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Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Ways to have a Green Easter


1. Serve vegetarian options

2. Avoid using plastic grass in Easter baskets

3. Fill baskets with locally-made or home-baked treats instead of candy that has been shipped around the country

4. Set the table with soy-based or beeswax candles

5. If your attending instead of hosting, bring a green-themed hostess gift (like organic wine instead of traditional)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A New Mayor for Boston Means Another Chance to Vote Green

Mayor Menino has done many wonderful things for the city of Boston over the past twenty years - including countless green initiatives (including Greenovate Boston). Just a few years ago in 2009, I got to meet him at the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters party endorsing him as their choice candidate for mayor. I was just six years old when he was first elected Mayor of Boston, but still, I am sad to see him go.

image courtesy of cityofboston.gov

However, the upcoming mayoral campaign gives Bostonians a whole new chance to prove what is really important to them. I plan to watch the campaign closely, as the next mayor is sure to bring changes. I will be looking to the Mass League of Environmental Voters  website to keep an eye on the candidates' stances on green issues.


So stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Shikai Natural Tea Tree Shampoo


Pros                                                          Cons     
-Cleans hair well                                       -Doesn't help detangle
-Affordable ($8)                                         -Not widely available (try Whole Foods)
-Smells nice                                             -Contains Diazolidinyl Urea (formaldehyde concerns)
-Rated 2 on EWG                                     -No environmental commitments on website
-No artificial fragrance
-No animal testing
-Made in USA

Conclusion: This product really works. In the past I've used natural shampoos that didn't foam, and the ones that did were considered hazardous by the EWG, so I am thrilled that Shikai is both effective and only a 2 on EWG! Healthwise, this is my ideal shampoo, the only negative is that Shikai has no company-wide environmental commitments (i.e. packaging, reducing carbon footprint, etc.).                                        

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BGB Featured in La Belle Vie Magazine!

La Belle Vie just released its big spring green living issue. And check out pages 59 - 65 for a piece by yours truly on the importance of leading a sustainable lifestyle!


Thanks to the ladies of La Belle Vie for including me!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Register Now for the MIT Sustainability Summit


This is the last week to get the special early bird price on registration for the MIT Sustainability Summit! I met with some of the organizers of the summit for coffee a couple of weeks ago to learn more about the event, and let me just tell you, it is going to be awesome!


This is the 5th Annual MIT Sustainability Summit, and the first year that the event will span 2 days. The emphasis of the summit this year is on action - what we, as consumers, can do to make our society more environmentally and economically sustainable. The summit draws participants from all industries and fields of interest which makes the workshops well-rounded. This year, photographer, James Balog will be sharing his work on showing climate change through film and photo. I love that the event coordinators have found a way to incorporate key note speeches, workshops, lectures, and even art into one weekend!


So as you start thinking of how you will care for our planet this Earth Day, consider finishing the week at MIT's Sustainability Summit!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Today is World Water Day!

Today is 20th Annual United Nations World Water Day!

image courtesy of eminayiden.wordpress.com

Here are 5 quick tips for reducing your water use this spring:

1. Your yard is probably looking pretty nasty after a snowy winter, but let it grow naturally this spring - don't water or fertilize!

2. Spring cleaning? Be mindful how much water you use for household cleaning - does your mop bucket really need to be that full?

3. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass shades root systems and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn, so you don't need to water as often.


4. Car covered in salt and sand after the winter? Research carwashes before going - some reuse water!

5. Spring is a great time to re-asses your daily routine. Consider a shower timer and aim for 5 minute showers or less.

Save water, shower together ;)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest Post: Reduce Your Impact by Gardening Smart



While expansive and lush fields of grass characterize most yards nowadays, it is usually not the most eco-friendly way to keep your yard looking nice. Grasses require a lot of upkeep including mowing, watering, and fertilizing. However there are many alternatives to grass that are far better for your water bill and for your local ecology. Here are some ideas to reduce your impact on the environment and still have a beautiful yard:

1.            Plant Native – The first thing you should start out doing is planting according to your area. Most areas have a variety of plants that grow quite well in existing temperatures and watering conditions. These plants have adapted to live in your area and thus do not require as much upkeep as non-native plants. Planting native flora also helps the local ecology to stay strong and keeps the birds, bees and butterflies native to your area happy and healthy. Native plants do not require fertilization either since they are accustomed to the soil conditions.

2.      Fertilize Naturally – Adding nutrients to your soil is something that should be done very carefully. Runoff from artificial fertilizers and pesticides gets into the local water system and creates all kinds of issues. Instead, try to go for natural sources like manure. You can also create compost with your trash and yard clippings. This is a great way to put back in the soil what is lost through the growing process without damaging the ecology.

3.      Natural Pesticides –Keeping the bugs off your flowers, shrubs and other plants is often easier said than done. However there are many ways that you can repel bugs in your garden without spraying your yard with strong chemical pesticides. Natural alternatives include sprays made from citrus or marigold. You can also plant bug repelling flowers like marigold, yarrow, thyme and rosemary. Just the presence of these plants in your garden can reduce the number of pests that you encounter.

Planting smart can help your yard to stay looking nice while making a minimum impact on the local ecology. It can also help you to save money and effort. It is a win-win for everyone!


Author Bio:
Jack Meyers is a regular contributor for www.nannybackgroundcheck.com. As a detective he wants to spread the knowledge of terrible things that can happen when people don’t fully verify the credentials of a caregiver or any employee. He also writes for various law enforcement blogs and sites.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Recap: NEWIEE Social Media Success in the Energy & Environmental Sectors

image courtesy of blogs.technet.com

The panel discussion hosted by NEWIEE at Digitas last night was great - each of the four speakers gave good practical advice on successfully spreading the message of sustainability through social media. Social media is becoming increasingly important as word-of-mouth is becoming digitized, but the many ever-changing nature of internet communication can be overwhelming, so it was great to hear the panelists share some tricks of the trade.

The audience was made up of people from many different sectors  - non profit, government, media, small business, etc., and they had some interesting questions for the panelists. I actually wish the question & answer segment of the event was longer because the panelists gave interesting answers and sparked some good discussions. Here are a few of the key points of the event:

Building an Audience:
-Use all different types of media to build an audience (radio, anyone?)
-Use images/graphics to draw attention to your message
-Think about who is invested in your project, and cater to their interests when possible
-Find out who the "influencers" in your field are and follow their example
-Use eye-catching/shocking statistics
-Become an expert in your subject
-Don't just push out information, engage your audience in genuine communication (see below)

Maintaining & Engaging an Audience:
-Give people a reason to come back to your facebook page (deals/discounts)
-Engage your audience by encouraging feedback (quizzes/polls)
-Keep track of what types of posts get the most hits/retweets/likes
-Keep track of what types of tweets bring the most traffic (questions, facts, jokes)
-Listen to what people want, make it a two-way conversation
-Ask others to share their stories and feedback

Thursday, March 14, 2013

TONIGHT: Social Media Success in Energy & Environmental Sectors

image courtesy of www.ahlersdesigns.com

NEWIEE is hosting a panel tonight on how to use social media tools to promote discussion and awareness of environmental issues. The event is free and its not too late to register!


Panelists:
Sarah Finnie Robinson, Founding Partner, Practically Green
Cindy Jolicoeur, Vice President, Marketing Drive
Cindy Hoots, Account Director, CSR, Cone Communications
Brian Sant, Director, Online Communications, Ceres

Moderated by Audrea Deyesso, Project Manager, Digitas

Event Info:
Digitas
33 Arch Street
Boston, MA 02105

Thursday, March 14, 2013 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM (EDT)

REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Instagreen

Boston Green Blog is now on Instagram! Follow "BostonGreenBlog" for the latest green living photos and to connect with others interested in living a sustainable healthy lifestyle.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guest Post: Tips for Turning an Old Item of Furniture into Something Funky and Fresh


These days, with the wallet-watching most of us have to do; it’s simply not possible to buy brand new furniture just because something is outdated or looking a little worse for wear.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that repurposing or revamping old pieces of furniture is one of the biggest trends in interior design right now. Of course, reusing old furniture also reduces your carbon footprint, which makes it both a pocket and eco-friendly choice.

Give it a new coat of paint
You’d be surprised what can be accomplished just by adding a new coat of paint - whether you freshen something up with the same color - or change it up completely with a bold and bright finish.
Old dining chairs can be repainted to match a new table, and an outdated dresser can be given a funky new look by being painted fire truck red, or for a slightly more rustic look try a subtle shade of lavender.

Get it reupholstered 
Old sofas or comfy chairs can easily be revamped with some new fabric and even new cushions if necessary. The color and pattern you choose will depend on the rest of your décor. For a minimalistic-type sofa that goes well with plain white walls and a clean-cut look, you can choose soft and subtle colors like baby blue or hazel.

If you’re willing to be a little more adventurous you may want to consider eye-catching colors like yellow, red or even a lush green. Patterns like stripes or squares can also add a lot of character to your home.


Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Add some character 
The easiest way to transform an older piece of furniture is to go along with the “old” feel and make it even more rustic. There are different ways to accomplish this, from sanding tables to distressing them with chains for a “used” look.
Having a few pieces of nicely varnished wood chairs or tables mixed in with a couple of sanded ones can give the room a nice contrast. If you choose to sand something, make sure it is a good quality wood that can be stripped without becoming damaged.

A boring and generic-looking wooden table can also be spiced up with a few touches of wall paper. If you do this you’ll have to ensure that the surface is smooth to avoid rips and bubbles.

Take it outside 
A chair or sofa that just doesn’t match your interior décor anymore may be perfectly suitable as a piece of garden furniture. You can repaint or upholster them to match an outdoor theme in natural colors like green, brown or eggshell yellow.

Change its purpose
Not all furniture can be made to look new, and sometimes the best thing you can do is change its purpose altogether. A chair that wobbles can be stripped and used to hold potted plants in the garden. The legs of an old table can be removed and used as rustic towel racks, while the tabletop can be put to use as a set of kitchen shelves or a spice rack.

Author: Joyce Del Rosario works as a Community Outreach Specialist at Open College of Art and Design, one of the leading providers of Online Courses in Interior Design. She is also an interior design blogger. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Farm Share Fair Meetup


Spring is almost here, which means its time to think about partaking in a CSA for the summer and fall! We are lucky there are so many small farms across New England to choose from. It can be hard to pick a CSA that best suits your needs, which is why The Boston Sustainable Food Meetup Group is hosting Farm Share Fair this Thursday:

What: Farm Share Fair
When: 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Where: Cambridge College, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
Why: To meet 40 New England CSA vendors/farmers

The event is free and open to the public. It is a great way to learn more about farm share programs if you've never done one before, or are looking for a change this spring.

Friday, March 8, 2013

GMOs v. Global Hunger

Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.

What if genetically modified foods could solve world hunger? Would it be worth it to feed millions of hungry people with products that may not be safe in the long run? This was the debate recently tackled on NPR with a story about the potential of "golden rice." Golden rice is genetically modified to contain beta-carotene, a nutrient that many around the world are lacking. I am not sure how I feel about this - I plan to do more research into the pros and cons of GMOs. In the meanwhile, I encourage you to listen to the story of golden rice.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vegetarian Recipe Roundup: Brussels Sprouts!

Parmesan Brussels Crustini
parmesan brussels sprout crostini
image & recipe courtesy of www.howsweeteats.com

YIELD:  25-30 PIECES
TIME: 30 MINUTES IF GARLIC IS ALREADY ROASTED

INGREDIENTS:
4 bulbs roasted garlic
1 large baguette
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound brussels sprouts, sliced or shredded
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
shaved parmesan cheese for topping

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. If needed, you can roast garlic ahead of time! A day or two is fine. After roasted, let the garlic cool then squeeze the cloves out, making sure to remove any of the paper. Use a fork and mash the garlic well until it is creamy and spreadable.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice baguette into 1/2-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 8-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
3. While the bread is toasting, heat a large skillet oven medium heat. Add remaining olive oil, then toss in brussels sprouts, salt, pepper and nutmeg, tossing well to coat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until warm, wilted, slightly crispy and even a little golden. Stir in grated parmesan cheese, mixing well to coat and turn off heat.
4. Spread a bit of mashed roasted garlic onto each piece of crostini. To serve, top crostini with a spoonful of sprouts, then add a shaving of fresh parmesan cheese and some cracked black pepper.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Balsamic-roasted brussels sprouts
image & recipe courtesy of blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound of Brussels sprouts
1/8 cup pine nuts, finely diced
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese


INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Trim and peel away the outer leaves of each Brussels sprout and then half them.

2. Slide the Brussels sprout halves onto the skewers, about six to eight halves per skewer.
3. Line a baking dish with parchment paper and places the skewers halved-side up.



4. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over each skewer, trying to “fill up” the Brussels sprouts.
5. Bake the skewers at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until they are cooked and crispy.
6. Plate the skewers on a serving tray and cover them with shaved Parmesan and the pine nuts.

Lemon Garlic Brussels Sprouts
Lemon Garlic Brussel Sprouts
image & recipe courtesy of whatsgabycooking.com

INGREDIENTS:
2 lb Brussel Sprouts
4 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced and zested
3 tbsp gruyere, grated
sea salt
pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Clean the brussels sprouts by trimming off the ends and peeling the outer layer of the sprout off. Cut each one in half.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
3. Once heated, add the halved brussel sprouts to the pan and saute for about 7-8 minutes on each side until the outer part is a caramelized brown and the inside is soft and fully cooked.
4. Add the garlic half way through the cooking.
5. Reduce the heat to low and add the lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper.
6. Stir to combine and taste. Adjust seasoning if needed. Add the cheese on top and serve.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Green Living Achievements

image courtesy of thethrivingsmallbusiness.com

On this blog, I often ramble on about my "green goals," but I rarely take a moment to recognize when I've accomplished them! I'm sure some of you are the same way; so take a few minutes today to give yourself a pat on the back for all the ways you've become a better/healthier/greener person over the past year! Feel free to share your accomplishments by commenting on this post.

I am happy to say, I've completed the following goals:

1. I've completely unplugged my workout

2. I walk to my destination if its over 40 degrees (and the trip is 2 miles or under)

3. I carry a reusable shopping bag with me

4. I've tried new vegetarian recipes

5. I've reduced my electric bill from last year

6. I wear sunscreen every day

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

North Country Sustainability Center - Ashburnham, MA


The rural towns of Massachusetts are also taking great strides towards sustainability. In 2010,a discussion at an Agricultural Commission in Ashburnham, MA lead to the development of the North Country Sustainability Center. Now, this small town (just northwest of Fitchburg,) is working to bring environmental awareness to the rural communities of Massachusetts. The center has struggled to gain support, funding, and even an office, but their newsletters are optimistic and I hope to see great things from them in the future.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bike-A-Thon Registration Starts Today with Bikes Not Bombs


The youth team (photo by Allie Hunter)

Bikes Not Bombs' biggest event of the year, The Bike-A-Thon, is now open for registration! This year's Bike-a-Thon will take place on June 2, 2013. The event is for bicyclists of all ages and experience to ride at their own pace while supporting Bikes Not Bombs. Their goal is to have at least 500 participants this year (last year there were 435, and the event raised over $116,000!!!). So come help make the Bike-A-Thon a success by signing up now.

Road assistance during the event (photo by Wayne Chinnock)

Bikes Not Bombs is a wonderful non profit based in Jamaica Plain that aims to prevent youth violence through bicycles by building co-ops that provide skill development, jobs, and sustainable transportation. The organization was founded in 1984 when the first co-op was built in Nicaragua. Now, Bikes Not Bombs is running 6 international programs. The co-op in Boston also holds a Earn-A-Bike program where at-risk youth come to learn safe cycling skills, and how to build/repair bikes. The participants then get to keep one of the bikes at the completion of the program. It is a great organization and I hope to see you all in June!