January 2012


This weekend, the old rivalry of New England versus New York will play out on the arena of the 2012 Super Bowl. As most American customs, Super Bowl Sunday is a day to gather with loved ones, eat a bunch of unhealthy food, and drink your little heart out! And just as most parties, it can be extremely wasteful. But it doesn’t have to be. There are a number of ways to throw a Superbowl Party and keep it be a low-waste, environmentally friendly affair. We have put together a list of tips to help you host a green Super Bowl fiesta! Now, go Pats (sorry we are a bit Boston biased).

Tip 1-Use E-vites or Mass Texts: Instead of sending out or handing out printed invites, opt for inviting your guests via email or text. Also, Facebook is an easy way to communicate with your friends and allows guests to talk amoung themselves.

Tip 2-Use Re-usable or Compostable Dishes: One easy way to cut down on your waste is using re-usable dishes. It might make a big mess and will require extra work, but you will be happy not to throw out a huge trash bag at the end of the night. If you just can’t bare the thought of doing all those dishes after the big game, you can use compostable dishes as an alternative. Compostable dishes come in utensils, cups, and plates.

Tip 3-Serve Organic & Local Food: Instead of opting for the usual snacks, which come in packaging such as chips and dips, make everything from your local market. If you purchase goods from the farmer’s market, you won’t have any packaging to throw out. You could also have the food catered from a local, organic restaurant. If you bring you own dishes or re-use the ones they supply, you will also reduce your waste.

Tip 4-Get a Keg: Normally Superbowl parties revolve around food which creates tons of waste in beer bottles and cans. Although, these can be recycled, you can reduce waste, by purchasing a keg. Not only will you be supporting local business, but possibly organic if any breweries exist near you. You can also be sure you won’t run out of beer. A sure fire way to reduce your waste and keep your guests happy!

Tip 5-Clean Responsibly:  When you are cleaning up the mess and washing those dishes, be sure to use environmentally friendly products such as vinegar or eco brands like Method or 7th Generation. Using these options will reduce your impact on the environment as they do not contain toxins and are biodegradable.

At the beginning of every year, the car shows in Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles premiere their brand new models.  The shiny sportscar used to be the highlight, followed by the family sized comfort SUVS, but these days a new kid on the block is getting all the attention.  The greenest cars on the market are what everyone is talking about come the new year. 

Since the advent of the hybrid, more and more companies are offering their versions as well as electric, biodiesel, and natural gas  cars. This year was no different. The big news was that VW announced they will be making an electric Beetle! This is exciting news for VW lovers, as the Beetle is a very popular model. Unfortunately, the introduction was just a concept and they won’t be out until 2013 or later.

But the good news is there are some exciting cars on the market! For instance, Ford is producing a Focus completely electric. Also, making an appearance was a natural gas powered Honda Civic, a newly improved Toyota Prius, a plug in electric Mitsubishi, and a diesel (which can run on bio diesel) VW Passat . The later which one the 2012 Motor Trend of the Year Award.

All five of these models make up the Top 5 Finalists for Greenest Car of the Year. The 2011 reward went to none other than the Chevy Volt. All these new technologies and greener cars is very encouraging, however it is important to remember they are not a perfect solution to the energy crisis. They are one step closer to cleaner travel. Either way, we are excited that there are greener options out there, than just plain old gasoline car. It is also great to see  more and more manufacturers produce green models.

Now, which one drives better? And which one is truly greener? That we will have to save for another post, perhaps when we have the chance to test drive a few models!

 

No matter where you live, winter is in full swing! For some that means icy sidewalks and snow days while others it means rain drenched streets and chilly temperatures. The best way to combat the winter chills is to make some delicious comfort food. One of my favorite wintertime treats is Black Bean Soup. Today we have a great and simple recipe which is sure to warm you to your toes as well as provide a healthy nourishing vegan dish.

Organic Black Bean Soup

Prep Time: 10 Minutes    Cook Time: 30-50 Minutes

4 Cups Organic Black Beans
4 Cups Organic Vegetable Stock
2 1/2 Cups Water
1 Cup Diced Organic Yellow Onion
1 Cup Diced Organic Carrots
1 Cup Diced Organic Celery
4 Gloves of Organic Garlic
1 Tbsp Organic Chili Powder
2 Tsp Organic Cumin
1 Tsp Organic Cayenne or Paprika (depending on how spicy you want)
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Organic Black Pepper
Organic Green Onion and Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Dollop of Vegan Organic Sour Cream (optional)

Soak black beans overnight if you are using dried bean, but canned will work. Dice the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Place the beans, vegetable stock, and water in a large pot. Bring this mixture to a boil until beans are nice and soft. Add in the salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, chili powder, and cayenne or paprika. Mix this up and turn the heat down to medium. Add in the onion, carrots, and celery and simmer for about twenty minutes or until vegetables are tender. Garnish with chopped green onion and cilantro. Add a dollop of organic vegan sour cream for an extra treat and serve!

In mid December a groundbreaking law was quietly approved in Albany, NY. Not even a month later the same exciting law went into effect in Sacramento, CA, with people in line to sign up. So what could this new innovative law be? It is the beginning of a new era in responsible companies! Both California and New York were the first to enact a law that would include conscious corporations as a type of business. Not only will these new laws benefit the corporations who are certified, but society.

Companies who will be classified as “Benefit Corporations” will be held accountable for how their business impact the environment, their workers, and their community. They will be required to publicly publish environmental and social performance which will be monitored by third parties. Basically, this is going to provide a new frontier of transparency for the consumer and a new era of corporate responsibility. The New York law was largely written and sponsored by B-Corp, which has spearheaded the idea of the benefit corporation for a while now. Their co-founder, Andrew Kassay, urged the importance of this law taking effect, “The benefit corporation bill will unlock billions of dollars in impact investment capital and enable entrepreneurs across [NY] to start businesses that solve some of society’s greatest challenges.

The real question is, will corporations and businesses make this move? Will they want to become a Benefit Corp? It seems likely, especially in the wake of California’s inauguration of the bill. Classification of Benefit Corporation began on January 3rd, 2012, with twelve eager companies ready to sign up! The first and possibly the largest to sign up was the clothing company, Patagonia, which has long lead the way in environmental outdoor clothing. They had championed the bill and wanted to show their support by being the first company to file in 2012. Founder and CEO, Yvon Chouinard, released a statement about the historic day: “Patagonia is trying to build a company that could last 100 years. Benefit corporation legislation creates the legal framework to enable mission-driven companies like Patagonia to stay mission-driven through succession, capital raises, and even changes in ownership.” Some other companies who signed up this year were Give Something Back Office Supplies, Green Retirement Plans, and Thinkshift Communication to name a few.

Major corporations such as Patagonia and smaller green/socially conscious businesses signing up means good news for the consumer and new Benefit Corporation classification. This could also mean good news for states like NY and CA who adopt this legislation. With the economy causing businesses to flee these states due to high taxes, bureaucracy, and expensive property, this could be a useful for drawing in new business or keeping other socially conscious businesses in state.

A new way of business has begun and we are happy to see it happen. Even better news, in both NY and CA, the bills were able to pass without much object. This means the political and social climate is accepting of transparent business tactics and changes like these could take hold in other states. Now if only more states could come on board, Benefit corporations could flourish in our nation. 

No one I’ve talked to since January 1st can believe it’s 2012! My how time flies and with this year brings jitters of environmental disasters. With the coming of 2012, people are talking about the impact of climate change on our world. But it’s not just 2012 that brings these thoughts. Environmental issues have been upon us for a long time and regardless of what doomsday prediction you believe in or don’t, they have impacted your life. We figured since it is a new year, we would take this moment to reflect on the worst environmental moments of 2011. It’s always a good idea to review before going forward. Hopefully we can learn from these events and change how they impact our future. So here they are and here’s to hoping 2012’s good events outweigh the bad.

Worst Environmental Events of 2011: 

1) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster. By far the worst environmental event to occur in 2011. Following an 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Japan and the subsequent disastrous tsunami, the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant exploded and continued to meltdown. This was the single worse nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The event, which happened only months after Obama spoke of “clean nuclear power” in his State of the Union address, triggered countries throughout the world to review their own nuclear plants. It even sparked Germany end their nuclear programs. The radiation spread through Japan and was even picked up in Hawaii and California. It will be decades before we know the real impact of this disaster on our environment, our bodies, and the way we view nuclear energy.

2) Drought in East Africa:  Due to weather patterns and government issues, the people of the Horn of Africa suffered a severe drought in the Summer of 2011. Millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia were literally facing starvation. Refugee camps surged with hundreds of thousands and tens of thousands of children starved to death. The drought and it’s effects continue on for these countries. With little resources, humanitarian aid is still needed to combat these issues.

3) Fracking: Both the US Geological Society and a British Fracking Firm published studies stating that fracking does indeed cause earthquakes. Many earthquakes experienced in places such as Oklahoma and Ohio were shown to be directly connected to fracking, or hydraulic fracturing of the Earth to extract natural gases and petroleum. Not only was it proven to create earthquakes, but the EPA acknowledged the process has leaked toxins into Wyoming drinking water as well are re-issued a report from the 1980’s showing water contamination in West Virginia. Despite these studies, fracking continues to occur in the US as well as abroad. We are hoping these reports change our perspective on the practice in 2012.

4) More Oil Spills: Even though no oil spill on the magnitude of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon  occurred during 2011, last year still brought too many spills for our standards. In fact there was a smaller oil sick in the Gulf caused by a Shell pipeline, causing more damage to the barely recovered region. New Zealand and China also experienced decent sized oil spills, including one in China that was hidden from the media for almost a month. And just to add insult to injury, the villain of Deepwater Horizon, BP, experienced another spill. This time the victims were the arctic tundra as the Alaskan pipeline began to leak.  It will take decades to understand the effects of these oil spills and continues to raise eyebrows on our dependency on oil. Hopefully, these spills will fuel, pun intended, the alternative energy field.

5) Politicians Being, Well, Politicians: It’s no surprise that Washington is dragging their feet on real environmental policy. Well, technically it is a bit of a surprise that Obama, who ran on an environmental and clean energy bill is, but that’s besides the point. Our politicians are busy making deals with fat cats and oil executives and ignoring any real chance at making a difference. Here are just a few of 2011’s let-downs. Obama failed to tighten smog limits, even though we know carbon levels are rising. He has even been quiet on the Keystone Pipeline, with many analysts expecting him to approve it. Meanwhile, the Republicans continue to push for fewer environmental regulations. And with the 2012 elections fast approaching, candidates will do anything to please voters. Republican candidates have all vocalized their disgust with the EPA, with some promising to close its doors and end environmental regulation all together. No one knows how the election will turn out, but let’s hope for our Earth’s sake, the politicians wake up and stop worrying about getting re-elected for a change.

  • Twitter: @autonomie

    • Facebook

    • Topics

    • Recent Posts

    • January 2012
      M T W T F S S
      « Dec   Feb »
       1
      2345678
      9101112131415
      16171819202122
      23242526272829
      3031  
    • Archives