Eco-friendly cook out: Here at PG, we enjoy a good summer cook-out. But the cook-out has always been one soirée that poses many green problems: paper plates are a must, the kids love hot dogs, and did we just see you reach for that lighter fluid? This article will help you with all of your green cook-out woes, and give you a piece of mind at your next backyard bash.
Green Innovation at its Finest: Freeaire is a refrigeration system that amazingly uses the greatest source of refrigeration ever created: winter. Developed by Richard Travers and based out of Vermont, this system helps save money, energy, and the earth. Brilliant. Check out Freeaire on the Science Channel here.
The Tip-Tank Game: First, we want to apologize for giving you another way to put off paying those bills/cleaning the kitchen/finishing that report. That being said, you MUST try this game from our new obsession, Water Use it Wisely! In the Tip-Tank Game, you must find all of the matching pictures before the water runs out, learning tips about saving water along the way.
New and Cool Pick:
Chemically Naked: A new line called Chemically Naked by Kaia House not only has all-natural nail polish that comes in a variety of chic colors, but also (drumroll please…….) all natural nail polish remover! A great way to get ten points on your Practically Green profile and fulfill your “use natural nail polish” action.
Water Use It Wisely is a Phoenix website that helps people save water in an area of the country where drought is an urgent issue. Increasingly, water is an urgent issue no matter where you live. Earlier this month, the National Resources Defense Council reported that one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states face a high risk of water shortages due to climate change.
At Water Use It Wisely, you can download 100 Ways to Conserve, from
#2: When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water to
#108: When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don’t throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.
Tip # 15 can be ordered in 22″ x 28″ poster size:
#15: Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.
“We want to promote popular, easily implementable water-saving tips,” Kathleen Orazio explains. “Often this is common sense. We live in the Phoenix area and there are lots of resorts and golf courses. You can imagine how much water they use to keep all that looking good! But here we are in the Sonoran Desert! So we created #15, to sweep your driveway instead of hosing it off. Really, it’s almost just stop and take two seconds to think about it.” Already the cities of Phoenix, Mesa, and Glendale, Arizona, have displayed it at bus stops, kiosks, and office locations.
Ready to make a few smart water-related decisions at your house? You’ll find plenty of great ideas on your personal dashboard at Practically Green. You can find out why installing a low-flow faucet (10 points) is so effective, and how to do it. You can decide to run the washing machine only when you have a full load (20 points). And, yes, you can get points for using a broom instead of a hose to clean the driveway! Best of all, you’l learn how these simple actions all add up to significant health and savings for you and your family.
Our friend Jon Foley is at the Aspen Environment Forum this week, and he loved Tuesday evening’s presentation so much that he told his Facebook friends about it:
We checked it out, and it is beautiful: just what we needed after a sultry day of traffic, juggling, and general whining. See if this two-minute sample works the same magic on you:
The Aspen Environment Forum is created by the Aspen Institute and sponsored by National Geographic; the mission is practically green on a global, planet scale.
In the spirit of the Aspen Institute, our mission is to expand and enhance your views on key environmental issues and further your understanding of the complexities of the challenges we all face, through an extraordinary rich exchange, across a wide array of important environmental topics and ideas. By bringing informed dialogue to our campus, we aim to challenge and advance the thinking of all invited speakers and attendees, and to build new levels of understanding that bridge cultural and political differences.
This week’s agenda included three days of sessions and meetings.
Jon Foley is the Director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of the Minnesota, which publishes Momentum magazine. He’s a big thinker, always buzzing, making news and suggesting solutions. You can watch him explaining environmental tipping points here.
Bottom line: Jon’s the kind of professor we like to have around to explain the big picture. “This isn’t just about hugging trees and hope they stay here: this is about keeping the planet we know intact for future generations.”
We were invaded a few weeks ago by carpenter ants. It started with a few in the dining room and pretty soon we were stomping on 12-15 a day. An emergency call went into my favorite environmentally friendly pest removal company, Environmental Health Services, who has aided us with humane squirrel removal in the past. They promised to come first thing Monday. I almost hung up and then said, “it’s non-toxic right?” A deep pause on the other end ensued. ”To be honest, we can’t find anything all natural that works on ants. And most likely the ants are there because of the flooding so they are in your walls, eating the wood. We use a very small amount of the same chemical that’s in Frontline and spray it around the outside of the house.” The image of ants lunching on my support beams made me lose resolve. ”OK…see you Monday”.
I kept stewing about Frontline. Isn’t that the chemical in the flea and tick stuff we stopped using our on dog? Of course, I couldn’t exactly remember why we stopped. A quick Google search reminded me why.
Fipronil is the main active ingredient in Frontline. It was originally thought to be an incredibly safe option for killing insects without affecting people and pets. However, fipronil is messing with bees ability to find their nests and is one of the chemicals blamed for colony collapse disorder. In addition, it’s toxic to fish, some birds, and has been linked in high doses to thyroid cancer in rats. Then there were concerns about some animals reacting very negatively to fipronil and data that 40% of homes tested positive for fipronil in floor wipes (I know how much time my kids spend on the floor). My husband found a very stinky, but so far effective, more natural flea and tick product, Natural Defense and so we switched.
But the ants are eating my house. Maybe this is one of those emergencies where you deep breathe and say “PRACTICALLY green…PRACTICALLY green”. Or schedule a vacation when they spray. But the bees can’t take a vacation. Darn it all.
I decided to spend a few minutes finding out how bad this carpenter ant thing really was and what all-natural options might be. I found inspiration in the least likely of places, an extermination company called Unexco’s website. Here’s what they had to say:
Lo and behold – a carpenter ant nest! What happens then? Well, usually, you panic, reach for the Raid, and spray everything in sight….Or even WORSE, you call an exterminator. Bad move. Don’t panic and let a wolf in the door. Not yet. You need none of that. The first thing you need to do is NOT spray. You need to clear up the REASON why the carpenter ants are there, and right now, none of that really needs an application of insecticides or an exterminator.
An exterminator company saying not to call an exterminator. Hmmm. So–if it is wet wood, then fix the wood and the ants will leave. If it’s something else find it and fix it. I focused on the dining room convinced it was wet wood from the flooding. Sure enough, the ants were disappearing in a crack in the wood on the damaged wall. I pronounced that we CLEARLY had an ant nest in the wall and called our contractor to add an ant nest search to the mold test we already had on order as part of the repairs.
Whether sheer accident or the benefit of ignoring my supposed “solving” of the problem, a few hours later I heard a “oh that’s really disgusting” from the kitchen. An ant nest (or at least ant swarm) had been located–in a Costco-sized bag of sugar. Food source located–and removed. Now what?
It was actually somewhat fascinating to find out what ants really hate: cucumbers, peppermint, cayenne oil, citrus oil, and coffee grounds. Put those products near where ants are coming in and they will evidently stay away. Even more elaborate solutions included commercial clove oil (I think that’s what’s on the dog….), sugar/water/borax and a yogurt container (although I noted a range of opinions on the safety of borax) can kill the whole nest; and even grits?!
We already owned peppermint oil so I rubbed it all over everything–the cracks in the wood where the ants were going in and out of the wall; the threshold to the kitchen, all over the cabinet with the sugar; and for good measure, on the dining room floor. And crossed my fingers.
By Sunday evening, no ants.
On Monday morning @ 7am, still no ants so I called and cancelled the exterminator.
Two weeks later, we are 99.5% ant free (normal) and we didn’t mess with the bees that love our rhododendrons. Woo Hoo! A victory for being persistently green. And another action worth 50 points on Practically Green!
The other good news? My support beams are verified to be ant-free. I never did cancel that ant test. Just in case.
It’s often been remarked that Walmart is the equivalent of a large nation, and can move much more nimbly, so when the massive retailer announced its foray into eco-friendly household products next month — as part of a comprehensive sustainability drive — we took note.
We really started to pay attention when Seventh Generation said they were involved, because they’re one of our favorite companies for everything we use around the house. Monday’s Wall Street Journal had a feature on some of the details, including Seventh Gen’s “dramatic shift in the way we see the world,” as co-founder Jeffrey Hollender puts it. Excerpts follow. Click here for the full story.
For years, Seventh Generation Inc. co-founder Jeffrey Hollender liked to say “hell would freeze over” before his company’s environmentally friendly household products would be sold by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
He feels differently now. Starting next month, Seventh Generation staples, including laundry detergent, dish soap, all-purpose sprays and disinfectant wipes, will be sold in about 1,500 Wal-Mart stores. By September, other cleaners, diapers and baby wipes will be available on Walmart.com….
Five years ago, the world’s largest retailer by revenue began setting goals to reduce its energy consumption, cut waste and introduce more sustainable products. Last year, Wal-Mart introduced a program to screen chemical-based products for ingredients that could have harmful health or environmental effects. It involved the government representatives and environmental groups like the Environmental Defense Fund in developing the program, which has helped the retailer earn more credit for its initiatives.
“We’re not just putting [Seventh Generation's] products on the shelf,” says Al Dominguez, Wal-Mart’s vice president of household chemicals and paper goods. “We want their help in developing a category that’s more sustainable.”
To be sure, selling green products is also increasingly lucrative. While many shoppers switched to cheaper labels during the recession, sales of household products billed as environmentally friendly have held up relatively well despite their premium prices.
Sales of green household and laundry cleaning products rose to $557 million last year, having more than tripled since 2005, according to estimates from market-research firm Packaged Facts. Green products are still a niche category, however, representing only about 3% of the overall $19.9 billion household cleaners and laundry market.
Yesterday I removed my rings to soak them in their weekly bath of Windex. It’s a great jewelry cleaner: soak for a few hours, brush with an old toothbrush, rinse, dry, et voila! Sparkly bling!
But all this Practically Green stuff has got me thinking.
As I poured Windex into their sweet little ring-cleaning dish I thought – for the first time, I’m embarrassed to say — what’s IN that Windex? I inspected the bottle in vain for ingredients. So I went to the Good Guide and looked it up.
That’s 4.5 out of a possible 10: a C. Turns out Windex includes 2-Propanol, which is “known to be neurotoxic” and which “is suspected of causing respiratory toxicity,” among other concerns. Windex also contains Propylene Glycol, which “is suspected of causing immunotoxicity [whatever that might be], skin or sense organ toxicity, and respiratory toxicity.”
My first impulse was to empty the bottle down the sink drain ASAP. But then where would it go? Should I flush it down the toilet? Probably not. Maybe dump it on some rocks out back? Wince.
All this thinking began to give me a headache, frankly. So I reached for my trusty Tylenol container, shook out two capsules, opened my mouth to swallow them, raised my water glass, and stopped mid-air, frozen.
What was in that Tylenol? Acetaminophen, of course! But before I could go look that up, what’s that miniscule expiration date say? 04/07! I took aim to pitch the container into the recycling bin. But wait! Where to put the remaining 230 or so capsules?
Knock knock: It was Kevin the electrician! (Did I mention we’re building a house? Kevin’s been working hard this weekend to stay ahead of the insulators.)
“Hey, look at this cool iPhone app I just got,” he said. “It shows you the best sunscreens to use, did you know that sunscreen can sometimes have bad things in it?” I’m impressed. Kevin is an intelligent and worldly person, and if he knows about the EWG’s database of safe products, then maybe millions do. That is good news.
Sunday’s New York Times brought me right back down, however. Eric Schlosser (Food, Inc.) explains the in-limbo food-safety bill to prevent poisoning, e.g.: “… the Peanut Corporation of America knew that peanut butter from their filthy, rodent-infested plant was testing positive for salmonella — but shipped it anyway, for months.” Thomas Friedman says “We’re Gonna Be Sorry” to bag the climate-change bill. “We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign….” All this capped a week of extreme climate weirdness: tornadoes in Maine, strong thunderstorms and record heat in the East, heavy flooding in the Midwest, record cold in California, tornadoes and downpours all over.
Dare I connect all of these dots?
To console myself, I limped up the street to my favorite farm stand, where Karla Young can always make sun from gloom.
We agree that her peaches this year are the best ever – even if they are oddly ahead of schedule. I think I’ll stop worrying and slice into one.
Trash-Free for an Entire Year: Could you live trash-free? We at PG are always trying to find ways to make less trash, and this couple is definitely a prime example. A couple in Oregon found that not only was it possible to live almost trash free for a year, it was “easy.”
Playground Safety Hazard: Please use caution when taking your children to the park for some summer fun. From the 1970s until 2003, some wooden playground equipment was pressure-treated with a substance that (shockingly) contained arsenic.
How Green are Your Favorite Brands: You might want to think before shimmying into a new pair of jeans. A new rating system has been developed for some 100 well-known apparel and footwear brands. Just as appliances have Energy Star ratings, the “Eco Index” will eventually tell consumers the environmental impact of their purchases. The Index hopes to encourage brands to be thoughtful of the environment when designing apparel, and it gives brands that strive to be eco-friendly the credit they deserve.
The Environmental Impact of a Pair of 501s: View the life cycle of one of America’s most popular brands of denim. You may be as shocked as we were to find out that to make a single pair of 501s, 3,480.5 liters of water are used. This is the equivalent to running the garden hose for 106 minutes!
New and Cool Pick:
Energy Saving Night-Light: Skip the plug-in night-light to keep those monsters away for the kids and get them a cool, solar powered Sun or Moon Jar! The jar works by being placed in direct sunlight during the day (on a windowsill for example), and automatically illuminates in the dark.
Nancy’s a guest expert for the Organic Trade Association. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Q & A with Nancy on the OTA website. If you’d like a clear, calm explanation of why organic textiles and fibers are important, please read on.
Q: Why should people “go organic” when they are buying home decor textiles?
A: It’s a matter of taking control of and improving our indoor air quality. Too many home products on the market are treated with toxic, off-gassing chemicals that are supposedly added to make our furnishings more durable and beautiful. Not only are these chemicals unnecessary (and mostly just convenient or profitable for the manufacturers), they are degrading the air we breathe in our homes and work spaces….
Most home textiles go through a series of chemical processes throughout the manufacturing chain from raw fiber to finished product. One of the most pervasive and dangerous chemicals in textile finishing is formaldehyde. I have been shocked to learn from manufacturers how use of formaldehyde is standard and simply unquestioned, even though we have known for decades that it is carcinogenic. Many if not most apparel textiles also contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, but some of it is washed away in our laundry (which presents a whole other set of issues as the chemicals are added to our wastewater) but most home textiles (and the attached chemicals) go straight from the bolt to the furniture, never to be washed.
When manufactured according to organic regulations (such as the Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS), organic cotton products are free of formaldehyde and other toxic chemical inputs. Beginning with U.S.-grown certified organic cotton, Mod Green Pod’s textiles are woven in a certified organic mill in the South and printed or dyed using low-impact inks and dyes approved by GOTS. We then finish everything in accordance with GOTS, using mechanical processes in lieu of chemicals such as formaldehyde.
Q: At Mod Green Pod, you use 100% certified organic cotton to create your products. Why is this your material of choice?
A: When we first established Mod Green Pod, one of our priorities (in addition to creating a beautiful, environmentally-friendly, home-healthy product) was to manufacture our product domestically, using U.S.-grown fiber. As soon as we educated ourselves about organic vs. nonorganic cotton, we were committed to organic 100%. We’ve also been excited to pioneer several supply chains that have helped bring more business–especially organic business–to the textile factories in the United States. We love being able to help the textile industry with business but also help it become a bit cleaner in its practices, one yard at a time.
Q: How can consumers be sure that the home textiles they purchase are, indeed, made from organic materials?
A: Ask questions, read labels and most importantly, call companies to ask about their practices. We field several calls a day from consumers who are curious to know the details of our manufacturing–what we do and do not use on our fabrics–and we’re more than happy to engage in that conversation with our customers. It’s time consuming to have an educational side to the business, but we truly enjoy helping consumers learn about the importance of organic cotton and indoor air quality. Happier, healthier homes result in happier, healthier people.
Lots of us are getting our hands dirty in the garden the summer, and even more are eating wonderful food from farm stands and local co-ops. How about growing veggies in Alaska? Today we heard from our friend Debbie Clarke Moderow, a musher, mom, and gardener who lives eight miles south of Denali National Park. Debbie has run the famous 1,100-mile Iditarod race across Alaska twice; she and her husband and their two kids have thirty-seven sled dogs who are “the center of our household.”
We’re refreshed just thinking about being there!
“I loved the quiz at Practically Green. It encouraged me! Alaskans are behind, you know. Yes, we have some LEED National Park Service buildings, but for most of us, recycling might mean leaving stuff off that would get shipped to Seattle. So that sets you back, you stop doing it. Alaskans face recyclng challenges, due to low volumes and long distances. We are trying hard however! We have changed our habits over the years. We use cloth napkins. And when I took the quiz I thought, I’m not doing that badly! I liked it, and I wouldn’t like it as much if it made me feel guilty.”
“This is a really unlikely place to have a greenhouse. The summers are so short. But the days are so long and the temps so cool, nothing bolts! Right now my greenhouse is a jungle! I don’t have anything that isn’t organic in the greenhouse. I love going out there, cutting some chard and eating it. It makes me really happy.”
Debbie is working on a memoir as part of her work toward an MFA in Creative Writing at the Rainier writing workshop. Here’s a preview, reflections on gardening near the Arctic Circle:
Like many details in our Denali Park home, my greenhouse bears no resemblance to those of my Connecticut childhood. My mother was a horticultural wizard, and although we never had a greenhouse, I often tagged along when she went to visit others’. Those wondrous glass caverns were set on manicured lawns, beneath towering oak and maple trees. A visit inside revealed rows of orchids and lilies, begonias and geraniums, destined for blue ribbons in the upcoming garden shows.
No, my greenhouse would not turn heads in Fairfield County yet I know Mom is smiling down at my little treasure. Hand-built by my husband and son for my 54th birthday, my greenhouse is tiny – 8’ x 10’ if you stretch the measuring tape. It has a Dutch door to keep out the arctic hares, one window, and a ceiling fan that comes on (a few times a week) when the temperature rises above 75 degrees. It sits fifty yards from our sled-dog team, and as I run to it in the mornings before feeding the dogs, they serenade me with an exuberant “it’s-a-new-day” howl.
The dogs’ home – our home – is located just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle, in a landscape fiercely bound to winter. Summer is short here – some say you might miss it if you travel out of state for a weekend. Still, the hours of daylight are long, offering the possibility of horticultural miracles. My greenhouse holds the warmth of the midnight sun, and yet stays cool enough for leafy crops to thrive for long weeks at a time. Stir fried greens with eggs and goat cheese for breakfast, basil pesto, butter leaf salads with pea pods and radishes–these are a few of the delights we are enjoying this season. Aware of the recent heat wave in the “lower-48,” last week I walked into my little warm haven, closed my eyes, inhaled and tried to recall summers when this would have felt cold.
It’s mid-July, and there’s a new chill in the air. The long hours of daylight have peaked, and now a construction heater sits alongside my peas and rainbow chard, set to turn on when the night temperatures drop below forty. I know harvest will take place in the next four to six weeks, but with the trusty heater, my crops just might make it to September 1. There are other things to harvest between now and then. The blueberries along the dog trail are ripening, and they’ll be followed by plentiful low-bush cranberries. By mid-August we’ll be running the dogs daily, then coming in for lunch salads and the traditional blueberry pie. Finally we’ll busily gather what’s left in the greenhouse and preserve what we can for brightening the dark winter nights. I’ll sadly close her up, but not before detailing the drawings for the little addition we’ll add in the spring. Maybe I’ll try some of those geraniums next summer.
Debbie is a Princeton graduate who found her way to Alaska after college and never looked back. She works for Innisbrook, the ubiquitous school fundraising gift-wrap outfit: “Innisbrook is striving to be the greenest it can be….they’ve introduced paperless online ordering, taken tubes out of the inside of the rolls, all of our giftwrap rolls are printed on partially recycled paper, etc., but let’s face it, my friends who are really green wrap their presents in cloth!”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a three-minute video might be worth, well, a bazillion. If you’re interested in the dangerous chemicals that might be in your house—and what you can do to get rid of them—we suggest watching this deceptively brief film. Thanks to Healthy Child Healthy World, 3:33 minutes later you‘ll have a better understanding of how and why to protect yourself and your family from toxic ingredients in many seemingly harmless household products.
We mentioned the video when it was released, in February, and we still love it and think it deserves a wider viewership. So we caught up with the Program Director at Healthy Child Healthy World, Mandy Geisler.
We created the video internally, as an intro for one of our fundraisers. People really loved it. It’s a great piece to raise more awareness very quickly, in a creative, touching, and also strong way. So we made a website around it to do a bigger push and launch.
We like to offer solutions. We don’t want to scare people, but we do want to educate them on toxins and teach them about the steps they can take that lead to prevention. We have a “5 Easy Steps” program. Manage pests properly, use non-toxic products, clean up indoor air, eat healthy, be wise with plastics. Even if you just take one of those steps you’re doing something great. You can get comfortable with that one and then move on.
One of our best programs is called Healthy Home parties. This year we’re close to sending out 1,500 party kits! People are having parties at their houses to share information and ideas on safe products.
The Healthy Child Healthy World website is a comprehensive resource for further research; e.g., on diseases and conditions (allergies, asthma, autism, cancer among them), chemical profiles from aspartame to xylenes, and relevant legislation such as the Safe Chemicals Act.
Don’t forget to visit Practically Green.com to take the Green Quiz and decide on healthy actions for yourself and your family! Switch to all-natural dish-soap, stop using treated cotton fem-care, wear pure jammies or any of the dozens of other healthy actions on Practically Green, and you’ll get points when you do!
FarmVille Goes Organic: Show your green side in the virtual world by “planting” organic blueberry crops on FarmVille. Cascadian Farms introduces an organic feature for your favorite Facebook pastime!
Celebrities for Solar Energy: Even oil tycoons are advocating for renewable energy…well, sort of. Larry Hagman, who played Texas oil tycoon J.R. Ewing on the hit show “Dallas,” encourages people to use solar energy in his new ad campaign for Solar World.
How Honest Tea Stood Up To Coke: Honest Tea lives up to its name by refusing to remove “no high fructose corn syrup” from its packaging to appease its biggest investor, Coca-cola. Well, we at Practically Green appreciate their “honest-tea.”
Bring your family to an eco-friendly festival: If you’re in the Vermont area this weekend, Solarfest, is being held in Tinmouth. Solarfest boasts over 85 workshops in sustainable agriculture and solar energy for the whole family to enjoy! The festival also includes performances, vendors, food and activities for kids. More information about the festival, as well as where to purchase tickets, can be found at www.solarfest.org.
The festival will include performances by the Guy Mendilow Band, who take their commitment to the environment a step further by creating some of their own instruments out of recycled materials. See the video below where the band’s lead singer, Guy Mendilow, describes what they’re all about!
New and Cool Pick:
A New Way to Protect Your Family From UV Rays:
Just when we thought the iPhone couldn’t get any cooler, a new app, Sun Alert Lite, calculates how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned. So go ahead, let your kids play in the summer sun and have the Sun Alert Lite app tell you when it’s time to apply sunscreen!
Lisa Borden is a mom of three who lives in Toronto. She runs a small, full-service marketing and design firm in Toronto with a focus on “Eco-logical Services.” Lisa says she spends 70% of her work day on pro bono stuff, for instance this guide to “Eating on the Go.”
She says, “My life and my work, it’s impossible to separate the two. There’s rampant green washing out there. I drive a minivan, I have three kids. Sometimes I drive five kids to karate after school. I don’t apologize for this. I’ll bike. We grow vegetables in our front yard. I can do certain things.”
We caught up with Lisa recently and she told us the story of how she became eco-aware:
I had my second child, a daughter. She had a problem with her skin. I got advice from my father, who is a physician, and from the pediatrician, and I also went to a dermatologist who gave me some medicine. I tried it, and it worked. I thought, Wait. Here are serious ointments to be putting on this teeny little thing. This can’t be right: I apply toxic ointment and the rash goes away, it all clears up. But when I stop applying it, she breaks out. I began to feel that I was keeping the toxins locked in this little body.
Meanwhile, I was breastfeeding. I made my own organic baby food. It seemed like the intelligent thing to do. I cleaned the kids’ highchairs with Lysol, with these single wipes. I thought this was so smart! Efficient! But she still wasn’t getting any better.
Lisa describes her a-ha moment:
So now I started to seriously look into what was in these things I was using in the house. I looked at every single product we used. I thought, I’m up for anything for these children, for my family. There was no amount of money, time, or effort I wouldn’t spend. So I took all those chemicals out of my house. My husband thought I was crazy. My father, same thing. But within a week, my daughter’s skin was clearer. I realized that their bathtub was rinsed out with chemicals. Basically I was having them sit in a warm chemical cocktail every night.
It’s amazing, because if I could be making such horrid errors — me, who is an obsessive researcher, whose friends make fun of her for that — then what about everyone else, people who might not have the time or inclination? Here I was freezing breast milk in a bag with BPA in it, and then putting it into a bottle with BPA. If I was making these errors…. So: I stopped everything. I lost a lot of my business and income stream. I was young enough, and on fire enough — on a business level this was not too good, but I couldn’t do things the same way any more. I watched the success of my daughter. My father and the pediatrician said, you can’t argue with success.
I reasoned that there was no down side – I’m saving time, because I can be cleaning the sink and answer the phone without worrying about spilling something dangerous. I’m saving energy. I’m saving my health and my family’s health. Saving our indoor air quality. And I’m saving the planet! This chain of events was so exciting to me!
You can see Lisa’s video bio and follow her on Twitter @lisaborden
We admire our friend Heather’s systematic/bordering-on-ruthless cleaning out of her cosmetics cabinet so much that we wrote about it several weeks ago. Long story short, Heather was struck when her beloved husband casually inquired (from behind his newspaper) whether she’d ever considered the potentially harmful ingredients in her make-up and skin care collection, which is apparently extensive. Look closely at this photo to see the numerical ratings system that she developed:
Not everyone takes such an organized (okay, draconian) approach when they shift to all-natural cosmetics. At Practically Green we totally understand that everyone will want to make changes at their own pace, one tube at a time if they wish, and over a period of years if that suits them — and not because anyone beat them around the head about it.
That said, we appreciate it when a major retail outlet lends a hand. It can be very frustrating to try to evaluate all those ingredients on product labels, in their 4-point-font size. As we say in the Practically Green Personal-Care Actions section, the best advice may be to stay away from anything with a long unpronounceable name, such as methylparaben or sodium laureth sulfate.
When it comes to personal care items like toothpaste and body lotion, claims like “made with organic ingredients” or “authentically organic” can flummox even the greenest consumer. No federal agency polices organic claims for personal care items — at least not yet — so manufacturers have been able to use these customer-pleasing terms loosely and liberally. (The New York Times)
Whole Foods is part of the solution to this predicament. With stores in 39 states, Canada, and the UK, the Whole Foods “Whole Body” section is the most profitable area of this retail operation. Last month, we were happy to hear that Whole Foods would demand stringent standards for third-party organic verification by June 1, 2011. That sounds like fair notice to us.
And we were deighted to read this story in today’s New York Times, which describes how Whole Foods plans to execute on its promise. Excerpts:
As of June 1, 2011, any products that make organic claims and don’t get the certification will be removed from the shelves of Whole Foods stores. (The company will continue to carry nonorganic products as long as they don’t make organic claims.)
“We’re trying to make it so that our customers don’t have to switch standards and expectations when they cross from grocery into the body care aisle,” said Joe Dickson, the Whole Foods quality standards coordinator.
The policy, announced June 18, is already shaking things up among companies that make — or claim to make — organic beauty items. Many of these companies rely on Whole Foods for the majority of their sales, so the new rule will have broad repercussions.
“People aren’t going to have two labels in the market, one for Whole Foods and one for everyone else,” said David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a line of products (most of them soaps) sold in Whole Foods and certified as organic by the Agriculture Department. As a result, he said, the Whole Foods policy could become the de facto standard.
“Right now we’re being drowned out by all these cheaters,” Mr. Bronner said. “But this has the potential to be a game changer.”
The Times credits blogger OrganicMania for publicizing the issue, in her recent post about her baby’s first real haircut. Organic Mania is one of our favorite blogs. Bravo to OrganicMania and its founder, Lynn Anne Miller, for helping us and everyone else “cut through the hype and figure out when it makes sense to lay out the big bucks for organic and green purchases.”
The dream scenario for organic activists is that the Whole Foods policy will prompt companies to revamp their formulas. But the reality is that, for now at least, many will simply change their labels.
Such is the case at Aubrey Organics, a 45-year-old company that makes everything from deodorant to dog shampoo. While many of its products have already earned organic certification, others have not — and cannot with their current formulation.
“There are just certain things that our raw-materials manufacturers haven’t figured out how to make organic yet,” said Curt Valva, general manager of Aubrey Organics, referring mostly to abrasive soaps and cleansers.
Rather than compromise the strength of its products, the company is instead creating a second brand known simply as Aubrey. “That’s what everyone calls us anyway,” Mr. Valva said. The new brand — without the organic claim — will be available at Whole Foods and alongside Aubrey Organics.
Ms. Miller, the blogger, said that branding changes like this will only sow more confusion. In an ideal world, she said, ‘Mom just needs to look for a trusted seal. If it’s there, it’s organic. If not, it’s not.’
We focus on solutions at Practically Green – and not on lousy news — but this week, an astounding alert about lead in fruit juices and packaged fruit simply won’t go away. We share it with a dismal sensation: how could juices labeled organic, and sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and other grocery stores we trust, possibly be harmful?
We don’t know the answer to that question, yet, but we’re glad that the Environmental Law Foundation is on the job. In case you’re not familiar with the ELF, here’s its mission:
The environment is the place where we live, work and play. Given accurate and complete information, and the opportunity to make a choice, people will choose products or actions which improve or do not degrade the environment. However, not everyone in our society has a choice about the quality of his or her environment. Those who most need the Environmental Law Foundation’s resources are those who lack choice and lack access to the political and economic power that ensures choice.
On July 9, the ELF filed a pre-suit complaint against dozens of fruit-juice and packaged-fruit companies:
“Notices of Violation of California Proposition 65 Toxics Right to Know law, alleging the toxic chemical lead was found in a variety of children’s and baby foods. The specific food categories included apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches (including baby food), and fruit cocktail.”
Please scroll to the end for the full list of juices and fruits that didn’t make the grade. The ELF website includes the full story, press release and useful links:
California Department of Health, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch,www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/CLPPB/Pages/FAQ-CLPPB.aspx
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Why not change the blood lead level of concern at this time?” (June 1, 2009), http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/policy/changeBLL.htm
Toxicological Profile for Lead, U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 2007, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp13.htm
We thought the answer to this FAQ would be especially helpful to Practically Green blog readers:
Q. Sometimes my child’s lunch has 3 different items that are from your list! What should I do?
A. The most important step you can take is to become informed. Find out about the levels of lead in the fruits, juices and other items your child consumes regularly…. Decide for yourself and your family whether there are more protective alternatives you can choose. Stay informed and support efforts to clean up our food supply. And remember, the American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended placing limits on the amount of juice consumed by children.
The list of the good and the not as good: http://www.envirolaw.org/documents/ProductsTestedforLeadFINAL.pdf
If you have further information or perspective on this, please comment. Thank you.
I’m at our beachy place in Rhode Island, in a house that was built in 1919.
Most summer days it’s delightful to be here, with the birds playing happily in the high grasses, and the ocean breezes wafting through the old window frames. The west-facing living room, with its time-worn paneling, glows in the late-afternoon. The setting sun makes the entire room throb with golden light.
It is a bit rundown, but that’s part of the charm. We inherited it recently, from a family who used it as their cottage from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It has no insulation to speak of, no basement, and if you were to mention air conditioning I would have to collapse. During a thunderstorm, the whole place comes to life with rattles, bangs, and leaks. We don’t even have shades on all the windows, that’s how shabby chic we are in this place.
Last week, the house was an inferno. The sun was HOT streaming in through the windows. I got up on a chair and bang bang nailed random odd sheets and pillowcases onto the remaining bare window frames. Yes, the décor now reminds me of a fourth-grade play, but this old house is now many degrees cooler than it used to be. Don’t ask me how much cooler, exactly, we don’t have a thermostat. And I’m busy: I’ve got to go switch the sprinkler again.
The Green Building Advisor’s special on energy savings during hot weather couldn’t be more timely. It’s full of helpful advice, e.g., creative improvisations for shade, guidelines for when to open windows and when to keep them shut, and other simple passive measures for staying comfortable in hot temperatures. This is not stuff they teach you in school, and it’s most welcome.
From Alex Wilson, a leader in the green building space:
“We’re into those hot days of summer–really hot–with temperatures predicted in the mid- to upper-90s, even in Vermont, this week. In this column I’ll provide some simple tips for keeping (reasonably) cool in hot weather or, if you use air conditioning, operating that air conditioning equipment most efficiently.”
Please click here for the full column. Abbreviated version below.
Keep the sun out
Shading windows is the easiest way to keep your house cool or keep your air conditioning bills down.
Keep hot air out
Closing windows on hot days seems counterintuitive to some (don’t we want open windows for breezes?), but it makes sense.
Minimize interior heat loads
Try to avoid generating a lot of heat and humidity in your house in hot weather.
Use a fan to circulate air when you’re in a room
All other things being equal, a breeze will keep you a lot cooler.
Wear lighter clothing
This is common sense, but bears repeating.
Control your air conditioner wisely
To save energy, raise the temperature setting on your air conditioner’s thermostat when you’re not home.
If you’ve already been to Practically Green, you know that many of these practical, energy-saving suggestions are described more fully there. Take the assessment quiz for a personal selection of smart next-steps you can take to be comfortable and energy-efficient in every kind of weather.
Note: GreenBuildingAdvisor.com is an offshoot of the venerable BuildingGreen, LLC, which publishes Environmental Building News. Alex Wilson is a founder of Building Green and the Executive Editor of EBN. You can read his blog, “Alex’s Cool Product of the Week,” follow him on Twitter @atwilson, and consider his book Your Green Home (2008).
It’s a hazy week for news – kids settle into the July routine, the stock market rolls up and down, the oil spill lingers, generals come and go, and extreme heat seizes the Northeast. Still, we have to eat.
With hot weather in mind, Practically Green served a dozen no-cook recipes and, due to an in-pouring of additional and excellent tasty culinary ideas from all of you, we’ll run a sequel soon.
My favorite takeaway: buy fresh ripe fruits and veggies, wash and chop them when you get home, put them in the fridge, and presto! Your fridge is an inviting treasure chest, and not a stale, forbidding cavern. A-ha!
A couple of weeks ago, Slate’s intrepid Green Lantern reporter Nina Shen Rastogi asked the question,
“what’s the best way to keep a fully stocked, varied fridge and pantry without creating lots of unnecessary waste?”
The answers are in. We’ve gathered highlights, ranging from obvious to uncommon — and all of them practical, green & appetizing, we hope. Bon appétit!
My husband and I plan out all of our meals for the week in advance, then we go to the grocer and buy only what we need for that list. We do a smaller shop mid week to top up on fruit, milk, etc but we find we waste very little.
Roasting chicken? Use the whole bird.
My brother claims I get more out of a chicken than anyone he’s seen, so here’s what I/we do: First, roasted with herbs, garlic and olive oil for dinner. That night, carve it all the way – put the “good” chicken in the fridge; pour the juices from the roasting pan in a gallon freezer bag, along with the bones, and freeze. Use the fridge chicken over the next few days for chicken dinner, sandwiches, tacos, chicken salad (w/ tarragon–mmm..), omelettes, etc….
or… Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado Cucumber Salsa. Thanks to the New York Times for this recipe.
Draw pictures of your groceries on a fridge whiteboard.
I also tend to get carried away at the farmers market. Then everything gets put away in the fridge and two weeks later I excavate dessicated garlic scapes (or something) from the back of the crisper drawer. My husband also forgets that I got berries for his cereal and they just sit there. To avoid all this, I have a small magnetic whiteboard on the fridge. I keep a list of the fresh produce on it – sometimes I draw pictures (strawberries are easy, broccoli is hard). It keeps things top-of-mind, so I can think of good uses.
Read MFK Fisher’s book How to Cook a Wolf. While slightly out of date, it shows just how much you can get out of food and avoid waste.
Note on How to Cook a Wolf: a Bible on food appreciation, written by the legendary gastronome Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, and published in 1942 (at the height of World War 2 food rations), this book deserves its own post. Sample memorable line: “Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg, until it is broken.”
What to eat when the weather is torrid? Or was that horrid? As our friend Dominique put it, “I’m eating whatever is in the fridge; there isn’t a remote possibility that I’m turning on the stove.” Here’s fresh inspiration! A cool, refreshing dozen of ideas for what to do when it’s too hot to cook. I’m guessing you’ll devour and glug glug slurp your way through all of them.
1) Simple + elegant from Louella, cheesemaker gourmande at Narragansett Creamery:
Freshly juiced ginger + pineapple juice + lemon – chilled.
2) From Carrie, hostess extraordinaire:
To drink: Big jug of lemonade with ice and mint in it. To eat: arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, blueberries, chopped grilled chicken, shredded parmesan, balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Organic goat cheese marinated in herbs optional.
3) From Katy, host of “The Main Course” radio show in NYC, via Blackberry:
Whole grain salads! Filling, healthy, and minimal cooking except for processing the grains. Quinoa and bulgur take only a few minutes of stove time. And can be varied with loads of different ingredients, chopped herbs etc.
4) Priscilla in New Jersey, certified cake addict:
My favorite summertime lunch is Brown Rice and Red Bean Salad with Cashews (it’s served cold and is so yummy!). It also makes for the BEST leftovers too! As for dessert, I’d choose something from my favorite Babycakes cookbook by Erin McKenna…. Tough choice there, that’s for sure! Nonetheless, I’d choose the ice cream pie. Both dishes for the gluten-free vegan, of course.
5) Here’s an easy-to-follow list from Elissa in Manhattan:
Icy cold watermelon is what makes this bearable. Cantaloupe. Grapes straight from the fridge. Lemonade. Ice pops. And gazpacho (now I’m dreaming of some for lunch!).
6) From Rachel, who knows where, on her Blackberry:
…. focus on salads. I made an arugula salad last night that was weather appropriate and fish is light (but you do have to cook it). Avoid the oven if you can bc it really heats up the house!! Hope that helps a little bit!!
7) Libby says: Strawberries with brown sugar and yogurt for dipping!
8) From Maggie in Portland, Maine:
I just blend say a banana, OJ, strawberries, raspberries (whatever I have in the fridge) with 2 spoonfuls of Greek yogurt (if you use vanilla you don’t need honey, if plain a squirt of honey is good). Then fill up ice cube trays or popsicle molds and freeze them. I just ordered the speedy popsicle maker from William Sonoma and I will let you know when I get it–it freezes them in seven minutes!!
9) From Sarah, mother of an adorable toddler Red Sox fan:
For Cole, I have been giving him yogurt (if you freeze yogurt tubes they make great healthy popsicle treats). Lots of fruit. He loves peanut butter on apple. Or I mix some yogurt and fruit and make a smoothie for him. I cooked some veggies and he has just been eating them cold. As for drinks.. I know it is only 8am, but nothing is better than a cold beer on a hot day!
10) From Heather, a Twitter/Facebook/blogger czarina:
I just read somewhere (which escapes me) that slow cookers and toasters are better to cook with as they expend half the CO2 and energy of an oven while keeping your kitchen from becoming a sauna. All I want to eat in this weather is veggies!
11) From Kristen, in Yarmouth Maine, “Kickass No-Mayo Slaw,” reprinted here from her local paper:
~2 Tbsp sherry vinegar ~1 minced garlic clove ~1 Tbsp mild jalapeno pepper, minced ~1/4 cup peanut oil ~2 carrots, washed, peeled & shredded ~1 apple, washed, peeled & shredded ~1 cup red cabbage, shredded ~2 cups green cabbage, shredded.
Sauté garlic in a small amount of olive oil, in a saucepan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until translucent. Combine garlic with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for at least twenty minutes. Arrange on a beautiful platter.
12) One more mouthwatering bit of advice, from MaryLea of PinkandGreenMama.com:
We love fresh local/organic produce from our CSA– we have been eating a ton of salads, peas, squash, cucumbers, mint, basil, and greens. In a few weeks we will have our tomato crop join the group. I love gazpacho, cucumber and onions, mint sun tea, mint mojitos, cucumber water, grilled veggies/fish/chicken, watermelon, sauteed summer squash, zucchini, and onions (we eat them alone or thrown into pasta/pasta sauce/chili). Chilled soups with melon and/or cucumbers/mint are good. This is a great time of year to try solar cooking and grilling outdoors to keep the heat out of your house. We’re also big fans of homemade Popsicles and homemade ice cream/frozen yogurt. I just made a yummy batch of lemon basil frozen (organic) yogurt last week! My favorite summer gelato flavor is pineapple basil (yummy!)
If you live east of the Mississippi, chances are you’re deep into dog-day summer. It’s wicked hot, from Maine to Buffalo, from Baltimore to Manhattan. Even our neighbors in Canada are toasty. Quebec’s chief public health officer, Dr. Alain Poirier, encourages people to stay hydrated and take it slow: “If it’s humid outside, there is not much you can do except stop and reduce your own production of heat — that is, lower your activity.” In particular, Poirier warned that children under four years of age, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses are at risk of succumbing to the heat.
Most of us can escape into a bit of air conditioning for at least part of the day, even if it’s at the local Post Office — but utilities are asking customers not to overload the system. A power blackout would be most unwelcome right now.
Rather than whine any more about this, we thought we’d post some of the more inventive and practical responses we’ve heard today for beating the heat, and we invite you to post yours as well.
“Boy it’s killer!! we have all of the lights off in my office to try to prevent a blackout!” Lila, New York
“Even if you have AC – days like these can really push you to your limits. Try relaxing in a bath of cold water for 5 minutes. You won’t believe it!” Montreal
“I have a way of really cooling off. Take a cold shower, don’t dry youself. Just walk around wit the light outs and get yourself una verde (Heineken) and watch TV or listen to some soothing music. That cool will last you about a half hour.” – N.S., New York
Another shower strategy:
“Start off with a warm shower, lather up to get clean, then slowly turn the hot water down over a period of a couple of minutes until you are rinsing off in cold water. After the shower, don’t towel off perfectly… go stand in front of a fan and let the airflow cool you further as you dry. This brings your “core temperature” down and it’s totally invigorating.”
“I moved from an apartment to a split-level townhouse with a basement bedroom three years ago. I haven’t used my air conditioner since I moved in…. Also, more trees should be planted. I can really tell the difference when I’m making the slog across a hot, baking sun-scorched parking lot with nary a tree in sight, versus strolling along the tree-lined, shaded streets of my neighborhood. More trees, please!”
“The heat makes it hard for everyone to be in a hurry — which I find refreshing.” YK
More H2O on the job:
“I work in a warehouse that doesn’t have AC slugging heavy cartons of paper…. To stay cool in this sauna, I frequently splash cold water on my face and run it through my hair. Sometimes I will just go outside and dump a whole bottle of cold water on my head. It really does help you feel cooler…. I also drink lots of water, fortunately we have lots of fresh filtered water dispensers throughout the building. I also try to stay away from soda or other drinks that contain lots of sugar.”
“I keep the insulated curtains closed during the day, use ceiling fans, work in house/yard between 5:30-9:30am or after 8pm, but what truly dropped the temperature by 10-15 degrees was to tape up the ultra-thin “emergency blankets” at the windows and doors – foil-like sheets sold in camping/sports goods sections of stores. 5 of these blankets cost less than $10.00 and am I ever saving on energy costs! I’m surprisingly cool and comfortable.” – Annie S., Washington, D.C.
“We are eating lots of ice cream and keeping the shades drawn,’’ Kathy Humphreys, Jamaica Plain, MA
“If you can’t afford an air conditioner and you don’t have a nice cool basement or a pool, fill up a plastic basin with cool water and put your feet in it. This will cool the blood circulating through them and eventually your body. Don’t wear polyester clothing. Lightweight cotton is best. Spritz yourself with a mist of water or wipe your arms and face with a cool washcloth and sit in front of a fan, if you have one.” QNS, Toronto
“Fill a bag with ice…and put it on your body. MMMMM. Good!” D.K., Hartford, CT
“Barnes and Noble. You could spend all day in there if you want, reading anything and everything you’ve even had a slight interest in a comfy armchair.” – KK, New York
Don’t forget your pets! Feed your dogs ice cubes! They will be quite grateful! WKH, Montreal
Drawing the Line
We’ve had a red, white, blue, and green holiday here, drawing the window shades (it’s a heat wave), using our new Skoy cloths, hanging laundry out to dry, and composting every last carrot shaving. I even detoxed my sponge in the microwave for the first time ever (high for 60 seconds).
On the whole, my delightful (and eco-obsessed) husband and I are in agreement on such household matters, but I am learning that there are certain actions that will never take seed in him.
For example, every time I go into our bedroom I see that the shades have been opened, even at noon in a heat wave. Who can blame him? He wants to see the view. I say nothing, simply close the shade again.
For another thing, he rinses every dinner dish so completely that there’s absolutely no need to then place it into the dishwasher. You can put his dishes right back in the cabinet. I have explained to him that his obsessive rinsing is not only unnecessary, it’s wasteful (of water, of the energy to heat the water, of washing the same dish twice, of his time), and he nods, and he keeps doing it his way.
Which brings me to my point: There will be times when your loved ones do not do what you want them to do, no matter what. They may have their reasons (e.g., the view; or maybe he’s solving the world’s problems while he’s rinsing those dishes) — or they may not. Regardless, it’s important to know where you draw the line. I do not wish to be a bossy nag, of course!! And probably you don’t either. But still.
Last week I caught up with our thoughtful friend Lisa Thomson, who writes the marvelous daily blog Mom’s Green Shopping List. Among other things, we talked about this very subject: where to draw the line with one’s spouse. Here’s Lisa’s story, which is about drawing the line and a whole lot more:
What I want to tell people is, you don’t have to change everything overnight. You can do it slowly, one thing at a time. My husband and I have a paper towel war. He wants paper towels. I stopped buying them. I wouldn’t get them. I said: Go buy them yourself! He hates going to the store. So for six or eight months we’ve been without paper towels. I have a basket of rags in the kitchen, another basket at the top of the basement stairs going down to the laundry. It’s fine, he’s used to it. So, I tried to get him to stop using Kleenex to blow his nose, but he won’t do that. Not happening. I stopped bugging him on that.
It took me eight years to get pregnant. Finally I got pregnant — and right away my husband was diagnosed with chronic leukemia. He was given five years to live. Our family doctor recommended a book called Foods That Fight Cancer. This book was amazing to me. I realized for the first time that foods affect your body: whatever you put in your body affects you. I completely changed how I eat, how I cook. Specifically, we eat a lot of blueberries. We use lots of spices – turmeric, cumin, ginger. We eat greens, broccoli, cauliflower. We avoid processed food and sugars. Sugars feed cancer.
I read labels on everything. I can spend a lot of doing this in a store – I get asked three times if I need help but No, I’m just reading the labels. I like to read books, too. Right now I’m reading Building Green, Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls, 101 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet Before You’re 12! (It’s very good.) Global Warming for Dummies, Ecological Gardening.
My daughter Lydia, aged four, is so aware that if I leave a light on for an extra minute, she’s on me. We were walking the other day — Lydia, our dog Brutus, and me. She said, look, Mom, there’s a blue butterfly on Brutus’s nose! I said, Oh, I wonder where that came from. She replied, It flew down from Saturn because Saturn had to cut down all their trees to make toilet paper. She has the biggest imagination.
Have a terrific Red, White, Blue, and Green long weekend, everybody! Here are a few snippets for a great holiday. First, of course, we hope you’ll head to PracticallyGreen and answer a few quick questions for suggestions of things you can do to make your life healthier and safer for you and your family — this weekend and anytime.
In a BBQ frenzy? Dive into Self magazine’s special burger section for mouthwatering recipes from beans, turkey, and spices. How about Rosemary-Sage Burgers With Apple Slaw and Chive “Mayo” or Portobello-Black Bean Burgers With Corn Salsa? YUM! http://www.self.com/about/burgers
Kids bouncing off the walls? Plan a trip to your local library! Massachusetts libraries have a “Go Green at Your Library” summer reading program, featuring a special program for teens: tnk grEn (Think Green) .
Going on a trip? Ask if your hotel offers eco-friendly amenities, such as opting out of daily housekeeping service – for a $5/day credit! Read about two Phoenix hotels who’ve jumped aboard the burgeoning movement of green travel hosts.
Beach reading: Eco-awesome designers Annika Sanders and Kerry Seager run London’s Junky Stylish fashion label. They make wedding dresses from men’s white button-downs and set up an O.R. in NYC last week to transform unwanted maternity wear, tuxes, kimonos, and pinstripes into high-fashion garb. Isn’t it somehow patriotic to remember our British cousins on Independence Day? In the July 5 New Yorker magazine. Or pick up the book, Junky Styling: Wardrobe Surgery.