Today is the 41st Earth Day and with the current environmental issues plaguing our planet, this day is increasingly more important. In the last year we saw devastating, catastrophic events such as the Gulf Oil Spill, Coal Mine Accidents, and the recent Nuclear Reactor explosions in Japan. The truth is: the Earth is hurting at an alarming rate and Earth Day should be used to bring awareness and make actual change.

This day is as a diving board to make real Earth friendly commitments in our daily lives. Although, today is a holiday, we need to keep in mind every day should be Earth Day. To help you celebrate, we’ve put together a quick list of great simple ways to celebrate Earth Day.

1) Events: There are plenty of them! All over the country you will find fairs and festivals dedicated to living green. This is a great and fun way to celebrate with your whole family. Many events include educational booths, new eco products, live music, and even speakers. This is the perfect way to introduce yourself to new ideas or help get your reluctant family member off the fence. To find events near you check out the Earth Day Network.  And if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come check us out at the San Francisco Earth Day Festival, Saturday on the Civic Center Plaza. Come say hi and check out our new gear!

2) Volunteer: Today is the perfect day to go get your hands dirty, literally. Many cities and communities have organized Earth Day Clean Ups of their rivers, streams, or streets; others have planned  plant a tree campaigns in their local parks. A quick search on google will find some in your neck of the woods. And if you can’t find anything, organize your friends and family and help your community!

3) Educate: Earth Day was founded on the premise of bringing awareness to the environmental cause. Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to spread  the word and educate! If you have children or are a teacher, the day offers great lessons and activities for your kids. There are a number of great resources for this and fun interactive games to do at home!

4) Community: Now is the time to get active in your community. Join local groups who are working to protect your local parks and wildlife. Or get involved with local or even state policy procedures. You can also start a community network if your town doesn’t have one and focus on a cause both the Earth and your community can benefit from. For more ideas, look to the Earth Day Network and their Pledge an Act for ideas!

5) Kick Your Dirty Habits: You know that one thing in the back of your mind you haven’t quite given up, like switching out your light bulbs or starting a compost bin? Well, today is the day to do it and leave those dirty habits behind! Maybe you’ve been wanting to commute less by car and switch to a bicycle or public transportation or start purchasing more organic and local produce. Make today, the day you commit to these new changes, sort of like an Earth Day New Year’s Resolution. Now is the time to make the change.

As for us, we will be living green and celebrating at Earth Day San Francisco!! So, how will you celebrate?

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If you are an avid AP blog reader, you will know that our staff is made up of vegetarians and vegans.  Everyone at AP has chosen this lifestyle for a variety of reasons ranging from environmental issues, animal rights, and health. Although we often encourage the lifestyle, including posting fun recipes, we understand the lifestyle is not for everyone. That’s why we are excited about a new campaign spreading throughout the country and world: Meat Free Mondays! Meat Free Monday is an organization spearheaded by Paul McCartney and his daughters. Yes, the Paul McCartney. He began the campaign to bring awareness about the meat industry’s effect on the environment and the fact that meat consumption is  simply not sustainable, with the hopes of educating the world on how we can cut back and make changes to our environment.

So why should you give up meat on a Monday or any day for that matter? Well there are a host of reasons, however, the movement largely focuses on environmental impact. It has been shown that 18% of greenhouse gases come from meat production. This is largely from  methane and nitrous oxide, which are actually more toxic than CO2. The amount of waste emitted from large scale meat production is shocking, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization reports that livestock production generates more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry! In fact, many studies show that meat production is more harmful for our environment than driving that gas guzzler! The National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan reports that the pollution emitted to produce 1kg of beef, for us Americans that is 2.2 pounds,  is the equivalent the same amount of  carbon dioxide emitted by driving a standard car a whopping 155 miles a day! Wow, that means for one person to eat one or two days worth of meat produces the same amount of pollution for one person to drive across the entire state of Massachusetts and into New York!

In a study published by the University of Chicago, they found that if Americans reduced their meat intake by at least 20%, it would have the same same impact on our environment as a person switching from a Camry to a Prius. Americans on average consume about 8 ounces of meat daily! If Americans cut out at least one day a week of meat consumption, they could reduce their meat intake at almost 20%. It is a small impact but it would be the equivalent to changing from a gas run car to a hybrid.

This is where Meat Free Mondays come in! It is now a worldwide idea and is spreading fast.  Some cities have even begun promoting it. Recently, ever progressive San Francisco recently passed a Meat Free Mondays Resolution encouraging city restaurants to serve meatless meals on Mondays throughout the city. The resolution states that the city will “encourage restaurants, grocery stores and schools to offer a greater variety of plant-based options to improve the health of San Francisco residents and visitors, and to increase the awareness of the impact a Green Diet would be on our planet.” We think this is a great step for the city of San Francisco and hope it will influence others around the country to get on board with Meat Free Mondays! If you want to be a part the Meat Free Monday movement, check out their website or fan them on Facebook.

If you are willing to commit to at least one day a week meat free, your impact on the world would be greater than giving up your car for the day. And think how great of an influence it would have if the entire country did the same. So please, if you aren’t already vegetarian, think about refraining from meat on Mondays, weekdays, everyday or at least cutting back. Environmental issues can seem daunting and it may feel there is little you can do. But by adjusting your lifestyle just a smidgen, you can make a huge influence on the world. It is one area where you can have some control in an out of control world.

September has arrived, the year begins to wane and the “s” word (school) is on everyone’s lips.  With the new school year come meals to plan and supplies to buy, and it might seem a challenge to make those choices both vegan and environmentally responsible.  But fret not!  Below can be found five interesting and ethical alternatives to the same old options haunting your yearly school routine:

1) Easy Lunches: Perhaps the most practical place to start would be with fuel for the brain, and Jennifer McCann is certainly the one to go to.  Author of the awesome Vegan Lunch Box blog, she has just released her second book, titled Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-ups Will Love!  A cursory glance at the eats inside is cause for a taste bud riot.  She covers all the bases, from grilled pepperoni sandwiches to quinoa amaranth timbales.  She even discusses issues on being young and eating Vegan and offers pertinent suggestions, such as how to create healthy “look-alike” meals that won’t call too much attention to a more self-conscious child.  Who of any age could say no?

2) Mmmm, Granola Bars: Ok, so the granola bar might be considered a lunch sub-category, but not really; granola bars are special.  They make a fun and tasty addition to any lunch and can also serve as hearty, nutritious snacks throughout the day.  The Swiss Army Knife of the food toolkit.  Enter the Kitchen Sink Granola Bar, found on Kathy Patalsky’s Lunch Box Bunch site.  Her vegan recipe is sensible and well-rounded but leaves room for personal improvisation.  Most importantly, the bars are chock-full of fiber and protein, including steel cut oats, flax seed meal and various nuts and seeds.  It’s also a baking-pan recipe, which means plenty of bars to go around.  Try to make them last more than a day!

3) Hemp Backpacks: If in the market for a new, durable, vegan,  and environmentally responsible book bag, look no further than the Large Hemp Backpack from Pangea’s Vegan Store.  Perhaps the most widely-usable fibrous plant, hemp is easily sustainable and rugged, and Pangea guarantees these packs (and all the products they sell) to be both cruelty-free and produced by workers protected under unions or just labor laws.  The bags have a simple, utilitarian style, come in three colors and are the perfect size for notebooks at 12″x14″.  And at $54.95, they are comparable in price to the larger backpack manufacturers.  What is there to dislike about them?

4) Reusable Lunch Bags: There are quite a few options out there for non-disposable lunch bags out there and you don’t have to sacrifice style. For instance the Bazura Bag, made out of recycled juice boxes in a woman’s co-op in the Philippines.   Or check out the Mimi the Sardine Modern Cloth Bags with fun patterns such as flowers and cars but also made from organic cotton in the USA. Now that you have the bag, don’t forget to purchase re-usable sanwich and snack bags. There are many brands and cute styles to choose from including some made of recycled materials and oragnic cotton.  Best of all, they eliminate the need to purchase daily-disposable plastic or paper lunch bags and are affordable in the event they are lost.

5) Recycled Cardboard Binders: Everything about Greenline Paper Company’s corrugated cardboard binders is just plain cool.  Their simple, raw look and useful design speaks to studiousness and they are claimed to be more resistant to wear and tear than a traditional, toxic vinyl binder.  Should the cardboard be damaged, the metal rings are easily removed and the cover can be recycled and replaced with a new one for less than the price of having to replace a vinyl equivalent.  According to their site, Greenline prides itself on creating paper products that are recycled, tree-free, biodegradable, non-toxic, sustainable, or reusable; the binders are at least 35% post-consumer recycled.  They are also socially responsible, as they are assembled at Northwest Center in Seattle, which provides vocational services to the disabled and disadvantaged through education, training and job opportunities.  Come to school with the feeling of making a positive difference while introducing some funky style!

 

So your head is pounding, your body is aching, and your stomach is filled with pings of pain. What is this? Could it be a hangover? After last week’s bombardment of Earth Day, it very much feels like a hangover. Ok so maybe we are exaggerating a bit, you aren’t physically having a hangover. However, the constant Earth Day media coverage, fairs, and sales that occurred last week can leave one a bit mentally exhausted. Because of said exhaustion it may cause you to be fed up with the Green Movement in general.

Unfortunately, Americans love to over-expose ideas and tend to focus all their energy on celebrating something in one day and then its over. As if something as big as the place we live and survive on, can be summed up in one day… Last week a ton of hype went around about protecting the Earth and being green conscious, which is a terrific thing, however these ideas should be practiced 365 days a year, not just 1. I mean I know holidays such as Earth Day, bring awareness to the issue, but let us not forget that the issues are much larger than one day every April. The same thing will happen next week when we celebrate Mother’s Day. Everyone will shower all mothers with gifts and dinners, but shouldn’t we be appreciating our mothers all the time? Much as we should be treating our main Mother (Earth), with respect every single day of the year.

Don’t let the overexposure of last week stop you from the ultimate goal. And if you are wondering exactly how you stay green all year long, think about the small things such as recycling, public transportation, bicycling, unplugging your unused electronics, buying from green companies, installing solar panels, eating local….And the list goes on and on. But if you want to do more than just the daily greenie stuff, consider volunteering or donating to a number of great Eco-Friendly Organizations such as Green America, Trees For Change, Green Jobs Now, GreenPeace, and a whole host of others! Or get active in your own community, workplace, or school to make a difference. There are likely local organizations or just start your own committee!

So cure your Earth Day hangover blues, by remembering to respect our planet all year long. It is easier then you think!

Postcard of Ft. Lauderdale Beach during Spring Break, 1960s Photo by StevenM_61College kids and families across the country will be taking a week off in celebration of Spring! Thousands will use this time to travel the world, especially to warm beach climates like Florida and Mexico. But before you pack your bags and jet set across the world, take a moment to think about how you could green your Spring Break Travel!! There are some quick easy ideas to keep your Spring Break as green as the season of Spring!  

Before booking your Spring Break plans, we recommend reading our entry, written earlier this year on Eco-Tourism for some great green ideas such as staying local and green tour companies. But beyond that post, we have some great tips on greening your Spring Break.

Bike On The Beach Photo by Rodger E Clark-Green City Guide: A great resource to find out which cities to visit and how to travel through them. Check out Planet Green’s Green City Guide. This is a terrific guide to how to travel green in Top Spring Break locales such as Ft Myers, Buenos Aries, Miami, and LA. Under each city, this site explains how to enjoy yourself in these cities, including local public transportation, green hotels, and green dining. This guide can not only be used for Spring Break locations, but for travel all year long, including cities in the Northern parts of the world.

iWood Eco Friendly Sunglasses at GreenLoop.com-Green Beach Products: Most Spring Breakers spend 90% of their vacation on the beach. Many products used for fun in the sun unfortunately are not only harmful to the environment but they are made from petroleum bases. There are several great companies that make non toxin and organic sunblock. Also you might want to bring your organic beach towels and  beach totes.  And how about protecting your eyes from the sun? Yes you guessed it! There are green sunglasses, and they are made of natural wood!! 

Green Sea Turtle Being Cleaned Photo by Peter Liu Photography-Volunteer: Instead of spending your Spring Break downing beers and sunning on the beach, why not volunteer! There are a ton of great companies that provide volunteer vacations. Where you can spend your vacation helping study climate change in Ecuador, help trace change in California’s trees, or track endangered seat turtles in Mexico. There are hundreds of volunteer vacations just like these to be found all over the world. So make your Spring Break really count and help save the earth!

4/19/08 ~ Day 235: Nalgene Water Bottle Photo by Snowfire11Ro is behind on...-Tread Lightly: Be aware of your surroundings and be sure to tread lightly. Meaning back your bags lightly and don’t be wasteful. Be sure to recycle any products you use in the area you travel to (especially those beer cans and bottles, you partiers!) Also, a great way to avoid using massive bottled waters is to bring a re-usable water bottle. And lastly, DO NOT leave trash around and make sure you clean up after yourselves. You want to respect the area you are visiting because you are a guest.  

Happy St Patrick's Day Photo By Artsi~AnnieOn March 17th, the whole world will “go green,” but not the eco-friendly type. However, celebrating the Irish holiday doesn’t have to mean you have to give up your true going green convictions! There are a bunch of great ways you can spend this year’s holiday and still promote the GO GREEN message. You can be sure that this year wearing green might mean a little more than just a social requirement to avoid a pinch. So in the spirit We have pulled together a few helpful hints on to celebrate a truly green and eco-friendly St Patrick’s Day!

New Belgium Beers Photo By fitchactionDrink Local and/or Organic Beer: Besides wearing green, the biggest St Patty’s Day tradition is a visit to the good ol’ pub!  This year celebrate in an eco-friendly style by ideally ordering an organic local beer on tap and in a re-usuable glass. But if this ideal is not attainable near you, check out some of these eco friendly and organic breweries: New Belgium Beers (a worker owned co-op run by wind power, Brooklyn Brewery (also run by wind power in NYC), Peak Organic, or North Coast Brewing Company. And remember if you must drink out of the bottle, be sure to recycle!

Eat Irish favorites Vegan Style: Another St Patty’s Day favorite is eating delicious Irish meals. So this year try to make your Irish favorites with organic, local veggies. By not eating meat on this holiday you are lessing your impact on the environment and sooth your conscious. It is pretty easy to make all your favorites vegan. Try out some of these favorite recipes of ours including our very own Vegan Irish Stew, Vegan Irish Soda Bread, and Vegan Irish Colcannon. So serve up your favorite vegan Irish recipes before you hit the bars.

Day 268/365 - happy st. patrick's day! Photo By ~*erin*~Avoid Plastic Decorations: It seems like everyone is out to make a buck during St Patrick’s Day and several cheap plastic gadgets such as beads and plastic shamrock rings. These cheap and disposable decorations are made out of plastic, a no no to greenies, and are usually thrown out the next day, only to end up in landfills. So this year be sure to avoid these unnecessary  accessories. And if you must have some shamrock snazz try making your own decorations for your party or purchase items you will actually re-use. And finally try some face paint to wear out on the town!

Organic Kiss Me I'm Irish By CafePress.comWear Organic/Promote Green: Instead of just wearing any old green T shirt or Irish slogan, wear organic T Shirts! That way your green tees really can BE Green! These days Organic Tees aren’t hard to come by, even major brands carry them. But many are still manufactured in sweatshops. So be sure to look out for the labels when you purchase them. If you want a little more St Patrick’s Day Cafe Press has a great “Kiss Me I’m Irish” Organic Tee. Also, you might want to take the opportunity to promote green issues on this day. Check out the New Green Deal Organic Tee or our very own Declare Your Autonomie Organic Tee. If you wear your green slogans out and about, just maybe your tee will start a conversation with someone at the bar and you can really promote green!

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