Green Gifts for Gourmets: Foodies Get Environmental

Today there is a huge emphasis on supporting local farmers and shopping locally. Utilize your co-op and fill up on locally grown goodies. Purchasing goods grown, harvested or produced close to home boosts your local economy as well as ensures that the products are fresh and have not impacted the environment via extensive transportation. As the saying goes, think globally and act locally.

Even better make something of your own. In days of old people gave plates of cookies, baked goods and other homemade treats as part of a Christmas gift. When you make food items yourself you have control over the quality of ingredients. Use fresh locally grown organic products and make a homemade gift from the heart. Some common Christmas food gifts items include sugar cookies, gingerbread, banana bread and party snack mixes. Switch it up a little and make a custom granola blend.

This year reusable shopping bags are all the rage. Stores across the nation are selling bags with their logo. Fill one with cheeses, nuts or local brew from a favorite local food hot spot or brewery. A great bag of local specialty coffee, bottle of wine or growler is always in vogue no matter the season.

For the DIY foodies consider putting together a gift that will return the favor through the bleak winter months, an herb garden gift. Even the most garden inept will be interested in a basket of fresh herbs. Give your foodie friends a gift that will continue to produce throughout the year. Basil, rosemary and thyme can easily be grown in a kitchen windowsill. A convenient location for most cooks. Prepare a do-it-yourself basket with herb plants, growing instructions and harvesting shears.

When it comes to being environmentally responsible there is no better way to make an impact than switching out traditional household cleaning products for eco friendly ones. Try making a gift out of dependable eco friendly cleaning products for the foodie who may not have time to test drive alternative household products for themselves.

There are several companies proclaiming eco benefits but many have very little environmental initiative. Go for tried and proven brands such as Seventh Generation that are generally accessible at most health food or chain stores as well as environmentally beneficial. A gift basket filled with non-toxic, earth-friendly cleaners will reduce exposure to harmful household chemicals. And fewer chemicals mean fewer toxins introduced into the watershed as well as cleaner indoor air quality.

Volunteering for a Healthy Environment: Cleanup Organizations in Florida and Beyond

The old quote from John Wesley that “cleanliness is next to godliness” may not be used much anymore, but the idea that a clean and orderly personal and collective environment contributes to good health is without a doubt the driving principle behind a number of national and state-specific volunteer organizations. Research has shown that neatly maintained homes and communities can not only provide a safer environment for families, but can lift mood and create a more positive, productive lifestyle. When combined with the satisfaction of volunteerism, promoting cleanliness becomes a powerful and healthy way to make a huge difference in neighborhoods and surrounding areas.

The State of Florida is a great example of the ways in which environment can directly impact health and how volunteerism can contribute to personal and collective well-being. Known for its beautiful waterways and recreational opportunities, Florida boasts a number of clean up organizations and projects that enlist the enthusiasm of groups and individuals to help maintain and protect its unique natural resources. Volunteers can show civic pride in Florida’s roadways, tidy up a local park or community center, or preserve the natural beauty of waterways—there’s a job for young and old alike.

Adopt-A-Highway

Sprucing up Florida’s highways for over a decade, Adopt-A- Highway groups help the Department of Transportation put a fresh face on the roads that bring millions of visitors to Florida each year. Hundreds of dedicated volunteers restore the appearance of naturally stunning right-of-ways by picking up litter that detracts from the scenic routes. These efforts enable the state work crews to concentrate less on litter and spend more time on maintenance and special projects. It’s a winning combination that not only improves visitor’s first impressions of the state, but also promotes a distinct sense of civic pride among residents.

Groups or individuals that join the Adopt-A-Highway program are asked to “adopt” a two mile section of a state highway, follow DOT regulations, remove litter at least four times a year, and dedicate two years to the project. The Department of Transportation assists by aiding in safety instruction, providing safety vests and litter bags, picking up collected litter at pre-arranged locations, and posting signs along the group’s section to recognize their contribution.

For more information on Adopt-A-Highway call 1-800-BAN-LITT or visit Florida’s Department of Transportation on the web.

Keep America Beautiful, Inc

Promoting litter prevention, waste reduction, and community beautification and improvement since 1953, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) is a national non-profit network of affiliates and other organizational participants that marshal millions of volunteers to improve land, waters, and built environment. Focusing on education, cooperation, and inspiration, Keep America Beautiful provides programs that strive to effect behavioral changes to reduce litter, reuse resources, and recycle waste. KAB contends that behavioral changes and beautification projects not only clean up the environment, but also have an enormous impact on the economic health and safety of local communities.

There are many active Keep America Beautiful affiliates in Florida that work hard to improve the quality of life for residents by facilitating public service and civic pride through a variety of community improvement programs. KAB’s largest annual campaign, The Great American Cleanup, is a key activity for the most local chapters. For more information on Great American Cleanup activities nationwide, visit Keep America Beautiful, Inc.

Watershed Action Volunteers

While keeping roadways and neighborhoods tidy has spawned national organizations like Adopt-A-Highway and Keep America Beautiful, Florida’s unique network of waterways creates another avenue where keeping things clean is of vital importance. For those who love Florida’s amazing lakes, streams, and rivers and the creatures that populate them, the St. John’s River Water Management District’s Watershed Action Volunteer Program is an excellent opportunity to help protect these splendid resources.

Volunteers are trained by WAV coordinators to test water quality, survey for pollution, participate in revegetation and clean up projects, and conduct educational presentations in the community. Protecting Florida’s water systems is critical not only for the resources used for drinking, maintaining wildlife habitats, and natural resources, but also because they impact recreation, jobs, and food supplies throughout the state. Since research has shown that unhealthy conditions in waterways can be reversed, the more volunteers that commit to making a difference, the more long lasting changes can be made.

For more information call the St. John’s River Water Management District WAV Program (386)329-4345.

Combining the uplifting benefits of a clean environment and volunteerism can contribute to the well-being of individuals in communities everywhere. Picking up litter, providing safe and clean parks and playgrounds for kids or ensuring the waterways that feed into the drinking water that sustains all may prove John Wesley right. Cleanliness may truly be a sacred act. Get involved in a cleanup organization today!

Majora Carter: Greening The Neighbourhood: Award Winning Environmentalist Speaks About Urban Renewal

 

New York Post awarded Majora Carter the Liberty Medal for Lifetime Achievement for her work in ecological and social awareness. The MacArthur “Genius” Grant was hers for calling attention to what she terms “ecological racism.”

However, the people of South Bronx, New York, know her as the woman who transformed an illegal dump along the waterfront to a tourist-worthy spot of lush greenery and lovely views: In fact, Ms. Carter had her own wedding at the very spot that was once a garbage-strewn wasteland.

A compelling speaker, Ms. Carter addressed issues that everyone who lives in a city – be it Canadian or American or anywhere in the world – asks: Can we afford to be green? How much would cities lose in revenue if they opted for more sustainable industries? Carter addressed these issues in a speech as part of a panel titled, “Greening the Neighbourhood & How Much It Won’t Cost Us.”

University of Toronto’s Hart House seated a crowded room on March 13, 2018. Students, environmental activists and fans of Majora Carter crowded The Great Hall to hear Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, Youth Activist Ben Powless and Professor Dr. Blake Poland tackle problems about the cost of greening and raising awareness towards environmentally friendly industry.

Majora Carter Discusses “Greening the Ghetto”

Environmental Racism is defined as the tendency for governments or large businesses to place toxic, dangerous or otherwise unattractive industries in poor neighbourhoods, as she phrased it “the ghettos.” Less affluent neighbourhoods that feature house subsidized housing, or concrete industrial wilderness are less likely to be sustainable, and therefore become less affluent.

Carter’s Jacobean analysis of urban living reveals that cities with concrete jungles are less likely to thrive economically, if surrounding areas are unattractive. Broken windows make a neighbourhood appear derelict, which draws neither tourist industries, nor any investors to that part of town.

Broken Window Theory: Broken Branches

Referring to the “Broken Window” social study that maintains that a building in poor repair invites further vandalism, Carter insists that her mission is not to create a sense of ill will towards neighbourhoods with more advantages, but to create as much opportunity for neighbourhoods like South Bronx as its wealthier counterparts have.

“This is what I would call the ‘Broken Branch’ analysis of the city,” says Carter. While she doesn’t condone vandalism, she does feel the city comes down much too militantly on transgressions. Carter repeats that there are opportunities to use the many skills the residents of South Bronx have and branch out their abilities to teach and learn from others.

“If we give people an opportunity to thrive, people will respond positively. I believe that green industries improve people, improve business – the two work together.” The Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) project boasts green roofs that reduce the reflective heat as well as providing edible vegetation for the locals.

The garbage recycling programs provides jobs for various individuals, as well as job training and bringing money into the neighbourhood in the form of investors. A sustainable and attractive street is one that generates more income and businesses than a barren, concrete runway.

How Aesthetically Appealing Streets Prevent Crime

An example of community improvement, Carter cites the example of Sustainable South Bronx planting trees on street corners. Trees not only reduced the heat in summer and provided more ambient temperatures in winter, but it also reduced street crime.

Streets that looked pleasant drew more people to sit comfortably and socialize under the boughs. With more neighbours in the street, fewer crimes occured where there were witnesses. With more people getting outside and socializing during daylight and evening hours, the crime rate in the area dropped dramatically.

Part 2 of this article features how she raised awareness and garnered funds towards transforming her neighbourhood towards sustainability.

Go Green Simply – April: Tips to Help You Make Environmentally-Friendly Changes

Here are this month’s five steps you can take to modify your lifestyle and practice more environmentally-conscious choices. To date a total of 15 tips have been provided and hopefully you have been able to incorporate most of those into your lifestyle already.

With each resolution you incorporate into your daily routine, you will find practicing these environmentally-friendly lifestyle tips easier and you will soon notice a difference in how you go about your life on this fragile planet, not to mention the financial benefits of living eco-friendly.

Use only 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Paper

Your toilet tissue and computer paper might say they are from recycled sources, but were they derived from 100% post-consumer recycled paper? If not, you might be surprised to know that trees were still used to produce your products. Post-consumer content is paper that has been collected back from consumers and then remade into a new product. When a product just states it is made with “recycled” materials and does not include a high level of post-consumer content, this simply means that the leftover tree products at the mill were reused during production. Therefore, recycled paper does not mean that it has helped to reduce landfills or conserve forests. By buying only 100% post-consumer recycled content ensures that no virgin fibre was used.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We have been hearing about the three “Rs” for years, but don’t underestimate the importance of this simple slogan. Take a mental inventory of your home and the things that you can do to minimize your environmental impact. Go from room to room to conduct your mental inventory and think of items you can reduce your use of and overall consumption. Are there any items you could be recycling that for one reason or another you have not yet been doing? What items in your house can be reused instead of discarding or recycling immediately after using? Remember that recycling still takes energy and resources so the more you can reuse an item before recycling, the better.

Avoid Harmful Chemicals

Going back years ago when reduce, reuse and recycle first became popular, there was plenty of talk about the damage caused by aerosols and the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contained within them. While the production of CFCs has basically been banned in much of the world, this is not to say that there are not plenty of other regularly household items that may have harmful amounts of chemicals and toxins. One way to avoid harmful chemicals is to only buy natural cleaning products and toiletry products, which are formulated only from naturally-occurring elements. If a cleaner is corrosive to human skin, one can only imagine the damage those same chemicals must do to the soil. With young children or any pets in the house, there are a plethora of reasons to ditch the chemical cleaners and other products and opt for a more natural alternative.

Eat Local

This has become the latest catch phrase in the environmental movement and everyone is talking about “eating local.” There is a simple logic behind it: eating local means eating products that were grown in the vicinity of your city or town and was not shipped or transported by truck from around the country or world. This is a better environmental choice because eating locally uses fewer resources, energy and helps to support a sustainable farming economy in your region without relying on other jurisdictions to provide food items.

Switch your Light Bulbs

If you haven’t already made the transition from incandescent light bulbs to Compact Florescent Light (CFL) bulbs, you have a lot of catching up to do. Despite the small amount of mercury contained in CFL bulbs (which means that these bulbs must be properly disposed of at the facilities provided by your municipality to handle dangerous waste), these bulbs have emerged as the best choice for the environment and for your energy bill savings. They are available in a variety of sizes now and have a drastically longer life than regular light bulbs, while consuming just a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs.…