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Showing posts from January, 2017

Green Product of the Month -- Jan 2017

Let's be clear about one thing: I LOVE Starbucks. Gold Card member and all. I so do not have the money to go there as often as I would like, but if I could I'd go every day. This month I was able to do so, and be green at the same time. Win-win! Which is why Starbucks Reusable Tumblers are my choice for January's Green Product of the month!
Now, even though there are many, many brands of reusable tumblers, I've chosen the Starbucks brand because of how they've incentivized being green. Top brands encouraging environmentally friendly action? Heck yes!

There are two tumblers in particular that have incentivized their use over disposable plastic cups. First, there's their January 2017 Refill Tumbler.

Despite the fact January is over, the idea to offer free coffee/tea for a cetin period if you have a specific reusable is a great way to get people in the habit of bringing their own. If you don't have the tumbler, you don't get the free drink. It makes you s…

The Silencing of the EPA

When it comes to the environment, the new presidential administration leaves a lot to be desired. The president is pro oil and drilling, and is trying to appoint Scott Pruitt, a Climate Change denier, as head of the EPA. Yikes. But more unsettling news has come out in the last few days.

As The Boston Globe reports President Trump institutes media blackout at EPA and as The Washington Post reports Trump administration tells EPA to freeze all grants, contracts.

The freeze on grants and contracts could have any number of unknown effects throughout the country, and is a step no other new administration has taken. While I understand the desire to review agencies, completely freezing them is a dangerous move. This could set precedent for longer periods of freezing the EPA, or any other agency. Many people aren't huge fans of bureaucracy, but these agencies do important work every day, and hindering that helps no one.

However, I am almost more concerned about the media blackout. If agenc…

Not Buying Into It

While there are a lot of wonderful green products out there, one of the best ways to go green is also a great way to save some green. Don't buy things.

Sounds impossible, doesn't it? Buying things is fun! And, after all, we need to buy some things. But if we live with what we have, only buy the essentials, with a little splurge here and there, we're seriously limiting the resources we use. And money. Speaking of which, saving money recently became a serious priority for me, and I still managed to mess it up in less than a week.

Long story short, a good chunk of my tuition will need to be paid a lot sooner than I thought. To achieve this goal, I decided to only buy what's absolutely essential (pretty much just food and gas). Then, I checked to see if I could pick up some extra hours at work. I was offered a shift in a different position I don't usually pick up from due to the fact that it's mind numbingly dull. But desperate times call for boring measures, so I …

Commander in Good Grief

Today, a man who believes climate change is a hoax got sworn into office. This is just one of the many problems with him, but one that is very disheartening to me personally. But now is not the time to stop pushing for legislation that protects the environment, or any other movement you believe in. If anything, it's time to make our voices stronger.
Democracy only works if the people are involved. The ones we elect are not our bosses, but rather our employees. It is their job to make sure the people's wants are what dictates policy. Some people think there's nothing that can be done until 2018 or even 2020 when we vote again, but democracy doesn't start nor end at the voting booth.
Today, we have more channels than ever to make our legislators hear us.
We cannot let any of the misinformation that will, and already has, stemmed from this presidency become accepted as fact, and, in turn, influence policy. As citizens it is our duty to maintain our democracy by demandi…

UVE Sparkling Black Cherry Lemonade Quick Review

So I've finally opened the next glass bottle of soda to review! This time it's UVE (pronounced oo-vay according to the bottle) Sparkling Black Cherry Lemonade!

Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Fruit and Vegetable Juice (for color), WellTrim iG (IGOB131) African Mango (Irvingia gabonesis) Seed Extract, Stevia Extract 
Pros: No plastic bottle! Strong fizz   Cons:  Taste is too strong for my liking Nasty after tasteSome ingredients I don't reconize Anything that tastes sweet and doesn't have sugar concerns me Overall, I would not buy this product again. I kind of wish I hadn't this time. The flavor was seriously strong, and not particularly enjoyable. However, sometimes when playing League of Legends, I tend not to taste what I'm eating or drinking because I'm so focused on the game. I definitly tasted this. That's a plus, I guess?

TV Dinner Alternative

My college semester starts tomorrow, and one thing I know I won't have is a lot of time to think about food. Usually during my semesters I live off fast food and TV dinners, but as I'm trying to make some healthy and environmentally friendly changes, that just won't cut it this time. But I'm still going to have a job and a full semester to deal with.

The solution I came up with was to cook in bulk, making my own TV dinners. It's cheaper, healthier, and way more environmentally friendly than normal TV dinners. Though, you do have to be okay with eating the same thing several days in a row. Ah, downsides!

Now, one of my all time favorite meals is salad and pasta. I could eat pasta (with alternating sauces) forever and never get tired of it. Lucky me because it's SUPER easy to make in bulk. I make a big batch of pasta, split it up into individual portions, and have 5 meals in the fridge for the week. Then I just make a salad in a large bowl, and stick it in the fr…

Lawns Aren't Green -- Part 3: Alternatives

While there are many alternatives to the traditional lawn, I'm going to focus on my three personal favorites.

#3. Mondo Grass Mondo Grass, also known as Dwarf Lilyturf, is a wonderful lawn alternative that requires much less effort than usual turfgrass species used as lawns. On average, it only needs to be mowed once a year, if that. However, the downside is that using only Mondo Grass for your entire lawn will still cause a monoculture. Despite that, I find this alternative appealing as once it's in place, it doesn't need much water or effort, and makes for a unique looking lawn. 

(picture source

#2. Native Grasses  While a lawn made of grasses native to your area will need to be mowed more often than Mondo Grass in order to keep the trim lawn aesthetic, having a mixture of native grasses will eliminate the monoculture problem of lawns in favor of a more environmentally friendly landscape. Depending on where you live and which grasses are native to that area, there is a…

Lawns Aren't Green -- Part 2: The History

(Unless otherwise stated, all the information in this post comes from the book Lawn People by Paul Robbins.)

Lawns were literally designed to be a resource suck. I don't mean yards, houses have had land around them for centuries, but that was thought of as useful land. As I said in  Part 1, lawns are large patches of turfgrass just for aesthetics.
Remember in history class when they taught you about the French monarchs who got their heads chopped off for living ridiculously exorbitant lives while their subjects starved? Well, they're the ones that invented the concept of the lawn. They wanted to show that they were so wealthy they could completely waist land, water, and labor by growing a finicky, useless crop.

This idea spread when nobility from other countries visited, and took the idea with them. As the nobility around Europe popularized the lawn, anyone who wanted to show that they were well off would copy the idea.

After the industrial revolution, with inventions such as t…

Lawns Aren't Green -- Part 1: The Problem

You might be surprised to learn that the green swaths of land in front of our houses aren't actually eco-friendly at all. They take massive amounts of water, energy, and chemicals, to look how we want them to. Meanwhile, the majority of turfgrasses used aren't native to where they're being used. This replaces natural biodiversity with a manufactured, difficult to maintain, monoculture.
Unlike monocultures in farming (which do have their own problems) turfgrass monocultures are useless. They don't provide any type of food or usability, they're only for aesthetics. 
Over 15% of residential water use goes towards watering lawns and gardens, and as much as 50% of that water is wasted! (source)  Meanwhile, plants natural to a region rarely, if ever, need to be watered. This is a HUGE suck of water that's absolutely pointless. Especially in areas experiencing drought. This water isn't going towards food, or cleanliness, or hydration. This is a resource that'…

Virgil's Black Cherry Cream Soda Quick Review

While at the store today I came across a section of sodas and teas in glass bottles instead of plastic ones. Since they were on sale, I decided to test a couple and see how they'd stack up against their plastic wrapped counterparts.
First up: Virgil's Black Cherry Cream Soda

Ingredients: Purified carbonated water, unbleached cane sugar, vanilla extract, black cherry flavor, natural flavors, malic acid.   Pros:No plastic bottle! Tastes really good, has an interesting flavor that isn't too cherry, and has nice vanilla undertones. Bottle is made from 100% recycled material (how's that for green?)No Preservatives  Cons:  Still soda, which you know isn't healthy Difficult to find Overall, it was a nice treat. I like that it has a short ingredient list, and doesn't come in a plastic bottle, as well as having it's bottle made of recycled material. However, I don't plan on buying it again because (with an occasional exception, like this) I don't drink soda. …

When Celebrating

My New Year's Eve was spent at work. It wasn't bad; there was a spirit of festivities, we got to dress up in formal wear, and for the most part everyone was happy. We handed out hats, crowns, beads, and horns to our customers, and it was a fun evening at work. It wasn't until I got home that I realized something.

All these party goodies are probably going to get thrown away.

While the hat is cardboard, and I can toss it in the recycling bin, the horn and beads are not. These New Year's goodies are cheap, fun, and festive, but they're definitly not green. Using all the energy and materials necessary to make and distribute them, just to be used one night?
Sure, just one strand of beads, one hat, and one horn, aren't that much, but when everybody has just one it's not 'just one' anymore. With over 600 customers, we gave out a LOT of party goodies. As the person in charge of handing them out, I really got to see them add up.
But no one wants to be a dow…