Weekly Green Tip #48 from Green52.org

Leave a comment

Green tip for week #48 — Week of March 29, 2009

Join a local food co-op or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program

If you haven’t already heard much about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) yet, you will.  Despite the fact that our country and our world have become a very globalized and “the world is flat” economy, the concept of shipping produce from one country to the next and trucking tomatoes from state to state is far more destructive to our ecosystem than first obtaining the food resources you can from the local region you live in.  There is a resurgence of family farms, individual efforts to grow your own food, and communities or individuals who are growing organic produce.  Support of these farms and programs can be a small and easy way to support sustainability.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is typically a community of people with a shared goal — to support a farm operation in such a way as to make it essentially the community’s farm.  This may mean direct ownership in the farm by having each CSA owner or member purchase stock or membership interests in a coop or LLC, or it could simply be a pledge to support the farm with financial resources, ensuring everything grown at the farm is purchased, or other support from the members.  Many of the models involve a shared risk/reward by the members of the CSA, where the shareholders absorb costs of farm or garden operation, while receiving shares of the farm or garden’s crops or produce during the growing season.

This type of member-driven or member-supported community enterprise not only creates interconnection within the community that it is formed, but it provides an invaluable support structure for the farm, helps encourage more sustainable growing practices, and fosters local self-reliance.  All of this contributes in a very significant and tangible way to environmental stewardship, conservation of resources, and “green” thinking.

One of the tangible benefits for members or shareholders of a CSA is fresh, bountiful supplies of whatever produce or crops that farm or garden produces, as each is at its growing and harvesting season.  Becoming a member of a CSA can enable you to get more local, fresh, and healthy produce than you may otherwise have access to.  Sometimes the quantity of food you receive as a member or shareholder can be based upon how much stake you purchase, but you can always get a large share and use this as an opportunity to share with your family and friends, in turn helping them learn about CSA.

If you are looking for a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture farm in your local area, there are several resources you can use, listed below:

  • Local Harvest is an excellent resource for learning about and finding CSAs — find more information about Local Harvest here: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/
  • Rodale Institute has a farm locator you can use to find CSAs or even farms that sell produce direct to consumers or restaurants (choose CSA in the “market type” section and pick your state in the pull-down menu for state): http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/farm_locator
  • The Eat Well Guide has resources for finding local, sustainable, and organic food by area/region, here: http://www.eatwellguide.org/

For a general resource, the United States Department of Agriculture has a section on CSAs, here:  http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

This week, in April, we should all be thinking about spring, being outside, and enjoying the outdoors.  As you start planning your summer and think about efforts you can make to be more environmentally responsible this year than last, consider investing in or joining a CSA.

For those of you using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, spread the word about Green52.org, and tell others about the ideas you have heard here.

_____

For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.

Advertisements

Weekly Green Tip #35 from Green52.org

Leave a comment

Green tip for week #35 — Week of December 28, 2008

Realize the wonders of Baking Soda

Baking Soda, such as the trusty Arm & Hammer box you likely already have for your baking or in your fridge to fight odors, can also be an effective and “green” cleaning product.  Not only can this wonderful product be used to keep your fridge or freezer fresh and deodorized, but you can also use it in lunch boxes, garbage cans, and elsewhere.  It also makes a great cleaner, by mixing water and baking soda to clean dishes, floors, microwaves, and much more.

One great use of Arm & Hammer baking soda is to remove odors or hidden smells from carpet by sprinkling the baking soda directly on the carpet, letting it sit, and then vacuuming it up.  This can help take away odors that vacuuming alone won’t remove, and that sprays and harsh chemicals often only mask.  You can do the same thing with upholstery and fabric on furniture.

Or, sprinkle a bit of baking soda into your recycling or garbage can as it fills to help deodorize, and then clean the empty garbage and recycling cans by mixing Arm & Hammer with water as a cleaning agent.  A mixture of baking soda and water also makes a great spot-cleaner for marks on walls or painted surfaces.

Believe it or not, there are even ways to use baking soda to clean your teeth, hair, and skin, and to clean baby bottles, dishes, and to help with other daily household chores.  While using Arm & Hammer baking soda may not eliminate your use of other cleaning chemicals, reducing your dependence on harsh chemicals is a step in the right direction, and Arm & Hammer offers many cleaning and deodorizing benefits other cleansers lack, with less harm done to the environment.

For more great green cleaning ideas, visit the Arm & Hammer website for an extensive list of uses for Arm & Hammer baking soda throughout the home.

Remember, a clean planet, reduced global warming, and environmental conservation are big concepts, but the solutions start with small steps.  Learn 52 weekly steps for doing your part in the environmental responsibility effort at Green52.org, and make sure your friends and family visit our site as well!

_____

For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #34 from Green52.org

1 Comment

Green tip for week #34 — Week of December 21, 2008

Drink boxed wine

Okay, I can guess what you are thinking: “This website is supposed to help us all save the planet by incorporating weekly green tips; how will drinking wine save the planet??” Read on, grasshopper.

Truth be told, drinking more wine won’t necessarily save the planet. However, if you are a fan of drinking wine already, and you currently consume the “high-brow stuff” out of a glass bottle (as opposed to wine you made by fermenting grapes in an ice tea pitcher), you can certainly reduce your environmental impact by a simple change to boxed wine.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “has this guy ever had boxed wine, that stuff is horrible.” Yes, I’ve had boxed wine. There are good and bad boxed wines, just as there are with any other food or drink available. In years past, it was difficult to find decent wine-in-a-box. Boxed wine was usually just the cheap stuff, and often was considered about as high quality as Boone’s Farm (no offense to those who imbibe the Boone’s Farm).

Now, you can find a wide variety of qualities of boxed wine, many of which are quite good. Here are some of the environmental benefits of boxed wine: 1) reduced environmental impact from manufacturing, transporting and recycling bottles; 2) reduced overall waste (most boxes contain the equivalent of 3-4 bottles of wine, meaning less energy expended in production, transportation, label printing, recycling); 3) less weight per mL wasted in packaging means less energy consumed in transportation.

What are some good options in a boxed wine? What is available in your local store or region may vary, but depending on price-point, there are reasonable offerings from Bota Box, Turning Leaf, Hardy’s, Corbett Canyon, Wine Block, Black Box, Fish Eye, and others (feel free to post a comment with your favorites).

Note that some boxed wine producers (such as Bota Box) take environmental responsibility very seriously, by using recycled paper, using alternatives to glue for manufacturing the box, using soy based ink for printing, etc. Many of the boxes are fully recyclable.

A tremendous benefit of boxed wine is that it can maintain freshness and quality for weeks, rather than days. This means you can open several varieties at a party or gathering, and not worry if all of them are only half-consumed. You can save them for another day. Also, the square packaging and light weight lend themselves well to bringing wine on your camping trip, taking a box along on a picnic, or other times bottled wine is not all that convenient.

If you’re still not convinced, you should note that sources even more credible than Green52.org (is there really such a thing?) are singing the praises of boxed wine. Click here for an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times identifying the many benefits of boxed wine.

So what have we learned this week? Well, drinking wine may not save the planet. However, for those of legal drinking age, drinking boxed wine as opposed to its glass-bottled counterparts is a great way to tell people you’ve taken one new step toward environmental responsibility (and a tasty way to do it!).

Feel free to comment to this post if you’d like to offer suggestions to our readers about your favorite boxed wines, and please drink responsibly.

_____

For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #17 from Green52.org

Leave a comment

Green tip for week #17 — Week of August 24, 2008

Reduce your use of “convenience packaging”

We all know that our consumer society has moved at lightspeed from a make it yourself / do it yourself community, to a “depend on others doing things for you to increase efficiency and convenience” community.

As a result, there has been a movement in the marketing/packaging/sales world away from such “inconvenient” things as a jar of applesauce to such “convenient” items as 10 plastic cups of applesauce made for single-serve use.  Or maybe you get a package of four Oreo cookies to avoid the inconvenience of having to take four Oreos out of the tray of Oreos in a traditional pacakge.

Sure, it’s convenient to drop a single-serve plastic cup of applesauce into your lunch bag, to grab a package of four Oreos, or to pop a juice box out of the fridge for the kids.  But with that convenience there is a clear environmental cost.  Packaging consumes resources.  Buying 20 small juice boxes instead of a one-gallon jug of juice means lots of packaging, lots of labels/lids/etc., and lots of resources in getting those small items onto the shelf at the store and into your home.

Unfortunately, I think its possible that people are even less likely to recycle such “small” packaged items than they would a large glass jar that the applesauce came in.  The bottom line is, if we care about our environment, and we care about reversing the trend from consumption to conservation and from “it’s not my problem” to “who will fix it if I don’t”, we have to start somewhere.

Our green tip for this week is to offer the simple suggestion that if  you are looking for ways to “be green” or live a green or environmentally responsible life, why not start with your applesauce, juice boxes, and everything else you buy in “convenience packaging”.

Remember that taking small steps today can lead to substantial benefits to the environment tomorrow!

_____

Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #16 from Green52.org

Leave a comment

Green tip for week #16 — Week of August 17, 2008

Try online banking!

One doesn’t immediately think of “online banking” and “green living” as two things that go hand-in-hand.  However, it’s a logical idea for trying to take small steps toward a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future.  Online banking can now be utilized by the masses, with not much more than what most of us have had for years – a computer, a scanner, and an internet connection.

Many banks offer online account information, bill pay, funds transfer, even loan applications or check depositing.  Think of how many people make weekly or more often stops at the bank to deposit a check, withdraw money, pay a bill, or any other banking activity.  Each stop requires the energy resources it takes to get you to the bank (presuming you are using a car or public transportation), and most bank transactions have a paper trail (meaning you use a deposit slip, withdrawal slip, etc.).

Using online banking means you have the ability to access most of the functions you would do at the bank office, from the convenience of your home.  Since online banking typically gives you the flexibility of not receiving paper statements in the mail, you can further reduce your environmental impact by managing your bank accounts electronically, depositing checks, transferring funds, and more, without ever stepping into your car.

Will online banking make the world a greener place and save the environment from global warming?  No, not alone.  Keep in mind that each green tip you see on Green52.org is part of a multi-step weekly process to identify ways to live a more environmentally responsible (i.e. “green”) life, without making drastic change.

Remember that taking small steps today can lead to substantial benefits to the environment tomorrow!

_____

Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at Green52.org.

Weekly Green Tip #15 from Green52.org

1 Comment

Green tip for week #15 — Week of August 10, 2008

Use reusable containers to prevent waste

How many times do you put your sandwich into a plastic bag, throw your leftover grilled food into tin foil, or wrap your pizza into plastic wrap?  Most people do this type of thing daily.  Although disposable plastics haven’t damaged the environment on their own, the use of such “disposables” clearly is a contributing factor to landfill waste, wasted fossil fuels (production/transportation), not to mention wasted money (reusing is nearly always cheaper than replacing).

Our simple Green tip this week is to simply think about what habits you have that use “disposable” containers and plastics, and try to change some of those habits toward reusable containers.  It is so easy to find reusable plastic and glass food storage containers, that purchasing or using this type of container shouldn’t be an issue.  Consider not only the environmental benefits, but the saved cost!

Switch from disposable items to reusable containers to make another small step toward a greener tomorrow, and to do your part in reducing your carbon footprint.

Remember that taking small steps today can lead to substantial benefits to the environment tomorrow!

_____

Green52.org is an interactive community — we want you to share your ideas and contribute too! Feel free to click the “comments” section on this or any of our green idea articles to add your comments, suggestions, and discussion.

For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at Green52.org.

Weekly tip #3 from Green52.org

3 Comments

Green tip for week #3– Week of May 18, 2008

Use a reusable water bottle, and do the environment (and your wallet) a favor!

Do you buy water in disposable plastic water bottles, only to end up throwing out or recycling each bottle once you are done with it? If so, why?

The seemingly small decision you make to drink water form a disposable bottle results in wasted fossil fuels in manufacturing and filling those bottle, wasted resources and energy in transporting them through distributors and ultimately to retailers, and wasted fuel and money going to the store to buy them time and time again, and with up to 86% of those bottles finding their way into landfills in the United States, it creates needless and excessive waste.

Even though you may like the convenience and reliability of getting water in disposable bottles, there are significant financial and environmental costs to that “convenience”. A simple, affordable, and eco-friendly alternative is to begin using reusable water bottles. Using a reusable bottle with good old tap water is not only incredibly inexpensive, but it reduces your total impact on the environment. Our green tip suggestion this week is to start doing this today, and the ideas below should help.

If you don’t like tap water, or the water in your area doesn’t meet your expectations, use filtered water by keeping a pitcher like a Brita or Pur filtration pitcher full of cold and clean water in the fridge. Even better yet, install a water filter into your drinking water supply in your home, or even a filter at the end of the faucet, like those available from Pur and Brita. We recently switched from a Brita pitcher to a Pur filter on our faucet, and couldn’t be happier. Clean and delicious water is ready at the tap anytime we want, and the filters last longer than those for the pitchers. You can use the water for cooking, coffee, drinking water, tea, and more.

So what reusable bottle do you get? Anything that you will actually use. If it sits in your closet, it defeats the purpose. Buy a bottle you like, and one that you believe you will be able to have and use for a long time. I have used Nalgene bottles for over a decade, but in light of the concerns over BPA (see this site for more info), I have chosen to recycle or repurpose my old Lexan polycarbonate Nalgenes.

Instead, I have opted for a couple different bottles, both from Klean Kanteen and Sigg. Keep in mind that not all plastic bottles contain BPA, and there are even conflicting reports about how harmful BPA is and what levels you are exposed to from using polycarbonate water bottles. That said, I don’t want to take any chances. This post is not about BPA, but if you want to find more information about BPA, including links to additional resources, visit SustainRenew.org.

If you are looking for a good bottle, visit your local outdoors outfitter like REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, or other similar stores. Or, go online to check the offerings from companies such as Sigg, Klean Kanteen and others. Camelbak and Nalgene both now offer BPA-free plastic bottles, but be sure to do your research or read the labels to know which are the old polycarbonate/Lexan that contain BPA, and which are not. I personally chose Sigg and Klean Kanteen because I like the design, the quality of construction, and the fact that they are not made from plastic.

Here’s a mini-review of reusable bottles I would recommend:

  1. Sigg bottles. Sigg bottles (made in Switzerland) are constructed form aluminum and lined with a taste-free, non-leaching epoxy substance that they state is proven safe. Sigg bottles are slightly more susceptible to dents and dings than Klean Kanteen (and definitely more susceptible than plastic, but they have a huge variety of designs, sizes and styles, and are quite taste-neutral. In fact, the first time I drank filtered water from a Sigg bottle, it was a dramatic and noticeable difference from the Nalgene bottles I had used previously. I find that with the narrow top of these bottles, it makes it very easy to drink without spilling (particularly outdoors or while hiking), and I really like the design and build quality of these bottles. As an added bonus, they are fully recyclable at the end of their useful life (which should be a very long time). These come in sizes ranging from small kids versions (tied that too, kids love them!) to .6 liter, 1.0 liter, and a larger 40 oz. container. There are a variety of twist-off lids as well as sport tops (like in a traditional bike bottle), and an extraordinary amount of designs from plain colors to very unique patterns and graphics, so you can find basically whatever you want in a Sigg bottle.
  2. Klean Kanteen bottles. Klean Kanteen are made from food-grade stainless steel (like what you see in a brewery, transporting dairy products, etc.), and they are not lined with anything. The Klean Kanteen offers a larger opening (nice if you want to drop an ice cube in) and a lid that twists off more quickly than Sigg (fewer, wider threads). Although some people comment that they can detect a very slightly metallic taste to the water, that has not been very noticeable to me. The fine folks at Klean Kanteen are so confident in their product, they even offer a one-year warranty against defects. I’ve been very happy with these bottles as well, and there is something very utilitarian and practical about these bottles that make them a great choice for an every day, lug-it-around-everywhere reusable water bottle. They come in sizes ranging from a perfect 12 oz. bottle for kids, to 18, 27, and 40 oz options.
  3. Nalgene (BPA free versions). Nalgene is the classic water bottle of outdoor enthusiasts, in large part because of its versatility and durability. The fact that many of their lexan/polycarbonate bottles contained BPA doesn’t mean they have a bad product; in fact, canned goods and other products widely consumed today still contain BPA. Nalgene, to their credit, has been working diligently to respond to BPA concerns and they have retooled their website to feature BPA free alternatives, and they announced in April that they are phasing out their bottles that contained BPA completely (see article here). Nalgene bottles still represents a cost-effective, simple, practical, and durable choice for a reusable water bottle.
  4. Camelbak and others (BPA free versions). Although I don’t have personal experience with the BPA free plastic bottle offerings from Camelbak and other non-Nalgene brands, but I’m sure they work fine. Many of these options are less expensive than the metal Sigg and Klean Kanteen bottles, and they tend to be a little less prone to damage (these plastics don’t get dents & dings). Again, the key issue to this weekly green tip isn’t what the coolest or best designed bottle is – the message is to find one that works for you, buy it, use it, reuse it, and encourage a friend to do the same (reducing the overall waste and damage to the environment in the process).

The bottom line is that if you switch to reusable water bottles, drastically reducing or eliminating your use of water contained in disposable bottles, you are doing the environment a very real favor. You are also helping your pocketbook in the meantime. Lugging your personal and unique bottle around may even be a conversation starter, and can help you advance the dialogue about environmental responsibility and sustainability with your friends and coworkers.

Please refer others to Green52.org for this and other green tips and ideas for environmental responsibility. We have a new green living tip each and every week, so stop back soon and often.