Styrofoam Really Is Bad for Your Health Tuesday, Aug 30 2011 

by Carole Jackson, Bottom Line Health

My niece is a college student, and forget about the healthy snacks that my sister once plied her with — frozen blueberries, raw carrots and peppers, Greek yogurt. Now she and her roommates subsist on salty soups in Styrofoam containers that they heat in the communal microwave. This, too, will pass, I know, but a recent US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report provides greater cause for concern. In June, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of HHS, added styrene — the chemical used in the manufacture of Styrofoam cups and food containers — to its list of substances that are “reasonably anticipated” to cause cancer. Styrene has also been linked to nerve damage and hormonal disruption.

The Chemicals Leach Into Your Food

Styrofoam is made from the plastic polystyrene, which is based on building blocks called styrene monomers. When you drink your steaming cup of coffee or spoon your chicken noodle soup or chili out of a Styrofoam cup, you also take in small doses of chemicals that leach from it. “Trace amounts of styrene as well as various chemical additives in polystyrene migrate into food — particularly when liquids are hot,” explains Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group ( “This is a problem, because polystyrene is very commonly used as disposable packaging for hot food and beverages” — and has been for many years!

The HHS says that the levels released from food containers are very low — but for me, that’s not very comforting when I think about the literally thousands of doses that we each have taken in over the years. Then, too, every day we are bombarded with a multitude of toxins in the environment. It all adds up… so now, are you willing to accept toxic industrial chemicals in your soup?

Don’t Swallow It

Reducing exposure to cancer-causing agents is something we all want, but it takes knowledge and action on each person’s part to achieve that…

  • Boycott Styrofoam. Do not eat or drink out of Styrofoam containers (even if you’re a college student). I know it sounds obvious, but in today’s food culture, that’s easier said than done. It’s especially important not to consume anything hot, oily, acidic (including tomato sauce-based foods) or alcoholic from Styrofoam, since heat, oil, acid and alcohol increase leaching. This rules out, for example, hot drinks, citrus beverages, dressed salads, take-out burgers and, of course, beer and wine. Don’t store food in Styrofoam — there are plenty of other packaging options. Be especially cognizant when you’re eating out at a restaurant and find yourself asking the waiter if he/she will pack up what you didn’t finish so that you can take it home. Ask if they have alternatives to Styrofoam, or even bring your own container from home.
  • Choose healthier food and beverage containers. Eat and drink out of toxin-free glass, ceramic, stoneware or BPA-free plastic — not Styrofoam. (Read about health concerns with the chemical BPA in standard plastic containers in the July 4, 2011 issue of Daily Health News.)
  • Beat the heat. Whatever else you do, don’t microwave food in Styrofoam. Reheat leftovers in glass, ceramic or stoneware.
  • BYOC. Bring your own cup to coffee shops and diners that use Styrofoam for beverages. Some ecofriendly businesses in my neighborhood even give you 25 cents off to encourage you to do the right thing for the environment — which happens to be the right thing for your body as well.
  • Vote with your feet. Patronize food establishments that provide recyclable cardboard take-out containers, not Styrofoam.


Olga Naidenko, PhD, senior scientist, Environmental Working Group, Washington, DC. EWG is a nonprofit, research-based organization dedicated to protecting public health and the environment.


Sustainability in Alberta. As I’ve just Monday, Aug 29 2011 

Sustainability in Alberta. As I’ve just read of Alberta’s reinvention of government in 2008, I’m not surprised to learn this: from the St. Albert Gazette.
Learn how quality improvement helps and pays for sustainability:

Leadership Doesn’t Rest on Your Title. A Monday, Aug 29 2011 

Leadership Doesn’t Rest on Your Title. Adam Bryant’s continuing series on leadership in the NY Times is a good follow:
Let’s put this to work for you:

Top 10 Qualities of a Project Manager Monday, Aug 29 2011 

By Jessica Paul

What qualities are most important for a project leader to be effective? Over the past few years, the people at ESI International, world leaders in Project Management Training, have looked in to what makes an effective project leader.

Inspires a Shared Vision

An effective project leader is often described as having a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it. Visionaries thrive on change and being able to draw new boundaries.

Good Communicator

The ability to communicate with people at all levels is almost always named as the second most important skill by project managers and team members. Project leadership calls for clear communication about goals, responsibility, performance, expectations and feedback.


One of the most important things a project leader must remember is that his or her actions, and not words, set the modus operandi for the team. Good leadership demands commitment to, and demonstration of, ethical practices.


Plain and simple, we don’t like leaders who are negative – they bring us down. We want leaders with enthusiasm, with a bounce in their step, with a can-do attitude. We want to believe that we are part of an invigorating journey – we want to feel alive.


What is the difference between empathy and sympathy? Although the words are similar, they are, in fact, mutually exclusive.


Simply put, to enlist in another’s cause, we must believe that that person knows what he or she is doing. Leadership competence does not however necessarily refer to the project leader’s technical abilities in the core technology of the business.

Ability to Delegate Tasks

Trust is an essential element in the relationship of a project leader and his or her team. You demonstrate your trust in others through your actions – how much you check and control their work, how much you delegate and how much you allow people to participate.

Cool Under Pressure

In a perfect world, projects would be delivered on time, under budget and with no major problems or obstacles to overcome. But we don’t live in a perfect world – projects have problems.

Team-Building Skills

A team builder can best be defined as a strong person who provides the substance that holds the team together in common purpose toward the right objective

Problem Solving Skills

Although an effective leader is said to share problem-solving responsibilities with the team, we expect our project leaders to have excellent problem-solving skills themselves. They have a “fresh, creative response to here-and-now opportunities,” and not much concern with how others have performed them.


The Sustainability Wave – Will You Bring a Surfboard or Sandbags? Sunday, Aug 28 2011 

Sandbags, Source: DuBoixMorguefileSurfer, Source: Dee Golden

If you own a small or medium sized business and you think “sustainability” is just for the big boys, you are wrong. I hope I’m not coming on too strong here, but you need to hear the tough love. There is a wave coming toward your shores and it will hit the beaches whether you are ready for it or not. This wave is being pushed by winds coming at us from all directions:

  • From the “north,” the wind is called the supply chain. SMBs who want to be part of a larger corporation’s supply chain have to show your large customer that you can play by their rules. (Sidebar: If you want to learn more about how one mega-company is dealing with its suppliers in this area, check this out:
  • In a wind from another direction, if you want to compete in a market where consumers care about the environmental and social commitment of the brands they buy, you have to show them the green.
  • And from even another direction, if you want to attract the top talent from Generation Y or the Millenials, and if you want to have a prayer of them sticking around long enough to make a difference in your company, you have to show them how you and your successful business are making a difference. Every year, more and more experienced and legacy-minded Generation X and Boomers are falling into this category, as well.
  • Finally, just to make sure that we have winds from all four directions, Hurricane Mandy, with her required (mandatory) regulations and reporting in the area of sustainability, is heading for our coast and sure to make landfall soon. Europe is a few years ahead of us in this area and if Euro-trends are any indication of what government entities are going to consider here in the colonies, we might as well begin to fill the sandbags. Many of the top 100 U.S. corporations already publish voluntary sustainability reports. In several sectors of our economy, environmental compliance reporting is commonplace.

Having made all those bad weather metaphors above, there is still a bright outlook. This wave called sustainability is not a dangerous tsunami to avoid, but rather a crest on top of which your business can surf and enjoy the ride. Most, if not all, businesses who have embarked on a mission to be a sustainable company have found bottom-line profits, process efficiencies, brand improvements, key talent retention, and engagement, and increased customer loyalty, just to name a few of the benefits.

As for what this might mean for you and your business, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability. The most common question I get as a sustainability consultant is, “What is it, really?” To which I reply, “Sustainability is nothing more than the successful result of implementing a resource alignment strategy which increases productivity and reduces consumed resources without compromising the profitability, competitiveness, or quality of your deliverable.” If you can live with this definition, you can be a sustainable business in 2011 and beyond. And the key part in there is, “without compromising …”

In closing, I suggest you ask yourself this question, “Do you (Leadership) want to have the right employees (engaged People) sitting in the right seats ‘on the bus’ (Structure) going in the right direction (Strategy) doing the right things (Process) for the right reasons (Rewards)?” If your answer is, “Yes” then you have taken the first step toward being a sustainable business. Hang ten!

You can put these ideas to work for you today. 

Sunday, Aug 28 2011 

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle

Do you seek excellence?  Want someone to help you form desired habits of thought and action. Please click here and Start Today

Local institution Howard University impr Saturday, Aug 27 2011 

Local institution Howard University improves its sustainability grade. Environmental Defense Fund Blog.
Put ideas like this to work for you:

Succession and Sustainability. Triple M Friday, Aug 26 2011 

Succession and Sustainability. Triple M shows how. Financial Post.
What are you doing for succession planning? Let’s talk.

Lessons in Leadership Beyond Corporate A Thursday, Aug 25 2011 

Lessons in Leadership Beyond Corporate America. Lt. Gen. Caldwell. DOD News.
Support our troops:

20 Questions to Ask Your Sustainability Wednesday, Aug 24 2011 

20 Questions to Ask Your Sustainability Reporting Manager. Elaine Cohen in Sustainable Business.
Let’s put it to work for you:

Next Page »