April 2010


Re-posted from the Green Living Newsletter.  Sign up today!

Green Earth Youth Movement’s Top 5 Tips for a Green Prom

1. Create a Car Pool: Drive to the dance with your favorite friends in tow – sans the gas-guzzling bus or limo. When we say car pool, we mean it!

2. Dress for Eco-Success: Why not have your dress serve a greater purpose? Check out dresses that use organic fabrics like bamboo and hemp, so the material is biodegradable. Once you’re done with your digs, donate it to a less-fortunate teen via DonateMyDress.org.

3. “Green” your ‘do: Ditch the energy-exhausting electric curlers and curling iron. Rag curls create soft, graceful curls that will last all night. Just remember: you’ll want to do this the night before since you’re counting on Mother Nature to set the curl.

4. Go Paperless:Instead of the prominvites, go the tree-saving approach by using a service like evite.com.

5. Make Prom Matter:If you do any or all of the above, you’ll save a bundle, so why not consider giving a portion of your promproceeds to a charity or non-profit organization?

Source: Ally Maize, eco teen and founder of the Green Youth Movement via Green Living Newsletter

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Alright, all my cyclists out there, holler.  I can’t hear you.  Ok, I can hear you now.  The bike question of the day, or perhaps of our current era of Presidential Administration, is: could Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood be, as no politician has been before, an actual hero of United States cycling culture and advocacy?  Is he the Real Deal Holyfield, movin’ and shakin’ his way through red tape and dissenting auto purists to champion bicycles as having an equal share in the way our streets and public spaces are planned? Is he, indeed, THE DOMESTIC REINCARNATION OF MADONNA DEL GHISALLO?!  These things cannot be determined by a single human; they require the analyzation of many.  Begin at LaHood’s own blog, where you can read his thoughts on the recent National Bike Summit and view some videos of him speaking there.

The skinny is that LaHood plans to shake up the way our country approaches transportation planning.  To quote from his blog: “Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”  You can read the official language of his new policy here, but a few of his stated principle aims are to:

  • Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
  • Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Go beyond minimum design standards.
  • Collect data on walking and biking trips.
  • Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
  • Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
  • Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

As a cyclist, this basically sounds too good to be true.  And, of course, it may be, for the political backlash from LaHood’s goals was immediate and, as we all know, conservative politicians have an uncanny knack for repainting progressive ideas, however rational and necessary, to look half-baked.  Speaking of which, the main vocal opponent of LaHood’s policy, Steven LaTourette (Double “La-s”?  LaBattle of LaBicycle?), went so far as to mockingly suggest that LaHood was on drugs.  I really have no idea, but even if he WERE on drugs, let’s say, hittin’ that chronic, would that make a comprehensive cycling plan that levels the playing field between autos and cyclists, as well as pedestrians for that matter, any less reasonable and fair? If we are, in fact, in the beginning or the middle or the short, bitter end of a green revolution, shouldn’t every form of human transportation factor equally into the success of an integrated community, a space that serves to exclude no one, include everyone?

Or is that an inaccurate, neo-hippy perspective, and does this increase in the planning status of the bicycle actually threaten our economic survival, as the National Association of Manufacturers claims?  Will the trucking and freight industries be jeopardized by more bike paths and fewer commercial-only roads through town centers? Will large, multi-ton semi-trucks, traveling at breakneck speeds, be forced to screech to suicidal halts when young tricyclists suddenly decide to merge onto freeway on-ramps to shave a few minutes off their preschool commutes?  Am I repeatedly asking questions as a means to avoid answering them?  Perhaps; I’m no Ray “Ghisallo” LaHood, after all.  “Madonna Ray,” I think he’s called.

-Jeremy Pearson

The earth is what we all have in common,” once stated the famed writer and farmer, Wendell Berry. And he is completely right. Historically speaking, humans and animals have found reasons to become intolerant and draw lines, but one thing we cannot deny is our commonality of Mother Earth. This message is imperative during these trying times of increasing Climate Change and after years of manmade pollution has plagued our planet. Today marks a particular day of importance for our planet, Earth Day and in particular Earth Day is celebrating its 40th year!

The very first Earth Day was planned by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 as a national teach-in for students and the country to call attention to the environmental movement and as a protest against current policies.  The idea sure stuck, as students around the country, some 20 million, gathered together to draw attention to the environment, mainly focusing on the pollution of air and water. Since that fateful day in the year of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Jimi Hendrix’s death, and the Kent State Shootings, Earth Day has continued to grow. In fact, many people point to this day as the onset of the modern environmentalist movement. The original Earth Day and the proceeding public outcry led the federal government to create the Environmental Protection Agency  that same year and influenced the passage of groundbreaking acts such as the Clean Air, Clean Water, an Endangered Species Act. It would be an understatement to call the first Earth Day a success. In fact, it is often highlighted that the original Earth Day gained the support of almost all Americans, something an issue can rarely do, from young to old, Democrats to Republicans, the rich and the well, not so rich…you get the point. It was one of those rare opportunities for the country to pull together.

Over the years Earth Day has grown into almost a national holiday with celebrations and promotions taking place all over the country.  It may have lost its ability to bring commonality to polar opposites, as it is often looked at as a “Hippie Day.” However, Earth Day still meets its original goal of educating the people and drawing awareness to environmental issues. But it doesn’t have to lose the weight it once held with politicos. In this world of human pollution denial, environmental policy drawn on party lines, and growing evidence of climate change, Earth Day and its message are even more urgent.

Today should be utilized, as it always has, to continue to bring attention to the environmental issues our world faces, but also to remind ourselves the importance of our environment everyday. Let Earth Day serve as a reminder to live an eco-friendly life and to continue to support positive environmental policy. You can begin by celebrating Earth Day in a number of ways. Please see last year’s post on How to Celebrate Earth Day for ideas and check the Earth Resource Network for a local event near you. As for us, we will be celebrating in New York City’s Earthfair outside Grand Central Station! If you are nearby, come say hello.

Today, this week, this month, this year, and the rest of our lives should continue with the world on our minds. We owe it to ourselves, our future generations, the animals, and of course our Mother Earth. Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth day and it is time we allow it to get back to its roots; to bring our nation and world together in a common goal: protecting the world around us. Just as Berry stated, the Earth really is the one thing we really have in common, so let us use Earth Day to bridge the gaps between us. As the old adage says “we are all in this together,” so let’s work at it together.

-Gina Williams

Most people  with a pulse, and countless members of the zombie community, have a deep abiding love for music. Regardless of  personal tastes- you prefer wasting away in Margaritaville while your neighbor enjoys  spending time with his girlfriend in a coma–  the smile your favorite song brings to your face is a common ground for music fans worldwide.

Whether people (or the undead) express this allegiance to all things musical by laying down some tasty licks on the nearest guitar or by raising the roof every time their favorite jam comes on- it is a passion that can unite the furthest walks of humanity. Musicians, audiophiles and even the casual listener can now practice their favorite hobby sans green guilt because the music world is slowly but surely evolving to be one with an abundance of eco-friendly options.

ME224 Bambusa Electric Guitar by First Act

Instruments: Getting your jam sesh on may come at the price of angering your mom while the sounds of  your latest hit single pour out of her basement, but it no longer has to come at the risk of offending your other mother- Mother Nature. Moving out or getting a practice space may “cram” your style, but with all that money you are saving on rent you can  probably afford these sweet instruments that aren’t only fashionable, but are environmentally friendly.
The Bambusa Electric Guitar and DW Drums Eco-X Kit Kick Drum each are made from sustainable materials. If these dreamboats of the instrumental world are a little beyond your budget, try buying used instruments at a local music store. Go on now, the basement is calling- ‘Free Bird’ is not going to learn itself.

Recording Studios: Once those masterpieces are practiced enough that they are nearly perfect, it is time for you to record them. This is called “laying down a track” in the music biz. Trust me, I saw the “We Are The World” music video numerous times as a child, so I would know.

Grace Recording Studios in Maui, Hawaii. features photovoltaic solar panels that allows it to generate 100 percent of its own electricity- now that is a spicy recording meatball!

If you are an eco-minded musician or just a generous soul who has a passion for music and green businesses do I have the perfect investment opportunity for you! Will Benoit,  a New England based musician and recording engineer, is attempting to build the first solar-powered, green recording studio in New England. He is raising money on the site kickstarter.com and is offering studio time with donations of 50 dollars or more (time is reflective donation amounts). This ambitious project that will surely benefit local musicians as well as the environment is currently roughly short 11,000 dollars of its funding goals with only fifty three days left to their deadline. There are not an abundance of eco-friendly recording studios in the world, so help this broski (not my literal brother) out if you can.

Concerts: Nothing is quite like the experience of a  hearing live music  in concert, I mean, you can not really say you have enjoyed John Tesh until you have heard the man tickle the ivory live; am I right, or am I right? While concerts may not inherently be green-with the huge gas guzzling buses and sea of garbage they can create-some music festivals are doing their best to make sure that their impact on mother earth is minimal.

Coachella, California’s three day music festival which features some of the most talented bands in the country, has embraced eco-friendly habits.  Their website now hosts a feature appropriately named “carpoolchella” that allows you to organize car shares. As if this feature were not cool enough on its own, carpools of four or more people are eligible for an array of neat prizes. I can dig it.  Coachella is also reducing the use of bottled water and increasing recycling efforts. Warped Tour has launched a unique eco initiative, which focuses on lessening their tour’s negative environmental impact by focusing on recycling, increasing usage of bio-diesel and the education of bands and concert goers alike about eco-friendly living.  You can keep tabs on their efforts and even find volunteer opportunities  on their blog.

Listening Devices:  If you are a spy, I am sorry for the misleading title. This section is not for espionage and the like, but rather about the devices that make listening to music a breeze. These lovely and eco-friendly headphones from Thinksound will make your mp3 listening not only a pleasurable one, but a guilt free one too. Made from recyclable materials; they come in an equally eco-friendly, recycled, bleach free case. Frontgate offers a wireless, solar-powered speaker that you can connect to your tv, stereo or mp3 player for soothing wireless tunes in an outdoor environment.

Again, you eco-friendly fans on a budget can purchase used goods. Musicians may want to check out used equipment, such as amps and microphones, at your local music store. In no time at all you will be on your way to writing your first legendary album. May I suggest the title, “Jams for your Stam…ina! Put These Tasty Licks in Your Pipe and Smoke Them: The Legend of Zeus”, no? Ok, your loss!

Metal heads, Hip Hoppers, Doo-wop enthusiasts and Polka fans may never agree on what defines the perfect song, but all music fans can agree that grooving out to music that is created, performed and listened to in an eco-friendly manner somehow sounds sweeter.

-Meghan Hurley

It strikes one as an oxymoron.  Guerrilla gardening.  Hardcore soldier resistance tactics meets backyard tomato seed planting. But yes, in action in urban spaces around the world, this is the increasing truth.  Growing one’s own food, as an individual or for a community, is a concept lost on more and more people in affluent societies today.  The disconnect is complete; modern economics allows people to consume goods produced in ways unknown to them, in places they will never see, due both to a lack of knowledge and exposure, as well as unsuitable conditions in which to create, or grow, these goods themselves.

Guerrilla gardening is a practice and a movement aimed at changing this, and the concept is spreading through example, in the mysterious appearances of plants in forgotten patches of earth in the hearts of cities, and the growing network of support, advice and encouragement among fellow gardeners in publication and on the Internet.

You’re walking down the block in your town or city, perhaps right outside your front door, and you glance over or miss completely a barren plot of dry, trash-strewn earth; perhaps on the sidewalk where no tree or shrub grows, perhaps in a massive concrete planter, or maybe in a forgotten, chain-fenced lot with some links conveniently severed.  This dirt you pass is useful; anything you might like to look at, or like to eat or use for a gift, could grow there with a bit of care and attention. But nothing does, and nothing is done about it, for the idea of planting such useful plants in an urban context doesn’t immediately make sense; it is an alien concept.

We buy what we need in the city, we don’t walk to a bus stop to harvest a stem from our favorite flower or peak into an alley to see how our pea shoots are growing on the back fence of an auto garage.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  People can reclaim the space around them.  You can shape it as you see fit.  Do it boldly in the middle of the day, start a conversation when you get curious questions.  Do it quietly in the middle of the night, away from disapproving eyes.  The spirit of a guerrilla lies in disruption through unconventional, unexpected and innovative means. The disruption is the redefining of what inhabitants of a city call home, bringing the ancient into the modern, the natural into the manufactured.  It is a chance to feel that you can create what you need and desire, that you need not wait for others to do it for you.  And in this struggle, which is inherently communal, you are not alone. There are plenty of communities and resources on the handy worldwide web, so for ideas, info and inspiration, please see:

Guerrilla Gardening: A world community organization including tips, pictures, blogs, and local community boards.

Primal Seeds: A guide to the guerrilla gardening movement and a great resource from other guerrilla gardeners and communities.

Los Angeles Guerrilla Gardening: Even if you are not located in LA, the LA movement is going strong and has plenty of ideas for inspiration.

And if the interwebs just aren’t your thing check out these two hardcover books: On Guerrilla Gardening and Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto

-Jeremy Pearson

Cupcakes, cookies, cakes, galore! Yes, you read that right. There is a all vegan world bake sale coming to a neighborhood near you! April 24th through May 2nd is the 2nd annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. You may be asking, what exactly is the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale? It is a two week vegan baked goods extravaganza that raises money for a variety of causes in the vegan world sponsored by Compassion for Animals. The first year it was put on, 2009, they were able to raise over $25,000 and were voted “Veg Event of the Year” by VegNews Magazine.

The best thing about this event is it is completely DIY. Anyone, that means even you, can participate! You do not have to belong to an organization or non-profit to hold a sale. The producers of the event invite all people to join in and raise money! What a great way to expose people to the delights of vegan baking as well as raise money for animal rights. There are only two rules to Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, first rule, don’t talk about Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale….ok, ok that was too easy, but we just had to throw in a Fight Club joke. But really there are two simple rules to abide by:

1) ALL baked goods must be Vegan (learn more about Vegan baking)

2) Nothing sold or given out at the sale should directly promote the harm of animals.

Herbivore Clothing Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale Tee

Seems pretty simple! There are already great events lined up all over the world including Europe, Australia, Brazil, Finland, Singapore, and the US. Find out if any sales are happening in your area. If not, plan an event yourself! All you have to do is lock down your details and fill out this simple form. Your event will be posted on the website and promoted worldwide. If you aren’t sure exactly how to plan a sale, take a look at these handy Bake Sale Tips. And if you want to make your event official or if you just want to promote this awesome event, Herbivore Clothing has released a pretty cute official Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale Shirt, a portion of the sales go to various animal sanctuaries and vegan organizations.

Even if you can not plan an event, please check your local area to attend an event and add them on Facebook. This is an exciting, inclusive event which will help educate the mainstream, as well as introduce people to the tasty and satisfying world of vegan baked goods. And to top it off, it raises money to fund animal rights and vegan organizations. We can’t find a single thing wrong with this event and look forward to attending some in our neck of the woods. Happy vegan baking or consuming! 🙂

President Obama’s recent announcement of his administration’s intention  to broaden offshore drilling to  waters in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the North coast of Alaska may have been more eloquent than the Republican’s favored sentiment, “Drill, baby, drill”, but the core message seemed to be eerily similar.

President Obama also preemptively addressed his critics in his speech, stating, “There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling. But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.

Obama say what?

He further attempted to cushion the blow of this polarizing announcement by reminding the public of the positive things he and his administration have done for the environment and intend to do in the future, noting, Already, we’ve made the largest investment in clean energy in our nation’s history.

The President’s justifications have not been met with the understanding that he may have been hoping for, in fact, it seems as though his tooting of his own horn and his “the end justifies the means” defense is falling on a sea of deaf ears.

Critics have also been quick to identify this as a calculated move on his behalf in order to earn favor with Republicans. Ben Feller of the Huffington Post explains, “Inside politically conscious Washington, Obama’s announcement was viewed, too, as a play to win Republican support for a comprehensive climate change bill.”  While the intent of the President’s decision remains to be seen, it seems to be another rationalization for the expansion offshore drilling- if appeasing Republicans by giving them the offshore drilling that they love to enthusiastically chant for means that a bill that will be a positive step for the environment gets passed as a result, then is it really so bad?

Intentions aside, environmentalists are taking this surprise move by the President as a slap in the face. Among the offended, The Executive Director of Greenpeace, Phil Radford, offers “Expanding offshore drilling in areas that have been protected for decades threatens our oceans and the coastal communities that depend on them with devastating oil spills, more pollution and climate change.

Regardless of the reason or reasons President Obama made this decision, the reality is that offshore drilling comes with huge risks to the environment and to our nation‘s reputation worldwide. This decision gives the appearance that the President giving a huge thumbs up to the indulgent, gas guzzling habits prevalent in the United States today. Does President Obama really believe that offshore drilling is the methadone this junkie nation needs to finally kick the oil habit?

Supporting  the development and the implementation of cleaner energies would be a more proactive, long-term way to achieve energy independence. Compromises that include risky endeavors of seeking out more oil seem  not only senseless, but downright dangerous. Offshore drilling- no matter how much you dress it up or how many pretty bows you stick on it -comes with huge risks to the environment. Oil spills are dire events that have long-lasting negative repercussions for all types of life.

If you disagree with the President’s intention to extend offshore drilling, please, we urge you, to let your opinion be heard. Contact the President or sign this petition on Moveon.org. Also, remember to do your part and consume less energy.

Together, with a little effort and innovation-and perhaps a twelve step program-we can evolve into a nation that is free at last of our nasty oil habit.

-Meghan Hurley

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