2011 - Our Daily Green

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Clean Green New Year

A few weeks ago, Our Daily Green was invited to participate in a panel survey about favorite green cleaning products. Circle of Moms chose our answer in their year-end column. I was so excited to have my answer chosen that I contacted the company. As a result, they have offered to sponsor a giveaway on Our Daily Green. (details of the giveaway at the bottom of the post). 

You're all wondering what this miracle product is, I'm sure. One of my favorite cleaning products is the powdered cleanser, Bar Keepers Friend. The origin of this cleaner is quite interesting. In 1882, an Indianapolis chemist noticed how clean his pot was after cooking rhubarb and did several tests and experiments to determine that oxalic acid is the plant based ingredient responsible for the shiny pot. Oxalic acid is also found in spinach, chives, and parsley. Since that discovery, the American company, Bar Keepers Friend has been manufactured in Indianapolis for the past 127 years.

What I have always liked about this gentle cleaning product (as a loyal customer for many years) is the ease of rinsing it away without residue, the ability to clean my smooth cooktop without scratching, and the lack of fumes. So many cleansers contain harsh chemicals that I prefer not to clean with.

Bar Keepers Friend is endorsed by several major cookware and kitchen companies, but one of the most interesting endorsements we discovered was US Markerboard's, which as you can tell by the photos, restored our stained dry erase board.

barkeepers friend
a little powder on a damp rag
cleaning dry erase boards
a little elbow grease

natural cleaners
Some of their products
american companies
BKF keeps our cooktop shiny and Copper Glo works wonders on our tea kettle
Bar Keepers Friend has generously offered a basket of their products to one of Our Daily Green's readers. To enter the giveaway:

1. "Like" Bar Keepers Friend on Facebook
2. "Like" Our Daily Green on Facebook
3.  Leave a comment on this post. Please add your email or some other way to contact you in the event you win. THAT means leave a comment below this actual post, not on Facebook, because we use a random number generator to choose the winner from the number of comments. Then we verify that you've liked the pages on Facebook. But if your comment is not here, you do not have an entry.

This giveaway offer will end on midnight January 13th, Eastern Standard Time. Must have a US mailing address to win.  

*In accordance with FTC disclosure laws, we received a package of the products to test for our review*

Do you have a green product you want us to feature in a future post?

The Giveaway Gallery

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year End Accounting of Green

For those of you who followed Our Daily Green the past few years, you may recall that we pledge half our advertising earnings to charitable organizations. It's our way of underwriting our blog as well as supporting organizations that are making a difference in this world. It's also our way of thanking our readers for indulging our advertisements.

Community Greenhouse PartnersThis past year, Our Daily Green cut back on some of our side ads, but accepted more sponsored posts. The difference is that the advertiser pays us to link to their site within a blog post, versus a permanent ad on the main blog page.

Our posts earned about $50 in sponsorship and we also received approximately $500 in free merchandise. We gave away approximately $400 in like merchandise, leaving us with a surplus of $150, which translates to $75 in donations. We've chosen one organization, Community Greenhouse Partners in Cleveland, Ohio and would like nominations for two more.

Community Greenhouse Partners mission includes:
Improving the quality of life of those around us by growing vegetables year round and selling them at low cost to urban families, employing local residents and teaching sustainability and earth science to young people. Community Greenhouse Partners is a sustainable urban farm that applies ecological design principles and engages community participation to grow wholesome food year-round that is provided at low-cost to the neighborhood, improving personal health while generating training, mentoring and employment opportunities.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

(Guest Post) Coupons and Organic Food: Eating Healthy on a Budget

Guest Post: This post was written by James Lander of Couponing. This website offers deals as well as tips for becoming a savvy couponer.

In recent years, buying and eating organic food has become a major priority for a growing number of American consumers. As more and more people consider where the food they put into their bodies actually comes from – and as access to local, organic, and sustainably-produced goods increases– the demand for these products has exploded across the country. The drawback to this fervor? Organic foods can often come with much higher price tags than their factory-produced counterparts. Many people feel excluded from the organic movement simply because the prices for organic fruits, vegetables, and other goods often seem so much higher than their existing grocery budget can allow.

However, there is relief for organic shoppers looking for a deal. As decades of savvy shoppers have done before them, organic consumers can take to the world of couponing where deep discounts and pricing deals can be found if one is willing to search for them. These days, couponers find most of their deals online rather than in the newspaper; many keep a list of sites to check regularly, and some even have deals and updates sent directly to their email each day.

Organic groceries are a growing niche of the online couponing community; retailers and food producers alike now regularly provide discounts, coupons, and special offers to website visitors and email subscribers. There are also entire third-party websites dedicated to compiling these deals and presenting them to consumers who visit their site. These third party sites are an excellent resource for couponers willing to do their research. On a blog like Frugal Dad, for example, you can access dozens of grocery and food coupon codes to use when shopping for organic products. Visitors can view a wide variety of retailers to see who is offering the deepest discounts on the organic products they want most. This method takes time, but dedicated deal-seekers can compare and contrast discounts and make educated decisions about how to spend their money.

Alternately, if you’ve got a favorite brand, many companies will offer special, usually limited-time deals on their websites or to customers who have signed up to receive email offers and updates. Coupon shoppers can apply these exclusive offers to get serious discounts on their favorite products, especially if they can be combined with discount codes from some of their other coupon sites. Again, sorting through the many emails and offers that inevitably come through your inbox can be a time-consuming job that many customers choose to skip. Some may find it simply too tedious to sort through the various offers and find the best deal; others may find the daily influx of deals too tempting and end up spending more than they would have otherwise – which defeats the whole purpose of couponing.

Remember: do not let the coupons completely dictate your shopping experience. If you have a “buy two, get one free” coupon for a food that no one in your home will eat, you’ve essentially paid double to let something sit in your cabinet and be thrown out uneaten. Although coupons can offer significant savings to savvy customers, their attractive discounts can also cause passive shoppers to waste money on items they don’t really want or need. Compile all of your coupons and discount information (offer expiration dates, etc.) into one place where you can look at it all objectively, determine the best value, and make your purchases.

If you are committed to feeding your family organic food whenever possible, you can absolutely work it into your existing budget by committing to couponing and discount shopping. Successful couponers are diligent about their work and realistic about their needs, and for that their payoff can be huge: feeding their families healthy, organic food without breaking the bank.

Fitness Green

One of the most chemical free ways to stay healthy and live better is to exercise on a regular basis. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical exercise relieves stress and anxiety. As one year ends, and the world gets ready for a new year, many folks make a resolution to exercise more. Our Daily Green began that resolution early. With so many headlines talking about the prevalence of prescription drug use rising to treat depression and anxiety, and concerns about chemically altering our body on a daily basis, we wholly endorse a regiment of more natural choices, including healthy diet and regular exercise.

Exercise need not involve a drive to a gym or an expensive membership to a health club. The irony of getting in a car and driving somewhere to move the body is not lost on us. But in the winter, when we become more sedentary, getting an extreme body workout can be as easy as getting off the couch and moving while watching an exercise video. To combat the winter blues, dreams of having a beach body can be realized from the comfort of your own home. Inclement weather doesn't need to thwart your plans to regularly exercise and stay fit.

In fact, 30 minutes of some sort of physical activity daily has benefits that include weight loss, better sleep, improved mood, and more energy. Some programs offer a 90 day review to measure results, although the ways we can improve our lives in three short months with a commitment to exercise are immeasurable. There's no need to wait until the new year to live better today. Make a promise to yourself to swap 30 minutes a day of sedate activity with a more physical activity. Stop looking for a solution in a bottle or pill and consider a more holistic approach. To a Happy and Healthier New Year!

(Our Daily Green has received compensation for this post but we would not share anything we didn't believe would benefit our readers).  

This is a guest post provided by Fitness Alliance

Friday, December 16, 2011

There's a Green App for That!

As the year wraps up and folks say out with the old, that "old" does not need to wind up in landfills. But it can be a daunting task to know the proper way to dispose of things. Can it be separated with the recycling bins? Does it need special handling? What does my municipality accept?

Many folks opt out of recycling simply because it is too confusing to know where to throw what out. But it need not be as complicated as that. Earlier this month, we had one simple recommendation for greeting cards, send them to St. Jude's Children's Ranch where they recycle them and sell them to support their mission. However, that only takes care of the greeting cards.
Behold thy Landfill
photo by: Justin Ritchie, courtesy of Creative Commons license

What about the gift packaging, the cardboard, the extra bottles, the burned out lightbulbs, the obsolete electronics? Finding a solution is as easy as downloading an app on a smart phone. (or if you don't have a smart phone, as Our Daily Green does not, it's as easy as going to the 1-800 Recycling website!)

There is no reason to fill up our landfills when the solution is a touchscreen away. Available for both Android and iPhones.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Recycled Card Program Green

'Tis the season for cards to come in... and they are a wonderful reminder of loved ones, but once the holiday is past, what then? What if you knew you could not only feel the love you get when you open a card, but also put that same love to charitable use? What if you knew you could recycle those cards and make a difference?

St. Jude's Ranch for Children was built to be a place for neglected children to find a safe home with the vision to break the vicious cycle of child abuse and provide help and hope to children and families. Read on to see one of the ways they fund themselves as well as provide opportunity to the children on their ranch. Save your cards and send them in!

Over thirty years ago, wishing to show our donors appreciation for making St. Jude’s Ranch for Children possible, the idea was conceived for turning the previous year’s Christmas cards into “new” cards for the coming season. The recipients were so delighted with their unique “thank you,” they requested the children sell them the special cards. And so, the St. Jude’s Ranch Recycled Card Program was born. Since then, the program expanded to include all occasion greeting cards…just about anything that starts with a used greeting card. People from all over the world have sent us their used cards!
Operated by Kids’ Corp., a program for the children at St. Jude’s Ranch to learn entrepreneurship skills, the children participate in making the new cards by removing the front and attaching a new back. The result is a beautiful new card made by the children and volunteers. The benefits are two-fold: customers receive “green” holiday cards for use and the children receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of “going green”. The ongoing support for the Recycled Card Program has been overwhelming! The Program grew and soon we were receiving over one million cards. We have since redesigned the process to more efficiently manage the increased production from the increased volume and we welcome your submissions!
NOTE: We currently have an increased need for both Birthday and Thank You card submissions.
To Purchase Cards:
Cards are sold in packets of 10 for $17.00 and are available in the following categories:

  • General Christmas Cards
  • Religious Christmas Cards
  • Easter Cards
  • Birthday Cards
  • Thank You Cards
  • All Occasion General Greeting Cards

  • Orders may be placed by any of the methods below:

  • By Phone:
  • 1-877-977-SJRC (7572)
  • By US Mail:
  • Send your request and donation to:
  • St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
  • ATTN: Donor Office
  • P.O. Box 60100
  • Boulder City, NV 89006-0100

  • To Donate Cards: We welcome your donation and ask that you please review the below tips before sending your donation. Currently, we have found the least expensive way to mail large quantities of card donations is through the USPS in a Flat Rate Box which holds up to 70 pounds (available at the Post Office).
    Card Donating Tips:
    All types of greeting cards, including Christmas are used.
    Only the card front can be used (please check to be sure the back side is clear of any writing, etc.)
    We can not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards for copyright reasons.
    5″ x 7″ size or smaller is preferred.
    send to:
    St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program  100 St. Jude’s Street   Boulder City, NV 89005 Thank you!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Smaller House Green

    Several years ago, Our Daily Green first saw the homes from Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and found ourselves absolutely fascinated. Company founder Jay Shafer's innovative design ideas captured our attention. His practical utilization of space maximizes every inch at the same time it proves that bigger is not always better.

    Over 5 million US homes have been foreclosed in the over three years since the bank bailout. Bank lending policies focused on a market for larger and larger homes, encouraging consumers to spend more and more on housing.

    In the year 2000, the Chicago Tribune ran a piece on how home ownership had changed over the past 100 years. In 1900, an average home was about 700-1200 square feet, while in the 1950s, ranch style homes such as those popularized in Levittown averaged 1000 square feet. By 2000, homes were about the same square footage as the year, 2000, with additional bedrooms and bathrooms, effectively doubling the living space.  In a statement filled with irony eleven years later, the article continues,
    But bigger homes haven't meant fewer homeowners. While only 46.5 percent of the U.S. population owned its own house in 1900 and 53 percent in 1950, it is estimated that at the end of this year more than 67 percent of American households will own. Why? Because we can afford it. 

    According to the National Association of Home Builders,
    ... approximately 246,000 U.S. households [are] priced out of the market for a median-priced new home when the price of the home is increased by [only] $1,000. (brackets and bold are author's). 
    Since the crisis, major builders such as KB Home in Los Angeles,  are shrinking the sizes of their homes in an effort to compete with the foreclosed homes on the market. Their average new home size is now half the 3200 square feet during the housing boom to 1600 square feet today.

    Small Home Jay Shafer from Tumbleweed Small Homes is going to highlight his concerns about large homes in a event at Occupy Wall Street on December 13th, 2011, where he will take one of his small homes to the venue. He believes OWS is the world's largest stage to bring awareness to the alternative and encourage smaller homes.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Conglomer-ATE infographic

    thank you to Jason over at Frugal Dad for sharing this eye opening graphic

    Conglomer-ATE: The Consolidation of American Food (Infographic)

    Conglomerate American Food Infographic

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Bricor Showerhead Green

    seinfeld showerhead episode
    first aired on February 15, 1996
    The low flow shower-head industry suffers from old perceptions, in part based on the famous Seinfeld episode, The Showerhead. During that episode, Jerry, Kramer and Newman are in misery after their building replaced all their shower-heads with low-flow heads, leading them to buy shower-heads on the black market.

    Since that episode first was broadcast over 15 years ago, there have been some fabulous innovations with low-flow plumbing products, especially from Bricor Analytical which offers a:
    ... patented VACUUM Flow Restriction Technology to significantly reduces water, gas and electrical consumption while simultaneously improving the quality of the shower stream. How do our shower heads work? Water enters our patented VACUUM flow "booster" valve where it is aerated and compacted under pressure. Due to the intense force of the vacuum chamber, the aerated water "explodes" as it exits the shower head, creating a powerful shower stream at a very low flow rate (1.5 gallons per minute or less).
    Fortunately, Bricor's product eliminates the need for consumers to resort to illegal activity to get a powerful, yet water conserving shower. Our Daily Green was introduced to Bricor last year when they sponsored a giveaway. Since then, we have used their product in our master bath shower. When we were approached again this year to conduct another review and giveaway, we were thrilled!

    bricor low flow
    Low Flow hand held Bricor Showerhead
    We chose the low flow hand held showerhead, which comes in a chrome finish and has two shower settings. According to Bricor, this showerhead  has the lowest flow rate in the industry for a hand held shower head at only 1.125 gpm. Honestly, based on usage, we'd never guess it was a low flow head at all. The pressure is amazing for a shower-head that has less than half the federally mandated 2.5 gallons per minute flow.

    our daily green showerhead
    Bricor Showerheads
    Bricor has generously agreed to partner with Our Daily Green to give one of our lucky readers a hand held low flow shower-head, a retail value of $89.99. Independent tests show that Bricor's shower-heads will pay for themselves in water and utility savings in 150 days.

    To enter our drawing, share your low flow story in the comments section below. 
    For additional entries:

    The Giveaway GalleryPlease leave a separate comment for each action as the drawing will be randomly chosen by comment number. We reserve the right to verify each action and delete any invalid entries. Entries accepted until December 11, midnight EST. The winner will be announced on Our Daily Green's December 12th post.

    Nola727, you have until December 14th to contact me with your shipping information. I will draw another winner if I've not heard from you by then. kim@writeonenterprises.com
    Thank you everyone for participating!

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Carbon Reduction

    From businesses to households, often the quickest and easiest way to trim expenses is to implement a carbon reduction strategy. This is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. A carbon reduction strategy is simply a plan to use less energy.

    Tips to use less energy are applicable from small homes to large scale corporations. Specialists will visit a company and make recommendations ranging from switching to energy efficient lighting to encouraging company-wide carpools. For example, an energy efficient lighting system run 3 times longer for the same cost as an inefficient one.  One of the biggest concerns consumers and businesses have is cost implementation. If the initial cost is too high to switch to a more efficient system, there will be resistance. Expert consultation can make the transition painless to the bottom line and in fact improve it over time.

    While a personal home may not need experts consultation, a room by room assessment of the ways to save energy in each area of the home could prove beneficial. From the kitchen, where using an instant hot water heater instead of a stove to heat water to the bathroom where low flow fixtures save both water and the cost of heating it, to the garage with bicycles for short commutes, every tip can be applied on a larger scale as well. Saving energy can start at home, but should not stop there. Anything done at home can be applied to the business world as well and the savings will multiply exponentially.

    The preceding article was brought to you by our sponsor. Click here to advertise on Our Daily Green.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Worker Co-ops: reprint from YES! Magazine

    YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy stepsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
    Best Job in the Neighborhood—And They Own It
    How worker co-ops are expanding despite the rust-belt economy.

    “I can tell you before Evergreen, we felt like there was nothing left for us,” says Tim Nolen. He and his fellow Evergreen Cooperative worker-owners live in Cleveland’s Greater University Circle community, where the unemployment rate exceeds 25 percent and the median household income is less than $18,500. “Evergreen grabbed ahold of us and said, ‘Let us help you out.’ It is a great feeling when you have given up hope and someone gives you that hand and says, ‘You don’t have to feel worthless. Here, let’s give you a sense of self-worth.’”
    In the heart of an inner city ravaged and abandoned by the global economy, the Evergreen Cooperative has emerged as one of the country’s most promising models of locally based wealth-building. Evergreen grew out of the Greater University Circle Initiative, an unusual collaboration spearheaded by the Cleveland Foundation and including the City of Cleveland, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, and local institutions (principally Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals).
    “Sustainability in the broadest sense can only be created if you can stick capital where it won’t get up and leave.”
    In December 2006, Ted Howard,co-founder of The Democracy Collaborative, outlined for civic leaders the catalytic role that the spending of “captive” anchor institutions like hospitals and universities could play in community wealth generation in Cleveland. He talked at length with local civic leaders about how an anchor-institution-based, worker-cooperative business model might be the engine for the sustainable job creation and wealth-building that had thus far been elusive in Greater University Circle. Democracy Collaborative researchers determined that Case Western Reserve, the Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals alone spent more than $3 billion a year on goods and services—but they spent it almost entirely outside the community.
    Howard and his fellow strategists began sketching out a compelling framework for what was to become the Evergreen Cooperatives. The business model involved supplying the needs of the anchor institutions to create steady revenue for a network of worker-owned, local businesses that would be built to be the greenest in their sectors. “Sustainability in the broadest sense can only be created if you can stick capital where it won’t get up and leave,” Howard explains. “You can think of Evergreen as an anchor institution designed to capture the capital flows of other anchors and circulate them locally.”

    Ohio Cooperative Solar
    Ohio Cooperative Solar began turning a profit within the first five months of operation.
    The First Evergreen Cooperatives

    Evergreen’s first two cooperative businesses—the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry and Ohio Cooperative Solar (OCS)—were launched in October 2009. A not-for-profit community newspaper, The Neighborhood Voice, was established to communicate the Evergreen vision. A fourth project, Green City Growers, started up operations in the summer of 2011.
    Housed in a Certified Silver LEED building, Evergreen Laundry was engineered to consume far less energy and water than its competitors. Although the laundry is not yet operating at capacity, new clients are signing up every month and its first two customers, both nursing homes, have turned out to be the co-op’s de facto marketing arm. “They say, ‘If you need a reference, just have them call us,’” says Nolen, who was the laundry’s first worker-owner to earn a linen management certificate. “These guys want us to succeed. This is what it can do for you to have the community and businesses in it looking out for you.”
    Meanwhile, OCS worker-owners have been busy installing solar panels on the rooftops of Case Western Reserve, the Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals. OCS retains ownership of the solar panels, services them for the host institutions, and sells them the electricity the panels generate. The co-op does home weatherization and began turning a profit within the first five months of operation. At the end of the 2011 fiscal year, $7,300 in profits were transferred into each OCS worker-owner’s capital account—on top of the living wage each earned during the year.
    Green City Growers—a 4.1-acre, year-round hydroponic greenhouse and packing facility that utilizes the latest water- and energy-saving technologies—will soon be producing 5 million heads of lettuce and 300,000 pounds of herbs annually. It expects to harvest its first crop in the spring of 2012 and will employ between 30 and 40 workers year-round. Produce will be sold to the local food-service industry, local grocers, and Greater University Circle anchor institutions, allowing purchasers to reduce their food-related carbon footprints substantially and to purchase produce with a longer shelf life.

    Nurturing the Evergreen Vision

    "Workers have lived in these neighborhoods and seen the degradation, and they are beginning to express themselves as leaders of renewal, as working for something that is inspiring hope.”
    Evergreen recently established an umbrella organization, the Evergreen Cooperative Corporation (ECC), to be the keeper of the cooperative vision. A central financing mechanism, the Evergreen Cooperative Development Fund, will operate under the ECC to attract capital for expansion of existing co-ops and funding new ones. A portion of each co-op’s profits will be paid into this fund.
    To shield the community and the cooperatives from speculators, the Evergreen Land Trust has also been established under the ECC to acquire land for existing and future Evergreen Co-ops, starting with the land under the laundry and greenhouse. The Land Trust will lease land for a 99-year term to cooperative businesses, protecting the Evergreen enterprise as a whole from individual co-op failure or attempts by a co-op to break away and become a separate corporation.

    Benefits for Worker-Owners and the Community

    Cleveland Newspaper Cover
    The Cooperative also started a nonprofit community newspaper.
    Many Evergreen worker-owners were formerly unemployed long-term, have prison records, or have struggled with substance abuse. “We are given a second chance here to get back into society,” says Loretta Bey, OCS’s office and inventory manager.
    Evergreen worker-owners have a real day-to-day say in how their companies operate. “They don’t just make decisions without us,” says Bey. “We get to take a vote.” Worker-owners receive free health care, attend monthly open-book financial management discussions, and are offered courses in personal finance and job-related skills training. When workers are paid a share of a co-op’s profits, 20 percent is paid in cash and 80 percent in “capital credits.”
    Worker empowerment arises not only from building financial wealth, finding a voice as business managers, and acquiring new work and life skills, but from a sense that they are rebuilding their community. “They get what this is about,” says Howard. “They have lived in these neighborhoods and seen the degradation, and they are beginning to express themselves as leaders of renewal, as working for something that is inspiring hope.”

    Evergreen’s Economic Impact

    Replicating the Evergreen model in the disinvested, low-income neighborhoods of this country, where more than 40 million people live below the poverty line, would have a huge impact, not just on employment levels and the wealth gap, but on civic life.
    Evergreen envisions incubating up to 10 new, for-profit cooperatives over the medium term with the goal of employing about 500 residents of Greater University Circle. The longer term target is 25 to 50 co-ops employing up to 5,000.
    Co-op leaders say it is really too early to quantify Evergreen’s impact on the Greater University Circle community, but, says Howard, “the truth is that in the neighborhood where we are creating jobs, literally nothing else is going on.” Jim Anderson, CEO of Evergreen Laundry, reports that he senses a palpable surge of pent-up optimism: “We have over 500 applications in our queue, and everyone who walks by the building asks, ‘Are you hiring?’”
    Medrick Addison, operations manager of Evergreen Laundry, has seen tours of the facility by delegations from all over the country, including the deputy director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and his entourage. “We have to make this work. The eyes of America are upon us,” Addison says.

    Not Just a Poor People’s Strategy

    Communities and cities outside of Cleveland are already latching on to the Evergreen vision. Howard reports that the Democracy Collaborative is working with civic leaders and foundations in Atlanta, in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area, and in the city of Richmond, Calif., to brainstorm anchor-institution-based cooperative strategies that are variations on the Evergreen theme.
    Replicating the Evergreen model in the disinvested, low-income neighborhoods of this country, where more than 40 million people live below the poverty line, would have a huge impact, not just on employment levels and the wealth gap, but on civic life. But the Evergreen model is not limited to poor neighborhoods. It can be used anywhere to build the new economy.
    59TOC OstranderGreen Jobs CallingThe citizens of two cities are finding the customers, finances, and skills to put together green jobs.

    “Evergreen is about building your community with the assets you already have in place, leveraging them, doing import substitution, and being mindful of the environmental consequences,” says Howard. “All of this is relevant to any community. This is now our work, to prove that it can first be done in Cleveland.”
    Sharon Kaiser, a supervisor and worker-owner at Evergreen Laundry, reports that her friends and family are eager to hear about what is happening inside Evergreen. “They want to know what they can do to be part of this,” she says. “It is a very positive thing for the community.” This expressed longing to participate in Evergreen’s model of sustainable wealth-building should not be underestimated. As Howard describes it, Evergreen is unleashing a powerful force: “the energy of people to become actors in history in their own lifetimes.”

    This article was adapted for New Livelihoods, the Fall 2011 issue of YES! Magazine, by the author from a case study for Capital Institute’s Field Guide for Investing in a Resilient Economy

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Amazon Rain™ Green

    Our Daily Green had the opportunity to review a skin care line from Amazon Rain™, a subsidiary of the Amazon Herb Company founded by "Amazon John" Easterling, husband of musician and actress Olivia Newton-John, who is probably most famous for her role as Sandy in the hit movie musical, Grease.

    While Our Daily Green is not necessarily excited by celebrity driven products and endorsements, having personally met Newton-John and seeing the healthy glow of her complexion is quite a personal endorsement for the product and we couldn't wait to review it. The temptation to burst into song and hope for a bad-boy Danny Zuko to appear in a lettermen's sweater was pretty strong. While that didn't happen, we are happy to report that Amazon Rain™  lives up to its billing.

    The author with Olivia Newton-John in 2006
    Olivia has moved forward from her days portraying a 1950s Rydell High School cheerleader, even if she appears not to have aged. She has received numerous awards and honors in the area of environmentalism, including service as the United Nation's Goodwill Ambassador for the environment. Her sincere commitment to caring for our planet and ourselves speaks volumes.

    Amazon Rain™ sent Our Daily Green full sized samples of their skin care essentials to review (FTC disclosure); botanical cleanser, camu c serum, and replenishing moisturizer.

    The company uses either organic or wild-crafted ingredients. Wild-crafted means the botanical ingredients are harvested wild in their natural environment, collected by hand in an ecologically-sustainable manner. Either way, they are never treated with pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers.
    SAFE (Stroud Award of Freshwater Excellence) Water Award
    Portions of the company's profits go directly back to supporting indigenous communities in the Amazon. In fact, the couple recently received a SAFE Water Award for their continuing work in the Peruvian Amazon. Amazon Rain™ also supports The Prince's Rainforests Projects and the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER). 

    After using the products for a full two weeks, we are happy to report a healthy glow from an environmentally responsible product but we're still waiting for Danny Zuko to show. A special thank you to our friends at Amazon Herb and Rain for your commitment to earth friendly living. 

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Honoring Camouflage Green

    Today, Our Daily Green paints our space with camouflage in honor of the Veterans who have served and those who still are serving.

    Reflexively, we want to organize drives or collections for our military with the holidays approaching. However, this may not be the best time or the most efficient way to support our soldiers. From the AnySoldier.com website:

    We want to show our support to the folks who are far from their families fighting this war and we want to do all we can to show them that they are not forgotten. We realize how cool it would be to coordinate a huge drive to collect tons of stuff and money to send to all 50,117 of them to feel better during the holidays.

    And we can do it! But maybe we shouldn't. 
    We learned a lot of lessons in the last 8 years, 2 months and 16 days, and we strive to do things better. Please read on.
    This is really a tough call. Every year so many folks wait until the holidays to send their packages that units are buried, not to mention the APO/FPO. Please keep in mind that most units have no place for massive amounts of packages, nor the means to move them. So, what are you supposed to do? Simple, really.
    You should never send more then 5 packages to the same address at the same time. Actually, 1-2 a day is best. Chances are you are not the only person sending something and the soldiers will have to deal with the packages on their 'down time', which I can tell you isn't much at all.We can't stress this enough:
    NO large shipments at the same time to the same address. Ever. Send early. OK, you knew that. Holiday shipping dates from the USPS are posted on this web site as soon as we get them. 
    Keep the packages SMALL!!! Remember, this is about support, not just stuff. Think about this: Mail call, the Soldier hears his/her name called out, with joy he/she gazes toward the box that the mail clerk points to. Friggin box is bigger than the tent he/she lives in. Weighs more then a Battalion Commander! Not cool...
    Are we saying don't do anything? No, we are asking for you to realize that you can be part of the solution. The many wonderful folks who have participated in supporting our service members have been simply outstanding in their generosity. There is no doubt you will continue.
    Many, many people will not know about this and with good intentions actually help cause a huge log jam. I am asking for all the folks involved with the Any Soldier Inc. web site and effort to not do big drives this holiday, or at least really think how what you will do effects the folks you are trying to support.
    Help them all year, not just the holidays. 

    Another idea is a charity I wrote about a few years ago, and it's still going strong. Games for Heroes was founded by two young men in New York who realized the soldiers are just a few years older than they are. They collect handheld video game units and game cartridges to send to the soldiers so they have some portable entertainment. So if you upgrade your handheld video games over the holidays, send the old ones to Games for Heroes in January.

    If you have other electronics you wish to recycle, Recycle for Soldiers is an excellent organization. They accept: cell phones, PDAs, inkjets, iPods, laptops, and digital cameras.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Green is LEEDing the Way

    Green jobs are one of the fastest growing employment markets today. As builders and manufacturers look to the future with sustainable energy and designs, the standard is measured by LEED certification. Currently, over one-third of the construction and design work force are green professionals.

    According to the U.S. Green Building Council,
    LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
    The rating systems incorporate take many measurable goals such as location and transportation, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality to calculate a standardized score for each project; from neighborhood development to schools and hospitals, to residential housing, to industry.

    Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) further the case for green projects as environmental impacts associated with the entire life of a project from raw material, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and through disposal or recycling can provide a more complete picture of overall savings.

    LEED online streamlines the certification process for green projects and also helps create job opportunities as more businesses want to achieve green compliance. The benefits go beyond adhering to a standard set by the government and actually save companies money by conserving resources, in both the initial construction as well as the long-term operations. Thinking of green mandates in terms of good business sense instead of simple idealism will encourage further adoption of the guidelines.

    In accordance with FTC disclosure laws, Our Daily Green has been compensated for this post. We only accept sponsored posts from companies that we feel are interesting and fit Our Daily Green's mission, to educate about simple ways to encourage a more ecological and economical world. Click Here for more information about sponsoring a post on this blog. 

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    The Green in Farm Subsidies

    This is an excellent commentary on how our food gets from the field to the table, and who pays what during the journey. 
    The Skinny on Farm Subsidies and Obesity 
     by: Wenonah Hauter and Carmen Rita Nevarez

    To make real, lasting improvements in our food system, we have to get to the root of the problem. Obesity has reached epic proportions in the United States and its price tag is soaring.

    With one-third of adults and more than 12 million children and adolescents obese, the direct and indirect medical costs of this scourge total as much as $147 billion a year.

    The nation's increasingly poor diet, packed with processed and fast foods, is driving this epidemic. This is leading many media commentators to blame government subsidy payments to farmers who grow crops like corn and soybeans. But this just isn't true.

    While it's convenient to blame America's ever-expanding waistlines on subsidies, a recent paper from our organizations shows that blame actually lies squarely with the corporations that lobbied for the end of good policies that once kept prices and production in check.

    Now, with the federal budget deficit developing some alarming bulges of its own, Congress says it's putting the budget on a diet. Direct payments to farmers that grow commodity crops like corn and soybeans are on the cutting board.

    Some public health and environmental advocates believe that simply spending the government dollars on apples and broccoli instead of commodity crops would make the country healthier. But it's not that simple.

    To make real, lasting improvements in our food system, we have to get to the root of the problem. That means tackling the overproduction of corn, soybeans, and other commodity crops, the out-of-control marketing of junk food, inadequate access to healthy food in many communities, and consolidation in the food industry.

    Overproduction isn't a new problem. In the 1920s, agriculture policies encouraged farmers to idle some of their land so they wouldn't overproduce, and established a national grain reserve, much like the Strategic Petroleum Reserve we have today. It kept overproduction in check and prevented crop prices from skyrocketing during times of drought or plummeting during times of surplus. Plus, stable commodity prices functioned like a minimum wage for farmers.

    Beginning in the 1980s, big food corporations mounted a strong and successful lobbying effort against these policies. By the mid-1990s, all the supply management and price support protections were gone, which led many farmers to overproduce. The resulting collapse in prices left many on the brink of bankruptcy. To deal with the terrible prices farmers were receiving for their crops, Congress started making "emergency" payments to farmers. The subsidy system we know today was born. And the nation's obesity problem emerged.

    Ending farm payments won't stop the production of corn and soybeans. But it could force smaller and midsized farmers to sell their land to larger farms, which would consolidate our food supply even further. These family farms are our best hope for rebuilding a healthier food system focused on regional distribution and providing new markets for fruits and vegetables.

    But for them to flourish, we need farm policies that ensure that farmers get a fair price for their crops, poultry, dairy products, and livestock, and that antitrust and competition policies are enforced. Only then will all types and sizes of farms and food processors be able to compete in a fair marketplace or to shift to a more diverse mix of crops.

    Undoing the damage inflicted by corporate-driven deregulation will go a long way towards building an agriculture system that is healthier for both consumers and those who grow our food.

    We can also provide Americans with healthier foods by reforming the way food is marketed, enforcing anti-trust laws, helping farmers diversify their production, protecting existing federal nutrition programs such as food stamps, and increasing access to fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food in underserved communities.

    Ultimately, ensuring that farmers get a fair price for the food they produce and putting the food system's corporate fat cats on a diet is our best bet for a healthier future.

    Wenonah Hauter is executive director of Food & Water Watch and Carmen Rita Nevarez, MD MPH, is a vice president at the Public Health Institute and past-president of the American Public Health Association. Their paper on whether farm subsidies cause obesity is online at www.foodandwaterwatch.org

     Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

    Creative CommonsThis article is reprinted under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Personal Testimony LED Green

    Our Daily Green recently finished a kitchen face-lift. Throughout the process, we tried to incorporate our passion for eco-friendly living as well as economical and practical choices. When we first started planning, we considered what we could do on a minimal basis for maximum impact. We kept our original cabinets but replaced the countertops with quartz, which is a durable and sustainable choice, utilizing post-consumer recycled glass.

    By request, our contractor donated everything that was removed to Habitat for Humanity's local ReStore. We replaced our refrigerator with an energy star appliance and it was even eligible for a rebate from our local provider.

    The most innovative and exciting upgrade we made was utilizing new LED under-cabinet lights. For anyone unfamiliar, LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and Consumer Reports explains LEDs:  Light-emitting diodes, the newest choice, were the most energy efficient under-cabinet lighting by far. Their low-profile housings tend to be relatively discreet. 

    Household applications for LEDs are increasing as the old incandescent bulbs are phased out and folks have concerns about using fluorescent bulbs. Currently, LEDs are a bit pricey, but the energy savings will offset for the higher price. In 2009, The Simple Dollar, a financial tip site, did a side by side comparison of CFL (compact fluorescent light), LED, and incandescent bulbs. LEDs were by far the most efficient, but also suggested that they'd soon be the most economical, as the prices dropped. Their site recommends a $15 price point as the benchmark. LED's longevity factor is also attractive for hard to reach bulbs, the US Department of Energy estimates that LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours, compared to 10,000 for a CFL.  Some additional advantages to LED lights is that they turn on immediately, they can be dimmed, and they do not generate heat. The newer LEDs cast warm colored light, not blue like the earlier ones.

    As indicated by the photo, our inobrusive LED lights brighten our kitchen workspace tremendously. We highly recommend learning about and using LEDs.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Food Day Green

    One of the recurrent themes Our Daily Green stresses is eating healthy. Eating food that is not processed with unpronounceable chemicals or additives. We believe strongly that the best step to going green begins with our diet, to the point that the younger Mini Greens have written and Mama Green has published their essays supporting our family commitment to healthy choices.

    When we learned today was the first Food Day and we had an opportunity to reiterate our dedication to healthy diet, we embraced it.

    Food Day is a grass-roots mobilization for a better food policy, says Food Day founder Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the non-profit organization Center for Science in the Public Interest.

    Ask Congress to Support Food Day's Goals:
    1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
    2. Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
    3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
    4. Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
    5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
    6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers
    Morgan Spurlock, director and star of the Super Size Me documentary, elaborates in his public service announcement for the Cooking Channel.

    Readers, when was the last time you had fast food? Was it satisfying or saddening?

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    An Apple a Day Green

    thanks to: Paul @ free digital photos
    Apples can be green or red or yellow now is certainly the season to find them.

    Our Daily Green recently attended the Fall Festival at a local apple farm and stocked up on the sweet and tart fruity goodness. It turns out the wives' tale is correct, an apple a day really could keep the doctor away.

    A typical large apple (based on data collected from red and golden delicious, fuji, granny smith and gala apples by the USDA) is an excellent source of fiber, beta carotene, potassium, vitamin C.

    The Environmental Working Group offers a free downloadable PDF guide to pesticides in product. Apples are listed as the number one item to buy organic. Nutrition and you reiterates this,
    Good yield demands close attention and supervision of apple crop... The most common pesticides found on apple are organo-phosphorous and organo-chloride pesticides like Permethrin and DDT. Therefore, it is recommended to wash the fruit thoroughly before use. 
    Being truly realistic, Our Daily Green agrees with Doctor Yourself, when they assert,
    Real-world people shop at supermarkets, and real-world affordable fruits and vegetables contain pesticide residues. Not everybody can buy organic; not everybody is a gardener. 
    If organic apples are not available, it is imperative to wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. While there are a number of commercial produce washes available, using what is already in the pantry will work fine. According to Savvy Science Mom:
    Some contaminants can be removed by an acid and others by a base. Vinegar is an acid, which serves as a preservative and disinfectant to kill germs. A base, like baking soda, also serves as a cleansing agent. There are many recipes online for how to make your own produce wash. In general, ... mix one cup of water, one cup of vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
    Our Daily Green recommends an apple a day, preferably organic, but if that's unavailable, take the necessary precautions and wash it properly. The health benefits are immense.

    What is your favorite type of apple? Me, I'm a Granny Smith tart and tangy fan.