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Browsing articles tagged with " green living"
Jun
27

Beach Etiquette

Photo image by Hitchster via Flickr Creative Commons

With summer here, my mind has turned to planning our annual family beach trip.  Images of building sandcastles, splashing in the surf and long walks on the beach fill my daydreams as I count down the days till vacation.  As a mom of a nature-embracing little boy, I aim to pass along ways to play and explore the beach that make sure this fragile ecosystem is protected from his well-meaning, oh-so-curious hands.

LOOK AND RELEASE

It’s fun (and educational) to scoop crabs and other sea creatures into a bucket to observe.  Just keep in mind that these guys need water to breathe.  Even with water in your bucket, a crab will only last 20 minutes before it begins to suffocate.  Look – then let them go.

DON’T ROCK IT!

Wondrous discoveries can be made by looking under rocks in tide pools.  Just be sure to lift rocks straight up (so you don’t accidentally crush critters hiding underneath) and replace the rocks gently, leaving them as you found them.  Many beach creatures find cool, moist homes under rocks, logs and seaweed.  If you move or take their home. they might not survive.  Check out this video for a rock lifting demonstration.

CLINGING FOR A REASON

Starfish, mussels and other clingy creatures survive waves and predators by hanging tightly to rocks and wharf pilings.  If picked off a rock or perch, they rarely survive.

DUNES ARE SENSITIVE

Use dune walk-overs and designated beach access points to cross dunes.  This fights erosion by protecting the plants that hold the dunes in place.  Dunes are also a popular spot for sea turtle nests and should not be disturbed.

What am I missing?  Share other ways we can protect and preserve beaches by leaving a comment below.

May
6

Eco Chores

As I find more and more ways to green up my life, I find that there are some eco-minded acts I relish more than others.  I may not LOVE all the eco chores on my To Do list – but I incorporate them into my family’s life because the actions reflect how we want to support the planet.

→  Rinsing out peanut butter and jelly jars before tossing them in the recycle bin?  *grumble, grumble, complain*

→  Hitting myself over the head when I forget to BYOBag on shopping trips?  Ugh, now I have to lug those horrid plastic bags home, hanging my head in shame.

→  And taking kitchen scraps out to the compost bin?  According to my husband, I put this chore off till the last minute each and every week.

But enough about the small handful of eco-tasks that I don’t totally dig!  There is a long list of green-minded habits that I find inspiring, enjoyable and – dare I say – indulgent.  Finding ways to help the planet that mesh with your personal interests is a great way to nurture a lasting commitment to being green.

→  As a girl that likes to get her hands dirty, I find it a fun, educational challenge to raise my flowers and vegetables organically.  And all those drought-resistant native plants I planted over the years?  They give me a beautiful backyard that requires little to no watering or maintenance.

→  Biking is an excellent way to reduce my carbon footprint – but really, pedaling home from work is a rather selfish act that allows me to arrive home refreshed and stress free.

→  Shopping at our local farmer’s market tests my budding culinary skills as I create a meal from the organic produce available that day.  It also is a great way to spead a Saturday morning outdoors with my family.

Next on my list of Earth-friendly chores to employ are putting up a backyard clothes line and joining an environmental advocacy group in my area.  Being environmentally aware isn’t all about the mundane daily tasks (note to self – remember to buy energy-efficient bulb for front porch light!), it’s about finding creative, fun ways to incorporate green acts into your lifestyle.  Want to see how other’s do it?  Check out the photo entries in Whole Foods and Endangered Species Chocolate’s “Indulge in a Cause” photo contest.  Vote for your favorite by May 13th; the grand prize winner receives $5,000 to donate to the eco-charity of their choice and a year of chocolate from ESC.

What eco-tasks do you find not all that thrilling?  Which ones do you truely embrace and enjoy?  Share with us by commenting below.

Mar
7

Bitter About Litter

Who are these people?  What kind of person has such apathy – such a basic lack of fundamental respect?  Who do they think is going to pick that up?

These questions ricocheted around my brain last week as I turned into the road leading to my house.  A trail of trash littered the entire right hand side for a good 50 feet.  Having this eyesore so close to home made me mad, sad and embarrassed.  Not only was it a bad reflection on my neighborhood, it was also an ugly reminder that there are people that just don’t think or care about the health of our planet.

Instead of spending the day seething, I decided to get involved.  Donning a pair of gloves that I usually reserve for more pleasant pastimes (gardening), I set out to set things right.  Sticky plastic cups, random paper scraps, discarded fast food wrappers and other bits too miserable to mention were taken out of nature and put in their place.  I filled an entire trash bag during my 15-minute walk.

Looking back down the now clean stretch of road, I felt protective.  Woe to the person that tosses trash on MY street!  (OK, who am I kidding – I’m not a confrontational person…I’ll just quietly be back out there, picking up others’ laziness)   Although, according to Keeping America Beautiful, I may not have to.  One of the strongest contributors to littering is the prevalence of existing litter.  Picking up litter is one sure fire way to make a positive impact.  I am now totally tuned in to litter.  I see it everywhere (a mixed blessing of sorts) and you can bet I’m out there picking it up and putting it in its place!

Share your thoughts on litter; leave me a comment – let’s commiserate and cheer each other on!

Mar
1

Windy Chocolate

Walk into our production facility and you’ll see a shiny, metallic maze of tanks, tubes and tracks that continuously melt, move and wrap chocolate bars that support conservation.  How do we power all of those chocolate-filled machines?  With wind!  100% of the electrical energy used to power our office, warehouse and production facility comes from clean, green wind power.  This renewable energy source is harvested from wind farms here in Indian, purchased through Indianapolis Power & Light Green Power Option.

In order to make a commitment to renewable energy, we needed to find room in our budget.  Interestingly enough, our investment  in wind power was made possible by greening up our energy usage.  A 2009 power audit prompted us to make smart improvements to our HVAC system – which reduced Endangered Species Chocolate’s energy consumption by 40%.  A small portion of this savings was all that was needed to invest in purchasing 100% renewable energy for our building.  Endangered Species Chocolate has been an EPA Green Power Partner ever since!

Our annual green power purchase eliminates 501 metric tons of CO2 emissions associated with our purchased electricity – that’s the equivalent of taking 110 cars off the road every year.  Buying green power is truly one of the easiest and most effective ways we’ve improved our facility’s environmental performance.

Comment and share how you’ve reduced energy consumption in your home or office.

Feb
21

An A+ Shopping List

When my refrigerator went kaput last summer, I spent an entire day researching a replacement – comparing cost, quality, Energy Star ratings, company profiles, etc (while simultaneously consuming all the ice cream in my lukewarm freezer).

With big purchases, I’m all about digging deep to ensure that the product I’m investing in matches not only my budget – but my values too.  But I admit, with it comes to day-to-day, grab-and-go buys, I don’t always do my homework.  I mean, who has space in their brain to remember which juice brand hinders clean water access abroad or which pasta sauce earned a Greenwash Award for public deception?

When Endangered Species Chocolate was named one of the 20 Best Companiesby Better World Shopper, they sent us a complimentary copy of the indispensable guide.  The Better World Shopping Guide (available for ipod too) can turn a grocery list into a powerful tool for changing the world.  It grades popular products on five essential issues:

  • Human Rights
  • The Environment
  • Animal Protection
  • Community Involvement
  • Social Justice

Using an easy to grasp A+ to F grading system, I can quickly identify companies to lovingly embrace (“Corporate Heroes”) and ones to avoid like the plague (“Corporate Villains”).  A good place to start is with changes that make to the most impact, Top 10 Things to Change.  Me, I’m tucking this pocket-sized guide in my purse and heading to the grocery store.  Hopefully fellow shoppers will stop and ask why I have my nose in a book.  I’ll give them a sweet, green-minded earful – especially if I don’t see reuseable shopping bags on them! *wink*

Which products/services have your switched in order to better align with your beliefs and values?