All Posts Tagged With: "organic"

Celebrate green at the office

photo by: Balance Weddings

Guest post by Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson, mother and daughter co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at their website, Celebrate Green.

As summer winds down, you might be thinking of an end-of-summer celebration with your office. Here are a few tips for eco-friendly company parties. (Many of these ideas are inexpensive too!) If you are looking for more in depth information, just contact Lynn and Corey at their website.

  • Avoid choosing paper anything unless it’s treefree or 100% recycled and printed with vegetable inks.
  • If you are giving gifts, make them earth-friendly. Potted plants make great centerpieces and can be given away.
  • Instead of centering the party around food and drink, come up with some fun activities that may include poking gentle fun at management.
  • Provide drinks in pitchers, punch bowls or glass bottles. Avoid disposable cups and plates.
  • If you’re having the party catered, seek out one who emphasizes sustainable, local and organic food.
  • Giving out awards? Choose from recycled glass awards, fair trade picture frames, organic chocolate bars etc. You can find these and others at Recycled Products and Green With Envy Gifts.
  • Have your party early enough in the day so that lights are not necessary. If you use decorative lighting, ensure that it is LED or solar.
  • Serve fair trade, organic coffee (shade grown if possible) and/or tea.
  • Plan carefully. Avoid overpurchasing food. If you have leftovers, compost, send home with guests or donate if you can. Unopened bags, boxes and cans can be taken to a local food bank.
  • Consider having your party or celebration benefit a local cause. Invite guests to bring books for local book drives, coats for a coat drive, school supplies or whatever else your local community needs.
  • Clean up with eco-friendly products and be sure to place recycling bins where guests will use them.

If you like these suggestions and want to read more about greening events, check out our guest series from eco-event planner extraordinaire Lori Hill.

As always, we love to hear from you! What creative ideas have you tried for your company celebrations?

Thankful Thursday: Alabama Eco-Couture

photo by: Julie
Last fall, I attended a workshop at Alabama Chanin, an eco-couture house in – not New York – northern Alabama. Why did I go all the way down there? I read about this company and its founder, Natalie Chanin, in an issue of Ode magazine last summer. Something about their mission, their aesthetic, and their story just drew me; I simply could not resist!

Alabama Chanin is a welcoming, creative feast for the eyes. Everything in the place is sorted by color, neatly organized, even the scraps. They don’t really consider them “scraps” in the way someone else might. They think of ways to re-use every piece of fabric, to have a zero-waste operation. Not only does it save precious resources and money, it gives them opportunities to exercise their prodigious creativity. They even have a sofa made out of bales of cotton scraps! All their cotton is organically-grown, and their garments are stitched by hand.

This creativity extends to every aspect of the business. Every roadblock or challenge, big or small, has become an opportunity to revisit the mission and go at it another way. At the workshop, Natalie told us some stories of setbacks that would have brought most other businesses to their knees. These challenges were like a test of her resolve and faith. Each time, she kept at it, trying a slightly different angle, one that actually improved the business and took her closer to her vision of a truly sustainable enterprise. Her unwavering commitment to the dream is so powerful and inspiring.

Alabama Chanin has been profitable from the beginning. They work with independent stitchers from around the region, mostly women who are continuing long traditions of quilting and handwork. Interestingly, Alabama Chanin is headquartered in an old T-shirt factory, in the town that used to consider itself the T-shirt Capitol of the World. That is, until NAFTA took all those good jobs away.

Alabama Chanin is proof that when you are living your life purpose, unexpected things happen to nurture your success. Natalie had some great stories about ah-ha moments and serendipitous events that have helped her carry this vision forward. Buyers, groupies and fans have consistently shown up to support her, once she was out there doing her thing. These are high-quality, beautiful garments made with care that will last generations. What a perfect embodiment of sustainability.

City Sprouts Green Efforts

photo courtesy of: Parks and People
In honor of Green Week Baltimore I wanted to highlight a few important efforts that I’ve come across in the past couple of months. The MTA of Maryland has implemented a Green Facts page on their website. This interactive page provides information on all the energy alternatives which are taking place within our Mass Transit system. We currently have 10 hybrid diesel-electric buses and coming soon are some 100% biodiesel conversions and much more. Parks and People Foundation of Baltimore has created the Community Greening Resource Network (CGREN) , a membership program supporting Baltimore City community gardeners with materials like seeds, plants, tools, and educational hand-outs and downloadable PDFs. There are a list of upcoming events and workshops on their calender and ours that include information on composting, rainbarrel systems, etc. This year I’ve signed up to be a member of the Village Green Community Garden in Remington and will be making visits around to as many other community gardens as I can. Check back soon to hear more about the exciting momentum stirring around urban farming city-wide! In addition to active green spaces, the city has also set a goal of increasing its tree canopy from 20 percent to 40 percent. The Growing Home program is an innovative public-private partnership between Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Harford County, 50 local retail nurseries and garden centers, and homeowners to increase the tree canopy in the region by offering homeowners comprehensive education about planting trees and a cash incentive, the $10 Growing Home Tree Coupon redeemable toward the purchase of a qualifying tree with a retail value of at least $25.

I leave you with this quote from critic and urban activist Jane Jacobs, "No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at..suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk." Be the green you wish to see in the world. There are hundreds of ways to get involved. Check our calender for more Green Week Events.

Other urban farming/gardening resources:

Intervale Center

Growing Power

Rhizome Collective

Fresh Start Farm

Remaking Our Connections With the Natural World

photo courtesy Springfield Farms

Recently, I was pulling the meat off a leg of lamb that my husband had cooked in a broth to make soup. My son was there and we started to re-assemble the bones, something he is fond of doing. . . .

The leg bones themselves were one thing, but when we saw how the shin connected that that funny-shaped piece at the bottom. . . and then realized it was the hoof! My heart stopped for a second and I saw that lamb as a very alive little bleating creature. We had eaten its leg with a large group of friends and kids the Sunday night before. I immediately wondered if I am grateful and conscious enough when I eat meat. Of course, the answer is no. I did then say a little prayer of thanksgiving to that lamb who gave its life for our dinner (and others’). The fact that we got so many good meals out of it — at least four more dinners with the soup — is some consolation.

One way to express our gratitude for the bounty we receive is to make the best possible use of it. Don’t waste anything. I ran across a quote from Chogyam Tungpa Rinpoche recently that depression is like smelling your own armpit. To me, that’s such a perfect way of capturing how self-centered and myopic our suffering can be. It strikes me as similarly applicable to our wastefulness. When we sit down to eat leg of lamb and we aren’t aware or thankful, it diminishes our relationship with this amazing, abundant world. It keeps us small and stuck, doesn’t let us feel all those glorious connections and want to celebrate them.

I think our careful extraction of those bones, and their odd-shaped little connector parts, from the veggie goo of that soup stock was one way or remaking our connection. Reweaving. Acknowledging. Toby persisted until he got all three of the small knee pieces to fit, so that he could speculate how the thighbone came into it. Why so much complication at that particular joint? It’s a marvel, really. We were both a little stunned by the extravagance of the forms, the curves and bumps and how they all fit together. Nature’s jigsaw puzzle. Now, think about how many thousands, millions of times that kind of coming together gets designed, engineered, and built in Nature. It puts our puny efforts in their place, that’s for sure.

And I haven’t even said a thing about the pelvis — !

Sign up for our free teleclass: Cultivating a Sense of Awe and Wonder , taking place Friday, April 17 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST. We are planning a great experience for you!

Snopes Wades into HR875 Kerfuffle

We thought after posting our article last month about HR875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, we had done our duty and that was that. All was not quiet, however. My email and Facebook page continue to be inundated with updates, exhortations, and outright pleadings to DO SOMETHING.

Apparently, HR875 has more legs than some people gave it credit for. We’re trying to strike a balance here and give you some updated information about it.

First, read about it on They are a trusted site for investigating email urban legends, so it’s interesting to see them weighing in on this. From their article, I downloaded a PDF of Myths and Facts from Rep. DeLauro’s office — their attempt to clear up some of the misunderstandings and misinformation out there. The PDF is stored on our group networking site. Members can download it there . (If you’re not a member of the groupsite, take the link and sign up. It’s easy!)

Next, peruse the position taken by the Organic Consumer’s Association. From an article on their site : "For the record, Organic Consumers Association does have an alert on HR875 . As OCA points out in our Action Alert, we cannot support a ‘food safety’ bill unless it provides protection or exemptions for organic and farm-to-consumer producers and cracks down on the real corporate criminals who are tampering with and polluting our nation’s food supply."

Well said, OCA!

Why Free Range Eggs Are Better For You

The egg has been an important part of our diet for centuries. Hens have been domesticated in Europe since 600 B.C. and were probably first brought to the New World by Columbus in 1493. Offering 13 essential nutrients, it’s no wonder the egg has remained a staple for this long. According to Mother Earth News, hens raised in a pasture and on a plant-based diet produce eggs that have:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

If you’re finding that free range organic eggs from the store just aren’t the right price, consider owning a few hens. The city allows up to three, as long as they are at least 20-25ft from any one resident. That’s perfect for any row home in Baltimore. I’ll be helping a neighbor build a chicken coop come spring, next to the Remington Village Green Community Garden . Check back in the next couple weeks for more hen info, progress on the coop design and other experiments!

Cunningham Farms

photo courtesy of: C Farms

Cunningham Farms specializes in gourmet sweet potato butter made from organic potatoes and apple cider. It goes great with a variety of foods or their gourmet sweet potato pie. Cunningham Farms is a community oriented company that was founded with the socially responsible vision of providing jobs for families of low-income areas. The farm is also is a member of the Appalachian Spring Cooperative . Read more about their vision of social equity on their site.