Merry Your Season Be Merry & Green!

Americans generate a lot of waste during the holidays, and one of the big culprits is holiday entertaining. Plastic cutlery can hang around a landfill for thousands of holidays to come, and even paper plates aren’t earth-friendly!

Biodegradable cutlery and plates are one alternative. Better yet:
Use cloth instead of paper napkins. Reusing is always better than recycling! Also you can borrow plates and silverware. If you’re short, ask a few friends to bring a set of each. Here are some other ideas for how to make the party green.

And, here are a few more ideas make sure your holiday has a great impact on hearts but not the planet. Also, note the reminder for the office, too!

Gifts:

  1. The gift of an experience – for those that  have it all and  need nothing, how about movie tickets or tickets to a play or passes to a yoga classes? Check out 30 other ideas here.
  2. Holiday cards are really great to receive! But what do you do when the holiday is over? 18 creative reuse ideas right here– and some would make fun gifts, too!
  3. Wrapping paper is beautiful, but so is fabric and scarfs! Here are 15 ways you can wrap gifts that are fun, sometimes reusable and festive!

Around the Office (whether you work at Moraine Valley Community College or not):

  1. When you leave for the break make sure to unplug everything: tvs, computers and monitors, fridges, coffee makers, and anything else you have plugged in. This saves a tremendous amount of energy and reduces the risks for fire and other issues.
  2. Oh, and please, turn off the lights!

In the spirit of love, happiness and always hope for a bright future- may you and yours have a love filled, safe and happy green holiday!

Sustainably yours,
Stephenie

Hope & What to Do About Climate Change in 2017

A colleague, Clara Changxin Fang, recently posted an article talking about her top Ten Reasons to Feel Hopeful About Climate Change in 2017, https://residenceonearth.net/2016/12/07/hope-climate-change/

I found it to be uplifting in a time where I even more concerned about the future of climate policy and climate change action in the U.S.

Of the 10, I think my top 2 favorites:
1. All power does not reside in the President (remember checks and balances, separation of powers!!)
and her number 10.,
2. The next election is only 2 years away.

That’s right, we’ll have another chance to vote for candidates that will support and fight for solid climate policy.

So, what can we all do about climate change in 2017? Or even right now?

TALK ABOUT IT.

In a recent article from Katherine Kayhoe of the Huffington Post, she wrote “Seventy-two percent of people in the US are cautious, concerned, or alarmed about climate change, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s Six Americas survey. Yet so few of us talk to our friends and family about it. Why? Because we don’t hear anyone else doing it.” 

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Kayhoe warns to not get into the “Yes it is, No it is not” arguments; they are pointless.

A quote from the Citizen’s Climate Lobby about talking about climate change explains: “Research from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has found that knowledge about the scientific consensus on climate change serves as a “gateway belief,” making people more inclined to accept the fact that climate change is happening and more inclined to support public policy solutions. Here is the specific wording that needs to be communicated:”

97 percent of climate scientists are convinced, based upon the evidence, that human-caused global warming is happening. (Link to Yale Study: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.)

Check out Kayhoe’s suggested talking points, or Citizen’s Climate Lobby, or the Yale Project… or, wherever you get your creditable information and start talking about it!

(My favorite of Kayhoe’s: “2. Fort Hood in Texas, the biggest army base in the US, is installing wind and solar. Why? To save taxpayers $168 million dollars. Now that’s what I call green.”)

Aldi Will Rival Whole Foods, But At Less Cost

For someone who knows too much about the way our food is produced, I am super excited by the news that Aldi is making huge strides to rival Whole Foods and make healthier food available to all at a much lower cost. Step by step, Aldi has begun to challenge the ‘whole paycheck’ way of shopping. Some of the newest additions to the Aldi marketplace are: expanding organic choices; banning a number of pesticides from any products; growing the “Never Any!” line of meat, which have no added antibiotics, hormones or other additives; removed artificial colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and MSG from the private-label products (90% of sales); growing the “Simply Nature” line, which has banned more than 125 synthetic ingredients; and sourcing milk, yogurt, sour cream, cottage and other dairy products free of artificial growth hormones. If you are gluten-free, Aldi is your place to shop! There are lots of great choices there especial the “liveGfree” line, and again, at a fraction of the cost. For those that think Aldi doesn’t offer artisan selections, you are off base. I have found lovely cheeses and crackers, smoked salmon, nice wines and delectable chocolates. I have two Aldi stores within a mile and a half from my home and you probably have one nearby as well. Apparently the company plans to open 500 more stores in the next two years. If you haven’t ventured into an Aldi lately, give them a shot. Just remember two things: bring a quarter to borrow a cart (and you get your quarter back when you return the cart) and bring your own bags (which I hope you do regardless). Happy and healthy shopping!

Will Trump Change His Views on Climate Change? Let’s Hope/Take Action

In recent reports, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon feels that President Elect Donald Trump will have to change his views on climate change (for more on this: http://abcnews.go.com/International/secretary-general-ban-ki-moon-predicts-trump-change/story?id=43547496), and I really hope he is right on this one. Trump said on Twitter and later deleted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Please be sure to write to Donald Trump to look at the scientific data on climate change and make advancements. You can write to him here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact.

What Will You Do To Celebrate Earth Day Tomorrow?

Tomorrow, April 22nd, is the 46th Earth Day. Make a commitment to do at least one thing, big or small: write to a legislator and ask them to protect the environment or support a sustainable future, make a pledge to buy less stuff, plant something, recycle something you have been meaning to recycle (computer, old paint), or teach someone else something about the environment. Need some other suggestions? Click here: http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/curriculum-and-activities/activities-ngw/1195-top-10-earth-day-activities.html. What will you do?

Happy Pollution Prevention Week! (Sept 21-27, 2015)

Happy Pollution Prevention Week!

(Sept 21-27, 2015)
Courtesy of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)
(Repost: September 21st, 2015 by Laura B.)
“Twenty-five years ago, Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act. Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, celebrated during the third week of September each year (September 21-27, 2015), highlights the efforts of EPA, its state partners, industry, and the public in preventing pollution right from the start.”

Check out the GLRPPR Blog posts this week for great ideas on how to minimize waste and pollution through your daily activities.

Also, “If you’re on social media, use the#P2Week and #25YearsofP2 hashtags to raise awareness of pollution prevention as the cornerstone of environmental sustainability.”

Recycling… does it really happen?

The radio station WBEZ (91.5) has several feature shows that tell stories about current events and interesting topics. Personally, I like their story-telling style versus a bullet point fact sheet approach to news-telling. Curious City is one of my favorite shows (also podcasted). They take questions from listeners that are specific to curious and “mysterious” topics about Chicago and surrounding areas.

Recently, Curious City was asked about the Blue Cart Recycling Program. Many think it’s just a sham. It’s not working and is just a “feel good” placebo program. I’ll admit, I had my doubts too. After listening to the podcast “What really happens to Chicago’s blue cart recycling?” by Chris Bentley, I am happy to know that at least 80% of what I (and collectively, my Chicago Family) put in the blue bin actually ends up somewhere with the intent to recycle it: to turn them into something of use, reclaim the natural materials and reserve the need to use virgin and raw materials. They will not sit in the landfill forever, never to be used again, wasted.

 

 

MVCC Book Selling / Buying Website

Oh how I love to sell and buy used stuff. This got me thinking about our students selling and buying our books. I wondered how they could do this. Apparently, our awesome student trustee had this brilliant idea created: http://books.morainevalley.edu/swap_main.asp?. The more people that post, the more savings there will be for everyone. Buying a reused book will not only save money, but will prevent unused books from entering the landfill. It is a win for you, the other person and sustainability. Now go and post your books for sale and buy your books for next semester!

Simple Tips (& Why) to Green Your Holidays!

Stores staying open all day on Thanksgiving, Black Friday hype, Christmas ads already blaring… enough! It’s STRESSING me out! And that is not healthy.

I want to relax and enjoy quality time with my family and friends. And I want the experiences to be healthy for me, them and light on environmental impact.

Two things I like to consider to help me be less stressed & promote health for my peeps and my (our) planet: 1. Greening Gifts
2. Greening the Menu

1. On Gifts (and avoiding the crazy, stressful shopping wars!) I’m steering clear of all that hub bub and instead will be home, warm and cozy, preparing my craft room to make my gifts. I love making things! It helps me unwind, plus I know I’m pouring love into the gift and so does the recipient. Win-win!

Not everyone is crafty or inclined to make gifts. But if you are! Here’s a blog with a few ideas I really like and maybe you will, too. 38 DIY Gifts People Actually Want

If you’re not crafty, no problem. You can of course still pour love into bought items, too. And there are plenty of resources out there to help you find the perfect gift for that special someone. It’s perfect because not only do they need the item, it is helpful to them, won’t make them sick and is also created in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. Perfect!

I realize some of us will still want to get out and shop for some great deals… have you heard of Small Business Saturday? A lot of Chicagoland businesses are participating and shopping local is really a great way to encourage local economic recovery!

2. On the Menu: Eating lower on the food chain is a great way to make a difference for your health and the planet. It’s easier than you think, too. Do you have to give up the Turkey? No!! But treating it more like a condiment and enjoying more of your favorite vegetable based sides is a great start. Also, everything doesn’t have to be organic, but I do look out for certain food additives to avoid as well as where and how the veggies or fruit are grown for health concerns.

[On meat: If I did eat meat I would want to buy it from a local farmer where I know the animal was cared for, ate the right foods and slaughtered in a manner that was ethical.]

What’s on my menu? Well, I’m not hosting….but this is what I am bringing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts in a Balsamic Reduction
Kale, Pumpkin Seed, Cranberry Salad
Apple, Turnip, Sweet Potato Saute

Final Greening Holidays tip from me to you… When making your list to give people this holiday season, it helps to consider the following:

  • WHAT will be the impact on the person I’m giving this gift to? Will it improve their live in a meaningful way?
  • WHERE does this gift come from? Is it locally crafted and supporting local economies?
  • WHO made it? Are they paid a living wage and have safe working conditions? WHO profits from me buying this gift? Does it enrich some corporation whose values I do/don’t support?
  • HOW was it made? How does the resource and manufacturing impact on the environment?
  • WHY? Why should I give this gift? What NEED does it fill?

It’s important to consider these questions so that not just at a personal level, but at a global level you are fully aware of the impacts of your gift-giving decisions.

Happy Holidays!