Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pencil it In: NEWIEE Panel on FTC Green Guides


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

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. 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.!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spotlight: Living on Earth

source image courtesy of Living on Earth

I recently started working in the suburbs, so now I spend a lot of time on the commuter rail - and my MBTA survival tip is to find a radio show you really like. My favorite is Living on Earth by Public Radio International. This hour-long weekly show covers environmental issues great and small. I absolutely love the way the show turns complicated science into easily digestible stories. Through the show I get a weekly dose of climate change information, some biology, chemistry, and  inspiring pieces as well - like a recent story about Buddhist Monks working to save snow leopard populations in Central Asia. The best part is that all of their shows are free to download on their website!

p.s. Living on Earth is recorded right here in Boston!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Green Tips for Watching the World Series

Wooohoo! Boston is in the 2013 World Series! While watching our boys crush the Cardinals, here are a few ways to green your baseball viewing:

1. Stay local. No need to trek to a bar across the city to watch the sox, the games sure to be showing in every bar and in every apartment in the city, so choose a venue near you.

2. Choose vegetarian snacks. Something about watching sports just makes ya hungry. Be green by ordering the veggie nachos instead the beef chili variety.

3. Choose organic and local beverages. Sam Adams just screams “Go Boston!” and bonus points if you go with an organic beer like Peak.

4. If you’re watching at home, check your energy vampires at the end of the night. See that red or green light on your dvd player? That means it is drawing energy from the outlet. Turn off power cords and unplug appliances once the game is over – and go celebrate!

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Perspectives: Managing Waste and Climate Change

Whenever people discuss climate change, the conversation usually revolves around fossil fuels. Yet, there is another source of greenhouse gases that is not usually considered when amateur climatologists get together.

The waste management industry accounts for roughly 1-5% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. That may seem like a relatively small amount, but when you consider that garbage production rates have nearly tripled since the 1960’s, the problem comes into focus. The ever-increasing amount of garbage produced in the United States could potentially make waste management an even greater source of carbon dioxide and other GHGs in the future.

If you examine the average waste collection process in the U.S., you would see that each step of the process introduces greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. First, there’s the collection of the trash itself which requires the use of either a truck or car. Then the garbage truck has to transport the trash to a facility, such as a transfer station or landfill. Eventually, some portion of the trash ends up in a landfill where it will slowly break down anaerobically, producing methane and carbon dioxide.

Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas compared to CO2 - making landfills a very worrisome contributor to climate change. Fortunately, all modern landfills incorporate ventilation systems that scrub the gases given off by landfills. Some landfills even burn up the methane or convert it to a liquid form that is of the same quality as natural gas. Currently, there are just fewer than 600 landfill gas-to-energy sites in the United States providing roughly 1.8 megawatts of electricity total. Such facilities are increasingly being sought after by state governments as they demonstrably reduce the eco footprint of both existing and closed landfills, and can generate a large amount of electricity.

Even though the waste management industry is working to reduce its share of GHG emissions; the best solution to curb the impact of trash on the climate is to stick to that old mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. Reducing your overall consumption of goods means fewer resources have to be used up to produce new
goods. And reusing materials is always better than recycling because recycling uses up a lot of energy,
producing more CO2. But if all else fails, make sure that as much of your waste as possible ends up in the recycling bin.

Author: Kevin Roberts is a content writer for the national dumpster rental company, Budget Dumpster.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Column for CBS Local

I have some exciting news: I'm now a contributor to the CBS Local Boston blog. I'll be focusing on green living in Boston (duh!). The posts will include how-to tips, news, and best of Boston lists. Click here to see my posts so far and to follow the column.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reminder: Register for NEWIEE Autumn Extravaganza

WHERE: Blu at The Sports Club/LA, 4 Avery St., Boston, MA

WHEN: Monday, October 28, 2013 6:00PM-9:00PM

WHY: To 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. Learn more and register here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Spotlight: Boston Organics

In honor of Fair Trade Month, this week's spotlight is on Boston Organics. Boston Organics is a grocery delivery service that provides organic and local produce, eggs, meat, and even fair trade coffee and chocolate! Boston Organics makes eating healthy super simple. Customers can choose from a variety of organic boxes: local foods, only veggies, only fruit, office boxes, etc. And there are difference box sizes so people can choose the price range that is right for them. (This is perfect for city dwellers with small households). 

The company not only provides organic and local foods to customers, but also is involved in many community initiatives, and is on a mission to lower their environmental impact. 

Finally, the Boston Organics website is great because it features weekly recipes and they have lively social media accounts. I, for one, love using Pinterest to store my recipes, so I was excited to see that Boston Organics has a frequently-updated account.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October is Fair Trade Month

Yep, we are about halfway through Fair Trade Month. We, of course, should be supporting Fair Trade initiatives all year round, but in particular, October is a great time to renew your commitment to purchasing only ethically sourced food, clothes, and homegoods.

Here are a few places you can find Fair Trade goods in Boston:

- Ten Thousand Villages, 252 Washington St., Boston 

- Equal Exchange Cafe, 226 Causeway St.,  Boston

- City Feed & Supply, 672 Center St., Jamaica Plain

Learn more about Fair Trade efforts in Boston: and check out some of the best fair trade picks for fall.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Perspectives: Green Air Conditioning

Whether due to energy costs or a nagging guilt regarding your carbon emissions, it can be difficult to compromise with using your air conditioner during the peak of Summer and your heater in the dead of Winter. However, through smart practices, using less energy while keeping your home comfortable means never having to compromise on how comfortable you want to be. Not only will these practices reduce your energy costs, but they’ll also promote cleaner indoor air and a longer-lasting HVAC system.

1. Let Mother Nature do the work for you. While there are several cutting-edge energy efficient technologies for producing conditioned air as cleanly as possible, nothing beats opening the windows and letting your house cool down naturally. Ventilation is the greenest, freshest approach to good indoor air quality – and it’ll even improve the air quality of your home. This will ventilate harmful gasses, microorganisms, allergens, and pollutants that risk respiratory illness. During the coolness of early mornings and the late evenings, opening windows can make a difference of several degrees on your indoor environment. Using a fan to draw in more air can be far more energy efficient and comfortable than starting your air conditioner.

2. Be smart about when you use your AC. There are several damaging myths floating around about the best way to use an air conditioner. Some insist that keeping a system on at one consistent temperature is the best way towards energy efficiency – which is completely bogus. Air conditioners work harder to maintain a steady temperature than when only used as needed. Another belief is that closing vents in certain rooms can reduce the energy output of your system. Again, this is false; closing a vent in one room should only be a temporary solution in achieving comfort and should never remain closed for a long period of time. A closed vent means that an air conditioner will have to work even harder to reach that one room in central air conditioning systems, since these can only control the temperature of the house as a single unit.

3. Keep your system clean to achieve green. When you do require use of your thermostat, it’s better to ensure that your system is as efficient as possible so that no energy is wasted. By cleaning elements of your system as necessary, you can vastly improve the lifespan and efficiency of a system. Some routine procedures to consider include scrubbing or changing filters, cleaning evaporator and condenser coils, and vacuuming your duct when it becomes too filled with debris. Filters should be cleaned or changed anywhere from every one to three months depending on the allergies of those in your household or if you have a great deal of dust and hair in the environment. Coils can be cleaned using an inexpensive foaming cleaner and it is a relatively simple procedure. Your duct can usually go without cleaning since dust clinging to the interior ductwork is harmless, but if there are large particulates, pests, or mold concerns, a cleaning may be in order for better efficiency and healthier air. With these tips in mind, any home owner can experience cleaner, greener conditioned air without worrying about the size of their carbon footprint. What other tips would you
recommend for keeping cool without wasting energy?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Recap: Sea Ice, Climate and Observational Mathematics

Last night was an incredible installment of the New England Aquarium Fall Lecture Series, during which climate scientist, John Wettlaufer, explained the complexities of studying fluctuations in arctic ice.  Here are my top 6 takeaways from the event:

1. Earth and climate science is based largely on observation and modeling rather than experimentation.

2. A layer of ice about 2.5 meters thick stays frozen all year round, and this ice is very important for regulating the planet's climate. 

3. Albedo is the term used to describe the reflectivity of ice. 

4. Ice is important to the earth not only because of sea levels, but because of albedo for reflecting the sun's radiation. 

5. Correctly modeling climate is difficult because there are so many different variables. 

6. When creating models to predict the future using all of these variables it is important to remember that: Things need to be simple enough that they can be analyzed thoroughly, but complex enough that the results approach reality.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Spotlight: Net Impact Boston

There are quite a few green networking groups in Boston these days, but I've consistently heard great things about Net Impact. It is a membership-driven organization, but their events are open to the public. Net Impact is a global organization that brings together people from different sectors on a mission for social and corporate responsibility. They host a variety of educational events, details of which can be found here. The group is best known for their monthly Sustainability Breakfast - what an inspiring way to start the day!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vote for Boston's Finalists in the Nature's Plate Awards

Five finalists in have been announced for The Nature Conservancy's Nature's Plate Awards. Make sure to cast your vote before October 15! The finalists include:

• Area IV, Cambridge
• Evoo, Cambridge
• Nourish, Lexington
• Red Lentil, Watertown
• Taranta, Boston

So, which venue did I vote for? Well, I had to go for my neighborhood favorite, Taranta. Taranta composts,  has organic menu options, and serves biodynamic wines. Their fare is a  unique combination of  Peruvian and Italian flavors, that are simply perfect together.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pencil it in: NEWIEE Autumn Extravaganza!

Sign up for the Extravaganza now! All are welcome - it should be a fabulous night!

And if you're a contributing member of NEWIEE, you should already have an invite to the annual meeting portion of the evening in your inbox this very moment!

NEWIEE Annual Meeting and Autumn Extravaganza

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Spotlight: Mother Juice Foodtruck

Food trucks have been all the rage over the past couple years in Boston. They offer a great opportunity to bring nutritious, sustainable food to the masses. Mother Juice is one such truck, serving delicious smoothies and fresh juices from local, organically grown ingredients. The menu varies based on what is in season and available (so fall is the perfect time to check it out!!!). 

My roommate (pictured above) and I had the pleasure of trying Mother Juice smoothies last weekend at SOWA. Mine was made with Kale - and despite my anxiety over drinking a green colored smoothie - it was fabulous! Find where Mother Juice will be next by following them on Facebook

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hydroponic Gardening 101

Hydroponic gardening is the method of growing plants without soil. Mineral solutions in the water replace the need for the nutrients that soil typically provides. Almost any type of plant can be grown using hydroponics. But why use hydroponic techniques? Hydroponic gardening gives people the opportunity to grow food and other crops in places with inadequate soil (spaceships, anyone?).  These gardens are also great for apartments with no yard space, or areas where soil has been destroyed. To keep up to date with new hydroponic innovations, make sure to check out Inhabitat.

Get 10% off your grow light when you shop at

This post is sponsored by Access Hydroponic.