Greening the Holiday Kitchen & More

I recently had the pleasure of leading a 2 part professional development series called Greening the Holidays & Gifting Green. This series was open to all faculty and staff at the College through our fabulous Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).

In part 1, we discussed many different ways in which one can “green the holidays”, like choosing soy or beeswax candles versus petroleum based candles. Or trading in your old, lead based holiday lights at a local vendor (like Home Depot or Lowes – call before you go!) for a discount on new, energy-efficient and safe LED-light strings.  We learned about green gift wrapping – like, do you really need expensive, glittery paper or can you use something that can be used again? Like what? Well, how about a beautiful scarf or a cloth grocery bag? Personally, I just use the funnies from the local newspaper.

In Part 1, we also learned a lot about food and dressing our holiday dinner tables. Food choices are crucial when considering the health of you  and your family as well as that of the planet (or more bluntly the other people that depend on the earth’s resources). Eating lower on the food chain (i.e., more vegetables) is proven to be much better for you and, consequently, the planet. Growing plants requires a lot less energy than it does to grow animals to eat. Of course, some families just can’t be without the turkey or ham for that special holiday meal. If that’s your family, our Part 1 group discussed the importance of making sure that the turkey or pig was raised without the use of harmful pesticides, hormones or then processed with toxic additives- the best way to do that? But it local, from a farmer’s market and ask for organic. Find a Farmer or Market: http://www.localharvest.org/ 

And when it comes to cooking and storing, to keep safe from hidden toxins it’s best to follow some useful tips from Jane’s Holiday Kitchen (brought to you by the EWG.org).

In part 2, we had a lot of fun talking about how to Gift Green. We made stationary and envelopes from old magazines, personalized barrettes from old beads, feathers and other fun items and we made heat pads with old shirts and rice. We also discussed how “green” doesn’t have to be handmade or repurposed. You can give the gift of an experience- tickets to a play! – or give the gift of time – 1 nigh of babysitting!

Here are some really useful links to help you think about greening the holidays. What do you do? Any special tricks you’d like to share? Tell us all about it!

FOOD
http://www.eatlowcarbon.org/

Tasty Low-Impact Recipes from The Small Planet Institute

GIFTS, CRAFTS & DECOR

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Low-Impact Luxury for High-Impact Giving from TreeHugger.com

Simple Crafts and Hair Accessories from Readymade.com

Tons of DIY (Do It Yourself) Craft Ideas from Get Rich Slowly

Pretty, Natural Table Decor from Planet Green

Estimated costs and savings for Incandescent holiday bulbs vs. LEDs from the Consumer Reports

Of course, you can always  email the Center for Sustainability for other ideas. I am no expert, but I love to help people brainstorm and find great resources to make their event (holiday or not) a happy and Green one!

sustainability@morainevalley.edu

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

Climate Futures Exchange Calls It Quits

I wanted to share this clip and link to the NY Times Green Blog. This is very sad news and a bad sign that we are moving backwards.

Climate Futures Exchange Calls It Quits
By JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF

The only national carbon cap-and-trade exchange in the United States is shutting down because of Congressional inaction on limiting emissions, company officials say.

The Chicago Climate Exchange is a voluntary but legally binding greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading system modeled after a federal cap-and-trade program from the 1980s that successfully curbed emissions tied to acid rain.

Members of the exchange, which include DuPont, Motorola, I.B.M. and other major companies, agreed to binding emissions limits, with those who exceeded their limits required to buy credits from those who emitted less.

Activity on the exchange surged last year as Congressional Democrats crafted and then passed comprehensive cap-and-trade legislation, as the exchange was regarded as well positioned to serve as a central vehicle for the emissions trading envisioned by the law. But when a similar bill failed to gain traction in the Senate and was abandoned this year, interest dwindled and the price of its carbon credits crashed.

With climate legislation in the United States dead in the water for the foreseeable future, participants in the exchange have lost interest, said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange, an operator of futures exchanges for agricultural, credit, currency and energy contracts that purchased the Chicago Climate Exchange in July 2010 for $600 million.

America Recycles Day! No Excuses.

10/15 is the Annual America Recycles Day celebration. It should be everyday, but some corporations are sponsoring the idea that one day should be special throughout the year. In honor of that Mother Nature Network is chiming in. I really like their sources and sites, so I taking the opportunity to share with you. Here is a great list from the Mother Nature Network about 10 kitchen related things you have no excuse NOT to recycle. Check it out and remember – everyday should be America Recycles Day. Below is their Top 10 List. Follow the link to learn WHY & HOW.

  1. Glass bottles.
  2. Aluminum and steel cans.
  3. #1 & #2 plastic containers.
  4. Plastic grocery bags.
  5. Cereal and other food boxes.
  6. Cereal box liners.
  7. Bread ends. (My personal favorite- some pretty fabulous reuse options for this item…of course, I just prefer to eat them).
  8. Aluminum foil.
  9. Kitchen electronics.
  10. Old appliances.

Do you have other ways you recycle? Or are there items missing from this list that you’d like to add? Post a comment and let us know how you are sending less to the landfill.

And don’t forget to find out HOW & WHAT you can recycle at Moraine Valley: http://www.morainevalley.edu/sustainability/recycle.htm