Posts Tagged ‘China’

A Greener Thanksgiving

As we give thanks for family, friends and delicious and abundant food this Thanksgiving, take a moment to appreciate this beautiful earth we live on too.  Why not make your Thanksgiving a “green” one and try the ideas below.

Image by Ilrena Flickr.com
  • For your holiday dinner, support local farmers and organic produce. The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Local food by contrast is usually transported 100 – 200 miles, has fewer pesticides and can be picked when ripe.  It is obviously fresher and better.  Farm stands and supermarkets have an abundance of local winter squash, carrots, potatoes, greens, herbs, apples, and pumpkin. Don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bags.
  • Try a locally grown, free range organic turkey available at local farms and Whole Foods.  Fresh turkeys are not treated with antibiotics and growth hormones and are moist and delicious.  You won’t believe the difference.  For the vegetarians at your table, try a Tofurkey (available from Trader Joe’s).  It come with its own vegetarian gravy and is really good!  If you can find them, use organic cranberries for your cranberry sauce –  cranberries (and other thin-skinned fruits) are grown with a lot of pesticides.
  • Consider serving organic wine along with your meal. Organic wine is made from certified organically grown grapes, meaning grown without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Conventionally grown grapes are another heavily sprayed crop, and the chemical residues can end up in the wine.  Organically grown grapes are better for the soil, the plant and the wine drinker.
  • China, silver and cloth napkins are obviously better for the environment than throwaway paper plates and plastic utensils.  They look better too!  If you are expecting a big crowd and need to opt for disposable, get the biodegradable and compostable plates and utensils.
  • We eat way too many sweets from Halloween through Christmas.  Try using less sugar in your pies and cakes or substituting with honey or maple syrup.
  • Thanksgiving dinner generates a lot of leftovers and food waste.   According to earth911.com, “at least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year – more than 100 pounds per person.” Careful planning and portion control is a good way to avoid waste. With what leftovers you do have, donate them to a local food pantry or homeless shelter.                                         Use Less Stuff created the handy guide below of approximate food portions per person for Thanksgiving dinner:
    • Turkey- 1 pound
    • Stuffing- ¼ pound
    • Sweet potato casserole- ¼ pound
    • Green beans- ¼ pound
    • Cranberry relish- 3 tablespoons
    • Pumpkin pie- 1/8 of a 9 inch pie
  • After the big feast, don’t forget to recycle cans, cartons, plastics and bottles and compost kitchen scraps.

With your healthy and “green” holiday feast, you won’t feel so badly about overindulging!  Happy Thanksgiving!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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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.

Fixer Fair

If you are in the Boston area and your garage is filling up with broken appliances, bikes and other things, head over to the “Fixer Fair” in Union Square Somerville on Saturday, August 16. Talented fixers, supplies and tools will be on hand to fix anything – appliances, bikes, computers, even cars – for this free outdoor event.  They don’t make promises, but will give it a try and if they can’t fix it, they will help you figure it out, locate needed parts or direct you to a local fix-it business.  What a great idea and one I hope will catch on everywhere!

When I was growing up, small appliance repair shops were common. If a blender broke, you took it to a repair shop.  In this era of planned obsolescence with cheap, made in China everything, however, appliance repair shops and handymen have all but disappeared.

Boyett's TV

Boyett’s TV (Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass)

It’s time to rethink our throw away society mentality, and reuse, repurpose and fix what we already have instead of always buying new.  Of course some things have to be thrown out and it’s important to recycle them, but before you do, think first.  Can I fix this?  Can I use it for something else? With the internet, you can easily find replacement parts online and it’s always worth a try.   Who knows – maybe we’ll bring back the fix-it shops of long ago with a 21st century approach like the Fixer Fair, creating new jobs and saving unnecessary items from the landfill.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Jade Yoga Mats

I started doing yoga a couple of years ago and love it.  I’ve discovered though, that there are just about as many different styles of yoga mats as there are different styles of yoga!  My daughter was raving recently about the eco-friendly Jade yoga mat and wondered if I knew anything about them.  I hadn’t heard of them and decided to do some research.   I was impressed by their website and their philosophy.  Jade yoga mats are made with natural renewable and sustainable rubber tapped from rubber trees and contain no PVC or synthetic rubber. JadeYoga is committed to producing their mats in the U.S. in compliance with all U.S. environmental laws even though they could be produced cheaper in China.   Because their mats come from the rubber tree, they thank the trees by planting a tree for every mat sold.  They also offer a reuse program bringing used yoga mats to people who can’t afford them, thereby helping those in need and reducing the number of yoga mats going into the landfill.

Sold on their philosophy,  I was eager to try one.  The company sent me a demo mat and I’ve tried it a few times.  I have to say it is completely different from my other eco-friendly yoga mat or any other mat I have used.  The Jade yoga mat has unbelievable grip!  I noticed I could hold my downward dog and pyramid pose better and longer.  With a strenuous workout, my feet and hands get sweaty, but even so, I didn’t slip. Apparently the open cell natural rubber guarantees optimum grip. There is also better cushion and more resilience than other mats.  You really can feel the difference!  My yoga teacher tried it and agreed the grip was amazing!  Jade yoga mats are also great for pilates and other exercise routines.

English: downward dog posture I took this pict...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yoga offers tremendous health benefits at any age, but especially as we grow older.  It helps with relaxation, flexibility, strength, and balance.  If you aren’t already doing yoga, give it a try and consider using the Jade yoga mat. It feels good supporting an eco-friendly company with a quality product genuinely doing the right thing for the earth, even if it means paying a little more.

Information compiled from jadeyoga.com.