Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Boxed Water is Better!

photo-2This past weekend I attended a delicious local food truck festival and discovered boxed water!  Not luxury, specialty or flavored water, but plain, purified water in a boldly printed box that says, “Boxed Water is Better”.  What a great idea – in the fast-growing water bottle market, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been boxed before.

Boxed Water is Better, LLC, started in 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan with the mission of creating a new water company with simple, sustainable packaging, one that gives back to foundations and one with a lower carbon footprint than traditional bottled water.

About 76% of the box is manufactured from trees grown in certified, well-managed forests where new ones are constantly grown to replace those harvested.  Using this renewable resource, trees, which also sequester carbon dioxide, makes it one of the most sustainable beverage packages available.

The water is carbon-filtered, purified drinking water from the municipal source in each of their major markets.  The boxes are shipped flat to the local filling company, a significantly more energy-efficient way to ship, where they are then filled.  The boxes are easily recycled and can be flattened to take up less space.

photo-1-2 I love the look of the boxed water.   The no-nonsense black and white printing on the box simply says what it is “Boxed Water is Better” with a water drop.  One panel on the box explains their environmentally friendly, sustainable, give back philosophy.  10% of their profits are donated to world water relief foundations and another 10% donated to reforestation foundations.

Boxed Water is Better is working on US and international distribution in both small and large retailers.  In the Boston area, Boxed Water is Better is carried at Bloomingdale’s.  You can also order a carton of 12 or 24 online.  One 500 ml box cost $1.00.  Cheap!!!

While I still think it is better to use a BPA-free, stainless steel water bottle, there are definitely times when you need to buy one.  This is the solution for me! I’d much rather drink out of a water box from a company with a socially responsible mission than a plastic water bottle.   Look for Boxed Water is Better in your area!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Green Entrepreneurs

I have recently met some impressive green entrepreneurs who are making a real difference by the earth and our health as they squeak out a living.  In this 2-part blog, I will share with you some of the eco-businesses these creative people are running.

FarmFare Market – A registered dietitian, Nicole Cormier is a green go-getter who has her hands in everything related to organic, food and local.  She runs her nutritional counseling office out of a cute little store in Sandwich, MA where you can buy seasonal fresh vegetables, farm fresh eggs, fresh cold-pressed juices, bulk items like nuts, berries, and beans, specialty food items such as locally made cheeses and organic vanilla, and environmentally friendly products.  She also started a farmer’s market in Mashpee, MA, offers a yearlong CSA, does organic catering, runs wellness workshops for businesses, schools or groups, and hosts a radio show with “nutritionally sustainable topics.”  Whew!

Edible Landscapes of Cape Cod -A talented musician and gardener, Dave Scandurra’s goal is to make the local food movement even more local by bringing it to you.  How?  He creates (installs and maintains) low-maintenance perennial edible landscapes on Cape Cod that will feed you and your friends or family for years to come. He specializes in herbs, perennial vegetables, fruits, nuts, beneficial flowers, trees and edible water gardens. Using raised beds, cold frames or interesting swirl designs, Dave’s gardens are fabulous.  He also consults and is a whiz at plant identification, finding obscure but beneficial plants like St. John’s wort among your “weeds”.

The Optimist Company – A young mother of two, Devin Donaldson’s strong interest in green living led her to make and sell pure cleaning and laundry products.  Her powerful, but gentle and of course non-toxic products are made from simple (and pronounceable) ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil soap, Epsom salts and other household ingredients.    I use her “Loads of Laughs” natural laundry suds and softener and love it.  The attractive packaging is basic and naturally recyclable, reusable, compostable, and biodegradable.  Along with the finished products, The Optimist Company provides DIY (do it yourself) kits.  You can order her products online.

Each of these young entrepreneurs has a similar mission and a passion for protecting the earth and our health. Each exhibits drive and ambition in a socially responsible way.  The green movement is here to stay!

Next blog I’ll highlight a few more conscientious green entrepreneurs.

Congratulations to the winner of the advanced power strip from MassSave, Nancy Yardley of Houston, Texas!

 

Be the Green Czar in Your Office!

A typical modern office

As you move towards a greener lifestyle, greening your office is important too.  Whether you work from home or away, follow the simple steps below.

  • When possible, use energy star equipment – computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, etc. – for maximum energy efficiency.
  • Recycle print cartridges at office supply stores and use soy ink cartridges, which require less oil to manufacture and emit fewer air pollutants.
  • Keep your screen saver blank instead of the energy hogging, hypnotic graphics ones.  They aren’t good for our eyes anyway!
  • Paper copies are less important these days, but if you do have to print something, print on both sides of the paper – most printers have a 2-sided property – and use recycled paper.  Also, set your printer to economy mode or eco-tone.  Most new printers have this setting, which uses less ink.
  • If your office is not already recycling used paper, set up a recycling center (for cans, bottles and plastic too) and organize a weekly or monthly pick up from a local recycling company. Or, reuse unwanted paper for scrap paper.

    Colorful Recycling Containers for Trash

    Colorful Recycling Containers for Trash (Photo credit: epSos.de)

  • For interoffice memos, use email rather than paper.  Most offices already do that and even email is becoming antiquated with Facebook messaging, google chatting and texting!
  • In your office kitchen, install a water filter system instead of using individual water bottles or big plastic water containers.
  • The average American goes through 500 disposable cups every year, so use ceramic mugs, not polystyrene (Styrofoam®) or plastic cups for coffee or water. Use real spoons instead of plastic stirrers. Set up a recycling center in the kitchen too.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with longer lasting, energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescents) or LED bulbs.
  • Clean your office with green cleaning supplies.
  • Reuse old packaging materials for shipping.
  • Houseplants are effective air cleaners, removing indoor air pollutants.  Place several plants near your printers, fax and photocopiers. They add beauty and tranquility as well.
  • When remodeling your office, use natural materials for furniture and carpet and low VOC paints instead of man-made laminates,  synthetic materials and conventional paints that outgas toxins.
  • When possible, ride public transportation, walk, bike or carpool to work.  You’ll save energy and start the day in a more relaxed way.

We spend most of our time at work, so setting up a green office is an important step to using less energy and leading a healthier lifestyle.  If your office isn’t as eco-friendly as it should be, take the lead and become the green czar in your office. A little initiative goes a long way!

What is an EcoATM?

From time to time eco-friendly businesses contact me to blog about their product.  I’m impressed and wowed by the quality and “green” ingenuity of these products, including the most recent inquiry, EcoATM !

The EcoATM is a kiosk where you can recycle your new, used or broken phones, mp3 players and tablets and get cash for them.  Founded in 2008, the San Diego-based company has more than 600 kiosks in 40 states.  Their goal is to be located within five miles or closer to 90% of the US population to make e-waste recycling as convenient as possible.

Entrepreneur and founder Mark Bowles was inspired by a survey that found that only 3 percent of people worldwide recycle their mobile phones.  According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, the U.S. disposes of more than 384 million units of electronic waste each year, and less than 20 percent of that is recycled.  That leaves 80 percent dumped in landfills or burned, leaking toxic substances into the environment.

Let’s face it – many people need motivation to recycle and money is a great motivator.   That’s why the EcoATM is such a good solution to the recycling problem, and using the fully automated, self-serve kiosk, often in malls, is easy:

ecoATM in Mission Viejo

ecoATM in Mission Viejo (Photo credit: G A R N E T)

Simply place the mobile device in the ecoATM test station and submit your personal id, which is matched with an image of the seller taken at the kiosk.

The machine quickly evaluates the device, searches for the highest price in the worldwide market to sell it, and gives you cash on the spot. The process only takes a few minutes and the average seller walks away with approximately $25 to $300, depending on the device.  EcoATM staff remotely monitor every transaction. Each kiosk also has a free charging station and a place to recycle accessories.

What does EcoATM do with all these devices?  They refurbish 75 percent and the rest goes to reputable e-waste recyclers.

Security is of utmost importance to EcoATM and they go beyond what State and local laws require to ensure safety and deter stolen items or fraud; privacy information is also securely encrypted.  Furthermore, ecoATM works closely with law enforcement to locate stolen phones.

Kudos to EcoATM – a great example of the kind of inventiveness that can create jobs and help solve pressing environmental issues.

For more information and to find an ecoATM near you, visit www.ecoatm.com.

Information compiled from http://www.ecoatm.com.

Summer’s Extreme Weather

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the whether,
Whether we like it or not
~Author Unknown

Here in the Northeast and in the Mid-west, we’ve been experiencing more than our fair share of cloudy days and rain, intense thunderstorms, flood and tornado watches and high humidity.  Since there really is nothing you can do about the weather (other than lead a greener lifestyle and hope other people will too), try not to let it get you down.  Eating certain foods can relieve weather-related depression.

Omega 3 fats found in fish oil, salmon (and other fatty fish), walnuts (and other nuts), flax seeds, olive oil, chia seeds and avocados, are essential for proper brain function.  When the brain functions properly, it’s hard to get depressed for long.  Studies have shown that just a gram of fish oil a day can decrease symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained periods of sadness, etc.  Omega 3 fats also lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular function.

Fruits like dates, papaya, bananas, strawberries*, mangoes, pineapple, grapefruit, peaches and apple* also help fight depression!  They contain the best natural sugars your body can process, as well as essential nutrients.  They hydrate too!

Out west, the weather is unusually hot and dry and they are experiencing less than normal rainfall!  Protecting your skin is essential, not only with sunscreen but with food too.  The following three summer fruits are cooling and may protect your skin from sun damage during the hot dry summer weather.

  • Cherries contain inflammation-fighting anthocyanins and melatonin, which may boost UV protection and encourage cell growth, both great ways to fight wrinkles.
  • Nectarines* contain nutrients that help correct sun damage from the inside out.  They contain vitamins and minerals that help control inflammation and free radical damage.
  • Watermelon has high water and lycopene content, which helps protect and preserve skin cells so the skin is tighter, smoother and better able to retain moisture.  Lycopene, also found in tomatoes, is a powerful antioxidant and may help ward off sunburn too.

Extreme weather conditions are hard on the body and the spirit, but eating whole, nutritious and seasonal foods can help.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!  Stay cool!!!

* Foods that you should always eat organic!

Information compiled from:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/diet-nutrition/article/eat-these-3-fruits-for-great-summer-skin; http://voices.yahoo.com/foods-fight-depression-eat-way-happiness-2710221.html and http://www.naturalnews.com/020611_depression_nutrition.html#ixzz2XtsDD1aP

 

Farmers’ Markets Are Back!

It’s that time of year again; farmers’ markets are back!  Lettuces, kale, swiss chard, pea greens, radishes, strawberries – there’s lots of early spring produce, especially with greenhouse grown vegetables.  You can also get locally raised eggs, meat, and poultry, fresh-baked goods, locally produced cheeses, potted plants and herbs, handcrafted soaps and lotions, and artisanal items.  Every week it’s something different.

I’m thrilled that the farmers’ market concept has caught on.  The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Produce is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen, or processed using preservatives or irradiation, losing important nutritional value.    With farmers’ markets, food is grown locally using organic or sustainable farming practices and picked at peak ripeness.  Fresh and nutritious, there is nothing tastier than a vegetable or fruit straight from the farm.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

Photo by: Wikipedia

There are many other advantages.  When you shop at a farmers’ market, you are supporting local farmers and the local economy. The farmer sells directly to the customer; middlemen are eliminated and the farmer gets to keep more of his profits.

In this era of prepackaged foods, there is little direct connection to our food.  At a farmers’ market, you meet and get to know the people who grow your food and they get to know the people who eat the food they grow.  Today’s children will grow up understanding that their food doesn’t just come in a plastic bag from a giant supermarket, instead someone actually plants the seeds, cares for the tender plant and then harvests the fruit or vegetable.

photo-2

Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets bring the community together; they are a place for neighbors and friends to connect.  Participating local musicians, food trucks, art shows, and children’s activities make food shopping a real event.

Local farms help preserve open space, protect the land and promote healthy ecosystems.  With sustainable farming, the soil isn’t contaminated with toxic chemicals, keeping our waterways safe.

I participated in the Mashpee farmers’ market on Cape Cod last weekend answering green living questions.  Shoppers and vendors were happy, enjoying the warm summer day.  Customers chatted with the farmers and admired the fruits of their labor.  One vendor even sings opera! Farmer’s markets provide an old-fashioned respite from our fast-paced, wired lives.

Mashpee Commons Farmer's Market

Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

So, take a break and visit the farmers’ market in your town.  You’ll enjoy more than the delicious and nutritious produce grown in your area, you’ll enjoy the whole experience.

If you are in the Mashpee area on Cape Cod, stop by the Farmers’ Market at the Mashpee Commons and say hi.  I’m there most Saturdays – the market runs from 1:30 – 6:00!

Some information compiled from winchesterfarmersmarket.org.

 

Earth Day 2013

   April 22 is the 43rd annual Earth Day.  According to earthday.org, more than one billion people take part in Earth Day – individuals, communities, organizations and governments from around the world.  This year, earthday.org is collecting and displaying images of people, animals and places directly affected by climate change as well as those helping to do something about it.

I hope you will participate too!  There are lots of easy and meaningful things you can do.  You can:

  • It’s spring – plant a tree
  • Sow some seeds for your garden
  • Visit a local farm
  • Change a conventional light bulb to an energy-saving compact fluorescent or LED one
  • Pick up litter on the beach
  • Take part in a trash pick-up
  • Use a travel mug rather than a paper cup for your coffee-to-go
  • Drink from a reusable water bottle rather than a plastic one
  • Recycle newspapers, bottles and cans
  • Start a compost bin in your backyard for kitchen waste
  • Make a commitment to drive less and carpool or walk more
  • Take public transportation
  • Shorten your shower by one minute
  • Shut down your computer for one hour
  • Attend an Earth Day event in your area or volunteer
  • Include your kids and grandkids and teach them about the importance of protecting our beautiful earth

End the day with an Earth Day Dinner Celebration with foods that are grown locally if possible and are gentler to the earth – organic vegetables and fruits, grass-fed, grass finished beef, free-range chicken or sustainably harvested fish and raise awareness about the origins of our food at the same time. You could host a potluck dinner with regional specialties, plan an earth dinner fundraiser for your favorite local organization, and have an earth day party for kids or a simple supper with your family or friends.  If the weather is warm, try an earth day picnic.  Use real cutlery, not plastic, real plates, not paper and cloth napkins.  Seed packets make great place cards.  For a more festive dinner, eat by candlelight and save energy;  wash the dishes with non-toxic detergent.

Check your local newspaper or go online for Earth Day events in your town.  Make Earth Day and Earth Dinner celebrations your new tradition.  Never forget that simple steps really do make a difference!

 

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