Monthly Archives: July 2012

Say “I Do” to Planning a “Green” Wedding

By Leah Kaminsky

Weddings don’t just have a big impact on your wallet, they affect the environment, too. If you’re an eco-minded fiancée, here are a few ideas to keep the waste and emissions of your nuptials to a minimum.

Pick a central location.

If you’re like me, you’ve got family and friends spread out all over the world. Think strategically about where you have your wedding, choosing a location that’s central for as many people as possible.

Use local resources.

Wherever you go, draw from local resources. Find in-town caterers who support local, organic farmers. Or, if you grow your own food or flowers, source them right from your garden, leaving meat off the menu. Cut out the global labor and resource chain by finding a seamstress in town to make your dress. Hire in-town staff to reduce the carbon cost of travel emissions.

Embrace the backyard with DYI.

For a hyper-local wedding, hold it right in your backyard. Decorate tables with colorful fruit, or knit your own flowers for a cute, green gift your guests can take home. Another great idea: pick a wedding date when the flowers are sure to be in bloom and forget the florist altogether.

Recycle and repurpose.

From the invitations and thank you cards to the placards on each table, work only with recycled paper. Wear a friend or family member’s old wedding dress, or have a seamstress turn your plain white dress into something spectacular you can wear time and time again. You can even decorate the venue with crafts and sculptures made from recycled materials.

And of course, make sure that the venue is set up for recycling the day of, too.

With these tips in hand, you’re sure to have a fun, green wedding. Congrats!

 

 

Tips for Traveling Green This Summer

By Leah Kaminsky

For the eco-conscious traveler, staying green on the road can present a wide range of problems. There’s little to buy in the airport that isn’t vacuum-sealed with plastic and unfortunately, bottled water is a necessary evil in developing countries. That said, there are still many options available, just as long as you consciously apply those green principles you use at home when you’re traveling.

Choosing a Hotel

Many hotels are slapping the word “green” next to their name these days, so be sure to use a resource like the Green Hotels Association to find properly vetted places. If you can’t find one in your destination and price range, take preventative measures, like leaving a note asking housekeeping not to change your sheets and towels unless you ask them to. Also, bring your own reusable water bottles and toiletries so the staff won’t have to throw out your partially used soaps at the end of your stay.

Just like at home, turn off all lights and electronic equipment, switch off both heat and air conditioning when you leave for the day and take short showers.

Getting There and Back

By far, the place where travelers have the highest environmental impact is on getting to and from their destination. You can offset some of those emissions by using a carbon exchange, by opting for the train if you’ll be traveling a particularly short distance (especially in Europe), or by renting a hybrid or electric car. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, packing light will use less fuel.

Once You’re There

Get to know the local culture by shopping for snacks in farmer’s markets, and make sure the products you buy really are local. Don’t take any brochures or maps unless you’re sure you’ll use them, and instead, use your smart phone when you can. If you’ll be out in the wilderness, stay on the trails and don’t touch the wild life. And, most of all, get around on your own two feet. Walking and also biking are great ways to immerse yourself in a local culture. Using public transport is another good option and will get you oriented to you new surroundings much more quickly than a cab ever will.

Staying green while you’re traveling is well within your means, as long as you think it through ahead of time and stay on your toes. Happy trails!

Superfoods For The Savvy Shopper

By Juli Goetz Morser

Doesn’t it seem like every six months a new super food hits the headlines as the be-all-and-end-all cure for some common or chronic health ailment? Think acai berry, pomegranate, coconut water, goji berries for some of the latest trends or salmon, blueberries, oats and walnuts for the old timers. If food is what we consume to provide nutritional support for our bodies, then super foods are touted to go beyond basic nutrition with claims to lower cholesterol, control diabetes, fight heart disease, strengthen the immune system, and generally help us live longer.

Since we all want to live healthy lengthy lives, these new and old ‘discoveries’ and their so-called healing properties can be pretty alluring. Kind of like the silver bullets for health. But you’ve got to wonder if these claims amount to, well, a hill of beans. Unfortunately, this is where things get a little murky. For instance, last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the health claim that omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. But when used on a label, the claim has to say that the research is not conclusive. Kind of confusing, huh?

So what is a savvy shopper to do? Well one approach is to simply not worry about eating specific foods for specific ailments until the FDA gives the final word. Another option is to go ahead and add a variety of these calorie sparse and nutritionally dense super foods to an overall healthy diet. Why not? It may not be the quick fix you are looking for or even the magic answer, but it just might be something worth eating for.

Here are some everyday super foods to put on your grocery list:

Beans – the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend three cups weekly of these fiber-filled nuggets. They are also a good low fat source of protein, carbohydrates, magnesium and potassium. Edamame (whole soybeans) also contain omega-3 fatty acids for an added bonus.

Blueberries – the darker the better. These small berries are packed with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, vitamin C and potassium. Berries in general are low in calories, high in water and fiber, and can satisfy sweets cravings with a lot fewer calories than typical baked goods. Frozen berries are said to be just as good, nutritionally, as fresh ones.

Broccoli – this may be one of America’s favorite veggies. It appeals to all ages and is available year round. It is a rich source of Vitamin A, C and K and has plenty of fiber.

Dark orange vegetables – sweet potatoes, carrots, orange bell peppers, butternut squash and pumpkin are all super high in vitamin A. Sweet potatoes, unlike white potatoes, also are loaded with vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.

Eggs – the incredible edible egg contains 12 vitamins and minerals, including choline, while also providing quality protein.

Low fat or fat-free yogurt – believe it or not, low or fat-free yogurt is actually higher in calcium than some other dairy products. It is a top quality source of protein and potassium and can contain probiotics, which help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines.

Nuts – the key to nuts is how much you eat. They rate well due to their protein, antioxidant, high fiber and heart-healthy fat content, but watch the quantity. Go for small portions, about 100 calories a day.

Oats – naturally! Rolled oats or even food that contains a lot of oat bran are the rare super foods with an FDA approved label that they may reduce the risk of heart disease when combined with a low fat diet.

Quinoa – this ancient grain is high in protein and is a good source of iron, zinc, vitamin E, selenium and fiber. In addition to quinoa, try these whole grains: barley, buckwheat, millet, wild rice, and whole wheat.

Salmon – the American Heart Association recommends eating cold water fatty fish like salmon twice a week because they are chock full of the omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is low in calories and saturated fats, high in protein and is a good source of iron. Choose wild over farmed salmon when possible as farmed salmon may contain elevated levels of contaminants and artificial coloring.

Dark Chocolate – a super food? Really? Yes, really. Dark chocolate with 60% or higher cocoa content is a potent antioxidant. And the darker it is, the lower the fat and sugar content. Oh, and did we say it’s yummy?