Earth Day 2012… 20 ways to “do something”!

Sunday, April 22, 2012, marks the 42th Anniversary of Earth Day!!! (Yes!… this is our major holiday, fellow “greenies!”)

Earth Day was created in 1970 as a way to remind us to appreciate nature and this amazing planet we live on, and learn how to protect our environment and all of its inhabitants. (Did you know:) While it is celebrated in the Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it is actually observed in the Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere (both days being the exact “middle point” of the season). Ahh… Earth Day trivia!

This year, find a way to celebrate! Take notice of all that we HAVE to celebrate and no matter how small and insignificant your actions may seem, they matter… they add up… they make a difference…

Take action, talk about it, MAKE a difference… EVERY day should be Earth Day!

Earth Hour 2012: The lights ‘turned off’ all over the world!

I hope you participated in Earth Hour! On Saturday, March 31th, 2012, from 8:30-9:30 pm, lights did turn off all over the world!

The Mom Goes Green family turned off the lights for the fourth year and this year was no less exciting.  We were thrilled to once again look out at the Cleveland skyline from our backyard and see it mostly dark (Thank you, Cleveland!).  Our hour (which actually stretched to over an hour and a half!) included venturing to every corner of the house and plenty of silliness along the way.  The kids’ flashlights (equipped with rechargeable batteries) were a great source for “The Shadow Puppet Show”.  We also had lots of great conversation about why Earth Hour is important and the family togetherness and “snuggle time” was a big bonus in my book!

We even created a great new game that we dubbed “Would you…/If you…” We all made up questions and everyone had to give answers for things like “Would you rather live on a mountain, in a forest, by an ocean, on a savannah or in a city?”  My daughter even asked “If you had a symbol to represent you, what would it be?” to which both of my kids answered, “Mom, that’s an easy one for you.  You’d be a tree!” … and they’re probably right!

Anyhow… this year’s Earth Hour had record participation.  Over 6000 cities and towns in 147 countries participated(!) and I wondered how many children from my kids’ school were participating with their families. We sent home a notice with all 492 of them(!) announcing Earth Hour.  If they sign the pledge that says they participated, some of them will be randomly selected to win an eco-prize reward including BPA-free water bottles, pencils made from recycled newspapers and TerraCycle pencil bags (made from upcycled drink pouches)!

If you participated, you literally joined families from all around the globe… Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Singapore, Beijing, Moscow, Sydney, Athens, Jakarta, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Oslo, New York City, Abu Dhabi, Bucharest, Capetown, Mumbai and Cairo (just to name a few!). When else can you imagine these cities and countries banded together in a unified cause? Earth Hour brought the world together in support of our common thread… Planet Earth!

You can still experience the magnitude of this event.  One thing I count on every year is from  Boston.com … it allows you to click the images and see the lights go off in locations around the world!

Quite powerful, I’d say.

Now, let’s see what we can do to take this momentum and not allow this event to become just ONE hour in an entire year… what can you do to make every hour Earth Hour?

Earth Hour 2012: March 31 (can you spare the time?)

I hope you’ve circled the date on your calendar! This Saturday, March 31, 2012, from 8:30-9:30 pm is Earth Hour!

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning off their lights for one hour as a “vote” FOR the earth, and a “vote” AGAINST global warming.  By 2011, this movement had grown to hundreds of millions of people, and even darkened the Sydney Opera House, Rome’s Colosseum, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Parthenon in Greece, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, New York City’s Times Square and landmarks around the globe.

Last year people from all around the world switched off their lights in a unified vote because, regardless of where you live, we all depend on the same planet! This is the perfect time to turn off the lights, discuss global warming and the importance of “being green” as a family.  Consider taking actions to assure that we aren’t polluting our earth and overusing resources in our everyday lives.

For more information, go to www.earthhour.org and sign-up to be “officially” counted!

Need some inspiration?

Or want to know what we did last year?… click here

now…

Will you (please) “vote” with me this year?

Palm oil in Girl Scout cookies???

I have been quite outspoken about my dislike for palm oil and the destruction that is created when land is cleared to make way for new plantations.  I also happen to have a Girl Scout in my house (my sweet daughter, of course!) so the controversy over palm oil being used in Girl Scout cookies was undoubtedly a BIG concern for me (especially when she came home with the order form and geared up to start selling!).

Thanks to two ambitious Girl Scouts from Michigan, Madison and Rhiannon, the 2012 menu of Girl Scout cookies will taste a whole lot sweeter AND eco-friendly!  Their petition and hard work brought about these changes (as seen in the Girl Scout USA statement I received below) and I think it’s AMAZING!

  • Our licensed bakers are members of the RSPO and exclusively source palm oil from members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization of growers, buyers, manufacturers, conservationists and interested parties who are striving to develop and follow best practices to ensure sustainability. In 2012, GSUSA also became a member of the RSPO.
  • Our licensed bakers will purchase GreenPalm certificates covering 100% of the palm oil used in Girl Scout cookies. Additionally, GSUSA will purchase GreenPalm certificates to support programmatic objectives. The certificates offer a premium price to palm oil producers who are operating within the guidelines for social, environmental and economic responsibility set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.
  • GSUSA and our licensed bakers will join other industry leaders in making a pledge to move to only segregated, certified sustainable palm oil sources.
  • GSUSA and our licensed bakers are committed to using as little palm oil as possible in Girl Scout cookies and have committed to continued research into viable alternatives.

So, if you have or will consider ordering and consuming some Girl Scout cookies this year, you can worry a little less about the guilt.  This year’s cookies are a whole lot greener than ever before and the next steps are definitely in the right direction.

…and, don’t you feel just a little bit inspired seeing the difference that two teens can make just by refusing to be silent about a wrong they want righted! Bravo girls!

The A to Z Guide for a Green 2012!

Well, Hello 2012! For some of us, you couldn’t have come soon enough!

It’s a new year with a new chance to make a new beginning… our chance to make a real difference!

If you’ve been “putting off your greening”, I’m going to give you the A to Z list to get the ball rolling. (I think I’ve put together quite the extraordinary list, if I do say so myself!  Be sure to click on the orange links to learn more!)

Hold onto your “green” party hats, and let’s go!…

AAppliances, Animals – Buy energy efficient appliances when you need to make a replacement.  If you’re looking for a ‘cause’ that needs your assistance, donate to help save an endangered species.
B – Bamboo, Biodegradable, Baking Soda – Buy sustainable bamboo products (everything from towels to furniture).  Think biodegradable for all product choices (detergents, bath products, cleaners, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.).  Use eco-friendly baking soda for everything from health & beauty to cleaning your home.
C – CFLs, Cleaners, Compost, CSAs – Replace your lights with compact fluorescents.  Skip the chemicals in traditional, commercial cleaners and opt for eco-friendly choices. Start composing food scraps and other biodegradable materials.  Consider buying into a CSA for the freshest, organic produce.
D – Donate, Disposable, Dry cleaningDonate your usable but no longer needed clothing, books, toys, household items and furniture to organizations that support the less fortunate, so they can be reused.  Eliminate anything intentionally disposable from your purchases. Look for an eco-friendly dry cleaner to avoid toxic chemicals.
E – Energy, EnvironmentTurn off electronics, computers, lights and all household appliances that aren’t in use.  Consider the effect on the environment in everything you do.
F – Food – Make healthy choices of organic and natural foods instead of those filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients and chemicals.  Help your kids learn to make great choices too!
G – Global warming, Glass, Greywater – Accept that global warming is real and we’re the only creature on the planet that can do something about it.  Recycle all glass (it can be recycled indefinitely!). Learn all the ways to put your greywater to work.
H – Heating, HomeTurn down the thermostat.  Excess energy equals an excess of pollution. Make your home safe and clean, and simultaneously non-toxic, by cutting out all chemicals.
I – Ideas Share what you know and learn with others.  It can have a fabulous snowball effect!  The ideas from our grandparents are excellent principals to follow as well.
J – Journey – Give yourself credit for the things you are doing and accept that going green is truly a journey!
K – KidsGet your kids involved.  When they learn to respect the environment early in life, that lesson will stay with them forever.
L – Landfills, Local – Remember that everything you toss in the trash winds up in a landfill, polluting the soil and water.  Buy local at every opportunity and, especially for produce, get the most out of your food.
M – Mattresses, Meat, Milk – When you replace a mattress, consider organic.  Traditional mattresses are filled with harsh and harmful chemicals.  Choose organic meat and milk to avoid antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones.
N – Newspapers – When you need to keeps something hot or cold in transport, newspaper is an amazing insulator.  When you’re done, recycle them, always!
O – Organics, Outdoors, Oceans – Buy as many organics as you can… simple as that.  Getting outdoors will remind you of this beautiful world we are trying to preserve, and even if you can’t see an ocean from where you live, never forget how crucial they are.  Remember that allowing them to be polluted (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the Gulf Disaster) must be prevented.
P – Plastic, Paper, Palm oil – Avoid the excessive use of plastics or at least make sure the plastics are truly recyclable.  Same goes for paper.  Be conscious not to be wasteful and recycle every unneeded piece of paper that comes your way.  Learn about palm oil and purchase only products that use the sustainable variety.
Q – Quit procrastinating and take the next step!
R – Recycle, Reusable Bags, Rain barrels – NOT recycling is inexcusable.  Recyclables should never be thrown in the trash.  Invest in reusable shopping bags and stop contributing to the ‘one trillion plastic bags used annually, worldwide’ statistic.  Set-up at rain barrel to capture water for use around your yard.
S – Schools, Shopping, “Shoes off – Get  involved at your children’s schools and put together programs to help them embrace recycling and the environment. Realize that every purchase you make has a greener option… it’s up to you to know the difference and choose wisely.  Adopt the “shoes off” rule and avoid tracking toxins and chemicals through your home.
T – Trash, Trees, Travel – Make a conscious effort to reduce your weekly trash by not buying over-packaged products or buy only products in recyclable packaging.  Don’t cut down healthy trees… they are more valuable than just their visual beauty (think air quality, soil preservation, wildlife habitat… the list goes on and on). Don’t leave your green principals at home when you travel, take them with you!
U – Un-green, Upcycle – When you see a “wrong”, you can make it “right”.  Speak up, help others and make a change that can make a difference.  Before you throw anything away, consider if it has a secondary use and upcycle.
V – Vinegar, Volunteer – The uses for distilled white vinegar are endless.  Buy some for cleaning, cosmetic uses, deodorizing, and pest and weed control.  Volunteer your time for an environmental cause.
W – Water, Water Bottles, WildlifeConserve water… contrary to belief, the supply is not endless.  Buy a stainless steel, reusable water bottle to avoid BPA and stop contributing plastic bottles to landfills. Contribute to causes that protect the habitats of wildlife and consider what you are doing to their “home” in your every action.
X – Xenagogue, Xeriscape – The definition of xenogogue is “guide”, so simply guide others and become a steward of both your home and the earth, and make informed choices.  Xeriscape in your yard by planting only native trees, shrubbery and flowers to prevent the need for excessive watering.
Y – You – (YOU knew that one was coming too, right?) but sincerely, the changes you make in your daily life are all up to you.  Take what you know and put it to good use.
Z – Zoos, Zero-Waste – Support zoos that dedicate themselves to conservation and education.  Buy kits and containers that can be reused for lunchtime (or anytime) so that you don’t contribute to the approximate ‘67 pounds of annual trash created by a child’s lunch’.

There it is: A to Z (and I feel like I only scratched the surface!) But the main mission is to simply get started.  Don’t wait for tomorrow, and don’t expect you have to do it all at once, but do admit that we can all make little changes that amount to one enormous difference!

HaPPy NeW YeaR and cheers to making it (and keeping it) green!