Skip to content

The Holidays: A Break for Reading

January 5, 2012

Perhaps there were things I should have been spending my time on over the holidays, but instead I spent time catching up on the many books I’d been meaning to read. (Don’t be amazed when you notice the publication dates on them, most were not recently released.)

I’m sure that I am not alone when I express the feeling that there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do everything and time for myself is the item that always gets the short straw when time runs out. So, when I had a few days off over the holiday I turned my list on its head and focused only on the time for myself. The books I chose to spend my time with were: Half the Sky, Green Metropolis, Big Green Purse, and The Lady of the Rivers. (You didn’t think I only read nonfiction, did you?)

Half the Sky: Stories about women and girls around the globe are told with such respect and clarity by Pulitzer-Prize award-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in this non-fiction book encouraging everyone to join their fight against the oppression of females. I found the stories so moving that chapter after chapter brought me to tears and then reassured me with the fortitude and resilience of the women highlighted. I would highly recommend reading the book if you haven’t already, watching the PBS special when it airs later this year, and taking action to fight worldwide oppression of women and girls.

Green Metropolis: Written by another journalist, David Owen, Green Metropolis left me with a feeling that the things that I do to limit my impact on this planet are all for nothing unless I rid myself of my car and move into a thriving downtown. And yet, I recommend that everyone read this book. Many people have jumped on board the green bandwagon without much thought. While I encourage the action of jumping on board now I also encourage asking questions and learning more. This book will make you think and it will make you question your actions and I think it will inspire you as well. Let me know what you think.

Big Green Purse: Wow, so many fabulous ideas and tips from Diane MacEachern on how to use your pocketbook to encourage businesses to make environmental changes. And women, it is mainly us they market to, so don’t think they won’t take notice if you start putting your money where you values are. This is a book I read on my eReader for free from the library, but with so many amazing bits of information in it, I plan to purchase it so I can keep it forever and make notes in all the margins. This is a terrific resource to have on hand while shopping. Let me know if you’ve read it and what your favorite tip is.

The Lady of the Rivers: Now for some fun. I couldn’t resist reading the latest from bestselling author Philippa Gregory. Her historic novels always find their way into my hands. This happens to be the third in the Cousin’s War Series and I think it is the best. Well researched and well written, bringing life and magic to a long-forgotten woman who was right in the mix of the struggle for power during the War of the Roses. Check out this page turner.

I would love recommendations on future books to read as well as your thoughts on the books listed above, so take a minute and share if you could.

Advertisements

It’s Official: Central Ohio has a Professional Chapter of Net Impact

October 19, 2011

Come out and help celebrate the launch of Net Impact of Central Ohio, a local professional chapter of Net Impact! It’s a fabulous way to make a difference in the world through harnessing the power of business.

The Net Impact of Central Ohio professional chapter is launching at tomorrow’s (Oct. 20, 2011) Green Drinks event: Business for a Greener World. This event will take place at Barley’s Ale House (467 N. High St.) in the basement from 6-8pm and feature a panel of local green businesses, including Weisenbach Recycled Products, Generation Green and EcoFlora. Check out more info about the event here to link to the FB event page.

If you aren’t familiar with Net Impact, it’s a global non-profit organization whose mission it is to inspire, educate and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. Net Impact Professional Chapters host networking events and happy hours, offer educational opportunities that focus on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, and on and on. Once you become a member you have access to the online jobs boards and many free webinars to assist you in bringing sustainability into your business.

Green Drinks is a monthly green networking event, brought to you by Green Columbus, held in different locations each month to create a forum for sustainability focused individuals (or the curious) to network, create awareness, and encourage action. This month Green Columbus and Net Impact of Central Ohio are working together to host Green Drinks. This is the debut of the new Net Impact chapter and part of the event will explain more about what they are and explain how to find out more about them.

This should be a very fun, lively event and I hope that I get an opportunity to meet all of you there!

You can find Net Impact of Central Ohio on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Green Columbus info can be found on Facebook and the web. Check them both out and get involved. It’s so easy.

Tailgating…In Green-Style

September 27, 2011

Fall is officially here and all around town leaves are starting to turn, the sun is shining on us less and less, and the air is starting to chill. Seems ominous, but never fear, football season is here. Everyone I know is touched by football by playing, watching, or cheering on a favorite team (Go Bucks!).  If you have a chance to go to a stadium and watch a game then you know that the best way to celebrate gameday is with a fabulous tailgate. After enjoying a tailgate last weekend I was inspired to share ideas on how you can keep this season a green one by doing little to no harm to the environment during your festivities.

Traditional Buckeye Tailgate

Transportation:
Carpool, carpool, carpool. If you are bringing in and taking out everything you need for the tailgate, it is essential to load it all in a vehicle. Keep in mind, the fewer vehicles at the event the better. It’s much cheaper to carpool too for the obvious reason that you will be paying for less fuel to get there and back, but also by paying for fewer cars to park there. So, call your friends and make arrangements for everyone to travel together like sardines to the event.

If you decide that you will be attending instead of hosting a tailgate and won’t be bringing much, you can opt to walk to the event. This obviously only works if you live nearby, but in campus or city situations, it is much easier and there are plenty of sidewalks. Walking is a great way to avoid the traffic before and after the event and you can work off the calories you’re bound to down at the tailgate.

Don’t live quite local enough to walk? Break out the bike. No need to worry about where to leave it. On Ohio State’s campus on game day there is a free bike valet service from Pedal Instead. You can get the details at pedalinstead.org.

Even further away? Public transit systems are perfect. For Buckeye games, COTA has you covered. You can check out all the routes at COTA.com. You can also park and ride for less than parking closer to campus. Park at the Ohio Expo Center and ride both ways to the game for $5 or park in Worthington at Crosswoods Park and ride for free.  Not sure you can make the bus schedules work for you? Try carpooling via taxi.

Food:
Plan your menu around what is in season and can be bought at your local farmer’s market. There are still tons of items that can be purchased there this time of year. One of Central Ohio’s farmers markets even posts what is in season on their website; check it out here. If you can’t get all your goodies at a farmers market, always try to purchase organic when you can. There are so many delicious options for snacks in your local grocery store’s healthy food section. Peruse the shelves and give something new a try.

Bring a bin along with you to compost the food scraps from the event. With some bokashi, you can throw just about anything edible in the bin. This is great to take home with you and add to your compost at home or a great time to start a compost pile.

Grilling

Grilling at the game? Bring a charcoal grill and avoid lighter fluid. Use a natural starter to avoid cooking with fossil fuels and toxins.

Of course you need something to wrap leftovers up in? Wrong. Remember to bring reusable containers to sidestep using plastic wrap or anything similar.

Drinks:
What’s a tailgate without a refreshing frosty beverage? It isn’t. Choosing local options is always a great choice. Central Ohio is full of local options like Columbus Brewing Company, Great Lakes Brewing, etc. And it is about to get another one: Yuengling can be found here in just a few days. This will add a cheaper local option to satisfy your craving. For a great local beer without the individual container, fill up growlers of your favorite pours and bring them along. It makes extra sense to buy growlers when you consider that you’ll end up pouring any beverage into a different cup anyway.

Nonalcoholic options are easy to come by on game day but you can always bring a refillable container for the tailgate. (Remember you won’t be able to bring it inside the event though.) If you are hosting, bringing a large pitcher or beverage dispenser filled with iced tea or fresh lemonade is a great idea. Delicious choice!

No matter what you choose, make sure it is in a reusable or recyclable package. Remember to bring a bin to put all those recyclables too. That’s key. Don’t leave the bin behind though; remember to actually drop off the recyclables at a recycle center.

Plates & Such:
When you are at the store picking up plates, napkins, utensils and cups make sure to choose products that are either compostable at home or recyclable. This way you will only need two containers at your tailgate for disposing of everything; one for compost and one for recycling. No need for an actual trash bin. Essentially you will create your own zero waste event, diverting 100% of the waste away from the landfill.

Pregame Entertainment:
Typically you’ll want to do more at your tailgate than just sit and talk and eat; you’ll want entertainment prior to game time. The greenest options are games brought from home like cornhole, washers, beersbee, or hillbilly golf. Many of these games you can make from scrap wood or other supplies at home. If you’d rather watch other football games at your tailgate, I would recommend purchasing a solar generator to run the television. It may cost more up front, but there are multiple benefits of a solar generator kit: silent energy, clean energy, and free energy to name a few. A simple Google search will show you multiple options for these.

Supporting Your Team:

Now that's entertainment

Wearing your colors is great for supporting your team, as is wearing a jersey. Just wear whatever you actually already own. It makes the most sense. Who wants to be the guy jumping on the bandwagon anyway by buying the newest player’s jersey? What you own is great. If you truly feel as though you’ve worn out the old and can no longer make that holey tee work, try thrift stores or consignment shops first before buying brand new. Choosing brand new anyway?…give your local shops a try, like Homage. Quirky, comfortable, and I like to say: cute. (As the temps dip, make sure to layer up and go natural whenever possible, synthetic fibers made from oil suck.)

Remember to pack everything up and leave no trace when you start heading to the game. So, don’t leave your compost or recycling behind. You’ll have the same fun experience tailgating green as you will not, but you’ll be doing your part to improve your life and your planet while you’re at it.

(Upon completing this post I found more info from Green Columbus, you can read it here.)

Eco-Friendly Options from EcoMaids

August 22, 2011

Chores. What a dreadful word. They never seem to be complete either. And yet, they still need done. I recently decided to try a local maid service that specializes in Eco-friendly cleaning and I must say: I LOVED IT! Who doesn’t love the idea of coming home to a clean home? And the added knowledge that you didn’t have to do anything to get it but make a phone call…even better.

I love my Eco-friendly cleaning products and the way they make my home glisten. My house smells clean and fresh after a good scrubbing too, without all the harmful chemicals and odors that traditional cleaning products leave in their wake. When I’m in a foul mood I even enjoy the workout cleaning provides; eliminating those demons. But, come on, having someone else do the dirty work?…Why pass up that opportunity? EcoMaids (Central Ohio) can give you that Eco-friendly, clean home.

I live in a small apartment with two cats and even though I keep the place liveable on a regular basis, I do not scrub it down as often as it probably could use it. So, I opted for EcoMaids’ deep clean option and let them get to work (not a fun task after they had to haul all their cleaning equipment and supplies to my third floor pad: so sorry).

The team of three that was sent was very kind and courteous when they arrived and wanted to jump right in and get to work. I’ve never been more happy than when I arrived back home to find that my home had been transformed into a clean castle. The general cleaning that you’d expect was all done beautifully. My favorite piece was the shiny inside of my kitchen appliances that made them feel brand new again. My microwave, refrigerator, stove and oven all appreciated the love and attention they received. The deep cleaning also included the cleaning of the inside of my cabinets and drawers, which have always been neglected in my apartment.

The team did an amazing job on my entire home and I could not have been more pleased with the experience. I have worked this deep cleaning service into my annual budget, but I’m playing around with it to see if I can take advantage of this service more often. There are many service options from EcoMaids so I am sure that there is an option that meets your needs and price point. I highly recommend checking out their website www.ecomaids.com and seeing what services might work best for you and request a quote. It’s simple, trust me.

As I write this I see that Groupon is also offering 50% of three cleanings by EcoMaids, so it seems like perfect timing for you to check them out and see what it’s like to live like a Queen for a day. See the deal by clicking here now. Then sit back and enjoy your clean home.

Can a Gift Registry be Green?

August 4, 2011

Gift registries have been around for nearly a hundred years, although technology is what brought them to the masses. They are still beloved by some and detested by others. Whether you find them to be useful or tacky, it is highly likely that they will be with us for the long term.

Traditional Gift Giving

It is possible to create a registry for any occasion from birthdays, baby showers, or bar mitzvahs to weddings. Practically every store on the planet makes it simple to create a gift registry and get the details of where to locate it to all the friends and relatives invited to join you in celebration. You can essentially ask for anything that you want, but is that necessary? Luxurious registries have come under attack lately in the press for celebrities, like Kim Kardashian who reportedly opened one at Geary’s Beverly Hills, who are being too extravagant. Even if you aren’t a Kardashian, your guests may critique your choices as they peruse the list. This is partly why some find registries to be in poor taste.

I personally like the idea of a gift registry, especially when it is done with class and thought. I even feel that having a registry is a greener idea than not having one. Your guests know exactly what you need instead of giving you what they ‘think’ you need. (A road map so to speak.) It is possible to create far less waste from your celebration in this way. You won’t feel obligated to clutter your home with items that just aren’t ‘you’ and you won’t need to ask for a receipt to return the duplicate items that inevitably appear or are just unwanted. The key to making a registry work though is to truly think through what you do really need, and not simply fill it full of items that looked cute when you were in the store. It isn’t meant for simple wants or passing fancies.

Some tips for a cleaner, greener gift registry include:

  1. Choose classic pieces instead of trendy ones. These are less likely to go out of style and be discarded in later years.
  2. Choose well-constructed pieces that are designed to last instead of to be used and thrown away.
  3. Register for eco-friendly, sustainable, non-toxic items.
  4. When registering for items that replace what you already own, line up someone or somewhere that can reuse or recycle what you’ve chosen to replace. Don’t simply trash the old when the new arrives.
  5. There are green shops that offer gift registries like peekagreen.com or naturallygood.net.
  6. Ask a local retailer to create a registry for you at their shop; your favorite, or course. Thus also supporting your local economy.
  7. Create your registry through the I Do Foundation and retailers will donate up to 10% to the charity of your choice as guests make their purchases.

Of course, you can certainly be more creative than a traditional gift registry as well. There are plenty of alternatives to simply asking for gifts. These ideas are growing in popularity for families that live in small, urban locations, will little room for more possessions, as well as with couples marrying for a second time or who have lived on their own for a while. Registries like the below truly cut down on the waste created by special occasions since there is no packaging, and some of them even ‘pay it forward.’

  1. No gifts allowed, charities only registry for guests to donate to your favorite charitable organizations: http://www.changingthepresent.org or http://www.idofoundation.org
  2. Ask guests to help fulfill your wishes, whether large or small, through cash gifts toward your dreams: http://www.uponourstar.com
  3. Guests can help you relax and enjoy your honeymoon with gifts for romantic dinners or excursions: http://www.honeyfund.com
  4. Have you already given your child anything they could ever ask for? Gifts toward college are a great way to go: http://www.birthdayfund.com

There are many other options on the web, and even some banks are offering similar (although not as simple) alternatives like these. Choosing an alternative registry also spreads the word that they exist and gives your guests something to feel good about.

The gift giving in this fashion can go both ways. While you are on some of these sites you will also notice that it is possible to give back to your guests in the same way you are asking them to give to you. Favors are often given to guests and then quickly eaten, left behind, or trashed when the guest arrives home. Think about making donations to charity in each guests name or giving charity gift cards that allow the guest to choose their favorite charity to give to. This is a thoughtful gift that may make a lasting impression, not to mention supports non-profits that do so much.

Always a Bridesmaid…

August 1, 2011

A wedding day is a day of celebration. A day filled with love shared by the bride and groom, family and friends. Every moment of that day is brought to fruition by legions of people. Everywhere you look, you can spot a detail that was dreamt up and brought to life by one person or handfuls of them. And each and every detail represents the blissfully happy couple, down to the bridesmaids & groomsmen and their attire.

If you’ve ever been in a wedding party, you have probably seen firsthand how much work the couple puts into making the day perfect. They’ve also chosen their wedding party with care and consideration, so you better not let them down. You’re the best friend or close relative that has always been there for them and now is not the time for that to change. The size of the bridal party is not that relevant, only the relationships are. But, whether small or large, you better look good & to do that dresses and tuxedos are the norm. You won’t have much say generally in what you will wear but you will have a say in what happens to the attire after the special day, so keep reading to see what you can do to be a greener member of the wedding party.

Greening up the groomsmen is easier in the attire department than bridesmaids. Typically tuxedos are rented, which is greener than buying a tux that you never plan to wear again. Other wedding parties simply wear suits that the gentlemen already own. How much better does it get than that? I would suggest that one area that can be greened up here is to select a green dry-cleaning service after the wedding day and also ask the tux shop if they use one as well.

Bridesmaids have been told on at least one occasion that whatever dress they are asked to purchase and wear is a keeper that can be worn again and again (a green statement). I’m hear to say that with some creativity, that statement can, in fact, be true. It is also more sustainable to not let the dress go to waste. I have now been a bridesmaid on four separate occasions, and the thought of keeping the four dresses in my closet for eternity (because 1) they cost an arm to buy and 2) they have sentimental value) as is was not an option. I live in a small apartment with limited closet space, so this is just not an option anyway. So, below is a short list of how you can find a new life for that beautiful bridesmaid dress:

  1. Save it with your halloween costume stash to become a prom queen or Miss America. Then the following year you can take it to a costume swap and someone else can have an opportunity to do the same.
  2. Dye it black and it becomes a LBD, perfect for holidays or date nights.
  3. Give it to a daughter, niece or neighbor’s daughter for their dress up collection. Every little girl needs fun dresses to play in and spark their creativity. My favorite dress up clothes when I was a kid were the bridesmaid dresses my mom wore in my aunts’ weddings. The same went for my friends at that age too.

    Playing Dress Up

  4. You’ve already decided you won’t be wearing it again? There’s always the standbys: ebay.com, craigslist.com, and consignment shops if you think the dress has value. Or you can go the free route with freecycle, Salvation Army, or Goodwill.
  5. Nontraditional charitable organizations like Fairy Godmothers provides prom dresses to teenagers with financial hardships so they can have an opportunity to also attend prom.
  6. Really pull out those creative, crafty ideas now. Use the fabric in a non-traditional way. Make the couple a scrapbook page with some of the fabric if they plan to scrapbook. Or wrap a picture frame with it and add a pic of you with the couple at the wedding. Depending on your skill level & amount of fabric, get your sew on by turning the dress into a: pillow with the wedding date stitched in, an outfit for their firstborn, or handkerchief / pocket square.

Since some of the brides I’ve stood up for will hopefully read this post I don’t want to state exactly which option I chose for their dresses, but I do hope that they are inspired to choose one of these for the other bridesmaid dresses I know they all have in their closets now. Don’t let that dress die a slow death in the back of your jam packed closet. Breath some life into it with the ideas above or comment below with your ideas. And remember, the solution here is reuse, don’t trash it.

Resolution Follow-up #2

July 27, 2011
tags: , ,

My second resolution of 2011 was to eat less meat. I thought this would be a big step for an omnivore such as myself. At the time, I thought that cutting out meat for 6 meals per week would be doable, but not quite easy as pie, (or cake, or something like that). I also expected to miss how I was eating in 2010. Oh, wow, was I wrong.

First let me say that I have been right in some of my expectations, eating less meat has helped my food budget a noticeable amount. I never purchase red meat for my house and the other lean proteins last quite a bit longer. I also found this to be the case when I dine out. Vegetarian meals at many restaurants are priced below those with meat. Cha-ching!

I was also correct in my belief that eating more meatless meals would reduce my carbon footprint. Only cutting out 6 meat-filled meals a week though did not reduce it by as much as I had hoped. By some counts, I only reduced my carbon footprint by about 0.28 tons. But, not to be defeated, I decided to amp up my meatless meals. I’m now holding steady at 15 vegetarian meals each week. When possible I choose vegan meals as well, although I do not eat vegan in my house, just at vegan-friendly restaurants around town like: Pattycake Bakery, North Market, Northstar, Chipotle, Columbus Brewing Company and Betty’s Family of Restaurants. (Check out Yelp for these and other vegan-friendly restaurant suggestions.) The food at these restaurants and others is so delicious that it is difficult not to fall in love with it.

As a side note, I have chosen not to focus on vegan meals at home for a couple of reasons. Vegan options can break my budget. Even with the savings from going meatless, I find that vegan food erases, and in some cases eliminates, that savings. I also find that when I cook vegan meals for myself I don’t care for it nearly as much. So, since I’m still an omnivore, I’ve chosen to keep dairy and egg-based products in my fridge.

Back to my carbon footprint idea though. I think that I’ll be closer to cutting out 1 ton with my new plan. Especially now that I’m being more choosey with my meat-purchasing selections. (Check out the EWG guide for details on how you can make better meat-purchasing decisions too.) And going meatless more often has not been that difficult. I’m still working through how much produce to buy for one person, but I had that same issue before too. Practice makes perfect, right?

Lastly, I expressed that I thought I would be a healthier person eating less meat. So far, the jury is still out on that one. I feel about the same as before, although my meals are certainly more colorful, which indicates that there are probably more nutrients in what I am eating now versus before. Once I find the way to balance the complex carbs in my diet I think I will feel a difference. Then again, it is possible that the shift has been gradual enough that I can’t quite recall how I felt before. I also wasn’t that unhealthy in 2010. Maybe in 2012 I will amp this resolution up again and see a bigger change. I think I have it in me, but man, do I enjoy a good bratwurst. Mmm, sacrifices.

So far this year, I don’t think that this resolution has been as much of the sacrifice as I thought it would be. So, why didn’t I do it sooner? I think a change like this that seemed substantial at the time was easy to put off until tomorrow. I am so glad that I’ve made the change though and stuck with it. I’m even more happy that I amped it up. So many resolutions that people make each year get dropped by the wayside within a couple months, weeks, or days. Here I am in July with my head held high, already looking forward to 2012 and the resolutions and changes I can make to stay on this path and make it a lifestyle. I think if I can do it, anyone can, and I recommend giving it a chance. You will most definitely surprise yourself.

%d bloggers like this: