Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vitamin D3 May Reduce Cancer Risk

I have been reading a lot lately about how vitamin D, specifically D3, may significantly reduce cancer risk. This is a vitamin that is found through exposure to sunlight, consumption of fatty fish like salmon or mackeral and supplements. You will find most multivitamins contain 400 I.U. of this vitamin and usually not D3 as suggested by the study. The participants took 1,100 I.U. of this supplement daily in addition to calcium, which complements the vitamin. No need to go to an exotic health food store or vitamin shop, I found it a my local CVS drugstore.

I would recommend consulting with your physician prior to starting this regimen (although I didn't). To find an open minded physician check out the website of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Warning though, this is a very activist minded group, which is great if you are a left leaning individual, not so good if you are a conservative. The website does provides excellent information on environmental health related issues.

The Village Green: Affordable Fresh Food in the City

This post is dedicated to my fellow lovely queens from the 2007 Gathering Place retreat:

I recently discovered a rare gem. An affordable and more convenient way for city residents to buy fresh, in season fruits and vegetables. Cleveland, Ohio is home to an organization called City Fresh which has a goal of bringing "a more just and sustainable local food system" to urban residents. I'm all about that. The program works like this - each week you pay $20 for a full bag of produce (all from a cooperative of local farmers) or $10 for a half bag (feeds one or two individuals). If you meet certain income guidelines, you pay half. The program accepts cash, checks, food stamps, senior farmers coupons and is working with government agencies to accept other forms of payments for food. You pick up your groceries from one of ten locations. This is wonderful news, because too often, families in urban areas don't have access to affordable fresh food, which contributes to our health and obesity issues. The program is similar to a CSA (community supported agriculture), but does not require payment upfront to cover the growing season. These payments can amount to $500-$600 dollars, enough to give pause to even the most seasoned Whole Foods shopper. City Fresh is rare in that there are very few programs of this nature in the nation, most farm to table programs are set up as CSA's.

If you are interested in setting up a program like this in your city, a good place to start would be with your local agricultural extension center. Click here for a national directory.

Bon appetit!

"How Green Are You?" Contest

Are you a greenie looking to show your stuff to the world and get some cash while doing so?
Then click on this link to enter the Dwell magazine "How Green Are You?" contest with cash prizes. You need a few photos and a 250 word description of your project, but hurry, the deadline is June 30th. If you win, you may even be able to afford a deposit on a compostable toilet!

Future Shock: Life with $200 a Barrel Oil

The LA Times published an article that speculated on how life as we know would change with the advent of $200 a barrel oil. I pulled out impacts from that article that could significantly impact black folk:

  • Prices Rise Dramatically - reducing consumer spending, causing business failures, which in turn will cause massive unemployment. If history repeats itself, guess who will be the first fired?
  • Public Transportation in Demand - if you live closer to the city, you won't be able to get on the bus, subway or train because it will be filled with folks from the suburbs.
  • Rise in City Property Values - suddenly, everyone who shunned you because you didn't live in the burbs, will be approaching you with offers to buy your home in the city. You may have move out of your apartment, because rents will be ridiculous. Gentrification? You ain't seen nothing yet.
  • Biking Will Be Popular - You will need to get a much bigger chain and lock. Remember Pee Wee's Big Adventure and his stolen bicycle?
  • Crime will Rise - Need I say more? Hungrier, jobless and hopeless, more people will turn to crime just to provide for themselves.
  • Pizza Delivery Cost Prohibitive - You think you can't get pizza delivered to your neighborhood now. More African American communities will be hit with the "no delivery" policy. I don't know about you, but there goes my Friday night!
  • Demand for Local Goods will Rise - More blacks will start businesses catering to the need for cheaper quality local goods and services
  • Urban Gardens will Flourish - As the price of food skyrockets, blacks will learn to grow, cook and preserve their own food
  • Blacks will Go Green - More African Americans will see the light and the savings and will be all about living greener. Oh Yes!

When we read this headlines, we really need to take it to the next level and determine what the impact of rising oil prices, water and food shortages, climate change, urban planning initiatives and pollutants will mean for our families and communities, because often we are on the front lines of the consequences of these events.

Compostable Toilets

I just read a piece in the July/August issue of dwell magazine on compostable toilets. Wow! I knew there were such things out there, but whether I would actually own one (especially at an average price of $1500), remains to be a test of my green fortitude. It made me wonder how many black families could get comfortable with the concept of a toilet that not only uses less water (this is good), but also converts your waste into compost for your garden (this is also good, but....). Can you imagine your friends and relatives response to this kind of toilet? Imagine their surprise, should they go snooping around drawers in your bathroom! That would stink would'nt it? Though, I understand that in many countries, even as close as Mexico, this is the norm. While the concept is wonderful, I think I have to sit this one out for a little longer.

I would love to know your thoughts on this issue.

A Week in the Life of a Black and Green Blogger

Hello readers! Thinking about how terrible it was that I have reduced my blogging to once a week and after assessing the reasons for this, I thought I would share my past week with you. The week started out with me recovering from a night of schmoozing and networking at Youth Opportunity Unlimited's 25th Anniversary event. I am a board member of this organization that serves the needs of over 3000 teens in the area, providing employability skills, jobs and internships. Sunday and Monday- spent in bed (when not working), attempting to heal from some sort of virus. Tuesday- dragged myself after work to my last Ladies Who Launch incubator session. It was great though, in addition to the seven wonderful women that I came to know over the course of the four week incubator, I met an African American entrepreneur who provides environmentally and health conscious cleaning services to daycare centers and doctor's offices. (Do you know what kinds of products are being used on toys and surfaces your children are exposed to?) Wednesday - Attended a networking luncheon, where the featured speaker was Jill Buck, an environmental activist and green business consultant (my role model). Later that evening, taught a group of tweens and teens at the YMCA, the importance of budgeting. Thursday - worked out at my local gym and went out to eat at 10pm with my wonderful son. I was supposed to attend a rally on green jobs, but you have to set personal limits. Friday - At work, I worked with a business owner to provide resources for her pending green building project, came home and napped and then blew that by talking on the phone until 2am. Saturday - woke up very early, worked out while reading the green issue of "School Planning and Management", bought some native plants for my garden and then sat around exhausted (paid the price for the 2am chatting). So here I am this morning, sipping on some organic tea (I should really be in church) typing in my chemical free garden, looking forward to sharing some knowledge with you. I also have to write an article which is due Wednesday, for emPower Magazine, which just launched last week. So I hope you will forgive me for not reaching out as often as I should and know that while I may not always be posting, I'm always researching and thinking about what good stuff, I can share with you. Have a great week!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Green Educational Grants

Check out these two sites for environmental education grants:

Pass it on!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know Green Careers

I was looking for information on green grants and came across this gem of a document put together by Anything you want to know about green careers can be accessed through the comprehensive resources compiled as part of the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation's green business initiative. There are interviews with industry executives, job databases, tips on job searches and lots of recommended reading.

Take Action Now for Green Jobs We Desperately Need

Green for All has been promoting environmental equity, justice and green jobs not jails for years. Progress has been made on the Green Jobs Act passed last December which was to provide $125 million in funding for green jobs. Recently the House of Representatives passed a bill which would allocate $22 million (it's a start) and the bill is headed to the senate. Click here to learn more about this opportunity and tell your senator to generate green jobs funding now! With abysmal high school graduation rates, record level imprisonment rates and skyrocketing unemployment in our communities, we need all of the help we can get! The green job you create could be your own.....

emPower Magazine: Knowledge + Vision = Power

A new online magazine was launched this week. emPower Magazine offers a comprehensive source of news, information, opinions and resources from a diverse group of writers of color from across the nation. Your very own Black and Into Green blogger will write a piece on the environment once a month. This month's piece encourages our folks to make climate change our business.

emPower was created by Deshuna Spencer, a very ambitious, warm hearted and loving some black folks, young lady. Deshuna's goal is to roll out a print version in the next few years. Please show her some love and subscribe to some knowledge, vision and power.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Green Your Construction/Renovation/Landscaping Business

It is now common knowledge that climate change is for real and impacting our lives today with more serious and deadly impacts predicted in the next 50 years. Governments, insurers and businesses are looking for solutions to adapt to the inevitable climate related structural changes to buildings and infrastructure, rising energy costs as well as seeking to reduce their collective carbon footprints. Many of these changes are being mandated at the federal and state level. As a banker, almost all of my clients are pursuing LEED certification for their construction projects. What are you doing to help these entities meet these requirements? There is a great need for guidance in meeting these new sustainability standards. Contractors and related professionals are facing tough times in today's economy, with declining demand for housing developments, manufacturing plants being built overseas and companies delaying construction of shopping centers and office complexes. By offering green construction services, you can increase sales, beat your competition and prepare for future demand. The green building industry is growing at a rapid clip, valued to be over $35 billion dollars, by 2010. The following construction/renovation related businesses have a lot to gain over the next few years:

  • General contractors - able to source and hire subs experienced with LEED requirements

  • Alternative energy consultants/manufacturers - you now have the attention of the public, make sure contractors and architects know where to find you

  • Energy conservation experts - consult and provide equipment and materials that conserve energy

  • Financing - provide information on tax credits, grants and financing tools

  • Architects - incorporate site, material and design into energy efficient buildings

  • Engineers - Consult on impact of climate change to buildings and infrastructure

  • Recyclers - Ability to properly collect and recycle demolition waste

  • Landscapers - Help clients meet LEED landscaping requirements (green roofs, bioswales, rain gardens, rain barrels)

  • Interior designers and artists - Provide LEED qualified furnishings and artwork that reduce indoor air pollution and reflect the environmentally conscious nature of the project

The green building boom will also benefit vendors of the above entities, for as their businesses grow there will be a greater demand for your services. Of course, you might need to green up your act and your inventory to help your clients walk the talk. To learn more about the sustainable construction industry, check out these sites:

A good starting point for heading down this green pathway would be to register for introductory LEED courses sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. You would then progress to getting your various LEED certifications. Once you have this training under your hat, contact the real estate, urban planning or real estate division of your local government, university and public school district for a list of pending projects where request for proposals may have been issued. Market your services to architects and developers. If you are a sub-contractor, call on general contractors and government minority development offices in your area to promote your green services. Trust me, they are looking for you. Another way to get involved is to volunteer with one of the many green collar construction jobs programs set up around the country. These programs aim to train and hire youth and marginalized individuals for meaningful employment in the construction and landscaping industry.

Good luck, live green and get some green!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Environmental News Across the Diaspora

It is often reported that global warming will have the most profound effect on the lives of people already living in perilous and tenuous conditions around the world. So while we live in relative physical comfort in North America and the United Kingdom and may not feel a sense of urgency around changing our lifestyles, perhaps this information found on my environmental news feed, may motivate and encourage us to continue to live more consciously on behalf of our brothers and sisters around the world:

Al Gore backs O-B-A-M-A!

Global warming changing the landscape of Africa.

Climate change affects the Masai.

Farmers, conservationists fight against coal mining in South Africa.

Eco-friendly asthma inhalers to be more costly in U.S., jeopardizing health of African American children.

East African birds face dangers in the midst of global warming.

Food crisis may help small African farmers.

Big European investors buying up cheap farmland in Africa for greater control of food.

Check out this article from Urban Habitat to learn more about the impact of climate change on black, brown and poor populations around the world and suggestions on how you can help address and reduce these impacts.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Green Your Business with Green Teams

I have been comforting and managing a sick teen this weekend, so I am going to be lazy today and provide abbreviated posts with some links to articles that you may find of interest. This post addresses the idea of using "green teams" to jumpstart and execute on sustainability initiatives at your place of business. Key takeaways:

  • Executive level support is imperative
  • Include departments or individuals most likely to impacted by changes on teams
  • Prioritize ideas and set specific goals for initiatives
  • Green teams are good tools for attracting, developing and retaining talent
  • Keep work-life balance in mind when developing initiatives
  • Make it fun - incorporate incentives, green events, contests and giveaways
  • Promote your green team initiatives to your clients, vendors and community
  • The rewards are many - cost savings, healthy happy employees, improved operational processes, positive public relations and a healthier planet

For the full article featured on, click here. Both employees and employers will benefit from reading this feature.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More on Majora Carter

Thank you Charles for the tip on this video featuring Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx as featured on Click here for more information on TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) and Majora Carter.

Majora Carter Talks of Greening the Ghetto

South African Cancer Society Studies Plastics

The Cancer Association of South Africa has ordered a large study on the role that common plastics and other food additives may play in endangering our health. Margarine, baby bottles (polycarbonate or BPA) and cling wrap are being evaluated as potential sources of toxins. Canada has already taken steps to ban polycarbonate bottles. There has yet to be a ban on BPA in the United States, although major retailers like Walmart and Toys R Us are pulling BPA baby bottles from their shelves in the face of increasing evidence of the reproductive, breast and prostate cancer problems attributed to the chemical, which itself acts as a synthetic estrogen hormone. Common uses for the chemical:

  • Plastic bottles and food storage containers

  • Liners of canned food, especially acidic foods, soups and infant formula

  • Dental sealants

I have in an attempt to be fair and balanced, included a rebuttal of the dangers of BPA by the Bisphenal A association for your review.

For those of you that want to err on the side of caution, look for the number "7" within the recycling triangle on the bottom of a container. This number implies that BPA may be present. You could also replace plastic food containers with glass, ceramic or stainless steel items. Purchasing fresh foods is another way to avoid leaching chemicals from food packaging.

For more reading on dangerous chemicals present in our environment check out the book, "The Hundred Year Lie", available in the Currently Reading section of Black and Into Green.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Get in the Black by Greening Your Business

The green economy promises jobs, business opportunity, wealth, health and hope to all who will leverage its potential early in the game. The African American community, with all of its ills -families in crisis and poverty, low graduation rates and high prison entry rates, rampant unemployment, crime, polluted environments, workplace discrimination and a host of other health and housing issues- cannot afford to let this unique opportunity pass us by like so many others have in the past. The threat of higher gas, food and energy prices coupled with record foreclosures and additional layoffs, place all of us, regardless of our current economic strata in a troubling and tenous position financially. Getting in on the ground floor of the emerging green economy with a projected value of $60 to $200 billion and expected to bring millions of new jobs, enables us to create a safer and more secure future for our families and our communities. Al Gore alone plegded $30 million to raise climate change awareness in our nation. No longer will we have to ask the question "How did this happen?" as we walk past storefronts in our neighborhoods that are owned by industrial immigrants who seem to have found the American Dream that has eluded many of us, right in our own backyards. We can take pride in our contributions to building a diverse new economy, a new future for our children and a cleaner, livable planet.

Green is the New Black

It is difficult to read the paper or your favorite magazine, watch television or go grocery shopping without running into some sort of eco-friendly product or message. Talk about over exposure. One could speculate that the "green economy" is simply a fashionable trend that "too shall pass". However, when retail giants like Walmart and Target decide to hire sustainability officers, maintain sustainability sections on their websites, build green buildings and demand environmentally responsible products and packaging from their suppliers, you know the paridigm has shifted and is not coming back.Primary incentives driving such green business strategies include, consumer demand for healthier, safer, eco friendly products, rising oil prices and energy costs that affect profit margins, public relations, the need to hedge against toxic product lawsuits and the desire to proactive in against the threat of tighter government mandated policies. These bottom line driven issues will be attractive for a long time to come. Money talks and walks the walk and we should be listening and lacing up our sneakers.

Walmart's 66,000 suppliers are scrambling to understand the company's new sustainability requirements and it's impact on their business. While this may cause panic among current suppliers, any business trying to get a foot in the door of this retail behemoth, should seize the day and get busy on developing a green sales and product strategy. Coupled with the supplier diversity policy of many of these large corporations, a sustainability component could give your business a powerful advantage. In 2007, Target Corporation, which is planning more LEED certified (green) buildings, opened a store in Compton, California, using an African-American team of developers, contractors and architects. The architect, Mr. Roland A. Wiley, of RAW International, promotes his environmental project on his bio. Certainly, there were many factors including, overall experience, expertise and price that went into Target's decision to work with RAW, but the green experience may have given his firm an even bigger seal of approval by the Target real estate decision makers.

Governments See Green

Corporations are not alone in pursuing green initiatives. Governments are becoming strong supporters of sustainability for many reasons- the need to reduce costs, economic stimulation and development, employment opportunities, and the need to prepare for and adapt to climate change. Many cities have also hired sustainability directors, with staffs and budgets to meet designated goals. Included are cities one would expect to have such positions, San Francisco, Chicago, New York Seattle, Atlanta and Portland but also unexpected old economy cities like, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit. Not to be outdone, many southwestern cities, troubled by water shortages and urban sprawl have decided to green up their brown reputations. This is all good news for African American, Latino and female owned business, because, government contracts are typically good sources of revenue due to a tradition of awarding contracts to a diverse group of citizens.

Diverse Opportunities

While much of the intial growth of the green economy will lie in the fields of construction manufacturing, and alternative energy, the sky is the limit in terms of applying a sustainability model and component to your business. Over the next few weeks, Black and Into Green will uncover green business opportunities in the following areas:

  • Construction and Renovation
  • Retail
  • Services
  • Manufacturing
  • Science
  • Education and Training
  • Art and Fashion

If you can't wait that long, check out some of the following sites:

Green, not greed, is good - for our bottom lines, ourselves, our families, our communities and our world. Let's retrofit our lifestyles and our businesses to take advantage of this positive new opportunity to show that all can benefit from green capitalism.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Eco-Friendly Jeans and Fashions

Have you wanted to purchase organic clothes, but were put off by exorbitant prices? Mass marketers are now offering affordable eco-friendly apparel. Check out this Levi's link for some good deals on their earth conscious jeans. Target is also coming out with a line of affordable 100% organic fashions designed by Edun eco-fashion whiz, Rogan Gregory.

For some really funny and cool green inspired fashions, check out Sha Dou fashions by my fellow green blogger, Ana, of Quiskaeya. I'm thinking about getting the "YO Dude-Green Up!" shirt to wear to the gym. You can also get her fun green slogans put on boxers, tanks, bags and mugs.

I would like to promote other eco-friendly artists of color, so please share any information you have on such talented individuals.

Van Jones Tells of Green Jobs for All People

Tips for Dad's Longevity

Hello. I am recycling and reusing this article from Dr. Mao on Tips for Mom's Longevity into Tips for Dad's Longevity. I don't think he will mind. The basic steps on the journey to a long healthy life include:

  • Lots of good filtered or fresh water - a nice water filter pitcher could be a good present
  • Five servings of fruits and veggies, include lots of leafy greens (spinach, collards, cabbage)
  • High quality, minimally processed soy - cancer fighter
  • Green tea - reduce prostate cancer risk
  • Yams and sweet potatoes (yum) have anti-aging properties - Dad would love a homemade vegan sweet potato pie for Father's Day or a yam casserole
  • Daily exercise - 20 minutes a day is a good start (you can encourage Dad by joining him by phone or in person once a week on his walks)
  • Lots of laughter - break out some old Redd Foxx or Richard Pryor albums or new school Dave Chapelle dvds for dad

These seem to be pretty simple things that we can all incorporate into our daily lives and encourage our families to do. Take one action at a time, do it for 21 days and it will be part of your anti-aging routine.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Save Money on Powering Your Computer

Found this post on Lifehacker that provides tips on reducing your computing energy usage and expense.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Funky Chicken Alert: Tyson Having Fowl Issues

Tyson made the environmental news feed twice today. Initially for a strain of bird flu that was found in chickens at its Arkansas plant and again for a no longer claiming chickens branded as antibiotic free were actually antibiotic free, because they weren't. To be fair the story is that the mistake was made by the USDA and it was not the intent of Tyson to deceive consumers. Hey, maybe if you cook the chicken long enough you will kill all of the bad stuff. Riiight. The good news is that news like this will encourage us to be more conscious about what is really in our food. Read and understand labels, research the brands that you buy, grow more of your own, buy local, ask questions, eat as much organic as affordable and buy unprocessed food.

Want to learn more about what you are eating? Two good reads, "The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health" by Randall Fitzgerald and "real food: What to Eat and Why" by Nina Planck.

China Not Alone in School Safety Issue

If you are economically disadvantaged, Black or Hispanic, there is a strong probability that your child attends a school situated close to toxic chemicals or pollutants. Whether this is coincidence or by design, you should be familiar with emergency evacuation and protection procedures should there be an environmental accident. You also want to educate yourself on indoor air quality at your child's school and what may be put out into the air by nearby plants or landfills while your child is running around breathing in this air during recess. Many of these chemicals are linked to hyperactivity and respiratory problems in children. Hey! Guess what population suffers the most from these problems? Contact your local board of education for more specific information and raise any concerns you may have at monthly board and PTA meetings. Many unfortunate parents in China found out in the most painful manner possible, that the government was not always looking out for the best interests of their children. Don't let this be you.

Click here to check out an amazing map of toxic sites in your neighborhood.

Urban Garden Girl

Check out Patti Moreno's cool site for tips on sustainable gardening and living in an urban environment. She is from New York and has gone old school in her approach to taking care of her family. You will like this site because it features instructive and fun videos of Patti in action. Although while watching the videos you will wonder how she has time to put all of this together. I guess I'm just jealous. She is kind of like an urban Martha Stewart of sustainability. Strut your stuff Patti!

Side Garden

I'm trying to stay on my side of the property, but it looks like I might have to pry my neighbors with gifts from the garden, to look the other way as my plants crossover the boundary a bit.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Peony in My Garden

I've been a little distracted from blogging this week tending to Mother Nature. With blooms like this can you blame me?
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Calculating the True Cost of a Hybrid Car

Often, I will ask a friend or co-worker that purchased a new car, if they considered a hybrid. The reply has been, "I did, but it was still too expensive after factoring in cost savings on gas". What can you say to that to those who don't have - Reduce global warming - at the top of their to do list? Well, there may finally be a rational response. Yahoo! Green featured an article yesterday that goes beyond considering only gas savings in the buying decision. Some of the other cost factors to consider:

  • Resale value - hybrids typically hold value longer than most vehicles

  • Lower interest rates - being offered by some lenders and credit unions

  • Lower insurance premiums - many insurance companies are offering "green" rates

  • Tax credits - federal government offering up to $3400 on first 60,000 vehicles manufactured

  • Employer discounts - some employers offering special incentives for hybrid users

The article provides an example of spreadsheet comparing a hybrid Prius to non-hybrid Honda's and Civic's for those of us who are visual creatures. Please share this information with anyone you know that may be in the market for a new ride and a great value.

Fuel Saving and Alternative Transportation Ideas

In light of rising fuel prices, I am reposting an entry made in February when $4 a gallon for gas was a just a threat. Now that the pundits are predicting $5 a gallon gas for the summer I thought there may be a greater interest in how to reduce your gas cost via conservation and tranportation alternatives. I was at a sporting good's store yesterday and was told by the bike repairman that bike sales are up significantly this year. The post also includes information on, public transportation, ridesharing services and biking.

Check it out.