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How Green Is Green These Days?

Knight Pierce Hirst -- Earth Day issues to ponder the other 364 days of the years.

Scientists at Texas A&M are part of "Project Greenvac". Flu vaccines are usually made by growing viruses in millions of fertile chicken eggs and then killing the viruses to make vaccines. Now tobacco plants are being used. After a flu virus gene is put into a bacterium and a tobacco plant is infected with the bacterium, the plant produces a protein to fight the virus. When the protein is extracted from the crushed tobacco leaves, it's ready to use for vaccine. Tobacco is being used to "smoke out" a faster, more efficient, green vaccine.

Environmentalists are recommending green diapers. Because approximately 50 million diapers go into U.S. landfills every day -- about 18 billion a year -- cloth diapers are the best solution. They're cheaper and reusable. Then there are hybrid diapers. The outer part is made of cloth and the disposable insert is made of absorbent wood pulp and polyacrylate, making it biodegradable. These are slightly more expensive than regular disposable diapers, but chlorine bleach isn't used in their manufacturing - which emits toxins into the air and water. Considering the average baby uses 5,000-8,000 diapers, diaper choice is a "from-the-bottom-up" approach to being greener.

Weedbusters Biocontrol is a green solution for plant overgrowth. The company consists of Bob Rich and his family, who are bug collectors in Missoula, Montana. Specific bugs eat specific weeds not native to a particular region, preventing the weeds from overpowering native vegetation. The bugs are collected with nets, put into pillowcases and refrigerated to slow their movements. This makes them easier to identify and separate into groups of about 100. Then the bugs are put into pint ice cream containers for shipping in insulated boxes to keep them cool. When the bugs reach their destinations, they "warm up" to their task.

U.S. airlines, however, need to be greener. They recycle only a fraction of passenger trash. According to a 2010 report by the nonprofit, environmental group "Green America", each passenger leaves an average of 1.3 pounds of trash. Although 75% of that is recyclable, only 20% is recycled. In fact, U.S. airlines throw away enough aluminum cans yearly to build 58 Boeing 747's. Green America's best grade for recycling (B-) went to Delta and Virgin America, while United and US Airways got F's. With all the other airlines getting grades in between those, the success of airline recycling is "up in the air".

Knight Pierce Hirst takes a second look at what makes life interesting and it takes only second at http://knightwatch.typepad.com. Distributed by Content Crooner.

© 2010 Knight Pierce Hirst

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