May 2008

Fenway Park, home of the famed Red Sox, which rests in the middle of bustling Boston is a national and local attraction. The green walls of the park have come to symbolize America’s national pastime. But now the park can boast the green shade is more than symbolic.

Earlier this month, Fenway Park revealed newly installed solar panels. They have installed enough solar panels to heat a third of the park’s hot water. The solar panels were installed by one of the city’s green projects. The city of Boston and energy companies have been funding this initiative, called Solar Boston.

Boston who was rated 3rd on the Popular Science’s America’s 50 Greenest Cities, hopes to increase the city’s overall solar output by 2015. They have set a reachable goal to increase solar energy 50 fold. In 2007, Boston also became one of the Solar America Cities, an initiative to increase the national solar output by the US Department of Energy.

Solar power is a great renewable energy source, but it isn’t the only one the city of Boston is instituting . Beginning this July, NStar, electricity supplier to Boston, is offering customers the option to have half or all of their electricity supply come from wind power. For just $4 (for half) or $7 (for all) extra a month, every household can switch to a renewable energy source. That’s the cost of a lunchtime sandwich!! So, please, if you are local, consider signing up for NStar’s Green Program.

It is inspiring to see Boston, America’s oldest city and one of the largest metropolises in the country taking renewable energy to the mainstream! If you live in Boston or would like to keep updated on the city’s Green projects, check out The Green Blog hosted by the Boston Globe. Hopefully, Boston and other Green cities such as San Francisco and Portland, OR will set a new trend that will take hold over cities and towns across the nation!!

Have you ever wondered where your stuff comes from…or more importantly where it goes after you’re done with it? Have you looked around and realized how much STUFF you actually have and how it even accumulated to be so much? OR have you ever gone so far as to think about what YOUR stuff is doing to the planet and the people that live on it?

Introducing the kind-of long but definitely worthwhile online video The Story of Stuff.

The Story of Stuff is a truly enlightening, fact-filled portrayal of human consumption at its worst, or, er…what it’s like in today’s world. The video’s hostess, Annie Leonard, walks you clearly and realistically through all of the environmental and social connections within our consumption cycles and then inspires you to take action and make positive changes within your own consumption patterns to (hopefully) make the planet a better, healthier place. As their website states, “It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever“, and we couldn’t agree more!

Sponsored by the Tides Foundation, a social justice & equal economic opportunity non-profit, and The Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, an advocacy group for healthy and environmentally-friendly consumption, The Story of Stuff has grown over the past year to feature a screening kit (including tips, invitations and group activities if you want to host your own neighborhood screening), posters, a DVD, and has garnered over 2 million views!!

If we haven’t yet convinced you that this is the type of video that makes us want to become school teachers just so that we can get to the children before they buy too many ipod skins, then check out this teaser and make sure to check out the full version at

A smooth, flavorful glass of wine will calm even an over-stressed soul. But have you ever wondered what is actually in your wine? For those of us who choose not to consume animal products this a question that may come up often. For many vegans there are products that border on the line of being vegan, such as honey or silk. These products are not as veganistically simple to decide on as a steak, and wine is a classic example.

So you are thinking: What? Of course wine is vegan, its made out of crushed grapes, right? Although, grapes and other fruits may be the main ingredient, the fining process of wine is not always vegan. Depending on the winery, wines can be filtered through a number of ways. Some wineries use animal products such as gelatin (made from cow or pig bones) or casein (derived from milk) or even chitin (fish bladders). However, some wines are processed using vegan friendly and non animal bi-products such as plant derived casein and certain types of clays. If you’re curious about learning more about the vegan filtering process, we recommend that you check out Veggie Wines, a UK-based vegan information organization, or the May 2006 article on the topic by Vegetarians in Paradise.

So what about organic wines? Many of them boast a non filtered or organic natural fining process, but are they necessarily vegan? Since organic wine requires the product to be produced with organically grown grapes and must not contain sulfites (usually added as a preservative and is what causes that pesky morning-after headache), it would seem that organic wine would also refrain from fining with animal products. This however, is not always the case, so make sure you read the fine print.

Organic wines that are completely unfiltered are usually vegan and will most likely state this right on the label. We recommend the oldest organic vineyard in the country and multiple award-winner Frey Wines (which was also very popular at our World Fair Trade Day organic wine tasting earlier this month!). Or you can check out the vegan sampler from The Organic Wine Company which is a great value and a fun way to taste test vegan organic wines!

The best way to know if an organic (or non organic) wine is completely vegan, is to contact the manufacturer. Luckily, as most vegan products go, someone has already done this work for you! Check out the comprehensive vegan wine guides by Vegan Connection and the blog Taste Better.

So, when choosing your next bottle to share with friends and family, whether you or vegan or not, remember: organic wines are easier on the environment and, best of all, will not leave you with a throbbing wine-over the next day!

This week’s installment of vegan recipe is a delicious vegan tofu dish! This is perfect as a main dish for a quick dinner, party, or potluck! So stop by your local Co-op for the ingredients and within an hour you will have a delectable meal.

Vegan Tofu Stuffed Shells

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook/Bake Time: 45 minutes Serves: 6-8 people

1 Package of Jumbo Stuffing Shells (we recommend whole wheat)

1 Container of Extra Firm Tofu

1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast

1 tsp Salt

1 Tbls Oregano

Black Pepper to Taste

32 oz Tomato or Pasta Sauce

1/2 lb Fresh Spinach

6 ounces of Mushrooms

1/8 Cup Chopped Onions

Vegan Cheese (Follow Your Heart brand) to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot boil water. After the water comes to a rolling boil add the shells and let boil until the pasta shells are soft. Drain the shells and let cool. While the pasta is boiling crumble tofu into large bowl by hand. Add nutritional yeast, salt, oregano, pepper, and vegetables and mix together. In a casserole dish coat the bottom with tomato sauce. Stuff each pasta shell with the tofu mixture. Place the shells in the casserole dish. Once all the shells are in the dish, pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the shells. Cover with glass cover or foil and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle spices to taste (black pepper, garlic, oregano, basil etc) and shredded vegan cheese if using. Cover again and place in oven for an additional 30 minutes or until browned.

For those of you that do not follow suit of this guy…

Or this gal…..

and you realize now that you totally missed Bike-to-Work-Week last week and were amongst the few that actually showed up with a car, do not fret. The entire month of May just happens to be the official National Bike Month! You now have 9 business days and counting to make peace with our planet and your co-workers, so get peddling.

National Bike Month was actually founded way back in 1956 (who knew?) and is now one of the most popular community events across the nation. Of course that’s no thanks to the ridiculously high and scarily rising gas prices these days 😦

National Bike Month is sponsored by the Washington-DC based League of American Bicyclists, an organization that YOU can become a member of that works tirelessly to promote cycling for fun, fitness, and (our favorite) an alternative form of transportation.

The league was formerly founded by a whole bunch of “wheelmen” in 1880 and has blossomed ever since to now provide America with a Bicycle Friendly Neighborhood program; National, State and local bicycle advocacy; bicycle education and safety; and even a magazine for real enthusiasts, the American Bicyclist.

If the thought of being outdoors, getting some exercise, and having some fun is not enough temptation for you to get off the couch and onto a bike, then check out their “50 Ways To Celebrate Bike Month” and start the countdown!  The list is from 2006, but it is even more relevant today.

Some of our favorites include riding with your child to school as a way to teach them that biking is healthy and good for their community; writing a letter to thank your local advocacy group for their work on making our world more bike-friendly (that will go MUCH further than you think); and asking your employer to install bike racks at work to encourage fellow colleagues to join the bike-to-work movement.

OR…if you really want a challenge…invite your local representative to take a bike ride with you and let the community watch as you ride off into the sunset….

When we recently found out that Netflix was owned and operated by the too-evil-to-even-name-or-else-we’ll-shutter Wal-Mart, we have to admit that our hearts sank about as low as they could go. But I LOVE Netflix!! We collectively thought. How can we go without our favorite flicks delivered right to our doorstep! (not to mention the ever-addicting “queue” that so easily distracts from work….).

Never fear, my friends. Gaiam (per the usual) comes to the rescue! Following the recent success of their Spritiual Cinema Circle, the mega feel-good company has now partnered with founders Gay Hendricks and Rick Ridgeway to launch the Earth Cinema Circle.

The premise is simple. Pay $18 bucks a month to become a member and receive 4 environmental films, documentaries and videos delivered right to your mailbox. Invite some friends over for organic popcorn (or organic vodka martinis like in our house!) and it’s just like a mini Environmental Film Festival right at home!

With spokesman actor environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. (who??) by their side, the club brings you the best of wildlife, conservation, adventurous eco-travel and more. The kicker? The DVD’s are packaged with eco-friendly materials (of course!) and are YOURS to keep and share forever.

So if you’re looking for ways to productively spend that stimulus check, we suggest joining the club and start showing off your new eco DVD library.

In eco fashion news this week, everyone’s favorite sustainable apparel label Nau announced that it’s sadly closing it doors!

Founded in 2005 by a crew of former Patagonia, Nike and Addidas execs, Nau was a true pioneer for eco fashion proving that quality, fashionable outdoor gear can indeed be good for our planet (not to mention they’re the makers of our fan fave, super cute Lean Jeans made with organic cotton and a light rinse!)

Citing a ‘highly risk-averse capital market’ as the reason for their closing, it seems that they simply just blew all their investment dough and are now flat broke. They did after all open up a splash of stores across the West and Mid-West in a risky and fast-paced manner. Not everyone can be American Apparel now!

In all seriousness though, Nau’s announcement is a serious setback for the environmental and social movements and we can only hope that it won’t send major shock waves through the social investment community (or the skeptics for that matter).

The good news is that in their short life they were able to donate over $200,000 to charity AND they are now having an AMAZING sale!! In order to liquidate their inventory, they are offering 50% off their entire line and some unbelievable steals. We suspect that inventory won’t last, so march yourselves quickly over to and proudly wear your eco-fashion as the ship sinks!

Once you’ve loaded up on gear from Nau and have shed a tear for their loss, we do have some fantastic news that will keep you from despair. European sustainable brand hessnatur is on its way to American shores for the first time in 30 years!

Founded in Germany by environmentalist Heinz Hess, hessnatur creates casual organic and natural clothing for men, women and babies. Their mission is simple but brilliant: they’re committed to the quality of their clothes as well as the quality of life of those who make them and those who wear them. Indeed, hessnatur has been one of the original pioneers of organic cotton clothing with its well-known organic farming project in Sekem, Egypt; is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for its rigid ecological production methods; and has always made sure that respect for people and planet are at the core of its business.

Now, designer and new creative director of hessnatur, Miguel Adrover is intent on spreading the love of hessnatur to all of us lucky eco-fashionistas here in the States. With his background in using recycled materials in fashion, Adrover certainly seems like a perfect fit for the job!

In his own words, Adrover states, “For me, the work I’m doing for Hess Natur is greater than fashion. It’s not about trend — far from it — it’s about showing the world how apparel can actually help workers, and not harm the environment. It’s an incredibly inspiring company and I’m proud to have found my home in this role.”

This July, look out for the launch of their new online store followed up by a mail catalogue in the fall. Here’s to looking towards a fresh eco-fashion world and many more social and economic advancements to come!

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