Archive for July 2013 | Monthly archive page
The votes are in!
Among many stunning entries, the winners of DC EcoWomen’s Annual Photo Contest have been selected.
The Second Annual Photo Contest brought in countless stunning photos for three categories: Sustainable Living; Women in the Workplace; and Natural Urbanity. The winners have been awarded environmental-themed prizes, including gift cards to local businesses. Check out the winning photos below!
Caroline wrote with her submission: “I took this picture, of an empty stretch of Rock Creek Park trail, on a cold morning just before Vort Port International’s EmpowerRun. Away from the sounds and sights of urbanity, it’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of a big city when you’re here.”
Women in the Workplace:
A big thank you to all of the wonderful EcoWomen that submitted entries.
Did you miss out on the contest this year? Have no fear! The Photo Contest will come around again next summer. Keep those cameras handy, because it’s never too early to capture a beautiful moment on film.
By DC Net Impact President Mikael Baker
DC Net Impact is extremely excited to partner with DC EcoWomen to co-host a networking happy hour on July 23 at Irish Whiskey in Dupont Circle. This will be a great opportunity for DC EcoWomen members to learn about DC Net Impact, for DC Net Impact members to learn about DC EcoWomen, and for members of both organizations to expand their professional networks. Though there is some overlap between members of both organizations, this will be the first event co-hosted by both DC EcoWomen and DC Net Impact.
Because of our Washington, DC location, DC Net Impact is in a unique position as a Net Impact chapter, with access to experts, lawmakers, think tanks, federal agencies, and NGOs. We bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds across the age spectrum through unique programming including panel discussions, sustainable business tours, special-interest dinners, networking events, film screenings, professional development workshops, and webinars. For example we recently hosted a film screening of The Island President, followed by a lively climate change panel discussion. Key interest areas for DC Net Impact members include Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Investing, Corporate Social Responsibility, Measuring/Reporting Impact, International Development, Environmental Conservation, and Renewable Energy.
Just over twenty years ago, Net Impact began as a network of MBA students that believed they could be a positive force for social and environmental impact, by focusing their business skills toward initiatives in these areas rather than following career paths traditionally followed by MBA graduates. The idea was radical at the time and is still eye-opening for some. Since its founding, Net Impact has grown to over 10,000 members on six continents.
RSVP for the DC Net Impact joint happy hour today!
Originally published on Redefining Eco, and cross-posted here with their permission.
It’s summertime. It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s heavy. It’s time to get out of the city and out to somewhere cooler, or at least different.
You could hop a plane to the gorgeous beaches of the Caribbean, or take the next flight to the non-humid California, but that would demolish your carbon footprint for the year. So how to get out of the sticky mess that is the east coast in July and August and still stick to your eco roots?
Here’s a few ways to do that:
Go somewhere by car. I know, cars are still gas guzzlers and not great for the carbon footprint, but they are better than airplanes. Head out to Virginia Wine Country for a weekend, or go down to Mount Vernon for the day. Go somewhere where you can park your car and not use it again until you go home.
Better yet, take a train! Or a bus. Both are relaxing ways to travel and use less energy than plane travel. Also, train rides are really fun!
Take public transportation when you get there. I forget that other cities also have public transportation sometimes, or I don’t want to take the time to figure it out. But it’s well worth it when you consider all the costs of driving in a place you don’t know (the frustration of finding parking is enough to make me sit down and figure out public transit!). You can sit back and see the city outside the window of a bus, rather than missing all the sights because you are concentrating on driving.
Don’t leave your eco-friendly gear at home. Make sure to take your reusable water bottle, and any other items you might need with you. If you are going on a day trip somewhere, pack a lunch with you! If you’re going to the beach, stop at a grocery store on the way or bring food with you to minimize having to go somewhere to eat out too – this is also easy on your wallet, and a great excuse to make things you’ve always wanted to try.
Think about what you take with you. If you’re going to a hotel, you probably don’t need to buy those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Or, just refill the ones you already have, rather than buying new ones. Think about what you’re bringing and if you will really use it on the trip, or just throw it out once you’re there.
Turn off things at home. This is one I always forget. When you are headed out for a vacation, make sure to unplug things at home. Things like the coffeemaker or the toaster use up a lot of energy, and will definitely not be in use while you are gone! You can unplug chargers that aren’t coming with you, and some lights. I’d stop at unplugging the fridge or all sources of light though!
Think about what you buy when you’re there. It’s so easy to get caught up in the novelties of a new place and buy, buy, buy. But you don’t do that at home, so why do it on vacation? Think about what you really want to bring home – will your sister really use that ‘wish you were here!’ t-shirt? Take a nice photo to send to her instead! Photos are great souvenirs of a trip, and photo books make great gifts for people!
Simplify and leave those devices at home! It’s easy to get caught up in the big, vacation machine that tells us we need lots of stuff to go on vacation. Simplify the way you do in your everyday life, and you’ll find it’s much more relaxing. You’ll get a better understanding of the city you’re exploring, or feel more rejuvenated after reading all those books on your to-read list by simplifying everything. Turn it off and tune it to your surroundings. That’s why you left home in the first place right? And, bonus points, turning it off means using less energy to charge it. Eco-win.
Traveling in an eco-friendly way means re-thinking some of our standard travel procedures. But we live that way every day, so why not while on vacation? There’s plenty to see right around you!
This water has weathered miles of travel. It may have been recycled and treated hundreds of times over; from a sink in New York City, down a river to a well in Delaware, through a drainpipe and to a spring in Maryland, to be treated and cycled until it finally reaches your faucet.
Most of the time, you drink clean water without a moment’s thought. But it takes an incredible amount of work, upkeep, and regulation to ensure that the water you drink won’t make you sick.
A potential threat to our water safety has unsurfaced. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is suspected of contaminating the water supplies of several states across the country. As fracking continues to expand, this threat grows as well.
How dangerous is fracking for our water?
Hydraulic fracturing is the use of chemicals and materials to create horizontal fractures to stimulate production from gas and oil wells. Scientists worry that these chemicals may threaten groundwater either when underground or during the waste removal process.
Whether or not fracking actually contaminates groundwater has caused a lot of controversy. Though there have been over 1,000 reported cases of contamination related to fracking, many scientific studies remain inconclusive.
That’s not for lack of trying. The Governor of Maryland has recently proposed spending $1.5 million to research the dangers of fracking in the state. And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently working on a study on “the dangers posed to drinking water sources by hydraulic fracturing,” due in 2016.
Could fracking affect the water in DC?
Currently, there is no hydraulic fracturing taking place in or around the District of Columbia. However, this might soon change, as Maryland opens up for fracking (amid protests from environmental groups). And extensive fracking in West Virginia may have even caused the earthquake that cracked the Washington Monument.
As fracking threatens to become a considerable part of our energy landscape, water safety is increasingly important.
Learn More at EcoHour!
Is fracking safe or unsafe? We’ll leave it up to you to decide. But before you do, you might want to learn more.
The task of protecting our water falls at the federal level to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are a surprising amount of complications surrounding something as simple and pure as water. We EcoWomen are lucky enough to hear from Nancy Stoner, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, at our July EcoHour.
Nancy Stoner is a woman who lives and breathes water safety, and surely knows both sides of the argument. There are millions of websites giving one opinion or another about fracking, but sometimes it’s best to hear from the person working in the middle of it all.
Reserve your seat at EcoHour today!
By DC EcoWomen Board Member Lina Khan
As the month of Ramadan begins this week for Muslims, many of us are preparing both physically and mentally for fasting. Muslims believe that during this month in the 600s C.E., the holy text of the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Even before the text was revealed, he often spent time in meditation and reflection. In the present day, Muslims do the same during Ramadan, and fast from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours.
Since Ramadan is a time for inner reflection and self-improvement, its personal impact is unique to the individual. But on a broader level, fasting during Ramadan is intended to help one learn self-control and let her/his spiritual nature grow stronger. From the thirst and hunger, fasting is also meant to foster empathy for those who don’t get enough to eat, and Ramadan is a critical time for giving to charity.
For me, personally, Ramadan is a chance to try not to get so wrapped up in work and the daily grind, and to improve on my weaknesses (such as…my temper) and become a more calm and self-aware person. This is challenging every year, but I like to think I’m veerry slooowly getting better at it. This year, fasting will be particularly trying with the heat, so I’ll get good practice at bettering my temperament hopefully.
Recently I learned about another goal during Ramadan, which is to strive to make Ramadan, and other facets of our spiritual lives, more ‘green’. Speaking logistically, Ramadan entails a pre-sunrise meal (suhr) and post-sunset meal (iftar). And speaking from experience, this is the most enjoyable in the company of others. People often turn iftars into potlucks after work, and there can be a fair amount of plastic ware and containers that get thrown away afterwards.
A few years ago, I attended a ‘Zero Trash Iftar’ hosted by Green Muslims, an organization based in the DC area that seeks to build environmental leadership, awareness, and action within Muslim communities in America. At the iftar, everyone brought their dishes in re-usable containers, and their own eating utensils and reusable napkins (and so begins the revival of handkerchiefs! Maybe). I met cool people and it felt good to break my fast on wholesome food and consciously avoid piling up on trash. I’ve since learned more about the eco-conscious movement taking root within the American Muslim community, and wanted to share some other actions I’d like to take toward the green Ramadan goal.
Here are some suggestions from a green multifaith webinar:
- When washing up for the 5 daily prayers, or even when having a shower, try to limit how much water is used.
- Switch from plastic water bottles and Styrofoam to reusable water bottles and containers—speaking for myself, this can be tough when getting leftovers from a restaurant, so I’d need to devise a plan.
- After a long day of fasting, try not to take more food than one can comfortably digest, to avoid wasting food. Also, try consuming more fruits and vegetables than meat. Since I have been eating vegetarian for awhile now, I hope to keep that up.
I’ve concluded that these actions will entail, for myself, going for more homemade meals for suhr and iftar. So, I’m hoping to implement some of my trial dishes this Ramadan and that these will keep me full and healthy this month.
It’s the Fourth of July.
The 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence… and a day to relax and celebrate in the nation’s capitol! What better place is there to celebrate our country?
We wish you a happy holiday this year. And if you see some fireworks, let them be green!
Celebrate with your local community. Celebrate our country by exploring its beauty, like hiking at Rock Creek Park on Saturday with fellow EcoWomen.
Happy Independence Day, EcoWomen!
This post was written by DC’s Zero Waste Girl – Caroline Selle.
Sometimes, being Zero Waste Girl is super easy.* I love it when I realize that bar shampoo works better than the stuff in a plastic bottle. However, most of the time zero waste is really hard. Grocery shopping? I give up all the time and buy packaged veggie burgers, desperate for a quick, fulfilling snack. Makeup? I’m trying to find alternatives, but right now it’s my biggest sin.
Now it’s summer, the time of farmer’s markets, gardens, and outdoors entertaining, and I’m determined to redouble my efforts. Inspired by the Zero Waste Home, I planned a zero waste party, just in time for the 4th of July.
Step 1: Invitations
I grew up with the internet, so my first instinct is to send e-invitations. I pulled this party together at the last minute, but there are plenty of cute and free e-invitation websites where you can pull together a more entertaining announcement than a Facebook invite. Follow up with phone calls or text messages for RSVP’s.
Step 2: Set up
There’s a good reason we use so many disposables for parties. People have a tendency to knock over glasses, and depending on the number of guests, there might not be enough glasses or plates. Plus, who wants to do all the dishes?
To make sure you have enough…
Forget serving wine in a wine glass or orange juice in a tumbler. The vehicle doesn’t really matter that much, especially on a hot summer afternoon.
Reuse glasses. (No, not between guests). Ask guests to rinse off their glasses or plates if there’s a mess or they don’t want flavors to blend. Provide easy access to the kitchen, or offer to take care of it yourself.
Ask guests to bring their own.
As a last resort, thrift stores often have great deals on partial tableware sets.
I decided to throw a barbeque, which ended up being rained out. (We used the stove to cook food instead). The day before the party, I cooked the beans for veggie burgers and hummus and made the rolls. You can buy rolls in bulk at most grocery stores in the bakery section. I should have sliced the veggies – potatoes purchased loose at the grocery store and squash from the farmers’ market – ahead of time, but I had work and decided that I could talk to guests and prep some of the food during the party.
The final menu:
Raw broccoli and hummus
Cheese cubes(Havarti, purchased from the farmer’s market. The only component of the party that came in packaging, it came from a local vendor).
Black bean veggie burgers on homemade rolls with homegrown lettuce
Cherries and blueberries from the farmer’s market
Chocolate covered almonds and salted mixed nuts from the bulk bin at Yes! Organic
Proteins – specifically meat and cheese – are the most difficult to find sans packaging, and to be honest I haven’t yet succeeded completely. I compromise by buying local or preparing a vegan meal.
Boxed or local wine. (I still struggle with this one. Boxed wine has a plastic bag inside, and although it uses less energy to manufacture plastic is hard to recycle. I ended up buying sangria from a local winery).
Beer in a growler. (There are several DC area breweries that sell growlers and will let you fill them up with the beer of your choice. The party was small, so I filled two).
Sun tea (Add mint sprigs, a tea ball with some loose leaf black tea, and lemon to a jar of filtered water. Leave it out in the sun for a few hours. We use ½ gallon ball jars, and the mint adds an appealing summery flavor and also serves as a garnish).
Water with sliced cucumber, lemon, and/or mint.
Because this party was last minute, I went light on the decorations. I ended up using potted plants as centerpieces, along with hydrangea flowers purchased from the farmer’s market and candles in clear glass barware. I often use cuttings from herbs that have flowered as bouquets, though the tiny white cilantro flowers will make the whole room smell like cilantro. In the past, I’ve also used white holiday lights, which use less power and look beautiful.
If you’re entertaining outside, citronella candles make great decorations and keep the bugs away (although be careful to purchase ones that use citronella and aren’t just scented like it to get the full insect repelling benefits).
Step 3: Entertain!
I cooked the veggie burgers on the stove instead of the grill and roasted instead of grilling the veggies. We had plenty of glasses, though none of them matched. None of it mattered, though. According to a very informal poll, everyone had fun.
There were a couple of hiccups. During the night and the resulting cleanup, I threw one thing in the trash – the cheese wrapper – and one in the recycling – the sangria bottle. I lost a quarter of the beer in one growler when it opened on the way home in my car, and I did use a car.
Overall, though, I’m comfortable pronouncing the party a success.
* What is zero waste? Consuming anything will produce some form of waste, but the idea behind zero waste is, as Bea Johnson of the Zero Waste Home puts it, “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot.” “Refuse what you do not need,” she explains. “Reduce what you do need. Reuse by using reusables. Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse. Rot (compost) the rest.” The goal: consume only what you need and break the chain of events leading to avoidable tragedies like the Bangladesh factory fire (connected to fast fashion), environmental racism (landfills and power plants sited in primarily Black and Hispanic communities), climate change, etc.
Read Caroline’s blog at ZeroWasteGirl.com