Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shopping With A Conscience

As green fashion becomes the hottest trend so does the legitimacy of green marketing claims. The New York Times came out with an article titled "A World Consumed by Guilt" discussing the various nuances in the green fashion industry and complexities involved in "sustainable products". While it is easy to criticize that green products are too expensive, I can speak from experience that manufacturing using sustainable products is a completely uphill battle and anyone who is embracing it in whatever capacity is taking an important challenging first step.

There are so many variables ranging from the transportation costs of a product to where it was manufactured and under what conditions, that it is almost a no win situation in trying to claim green. However, whether it is products made from organic cotton or recycled materials, the transparency of where and how the product was created is important information that most companies should be open in providing. Patagonia which has been leading the sustainability movement in clothing does an awesome job of this through its Footprint Chronicles. If it is simply a generic label of "eco-friendly" be wary and inquisitive.

As The Federal Trade Commission strives to revise its green marketing claims in 2008, it is up to consumers to begin asking smart questions about the products they purchase and using your money in ways that support your values. If you care about the type of material - ask about it. If you care about fair trade and manufacturing - ask. Chances are that the salesperson will not know, but if enough people ask, then that will ultimately be communicated to the powers that be and if nothing else, at least you are shopping with a conscience and doing what you can do, which is the best starting point to create change. And try to support those smaller vendors that are embracing innovation to bring us products with a purpose and a conscience, even if it costs a bit more:-)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Eco-Friendly Hanukkah Gift Ideas

While Hanukkah certainly does not compare to the religious important of Christmas, nonetheless it is a time of celebration and festivities. As Hanukkah kicks of in its second night, Jews around the globe are celebrating the story of Hanukkah. And of course, no reason to not go green this Hanukkah. Thanks to our friends at Greenthinkers, here are some eco-friendly Hanukkah gifts for your Jewish friends.

Recycled Hanukkah Cards from 3RLiving.
Natural Beeswax Hanukkah Candles from Global Exchange.
Recycled Glass Menorah from Vertige.
Fair Trade Chocolate Coins from Divine Chocolate.
Recycled Jewish Holiday Crayons from The Jewish Musem.
Sustainable Wood Dreidel, also from 3RLiving.

Via: Greenthinkers

And don't forget to check out Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song while you are at it.

More Plastic Bag Controversy

The New York Times came out with an article articulating the growing trend of more cities moving to proposed city bans and consumer awareness campaigns around plastic bags. Whenever I see articles like this in mainstream media, I can't help but feel like posting a gold star (or should I say green) for the green/sustainable movement.

It is a holistic article explaining all sides of the paper vs. plastic vs. biodegradable vs. reusable argument. I was all in a green glow until I got to the one quote from Barry F. Scher, a spokesman for Giant Food in Landover, MD

"Bags don't litter — people litter," he said. "There needs to be more citizen education."

The citizen education I agree with, but seriously, for corporate giants and the plastics industry to not take on some accountability is simply unacceptable. Whether driven by fear of having to acknowledge that we are all contributing to the problem (and thus having to committ corporate dollars to finding a solution), or complete ignorance, they are doing more harm than good IMHO. My guess (via the good human) they are scared and feeling guilty deep down inside:-)

It is easy for cynics of the green movement to turn the plastic issue into a political one and turn a blind eye and grasp for the argument of convenience. And I will be the first to agree that reusable bags are not the end all be all. There has to be a major shift in consumer behavior and frankly cuter, hipper, and more user friendly reusable bags (I mean no wonder more people aren't using those grocery canvas bags - how horrendous:-)

And for better or worse, plastic will always be a part of our lives. It is understandable that the plastic industry is doing whatever it can to sustain itself in the midst of this plastic backlash, but instead of grasping from fear and blame, perhaps embracing innovation and sustainability will better further their cause. In the meantime we can all do our part and that starts by simply using less. So if it is reusing/recycling your own plastic bags, or bucking up the $1.50 to try a reusable bag, try and take that first step and simply use less.

Check out the full article here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hanukkah Treat: YMCA Goes Hasidic

While this may not be Hanukkah specific, how could we not somehow highlight the first night of "The Festival Of Lights."

To support the launch of its new HDTV service, Israel's YES TV network with help from McCann Digital gathered together an army of Hasidic Jews to perfom the Village People's YMCA in the street. Even if you can't understand hebrew, you will no doubt be able to hear a few "oy vay's" and "shiksa" in the mix. Happy Hanukkah to all!!

Via: Adrants

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wal-Mart: Friend or Foe?

After college graduation, I took a road trip from Bloomington, Indiana to San Francisco (well it was actually a one-way trip). Early in our trip we quickly became intrigued with talk radio, and as much as it kills me to say this, Dr. Laura. It was an unhealthy and somewhat pathetic simple pleasure, but it sparked good controversy on the long road ahead which resulted in one of my favorite quotes ever said by one of my friends in reference to the conservative "doctor:"

"Dr. Laura - love to hate her, hate to love her!"

I kind of feel like that is the sentiment surrounding all of the Wal-Mart green controversy. While you want to simply hate the big-box retailer for their massive overhaul of suburbanizing our local communities and displacing thousands of local businesses, you can't deny the bold initiatives they are making in the world of sustainability.

After recently hearing a presentation from a Wal-Mart executive, I have to admit I was quite impressed. He spoke of the various levels the company was addressing sustainability from its employees through its supply chain. It was an inspiring and impressive presentation. Just as he was winding down, he provided an example of a product that was actually a natural bug killer but it had a somewhat soft name. I think the message he was trying to prove that we are now living in a world where transparency is key and if you are a bug killer you should have a name that exemplifies the act of (and this is a quote in reference to how he feels about cockroaches and one that was quite animated) "KILL KILL KILL."

Now I am not advocating to save all the cockroaches, but surely he could have chosen a better example and not have offended the entire conservationist movement from which sustainability is born. This is an extreme and nit-picky critique of what otherwise was a very effective presentation. The point is, that Wal-Mart is under great scrutiny and for every step towards the sustainable light they make, they have to be hyper vigilant of the core values of the movement and how that is being messaged in the corporate values.

This is a complicated movement. One that is born of classic conservationist ideology and theory and is transforming into an almost manic marketing movement that everyone wants to be a part of. Are environmentalism and sustainability one in the same and can the old-school movement embrace the innovation that must be embraced to create a sustainable future? I think the only answer is they must.

At 200 million customers, no one can deny Wal-Mart's potential impact they can make through awareness campaigns, product innovations, and supply chain transparency requirements. Can we take the leap of faith or do will still remain skeptical? I simply don't know, but look forward to learning about the company's bold strides including the upcoming Live Better Sustainability Sumitt for Wal-Mart employees. Wal-Mart - Love to hate them or hate to love them?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Master Cleanse Confessions

After a few months of riding a manic wave of exciting new opportunities/events and emotional endings, I finally discovered some down time. In a true wellness spirit I committed myself to the Master Cleanse. While I will refrain from the physical and emotional drivers that sparked my desire to perform such an act, I thought I would share a few user-friendly insights from the quasi 5 day journey.

Day 1: I immediately woke up with body aches, nausea and an headache (note: this could be due to the sugar high I encountered the night before to "kick-off" my cleanse).

I should point out that I have always been a big believer in the mind-body connection and very early in my life, I became hooked on the Louise Hay book You Can Heal Your Life which makes the connections of specific physical ailments to their emotional counter part and provides a healing "mantra." Yes, this was in my most extreme "woo woo" days, but I should point out that friends and family to this day still call me with a specific ailment and ask me to refer to the book to identify their mental meanings/blocks. Anyways, I get that this cleanse was more mental for me than physical, so I totally acknowledge that I am creating this. Regardless, I spend the day somewhat useless with body aches, chills, headache and have to move most of my meetings. I can barely even stomach the master cleanse drink, but probably had about three glasses.

Day 2: Wake up and the headache and body aches are gone, but experiencing total stiffness in my joints and hips. Look in my Louise Hay book and find that hips represent moving forward in life with joy and ease. Of course! Make an appointment with Holy Miro - my eastern european masseuse and feel much better. Even manage to get some work done attend a few meetings - albeit a bit spacey.

Day 3: Feelin' good! Typical on day three. So to celebrate I have a cup of coffee. Yes that is right - I am drinking coffee with my master cleanse. My bet is this is not recommended.

Day 4: Seeing the light and the major emotional roadblocks and physical cravings that inspired the cleanse seem to be dissipating.

Day 5: Enjoying a delicious gingerbread pancake, processing the week of very vivid dreams, and ready to start anew! Goals accomplished:-)

Note: this is definitely not the appropriate and recommended process to pursue a cleanse (or break it). Always check with your doctor or health care professional for identifying the appropriate steps you need to take to accomplish your cleansing goals.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bill Clinton Inspires Giving At A Whole New Level

Bill Clinton is on a giving and sustainable mission. With his recent book launch of Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World and last week's Clinton Global Initiative Summit, he is truly transforming the landscape of philanthropic initiatives. (note: Clinton gives special tribute in his book to Kiva.org a non-profit that provides micro-lending to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Kiva.org is an organization I have been involved with since its inception and with Bill's support they had their first Oprah moment a few weeks ago. It was an amazing and touching experience to see the founder's Matt and Jessica Flannery's dreams realized).

Evidently, last week's CGI event resulted in commitment levels from celebrities, heads of states, and business executives to reach historic levels that will impact:

  • 8.5 million out-of-school children will be enabled to enroll in school for the first time.
  • 50 million people will have access to treatment of neglected tropical diseases.
  • 170,031,331 acres of forest will be protected or restored.
  • 11.2 million people will be empowered with increased access to sustainable incomes

But the giving buck doesn't stop there. After the momentous week, Bill Clinton found some time to celebrate and announce a new CGI event targeted towards youth. Bono, Chris Rock, Shakira, and Alicia Keys all joined the former President at Harlem’s Apollo Theater to announce Clinton Global Initiative’s first youth summit, called CGI U, planned for next year at Tulane University in New Orleans. The new initiative is designed to engage college and university students on some of the most pressing issues facing the world today. CGI U will challenge young people to take action by making commitments on the issues that concern them the most.

According to a Washington Post article, “what we are trying to do is make activism cool again for kids,” Rock said. The former president and the other superstar panelists took questions from the audience before giving up the stage to performances by hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean and soulful singer Keyes.

Via a partnership with MTV and Bill Clinton’s amazing leadership, CGI U potentially could catapult an entirely new generation to a level of giving that will tackle the issues of sustainable development, climate change and poverty in the most impactful ways. Check out the full press release here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy First Day of Fall

I have been in such a green frenzy lately that I have stepped a bit of course in terms of my own wellness. But as the September full moon approaches on September 26 and with the recent fall equinox I am naturally drawn into a state of reflection of the old and inspiration for the new.

Thanks to my friend and owner of Solid Gold Academy she has propelled me into a renewed state of health and pampering with some amazing tips below (don't worry it is all green and all about taking care of the most important person out there - you!) Check it out and Happy First Day of Fall!

Fall is the time of the year that introspection comes in to play. We are now to take a long look at how we spent the last six months being productive, give thanks, and bring it down a notch. Take care of YOU for the next couple of months. That being said here are some
ways to keep your skin and hair looking their best for the season.....

FALL WELLNESS TIPS
  • Exfoliate and peel dead skin naturally with a weekly Pineapple Pulp Mask(see under)
  • It is getting cooler our and it's just the way it is, your body will naturally store fat to protect you from the cooler weather. Limit animal fat but increase your intake of vegetable fats. Eat an avacado at least once a week and more seeds, nuts, and olive oil.
  • Sprinkle an additional teaspoon of ground flaxseed on your cereal, cooked veggies, or salads. This will bring out beauty and luster in your hair and skin.
  • Perform a 1-Day Super Cleanse once this season, where you consume only pineapple and papaya and water for the entire day. They promote detoxification and the extra fiber will help cleanse your system and allow for more efficient elimination of toxins.

PINEAPPLE PULP MASK
  • Cut up a fresh pineapple. Grind it up and take the pulp to your face and neck. This is a powerful natural peel that helps remove dead skin. Leave it on for 20 minutes. Rinse with cool water.

For those in Austin, check out Solid Gold's amazing fall offer:
  • Receive either 6 Microderms, glycolic peels or enzymes for $175. This means committment! Once a week for 6 weeks and you WILL see a big difference in the texture and feel of your skin.
  • Don't forget 1/2 off week and this is the last week for $50 1.5 hour massages.

Contact Anya Jack at:
anya@solidgoldacademy.com
1601 East 5th Street No. 102
512.350.6412

Monday, September 24, 2007

An Idealist View of Climate Change Conspiracy

A friend recently asked me my opinion on Bjorn Lomborg, who is creating a great deal of controversy with his new book Cool It, The Skeptical Environmental Guide to Global Warming. I was a bit embarrassed because while I had a rough recollection of what he was talking about, I couldn't currently engage in debate. But thanks to a recent posting on green LA girl, then it came flooding back to me. After first hearing about Bjorn in 2003 via a New York Times article, I immediately dismissed this man's viewpoint. I appreciate a good alternative perspective just like the next gal, but I live according to an idealistic (and probably somewhat naive) philosophy to not committ my energy to negative views that are clearly misaligned and lack credibility. The NYTimes article described Lomborg as:
An author whose upbeat analysis of environmental trends has been embraced by conservatives, displayed ''scientific dishonesty'' in his popular book, ''The Skeptical Environmentalist.'' Professor Lomborg, who has a doctorate in political science and teaches statistics at the University of Aarhus, has portrayed the book as an unbiased scientific refutation of dire pronouncements by environmental groups. But it has been attacked as deeply flawed by many environmental scientists since its publication in English in 2001 by Cambridge University Press.
Let's assume that perhaps the whole climate change awareness is all a big scheme based in no reality. As I see it, there are two major outcomes of this supposed "falsified theory":

1. A raised consumer awareness of individuals taking notice of their impact on the environment and making tangible personal and global changes to alleviate that.

2. Corporations stepping up to the plate at a level of transparency regarding social responsibility and green initiatives that is making noticeable industrial reductions.

So even if the concern of global warming is not real (which it is), these are pretty impactful outcomes that are only producing positive benefits for our personal and environmental welfare. This may be too "The Secret" for some, but if we keep drawing our attention to those things that negate what we are trying to accomplish, those things are only going to gain more attention and unfortunately gain ignorant validation. So while I wish I had the where withall to properly debate my friend's inquiry into the ridiculous claims of Lomberg's new book and (I know, I know I am trying to let it go:-), thank goodness for the good, articulate, and intelligent folks of grist to do the hard work for me and rebuke Lomberg's latest efforts to derail what is a positive movement for change. Check out the three part theory debunking many of Lomberg's claims including:

The great polar bear irony
Lomborg misrepresents possible sea level rise
Lomborg's a real nowhere man

We are at such an exciting time where we have a collective opportunity to truly make a difference in simplifying our lives, conserving our planet's resources, and make a real statement of affirmation to all the conspiracy theorists out there. Stay in the light people:-)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More Plastic Bag Controversy

The New York Times came out with an article articulating the growing trend of more cities moving to proposed city bans and consumer awareness campaigns around plastic bags. Whenever I see articles like this in mainstream media, I can't help but feel like posting a gold star (or should I say green) for the green/sustainable movement.

It is a holistic article explaining all sides of the paper vs. plastic vs. biodegradable vs. reusable argument. I was all in a green glow until I got to the one quote from Barry F. Scher, a spokesman for Giant Food in Landover, MD

"Bags don't litter — people litter," he said. "There needs to be more citizen education."

The citizen education I agree with, but seriously, for corporate giants and the plastics industry to not take on some accountability is simply unacceptable. Whether driven by fear of having to acknowledge that we are all contributing to the problem (and thus having to committ corporate dollars to finding a solution), or complete ignorance, they are doing more harm than good IMHO. My guess (via the good human) they are scared and feeling guilty deep down inside:-)

It is easy for cynics of the green movement to turn the plastic issue into a political one and turn a blind eye and grasp for the argument of convenience. And I will be the first to agree that reusable bags are not the end all be all. There has to be a major shift in consumer behavior and frankly cuter, hipper, and more user friendly reusable bags (I mean no wonder more people aren't using those grocery canvas bags - how horrendous:-)

And for better or worse, plastic will always be a part of our lives. It is understandable that the plastic industry is doing whatever it can to sustain itself in the midst of this plastic backlash, but instead of grasping from fear and blame, perhaps embracing innovation and sustainability will better further their cause. In the meantime we can all do our part and that starts by simply using less. So if it is reusing/recycling your own plastic bags, or bucking up the $1.50 to try a reusable bag, try and take that first step and simply use less.

Check out the full article here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Zipcar Confessions

I am one week into my Zipcar experience and for a car-dependent yet socially aware individual trying to be more green, it has been a dream come true. I first heard about Zipcar from a friend who wanted to test drive a prius, not necessarily to become more green but to obtain the clean air sticker to drive in the carpool lane for his commute between San Francisco and San Jose. (sidebar: they have actually run out of the clean air stickers, but the prius is still in demand - check it out here.)

I pride myself on being an early adopter and couldn't wait to jump on the zipcar bandwagon. For those who know me, I am somewhat dependent on my car. Whether it is the freedom that it provides or the fear of public transportation, I am not sure, but I have tried my best to embrace my car-less urban lifestyle. Again, it has only been a week and in that time my parents came to visit me and actually ended up renting a car (which they got upgraded to a Cadillac) so in reality, I can claim no carbon offset, but my combo of zipcar and public transportation has been surprisingly quite manageable.

As far as the actual Zipcar experience, it was so convenient I was amazed. I am all about the user experience and from the reservation process to getting the gas (which they pay for via your annual membership fee) the zipcar folks have thought of every possible step and made the experience fun and easy. I was even able to extend my reservation by 30 minutes at the last minute. There were a few moments as I was singing in the car that I thought maybe someone was watching me and got a bit self conscious, but for the most part you couldn't help but feel like a green hipster (and trust me, I'm not:-). From the amazing key feature where you simply place your zipcard on the windshield to unlock the door to the few remnant reminders like the pair of men's running shoes in the back that were left from a previous zipster, I couldn't help but feel part of a unique collective community all in the name of green. Evidently, 40% of zipsters either sell their car or stop a purchasing decision of a car because of Zipcar. I don't know if I am there yet, but it may not be too far off (if zipcar makes it to austin:-) Today, I dropped off my Honda fit (which is the cutest car ever!), grabbed my Sigg water bottle, and my Whole Foods reusable shopping bag and headed up the hill to my apartment. I realized that while I may appear just a stereotypical LOHAS consumer, I felt a small sense of pride of embracing the innovations that represent the green values that I so much believe in. And if nothing else, my fear of public transportation has been conquered!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Get Your Vitamins From A T-Shirt!

Lululemon Athletica is all the rage in the world of pilates and yoga gear. I challenge anyone to go into a class and not see at least 50% of the students in the sporty yet flattering gear. I was recently getting my Lululemon fix and bought what would appear as just a t-shirt, but this innovative piece of cloth has far more to offer. The BBB Sheer VNeck is an everyday super light t-shirt to wear to the gym and is made with vitasea technology consisting of seaweed which releases marine amino acids, minderals, and vitamins into the skin upon contact with moisture. In addition, the fabric provides anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, stress reducing, hydrating and detoxifying features

Is this for real or just a marketing gimmick? Well, I bought the shirt. Granted, I am an idealist and health advocate to the core (or perhaps just a naive consumer:-) but it is innovative products like these that truly are promoting the core green values of health and sustainability and cradle to cradle design. Gotta go get my sweat/glow on!

Monday, July 2, 2007

New York Times Article Sparks Green Controversy

The New York Times came out with an article highlighting the trend to green consumerism. It is a highly charged article representing the full array of voices that are influencing this movement.

When I first read the article, I became a bit defensive on the attack of eco-consumption. But after re-reading it, I got the bigger picture. Terms like greenwashing and light greens are being thrown around in an accusatory manner to those businesses and individuals taking only superficial attempts to go green. Yes, at the end of the day it is about creating macro-level change at the civic and government level, and for those green loyalists who have made this their life’s work, I would be frustrated by the sudden hipness hype of being green. IMHO, we are merely at a tipping point in the world of green. An increased awareness exists and people are finding their sea legs as to which approach makes sense for them. Maybe it is all a fa├žade of PR, but whether driven by fear or genuine compassion, it is still change that is being created. As stated in the article:

John Passacantando, the executive director of Greenpeace USA, argued that green consumerism has been a way for Wal-Mart shoppers to get over the old stereotypes of environmentalists as “tree-hugging hippies” and contribute in their own way.

I respect and appreciate both the keen critical eye of the traditional environmental voice but also the budding entrepreneurial perspective of those mavens pushing the green envelope and bringing the vision of conscious consumerism to a wider audience. But at the end of the day, it is about reduced consumption. Alex Steffan of Worldchanging had a good perspective from the article:

The genuine solution, he and other critics say, is to significantly reduce one’s consumption of goods and resources. It’s not enough to build a vacation home of recycled lumber; the real way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to only own one home.

I often find myself in debates with others as to whether this recent green hype is just a trend and in my mind the answer is clear – why does it matter? This is not like the latest gadget that is being launched and we are in a “wait and see” mode to judge the efficacy of it and whether to buy it. Why can’t we begin taking steps and working with this heightened awareness to see for ourselves because at the end of the day is about our personal and environmental health. It is about creating a sustainable future. Yes it is about reduction, but fortunate or not, some people will only make changes when forced to. Whether it is about buying a Prius to be able to drive in the HOV/carpool lane or living a no-impact lifestyle, the result is the same, less impact. Perhaps they are not measurable equivalents of reduction, but it is step in the right direction just coming from different perspectives and needs.

When I was a pilates teacher, I was pretty consistent about telling people to inhale and exhale on each movement. One of the most common comments I received at the end of most sessions (as they basked in a relaxed state) was “thank you for telling me to breath.” After saying the comment, most people realized the absurdity of the statement, but what they were thanking me for was that I simply reminded them of something they do unconsciously billions of times each day and with just a little of awareness they could literally feel better.

That is how I like to look at this recent swirl of green. Whether it is the die-hard environmentalists, the influencers of the green blogosphere, or even the eco-innovaters of conscious consumerism, these are all various voices that are raising an awareness that we are all capabable of. My advice, everyone take a deep breath, and take a green step of your own and I bet once you do, you will find yourself hooked on empowerment and shopping at your locals farmers market before you know it. Ok, off to pick up my zipcar

Monday, June 25, 2007

No More Plastic Water Bottles Ever! (in san francisco)

First plastic bags, now water bottles, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is on a mission to protect natural resources and leverage the impact that his already green consituency can make.

According to the Newsweek Article:

Gavin Newsom signed an executive order banning the use of city funds to purchase single-serving plastic water bottles. The order also prohibits the sale of such water containers on city-owned property. The move is part of a campaign by the city to boost the environmental awareness of its already-green citizens by getting them to use tap water instead of bottled water—and cut down on the acres of plastic generated in the process.

As an incentive to get San Francisco residents involved, people who sign an online pledge will get a stainless-steel recyclable container from the city for free. This is a bold statement against plastic bottle water suppliers. According to Newsom, "these people are making huge amounts of money selling God’s natural resources. Sorry, we’re not going to be part of it. Our water in San Francisco comes from the Hetch Hetchy [reservoir] and is some of the most pristine water on the planet. Our water is arguably cleaner than a vast majority of the bottled water sold as "pure."

I admit to only recently trying to break my plastic bottle habit with my new Sigg bottle. Ironically, I only use my Sigg bottle when I am in San Francisco (as I split time with Austin, Tx). It is not that Austin isn't green in its own right, however, I do feel a greater amount of responsbility/peer pressure when I am in San Francisco. Regardless, there is no doubt that San Francisco is a leader when it comes to making bold civic "green" statements, and this is just one more initiative that will continue to pave the way towards building sustainable communities. Check out the full article.

Monday, June 18, 2007

McConaughey and Grenier Among People’s Lean Green Sexy Machines

Step back ladies, People’s Sexy and Single Bachelor issue is out, and there are more than a few eco-hotties spanning the pages. Whether driven by a free-spirit lifestyle or a green conscious, Mathew McConaughey has actually taken up residence in his new Airstream RV and truly reducing his carbon footprint, especially by Hollywood standards. Dancing With The Stars champion Apolo Ohno shares his pick-up secrets by shopping at his local Whole Foods: “I’m not really one to hit on a girl in a club or a bar, but if I’m at Whole Foods and this group of girls walks by, that’s a different situation.” Canadian hottie, Ryan Green is currently making his bachelor pad green. And of course, Ecorazzi fav [insert giggle] Adrian Grenier [close giggle] is fully committed to educating any lady who dares walk into his green life to step up to the plate: “If a woman isn’t environmentally conscious, she will be after going out with me. I like women who are aware of what’s going on around them and are willing to learn.”

A few other green specific celebs highlighted in the issue include: Aaron Rourke, an Industrial Hygienist; Bill Schenk, Attorney for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Agency; Tom Ballanco, an Environmental Laywer; Guillermo Payet, Founder of Local Harvest.org.

We heart all of these “Lean Green Sexy Machines!” Check out the full issue.

Crosspost with ecorazzi.



Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spike Lee and Ed Bradley Recognized at Peabody Awards Luncheon

Bill Costas of NBC hosted the 66th annual Peabody Awards luncheon held at the Waldorf-Astoria last week. The Peabody Awards, administered by the University of Georgia, honor radio and television networks for “distinguished achievement and meritorious service.” While the big networks including NBC were recognized via the series “The Office” and “Scrubs,” HBO also won several awards including: “When the Levee Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” Spike Lee’s film about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. According to an article, Lee provided an emotional moment as he accepted his award:

“People still catch hell in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast,” he said. “They’re still up the creek with no paddle, abandoned by local, state and federal governments. We can’t forget them.”

CBS also took home an award for Ed Bradley’s “60 Minutes” report on the Duke rape case. Producer Michael Radutzky accepted the award for Bradley, who died in November, and said:

“he would have been so proud and so honored if he were there to accept it.”

Big networks were not the only ones to gobble up the spotlight. Several documentaries received well deserved kudos including Beyond Borders: Personal Stories from a Small Planet showcased on the Independent Film Channel. The feature was produced by Listen Up! and was written, shot and edited by young filmmakers, ages 13-19. The nine short films in this series introduce budding artists who convey unique visions of what it`s like to grow up in different lands, under different social and economic conditions.

From budding young filmmakers to network legends, it proved to be an event whereby recognition truly reigns upon those who are committed and inspired through creating amazing works of entertainment.
Check out the full list of recipients.

Crosspost with ecorazzi.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Willie Nelson Hits NYC for Farm Aid

Willie Nelson is “on the road again,” this time in his biodiesel tour bus headed to Farm Aid in NYC at Randalls Island on September 9th. Farm Aid co-founders Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp made the announcement with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Union Square, which has a renowned fresh-produce market. Farm Aid concerts have raised more than $30 million for farmers since 1985. And with all the recent hoopla about eating local and going organic, local groups are in a prime area to benefit.

According to the folks at Sustainable Table (who are well known for the Eat Well Guide and The Meatrix), one of the groups that Farm Aid is supporting in NYC is Just Food, a fantastic organization that has helped set up all the city’s CSA (community supported agriculture) programs and does a lot of work with growing food in the city.
But the green doesn’t stop there, the Mayor is talking a big talk when it come to making NYC more sustainable including cutting greenhouse gas emissions, using biodiesel for city vehicles, and supporting small farmers. We can only hope that Farm Aid along with the people of NYC will keep the Mayor committed to his word.

The lineup includes Nelson, Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews.

Nelson captured the enthusiasm best: “We’re so happy that y’all have invited us, Farm Aid, to New York City,” Nelson said. “More people eat probably around here than anywhere in the world.”

Check out Farmaid.org for more info.

Thanks Linton for the tip! Crosspost with ecorazzi.

Victoria Beckham is a "Skinny Bitch"

Forget about the potential Spice Girls reunion rumor, Victoria Beckham was recently spotted buying the book Skinny Bitch. The book was written by two LA fashion industry elites - former model Kim Barnouin, who has a degree in holistic nutrition, and ex-Ford model agent Rory Freedman. This no-nonsense book takes an “in your face” approach pushing you to go vegan and get skinny!

The authors describe the book as a “tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous.” It is loaded with strong language and no-holds-barred advice such as, “you are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin” and “soda is liquid Satan.”

Basic do’s of the book include lots of fruits, vegetables, and tofu; don’ts include meat, cheese, and sugar. While the vegan lifestyle has picked up a swirl of recent controversy, it is clear that Hollywood starlets are on a mission to veganize the world, one skinny bitch at a time!

Crosspost with ecorazzi.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Father's Day: Green Gift Ideas

Father's day is one of those holidays that despite the "hallmarkesqueness" represents an opportunity to be grateful for all the men in our lives. In searching for the perfect "green" father's day gift, I came across some unique eco-friendly options that I thought I would share:

Green Gadgets: For the eco-friendly man who wants to be up on the latest green gadget, check out the solar powered juice bags from Reware. These rugged bags are outfitted with a super flexible solar panel that can charge your handheld devices.

Plant a Tree:
Green Mountain Energy's new campaign Be Green Now provides the perfect gift that keeps on giving - planting a tree. According to the website, an average tree will absorb more than 650 pounds of CO2 over its lifetime - as much as not driving your car about 740 miles. Leave a legacy and help the planet for just $9.95.

DIY: For the DIY man, check out the Energy Federation to find the latest from outdoor lighting to water saving shower heads that could reduce your water use by 3,650 gallons a year (assuming a 10 minute daily shower).

For more gift ideas ranging from fair trade coffee to hemp neckties, check out National Geographic's The Green Guide and Eco-geek for more green gadget ideas.

Happy Father's Day!!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Bob Barker: Animal Activist and Price Is Right Legend Retires

While Bob Barker’s famous calling “come on down” will forever be remembered, his closing message at the end of each showcase showdown for the past 35 years of “don’t forget to get your pets spayed and neutered” is equally consistent. Bob Barker has been making dreams come true for over 3 decades and more importantly bringing animal rights advocacy to the forefront of public awareness. Barker was an activist in Hollywood long before it became the thing to do and has been a vegetarian since 1979. In an interview Barker describes his first involvement:

About 20 years ago I was chairman of Be Kind to Animals Week in LA. I was invited by different organizations to participate in their activities. As I did, I began to become aware of the terrible exploitation of animals in the world and felt compelled to try to rectify the situation. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. My wife who died in 1981 had been a vegetarian for years. When I became a vegetarian I gave up red meat and fowl, and gradually fish and dairy products as well. I did it out of concern for animals, but I have certainly learned why so many people are becoming vegetarians out of concern for health reasons. I can control my weight better than before, I feel better, I have more energy, and I think that it is certainly a healthful way of life.

Bob Barker is clearly a man who lives by his convictions and at age 83, his vegetarian lifestyle speaks for itself. He will be missed on the airwaves, but clearly will continue to make waves in the world of animal rights. Farewell Bob!!

Crosspost with ecorazzi

Farmers Markets - What's The Deal?

While farmers markets have existed for a long time, the trend of the market experience is clearly on the rise. Farmers markets are now integral part in the urban/farm linkage and the increased awareness of the effects of organic and local farming on our personal and environmental health. According to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service there are currently 4,385 farmers markets currently operating in the United States, representing a 18 percent increase from 2004.

We took a trip to our local farmers market and discovered the top 10 reasons to shop at the farmers market according to the Center for Uran Education and Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA).

  1. Taste Real Flavors: The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen in the field and brought directly to you - no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets -food fresh from the farm.
  2. Enjoy the Season: The food you buy at the farmers market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savor sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year.
  3. Support Family Farmers: Family farmers are becoming increasingly rare as large agribusiness farms and ranches steadily take over food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today's globalized economy.
  4. Protect the Environment: Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes greatly to pollution and creates excess trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.
  5. Nourish Yourself: Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed. The fresh produce you do find is often grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. In many cases it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. All of these practices have potentially damaging effects on the health of those who eat these foods. In contrast, most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by building their soil's fertility and giving their crops the nutrients they need to flourish in the ground and nourish those who eat them.
  6. Discover the Spice of Life ~ Variety: At the Farmers Market you find an amazing array of produce that you don't see in your supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, white peaches, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, gigande beans, whole pheasants, and much, much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first hand the diversity (and biodiversity) of our planet, both cultivated and wild!
  7. Promote Humane Treatment of Animals: At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and been fed natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of so many of their brethren on feedlots.
  8. Know Where Your Food Comes From: A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to reconnect with where your food comes from. Farmers themselves sell their produce at the farm stands. Meeting and talking to farmers is a great opportunity to learn more about how food is grown, where it is grown, when it is grown, and why! CUESA's "Meet the Producer" program and our Farmer Profiles that hang at the booths give you even more opportunities to learn about the people who work so hard to bring you the most delicious and nutritious food around.
  9. Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas: Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers, ranchers, and vendors at the farmers market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. They'll give you ideas for what to have for supper, hand out recipes, and troubleshoot your culinary conundrums. At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, you can attend cooking workshops such as Shop with the Chef - a weekly program featuring seasonal ingredients prepared by leading Bay Area chefs - with free recipes and samples!
  10. Connect with Your Community: Wouldn't you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Coming to the Farmers Market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The Farmers Market is a community gathering place - a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, or just get a taste of small-town life in the midst of our wonderful big city.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Martin Scorsese Directs New American Express TV Spot

n a new television spot, Martin Scorsese directs Andre Agassi, Sheryl Crow, Ellen DeGeneres, Alicia Keys and Shaun White in a unique online initiative called The Members Project that enables American Express Cardmembers to come together as a community by submitting and sharing their project ideas for making a positive impact in the world. The spot features the celebrity cardmembers sharing their ideas on how to make a positive impact in the world. Scorsese even makes a special cameo from behind the camera.

The Members Project, which is a part of American Express’ new brand campaign, “Are You a Cardmember,” highlights the value of being a cardmember and part of the American Express Cardmember community. It provides a forum for cardmembers to rate and discuss project ideas on message boards. Ultimately the community will vote and choose one innovative winning idea that American Express will help bring to life with up to $5 million.

According to the press release:
“Our Cardmembers make up a unique community — one that is highly engaged and passionate — and we know that they care about the world around them,” said Jud Linville, president of American Express Consumer Card Services Group. “Through the unique experience of The Members Project, our community of Cardmembers is pulling together and collectively shaking up the world just a little bit to do some good.”

In a time when green suspicions run high when any big corporation launches a new green or cause related initiative, American Express seems to be sticking to its values and giving the power to the people in this new campaign with the star power to support it.

Crosspost with ecorazzi

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Heather Mills Joins Vegan Lifestyle

Heather Mills is taking her advocacy of animals to the next level and declaring herself a vegan. While Heather is no stranger to the limelight after a very public divorce from Sir Paul McCartney as well as recent appearances on Dancing With the Stars, she is prepared to use her celebrity status to highlight factory farming and its impact on the environment. In a recent quote she states:

“I’m a vegan now - a healthy diet which saves animals, something very important to me as I detest cruelty. Following a plant-based diet not only benefits your health massively but also makes a huge difference to the planet, to animals and to feeding the world. My hope is to continue to put the message out there.”–

Joining the ranks of other vegan celebs including Alicia Silverstone, Pamela Anderson and Natalie Portman. No doubt the recent The New York Times op ed article advocating a controversial spin on the vegan lifestyle provide these vegan proponents a platform to support something they are all clearly passionate about. And if nothing else, Heather joins an important community advocating the connection of our personal health as related to the environment.

Thanks to Linton for the tip.
Crosspost via ecorazzi

Vegan Diet Helps Climate (according to UK government)

According to a UK newspaper article, some leaked emails revealed that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is considering recommending eating less meat as one of the "key environmental behaviour changes" needed to save the planet.

The article continues to explain that the agency acknowledges that consumption of animal protein has been highlighted as impacting the planet.

"Future Environment Agency communications are unlikely to ever suggest adopting a fully vegan lifestyle, but certainly encouraging people to examine their consumption of animal protein could be a key message."

According to the vegan group Viva:

"Adopting a vegan diet reduces one person's impact on the environment even more than giving up their car or forgoing several plane trips a year!

This is big news when a government agency is even considering an act of this nature. Proof, that the awareness exists!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wal-Mart Selling Sustainable Seafood

Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Bon Appetit food service company all shared the stage for the sake of sustainable seafood at a pre-conferance seminar held at Monterey Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions confab.

Peter Redmond, Wal-Mart's vice president in charge of seafood also announced the company is shifting towards buying more wild, domestic shrimp despite the fact it is more expensive. This is all in an effort to begin shifting the 50 million pounds of shrimp that the super chain normally purchases from Thailand.

Walmart is clearly trying to jump on the sustainable seafood bandwagon after seeing the success of Whole Foods and others who have managed to really capture the sustainable consumer experience.

According to the SF Chronicle article, Redmond states:

"I can tell you it's good for business," Redmond remarked.

"Part of the sustainability issue is it's also a business plan for us."

It's also good news for worldwide efforts to save the oceans from complete depletion of major edible species by mid-century, as predicted by an international study published last November in Science magazine. Stanford University marine biology professor Stephen Palumbi was one of the researchers on that study; he appeared on a separate panel.

While Whole Foods and Bon Appetit are using this issue as a platform to raise awareness and create change, Wal-Mart is claiming that their "role isn't to tell people what they can and can't buy."

Whether altruistic or simple PR, it is a step in the right direction and a positive sign to see all levels of awareness being raised to the various consumer segments that exist.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

CFLs - What's The Deal?

According to Energy Star, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.
CFLs provide the following benefits:

  • Use at least 2/3 less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and last up to 10 times longer.
  • Save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime
  • Generate 70 percent less heat, so they’re safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.
  • In addition to other quality requirements, must turn on instantly, produce no sound, and fall within a warm color range or be otherwise labeled as providing cooler color tones.
  • Are available in different sizes and shapes to fit in almost any fixture, for indoors and outdoors.

Obviously CFLs are good for the environment, but are they conevenient? We found this source that helps break down our most basic questions to better inform our transition to the world of CFLs.

What is a CFL?

CFL stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamp. A compact fluorescent lamp is a small version of the fluorescent lamps that have been used to provide energy-efficient light for offices, factories, stores and schools for over 60 years.

Why are CFLs called lamps instead of bulbs?

In lamp-industry jargon, a lamp is a device that generates light when connected to electric power. The term bulb is used to describe the glassware before it is made into a functional lamp. In addition, the device that most users would call a lamp, is called a fixture or luminaire in the lighting industry. For example, what most people refer to as a table lamp is technically called a portable fixture. Aren't you glad you asked?

Why do CFLs look so strange?

Most fluorescent lamps are constructed in long, thin tubes in order to generate light while using the least amount of electricity. In order to fit CFLs into a lighting fixture designed for incandescent lamps, the long, thin tube must be coiled into a spiral or folded back on itself multiple times. This accounts for the unusual shape of most CFLs.

Is it possible to make a CFL that looks like a normal incandescent lamp?

Yes. One way is to enclose the spiral or folded tube in a glass or plastic outer housing. A better way is to make an electrodeless CFL using what is called induction coupling. Electrodeless CFLs can be constructed in bulbs that have the same shape as conventional incandescent lamps. Only one model of electrodeless CFL is currently sold in the U.S. This lamp is constructed as a reflector lamp. There are currently no electrodeless CFLs that look like conventional incandescent lamps, also known as A-Line lamps.

Do CFLs work on dimmers?

Most screw-base CFLs do not work with dimmers designed for use with incandescent lamps. These CFLs will have a label on the lamp and/or the packaging stating "not for use with dimmers. However, certain special screw-base CFLs are designed to work with standard incandescent lamp dimmers. These CFLs will be labeled "dimmable" or similar language on the lamp and/or the packaging. However, due to small differences between different brands of dimmers, not all dimmable CFLs work with all types of incandescent dimmers. Some dimmable CFLs, however, will work with all major brands of incandescent lamp dimmers.

I have read that CFLs contain mercury. Is that correct?

Yes, all CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury, typically about 5 mg, which is 1/6000th of an ounce (mass). If all the mercury were concentrated in one droplet, that droplet would have a diameter of only 1.1 mm, which is 0.042 inches.

Doesn't disposal of mercury-based products harm the environment?

Yes, mercury is classified as a hazardous material by the US Environmental Protection Agency and CFLs should be recycled instead of being thrown out with the normal trash. However, in many cases use of CFLs will offset mercury that would otherwise be introduced into the environment from other sources.

For further detailed information, check out CFlfacts.com and Energystar.gov on proper disposal of CFLs.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ellen Get Green Groove On with Seacrest, Lohan and Electra?

Ellen can now claim herself as a lean mean “green” dancing machine! Despite suffering from a back injury and hosting from a hospital bed, nothing could keep Ellen from spreading green fever with her celeb friends. From celebrity green tips to recommendations to help the environment, Ellen and her entourage of guests including Lindsay Lohan, Nathan Lane, Marcia Cross, Carmen Electra and Ryan Seacrest showered an audience of green newbies last week. While the celebrity tips where somewhat meager in content (ie. Ryan Seacrest recommending not to ask for napkins and plastic utensils when ordering takeout), her quick tips provide good tangible nuggets.

From her website:

To be green means to conserve natural resources and consume consciously to reduce our impact on this big blue planet we call home. Think about how you eat, what you wear, how you drive. This isn’t about everyone doing everything. No one is perfect. But we all play a role in the problem and can take part in the solution. If everyone does something, it would have a tremendous impact on our world and the legacy we leave for future generations.

Check out Ellen’s tips for being green and go get your green groove on!

Thanks to Linton & Cash for Critters for the tip.

Crosspost with ecorazzi

Road to Austin: Green and Charitable

“Where the music matters” is a popular Austin slogan. From struggling one man shows to elite headliners, Austin is the place where they all come together. In the recent Road to Austin Concert, headliners such as Bonnie Raitt and Delbert McClinton, performed with Austin acts as Ian McLagan and Bob Schneider. While the show was free (thanks to Freescale Seminconductor Inc.), it featured a covered pavillion that housed many local Austin community outreach, charitable, and green organizations including Keep Austin Beautiful and The Sierra Club. In addition, The event adpoted some green initiatives including all electric generators using biofuels and of course the appropriate recycling efforts that are now expected of these types of events.

Recently voted the top green city in America by MSN City Guides, Austin is embracing its musical and environmental awareness and serving as a green leader in a class of its own.

Crosspost with ecorazzi

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bike To Work Day!

For those who are not aware, the Month of May is official "Bike To Work Month" and thus a campaign to reduce carbon emissions produced by vehicles.

According to the Bureau of Transportation

Motor vehicle emissions represent 31 percent of total carbon dioxide, 81 percent of carbon monoxide, and 49 percent of nitrogen oxides released in the U.S. (The Green Commuter, a publication of the Clean Air Council). Short car trips (over distances that could easily be bicycled) are much more polluting than longer trips on a per-mile basis because 60 percent of the pollution resulting from auto emissions is released during the first few minutes of operation of a vehicle.

There is no denying that biking is good for the environment and your health. According to The League of American Bicyclists:

Recreational bike riding is a safe, low-impact, aerobic activity for Americans of all ages. A 150-pound cyclist burns 410 calories while pedaling 12 miles in an hour-almost the equivalent calories of a McDonald's Quarter Pounder®. A 200-pound cyclist burns 546 calories while going 12 miles per hour-almost the equivalent of a Big Mac®.

Check out more information about the environmental, economic and helth benefits of riding and local events going on in your city.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fox News Realizes It's Green Fate

Last week Robert Murdoch, CEO of Fox NewsCorp announced that the company will reduce its carbon footprint 10 percent by 2012 via energy-efficiency efforts and use of renewable energy. Well, the initiative has been communicated to employees of NewsCorp and even announced on Fox News. Check out the video from the people at Newshounds.us ("we watch fox so you don't have to") and see how the reporter litterally stumbles on his words as he realizes his green fate:-)

Regardless, it is a bold initiative. Murdoch states the following:

"News Corp.'s hundreds of millions of viewers and readers represent the most fertile ground for change: "Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours ... Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just 1 percent. That would be like turning the state of California off for almost two months."

Check out the full Grist article here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Andrew Weil Prescribes Biodiesel for the Planet

Alternative health guru Dr. Andrew Weil M.D. is spreading his message of integrative health to the environment. Using vegetable oil from a Tucson restraunt, Weil brews his own biodiesel fuel in his garage. Appropriately referred to as the "Bio-Depot," Weil runs several vehicles and is so impressed by the efficiency, he wants to spread the biodiesel world in a co-op format to Tucson residents.

Founder of one of the leading integrative medicine progams at the University of Arizona, Weil reported the following to the Arizona Daily Star:

"We have to be very immediately concerned about finding solutions for the toxic effects the combustion engine has on human health," he said. For starters, he notes that biodiesel fuel cuts asthma-causing particulates and carbon monoxide in vehicle exhaust by nearly 50 percent, releases far fewer cancer-causing compounds into the air, and cuts down on ozone and smog now choking us and our planet."

This is an important step briding the worlds of integrative health and sustainable living. Andrew Weil has the clout and leadership to help to educate and create real change when it comes to preserving our health and protecting the environment. Very exciting! Check out the rest of the article here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Adrian Grenier hosts "Fund Rager" for Kiva.org

Kiva.org recently celebrated its second celebrity fundraiser at a sweet little soiree hosted at Entourage star Adrian Grenier’s house. Kevin Connolly (also from Entourage) and Willie Garson from Sex and the City were present.

The event was inspired by Grenier’s book club that recently finished the book called “The End of Poverty.” Motivated to make a difference, the group decided to throw the “Fund Rager” and raise money for Kiva. Kiva is a microfinancing organization that assists small businesses in developing countries stride toward economic independence. 100% of the donations go directly to the loans. Once the loans are paid off, users can re-loan to other businesses in need. It is literally the gift that keeps on giving.

Celebrities like Grenier are leading an important trend of social and eco-consciousness in Hollywood and setting an important example for all to follow. Find out how you can help Kiva spread the word!

Crosspost with ecorazzi.

San Francisco KaBoom Goes Carbon Neutral

San Francisco’s annual KFOG KaBoom fireworks extravaganza is yet another event that has jumped on the carbon neutral bandwagon. While one would not expect fireworks to be considered environmentally friendly, this year’s event took unique measures to ensure itself green. From compostable forks and spoons to food vendors providing used cooking oil for Marin resident Elon Rosenfeld’s Straight Vegetable Oil Mercedes, this event proved that going green is always in a state of innovation. An estimated 40,000 people flocked to the San Francisco waterfront with many people embracing the special event hours of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Blues protogee Kenny Wayne Shepherd and latin hi-hop band Ozomatli joined the poster child of carbon neutral - Guster, who are now known by their biodiesel tour bus and performances that are powered by wind power.

Reporting on carbon neutral events is nothing new here at Ecorazzi. So when what would normally be new news turns into old news, it is actually a postitive sign that carbon neutral and going green is offically mainstream, and that is cause for a fireworks celebration of its own!

Crosspost via ecorazzi

Friday, May 11, 2007

Whole Foods Launches Weekly Cooking Show

In the world of organic and sustainable food, Whole Foods is a celebrity in its own right. While CEO John Mackey has experienced his fair share of controversy lately via blog battles with Michael Pollan, there is no doubt that local and organic food is on the map because Whole Foods helped place it there. And with the recently launched Secret Ingredient, a weekly cooking show, we predict Scott Simons to be a future celebrity in the world of green grub!

According to the press release:

“We hope to deliver inspiration,” said Scott Simons, Whole Foods Market food aficionado and host of Secret Ingredient. “Because we focus on only one ingredient per episode, viewers really get to know the featured item and take away practical cooking tips and recipes. Top that off with easy yet tasty meal solutions and Secret Ingredient is a home cook’s treasure.”

Check out the launch episode featuring Catfish Tacos (farm raised and sustainable) of course). Yumm!!!

Crosspost with ecorazzi

Bottled Water - What's The Deal?

The most common question we get asked about is bottled water. Here's the skinny, plastic is bad, and no amount of convenience can justify that. Americans add over 30 million plastic water bottles to our nation's landfills everyday.

In addition, plastic can be harmful to our health. According to our friends at Idealbite:

Polycarbonate plastic (made by Nalgene and other companies) leaches bisphenol-A, a chemical linked to increased risk of birth defects, miscarriage and prostate cancer. Scratches in the plastic, harsh detergents and boiling liquids exacerbate the leaching.

What's The Alternative?

At the end of the day, buy yourself a reusable bottle. Our top picks - Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottles and Sigg for an eco-personal touch!

Paint Hazards - What's The Deal?

Paints can be loaded with toxic chemicals that release low level toxic emissions in the air for years after application. The source of these toxins is a variety of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) which until recently, were critical to the performance of the paint. The distinctive smell of paint is actually a host of compounds that can cause nausea, dizziness, and severe headaches. According to the EPA, indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air and accounts for 11,400 deaths annually.

What is the alternative?

Low-VOC and zero-VOC paints and finishes are now more readily available due to new environmental regulations and consumer demand. Most paint manufacturers now produce one or more non-VOC variety of paint. These new paints are durable, cost effective and less harmful to human and environmental health.

Check out The Greenguide for further information and specific recommendations on low-VOC and zero-VOC paints and finishes.

Yoga vs. Pilates - What's The Deal?

Yoga and Pilates are two of the most popular mind-body modalities around. Everyone from professional athletes to Hollywood a-listers does one or both. People are often curious as to which is better. The truth is, one is not necessarily better than the other. It is dependent on individual physical needs, goals, and personalities.

Below are some key distinctions from a philosophy and physical perspective:

Philosophy/History

  • Pilates takes a mind-body approach to exercise with a focus on mental concentration, breathing, and movement whereas Yoga's view involves mind, body and spirit.
  • Joseph Pilates created the practice over 80 years ago based on personal experiences in yoga, martial arts, boxing, chinese acrobats, body building and his personal experiences in health and healing.
  • Yoga's principles come from Hindu ideals and its approach is decidedly Eastern in nature.

Physical

  • Pilates mainly works on the core muscles in your trunk (called the powerhouse), and building strength there above all. Pilates focuses on those muscles that lie closest to the bone (stabilizer muscles) which is why people claim to get that long lean look.
  • Yoga, for the most part, involves static poses, which are held while exploring your breathing, physical feelings and emotions.
  • Pilates emphasizes toning over flexibility (but, again, it enhances both).
  • Yoga emphasizes flexibility over building strength (although it enhances both).

Bottom Line
If you want an exercise that improves flexibility while toning your muscles - especially those abs - then Pilates is probably your better choice. Many people claim to love pilates because the movements kind of trick you into stretching because you are focused on other things like your core muscles and not necessarily the stretch.

If you are already getting your strength training somewhere else and want to concentrate a bit more on flexibility and a little less on toning, then yoga may be a better fit.

Regardless, both will reduce stress and enhance your body's health in a way that is unique from any other form of exercise. The best part is that they enhance each other if you can incorporate both! Check out more detailed info here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Water Conservation Tips

Small Conservation tips add up. Just think how much water is being wasted because people forget or don't think abou the precious water runnding down the drain.

Check out these tips from the North Bay Natural Pages to ensure you are doing everything you can to save water:

  • Wash your dishes in a sink or basin of water, instead of washing them under a running tyab in an unplugged sink.
  • Use your dirty dishwater and any other "brown water" you accumulate to water your plants (use natural dishwashing detergent and other cleaning products).
  • Turn off the tap while youbrush your teeth, shave, or soap your hands.
  • Flush your toilet only after several uses.
  • Install a low-flush toilet to reduce the water needed to fill it.
  • Turn off the shower while you shampoo your hair and soap up, and keep your showers short.
  • Sweep your sidewalk or deck instead of spraying it down with a hose.
  • Avoid leaving a water faucet or hose running; use a shut-off nozzel on the end of all hoses.
  • If you wash your car and animal companions, do it on the grass so the water isn't wasted.
  • Consider alternative landscaping to lawns that need watering; plant drought-resistant native plants.
  • Use mulch around your plants to help retain moisture.
  • Use rain barrels to collect rainwater for watering your plants.
  • Educate your children on how important it is to save water and show them how they can help.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

NY Times: Twinkies vs. Carrots

Green Health advocate Michael Pollan once again raises heightened awareness of the political, socio-economic, and health issues raised by the American agricultural system. In his recent piece in the New York Times yesterday You Are What You Grow, he continues his message of educating the effects of highly processed food via tangible examples:

"Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?"

God Save The Bears - Plea to the Queen

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is having one bear of a time on her visit to the U.S. A PETA member in a bear costume and holding a “God Save the Bears” sign is following her around to various cities and events including most recently the Kentucky Derby. The campaign is intended to urge the Queen to switch to faux fur for the Buckingham Palace Guard’s hats.

According to a PETA press release:

It can take one bear’s entire hide to make just one guard’s headpiece. The skins come from Canadian black bears who are often shot several times before they die. Some escape the hunters and bleed to death. When mother bears are killed, orphaned cubs are left behind to starve.

“We love pomp and circumstance as much as anyone, but not when the ceremony causes baby bears to be orphaned when their mothers are shot for hats,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “No tradition on Earth can justify cruelty.”


PETA Europe supporters including Sir Roger Moore, Twiggy, and Hayley Mills are supporting the ban on bear fur in The Queen’s Guards headwear. Will the queen comprise formality for the sake of saving animals or is this just another radical campaign on PETA’s part? We can’t be sure, but choose to air on the side of awareness, however that translates for the Queen. For more information, check out UnbearableCruelty.com


Crosspost via Ecorazzi

Ban on Monsanto genetically modified alfalfa upheld

A U.S. judge on Thursday let stand a precedent-setting ban on the planting of a genetically modified alfalfa crop variety developed by Monsanto Co. Citing the potential for genetic contamination, this could be a turning point for the USDA to committ the necessary research to truly srutinize the future of biotech crops. Check out the full reuter's article here.

Apple Goes Green

It was only a matter of time, but The Green Apple is here, well metaphorically of course. A passionate campaign consisting of Greenpeace and Apple users have made their voices heard as Steve Jobs announced a change in policy today. While not every demand was met, Apple has declared a phase out of the worst chemicals in its product range, Brominated Fire Retardants (BFRs) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) by 2008. That beats Dell and other computer manufactures' pledge to phase them out by 2009. For now, the policy only stands in the United States, but a good first step nonetheless.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Green Mockery

The green community is a passionate one, and for all the advocacy run amock, it is good to gain a little perspective. Lewis Black does just this in a recent Daily Show airing creating a humbled frenzy within the green blogosphere Check out the post from our friends at Ecorazzi for the full satirical commentary. And of course you can always count on Bill Maher to give a unique recap of Earth Day from the bees buzzing to plastics pandering. Check out his Earth Day show featured on GreenThinkers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Austin Joins the "Ban The Plastic Bags" Bandwagon

While some may not consider Texas to be the home of environmental awareness, Austin, Texas is home to some environmentally and socially aware celebs like the Dixie Chicks, Sandra Bullock and of course Lance Armstrong. Hailed as the #1 city of cleantech (”clean technology”) by SustainLane Government (home of the infamous Unsustainables), Austin is setting the bar for other cities to follow when it comes to creating opportunities for regional sustainable growth boom in response to recent climate change news and energy price instability.

Jumping on the “ban the plastic bags” bandwagon with San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Austin City Council will consider a resolution this week that could lead to new strategies for reducing waste from non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags by stores located in the city. Sponsored by City Council Member Lee Leffingwell, City Council Member Mike Martinez and Mayor Will Wynn, the resolution directs city management to analyze and recommend strategies for addressing the environmental impacts of hundreds of thousands of plastic bags that are discarded in Austin each year.

“In Austin, we care about protecting our environment, both locally and globally,” said Council Member Leffingwell, who authored the resolution. “If we can find ways to significantly reduce the use of non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags in Austin stores, we’ll not only be doing our own community a big favor, but we’ll also be setting an example that could make a meaningful difference for the future of our global environment if it were followed by other cities and states around the country.”

While it is no longer a rare occasion to see stars cruising the flagship Whole Foods, Matthew McConaughey and his reusable bag can’t be far behind:-) Clearly Austin is proving its own “green” star power.

Crosspost with ecorazzi.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Skip yourself to Health

As I took my morning run around town lake this morning I saw a man skipping. Literally skipping, listening to his ipod, hands waving in the air. He was clearly in the moment having a ball and getting a pretty rockin' cardio workout in the meantime. So as I read this article from the Organic Consumers Association and how easily it is to place our societal problem of obesity on various parties including the government and the food industry, I realized that as much as these parties are to blame, it is also about personal accountability.

We live in a time where we look for quick fixes and others expecations as an indicator of what we should be doing when it comes to health and losing weight. When what we really should be doing is taking all of the information, filtering it through our thought process, holding on to what resonates and letting the rest go. It is about being mindful of our bodies and how we treat them. Marc David does an excellent job of explaining this relationship in his book The Slow Down Diet. So next time you feel the angst of what you "should" be doing or catch yourself "blaming" third parties, take a moment of pause and listen to your body. And if nothing else, go for a quick skip to put things in perspective:-)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Low Carb vs. Low Carbon

We all hear the about the importance of how eating local is not only good for our health, but also good in supporting our local farmers and helping to reduce carbon emissions that harm the environment. Well it didn’t take long for this awareness to spawn a “new diet” craze. MSNBC/Newsweek reports the importance of the “low carbon diet”:

As if counting calories weren’t enough, now you can calculate the “carbon cost” of your food. Starting next month, Bon Appetit, a food-service company that operates corporate and university cafeterias, will test a “low-carbon diet,” designed to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming. Instead of, say, a tilapia fillet (frozen using electricity from a coal-fired power plant and flown in from China on a carbon-dioxide-emitting jet), customers can choose a dish using locally produced ingredients. And forget bottled water. “We want folks to realize that their food choices can have an effect on climate change,” says Helene York, director of the Bon Appetit Foundation. Studies show that the production, processing, packaging and transportation of food may contribute up to one third of the greenhouse-gas emissions each year. Bon Appetit’s Maisie Greenawalt says, “This is about asking yourself, ‘Do I need a banana even if it’s flown in from Ecuador, or can I replace it with an apple grown nearby?”

Is it ironic that the low-carbon diet runs almost directly contradictory to the low carb diets that plagued our hearts and cholesteral levels of the 90s? Perhaps, or more just a sign of the times that our personal health and environmental health are linked for better or worse.

Crosspost with Green Thinkers.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Happy Feet Raises Awareness for Seafood Sustainability

Who knew that an acadamy award winning film could generate such awareness in the world of seafood sustainability, but that is exactly what millions of DVD copies of the of Academy Award-winning animated film Happy Feet did when it went on sale this Tuesday. In an effective partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, each copy carried the aquarium’s infamous 2007 Seafood Watch pocket guide that ranks seafood items based on their sustainability.

According to Sustainable Food News:

On Wednesday night, PBS stations nationally will air the aquarium’s “Sea Otter Research and Conservation” program, which is featured in a new PBS program, “Journey to Planet Earth: State of the World’s Ocean Animals,” narrated by Matt Damon.

The two-pronged marketing campaign this week by the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to raise people’s awareness about the serious threats facing ocean wildlife, the nonprofit said.

Through the aquarium’s partnership with Warner Home Video, its Seafood Watch pocket guide is also featured on the Happy Feet web site along with a public service announcement about problems related to overfishing. The PSA is also featured on the Happy Feet DVD.

Kudos to the Monteray Bay Aquarium for recognizing the opportunity showcased in the film Happy Feet to raise awareness in the world of sustainable seafood items. No doubt they are doing a “happy dance” of their own.

Crosspost with ecorazzi.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Starlets Plant Love with New Eco-Friendly Lipstick

Courtney Cox, Evangaline Lily, Lindsay Lohan, Maria Menounos, Mariska Hrigitay, and Sarah Chalke can now claim themselves green mavens when it comes to lipwear designs.

Each of the starlets collaborated with CARGO at Sephora to design unique lip hues that are eco-friendly. Planet Love (TM) is a collection of 12 lipsticks that are packaged from a biodegradable container made from corn. According to a Toronto press release:

This first -of-its kind innovation uses PLA (or polylactic acid) instead of traditional petroleum-based plast for the lipstic tube. PLA is a polymer made entirely out of corn; a resource that renews itself in only 100 days. In addition, PLA is the first and only polymer on the market that is greenhouse-gas-neutral and thus helps in the fight against global warming.

The best part of this socially conscious brand is that the packaging comes in a biodegradable box that is embedded with wildflower seeds that can actually be planted. $2 from every lipstick sold is donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

By literally planting new seeds to sow, these lipsticks are taking eco-beauty to a whole new level of growth!



This is a cross-post from Ecorazzi