Josh Dorfman has achieved rock-star status with his Lazy Environmentalist, and we’ll have more about that in a blog very soon.
A few days ago Josh toured us through the Good Guide, where he’s the Vice President of Marketing. We were so impressed that we wanted to share take-aways with you pronto.In brief, Good Guide is an amazing compendium of comprehensive product ratings based on environmental, social, and health criteria. You can find out more about their mission and methodology here. The team rates everything from aftershave to dog food, from fridges to toys — with 95,000 items in the assessment across numerous categories. All the information is organized beautifully on the site, and there’s also a free iPhone app which give info when you “scan a barcode to see detailed ratings for health, environment and social responsibility for more than 70,000 products and companies.”
Apparel is the newest product category on Good Guide (see screen shot below), and Josh is justifiably enthusiastic about it:
“We’ve already got 118 brands and we’ll be adding more this week. We provide a really comprehensive evaluation of each company. We’re stepping back and looking broadly at the brand. In apparel you have specific issues of workplace quality. It’s not just about the material though that is one piece of the assessment. The ratings are indicative of life-cycle assessment. What sustainable practices are you adhering to, what are you avoiding. And, how transparent are you? Are you working to disclose who your suppliers are? The notion of transparency resonates. It’s so key for seeing Green move into the mainstream.”
Our highest rated apparel brands work closely with their supply chains to improve working conditions and minimize environmental impacts. The best brands disclose the identity of their suppliers, audit how they perform on labor issues and make public the steps they take to respond to violations. They also design their products using life cycle principles and educate consumers about how to reduce impacts. Our lowest rated apparel brands are made by companies that are not focused on improving working conditions or reducing environmental impacts across their supply chain.
Count on spending some time to look around, because there are layers of fascinating data, and some of it’s shocking. The ardent retail customers among us will now think much more carefully about which jeans to buy!
We were thrilled to have Five Ways to Make Healthy Green Living More Fun, by our Founder Susan Hunt Stevens, on Dr. Greene’s website last week! Dr. Greene is one of our favorite pediatricians, and his website is justifiably mobbed by parents — and grandparents. In case you missed the series, here’s Healthy Green Fun Idea Number 4:
Giving and Getting Stuff for Free is Fun
Have you heard of Freecycle? It’s a site organized by town that lets you post things you are willing to part with at no cost. Or you can post for things you need, but can’t or don’t want to pay for.
At first I was a little skeptical, but I needed a whiteboard for our office so decided to try. I posted “Wanted: Office Whiteboard”. Within 30 minutes, I had three offers. The next week, I decided I needed to find a home for baby supplies we no longer needed so I posted, “Offer: Bag of Baby Dishes, Utensils and Bibs”. I got two emails and the next week they were gone.
Using Freecycle, I’ve cleaned out my basement and furnished our offices. All at no charge and with the real sense that someone is benefitting by either getting rid of things they don’t need or getting things they do. Most of the people are incredibly nice and responsive. A few never pick up items and you move on to the next person on the list. Sometimes the person giving or receiving turns out to be a friend or neighbor, which always give you both a good laugh.
In chatting to people about Freecycle, I’ve also discovered other fun exchange resources online, including a kids clothing swap site, thredUP, books/music/videos on swap.com, and there are event in-person fashion events held by the Swapaholics.
Sure, I love the environmental benefits of not buying new stuff. Less packaging, less shipping, and fewer natural resources consumed is great for everyone and everything. But I also just LOVE saving the money and getting perfectly good stuff (I’m a frugalista at heart). And honestly, is there anything more zen-like than a clean and decluttered basement.
Do you have a favorite way to exchange stuff for free (or nearly free?) Spill those swap secrets with us!
Toxics Leaching from Plastic Food Packaging & What You Can Do: This Great article from Jenelle Sorensen (one of our wonderful inspiring action planners!) of Healthy Child Healthy World is helpful and informative. Jenelle offers solutions that remind us to make smarter choices in our everyday lives. Remember, earn your PG points for packaging-related actions!
I recently discovered an awesomely refreshing blog that I just had to share. If you’re looking for something to lighten the environmental mood, you have to check out Laugh Green! With pictures, videos, jokes, and witty cartoons, you’re bound to find something to share with your friends.
Herman Miller’s GreenHouse Factory Generates 15 Pounds of Landfill Waste Per Month: Sound crazy? It’s true! This article by Lloyd Alter of TreeHugger is one of the more inspiring things I’ve read in quite some time! Read this article and learn more about what makes it so efficient. I’m hopeful that Miller’s recipe for success becomes commonplace.
Just when that post-Valentine’s Day lull was moving in, a great article from the TreeShagger column on Grist by Holly Richmond: 10 great green date ideas. These ideas are a must try, and some great excuses for a date night! My favorite? The photo scavenger hunt! Remember: use these titillating ideas as an excuse to earn your Date Night Badge!
Michael Pawlyn: Using nature’s genius in architecture: This recent TED Talk is a good one! I’ve always believed that in order to maximize benefit and minimize harm to the environment, we must look to nature itself for help. Michael Pawlyn is astute and creative. The projects that he explains, which focus on resource efficiency from nature, are inspiring and eye-opening to say the least. Enjoy!
New and Cool Pick:
Stuff We Love: 30 Fantastic Green Finds: This great slideshow from Erin Renzas of iVillage is packed with cool, new, green products you must see. I found myself writing down a bunch of things I want to order ASAP. From ventless fireplaces to eco-friendly dog beds, this article has it all.
If you’ve noticed a new sparkle in the Practically Green actions database lately, you’re not dreaming. Welcome to our new Editorial Director, Alexandra Zissu! Lexy joins the team fresh from the Planet Home book tour – ideal preparation for her new job. A first task is to refine the all-important recommendations that serve up to PG users, building on the existing database of 428 (and counting) next steps across four broad areas of daily life: Energy, Water, Health, and Stuff.
Lexy has a wonderful way of scolding with charm. Early on, I remember her explanation for why Food is a great place to begin making healthy improvements in one’s life. “I mean really! Go into your kitchen. Open the fridge. What’s in there? Who put that stuff in there? Don’t be silly! You did! Food is one of the first areas where people can take charge of their lives.” SO TRUE.
Visit Practically Green for point-rich actions you can take to improve health, reduce stuff, and manage your personal environmental impact…. And now that Lexy’s on board, we know there will be more!
More on Lexy at her web site here. Join her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @alexandrazissu, and by all means read her books. In addition to Planet Home (which she co-authored with our advisor Jeffrey Hollender, the founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation — see today’s New York Times); there’s The Complete Organic Pregnancy; The Conscious Kitchen; and the imminent Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat.
Here’s the complete press release on Lexy.
Alicia and Jonathan Hunt are early friends of Practically Green who launched a business called Green Lifestyle Consulting because, in Alicia’s words, “we are overflowing with ideas on how to live an environmentally friendly life, without impacting our lifestyle. We’ve become the environmental go-to people for our friends and family.”
In 2008 we participated in a year-long contest called the Energy Smackdown, which was designed to teach people how to reduce their carbon output. I was skeptical, but after the first few months we had reduced our monthly electrical and gas usage by over 30 percent without making any radical lifestyle changes or spending a lot of money. I was hooked. I began trying to find more ways to lower our bills even further, and I was hired to create Home Energy Seminars that would be presented around Massachusetts.
We have three small children, so you can rest assured that suggestions we make are feasible for people with children – if not, we’ll say so! In fact, many things we have researched and learned are because our children also feel very strongly about doing what’s best for the planet. One example is that my son kept bringing his juice boxes home from kindergarten, insisting that they shouldn’t be thrown away.
Alicia’s blog often gives tips and advice — on lighting, recycling, gardening, and eco-friendly child-raising. Some of the info is pretty advanced – remember, the Hunts have three M.I.T. degrees between them.
Last week Alicia surprised her audience with a refreshing and candid essay on how to make green living work for you. She’s graciously allowed us to excerpt it here:
Wow, that sounds like an odd thing for our blog “When living green isn’t what’s best for your family.” I think it’s important for people to realize that sometimes you have to make choices, and if certain things and certain situations aren’t the right things for your family, that’s OK.
For each person, lifestyle choices are personal and each person has to decide what they are able to do. Sometimes doing what’s best for the environment is better for us too, like watching less TV and eating healthier foods. Sometimes we make sacrifices for the environment, like going the extra step to recycle rather than just throwing everything in the trash or taking shorter showers….
We cloth diaper.
It is important to us and we are willing to go the extra steps of washing diapers rather than throwing them away. If we had to take our laundry to a laundry mat, honestly, I probably wouldn’t be using cloth diapers. However, my toddler had a lot of trouble with diaper rashes and yeast this summer and fall. After trying everything we could think of: stripping the diapers, bleach in the wash, changing detergents (twice), liners with creams, extra baths and naked time, nystatin, the only thing that would help the rashes go away was disposable diapers. We finally had to give in and put him in disposable diapers for a full month to completely kick the rash. Eventually the rash went away and with baited breath for fear the rash would come back, we went back to our cloth diapers. Fortunately, the rash has stayed gone for the most part, with just short, infrequent outbreaks.
We still have to use a small number of disposables though. We have found that the toddler overflows his diapers whether he is in cloth or disposables overnight. We stuffed the cloth with hemp and regular inserts, as full as we could get them, and he still would wake up soaking. We finally found that if we put a disposable diaper with a cloth on top of it, it would keep his clothes dry at least 4 or 5 nights a week. Since he had so much trouble with diaper rashes and cloth diapers, we figure it’s probably better for him to have the variation of cloth and disposables at different times.
The environmentalists in us are horrified that we still buy and use disposable diapers, but the reality is that we have to do what is best for our son (not to mention helps us sleep through the night).
For more on diapers, see these actions on Practically Green.
And maybe you’ll go for the Natural Baby badge
*AND/OR* the Waste-Free Baby badge!
Eventually (and hopefully sooner than later), all books will be made from recycled paper and other eco-friendly materials. But until then, we can still do something to make the world a greener place. We hope not only to see more trees being planted, but also that the Eco-Libris stickers you receive to put on the books you balance out with us will inspire you to keep looking for more ways to make a difference and green up your life.
“We offer readers, publishers, and others the ability to balance out the paper used in publishing by planting trees,” says Founder Raz Godelnik. “We’ve already planted over 170,000 trees in Central America and Africa. We have stickers printed on recycled paper that readers use to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. We work with publishers and authors to put the sticker on book covers or inside. We promote green books that are printed sustainably on recycled paper or on Forest Stewardship Council-certified (FSC) paper.”
(Note: You can earn 10 points for buying such a book on Practically Green!)
“We have a big Green Books Campaign every year. Last year we invited 200 bloggers to review a book during the same one-hour period: 1 p.m. EST, November 10th. It was our second year. We got in touch with 56 publishers from all over the world. They offered books that are printed on recycled paper or FSC-certified paper. All kinds of books! If you look at the list, you’ll find history books, poetry books, cooking books. People assume that enviro books are the only ones printed on recycled paper. But we want to show it’s not limited to books about sustainable food or eco-tourism.” Here are a few of the books available:
“Also, we work with about twenty bookstores. For example, if you’re in New York and you go to the Strand bookstore, they’ll offer you one of our stickers at the check-out counter. And we hope all this will inspire people to be more eco-friendly.”
How did Raz come up with this idea?
“It started in 2007. I started an eco-fashion business trying to make jeans from hemp. I was writing about green issues, and I started writing about paper. I started thinking about paper, and about how to consume paper more sustainably. The book industry is still lagging behind others, so we decided to focus on it. We’re trying to reduce the environmental impact and get the industry to become greener and more eco-friendly, adopt sustainable practices. We want to be an agent of change. … My friends and I love books.”
And, he adds: “My mother is a librarian.”
Follow Eco-Libris on Twitter @greenbooks2010 and on Facebook.
If you told me five years ago, that in the not too distant future I would be spied shoveling a 30 yard path through 70 inches of snow to my backyard compost bin, I would have told you to stage an intervention. Aliens had clearly invaded my urban city girl body and someone needed to rescue me from their grips. Organic lotion? But of course! Who wants to slather themselves in petrochemicals once they know better? Composting? Ewwww….
Yet, last week, here I was with my ready-to-burst silver two-gallon kitchen compost canister of already-rotting coffee grounds, grapefruit peels, teabags, left-over pasta, and celery tops facing thigh-high snow drifts to get to my backyard compost bin. It sat wrapped in its warm winter jacket (so it can do its thing all year round) barely peeking over the snow. Leaving the compost in the kitchen was not an option. Throw it down the garbage disposal? Not after everything I’ve been through to get to this point. So I started shoveling…
For a long time, composting has been my “least favorite green action taken.” I never liked the concept of storing food waste in my kitchen. I didn’t garden, so couldn’t appreciate the alleged “black gold” that my garbage would turn into. I have always had a weird aversion to anything that moves overland without legs or wings so why would I encourage worms to congregate anywhere near my house? When I lived in a city apartment, I could justify not composting with the “it’s impossible to compost in the city” excuse, although I was aware that new technologies, like the NatureMill, were rapidly making that excuse, well, lame.
A year into suburban living, the excuses were gone. I had to at least give it a try because it was the most impactful thing we could do to reduce our weekly garbage pile (50 points on Practically Green!). Almost two-thirds of household trash is compostable. So I marched myself down to a wonderful green store in Cambridge and said “I’d like to start composting. But I’m a priss and hate worms so you can’t sell me anything that requires worms.”
Step One: Select the Right System
To the store owner’s credit, he didn’t roll his eyes, shake his head or remind me that most composting involves worms — directly or indirectly. He showed me a bokashi system, which is a black bin with a spout that looks like the church coffee server and a bag of sawdust-like stuff. Evidently more than 3 million people in Korea use it and it’s quite popular in the highrises of Dubai. Who knew?
I got home and proudly displayed the set-up to my highly skeptical better half. He is the direction-reading one and the more he read, the more I began to realize that this system was way more intense than I was prepared for. Evidently it makes this tea, which is extremely good as a drain cleaner and fertilizer, but might make you vomit when you smell it. You have to buy and regularly sprinkle the sawdust stuff, which seemed expensive and, knowing us, ripe for arguments. I could envision the call, “Honey–on the way home could you get milk, yogurt and oh yes, we are out of bokashi.” The bokashi system got returned the next weekend.
I started asking around the neighborhood for recommendations. Instead I got tales of raccoons the size of bears who would strew rotting food all over people’s lawns from their compost bins. I knew one morning of picking up corn cobs and tea bags from the swing set would really tick me off, so I went back to the green store. “I’d like to start composting, but I don’t want the tea, I don’t want any worms, and I need to protect the compost from raccoons the size of bears.” This time, the owner suggested perhaps I peruse a book about composting before buying anything more. He directed me to this small very cute book called “Composting: An Easy Household Guide.” I was skeptical, especially when the first line read: “Once you start composting, you get hooked!” How does one possibly get hooked on an onsite garbage dump??
However, the book was extremely helpful. Had I read it prior to the bokashi-buying-binge, we could have easily realized we are just not bokashi people. It also pointed out that worm farms are really for the composting enthusiast (so not us) or people with no outdoor space (not us either). The range of options for someone clueless like me with good outdoor space and only aggressive raccoons to deal with were Dalek bins, tumblers, digesters, and something called a “Green Johanna.” After reading each one-page description, the Green Johanna jumped out — and not just because they called it the “Rolls Royce” of composting systems. These were the words that sucked me in: “extremely user-friendly,” “you don’t need any composting experience,” “you can put anything in,” and “the sealed base plate keeps rats out.” Rats. I hadn’t even considered rats.
Step Two: Set Up and Start Using Your System. Tweak as Needed.
Two weeks later, I set up a nice bamboo compost bin in the kitchen and the Green Johanna in the backyard and started collecting and dumping. I was very conscientious about adding in “browns” (newspapers, cardboard, grass clippings) to my “greens” (food waste).
Three weeks later, my kitchen was invaded by dozens of fruit flies that congregated around the compost canister. Nowhere in the book did it mention this disgusting turn of events or what to do if it happened. Some friends recommended Biobags and even gifted us a box. Another said that we just had to empty it everyday which we determined was not practical. Finally, my husband pointed out what should have been obvious had we paid attention to the flies more closely. ”You know there is a hole in the canister and that’s how they are getting in and out, right?” Ummmm…..no. We switched to a stainless steel canister and the indoor fly problem has vanished. It also gave us the opportunity to double the size of the canister. Turns out this family creates a lot of kitchen waste.
Step Three: Maintain the System. Accept certain level of “ick factor.”
We are now a full year into composting. I don’t care what composting enthusiasts say, there are still some aspects of composting that are rather gross. Coffee grounds stuck to the pail make my better half gag. Taking the stirring stick and shoving it up and down in the rotting matter is awesome for getting it to decompose faster, but you do feel like some hippy witch stirring her brew even in a wrap dress and two-inch heels. I’ve also had to perfect the open-the-top-and-hide-behind-it-move to avoid the torrent of flies that burst forth when you just didn’t get enough browns in to keep them at bay.
But as the book predicted and my shoveling proves, composting is addictive. First, it’s amazing to me that it almost never fills up. All that garbage just decomposes down into a fine dirt. Second, we have barely any garbage now. Between single-stream recycling and composting, we are down to less than one bag of garbage a week. Besides food waste, we’ve learned you can compost dryer lint, scrap paper, cereal boxes, and vacuum dust (if you don’t have synthetic carpet). We composted all the garbage from my son’s birthday party, our holiday wreaths (after removing the wire and ribbons), and recently changed coffee brands to one in a compostable bag.
Step Four: Find a good use for that “humus”
Humus is the stuff that compost turns into when it’s matured. If you are a gardener, you know and love this stuff because it can be an amazing addition to your soil. When we started composting, we didn’t garden. Our first batch of humus got added to the trees, woods, and flowers along the fence. When we started a small garden, I was all excited to use the compost. However, one of those super-experienced neighborhood gardener types warned we should “test” the compost first. Test for what? Evidently, the right balance of pH and nutrients–not too few and not too many–and that it is “mature enough.” In everything else that needs doing, somehow “test the compost” just hasn’t hit the top of my prioritization list. My trees seem perfectly happy with the raw, untested, perhaps a little unruly and immature compost. So there.
When I get asked by skeptical friends who look me up and down and say “Seriously? You Compost?” I assure them that:
a. If I can compost, sometimes in 2-inch heels, anyone can compost. Sure it’s got a few icky parts, but if you have a dog or children, you are just used to some icky aspects of otherwise wonderful things.
b. I can’t actually imagine NOT composting now and it pains me to throw perfectly compostable stuff in the trash when I’m at other people’s homes or restaurants or work.
c. I haven’t had to touch a worm. I know they are there, but they are blissfully quiet and relatively invisible, just doing their thing. PHEW!
We’ve been thinking about plastic lately, partly because of Rodale’s Plastic-Free Challenge for February (more on that next week). The Plastic-Free Challenge is a terrific idea, and it fits beautifully with Practically Green’s suggestions on actions you can take to reduce the plastic in your life, or remove it entirely.
But there’s another way to be responsible about plastic, and that’s to use things made from recycled plastic. For instance, Switch to a recycled plastic toothbrush:
By selecting a product made from recycled materials, you avoid the use of limited natural resources, reduce waste in landfills, and often lower total energy required to manufacture the products. Most toothbrushes are made of plastic and disposed of in landfills.
While 80% of people have access to plastics recycling, less than 1% of total plastic is recycled. All that plastic we throw away goes into the landfills where it takes hundreds of years to break down. When the plastic material finally degrades, toxins are released into the water and soil.
All around Practically Green, you’ll see amazing products from Preserve Products, which is one of Practically Green’s valued launch sponsors (Eric Hudson, their CEO/Founder, is on our advisory board). You don’t get much greener than Eric.
We love Preserve Products because they’re practical, affordable, adorable, and, in the case of the mail-back toothbrush, downright ingenious. So we asked Preserve’s Product Development Manager/Sustainable Design Lead, Christie Lee, a few questions. Great answers — we were especially pleased to know her favorite Preserve product!
Practically Green: Why is it OK to use recycled plastic products?
Christie: Not all plastics are the same – there are many different kinds of plastics being used in the marketplace and each are different from a health, safety, and environmental perspective. #5 plastic (what Preserve uses) is one of the safest plastics out there, and is used in many food applications, such as yogurt cups. It is BPA- and phthalate-free. BPA (Bisphenol A) and phthalates (a type of chemical) are endocrine disruptors. This means that they change the hormonal balance in our bodies and prevent hormones from doing their job. Also, recycled plastic products are a great win for the environment. Recycled plastics use 50% less water, energy, and oil usage to make than ‘virgin’ plastics. Plus, if you recycle the plastic after you’re done with it, it has a third, or even fourth, life!
PG: Why might even a plastic purist consider solutions such as Preserve offers?
Christie: Plastic products fulfill a need that other products can’t. They are durable and hard to break, plus light and easy to pack up. They’re great for kids and packing a lunch to bring to the office or the park.
PG: What are your favorite Preserve products — new, classic, best sellers?
Christie: My favorite product is the small colander.
I often cook for myself, and it’s great for making a meal for one or for washing a pint of berries. I love the sandwich food storage container and mini food storage container, which are great for bringing my lunches in to work and for storing leftovers. It’s fantastic to just throw a salad dressing in to a mini for lunch, or some extra diced onions for the next meal. Bringing my lunch to work really helps me cut down on the environmental impact of all that extra packaging you get with take-out. And of course, I would pick the Preserve toothbrush. It looks great in my bathroom and the backward curve is excellent for getting my teeth extra clean.
Christie lives less than a mile from her office: “I love being able to walk to work. I have had a CSA share at a farm in Waltham less than two miles away since I moved here, which I love. I am proud of recently becoming a pesce-vegetarian, which has been a gradual struggle for me over the last three years. I’m currently working on becoming a vegetarian and eliminating fish and seafood from my diet, but I imagine that will be a gradual process as well!”
She leads the Sustainability Committee at Preserve, where she creates sustainable systems, implements sustainable product design, and conducts Life Cycle Assessments. She’s also responsible for product development and management, as well as back-end logistics of the Preserve Gimme 5 program, a retail-based #5 collection program. Christie has a B.S. in Green Engineering, mechanical engineering with a focus in sustainable design, from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.
Too Much Snow? Dumping it in Waterways Is Not the Answer: This article from Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer of NaturallySavvy.com (featured on Treehugger this week), addresses some of the weather-related issues facing the Northeastern United States (and other areas for that matter). I can’t help but wonder: where is all of this snow going? We’ve got quite some time before it melts (yikes, can you say FLOOD), and we’re simply running out of places to put it. The simple answer may be “waterways,” but there are some serious consequences.
If you haven’t heard of Let’s Move, the First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States, you’ve got to check it out. It’s only been a year, but the progress they have made is astounding. Combining good nutrition with physical activity, Let’s Move is changing kid’s lifestyles for a healthier future! Watch the introduction video with Michelle, and learn how she was inspired!
If you’re like me, you have about 10 phone books in your house, most of which are out dated and covered in dust! They end up being one of those permanent (unwanted) accessories that I’m not quite sure what to do with. That is, until I found out about The National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice and Opt-Out Site. How to recycle your Yellow Pages Directory, the 2010 Sustainability Report, and Customize or Opt-Out of Directory Delivery are just a few of the features provided!
Looking for a cozy spot to hibernate until Spring? I came across a great article on Whole Living: 13 Ways to Cozy Up at Home. From adding textured fabrics to strategically placing furniture, these tips will give you a warm and welcoming place to call home. Whether it’s 20 degrees or 80, you’ll find these homey tips worth your while!
This week from Daily Grommet: a great video with Wendy Chandor and Jeanne Connon, Healthy Living: Ways to Stay Healthy. Featuring several cool products that will help you live a healthy lifestyle, this video is informative and fun. From an exercise monitor to a neti pot, Daily Grommet has the latest gadgets to keep you going!
New and Cool Pick:
Oat Shoes – Sneakers You Can Compost: I want this product! Featured in an article from Colleen Vanderlinden of Treehugger, Oat Shoes are 100% biodegradable! I don’t know about you, but I would feel much better about shoe shopping if I could just bury the old ones…literally! Check ‘em out!
OK. Maybe you saw this — and if you didn’t, we want to share it:
A study released from the University of California, San Francisco reveals that an overwhelming percentage of pregnant women in the U.S. may have highly toxic environmental chemicals — some illegal — in their bodies. The trial found that out of the 268 pregnant women tested for toxins, 100 percent showed traces of several individual chemicals in their blood or urine. They include certain PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, PFCs, phenols, PBDEs, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate. Some of the chemicals have been illegal since the 1970s — and others were comparable to those found in non-stick cookware, furniture, and beauty products. Researchers concluded that pregnant women in the U.S. are exposed to far too many environmental chemicals, and further studies are planned to understand the exact sources of exposure, and how they can be avoided.
Before you freak, let’s listen to Dr. Dr. Alan Greene, of DrGreene.com. We love Dr. Greene and think he’s about the best pediatrician around, and we want to share his guidance. Many thanks to Healthy Child Healthy World for permission to reprint.
Dr. Alan Greene:
A major 2011 analysis of typical pregnant women across the US found widespread evidence of toxic chemicals in their blood, often at levels that have been linked to higher risk of developmental and reproductive problems in babies in other studies. Beyond this, the pregnant women in this study were typically exposed to mixtures of various toxic chemicals at one time, with effects we have yet to understand.
Over the next week I’d like to highlight 5 big take home lessons from this study. Today, let’s consider the real value of this study.
Lesson 1: It’s a peek behind the curtain.
While it might be tempting to be anxious because of this study, or to ignore it because it seems overwhelming, I recommend a different response. This study is not a warning of a scary new epidemic of problems arriving with next year’s babies.
Instead, it’s a peak behind the curtain at what might be the hidden story behind the marvelous kids we already see on today’s playgrounds across the country. Most are very healthy – among the healthiest kids in history. Yes, too many are overweight. Too many have asthma. Too many have allergies. Too many have learning problems. Too many start puberty early. More than half have some chronic illness. But this isn’t slowing kids down as much as the devastating infectious diseases of the past. It is a vibrant generation of children.
Our time reminds me of the era when germs were first discovered – invisible, impossibly small organisms that had already been causing human disease. Their detection paved the way for great improvements in health.
We are now able to detect toxic chemicals, at what were recently impossibly low levels to detect, that may already have been causing human disease. I’m hopeful that this will pave the way for great improvements in health.
Read More in this Series:
If you’re a new or expecting mom, or if you love someone who has a new baby, please investigate the easy and fun Waste Free Baby badge, which rewards you for choosing reusables with your baby, and the Natural Baby Badge, which rewards you for choosing all-natural products for that cute amazing little person.
Join @Healthy_Child Thursday February 17th at 6pmPST/9pmEST for a Twitter party about Baby’s First Foods with Dr. Alan Greene (@drgreene), Shane and Chantal Valentine (@babycuisine), and Kelly Rudnicki (@foodallergymama).
Are you looking for easy ways to reduce your consumption of “stuff”? Does your family bring lunch to school often? Do the adults pack their lunches as well? Mae Hacking, mother of two and co-creator of the blog Here in This House, has some tips that are easy to tackle and have you reducing your trash in no time. In fact, she has so many terrific ideas that we’ll continue with part 2 next week.
If you’re interested in pursuing any of the healthy green actions Mae mentions, click on the links below and you’ll go straight to the corresponding how-to’s and recommendations on Practically Green. If you like the whole Big Idea of Greening Your Lunchbox, check out this badge!
At the start of the school year, I was surprised to learn that my children’s school was implementing a cloth napkin policy. Children were to bring in cloth napkins and napkin rings which they would use in school each day for lunch. Each weekend, a different family would wash the classroom’s linens and bring them back on Monday. The school has always tried to be more environmentally friendly – emailing instead of printing newsletters, selling reusable bags, teaching special lessons for Earth Day – but for some reason this initiative really caught my interest. It also got me thinking about other ways to eliminate disposable goods from my kids’ lunchboxes. And so, here I am, with my collected thoughts on greening the lunch box.
Keep these tips in mind to reduce lunchbox waste the next time you’re getting the kids’ lunches together:
● Avoid single-serving snacks like cheese sticks (I’m guilty!), tube yogurt (guilty again!), and pre-packaged snacks (three times guilty!). Instead use reusable bags and containers and pack your own. You’ll be sure to get exactly what you want, be able to control portions better, pay less and reduce waste.
● Ditch the juice boxes and grab a reusable drink bottle. Just think of the opportunities! You can mix your own custom juice blend. You can dilute with water to control the amount of sugar. You can make it do double duty by filling halfway with ice and leaving out the cold pack.
● Use reusable napkins and utensils. Send in whatever you use at home. If you mind losing one once in a while, pick some less expensive options to send into the black hole that is a children’s classroom or cafeteria.
And now the fun part! Here are some of my favorite options for green lunch box ware:
Lunch Boxes and Cold Food Carriers. So many options. Handles. No handles. Hard sided. Soft sided. Metal. Plastic. Bright. Neutral. The list goes on and on. From Oots comes a modern, environmentally friendly lunch box option (below left), with or without food containers which can also accommodate a water bottle under the top strap. The Goodbyn is a compartmentalized, fully recyclable lunchbox (below right) whose most child-pleasing feature is the dishwasher-safe stickers for making your Goodbyn yours and yours alone.
Hot food carrier. There require two important features: a tight seal (to hold in heat and prevent leaks) and a wide mouth (to make it easier to reach all the yummy food inside). My personal favorite is the Foogo canister from Thermos (below left). A similar style is available from Pottery Barn (below right).
Sandwich wrappers. These are great ways to inject personality, color and print into the lunch box. First determine the right size for your child’s eating habits. After that, revel in the wide range of available prints. (There are plenty of solid color options. I’ll leave you to find those. I’m on to the fun ones!) The Food Kozy from Kids Konserve matches back to their lunch box systems. On Etsy, I found some with an owl print and also a chic black-and-white swirl pattern (for Mom, perhaps?).
One of the very coolest things about Practically Green is that you can connect your dashboard with your Facebook world.
You can recommend Practically Green to your Facebook friends.
And, when they join Practically Green, they’ll see you on their dashboard and you’ll see all their pictures whenever you log in.
Here’s what my dashboard looks like:
When you check off an action, you can post it to your Facebook wall (or not). You can use the default wording… for example:
Or, you can delete the default text and write your own.
Here’s how it looks on my Facebook wall:
So go for it! Share your green journey! And please don’t forget to visit the Practically Green page on Facebook and click Like! Thanks.
Valentine’s Day is so easy to celebrate green! Loving is free, after all, and it’s said the more you give the more you get in return, so we think of it as one of the greatest recycling actions of all time.
Just in case you’re short on ideas this year, please refer to our beloved intern Samantha Roach’s blog post, “3 Simple Ways to Green Your Valentine’s Day.”
And here are a few more Valentine-specific ideas for you:
- If you’re planning to munch on red velvet cake, please check the ingredients to be sure it doesn’t have the nasty kind of food coloring.
- Send a last-minute e-Valentine from Paperless Post! Remember, tradition says to remain anonymous – let your amour guess who it’s from….
- Apply the best most kissable lipstick, but (you guessed it) please read the labels and choose an all-natural one. (Who wants to be schmearing lead in their V-Day smooch?)
- Offering a backrub? Try one Weleda’s fabulous Sea Buckthorn Body Lotion. You’ll make honey purr and add another 20 points to your score!
- If you’ve got snow on the ground, turn down the thermostat and hop under the covers with your squeeze!
- Water-shortage worries? When you shower with a ‘close’ friend, you can both stay in for 10 minutes together and count it as only five apiece, right?
And Oh Why Not! Go for any three of these actions to win a Date Night Badge on Practically Green:
- Eat at a dine-green certified restaurant (click to the DineGreen website to see the first four-star award winner in the U.S.) And P.S., can we just say that the chefs at dell-anima and l’Artusi in New York City are amazing, and thank you for joining our Inspiring Green Planners!
- Buy flowers from an organic florist (I swear they’ll smell better and won’t make you sneeze).
- Ordering in for a romantic pique-nique? Green your take-out! Kindly decline the wasteful disposables from your noodle house — use Preserve On the Go tableware and cloth napkins instead.
- NIX on the icky additives and preservatives in many beverages (you know, all those impossible-to-pronounce items on the label?): drink all-natural juices or sodas instead! Or fizz your own sparkling water, flavor it yourself.
- Better yet, toast your lovies with eco-friendly wine and locally brewed beer.
Photo credits: all images from Paperless Post.com.
The (not so) New Agtivist: Organic movement leader Bob Scowcroft looks back: This interview from Samuel Fromartz of Grist gives some great insight into the world of organic farming and food. Bob Scowcroft, founder of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, tells us a lot about where we’ve come from with organics, and where we should go next. Reading this interview reminded me of the importance of eating organic, and getting PG points while I’m at it!
12 Natural Ways to Prevent and Cure the Cold and Other Seasonal illnesses: It seems like everyone I know is sick this week! So, I had to include this article by Dan Shapley. Hopefully it’s not too late for some of you! There are some great tips here, including carrots for headaches (who knew?) and some of the old stand by’s (oranges to prevent colds).
City Is Looking at Sewage Treatment as a Source of Energy: Check out this great article from Mireya Navarro of The New York Times; looks like we’re finally thinking outside the box! New York City is beginning to look at their sewage treatment system as a potential resource for renewable energy. This is definitely a topic to keep your eye on!
I recently watched a very cool video on TED, that is a must-see! Architect Kate Orff explains her dream of “oyster-tecture,” a method of oyster farming that filters water to create the urban landscape with endless environmental benefits. I haven’t heard an idea this cool and innovative in a long time! Check it out!
New and Cool Pick:
Sustainable Wood Sunglasses Support Eyesight Surgery in India: I bet we will be seeing this awesome product, (featured in this article by Emma Grady of Treehugger), everywhere! You can buy Proof’s awesome do-good/sustainable eye wear here!
If you want a superb source of all-natural or organic meats and you don’t have a trusted local farmer or butcher, Applegate Farms is a perfect stand-in with high standards for raising practices and for processing procedures. Their mantra: taste, truth, and trust (see Applegate’s standards). Applegate is getting ready to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and we’re thrilled to have them as launch sponsors on Practically Green, and their founder is on our Advisory Board.
What this means for you on Practically Green: when you investigate 9 of the meaty actions on Practically Green (8 meat and 1 cheese), you see an Applegate Farms product. Switch to organic sausage, for instance:
The Real Food has a Story link brings you to one of several dynamic areas on the Applegate site (and we’re not saying that just because they’re a sponsor!). How cool is this: type in the sell-by-date, 12-digit “Barn Code” (pictured below), retail location, and – via the Promise Tracker – you arrive at a profile of “the farmers that raise our animals, the manufacturers who make our products and the Applegate founders and employees who ensure our standards are maintained from farm to table.”
Don’t have a product? Try the Randomizer. “The Promise Tracker is brand new,” says Renee Heath of Applegate. “We work with nearly a thousand farms, and we want our customers to be able to actually see where their product came from, meet the farmer, and see their facility. We’re still in beta, going around to all of the farms and recording the stories – from Uruguay to Pennsylvania. We’re telling the story behind the product, and it’s a huge project!” Talk about knowing how the sausage is made!
The Applegate site has dozens of recipes with printable shopping lists — we’d steer you to “Teenie Weenie Strombolinis” for your next pass-around party. FAQs contain exhaustive information about ingredients and answer questions such as
- What is a Food Allergy?
- What is Sodium Lactate?
- What does rBGH mean?
- What are Nitrates and Nitrites?
Two new Community initiatives from Applegate: In the mood for a movie that might improve school lunch? Request a free screening kit of Lunch Line for your community. It’s a documentary about improvements to the National School Lunch Program, which feeds 31 million U.S. school kids and has not been updated in 15 years!
LUNCH LINE tells the story of six kids from Chicago who set out to improve school lunch and end up at the White House. The film shows why school food has often been the butt of jokes throughout history and what we can do to improve it.
See the trailer here.
And check out Eat to a New Beat for the coolest new example of Applegate’s involvement for kids and community. The original song is performed by the Chicago-based Happiness Club and features cafeteria percussion – i.e., forks clanking, trays banging, spoons clicking. You can download it, enter the contest, and view and vote on other entries!
Make up a dance to “Change the Game” song. Get a bunch of other kids to dance with you or dance solo – you don’t need to be part of a group to show us your moves! And you don’t need fancy editing skills to make your video: just play the song in the background while you dance, or, if you do want to get fancy, lay the song track over your dance video.
Going green on Valentine’s Day can be so much fun! Let PG help. We’ve combined some of our favorite suggestions from our friends around the web and simplified them into 3 easy steps…
1) The Activity: Couples yoga, a romantic walk to dinner, or staying in a green hotel!
-From Sara Novak of Planet Green, an awesomely green way to really spice things up: Partner Yoga! Can you think of a better pre-dinner activity? Instead of the usual movie, try this healthy alternative!
-One of the most obvious (but often forgotten!) green activities…walking! Instead of driving everywhere, take a walk together! Whether it’s on your way to dinner, or around the neighborhood to help you digest, walking is the perfect way to get that alone time you were looking forward to! Maybe even bring a camera to remember it. (Practically Green action: Walk to dinner!)
-From Travelphant Travel Blog: 5 Cool Eco Friendly and Green Hotels. Looking for something extra special this year? Book a couple nights at a green hotel. Find one near you or as far away as possible! (Practically Green Action Select a green hotel when traveling)
2) The Dinner: Eco-friendly wine, local beer, dine-green certified restaurants, and organic recipes!
-If you’re looking forward to sharing a bottle of wine with dinner, why not make it green? You could even visit an eco-friendly vineyard! Check out Barbara Fenig of The Huffington Post’s The Top Ten Eco-friendly wineries In The U.S. (Practically Green Action: Drink eco-friendly wine!)
-Or, perhaps you prefer cracking open a nice cold beer? How about try a brew from an ec0-friendly brewing company? Check out Emily Brown of The Daily Green’s article: Organic Beer and Beyond: 10 Eco-Friendly Breweries. It will give you a great idea of what to look for! (Practically Green Action: Drink locally brewed beer!)
-So what about the dinner? Check out The Green Restaurant Association to find a certified eatery near you! You’ll feel great about supporting such a wonderfully responsible business. (Practically Green Action: Eat at a dine-green certified restaurant!)
-Or…cook a delicious organic meal! Nothing says ‘I love You’ like homemade! Plus, no restaurant means no extra driving, you probably already went to the grocery store! Check out the Whole Foods Market site for some great ideas!
3) The Gift: Organic flowers, homemade or e-cards, fair-trade organic chocolates, and sustainable lingerie!
-From Ask Umbra on Grist: “Pull the e-card. About a billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent globally each year. Don’t let your Valentine greeting be just another number: Save some paper (and a few bucks) by sending your snookums a well-selected e-card instead.” (Practically Green Actions: Send an e-Valentine or Make a homemade card instead of buying a new one!)
-From The Daily Green: 14 Decadent Organic and Fair Trade Chocolates: These easy to find, organic and fair trade chocolates will have your mouth watering! (Practically Green Action: Switch to organic chocolate!)
-Also from The Daily Green: Sexy Green Lingerie: 20+ Sustainable Styles: From Stella McCartney to Green Knickers Panties, these products are great even after Valentine’s Day! (Practically Green Action:Purchase clothing made from organic cotton or other natural materials!)
Don’t forget! Use this Valentine’s Day as an excuse to earn your Date Night Badge!
It’s Valentine’s Season, and what could be better than a true green Love Story. Brian Hinderberger wrote the following post – it’s a serenade, really – about his wife Shannon and her blog WorkingMomGoesGreen.
Without further ado, from Bend, Oregon, and Practically Greenified with links to our relevant actions on the site:
My wife has always been a “greener” thinker than me. As our two separate lifestyles became one I noticed that her ways have shifted mine quite a bit. Long before it was cool, she was shopping with her own grocery bags, was conscious of lights on for no reason, and eating organically. “Did you really need to put that one thing in that plastic bag?” I remember her asking me, as I stood in the kitchen, back from the store.
Over the last six months, with her new blog and movement to live greener, there have been a few things that I’ve really enjoyed and others that were a little more life-shifting for me. I like the worm bin in the back. It’s kind of cool to be using our produce waste for the spring garden’s compost. I’m excited about chemical-free stuff in the house for housekeeping and personal hygiene. I think the only thing that I didn’t like is… Hate me for saying it… coffee tastes better in a paper cup and a plastic lid you get at a coffee shop. There is something about drinking from it that I enjoy. I have changed my ways though, drinking coffee out of a reusable cup. (It’s not the same).
A big thing for her is recycling, and she talked me into recycling the craziest thing ever… my car. Well, it wasn’t exactly recycling where you tear it up and recycle the metal. It’s called Freecycling, where you list it on a web page in a community for people to come by and take it off of your hands for free. The idea is to keep things out of the landfill, or in this case, the junkyard.
I mentioned earlier that she had to talk me into it. This car was a Toyota Tercel that I made payments on while starving in college. The car that took me all over the west coast in the US without any problems (aside from a huge carbon exhaust cloud that exploded out of it while I drove in the heat of Death Valley). It was the car that had a busted-out passenger window, which I never replaced because it cost too much and I secretly liked the Dukes of Hazard windowless-look. It was the car that was buried in snow up at Mt. Bachelor parking lot, which I had to dig out both outside and inside (because the tarp didn’t do its job), and which took me home with ice on the inside of my windshield from my breath because my heater went out. Then, on that last drive from the mountain, it stalled out the exact moment I pulled into its space at home and never started again. After all of that loyal running, with my lack of gratitude and care aside, oil and spark-plug changes — now my wife suggests giving it away?
I agreed to it and the car was immediately snatched up by a local who wanted to get his 16-year-old boy a “beater” for his first car. He picked it up while I was at work, commenting to my wife that from the looks of it I really didn’t like this car that much. Well, I did… well, at least I did for the first 75 thousand miles of it. We learned that all the car needed was gas. He said the tank was bone dry and the fuel gauge was broke. That explains why it died the way it did. To this day I see it putting around Bend, Oregon.
Shannon’s bio line for Brian:
We met in 2003 and got married in 2005. I was planning to move to Oregon and he was a friend of a friend who was helping me look for a job. We fell in love over email and phone. My husband’s passion is video production and music. By day he works at our local TV station and by night he’s a musician: http://brianhinderberger.com/acoustic. Oh, and most importantly, he’s working on a project for his sister, who has breast cancer: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1161240287/natashas-fight.
Happy Valentine’s Day to ALL the Hinderbergers!
Who’s next with their story of Practically Green Romance?
Practically Green is young and growing pretty quickly. That’s exciting, and sometimes we’re puppy-ish (as in a bit over-enthusiastic): when we asked our friend Laurie David to create a Green Action Plan to share, we didn’t realize that maybe she’d already done most everything in our database of 431 (and counting) recommendations – and then some! For instance, her Genius idea to use shower caps instead of plastic wrap! (Refer to Noon entry below, w/ photo.)
Ever gracious, Laurie offered this blog post, and we have a hunch you’ll enjoy it. We love her mantra: Do the best you can and then try to do a little more.
And, if you’re into making your family dinners memorable and meaningful (not to mention delicious, healthy, and FUN), please don’t miss Laurie’s book, The Family Dinner. We blogged about it when it was brand new; it’s selling like hotcakes, and the eponymous website is awesome.
You’ll see dozens of Practically Green suggestions in this charming journal (and others we haven’t produced… yet: “Yell sweetly to a dad to stop idling in the carpool lane”), and we’ll link them so you can pursue them on the PG site, if you’re so inclined.
MY GREEN ROUTINE
Asking an environmentalist to keep a journal of a day’s worth of green steps is a little like asking a dieter to write down everything she eats; it’s bound to be a little embarrassing. The risk of “too much information” could easily lead to the conclusion that one is a little “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
With the best of intentions and purity of purpose comes a whole lot of frustration. It’s impossible to live in today’s world with exacting standards. You recycle, but you’re still using too much plastic. You bring your own bags to the market, but you buy apples flown in from Chile. Life has gotten way too complicated and trying to live “greenest” can be daunting. My solution: Do the best you can and then try to do a little more. Even the smallest shift in consciousness almost always leads to a larger one. And that is ultimately where we all have to get to in order to start dealing with the enormous health and environmental problems we’re facing.
Each day, I try to go by the philosophy that it’s not about doing everything (perfect is the enemy of the good), it’s about everyone doing something! And yes, even some of us become a little more cuckoo than others. So, with that in mind…here goes!
Wake up; go to kitchen to turn on coffeemaker and realize I forgot to set it up last night. Grumble under breath while dumping coffee grinds into the compost bowl, put in organic coffee, press button.
Walk outside to get the New York Times and have my daily internal discussion—why can’t all those plastic bags covering all those newspapers all around the world be completely biodegradable? Note to self: Write letter to New York Times. Reuse bag later that day to scoop puppy poop.
Wake up kids; put out granola with sliced local, organic strawberries, hormone-free milk, toast and a jar of homemade Concord grape jam (my friend Monina and I made so much of this stuff, we desperately need your ideas for new uses for jam). Grab two tap water-filled stainless-steel bottles from the fridge and put one by each bowl so my kids remember to take them to school, along with their “no waste” lunch (cloth napkin, reusable containers, real silverware) made from yummy dinner leftovers. I wonder why the forks never seem to make it back? Who is hoarding my forks?
Drop my youngest daughter at school. Yell sweetly to a dad to stop idling in the carpool lane (make note to self to find a new carpool to join). Steer my old hybrid to the Santa Monica farmers’ market with a mission to find all of the in-season passion fruit being sold today. Love, love this amazing, high-in-vitamin-C fruit that grows like crazy here in California. I have two vines in my backyard, and I check the dangling green fruit every day for the first sign of “I’m ready, pick me!” purple. Today I hunt them down and load up! (Try them over cereal, ice cream, in your tap-water pitcher at dinner or all alone—they are perfect with just a spoon to scoop out the crunchy insides.)
Take a long walk with our new (slightly mad) puppy, Finley, that my daughter adopted from the pound. I had no idea dogs could have ADD and OCD! Look for passion fruit growing wild in the neighborhood (not kidding when I say my family can’t get enough)… bingo! Found a prolific vine only five blocks away! Purple fruit just lying on the ground, begging to be picked up. Look both ways for nosy neighbors. Use my handy canvas bag to lug them home. Finish workout at my large outdoor composter—five turns of that thing and my biceps are done for the day! Can’t stop Finley from barking nonstop at the composter; I wonder what she thinks it is.
Take a “shower.” No one in my family does it faster than I do, and we are a family of three sisters, four nieces, and nine kids. Once, I challenged Sheryl Crow to see who was quicker. If my memory serves me correctly, I won.
Finally get to my desk. Reload printer paper slot with old screenplays I saved (and completely confuse myself when I print out a speech).
Head to kitchen and rinse a few shower caps (you heard me right) that are waiting in the sink. In our household effort to reduce the amount of plastic wrap we use, we discovered the genius of shower caps! Yep, they are plastic (good luck trying to get plastic completely out of your life—trust me, it can’t be done!), but at least the caps are reusable and easy to slip onto almost any shape or size. And they come in happy pinks and polka dots. As a bonus, opening your fridge will give you warm, cozy flashbacks of your Grandma Minnie.
Reheat (love the microwave for reheating, not so much for premade, processed “meals”) last night’s Chicken Schnitzel and Big Peas, Little Peas, from page 45 of The Family Dinner book. Did you see that Jaime Oliver segment from his TV show about what’s actually in all of those “chicken” nuggets we’ve been feeding our children? I want my money back! It’s so revolting, so we came up with a healthy alternative that my kids love, and yours will, too.
12:30 to 2:00 pm
Work on the computer in my home office (I am so lucky to be a work-at-home mom). Wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post about family dinners after divorce (keep doing them!). Took a break and went downstairs through my dark house. (I’m not kidding; I constantly turn lights off, even though it’s raining out and the house is dark and freezing. See? Cuckoo.)
Went out back to our small veggie garden and reveled in the growth spurt from all the fall rain. Zucchinis are multiplying, lettuce and kale are exploding. Pick tons of lettuce and snails (they love my organic garden, too—no pesticides!). Will use some for dinner and give some to friends (my own private CSA). Grab a pinch of herbs and enjoy that happy warm feeling I get knowing I pick just what I need and no more. Also glad I didn’t have to buy expensive herbs from the store that are suffocated in plastic and Styrofoam. (Pet peeve: buying organic produce overpackaged within an inch of its life!)
Pick up daughters at school. (Note to self: Find a carpool!) Pull into my spot and turn off the car. Idling is so yesterday.
Have after-school tea and snack with my kids and hear the details of their day. Give them a little present—a new chemical-free deodorant I discovered. A little disappointed with the response; they weren’t quite as excited as I was. Check to see if forks came back from school with lunch box. Yes!
Back to work. Pull out several phone chargers that I see were accidentally left plugged in. It’s staggering how many things need charging these days.
Start dinner. Turn on music. Make Grains Greens and Cheese Please from The Family Dinner. I have turned Meatless Mondays into Meatless Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Place article about bullying from the New York Times on the table to discuss at dinner. Make salad. Rinse lettuce in a big bowl filled with water to avoid running tap water the whole time. After the lettuce is clean, take the big bowl of dirty water and the few swimming bugs outside and pour into my lavender plants by the kitchen door (lucky bugs). Take a quick look around for some fall leaves to put in bowl for centerpiece.
Finally turn some lights on. Girls are complaining—something about living in a cave?
Take the vase of drooping sunflowers by the front door and cut them shorter and put in a smaller vase to get a few extra days out of them. Pour a glass of wine.
Dan Shapley, our friend from The Daily Green, wrote a great piece this week: The Most Fuel-Efficient Cars of 2011. The only thing more straightforward than the title is the article itself. In true Daily Green fashion, Shapley’s article is smart, helpful, and consumer-friendly. I suggest you give it read, it is truly astonishing how far we’ve come with fuel efficiency. And remember to get PG points while you’re at it!
The New Contraband: 8 Doomed Items in the New Green World: This slide show from Fast Company is a little frightening, but definitely worth a read. From common examples like Styrofoam and plastic bags, to surprising mentions like Happy Meals and pets, Fast Company opens our eyes to some pretty interesting environmental and health concerns.
You must check out the Green Wine Guide from TreeHugger! Instead of simply mentioning the formalities of the green wines (which is wonderful in and of itself), they feature a delicious recipe that perfectly complements each wine! When I read this I was dying to host a dinner party, I bet you will be too!
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the movie “Clueless” (it was the early 90’s, give me a break), and hence in love with Alicia Silverstone. So you can imagine how absolutely ecstatic I was when I found out that instead of making appearances on Law&Order or starring in infomercials, she’s making a living as a green superhero! Check out her website The Kind Life, or read her book, The Kind Diet (vegan awesomeness).
With the Superbowl rapidly approaching, I couldn’t help but feature this hilarious commercial from 2010. It continues to be one of my favorites of all time. Bravo Audi, we love green!
New and Cool Pick:
Top 5 Green Gadgets that Juice Your Phone: I can’t stand it when my phone loses battery, but I feel guilty charging it all day. This article from Inhabitat gives a few great green options for keeping your phone fully charged with no more guilt! Don’t forget to earn those PG points, too!
There are the basic components of an eco-friendly Superbowl party: locally-brewed beer, all-natural chips and dip, and of course reusable, recycled OR compostable partyware instead of plastic disposables. In fact, these were our Top 3 recommendations from last year.
If you’ve already ticked off these basics on your green list, how can you be SUPERbly green for the big bowl game?
1. Ditch the decorations (or select more eco-friendly options!)
Face it, everyone is there to watch the commercials, the game or to drink on a Sunday. No one is paying that much attention to the decor. But if your inner Martha Stewart can’t bear to have a plain Jane party, choose biodegradable latex over mylar balloons, use recycled paper napkins (or cloth!), and look for compostable streamers and garlands. We love this football serving plate/cutting board made from bamboo…. Useful, reusable decor is very Practically Green.
2. Sport eco-friendly fan gear
Whether you are for the Steelers, the Packers or are going to proudly display your loyalty to the hometown team, there are eco-friendly options to show off your love, ranging from recycled seatbelt, rubber and bottle cap belts to organic cotton team shirts and hoodies.
3. Watch this video to learn how the NFL and the Superbowl Committee have teamed up to make 2011 the greenest Superbowl yet!
4. Eliminate your single serving plastic water, beer and soda bottles by serving water in a pitcher, 2 liter sodas (all-natural, of course!), and use a keg with reusable glassware. If you are trying to motivate your friends to give up plastic water and soda bottles too, use these awesome reusable bottles as that “motivational” parting gift and skip that dishwasher load. Prefill them at the bar or put them near the “bulk drinks”.
5. And for those Pats fans who are still bemoaning No-Tom-on-Superbowl-Sunday, at least there is Gisele. Her green team is in action on AOL Kids and can provide a diversion for the kiddos when one of the GoDaddy ads comes on.