Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
- If you start your own seeds, do it in reused containers instead of buying new ones. Yogurt cups are great for this, but any container will do. Also starter pots made from newspaper are an eco-friendly way to go.
- Use water saved from cooking or captured water from running the faucet to water your plants. When you cook vegetables or pasta in water, nutrients leach into the water and that water makes great plant food. Don't use water that you've used to cook meat in to water edible plants, though. And, make sure the water has cooled before you use.
- Water early in the morning or late in the evening so the midday sun doesn't soak up half of the water before the plants get it. You'll have to use less water this way.
- Save your seeds for next year. In addition to saving seeds from my own garden, I plan on buying a couple expensive heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, enjoy them, and save their seeds for next year. I'm not sure how well it will work, but I'm going to give it a shot.
- Share your bounty. Your bound to have too much of something (basil? zucchini?). Don't let it go bad. Share with friends and neighbors or find a food bank that will take the donations.
- Compost. Turn your vegetable and plant waste into food for next year's garden.
- Rotate your plants. Even in a small garden, moving the plants around from year to year will help the soil.
- Deter pests naturally. It's very tempting, and I know how tempting it is from experience, to want to destroy bugs or keep the rabbits away using toxic methods. But, this is food your family will eat so keep the chemicals away. Experiment with natural remedies and be okay with losing a little of your crop while you're figuring it out.
- Learn about the types of diseases your plants could get and how to identify them. This year especially with the late blight wiping out tomato plants, identifying and properly handling a disease could save part of your garden and your neighbor's garden, too.
- If you have kids, get them out in the garden with you and pass on the skills that you have (or maybe learn skills together) so that they will continue to garden when they have their own space.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
When the package arrived, we were impressed by the style and colors. Brian's shoes are the rust orange color. Mine are the green. We put them on and walked around a bit - quite comfortable. Brian's first comment was about the good arch support (he's a big fan of arch support.) The next day I put mine on to wear for the day. The first time all summer I believe I've had on socks and sneakers if I wasn't working out.
Now, I usually have a huge problem with new sneakers. I think I have oddly shaped backs of my ankles, and new sneakers usually rub them raw - sometimes to the point where they will bleed right through my socks. I'll usually suffer with it until the sneakers get broken in and then wear the sneakers until they are just about falling apart so I don't have to go through breaking in a new pair again. The sneakers I had been wearing were about four years old.
The New Balance 70's didn't cause me any problems at all in this area. I wore the shoes all day long and at the end of the day, the backs of my ankles were fine. Amazing. I've worn them without socks, too, and I've had no problems.
In fact, there is nothing I don't like about these sneakers. They're comfortable, light weight, stylish and eco-friendly. I e-mailed Shea last night to ask how his were holding up and this was his response.
I LOVE my shoes, they're holding up like champs.
That's good to know. From what I know about Shea, he's a very active guy and his sneakers must get good wear.
So what's so eco-friendly about these shoes? I'll let New Balance's PR people fill you in on that:
The first shoe in New Balance’s eco-preferred collection, the New Balance 70, is developed for fashionable consumers who consider the environment without relaxing their standards of style and comfort. Seventy-five percent of the upper components are “environmentally preferred materials.” The laces, webbing, rand, quarter, tongue and saddle incorporate recycled polyester; the foxing and the tip of the shoe are synthetics made with fewer solvents than traditional materials. Rice husks filler in the outsole reduces the amount of rubber needed, thus reducing the amount of petroleum used. Water-based adhesives (rather than solvent-based) are used to join the upper and the sole unit and no paper stuffing or paper wrapping are used in the packaging of 70.
The 70 was also thoughtfully designed to reduce waste. The upper is constructed with minimal layers to reduce unnecessary material usage. It features a uniquely efficient design--the parts fit together much like a puzzle--in an effort to utilize as much of the original cutting material as possible. The 70 will launch this July 2009 and retail for $80.00.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Before I get into that, over on Mother Nature Network we're giving away a solar backpack filled with green goodies just in time for back to school. To win the backpack, become a fan of MNN on Facebook. On August 24, one random winner will be chosen. If you're already a fan of MNN on Facebook, you're already in the running - the winner will be picked from all Facebook fans. I'd love to win this thing, but even though I'm a Facebook fan, I'm pretty sure the fine print says I'm not eligible. But, I'd love it if one of my readers won it.
This one is my favorite:
Back to School Shopping Madness: From Kindergarten through College its Time to Curb the Stuff - I wrote it last year for Sustainablog when I read the unbelievable statistics on how much people spend on back to school "necessities."
These next 5 are a series a did last year, Going Back to School in Green Style:
Assessing What You Already Have
10 Easy Ways to be More Sustainable with Your Back to School Shopping
And some miscellaneous posts
The Walking School Bus
Remember Paper Has Two Sides: Use Them Both
Friday, July 31, 2009
Today's post comes via my friend Bethe who I introduced you to a few months back.
One of the first steps to caring for our environment is getting to know and love it. For those of us who grew up playing outside until the street lights came on, this is not such an alien concept. That said, those days are gone and many kids today are missing out on the opportunities that help foster the connection to nature and help them connect with the world we live in.
Before we ask kids to save the world, we have to give them the chance to get to know it for the shear beauty and wonder of it. To dig in the dirt, climb tress, sleep under the stars, and wade in creeks. Kids need to know the feeling of grass under their feet, sand between their toes, and the joy of watching birds, squirrels, and butterflies. They need to think of the planet as something to love and cherish, versus simply something to save.
Protecting the planet starts with one simple step: playing outdoors! Not only are there countless health, educational, developmental, and emotional benefits to outdoor play, but it is the first step on the road to going green. Simply put, you cannot save what you do not know. It’s time to give kids the chance to know this beautiful planet we live on.
A great way to help bring play back to your community and to the lives of children and adults alike is to host a Play Day the week of September 19 -27th. This event can be whatever you choose to celebrate play and get your community outside!
- Sponsor a community toy swap and park clean-up
- Host a family nature hike, fishing derby, or canoe trip
- Have a geocaching or letterboxing event
- Have a community garden day or a scavenger hunt that challenges families to explore the parks and trails in your community
KaBOOM! can help. Our Play Day Planner will walk you through the steps of planning a successful event in your community. Click here to register your Play Day today, and get started on bringing fun and play back to your community. Join people nation-wide as the celebrate play and connect with nature.
Bethe Almeras writes The Grass Stain Guru, a blog about restoring childhood, and saving ourselves in the process. She is the DIY Online Community/Communications Manager for KaBOOM!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Here's my first post in it's entirety, complete with typo.
As I have been researching for my new green column in Primal Parenting Magazine, I am coming up with so much green infromation and it can't all go in the column. I'm starting this blog so that I can get more information out there.
It's going to have some tips, some statistics, some rants, some inspiration, some ideas, some insanity, and who knows what else. It will often be about green topics, but it's my blog, so sometimes my posts will be about whatever I feel like.
I’ve continued to learn so much over the past couple of years. To all of you have joined me along the way, made comments, encouraged me, and taught me things, I thank you.
Here are just a few lessons I’ve learned over the past two years while growing a little greener.
- God wants me to take care of the world that he created, and he wants me to encourage others to take care of it, too.
- Trading in our Jeep Grand Cherokee for a Prius was easy. Remembering to power down my computer every night is hard.
- I raised my boys for the first several years of their lives without much regard to how their actions affect the environment. It takes a long time to undo the things I've taught them.
- I spent the first 30-some years of my life without much regard to how my actions affect the environment. It might take me even longer than it will take my boys to undo the things I've been taught.
- Things don't change over night.
- It's better to live greener than to preach greener.
- It is possible for a soccer mom to feed her family without ever getting fast food (I don't count pizza as fast food).
- Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
- I'm a good cook - a really good cook.
- I still don't know if I'm fully convinced that humans are the cause of global warming/climate change, but I'm willing to ere on the side of caution. Cause even if I'm totally wrong, there's still a lot of other damage we do to the earth and to those who live on it that needs to be corrected.
- The very best pasta sauce I have ever tasted was the first one I made from just picked, organic ingredients from my own garden, even if it wasn't really the best pasta sauce I had ever tasted.
- Organic milk tastes so much better than non-organic. It's not just hype.
- It's a kick to watch the trash pile get smaller as the recycling pile get larger. It's even a bigger kick to watch the recycling pile get smaller as the trash pile stays smaller.
- Giving up Diet Coke is not easy.
- Hanging clothing on the line to dry makes me feel at peace.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I've decided to go with gardening today. Last year, everything grew wonderfully in my garden, even if the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks ate a lot of it. This year, not so much. The rains, the cool weather, and probably my inexperience have made a much sadder veggie garden this year.
Okay, on with the look back at my past posts that have to do with gardening.
Green Term of the Week: Composting - Long before I started composting in my backyard, I wrote this piece. It took me a while to actually begin to compost, but this was the beginning of the decision for me that I would compost.
Reusing an Old Charcoal Grill - The dome charcoal grills can make for good planters.
Green Term of the Week: Lawn Busting - also known as Food, Not Lawns, Lawns to Gardens, or Grow don't Mow. Why have grass when you can have food?
How to Get a Six Year Old to Eat Pesto without Complaining - I got my then six year old son to eat pesto. It only took about 3 months of work.
Tomatoes Piling Up? Try this Fresh Pasta Sauce Recipe - Since I haven't gotten a single red tomato yet this year, it's hard to remember that last year I was knee deep in them at some point. But I was, and I made this recipe several times.
Online Seed Exchange: Get Your Seeds for Free - Seeds are relatively inexpensive, but free is better. Plus, seed exchanges sometimes have varieties you can't get in stores or catalogs.
Green Term of the Week: Victory Garden - A recent victory garden resurge had taken place in the U.S. We're reclaiming our knowledge, our seeds, and our ability to feed ourselves with real food.
Growing a Container Herb Garden - A video that shows you how easy it is to have fresh herbs no matter what sort of space you live in.
Okay, next post is number 500? What will it be? Tune in and find out.
Title quote by Hanna Rion
Other quote I was considering using to title this piece: Coffee. Garden. Coffee. Does a good morning need anything else? - Betsy Cañas Garmon
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I haven't written about all of them, but I have written about quite a few. While I'm gearing up for my 500th post that will happen sometime next week, I'm looking back at some of the posts I've written over the past two years. Today, I've got links to some of my book reviews or book recommendations.
Dr. Seuss was a Tree Hugger - One of my very first posts, short and sweet, about one of my all time favorite books, The Lorax.
Reusing and Recycling: A Lesson from Grandma Prisbrey - My youngest son and I learned about this amazing woman, Tressa Prisbrey from a book we grabbed from the library one day. Bottle Houses is a beautifully illustrated biography that tells about the village of houses she built out of bottles and other things found at the dump.
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic - Our desire to consume causes problems socially, emotionally and environmentally. Affluenza is inspiring, and despite its serious message, an entertaining read.
Serve God, Save the Planet - This short post leads you to a review I did on Sustainablog for this book that I believe Christians and non-Christians can take inspiration from.
Green Reading for Read Across America Day - A list of books that I recommended for anyone looking for something to sink their teeth into.
Simply Green Parties - For some clever ideas on how to green up any celebration, I recommended this book by Danny Seo.
The Green Teen - This recently published book by one of my fellow MNN bloggers Jenn Savedge is a practical and well organized resource for teens who want to get a little (or a lot greener).
And finally a few links to books I've reviewed elsewhere:
Sarah Snow's Fresh Living
The Unhealthy Truth
When Santa Turned Green (I'm not kidding - it's a book)
David Suzuki's Green Guide
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I know we're supposed to believe that the economy is getting better. Perhaps it is on it's way up, and I just don't know how to read the signs. But most of the people I know, including my family, are looking for ways to spend less money and save money on the things they have to spend it on.
So I thought I'd go back and find some old posts that talk about saving money while being green. Here are a few that you might find helpful.
Staying green during the (possible) recession - Yep, this one was written a year and a half ago, when many of us were still in a bit of denial. It deals with stretching your grocery budget.
5 ways to be greener today that will save you money - 5 things you can to today, right now, with little effort.
Buying local at the peak of season saves money - Considering we're in the heart of summer and local foods are abundant everywhere, this is a very relevant post.
Going greener with your music can save you money - Tips on finding inexpensive or free legal music and downloads.
Host a swap and save money - "One man's trash is another man's treasure" and a swap can help you get rid of your unwanted items and get things you need or want without spending a dime.
10 easy ways to be more sustainable with your clothing - These tips will help you save money on new clothes while extending the life of the clothes you have
5 reasons to dig into your pantry - You've got food in your pantry that you've already paid for, why not use it?
Reduce, reuse, recycle: Packing and shipping items - If you're a careful saver, you should never have to pay for shipping products again.
Coupons for organic and natural foods are out there - Coupons for the organics and naturals aren't as plentiful as say coupons for Hot Pockets, but they are out there.
And please, before every female Gen-X'er who reads this post tells me that the photo doesn't match the quote, I know it doesn't. I couldn't find a photo of the right scene.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
This post is a collaboration between Mashable's Summer of Social Good charitable fundraiser and Max Gladwell's "10 Ways" series. The post is being simultaneously published across more than 100 blogs.
Social media is about connecting people and providing the tools necessary to have a conversation. That global conversation is an extremely powerful platform for spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues. That's one of the reasons charities can benefit so greatly from being active on social media channels. But you can also do a lot to help your favorite charity or causes you are passionate about through social media.
Below is a list of 10 ways you can use social media to show your support for issues that are important to you. If you can think of any other ways to help charities via social web tools, please add them in the comments. If you'd like to retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.
1. Write a Blog Post
Blogging is one of the easiest ways you can help a charity or cause you feel passionate about. Almost everyone has an outlet for blogging these days -- whether that means a site running WordPress, an account at LiveJournal, or a blog on MySpace or Facebook. By writing about issues you're passionate about, you're helping to spread awareness among your social circle. Because your friends or readers already trust you, what you say is influential.
Recently, a group of green bloggers banded together to raise individual $1 donations from their readers. The beneficiaries included Sustainable Harvest, Kiva, Healthy Child, Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, and Water for People. The blog-driven campaign included voting to determine how the funds would be distributed between the charities. You can read about the results here.
You should also consider taking part in Blog Action Day, a once a year event in which thousands of blogs pledge to write at least one post about a specific social cause (last year it was fighting poverty). Blog Action Day will be on October 15 this year.
2. Share Stories with Friends
Another way to spread awareness among your social graph is to share links to blog posts and news articles via sites like Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, and even through email. Your network of friends is likely interested in what you have to say, so you have influence wherever you've gathered a social network.
You'll be doing charities you support a great service when you share links to their campaigns, or to articles about causes you care about.
3. Follow Charities on Social Networks
In addition to sharing links to articles about issues you come across, you should also follow charities you support on the social networks where they are active. By increasing the size of their social graph, you're increasing the size of their reach. When your charities tweet or post information about a campaign or a cause, statistics or a link to a good article, consider retweeting that post on Twitter, liking it on Facebook, or blogging about it.
Following charities on social media sites is a great way to keep in the loop and get updates, and it's a great way to help the charity increase its reach by spreading information to your friends and followers.
You can follow the Summer of Social Good Charities:
Oxfam America (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube)
The Humane Society (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr)
LIVESTRONG (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr)
WWF (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr)
4. Support Causes on Awareness Hubs
Another way you can show your support for the charities you care about is to rally around them on awareness hubs like Change.org, Care2, or the Facebook Causes application. These are social networks or applications specifically built with non-profits in mind. They offer special tools and opportunities for charities to spread awareness of issues, take action, and raise money.
It's important to follow and support organizations on these sites because they're another point of access for you to gather information about a charity or cause, and because by supporting your charity you'll be increasing their overall reach. The more people they have following them and receiving their updates, the greater the chance that information they put out will spread virally.
5. Find Volunteer Opportunities
Using social media online can help connect you with volunteer opportunities offline, and according to web analytics firm Compete, traffic to volunteering sites is actually up sharply in 2009. Two of the biggest sites for locating volunteer opportunities are VolunteerMatch, which has almost 60,000 opportunities listed, and Idealist.org, which also lists paying jobs in the non-profit sector, in addition to maintaining databases of both volunteer jobs and willing volunteers.
For those who are interested in helping out when volunteers are urgently needed in crisis situations, check out HelpInDisaster.org, a site which helps register and educate those who want to help during disasters so that local resources are not tied up directing the calls of eager volunteers. Teenagers, meanwhile, should check out DoSomething.org, a site targeted at young adults seeking volunteer opportunities in their communities.
6. Embed a Widget on Your Site
Many charities offer embeddable widgets or badges that you can use on your social networking profiles or blogs to show your support. These badges generally serve one of two purposes (or both). They raise awareness of an issue and offer up a link or links to additional information. And very often they are used to raise money.
Mashable's Summer of Social Good campaign, for example, has a widget that does both. The embeddable widget, which was custom built using Sprout (the creators of ChipIn), can both collect funds and offer information about the four charities the campaign supports.
7. Organize a Tweetup
You can use online social media tools to organize offline events, which are a great way to gather together like-minded people to raise awareness, raise money, or just discuss an issue that's important to you. Getting people together offline to learn about an important issue can really kick start the conversation and make supporting the cause seem more real.
Be sure to check out Mashable's guide to organizing a tweetup to make sure yours goes off without a hitch, or check to see if there are any tweetups in your area to attend that are already organized.
8. Express Yourself Using Video
As mentioned, blog posts are great, but a picture really says a thousand words. The web has become a lot more visual in recent years and there are now a large number of social tools to help you express yourself using video. When you record a video plea or call to action about your issue or charity, you can make your message sound more authentic and real. You can use sites like 12seconds.tv, Vimeo, and YouTube to easily record and spread your video message.
Last week, the Summer of Social Good campaign encouraged people to use video to show support for charity. The #12forGood campaign challenged people to submit a 12 second video of themselves doing something for the Summer of Social Good. That could be anything, from singing a song to reciting a poem to just dancing around like a maniac -- the idea was to use the power of video to spread awareness about the campaign and the charities it supports.
If you're more into watching videos than recording them, Givzy.com enables you to raise funds for charities like Unicef and St. Jude's Children's Hospital by sharing viral videos by e-mail.
9. Sign or Start a Petition
There aren't many more powerful ways to support a cause than to sign your name to a petition. Petitions spread awareness and, when successfully carried out, can demonstrate massive support for an issue. By making petitions viral, the social web has arguably made them even more powerful tools for social change. There are a large number of petition creation and hosting web sites out there. One of the biggest is The Petition Site, which is operated by the social awareness network Care2, or PetitionOnline.com, which has collected more than 79 million signatures over the years.
Petitions are extremely powerful, because they can strike a chord, spread virally, and serve as a visual demonstration of the support that an issue has gathered. Social media fans will want to check out a fairly new option for creating and spreading petitions: Twitition, an application that allows people to create, spread, and sign petitions via Twitter.
10. Organize an Online Event
Social media is a great way to organize offline, but you can also use online tools to organize effective online events. That can mean free form fund raising drives, like the Twitter-and-blog-powered campaign to raise money for a crisis center in Illinois last month that took in over $130,000 in just two weeks. Or it could mean an organized "tweet-a-thon" like the ones run by the 12for12k group, which aims to raise $12,000 each month for a different charity.
In March, 12for12k ran a 12-hour tweet-a-thon, in which any donation of at least $12 over a 12 hour period gained the person donating an entry into a drawing for prizes like an iPod Touch or a Nintendo Wii Fit. Last month, 12for12k took a different approach to an online event by holding a more ambitious 24-hour live video-a-thon, which included video interviews, music and sketch comedy performances, call-ins, and drawings for a large number of prizes given out to anyone who donated $12 or more.
Bonus: Think Outside the Box
Social media provides almost limitless opportunity for being creative. You can think outside the box to come up with all sorts of innovative ways to raise money or awareness for a charity or cause. When Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer, for example, he created Blame Drew's Cancer, a campaign that encourages people to blow off steam by blaming his cancer for bad things in their lives using the Twitter hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer. Over 16,000 things have been blamed on Drew's cancer, and he intends to find sponsors to turn those tweets into donations to LIVESTRONG once he beats the disease.
Or check out Nathan Winters, who is biking across the United States and documenting the entire trip using social media tools, in order to raise money and awareness for The Nature Conservancy.
The number of innovative things you can do using social media to support a charity or spread information about an issue is nearly endless. Can you think of any others? Please share them in the comments.
Special thanks to VPS.net
A special thanks to VPS.net, who are donating $100 to the Summer of Social Good for every signup they receive this week.
Sign up at VPS.net and use the coupon code "SOSG"to receive 3 Months of FREE hosting on top of your purchased term. VPS.net honors a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee so there's no risk.
About the "10 Ways" Series
The "10 Ways" Series was originated by Max Gladwell. This is the second simultaneous blog post in the series. The first ran on more than 80 blogs, including Mashable. Among other things, it is a social media experiment and the exploration of a new content distribution model. You can follow Max Gladwell on Twitter.
This content was originally written by Mashable's Josh Catone.