Archive for the ‘Green Businesses’ Category

Simple Steps That Make A Difference

My husband and I recently attended a fascinating lecture on climate change given by a scientist and director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, MA on Cape Cod. The center, ranked the #1 climate think tank in the world, researches the causes and effects of climate change and creates opportunities for restoration, conservation, and economic development around the world. Tesla cosponsored the event, which as the speaker pointed out, is not a usual practice for a center such as theirs. They do not typically align themselves with a car company. Tesla’s new mission however, “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”, is more in line with the Center’s goals. Their cosponsorship is an example of business and scientists working together.

There were some space-age, very cool electric Tesla cars to test drive, followed by the talk, which focused on the main contributing factors to climate change – deforestation in the Amazon and the Congo, the warming Arctic, “occurring twice as fast in this region than anywhere else”, and the consequences which are already occurring though global sea level rise, widespread wildfires, permafrost thaw, and extreme weather.

When the speaker was asked if there was any one thing people could do to help reverse the effects of climate change, he immediately said plant a tree. Trees are the earth’s lungs absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutant gasses. He elaborated saying that each individual can make an impact on reversing the effects of climate change by doing simple things in their daily life to conserve water and energy.

The tag line to “What’s Green With Betsy” is “Simple Steps That Make A Difference…” To hear a renowned scientist from such an important institution say basically the same thing gives me great hope. Keep going greener – we can make a difference! As Margaret Mead said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 http://whrc.org/

Thoughtful Back-to-School Clothes Shopping

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I recently bought a dress with the above tag.  Handmade in India and Nepal by Mata Traders, a “design-driven, fair trade brand helping to end global poverty”,  I thought why can’t more clothes be manufactured under these much more humane and fair conditions? Why aren’t more clothing manufacturers motivated with these values rather than greed and quick profit at whatever cost? Part of the problem is that there is a huge demand for inexpensive everyday clothes, usually manufactured in China and often under horrible conditions.  And who pays the price for cheap? The workers and the environment.

Fair trade clothes aren’t necessarily a lot more expensive than mass produced clothes.  I prefer buying better quality, thoughtfully made clothes that cost a bit more than cheap, mass produced ones. I just buy fewer.  Thankfully as the organic and sustainability movement grows, consumers are more conscious of how their clothes are manufactured and under what conditions.  As a result there are increasingly more fair trade companies from abroad and here in the U.S.

As you start your back-to-school clothes shopping for your kids or your fall shopping for yourself, look for stores that are likely to carry fair trade clothes with this Fair Trade USA label or a comparable label like the one above.

Fair Trade USA “enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth.”

Wherever you shop, even chain stores with “fast fashion”, ask the sales clerk about responsibly made clothes.  It’s all about educating, voting with your pocketbook, and thoughtful purchasing.   In other words, create the demand.  As the demand increases, so will the supply and that’s how change happens.

Click here for a list of fair trade and ethical clothing companies available on line.  For you Cape Cod readers, visit Shift Eco-Boutique in Hyannis or Orleans, a boutique with fabulous eco and ethically made clothes and accessories.

Shift Eco Boutique

For general back-to school green tips for kids of all ages, click here.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Some information compiled from http://fairtradeusa.org/.

Thoughtful Purchasing

Now more than ever acquiring possessions, and lots of them, is convenient and cheap. We are bombarded with advertisements, on average about 3000 per day, telling us we need to buy new furniture, clothes, electronics, appliances, personal care products, sports equipment, etc., which can be bought for incredibly low prices online or at megastores like Walmart, Costco or Marshalls, to name a few.

There are hidden costs though for purchasing things so cheaply.  The accessibility of such affordable items makes accumulating “stuff” so easy that we often end up with things we don’t need, that have to be managed, and thrown away into the landfill.  In order to keep prices down, manufacturers often employ underage workers overseas who are poorly paid and work in unsafe conditions.  Quality is usually compromised and manufactured with planned obsolescence so that we are constantly replacing things, creating more waste for the landfill.

BuyMeOnce      

A reader referred me to a new website called buymeonce.com, which finds and promotes durable, reasonably priced, quality products which last. Started in January by a young British entrepreneur with a mission to “throw away our throw away culture”, BuyMeOnce doesn’t sell directly to the consumer, but rather provides links to the manufacturer or retail sites.  BuyMeOnce encourages people to buy just a few great things, to take care of the things they have, and challenges manufacturers to make products that last.

While consumerism is good for the economy, it’s time to purchase more responsibly.  Ask yourself some questions before you buy something. Where was the product manufactured and under what conditions? How will my purchase impact the environment? Do I really need the high impulse item at the checkout counter? Am I better off spending a little more for a quality item that lasts longer? The average person makes 4 ½ pounds of garbage a day and America creates 30% of the world’s waste. Make it a goal to lessen your waste with more thoughtful purchasing. Check out buymeonce.com.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Preserve!

Have you ever heard of Preserve recycled toothbrushes? I’ve been using them for years and wouldn’t use any other kind. Not only are they made from recycled yogurt cups (the bristles are new!), but Preserve worked closely with dental professionals to develop a toothbrush with an ergonomic handle for hard-to-reach places and a three-level bristle arrangement for thorough cleaning. Unlike most toothbrushes, Preserve’s minimize your impact on the environment.

Preserve’s high quality products are made from 100% recycled, BPA-free plastic, are dishwasher safe, and made in the US. Preserve is a company truly walking the walk, totally dedicated to doing the right thing by the earth, including conducting tests to ensure the safety of the recycled plastic. Preserve’s product line includes sleek new razors and a stylish, functional and durable line of reusable tableware and kitchenware like colanders, food containers, measuring cups, and cutting boards.  

Recycling is also a priority of Preserve. In addition to their toothbrush take back program, Preserve collaborates with Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms, Plum Organics, Keurig and others in the “Gimme 5” recycling program. Gimme 5 bins are placed at 250 Whole Food locations across the county where anyone can drop of #5 plastics including caps from Plum Organics and other similar products, which so often don’t make it into the recycling stream.  Or you can take advantage of their mail back programs.

Preserve has recycled more than half a million pounds of plastic, thereby decreasing waste sent to landfills, reducing use of non-renewable resources like natural gas and oil, and decreasing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.

What a difference it would make if more companies approached business like Preserve! Support companies doing the right thing without comprising quality. For more information, click here.

 

Special Offer

Take advantage of Preserve’s generous 6-month offer for a 10% discount off any order placed on line before July 15. Simply use the promo code “BWILD” at checkout.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco-Entrepreneurs – A New Concept in Car Rentals

There are lots of young eco-entrepreneurs who are starting all sorts of creative services, companies, and apps designed to help build the new sharing economy and benefit the environment at the same time.  One of these companies is Turo (Formerly RelayRides), the nation’s largest peer-to-peer car rental marketplace, a new concept in car rental.  Basically, car sharing is a way to efficiently connect people who need a car with owners whose vehicle would otherwise go unused, backing each reservation with a $1M insurance policy.   Did you know that the average car sits unused for twenty-three hours a day, which raises the question: how many rental cars actually need to be on the road?   The infographic below highlights interesting facts behind the environmental impacts of car sharing.

According to Turo, “car owners can turn their idle cars into cash-generating rental car businesses and make extra money to offset their car expenses. On the other side, renters get to rent unique cars (Porsche, anybody?) that would otherwise sit idle and go unused. That means we’re not only maximizing the utilization of expensive resources, but also saving money on all the costs associated with owning a car.”

Eco-entrepreneurs are thinking outside the box.  Are you?

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Traveling Waste

Ah, summer vacation!  There’s nothing like getting away.  Whether by car, by air, or by train, traveling however, generates a lot of waste!

My husband and I were recently in Asheville, North Carolina.  On the drive from Charlotte to Asheville, we stopped at a Subway restaurant , one of the healthier fast food options, for lunch.  Since I haven’t been to a fast food restaurant in years, I was shocked at the enormous amount of throwaway,non-recyclable products with each order – still!

My salad came in a sturdy, non-biodegradeable plastic bowl covered with a heavy-duty non-biodegradeable plastic lid.  The server gave me not one plastic packet of salad dressing but four.    My iced tea came with a plastic straw, several white sugar packets and a lid, even though we were eating in the restaurant.  In the paper bag  with my lunch ( a tray would have made more sense since we were eating there), was the plastic cutlery in a plastic bag and 6 or more paper napkins!   I returned the sugar packets, the napkins and the unused salad dressings.

fast food waste - plastic cutlery

 

fast food saladfast food salad dressings

 

On my flight to London, we had two throwaway meals.  The cutlery came in its own plastic bag, the salt and pepper in another, the cheese and crackers in another, the cookies in another, and the dinner itself in a plastic container sealed in plastic wrap.  Plastic water bottles, soda cans, stirrers, unused napkins – all I could think about was waste!  Some airlines do some recycling,  but not nearly enough.

I don’t understand why, considering the massive volume of fast food sold everyday and the thousands of daily flights, these companies don’t show more environmental consciousness and use biocompostable, biodegradeable disposable serving containers.  They do exist and plenty of restaurants use them for take out!   Starbucks and McDonalds are going towards more environmentally friendly containers and Dunkin’ Donuts recently eliminated Styrofoam coffee cups, but there is still such a long way to go.  It’s a complex issue I know, with cost being the bottom line.  The next time you are at a fast food restaurant, ask for more environmentally friendly containers.  That’s how change happens.

 

London Going Green!

London, like most places, is making an effort to recycle more, cut carbon emissions, conserve energy and eat locally.  Check it out…..

A “mini-dump” or recycling area in a central London neighborhood.

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Including bins for old clothes,books and small electrical appliances.

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London’s double-decker busses use green power! “Another red bus going green for LONDON”

london  double decker busses

 

 Charging stations for electric cars!

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London’s power outlets turn on and off to avoid “vampire energy”.

english plug

A charming neighborhood farmer’s market.  Of course Europeans have traditionally food shopped that way.

2nd marleybone farmers market

marleybone farmers market

Bottles Made From Reclaimed Ocean Plastic?!!

 

Next time you need cleaning products, take a look at Ecover in the organic section of your grocery store.

Ecover Dishwashing Liquid

Ecover, a Belgian natural cleaning products company has been manufacturing phosphate-free, plant-based products for over three decades.  Their factory runs on green electricity and is covered with a flower roof, which acts as insulation to reduce energy needed for heating and cooling, and their renewable, reusable and recyclable “PlantPlastic” bottles are made from sugarcane and recycled plastic.  And now, to highlight the dangers of dumping plastic into the oceans, which is killing fish and threatening ecosystems, they are manufacturing the world’s first dishwashing liquid bottle made from reclaimed ocean plastic!

Along with manufacturer Logoplaste, Ecover is working to combine plastic trawled from the sea with “PlantPlastic” and recycled plastic, “a world-first for packaging” according to UK’s The Guardian Weekly.  Initially 10% of the plastic will be from the sea, though Ecover hopes to increase that amount.   It supposedly went on sale in the UK in May.

Plastic can take thousands of years to degrade, and as it does so can leach harmful contaminants into our waterways and soil, including the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA).  You might have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which scientists estimate is two times bigger than the state of Texas.

Ecover took an important step towards helping to clean up our oceans.  We need more ingenuity and corporate responsibility like that.  Hopefully other companies will follow suit.  Congratulations Ecover!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

 

Information compiled from: http://us.ecover.com/http://science.howstuffworks.com/, and The Guardian Weekly, 16.05.14

 

Let’s Call It Like It Is!

Why do you recycle?  Do you care about the future of the earth or do you recycle because it is the “thing” to do?   Are you genuinely concerned about the overflowing landfills or do you feel guilty if you don’t?   Maybe you don’t recycle at all unless it is already set up and really convenient. Whatever the reason, it is necessary to recycle.  In our consumer-driven society, there is just too much trash.   Thankfully, recycling is becoming a way of life.

I like the kitchen recycling center in my sister’s office in San Francisco.  It’s convenient and tells it like it is.  “Landfill” bin for trash, “Recycle” bin for items that can be recycled, and “Compost” for items that can be composted.  Labeling the trash bin “Landfill” gets you thinking about where your trash goes and encouraging composting raises awareness about the importance of composting.

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Recycling areas should look like this.  I can’t help but believe if more places set up their recycling centers  like this one, our landfill problem would be dramatically decreased!

Click here for more ideas on greening your office!

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.