Posts tagged “green lifestyle

ELECTION DAY 2016 – don’t sit this one out!

courtesy: Patagonia.com

courtesy: Patagonia.com

Whichever side of the partisan fence we sit, it’s our duty and privilege to get out there and vote this Tuesday.

It’s the only way we can keep this democracy of ours chugging. It’s also the only way we can address what I believe is the most pressing threat to the planet: climate change.

 

Patagonia is saying Don’t Sit This One Out — and I couldn’t agree more.

Many issues demand our attention during an election year: foreign policy, immigration, jobs, health care and campaign finance. Yes, they’re important, but we’re missing the point: None of it matters on a dead planet. The health of our planet must be a strong foundation for everything else, not an afterthought.

Patagonia so deeply believes in civil democracy and environmental issues, they’re closing their retail stores, their headquarters in Ventura and their Reno distribution and customer service center this Election Day to encourage customers, employees and all citizens to head to the polls.

I feel honored to be working with a company that supports the environment as well as everyone’s right to exercise their rights – whether it’s voting, gender and racial equality, taking care of our families right, choosing organic and sustainable products, and enjoying the wild places left in nature.

Please mail your ballot today, or plan a hot date with a voting booth for November 8th.

Claim your part in history.

 

3 Comments

WHY SHOULD I COMPOST? And what the heck can go into my bin?

courtesy: anneassimmons.com

courtesy: anneassimmons.com

 

In my next few blog posts, I’ll be addressing some of my readers’ most burning green questions.

Susan asks:

Do I really need to start composting? I feel like I should be doing it, but I don’t really know what is safe to throw in the bin. So I’m just avoiding the whole thing.

I hear you, Susan and you’re in good company. Lots of people who are going green haven’t made the leap to the compost pile.

There’s a reason why composting is the last of 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and ROT). It has a bad rap of being intimidating, way too much effort, and, well…kinda gross. Very few people would say they dig the scent or sight of freshly decomposing organic matter.

But I assure you these are merely psychological barriers. If you compost right (and right away) it can be easy and pretty much odor-free.

So Susan, my answer is YES! Composting really does make a huge dent in the amount of garbage we humans create. YES! It’ll be easy for you to start. And YES! You won’t believe the stuff you can compost – like egg shells, dryer lint, even your morning coffee grounds.

Just read on…

WHY COMPOST?

  • It’s easy. You have to throw your garbage somewhere. Why not toss it into the compost pail instead of the garbage can? Just keep both bins right next to each other in the kitchen.

    courtesy: yellowknife.ca

    courtesy: yellowknife.ca

  • It’s the ultimate form of recycling. As your food scraps and other cast-offs break down, they make a really rich soup that can go back into the soil, nourishing the earth and the next generations of plants, animals and people.
  • It keeps your garbage lean and mean. The average person tosses 4-5 pounds of waste into the garbage every day, and at least a third is stuff that could be composted. Our landfills are overfull, and we’re running out of places to stash all that trash. You can make less garbage by composting!
  • It helps the Earth keep its cool. When you toss into the compost instead of the trash, all that organic matter breaks down aerobically (with oxygen). If it went to the landfill and got buried under piles of other garbage, it would decompose slowly and anaerobically (without oxygen). This creates tons of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming. So by composting you’re reducing the amount of methane in the atmosphere, and keeping the planet cooler.

HOW DO I COMPOST? It’s as easy as 1-2-3

Screen shot 2014-04-08 at 11.45.45 AM1. Get a kitchen bin. You don’t need fancy bags and deodorizers or any bells and whistles if you empty and rinse it every day. This here’s my compost pail – just a step-open mini garbage can from the hardware store.

2. Fill with compostables. (see WHAT CAN I COMPOST? below)

3. Empty daily. If your town collects compost, just dump it into your “yard waste” bin.  Cities and towns all over, from San Francisco to New York City are starting municipal compost collection programs. If you’re not sure about your town policy, call your refuse company and find out. If they don’t collect compost yet, start a petition and get them on the bandwagon!

WHAT CAN I COMPOST?

A lot more than you think.

Kitchen food scraps, of course, but here are other compostables that may surprise you:

  • pizza boxes
  • dust bunnies
  • paper towels and Kleenex
  • abandoned Halloween candy
  • egg cartons (the paperboard kind)
  • Q-tips (the ones with a paper stick)
  • balloons (the latex kind)
  • plants and flowers that are past their prime
  • newspaper

For an entertaining and exhaustive list,  check out Care2.

WHAT IF I CAN’T COMPOST RIGHT NOW?

If you’re still not ready to make the leap to composting, but you want to make a move in the green direction, try buying kitchen trash bags that are biodegradable. That way, your compostables that go to landfill can get a fighting chance at breaking down faster. Green Legacy is my personal fave, because they’re strong, and they wait to break down at the dump, not in your kitchen.

What are some of your composting trials and tribulations?

 

 

 

1 Comment

GREEN NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS the tinier the better

4vector.com

4vector.com

It’s so tempting to set really lofty New Year’s Resolutions.

Every year, we get a new shot at overhauling our lifestyles, our relationships, our waistlines.

But the most successful long-term changes are almost always the little ones, the baby steps.

Sustainable changes are those that don’t leave you feeling deprived, pining for your old life, your old boyfriend, your old….well, maybe you won’t miss your old waistline, but you get the picture.

It’s a bit like the Butterfly Effect, that tenet of chaos theory, where the slightest fluttering of a butterfly wing sets into motion the most monumental events. Change your toothpaste today, and who knows what greener trajectory you may find yourself on tomorrow?

In celebration of small shifts that make big differences, I have a new resolution for your consideration:

Resolve to be just a tiny bit greener.

Don’t feel overwhelmed, don’t dwell on all the things you think you “should” be doing, don’t be paralyzed by the idea that one person can’t change the world. (What if all these people  had decided to sit around eating bonbons all day?)

Here are a few of my favorite tiny green bits.

Pick one thing. Just one.

One a day, one a week, or one for the new year.

But, in the wise words of that painfully cliché yet eternally true Nike tag line…Just Do It.

  • Change your toothpaste. The chemicals in your personal care products can be absorbed into your body and our groundwater. Choose healthier alternatives when you can.
  • Compost. If your town collects compost, toss food scraps and other compostables into your yard waste bin. If not, call your garbage company and ask if they can start!
  • Ditch your anti-bacterial products. Bacteria is important for your immune system, and anti-bacterial products are bad news for public and personal health.
  • Take a hike. Regular time spent in nature makes you happier, healthier, chillax-ier, and skinnier. Wow!
  • Pull a sunscreen switcheroo. Many chemical sunscreens don’t work, and they can harm you and delicate ocean eco-systems. Keep an eye out for smarter sun protection options.
  • Stash a reusable shopping bag in your purse or glove compartment. Learn new ways to reduce plastic usage.
  • Use rags instead of paper towels. Cut up old T-shirts and towels to re-purpose them, and keep them under the kitchen sink.
  • Teach your children well (hum to Crosby Stills and Nash tune). Give your kids tiny green things to do, too.

 

What are your favorite easy ways to go green?

 

 

 

BE GOOD eco-friendly + fair + philanthropic + fashion

Threads for Thought Juno Poncho

Threads for Thought Juno Poncho

Normally I’m not one to plug a single product or business. But since October is fair trade month I’m going to let you in on a little fair trade secret.

Be Good  has lovely clothing and jewelry for the ladies, gear for the guys, gifts for all. And every stitch of it is socially responsible, fair trade, sustainable, and/or philanthropic (usually and).

For many of us going more eco, our clothing is the final frontier of green-itude. And it can be tricky finding stylish goods in the sea of hemp caftans and beige messenger bags out there.

GoodBoysOwners Mark Spera & Dean Ramadan have curated an amazing collection of fine greenery for the hipster set. In a jaded world of I-can’t-make-a-difference-so-why-bother, their optimism and energy is refreshing and contagious. Plus how can you argue with free shipping over $50 and free returns?

 

Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 1.02.59 PM

Pop in the brick/mortar shop on Union Street in San Francisco, or just pop by the website.

What are some of your favorite online eco-purveyors?

ECO-TIPS – get your outdoors on

 

HDWallpapers

HDWallpapers

There’s been a lot of buzz since Richard Louv coined the phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder” in his book Last Child in the Woods . Nature Deficit Disorder is a general term for the side effects – like anxiety, depression and obesity – of spending too little time in nature. And it’s not just kids that are suffering from NDD – adults are so plugged in to the virtual world these days, we’re missing out on the wonders of the natural world.

Humans are hard-wired to love nature – seeing it, smelling it, just being in it stimulates all our senses and gives us joy. And research shows nature’s therapeutic effects, lowering blood pressure, slashing stress and boosting immune function. Time we spend in nature even makes us more caring and compassionate. The more we get outdoors, the more we realize that our own health is intertwined with the health of our environment.

If you’re having a tough time “getting out more,” take a cue from Todd Christopher of Green Hour. He recommends a one-hour daily dose of outdoors for healthier, happier kids. But this prescription applies to all ages, so get out there and get your green on:

Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 1.26.00 PM

 

Hit the trails on two feet, or two wheels. Invest in items to up your adventure factor, like binoculars, books on local flora and fauna, or a handy nature app.

Take a dip in the nearest lake or ocean. Feel the sand between your toes. Smell the salt air. Collect shells and unique pebbles. Rinse, repeat.beach

tomato2

 

Cultivate your green thumb. Start a garden with your favorite flowers, fruits and vegetables. Share your bounty with family and friends, or give back to Mother Nature by creating a National Wildlife Federation certified habitat  in your own backyard.

 

Rethink your vacation. Consider a day trip or vacation to one of 398 glorious National Parks

park

 

“Park” close to home... You don’t need an exotic destination to fill the nature prescription – any town park or playground with a decent patch of greenery will do.

 

 

herbs

courtesy muddyplimsolls.com

…and “park” at home. Maximize your nature fix by bringing the outdoors in. Many beautiful indoor varieties of houseplants also detox the air. A windowsill herb garden is a snap to grow and maintain. And some choice ambient nature sounds can temporarily transform your home office or bedroom into soothing rainforest.

How do you get your green on?

1 Comment

ECO-TIPS – green clothing

susan lenz

susan lenz

It’s fun to let your personal style shine with unique clothing and accessories. But buying them from conventional stores? Not so fun for the environment.

Most apparel companies use fabrics, dyes and practices that aren’t kind to people or the Earth. Polyester and acrylic fabrics are made from plastics, conventional cotton crops are doused with heavy pesticides, and fair trade is often sacrificed for the bottom line.

The good news is, with growing awareness and the eco-movement in full swing, greening your closet has never been easier!

 

oprah.com

 

 

Swap your stuff: If you need a wardrobe refresher, try doing a temporary trade with your close friends. Share clothing between sisters, mothers and daughters. Or host a clothing swap party with friends, classmates, mom’s groups or even your book club.

 

Hunt for treasure: Who says clothes have to be new to be fabulous? Some of the best (and eco-est) deals can be found second hand. And buying used helps preserve the precious resources that it takes to produce new clothing. Make a mother-daughter lunch date and hit the vintage stores and consignment shops in your area. Or peruse Ebay Green   for greener goods.

 

Choose consciously: Think before you buy something new. Ask yourself: How was this made? Where was it made? What was it made from? Choose natural fabrics over synthetic, and organic whenever possible. Seek out greener brands you can trust. And remember the timeless motto “quality over quantity.” Stock up on classic basics and then spring for a few statement pieces to make your fashion mark.

 

stewart+brown

 

 

Walk the Web: Fire up the online search engine to find your favorite organic clothing purveyors. Here are a few of ours:

 

 

How do you keep your closet green?

(this post soon to be published on Edelbio Skin Care – stay tuned!)

 

 

ECO-TIPS – phasing out plastic

Plastic is convenient and universal. But if you’ve read the news lately, you probably have a nagging suspicion that it’s not as miraculous and harmless as it once seemed. The islands of plastic clogging our oceans. The animals enjoying a steady diet of plastic bags. The tin can linings and baby bottles infused with endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Even the president is telling us to ditch plastic in our microwaves.

Here are three solid reasons to avoid plastic:

  1. It can leach dangerous chemicals into your food. Some plastic wraps are PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is made with heavy metals like lead and has been linked to asthma, liver damage and DNA mutation. Many food storage options – like plastic containers and sports bottles – are made with BPA, which is believed to increase reproductive problems and cancer risk.
  2. Plastic wraps/baggies are used once and then tossed, creating mountains of garbage that can take decades to degrade.
  3. When plastic does degrade, its chemical components just wind up in our water, soil, and the bodies of most critters in the food chain – including us.

There are better choices for the Earth and the humans that live here. The key to kicking the plastic habit is a good arsenal of reusable alternatives.

In the Kitchen

Different products work for different types of food storage needs – experiment with what works for you. Although conventional plastic products are handy and transparent, there are many glass, silicone and BPA-free plastic options to ensure your food doesn’t languish unidentified in the nether regions of your fridge.

u-konserve food cozy

  • The recycled, BPA-free U-Konserve Clear Food Cozy is designed with Velcro closures – perfect for wrapping sandwiches, cheese and other tidbits.
  • Replace plastic Tupperware with glass Pyrex containers in a variety of sizes. Good old-fashioned food storage, just like Mom used to use.

abeego flat wrap

  • Use Abeego Flats instead of plastic wrap to cover bowls. Made of moldable beeswax-covered fabric, it’s fluid and air-resistant to keep food fresh.
  • Plastic leaches more with fatty or warm foods, so never use it in the microwave. Heat or cook in your Pyrex, or use a silicone cover for your daily dishes. Coverflex makes a good set.
  • Instead of recycling empty peanut butter and mayo jars, wash and re-use them. They’re just the right size for storing leftovers and single servings.

On the Go

With the right tools and a pinch of planning, lunches and picnics can turn green, too.

  • Refill stainless steel water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Make your own sparkling water and flavored sodas with a bubbly maker like SodaStream, which comes with reusable bottles.

sodastream

  • If you have a thing for baggies, reusable pouches are right up your alley. Snack Taxi and BleuRoo make adorable organic pouches that are moisture resistant and machine washable. They are indispensable travel companions and can be used for lunches, snacks, crayons, makeup, DVDs – you name it.
  • For lunches, the Planet Box is a game changer. It makes packing so easy, you’ll wonder how you survived before you had one (or two, or three). Cozy compartments keep sandwich and snacks safe and sound.

bleuroo pouch

 

 

 

 

 

planetbox
  • Get some reusable shopping bags – and use them! Invest in bags made from renewable fabric, like Envirosax’s stylin’ hemp, bamboo or organic cotton models. But any reusable bag is better than a take n’ toss. Keep a stash in your car or coat closet for last-minute grocery runs. Pop a Chico Bag in your purse or pocket. You’ll never have to say yes to a plastic bag again.

envirosax

How do you avoid plastics?

1 Comment

ECO-TIPS – raising green kids

 

courtesy of Change My Desk

In today’s culture, we have never had so many choices – and yet so little time. With all the buzz about going green, we are often too busy to do green. And even with the best intentions, it can feel inconvenient to instill those values in our kids.

But if you start with just a few changes and walk the walk, your kids will fall in step. Soon those green steps will become second nature to the whole family.

Remind your kids how powerful they are. That their everyday choices can make a monumental difference in the world. And that starting small is often the best way to do big things.

GO ORGANIC

Organic has become a marketing darling these days, but what does it mean exactly?

Simply put, organic crops and animals are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), antibiotics or growth hormones. So if we want to keep all those things out of our water, our soil and our bodies, it makes sense to choose organic.

Since organic isn’t always possible or available, find out which foods are most laden with chemicals. For a list of the top 12 foods to buy organic, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen.

Bring your kids to the market with you. Tell them what you’re buying, and why. Give them good reasons for avoiding overly-processed and conventionally-farmed foods. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to taste. Send them on a scavenger hunt to tally all the “organic” labels they can find.

JUST SAY KNOW

What’s on and around our bodies is just as important as what goes into them. Because we end up absorbing and inhaling a lot of the personal care and cleaning products we use, it pays to know what we’re buying.

Many conventional products – like bathroom cleaners, shampoo, even toothpaste – contain a cocktail of sketchy chemicals that can irritate skin, disrupt hormones or damage DNA.

But which chemicals are toxic, and which have a proven safety record?

The Environmental Working Group has all the scoop you need to make informed choices about everything from food and water to cosmetics, sunscreens and cleaning products.

THE 4Rs

  • Reduce: Accumulate less stuff in the first place. Before you buy a new gadget or snag a freebie, assess your true needs and desires. Will you use it, or will it promptly be retired to the junk drawer or landfill? Choose quality over quantity. Simplify, contemplate, evaluate.
  • Reuse: Many things destined for the recycle bin or trash can be given a second life.  Use small storage bins to organize reincarnated items: an art box for buttons, yogurt cups and fabric scraps; a gift wrap box for gently-used ribbon and paper. Use swatches of old T-shirts instead of paper towels, and empty peanut butter jars instead of plastic tupperware.
  • Recycle: If you already recycle, get your kids involved in the nitty-gritty details. They can rinse out empties, sort plastics from paper, and take the bin to the curb on pickup day.
  • Rot: Compost whatever you can. Even toddlers can rescue food scraps from landfill. If you don’t have curbside pickup, lobby your local refuse company to start service. Or get your own Envirocycle compost barrel.

NURTURE NATURE

Kids are becoming more and more disconnected with the natural world. They spend less time in nature and more time indoors and plugged in. If they are outside, they’re often on a groomed soccer field than in the wild woods hunting beetles, peeping leaves or foraging for mushrooms.

The best way for kids to relate to nature is to experience its beauty and mystery firsthand. Go hiking in the hills, camping in the woods, swimming in a lake. Prioritize nature vacations. Your kids will realize it’s their privilege to protect the Earth – for the flora and fauna, for themselves, and for generations to come.

How do you help your kids to think green? What are your favorite family eco-tips?