February 2011


The Oscar countdown has begun! This Sunday, Hollywood will be a buzz with Oscar fever as the Academy Awards will begin in the afternoon. There are a lot of great films nominated this year and as we have done in the past, we want to highlight a few of the environmentally friendly messaged movies.

Unfortunately, this year has a bit of slim pickings. Over the past few years, there have been fictional feature films with deep environmental messages nominated including Wall-E and Avatar. However, this year the only truly Green films are documentaries. While documentaries are very interesting and entertaining, they are not the most popular art form and will not have the greatest impact. Still, they should be honored for their work.

Two films really stand out this year and they include Gasland and Waste land. Gasland is the story of one man’s investigation into the hydraulic drilling called “fracking” done by natural gas companies such as Haliburton. In the film he uncovers contamination and government deceit, even finding a town where they can light their drinking water on fire. The film is a great expose on natural gas extraction. Often we are focused on the dangers of oil, while not paying attention to other energy sources which are extremly harmful to the environment as well as our health.

Waste Land is a heart wrenching story of the largest landfill on Earth in Rio de Janeiro. It focuses on the lives and poor working conditions of  garbage workers, as well as the story of modern artist Vik Muniz. Muniz creates art from the garbage pickers and gives them money from the profits. He also works to gain recognition and better living conditions for the workers. The film is a beautiful story of excess, trash, art, human connection, and human rights. This is definitely worth a view!

Even if no feature film focused on the environment, we are crossing our fingers that either Waste Land or Gasland are recognized as winning films. Check out the trailers for both films above and let’s hope the Academy honors one of these “land” films. Pun intended.

 

It’s President’s Day! And what’s a better way to celebrate than to honor two of our most remembered Presidents: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln than to highlight some of their green achievements. You may think that going “green” is a relatively new movement, but some people have been watching out for our Earth for centuries. Even though neither George Washington nor Abraham Lincoln are known for environmentalism, both made their mark and set good examples for generations to follow.

President Washington may be known for his outstanding leadership in the military, and his exemplary work as the first president, but what I bet you didn’t know is how much he was into the environment. His first true love was farming. He was out in the yard every day before his days in the office. Don’t believe us? Just take a trip to Mount Vernon where it all began.

Not only did Washington admire his gardens, but he revolutionized them. Have you ever used a repository for dung, or maybe rotated your crops? Both of these ideas came from him. Yes, our former First President, George Washington used to spend his time experimenting with manure. He was the first one to construct a separate building to create natural fertilizer. He hoped that by experimenting with the dung, he could find out what works best in the fields.

President Washington may have been into the environment in his mature days, but I don’t think any of us have forgotten about his infamous cherry tree myth. But that’s just it.. is it myth or fact? Regardless of the truth, I think Washington would be very proud of each one of us who plant a tree to honor this day. For us New Englanders or others living in cold climates, who cannot go out and plant that tree, you can always donate to a supporting tree foundation.

As far as President Abraham Lincoln goes, he has certainly done us a favor. I don’t know about you guys, but I love being able to take a stroll in a beautiful park and enjoy Mother Nature. President Lincoln was the first person to establish land preserves for our collective enjoyment. The first two areas of land were California’s Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. The creation of these protected forests began the foundation for National Park systems.

This tall President was bigger than parks though. Although in the midst of Civil War, Lincoln established the U.S.Department of Agriculture(USDA) in 1862 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. Without his help who knows where our organic farming and scientific innovation, both used to protect and preserve the environment, would be today. Maybe we should tip our hats for all the fresh, local, and organic fruits and vegetables we enjoy today and support our local, organic farmers!

As we celebrate a day off from school or work, take a moment to think about these two Presidents and the accomplishments they have done. They may not have topped the list as the “greenest” Presidents but their work with agriculture and land preserves paved the way for future generations to protect and honor our environment.

-Lauren Bowler

The winter chill has kept us all wrapped  up and in our cozy homes. One of our favorite weekend activities is going to vegan brunch at a favorite restaurant. However, with the chill in the air few want to venture out of their dining rooms for a tasty treat. What a perfect time to experiment your vegan brunch skills! Hollandaise sauce makes a perfect compliment to a Tofu Florentine or Benedict. So put on your aprons and stay in for brunch this weekend. The recipe also works great over veggies at dinnertime.

Vegan Hollandaise Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

  • 2 Egg Replacers
  • 2/3 Cup Vegan Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Organic Soymilk
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Earth Balance
  • 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 Tsp of Black Pepper
  • 1/3 Tsp Tumeric
  • In a small mixing bowl, follow instructions to make an equivalent of 2 eggs with Egg Replacer. Over a stovetop, place all ingredients except Earth Balance in a saucepan. Heat at low-medium heat and stir until mixture is thick. Slowly add in Earth Balance. Remove mixture from heat and serve. For Tofu Benedict serve over an english muffin, smoked tempeh strips, baked and tofu with soy sauce or tamari. For Tofu Florentine serve over an english muffin, spinach, baked tofu with soy sauce or and tamari.

    Often, we discuss labor issues and fair working practices around the world on this blog, as well as providing products that meet these high standards. But we take for granted the work that labor unions did within the US and the issues that still exist here.  As you may remember, labor unions formed in the face of poor and low paying working conditions within the US in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Labor unions have been a huge force in the United States, protecting workers in factories to farms, and even school teachers.  However, we must not forget there are always going to be struggles.

    With the US economy struggling, many people are calling for a cut back in government spending. Obviously, when you want to save money, cutting back will help do the trick but where do you cut from and at what cost?  Much like balancing your personal finances, you must figure out where you have to cut back.  Unfortunately, cuts are often made from crucial social programs such as education and healthcare.

    One huge blow to American worker’s rights happened this week.  Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker purposed a budget which would eliminate government employee unions.  According to Change.org this would  “dismantle the collective bargaining rights of state employees and to force state employees to take a sharp pay cut to help pay for benefits.” He also stated he would call in the National Guard to “bust” any workers protesting, in true union busting form taken straight out of a history book.

    Attempting to dismantle unions as well as threatening people who are using their democratic right to voice their opinions with an army is dangerous ground to walk on. Tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents have been protesting at the Capitol for three days to push lawmakers to vote against the new budget. In true grassroots form, people from all over the state came to show their support of unions including members of other unions. The vote was scheduled to take place today, but the Democratic members avoided the meeting in hopes of persuading the Republicans to discuss a different budget plan. However, many people around the country are showing their support by writing Wisconsin state senators to vote no on this bill.

    We understand there must be budget cuts during a time like this, however, there are other places to slash the budget than employee rights and benefits. The scariest part of this move is that it could influence other states to cut worker’s rights. So please take a moment to support your Wisconsin brothers and sisters and sign Change.org’s petition today.

    Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and as the day approaches, your plans are being made. Whether you have a hot date, spending the night at home, or enjoying the time with your best friends: you will want to have a delicious drink in your hand. As part of our Fair Trade and Organic Cocktails segment we have put together a great love themed or flirty singles drink for the big day. The Flirtini is a great mix of flavors that will impress your date or give you the courage to ask one out! The best part is many of the ingredients can be made fair trade or organic to give it that conscious and eco-friendly punch. Remember to drink responsibly and Happy Valentine’s Day!!

    Flirtini

    3 ounces organic vodka

    1.5 ounces all natural Chambord
    Splash of organic lime juice
    Splash of all natural sour
    Fill a shaker with ice. Add all liquid ingredients above and shake. Strain into martini glass and serve straight up. Garnish with a slice of lime.
    Recommendations:
    For organic vodkas, there are a whole host of choices including Square One and Rain. So far there is only one fair trade vodka on the market: FAIR Spirits!  They also make a fair trade Goji liquor that is a great addition.  As far as Chambord goes, there is only one brand and currently they state that all their ingredients are natural, however, not certified organic. Hopefully that will change soon!  The brand Ripe makes an all natural Sour Cocktail Mix made with organic ingredients such as organic agave. Lastly, organic limes can be found at most grocery stores, co-ops, and natural foods stores.


    Valentine’s Day is the day we use to express our love and devotion to our special someone. Unfortunately, the celebration of love has been dubbed a “Hallmark” holiday, thus resulting in plenty of waste. There are, of course, numerous ways to show your sweetheart how much you care, while being easy on the Earth. We have put together an ethical gift guide from the beginning of your date to the end and beyond!

    1) The Pre-Date: When you show up on the doorstep of your love or meet them in a fancy restaurant, you want to be prepared with an “opening gift.” Traditionally, this includes flowers, cards, and chocolates. Luckily, there is a way to come prepared with all three and still be ethical. For flowers, look for Fair Trade roses and organic mixed bouquets. You can find these flowers at Whole Foods, local co-ops, and online at sites such as Organic Style. Chocolates also come Fair Trade, organic, and vegan. There are a lot of specialty ethical chocolates and truffles such as Sjaack’s, Equal Exchange, and  Coco-Zen. The most green way to give cards, is not to give them at all. But if you really want to write a love note to your special one, try making a card yourself out of recycled material or old photos, write a song, or send an e-card.

    2) The Drinks: For most romantic evenings, wine and cocktails are a must. When you are choosing your wine this year, be sure to stick to organic wines. With the lack of sulfites, these wines will not only impress your green sweetie, but leave your head loving you in the morning. Organic wineries such as Frey, are carried at many natural foods stores, Whole Foods, and even at certain bars and restaurants. Etica is also the first Fair Trade wine and will also impress a socially conscious sweetheart. If cocktails are more your thing, there are now plenty of organic and Fair Trade spirits on the market. We have a great backlog of Organic and Fair Trade Cocktail Recipes.

    3) The Food: If you are staying in for the night, make a great meal with organic and local food. You will also want to hold off on the meats. We also have a ton of vegan recipes for all courses of a meal. But not everyone stays in for the holiday and luckily eco-friendly and vegan restaurants are all the rage these days. Make sure you take your date to an ethical eatery. If you are looking for organic or eco-friendly try the Green Restaurant Guide and for vegan restaurants look to Happy Cow.

    4) The Big Gift: Sometimes you want to pull all the stops out on Valentine’s Day. If you want to give a big gift, such as jewelry, you have plenty of eco options. For something cute and simple, check out these great recycled gift options on World of Good and fair trade jewels on Global Exchange. If you really want to do something BIG, go for eco-friendly diamonds or recycled gold necklaces.

    5) The Bedroom: If all goes as planned, your night might end up with a Do Not Disturb sign hanging from your handle. For some eco-fun in the bedroom try giving your significant other some organic lingerie and undies. You will want to decorate with organic and soy candles. And in case things get a little more intense for the celebration you can find some fun toys at Earth Erotics. Oo la la…

    6) The Weekend: It is possible that you want to give your guy or gal more than just a night of love to celebrate your relationship. How about taking them to an eco-friendly hotel or resort. For some listings, check out the Green Hotel Association. There are also really cute and quaint vegetarian and vegan bed & breakfasts throughout the country. Just be sure you get there through alternative transportation such as bike, rail, or bus!

    Countdown to Super Bowl XLV has begun!  The most watched sporting event in the good ol’ USA takes place in only a few days. People around the country will be munching on bite sized treats, knocking back beers, and of course cheering on the Packers or Steelers.  Not only do people party in their own living rooms, but many take the festivities outside to a tailgate party. A couple years ago, we wrote some handy tips to green your Super Bowl party. These tips are great ideas for an indoor party, but what about that great American tradition of tailgating!

    1) No Plastic or Glass: Instead of bringing plastic bottled water, bottled beer, or cans of soda look into other options. Bring re-usable jugs of water and possible make juice at home. You can also order a keg rather than packaged adult beverages. Remember organic and/or local breweries are the best way to keep your brewskis green! If these items aren’t possible, make sure you collect your disposables and recycle them!

    2) Be a Responsible BBQ-er: The BBQ is an essential part of the tailgate party! When you bring your grill to cook on, be sure you use natural items to grill on such as wood chips or natural charcoal, without excellerants. Also, cook with less meat, use the many organic and vegetarian meat substitutes out there such as veggie tofu pups or vegan burgers. You might also want to make sure your fruits and veggies are local and organic. For more ideas on for vegan recipes, check our backlog.

    3) Donate Your Leftovers: Chances are you will over buy all the goodies you plan on munching down during the Super Bowl. If you have leftovers, don’t through them in the trash! Donate your left over food to a local homeless shelter. This will keep it from ending up in a landfill and help those in need.

    4) Re-use Everything: Make sure to bring your food items in re-usable containers, bring re-usable dishware and silverware, and try re-using some party decorations. Chances are in that box in the attic you have old party decorations that could be used. Or use some newspaper or scratch paper to make decorations. There’s no sense in purchasing cheap plastic decorations for a few hours, only to discard them in a landfill after.

    5) Carpool or Bike: Ok so tailgating in multiple cars is the opposite of being green. We have come up with this helpful idea to carpool with your buddies to the lot. This will decrease your carbon footprint for the day and go easy on your wallet. Why not take it one step further and nix the car all together. Pack up your messenger or saddle bags with your necessities and have a bike-tailgate party instead!

     

     

    You may see her as a beautiful actress with a big smile and a sparkle in her eye, but CameronDiaz is much more than that. Not only is she fun-loving and outgoing, but she is doing her part for the environment. She lives green in her life on a daily basis, as well as being an environmental activist. Whether Cameron is driving her prius, recycling, or watching her energy consumption, she is always doing her part for the world.

    In 2007, Cameron took her environmentalism into education by writing the foreword for The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time. She believes that everyone can do their part, whether it’s big or small. She also explains that the earth is the one thing that everybody shares. We survive off the earth and it is the only thing that every being on this planet has in common.

    Beyond her writing abilities, Cameron also has an alliance with Live Earth and helped promote their launch. On 7.7.07 Live Earth went live with concerts on 7 different continents to spread awareness of the Climate Change facing our planet. Cameron teamed up with former VicePresident, Al Gore, and Kevin Wall to create the “Most Watched Online Entertainment Event Ever,” which caught the attention of millions of people.

    Perhaps the coolest thing she has done was the MTV series Trippin, which targeted the youth of America. The next generation is our future, and it is important they are aware of our environment.

    In the show, Cameron and her friends, including Drew Barrymore, explored different parts of the world, some of which are in danger and need help. The crew informed the viewers of the beauty and importance of each place, as well as how they can help and get involved. This just goes to show how great of a person this actress is and how important environmental issues are to her.

    Obviously this “wonder-woman” can not dedicate 100% of her time to going green, but she does what she can, when she can. For example, when she is working in the city she often visits the gardens where she takes off her shoes ,and just relaxes barefoot in Mother Nature’s beauty. Cameron even goes as far as hugging trees. She literally loves to just be one with the Earth. She is just the little “green princess” of Hollywood.

    -Lauren Bowler

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