Seasonal Allergies All The Time – Climate Change May Be the Culprit

There is a really great article posted on NRDC’s (National Resources Defense Council) blog — Simple Steps:
There’s Something in the Air: Allergies and Global Warming. Science writer and researcher, Catherine Zandonella concludes, based on a 2009 study: “Rising carbon dioxide levels are driving the growth of the plants that make us sneeze, wheeze and sniffle each spring, summer and fall.” As our climate warms, even slightly, more grasses, trees and flowers bloom. Intensified ozone pollution (linked to climate change) also exacerbates pollen counts and causes problems especially when ragweed is present. In some areas, it appears that pollen is perpetual.

I don’t know about you but my seasonal allergies last year (2009) and this year are out of control. After reading this article, it absolutely makes sense. Prior to 2009, I had been keeping my symptoms at bay; despite a few occasionally flareups, I hardly noticed them. Now they are on a rampage and although I don’t feel the effects of climate change, my nose and sinuses do.

Zandonella recommends that during high alert days, especially those that are sunny and wind free, try to stay inside and close windows. This may not always be possible if your work space uses natural ventilation. She also says that cleaning bedding often and vacuuming with a vacuum that uses a HEFA filter can help.

Based on my experiences working with naturopathic doctors and holistic wellness and nutrition professionals, I would advise doing a liver and colon cleanse at least twice a year. You can do this via a special diet, by taking natural supplements or a combination of both. Our liver is the body’s natural cleanser. However, we’ve been inundated by toxins in our environment and food supply and for many of us, our liver is overloaded and leaking. As a result, our immune system is affected and our ability to fight allergic reactions is slowed down or halted altogether. It’s best if you get advice from a holistic healthcare professional.

The final thing that we both recommend is to take action. “Tell your elected officials to support cap-and-trade legislation and the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).” Sign up for NRDC’s newsletter and they will connect you to action alerts.

by Julie Gengo

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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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Fog Bewilders

Joseph Massey lives in the beautifully foggy Humboldt County (California) and it is this exquisite place that has inspired this collection of wonderful poems entitled Areas of Fog (Shearsman Books, 2009). Here is one that I am particularly fond of.

Arcata Marsh
by Joseph Massey

Mudscape—tide’s out—
out as far as fog gives sight.

Peripherry-flecked,
organe-white
lichen latched to limbs

I thought were your
fingers—

your face turned
back by wind.

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Easton Gardner – LEEDing the Way to a New Era of Sustainability

This article recently appeared on the home page of http://www.earth-list.com.

Easton Gardner – LEEDing the Way to a New Era of Sustainability
By Julie Gengo

As a self-proclaimed nerd when it comes to all things “green,” this LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) AP is making a difference as a business woman and environmental steward. Easton Gardner is the Director of Commercial Advisory at Greener Dawn, a small but growing company that specializes in carbon footprint analysis, sustainability and LEED consulting and management. Easton works with owners and tenants on developing sustainability initiatives and focuses on strategies that set parameters for how to integrate green into both business and lifestyles.

This is not just a job for this vibrant citizen of the world, but a mission: Easton grew up among nature and is passionate about preserving it from environmental destruction. Her work allows her to take an active role in keeping nature in its natural state so that everyone can benefit. She receives great inspiration from her clients and calls this the  “green light bulb moment.” These moments occur when the client gets the “call to action” to become more sustainable; it usually happens when their children catch them in environmental no-no’s.

It is no surprise that she has chosen this career path. Having spent her first eleven years on a family farm in Deming, New Mexico, Easton observed and analyzed nature in its finest state. But it wasn’t until she came acrosscross a book about green roofs in Taipei Taiwan, that she opened her eyes to the world. “I was pretty obsessed with ancient building techniques and the idea of green roofs across cityscapes to improve air quality and access to outdoor space,” she recalls. It also opened her mind to the concept of green building practices.

Easton’s family relocated to Sedona, Arizona and she went on to obtain her Bachelors Degree in Business Management & Entrepreneurship from Arizona State University. During this time she opted to study Spanish in Spain where she experienced the vegetative rooftops of Barcelona and basked in the wonders of Spanish architecture.

During college, Easton started a business in real estate with her family where she stayed in tune with her great love of the history of architecture and innovative design. Her career path also included working in Aspen for the US Forest Service where she was once again up close and personal with the elements.

Shortly after moving to the San Diego region, Easton pursued her LEED Accreditation and has since become Co-Chair of the Education Committee and Secretary of the Steering Committee for the local San Diego USGBC (United States Green Building Council) chapter. In this capacity she is able to inspire future LEED Associates in their quest to support green building practices.

On the horizon Easton envisions magnetic freeways where cars are moved by the pull of magnetic tracks. According to Easton, we are living in an era of The Jetsons where technology can help people coexist in a sustainable way, if we can truly determine sustainability.

When Easton is not working you may find her on her yoga mat or hiking with her dog Tabor enjoying North County Coastal San Diego where she now lives.

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A New Twist on Bio-Diversity by Christoph Niemann

I recently came across this article in the New York Times — a creative approach to bio-diversity as mastered by award winning graphic artist, Christoph Niemann. This is testimony that creativity in innovative design is alive and thriving. Here are some of my favorites. Click on the article link to see the rest. Enjoy!

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