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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Green Goals for 2014


While I've conquered some of my 2013 resolutions, some have made it onto my list of green 2014 goals, and some new ideas fill out the list:

1. Avoid fast fashion.
2. Don't accept plastic shopping bags at any store.
3. Eat less meat and dairy.
4. Weatherize my apartment.
5. Use only aluminum-free deodorant.
6. Listen to every week's Living on Earth.
7. Compost food waste.

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Perspectives: Green Industry & Climate Change Preparedness in the UK

source image courtesy of Science Daily

Most businesses are focused on maximizing profits because this is, of course, how they are able to survive and expand. However, an increasing number of companies also demonstrate an interest in minimizing their negative impact on the environment. Companies also working develop products that are well-adapted to handling the adverse consequences of extreme weather caused  by climate change.

Eco-Friendly Welfare Units
The British producer of construction equipment JCB has signed a deal with a designer of site welfare units that will see eco-friendly units manufactured for the construction industry. This is a new market for JCB and shows that the business is unafraid to branch out into areas that have not previously been part of their remit. The brand new welfare units include a canteen for six to ten people, hot water on tap, microwave facilities, a toilet and anti-vandal security doors. It is light enough to be towed by most commercial vehicles and can become either a static or a mobile unit due to the hydraulic undercarriage. 

The JCB Eco Welfare Units emit 80% less C02 in comparison with similar products on the market and save £150 per week on fuel costs. They are powered largely by solar panels and supported by a 12V backup generator in a bespoke design. Construction employees can now relax onsite in a secure and comfortable space at a reduced cost of operation.

Weather
Last week, storms in the UK had a devastating impact on the coastline and on transport across the country. According to the Met Office, the Atlantic storm causes winds of between 60mph and 80mph in Scotland and northern England. Some areas reported wind speeds of up to 140mph which lead to 100,000 properties being subject to power cuts.  The highest tidal surge in 60 years hit the east coast, with homes in Norfolk and East Anglia reportedly falling into the sea. When natural disasters occur or storms become unusually violent, the appropriate industry equipment is required to prevent serious damage occurring and to clear streets in the aftermath.

The 3CX Backhoe
The industry-leading backhoe loader is the ideal tool for removing debris that cluttered roads after the storm. It functions as both a digger and a bulldozer, making it a versatile multi-purpose tool.

Flood Barriers

Pre-cast concrete defence walls are absolutely necessary when there is a risk of flooding, particularly in coastal areas. These protectors are currently being used throughout the UK and JP Concrete offers four different types of barrier for extreme weather situations. Pressed concrete panels combine concrete panels and steel frames, they have watertight joints and can be constructed to fit a range of height and length specifications. This option is durable and cost-effective. L-shape retaining walls can be cast into concrete floor slabs for a smooth base finish on flood defence walls. For temporary structures or extra protection that can be erected as and when it is needed, freestanding retaining walls or concrete lego blocks that don’t need any foundation work can offer a practical solution. 

Author: Scot JCB 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Perspectives: Tips for Selecting Great Used Boots


Men's fashion should be two things: simple and functional. Any "look" (try to avoid "looks", by the way) that deviates too far from these two qualities is unlikely to be around for long (looking at you deep v-neck t-shirts).

As far as I can tell, all fashion trends experience a regression to the mean - that is to say, there's a great chance that the clothes men will wear 20 years in the future will closely resemble the clothes worn 40 years in the past. This is especially the case with boots.

That's good news too, considering how easy it is to find used boots from thrift shops and online that look just as dapper on you when you're hanging out with your lady as when you're treating a client to lunch. And we've failed to mention the sustainability angle of re-owning leather footwear. I mean, I'm no vegan, but surely wearing fewer dead cows on your feet is better than wearing more, right?

Then there's the matter of style and quality. If a store is selling boots several decades older than the employees working there, there must be a demand for the shoe, and the shoes must be well-made to have held up for that long. Trends come and go, but boots that stick around for generations are usually solid.

Here are some qualities to look for when buying used boots and some tips for caring for them.

What to Look For

Fit:  A good cobbler can do many things, but making a pair of boots fit your foot isn't one of them.

Too Small is Too Small: I bought a pair of cowboy boots once that were a half-size too small because I thought they looked great and wanted to wear them for a gig I was playing. That was a huge mistake.

The Heel: Heels made from wood or leather are far better quality than those made of plastic or rubber, and thus far easier for a cobbler to work with.

The Last: Look for hand lasting over machine lasting. This is important for quality and fit.

Red Flags: If the boot exhibits any of these qualities, think twice about buying.



  • Sole pulling away from the shoe.

  • Tears in the leather away from the seam.
  • The lining is cracked, flaky, falling apart.
  • The boots are far cheaper than you expected.



Care

Clean Them: Jerry Seinfeld has a bit about leather ideally being about to withstand all of nature's forces, just like the cow it came from. Unfortunately this isn't the case. It's important to brush dirt and residue off boots because they lessen the boot's water repellence.

Oil Them: Like human skin, leather dries out over time. To keep leather strong and durable, it needs to be oiled. Synthetic and natural compounds work equally well, although natural compounds darken the shade of the leather whereas synthetics do not.

Find A Cobbler: If there's a downside to buying vintage boots, it's that they come with miles on them. Find a cobbler who can do occasional repairs and give you maintenance tips.

Old, But New

There are many pairs of vintage men's boots looking for a home. The most important thing to remember when buying them is that while you can re-sole a boot, you want the boot to be well made. Look for full-grain leather, wooden or leather soles instead of straight rubber or plastic, and, of course, look for a boot that looks timeless.

Author: Seth Sosebee is an eBay.com community contributor, where he muses about vintage footwear and a wide variety of other men's fashion and lifestyle topics.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Avoid Spreading Invasive Insects through Christmas Trees

source image courtesy of Miss 604

This holiday season, The Nature Conservancy in the greater Boston area wants to make sure people know the facts about possible invasive species that threaten our trees. For example, fir trees are very popular Christmas Trees, and several species of fir trees are under attack from the balsam woolly adelgid, a tiny bug that distorts tree growth that can kill the tree. Maple trees, which provide syrup for our pancakes, are under attack from the non-native invasive Asian longhorned beetle. This insect kills maples (and many other species of trees), which could  seriously impact the maple syrup producers in the Northeast.

By now, most of you have already purchased your Christmas Trees, so the important thing is to dispose of them properly:

• Dispose of your tree safely. When Christmas is over, don’t just toss it in the backyard to sit around. If there are any invasive bugs on the tree, - they may spread to trees in your yard or
neighborhood. Search for local municipal tree collectors who will properly chip and dispose of
the tree.

• Don’t move firewood! Remember that warm toasty fire? Make sure those logs came from a
nearby area. Transporting firewood for long distances can spread invasive pests and start a new
infestation in your neighborhood. Instead, buy your firewood from a local, reputable seller or
burn it on the property where it was cut. (This also applies to camping. When you go camping,
don’t bring your firewood with you. Buy it at or near the campsite.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Green Events Needed for 2014

source image courtesy of Phoebe Wahl

2013 is wrapping up - which means its time to start figuring out our calendars for the new year! What green events are going on in 2014? We hope to fill the Boston Green Blog event calendar with some great happenings! 

Send all upcoming event info. to bostongreenblog@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spotlight: Twelve Chairs


Twelve Chairs in Boston’s South End is a boutique featuring fun, high-end furnishings that are curated to meet environmental and social criteria. The two founders believe that design should not simply beautiful, but also ethical, functional and earth-friendly. Walking into Twelve Chairs is like entering an eco/ethical/local Anthropologie! What could be better than that?!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Add More Recycling Bins

source image courtesy of ideastream


According to the L.A. Times, $14 Million worth of recyclables end up in U.S. landfills each year. This means, not only are we wasting environmental resources, we are wasting a decent amount of capital as well. One of the easiest solutions to this problem is to place a recycling receptacle next to every single waste basket in your home and office. This will reduce the urge to be lazy and through recyclables where they don't belong. This is a great new years resolution - so add it to your list!

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Perspectives: Decorating Your Christmas Tree the Green Way

source image courtesy of Green House Eco-Cleaning

For many of us the Christmas season is a time of lights and decorations. However many of these decorations are not exactly eco-friendly. From wasteful lights to harmful plastic to chemical additions there are all kinds of ways to make your Christmas tree less than green. However there are great ways to easily change this mindset. Here are some fun and festive decorating tips for your tree:

1. Real is best – Having a real tree instead of an artificial one can seem counterintuitive. I mean you are killing a tree for your personal use. However Christmas trees are always replanted and the demand for trees actually keeps more real trees growing in the long run. Not to mention that it is much better for the environment to have a real tree produced instead of a plastic one.

2. Natural décor – Using natural elements like trimmed pine branches, pine cones, holly sprigs and mistletoe is a great way to bring green indoors figuratively and literally. The vibrancy of real plants cannot be matched. Even plants that are toxic, like poinsettias, make for beautiful living decorations if you are careful to keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

3. Homemade ornaments – Decorating the tree the natural way is easy with homemade ornaments. You can make edible ornaments in the shape of gingerbread men, sugar cookies, candy canes, and so on. These edible ornaments can not only be a great visual appeal on your tree but can also be part of the gifts. The children can pick and choose one snack to have every day until Christmas, leaving less to toss after the holidays and increasing their enjoyment.

4. Stringing garland – Another great old fashioned idea in tree decorating is garland stringing. A needle and thread can be a great asset as your family joins in Christmas cheer to create strands of popcorn or cranberries to wind around the tree.

5. LED lights –Speaking of flammable, the hot lights that usually mark the Christmas season are very wasteful and older models can even be a fire hazard. Instead, try to use new LED lights. These lights produce little heat and are very energy efficient. They also last a very long time so you do not have to keep replacing them every year. No more frustration with burnt out lights or worrying about fires!

6. Recycing tree –Last but not least, after the holidays make sure to dispose of your tree properly. There are many areas that will take your tree for recycling into mulch or other useful things. Or you can cut the tree up and use it as part of your own gardening compost. As you can see it is easy to decorate your Christmas tree in an eco-friendly way. Stay green, have fun and enjoy time with your family this holiday season!

Author: Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author@gmail.com.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Unplug Your Workout with Bollyx


In the winter people tend to gain weight. The weather doesn't really invite outdoor activity, and holiday parties encourage over-indulgence. But I just discovered the best new workout in Boston that will keep you inspired all winter long: Bollyx. I attended a class with my Just Us Gals co-authors on Monday. Not only was it an awesome heart-pumping workout, but its also greener than going to a gym and using exercise machines. Even better, the dance studio is less than a 5 minute walk from the Central Square T stop! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pencil it in: Octopus Lecture at NEAQ


WHERE: The New England Aquarium, Boston, MA

WHEN: Tonight! Thursday, December 12, 2013

WHY: The New England Aquarium invites you to the final event in this year's lecture series! Octopuses are well known for their ability to change their shape and color in the blink of an eye. More than 300 species of octopus inhabit the intertidal to the deep sea, ranging in size from smaller than a grape to an arm span of over 15 feet. Join cephalopod biologist Dr. Crissy Huffard as she discusses her research on how wild octopuses move, learn, survive, reproduce and evolve. She will also discuss the scientific evidence, or lack thereof, behind popular ideas and myths about these fascinating animals.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spotlight: Boston Area Sustainability Group


Boston is home to some great sustainably themed networking groups like Boston Green Drinks and Net Impact. Another great and informative group is Boston Area Sustainability Group. BASG invites sustainability practitioners together to share ideas, experiences and best practices as to elevate the practice of sustainability in Boston and beyond. BASG hosts monthly networking events during which guest speakers and members give informal presentations related to their businesses or experiences relative to sustainability. It's an opportunity to network, learn and have fun. Click here to learn about upcoming BASG events. And, keep an eye out for the February BASG Meetup, co-hosted by Boston Green Blog and NEWIEE. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reducing Emissions Caused by Car Idling


When the weather is bad, it is tempting to leave your car running while running into Dunkin Donuts, or waiting at a bus stop, but emissions from idling can really add up. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, idling cars and trucks in New York City each year produce 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Yikes! Help improve Boston's air quality by abiding by the following:

1. Turn off your engine if you're car is stopped for longer than 1 minute. 
2. Keep emergency weather gear in your car - a jacket, gloves, and umbrella could come in handy and keep you warm and dry without turning the car back on for heat. 
3. Park in a garage. If possible, park indoors to avoid the need for "warming up" the car. 
4. Take public transit instead. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Save the Oceans


Last Thursday, the New England Aquarium hosted the 11th lecture in its free fall series: Meet Your Local Garbage Patch. During the lecture, attendees were introduced to the Rozalia Project, an organization that works on implementing solutions for clean oceans. Trash in our oceans is of increasing concern as we discover more about the toxics that can leech from plastics and other man-made materials. After digesting  Rachel Miller's inspiring lecture, I present to you, 6 tips to save the ocean:

1. Stop smoking. In addition to the health concerns, cigarette butts take about 7 years to biodegrade in the ocean, and are one of the most common trash items found by the Rozalia Project on sea floors.

2. Use a refillable waterbottle. Water might be good for you, but plastic bottles take a lot longer to biodegrade than cigarettes - about 450 years! Avoid plastic bottles!

3. Watch out for urban trash cans. When they overflow, the trash can get swept up in rain water, down our storm drains and into the harbor. Wait until you see a non-overflowing trashcan to dispose of your trash - or better yet, alert area officials that the recepticle is in need of emptying.

4. Switch your facewash. Plastic beads from cosmetic exfoliants are of increasing concern to our oceans because of the incredible difficulty required to clean them. Use a facewash with naturally derived beads - or even better, switch to bar soap.

5. Picnic consciously. Unsurprisingly, most of the trash that the Rozalia Project finds in the harbors is food related - plastic cups, beer cans, food wrappers, etc. All are evidence that we love spending time at the beach and on the water, so make sure when you do these things that you dispose of all your trash appropriately.

6. Get educated. Learn about threats to the ocean and get involved with the solutions by following the Rozalia Project and other ocean-themed organizations.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pencil it in: NEAQ Meet your Local Garbage Patch


WHERE: Simons IMAX Theatre, New England Aquarium

WHEN: TONIGHT! Thursday, December 5, 2013

WHY: The oceanic garbage patches get a lot of press, but do you know what is floating right here in Boston Harbor? The Rozalia Project uses underwater robots, nets and hands to clean our ocean surface to seafloor while studying the problem and running education programs. They operate from aboard the 60' sailing vessel, American Promise, in the Gulf of Maine and Massachusetts Bay as well as from partner docks and vessels throughout the US.  Rozalia Project's Founder and Executive Director, Rachael Miller, will lead an introduction to the problem of marine debris in our waters here in New England. Click here to register.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Spotlight: Sweetgreen


Founded in Washington DC in 2007, sweetgreen has become a favorite not only for its delicious and healthy fast food, but also for its commitment to local farmers, the community, and sustainability.

Each month, sweetgreen creates a special salad inspired by the season, using the freshest, local ingredients from nearby farms. And of course, the full menu also features locally sourced ingredients - all of which can be read about on the restaurant's blackboards.

Visit the new Back Bay location at 659 Boylston St. (and hopefully another location in the Seaport District will open soon!!!!)

To learn more about sweetgreen's mission (and to feel totally inspired) check out their story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2MNNPX_x1I

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Avoid Wrapping Paper this Month

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

THE FACT: Approximately 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are used each year (the equivalent of 50,000 trees).

THE GOAL: Not to purchase any wrapping paper or gift bags this holiday season.

THE SOLUTION: Getting crafty with newspapers, ribbon, and some found pine branches!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Eco Monday Shopping Rules

source image courtesy of iphonehacks

  1. Buy only what you need. Impulse buying often ends up being wasteful.
  2. Find out where the item will be shipped from. You might be able to buy an option from a closer location.
  3. Look for quality. Items should last a long time. Think about the end-of-life of each product you buy. 
  4. Consider experiential gifts (which can usually be purchased online). 
  5. Ask your loved ones for wish lists - this will reduce the likelihood of returns after the holidays. 
  6. Look for green/environmentally themed gifts to spread the message of climate change awareness.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Perspectives: Don’t Burn Up! Alternative Heat for Winter


When colder seasons roll around, I always find the smell of wood stoves to be incredibly comforting. It’s a nostalgic scent, and it reminds me of the holidays. More importantly, many homeowners consider it a valid alternative heating source for their homes as the prices of oil climbs ever skyward. However, my appreciation of burning wood is pretty illogical when you consider all the downsides that wood stoves and fireplaces have to us and the environment.

While it’s undoubtedly cheaper, the downsides are intense to say the least. As reported by USA Today a few years ago, wood releases carbon monoxide and carcinogenic chemicals when burned. The soot and liquid waste that wood burning produces can cause complications such as heart disease and respiratory problems.

The concerns caused by burning has blanketed some regions entirely even here in the states, with particle pollution far past the point of federal safety limitations. It goes without saying that this form of fuel also causes damage to our ozone layer. Check out this booklet to learn more about the various ways that wood-burning causes more harm than good.

While many people value wood-burning as a more economical approach to heating a home, it certainly isn’t the cleanest or most efficient. Even if you aren’t exactly the “green” type, you’ll be saving plenty of green with these simple cost-beneficial tips to improve your home’s heating efficiency.

• Install some simple modifications in your home to improve how well your house retains heat. Windows can be one of your greatest assets in making sure that you deflect or insulate heat as necessary. Window films can work wonders, as well as shutters and storm windows. Anything to improve your seal and absorb more sunlight around your home can effectively improve your home’s natural heating abilities.

• Have your heating and air equipment regularly checked up on. You might not need to rely on cheaper and dirtier varieties of equipment if your system is regularly cleaned and tuned up. In addition, having an energy audit performed in your home could be just the ticket, especially if you’re in an older property with a lot of air leaks.

• While nobody wants to hear these words, bundling up is a strategy that can pay off dividends on your energy bill. While nobody likes sweat pants, simply putting on a few extra layers is one of the only truly cost-free ways to warm yourself up. Likewise, make sure your house is “bundled up” too by checking your insulation if you think you’re losing a lot of your heat through the walls.

Author: J.G. Tenuto, an eco-obsessed writer with Gila Films. Although he mostly writes and researches for his 9-to-5, he spends his downtime fine tuning every aspect of his home to reduce his carbon footprint (and save some cash along the way.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pencil It In: Green Tour of the Lenox Hotel

image courtesy of http://www.lenoxhotel.com/

WHEN: Thursday, November 21, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

WHERE: 61 Exeter Street, Boston, MA 02116

WHY: Since the 1980s, The Lenox has been committed to being green, while preserving the rich sense of history and beauty of the building. Come and take a tour of some of their environmental initiatives and find out why The Lenox is considered a global sustainability leader in the hotel industry as well as a pioneer in ecotourism!  

Join us at 7:00 pm after the tour for a networking gathering with light appetizers at Lir, located at 903 Boylston Street, just a few blocks away from The Lenox.

Register here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eco Travel Essentials




































Going away for Thanksgiving? Make sure to keep the earth in mind when packing for your trip. These eco travel essentials can help guide your way.

1. Go Toob - No need to purchase travel sized toiletrees and waste plastic, instead use this refillable container to bring your favorite products wherever.

2. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Pocket Guide - Eat ethically with this much-trusted pocket guide. There is also an iphone app available!

3. Tom's Sunglasses - Sunglasses are a must on any trip, why not bring an ethical pair?

4. Water Bobble - Find yourself purchasing a lot of bottled water on vacation? The bobble filters water in a portable container!

5. Patagonia Fleece - layer with this classic from a super green company!

6. Carbon Offsets for your travel, the best and easiest way to ensure your vacation has minimal impact on the planet.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Perspectives: Changing Your Home Without Hurting The Environment


Changing Times

Many were stunned by the recent shocking news headlines about 30 Greenpeace activists facing 15 year jail sentences in a Russian prison. This is due to their protests at an arctic oil rig in relation to the environmental consequences of arctic drilling. In conjunction with an announcement from Greenpeace regarding a change in their strategy, they believe that by staging more proactive, high-profile campaigns, there will be a push from the public to force the government to act on important environmental issues.

Make Changes to Your Everyday Life 

Most of us are in agreement about the state of the planet, and find it hard not to connect all the natural disasters and volatile weather conditions to climate change. However, most of us don’t fancy abseiling down the shard to drill this statement home to the masses. There are still changes we can all make to contribute to sustaining the environment and the natural balance and harmony of life.

It is up to each and every person to take responsibility for the impact that their actions have on the environment. Everything should be taken into account in regards to their lifestyle choices - in terms of simple things such as recycling, reusing carrier bags, planting flowers to attract wildlife into our gardens. Take things a step further by making your home as energy efficient as possible, by insulating your loft or refitting those drafty windows, you will see a reduction in your electricity bill.

Use Sustainable and Recycled Materials

If you are redecorating or renovating your house, think about how the materials you used were sourced. Floorboards suit every room, from a rustic kitchen to an urban studio space. Using a reclaimed wood product is also extremely important in regards to the environment; after all, we need to save trees. The Reclaimed Flooring Company has a beautiful selection from French Oak beams to original Victorian Pine floorboards.

We take wood for granted and can be careless when disposing of items we no longer require. But if you want to reduce the chances of landfill and preserve trees, then using reclaimed wood is a positive way to do it. Are you craving an industrial, raw space with exposed brick-work, wrought iron and distressed floorboards? Or how about a cozy kitchen with a vintage dresser and lacy net curtains? By using reclaimed and recycled materials you add dimension and texture to your room and you don’t feel like you are compromising. If anything, the authenticity, using pieces rich with history, looks far more unique than a clinical set of MDF drawers and some faux-wooden flooring.

This post is sponsored by The Reclaimed Flooring Company. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pencil it in: Local Craft Brewfest


WHEN: November 22, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM

WHERE: 1 Courthouse Way, Boston, 02210

WHY: Join us for Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts' (SBN) 4th Annual Local Craft Brewfest at the Moakley U.S. Courthouse located on the Boston waterfront - where the city meets the sea. Come taste, explore, socialize, and network with local craft brewers, distillers, cideries, meaderies, artisan beverage brewers, and food producers. While celebrating local brews, you can savor live music by local musicians and enjoy one of Boston's finest harbor views. More than 80 local tastings and local food bites will be featured. It's a great opportunity to meet brewers, distillers, and local eateries that are as passionate about local food as you are! Buy tickets here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spotlight: CBS Local Ecowatch


As many of you know, I recently started writing for CBS Local as a green living contributor. The CBS green living section is known as EcoWatch, and it is a great resource for Boston-specific sustainability content. I am quite impressed with the other authors on the site and look forward to reading future articles and getting even more inspired to make Boston green! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Takeaways from NEWIEE Panel on FTC Green Guides

image source


Last week the New England Women in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE) hosted an informational panel on the revised FTC green guides and what this means for green marketing for products and renewable energy. Here are some key points made at the event:

  • Marketing RECs or Renewable Energy Credits is complicated because the general public doesn't know how they work, so education is key.
  • Some consumers suffer from "green fatigue" - too much environmental imagery and claims in retail.
  • Consumers are often left to do their own homework to find out if a company's advertisements are true regarding their environmental claims.
  • Making incorrect claims about a consumer product is illegal, but very loosely regulated in the realm of "green" products.
  • Different states have different standards for what is considered renewable energy which makes marketing even more complicated for nationwide brands.
  • France is one of the only countries with a nationwide standard for carbon footprinting of products. Because other places don't have a common standard, customers are left confused.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

New Perspectives: Eco-Friendly DIY Projects


The best way to save money while going green is by tackling your projects with a DIY spirit. Here are some great examples of money-saving green DIY projects.

Dedicated Décor
Difficulty: Easy
Dedicate your home’s décor to helping the environment by using non-toxic paint next time you spruce up your interiors. Changing existing light bulbs to energy saving LEDs can make a big difference to your electricity usage, meaning your bills will be lower as a reward for your efforts to be more eco-friendly.

Reuse and Recycle
Difficulty: Medium
Upcycling is a huge interior design trend at the moment, and we’re incredibly happy to see so many people getting involved with eco-friendly DIY projects. You can make beautifully designed pieces for your home out of just about anything; just check out Upcycle That for some amazing ideas, including a coffee table made from wooden pallets and a dollhouse made from an old suitcase. Not only will you save yourself a lot of money, but you’ll know that you’ve created something truly unique for your home.

Make Yourself Pretty
Difficulty: Easy
The average woman spends tens of thousands of dollars on beauty products in her lifetime; shocking, right? Well, rather than spending $10 a month on your favorite hair mask, why not make your own using avocado, eggs, coconut oil and honey? There are hundreds of tutorials online, and avoiding products manufactured in factories is a good way to take a stand against the damage they inflict upon our planet. There are so many beauty products you can make at home, so do your research and see how much money you could save.

Solar Powered Cooking
Difficulty: Hard
Believe it or not, you can actually cook using the suns energy. If you live somewhere that benefits from hot weather, then this project is perfect for you. It’s not easy, but just look at what you could create with a lot of effort, hard work and a few power tools from somewhere like Anglia Tool Centre. If you’re after a long term project and are really serious about reducing your energy usage, then this is the perfect project for you. However you choose to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly, just remember that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. DIY projects can be really fun, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing your bit for the environment.

This post is sponsored by Ridgeons Limited.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sponsored Post: Could the Next Generation of Eco-Warriors be Bostonians?


According to the Huffington Post, Boston is one of the top 10 most eco-friendly cities in the United States. The poll wasn’t measured in terms of energy-saving infrastructure, but rather on the amount of eco-friendly events going on in the area. It’s a great achievement for our hometown to be on this list and a really good example to set for the rest of the country. For that reason, it might not surprise you to learn that the next generation of leaders in environmental problem solvers could come from Boston. The University of Massachusetts Boston is launching a new program for its graduates that will train them up to become the environmental problem solvers of the future. The National Science Foundation has given a five year grant of $3.1 million to the university to fund the program, with the hope that real talent will be discovered and developed.

Home Grown Talent to Study Our State
The program will begin in the fall of 2014, and will take on eight graduates each year. Those accepted onto the program will study the environmental challenges faced by the urban coastal areas in Massachusetts Bay. Dubbed as ‘research fellows’, those who join the program will be selected from a pool of PhD students that have graduated from the university with qualifications in Environmental Science, Environmental Biology, Global Governance and Human Security, as well as Business Administration.

International Influence
The students won’t just be studying on home soil though, as they’ll have the opportunity to study with professors in Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as to work with officials from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Robyn Hannigan, dean of the School for the Environment at UMass Boston, stated that “environmental problems don’t acknowledge national or academic borders, so neither can our students." The ideas and research developed by the students will help to come up with solutions to environmental issues across the globe, so whilst the talent might be home-grown, the students will go on to make a difference worldwide.

How Can You Make a Difference?
The future looks promising for Boston, but what can you do to help the environment in the meantime? Check out this useful grid for some ideas about doing your bit around the home, and consider installing home insulation for somewhere like Mark Group and going green by investing in solar panels.

This post is sponsored by Mark Group.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tonight: Changes in Green Marketing Practices Post-Revised Green Guides

Your's truly has helped to put together a fantastic event tonight hosted by NEWIEE. The event is totally free and open to the public, so please join me tonight in learning about the FTC's guidelines for green marketing!

TONIGHT, 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Day Pitney LLP
One International Place
02110 Boston, MA

Join New England Women in Energy and the Environment on November 7 for a panel discussion on "green" marketing, hosted by Day Pitney at its Boston office. Panelists will discuss changes in green marketing since the FTC issued its final revised Green Guides a year ago, and explore areas where uncertainty remains when it comes to putting these guidelines into practice. A networking reception will precede the panel.

Panelists:  
Nina Jezic, Associate General Counsel, Retail Energy
Constellation Energy, an Exelon Company

Rachel Rose Belew, LEED AP, Director of Communications and Marketing Product Stewardship Institute

Moderator:  
Flossie Davis, Attorney
Day Pitney LLP

There is no charge for the program, but space is limited so please RSVP to the email address below.

Questions/RSVP: Please contact Lori Hazzard at
lhazzard@daypitney.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Spotlight: Follain

source image courtesy of Follain

Are you a sucker for the "Whole Body" section at Whole Foods? Even just in that tiny subsection of the store you could spend hours reading labels before you find something truly healthy, environmentally-friendly, and, most importantly, effective. Enter Follain. Follain is a new eco-beauty boutique in the South End specializing in highly curated, non-toxic, locally made cosmetics and toiletries. All brands at Follain are "spa-grade" and domestically created. The boutique also provides refills of their fastest moving products (reusable bottles pictured above). Such a great idea! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Easy Tips to Weatherproof your Apartment

source image courtesy of Eat & Sip in the City

1. This might sound obvious, but it is important: remove window air conditioning units.

2. Install thick curtains.

3. Use draft stoppers under leaky doors.

4. Open shades on sunny days, close shades at night. 

5. Reverse your ceiling fan rotation to send trapped head downwards.

6. Dress warmly - you shouldn't feel comfortable in shorts in the dead of winter!

7. Install plastic window insulation film.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Perspectives: 7 Ways to Clean With Essential Oils

source image courtesy of lilablog

The essential oils from plants such as lavender, rose, tea tree, eucalyptus, orange, lemon, pine, and even peppermint can be very useful and pleasantly scented green cleaning products. Since each bottle is highly concentrated you only need a few drops to do a big job. It may seem to cost a bit more than other natural cleaning methods, but you actually use less and the wonderful smell makes up for any increase in cost! Here are some ways you can clean up green with essential oils:

1. Clean combs and hair brushes with tea tree, eucalyptus or lavender oil. Just twenty drops added to half a cup of vinegar and one and a half cups of water can get your brushes looking and smelling great. Let them soak overnight and then air dry. Make sure you remove any hair before soaking.

2. Get scuff marks off the floor with tea tree oil. Apply a few drops and then rub with a rag wetted with vinegar.

3. Orange oil is great for removing sticky or oily stains. Just apply a few drops to the stain with a cotton ball or rag and dab until stain or stickiness is gone. Wash the spot immediately afterwards with warm water to remove any lingering oils. Will not stain most fabrics.

4. Keep your shower doors looking shiny with lemon oil. Rub or spray on a few drops of lemon oil diluted with water to keep the scum away.

5. Keep your toilet looking and smelling great by mixing two cups of water with two teaspoons of tea tree oil. Spray onto the toilet and let it soak for half an hour. Then scrub to remove stains and scents.

6. Keep your bathroom smelling fresh all day long by adding a drop of fragrant essential oil to the inside of your toilet paper roll. Every time someone goes to use it the scent will be released. I love calming lavender myself!

7. Get windows clean and repel flies and mosquitos! Just add ten drops of lemon grass oil to two ounces of water and spray onto windows for a shiny, great smelling surface that flies and mosquitos can’t stand.

Author: This post is contributed by Christine Maddox. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Texas as well as blogging for www.4nannies.com. She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care etc. She can be reached via email at: christine.4nannies @ gmail.com.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sponsored Post: Green Garden Projects for Autumn



The days may be getting shorter but it’s not too late to tend to your garden. If you want to create a gorgeous garden this autumn, here are four eco friendly DIY projects that you will love.

Paint your Plant Pots
If your garden is need of a pop of color, why not add a little interest with painted plant pots? All you will need for this project is standard clay pots, neon paint and brushes. Paint your clay pots in a variety of neon shades, but make sure to choose paints that are non toxic. Simply go online and search for low VOC paints (you can get a range of colors delivered to your door). Once the newly panted pots are dry, apply a stroke of chalkboard paint to the front of the pot with an eco friendly brush and use chalk to label your pots. This is perfect for labeling herbs!

Reuse Old Household Items 
Before you go out and buy new accessories for your garden, take a look around your home for items that you could use instead. Old boots, for example, are perfect for planting seeds in and will add an interesting eco friendly feature to your garden. You can use them for a variety of purposes and they are ideal to house your gardening tools. Another great idea is to take an old chair that you no longer use and turn it into a chair planter. There are some great examples of this on Pinterest should you need a little inspiration.

Create your Own Eco Shed 
A garden building is a worthy addition to any autumn garden as it provides you with a cozy little hideaway over the colder months. An eco friendly shed is basically an extension of your home and as a result it can add value to your home. If you know your way around a tool box you could attempt to build your own or, alternatively, buy one online from somewhere like Sheds and Things.

Build a Herb Garden with Old High Heels 
If you have always wanted your own herb garden, now is the time to create one. Gather any old pairs of high heels and turn them into herb planters at speed. Simply fill your heels with soil and plant your herbs. Arrange your shoes around the garden on a wooden shoe rack and there you have another fabulous eco friendly feature for your garden.

This post was sponsored by Sheds and Things

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pencil it In: NEWIEE Panel on FTC Green Guides

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WHEN: Thursday, November 7, 2013; Registration/Networking reception: 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m; Panel discussion: 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Day Pitney LLP Offices, One International Place, Boston

WHY: You're invited to join New England Women in Energy and the Environment on November 7 for a panel discussion on "green" marketing, hosted by Day Pitney at its Boston office. Panelists will discuss changes in green marketing since the FTC issued its final revised Green Guides a year ago, and explore areas where uncertainty remains when it comes to putting these guidelines into practice. A networking reception will precede the panel.

There is no charge for the program, but space is limited so please RSVP to the email address below.

Questions/RSVP: Please contact Lori Hazzard at lhazzard@daypitney.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spotlight: Merida Meridian

images courtesy of 1 / 2

As many of my longtime readers know, I served as a content contributor and social media consultant for Merida Meridian for almost four years. They are a great company, so I using this Spotlight Wednesday to highlight their efforts. Merida is a natural fiber area rug company based in Fall River, MA. They have been committed to offering sustainable floor covering solutions to consumers for over 30 years. They use only rapidly renewable materials such as jute, sisal, wool, and abaca to create their products. The rugs are beautiful, sustainable, and keep health in mind. Merida Meridian's Sustainability Philosophy can be found here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eco Chocolates to Satisfy Your Halloween Cravings


1. Taza Chocolate
Locally made from fairly traded ingredients. Nom nom nom.

2. Unreal Candy
Your favorite candy bars, but this time without corn syrup, GMOs, or preservatives. (I have tested and approve these candies - they are delish).

3. Sweetriot
USDA organic and fair trade certified chocolate candy with a recyclable package - made not too far away in NYC.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Perspectives: Urban Farming Education in Boston


Bostonians: if you think you can grow more collards than you can eat and haven’t read about Article 89, you’re missing out. Though community gardens and private food forests have dotted the city since before it became trendy, selling vegetables for profit has been illegal. This is set to change very soon. From February 2012 through May 2013, an Urban Agriculture Working group met to draft language for Article 89, which will rezone Boston to allow for urban agriculture. This article was released for public discussion this spring, and as of September, the working group has been drafting an “Intro to Article 89” and a “Road Map to Starting a Farm,” which will explain the forthcoming legislation in plain language. More information can be found about this at the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s website. In the meantime, here are a few tips for growing food in Boston.

Boston Basics 
While you can’t grow food to sell at farmers’ markets in your backyard, you can grow food to feed your family (or to trade with other folks with gardens, if you want to be crafty…) According to theUSDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, Boston falls in Zone 6. VeggieHarvest.com has an interactive feature where you can enter your zip code for your exact zone and relevant “planting calendar,” which shows you when to plant and harvest popular crops in Zone 6.

Another good thing to know about Boston is that the city tends towards soils with a sandy loam. Loamy or not, get your soil tested—the city can’t guarantee that there’s not vestiges of lead paint in the groundwater. Of course, adding organic matter such as compost to the soil will increase the amount of microorganisms in the soil, which will lead to happier plants. In addition to this information, I would check and see what water sources are available in your neighborhood.

Farmer Education 
If you don’t feel confident enough to attempt the trial-and-error method of starting a garden—or better yet, if you have some gardening knowledge and are looking to get more serious, there are a number of farmer education opportunities in Boston. Volunteering is a great way to hone your gardening skills, and this can be done by researching the community gardens in your area or contacting an organization such as City Growers, one of the city’s chosen pilot programs in urban agriculture. For those who would like a serious internship opportunity in the city, the Urban Farming Institute of Boston will take you through a 6-week classroom experience, followed by a season on ¼ acre plots of land. More flexible (and not necessarily Boston-based) opportunities can be found through WWOOF USA, or Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This is a service that can help connect you to organic farms looking for help all over the world that often trade room and board for help. I gained my interest farming through a brief WWOOFing stint in Europe, and would recommend highly recommend working with this organization.


Community Gardens
A community garden is best defined as a single piece of land gardened by many people within a community. These are often grown on unused land, such as a vacant lot. The Boston area has over 200 community gardens, and the Boston Natural Areas Network has created an interactive map to help potential gardeners find plots of land near their homes.
                                

For-Profit Exceptions
If you don’t want to wait to start your business until Article 89 passes, you can always apply for an exception through the City of Boston Inspectional Services Department, Building Department (ISD) for a Use and Occupancy Permit, or look for land just outside of the city. More resources on starting a farm can be found at the UMass Center for Agriculture’s website. The organizations listed here will certainly be able to help you, but remember that a small farm is a business, so treat it like one. Also keep in mind that farming is a venture whose value is difficult to measure in dollars, so you’ll want to create your own parameters for success. Nevertheless, if growing food to feed yourself, your community, and your soil isn’t initially reward enough, you may want to reconsider your path. Farming may be a politically potent act that draws attention to issues such as exorbitant land prices (and subsequently, land insecurity) and the true value of real food, but things are still changing slowly. Boston’s Article 89 is a reflection of those changes, and is a surefire gateway to a greener Boston.

AuthorSean Lords spent three amazing years teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. Since returning to the States, he’s advised others who are looking for the right tefl course in Boston, while raising a family and working on his Master of Education.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sponsored Post: Using Natural Materials in Home Décor


Many people want to be more eco-friendly, but struggle with actually implementing green lifestyle changes. The best place to start is at home, and if you’ve got a renovation project coming up or already have one underway, incorporating natural materials into your home’s new décor is a great way to help the planet. Materials that are sustainably sourced, rapidly renewable or are made from organic fabrics are often free of toxic chemicals. Plus, natural materials look amazing in any home, so your décor will look chic as well.

Reclaimed Wooden Floorboards
There’s no better way to add an element of cozy, rustic charm to your home’s interiors than to work with the flooring you’ve already got. Peel back those carpets and see what condition your home’s existing floorboards are in. You’ll need to be armed with a kit of tools and supplies, including an electric sander and some dye, but if you’re willing to put in the effort the results will look amazing. For a guide to doing it yourself, check out this online tutorial.

Wicker Furniture
Investing in wicker furniture for your garden or conservatory will look lovely as well as being environmentally friendly. It’s a good idea to check with the retailer that the material has been sustainably sourced and is made from rattan or palm vine, so picking a reputable company is incredibly important if you want to be eco-friendly. Give each one a call or visit their website to check where they source their furniture from, a good place to start is Shackletons.

Slate Tiles
Slate tiling looks amazing in kitchens and bathrooms, and as a natural material, it has no harmful manufacturing process attached to it. Even if you don’t want to go the whole hog and re-tile, if you ever come across any scrap slate in your local area, it has a multitude of other uses. Use slabs as place mats or coasters, or even put a wooden frame around it and use it as a rustic notice board in a home office or kitchen.

Something for Everyone
Raw, natural materials will never date, which is why they’re so popular among homeowners that want to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. As we’ve demonstrated, there’s something for budgets both big and small, so everybody can do their bit to help the environment by making a few changes next time they re-decorate.


This post was sponsored by Furniture. Thanks!



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pencil it in: The Autumn Extravaganza is Next Week


Come celebrate women's contribution to the energy and environmental fields in New England! The event is open to all and will be a great way to network and meet other local innovators. The event is open bar and will include heavy appetizers. See you at 6pm on Monday at Blu at The Sports Club/LA, 4 Avery St.!