Women power!

Auntie Ruth is green to the eco scene. Read each week as she weeds through the dirt and unearths new gems of environmental knowledge.

First we had to tell children not to lick the walls. Now it’s the grass. An independent test commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health found high levels of lead in artificial turf. Ruth knew lead had previously been found on artificial sports fields, but this new report claims the toxic metal has also tested in products residential installers and do-it-yourselfers purchased from Home Depot, Orchard Supply Hardware, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s and other carpet retailers. “A test result on one sample showed that a single wipe of a child’s hand on the turf could, if the child then wiped her hand on her mouth, suffer a lead exposure in violation of California law,” according to a CEH release in late June. Also, as turf degrades in the sun, it emits lead-tainted dust. CEH initiated legal action against the retailers and synthetic-turf companies under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act.

Women have got the power … literally. The creative inventors at TreeHugger.com teamed up with Instructables to focus on capturing the power of a woman’s chest. They have created the “chest charger,” a device that uses the kinetic energy that bosoms create while engaging in physical activity, such as jogging, to power USB devices. Don’t fret if the chest charger is not a feasible enterprise for you. The TreeHugger folks have also invented a breath-powered USB charger (which you can make yourself). The simple mechanism of breathing, a rubber band, a gear train/motor and a USB cord work together to energize gadgets.

Ruth usually frowns upon the debacle that you young’uns call “clubbing.” No good comes from that drunken rowdiness! That is until Enviu/Doll’s Sustainable Dance Club opens in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands later this year. The club’s dance floor will serve as one big generator, using the piezoelectric effect to capture energy produced by dancers. Beams underneath the floor will move up and down, creating friction and generating enough electricity to power about 60 percent of the club. The club will also encourage biking or public transportation to and from the hot spot (free admission!), and serve organic drinks. One of these clubs already opened in Britain. Ruth isn’t frowning anymore.