1. Eco-Friendly Summer Fun

    Posted on April 10, 2012 by Ashley S

    Summer is the season for cookouts, trips to the beach and naps in the sun. Unfortunately, it also tends to be a prime season for polluting the very resources that allow people to enjoy their favorite warm weather activities This summer, keep participating in the activities you enjoy, but do it in a way that won’t hurt Mother Nature. The following tips should help get you started on a fantastic green summer.

    Summer Gardening

    Here’s a tip that will help you save money, eat healthy and be a friend to the environment: Grow fruits and veggies in your garden. Eating produce grown in a backyard garden is far better for the environment that consuming fruits and vegetables that have been treated with pesticides, excessively watered and transported across the country in a gas-guzzling truck. Gardening doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Stick with plants that grow well in your region’s climate and you’ll have no trouble growing a bumper crop of delicious fruits and vegetables.

    Stick with Reusable Utensils

    Once you’ve harvested the produce from your garden, it’s time to celebrate with a delicious and healthy meal. Keep the celebration green by using plates, cups and utensils that can be washed up and reused at a later time. While paper plates save a bit of immediate washing, the long-term impact on the environment can be harsh. Making a point of eating with reusable utensils and dishware doesn’t mean that you always have to take out the fancy china-a more casual set of plastic dishware should work just fine.

    Drink From a Water Bottle

    This eco friendly hint goes right along with the one listed above. Buying bottled water in the store is not only overpriced, it is terrible for the environment. Do your part by investing in a good water bottle. If you’re worried about the taste of well or city water, simply add a filter to your sink. The end result will be fresh water that keeps both you and the environment healthy.

    Use a Canopy Tent

    Next time you have your friends and family members over for grilling, keep your guests shaded the eco-friendly way: with a canopy tent. Unlike other shading options, a good canopy tent will shield you and your guests from the sun without using up precious energy. These tents are easy to put up and take down, adding an extra level of convenience to any get-together.

    Ride Your Bike

    The weather is nice enough now that you really don’t need to take the car everywhere. Not only is riding your bike far better for the environment, it’s also good for your health. Even a short bike ride is capable of burning hundreds of calories. Biking can also be an excellent social activity. Instead of driving all over with your friends, pull out your bikes and ride to the nearest park.

    Staying green this summer doesn’t have to be difficult, inconvenient or expensive. With a few basic changes to your routine, you can enjoy your favorite summer activities while doing your part for the environment.

    The summer is about to heat up, but with a little bit of effort and good decision-making it can be safe and fun for you and the Earth!

  2. 3 Tips for Volunteering

    Posted on April 4, 2012 by Courtney

    When the temperature starts to soar in the springtime, so do volunteer opportunities in your community. Chances are, there are a few green causes to which you can lend your time! And if you volunteer not for a green cause, but for something that still helps people, that’s great too. Good deeds are good deeds. And you can always green up any group effort by encouraging others to minimize waste, carpool, etc.

    Here are three tips for volunteering:   Read more…

  3. What Are You Doing Saturday Night?

    Posted on March 29, 2012 by Courtney

    I know what I’ll be doing: Playing board games, reading a book, or just talking with friends by candlelight. Anything that doesn’t involve electricity between 8:30 and 9:30. Why? It’s Earth Hour!

    Since 2007, households all over the world have turned off their electricity for one hour in a show of support for climate change awareness. It began in Sydney, Australia, but soon spread to the rest of the world. Last year, Earth Hour grew to include hundreds of millions of people across 135 countries.

    So how do you participate? It’s easy: When 8:30 p.m. rolls around, your local time, just turn off the lights and unplug most everything that uses electricity. TVs, computers, and alarm clocks are easy. Light some candles and entertain yourself however you see fit from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. And you’re done! Hopefully it’ll inspire you to try and save energy during other hours of your life, too.

    (Word to the wise: You could be an overachiever and unplug your refrigerator, but think about how much juice it’s going to take to get it back to the correct temperature after an hour. My advice is to leave the fridge plugged in during Earth Hour, because all your energy savings will be negated when it has to work extra hard to get back to the correct temperature.)

    The Earth Hour site has all sorts of inspiring stories, photos and videos of people all over the world showing their support for the environment. There are also many ways to get involved with the Earth Hour movement aside from turning off the lights for an hour. The movement has grown so big that many famous landmarks turn off their lights to show support, including the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Burj Khalifa,  the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Sydney Opera House.

     Have you observed Earth Hour before? What did you do to entertain yourself in the dark?

  4. A/V Fridays – What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

    Posted on March 23, 2012 by Allie

    It’s very simple.

    via 13 Wham News This Morning.

  5. Inspire Others to Eat Green & Eat Local

    Posted on March 13, 2012 by Ashley S

    As a law student, I’m constantly on the go. Running back and forth between classes, the library and trying to squeeze in some time at the gym burns energy faster than you might think. Most days I pick up food on the go at local restaurants and fortunately, here in Chicago, we have some great ones that offer healthy, energizing options.

    Visiting all these different spots has shown me that there’s a lot of competition in the city and running a restaurant can prove challenging. But if you were to advertise your restaurant as “green and healthy” this might attract those who support local eateries and green businesses.

    Getting Started

    Restaurant experience is helpful. But if you don’t have experience working in or running a restaurant, buying into a franchise is an excellent idea. Once you’re a franchise owner, you will receive training and plenty of resources to help you get started. The corporate office will develop marketing campaigns for you, as well as assign a management team to help you in the beginning.

    You can also buy an existing restaurant and benefit from this establishment’s good reputation and client-base. Be sure to ask questions before making an offer. Why is the owner selling? What’s included in the sale price? Others factors to consider include the restaurant’s location, as well as the restaurant’s past and current financial records.

    Starting an independent restaurant from the ground gives you creative freedom, in which you’re able to develop a completely original idea and concept. Understand, however, new start-ups require restaurant experience, a lot of time, and generally a type A personality.

    Organic Food

    Advocating green eating can be somewhat challenging if you buy into a franchise or purchase an existing restaurant. These restaurants have an established menu and switching up the food selection might turn off loyal clients. Independent restaurants give you the freedom to create your own menu. But even if you can’t completely change the menu on a franchise or newly acquired restaurant, you can make little changes and incorporate additional items to show your support for healthy eating.

    Start by researching and comparing organic suppliers. Perhaps you can begin buying your meats, dairy products, vegetables and fruits from these companies. Cost is an issue and you’ll need to find a supplier with reasonable prices. This keeps your food costs low, so you don’t have to raise your prices.

    Restaurant Supplies

    Green restaurant ventures don’t stop with food preparation. Reducing the amount of energy that your restaurant consumes also contributes to your green efforts. Restaurants require ice machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, fryers, ovens and other supplies. Replacing at least one restaurant supply or piece of equipment with an energy-efficient alternative can save your establishment hundreds each year. The yearly savings can double or triple by incorporating all energy-efficient supplies in your commercial kitchen.

    Smaller Steps

    Other green tips to help save energy include regularly changing your air filters, opting for energy-efficient lighting, switching to programmable thermostats, regularly checking pipes and seals for leaks and conserving hot water. Going green is a group effort and it’s imperative that you educate your staff on various energy conserving methods.

  6. A/V Fridays – Woodwalk

    Posted on March 2, 2012 by Allie

    SD > LA Woodwalk from The Paradigm Project on Vimeo.

    On a quest to raise awareness for The Paradigm Project’s goal of placing five million clean burning stoves in developing countries by 2020, volunteers walked from San Diego to Los Angeles with sixty pound bundles of wood on their backs.

    Clean burning stoves relieve the burden of wood collection, eliminate respiratory problems that come from cooking over a wood fire every day, free up time for family members to earn income for their families, and reduce problems associated with deforestation.

    WOODWALK was just screened at Sundance.

    Visit The Paradigm Project to learn more.

  7. A/V Fridays – Recycled Wool Fortune “Cookie” Valentines

    Posted on February 10, 2012 by Allie

  8. Protect the Environment, Protect Yourself

    Posted on January 17, 2012 by Ashley S

    If you live in the city like me, there are eco-friendly options for your safety better than this dog- although probably not as cute!

    Wanting to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself from basics you need. You just have to find alternative means that accomplish what you need while still being sustainable for the environment. Some people spend a fortune on home security systems that use up a lot of energy and aren’t efficient at all. You can go to online resources like protectyourhome.com for eco-friendly information that are easily affordable options – and I have a few green options to share too!

    Natural protection

    I have family in the south that lives out in the country. Here in the city, our homes are separated from our neighbors by a few feet. In the country where my family lives, huge fields separate the neighbors. There is a lot of space and there aren’t many people who travel the country roads. They never owned a security system to protect their home, but they always kept a few dogs in the yard. These dogs were friendly with us—and the pigs and chickens my grandparents kept—but whenever a stranger pulled up they let us know. My grandfather liked dogs but he kept them more for protection than as pets. They stayed outside and kept stray dogs and strangers from entering the yard. When it comes to green security nothing is more eco-friendly than that! But I live in Chicago, and I understand that in certain areas you will need a lot more than a dog to provide security.

    Harness the sun’s energy

    Vivint is one company that has jumped on the green bandwagon and is attempting to create a new system that will save money and use less energy. Their idea is a bit more radical than others because it requires a drastic change that is definitely beneficial, although many people still don’t have the capabilities to do it yet. They are focusing on homes with solar powered panels that use the sun’s energy to power home appliances. They install panels into the home that allows users to track how much energy certain appliances are using. They are also extending that feature to smartphones so people can track their status while on the go.

    Recycle when you upgrade

    ADT security systems are a good choice for security systems because they reuse parts of outdated devices to produce the newer models. Each system has minerals inside of it that can be taken out and put to use along with metals that are difficult to break down and would only increase waste if they were thrown away. ADT has implemented smartphone usage into their system too. Users can turn lights off and on and save energy while they are away from home. The thermostat can be controlled via the phone too—giving users control of their home while on the move.

    There are many ways to protect yourself and your family while still looking out for the environment and conserving energy. Each day people are working on new ways make these systems even more efficient and eco-friendly too. Do you have any tips or ideas to add that I didn’t mention?

  9. A/V Fridays – Do the Green Thing

    Posted on January 13, 2012 by Allie

    A funny, clever call to creative action on climate change.

  10. Gloves = Wallet

    Posted on December 23, 2011 by Allie

    J hates carrying a big wallet. We searched high and low for a small wallet that would hold a few cards and folded bills, but we could never find the right wallet at a reasonable price.  He carried a business card holder for a few months, until it wore out.  I made him a wallet out of fabric, that sort of worked.  But eventually, he needed a better solution.

    He told me what he wanted, and we started brainstorming.  What if we took an old large wallet and cut it down somehow?  I searched through the closet for an old luxury brand leather wallet, but when I took it apart, it was all plastic and glue with the thinest veneer of leather.  There wasn’t much to work from.  Then J remembered he had an old pair of gloves from the Army Surplus store.  He hadn’t worn them in years.

    We used a seem ripper to separate the leather pieces.  The leather was soft and floppy and we worried that it wouldn’t make a sturdy enough wallet.  So I did a little internet research and learned that pouring hot water on leather causes it to contract, and stiffen.  Then I used an old iron I saved just for crafting situations to iron the leather out flat, being careful not to sear it.  In addition to making it thicker, it also gave it a nice worn look.

    Since we had such limited material to work with used felt to mark out the pieces so we could see how much material we had to work with, formed our design and did a trial run.  Then I made the leather wallet.  I used the existing prepunched holes on several seams.  I’d never worked with leather before.  When I tried to do one of the seems without prepunched holes, I broke several needles, and the stitching went crooked.  For the final seam, I used the sharp point on my seam ripper to poke holes to stitch through, and it was much much easier.

    It’s certainly not perfect, but it works well, and because we made the pattern for his specific needs, it’s exactly what he wanted.  After I finished the wallet, we learned that what J was looking for is called a “front pocket wallet” and they aren’t as hard to find if you know the right search term.  But J loves his handmade wallet, and we were able to make use of materials we already had, instead of buying something new.

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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