Greenify Your Dinner Plate

May 6, 2010

I love to eat sustainably.  I don't always achieve it, but I love to do it when I can.  I thought I might share a few of my thoughts about sustainable, green, locavore eating. 

First off, it's hard to do.  I'm not really interested in eating only cabbage, winter squash, increasingly mealy apples and root vegetables during winter, so I don't succeed in this area.  I love a big pile of fresh spring greens for dinner, topped off by something just interesting enough to keep my taste buds going.

But this year, I'm going to do the CSA thing.  We've talked about this before: Community Supported Agriculture.  It's where you buy a share of the produce from a farm, paying perhaps a little more than you might at a grocery store, but helping support local farmers, cut food transportation costs and of course, getting access to a ton of great local produce.  That said, I can't quite buy into the full season crop.  Here's why: I live by myself and I can't eat $800 worth of fresh produce that fast. 

I have figured out how I can do my part.  I found a local farm that produces organic produce and fruits for CSA share-buyers, but also allows people (such as myself) to come out and work on the farm, then take home part of the crop.  I actually like this idea a lot more than just “go pick up the vegetables from the CSA” (although that's pretty great!) because it allows me to enjoy the feeling of participating in actually growing the vegetables.  I could also just buy them when I want, but wouldn't that be boring?

For the last several summers, I have also grown a few herbs in some pots.  I like a big, round, terracotta pot.  I prefer it be “self-watering” just in case I have to run out of town at the last minute.  I like to grow pots of basil, chives (more like a mini-forest!), rosemary and mint. 

And this year, I'm also looking into a new crop in my urban mini-farm adventures.  I'm considering growing some mushrooms.  There are kits sold online for several different varieties.  I wanted to try growing some Shitakes and some Chantarelles.   Some of the spores take over a year to get thoroughly into the wood.  But the more I thought about it, the more fun it seemed.  Rather like a return to my third grade science class.

“Fungi, anyone?”

I'm even considering whether I could grow them for a few local restaurants, as a side business. Sort of the “greenification” of spores. 

Ahhh!  It's all too delicious.  Maybe you'll try growing your own edibles this summer, too.


New Year’s Greenification: One Step at a Time

December 22, 2009

It’s that time again.  2009 will soon be behind us.  2010 is right at our door.  It’s time to make a few new resolutions.  I’d like to offer you a few.

Resolve to not buy anything new for a week.  Just one week.  You might be able to do that sometime this winter.  Or maybe you’ll keep that resolution in the spring.  But do it sometime.  And once you’ve made it a week without purchasing something new (other than food), you might make it a couple of weeks.

Resolve to recycle every week.   And look for ways to increase the amount that you are recycling.  Do it every week.  If you can get to the point where the amount your employees put into the recycling bin exceeds the amount in the trash bin, you are doing great!  But definitely, recycling can and should be something that you do, do with relish and hope to exell at doing.

Resolve to freecycle.  Did you know there are now listservs and websites for freecycling in most major urban areas and many small locations, too?  You want to be part of these!  In fact, if you can get a freecycling message board going on your company website, think how many more visitors to your website you might draw.  That’s an optimal idea for a small business!  Think of the community you’ll build among your customers!

Resolve to be a locavore, if only for a few weeks this summer.  Grow a garden in your backyard, on your balcony, in a few herb pots in the window, but wherever you can.  Grow a few plants and add to the oxygenating lifecycle of our planet.  And of course, harvest and eat your vegetables and herbs.

But even if it turns out that you have a “black thumb” and can’t grow anything, you can still try your hand at eating local, seasonally produced foods.  And you’re likely to get better quality, fresher tasting vegetables at the same time. 

Resolve to check the air pressure on your company fleet and personal car’s tires regularly.  You should check at least once per month to get better gas mileage, better handling and better wear on those tires.  Find out what pressure your tires should be at and start a regular habit of checking their inflation.  You’ll arrive safer that way, too.

You don’t have to do these things every day, but if you do them on a regular, scheduled basis, you will lead a more Greenified, economical and higher quality life.  And you might lead your employees and customers to do the same in 2010.

We wish you all a very Green New Year and look forward to blogging with you in 2010! 


Loca-Procurement

October 28, 2009

So by now you've heard of the "locavore movement."  You may even be using a locavore approach in your own food shopping and dining habits.  Locavores are people who try to eat foods in season and shop for their fruits and vegetables within a limited distance.  One popular approach is to dine only on foods produced within 100 miles as much as possible.  But how about putting your business on a "100 Mile Diet?"  How about if you tried green procurement?
 
Green procurement would be seeking out goods and services that are less environmentally damaging.  A good portion of a product's "greenness" can often be based on proximity.  And here's good news: goods and services that are produced locally are going to be less environmentally damaging than goods and services produced from afar, as less energy is expended getting them to the consumer.  Many times the savings in terms of shipping a product or hiring in a service can be passed along to purchasers.

Even if all you do is purchase your office supplies from a supplier in the local town, rather than driving to another town to purchase them, consider the carbon emissions eliminated by limiting the distance involved.  You'll almost certainly save money on gas and possibly on the investment of your own valuable time as a business person.  If you tally up the mileage, gas, and general wear and tear on your business vehicle, the savings could be considerable.  They certainly could be sizable for our environment.
 
Some things will not be purchasable in terms of the production aspect.  Few enough companies produce pens or paper; but in the service aspect, the local movement may open wide.  And we can supplement green procurement with reusing and recycling.  The savings in terms of carbon emissions and actual dollars may benefit both sides of the equation, if we:
•  make the office more paperless by printing only when necessary
•  use double-sided printing whenever possible
•  invoice electronically rather than sending invoices through the mail
•  use refillable pens rather than "throwaways"
•  reuse old file folders

We've got a long way to go and lots of little ways that will help us get there, if we Greenify together. 


Want to Go Green? Go LOCAL

May 18, 2009

Are you noticing the increasing emphasis on going local?   It seems to be everywhere with increasing emphasis as big business tries to compete for green dollars by claiming to be “local.”

During this time with our stressed out economy, marketers are looking for any edge possible with consumers.  As we’ve noted here at the Green Business Alliance in the past, surveys have shown that American consumers will pay more for “green,” recycled, or other products with a lower carbon footprint. The effects of that poll have now settled into the advertising industry in a big way.

But what does it mean when the big, national chain companies say they are offering “local?”  Well, it could mean… almost anything.  The sad fact is that the government doesn’t regulate use of the word “local” and there is no legal standard for it.  There is no definition, no set number of miles that dictates when manufacturer, producers, retailers or other businesses can or cannot use the word “local.”

The marketing tactic first hit in the food industry, where “locavores,” as they call themselves, claimed to prefer local food for its freshness and its smaller carbon footprint.
But now the movement is spreading.

“You know the locavore phenomenon is having an impact when the corporations begin co-opting it,” Ms. Prentice said. “Everyone should know where things are processed. The ‘where’ question is really important.”

I’m not saying that the national big box home improvement store that is selling “local lumber” or “area produced seedlings” isn’t doing just that.  They might be.  But isn’t it interesting that corporate America is now interested in changing the green market of those who prefer to buy and consume local products?

It’s great to offer local produce and products.  It’s wonderful to Greenify both in your own life as well as the products that your business is using and offering.  But can I make a suggestion?  Since the government hasn’t qualified what “local” means, perhaps you should.  It may be turn into your own business success story.


Go Green with Local Harvest

June 13, 2008

Going back to an earlier post March post, have you heard about the local challenge? It is a challenge to each of us to eat at least one meal a week in which all ingredients come from no more than 100 miles away. If you are so inclined, you could challenge yourself to become a true localvore (or locavore) who eats almost exclusively within a 100 mile radius.

One fifth of all petroleum used in the US is used by the food industry. And of that amount, four fifths are used to move food from one place to another. Since the average ingredient travels 1500 miles before it reaches your plate, 6 to 12 % of every dollar spent on food is for transportation costs. If you shop at a farmer’s market, the farmer will keep about 90 cents of every dollar you spend with him. If you shop for your ingredients at a grocery store, 91 cents of every dollar will go to the middlemen and the farmer will receive 9 cents.

A great website to find food local to you is Local Harvest.

Community Supported Agriculture or CSA is one way to work towards being a localvore. The CSA farmer will provide you with a specified amount of produce every week over their growing season. The one I belong to delivers about a ½ bushel of assorted vegetables, fruits, berries, honey and herbs a week for approximately $18 a week. The CSA share is paid in advance, allowing the farmer a regular income.

If you have an office summer picnic, consider asking everyone to bring items made from local produce. It could be a fun way to introduce everyone to the local challenge while making an effort to greenify your meal.


Loca - What?!

March 9, 2008

An email arrived in my inbox this afternoon containing a suggestion from a co-worker for an upcoming blog topic. The message included a brief description and a few urls describing the following word…Locavore. I immediately thought to myself…Loca what?! Locavore. It was not a typo and it was not a dinosaur descriptor.

In fact, it was The New Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year in 2007. The word is just a few years old and originated in the San Francisco area. Locavore is defined as a person who seeks out locally produced food. As I dug a little deeper on the internet, I came to find out that many Locavores only eat foods produced within a certain mile radius of where they live. There is even a challenge known as the 100-mile diet.

Wow! This seems to tie in nicely with Earth Day Resolution #1 – Go Green – I Mean Literally. The resolution encourages people to make an effort to eat more locally grown greens, fruits and other colored vegetables. Who knew it had such a fancy name and that locally could be translated into an actual mileage radius! Suffice it to say, I continue to learn something new every day and today, I learned a cool ‘green’ word.


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