Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Simran Sethi: Life Cycle: Kernels of Wisdom about Popcorn The moral of this story? Avoid store bought microwave popcorn and buy your popcorn from local farmers by the bag. I have seen popcorn at farmer's markets. Click here for an easy recipe on homemade microwave popcorn, I would advise mixing the olive oil with the popcorn, versus pouring the oil directly in the bag.
Dave Burdick: 8 Movies Featuring the Environment: Time to Hibernate with DVDs This post includes video clips.
Cultivating a Green Focus Among Your Office Mates - WSJ.com My campaign to senior management to go green at work started roughly around the time that the financial industry went into free fall, and thus has been overshadowed by the banking crisis (I am a banker), so I was thoroughly excited when about two weeks ago I started seeing signs around the office printers and faxes, requesting that papers be recycled and carefully used. Upon recently discovering the author of said signs, I am re-energized to take on a green initiative at the workplace, though I am going to have to do so efficiently and creatively, given that our group has seriously shrunken in size and I remain as the sole defender of client relationships. Wish me luck!
Just in time for today's principle of creativity, I have been introduced to the work of Amber Gordon. Ms. Gordon's art reflects feminine theme's, with an emphasis on African woman. Check out her site.
ecofabulous: Eco-chic Shopping Is So LA If you live in or traveling to Los Angeles, check out DecadesTwo, a store that sells celebrity clothing that has been rarely worn. Apparently as more celebrities go green, we can benefit from the recycling of their fashionable sustainable attire.
Kuumba or Creativity is interpreted for Kwanzaa to mean the following -"To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, to always leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it." I love this principle for it's simplicity and potential. A beautiful, clean and orderly environment has such a positive impact on our mental, physical and spiritual energy. Why not take some time this year to volunteer at a community center to teach or assist an art class using recycled or natural materials? Now is also a great time to start gathering information about community gardens in your city. Or if you want to, how about doing some guerrilla gardening to address local eyesores? If your gift is cooking, how about inviting neighbors over for a vegetarian, locally sourced meal or baking a batch of sesame aka benne cookies using organic and fair trade ingredients (be sure to note this on the gift tag) for your family and co-workers? Are you a musician? Gather a group to join you at your home or a friend's home for a candlelit (soy candles of course), no TV evening of music and conversation. Be sure to include a few young people, so that they can be introduced to the concept of a great time without electronics! Do you have no artistic skills whatsoever? Use your creativity to develop a novel business idea? There are actually business plan tools for creative leaning folks that can assist you with this endeavor. Just do something!
Have a great and creative New Year!! Kuumba.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Green Really is the New Black Check out this article from Empower News Magazine for a summary of how green jobs can stimulate the economy. Recently there has been some debate over the allocation of dollars for the upcoming stimilus package. Should the investments start with infrastructure (roads, schools, bridges, buildings) or alternative energy? I say we can do both. Buildings need power right? Any new infrastructure projects that are going to be funded with our dollars need to be as energy efficient, healthy and environmentally friendly as possible. The initial costs may be slighty higher than traditional construction, but are often paid back within a few years. We simply can't afford to continue doing things as we have in the past and expect a better result.
Habari gani?! Ujamaa! To build and maintain our stores and other businesses and to profit from them together. The idea of the black entrepreneur has always intrigued me, from the very first time I picked up a discarded copy of Black Enterprise magazine at my campus student union to the vast array of green business opportunities presenting themselves to our community at this moment. At Ohio State University, while working for the Office of Black Student Programming, I put together a seminar titled "Black and in the Green" (sound familiar?), which served the purpose of introducing the student and surrounding community to the idea of entrepreneurship. Two businesses were birthed as a result! As I think about it, I may just recycle that concept with a green twist, "Go Green, Black Businesses, Go Green." I have written on this topic in the past and profiled black and green businesses. I would love to profile more in 2009. A few projects that I want to highlight today:
- Ananda Leeke, founder of Go Green Sangha Radio and BAP Living, has authored a new book, Love's Troubadours. The novel chronicles the life adventures of a Bohemian, Black African Princess. It is part one of an exciting and intriguing series. Copies are selling fast! Get one today!
- blackEnergy, a triple bottom line business, owned by Dr. Sonja Ebron, offers a wide variety of energy saving products and services in addition to utility services. Lighting, power generation, fans, weatherization - you name it you can find it at blackEnergy.
- Van Jones, well known black and green, environmental justice/economy guru has also written a book, The Green Collar Economy, which highlights the opportunities that the green economy can provide for the black community, especially the economically disavantaged.
- Black and Into Green has an amazing eco-friendly portal for purchasing green products of all kinds (including those of the featured authors), via the Amazon Shop Green widget found on the site. Click here for some end of the year deals!
So in the spirit of Ujamaa, recycle your hard earned dollars with these entrepreneurs and buy black, green and local.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Top-Ten-Green-Gifts-for-Teens-(That-Theyll-Totally-Love)! - Greenopia Green News I know it's a little late for this, but there are some great products featured you can buy for yourself or a teen's birthday or graduation.
Seed Bombs: Walk-By Guerrilla Gardening : EcoLocalizer Wow! Check out this passive-aggressive way of beautifying ugly urban or suburban areas. Basically it involves tossing homemade seed balls into areas in need of a little landscaping love. I would advise that you choose to go this route, to use native non-invasive plant seeds and not toss on residential or landscaped properties.
Will Environmental Justice Finally Get Its Due? The American Prospect It appears that the timing is right to get involved with community and national environmental justice issues given the slate of environment related appointments in the Obama administration.
Center for Diversity & the Environment- Organizations I found this site as I was researching the previous post. Included are such organizations as Young Environmental Professionals of Color, Center for Whole Communities and African American Outdoor Association. Fascinating!
Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility, is one of my favorite Kwanzaa principles as I feel it relates well with the mission of Black and Into Green. The official Kwanzaa site defines Ujima as follows "To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together." I was fortunate enough last night to participate in an annual Kwanzaa celebration (though I missed the ceremony) organized by one of my favorite family clans. There was good food, great conversation and fantastic company at this event. Most of the members of this family live the principle of Ujima through their chosen occupations- healthcare, education, advocacy and the law among just a few examples. On the environmental front here are five actions we can take to "build and maintain our communities."
- Educate - Hone your knowledge of environmental issues that impact community health and quality of life
- Get Involved - Join organizations that support environmental and health initiatives. Many of these are sorely lacking a black, asian or latino perspective
- Speak Up - Raise awareness among your family, friends, neighbors and politicians
- Buy Green - Support businesses that pursue a triple bottom line strategy
- Jobs, Jobs, Jobs - Fight to ensure accountability for and equal access to green jobs and other infrastructure improvement opportunities in your community
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Utility doubles estimate of Tennessee ash deluge - Yahoo! News The facts are changing already in this not so clean coal drama that has been playing itself out in Tennessee over the last few days. Of course the TVA has determined that the health risks are minimal and the water should be fine to drink. Some folks are having a difficult time getting the TVA to respond to their needs. (Sound familiar?) Many of the residents had no idea of the risks posed by having such a plant nearby. Unfortunately they found out the hard way after their homes were destroyed by the moving sludge. This incident should make us all more conscious and knowledgeable of what kinds of health and environmental risks exists in our own backyards and create an action plan to advocate for safety measures and an emergency exit plan. Click here for a map of potentially toxic sites in your neighborhood. Be patient, it takes a minute or two to load, but is worth the wait. Kujichagulia! Self determination!
McClatchy Washington Bureau 12/26/2008 Economic crunch hits market for recyclable materials Don't be surprised if your city's recycling program is put on hold temporarily. The global economic crunch has reduced the demand for consumer goods, which in turn has reduced the need for recyclable materials. Many cities received hefty payments for the recyclable goods we placed in curbside bins and bags, however some processors are refusing to accept any more of these goods, reducing that income stream for already tight city budgets. What we need is a modern day George Washington Carver to invent 400 ways to use recyclables. Until then, we need to focus our efforts on reducing our consumption of products with excess packaging, purchase heavily used items in bulk and practice reusing as much as we can.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Prius: It’s Not Just a Car, It’s an Emergency Generator - Green Inc. Blog - NYTimes.com With all of the frigid weather we have seen over the past week, having a Prius sounds like a good investment. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday week!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Warming could doom white Christmas Environment Reuters "When I was little we used to have this white stuff called snow in the winter......"
Hollywood rolls out the green carpet csmonitor.com Green-coming to a theatre near you.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Chinese drywall fears widen in SW Florida news-press.com The News-Press I hate to sound like CNN's Lou Dobbs, but dag, is nothing being made in America anymore? I have gotten used to checking clothing, food, toy and consumer product labels to determine country of origin, but it appears that now even homes are being constructed with materials made from countries with questionable environmental and regulatory practices. Let the buyer beware.
Making Hospitals Greener — and Patients Healthier - TIME I can truly relate to this article, the topic is one of my very first posts as a black and green blogger. As a treehugger, it is a very painful experience to witness the waste at the hospital and doctor's offices and to read the labels on some of the products they give you. Paraben this and paraben that. Hello! I think I will be using my aloe vera plant whenever practical. There needs to be some consumer backlash about doctor's being more selective about the products they use. In C-Town (Cleveland), Ohio, the Cleveland Clinic has a sustainability director that is making some serious progress on reducing waste and being more responsible. It appears that more hospitals are taking sustainability seriously, we should encourage them to continue to progress in this area.
If you are anything like me and are just too busy living to shop, you probably have about half of your Christmas/Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year's shopping completed with just three days to go. Ahh! The thrill of meeting a deadline! At least I do have a list and a pretty good idea of what I am going to give to my loved ones. Here are ten last minute budget friendly ideas for green gift giving:
- Green Starter Kit - Reusable bag ($.99 at grocers), stainless steel water bottle/coffee mug(bookstores, Starbucks), Brita or PUR water filter, soy candles (Target), cloth napkins
- Subscription to green living magazine - There is one to fit every type of personality and interest. Look for, BOHO, Green Guide, Natural Home, Positively Green, E/The Environmental Magazine and Body + Soul
- Vegan or Vegetarian Cookbook (Check out Amazon Green on this site) - I really love The Hippy Gourmet's Quick and Simple Cookbook for Healthy Eating.
- Movie Night Kit - Inconvenient Truth DVD, organic popcorn and fruit, ceramic bowl (you kind find this stuff at your local grocer!)
- Safe Cosmetics - Burt's Bees starter kit (Amazon Green, Borders Books or CVS drugstore)
- Green Cleaning Kit - Homemade cleaning products or full array of commercial green cleaning products and a coupon for one hour of your time to clean
- Coffee or Tea basket - Fair trade coffees, teas, chocolates, your favorite homemade cookies and a vintage coffee or tea cup (maybe two for sharing)
- Bundle of Love - Organic sheets, blanket and/or towels from JCPenney with soy candles and natural massage oils
- Wooden toys or Legos (BPA and Phthalate free) for the kids in your life
- Mental and Physical Flexibility - Purchase admission for two to a Yoga, Dance or Kickboxing class (It's fun to play at the Y-M-C-A!)
You can give these items in a cool reusable canvas bag or reused shopping bag from your favorite retailer. Use outdoor plant materials as decoration and cut up Christmas cards from last year to use as gift tags. I wrapped my bosses' gift using paper saved from staff meetings, a ribbon from another gift and a sprig of pine. Anyway, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!
This stuff is the bomb and purely decadent as its names implies! That is saying a lot, coming from an ice cream elitist like myself. It is not only delicious, but lower in fat and much higher in fiber than its soy and dairy cousins. Soy is cool, but I have to limit my intake, due to it's estrogen mimicking traits. A low-fat, high fiber diet is very important to the cancer survivor and anyone else trying to avoid cancer, heart disease or obesity.
10 Great Green Opportunities (By Brita Belli, Kathryn Gutlebar, Julia Hirsch, Jesica Knoblauch, Shawn Query) This is one of the best green jobs articles I have seen. It works for those seeking entry level opportunities as well as more experienced folks like myself. It references careers in the creative and service industries and careers requiring graduate school degrees, such as attorneys, MBAs and urban planners. Many of the new jobs coming our way via the next economic stimulus package will be green jobs, so we need to be ready to take on new industries as older industries fade into obsolescence.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Amandla! -- African Americans and Energy Now that winter is upon us, my thoughts are on energy daily as I tend to the needs of keeping my house warm and turning off the trail of lights that my son leaves behind me. I encourage you to Amandla! to your RSS feed or email subscription for some great tips (including building your own heater out of soda cans-you never know....) and thoughts on energy.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thunder Road: Likely EPA pick hit for Jersey record - Joaquin Sapien - ProPublica - Politico.com Well you can't please everybody. There is a growing group of environmentalists that are openly communicating their concerns over Lisa P. Jackson to head the EPA, one group going so far as to write a letter to Mr. Obama. Mrs. Jackson is being criticized for her lack of enforcement on key regulatory issues, not keeping some of her promises to improve the climate, as well as being to close to big business. New Jersey environmentalists, however, continue to praise the pick and insist that the fault is that of Governor Corzine and the lack of adequate staffing at her agency (Perhaps they are really keeping their employment options open). Let's see what she what she will accomplish now with a manager (President-Elect Obama) that has made climate change a core competency of his economic platform and more than adequate (though controversial) FTE at the EPA. I am willing to give Ms. Jackson a chance, before lambasting her abilities and will for change. Hey! It's hard out here for an environmental official!
The Spoils - Battle in a Poor Land for Riches Beneath the Soil - Series - NYTimes.com I am so tired of reading about resource rich African governments that allow western and now eastern cultures to rob them of their resources, exploit and endanger their citizens and steal any monies received as payment. Apparently, many young college-educated citizens of these countries are now fighting against this type of economic injustice, though in a controversial manner. The resource featured in this article is uranium, which is highly sought after to generate nuclear energy and the government is Niger. As is the case with the drug on war, we must hold the users (power companies), accountable for ensuring that they consider the triple bottom line (people, place, profit) as they negotiate with historically corrupt governments. Email your power company today and ask them about their policies in these situations and write your legislator (contact info found on Black and Into Green) to insist that U.S. companies operate ethically in foreign lands.
This image is courtesy of the NY Times. Check out the green roof and the hot red boots. I'll bet Majora is kicking some environmental butt with those boots! (Do you think they are vegan boots?)
The Green Power Broker - NYTimes.com This is an interesting article. Many of you by now are familiar with Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx, co-founder of Green for All and a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient. Van Jones, another prominent black and green activist and author, is calling her the Rosa Parks of the green movement. Rosa Parks? I had to pause for a moment to reflect on that powerful comparison. After pondering on the actions of Rosa Parks, I agree that there are definitely some similarities, though I think the stakes were a lot higher personally for Mrs. Parks. Majora definitely did put herself out there and became a strong voice for environmental change and action in the South Bronx. She has since extended her reach way beyond the boundaries of New York, having recently returned from Stockholm and the Artic (with former President Jimmy Carter). Her acting and film degrees have paid off as well, as she is also making the rounds on network and cable television. You go girl! Interestingly enough, it was her stint with unemployment and return to living with the parents that led to her involvement as a volunteer with South Bronx community groups. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons! What is funny, is that on a CNN piece this morning, it was suggested to volunteer during times of unemployment to avoid gaps on resumes. Anyway, Ms. Carter has expanded into the for profit arena with her new consulting firm, The Majora Carter Group. As is customary with any success, there are detractors, aka "haters". The rumor is that she has taken credit for projects that were truly team efforts or projects that have yet to come to fruition. To this I say "Bah Humbug!". I don't know Ms. Carter, but I wish her and her team the best of luck and think that it''s great for the country to have another African American woman adding her unique qualities and voice to the green movement. Hey Majora, you might want to give Lisa P. Jackson a buzz!
Friday, December 12, 2008
LIBERIA: Rubber Workers Charge Slave-Like Conditions Where the rubber will hit the road is when you don't buy Bridgestone tires until they change their policies.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I recently posted about how difficult it was for me to shop at my favorite retailer, Anthropologie, these days. The source of my shopping angst has been the wide variety of products for sale that are made in China. Charming as these items were, I just have a difficult time justifying a purchase. I decided to share my concern with the retailer via an email which expressed my concerns and asked for more eco-friendly and conscious selections. Although my email has yet to be acknowledged, when I visited the website today, featured on the home page was a grouping of products titled "Gifts with Presence". Hmm. I wondered if this was Anthropologies' way of responding to my request. Sure enough, as I clicked through the assortment of items, I found that many were indeed conscious, thoughtful, eco-friendly and unique. There was a cool skirt that was made out of recycled vintage pants and made in Canada, a pair of earrings created from vintage fabrics, a tea service made in Cape Town, South Africa and a dress made out of vintage scarves. Now if only I had a million dollars to afford some of these items. When that skirt by the Canadian clothier Preloved, goes on sale, it's mine. I do want to support retailers efforts to sell these more earth friendly items. Look for my post on Preloved to learn more about their use of vintage fabrics in fashionable clothing for men and women.
Environmental fugitives get own most-wanted list - Yahoo! News Have you seen these criminals wanted for crimes against the earth?
I also like this photo of Mrs. Jackson at Ramapo College in New Jersey at their environmental center. I don't know what person was responsible at the NY Times for selecting photos for the announcement, but they could done a better job based on what I am finding on the web. You know what I'm thinking.
President-Elect Barack Obama, with the announcement of his top environmental picks, just gave life to the term "green diversity". It was announced yesterday that 46 year old Lisa P. Jackson, currently leader of his EPA transition team and chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, will head up the Environmental Protection Agency, making her the first African-American to hold that position. Click here for more information on Mrs. Jackson. I suspect we will be learning much more about her in the next week. Steven Chu, an Asian, will lead the Department of Energy, Nancy Sutley, a prominent member of the gay and lesbian community will lead the White House council on energy quality and Carole Browner, a white woman and former EPA director under the Clinton administration, will be his energy "czar". Now this is the kind of change that I can believe in.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Hey! Can't find enough eco-conscious gifts for the holiday? Tired of going from store to store and having to select items from the very small eco-friendly section? Wouldn't it be great to have a "Green" Target type store, where you can buy almost everything you need at a great price? Well guess what? There is a great way to efficiently do your holiday shopping and buy green until your heart is content, all in the comfort of your own home. Do some one stop shopping on Black And Into Green, via Amazon Green. It is a special site created by Amazon to meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly and human safe products. I will be posting this week some ideas for sneaking in fun green gifts for the uninitiated. Stay tuned.
Every day large corporations and small businesses announce hundreds to thousands of layoffs-even lawyers aren't immune in this down economy. Should your job survive the recession, it may not make the productivity cut once it is discovered that someone in India will do it with a smile and for a fraction of your salary. Customer service jobs were just the start, now radiology, publishing, accounting, engineering and financial analysis jobs are being outsourced. President-Elect Obama met with Al Gore today and I am sure they discussed ways to stimulate the economy while getting our planet out of peril. If you are interested in learning more about green job opportunities, check out this list of green career websites provide by About.com.
When Picky Eaters Grow Up - Well Blog - NYTimes.com It really mystifies me when a parent tells me that their kid won't eat vegetables. Who is in control here? No wonder kids are blowing up these days and suffering from all kinds of adult diseases. Poor babies. Their parents need to grow a pair. This article outlines what can happen to a child as an adult, but offers hope that as a responsible adult, the picky eater can make wide food choices.
Recipes for Health - Cabbage, an Inexpensive Nutritional Powerhouse - NYTimes.com Cabbage and it's relatives, collards, kale and chard are cancer fighters. You can always shred cabbage and make coleslaw or chop it and stir fry it in sesame oil with onions and garlic. Good with rice too!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Fast Workouts That Really Work! on Yahoo! Health I am a big proponent of exercising. Regular rigorous physical activity contributes significantly to preventing disease, managing stress, improving your energy levels and reducing stress. I like this article because it shows how you can get significant calorie burn from a 20 minute investment in movement. Even better, you don't have to exclusively work at an intense pace during those 20 minutes. This is known as interval training and is a great calorie burner for those aged 30 and over. If you haven't exercised in a while, you should talk to your doctor before pursuing a rigorous routine. You don't have to consult a doctor to go for a walk or tussle with the kids for 30 minutes.
Just do it!
Organic T-Shirts, Blank T-shirts, Cotton T-Shirts - EDUN LIVE, from Ali Hewson and Bono Support African entrepreneurship, buy gear from EDUN LIVE, an organic clothing business founded by Bono of U2.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Speaking of giving closer to home, remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina? Brad Pitt started a project called Make it Right, which has a goal of building 150 homes in the devastated Lower 9th ward of New Orleans. Several homes have been successfully constructed and all are LEED Platinum certified, which is the highest rating green building certification. Brad hopes to use this project as a template for housing development projects around the nation. You can donate directly to the organization or buy green gifts from the website. All proceeds benefit the Make it Right Foundation.
Kiva - Loans that change lives After stuffing myself with some good food this Thanksgiving, my thoughts turned to "Black Friday" and the impending non-stop three week buying spree for gifts that often don't last through the year. Not looking forward to this traditional display of consumerism, I started thinking about what I could do to be more impactful in my giving. I decided that I would focus my giving on two major areas, 1) introducing friends and family to the eco-friendly lifestyle and 2) giving gifts in the name of relatives to individuals that really need help. The latter will be accomplished through purchasing gift certificates through organizations like Kiva. Kiva, through the use of micro-loans, helps individuals in developing countries to reach for their dreams. Talk about sustainability! You can lend a budding entrepreneur the entire amount of capital needed or you can contribute as little as $25 towards the total needed. Gift certificates can also be purchased in the name of a relative or friend. Want to give to an organization a little closer to home? Check out Guidestar or your local United Way for a list of non-profits in need of a little love in this tough economy.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
You Grow Girl™ - » Things You Can Compost That You Didn’t Think You Could If you are a vegan, you won't have much to throw away, once you start composting. If you are anything like me, you hate the chore of taking out the trash! Wouldn't it be great if you could reduce your trips to the garage, incinerator or tree lawn? This article points out a whole new range of items that can be turned from trash into black treasure for your garden. Gum, paper towels and cotton balls are just a few of the compostables mentioned. Compost on!
You Grow Girl™ - » The Fantastic Craptastic Compost Bin Since I started composting last winter, the amount of trash that makes it to the curb has dramatically declined. Not being one to spend much money on anything that doesn't involve clothes, shoes, home decor items, plants or chocolate, I couldn't bring myself to pay much for a compost bin. So what did I do? I converted an old plastic trash can that had the bottom eaten out by raccoons to my version of a compost bin. Using the KISS (keep it simple stupid) method, I just dump my food and plant waste into the trash can, mix it up with a big branch from the garden, cover it up with a big sheet and head back in the house. Sometimes, I will collect the compostable waste in a brown paper bag, fold it and throw it right in the bin. The brown bag acts as the brown material that needs to be mixed with green material. This article has photos of crude, but effective compost bins or piles that show you just how easy composting can be. Not enough room for a full blown compost bin? Check out this link for tips on how to create a bin for small spaces.