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

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.

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

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

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 She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care etc. She can be reached via email at: christine.4nannies @

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