Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Green Gifts for the Holiday

By Tanis Roelofs


Green gifts can often be intangible presents that deliver green goodness long after the holidays and will not end up as clutter in your closet. 
·       Donate time and money to a charity in honor of the gift recipient such as a gift to World Wildlife Federation or Sierra Club.
·       Buy carbon offsets in the recipient’s name with TerraPass or similar company.  Along with cutting your own carbon emissions and fuel bills you can help your friends and family offset theirs.
·       Give a national park pass or a membership to the Dallas Arboretum or aquarium.
·       Give a gift certificate for a pedicure, massage, or other spa services.
·       Give a gift certificate to a restaurant that uses locally grown foods.
·       Wrap your gifts Japanese style in fabric which can be reused next year. Tie with ribbon or bandanas which also can be reused.

Stocking Stuffers for Adults
·       Energy-saving light bulbs
·       DVD’s such as “An Inconvenient Truth”, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”  “Food, Inc.” and “Kilowatt Ours”

Carry Bags and Jewelry
·       Give a gift of reusable canvas or cloth bags to take to the grocery store and an attractive designer looking bag for shopping mall. This will prevent billions of plastic bags from ending up in landfills.
·       Green Karat Jewelry Company curtails destructive mining practices by using recycled gold and other precious metals.  It uses only synthetic diamonds and seeks out ecologically responsible metal refiners.
·       Vintage and antique jewelry is available at a variety of stores and estate sales across the country. A Google search provides a long list of online sources.

Gardeners, Hikers, Bird Watchers and Bicyclists
·       Gardening tools, binoculars, bicycle accessories and portable solar battery packs.  Encourage friends and family to be more eco-friendly by buying a pair of walking shoes and a pedometer to keep them motivated.
·       Sports lovers would love tickets to an upcoming game.


No child’s stocking or Hanukkah gift would be complete without chocolate and organic is better for the environment.  Mass-produced cacao beans are typically grown with heavy use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on clear-cut forestland.  Organic beans are cultivated without the use of chemicals, and shade-grown beans help preserve the forest canopy that shelters migratory birds and butterflies. Some resources for organic chocolate are:
·       Thompson Candy’s – organic collection includes panda bears.
·       Chinaberry –holiday-themed organic chocolate.
·       Dagoba Chocolate – produced from organic beans grown in Latin America
·       Green & Black’s – gourmet chocolates made from organically grown cacao beans.

Expand a child’s mind instead of their toy collection with books and board games.
·       Instill the three R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle) early and have fun while doing it with Recycled Crafts Box by Laura C. Martin.  Available in bookstores everywhere for $10.95 or less.
·       Dr. Seuss’s rhyming classic The Lorax spins an unforgettable tale.  It is a whimsical way to introduce complex environmental ideas to young children.
·       Groundhog’s Garden and The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle both are excellent books about growing one’s garden and the intricate workings of an ecosystem.
·       Keep Cool: Gambling with the Climate! was developed by two scientists as an educational tool to convey the risks of global warming and the benefits of international cooperation.  The game can be ordered at 323-525-1948.
·       National Parks Monopoly provides plenty of educational trivia about Yosemite, Yellowstone and 20 other U.S. park jewels.  The game can be purchased through

Finally, start your own holiday on the green way by decking the halls and boughs with the latest in energy-saving light:  LED string lights.  They use much less electricity and last longer than conventional ones.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Green Your Holiday Party

 by Kris

Did you know that every year Americans typically generate about 250 million tons of trash?  And as if that wasn’t a large enough number, we throw away an additional 5 million tons of trash during the holiday season.  That’s a heck of a lot of trash!

Trash is an inevitable subject and we all know that it ends up polluting our environment leading to more serious issues such as contaminations, harming wildlife, and basically negatively affecting our eco-system in multiple ways.

We will never be able to fully cut back on the amount of waste we produce, but we can most definitely make an effort to be more mindful of the products we are using and disposing of.

With the holidays coming up, many of us will be throwing and attending parties.  Why not make the effort to be an eco-friendly host or guest?  Not only can we contribute to our environment by being more aware, but we can also spread our knowledge to family and friends through our actions.  You might just be surprised at the effects of your green examples on your party guests!

Easy Ways to Green Your Holiday Party:

1)    Instead of using disposable plates, utensils, and napkins, go for the reusable.
-        Not only does this reduce the amount of waste, but also your party just got a bit more ‘fancy’.
2)    Set up a recycle station for guests to throw away their aluminum, plastics, cardboard, and glass.
-        It can be as easy as a box or bag next to the trash bin.  Just have your kids decorate a piece of paper with a label for each box. That way everyone can easily recycle when they are through.
3)    Leftover table scraps can be collected in a separate bin to be composted.
-        Even if you don’t have a garden, the compost can just biodegrade into soil.
4)    Purchase snacks and beverages in bulk as that reduces packaging.
5)    Buy local. 
-        Locally grown foods don’t require as much transportation and refrigeration, which uses petroleum and emits pollution, and in the long run, affects our earths climate.
6)    Be creative with party favors.
-        Local products like honey and plant seeds are both a great gift and a great way to introduce guests to the benefits and pleasures of buying locally.

Just remember, as you plan your parties this holiday season, think of reusing, recycling, and reducing.

As always, keep thinking green!

For more detailed ways to throw an eco-friendly party, check out the link below:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November Challenge - Reuse a Shirt!

Tag Live Green in Plano on Facebook..#reuseashirt in Instagram and Twitter!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Feeding The Need: Making It Visible

by The Sustainability Steward
On October 18th, I attended the Feeding the Need: Making It Visible Luncheon sponsored by the Seven Loaves Community of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano.  Because the Seven Loaves Community food pantry is a recipient of the produce from the Plano Community Garden, I wanted to attend to learn more about the plight of the homeless and hungry in Collin County.
The guest speaker was Texas Senator Florence Shapiro from District 8, the district that includes PCG, and she gave a very powerful speech about the growth of the homeless in our community.  What makes this even more alarming is that the zip code of St. Andrew and the Plano Community Garden, 75093, is the third wealthiest zip code in the eastern half of the DFW Metroplex. 
Senator Shapiro shared with us how the homeless population has increased over 200% in the past three years in Collin County, and that an unbelieveable 14% of the citizens now in our county are food insecure.  In fact, 60% of the homeless interviewed are employed, though under-employed, and the availability of food has become the largest need now among those in poverty in our area.  She ended her speech by sharing with us the Eight Levels of Charity as described by the great philosopher, Maimonides.  Maimonides taught that by sharing one’s talents and gifts with others in order to strengthen them so they no longer are a burden on others, one is exhibiting the greatest level of charity.  Senator Shapiro then applauded the Plano community for its charity and, more importantly, by “teaching others to fish”, providing a means to those around us to help pull themselves out of poverty and hunger.
The Plano Community Garden is one way to help alleviate hunger in our area.  By adopting and agreeing to care for a plot in the PCG, one agrees to maintain a garden plot year round and provide half of one’s grown produce to the area food pantries in Plano, including the Seven Loaves pantry operated by St. Andrew United Methodist.  All water, mulch and compost in the PCG is provided at no charge to the gardener by the city of Plano, and, more importantly, one receives the satisfaction of helping to alleviate hunger in the area.  If interested in learning more about the garden and the opportunities that it offers, please log on to the URL below and find out more:
The Sustainability Steward