January 28th, 2009
Becoming a parent seems to turn many people into environmentalists — or at least more active environmentalists. Parents start thinking about indoor air quality, organic foods, and overall sustainability in a whole new light. But with all the information out there, it’s hard to know where to go for good green parenting resources news and tips.
So we asked eco-minded mommies-to-be — Jessica Ridenour, editor of Whole Life Times magazine, and Summer Bowen, founder of eco-boutique called BTC Elements — to share their recommendations for the best green parenting websites! Visit these sites to be the greenest parent you can be:
Kiwi. This organic family lifestyle and parenting magazine’s published 6 times a year. Subscriptions cost $11.95, but team up with a friend and you can get a two-for-one deal right now! The Kiwi website also has a lot of recipes, features, and eco-craft ideas for green-thinking parents.
Rent-A-Toy. Since kids tire of toys quickly, why not borrow toys you can return when the kid gets bored? Rent-A-Toy lets you do just that — and even has an eco-toy section! Toys are inspected and sanitized for safety. Plans start at $24.99 a month and include free delivery and returns, just like Netflix.
Handmedowns.com. This website’s like a well-organized Craigslist for parents-to-be. Find gently used items for sale near you at a fraction of the sticker price! Since handmedowns.com gets its listings both from parents directly posting on the site AND from listings around the web, you’ll get the widest selection of products for the baby stuff you need.
Zwaggle. We teach kids to share — so why not parents too? Zwaggle’s a site for parents who want to share and trade kids’ stuff. After signing up, you can earn points by giving away pre-loved kid stuff — then use those points to get new-to-you kid stuff for your family.
The Tranquil Parent. Written by a team of eco-minded parents, this blog’s an optimistic, can-do site that dispenses green advice, covers health news, and shares child rearing ideas. “I don’t find every post that interesting,” Jessica says, “but I have seen some cool stuff like how to make your own baby wipes with reusable clothes and essential oil/vinegar/water mixtures.” Sounds like a cool money-saving eco tip!
Green Mom Finds. Wondering about the latest in green baby and kid products? Green Mom Finds is a blog that covers and reviews new green books, toys, and other kid-related goods hitting the green market. Best of all, the blog has a lot of giveaways, so readers can win some of the cute stuff for free!
Ideal Bite Mama. Sign up to get a free email newsletter focused on green mommies! Every Monday through Friday, you’ll get a new eco-tip in your inbox to help make green parenting a little easier and more fun.
Green Fertility. Written by a green and health-conscious mom, Green Fertility’s a blog with a heavy focus on health-related issues for both moms and children. The single-author blog has a lot of entertaining personality, with an entire category dedicated to “rants”!
Know of other great green parenting web resources? Share them with all of us in the comments.
Popularity: 3% [?]
January 25th, 2009
Written by Dawn Killough, courtesy of Green Building Elements.com
Energy Star challenges all employees to reduce the energy use at their places of work, through its newest promotion, “Bring Your Green to Work.” The corresponding web site offers employees the chance to register themselves and their company for the challenge and learn more about how to reduce energy use.
The child in me likes the “virtual office” application that offers several tips for lowering energy use. Ideas include unplugging cell phone chargers when not in use, using window shades to block or allow light and heat into the space as necessary, and, of course, using Energy Star rated equipment. It is presented in an easy to use interface, in which users click on blue stars placed throughout the “office” to receive the tips.
Other features of the site include, as I mentioned above, the opportunity to register individuals or companies as participating in the challenge. There are also several areas full of resources and ideas for lowering energy use in a commercial setting. Once a company joins the challenge, more resources are available, including logos, brochures, and web banners to post on web sites.
There is also a guide to starting a “Green Team.” These committees are started by companies to assess and work with employees and management to lower energy use. They also can work on improving the environmental footprint of a company in general. Their duties may include assessing manufacturing processes and materials, office procedures, and starting awareness and recycling programs.
With all these wonderful resources available, there are no more excuses for continuing “business as usual.” Energy Star and I challenge you to “Bring Your Green to Work!”
Popularity: 2% [?]
January 24th, 2009
Yesterday I got to check out the Go Green Expo at the LA Convention Center– and wanted to let you know that it’s running all weekend and open to the public. If you’re near the area, check it out!
The Go Green Expo has many exhibitors and speakers, so there’s something for everyone. If you’re into large-scale renewable energy, there are solar and wind options for you to see. If you’re into organic soaps and vintage fashions, you’re covered too. It’s quite a fascinating mix!
One company I really enjoyed visiting is SolaRover. SolaRover provides big solar panel set-ups on mobile carts. They can provide electricity for all types of commercial, industrial and emergency applications. Need some solar at your concert? Your school? Your natural disaster? Check.
Another company I loved seeing was Green Roots. They build green roofs and walls. (If you don’t know why green roofs are so great, click here.) The demo models they had at the show were of gorgeous succulents– I could just see them glowing green on a roof. They also provide green plant “walls” or “screens” for events. They are pretty cool.
I’m sorry to have to go negative, but I saw one company that made me sad. There is a guy with a booth who is promoting green models– yes, female models– supposedly for green events and promotions. His materials show a lot of leggy blonde ladies wearing short green dresses. Really? Is that what the green movement is all about? Perhaps he should go to the Detroit Auto Show.
Popularity: 2% [?]
January 22nd, 2009
Since so many people have embraced our first piece on How to Green Your Office, we’ve come up with another 10 important steps you can take to make your office more eco-friendly. Let’s get to it!
1. Enlist a Green Team. If you’re interested in greening your office, chances are there are some other like-minded folks in your workplace. Round ‘em up, and enlist their ideas and support for changes. A team made up from different departments will ensure that everyone buys in to changes, and can help rally support company-wide.
2. Collect and recycle your e-waste. Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, includes printers, monitors, computers, and anything else with an on/off switch. E-waste should never go in the trash as it may contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the groundwater under landfills. Instead of just chucking it, take it to your local hazardous waste center, or contact one of the many recycling companies operating around the country. Since there’s value in the recycled components, look for one that doesn’t charge a fee for pick-up. You can find local resources for disposing of e-waste here.
3. Stop the flow of junk mail. We wrote a post awhile back about how to stop junk mail at home, but this applies to the office as well. Since catalogs and other mail sent to ex-employees tends to generate a lot of this annoying waste, check out the Ecological Mail Coalition, a nonprofit that maintains a database of terminated or transferred employees. Marketers, looking to save money by eliminating misdirected mail, compare their lists to the database and voila - junk mail reduced!
4. Contact your utilities for free audits. Many energy and water companies offer free audits of your facilities, leaving you with specific recommendations for conservation. Some even offer rebates or flat-out free items, like energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs or faucet aerators. You can also find professional energy auditors near you here.
5. Add power strips, and use them. You already know to turn off computers, monitors and other equipment at night, but don’t forget about the power they use while you’re snug in your bed. So-called “vampire” power can account for 10% of total energy use, according to the U.S. EPA. Stop the sucking by installing power strips under each desk and around other equipment, plug everything into them, and then turn the strips off at night after powering down.
6. Clean out the toxic chemicals. A common complaint of many office workers is poor indoor air quality. Using strong, toxic chemicals for cleaning and other office needs contributes to this problem, so switch to natural cleaners, and do a little spring cleaning under sinks, in cabinets and anywhere else chemicals may be stored. Dispose of expired, leaking, or obsolete chemicals. Adding a few green plants to help clean the air won’t hurt either.
7. Cut down on business travel. Video conferencing and web-based conferencing have really come into their own. Services like Skype are now widely used, often replacing the need for business travel – even Oprah’s on-board! If you absolutely, positively have to be there in person, offset your travel with carbon offsets. Look for certified projects, like those listed by the Environmental Defense Fund that would not be funded without contributions like yours (a concept called “additionality”).
8. Reduce the use of self-adhesives. If you’ve set up an office recycling program, good for you! To make sure that you’re contributing the best quality materials to the recycling stream, reduce or eliminate the use of self-adhesives or “peel-and-stick” items (yes, that includes “sticky notes”!) The adhesive is generally not recyclable and can gum up the works of recyclers. Go old school with paper clips and “lick ‘em and stick ‘em” envelopes and stamps instead.
9. Measure your company’s carbon footprint. Just like you can measure your household carbon footprint here on Low Impact Living.com, you can measure the footprint of your company. Some simple calculators are available, like the one at the EPA’s Wastewise site, or you can work towards a detailed analysis with tools and guidance from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
10. Want to learn more? Check out The Green Office Handbook. Created by our LIL’s very own contributor Cassie Walker, it’s a one-stop resource for companies looking to green their offices. With checklists for paper, energy, transportation, and more, it offers hundreds of individual steps. Pick the sections and steps that make sense for your office, but know that you’ve covered all of the bases. It even comes with a CD with Excel® templates for tracking your results. It makes the whole process clear and easy!
Popularity: 3% [?]
January 12th, 2009
We want to start the New Year off with an eco-bang, and so we’re launching a new Green Home Contest. Low Impact Living and Joie de Vivre Hotels challenge you to make your home as green as you can! We’re going to reward the greenest home of all with a luxurious 3-night stay at the very environmentally-friendly Hotel Carlton in San Francisco. More on the hotel and the prize in a minute!
Low Impact Living will identify the single family home (and its proud owners) that has the lowest Low Impact Living Index (calculated using our Environmental Impact Calculator), and we’re going to share with you what that family has done to get there. Don’t worry if you haven’t done big projects like installing solar panels or a wind turbine - as the calculator shows, many of the best green home projects are simple and inexpensive. We’ll show you how to identify projects to make your home more eco-friendly. The contest will close on February 15, 2009. So you have time to make green changes!
What you have to do to enter
1. Visit our Household Environmental Impact Calculator and calculate your base LILI (Low Impact Living Index). It will only take you five-ten minutes to use the calculator and create your account.
2. Once you have entered all of your base inputs, move on to the “select projects” page of the calculator. Make sure you only check projects that you’ve finished (or will finish by February 15th) before you log out.
3. Make sure that you log out or save your profile before leaving - if you just move on to another web site without logging out, your inputs could be lost.
4. If you’ve already created an account through our calculator, then you need to return and, log in again. We’ve added some new features recently, and they won’t work unless you refresh your account.
5. The calculator isn’t all-encompassing yet, so there may be projects that you’ve done that don’t show up. If this is true, send us an email at email@example.com describing what you’ve done. Low Impact Living staffers will review your efforts and award up to a 5% additional deduction for compelling projects.
How we’ll select the winner
The contest closes on February 15, 2009, and we will announce the winner on March 1. This will give us time to check with the finalists to make sure that they’ve completed all of their checked projects. (Past entrants to our green home contests are not eligible.)
If you are a finalist (in our top 10 lowest LILI scores), we may ask you to verify that your projects are actually completed, via photos or receipts / invoices for work performed. We’ll also ask for your address (not to be published!) so that we can verify entered information about your home. If you are a winner, then you have to be willing to let us share your projects and process with everyone via our blog, and to provide us with the photos and project descriptions necessary to do that. You’ll become a green star overnight!
What you could win!
The greenest homeowner will receive three nights at Hotel Carlton in San Francisco. The Hotel Carlton is a member of the Joie de Vivre chain of hotels, which is deeply committed to making sustainability part of its core business operations. In fact, their mission is to “adhere to the strictest environmental standards, engage in sustainable practices and maintain an impeccable quality of guest experience.” The JDV Hotels environmental program includes hotel-wide recycling programs, composting, use of renewable energy, use of recycled paper products, energy-efficient lighting and much more. To learn more about Joie de Vivre’s commitment to sustainability, click here. To learn more about the Hotel Carlton, click here.
So, good luck, and get to greening!
Popularity: 3% [?]