Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Green Goals for 2014

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

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

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

source image courtesy of Science Daily

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

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

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

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

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

Flood Barriers

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

Author: Scot JCB 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

New Perspectives: Tips for Selecting Great Used Boots

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

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

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

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

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

What to Look For

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sole pulling away from the shoe.

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


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

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

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

Old, But New

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

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

Friday, December 20, 2013

Avoid Spreading Invasive Insects through Christmas Trees

source image courtesy of Miss 604

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Green Events Needed for 2014

source image courtesy of Phoebe Wahl

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

Send all upcoming event info. to

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spotlight: Twelve Chairs

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Add More Recycling Bins

source image courtesy of ideastream

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Perspectives: Decorating Your Christmas Tree the Green Way

source image courtesy of Green House Eco-Cleaning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Unplug Your Workout with Bollyx

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pencil it in: Octopus Lecture at NEAQ

WHERE: The New England Aquarium, Boston, MA

WHEN: Tonight! Thursday, December 12, 2013

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spotlight: Boston Area Sustainability Group

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reducing Emissions Caused by Car Idling

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

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

Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Save the Oceans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pencil it in: NEAQ Meet your Local Garbage Patch

WHERE: Simons IMAX Theatre, New England Aquarium

WHEN: TONIGHT! Thursday, December 5, 2013

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Spotlight: Sweetgreen

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

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

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

To learn more about sweetgreen's mission (and to feel totally inspired) check out their story:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Avoid Wrapping Paper this Month

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

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

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

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

Eco Monday Shopping Rules

source image courtesy of iphonehacks

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