Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sharing Earth: Community Gardening Resources

Wikipedia defines Community Gardening as:
a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people.
which pretty much sums up the basics of co-op, shared earth, community gardening or any of the other phrases that are often used to describe this trend that is making a comeback. If you, your community, school or neighborhood are interested in either joining a garden co-op or starting your own, here are a few resources to get started:

SharedEarth.com is a great website for community gardening. Land owners that are willing to share parcels of land that can be used for gardens, can submit a listing as can gardeners and farmers looking for land to use. Listings are available throughout the world and searchable by city, state, country or zip code.

American Community Garden Association (ACGA) is is a bi-national nonprofit membership organization of professionals, volunteers and supporters of community greening in urban and rural communities. You can subscribe to their newsletter, explore their database of community gardens, check event listings and more.

P-Patch Trust While the P-Patch is specific only to the Seattle, WA area, it's a good website to check out for inspiration and other resources.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Huntington Beach Green Expo - September 2010

Mark your calendar and join in the fun September 18, 2010 at the Huntington Beach Green Expo. This is the 3rd year for the annual event, which will be held at the Huntington Beach Pier Plaza on Pacific Coast Hwy., from 10 am to 4 pm. It's a fun and eco-friendly event for the whole family (and a great way to get to know more about local green businesses and ways to incorporate more green practices at home.) Did I mention it's FREE?  For more info and a list of vendors and sponsors, check out HuntingtonBeachGoesGreen.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

5 Cool and Eco-friendly Back-to-School Items Under $20

It's Back-to-School time for some and rapidly approaching for others.  Here are a few eco-friendly products you might find useful - and all under $20.
  1. Recycled Backpacks and Book Bags - there's a growing number of companies big and small that are creating backpacks and book bags from recycled materials including juice boxes, food wrappers and denim.

  2. Stainless Steel Water Bottle - these water bottles can easily replace plastic bottles, and come in a variety of sizes from 8-40 oz.
  3. Insulated Lunch Bag - Skip the plastic baggies and paper bags with an insulated lunch bags and a couple of containers to store sandwiches and other lunch items.
  4. Recycled Binder - Post-consumer materials including paper, corrugated cardboard and bamboo are a few of the materials now being offered as alternatives to the standard 3-ring binders.
  5. Sugarcane Paper Journal - my favorite on the list! These journals are perfect for keeping notes or for daily journaling.
A few recent trips to big box stores like Target, Staples, WalMart and others confirmed that they are also offering a growing selection of back-to-school supplies that are greener.  Every step counts!
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Who Says Chic and Sexy Handbags Can't Be Eco-Friendly?

Chic & Sexy Recycled Seashell Bag from UrthBags.com
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Monica Ralli, the founding force behind UrthBags.com. Two minutes into our phone conversation and I knew she was the "real deal" - as passionate about making a difference in this global community as she is about her beautiful eco-friendly handbags "designed with a purpose". My favorite chic and sexy handbag is pictured here - the "Elaine" (MSRP $82), but there are lots of other beautiful/smart/sexy designs available to go with every fashion style.

Of course, in my opinion, the bags are much more beautiful because they are not only made from eco-friendly materials (recycled shells, magazines and juice boxes for example) but they also help sustain women working worldwide.  You can read more about UrthBags's vision, help save the world,  and... oh yeah, purchase a chic and sexy handbag for yourself or another savvy fashionista (whatever color of "green" they may be) by visiting their website. 

**Facebook Special** Don't forget FB fans receive 15% off any UrthBags purchase! Just use coupon code: FBFAN15 at checkout.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Beach Cleanup Day: Look What's Left Behind

Today was Beach Cleanup Day at Newport Pier, here in Newport Beach, CA.  It's just one of the dozens of volunteer-powered beach cleanups organized by Kim Masoner and the other dedicated staff of Save Our Beach, a local non-profit group that spends hours and hours every month helping to keep our beaches (from Seal Beach to Newport) clean. This cleanup was specifically designated to remove the leftovers from 4th of July celebrations.  The pic is a shot of just one bag of trash I picked up. While I wasn't shocked to find the fireworks remnants, plastic bottles, the one lone flip-flop,discarded cigarette butts and plastic wrappers, I was surprised to see the number of shredded balloon pieces and brightly colored ribbons that were entangled in pile after pile of seaweed that had washed up on the shore.  After a while, I found myself concentrating on just the seaweed, to untangle and remove as much of the balloons and streamers that I could get my hands on without taking a pound of seaweed with it. That's when it dawned on me that these balloons weren't just from this holiday weekend -- I started seeing coordinating colors that I recognized... as in the coordinating colors of nearby high schools. I realized that much of what I was seeing was the leftovers from graduation celebrations. Ugh! I wonder how many people stopped to consider the danger that their party leftovers poses for the marine animals that call the beach their home.

So to all of you that graduated: "Congratulations"...to all that use the beach to celebrate a birthday, a holiday, or another special day with friends and family: "I hope you had a WONDERFUL time"... now please, please, leave the balloons at home next time. 

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Monday, June 14, 2010

The Oil Spill in the Gulf, Toxic Leftovers in Iraq and a Glimmer of Hope

The Gulf Oil Spill continues to dominate the news both here in the U.S. and abroad, and rightfully so... I can only hope that the seemingly small steps, decisions and concessions that have been made in the past week or so will turn into mighty leaps and bounds in coordinating cleanup efforts and holding BP accountable for ALL its' actions in this crisis. Read the latest developments from a business and economic perspective at Wall Street Journal Online.

Another story that I also find troubling is the London Time's report from Iraq:
"American troops going home from Iraq after seven painful years are leaving behind a legacy that is literally toxic. An investigation by The Times in five Iraqi provinces has found that hazardous material from US bases is being dumped locally rather than sent back to America, in clear breach of Pentagon rules."
This will continue to be reported on, as it should be, but American troops have not gone home yet.  I can only hope that the local agencies subcontracted to assist in the cleanup will find a long-term solution to the issues presented in the article.  Read the full text

No doubt both of these stories have the potential of landing on WorstPolluted.org's annual report of the worst polluted places around the world.

Now for that little glimmer of hope...take a moment to check out the interactive graphic provided by the Washington Post, chronicling one pelican's journey from rescued oil spill victim to recovery, or WorstPolluted's.  Check out: 12 Cases of Cleanup and Success - 2009.  Even when it goes wrong, we can strive to make it right again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Heartache in the Gulf Coast - The Disaster that Never Ends

It seems the heartache created by BP in the Gulf Coast is never ending. The frustratingly slow process of cleanup that you or I may feel watching this disaster unfold on CNN and other news, has got to be magnified 100x for those that are living in or near the affected areas.  So much loss... so much devastation to wildlife, the wetlands, the local economy...the health issues... the list goes on and on.

I do believe there are solutions that aren't being utilized, and I hope the government will hold accountable those that are responsible! Help keep shining the light on the problem and possible solutions, including some innovative non-toxic methods such as the munching microbes in this YouTube video:

or the systems backed by actor Kevin Costner (whose brother is one of the innovative scientists who invented these units)

In the mean time... maybe you'll commit to avoiding BP-owned gas stations (here on the West Coast, that includes ARCO and AM/PM stations, and/or participate in a growing number of local and national efforts to help out.

Yo can keep up-to-date with the latest developments on this catastrophe at CNN.com.

And hey, if that doesn't light a fire under ya, check out Treehugger.com's compiled list of the Top 5 Federal Agencies Awarding Contracts to BP...
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Monday, May 24, 2010

A Chance to Help the Environment and a Freebie!

In case you don't have a Facebook account or haven't seen The Sierra's Club latest offering, check out this link. For more than 100 years, the Sierra Club is dedicated to preserving our National Parks and so much more.  Join now and receive four free eco-chic shopping bags! So handy to stash in your car or even your backpack...
More about the Sierra Club from Wikipedia:
The Sierra Club's mission is:
To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Planting Vegetable Gardens

Leave it to my mother to be one of the very few people I know that is successfully growing tomatoes in one of those topsy-turvy tomato planters! The Topsy Turvy website's infomercial makes it look so easy, but I've heard of more misses than hits.  Her desert garden includes okra, zucchini, watermelon and beans... along with a variety of herbs.  Some are in rows and some in raised beds, but all seemed to be thriving when I visited Tucson last week.  In mother's case, I think it's both her Southern genes and years of gardening experience.   Perhaps you'll be one of the success stories too.

If you're needing help getting started with your vegetable garden, try the Free Vegetable Garden Guide from Burpee. The website also has a great "companion plants" guide that helps with ideas for optimum planting of vegetables, with minimum insects and maximum shade (where needed).

Happy Gardening!
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Earth Day Around the World

How will you celebrate Earth Day this year?
Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment, and will be celebrated in the US on April 22, although there will be tons of Earth Day/Week celebrations around the world.

From Wikipedia: "In the United States, Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the Spring Equinox, which is often March 20. This is a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969. The first governmental recognition of Earth Day, authorized by the city of San Francisco, was on the Spring Equinox in 1970. The United Nations adopted this holiday the next year and celebrated Earth Day for the first time on the Spring Equinox in 1971."

Here's just a sampling of Earth Day celebrations around the globe:

Can't make it to one of the above listed events? Why not celebrate Earth Day at home with friends and family... maybe you'll be inspired by these plastic bag artists: http://www.oddee.com/item_97040.aspx  or you'll be inspired to plant some wildflowers... you can get some FREE from Mount Sinai (LA). Whatever way you decide ... decide to make a difference.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eco-friendly Marketing: Customizable Recycled Promotional Items

If you are looking to purchase promotional items for marketing your business, consider using recycled products that can easily be printed with your custom logo or other branding info. This eco-friendly marketing trend is a viable, cost-effective option for businesses large and small with the growing list of vendors available, that offer products ranging from paper products and recycled ballpoint pens to recycled piggy banks and eco-friendly water bottles and totes. The global appeal of green marketing is good for your company and the environment.

Online websites for recycled products to check out:

photo credit: Branders.com

Monday, March 22, 2010

World Water Day - Clean Water for All

More than one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and more than two billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation measures.   

Today is World Water Day. Never heard of the event? Take a moment to become a little more informed.

Here's just a snippet of information that is available from WorldWaterDay.org

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March of each year as the World Day for Water by adopting a resolution.This world day for water was to be observed starting in 1993, in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development contained in chapter 18 (Fresh Water Resources) of Agenda 21.
States were invited to devote the Day to implement the UN recommendations and set up concrete activities as deemed appropriate in the national context.
The Subcommittee welcomes the assistance offered by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre to contribute to an information network centre in support of the observance of the Day by Governments, as required.
As reported by The Huffington Post , clean water is a concern around the globe. While clean water is accessible to 90% of Americans, 10% live in conditions that resemble those in third world countries.  Click the link to read Dr. Edison Mello's post on the water bottle lie (and watch the accompanying video).

Help get the word out. As Dr. Maya Angelou eloquently put it: "When we know better, we do better."  We know better. Clean drinking water doesn't have to be a luxury...

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Cove Wins Best Documentary at the Academy Awards

Congratulations to the producers and crew responsible for creating The Cove! The controversial film The Cove, which exposes the previously little-known dolphin killing sites of Taiji, Japan, won the coveted Best Documentary at the 2010 Academy Awards last night. The movie has actually won dozens of trophies and accolades during this awards season, but it's nice to see it win the most prestigious of them all. If you are not aware of this important film, or would like to find out more about ways to help stop the killing of dolphins (and selling the mercury-laden dolphin meat to consumers), please visit their website: The Cove Movie


Monday, March 1, 2010

Operation Green Plant - Free Vegetable, Flower or Herb Seeds

 Operation Green Plant offers free vegetable, flower or herb seeds to communities and schools. The program is courtesy of the America the Beautiful Fund - an organization that's been dedicated to keeping America green and beautiful for a couple of decades now.

To get the free seeds, you'll need to write a short letter explaining your proposed project, fill out the application and provide a check to cover shipping and handling. This could be a great way to kick start a community vegetable co-op, a kid-managed garden for a school or classroom project or even a roadside beautifying project for a local Rotary Club.

According to their website - The Operation Green Plant Program has:

  • saved more than 800 tons of seeds and 7 million flower bulbs from going to waste in landfills - free plant seeds
  • grown 1.75 billion pounds of food for the hungry - free vegetable seeds
  • beautified roadways, parks and neighborhoods in 20,000 communities in all 50 states. - free flower seeds 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The area of the Pacific Ocean dubbed The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 1,700 miles of floating plastic trash --think bigger than Texas. In fact, some say it stretches from the coast of California to China (an area estimated to be larger than the Continental U.S.)  For arguments sake, let's just say it's beyond BIG - it's almost unfathomable.  The vast majority of trash is Styrofoam and plastics - things that aren't biodegradable.

Awareness is the first step -- but certainly not enough to change or remedy the situation.  That's up to us.  It's up to us to dramatically reduce not only our plastic consumption, but also the amount of plastic waste that goes straight to landfills, and ultimately ends up in the Garbage Patch.

Feel like getting involved?  Check out these resources and stories of other eco-activists that are hoping to make a difference:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is Worse Than We Thought - Inhabitat.com

Stop Trashing The Ocean: The Great Garbage Patch Facebook Page

Plastiki - Boat Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles Set Sail to Raise Awareness

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How Green Is Your Garden? Tips for Planting Eco-Friendly Yards and Gardens

Check out these tips for creating a truly green outdoor space at home, whether you have a small backyard, a container herb garden on a deck, or a large garden. Even small changes (like switching to natural pesticides) to the way you normally care for your yard or garden can have a big impact.

How To Make Your Yard Eco-Friendly on Howcast

Organic gardening is enjoying a huge increase in popularity these days as many are looking to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home. What could be better than planting your own garden that is both eco-friendly and budget-friendly? Here are a few tips to incorporate both frugal and green gardening ideas.

Natural pest control is better for your home and family, as well as soil and air quality. Here are some eco-friendly and budget friendly ways to keep your home and garden virtually pest free.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eco-Art: Check out these Recycling Artists

Here are just a few artists that have turned recycled and reused products that would normally end up in landfills into creative works of art.

British artist Jane Perkins began creating broaches from similar bits and pieces that would normally go unused. Since 2008, she's expanded her recycling technique to make portraits using buttons, toys, plastic forks--or nearly anything else she can get her hands on. Read about & see more of her work at Treehugger.com

Discarded radiator copper was used by Emma Whiteside of New Zealand, to create this 18th century "Queen Adelaide" gown featured at eCouterre.com  Whiteside spent more than 200 hours sewing together rosettes of the discarded copper.

Check out the recycled futuristic art objects from AlexAmdromeda.com. Clever 3-D sculptures are created, using old computer parts and miscellaneous electronic components.

Looking for more? Check out Etsy.com - there are more than 100,000 handmade art and craft items listed for sale that use recycled materials like paper, plastic and glass. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

E-Waste Recycling: Upcoming Events in Southern California

As you probably already know, electronic devices (everything from old laptops and monitors, to stereo systems and TVs) can not and should not be dumped in the local landfill.  There are several sites around Southern California that allow for dropoff of e-waste, but usually there's a charge.  Here are a few links for free and easy dropoff events coming up around Southern California.  Mark your calendar and gather up your electronic waste items!

San Diego Area (4 different dates/events in the San Diego area in January/February 2010)
Saturday, January 8 & 9, 2010
Orange County - Goldenwest College, Huntington Beach, Saturday Feb. 6, 2010 9am-3pm
Orange County - Garden Grove High School, January 16, 2010
Covina (LA County) Masonic Homes of California Fundraiser, January 23, 2010
North Hollywood  - January 17, 2010 Fundraiser event

* For business or schools with 5 or more e-waste items, contact http://www.recycle4free.net/ for free pickup in L.A. and Orange counties.