Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grow Your Own

It's amazing to see the growth of the local food movement in the past year. I've mushed over it before, but if you need inspiration to get on the path, please read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. You can also visit this part of her site to see photos about how people are growing veggies in their front yards; I find it so inspiring to read about these normal folks, making a big difference in their community food security, health, environment, and tastebuds!

I'm no master gardener, by any stretch. Lucky for me, Boulder recently had a free "Vegetable Gardening for Beginners" workshop. Massachusetts has much more fertile soil than Colorado (and also the absence of summer hail, high winds, oppressive UV radiation, dry conditions, etc.), so I really needed this workshop. I learned what grows super easily here (radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, and greens), what it's possible to grow with some care and attention (lettuce, strawberries, peas and beans), and what does not do so well (carrots, asparagus). I'm really excited to get my plants in the ground, but around these parts I learned I have to wait until after the danger of the last hard frost, which is May 15th. And all that the presenters required of the sixty or so participants was an agreement to share the harvest with neighbors, friends, or Community Food Share. How is THAT for walking the walk! I'm so excited to get my hands dirty; show my kids again the wonders of growing food from seed; eat some yummy, healthy, organically grown food; and share it with people who need it!

EPA rules on Greenhouse Gases

I didn't hear this bit of news until today, so I thought I'd share with you:

April 17, 2009:
Ecological Internet (EI) welcomes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ruling today that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases "may endanger public health or welfare", a finding that opens to door to future regulation of such emissions under the Clean Air Act. EI continues to demand that emission cuts be fast and large, that Congress not weaken planned E.P.A. carbon regulation, and that Congress abandon cap and trade legislation for a simple, highly effective, carbon tax. And that the U.S. leads at Copenhagen or feel the consequences.

The E.P.A said in its proposed endangerment finding that "based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that... these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate." Human health and welfare was thus threatened by increased severity and intensity of storms; more frequent drought, heatwaves, and forest fires; rising sea levels; and harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.

Merrimack Valley Green Energy Environmental Summit

The Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce
The Merrimack Valley Green Energy Environmental Summit
Keynote presentations by
Mass. Secretary Ian Bowles,
Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
Representative Barry Finegold, Chairman
Telecommunications, Utlities and Energy Committee
A special panel of local experts to assist you to reduce your energy costs now:
As you face the every struggle with the high costs of energy for your cars/trucs, businesses, building and home, Your Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce has been working to help you address how you might reduce your energy costs NOW!!
If you are a business or homeowner in the Merrimack Valley
you can't afford to miss this program!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Osgood Landing, 1600 Osgood Street, North Andover, MA
Thank you to your Sponsors: Title: Wheelabrator, North Andover
Program: Osgood Landing, Solectria Renewables
Associate: National Grid
Media: Eagle Tribune Publishing
Your Company Name Could Be Here/ Call for sponsorship information
Includes Full Breakfast
Members $20.00 MVCC Energy Summit Non-Members $30.00
Thursday, May 14,2009
Please make ____ reservations
Name(s) ________________________________________ Company ______________________________
Check enclosed _________Pay at door________ Bill my account_______ Credit Card _____--
Amex Mastercard Visa#________________________________________ exp. date_________
Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, 264 Essex Street, Lawrence, MA 01840
Tel#978-686-0900 Fax#978-794-9953
This registration confirms your attendance

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Green Business Summit

Join the Boston Business Journal on May 15th, 2009 as we honor the most innovative and effective leaders advancing "green" workplace policies in Greater Boston.
We will award honorees in the following categories: Innovation, Invention, Design, & Workplace:
Click here to see the honorees.

The morning will also feature a keynote by Ian Bowles, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Panel discussion including:

Gideon Gradman, Vice President of Corporate Development with Ze-Gen Inc.

Jeff Andrews, Partner at Atlas Venture

John P. DeVillars, Partner Bluewave Strategies

Click here to register!

Green Business Summit
Friday, May 15, 2009 7:00am
Sheraton Boston Hotel

Bowditch & Dewey LLP
National Grid
Thomas G. Gallagher

Earthworks call for volunteers!

From Earthworks, an urgent call for volunteers this Thursday!

We are in the midst of establishing a new garden at the Hurley School in Boston's South End. Due to a shortfall of volunteers last weekend, we are putting out an urgent call for help so that we can complete the project. Please join us on Thursday evening for any amount of time between 4-8pm or on Sunday from 12-4pm.
The project involves restoring a garden space to include edible and insect-attracting plants for our Outdoor Classroom students to study, care for, and harvest. The program at the Hurley School serves over 100 kids with hands on environmental science lessons twice a week.
Volunteering is also a good opportunity to learn about organic techniques and using edibles in the landscape. Please respond to this message or call our office if you are interested in signing up. We will provide instructions and directions for the events.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bee Demonstration at MIT!

From our partners:

I'd like to let you know about "Buccaneers of Buzz: Celebrating
the Honeybee" - a multi-media tapdance, voice, video and marimba
extravaganza about beekeepers and their bees. This amazing piece
by Rialto Arts has been awarded a Gold Star by the Massachusetts
Cultural Council. I am privileged to be on the board of Rialto
Arts (, a small non-profit with a mission
of bringing nature and the performance arts together. Please
consider attending the wonderful performance, being staged as
part of the Cambridge Science Fair

May 1, 2 and 3
Broad Institute Auditorium, MIT
7 Cambridge Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

Friday, May 1 at 7:30 PM - 6:45 hive demonstration and
bee-keeping Q&A
Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 PM - 6:45 hive demonstration and
bee-keeping Q&A
Sunday, May 3 at 4:00 PM - 3:15 hive demonstration and
bee-keeping Q&A

Miranda Loud, Artistic Director, concept
with Brian Jones, tap/narration,
Yuko Yoshikawa, marimba,
Miranda Loud, film, additional music and vocals

Tickets at the door or
$20 general
$15 students/seniors
children 12 and under free
(no children under 6, please)

Monday, April 27, 2009

TONIGHT - Freshwater Forum at MIT

Please join us tonight for a discussion about communities organizing to protect fresh waterways in New England! It will be a very interesting presentation and discussion. It will also be a great way to network and see other fellows from the region. I hope that you can make it! More information is below and on our website.

Monday, April 27th - Tonight!
Fresh Water and Waterways in New England
MIT School of Architecture and Planning
77 Massachusetts Ave - Stella Room
Cambridge, MA 02139
($10 Suggested donation)
Register here: or at the door

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ask Johnson & Johnson to Stop Using Carcinogens in Baby Products

From our partners:

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a report revealing that toxic chemicals, like 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, are in baby products. Both of these chemicals cause cancer in animals, and formaldehyde is also known to cause skin rashes in people who are sensitive to the chemical.

Johnson & Johnson responded by saying "The trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth,” and the Campaign should stop “alarming” parents. Please email Johnson & Johnson and let them know that that "a little bit of carcinogen in baby shampoo is OK" is NOT an acceptable stance! Click here to act

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Tips

Happy Earth Day, All!

Today we present a special post from my friend Ted, who has come up with this list of ways to help the environment. Enjoy!

Very easy

  1. We'll start with a no-brainer: Turn off the lights when you leave the room.

  2. This one should've been drilled into your heads by now: Replace most of your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents. I buy them online, at While you're at it, replace your halogen torchieres with compact fluorescent torchieres on that site.

  3. If you have a notebook computer and a desktop, use your notebook computer unless you're beating someone up in an FPS or editing your next feature film. Notebook computers use less energy.

  4. Check the pressure in your car tires. Improper pressure can cause bad fuel economy. If you're too lazy to do it yourself, have your mechanic check the next time you get your oil changed.

  5. During the summer, close the blinds in rooms you're not using.

  6. Clean your dryer's lint trap before every use. Your clothes will dry faster and you'll be at a lower risk for fire. ...of course, it's better to dry your clothes outside, but that's not always an option.

  7. Watch An Inconvenient Truth. Even if you've seen it before, see it again. Bring your friends. This movie started a green revolution, and now, years later, I feel that people are lapsing back into apathy. So I think it's important that people keep this on the forefront of their minds.


  1. Run the dishwasher and washing machine at night. It puts less strain on the electrical grid.

  2. Turn off/suspend/hibernate your computer when you're not using it for more than two hours. Personally, I think you're fine turning it off even if you're gone for even 30 minutes, but since I don't do that, I can't beat anyone else up for that, either.

  3. Stop drinking bottled water. Let's face it: this is really sh*tty for the environment. Brita's doing great advertising on this, right now, showing you that a bottle ends up in a landfill forever. But we're talking more than just landfills: as a New Jerseyan, if I drank water from a certain company in Maine, every bottle has to travel a minimum of 350 miles to make it to me. And that's just the final product: imagine where the plastic has to come from. <Insert favorite deity here> forbid if I wanted to drink water from the French Alps or the South Pacific.

  4. Here's another good rule of thumb: Buy produce that's in season. That's really a corollary to my last point, but a rather important one. Stuff that's not in season will probably have to travel from some place where it is in season. (See what's in season right now.)

  5. Buy locally-grown food. Why? Same reason as the bottled water. Food that travels less uses less. It's a little more complicated than that, but that's generally a good rule of thumb.

  6. Buy organic produce. Why? Besides the fact that you put fewer pesticides and fertilizers in you, it also means less contamination of groundwater, better energy efficiency (don't ask me why, but organic farms tend to use less energy), better water efficiency, and lower soil erosion.


  1. Get yourself a programmable thermostat. Set your heat and A/C lower whenever you're not home. They'll cost you $40 but save you a lot of money in the long run.

  2. Lump your driving chores together. Unless you drive a plug-in car connected to a solar panel, you're not doing the planet any favors by driving to the grocery store every day. Spend a few minutes to plan ahead: buy stamps, pick up some milk, and drop off your dry cleaning in the same trip. Help the planet, give yourself more time at home, and put gas money back in your wallet, too.

  3. Offset your carbon emissions. Go to for reputable organizations that do this. (I use For $10, you can offset a ton of carbon emissions.

  4. Stop giving out useless gifts. Adult gift-giving can sometimes get out of hand. Around the holidays, people feel compelled to give the proverbial fruitcakes and meaningless tchotchkes that get tossed or thrown in the basement. If I can't think of something tangible to give my friends, I donate to charity on their behalf or offset their carbon emissions. In fact, for this Earth Day, I offset five of my friends' carbon emissions. You may be receiving a card from me in the next day or two.

  5. Replace old showerheads with low-flow showerheads. Also, get faucet aerators, and if you have an old toilet, get one of these.


  1. Buy a front-loading washing machine. They typically use less water and energy than their top-loading counterparts.

  2. Buy LED lights. LED bulbs are way more efficient than compact fluorescents. Not to mention they last tens of thousands of hours (effectively, years and years) and don't contain mercury. Only thing is that they cost a lot up front (a single 60W bulb replacement can cost $120). That price will come down, eventually. But right now, LED night lights are relatively cheap. I own several of these and love them. They emit a bluish light, but they're bright and last for years. Also good are LED Christmas lights. These Christmas lights look like regular Christmas lights but cost pennies for the whole season and last for years without burning out.

  3. Write your Congressman (or -woman) and tell them that you're a constituent who cares about global warming, who wants to see investments in renewable energy and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In spite of our last president, I don't believe that environmentalism has to be a partisan issue. If you don't know who your three representatives are in Congress, look here (and also: shame on you! You probably voted for or against them at some point! :P).

  4. This may be "hardcore" but it may be one of the best investments you ever make: Get an energy audit done for your home. They may suggest that you weather-strip your home, replace old appliances, replace old windows with high-performing, triple-paned, inert gas-filled windows, or replace your insulation with blown-in cellulose insulation. Check out the tax credits you can get for doing all this.

  5. Put your money where your mouth is and invest in environmentally- (and socially-) responsible stocks and mutual funds. I'm no financial advice giver, but just to let you know, I used to invest in Pax World mutual funds before the stock market took a nose dive.

  6. Broaden your focus from reusable shopping bags to the big picture. Recycling is good, but understand that if you use your SUV to drive aluminum cans to the recycling center, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Think of the broader picture: how does your behavior impact the world? Where do you buy gasoline? What kind of home products do you use, like toilet paper? When you're waiting for a train at a graded crossing, do you idle your car? Here's a hard one: do you buy clothes, gadgets, and other stuff to fill a void in your life? I'm afraid the list goes on. A little self-awareness goes a long way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Getting Rid of "Green"

There was an interesting interview with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman in Newsweek on April 13,2009 called "Getting Rid of Green." I especially liked the following question, and his answer:

You're critical of efforts to get people to make small, symbolic gestures to use less energy. What's wrong with that?

The danger is you think that if you change your light bulbs [to compact fluorescents], you've solved the problem. My motto is, change your leaders, not your light bulbs. Because what leaders do is rewrite the rules. They rewrite the rules of what utilities can burn as energy. They rewrite the car-mileage rules. They rewrite the rules of whether a nuclear plant can be built. These are the only things that give you [change at the scale we need]. Without scale change right now, in terms of climate we're really cooked. You know, I come out of the world of covering foreign policy, and that trained me to look for where the leverage points are. I don't think the leverage points now are in more consciousness-raising.

Friedman is looking forward to the day when the word "green" disappears as a qualifier for a fuel efficient home, car, energy, etc...because all cars and homes and energy plants will be built to the highest standards of efficiency and sustainability. I get what he's saying, and I totally agree. Conscious Consuming is a non-profit based on education and consciousness-raising, and I guess we will have done our job when there is no longer a need for that, because government leaders will come to the consensus that a sustainable economy is better than a "growth at any cost" economy. I think we have a long way to go, but we're certainly off to a running start with the Obama administration and his appointees. Oh yeah, and everyone's shaken faith in our current economy doesn't hurt either.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eco Cycle's Green Star Schools

Nancy Dudek, the Eco-Cycle Green Star Schools Coordinator here in Boulder County, shared some tips from local Green Star Schools in the Spring newsletter. Perhaps you can implement some of these ideas at your local school. I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea, and am more convinced than ever that each of us can make a big difference if we just put in the time and energy. Thanks, Nancy, for letting me share this with our readers:

Longmont Estates Elementary:
Head custodian, Cheryl Prentice, runs a custodial club with students in first through fifth grades. At the end of their lunch
period, these students help sweep the floor, wipe the tables and stand in the waste station line to help other students in
their grade level accurately sort their waste. Cheryl rewards these students for their extra efforts with gently used books
from Eco-Cycle’s Children’s Used Book Project.

Community Montessori:
When conducting events at their school, Community Montessori encourages its school community to bring their own
reusable water bottles and provides them with a large dispenser of water to refill their durable containers. This greatly
reduces plastic water bottle waste, as well as eliminates the expense involved in purchasing bottled water for participants
at events.

Eagle Crest Elementary:
Donna Chuang, member of Eagle Crest’s parent organization, asked for donations of any old, mismatched silverware that
might be found at home. Just three days after the Green Star Schools program was kicked-off, the school held their an-
nual Valentine’s Breakfast as a Zero Waste event using the donated silverware and purchased compostables. The silver-
ware supply will continue to be used by the school community to reduce both waste and expense for future events.

Heatherwood Elementary:
Harriet Brown, paraprofessional working in Heatherwood’s teacher workroom, retrieves all one-sided paper found in the
recycling bin. When time from her work schedule allows, she cuts the sheets into fourths and prepares stacks of notepa-
per for school staff to (re)use.

Niwot Elementary:
For the past two years, Niwot Elementary parent organization has sold Laptop Lunches ( at the
end of the school year with their school’s supply orders. This can be done as a fundraiser, but Niwot chooses to do it at
cost. Laptop Lunches gives them a discount for their fundraising purposes, and they pass that savings on to their families
to encourage the use of reusable containers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act

You have likely heard how the unchecked use of antibiotics on crowded CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) has contributed to "supergerms" and antibiotic resistance. Well, according the the Union of Concerned Scientist's latest issue of the FEED newsletter, "Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have reintroduced legislation to address the growing public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) will help protect the effectiveness of antibiotics by curbing the overuse of antibiotics in the feed of livestock and poultry that are not sick. A mounting body of scientific evidence links this practice to the rise in antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans, including those caused by Salmonella, Campylobacter, and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria. PAMTA will require the Food and Drug Administration to cancel approvals for the routine use of human antibiotics as a feed additive if the uses are found to be unsafe from a resistance point of view. Learn more about the bill (S. 619, H.R. 1549) and urge your representatives in Congress to support it!"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wild Wolves in Danger

I don't know how much you've heard about the wolf debate, but I recently read a great picture book with my kids about what a positive difference their reintroduction to Yellowstone has had on biodiversity and water flows. According to Defenders of Wildlife, "Just last month, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Bush-era wolf delisting rule would go ahead. Starting May 4th, more than 1,000 wolves in the region -- 2/3 of the current population -- could be killed... Return to the Wild, a new documentary from Mofilms, features Defenders’ Northern Rockies Representative Suzanne Stone and highlights our on-the-ground efforts to help ranchers and wolves peacefully coexist in the American West.

You can watch the 27-minute film for free in its entirety or see the trailer below. You can also sign a petition to urge President Obama to protect America's wild wolves.

If you haven’t already done so, please write President Obama and urge him to stand up for our western wolves.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

National Vacation Matters Summit

From our friends at Take Back Your Time:
Mark the dates and make your reservations now for THE NATIONAL VACATION MATTERS SUMMIT



If spaces still remain after May 1, registration fees will increase to $125 and $65.

Tickets will be available from Brown Paper Tickets:

You are also welcome to register directly with TAKE BACK YOUR TIME. Simply send a check payable to TBYT/VACATION SUMMIT to:

Take Back Your Time
PO Box 18652
Seattle, WA 98109

Add your email address for confirmation. Otherwise, we will have a name tag and conference materials waiting for you at the registration desk at the beginning of the Summit.


Studies show that vacations are essential to physical and mental health. They provide the strongest of family-bonding memories. They improve workplace productivity and prevent burnout. They increase international contact and understanding. They offer opportunities for spiritual growth and joyful play. They provide employment and business opportunities in the travel industry. But the United States is the only industrial country that does not guarantees some vacation time by law and Americans get less vacation time than people in almost any other country of the world.

Times of economic crisis like the one we face today are also opportunities to envision the kind of economy and life we really want and to ask what really matters when it comes to quality of life. Just as the Great Depression led to the forty-hour week and the expansion of the middle class, these new hard times can lead us to new choices that honor the need for balance and leisure in our lives.

The Vacation Matters Summit is about learning and sharing what we know about the value of leisure travel and vacation time. We’ll be bringing together more than three hundred experts, researchers, advocates, stakeholders and interested citizens for the first-ever national gathering about the importance of vacation time. The program starts Monday evening with a welcome and reception and continues until early Wednesday afternoon. It includes eight plenary speakers and at least fifty workshop presenters.

We are still looking for workshop presenters and will be accepting proposals. Let me know if you are interested in presenting and I will forward the information to our workshop committee. Registration fee for presenters will be $25.

Here’s a sampling of some of the presentations you’ll hear:

The Business Case for More Vacation Time
Vacations: A Matter of Social Justice
Vacations and International Understanding: the Case of Hosteling
Simple Vacations
Volunteer Vacations
The Impact of Vacations on Workplace Stress and Health
A short History of the family vacation
Vacations and Family Memories
Why do Americans give up so much vacation time?
Labor’s stake in more vacation time
Using the Economic Stimulus to guarantee more vacation time
The Economic Crisis as an opportunity to re-think what matters
Vacations and Nature Deficit Disorder
Culture Shift: From Valuing Stuff to Valuing Time
Pilgrimage and the Spiritual Value of Vacations

And many more…


Please let us know whether you will need meals and accommodations while in Seattle. Seattle University offers single and double rooms in both residence halls and residence suites at modest prices ranging from $26 to $55 a night. Email me at:

Residence halls—1 person in room: $31 per night; 2 persons in room: $26 each per night
Residence suites—1 person in room: $55 per night; 2 persons in room: $43 each per night

There are also a number of hotels in the immediate area.

Seattle University also offers a meal plan at $30 per day or you may purchase food in the dining area separately. There are also many restaurants in the area.

Please let us know your preferences. Space at Seattle University is limited and first-come, first serve.

Total conference costs including lodging, food and registration (but not travel costs) ranges from approximately $137 (presenters in residence halls) to $265 (non-
presenters in single room residence suites).

Summit begins at 6 pm Monday, August 10 and ends at 2 pm, Wednesday, August 12.

Friday, April 03, 2009

International Climate Treaty gets a boost from Obama Administration

"White House Announces International Meetings to Address Energy and Climate Issue"
Published: March 28, 2009 in The New York Times
The Obama administration announced Saturday that it had organized a series of meetings among representatives of 16 countries and the European Union to discuss energy and climate issues. The meetings, to be held in Washington in April and in La Maddalena, Italy, in July, will seek to resolve longstanding issues that have blocked the development of an international climate treaty. Read full article here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Baltimore Green Guide

Hey Baltimore friends! Have you seen your city's green guide? This looks like an amazing list of companies and services that help you live a more environmentally-friendly life.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Events - down:2:earth - An exploration into sustainable living.

Bostonites, check out down:2:earth, the environmental expo happening at the Hynes Convention Center this weekend. Our friends at Federation of Massachusetts of Farmer's Markets will be at the Local Bites party on Friday night, and all through the expo. Hope you can stop by!