading experts in the field of sustainability and project management. Speakers from different countries, such as Argentina, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States, took part in it. Its title was “A day for sustainability in project management”.

The first presentation, of the author of this article (Italy), who had the idea of the webinar, focused on how to obtain sustainability in the long-term with projects, which are temporary by their own definition. Starting from what may initially seem a contradiction, some ways to achieve sustainable and lasting results in environmental, social and economic field were outlined.

Also the next speaker, Richard Maltzman (USA), showed the link between sustainability and project management and how it can be attained, thinking in the long term and with a holistic, that is comprehensive, view and explained what the success of a project really means. This expanded view of the success of a project intends to bring new sap to the work of the project managers.

Then, Ron Schipper and Gilbert Silvius (The Netherlands), basing upon the consultation of scientific and professional publications available on the subject in the last decade, described what they believe is the core of the sustainable management of the projects, highlighting why it is important for a company, listing four elements that they consider as fundamental, and explaining the particular overall benefits that we can obtain in that way.

The presentation of Peter Milsom (Canada) demonstrated and highlighted how it is not enough to think of a single sustainable project, but instead there is need to act globally on enterprise culture, strategy and organization, to improve its economic results with the adoption of a globally sustainable approach. The illustrated examples have reinforced this perspective.

Monica Gonzalez (Argentina) discussed the study case where, starting from the management of containers that had held chemicals, it was possible to help organizations for the protection of children through an agreement reached with some governmental institutions and private companies responsible for cleaning, recycling and selling the decontaminated containers. The project contributed to the reduction of child mortality in accordance with one of the goals of the United Nations.

In his presentation Joel Carboni (USA) described how, according to a survey of Accenture, 93% of CEOs consider sustainability as a key to business success, but 62% can not quantify its value. Moreover, only 129 of the 4069 largest companies on the world’s stock exchanges, make public only indispensable information about sustainability. Therefore, it follows the general need for a change of mentality and of approach to projects

Listening to all the speeches presented at the webinar, a common thread originates, which is represented by the need to go beyond the single sustainable project, reaching a broader and comprehensive view, that is holistic and long-term oriented, which is valid for all the projects of a company, along with the need to develop joint and coordinated initiatives between different companies to achieve common sustainable objectives, transforming the linear production cycles into continuous production cycles, and promoting transparency in decision-making processes and the respect of a code of ethics.

For those who are interested in learning more about the topics, the recording of the webinar, in English, is available at:
A day for sustainability in project management
and
A day for sustainability in project management”.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
http://it.linkedin.com/in/ingpaolamorgese/en

http://www.facebook.com/manualeprogettisostenibili

Translation of the Italian article: Paola Morgese “La sostenibilità nel project management” published in the blog of Sostenibile.com.

 

Good post disaster reconstruction is possible

With all the natural and man made disasters that we have in Italy, we should have become skilled and quick in rebuilding. Instead, it is not so.

After a flood, an earthquake, a landslide, a volcanic eruption, an overflowing, a fire and other similar calamities of large proportions, the wounds on land and people remain.

Completed the phases of emergency and first aid, at the latest after four or six months, funds should have been allocated and reconstruction activities should have been initiated, in agreement with the local population.

That is the time when a methodology for the management of post-disaster reconstruction projects, which has been developed by about 80 expert volunteers from 20 countries of the world, could be helpful. It describes how to work in an organized and structured manner, developing the design aspects characteristic of these particular activities. The “Project Management Methodology for Post Disaster Reconstruction“, translated into Italian by the volunteer author of this article, is available at no cost for non-commercial purposes and has been prepared in 2005 by the foundation PMIEF® of the PMI® (Project Management Institute).

It explains general procedures and specific issues relating for example to the evacuation plan of the staff, to transport and logistics in areas where there could be no more roads, to the involvement of the local population to mend the social tissue, to the need to develop a sustainability plan. The latter is a long term operational plan, which enables people affected by the calamity to self-sustain, even when the reconstruction project is completed.

The methodology requires that also the procurement plan should be developed with a sustainable viewpoint, preferring the choice of local materials and suppliers, and creating job opportunities in the area of the disaster at the same time.

The reconstruction may concern public works, schools, infrastructures, technical services, social services, health and psychological care for the victims of the calamity.

While in traditional projects we try to find a balance among quality, time and cost, in the management of post-disaster reconstruction projects there are some priorities:

  1. Time;
  2. Cost;
  3. Stakeholders.

Stakeholders are all the parties directly or indirectly interested in the project or affected by it.

The best weapons to prevent or to minimize disasters are always prevention, common sense and knowledge. In any case, natural calamities such as floods and landslides are on the increase, both in their frequency and in their intensity, because of climate change caused by global warming due to the greenhouse effect, which is generated by the discharge in the atmosphere of too much carbon dioxide and other gas with similar characteristics. The consequences of these natural disasters are then amplified by incorrect human activities.

Climate change generates also changes in the design parameters of buildings, infrastructures and utilities. They change for instance the concentration time and the recurrence interval. But we are getting too much into engineering details.

Good post disaster reconstruction is possible. The right tools and techniques are available to all the people who want to use them.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
http://it.linkedin.com/in/ingpaolamorgese/en

http://www.facebook.com/manualeprogettisostenibili

Translation of the Italian article: Paola Morgese “Ricostruire bene dopo i disastri è possibile” published in the blog of Sostenibile.com.

https://sustainableprojectsblog.wordpress.com/

 

Unplugging

Imagine entering a house where there is no electrical and gas system that, however, welcomes you with all appliances, lights, heating and air conditioning running continuously.

How is this possible?
With sustainable solar-powered stand-alone equipment, instruments, devices and machinery working continuously, autonomously and independently.

It starts with an idea already implemented and spread for small appliances (light bulbs, flashlights, calculators, thermo-hygrometers, barbecues and the like) and for partial applications to prototypes of means of transport, to extend it to any device in any sector, unplugging it from the power grid, or replacing its fossil fuel or nuclear engine, and making it autonomous in its operation in time and space.

The idea lies in the use of the solar energy to directly power, or indirectly through special batteries (solar batteries), any machine with the energy of the photons. One can imagine, for example, a hair dryer, a dishwasher, a television set, a helicopter, an airplane, a boat, the public lighting system and the public utilities, and even an entire steel mill working autonomously with the solar energy.

The basis of the proposal is the need to use a free source of energy accessible and available to all, promoting the collective economic growth and the industrial innovation.

The need is to go beyond the concept of energy saving, turning to the model of unlimited energy.

This idea, “Unlimited Energy”, has been submitted to the contest CNI “Scintille 2014” (Italian National Board of Engineers “Sparks 2014”) by Paola Morgese, PE, PMP.

Some practical daily advantages are the elimination of the costs of electrical and gas systems and bills, the uselessness of transformers, power strips, extension cords, cables and adapters, the opportunity to use the devices always and in every place, both indoors and outdoors, the comfort of traveling anywhere in the world with our own small appliances always working, the ease of moving without worrying about the connections.

Some global benefits include the disuse of fossil fuels, gas pipelines, oil pipelines, power plants and drilling, the reduction of air, water and soil pollution, of combustion, of greenhouse effect, of global warming and of disasters, both natural or manmade, connected with it, the economic, social and geographical independence in the use of energy, the positive, economic and social, effects on the overall health.

In addition, with the advent and spread of the three-dimensional (3-D) printers everyone could build customized equipment and operate it independently with the solar energy. We would buy the designs and the materials, and no more the products.

Why producing and distributing energy when there is already the sun that produces and distributes it to us? We could just pick up the smallest ray of light, store it and make it available for use.

Examples of possible applications and photos are available in this video.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
http://it.linkedin.com/in/ingpaolamorgese/en

http://www.facebook.com/manualeprogettisostenibili

References:
Paola Morgese, Handbook for Sustainable Projects – Global Sustainability and Project Management, CreateSpace, 2014

Translation of the article: Paola Morgese “Stacchiamo la spina” published in the blog of Sostenibile.com

 

Finally, a dental treatment more sustainable: the Dentosophie

Have you ever heard of Dentosophie? It is a guided dental self therapy, which uses a holistic, gentle and natural way to balance the teeth and the person. It was born with the work and the research of a French dental surgeon, Michel Montaud.

Anyone who knows me, knows how much my teeth are uneven. I have always refused to face coercive and invasive treatments, extractions, to use metal braces, and to undergo cruel cuts, as suggested to me, with also expensive estimates, by various dentists met over the years. I needed a more gentle, effective and convincing method and, finally, I found it.

The approach is holistic because, starting from the mouth care, it aims to the global psycho-physical well-being of the patient. It uses, as a technical tool, a soft U-shaped bite activator, but you can soon reach important results just starting to put into practice some of its principles.

Among the positive effects, which I could verify for myself, there are for example the immediate resumption of full nasal breathing, resulting in the regularization of heart rhythm, sleep and balance, a gradual resumption of bilateral mastication, with the re-balance of the muscles of face, shoulders and neck, with the “stereo” tasting of flavors and with the full creation of the food bolus, which begins the digestion to be completed later in the stomach, and keeping the correct position of the tongue at rest, during swallowing and in phonation.

I also noticed that, despite all the care and hygiene standards followed, my teeth continued to occupy undesirable positions over the years: it was as if they carried the signs of what was happening to me. This suspicion has found its confirmation in the Dentosophie. The imbalances of the mouth come from psycho-affective imbalances and conflicts. It is not only to straighten the teeth, but to understand the causes and to avoid the negative consequences of an unbalanced mouth. ”… we need to look at a deformed mouth and to read the suffering that it expresses”. (*)

In the Dentosophie the soft bite activator, proposed for the realignment, does not exert pressure on the teeth, on the contrary, it relieves them from all the strains transmitted to them by bones and muscles, and leaves them free to assume their natural position. It is just in this way that the teeth realign themselves over the years and keep their balance over the time, a thing that does not happen with traditional metal braces, which have high rates of recidivism. While this may seem strange, just consider, for instance, when a fingernail falls after a traumatic event: it grows again by itself, it already has the information to do so and there is no need for any external intervention. The operation of the activator is based on the activation of peripheral sensorial perceptions, particularly those fine ones of the cusps of the teeth.

The Dentosophie also addresses the problem of the potentially toxic old mercury amalgams, once used in the treatment of caries, and their eventual replacement.

The French doctor also describes the meaning of illness and of healing, of  health, intended as a state of dynamic equilibrium, the links between mouth, body and psyche, the importance of the traditional medicines, that use the remedies available in nature through local medicinal plants, the importance of respecting the natural order of time, with which the temporary teeth are replaced by the permanent teeth, in order to avoid a premature puberty or affective immaturity, the importance of respecting the natural order of the phases of the temporal growth from zero to three years, first we walk, then we talk and eventually we think.

Definitely not agreeable and to be condemned are the experiments on animals, alive and then killed and dissected, cited by the French dentist in support of his theory.

Positive and encouraging are instead the results, described and documented also directly by the patients, obtained with people of all ages, from children to the elderly, in decades of applied therapy. A self therapy as the Dentosophie requires the full cooperation and motivation of the patient.

A balanced mouth means a balanced individual, and many balanced people form a balanced society.

It is comforting to know that there are dental treatments more sustainable than the traditional ones, for patients, for the environment, for the society and for the economy.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
http://it.linkedin.com/in/ingpaolamorgese/en

http://www.facebook.com/manualeprogettisostenibili

References:
* Michel Montaud, Denti & Salute, Edizioni Terra Nuova, Florence, 2014
www.dentosophie.com

Translation of the Italian article of Paola Morgese “Finalmente una terapia dentistica più sostenibile: la dentosofia” published in the blog of Sostenibile.com.

 

Clean energy instead of polluted sites

There are natural environments so deteriorated by the human beings to be no longer usable. The proposal, which comes from many parties, is to assign them to the production of energy from renewable sources, thus saving land for agricultural, and therefore food, production.

Clean energy is accessible to everyone and is available at no cost in nature and, as such, creates economic independence and, consequently, generates economic well-being and does not foment wars.

This is the reason why it is widespread in developing countries, which want to be independent from the already developed countries. Of course, independence in accessibility and use should be assured by government policies to each individual citizen. The strength of renewables is based exactly on this: they can be used also by a single person and not only by large companies.

The Campania Region (Italy) chooses the sun as its primary source of energy for all of its, civil and productive, activities and promotes the deployment of the solar energy in its various forms and technologies throughout the country. This is an excerpt from the first article of the regional law of popular initiative 18 February 2013 n. 1 “Culture and deployment of solar energy in Campania”.

All municipalities in the Campania Region were supposed to develop the Municipal Solar Energy Plans within one hundred twenty days from the date of coming into force of the law that, having been declared urgent, had come into force the day after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Campania Region.

The law also planned to set up the Biennial of the Sun and Biodiversity of the Mediterranean, a permanent conference on the development of research, technology and deployment of solar energy and of the environmental protection together with the natural, historical and cultural biodiversity in the Mediterranean Countries.

Other key positive items:

  • Gradual replacement of the use of fossil energy with solar energy, also in order to reduce the pollution of air, water and soil and the negative impacts on the greenhouse effect and on climate change, causes of more and more frequent and intense disasters (floods, landslides, desertification, and the like);
  • Rational use of energy and energy saving;
  • Production of solar energy in already paved areas;
  • Research and technological production in the field of solar energy with the creation of innovations and jobs;
  • Involvement of local communities with a wide popular participation;
  • Culture of the preciousness of resources and of the protection of biodiversity.

The law was later deprived of numerous articles and still remains nowadays little known and little used. Some of its items were developed, independently, even in the European project M2RES “From Marginal to Renewable Energy Source Sites” (“Strategies for the development of renewable energy sources in marginal areas”) and also coincide with an idea developed by the same authoress of this article, while working on the remediation of contaminated sites in a previously very fertile country, now made unusable. On this land, no longer usable for other purposes, we can install plants that generate electricity from renewable sources, in order to save other land, which is still potentially usable for agricultural, and then food, purposes.

The promoters of the law of the Campania Region on the solar energy have suggested it, just  in these days, with the project “Pyramids of the Sun”. Briefly: as the covering of a “temporary” storage site, which actually goes on for years, of packaged waste, ironically called “eco-bales” by the press, they suggest the construction of a photovoltaic plant, which provides electricity to the local community and that, in the long term, will allow to collect through its revenues the funds needed to appropriately dispose off the waste stored there, avoiding the construction of an incinerator.

The European Project 2007-2013 M2RES concerned the Italian Regions Emilia Romagna and Veneto. During the project, training courses were organized about how to turn marginal areas into economic sustainable resource and into opportunities for environment, region and economy. One of the projects, for example, was about a municipal waste landfill turned into a powerplant, which contributes to move the trolley-cars in Padua.

Among the main aims of this type of projects can be highlighted:

  • Economic, environmental and social improvement of areas, which have irretrievably lost every functionality, through their transformation into platforms for the production of renewable energy;
  • Increase in value of marginal lands, such as abandoned industrial sites, abandoned quarries, ex-military areas, waste landfills, quarries and opencast mines, contaminated land and unused areas through targeted investments for the production of renewable energy;
  • Creation of partnerships between public and private entities so that unused portions of territory can be improved and increased in value, generating in that way economic and social returns beneficial for the local communities;
  • Increase of wealth and jobs derived from the income generated with the investments made;
  • Benefits coming from the growth of the market of the renewable energy sources and of the diversification of the energy supply;
  • Assistance to public organizations in the development of energy plans.

The transnational cooperation programs M2RES are also planned for the period 2014-2020 and it is hoped that they can be used by all the Italian Regions.

All things considered, this approach uses renewable energy to save the natural environment deteriorated by human beings and promotes the social and economic development, therefore, is sustainable!

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
http://it.linkedin.com/in/ingpaolamorgese/en

http://www.facebook.com/manualeprogettisostenibili

References
http://www.laciviltadelsole.org

http://www.m2res.eu/

Translation of the Italian article “Energia pulita al posto di siti inquinati” published in the blog of Sostenibile.com.