Contributed by Catherine Vierthaler, Director of Finance, Green Builder Media
Do you ever look at the pile of paper and boxes after the holidays, and think, “Wow, what a waste!” I have been on a mission to reduce the waste produced from gift giving for a number of years, and even though I haven’t made it to zero waste yet, the post holiday piles are getting much smaller.
First, consider gifts that don’t require wrapping. A wreath, poinsettia or other festive décor item can be enjoyed throughout the season. When choosing a plant based gift, be sure to check to see if it is sustainably harvested, like the wreaths and center pieces from Balsam Wreath & Christmas Trees. And remind the recipient that once the gift fades it can be composted or disposed of with yard waste (just remove any steel or plastic frames).
Another great idea is to give a donation in the gift recipient’s name to a favorite organization. Not only will the organization benefit, but your wrapping can be as simple as a card.
By wrapping gifts with reusable cloth or paper bags or decorative boxes, you can eliminate a ton of waste. Check out this link for some creative ideas, or buy your holiday gift bags from your favorite retailer.
When the party is over, collect the bags and boxes and save for the next event. If you do need to buy wrapping paper, be sure to get a product that can be recycled, or better yet, buy recycled gift wrap to begin with. Green Field Paper Company produces fun, unique gift wrap printed with soy-based inks on 100% recycled paper. If you receive a gift wrapped in a non-recyclable paper, you can run it through your shredder to make colorful packing for gift bags and baskets.
Posted: 11/26/2012 3:48:21 PM by
Heather Wallace | with 0 comments
Contributed by Heather Wallace, Director VISION House Series, Green Builder Media
As we enter into the week of Thanksgiving we all begin to reflect on things we are thankful for. And one other thing is undeniable...Christmas is not far behind. The "consumerism" of the Holiday Season has gotten a bit out of hand. Black Friday has now become Black Thursday as companies and consumers alike just cannot wait to start spending money on "stuff".
This year, instead of purchasing that new sweater your dad isn't going to wear or the perfume that you didn't know your sister was allergic to, we'd like to propose some alternative gift ideas that help keep our environment clean.
How many of you receive junk mail? Sometimes that's all there is in the mailbox. Junk. One envelope after another of credit card offers and magazines you didn't sign up for.
41pounds.org is an environmental organization that offers services to help stop junk mail. A one-time payment of $35 covers every adult in a household for five years! And their services help save time, water, trees, climate and the planet.
Know someone who loves the outdoors? Using agroforestry techniques, Trees for the Future have helped thousands of communities in Central America and Asia by planting almost 65 million trees. With a starting price of .10 cents per tree this is not only a sustainable option, it's also affordable.
Know someone who likes wine and candles? Rewined out of Charleston, South Carolina sells candles made of recycled wine bottles from local restaurants. And the best part is that the candles smell like wine (I have personally smelled these and they are amazing). With choices like Pinot Noir, Champagne, Chardonnay and Spiked Cider (apple, clove, cinnamon and hot buttered rum!!), you are sure to find something for everyone.
And lastly, for the girl who just needs a cute bag...Eco J'adore creates handmade (in the USA) designer bags made from local recycled burlap. You can check out their Facebook page to see photos of some of their products.
We'd love to hear back from you all about your own ideas for green gift ideas.
Posted: 11/18/2012 5:34:49 PM by
Heather Wallace | with 0 comments
Contributed by Katy Biggerstaff, Publicist, NewGround PR & Marketing
What do Portland, Minneapolis, Boulder, Washington D.C. and Chicago all have in common? At first glance, it might not seem like much, but these cities have some of the best bike cultures in the country. As the top five in America's Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities, each of these cities has its own unique characteristics that make it worthy of the name. And they're helping the bike movement gain momentum in other cities across the United States as well.
One of those cities happens to be my hometown, Long Beach, Calif., where the bike culture is vibrant and growing. And I’m not just saying it because I love the city - Bicycling magazine actually named it one of the Five Up and Coming Bike Cities for 2012.
So what makes Long Beach (and other cities like it) bike-friendly?
Roads, paths and signage must be put in place in order to protect cyclists, motorists and even pedestrians. Some examples of infrastructure that support cycling include separated bike lanes and boulevards, bikeways, transit hubs, bikestations, bike parking, and wayfinding signage.
Advocacy and Community Support
To build a thriving bike culture, communities need the support of local officials and business leaders. For example, organizations like Bike Nation are privately funded; yet require the backing of local government in order to be successful. Bike Nation’s bike-share programs provide bikes at rental kiosks throughout cities, including Los Angeles, which aims to add 400 kiosks and 4,000 bikes within the next 2 years. Washington D.C. and Denver have similar bike-share programs.
Education and Services
Knowing how to ride a bike is only beneficial if you know how to operate one safely as well. The League of American Bicyclists offers Smart Cycling classes to adults and children across the United States. Many bike-friendly cities also have their own training and programs aimed at teaching cyclists how to ride safely and encourage motorists to share the road.
But why should you care? Here are the three primary benefits to building a sustainable bike culture:
It's Good for You
Bike riding is good exercise for all ages. Whether you’ve got an old rusty hand-me-down two-wheeler or a fancy top-of-the-line race model, riding a bike improves cardiovascular fitness, builds strength and muscle tone and reduces stress. It’s also an easy way to fit a workout into your daily schedule.
It's Good for the Environment
Cars are a major source of pollution; so reducing the usage of a car and replacing it with a bike, especially for shorter trips, can have significant environmental impact. Using a bike to commute to work, run errands and shop is a great way to immediately start reducing the amount of pollution and oil and gas use.
It's Good for the Economy
Because of the shorter distances, people that bike are more likely to buy local and support local business, which not only fuels economic activity, but also fosters shared community. For example, “Bike Saturdays” is a program in Long Beach where various restaurants and retail shops offer discounts to bicyclists every Saturday. Getting people out of their cars and onto the streets encourages more social interaction with one another.
You can only fully come to understand the benefits and reap the rewards of a bike-friendly city if you are actively participating in it (and telling others to as well)! I love riding my bike around Long Beach and will continue to do so whether it’s for fun, fitness or transportation.
Posted: 11/3/2012 1:47:21 PM by
Heather Wallace | with 0 comments