Tag Archives: Go Green

6 Creative Ways to Green Your Life in Time for Summer

First out of the trapThere’s a lot of pressure these days to be sustainable superheroes with canteen-packing totes, perfectly organic diets, and pricey hybrid cars. Most people are lucky to have access to a grocery store that even stocks local, organic foods, let alone at a price that’s amenable to the average income. These issues aside, sustainability and environmental decline are real issues that every individual should feel it within their power to combat with simple measures in their daily lives. That’s why we’ve collected 6 online resources that will hopefully inspire you to green your home, live healthier, and feel confident in the contribution you are able to make toward a sustainable world. Have fun!

  1. Start composting: An oldie but goodie, if you haven’t joined the compost bandwagon yet then now is your chance! It requires a bit of effort in the set up, but once your compost is up and running, sustaining it will be a breeze. And you don’t need a big backyard or garden to make it happen. Here is the ultimate guide to urban composting.
  2. Make an alternative energy source: You probably never even thought it within your power to create your own alternative energy. But think again! Here is a super simple, efficient DIY video on how to make your own backyard wind turbine. Even if you don’t feel like building a whole wind power generator, consider the ways you can reduce electricity – make use of natural light, look into energy-efficient shower heads, etc.
  3. Try backyard farming: Please don’t buy a $1,300 chicken coop (unless that’s what you’re into.) But do let this fascinating article on chic backyard farming inspire you to try your hand at raising chickens, growing vegetables, making preserves, or whatever you have the time and energy for. You don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts on boutique tools and tailor made gardening gear – a bit of space, time, and love are the most important ingredients.
  4. Recycle creatively: Recycling isn’t just about throwing bottles and cans in the proper bin. Explore ways to get creative with your recycling, like by making gifts and household products out of broken bike chains, old clothes, empty jars, and more.
  5. Make your own clothes: You don’t need a degree in fashion to start making your own clothes, but let this new sustainable fashion program, recently launched by Buckinghamshire New University, inspire you to work good eco-habits into your wardrobe. Thrifting is a great place to start, or have a clothing exchange party with your friends!
  6. Green your office: Whether you work from home or in a big office, there are lots of ways to reduce your footprint (and save money) at work. This can include switching entirely to Googledocs and electronic files to cut back on printing, using recycled paper, instituting communal office lunches, and more.

We hope you feel inspired and empowered to incorporate some green practices into your home and work environment! Summer is a particularly great time to get outside and plant those backyard gardens, start biking to work, take a thrift store outing, and the like. What tips do you have for green living? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below!

Turning Waste into Wages: Using Recycled Coffee Grounds to Grow Gourmet Mushrooms

What if you could take 1 million pounds of waste that was heading towards landfill and repurpose it to grow food? Well, that’s exactly what two recent UC Berkeley graduates are doing with their company Back to the Roots. Founders, Nikhil Arora and Alex Velez started a 100% sustainable urban mushroom farm that transforms coffee ground waste into the growing medium for gourmet mushrooms. The 2 year-old company is on pace in 2011 to collect, divert and reuse 1 million lbs. of used coffee grounds, from Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a San Francisco Bay Area company, and use it to grow over 250,000 lbs. of gourmet mushrooms.

They got the idea during their last semester at Berkeley in 2009. The two 23-year-olds had the intention to go into investment banking and consulting, but became intrigued, during a business ethics class lecture, with the idea of being able to grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. They walked around to local cafes and collected used coffee grounds, put them in paint buckets and seeded them with mushroom spawn. The experiment, to their delight, led to one bucket of pearl oyster mushrooms. They then saw the potential of these mushrooms… to turn waste into wages, as well as provide fresh, local food to their community.

“We knew nothing about what a good gourmet mushroom should taste like, so we thought, what’s the best restaurant in town?” said Nikhil during a recent interview on my radio show “Your Super Natural Life.” Chez Panisse, the acclaimed Berkeley restaurant, wasn’t too far from their campus, so they walked their bucket of mushrooms over and its founder Alice Waters happened to be there that day. She got excited and got her head chef involved, who immediately sauteed them, tasted them, and declared that the mushrooms were great. That same day, the guys walked into their local Berkeley Whole Foods Market and the produce buyer was excited about the idea and Whole Foods became a client. Two weeks before graduation they received a $5,000 Grant for Social Innovation. The guys, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Biz School, changed direction at that moment. “We looked at each other and said, let’s forget investment banking and consulting and become full time mushroom farmers,” said Nikhil.

Back-to-the-Roots-mushroomsMost mushroom growers use wood shavings or sawdust, and many import the growing medium from China where they’re cutting down trees just for the purpose of growing mushrooms. Plus, about a third of the energy costs for growing mushrooms is sterilizing the growing medium. Coffee grounds have already been sterilized by having boiling hot water poured over them, and are also rich in cellulose, making them a superior growing medium. In addition, when coffee grounds go into landfill they create a lot of methane gas, affecting greenhouse gas emissions, and they take up a lot of space, so it’s a win win all around.

But there’s more…Back to the Roots is repurposing its own waste. After the mushrooms are grown on the coffee grounds, what’s left over becomes a wonderful soil amendment, which Alex and Nikhil are now selling to Whole Foods and donating a lot of it to school gardens and non-profit farms. A handful adds amazing nutrients to plants and flowers. They are also producing Grow at Home Mushroom Kits and are hope to inspire people to grow their own food. The mushrooms appear in about 10 days, right from the box, and produce about a pound and a half of gourmet mushrooms. Over 300 Whole Foods are selling them. (Greenopolis readers can get a 10% discount online by using the code “greenopolis10” on the Back to the Roots website).

In two years the company has grown from an idea to having a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Oakland, CA and a staff of 14. It is one of the most innovative, socially conscious, green businesses I’ve seen. It’s no surprise that in 2010 its founders were named BusinessWeek’s “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25.” Future plans? They’re experimenting with using soy pulp and tea waste. But they really see their company as more than an urban mushroom farm. They want to inspire people and create awareness about waste, sustainability, and growing their own food. Also, check out their school campaign on Facebook. Anytime anyone posts a picture on their facebook page with their fully-grow kit, BTR will donate a kit and sustainability curriculum to an elementary school classroom of their choice.

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom®, is a syndicated radio talk show host, former president and co-owner of The Learning Annex, Certified Build It Green® healthy home makeover specialist, and holistic health educator, who eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery. She’s author of the bestseller, “Super Natural Home,” endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Ralph Nader, Peter Coyote, and Dr. Joe Mercola. Beth is leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy home, work, and school environments. Visit her at www.supernaturalmom.com

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / donkeycart

10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Mother Earth is smiling, gurgling, and burping on Earth Day. She’s barely a teenager, as planets go. How great we are celebrating our precious Blue Planet.  She is on loan to us.  As caretakers for future humanoids – Challenge #1: Honor our Earth, EVERYDAY with mindful acts of kindness.

Here are ten ways to shower love on Mother Earth and keep her healthy.

1. Walk Barefoot on Mother Earth whenever possible. Tune into the energetic vibrations that are healing and wise.

2. Our Carbon Footprints Implode Breathing Fresh Air. Check out the recycling drill –Use less. Redefine your needs. Make a daily practice out of water conservation, food composting to nourish the earth, alternative energy products and usage, trade or give-away useable items like appliances and apparel with friends and neighbors.

3. Watch How You Contaminate yourself and all living creatures. Think, say, and perform kindness. Let your thoughts send healing light to yourself, cleansing the toxic energies that pollute everyone in on the earth walk.

4. Plant Fresh Veggies and Herbs – start an indoor (pot planted or outdoor garden. Choose a dwarf fruit tree, some do well in apartments.

5. Use Your Purchasing Power. Boycott pesticides, buy natural.
6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That includes eco-chic clothing, cleaning products, as well as fabric selection.  Think sustainable, like hemp bamboo and organic cotton clothing fabrics.

7. Reduce Meat Consumption. A meat-eating diet requires over 4,000 gallons of water per day. Eating vegetarian requires 300 gallons per day. Leaving meat out of the menu a few days per week will have a huge impact.

8. Detox Your Home – There are eco-friendly paints, carpet, and light bulbs. Eliminate toxic chemicals like Sodium lauryl suphate and phosphates. Not only are they carcinogenic, they go into our drainage system contaminating our rivers.

9. Stop Energy Drain. Get a multi-plug power strip that plugs in cell phone charger, computer, etc. Turn the main power switch off at night.

10. Join Local Community Groups. Stay informed about your city and states environmental practices. We the people are the voice, the vote. Contact your Congressman for change in practices that you can improve.

Fellow Earthlings, please add to the list and share your thoughts.

MerrieWay is filming ‘LIVE GREEN DREAM’… JOIN THE FUN!

Turn Off the Lights: Earth Hour – A Global Happening!

On Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 8:30 pm, I am taking part in Earth Hour-a global event in which millions of people will turn out their lights to make a statement of concern about our planet and climate change. I want to invite you to join, too! Sponsored by World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour got started just two years ago and is now the largest event of its kind in the world.  Last year, more than 50 million participated and the lights went out at the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Coliseum in Rome, just to name a few (I turned mine out too). Even Google’s homepage went black for the day! In Israel, President Shimon Peres personally turned off lights in Tel Aviv. 

This year, Earth Hour will be even bigger-already 250 cities in 74 countries have agreed to take part including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Nashville with more signing up every day. Around the world cities like Moscow, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai and Mexico City will turn out their lights.
But Earth Hour isn’t just for big cities-anyone can participate. To get a better sense of the event, check out this  VIDEO.
Participating in Earth Hour is easy, fun and free. I hope you will join me for this amazing event. To sign up, visit  Earth Hour where you’ll learn more including ways you can spread the word about Earth Hour, plus creative things to do when the lights go out in case you need inspiration!
We want the US to turn out more lights than any other country in the world during this historic event so please pass this note along to anyone you think might want to take part. Let’s all turn out and take action on March 28 at 8:30 pm.
Spread the EARTH HOUR word … NOT the icing!
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