Monday, May 26, 2008

Cosmetics Companies Going Green

The cosmetics industry has heard your concerns about personal care product safety and is looking to clean up its act. Fueled by increasing demand from consumers for trustworthy products and environmental groups like Safe Cosmetics, more manufacturers of skin and hair care products are cleaning up their act. Even chemical companies that develop ingredients for these products are looking for alternative and more natural processes. I remember a few months ago walking the aisles of CVS pharmacy looking for chemical free grooming items and being shocked at only finding a single display case of products that had ingredients I could pronounce (Burts Bees). Now, even CVS is looking at a policy to re-evaluate its personal care lines and sell only those with ingredients that have not been known to harm humans (although there is a lot of flexibility with that policy- many of these chemicals have not been fully tested). Read this article for more information on this trend.

So the good news is that one person, YOU, can get the attention of big industry. So keep on doing the right thing, educate your family, friends and co-workers and you will attract good things and a better world for us all.

Green dollars rule!

Ten Budget and Eco Friendly Green Graduate Gift Ideas Part II

    As promised earlier this week, here is the budget version of eco-friendly green graduate ideas (click here for the first ten gift ideas):
  • Advice on future green careers - remember the advice Dustin Hoffman received in "The Graduate" - "I have one word for you: Plastics" - replace "Plastics" with "Alternative Energy"- priceless
  • A gift certificate for home baked cookies or cakes upon request
  • List of local farmer markets or CSA's in the area graduate will reside in
  • Itunes gift card with music and sneak in a few podcasts on responsible and healthy living
  • Offering of quarterly care package consisting of personal care items
  • Coordination of a breakfast or coffee with a possible mentor or potential employer
  • Sunday dinners at your house - you can introduce to a low carbon diet
  • Offer to host a family garage sale with proceeds benefiting the graduate
  • Cookbook on simple healthy meals - good age to start healthy eating habits for life
  • Spa party for female graduate, guests bring a dish and an eco- friendly personal care item

Okay those are a few of my ideas. Feel free to add yours!

Representing at the Memorial Day Parade

This morning I marched with our community recycling committee at the Memorial Day Parade. I almost didn't go because it was threatening to rain and I just spent an hour the night before grooming my hair with new products, and it was looking right! The other sister that is on the committee and I were debating if we should go because, generally, our people don't want to be walking around in bad weather and sisters don't want to mess up their hair needlessly. But, the Lord had other plans for us and we went anyway toting an umbrella and hats as a backup. Turned out to be a beautiful sunny, breezy day and our committee, now a diverse group of women, men and people of color marched and passed out goodies and Freecycle flyers. Our banner promoted the Three R's of Environmentalism "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle". We were welcomed by the crowd and often heard proud shouts from the crowd of "I recycle!" The children were especially responsive. I guess they intuitively know that they have the most at risk if we don't live consciously.

So now, I'm back home, getting ready to make some potato salad and other goodies and then work on the two posts that I promised for the weekend on cheap green graduate gifts and the black and green economy.

My prayers to the families with soldiers at war, fallen soldiers and to the veterans everywhere.

God Bless.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Big Green Things Poppin' in Cleveland, Ohio

Today was a pretty long but exciting day at work. Due to the nature of my work, discretion is needed, but I'll just say that the windmills and alternative energy solutions are getting some major play in Cleveland, Ohio. I had the pleasure this evening to speak to a major player in the world of architecture at a wonderful event for a non-profit and found that LEED projects are increasingly becoming an exciting, creative and significant part of his business. It is completely exhilarating to find excitement about energy conservation in the most unlikely places. Big green things are poppin' not only in Cleveland, but all over the nation. Do you want to ride the wave of sustainability? How cool would it be to tell your children and grandchildren that you took part in the development and growth of a cleaner, more conscious way of doing business, you turned old selfish business models on their heads and made it possible for them to live in safer, healthier world? This weekend, I will feature a post on money making opportunities that are presenting themselves in the green economy. Black and Into Green will continue to profile African American men and women who are making strides in this area.

For more information about the positive green energy that is rising in Cleveland, Ohio, check out this article from Grist, which features rust belt cities that are trying to turn the corner. Be sure to read the comments for a more balanced view of the story.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Village Green: Teaching A Class

Whew! I am exhausted yet exhilarated. This evening I facilitated the first ever green oriented community center class, "Going Green 101: A Primer on Sustainability". This was a personal green goal of mine for 2008. Nobel Peace prize winner, Dr. Wangari Mathaai of Kenya was my inspiration for sharing my little bit of knowledge and information with my community.Turnout was a small but intimate and diverse group of ten individuals from the area (next time I will have to be a more aggressive marketer).Some were green veterans, entrenched in conscious and sustainable living already, while others were looking to take green living to the next level. We covered the Three R's of Sustainability, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with the emphasis on Reducing. Everyone enjoyed a viewing of the 20 minute video, "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable leader of our community recycling committee stated that she learn a few things. My son, so graciously acted as my tech guy, sitting through the whole 2.5 hour presentation. In return, I have to get up early tomorrow and create a few campaign posters for his bid for president of his freshman class. He is campaigning on change. Let's hope we can promote change in the way we take care of our environments, our bodies, our communities and our world- one step at a time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Reuse vs Recycling

Found this article that promotes reusing over recycling. Click here to learn the difference.

Help a Sister Out: Save the Earth One Accessory at a Time

Check out this line of earth friendly recycled and handmade accessories by Latonya Banes that were featured in Black Enterprise Magazine's BE'ing Green issue.

Click here to go directly to her website or go to the "Hot Eco Fashions" section of Black and Into Green.

Can you show a sister some green love?

Tips for Living a Healthy 100 Years

One of my personal goals is to live to be a healthy, hot (not as in hot flashes) and active 108 years of age. I was inspired by a couple of television financial planning commercials that show a black woman walking down the street on her daily jaunt with her head held high and great posture, a woman traveling the world and a tall fit gentleman working in his large garden. I also read about a 99 year old woman in California that made a hole in one on the golf course and a 99 year old man preparing for a marathon! Wow! That's my vision for the future. So of course when I saw an article on Yahoo!Health that addressed aging well, I had to read it. Check it out for yourself, it's short and sweet.

Ten Eco-Friendly Green Graduate Gift Ideas Part I

Like me you probably know someone graduating from high school or college this year and are thinking about an appropriate and cool gift. Of course by now, we have probably established ourselves as the environmentalists of our families. In living up to that expectation I think it is quite appropriate that our gifts reflect that aspect of our lifestyles and encourage our future generations to live consciously. So here are a few ideas:

  • Stainless steel thermos - your graduate will probably drink lots of coffee or tea this year
  • Stainless steel water bottles - these come in many cool colors and designs
  • Reusable tote bag - for trips to the market, cafeteria, friends apartment/dorm
  • Gift basket, bag or box of eco and human friendly personal care products
  • Personalized writing set with replaceable fillers
  • Monogrammed handkerchiefs
  • Bicycle for getting around campus, town, getting to work and staying in shape
  • Book reading device
  • Environmentally friendly laptop
  • Laptop bag and solar powered charger

Check out the "Eco-Friendly Stuff I Like" section of Black and Into Green for more information on some of these items.

Later this week look for Part II of this post on ten super cheap eco-friendly green graduate gift ideas for those of us on a tight budget.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

More Suffering in Somalia

Somalians are suffering more than ever from severe drought, rising food prices, rising inflation and violence. Babies are dying and mothers are crying. I know we have our own problems in our communities, but at least we have access to food and a liveable climate. Most times we are oblivious to the impact of our growing demands for more stuff, more fuel, more food on others in the world, especially those on the continent of our ancestors. Reading this article will really make you wonder how much of our actions are impacting our peers across the diaspora. I read the article and wondered what I could do to help. There are no easy solutions, but you can control what you can control and that is to live a life that is more conscious of our cousins around the world.

What are your thoughts?

National Conference Call to Discuss National Climate Policy

Take a late lunch on Tuesday, May 27th. You can participate in a national conference call sponsored by Green For All to discuss a climate change protection policy that will cover the following areas:

  • Carbon reductions
  • Making polluters pay
  • Green economic justice and parity for low-income communities and communities of color
  • Minimizing economic hardship for vulnerable communities

Click here to register and get more information.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Eco-Friendly Black Designer: Courtney Sloane

Looking for a stylish new sustainable look for your home? Want to support a black designer? You can have the both! Owner of New York City based Alternative Design, Inc., Courtney Sloane has been on the scene for years, I have seen her work featured in several design books and magazines. She has been featured on Oprah! and America's Next Top Model. She was recently featured in Black Enterprise Magazine for her contribution to green design. Ms. Sloane became interested in sustainable design in 1993 after a trip to Costa Rica, in which she was inspired by its great beauty. In the article she provides a few quick tips on creating an eco-friendly home and promotes her exciting new retail establishment that she bills as a lifestyle center- Sloane Square in New Jersey City, New Jersey that will be opening later this year.

Will someone in Jersey share the good word on Sloan Square when it opens?


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

People Dump Toxic Plastics Manufacturers Respond

Check out this article that speaks to the power of the people. Basically more people are eliminating plastic from their diets by substituting plastic containers, bottles, cookware and tableware with glass and ceramics and manufacturers are responding by phasing out the use of BPA and pthalates in their products. So please keep voting with your dollars, our lives depend on it.

Show Me The Money! Green Dollars for Non-Profits

Since the post last week on green funding for non-profits, I have become aware of two organizations that have gotten grant money for environmental programming. Only one of these organizations has an environmental mission and it is the smaller and less established of the two. I hope to share more about it in a future post. If you are an environmental artist, a teacher, a youth worker, a gardener/landscaper/farmer, a healthcare worker, a contractor or if you possess some other skill that can be used to promote sustainability, there might be an opportunity for you to partner with a non-profit to generate green dollars. Through my attendance at a few meetings and symposiums recently, I'm finding that cities and states are looking to invest significantly in sustainability initiatives to drive economic development and energy cost reductions. I'm telling you, funders, both public and private, are looking for green funding opportunities. Please don't just sit by this door of opportunity waiting to be invited in, kick it wide open!

As my grandma used to say when I was younger "Don't be too poor to pay attention".

Worry Free Skin and Hair Care

If your skin is the largest organ of your body, shouldn't you be careful about what you put on it? Especially since many chemicals used in personal care products are not rigorously tested. I use Burt Bee's products because they are sold in many drug stores, bookstores and grocery stores. (Kudos to their sales team!) I then use coupons or points to help offset the additional costs. Look for prices to drop on these safer items as more manufacturers develop greener personal care products to keep up with consumer demand.
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Cognitive Dissonance

Went to the grocery store to pick up a few items, so I took my reusable bag. Managed to buy more food than fit in the bag. This was the onslaught of plastic bags used to package the remaining goods. I obviously wasn't paying attention. As I loaded the bags I noticed that they were all double bagged and several bags only held two or three items. This was after I asked the cashier to put as much as she could in the canvas bag (which of course was only three quarters full). Would'nt logic tell you that if I'm using a reusable bag, I'm not wanting a lot of plastic bags. At least they are recyclable?
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Non-Profit Funding Opportunities Go Green

Non-profit organizations are facing tight times. The number of clients needing services are rising, individual donations and corporate sponsorships have fallen off, operating costs are skyrocketing and competition between other non-profits is as tough as the Obama/Clinton race for the Democratic nomination. If you are a non-profit manager, fundraiser or board member you might want to consider going green as a way to generate more funding and reducing expenses. There are an increasing number of funding sources from foundations and corporations to government agencies that are awarding grants to organizations that green up their missions and operations.

Opportunities exist to apply for green grants in the following areas:

  • Job training in green collar fields- ie., construction, alternative energy and landscaping
  • Veterans green collar job training
  • Urban planning - sustainable low and moderate income housing
  • Education - programming to teach and promote sustainable living to children
  • Energy conservation - investments in upgrades to improve energy efficiency
  • Construction, renovation and building operations - sustainable building practices (LEED)

For a listing of possible funders for green initiatives, review this article from the Foundation Center that highlights grant opportunities for museums. Though the article is two years old, its content is even more relevant in today's environment.

A Green Collar Jobs Fact Sheet is provided by Wider Opportunities for Women to give you an idea of the types of funding that is available for job training and economic development in the green economy.

So, with that folks, we have a new twist on the 1851 quote that encouraged young men to head west in their search for opportunity, "Go Green, Non-Profit, Go Green".

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tuskegee All Over Again: Sludge Given to Black Families

Well, well. We thought the days of Tuskegee like experiments were over. Apparently not. A quick recap of the most recent assault on poor black people under the guise of doing good:

  • In 2000 U.S government spreads sludge on poor black families lawns in Baltimore and East St. Louis
  • Families told the sludge would protect children from lead poisoning
  • The theory that the sludge would absorb the lead and render it safe was questionable
  • Families were given additional incentives to till the sludge into their lead laden lawns
  • Sludge is the byproduct of waste water treatment-would you till that in your lawn?
  • The safety of sludge is questionable (read the book The Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots)
  • U.S Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the matter this month

Folks this is why, black people do not like giving blood or getting flu shots.

Click here for the audio or transcript of the reporter that broke the story.