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The Benefits of Eating Local!

Local food movements have been exploding over the past decade.  There are many benefits to yourself and to the Earth for eating local. Here are some tips for finding local foods in your area and a rundown of why eating local is so beneficial to the environments.

Why eat local?

  • Eating local lowers your carbon footprint, because it doesn't need to travel far.
  • Local food is usually fresher because it didn't have to spend days in a truck being transported.
  • Local farmers often engage in organic practices, even if they aren't certified organic.  (Being certified organic is costly, so some farmers forgo the certification process but still avoid harmful chemicals.)
  • Local food often contains less packaging.  Sometimes fruits and veggies from the grocery store (even organic ones!) come in plastic containers, are shrink-wrapped, etc.  If you shop at a farmers market and buy local produce, you can bring your own bag.
  • It's important to support local farmers, local economy, and your community.

How do I find local foods?... read more

  • Garden!  What's more local than a tomato picked from your very own backyard?  Or, if you don't have a yard, find a local community garden.  
  • Go right to the source!  Find you-pick farms in your area.  It's fun, too!
  • Find a local farmers market -- and visit regularly.
  • Join a CSA.  (Community Supported Agriculture) 
  • Find farm stands and produce markets -- but read the labels.  Whole Foods often has local stuff, too.  

Cigarette Litter

Last summer, I wrote a blog post about how bad cigarettes are for the environment.   Today, I want to follow-up with the problems associated with cigarette litter.

Seeing people toss their cigarette butts outside makes my blood boil.  I don't know why some smokers think that somehow cigarette butts don't "count" as litter.  Throwing cigarette butts on the ground is disgusting, careless, and ugly.  And it needs to stop.  

SmokeFree.Gov has resources for those who want to quit smoking.  But for those who haven't been able to successfully quit, please do not litter your butts.  Even SmokingSection.com, a PRO smokers group, says:  "Considerate smokers don't litter. Those who do deserve criticism as much as any other litterer."

Billions of cigarettes are littered every day.  Cigarette filters are not biodegradable, and even if they were, I find this to be an invalid excuse.  My used tissue is biodegradable, but I'm not going to toss it out from my car window, like one would a cigarette.  And while one may think that it is just "one little cigarette," one cigarette from each smoker who litters their butts adds up to a lot.  

Cigarette litter can cause fires.  They also end up in waterways and sometimes marine life will ingest them.  There was a study done last year stating that they kill fish.  Read here.  ... read more

Penn & Teller: The Truth About Bottled Water

Rob's post about bottled water reminded me of a 2003 episode of Penn & Teller Bullsh*t.  It's absolutely hilarious.  It shows how ridiculous the bottled water industry is, as well as the people who only drink bottled water.  Enjoy!... read more

Cloth Diaper Myths

Myth #1: Cloth diapering is an all or nothing deal.
Reality: Not at all. Cloth diapering part-time makes sense for many people. Even if you replace just one disposable diaper every day with a cloth one, that is 365 LESS DIAPERS in the landfill. That is a huge difference. There are also hybrid diapers, which are cloth on the outside and use disposable liners. (Read here for more info on the types of cloth diapers)

Myth #2: Cloth diapering is expensive.
Reality: Disposable diapers are expensive! There is the initial overhead of buying cloth diapers, but since you can reuse them over and over again, you won’t have to spend money again on diapers in a while. Particularly if you use one-size diapers, meaning you can adjust the size to grow along with your baby. They can last for years! Check this chart out about the money savings associated with using cloth diapers. ... read more

Green Dry Cleaning?

Over the past few years, I've seen many local dry cleaners claim to be eco-friendly.  I rarely have to use dry cleaners, but I've gotten curious over whether or not such a thing exists.

As of 2007, 85% of all dry cleaners in the US used perchloroethylene (perc) as a solvent when dry cleaning. Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that is both a health risk to humans and it's dangers to the environment. Even minor exposure to it can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, skin and respiratory irritation. What's worse is that prolonged exposure has been linked to liver damage, kidney damage, and cancer. Perchloroethylene was identified as a "probable" human carcinogen by California’s Proposition 65 in 1986.

Even dry cleaning methods that claim to be green, are often not.  Ask them what their methods are before dropping your clothes off.  Some use hydrocarbon, which is petroleum based. Some use liquid CO2, but that will sometimes require a Solvair machine.  The Carbon Dioxide Dry Cleaner Alliance does not allow dry cleaners using Solvair to become members.  Solvair replaces perc with glycol ether as a solvent, and according to the EPA, glycol is a suspected toxin and hormone disrupter.  ... read more

Costco and Unsustainable Fish

I love Costco.  I get my eye exams there, I love their Kirkland organic peanut-butter, I greedily accept all of their free samples, and I even own lots of clothes from there.  They also are known to treat their employees well and they also tend to donate money to Democratic candidates. That's why I was so disappointed to hear about all of the unsustainable fish they sell.  Unsustainable fish includes Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, grouper, and more.  AND, AND, AND...they tell their shareholders that they support sustainable seafood!  Bad Costco!

Greenpeace has launched a website and campaign to urge Costco to stop selling those types of unsustainable seafood.  With the amount of food that Costco sells coupled with the number of locations they have, if they stop selling those varieties of fish it will really make a big difference with the over-fishing problems.... read more

Green Company Profile: Zaum

Why they're Keen: 

Zaum was founded in 2003. Aside from offering interactive and graphic design services, they also sell handmade purses, wallets, laptop bags, and more.

They launched their eco line 3 years ago.  The founders of Zaum began to be more “green” in their daily lives, so it made perfect sense to incorporate it into their work.  They wanted to bring unique, fun, and vibrant products into the green fashion community. 


Zaum Purse 

Why they're Green: 

Their eco-friendly products use three different types of materials: printed organic cotton, solid colored organic cotton, and heavy wool felt. Both kinds of cotton are 100% organic and the printed cotton uses non-toxic pigments. ... read more

The Green Office Guide

Offices can be incredibly wasteful.  Disposable cups in the break room, paper being wasted, electronics running 24/7, etc.  Here are some ways to help reduce wasting energy and resources:

Computers:  ... read more

  • Shut off your monitors and put computer into standby or hibernate mode when you know you're going to be gone for more than a few minutes. 
  •  Turn your computer off every night.  I used to hear that shutting your computer down regularly wasted more energy than turning it off and on, but I've since learned that it saves energy to shut it down.
  • Set printers, copiers, etc. to go on sleep mode after even a brief period of inactivity.
  • Buy printer paper made of recycled paper and urge employees to print on both sides.  And don't print things too frequently, unless it's very necessary.

Make a Solar-Powered Oven

I actually learned about this craft from an episode of "Curious George!"  :-)  George and The Man in the Yellow Hat made a lasagna this way during a blackout.  I thought it was a neat way to reuse a box, cook using just the energy from the sun, and do a neat little craft project.  How keen and green can ya get?!

All you need is a box (a pizza box is perfect, because you can't recycle those!), foil, plastic wrap, newspaper, and a knife.... read more

Hair Dryers and Energy Consumption

I generally only blow dry my hair in the winter (I live in the Northeast, and in the summertime blow drying my frizz in the humidity is totally useless!) and blow drying my hair is something that I had never really thought much about in terms of energy consumption.  Until recently, that is.  

When it comes to going green, I try to ask myself if things that I do or use are necessary.  For instance...paper napkins, paper towels?  Unnecessary.  It suddenly dawned on me that blow drying my hair is really an unnecessary use of energy.  My hair will dry on its own. ... read more

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