Friday, January 31, 2014

Captain Planet Revisited

What inspired your interest in environmentalism? For many millennials, it was the children's cartoon show from the 90's, Captain Planet. For today's "Fun Friday" I suggest taking a trip back in time and watching the very first episode:


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Panel on The Role of Regulation in Furthering Sustainability

WHEN: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

WHERE: The Venture Cafe, Cambridge Innovation Center, 5th Floor, 1 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

WHY: This month's Boston Area Sustainability Group meeting is co-hosted by the New England Women in Energy and the Environment (coordinated by Boston Green Blog!) The theme of the evening is using legislation and regulation to promote environmental sustainability. As long as a capitalist economy fails to capture the costs of negative externalities, there is little incentive for corporations to reduce their environmental impact.  However, as shown through the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Dodd-Frank, among other local, national, and international laws, businesses are required to evaluate and report their risks and impacts.  That requirement can provide incentive for more sustainable actions. The following speakers will present information about successes and challenges in using regulation, legislation, and legal action to drive change for a more sustainable world.

  • Ann Brewster Weeks, Senior Counsel, Legal Director at Clean Air Task Force
  • Erica Mattison, Legislative Director, Environmental League of MA
  • Lea Reynolds, Senior Policy Analyst, M.J. Bradley & Associates, LLC, Concord MA
  • Steve Long, Director of Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spotlight: Sustainable Fashion Collaborative of Boston

Many people buy clothing without thinking twice about where they were produced, who made them, or event what materials they're made of. An organization that is working to better inform people on the complicated field of fashion ethics is the Sustainable Fashion Collaborative of Boston. The Sustainable Fashion Collaborative is a community of designers, retailers, consumers and thought-leaders that aims to initiate the conversation about ethical fashion and what it means to be a socially-responsible brand, as well as a conscious consumer. Their mission is to bring together and support a sustainable fashion community in the greater Boston area and promote a socially-conscious marketplace through innovative, collaborative and educational endeavors. They achieve this mission by hosting events and workshops. Most recently SFCBoston hosted a clothing swap - which is the easiest, cheapest, and most fun way to green your wardrobe! I'm keeping a close eye on their calendar and hope to attend their future events!

To keep up to date on SFCBoston events and other environmental happenings in Boston, please check out the Boston Green Blog Events Calendar.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Green Gardening Solutions


Not all gardens are ‘green’due to the use of chemical insecticides, wildlife-unfriendly paving, and water use. If you want to make your garden more environmentally friendly or if you’re interested in turning an urban space into a haven for wildlife, look no further than these top tips.

Put Down the Pesticides 
Attract bug-eating birds to your garden with a bird bath and a hanging feeder with nuts. Birds love to eat leftover crusts of bread too, so don’t throw these in the bin. To deter slugs and snails, you can make barriers of grit or crushed eggshells around plants. If you must use slug pellets, choose those that are not harmful to children or wildlife. Think about which insects you want to attract to your garden. Instead of using pesticides filled with chemicals that can upset the fragile balance of your garden’s ecosystem, why not plant some bright flowers like sunflowers or marigolds to attract ladybirds and lacewings. These insects eat crop-destroying aphids, including the dreaded blackfly.

Save Water
Install a rain catcher to reuse rainwater and cut down on your water bills. There’s plenty of rainfall during the year, and this can be utilized in your garden at no cost. Try to water your plants either very early in the morning or late in the evening so the water doesn’t evaporate quickly.

Start Composting
Composting is putting back into the garden what you take out when you cut flowers and pull weeds or vegetables. You can cheaply buy or build a compost bin for the garden and fill it with raw kitchen waste and old newspapers. Make sure you keep a balance between brown and green waste; brown waste includes cardboard and leaves and green waste is old vegetables. If you do this correctly, your compost heap won’t smell or attract vermin and will provide rich new compost to benefit flowers and vegetables. Compost makes a great mulching material and holds much-needed moisture around the roots of plants. 

Ponds are a popular choice for gardens because they offer an important wetland habitat for insects, fish, birds and mammals. Badgers, foxes and common birds like to drink and bathe in ponds and they are favored by frogs and toads. Amphibians are great for your garden because they eat all sorts of unwelcome pests that attack plants. If your pond is in a shady site it will attract different wildlife to if it is dug in a sunny spot. Make sure that your pond stays clean to attract as much wildlife as possible. All Pond Solutions offers a large selection of pond filters. 

Author: Tom of All Pond Solutions

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Win Tickets to Right Now! Climate Change Awareness Concert!

****Boston Green Blog is giving away 2 free tickets to this event!****
see below for details

WHEN: February 1, 2014, 6 pm - 12 am

WHERE: Brooklyn Boulders, 12A Tyler St, Somerville, MA ‎

WHY: Presented by We Are Music, RIGHTNOW! will bring awareness to climate change and proceeds from ticket sales will benefit post-typhoon rebuilding efforts in the Philippines.

RIGHTNOW! is more than just a concert. The night will feature a panel of acclaimed climate scientists, and will be catered by local New England food and drinks vendors including: Narragansett Beer, High and Mighty Beer, Rising Tide Brewery, Deep Eddy Vodka, Privateer Rum, Slow and Low Whiskey, 4 Rose Bourbon and, Pop Chips. There will also be an open oyster bar from Island Creek Oysters!

Climate Scientists Michael Mann and Jack Healey are set to speak and the concert portion of the evening features Escort, Juan Maclean, and Bearstronaut!

HOW TO WIN: All you have to do is tweet the following phrase: "Hey @BosGreenBlog plz send me to RIGHTNOW! @WeAreMusicNow on Feb 1 - #ClimateChange"

A winner will be randomly selected (using an app) and announced at noon on Thurs., Jan. 30. Each tweet counts as one entry, and participants are invited to enter as many times as they'd like. Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spotlight: Bootstrap Compost

Last week we discussed Harvest Power, and its mission to turn food waste into the next generation of renewable energy. But what about small scale composting and residential compost collection? This is where another great local company, Bootstrap Compost, comes into play. Bootstrap Compost provides participants with a 5 gallon bin and comes by to collect the compost on either a weekly or biweekly basis. The cost of residential collection is about $8/week. Participants also have the option of getting back their compost in the form of 5 lbs rich gardening soil every 15 weeks. If participants don't want their compost back, it is donated to a local gardening project!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Simple Tips for Better Heat Circulation

source image courtesy of Savor Home

Cold temps are headed back to Boston, so here are a few ways to increase heat flow in your home without turning up the thermostat:

1. Locate your heaters in each room and move away any furniture or clutter that could be blocking it. Pull all couches and other furniture out at least a foot. 

2. Turn on ceiling fans for about 5 minutes every few hours in order to recirculate heat. 

3. Weatherize all windows with clear coating to prevent heat from escaping. 

4. If you have a working fireplace or wood burning stove, use it!

5. Leave your oven door open for a few minutes after you finish cooking meals. (WARNING: make sure your oven is off!)

6. Leave bathroom door open when showering. 

7. Turn your thermostat down 4-5 degrees each night or when leaving your home for an extended period of time. 

For more ideas, check out these 26 tips for home heating

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cut Down Your Winter Bills & Your Carbon Footprint

source image courtesy of Mother Earth News

Cutting monthly bills and reducing your environmental impact often go hand in hand. But this doesn’t mean you have to mean you have to be cold and miserable. The best of both worlds is to properly insulate your home and use energy efficient appliances and equipment. You can then take the next step by investing in renewable energy.

Buy Green Power
Boston residents can sign up to switch electricity power source to wind or solar. There are three different companies that you could go with:
  •  NSTAR lets you choose between half or all of your electricity support wind power. The wind is generated in upstate New York and in Maine, and has been certified by Green-e Energy. This means that NSTAR meets standards of environmental quality and it has acquired the renewable energy supply it has committed to deliver. 
  • Boston Buying Power lets local businesses to group together to buy green energy.   EPA encourages organizations to use green power, and at the moment has more than 1,400 partners voluntarily using billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually.
So whether you’re a resident or a business owner, there’s no excuse not to consider using green power.

Make Your Own Energy
There are lots of ways to make your own energy, but the best for households is via solar power. Solar panels can be used to generate electricity, or to heat water. Solar panels have dropped in price over the past five years, making them much better value for money and increasing ROI. Though the upfront price is still a lot, some solar systems can be installed with no upfront cost for installation and ownership by a third party and they can also be leased at a rate that could be lower than your bills. If you want to own it yourself, then you can save money by shopping around for installation costs at companies like The Handy People.

Insulation is a really effective way to cut down on your energy bills, as it stops heat escaping and makes it quicker and easier to heat your home.

Renew Boston is a program that offers free energy assessments and then eligible customers receive 75% off for insulation and air sealing. If you’re part of a duplex or an apartment building, and the whole building is buying insulation, then you could receive up to 90% off.   

Author: Tom, The Handy People

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Green Patriot Posters Exhibit on Display at Design Museum Boston

WHEN: On display from January 17, 2014 – May 31, 2014
Hours: Sat-Wed 10am-5pm, Thu-Fri 10am-9pm

WHERE: 315 on A, 315 A Street Boston, MA 02210

WHY: Head to the Fort Point District to see the Green Patriot Posters exhibition and experience the opening 315 on A, a LEED Gold Certified residential apartment building. Green Patriot Posters, inspired by World War II posters, hopes to unite us all once again – this time to combat climate change. Launched by art collective the Canary Project in 2008, Green Patriot Posters invites designers, illustrators, photographers, and artists to create poster-form artwork relating to any aspect of climate change and environmental justice. To date, Green Patriot has collected over 500 unique poster designs.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spotlight: Harvest Power

Continuing with Boston's composting momentum, Boston Green Blog is featuring Harvest Power as the green biz of the week. Waltham-based Harvest Power helps communities better manage and beneficially re-use their organic waste. Their vision is to find the highest and best use for the 500 million tons of organic materials produced in North America each year. Harvest Power is particularly focused on building powerplants and infrastructure for using our organic waste to create biomass energy. To learn more about this, I highly recommend the TEDtalk by the Harvest Power founder, Paul Sellew:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Get to Know Your Meat-Free Protein Sources

Lentils - Not only are lentils a great source of protein, they are vegan. Lentil soup is the perfect winter-weather protein-packed meal.

Greek Yogurt - greek yogurt is delicious and versatile. It can be used to replace mayo, sour cream, heavy cream, and even oil in some recipes. This makes it super-easy to add a few extra grams of protein to every meal.

Eggs - The classic breakfast protein is regaining popularity as people are reducing the amount of meat in their diets. Breakfast-for-dinner is a great post-workout meal.

Beans - Beans are another versatile protein source. They make a great side dish for almost any meal and are also a great salad topper. Black beans are also becoming a secret weapon for gluten-free bakers.

Almonds  - Almonds have always been a dieter's best friend because they pack just enough protein and crunch to keep you full until your next meal.

Tofu - Tofu gets a bad reputation from many meat-eaters, but if cooked properly, tofu is delicious and the perfect solution to the protein problem.

For more ideas and recipes, check out these 21 Meals with Tons of Protein and No Meat.

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Perspectives: Environmentally Fences

source image courtesy of flickr

Though it might not feel like it, Spring is just around the corner (I hope)!!! Now is a good time to start thinking about yard and garden solutions for when warmer weather (finally) rolls around.

Why you might need a fence
Living without a fence in your yard is the most environmentally-friendly option, but sometimes they are needed. So, putting the right kind of fence up in the appropriate areas can help to prevent unnecessary environmental costs. Some might need a fence in their yard to keep plants in your garden safe from animals that might want to eat or destroy them. Fences are also required around pools. And some need a fence to keep pets safe. Places like Buy Fencing Direct have a large choice of fencing available for these types of applications.

Types of environmentally friendly fencing
The best type of environmentally friendly fencing is natural hedging or shrubbery fencing. However, these may not be high or thick enough to keep animals out, or it may grow too slow. Using salvaged wood can also be a good way to have an environmentally friendly fence, but it might take a while to find enough supplies.

Other considerations
Wire fencing can potentially be harmful to animals - they can get caught if the gauge size isn't quite right. Also make sure that there is little or no gap between the ground and the bottom or your fencing in case any animals decide that they will try and go underneath it to get in your garden and get stuck halfway through!

Author:  Tom of Buy Fencing Direct

Friday, January 10, 2014

What to watch on Netflix this weekend

This 2011 documentary, available for streaming on Netflix, takes an inspirational look into the brief, but landmark, presidency of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives. The Maldives are the lowest lying country in the world, and may very well disappear as a result of climate change. Nasheed heads to the U.N. and to Copenhagen to face adversaries like China and India in the hopes that they can come to an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Island President is informative, witty, and motivating - two thumbs up!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pencil it in: Sustainable Fashion Collaborative Clothing Swap

WHEN: January 12, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

WHERE: Bella Luna Restaurant, 284 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

WHY: Join the Sustainable Fashion Collaborative of Boston  for a night out of pizza and clothes swapping! Bring 5-10 gently worn pieces (clothing/accessories). You have the night to shop through other "pre-loved" items, have a drink and grab a bite. You'll leave the event with "new-to-you" pieces, revitalizing your wardrobe without spending money on new clothes! Register here

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spotlight: City Soil

As many of you know, the Massachusetts Food Waste Ban goes into effect this year, which makes composting increasingly important in Boston and beyond. This week's spotlight company, City Soil, has played a pivotal role in developing Boston gardens and farms, including at Revision Farm in Dorchester. Responding to the need for responsible compost management, City Soil employs Boston residents to operate the City of Boston’s leaf compost site in partnership with Casella Resource Solutions. City Soil is a leader in compost heat capture. Moving forward, City Soil will continue to responsibly manage Boston’s organic resources and develop opportunities to expand the urban food system.

Keep an eye out for their work! And read learn more here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ways to Reduce Your Waste

image courtesy of Wired

Its a new year, and time to clean up our acts, so to speak. One of my goals for a better lifestyle is to reduce the amount of trash I make. The North End has trash collection for residents 3x/week - which is ridiculous considering how tiny all of our apartments are. How can we possibly be creating this much trash?! In solving this problem, here are a few things to consider:

  • Watch your consumption. This one is obvious, but we constantly have to remind ourselves to bring resuable shopping bags, coffee mugs, and other waste-savers.
  • Start composting. 2014 marks the beginning of Boston's food waste ban for businesses, which means composting will become the norm over the next year or so. Join the trend and start your own composting bin and look for collection opportunities with Bootstrap Compost.
  • Take care of your stuff. Learn to sew, be tidy, and use your belongings properly. Even though not everything is meant to last forever, give your belongings the longest life possible.
  • Give up soda, bottled water, and other single-serving beverages.
  • Have a Keurig? Get a reusable filter.
  • Use cloths and rags instead of paper towels and paper napkins.
Any more ideas? Please share!

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Perspectives: Keeping Warm with Multi Fuel Stoves

Winter is in full force, and means we are constantly looking for ways to keep warm when we are at home. Unfortunately, this means that this time of year can be damaging to the environment. Energy bills are likely to take a steep rise as you try to keep warm, but you should know that there are decent alternatives that will allow you to stay warm and reduce damage to the environment. There is nothing quite like relaxing in front of the fire on a cold winter night, and there is one type of stove that you can have in your home which will look fantastic, keep you warm, be kind to the environment and be very efficient too. With so many benefits that this stove type brings it is no surprise that people everywhere are suddenly looking to invest, and you should too because they are a terrific heat source.

Multi fuel stoves are the new heating alternative, and they can allow you to save an enormous amount on your heating bill over time. As the name suggests, these stoves can burn a variety of fuels, including environmentally friendly, renewable fuel. These stoves can save you money whilst saving the environment if you look to use fuels such as dried wheat, corn and compressed wood chips, and you can even use all three of these together if you wish. So you can clearly see the benefits that this type of stove brings, and on top of this they can look fantastic and really add some character to any home as well.

Multi fuel stoves can be installed into existing fireplaces, or as a free standing unit if you wish, and the inset stoves look particularly good when they are inset into a chimney breast. When you shop at stove specialists, like Glowing Embers, you will get the best range at these places, and this will include contemporary stoves, traditional stoves, inset stoves, enamelled stoves and lots more. This means you should be able to find the perfect one to fit with your home, and you will love how much money it saves, how great it looks and the fact that it is eco friendly as well, and this makes it the ultimate way to stay warm when you are at home this winter.

Author: Volsom Limited

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pencil it in: BASG Panel on Effecting Community Change

image courtesy of Trell Brennan

WHEN: Tuesday, January 7, 2013, 6pm - 9pm

WHERE: Venture Cafe, Kendall Sq.

WHAT: The Boston Area Sustainability Group presents a panel about inspiring environmental change. Remembering the three pillars, often too little attention is given to social responsibility. Bringing sustainability home, taking responsibility where our businesses operate, has the potential to create real shared value and sew the seeds of lasting change. Please register

Wednesday, January 1, 2014