Archive for Eco-Friendly

What Is Your Business Doing For The Planet? By Julie Gengo


Believe it or not this is Earth Day’s 40th anniversary. Of course everyday is Earth Day around here. Thankfully this is not a Hallmark holiday (if it is, I wonder if their cards are made sustainably?) but rather a day to reflect and energize on preserving this planet. So maybe you are doing your part but what about local and global businesses? To my surprise, many have already taken the initiative by reducing their energy consumption amongst other things that lead to CO2 (and other warming gases) reduction. I subscribe to the Environmental Leader daily newsletter which does a great job at filling me in on who is doing what. Maybe most of these companies aren’t making changes for altruistic reasons but rather changes that will save them a ton of money while saving tons of emissions along the way. I can certainly live with that.

One of my goals is to help companies become more sustainable whether by helping them revamp their building energy usage or working with them to green their supply chain. The first thing to do is to take simple steps like changing light bulbs and turning off computers and equipment. According to sustainability specialists, spending a little bit of money up front can save you millions in just a few years.

In SoCal, we have a fast-food restaurant chain called Rubio’s Mexican Grill and I am happy to report that they are one of the emerging businesses who, without mandate of any kind, are doing a tremendous job at reducing their carbon footprint in all aspects of their business. The food is pretty good as well. Go Rubio’s! Check out their eco site and learn more. From hosting local beach clean-ups to, implementing recycling programs to serving sustainable food, Rubio’s is an excellent example of a company that is giving back to the planet with the best interest of the community in mind.

Here is one area where they are making an impact:

Environmentally-Friendly Packaging & Printing
“With an eye towards a greener tomorrow, we plan to eliminate Styrofoam packaging and implement eco-friendly packaging. In several of our restaurants, we are currently testing eco-friendly take-out packaging, with the goal of a 2011 system-wide introduction. In addition, we are exploring compostable plates and take-out bags. In the mean time, it is our hope that our guests will act responsibly and recycle plastic bags rather than dispose of them in the trash. Some of the changes we have already made to improve packaging and printing include:

* Reusable Rubio’s a-Go-Go® Catering bags
* Conversion to Bottle Box™ salad bowls in May 2010. These bowls are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles and are 100% recyclable.
* Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)-certified paper cups
* Conversion to bio-plastic (compostable) beer cups
* Compostable bleach-free napkins
* Paper menus made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper and 10% recycled materials

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Expo West – Exploring the World of “Natural” Products by Julie Gengo

Expo West is the premiere showcase for the natural food products industry. Included in that mix are nutraceuticals (natural supplements whose ingredients are derived from food), bottled healthy beverages such as coconut waters, bio-degradable dental products, clean candy, supplements disguised as candy, safe cleaning products, non-toxic cosmetics, spa products, organic beer and wine (my favorite), natural candles and more food that you can sample in one day. It is truly overwhelming and endless. In the three days of the event it is probably impossible to visit every booth. I’ve never done it. Approximately 56,000 people attended this year and I’m sure all walked away with a few handfuls of samples.

I strolled down the isles with my daughter Blu on the first day and on day two, Mike D’Ascanio – founder and CEO of Earth-List.com – whom I assist in outreach and business development. Bringing kids to this event is not uncommon and some of the youth-oriented vendors actually appreciate their feedback. My daughter freely gave her opinion and also managed to get samples that were only supposed to be for retailers. One of her best captures was a very “stylie” SIGG bottle. Yes they are now BPA free and the company is back on track to getting citizens off of the notion the water in plastic bottles is a safe and a healthy way of drinking water. If you want more information on water in plastic bottles I recommend seeing the documentary film, Tapped.

One of the coolest things about Expo West is seeing how many reusable bags you can collect. My daughter managed to get the coolest one from a company called Blue Q who makes reusable bags completely from recycled content. So that’s nothing new but these bags really stand out due to their artistic designs and integrity. They actually pay artists to do their thing. Imagine that? They also gave us a “Free Hugs” coin purse and we love that too!

While some of the companies are massive and you can tell by the size of their displays, location and how much food they serve, others are relatively new to the business and their stories are impressive. Better Life, a green cleaning products company, who began on the notion that cleaning products need to be safe for the environment, safe for the consumer and performance oriented. The co-founders and their families were tired of cleaning up after the mess left behind after cleaning up using conventional cleaners. They hired a chemist and stuck to the motto “Clean Happens” and made it happen.

Right across the isle was seasoned eco-hipster-way-of-life cleaning product line, Method. Their message: “Method Creates Products For People Against Dirty is not only catchy but proves that sustainability can also be “cool” (my favorite word in this blog post). Their new laundry detergent line is so cool from a design perspective that it fits right in with their primary retail outlet – Target’s – new fashion and decor addition, Liberty of London. Visit their website and be entertained with retro-pop jazz music against a colorful animation of their Cradle to Cradle approach to bottle, product and formula design. The liquid laundry detergent is not only non-toxic but also uses 36% less plastic than a conventional product offering the same amount of washes – 50 loads in the size of a soda bottle. This highly concentrated stuff really works. Thanks to a sample packet I just did a load and I’m loving the results.

One the food front, a few companies were in the running for the best hot food samples of the show. My all time favorite has to be Tasty Bites, who hires a chef to cook up some of the best Indian dishes that are premade. I’m hoping that the owner Ashok Vasudevan reads this and sends me a case of everything.

Coming up in a close second is WorldCatch — sustainable, wild-caught seafood dishes that are also ready made. Just heat and serve. Simply Yum!

For cold food, I couldn’t get enough of the hummus and chips made by Falafel Chips an organic chip company that make the best Falafel chips ever – bar none. Their hummus in a bottle, that can be used as a dressing or dip, is to die for. I hope these products find more outlets soon and I hope that the owner reads this and also sends me a case of everything. I want my hummus in a bottle….

We were also fond of a company called Nest Collective which is actually comprised of two companies that are here for the organic greater good of babies and students everywhere. Plum Organics is the leading brand of packaged organic baby food which comes in containers that are BPA free and contains no icky stuff. Revolution Foods is dedicated to changing the way our kids are eating at school. By supplying schools with natural and organic food choices, children will have better chances of avoiding obesity and staying healthy and smart. This is definitely a much needed revolution.

Another wonderful story comes from the owners of H2OM Water – pegged as “Water With Intention.” This wife and husband team had a revelation on their honeymoon to provide pure water with an exceptional message of peace, love, perfect health, prosperity, gratitude, will power and joy. Okay sounds like your typical hippie-yoga water. However, you may be surprised that this water has an eco-conscious footprint as well. It comes in plastic bottles but these bottles are made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic (R-PET) and the plastic is considered safe. That means no leaching. The water is award-winning and comes from one of the purest sources – the San Diego Mountains – a protected part of the 420,000 acre Cleveland National Forest.

Explorer’s Bounty is also a relatively new company on a mission to bring the finest organic food products to market and support organic farming practices around the globe. Some of their products include organic chocolate covered macadamia and other nuts and a variety of organic and shade grown coffees and teas, dried fruit and delicious and nutritious crackers. They even had a project to the visitors to their booth. We were given a bamboo dog stuffing kit complete with organic cotton and organic tote backpack to keep the pup happy. Great marketing for a wonderful company.

Well registration is already up for the 2011 Expo West and if you are a retailer, wellness practitioner or journalist the admission is free if you register in advance. I’m still recovering but it’s definitely worth the trek and nice to be in the company of so many like-minded individuals in one place at one time. Did I mention the food?

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Green Roofs Growing Everywhere by Julie Gengo

I found this photo on a website called EkoVenture which is primarily a travel site for those seeking to explore interesting adventures. When this one popped into my life a few weeks ago, I was mesmerized. I loved the way the land has wrapped itself around this little red house almost as if it were there to keep it warm during the winter ahead or the two had a relationship deeply rooted in love. This is Iceland after all, a magical place where anything is possible. But that is exactly the point. Vegetative roofs have covered tops of homes and buildings in this far away place for centuries as a means of insulation for both sun and snow and to bring a warm feeling to its neighbors.

Vegetative roofs are popping up everywhere as they are considered a sustainable approach to building practices. The other benefits include:

Low insulation costs
Stormwater management, runoff and erosion
Energy reduction
Reduced heat Island effect
Improved air and water quality
Decreased pollution
Improved aesthetic environment
Increased durability with most roofs lasting 20 plus years
Wildlife habitat preservation

So go ahead and look up at rooftops of big city skyscrapers or small shops. Hopefully the next time you pass one by you’ll smile at a bird or two and sigh.

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Carlee Gerardi – Reasons to be Envious

Carlee Gerardi – Reasons to be Envious
By Julie Gengo

“Organic dips. Check. Seed packs. Check. Potted floral arrangements. Check. hemp table cloths. Check.” This is what you might hear during set up for a Green With Envy (GWE) crafted event. GWE is a fresh and innovative event design and production company with an organic twist whose mission is to leave a lasting impression on the guests and not the planet. The results so far have been nothing but bright green. To understand why GWE is well on its way to great success you may want to meet one of the wonderful spirits behind all this greenness – Carlee Gerardi. Gerardi, a native San Diegan and genuinely happy entrepreneur, co-founded GWE with business partner Laura Rankin in early 2009. They both had backgrounds planning events for family, friends and the companies they worked for. When they decided to branch out on their own they knew that entering into the event business as another creative company wasn’t enough. They wanted to do something that had lasting value. While hiking Cowles Mountain in San Diego the spark hit them: “Let’s do it GREEN,” Carlee recalls. The two were both concerned about the environment and wanted to do their part while helping others understand that their choices have an environmental impact. I chatted with Carlee a bit to find out more about her passion for life, work and all things green.

What inspires you to be in this business?
I am inspired by the opportunity to be creative and express myself. This industry is all about the details. I love putting together interesting, surprising details to engage and delight the guests. I am also inspired by how new “green” is in the event planning business. This gives me the opportunity to start trends and make people think about ideas they’ve never considered when planning an event.

In addition to GWE, what is your vision for a greener, cleaner world?
My vision for a cleaner world starts with changing the mindset of its citizens. I believe that society has created this false idea of what people need to live and it has made people wasteful, lazy, excessive, and ignorant. I imagine a day where public figures set the example of eliminating waste, only buying and using what they need and living sustainably which will in turn leads the general public down the same path.

What are you personally doing to make a difference?
At home and at work, I am taking all the precautions to live as sustainable as possible. I drive a Prius, carpool whenever possible, work from home, recycle, and I try to encourage and educate everyone I know to do the same. It’s my personal belief that you can’t take on every issue, so you have to choose which battles to fight. I am not hard on myself if every aspect of my life isn’t “green,” My philosophy is to celebrate the positive things I’m doing for the environment.

How have your clients inspired you?
What inspires me most is their eagerness and desire to learn about throwing a green event. People are opening up to green in a way I’ve never seen before. We approach our clients in a consultative way, not forcing anything on them, but simply counseling them on ways they can save money, eliminate waste and promote sustainable practices.

Can you share with us some specific project details and how you make it work to achieve the final result?
When planning any event, there are hundred of different elements that can be made more sustainable. We’ve created a checklist of simple and affordable Eco-solutions that will lower the impact of any event. We always try and align ourselves with Eco-minded vendors, recycle and strive to eliminate waste when ever possible. We encourage our clients to: use less paper and/or recycled paper for all their invite/paper needs; consider organic and locally produced foods, beverages, flowers, etc; choose a venue that is outdoors, LEED Certified, or supports sustainable practices; encourage guests to carpool or take public transportation; purchase carbon offsets; choose décor elements that are minimal and/or Eco-friendly; give Eco-friendly favors, like seed packets; educate guest on simple steps they can take in their lives to be more green; and so many more.

How does this approach make you and your guests feel?
It feels amazing to be responsible for putting together an event like this. Guests are so impressed, and our clients feel really good about the decisions they make to lower the impact of their event. It’s also really exciting to work with other vendors who share this same enthusiasm.

What does the future hold for GWE?
Our mission at Green with Envy Events is to become the premier green event planning company. We would eventually like to have offices in major cities around the United States. But more short term, we want to make an impact in our communities. We want to educate people about the impact their event has on the environment, and show them ways they can help reverse the wasteful trend in the event industry. Whether they hire us or not, we want to set the example so that people everywhere, when planning any event in their lives, will consider the environment first.

What are some things that allow you to be you?
My absolute favorite hobby is sailing. I feel so free when I’m out on the water. It’s one of the oldest sports, and the best thing about it is you use nature and wind to power the boat. I also love hiking, and try to do it two to three times a week. It gives me a chance to reconnect with nature and clear my head. I also love photography, snowboarding, traveling and music.

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California Drafts its Own Cap-and-Trade Plan

I wanted to share this news with you and I think it’s fantastic that Californians are voicing their concerns with action. I would like the time frame to be moved up a year so that the program begins in 2011 and not 2012. I would also like to see the standards raised to more than 15%. I do have confidence that companies will go above and beyond the requirements and work toward zero emissions. Let’s see what happens in Copenhagen as well. The world is watching and we can truly make a difference.

California Drafts its Own Cap-and-Trade Plan.

 

 

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Blue-Green Algae – What’s Lurking in Your Swamp Might Save the World

The headlines are wreaking of investments in algae – yes that yukky stuff that can actually be very toxic to sea life. Wouldn’t you know, the Swamp Thing is poised to have big value. 49302168

According to an article by ScienceDaily “Algae are tiny biological factories that use photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy so efficiently that they can double their weight several times a day.

As part of the photosynthesis process algae produce oil and can generate 15 times more oil per acre than other plants used for biofuels, such as corn and switchgrass. Algae can grow in salt water, freshwater or even contaminated water, at sea or in ponds, and on land not suitable for food production.”49302194

This oil can be used for gas, diesel, and jet fuels. Algae biofuel is also compatible with existing engines, existing storage, distribution, and delivery infrastructure. However the most important aspect is that algae-based biofuels have a low carbon footprint as they do not require the use of forests or large areas of land for production.

Some other wonderful aspects of algae-based biofuels:
– Algae biofuel is carbon neutral; only emits C02 that it absorbs.
– Algae reproduces very quickly, maximizing biofuel yields.
– Algae biofuel can scale to even possibly replace oil.

The world’s first algae fuel-powered vehicle, dubbed the Algaeus. The plug-in hybrid car, which is a Prius tricked out with a nickel metal hydride battery and a plug, runs on green crude from Sapphire Energy — no modifications to the gasoline engine necessary.

The world’s first algae fuel-powered vehicle, dubbed the Algaeus. The plug-in hybrid car, which is a Prius tricked out with a nickel metal hydride battery and a plug, runs on green crude from Sapphire Energy — no modifications to the gasoline engine necessary.


– Algae biofuel is commercially viable on an industrial scale.
– Algae biofuel can become price competitive with oil.
– There are no soil requirements for algae biofuel.
– Algae can be produced locally for food and fuel.
– Algae biofuel does not damage food prices.
– The algae biofuel industry is growing quickly with a bright future.
– Algae yields much more biofuel per acre than other fuels.
– Algae photo-bioreactors require very little land.
– Algal fuels do not impact fresh water resources.
– Algae biofuel can grow in salt water, freshwater or contaminated water.
– Human waste and sewage can be used to grow algae biofuel.
– Algae can be used to filter C02 from coal plants and create biofuel.
– Algae biofuel is more practical than solar power.
– Algae does not compete with food resources like other biofuels.

Pulled from the headlines – look whose investing in algae biofuels:
“One of the nation’s wealthiest American Indian communities is a major investor in a start-up with the twin goals of making fuel from algae and reducing emissions.”

“Exxon to Invest Millions to Make Fuel From Algae”

“Dow Chemical’s long-term interest in the ethanol produced by the algae is as a replacement for natural gas to make plastic.”

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Natural Solutions to Toxic Build Up – Cleaning Supplies You Can Live With

Natural Solutions to Toxic Build Up – Cleaning Supplies You Can Live With
By Julie Gengo

Natural Cleaning Supplies That You Can Make

Natural Cleaning Supplies That You Can Make


Toxins, toxins, toxins. We often hear about the abundance of toxins in our environment, chemical cleaners and solutions, food supply and beauty products. These superfluous and perhaps unwarranted chemicals may be the reason why so many of us are experiencing wellness issues. Avoiding these toxins can be complicated and confusing since many are hidden, not well tested or not tested at all. As a result they are allowed into our lives with inaccurate or no information on their safety.

When toxins enter your body they find their way into your blood stream and end up in your liver. Your liver is designed to cleanse the body of unnecessary elements including toxins. However, with an overload of toxins, the liver can get clogged affecting bodily functions, including cholesterol levels, in a negative way. Other symptoms can be in the form of physical and mental fatigue, rashes and other allergy symptoms, loss of concentration, premature aging, insomnia and lowered immune system to name a few.

Unfortunately the cells absorb some toxins bypassing the liver all together. This process can damage and change your DNA leading to serious diseases including cancer.

One thing you can do to eliminate toxins in your body is to detoxify. However you are still going to want to incorporate preventative measures into your life to eliminate the toxins that you at least have control over. A simple way to avoid toxins in the home and office is to use environmentally friendly (free of harsh chemicals) cleaning products. One way to reduce costs and use these products is to make your own.

Below are recipes that you can make using simple ingredients.

ALL PURPOSE
2 cups hot water
1 tsp. biodegradable liquid soap or borax
1 tsp. white vinegar or lemon juice (to cut grease)

Fill spray bottle with hot water. Add soap and vinegar or lemon juice. Shake bottle gently to dissolve ingredients.

SHOWER
2 cups hot water
1 tsp. borax
3 tbsp. White vinegar

Fill spray bottle with all three ingredients and shake for 30 seconds. Keep bottle in shower and mist shower wall and door/curtain after each use. Helps prevent mold and mildew from developing.

GLASS
1 cup water
1/8 cup white vinegar

Fill bottle with both ingredients and shake for 30 seconds. Use on all types of glass surfaces including mirrors.

TUB & TILE
½ cup baking soda
Enough biodegradable liquid soap to make a frosting-like consistency
5-10 drops fragrant essential oil

Place baking soda in a bowl and slowly pour in liquid soap, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches the consistency of frosting. Add drops of essential oil (optional). Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, wash surface and rinse.

TOILET
¼ cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar

Sprinkle baking soda into toilet basin followed by the vinegar. Allow mixture to sit for several minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse with water. A mixture of borax (2 parts) and lemon juice (1 part) will also work.

One tip: Try to use empty and clean spray bottles (previously filled with other ingredients) that you may have around the house to encourage the reuse of these items.

These recipes are courtesy of the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation. You may want to make a small donation and request that the Center send you the set of the colorful sticky labels, complete with recipes, so that you can easily identify your spray bottles and have the recipes at hand for refilling.

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