Pat Yourself on the Sack!

May 7, 2009

How often do we hand out an “atta boy” around here?  That’s an old-school phrase for a pat on the back or a “job well done!” type of compliment. I want to bring your attention to something changing at the most basic of levels: the common human experience of the grocery store.  Are you noticing (like I am) that every time you step into the grocery store, you see more and more people pulling out their reusable grocery sacks? 

Although I haven’t seen figures yet, it seems I am constantly surrounded by people who are bringing their own usable sacks.  And I’m liking what I see.

Manufacturers are also offering more options.  Instead of just a more durable plastic sack, there are now options that don’t involve plastic.  They are made of fabric and here are a few that I’ve seen with increasing frequency:

•  String bags.  This bag is extremely lightweight, yet able to carry an immense amount of groceries.  Its ability to stretch is almost unparalleled.  Just when you think you’re done, you find one more item that has to go in.   And it does.
•  Lightweight nylon bags.  The cool thing about this alternative is that it fits in with the current system for bagging groceries at the check-out counter. It is a more durable but still lightweight material compared to the plastic bag. But again it lacks structure when loading.
•  Heavyweight nylon bags.  These are made to last a lifetime. Tote bags are often made of this heavy nylon. It resembles a traditional paper grocery bag with some added handles; it stands nicely on its own for easy packing. However with that durability and quality of materials comes a not-so-compact package. It folds similarly to a paper grocery bag.
•  Environmental friendly people want to be associated and seen with natural fabric bags. Available in soft and natural hues, some bags ooze class and concern. Multicolored patchwork bags, printed bags, embroidered and embossed bags are everyone's favorite.

I’m guessing that soon we will find ourselves customizing our own bags and adding a little of “this or that” to distinguish them from other people’s bags.  Individualism is encouraged, but think of the possibilities for your business as you put walking advertisement of your friendship with the earth into the hands of customers who will then carry them everywhere. 

We’re already seeing more of these and it’s wonderful to behold.  It means that Greenification is going forward.  And maybe someday, those disposable, life-sucking plastic bags will be gone. 


Spring Forward to Greenify!

May 5, 2009

We're finally feeling the Spring temperatures in most areas of the United States, which means it’s time to get out and enjoy the warm air and sun on our faces.  How can you do that and gather the gang for some Greenification?  How about a little community project? 

You’ve seen those signs along the side of the freeway: "Adopted by Acme Business Supply."  Ever wonder what that "adoption" entails?  Usually, it means contacting your state or local municipality to formally sponsor taking care of the side of the highway, clearing it of litter and debris.  It could be your business’ name instead of “Acme Business Supply” on the roadside sign.

That’s right: you sponsor the section of the highway.  In most states, you aren’t expected to get out there to clean and maintain that section yourself.  They do it for you as part of the sponsorship fee.  But maybe you’d like that opportunity?

I was walking through my neighborhood this past weekend when I saw a discarded takeout container.  It surprised me, because I was in the “gated” section where such littering usually doesn’t happen.  I picked up the container because it was so out of place that I felt a little leaving it there.  I walked it over to another neighbor’s recycling bin where I tucked it safely inside.

You can do that anytime, anyplace, you know.  If you see a cup or plate out of place, you can just pick it up and carry it to a waste receptacle.  Nobody has to tell you that it’s not a pretty sight.  You can just properly dispose of it when you spot such littering. 

Of course, if you’d like to pay to sponsor the greenification of a section of roadway, that’s great, too.   But maybe grab a picnic lunch and the office gang some weekend and go find a street you can clean on your own.  Since it’s greenification not glorification that’s the goal, it’s all good in our thinking.  And maybe it’ll make the Spring flowers smell a little sweeter, too.

 

 


Bring Your Lunch to Greenify and Save Money

April 30, 2009

Want to Greenify, save money and improve your health at the same time?  I have three words for you: bring your lunch.
 
Bringing your lunch to work can save you the time and mental disconnect/reconnect of having to go out for it.  It saves on money because a lunch you prepare at home from healthy, well-chosen ingredients can cost substantially less and at the same time, it can improve your health as you learn to make better nutritional choices.
 
To get started, you'll want to choose some reusable, "green" supplies to let you safety and conveniently bring and store food from home.  This may seem counter-intuitive on cost savings because you'll want to invest in the best tools to get started, but choose wisely and you'll be ahead of the game.
 
There are numerous websites offering eco-friendly lunchboxes, bags, and utensils.  This one at Pristine Planet features some interesting choices.
 
Also Go Green Lunch Boxes has some designs that are powerfully perky.
 
Some of these containers are going to have plastic, which isn't preferred by me, but may be liked by you.  As long as you reuse it, it's still an improvement over throw-away styrofoam containers, in my humble, lunch-eater's opinion.
 
But for my money, nothing beats a tiffin tin.   
 
I think I bought mine in a container store about ten years ago.  I've been using it to store little bits of this-n-that in the kitchen where it works quite wonderfully.  But, the only downside of this type of container is that of course, you can't stuff if in the microwave to heat your lunch.  But for durability, reusability and general stylishness, it can't be beat.  Toss in some cool reusable utensils made of sustainable bamboo easily picked up at Target, Crate N Barrel or just about any other department store and you're home free.
 
Bringing your lunch to work can't be beat either.  I'm going to jump off on what goes inside, but try to keep it close to home and organic.  If leftover meatloaf is what you have, well, you are the lucky one!  I hope you're eating it on whole grain bread with some really good mustard.   I'm betting that this year, bringing lunch to work is the Greenifying, economizing, nutritionalizing retro-trend of the year. 


Now that Earth Day Is Over... What Are You Doing?

April 28, 2009

Now that Earth Day is over again for this year, how do we go forward with our resolve to be more protective of our planet and its valuable natural resources?
We've celebrated the planet, now it's time to get serious and Greenify in a meaningful way.
 
Here are some ideas that I had:
 
*Car pool at least one day per week.  This saves on fuel and parking spaces at work.  If you're the boss, lead the way and encourage employees to do it.  Maybe you can start by offering to pick up an employee or two on the way to work at least once a week.
 
*Turn off lights when you leave the room.  Every time.
 
*Use recyclable paper as often as possible.  Yes, it does cost a little more, but it also saves our planet a lot.
 
*Dial down on heat and up on air conditioning.  68 degrees in the winter and 72 degrees in the summer (if not more) can make a huge difference in the company energy bill, too.
 
*Intall timers on restroom lights.  It's a safe bet no one wants to stay in there very long anyway, right? 
 
*Eat lunch at your desk.  Saves money and fuel.
 
*Add plants for decoration and pollution control.  If you have landscaping outdoors, remember to put the watering cycles on timers, too, and water only at night.Conservation is key. 
 
*Encourage others in their to Greenify, as well.  Can we underestimate the power of a good compliment to a fellow businessperson?  If they're weighing the importance of their greenification efforts, it's always good to hear encouraging words.  Plus, it does help make and keep friends.
 
Earth Day only comes once per year, but the goal is to celebrate the importance of our Earth every day and try to keep it a clean, more healthful place to live.


Ready for Earth Day 2009

April 14, 2009

Earth Day 2009 is now about one week away and what is your business doing about it? Have you made any plans to Greenify?

Are you staying open that day or shutting down to take your employees and family to events in a nearby park or civic square?  Have you put up posters for those events and maybe written a tagline on your company’s cash register receipts, advertising what’s going on and where on Earth Day?

National Geographic wants your ideas.  They’re working with Sun Chips to provide a cash prize to whoever comes up with the best Green idea, starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2009 and going until June 8, 2009.  All you do is click here for rules on how to enter your best green idea.  You could win $20,000 to implement your idea.

But what if your idea is small? Is it something you could do now, without any financing or fanfare?  You could spend Earth Day 2009 implementing it yourself.  How about if you use the day to plant a garden?  You’ll have fun in the sun and reap the benefits in months to come.  You’ll help Greenify by reducing the amount of chemicals used in producing vegetables and fuel used in shipping them.  You might even enjoy working out in your garden all summer. 

Other things to do include bicycling to work.  Carpooling, if the distance is too long.  Turning the lights off and opening the blinds just for one day.  Turn your computer off when you go to lunch.  Better yet, plan to bring your lunch and enjoy an earth-friendly potluck picnic with your employees or coworkers in the park.

Earth Day 2009 will be full of exciting endeavors that will only happen on that day. But by planning to do something small, you ensure that you can relive and enjoy an “everyday Earth Day” over and over again.


Greenify Your Business

April 13, 2009

If you’re looking for a new business or to Greenify an existing business, have you considered bicycle deliveries?  A business in Portland, Oregon was trying to figure out ways to make their delivery service more earth-friendly, and they got the idea to start doing deliveries on bicycles.

It’s very old school. And in a few major cities, bicycle curriers are a frequently used delivery system.  But this is something different. 

They use special cargo bicycles. The business is “B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery.  They’re a start-up formed by the husband and wife team of Kathryn and Franklin Racine-Jones. 

“We hope B-Line can help add green core jobs and create a different type of city.  We’re trying to create a new model of distributing goods in urban areas.”

The duo moved to Portland from the San Francisco Bay area about 9 months ago. They were looking for a place that was open and interested in greener ways of doing business.  Portland is known for bikes and enjoying earth-friendly approaches to doing business.  So far, so good, right?

Their idea is simple.  They’re using specially modified cargo bikes to deliver goods within Portland, also known as “The Rose City.”   They are doing more good deeds than you might think.  They’re using fewer natural resources (although the bikers’ legs might argue that!) sparing downtown streets from the wear and tear of large delivery trucks, and providing a very earth-friendly link in a company’s distribution chain. 

All in all, a great Greenification effort that is truly going the last mile.


A Personal Commitment to Greenify: A Life Less Plastic

April 10, 2009

Have you thought about committed you are to a Greener life?  I was reading about various groups and individuals who are trying to make a difference when I spotted one person who is really tackling the idea for herself.  Jeanne Haegele is a 29 year old marketing coordinator in Chicago.  She writes a blog called “Life Less Plastic.”  The blog name tells all, so I emailed her a few questions and this fascinating woman offered these answers:

GBA: Where did you get the idea for your plastic-less blog?

JH: The project was set in motion when a friend of mine in the medical field explained that plastic may have negative health effects.  I started to research about plastic online.  I read that certain plastics may have serious potential for harmful effects and also found that plastic use is having very serious effects on the environment, mostly because plastic really isn't being recycled. After learning this, I became convinced that I wanted to give up plastic.

As I learned more about plastic and how to avoid it, the project became more about the environment.  Americans use 30 million tons of plastic each year, according to the EPA's statistics from 2007.  Very little of that is recycled, mostly because recycling plastic really isn't an economically viable thing to do. 

Giving up plastic became increasingly important for me.  I wanted to protect myself from the chemicals in plastic, yes, but I also wanted to do something to protect the environmental damage created by plastic, a substance that never bio-degrades.

GBA: How successful do you feel have you been and what were the trickiest parts of your efforts to get plastic out of your life and be more environmentally conscious?

JH: After working out lots of strategies to avoid the plastic, I feel like I've been really successful at getting it out of my life.  I barely use any, and I'm really proud of that.  The trickiest part of this whole experiment was just figuring out how to avoid plastic in the first place.  I had to completely revise how I shop.  Instead of buying lots of pre-packaged goods, I now stick to fruits and vegetables and go to stores that sell food from bulk bins.

GBA: Do you feel like you are missing out on anything living without plastic?

JH: The one thing I really miss is cheese.  It's very difficult to find cheese that isn't wrapped in plastic so I don't eat too much of it anymore.

To catch up with Jeanne and get ideas on how to further Greenify your life by eliminating plastic, you can visit her blog.

(LINK: http://lifelessplastic.blogspot.com/ )


A Greener View: Energy Efficient Windows

April 9, 2009

As a home or business owner, this year may be one of the toughest years you’ve ever faced.  You’d like to do something more to Greenify, but how can you spend money that you may need to pay bills and keep the business afloat?
 
You might want to look outside your four walls and consider new windows.
Thanks to the stimulus bill, homeowners can now claim a tax credit of up to $1,500 for new, energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights.  For businesses, it can be an asset to the business that will be quickly cost effective.  

This website, http://www.efficientwindows.org/ is sponsored by the government to provide information for homeowners who are trying to decide whether they can afford to make this commitment to energy savings this year, in this difficult economy. 
Who wouldn’t like to have fresh new windows to look out of or maybe a skylight overhead that brightens the day and allows you to fully enjoy a pounding rainstorm when it rumbles through? 

Whether we’re talking about adding double paned windows, tinted and treated glass, or skylights that eliminate the need for electrical lighting through a major portion of the day, these windows are increasingly valuable in the workplace and at home. 

The tax credit related to the current stimulus is to cover 30% of the cost of energy efficient windows, doors and skylights purchased and installed in 2009 to 2010.  The maximum amount covered, as previously mentioned, is $1500.  But even without the tax credit, these windows can save their owners hundreds of dollars every year in energy costs, whether it’s on heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer. 

The website’s factsheet contains information and estimates about the cost savings in multiple areas of the country for your convenience.   Another factsheet details how to qualify for the tax credit.

Spending the money and upgrading to new energy efficient windows may also help Greenify the economy, since the stimulus is designed to work better if we all spend a little extra.  Wouldn’t it be great if we spent the money to buy something that could help cut down our carbon footprint and benefit everyone in more ways than one? 


Earth Day 2009: The Green Generation

April 7, 2009

We’re getting closer to Earth Day, 2009.  Now just a few weeks away, are you wondering what more you can do to help your friends and neighbors Greenify and enjoy the day and its significance?

First off, you can start using reusable shopping bags every time.  Get used to having them, using them, and returning them to your car.  Buy sturdy ones.  They’ll last longer and be more earth-friendly.  If you have a business, print your name on them and give them away to the first 100 customers on Earth Day.

Set a good example.  March your recyclables out to the curb in the bright colored bin heaped high.  Experts estimate that Americans recycle somewhere between 32 and 57 percent of refuse.  But recyclables can and should be a higher percentage than the truly un-reusable “garbage” that is going to the landfill these days.  And any cost savings in landfill use is something that comes back to us financially and in terms of our carbon footprint that we’re all being so careful about these days.

Buy more organic and, where possible, homegrown vegetables.  Maybe this is the year that your neighborhood engages in a communal garden?  If there’s a vacant lot, find out who the owner is and ask about putting in a vegetable garden for everyone’s benefit.  The owner will probably ask for a few spare ears of corn and may appreciate the care being given to their land.  Otherwise, parcel out assignments like “tomatoes in one backyard, squash in another, beans in a third neighbor’s back corner.”  You’ll increase neighborliness, cut down pesticide consumption, and maybe even have fun.

Earth Day can and should be a great celebration of something that we all care about.  If you do nothing else, just remind people what a great planet we have to live on and that it does need our care and concern in stewardship of its resources, that’s an Earth Day worthy achievement.


How Green is Your Portfolio?

April 6, 2009

We’re not usually “all about the investments” here at Green Business Alliance.  We want to help you Greenify the planet and invest in your life here on it.  But we have a little investment advice for you today.  Some people think we may be about to hit the “Golden Age” of green business.

Why? Look to the leadership in Washington.  The Obama Administration’s increased support of environmental issues backed up by regulatory changes that are already taking shape along with strong green elements in the proposed stimulus make it appear as though the way is clear, lush, and yes, GREEN. 

But that’s also the assessment of results from the latest survey of American investors at Allianz Global Investors, which shows Americans see a "Golden Age" on the way for enviro-investing.

Here are some of the investors’ survey findings: 

• 91 percent believe that resolving environmental problems will be a major issue for years
• 69 percent consider it important to look at investing in companies that capitalize on addressing those problems.
• 78 percent say environmental technology has the potential to be the "next great American industry,"

The survey found that 97% of those questioned think exploring alternative fuel sources remains important despite gas prices going down. 
The poll showed investors are already looking for firms that seek to address environmental issues.  They are looking for ways to pour in dollars to businesses in a more environmentally friendly business climate.

We think it will be a great year to Greenify your business, your life, and maybe even your portfolio. 


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