Holiday Colors: Red and Greenify!

December 4, 2008

Have you thought about what kinds of goodies your business will give to its customers this holiday season?  You can Greenify your corporate gifts this season without missing out on taste or quality, while enjoying the knowledge that you’re helping the environment.

So let’s look at a few possibilities. How about some coffee? A nice bag of organically grown brew is a welcome gift in most offices and there are dozens of brands out there.  There is an entire website devoted to the organic coffee association and what their growers do to bring you a greener cup of joe:
   
While you’re at it, maybe look around for a well-made mug.   Your client will save a lot of money if they start drinking their own office coffee from their own cup.

Like chocolates?  These are grown pesticide-free so you don’t have to feel any guilt about enjoying them.  And Sierra Club staffers say these three are the best:
Amano Chocolate
Dagoba Chocolate
Ithaca Fine Chocolates

If you’d rather have cookies, these have all won awards for taste and for being eco-friendly:

Dancing Deer
Bellas Cookies

Liz Lovely

Going low-carbohydrate and healthy?  Try some pesticide-free nuts:

Living Tree Community
Sun Organic
Wilderness Family Naturals 

And if you’ve got a one of a kind customer that is worth “a million” to you, then maybe this next one is for you.  This website offers one of a kind heirloom Teddy Bears made from repurposed used fur coats.

You can show you care about your customers and the earth by giving greener gifts this season.  You can Greenify while greeting the season with style.


Two Quick Ways to Greenify Holiday Giving

December 3, 2008

If you’re like many Americans, you’re feeling the economic pinch this holiday.  Greenifying your gift-giving may help you feel a little richer in personal green. 

Have you thought about recycling gifts?  Yeah, sure, you’ve heard about re-gifting: rewrapping a gift you received but don’t care for in order to give it to someone it may be better suited for.  Re-gifting was made popular (and got laughs) on Seinfeld, the old NBC sitcom.

But maybe this year, you’ll consider buying items at second-hand stores.  Americans have been considered “under-consumers” for years, in that they didn’t use an item completely.  They threw things away or took them to second-hand stores well before their usefulness was finished.  Maybe it’s time you considered shopping in those stores.

Some things you can’t purchase at such a store.  You’ll not please the kids wanting a WII with an old VCR.  But if you’re looking for a back-up vcr for your business’ in-house security system, you will pay a lot less by purchasing a cast-off second-hand player in working order.  

Often these items are cast off early.  In some cases, stores have been known to clear inventory to charitable organizations.  If you can wait until after Christmas, many stores and households clear excess items that aren’t fully used.  (Some people never learn to Greenify.  It’s not in their nature.)  

At the very least, consider something made of recycled goods, like this Radio Flyer made of recycled plastic or a lovely star paperweight made of recycled blue glass. (They have them shaped like dolphins, too but that didn’t seem nearly as festive!)

You can teach your children a lesson about greenification by taking them shopping at a second-hand store, like Goodwill or the Salvation Army.  They’ll learn to appreciate the cost of goods, the fun of giving, and the value of a dollar while they shop.  It’s also a great time to talk about the value of conserving natural resources.

Even if the kids aren’t getting or giving second-hand gifts, give yourself or your spouse or someone else the gift of a recycled, second-hand item and feel the joy of helping Greenify the planet and the second gift of a lower budget.


Christmas Greenification: It Starts with a Tree

November 26, 2008

Christmas is when our culture seems to forget about honoring the earth and neglects to Greenify.  We hit our annual high for consumption.  We decorate bigger and brighter every year, we send cards that kill forest after forest, and we consume prodigious quantities of food and drink.  This holiday season, Americans will put millions of miles and thousands of kilowatts into lighting holiday trees, homes and businesses.  But there are ways to Greenify your Christmas at home and at work. 

One of the biggest symbols of the holiday is the tree.  Brightly decorated with lights, tinsel, and ornaments, can this symbol be made more green?  Yes.  First off, choose a real tree.  An artificial tree is primarily a petroleum product.  A real fir or spruce is exactly that: a real tree. It brings scent and cheer to what might otherwise be a dreary corner of the room. And at the end of the holidays, it can be taken to the county recycling effort and turned into mulch. 

What about the decorations?  How about buying LED lights?  They look the same as convention incandescent bulbs, but last longer and use 80 to 90 percent less energy.  They’re also safer since they barely warm up.  Also invest in timers to continue the savings by dimming the lights, inside and out, when everyone goes to bed. You’ll find plenty of uses for those, turning off lamps, after the season is over.

As for decorations, many people use the same decorations year after year, and that’s an excellent way to conserve.  If you’d like to have new decorations, edible decorations can be freshly made and shared with customers who come by the business (or friends at home) during the holiday season.  Or you might consider a “theme tree” and make doggie treat decorations using any of the dozens of recipes for doggie treats available on the internet.

Christmas can be a great time to Greenify and keep the spirit of the holidays alive.


Greenify the Holidays with the Spirit of Giving

November 25, 2008

Let’s Greenify your holidays a few steps more.  What can you do to conserve without putting a damper on the joy of the holidays?
 
‘Tis the season to hit the malls.  When you go shopping, take your own shopping bags.  Yes, you may well be stopped going into the stores, as you carry a shopping bag, but you’ll help save on the millions of shopping bags that many stores have printed for Christmas shoppers.  And if you’re afraid of being stopped for shoplifting, take along paper or binder clips to fasten the receipts to the outside of your bag.

Once you get the gifts home, what’s next?  How about wrapping presents in posters, decorated grocery store bags, or pages from glossy fashion magazines?  Put a small present in a beautiful scarf and make the wrapping part of the gift given.  If you truly love brightly colored holiday wraps, purchase recycled wrapping papers online from websites like fishlipspaperdesigns.com and paporganics.com, which also may sell biodegradable ribbons.  Did you know that Americans use more than 38,000 miles of ribbon during the final months of the year?

"You don't have to sacrifice the celebration for sustainability," says Zem Joaquin, founder of ecofabulous.com and eco-editor of House & Garden. Her advice: be "eco-wise."

Another tip: consider going paper-free on holiday cards.  Direct friends to your family blog or create a free multiphoto card or an online slideshow on photobucket.com. You can add holiday music, snowflakes and bits of text, and then e-mail friends and family a link.  They may get a bigger kick out of your fun slideshow of the past year than they ever got out of pre-printed cards and posed single photos that almost always hit the curb the week after Christmas.

You don’t have to clamp down on holiday spirit to Greenify the season.  In fact, it may put you “in the holiday mood” earlier when you help conserve the environment.


Have You Greenified for the Season?

November 12, 2008

Winter has now descended on the North American hemisphere, reminding us one last time to Greenify at work and at home. Heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most of us.   Cutting your energy use will help Greenify and at the same time, could save you some money, which is always a welcome idea.  Here are some easy ideas on where to look to improve Greenification and save money:

While the temperatures outside are low, remember to open the draperies and shakes on south-facing windows during the first half of the day to allow the sun’s light to enter and warm structures.  Close the blinds and drapes at night to keep the heat in.

Reset your thermostat.   By lowering the thermostat even just a few degrees can save money.  If you drop it from 72 to 65 degrees for eight hours a day, you can cut the heating bill by 10%.   Get a sweater, and you might just find yourself enjoying greater savings on your power consumption than ever before.

Next check caulking and weatherstrip around doors and windows that might leak air.  Remember those old-fashioned “draft dodgers” that grandma used to make by sewing a tube of fabric and then filling it with beans and placing it along the bottom of the door?  It might be time to get those sewing skills polished up again. 

And don’t forget to check and replace the furnace filters regularly.  By checking filters, insulation and caulking, you can stop the loss of energy from your home, lower your power bills, and help Greenify in a way that will pay off with immediate and long-term benefits.


Green Business Alliance's Guest Blog on Farmers' Almanac

June 30, 2008

Easy Ways to "Greenify" Your Home 

Green Business Alliance’s Executive Director, Hilary Kusel, offers some helpful suggestions on how to Greenify your home for this special guest blog.
While reading Peter Geiger’s blog post on “Living Life Better,” I noted with interest that the 2009 Edition of the Farmers’ Almanac will contain tips on how to be green as well as how to conserve energy and water. Farmers’ Almanac has always had a focus on the environment, even before it was the ‘in’ thing. There is no doubt that living the green life has never been as hip as it is today. Along the lines of living green, here are a few helpful tips on how to Greenify your home. Some of the suggestions may seem subtle and even simple to implement, however they will make a positive impact on the environment and your place of residence.

Unplug appliances that are not frequently used. Many electronic devices and appliances, such as cell phones, computers, microwaves, dryers, televisions and more, consume energy even when turned off? While you sleep, when you go away, while in your house, and even when you are not, these appliances are using small amounts of electricity and costing you money. This phenomenon is known as phantom electricity. It can actually cost you a significant amount of money each year.

How can a device or appliance that is turned off use electricity? While “not on,” each device or appliance uses small amounts of energy in order to be ready to instantly work when it is switched back to the “on” mode.

To avoid phantom electricity usage, think about items that are plugged in to an outlet that you do not use frequently. Unplug them after each use. For devices or appliances that are used more regularly, consider plugging them into a power strip which when switched to the ‘off’ mode is actually not consuming electricity. The simple act of unplugging frequently can save you some money while reducing electricity waste and helping our environment. Start a new habit…unplug!


Plant trees and shrubs near your home. This can be fun for the entire family and great for the earth. Not only will the trees and plants provide shade and wind protection, but they can also save you money on your heating and air conditioning bills.

When you are deciding which types of trees to add to your landscaping, consider using native plants which have been growing in your area for hundreds of years. As a result, the native plants are adapted to the soil and climate in your area. They will likely flourish with less care (i.e. less water and fertilizer).

Filter your water rather than purchasing bottled water. The recommended water intake per person per day is about 60 ounces (between six and seven glasses). Water is a healthy and necessary daily drink to keep our bodies hydrated. However, the type of water we drink and the item from which we sip our water makes a huge difference.

The great part about making the decision to Greenify is that it is good for the environment, good for you and can be fun and educational for the entire family.

For more information on how to Greenify your home or business, please visit Green Business Alliance at www.greenbusinessalliance.com


The Latest Green Gadgets

May 27, 2008

Is it just me or does everyone like to check out all the new gadgets that the Green movement has been producing? I love my solar watch, not to mention solar radio/alarm clock. A friend of mine is waiting for her economic stimulus check to arrive in July, so that she can purchase a cordless electric lawnmower complete with a small solar panel to charge it.

Saazs has developed light emitting glass. Instead of a light bulb, the entire fixture radiates a warm light. The glass has been used in walls, tables and floors. You will have to go to Paris to see the showroom and then spend between E 4,300 and E 5,300 to actually get one of the lights. But, the lights will last for about 50,000 hours – or 20 years! And the Planilum technology used is very cool- 4 layers of a special glass, a rare gas and serigraphed phosphors.

The Solio has been around for a year or more, and is another gadget on my wish list. A little hand held solar charger, it can power up your cell phone, iPod, GPS, digital camera and more. One hour of free solar charging will give you twenty minutes of talk time. How great is that for those camping trips where you can’t afford to be out of touch with the office for long. And if your locale features more wind than sun, there is the HYmini, a handheld wind turbine.

Does your commute to work involve biking? Puma is now selling the “Stealth Visibility Bike”- a glow in the dark bicycle- improving your visibility on your way home after dark.

It is easier than ever to Greenify with some of these gadgets!


Giving Green Business Gifts

May 22, 2008

Do you ever purchase gifts for clients, associates or employees? Here’s another area where it is becoming easier than ever to Greenify. Green gifts will have a low environmental impact and support local economies in a fair manner.

If flowers are your go-to-gift, start looking for organic flowers and ideally, for locally grown organic flowers. By buying locally, you are assisting the local economy as well as avoiding all that CO2 from flying flowers in. Check out Local Harvest for flower growers near you. Organic Bouquets or California Organic Flowers are good defaults if local flowers are not available. Most cut flowers are grown in South America and Africa and are heavily doused with pesticides, including pesticides which are illegal to use in the US. The chemicals negatively impact the flower workers, the ground water, soil and the surrounding villages.

If you prefer to send a food gift, maybe Equal Exchange would appeal. You can send a gift of fairly traded coffee, tea or chocolate. The farmers who grow these products do so in sustainable manner and receive a fair wage for their work. Or what about finding a local baker who uses organic ingredients and buy a couple dozen cookies or cupcakes?

Ten Thousand Villages offers a wide assortment of gift ideas. Ten Thousand Villages purchases their items from artisans in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, using Fair Trade agreements.

If your company regularly hands out promotional gifts, much of that can be Greenified. In an earlier post I mentioned green office supplies- you can use the same concepts if you give away printed paper products, pens or other supplies.

Giving green may take a little more forethought than just calling up the florist and ordering flowers. But it is worth it to take that extra time, lessen the environmental impact and help to have a positive influence on someone’s life.


Green Music

May 19, 2008

I thought I’d switch gears a little bit and focus on green music. The Dave Matthews Band has a well deserved reputation as an environmentally and socially friendly company. Well, they’re a band, but they are a company as well. The Dave Matthews Band (aka DMB) has had their foot in the social/environmental arena since the mid-90’s, performing at FarmAid benefit concerts. In 2002 they made a splash when their tour was certified “Climate Cool” by the Climate Neutral Network. In the following five years, they have gone even greener. In 2007 DMB teamed up with Reverb, a non-profit environmental group which works primarily with musicians. DMB had an extremely green tour last summer utilizing everything from B20 bio-diesel to reducing waste to eco-friendly merchandise.

In 2008, DMB and Reverb are again joining forces to create one of the most environmentally friendly concert tours out there. The techniques employed last year which saved over 3.3 million pounds of CO2 will again be employed, along with some neat new tricks. DMB will be instituting an online ride-sharing/carpooling program for fans to utilize to get to and from the shows. An eco-footprint reduction contest will be held to educate fans about their own eco-footprint (not to mention teaching people how to reduce it). Stonyfield Yogurt and Climate Counts will be sponsoring the Eco-Village, which is an environmental outreach program featuring education, prizes such as solar-backpacks, national and local non-profits, etc.

Reverb has greened 50 tours and is currently working with Jason Mraz, John Meyer, Jack Johnson and the Honda Civic Tour as well as DMB. If you are so inclined and would like to volunteer at a DMB show near you, Reverb offers that opportunity. You will get some free swag, see the show and help save the environment!


Earth Day Resolution #6 – Going Green for Schools

April 18, 2008

For the past few weeks, the parents at my children’s school have been hearing about the upcoming spring fundraiser. One never knows what that is going to entail – selling cookie dough, chocolates, wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions. As I my kids became more excited about the ‘sale’ and the prospect of selling enough items to get that coveted grand prize, I became more concerned about which neighbors and family members were ‘on deck’ in the friendly rotation of supporting one another’s schools via the children’s fundraisers.

I was very pleasantly surprised when the folder came home in the backpack and it looked unfamiliar. My kids could not stop talking about the ‘Go Green’ sale they were having. “Go Green,” I asked? “Yes mom…you know Go Green as in doing something good for the earth,” the kids replied. I immediately opened the envelope to find an eco-friendly looking brochure from Growkids – help children/heal the earth. What a concept, the kids are going to sell items like seed collections, green foaming soap, reusable shopping bags and hemp frisbees. The school receives 50% of all proceeds, a tree is dedicated and planted for every sales participant and the products being sold are environmentally friendly. It seems like a win for all – the school, the kids, the buyers and our environment!  As Sarah Talley, the founder of Growkids states on her website, “I’m not ready to run off into the forest and forfeit all of the comforts of modern life ... but I am learning to walk a little softer on the earth.”

In the midst of my excitement I picked up the phone to tell a friend at a neighboring school. When I started to talk about the Go Green fundraiser at our school, my friend quickly responded with her school’s version of the Green sale…CFL light bulbs. Her school was having a CFL sale. We seem to be moving away from cookie dough, candy and magazine sales. How nice!

This Earth Day, resolve to help spread the word at your children’s school about Green fundraising opportunities. Face it, the school fundraiser is here to stay. It’s a right of passage for the youngsters. The cute faces knocking on your door eager to make a sale are not going away and I hope they never do. Why not teach the kids about the importance of doing the right thing for the environment while going green and helping their school at the same time! I hope that we can all walk a little gentler this year!


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