Archive for September 2013 | Monthly archive page

posted by | Comments Off on Homegrown DC: Farming Within City Limits

Written by Caroline Selle, the Zero Waste Girl

On Sept. 7, 2013, hundreds of DC residents turned out for the city’s first Homegrown DC Festival. Organized by the Neighborhood Farm Initiative, Common Good City Farm, and Old City Farm & Guild, the hyper local farmers’ market included over 40 vendors and a variety of activities.

“One person had a nutrition game, [and another had] little vegetable outfits the kids could dress up in,” said Sarah McLaughlin of Old City Farm & Guild, one of the festival’s three organizers. Seaton Elementary School brought sunflowers grown by the students. At the kids table, children could pick seeds out of the flower heads and eat them.

Along with Kristin Brower of the Neighborhood Farm Initiative and Anita Adalja of Common Good City Farm, McLaughlin created Homegrown DC to be “a celebration of food that is grown inside the city.” Vendors included community gardens, urban farms, nonprofit education farms, school gardens, and honey producers.

In a city not particularly known for its urban agriculture, “There’s a pretty good network of farmers and growers,” said McLaughlin. There are even for-profit farms inside the city, and plenty of small businesses use local ingredients.

Chef Zulu’s Tofu Delight and Rahkel’s Raw Cuisine were both present. Rahkel bought local, DC ingredients and put them in her recipes for the day. By the time she made it through the crowd and to her table, she sold out of her meals.

The day wasn’t without adventure. Attendees got a real taste of beekeeping when a honey producer brought an empty hive. “All the bees started going over and coming into the hive,” said McLaughlin. “There were bees flying everywhere…swarming the new hive. We had to take the hive and move it out of the crowd.”

McLaughlin has long been interested in food policy and agriculture. She majored in Sustainable Agriculture and International Development in college. “I realized I wanted to learn more and do more work in the states on food policy and access to healthy food,” she said. “I didn’t grown up learning how to grow food myself.” Now, she works as a garden coordinator at two different elementary schools.

The idea for Homegrown DC came one day when talking with Brower, McLaughlin’s friend. It came together better than they expected. “We used Old City Farm,” said McLaughlin, since the organization’s mission, “is to bring people and plants together.”

After the first festival’s success, the organizers hope to hold the festival annually, if not twice a year. Future events will include more cooks and small DC businesses, especially solo enterprises.

posted by | on , , , , , , , | Comments Off on VegFest: A DC festival you don’t want to miss

By DC EcoWoman Dawn Bickett

DC Ecowomen take note: Vegfest is just around the corner.

Never been? Then you are in for a treat. Or—if you are me—several. DC Vegfest is an annual festival of all things meat- and dairy-free—great for ecowomen who avoid animal products, or just enjoy good food.

Next Saturday, you can explore vegan vendors, munch on plant-based foods, and be inspired by speakers and cooking demonstrations all day long (or at least 11am-6pm).

And another plus—the festival is near the Navy Yard Metro Station at Yards Park, so no need to increase that carbon footprint with driving.

Here’s what to expect:
Food

Washington, D.C. has great vegetarian options scattered across the city. But at Vegfest, restaurants like Amsterdam Falafelshop, Bread and Brew, Pete’s Apizza, Sticky Fingers, and Mango Grove are lined up to provide everything from samples to full meals. Vegan sweets shops and stands with new vegan food products also dot the festival with freebies to try or to bring home.

Speakers

In between meals, there is plenty of time to hear from an assortment of speakers from the vegan and vegetarian community. The speaker lineup ranges from chefs to news anchors, all connected by their advocacy of the plant-based diet. This year, highlights include vegan ultra marathoner Rich Roll and cooking demos by Cupcake Wars winner Doron Petersan and vegan chef Ayinde Howell.

Good Causes

Many of the exhibitors at Vegfest will be there for educational, rather than epicurean, purposes. Animal welfare organizations, health groups, and even the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility will be in attendance to get new folks engaged and excited about their causes.

If you enjoyed the Green Festival this weekend—or you are sad you missed it—then the DC Vegfest may be right up your ally.

Don’t miss out on this chance to explore vegan, vegetarian, and vegetarian-friendly cuisine and organizations in Washington, D.C., no matter what your eating preferences.

For more information on Vegfest:

posted by | on , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on This Autumn, Fall Into Sustainable Style

Guest writer Rachel Mlinarchik is the voice behind My Fair Vanity, a blog dedicated to style that is kind to the earth and the people on it.

Even if it still feels like summer, I’m ready to get  excited for fall, so I’ve put together some of my favorite eco-friendly items for when cooler temperatures roll in. These selections will allow you to try out some of fall’s  hottest trends while still being kind to the earth and the people on it, and I’ll offer a few tips on finding sustainable options in your hometown or online.

Downtown Prepster

 

First up is a snazzy dress shirt from Zady. Proudly made in the New York garment district, the price might be high, but this shirt is made to last for years. The beautifully structured messenger bag is made exclusively for ASOS’ new “Green Room,” a fantastic effort on  the part of the company to be transparent about where and how some of  its products are made. This particular bag is leather, but it is also made in local factories in the U.K. It comes in every color of the rainbow and even though it wouldn’t be very eco-friendly, I want all of them.

The patent leather tortoise shell oxford shoe is made by Attilio Giusti Leombruni in a 3rd-generation-owned family factory in Italy. It’s perfect to wear  with chunky sweaters or slim-cut collared shirts in the fall and winter  to incorporate a little menswear into your style. Although I would  rather buy made in the USA, I believe that investing in  high-quality products made in countries with minimum wage and  fair labor laws is also solid, sustainable choice.

I’m very excited to share two pieces from one of my favorite jewelry lines: Alkemie. Both the elephant ring and the nautilus earrings are made in Los Angeles of 100% reclaimed metal with sterling silver posts.

Right along those lines is the chain link cuff bracelet by Mettle (available from Collective Habit). All of Mettle’s products are  hand-forged, fair trade accredited, and made from recycled bombshell  brass in Cambodia and Indonesia  within a small, not for profit, income generating and training project  owned by its members. Boom.

When I see this kind  of thought, care and kindness behind such beautiful clothing and  jewelry, it makes me want to march in to the offices of the larger  retailers (with far more capital and potential to change lives) and  say, calmly and clearly: You can do better. No. Seriously. You can.

Instead of finger-wagging, though, one thing we can all do is ask, ask, ask. Whenever you’re shopping online, if the products you’re browsing aren’t clearly labeled with information about  where or how they are made, send a quick email to customer service with your question. In a physical store, politely ask the sales associates to point you towards  goods that are made in the USA or made using fair labor practices. The  more you and I ask, the more managers and buyers will start to think about where and from whom they are making purchases.

But I digress.

Add A Little Edge

Let’s move on to the edgier, modern punk look. I’m loving these leather-waisted, pleated trousers by Milly, and loving even more that they are made in the USA.  Bonus: many of you will be pleased to learn that the silver oxfords by Jeffrey Campbell are part of a special vegan line he produces for Convert. Convert, for the record, is an apparel, shoe and accessories store dedicated to both style and sustainability.

The bangles are handmade from locally sourced woods and  metallic leathers by marginalized women in Northern India for Raven and Lilly. Proceeds from this particular collection fund literacy programs for women artisans and their children.

The crazy leggings by Conditions Apply for Shop Ethicare are so eco-friendly that they require a bulleted list to get all the goodness across:

  • Made at a company-owned factory in Gurgaon, India, allowing the  brand to control working conditions throughout its supply chain
  • Water at the manufacturing facility is collected and recycled
  • Fabric scraps are salvaged and used to make one-of-a-kind pieces
  • Employees have access to medical care and micro-loans
  • Production is based on orders, not forecasts, to reduce waste and avoid surpluses

And last but certainly not least, the exposed zipper black sheath dress is another item from the ASOS Green Room. This one is perfect to wear with a cardigan at work during the day, all the while knowing you are ready for date night once evening falls. Business in the front, party in the back!

Looking for another way to ramp up your wardrobe sustainably? Join DC EcoWomen for our clothing swap on September 29th! Just bring in your gently used clothes, accessories, or shoes, to “shop” for each other’s items. Go to the Event Page to sign up today!

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Washington D.C.’s Annual “Car Free Days” are coming up soon, so it’s time to start planning!

D.C. is one of the best cities in the world to get around without a car, especially in an age where more and more young adults are postponing their drivers’ licenses and ditching their cars. Some say living car-free is just the latest millenial trend, but I think it’s something more. The car-free lifestyle is a grassroots, citizen-inspired movement – a new way to live sustainably. And with D.C.’s accessible public transportation system, miles of bike lanes, and 38% of households in the city already enjoying a carless lifestyle, it looks like living car free is here to stay.

Luckily, even if you do own a car, you still have a chance to get involved with this movement: pledge to be car free for an entire weekend, September 20-22.  But how can you get around without a car? Let’s start with the obvious:

Take Public Transportation

The DC metro is arguably one of the best underground inner-city rail systems, and the buses aren’t half-bad, either. Bring a book, or start up a conversation with a stranger, and it could turn into a fun experience as well! You can take public transportation to go out of the city as well; take the train to Baltimore, or have an adventure on the Appalachian Trail, like EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett.

Bike

Personally, I’d rather be flying on my bike than stuck on the metro (or in a car during rush hour, for that matter). There are many venues to access a bicycle if you don’t own one. Capital Bike Share has hundreds of stations set up all throughout the city for rent. Or, if you want to go on a longer ride, it might end up being cheaper to rent a bike, which you can do at Bike and Roll, Big Wheel Bikes, and others. You may find that purchasing your own bike is well worth the investment, especially if you buy a nice used one on Craigslist.

With 11 miles of bicycle lanes, and many more miles of trails, DC is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, so give it a shot!

Walk

During college, it wasn’t uncommon to traverse upwards of 5 miles a day on foot – students walked to get absolutely everywhere! However, the culture of walking tends to evaporate after graduation. If you live in the city, chances are it’s easier to walk around than to take a car in many areas. Either way, think about your next trip: if it’s only one or two miles, try walking instead.

(Bonus: walking is an easy way to get some extra exercise.)

Run

Ok, bear with me here. Some people run their daily commutes to work, and love it (you can learn how in our previous blog post). I wouldn’t suggest running to the Governor’s Ball, but you might try taking a running tour; if you’re walking from the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson, why not run? You’ll get there in half the time!

Rollerblade or Scooter

If you’re going to roll from place to place, why not have some fun with it? Whenever I see rollerbladers pushing along on the bike trails, they might get a couple weird stares, but I think the onlookers are secretly jealous. Rollerblading and scootering brings me back to my youth – and it looks like a pretty good workout, too!

Hitch a Ride, Carpool, or Zip Car

If you simply must go somewhere that is completely inaccessible without a car on the weekend of September 22 (Virgin Mobile Feefest, anyone?!), feel free to hitch a ride with a friend, or rent a zip car. The whole point of the car-free pledge is to show that you don’t need to own a car to get around.

Committing to a car-free lifestyle for an entire weekend can be difficult for those that are not used to it. So start planning now! And don’t forget to fill out the car free pledge. With so many different options for mobility, the whole district is at your toetips.

How are you planning to spend your car free weekend? Let us know in the comments!

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Get To Know The New Board Members!

Labor Day has come and gone, which means a new year of school, of Congressional hearings… and a new group of DC EcoWomen Board Members!

DC EcoWomen has acquired eight new excited and motivated ladies to join the Board. Though they all currently live in DC, they hail from many different parts of the world – even Belgium! Read more about our new Board Members below. At our next EcoHour or volunteer event, give them a hello!

Katharine Eaton; Membership

Katharine Eaton was born in Georgia and moved to Belgium when she was six years old. She earned her M.A. in Communications from the Free University of Brussels and her M.A. in International Relations and Conflict Management, with a concentration in Environmental Politics, from the Catholic University of Leuven. After nearly two decades abroad, she moved back to the States when the program she was working for relocated to DC.

Katharine loves reading novels, simplifying recipes, craft projects, and crossing items off her bucket list. She lives in the District with her husband.

Allyson Shaw; Membership

Allyson Shaw grew up on the Kansas side of Kansas City. After studying journalism at the University of Kansas, she moved to Rome, Italy for one year. A communications job at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund brought her back to the States last fall.

Allyson is pumped to learn more about the environment while socializing with some spectacular ladyfriends with DC EcoWomen. In her free time, she eats a lot of cheese and tries to master the choreography to Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.”

Maggie Wendler; Membership

Maggie grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before her family settled in Vienna, Virginia ten years ago, but she has only officially called DC home since 2011. Maggie graduated from Wake Forest University with a B.A. in Political Science and then attended law school at Emory University to focus on environmental law and energy issues. For the past two years, Maggie has worked for the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program, mainly supporting the Beyond Coal Campaign’s east coast region and their efforts to curb the use of coal in energy production and replace it with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

Maggie is excited to be a part of the DC EcoWomen Board and to be able to work with these awesome eco-minded women and help expand the group’s presence in DC and beyond. When not reading the Clean Air Act, Maggie likes to run and hike with her dog in Rock Creek Park, complete the occasional half marathon, practice yoga, and spend time with friends. She is also trying to get more into biking and brunching since that’s apparently what you do in this town.

Terrie Clifford; Professional Development

Terrie Clifford is from Rochester, New York and became interested in environmental issues after learning that the neighborhood she grew up in is an EPA Superfund site. She works currently as a marketing strategist and business development consultant focused on media and non-profit organizations and is transitioning into environmental work. Her career includes senior marketing and business development positions with U.S. News and World Report, National Geographic and America Online. She began her career in broadcast journalism. She enjoys outdoor adventures in the DC area with her two Greyhounds.

Mona Funiciello; Professional Development

Mona Funiciello’s passion for the environment began while hiking in the Adirondack Mountains in her early 20s. She fell in love with the beauty and serenity of the wilderness and decided to make protecting forests – and other natural resources – her life’s work. She moved to Boston, MA in 2000 to work for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and continued her outdoor adventures. She spent many happy weekends in the White Mountains in NH and took trips to the western U.S., Ireland, and Malaysia, which stoked her interest in global conservation, sustainability, and public policy. In 2011 she graduated with an MA in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University and moved to DC to pursue a career in international environmental policy.

Her first event with DC EcoWomen was a mentor dinner. It was a fantastic networking experience that led to her current job as a Climate Policy Fellow at GlobalSolutions.org. When she’s not out and about, Mona can be found in her kitchen cooking French food or lounging around reading her overdue library books.

Kimberlyn Way; Professional Development

Kimberlyn Way grew up in Southern California and moved to Washington DC upon finishing her graduate degree in Fall 2012. She is a Senior Environmental Policy Analyst for ENS Resources and has a Bachelors degree in Communication Studies and a Masters in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara. Kimberlyn holds specializations in both Water Resources Management and Economics and Politics of the Environment. She has a strong interest in serving the public by ensuring that all citizens have access to clean and safe drinking water while also ensuring that the natural environment and its waterways are protected.

Prior to her environmental career, Kimberlyn gained professional experience in meeting and event planning which she hopes to apply in her new position as a professional development committee member.

In her free time, Kimberlyn likes to explore DC, spend time with friends and family, cook, and watch Parks and Recreation.

Anne Christianson; Programs


Anne Christianson grew up in Minnesota and graduated from St. Olaf College with a BA in Environmental Policy, and Oxford University with an MS in Biodiversity Conservation. After following animals around in Cambodia, the Caribbean, and South Africa, she moved to DC in 2011 and now works on environmental and agriculture issues for a Minnesota member in the House of Representatives. While not holed up on the Hill, Anne enjoys exploring the parks on the East Coast, reading, and traveling abroad.

Anne attended an EcoWomen event during her first week in DC, and is excited to join the community of strong, environmentally-focused women on the board!

KC Stover; Programs

KC Stover is a recent transplant from the Boston area. With a background in wildlife conservation and green business, KC is excited about many intersecting facets of the environmental field. She graduated from the College of Wooster and earned her MBA in 2011 from Suffolk University in Boston. Before moving to DC, she worked on ocean conservation issues and for a green agriculture startup. KC works at Defenders of Wildlife in the Conservation Science and Policy department on a wide variety of projects including wildlife conservation in the farm bill, supporting the endangered species policy team and a corporate partnership.

In her free time KC enjoys gardening, hiking, cooking, running and enjoying the many awesome activities that DC has to offer.