November 2011 - Our Daily Green

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.
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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Live Interview About Urban Farming and The Urban Conversion

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 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

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