Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly’

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on 8 Ideas for Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions – And How to Actually Stick to Them

By: Ellie Long

If you’re anything like me, you’re starting out 2021 more than a little exhausted from the events of the past year. Yes, we’re surrounded by messages of “brighter days ahead,” but with COVID-19 still raging, an economic crisis disproportionately hurting the most vulnerable among us, and, oh yeah, a climate crisis spiraling out of control, “Happy New Year” can feel a bit premature. 

While it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all this, taking small, concrete steps toward positive change can have a big impact on lending a sense of control, and even more importantly: hope. Once you accept that you’re not going to single-handedly stop the earth’s temperature from rising or save every tree in the rainforest, you can start focusing on what you CAN do in 2021. Here are a few ideas to get started – and tips and tricks for sticking with it. 

1. Vow to volunteer. 

Whether your schedule allows for once a week, once a month, biannually, or anywhere in-between, setting a firm, realistic target for when you can commit to giving back will help you stick to volunteering more in 2021. In-person opportunities can be harder to come by during COVID-19, but there are still many organizations across the D.C. area that could use extra helping hands – here are just a few to look into: 

  • Washington Parks and People has virtual, in-person, and group volunteer opportunities available with safety precautions in place, including a park cleanup on the 3rd Saturday of every month. 
  • EcoAction Arlington is hosting intermittent in-person cleanups around Arlington County, as well as virtual volunteer social events to connect with your fellow eco-enthusiasts. 
  • Capital Area Food Bank is playing a critical role in providing food to those who need it most around the region. Opportunities include driving to collect and distribute food, sorting and packing, and staffing their community marketplaces. 

2. Make 2021 your year of composting. 

Composting is a win-win for the environment: by sorting out your food waste, you reduce landfill emissions while creating a nutrient-rich soil for gardening or agriculture. Make a resolution to sort out your compostables, such as vegetable scraps, grains, and egg shells, into a separate container, then drop off them off at one of the D.C.’s collection sites (there are also locations in Virginia). Or, if you want to use the compost in your own garden, consider starting an at-home composting system – local governments including D.C., Arlington, and Montgomery County offer bins discounted or free. 

3. Plastic is so 2020. 

COVID-19 can make it feel like we’re making backward progress on eliminating the wasteful use of plastic in our daily lives. Counter the trend when the use of plastic isn’t necessary for health and safety with simple steps such as always carrying your own reusable grocery and produce bags to the store (most stores allow this, but may ask that you bag your own items), purchasing a reusable straw, or requesting restaurants to reduce plastic in takeout when possible (e.g., asking that plastic utensils are not included). 

4. Eat for two – the planet and you! 

Eating healthier is a common New Year’s resolution, but how about eating healthier for the planet? Set goals in 2021 based on your current diet; for example, if you already eat largely plant-based, maybe you’re ready to commit to being vegetarian or vegan (going vegetarian can roughly half your food carbon footprint, while veganism lowers it by about 60%), but if you currently eat a meat-heavy diet, starting small with “meatless Mondays” may be more effective at creating lasting change. You can also think about goals for eating more organic, local, or sustainably sourced food, e.g., “I will only eat seafood that is on SeafoodWatch’s recommended list.” 

5. Make Mother Earth the center of attention by informing others. 

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably already fairly interested in and informed about environmental issues. Confront disinformation and disinterest by spreading the word – a few examples of resolutions could include “I will always speak up when I hear or see climate disinformation this year,” “I will share at least one environmentally educational article on my social media each week,” “I will invite a friend or family member to every environmental event I attend,” or *ahem* “I will write a blog for DC EcoWomen!” 

6. Learn about the ongoing shadow of environmental racism. 

The past year brought the terrible toll of racial injustice front and center. In 2021, continue to listen, learn, and act – one way to start could be by reading up on environmental justice and how we can ensure our planet’s resources are enjoyed equally, that environmental catastrophes are not felt disproportionately, and that the movement for justice is all-inclusive. Here are a few resources to start:

7. Don’t forget to donate. 

If you have the means, helping to support the fight for a cleaner planet through donating can make a big difference. Consider establishing a certain amount of money you intend to donate each month, then setting a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget to make it happen. Or for an easy solution, set up a recurring donation with your favorite organization. 

8. Take care of yourself with nature. 

Resolutions around giving back are great, but in these stressful times, never forget to give back to yourself as well. If you have trouble finding the time, resolutions such as “I will hike once a month,” “I will join a birdwatching group,” or “I will go for a lunch walk every day” may help you make space for yourself. 

I hope you’ll find in these ideas some inspiration for a resolution that will work for you in the year ahead. 2021 may not be the brightest dawn we’ve ever seen, but there’s still hope in new beginnings, and setting goals for the benefit of yourself, your community, and the planet can provide a ladder to keep moving forward – step by step by step.

*** 

Ellie Long is a Communications Associate with the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington D.C.- based nonprofit that advocates for energy efficiency policy. In this role, she assists with content development, media relations, grassroots advocacy, social media, and other marketing efforts for the Alliance. Ellie graduated in May 2020 from California Lutheran University with degrees in Political Science and Global Studies, and previously interned in a Senate communications office.

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on How to make your kitchen more eco-friendly

By Christy Halvorson Ross

We are in a 24/7/365 battle globally and locally to reduce our carbon footprints, reverse climate change, and improve the health of the Earth.

There are so many ways to contribute on an individual level to a healthier planet…on the roads, in the grocery store, with your consumer habits, and your recycling practices. You can also make a huge impact on your environmental footprint in your own kitchen.  Read on to find out how.

  1. Reduce your food packaging

Shopping at farmer’s markets or being a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member are the best ways to reduce your food packaging. If you bring your own bags to the farmer’s market, then there is zero packaging between the farmer picking the produce and you putting it in your refrigerator.

The DC area has a plethora of incredible farmer’s markets, many on the weekends and some during the week. Make visiting them your ritual!

With CSAs, you can support farmers directly by purchasing a share for a season or a year. Check out this great list of area CSA’s

As much as I love the produce at Trader Joe’s, I don’t love their food packaging. Many of their items have a cardboard base and then are wrapped in plastic. Whole Foods is a bit better with labels and twist ties on most of their produce.

Wherever you shop, make sure to bring your own produce bags.

If you are a fish or meat eater, you can also bring your own container to the deli/fish counter. Stash one in your bag and have it weighed before the food is put in. This is a great way to reduce your use of plastic.

2. Produce less food waste

Food waste is a big one in the kitchen. At Little Green, we love to come up with ways to use every little bit of the food you have. Following are a few fun tips that ensure you will never need to throw produce away.

  • Veggie stir fries

When the spinach and mushrooms that you had grand plans for begin to look like they may have a day of survival left, it’s time for a stir fry! Saute some onions and add just about any other thing you’ve got in your fridge. Throw in some sesame oil until it’s full of flavor and tender. You can always add coconut milk or hot sauce, and garnish with chopped nuts and cilantro or flat-leaf parsley.

  • Carrot-top pesto

Chop up those amazing carrot top greens from your farmer’s market carrots, and add them to the Cuisinart with pureed walnuts or almonds and some olive oil and salt for a delicious pesto. No recipe needed! Play with the flavors and textures.

  • Smoothies

Are those fresh berries about to go? Throw them in the freezer in a reusable bag (have you heard about stasher bags?) and use them for your next breakfast smoothie.

3. Choose sustainable foods

I have been delving more deeply into the future and the sustainability of food on our planet. Today, we have 7.5 billion people on this planet and 2 billion of them are hungry. By 2050 we’ll have to feed more than 9 billion people. We are discovering foods that require less water and farmland to produce, are grown efficiently, and are highly nutritious. A few examples include:

  • sunchokes [What are sunchokes, you ask? They are also known as Jerusalem Artichokes. They have so many nutrients, fiber, and even protein, and are so easy to grow….we need to start integrating them into our diets more! Check out this elegant salad or main dish that will wow your guests using these inexpensive, modest little gems.]
  • legumes (lentils, beans)
  • dark leafy greens (dandelion greens, kale, swiss chard, beet greens)
  • squashes (delicata, chayote, honeynut)

If you can build these three habits into your routine, you’ll make a big difference for this planet we live on. Have fun with the variety of veggies you get at the market or CSA (and check out our farmer’s market guide here) and enjoy the health benefits too!

Christy Halvorson Ross is the founder of Little Green, which creates sustainable and nutritious recipes, and offers healthy living and plant-based cleanse programs, including food delivery, right here in DC.

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!