Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eco-Friendly Moving Ideas

image courtesy of Solid Frog

1. Instead of packing your stuff in trash bags, cardboard boxes, or anything else you might end up throwing in the trash, rent reusable plastic crates that can be returned after your move. Try LifeTotes.

2. Before throwing things in the trash, figure out if your stuff is worthy of donating, selling, or giving away on Craigslist. 

3. On the same note, check out local yard sales and craigslist postings before purchasing new furniture. 

4. If new furniture is needed for your new place, look for sustainable options - buy local, or check out eco selections from West Elm, or read about the latest innovations in eco friendly furniture on TreeHugger.

5. Use newspaper to pack fragile items instead of packing peanuts or bubble wrap. Packing peanuts are made from polystyrene...yuck! And bubblewrap doesn't biodegrade. Packing with newspaper is a good way to reuse, and can still be recycled at the end. 

6. Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies when scrubbing down the old and the new digs. Many stores  carry green cleaners, or you can make your own

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Perspectives: Reducing the Volume of Your Trash

sweet recycle poster.
image courtesy of

Year after year tons of products are discarded and relocated to incinerators and landfills to live out the rest of their product lives. This harsh fact is both depressing and environmentally mortifying. The incinerating of excess waste emits mass amounts of greenhouse gasses which in turn contributes to air pollution and human-caused climate change. And, adding recyclables to the landfills depletes our natural resources, takes up valuable space and simply uglies the world.

It is no secret that reducing, reusing, and recycling is the answer to a cleaner and more environmentally balanced future. Recycling refers to the process of turning the old and unusable into something new and usable; it is the rebirthing of a product. Recycling extends the lifespan of the product and keeps it out of the landfills, the process also cuts down on the use of virgin materials and saves energy usage.

Statistics show that close to 65 percent of the thrash we contribute to the landfills are in fact recyclable. Items such as cardboard and other paper products, glass, aluminum, electronics, clothing and food are all recyclable. Cutting down on the waste we produce is perhaps one of the easiest and most rewarding ways of going green. The simple act of recycling most of our trash will restore the value of the ecosystem. If we continue to trash excessively, soon we will literally be living in our own filth. The landfills will overflow, the ground water and air quality will degrade even more and our health as well as the health of our wildlife and plant life will suffer drastically. Reducing the volume of trash you produce may sound like an overwhelming and daunting task, nevertheless, once to know the how’s, where’s and whys of it all, doing so will become like second nature. Below is a quick guide on how to do so:

Reducing the Volume of your Trash

Go Paperless: Our overuse of paper has contributed to deforestation, extinction, loss of habitat
and poor air quality. In our everyday lives we use paper in our kitchens, bathrooms and offices.
We can cut down on the volume of paper by using reusable napkins and washcloths and by
opting for recycled paper toilet paper and printing minimally.

Recycle eWaste: Electronics such as cameras, computers, TV’s, Refrigerators, microwaves,
lamps and batteries should be recycled. Most electronics can be sold, donated or salvaged to be
used again, research online for a recycle center near you.

Buy Sustainable: In an effort to cut down on waste, many companies have opted to make
products out of post-consumer materials. Products such as paper, containers, toothbrushes,
clothing and shoes are produced with recycled materials. Supporting the use of such product is
an easy way to untrash.

Start Compost: Food scraps can have a second life, composting creates natural mulch, and
natural mulch encourages the growth of vegetation. Starting a compost reduces waste and
increases the quality of plant life.

Reuse: When you reuse you obviously throw away less; using reusable shopping bags, water
bottles, snack bags and storage containers are easy ways to cut down on waste.

Author -This post was written by Roechelle Adair of Hug a Tree with Me, visit her for more tips and insights on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recap of Because Water's Charles River Rummage

photos courtesy of Carven Boursiquot

On August 10th, BeCause Water hosted the second Charles River Rummage where teams of 4 competed on Paddle Boston kayaks to clean as much debris and litter in 1 hour as possible. Once the rummagers got ashore, BeCause Water awarded $100 cash prize, NE Aquarium passes, a gift certificate to Safar Coiffure Salon and full access to the mobile app, DropIn. What remained of the trash was sorted, thrown away, and recycled through Save That Stuff

Sounds like an amazing event and I can't wait to see what BeCause Water plans next!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pencil it in: Boston Area Sustainability Group Meetup

source image courtesy of

When: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Where: The Venture Cafe - Cambridge Innovation Center, One Broadway, 4th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02142

Why:  Some say you should only recycle after all waste elimination and reuse options have been ruled out. If recycling is our panacea, why have recycling rates remained flat despite a perceived growing awareness? Landfills are full, incineration is out, what are we doing with our stuff – from food to pharmaceuticals, from electronics to Styrofoam? Can you connect the dots between solid waste and climate change?
To start the fall, we plan to push the boundaries of familiarity to explore:
- Legislation/Regulation – its challenges, achievements and unintended consequences
- Zero Waste – Is it really zero?
- Product stewardship’s role in waste reduction
- Handling textiles at their end-of-life
- A Day in the Life of a “Fancy Trashman”

Learn more and register here. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spotlight: New Generation Energy

This week's spotlight is on Boston-based New Generation Energy. NGE's goal is to help nonprofits and local communities achieve energy efficiency. They do this by educating their members, fundraising for efficiency projects, and by connecting people to build a stronger environmentally-aware community in Boston. Boston is home to hundreds of non-profits which is reflective of a city of people that want to do good, but these organizations don't always have the time or funding to become energy efficient no matter how motivated the group may be. NGE strives fill that gap and make these organizations more sustainable.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Green Tip Tuesday: 5 Beaches to Visit Before Summer Ends

1. Singing Beach, Manchester by the Sea 
Travel Time: 55 mins from North Station. (45 minutes on commuter rail, 10 minute walk). 
Pro: Clean
Con: Commuter rail schedule can be inhibiting 

2. M Street Beach, South Boston
Travel Time: 15 mins from South Station (8 minutes on bus, 7 minute walk).
Pro: Easily Accessible
Con: Water quality must be checked daily due to proximity to the city

3. Crane Beach, Ipswich
Travel Time: 1hr and 5 mins from North Station (50 mins on commuter rail, 15 mins on Explorer Shuttle)
Con: Explorer shuttle only runs on weekends, and ends service all together after Sept. 3. 

4. Spectacle Island, Boston Harbor
Travel Time: 15 mins from Long Wharf (ferry)
Pro: Beautiful views
Con: Water quality must be checked daily due to proximity to the city

5. Revere Beach, Revere
Travel Time: 30 mins from State Street
Pro: Easily accessible 
Con: Gets crowded

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Perspectives: Diet Tips for Sustainable Living

source image courtesy of

The economy and the environment are affected by the foods humans consume. Foods that are grown locally should be supported because less fuel and resources required to transport food locally. Supporting nearby growers is made easier by joining a group that supports agriculture in the community, like a CSA.

Reduce the amount of meat that you eat. There are more resources required to take care of the animals until they are ready for slaughter. A pound of beef requires eight pounds of grain for production. A pound of chicken can be made with two pounds of grain making it more sustainable than beef. Less is required for seafood and fish; only a pound and a half for a pound of farm raised fish. Plant eating species such as trout, tilapia and catfish are the choices that are the most sustainable. These are productive and take up very little space. Compared to their plant eating counterparts, sea bass and tuna which are carnivorous, are not as sustainable. Avoid albacore tuna, Bluefin, marlin and swordfish, which are predators.

Shopping organic is a good choice because artificial fertilizers and pesticides are not used on organically raised plants. Animals that have not been given antibiotics or growth hormones to produce organic products such as eggs, milk, seafood and poultry; look for the product label to say “100% Organic”.

Raise your own. A little time and some space could allow you to have a vegetable garden or raise some chickens for eggs and poultry. You can have herbs in the kitchen or tomatoes and greens in a container garden if space is limited.

Reusable containers and bags are offered inexpensively. These can be used each time you shop. As an incentive, a few cents off  your purchase is given by some stores when you use your own bag. This also reduces the amount of bags that require production and keeps them out of the landfill.

Tammy Mahan is a freelance writer with 20 years of experience in the healthcare field. She enjoys writing for in her free time. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cool Globes Exhibit Comes to Boston

Since 2007, the Cool Globes Exhibit has been traveling the world, and for the next two months, it will be in Boston. The beautifully painted, 5-foot diameter globes are installed in various locations throughout the city - each depicting solutions to various aspects of climate change. The fun exhibit is intended to spark dialogue and encourage creative thought on environmental issues. I hope to see as many as I can before the exhibit moves on to its next destination!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spotlight: Hubway

Source Image Courtesy of

Today's spotlight focuses on Hubway. Hubway is the amazingly successful Boston bike sharing program that is now two years old and already boasts over one million rides taken! Affordable membership options and ubiquitous stations have made Hubway the model system for other major cities (including NYC).  Prices are $85 for the year, $12 for a 3 day pass, or $5 for a 24 hour pass. If you think that is expensive, just remember that an annual Hubway membership is about the same price as 4 days of parking at a garage downtown! EEEK! The great thing about Hubway is that it unites sustainability with convenience, making it the choice transportation for more than just the green-minded. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Perspectives: Pests to Look Out for in Boston

From bluebirds to bottlenose dolphins, Massachusetts is home to a fascinating variety of wildlife. If you live in Boston then you should learn who your neighbors are, even if they turn out to be bothersome pests.

Bed Bugs
Bed bugs were virtually eradicated in the U.S. for decades, but they managed to make a major comeback in the 1990s. Bed bug infestations are now commonplace, especially in northern states with temperate climates. Unfortunately, this includes Massachusetts, and their numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate in Boston.

Once bed bugs get inside a home, they breed rapidly and spread throughout the area. They feed exclusively on blood and can turn you and your pets into tasty food sources that never run out. After being bitten by a bed bug, many people develop red bumps and rashes on their skin. Bed bug bites are not infectious by themselves, but scratching at irritated skin leaves it vulnerable to bacterial infections.

Houses in Boston are certainly not cheap, and termite damage can be unbelievably frustrating. The type of termite that destroys buildings in Massachusetts lives in the soil beneath sources of wood. These subterranean termites can burrow through the tiniest cracks in foundations, and it doesn't take them long to start gnawing through a home's wooden components. Colonies typically contain hundreds of thousands of workers and soldiers, and they can do some serious damage to your property in a matter of weeks. If termites are feasting on your home, try to get rid of the infestation as quickly as you can. Termite queens are egg-laying machines, and the problem will most likely get worse until the insects are removed.

While rats and mice make excellent low-maintenance pets when raised in captivity, your safest bet is to think of their wild cousins as furry balls of disease. Wild rodents in Massachusetts spread a variety of diseases through their droppings and urine, including Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, meningitis, and encephalitis. You can get these diseases by touching surfaces that have come into contact with rodents or by inhaling contaminated dust particles. Because their bodies are often covered in salmonella and other bacteria, rodents can cause food poisoning when they forage in pantries and cupboards.

As if these health problems weren't enough, Norway rats, house mice, and many of Boston's other invasive rodent species are extremely destructive houseguests. In addition to gnawing through wooden walls and floors, they cause power outages by chewing through electrical wires. Damaged wiring is one of the leading causes of house fires, so avoid letting rodents hang around on your property for too long.

The two bat species found in Boston are the little brown bat and the big brown bat. The majority of bats in Massachusetts actually live in man-made shelters, and both species can often be found roosting in attic spaces. The main problem with bats is not the bats themselves, but is the vast quantities of droppings that accumulate in their nesting areas. Piles of bat guano spread fungal infections and other diseases to humans, and contaminated insulation can make people sick even after the bats leave. While the health risks make it a good idea to get rid of bats, try to do it without harming them, as many species are increasingly threatened. Brown bats function as a natural insecticide, and adults eat thousands of mosquitoes and other pests per night.

In the end, be it bats, bugs or termites the best way to keep your home free from them is by practicing preventative pest control. Keep areas clean, dry, and free from food and call a professional exterminator for peace of mind.

Brad Thomaston is a homeowner in the southeastern US, which has made him a pest control enthusiast by necessity. For more pest control safety tips and other information, check out his blog Brad Hates Bugs.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Shark Week!

Source images courtesy of  1 / 2 / 3 / 4

For the past few summers, stories of great white shark sightings off Cape Cod have topped the news. Normally, this doesn't surprise or intrigue me, but after reading Paul Greenberg's Four Fish, I now understand the importance of this issue - and think that it is especially important for Bostonians. We have a responsibility to protect these creatures despite their terrifying reputation. They, like all wildlife, are an essential component to the ecosystem.

This past Tuesday, OCEARCH began a month-long project aiming to tag 10-20 great whites off the coast of Chatham. As of today, none have yet been tagged because the sharks haven't been going for the bait (fish) because their meal of choice (seals) has been quite abundant in the area. But the the project is anticipated to be the largest Great White Shark expedition in U.S. history. “This expedition brings together an amazing team of researchers with broad experience in multiple disciplines. In doing so, we will be conducting over a dozen studies on white sharks, ranging from broad and fine scale migratory patterns to sonograms.  Our knowledge base on Atlantic white sharks will grow exponentially, helping both science and public safety.”

Follow the Expedition #ExpeditionCapeCod

Pencil it in: Boston GreenFest

WHEN: August 15, 12pm - 5pm; August 16, 12pm - 10pm;  August 17, 10am - 10pm

WHERE: City Hall Plaza, Boston (Government Center)

WHY: Its that time of year again folks: Green Fest Boston! Last year, I had a great time checking out the stands and exploring Boston's sustainable offerings. This year is sure to be better than ever before. A schedule of the weekend's events can be found here. See ya there!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Spotlight: New England Women in Energy and the Environment

This week's spotlight is on New England Women in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE). This is a networking group of accomplished professionals working for environmental sustainability in both the public and private sectors across the northeast. The group is a non-profit that provides business networking, education, mentoring, leadership, career development, and social opportunities for New England's female executives, engineers, consultants, attorneys, academics, policy makers, and other professionals with an interest in energy and/or environmental issues.

I became a contributing member of NEWIEE this past spring, and it has been a rewarding experience, and has strengthened my ties to the local green community. I've attended a handful of events so far, including a mentoring cocktail hour, a lecture on nanotechnology, and a  panel discussion on how social media is affecting environmental initiatives. I love the variety of topics the group covers, and am looking forward to attending future events. In particular, I am excited about their First Annual Meeting / Fall Fling, scheduled for early October. (Details to come soon!)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DIY Eco Spa Day

image courtesy of

You're at home on a Sunday and you know the upcoming week is going to be stressful. Start the week off in the right frame of mind by letting yourself completely relax on Sunday with a DIY spa day! Of course, traditional home spa products contain lots of synthetic chemicals, so to avoid that, I am sharing my favorite natural picks.

1. First, cleanse your face using Nature's Beauty(works) towelettes. I tried a free sample of these a couple of weeks ago, and I love them. All varieties of the towelettes are rated a 2 or below (lowest hazard) on SkinDeep. They are a super-convenient way of removing makeup. 

2. Second, get into comfy clothes. My suggestion: an organic cotton bathrobe

3. Time to apply a face mask! Lately, I've been using Burt's Bees Clary Sage Intense Hydration Treatment Mask, which I now use once a week for smooth, soft skin. The company sent it to me in December, and it works wonderfully for weather-damaged skin. 

4. Next, I sit back relax, and place Earth Therapeutics Eye Pads over my closed eyelids. The eye pads are great for reducing puffiness, and have a good rating on SkinDeep (except for their use of Retinyl Palmitate).

5. RELAX! Listen to soft music, or use this time for meditation. I usually take 15 - 20 minutes. 

6. To finish, rinse off with a cold shower. Most of the hydration mask will have absorbed, but a short shower is the best way to remove the excess product and get the rest of your body feeling fresh. The cold water is not only good for your pores, but uses less energy than a hot shower.

Viola! Within an hour, you're feeling beautiful and ready for the week! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Perspectives: Boston's Best Farmer's Markets

image courtesy of A Beach Cottage

Shopping for fresh, naturally grown food in any city is difficult at best, especially when convenience is a priority for busy professionals and other city dwellers. As a twenty-something professional, the challenge of eco-conscious eating can be exhausting (I admit to the occasional indulgence in those oh-so-convenient but horribly unhealthy take-out options).

Luckily, the city of Boston has taken this problem seriously and has supported local growers with more opportunities to sell their fresh produce to the masses. According to the City of Boston’s website, the number of farmer’s markets has increased from just 13 in 2004 to over 28 in 2011.

I love farmer's markets because they remind me of my hometown when I’m living in the city; fresh food, great people, and an always great experience (who can compare walking the industrialized rows of supermarket chains to strolling through the streets of Boston, perusing markets filled with colorful fruits and veggies?) Shopping at farmers markets also carries additional economic benefit; you can leave not only feeling good about yourself and what you’ll soon be filling into your stomach, but you can know that your support sustains the livelihoods of hundreds of small farmers and their families from Massachusetts.

Here are some of the best farmers markets that Boston has to offer (according to my own experiences, and with a little help from All are accessible with public transportation, just remember to bring cash and an empty stomach!

1. Copley Square Farmer’s Market: Tuesday & Friday, 11AM-6PM
2. Siena Farms South End Market: Tuesday – Sunday, 12PM – 8PM
3. City Hall Farmer’s Market: Monday & Wednesday, 11AM – 6PM
4. Dewey Square Market: Tuesday & Thursday, 11:30AM- 6:30PM
5. SoWa Open Market: Sunday 10AM- 4PM

Author: Stephanie is an Economics and Art History major at Boston College, residing in Chestnut Hill. She is also a Marketing Associate at Argopoint LLC, a management consulting firm in Beacon Hill.