April 22: Earth Day 2010!

March 16, 2010

It's our favorite time of year at the Green Business Alliance. I'm sure you know why.

Spring is on the way and in the spring, our young-at-heart thoughts turn to Earth Day! And this year, it's the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

As glad as we are that the world has enjoyed forty years of marking the importance of taking care of our world, it seems the planet needs our care and attention more than ever. Climate change is likely to be the biggest challenge of our lifetime.

Earth Day 2010 is a focus point: a moment for some to begin turning their minds and hearts to trying to help clean up and care for the planet. For others, it's a time of renewing the commitment to work together to make sure that our planet is cleaner, that we live a more sustainable life and attempt to help others to do the same. Earth Day 2010 is our annual day to think and act more greener than ever before.

What can we do differently and better this year than last? Where are the small changes that we can make? What are the more long-term, engrossing and community projects we can take on? Are there change we can make at work? What about at home? Is there some small contribution you can make or a leadership role among many that you can take?

For those who have been focused on efforts to Greenify for some time, it may be harder to find new ways to commit to a more planet-conscious approach to life. The road ahead to improve is likely to be found in little tweaks and bits of taking down one's carbon footprint.

If you're just starting to go green, well, you're just in time! There's always room for more and a world of ideas, big and small, for greenifying. We like them all and we like to talk about them here at the Green Business Alliance. So stick around, because Earth Day 2010 is just around the corner and we'll have more information and ideas here at www.GreenBusinessAlliance.com for on how you can get yourself and your business involved.


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! 


A Quieter, Greener Christmas

December 17, 2009

I want to have a quieter, but still Greenified Christmas this year.  And I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do.  It’s economical, environmentally sound and perhaps one of the more thoughtful gifts I’ve given in years.

I’m going to go to a big warehouse store and buy a couple of packs of energy saving light bulbs.  And I’m going to take them to my parents’ house and replace every old-fashioned fluorescent light bulb in their house with an energy-saving, money-saving CFL bulb.

My parents are older, so they see better with a lot of lighting.  CFL are often brighter than the older bulbs they replace.  But my folks also don’t buy a lot of new things.  I’ve told them that the new energy-efficient bulbs are cost effective, but it’s hard to convince them that it’s actually less wasteful to throw away (or even recycle) a perfectly good light bulb and replace it with a new one.  Or to throw away a couple dozen perfectly good light bulbs.

Did you know that the average U.S. household has 45 light bulbs?   Since you save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime, that means replacing that number of 75-watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs would save $180 per year.

And if every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

My parents have about that many, so it won’t be a cost-effective gift for me.  But when I think about all the money they will save, I believe it’s gift that will keep giving throughout the entire year.  And I know it’s one I’ll feel great about giving, too.

It’s a great way to Greenify and give a truly thoughtful gift this season.  I invite you to share the simple gift of light, from an energy efficient bulb, with someone you care about this season.  Happy Holidays!


Have a Greenified Holiday Season!

December 14, 2009

Did you get out the old family Christmas lights yet?   Good!  Did you put them in the recycle bin?  Excellent!  Time to Greenify with new LED lights.  Did you know by using the newest LED strands of lights, you can actually save 90% off your electrical usage bill?  If you are lighting up the house, the yard, the trees and the fence out front, well, shame on you!  But nine times the shame (and certainly nine times the expense) if you do it with non-LED lights.  

I am actually sort of excited because for the first time in years, I’m going to go out and buy a strand of these things.  I haven’t had occasion to have a tree for the past couple of years, so I didn’t bother.  So this is the year that I am going to pick up the LED ones.  I’m still haggling in my brain: one bright strand of multi-colored lights?  Or “just plain white ones, thank you!”  I have to admit, vanilla is my favor flavor of ice cream but when it comes to Christmas, I like the world a-glow in multiple shades of Christmas red and green, a little Hanukkah blue with some orange and yellow lights tossed in for the added fun of it.  Forget to buy the tinsel and you’ll be well ahead of the game.  What else? 

How about if you make your own Christmas wrap this year?  Most packaged holiday wrap is thrown away anyway.  (I hope no one is burning that toxic-paint-covered stuff anymore!) Consider wrapping in old newspapers (get the kids to add their own holiday themes) or maps.  The comics section works great, but you’d better ask the neighbors for theirs, too.  How about old maps?  A scarf or dish towel?  Give grandparents a thrill by wrapping it in the kids’ artwork.

Here’s a shocker: if every family wrapped just three gifts this way, we’d save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

One last green holiday gift: give your old phone to a charity. You’re getting a new one for Christmas, right?  Remove all the numbers and drop off the old one at any Staples office supply store. The Sierra Club recycles them, keeping their lead, cadmium and other metals out of our landfills. 

There are lots of ways to make your holidays bright and Greenified.  We’ll see you again next week with more. 


Greenified Gifts in Style!

December 6, 2009

Now that it is December, I thought we would do some more Greenified gift shopping.  I want to show you how truly easy it is to do that this year.  In fact, it’s easier than ever.

I received a catalogue from a major department store in the mail recently. In it, the retailer featured a number of exciting gift items that I wondered if I might find produced more greenly elsewhere.  I want to show you what I found. 

This year, it seems the e-tailers have figured out that what we want is high quality, well-made and environmentally sustainable goods for gift-giving.   This store seems to specialize in just such green clothing and goods.

They feature a lovely gift guide, and I particularly liked this shawl, made of sustainable bamboo.

Earlier this year, I invested in bamboo sheets:

And look at this blanket, made of bamboo blended with polyester for durability.

I also wanted to look for greener dinnerware.  Paper plates benefit no one.  They don’t hold up well with food, nor are they ecologically sound.  So how about some bamboo dinnerware for the holiday party?  I found it here at bambu.

If all you can afford is the bamboo socks, here they are.

These types of gift items all help Greenify, are very exciting and may already be on the wish list of someone you know.

(Hum the last verse of “Jolly Old Saint Nick” as you read this next part:)

“As for me, my little self is ecologically wise.  I prefer the things I’ve bought previously; they’re paid for and in just my size!” 


Greenify Your Gift List

December 2, 2009

It is the week after Thanksgiving.  If you’re like a good number of Americans, you hit the malls (or some other shopping location) this weekend to grab up some Black Friday bargains in order to get started on your holiday gift shopping. 

I thought today we’d move from Black Friday to Greenified Monday in holiday gifting.  I want to point out our lovely gift shop here at the Green Business Alliance.  Have you taken a look at it?

I was looking at the three items there a little earlier.  I believe we’ve got something for every green-minded shopper, even with the economic downturn. 

For starters, there’s the Green Business Alliance wristband with its simple, elegant Greenify Message.

If I were buying those for the family, stocking stuffers could be had for $1.99 ea. for quantities running from 5 to 50.   Prices drop drastically in larger orders.

An excellent idea is to include one with your holiday card (printed on recycled paper, please!) as a great way to notify business acquaintances that you are a Green Business Alliance member. 

If you are ready to spend a little more on holiday good wishes, move up to the Green Business Alliance totebag, for $9.99.

The bag itself is made with a recycled material base. It’s durably constructed and usable for anything from grocery shopping to carrying books to return to the library.  And isn’t green one of your favorite colors these days?

This final item is the one that I like the best.  (That was a hint!)  The short-sleeved t-shirt is made from 100% organic cotton and yarns. These t-shirts are pre-shrunk with a soft comfortable feel to them.  At an economy-minded $21.99, you should probably treat yourself first. 

These are all great gift ideas that spread the Greenification message at the same time.  We hope you’ll consider them as well as other Greenified gifts this holiday season.  We’ll be discussing some of those in the coming weeks.


Tips to Greenify Thanksgiving

November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! At the Green Business Alliance, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season this year, with a lot to be thankful for as you sit down to the big meal.

We want you to enjoy the holiday with all your loved ones gathered around. And we hope you are enjoying it as greenly as you can. What do we mean by that?

Well, we leave it to you to decide what the main course should be. It's an interesting decision in the grocery store these days. Our pilgrim forebearers didn't have to decide between "broadbreasted whites" (a bird bred exclusively and very successfully for its broad breasts), free range turkeys (the broadbreasted ones have a hard time standing up on their little legs with all the meat on those breasts), heritage birds and of course, tofurkys. They only had wild game. And they were grateful.

But such things are an individiual and often, familial decision.

A few Greenification decisions that you can make:

Organize your shopping list in order to make as few trips as possible to the grocery stores. I'm sure you'll agree that at this time of the year, more than any other, fewer trips equals a happier shopper.

Use the good china. Yes, holiday dinners with friends or family are exactly the reason for having those grand plates and beautiful silverware. Not even children deserve paper plates on Thanksgiving. (Imagine trying to eat a drumstick off of a paper plate? It's heresy!) Save the paper plates for when you truly need them: sending leftovers home with guests.

Need table decorations? We recommend pumpkins, squashes and maybe a few nuts. These are all things that can be eaten later. A table centerpiece built around butternut squash is an edible arrangement I'd look forward to... roasted with leftovers.

Cooking your own turkey? Organize what is being cooked so that several dishes can be in the oven during various times. Small amounts of energy saved in cooking the meal will help underwrite its cost.

And finally, when the meal is done, compost all the scraps. Put the table scraps into the container out back and by spring, you may have something very valuable.

We hope your Thanksgiving is a wonderful meaningful time for you and your family and friends to gather together and be grateful for what we have. We hope you'll be thankful for a great year of successfully conserving, shrinking your carbon footprint and making efforts to Greenify many aspects of your life.


A Greener Halloween Ahead!

October 26, 2009

With Halloween coming up this weekend, we thought we’d take a sneak peek at some of the various green, sustainable ideas around the cyberworld for the annual Day of the Dead. 

All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween as it has come to be known, has been celebrated for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  It was a pagan harvest celebration that turned spooky, and in recent years has become rather commercial.  Jumbo-sized bags of candy are given away to children wearing plastic masks that obscure their faces and visual fields, making the holiday a little troublesome for parents.   So what’s out there that might be a little greener?

This sustainable design site offers ideas, some of which it claims are last minute:
(I’m particularly fond of the “Where the Wild Things Are” head and footgear for little people.)

Click here to view this site which offers ideas for costumes made of recyclable materials: The bat costume (#5) is a great use for old, broken-down umbrellas you never threw out.

Want to make the scene among the SERIOUSLY GREEN?  Click here for an idea on that.

Sending the kids out for tricks or treats?  Give them a reusable bag for their loot, which oddly enough, the Jane Goodall Institute is offering for sale here:
Begs the question “what do chimps know about tricks or treats?” doesn’t it?

If you are hosting or attending a neighborhood party, then you will want to make your own special holiday treats, but otherwise, we all know to stick to the commercially prepared items, because no one wants to worry about tampered with items.  Or see a child upset when parents remove something in question. 

And the day after, don’t forget to remind the kids that candy wrappers go in litter receptacles.  And that jack ‘o lantern will make great compost to be used on your lawn next summer.  So tuck it in the bin behind the house after you’ve enjoyed it for a day or two.  You’ll thank yourself next spring when you have Greenified this orange and black holiday.  And a Happy, Greener Halloween to you and yours!


Preparing for Winter: Go Green

October 15, 2009

Can I give you a little advice about greenifying, keeping heating costs low, staying warm and being fashionable this winter?   Put on a sweater. 

The government has been advising us for more than 20 years to put our thermostats at 68 degrees daytime (and another 10 degrees cooler at night) in the winter to try to conserve energy while staving off winter chills.  If you can do that, you’ll realize a savings of as much as 10% annually on your electricity bills.

Sweaters can be an answer.  Along with socks, an occasional thermal shirt, pajamas and maybe even a bath robe.  Put some rugs on that tiled bathroom floor.  The tiles will benefit, too.

Sweaters are going to big fashion news this fall.  They are in all the best stores and available in all kinds of price ranges.  This isn’t our normal stuff here at Green Business Alliance, but in the interest of helping you greenify, let’s discuss sweater materials.

Cotton: the fabric of our lives.  It’s comfortable, soft, and so very washable.  Not the best choice for harsh winters, but definitely what you’d choose next to your skin.

Linen: prized for its lightness and beauty, but not for warmth.  Linen is favored in the summer.

Wool: the crimped hair of domesticated sheep.  Because of the crimp, wool fabrics have a greater bulk than other textiles, and retain air, which causes the product to retain heat. Wool makes some people itch, yet makes others comfortable because of its elastic and water absorbent properties. Because some wool must be dry cleaned, it can be less environmentally friendly.   But carefully maintained, it wears for years.  And many wool sweaters don’t require dry cleaning, if you check the label.  Wool, like all animal hairs, is naturally flame-retardant.

Mohair: fabric made from the hairs of angora goats.  The younger the goat, the softer and finer the hair, which means that clothing is usually made from the younger goats’ coats.  Mohair is warm and has great insulating properties. It is durable, moisture-wicking, stretch and flame resistant, and crease resistant.  It doesn’t “itch” as much as regular wool because the scales on the hairs are not fully developed.  Also needs dry cleaning.
Cashmere: considered the King of Natural Fibers, it is a fiber obtained from the cashmere goat.  Cashmere wool is fine in texture, and it is also strong, light, and soft; when it is made into garments, they are extremely warm to wear.  Also needs dry cleaning.

Other choices for sweater materials including polyester, spandex, viscose and nylon are man-made materials.  While a little nylon may give your sweater some durability, and some spandex improves the fit and styling, adding man-made fibers can make a sweater less breathable and therefore less comfortable. Also, a polyester sweater will “pill” underneath your arms faster than Mom saying “school’s closed for a snow day” makes a sick kid feel better.

So do yourself a favor and pick up a few sweaters. Better yet: GET OUT YOUR OLD ONES.   Your wardrobe will thank you and so will your electric company.   Green is definitely the style for this season!


Winterize at Home and Work – Part 2

September 22, 2009

We’re continuing with a list of tips on winterizing at home and office.  It’s that time of year, when the season changes, the temperatures fall, and if we focus a little effort, we can save energy, shrink our carbon footprint and lower costs in the coming months. 

6) Check Foundations

• Clear all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
• Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
• Seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as small as a dime.  (If you’d like to try it on your own, I found a “how to” link...click here)
• Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.

7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

• Change smoke detector batteries when daylight savings ends.
• Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater.
• Test both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Buy a fire extinguisher or replace any extinguisher older than 10 years.

8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes

• Drain all garden hoses.  Put them out of reach of the elements. 
• Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
• Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
• Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
• If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set at least 55 degrees.

9) Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

• Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
• Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
• Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

10) Prepare an Emergency Kit

• Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book.
• Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage.
• Keep your freezer as full as possible. If the power goes out, food will stay frozen much longer in a full freezer.  Add bottles of water, if necessary.  A full fridge and freezer also use less electricity to operate.
• Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location.
• Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.


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