Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boston Green Drinks, Tonight!

Boston Green Drinks  - April Happy Hour

The April Boston Green Drinks happy hour will be co-hosted with Young Professionals in Energy and New England Women in Energy and the Environment at GEM Restaurant and Lounge on Province St! I'm looking forward to mingling with people from all three networking groups. Unfortunately, tomorrow's event is completely book (good news: BGD is more popular than ever, bad news: if you haven't already signed up, you'll have to wait until May's event).

Hope to see you all there!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Guest Post: Organizing & Greening Your Home Office

Many prefer to work from home. It is convenient and green to stay at home. However, working at home requires a high level of organization and time management - which makes an orderly home office imperative. 


Here are some tips to make your home office organized and comfortable:

1.       Space – Regardless of the size of your home office, you can  turn it into a more spacious feeling place.  De-cluttering is a great way to make your home office more inviting and efficient. Try going paperless - it is a great way to save trees and keeping your office tidy.

3.       Furniture- The right furniture for your home office is essential.  Surroundings are a great source of inspiration so choose furniture that both reflects your style but also has a story behind it (like fair trade items from Ten Thousand Villages). 

4.       Home gadgets  - Don't place tvs, radios, or game consoles  in your home office. Not only are these distracting, but they waste electricity. 

5.       Light- Lighting is easy to neglect but a well lit office is important. Natural light sources like windows are of course the most pleasant and cost efficient. Also invest for your lighting source even though it may be costly up front (i.e. use compact flourescent or LED lightbulbs).

Sarah Del Rosario is a home improvement blogger from Thrifty Senyorita and currently partners with, one of the leading providers of accessories and furniture for Office

Friday, April 26, 2013

Earth Day Champion: Seaport Hotel

This past Monday, Earth Day,  Boston’s Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center celebrated with Laura Feddersen, of Green City Growers in Somerville & the Seaport’s Executive Chef, Richard Rayment, by planting Greek oregano, chives, onions, and radishes in their plaza-level organic garden. The organic garden will continue to provide herbs & vegetables for their customers at Aura Restaurant & TAMO Bar this season!

The Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center was recently honored by New Generation Energy at their Mint Party at TRADE.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

RECAP: Trust for Public Land 40th Anniversary Event

Last night the Trust for Public Land celebrated its 40th birthday at the Harvard Club in the Financial District. It was a small but passionate group of people that were there not only to celebrate the 40th anniversary milestone, but also to honor George P. Denny III for his outstanding volunteer service with the TPL's Ferguson Award.

Having never heard of the Ferguson Award before being invited to this event, I was a little confused when the room suddenly erupted with bagpipe music - turns out that Ferguson was Scottish, so the award is the Ferguson tartan accompanied by bagpipe music - what a fun tradition!

For those that don't know much about TPL, their mission is to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. They have supported some great projects around Massachusetts including the East Boston Parks, Walden Woods, and Minuteman Park. I look forward to learning more about their local initiatives, especially as green spaces become increasingly important in our nation's cities.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Recap: The Future of Nature, Event 1: The Future of Food

On Earth Day, The Nature Conservancy and WBUR hosted a discussion panel on what the future of our food system will look like. Attendees gathered at the Artists for Humanity center in South Boston and mingled and grabbed some freebees from sponsors before hitting the appetizer table for an assortment of cheeses.

Eventually we took our seats and our moderator, Sacha Pfieffer of All Things Considered, took the stage. (Which, as NPR fan, was quite exciting!). The panel contained an interesting set of scientists, chefs, and agriculture specialists ready to share their thoughts on the current food system and what will need to change in order for future generations to get proper nourishment after the population reaches 9 Billion in 2050. Then, each panelists shared their thoughts:

-Not only do we need to think about feeding a population of 9 billion people, we need to think about how we will feed them well.
-To do this, we need to learn as a nation to eat less meat - not have meat be “the center of the plate.”
-Local food in certain regions can be extremely expensive which is not sustainable because businesses will have trouble making a profit.
-The best thing you can do as a consumer is to support businesses that are doing the right thing. 

David Cleary, Agriculture Strategy Director, The Nature Conservancy
-As China and India move into the “middle class” they are going to require more complex diets.
-Many of the environmental issues that negatively affect our food sources are man made. 
-To have a healthy agriculture system, we will need to abide by 4 principles: 
     1) manage soils properly 
     2) have natural habitats in and around farms 
     3) manage your imputs properly (water, fertilizers, etc.) 
     4) we need to build agriculture systems that will be resilient to climate change.

Paul Greenberg, Author, Four Fish: The Last Wild Food
-What we must do to ensure we have enough food in the future, is mostly a result of what we have already done to damage natural food systems.
-70% of all seafood Americans eat is in restaurants, so we need to learn to ask questions about our food.
-50% of all seafood we eat is farmed.
-Eat local seafood, not too much, mostly bivalves (good news for me, I LOVE oysters!)

Oran Hesterman, Author of Fair Food and Founder of the Fair Food Network
-Health problems and rampant obesity are caused by a broken food system.
-There are many great initiatives popping up all over the country to address this issue which gives us great hope for the future.
-Individuals and institutions need to make changes.
-The most important thing you can do is put pressure on the government to pass the Farm Bill

After each panelist gave their presentation, the audience was invited to ask questions. The resulting conversation spoke volumes - a majority of the questions were about GMOs. It seems as though the future of food will definitely involve biotechnology! Though the future of food presents some daunting tasks, I left the event that night feeling hopeful and empowered. I look forward to the rest of The Nature Conservancy’s Future of Nature Series. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest Post: Heating Water with Solar Thermal Energy Systems

Solar thermal energy systems are used to harvest energy from the sun to use for heating water. Radiation from the sun is absorbed by the water through the use of solar collectors. Solar thermal systems are used in commercial and residential applications, where they are used for hot water supply in bathrooms, laundries, kitchens and process heating applications.

The Solar Collector: The solar collector is comprised of solar cells with water tubes underneath, that are used to absorb the sun's heat into the water. The water is warmed through the collector, flows through a solar controller, and into an insulated storage tank for future use.

The Solar Controller: The solar controller’s job is to measure the temperature of the water after the collector area and inside the storage tank. If the water temperature inside the storage tank is low, the controller sends a signal to a pump to turn it on. The pump then circulates hot water from the collectors into the storage tank.

The Storage Tank: The storage tank in has two to three inches of foam insulation surrounding it. This foam insulation can keep the water inside the tank at a high temperature for up to three days without requiring additional solar energy. For added back-up, some storage tanks incorporate an electrical heating element that can heat the water if the sun’s energy is not available due to cloudy conditions.

Advantages of Solar Thermal Energy: Solar thermal water heating costs close to nothing to operate once the system is installed. It is environmentally friendly, requires virtually no maintenance, and is four to five times more energy efficient than solar photovoltaic systems at a fraction of the cost for installation. Having a solar thermal energy system with a backup electrical heating element means you will never have to worry about
having hot water available.

Mauro Small writes for Go Green Academy, an information website on topics related to energy efficiency, climate change and sustainability.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

1970 earth day poster
1970 Earth Day Poster 
image courtesy of

After what felt like the longest week of all time, Bostonians let out a deep sigh of relief when the remaining perpetrator of the tragic marathon day bombing was caught. Now, as we try to heal as a city, we are closer and more compassionate than ever before. This strong urge to give back to the community combined with the recent dose sunshine, makes for a truly inspiring Earth Day here in Boston.  

I am looking forward to celebrating this evening with The Nature Conservancy at the Future of Food Panel Discussion in South Boston. (Tickets still available!

The Details:

Monday, April 22, 5:30-9:30 pm
Artists for Humanity EpiCenter
100 West 2nd. Street
South Boston, MA

  • Michael Leviton, chef, Lumière and Area Four, Chefs Collaborative
  • Oran Hesterman, founder, Fair Food Network
  • Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food
  • David Cleary, strategy director, agriculture, The Nature Conservancy
  • Moderator: Sacha Pfeiffer, WBUR, host of All Things Considered

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

And the Winner is...

The winner of the Boston Green Blog Balance Bar Giveaway is twitter user @cepalmer08 !! Congrats, and I hope you enjoy the rain forest certified dark chocolate bars! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guest Post: The Benefits of Living Roofs for Cities

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A living roof, or green roof, as they are also called, is a roof covered in vegetation that provides several benefits for the building it sits on and the environment of the surrounding area. Living roofs can be made up of planted vegetation or container gardens, though there are some who say plants kept in containers don't really count as a living roof. They are being utilized in several cities to provide beneficial green space where there is none and they are also used for constructing more ecologically friendly homes.

There are several purposes of a living roof, especially for urban areas. They help keep the water off roofs and avoid damage to roofs by absorbing rainwater. Living roofs significantly increase the life span of a roof, saving the owners of the building thousands of dollars in maintenance and replacement costs. In addition, living roofs can also help reduce the temperatures in urban areas and provide insulation, reducing costs for heating and cooling the building.

Categories of Living Roofs
There are three types of living roofs: intensive, semi-intensive and extensive. The main difference between the three is the planting depth of the vegetation and the amount of maintenance they require. An intensive living roof can support between 80 to 150 pounds of vegetation per square foot, whereas an extensive living roof supports between 10 to 25 pounds of vegetation per square foot. 

An intensive living roof, which could be a lawn or vegetable garden, requires more up-keep than an extensive living roof, which is designed to be more self-sustaining.  While intensive living roofs may be enjoyed by many of the building's residents, extensive living roofs are usually restricted due to the need for high maintenance.

Homes with sod roofs, which are seen in many countries, provide insulation for the home, helping to keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Other homes or smaller buildings have used their roofs to plant exotic grasses and plants, providing benefits for the owner of the property and giving passersby something visually appeal to appreciate.

Living roofs are a relatively new concept, but city governments have quickly caught on to their advantages and now provide tax incentives to businesses for building living roofs.  They help filter rainwater as it falls and attracts beneficial insects, bees and butterflies back into the cities, renewing the environmental landscape of many large cities and providing an oasis to relax in for people.

About the Author: Philip Brown is a lover of green, healthy lawns. A former lawn care services professional, Philip now spends his time sharing what he knows with others and blogging about it at The Lawn Enthusiast.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Recap: NEWIEE Nanotechnology Panel

image courtesy of

Last week I attended the Nanotechnology Panel co-hosted by New England Women in Energy & the Environment and Mintz Levin. We gathered at the Mintz Levin office and mingled over wine and vegetarian snacks before discussing the deeply complex field of nanotechnology.

Our panelists, Jamie Beard of FastCAP, Marcie Black of Bandgap, Jo Anne Shatkin of CLF Ventures, and Fatima Toor of Lux Research, began by giving us a brief overview of what nanotechnology means. Nano is simply a scale, and after adding the suffix "technology," it comes to mean: to see, measure, and manipulate on the nano scale. So, you may be wondering, what does this have to do with energy and the environment?

Well, nanotechnology is used to:
  • Make solar power more cost effective
  • Make non-toxic, super efficient batteries
  • Make efficient insulation
  • Detect heavy metals in water
Nanotechnology has great potential to build more sustainable infrastructure, but since the ability for humans to work on the nano-scale is fairly new, there are also some safety concerns. First, there aren't many regulations for nanoparticles/nanolabs/nanowaste yet. Secondly, consumer products that contain nanoparticles are not labeled in the U.S. (ex: sunblock, cosmetics, touchscreen electronics). 

Its a fascinating field, and its exciting to be in the midst of it all (Boston is one of the world's largest nanotech hub, second to Silicon Valley)! I look forward to what great nano innovations come from our local labs!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tonight: NEWIEE Nanotechnology Panel

image courtesy of
Tonight, New England Women in Energy and the Environment and the law firm Mintz Levin are co-hosting a discussion panel on Nanotechnology. 
Nanotechnology: What Is It? How Is It Being Used? And How Is It Different Than Other Technology?

In a moderated discussion, the panelists will provide insight into the benefits and challenges of nanotechnology, the existing guidance and regulations, and what they see as the future of nanotechnology. A cocktail reception will begin at 5:30 pm and be followed by a panel discussion at 6 pm.

When: Thursday, April 11, 2013
           5:30 pm: Arrival and Open Networking
           6:00 – 7:00 pm: Panel Discussion and Q&A
           7:00 pm – End: Open Networking

Where: Mintz Levin
             38th Floor
            One Financial Center
            Boston, MA 02111
Please RSVP. Hope to see you there!
image courtesy of

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Its Hubway Season!

It has been so wonderful to see the Hubway bikes back on the streets of Boston over the past couple of weeks. Have you bought your membership yet? Its $85 for the year, $12 for a 3 day pass, or $5 for a 24 hour pass! Get on it! Its getting nice out!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Balance Bar Review & Giveaway!

As I've mentioned previously on BGB, I've recently gotten really into yoga. The only issue is that I have to find class times that fit into my schedule. I hate working out on an empty stomach, so going straight from work to yoga class is not an option without a snack. Luckily, I just discovered a great and green pre-workout snack: Balance Bar. 

I've tried samples of the new dark chocolate Balance Bars and they are all delish! My favorite is the dark chocolate coconut. The best thing about these nutrition bars is that they are certified by the Rainforest Alliance! Rainforest Alliance certification assures consumers that the cocoa beans are grown on sustainably managed farms that protect people and their surrounding ecosystems of water, soil and wildlife. And get this: Balance Bar is giving one lucky BGB reader a chance to win a prize pack including all varieties of the dark chocolate bars! 

1) Follow Balance Bar on Facebook & Twitter
3) Follow Boston Green Blog on Facebook & Twitter (if you aren't already)
3) Follow my *new* blog on Twitter
4) Tweet a reason you love dark chocolate to @BalanceBar @BosGreenBlog @JustUsGalsBos sometime between NOON today and before NOON on 4/16/2013. That means you have an entire week to enter!

Winner will be chosen randomly. Participants can only enter once per twitter handle. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will get back to you asap. 


Please remember:  One winner per household, email address or home address. If you have won this prize on another blog you are ineligible to win again.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Guest Post: Bar Hopping with Salvaged Materials

Vintage film canisters, a statue of Hebe, 9 foot columns, and a beautiful antique bar circa 1800’s, are just a few antique salvaged pieces that recently relocated from the retail showroom and event function space at Restoration Resources in Boston’s South End to the new Berkeley Street flagship store for Restoration Hardware.

Restoration Resources “rescues” one of a kind architectural pieces and design elements from interesting buildings, Boston Brownstones and period homes throughout New England, that are undergoing renovation, or destruction, and then showcases them in a 7000 square foot showroom and warehouse in Boston, where both residential and commercial customers such as Restoration Hardware will find eco-friendly treasures that possess beauty, old world craftsmanship…and decades of history!

According to store owner, Bill Raymer, “They just don’t make them like they used to anymore! Of course I am biased, but the quality, the painstaking attention to detail even some of the woods themselves simply no longer exist today…we try and keep these gorgeous pieces from ending up in a landfill…because once they are gone, they are gone forever” Bill added, “I think that most of my customers appreciate antique salvage for more than just the design and character, they also want to help preserve both our environment and history!”  The vintage pieces that ended up at Restoration Hardware’s new location, (which is actually the former home to the New England Museum of Natural History) represent our New England roots, and each has a story to be told from it’s former past.

Prior to it’s new home in the third floor music room of Restoration Hardware, the black bar accented with columns and mirrors, and standing at a stoic 9 feet high and 18 feet long, shared years of history with Restoration Resources.

The store first acquired the bar when Bill reclaimed it from an old pub in Woonsocket, RI nearly 13 years ago. Created near the turn of the century, the bar had been a staple in the local watering hole for close to 100 years.

Once Restoration Resources refurbished the piece, it was sold to a restaurant in the South End by the name of Pho Republique. There, the bar stood tall for nearly 12 years before the establishment closed and moved to a new location. When the restaurant relocated, Bill reclaimed the bar once again

and installed it into one of his showrooms, which he currently rents out as an event function space for customers seeking a unique venue setting; be it cocktail receptions, bridal showers or birthday parties!

Of course, while all of the pieces in both the event function space and the retail store have history, they are also all for sale so their “history” with Restoration Resources can often be short lived. In fact, Raymer confides that while his goal as a business owner is to sell his recycled pieces, he did get a bit “attached” to the bar… and as a result, he will now be building a new bar in April from assorted salvaged wood, columns, and mirrors and installing it in his “vintage venue”. Next time you are in Boston, you may want to make a trip to Restoration Hardware’s 40,000 square foot landmark store, and while you are there, “pony up” to their “new” bar.  And also, regardless, with or without the bar, the retail store at Restoration Resources, “bar none”, is also worth a visit!

by Donna Lee Robertson

Restoration Resources is located at 1946 Washington St. in Boston’s South End. It has a 7,000 square foot showroom stocked with vintage treasures and antique architectural salvage. It also offers a “vintage venue” to rent for all occasions, a prop rental service, a set location for photo shoots, films and TV shows, and provides recycling and deconstruction services.

Friday, April 5, 2013

FTC Green Guides for Marketing & Advertising Sustainable Products

The Federal Trade Commission recently published new "Green Guides" for how companies can market sustainable products. These guides will help put an end to "greenwashing" (when companies use terms to make consumers believe something is a "green" product when it may not be). For me, as a consumer, the most important thing to know is what certain terms actually mean when they are used in marketing. The FTC has released a great fact sheet - a perfect term refresher.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

5 Ways to Be Green at a Celtics Game

1. Refill the same beer/soda cup instead of getting a new plastic cup every time you need a refill.

2. Getting a snack? Eat vegetarian, and only take as many napkins as you will actually need.

3. Take public transit to the game. After all,  the TD Garden sits right on top of North Station, making it an easy spot to get to by T or Commuter Rail.

4. Don't buy a program. These days, all of this info can be found online without wasting paper, and out of all the souvenirs you could get, you'll probably get the least use of this one after the game is over.

5. Be in the know. Check out what the NBA is doing to make the game more sustainable on the NBA Green Website

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Guest Post: How to Revamp Your Kitchen Using Recycled and Eco-friendly Materials

image courtesy of

The kitchen is one of the busiest and traffic-prone areas in the home. Often, gatherings and other family events usually take place in the kitchen, causing the kitchen easily lose its shine and glamour.  Most people think that kitchen revamp is costly, but redoing a kitchen doesn’t need to be grand. Simple changes can make a dramatic difference.

Because of the rising cost of energy and improved environmental awareness,  homeowners are careful when choosing the appliances and furniture that they’re going to use in their
kitchen revamp.

Bohemian Apartment by Incorporated (4)
image courtesy of

Here are some quick tips for a cost efficient, eco-friendly, kitchen makeover:

Let it be Green - Consider putting a plant in your kitchen. This will alter the look and
ambiance of your kitchen while also improving indoor air quality.

Paints - Apply a new coat of low-VOC paint to an old counter top.

Faucets- Inspect your kitchen faucet regularly. Immediately repairing leaks is a great way to update your kitchen and conserve water at the same time.

Light- Replace all incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs.

Appliances- If you’re planning to buy a new set of appliances for your kitchen, consider Energy Star products. In addition, make sure to unplug all your unused appliances.

Recycle bin- Learn your town's recycling policies. If your municipality has single-stream recycling, make sure to have one, clearly-labeled recycling bin. Otherwise, set up a recycling area so that people can easily separate glass, plastic, and paper.

Eco-friendly Cleaning Materials- Try making your own cleaning products to avoid using synthetic chemicals all over your kitchen.

Help save your environment and Enjoy your Eco-friendly Kitchen.

Daniel Argent is a home improvement blogger and is the guy behind The Home Fixers - where you can find  the best local plumbers.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tonight: EcoSession Sustainable Textiles & Techniques Spanning India & Boston

One of my favorite blogs, Magnifeco, is hosting a series of sustainability themed events in Boston this spring. The first of which is tonight at MassArt. All are invited to this FREE event to explore Indian textile arts that have been practiced in villages and through folklore for centuries and their role in modern, sustainable manufacturing and design.


Jennifer Varekamp -  is an Associate Professor in the Fashion Department at MassArt. She is a costume and clothing designer with a deep interest in sustainable fashion including the traditional techniques and artistry found in cultural dress. She was a selected participant in the “Creative Industries and Sustainable Design” Tour of Germany in 2009 and has participated in numerous conferences and workshops on sustainability in the US and abroad.  She was an invited guest lecturer at NIFT in Delhi, India on this topic. She currently teaches a summer course on Sustainable Fashion at MassArt.

AvniTrivedi - India’s native designer Avni Trivedi is not a newcomer to the industry of fashion design. Avni was born into a textile and fashion immersed family. All of Avni’s designs are crafted from fabrics that are 100% hand-dyed and woven by individual artists while commissioned exclusively by Avni. By requisitioning these fabrics, Avni helps maintain economic stability for her villages of root and keeps these ancient arts alive.The dyes used in Avni creations are chemically free, using herbs and plants to create colors. Avni’s naturally dyed fabrics are created by urban artisans from Mumbai, who use their talents to create the environmentally friendly fabrics.

Seema Krish -  Bombay born Seema Krish is known for her ‘Modern Traditional’ aesthetic in the medium of textiles. In her Boston studio, she creates contemporary textile designs that are combined with traditional textile making techniques. She finds inspiration for her unique visual vocabulary in living between two cultures- East and West. seemakrish the fabric line, founded in 2010, is a unique line dedicated to producing artisanal textiles created by a select group of Indian artisans. The mission is to enhance the lives of both the users and the producers. The products are simple, beautiful, environmentally and socially conscious.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Composting & Coffee Workshop - APRIL

[NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO APRIL 3, 2013. Please check the "events" tab for more information]