Tag Archives: green

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!

Movie Night!

Whenever (and it is rare) I find myself with a night of nothing to do, I always think: well, I should watch a movie! But then I am overwhelmed by my Netflix choices. Sometimes I want to be entertained and sometimes I want to learn something, a lesson, some facts, etc. Actually, this weekend I think I have a night that I’ll be able to watch a movie…so what will it be?

I often turn to a theme I personally love: Sustainability. And there are a lot of sustainability-related movies available today. One of the first times I remember when I made a conscious connection to enjoying  a cartoon and learning an eco-lesson, was FernGully: the last rainforest, in 1992. But it was, according to Karl Burkart of MNN.com, 1973 that the environmental film-making was born. That year, Chinatown and Soylent Green both hit the big screens. From there, we’ve enjoyed (and possibly been frightened by or disgusted by): The Day after Tomorrow, Whale Rider, Avatar, Erin Brockovich, WALL-E, March of the Penquins, and Happy FeetEven Finding Nemo has an sustainability-story as viewers explore the exotic fish trade, diversity issues, and water/ocean pollution.

and then there are the eco-mentaries, more documentary than entertaining and mostly fiction like: Inconvenient Truth, 11th Hour, Who Killed the Electric Car, Food, Inc., Crude, Forks Over Knives, King Corn, and The Cove just to name a few.

Want more? There are repeats of above, but there are some others not yet listed in the following articles and lists.

Here’s a list of the Huffington Post’s top picks for the 2000-2010 decade.

And, Jill from OdeWire, asks “Are These the 11 Most Inspiring Eco Movies Available Online?

Mother Nature Network shares several movies in this entry:  The best of 2010: environmental picks that include documentaries, fiction and even kid movies.

Earth911.org, one of my go-to-favorite sites for a lot of really useful green info, shares this top 11 eco-flicks the kids and adults can enjoy together and then this top 5 eco-documentaries they think are must-sees (I have to agree) that are all available on Netflix!

So what’s your top eco-flick? Have you watched any of these listed here? Have a suggestion for something missing? Head on over to the Moraine Valley Sustainability Facebook page and let us know.

Have a Green- And Cheap- And Happy Halloween!

Boo! Happy Halloween!

If you’re still working on your ideas for Halloween or want some ideas for next year, check out these sites to get you on the green-fright-train!

Top 10 Ways to Go Green This Halloween – The Daily Green

TheGreenGrok’s Top 10 Most Sustainable Halloween Costumes

25 Homemade Costumes from Recycled Materials

Remember, the best way to minimize impact is to minimize use and waste. If you can re-use something, that’s great! If your something doesn’t create a lot of waste, at least a lot of non-recyclable waste, even better! Candy and stuff is great and for special occasions it’s fine; but you could start the neighborhood trend of giving Fair-Trade chocolates (usually sans HFCS too!) and promote social justice during the holiday. What else can you do to green your Halloween? Go over to the Moraine Valley Center for Sustainability Facebook page and let us know!

Eco-friendly summer drives…

It’s summer time. Time to roll down the windows, turn the radio up and take a long ride, blasting the summer hits and letting the warm air blow through your hair… I love summer rides, really I do. I wish I could do it with less of an eco-impact though. In the future this should be no problem- if we keep letting industry be innovative and also act to push and create market-demand. Until then, I’ll dream along with the dreamers.

Dreamers like who ever invented this – Wow! When can I get one of these?

If you search YouTube for other green, future cars you can find a lot of neat, flashy and really out-of-this-world (or under it?!) concepts. However, I think the idea from Honda above is actually realistic. I mean, it looks so easy and comfortable, it’s like a seated-segway! It’s exciting to me industry is developing more options for green individual modes of transit, like the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt.

And industry leaders like Nissan, Chevy, Honda and Ford are continuing to explore other new and exciting ways to help us get around. But students in higher education are getting in on the action to create our future transit options, too. The US EPA has a competition called EcoCAR Competition where teams compete to create the coolest, most innovative and least environmentally impacful car possible. You can see several of the winners on this YouTube page.

Still, some of those futuristic concept cars are pretty sweet and fun to dream about…

Happy Summer!

Food labels, what do they really mean?

I sometimes find myself in the grocery store saying, “What the heck does cage-free mean, anyway?” And then, what does free-range, farm-raised, etc… I have a clue, but probably not 100% of the correct information. Well, now there’s a great resource for me to reference when I get confused. I thought I’d share it with the readers of this blog, too.

This is the green blog, right? So what does food have to do with being green or sustainability? A lot. We need to eat, there’s no denying that. However, with every choice we make when considering “What’s for dinner?” (or any other meal) there is a direct impact on carbon emissions, land use, water use, clean air, waste and equally importantly – your health.  This label resource will also help you understand the impacts your diet may have on your health and your environment. We all know to eat less fat and high fiber. Eat some fruit and so on. But really, what do we know about what foods to choose if we also want to take care of the planet? Which is something we all need to consider, since our food- be it beef, greens, fish or tacos- comes from the planet. Without it being healthy- clean water and air, plentiful healthy soil- we will not be able to grow the food we need to survive.

Check out this link. What do you think about it? Does it influence your future food choices? Did you already know these things? This is only one of many really useful resources out there on food. If you want to know more or have a conversation or check out a book, article, etc. Stop by the Center for Sustainability in L242 or drop a line at sustainability@morainevalley.edu.