Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Investing: Follow Up

As a follow up to my post on environmentally conscious investing, I came across an aspect of the Dow Jones Index that they have developed to measure a company's sustainability. It is aptly named: Down Jones Sustainability Index

Being green seems to be on investors' top of mind as, a company that is considered environmentally sustainable, is now being look at as a company that will be able to run in an efficient way, while maximizing growth and ensuring a long life. I am pleased that green is slowly becoming a norm in the financial world. It will ensure that companies use their resources in a responsible manner and shows that they are thinking long-term.

I am currently reading a book written by Patagonia owner, Yvon Chouinard who is also the founder of an amazing organization called : 1% For The Planet. I will do a much longer blog on this when I am finished with the book. I am half way done and I am finding his approach to business very inspiring.

Here it is in case you want to get readin':

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Streets!

There are many annoying and frustrating things about living in New York City, but every once in a while, they are balanced out by something incredible. Something that is completely unique to New York and only has the real impact the it does because it takes place here. This Summer, the city started "Summer Streets" which is when Park Avenue is closed for 3 Saturdays in August. We saw everyone: Cyclists, Skate Boarders, Roller Bladers, Runners or anyone who just wanted to participate in the fun. It was amazing! We got a peek in to what life would be like without cars and I have to say, I wasn't missing much!

We started in Battery Park City, rode up Lafayette, through Chinatown, Soho and Union Square, then up Park Avenue through the Met Life building (which was the highlight), up to around 80th street, into Central Park around the Reservoir, stopped for brunch on the Upper West Side then down the bike path on the West Side Highway. We did the whole ride in a few hours. It was about 15 miles, I think. Here's a picture taken from the ramp before going through the Met Life Building.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recycled Reading

Hello Greenies! I am so excited about the dialogue the bottled water post started. That's why I write this blog: to share good information that I see and then to get your feedback. Check out the comments section and leave your thoughts! Also, feel free to tell me things you would like to see me post about. I can't think of everything (shocking, I know!).

On to the next subject. I am in a book club. There are about 13 people in my book club and we read about 1 book per month. So total for just our club we read 156 books a year. I know lots of people who are in book clubs. While we are doing something good for our brains, we are doing something bad for the environment.

About 20 Million trees are cut down annually for virgin paper used for the production of books sold in the U.S. alone.

It turns out, the publishing industry does not use recycled paper (Why not?) and doesn't necessarily use trees from certified forests. I found this website dedicated to changing that! They are called Eco-Libris and their mission is to raise awareness of what we can be doing to take responsibility for the impact our reading has on the environment.

They are asking that we donate $1 for every book that we read, which they will use to plant one tree. They plant trees all over the world which is not only beautifying some third world countries but also making reading a sustainable activity for us.

For every dollar you give, they will send you a Eco-Libris sticker (made of of recycled paper, of course) for you to stick on your book to help spread the word. They are also trying to get book publishers to move in the direction of using only recycled paper.

If you are in a book club, bring this idea up to them. At the end of each year it will be $12 per person which doesn't seem like too much to give back for the privilege of reading! You can also rock it "old school" and get your books from the library. If you do both, then you are a SUPER Greenie!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Easy Green Tip: Thirsty for a Sigg

So, I feel like a dummy, and I'll tell you why. I, like many people, drink water from bottles. As you know, water comes in plastic bottles. This industry, at last glance, is worth $8 BILLION dollars (it has a higher growth than any other drinks in the beverage industry, even alcoholic beverages!). The reason why I feel like a dummy is: the public perception is that bottled water is cleaner than drinking water from the tap, when in actuality the opposite is true:

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the quality of public water supplies, the agency has no authority over bottled water. Bottled water that crosses state lines is considered a food product and is overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which does mandate that it be bottled in sanitary conditions using food-grade equipment... The FDA is allowed to interpret the EPA's regulations and apply them selectively to bottled water. As Senior Attorney Erik Olson of the NRDC explains, "Although the FDA has adopted some of the EPA's regulatory standards, it has decided not to adopt others and has not even ruled on some
points after several years of inaction."

One brand of "spring water," which had a graphic of mountains and a lake on the label, was actually taken from a well in Massachusetts in the parking lot of an industrial facility. The well, which is no longer used for bottled water, was near hazardous waste and had experienced contamination by industrial chemicals.

That's pretty disgusting! So essentially this "natural spring water" that we are being sold is actually not at all from a spring and is actually dirtier than the water coming from my faucet. Once again, THANKS FDA!! (I'm really beginning to believe this government agency is completely useless)

Additionally, only 3-5% of plastics are actually recycled! When I tell you the number of plastic water bottles added to U.S. landfills EVERY DAY, you're going to freak...brace yourself....ready?
More than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day – a total of about 22 billion last year. Six times as many plastic water bottles were thrown away in the US in 2004 as in 1997.
Not to mention, it has been discovered that plastic does something called "leaching" which means the teeny, tiny, toxic molecules that make up the plastic actually break down into whatever is being held inside the container. This includes water that we drink and anything in cans as, nowadays, cans are lined with plastic. Crazy huh?

And if you read the Plastic Ocean article I'm obsessed with you will know that this "leaching" is linked to the following health disorders: mimicking the effect of estrogen on the human body in males, which has been making male animals grow female organs, cause birth defects and also are linked cause of obesity.

But, I love my water. I like it still, fizzy, mixed with fruit juice. You name it, I'm drinking it at an unprecedented rate (especially since my diet coke ban, which I would like to point out is now at 21 days!). So what's a water lovin' girl to do?

I was at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago and saw these awesome water bottles. They are made by a company called Sigg and they are made of aluminum and NOT lined with plastic. I leave it at my desk and just fill it up at a water fountain. There are many companies out there that make a similar looking bottle, but I like these best. I got one in classic off white. Pretty fancy huh?

Are you going to get a Sigg and stop the "leaching" into your body? Leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Environmental Investing

I was thinking about investing money in the stock market. I know that half of the people reading this will be appalled that I haven't already done so, while the other half agree that the task seems too daunting an undertaking to even begin. Then comes the dilemma of wanting to invest in companies who's priorities line up with mine. I certainly don't want to invest in companies that are hurting the environment or animals, or taking advantage of people in countries by giving low wages and offer poor working conditions. I want to know that any company that I invest in will be environmentally and socially responsible.

Luckily, I found this great website called Environmental Leader. I have been a subscriber for a couple of months and I really like it. The goal is to track corporations progress in the "green" department while also bringing the slackers to the forefront. I signed up to the email list and now every day I get an email full of great and helpful information. Obviously, this isn't the only tool to use when deciding what companies deserve my investment, but it gives me one more thing to take into account before I hand over my cash.

Luckily, it seems that many companies are making being "green" a priority, so investing in a green company shouldn't be that difficult. If there is a company that you want to invest in but are haters of the Earth, call up their shareholder relations department ( can be found on their web site) and express your thoughts. Ask them what initiatives they are implementing and let them know how important it is that their priorities align with yours. After all, if it wasn't for the shareholders the corporate landscape would look a LOT different.

Would you invest greenly? Let me know your thoughts!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I found an awesome website!

So I was cruising the internet trying to find safe personal hygene products, as one does, and found this AMAZING WEBSITE: Environmental Working Group's, Skin Deep, Cosmetic Safety Database

There is a great petition to sign right on the home page that says they want to change the regulations that govern the cosmetics/personal care products industries.

"Due to gaping loopholes in federal law, companies can put virtually any ingredient into personal care products. Even worse, the government does not require pre-market safety tests for any of them."
Can you believe this? I'm going to do some research to find products that won't kill me. I'll let you know what I find!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh Baby!

Hello fellow greenies! I have recently learned that an old roommate of mine is having a baby in the Fall and I thought it would be a perfect time to blog about greening up our decorating. There are many "old school" products that we use which have contributed to health problems and environmental hazards over the years. Now that we know about them, we can avoid them. Here are alternatives:

  1. Walls/Paint: Use no VOC Paint on the walls and make sure all of the nursery items are eco-friendly and also don't contain paints using VOC's. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound which refers to the smell that paint, carpeting, furniture, etc gives off that makes you dizzy (that process is called "Off Gassing" and I know a few people who also can be considered "off gassers"). That smell causes diseases and is also pretty bad for the atmosphere. They make paint with no-VOC's and low VOC's which is great because you can get the color you want minus the damage to your body (VOCs can cause asthma and various other lung diseases, birth defects, and cancer). Do all painting at least a month before use to give the paint and all new furniture time to off gas.
  2. Flooring: If renovating, it is recommended that you keep the current flooring as many new flooring will emit VOCs. If you can't do that, think about getting natural linoleum or wood flooring made of bamboo. If you are refinishing already existing wood flooring, watch the varnish you choose for VOCs as well
  3. Crib/Furniture: choose items made of real wood with natural finishes. For any mattresses, padding or linens, try and get organic cotton, free of pesticides. Also watch out for chemicals that make clothing flame retardant. That chemical is a neurotoxin (and on our pillows...check out The Story Of Stuff link in my margin!)
  4. Toys: Weirdly, plastic toys are a major contributor to indoor air pollution. You may want to buy cloth or wood toys for tiny babies to keep them breathing clean.
  5. Keep the nursery well ventilated. Fresh air will circulate any pollutants out.
  6. When cleaning the nursery, use organic cleaning products. I LOVE Shaklee products! They are organic and I will do a detailed post on them in the near future. I have my own Shaklee page:

These tips can be applied to any home renovation. Really, the most important thing is using non-toxic products and materials that are sustainable to minimize your renovations impact on the Earth. Bamboo actually makes for a beautiful wood that will very durable and grows VERY fast.

Please send me a comment with any great "green" tips for a renovation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beach Cleanup Alert!

Hello Tri-State area residents. I just came across some awesome information. Apparently the 22nd annual beach clean up is set to take place on Saturday September 20th in many locations across the 5 boroughs, Long Island and Westchester. Last year's clean up drew 9,339 volunteers, coordinated by the American Littoral Society. They cleaned and documented 142,243 pounds of debris along 677 miles of New York State's Shoreline. What an achievement!! Apparently, after the garbage is collected, it is tested to find the source so that polluters can be contacted in order for the trash to stop.

I'm planning in participating so if you want to go, leave a comment and we'll coordinate a convenient location. Apparently the Jamaica Bay location also has a wild life preserve. Let's give marine and wildlife on our shores a clean and happy habitat to thrive in!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Guest Blog: Composting

This is so exciting! In an effort to find the best, easiest and most innovative alterations we can make to our lives to be "greener" I am reaching out to a few people that I know who are super green to give their expert perspectives on what great things they are doing, in the hopes that we can incorporate their tips into our lives.

My first guest blog is from singer/songwriter/environmental lover, Sarah Elizabeth Foster. When she isn't writing and recording her first CD she's being green. Composting is one way that she's doing her part to save the planet.

What is composting you ask?

Composting is the aerobic decompostition of biodegradable organic matter, producing compost. It is the decaying of food, mostly vegetables or manure.

In a nutshell, composting is decomposing the organic matter that you produce in order to keep it out of landfills, while also producing the best nutrients to grow a garden. The product Sarah discusses below can be found on Gaiam's website. Here's Sarah's post:

Hello Advocate of Green readers,

My name's Sarah Elizabeth Foster and I'm Danielle's greenest friend! (I hope that's true! If it's on the internet, in a blog, it must be true!) Danielle saw my blog about my indoor composter and wanted me to guest blog about it for her. Here it goes...

Worms have invaded my apartment! Just kidding, I invited them in! I started taking notice of what was going in my trash can, and it was mostly vegetable scraps. I'm trying to eliminate all trash from my apartment, so the vegetable scraps had to be handled.

Here is a picture of the vegetables I juice each morning...

Here are the scraps that are left over...
Here is my indoor composter. You can see a banana peel and some carrot scraps. Can't see the worms? That's because they don't like light. Whenever you open the lid and lift back the moist newspaper they scurry under the surface. Dave and I hate this because we like to watch them eat.
The worms need this moist newspaper on top of them because their habitat must remain moist. After a while they eat the newspaper and then you just replace it.

You would never know there are worms in here. There is no bad smell!

I'm going to have to make this an ongoing blog topic because I'm thinking of tons of things I need to tell you guys about the worms. Stay tuned for more worm blogs!

Thanks Sarah!! I can't wait to hear more about your worms! Leave a comment about what you think of composting.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beware: Killer Deodorant!

Does your deodorant have aluminum? Mine did until I recently switched brands. What's the big deal about aluminum in deodorant? Well, aluminum is a neurotoxin which means it has a chemical in it that attacks your brain... FUN! Check it out:

Aluminum chloride, an aluminum salt that is commonly used in antiperspirants, is also commonly used in studies on aluminum-induced neurotoxicity. Aluminum itself adversely affects the blood-brain barrier, it is capable of causing DNA damage, and has adverse epigenetic effects. Research has shown that the aluminum salts used in antiperspirants have detrimental effects to a number of species such as non-human primates, mice, dogs and others. An increased amount of aluminum is also present in the brains of many Alzheimer's patients, although this link does not seem to be causal. An experiment with mice found that applying an aqueous solution of aluminum chloride to the skin resulted in "a significant increase in urine, serum, and whole brain aluminum." Other experiments on pregnant mice showed transplacental passage of aluminum chloride

UMMMM...WHAT? How this is even allowed to even be sold in stores, is beyond me. We are in a sad state where we really have to check all labels to make sure that there are no ingredients that will attack our brains and give us weird diseases in the products we buy. Incredible!

So what do we do in order to not smell while also staying dry? Buy natural deodorant. Your body will adapt and you will sweat less. Also, sweat is natural so at the end of the day, who cares? I did an extensive deodorant testing and here are the results. The two best brands are:

Herbal Magic is great except sometimes it gave me an itchy armpit rash after I shaved (too much info?). Tom's of Maine doesn't give me said itchy rash and also actually works. I was a total skeptic. I didn't think natural deodorant would actually work, after all my ancestors wandered in the desert in the hot sun and we all know how stinky a cab in the summer time is...not good. But I gave my body a chance to adapt and now it works! Switching also means that I am protecting my brain from neurotoxins which is a-ok with me! Brains are good. I'd like to keep mine as long as possible.

What deodorant do you use? Give me a shout!

Technical Difficulties

Hello Fellow Greenies!!

You have probably noticed that Photobucket highjacked my blog for their advertising purposes so I had to switch to this less pretty, but equally green blog template (literally). I may switch back to the other template once I figure out what the issue was, but for now you can find all of the great "green" info from the other site right here in the right hand margin.

Sorry for any inconveniences & I will be back to posting green greatness this afternoon.

Green it up!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Neti Pot, How I Love Thee...

Last year, a friend gave me a neti pot for my birthday. Her disclaimer was "I know you get lots of allergies and I heard that this can help, and maybe you won't have to take medicine anymore." Here is a picture of a neti pot, in case you don't know what it is:

We are gonna get a little personal here ( I don't normally discuss the state of my boogies with strangers). I have to be honest, I was a little skeptical at first. What the neti pot is, is a sinus irrigation technique that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for years and years as a way to maintain sinus health. Since I am extremely prone to sinus infections and pouring warm salt water up your nose HAS to be better for you than taking antibiotics twice a year, I decided to have faith and give it a shot.

I have been using my neti pot for over a year now. I use it once or twice a day, depending on my allergies or exposure to pollution. Since I started using it, I can actually breath out of my nose! Who would have thought?!?! I went from taking allergy medicine year round to just a few weeks in the Spring and a few weeks in the Fall when allergies are at their peak. But best of all, I went from having at least 2 severe sinus infections a year to maybe getting one mild one (and NO antibiotics!).

Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I become fastidious about using my neti pot and within a day or 2 my cold clears up and I never reach the maximum level of sickness. After reading this NY Times article on it, which basically says that people didn't get well any faster taking antibiotics vs. using a neti pot, I am convinced.

It turns out this tiny nasal tea pot was one of the best, most useful and most memorable birthday presents I've ever gotten. Here are a few tips: use a tablespoon of NON iodized salt for each nostril, make sure to tilt your head to the side instead of backwards and use water that is luke warm (not don't want to burn the inside of your face).

Please let me know if you have any questions about the neti pot. I find it a great and green way to keep my sinuses clean.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Story Of Stuff

I saw this 20 minute on-line video and was completely awoken. I am guilty of going shopping and buying things just because they are on sale, never to be worn and eternally to hang in my closet, until one day I do a clean out and it ends up at the Salvation Army or Goodwill or sometimes even the garbage depending on the state of it.

"The Story of Stuff" with Annie Leonard is an incredible video which takes you through what is called our "materials economy" which tracks things that we get at the store back to its creation and also explains what happens to it after we dispose of it. It's pretty shocking! It explains how in the US today, our corporations have become bigger than the government, and why we have 5% of the world's population but use 30% of its resources.

Some interesting facts from the video are:

  • The most toxic food in our society today is breast milk!
  • 99% of the things we buy will be trashed with in 6 months of purchase
  • Planned obsolescence and Perceived obsolescence and why when you don't have the "newest" "coolest " or most "fashionable" we are made to feel like big losers
  • After WWII the government and economists got together and decided that the only way America would remain on top was if the citizens were constantly consuming...this was implemented just as our national happiness began to decline which is currently at an all time low!
Watch this clip and see what you can do to be a part of the solution. I am trying to really be mindful of the purchases I make and ask myself "is this something I NEED?". Let me know your thoughts and if this video struck a chord with you too!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cycling in the City

The most common reaction I get when I tell people that I cycle in Manhattan is "Are you crazy?" to which my reply is "No, I just hate going to the gym and cycling is the only form of exercise that gives me any enjoyment." Trust me, I have tried everything: Yoga, Pilates, Hip Hop, Ballet, Tai Chi, Karate, Running on the treadmill. I even have all the outfits to prove it. Duncan still laughs at me because I feel like I should keep my Karate Gee "just in case". The "just in case" in this instance should be interpreted as: Just in case I decide to be Ralph Macchio, of Karate Kid fame, for Halloween, because we all know I'm never doing Karate again.

I decided the best way for me to exercise and stick with it would be to multi-task my exercise. I use biking as my (greenest) means of transportation and can usually ride about 15-20 miles a day, 3 days a week. I started cycling in late May and took a break to watch the Tour de France in July (because if you watch cycling on TV you can't also cycle?!?! I dunno, it made sense to me at the time). I started up again this week and I am dedicated to riding 3 times a week (don't worry, I wear a helmet and I am very careful). Depending on the level of effort, you can burn anywhere from 500-800 calories an hour biking!

There is something about riding my bike around the city that rules. It is faster than the subway, I never have to deal with stinky armpits in my face or people falling asleep on my shoulder (I swear this has happened to me), and mostly the best part is, I am in total control of my journey. I ride along the Hudson River and it is completely peaceful. I get to work, energized (and kinda sweaty) and ready to take on the day. I love it.

Duncan and I are even contemplating doing a 100 mile ride in September with Transportation Alternatives to raise awareness for cycling in the city. We will ride with the purpose of raising money for 2 charities: The Chrons and Colitis Foundation of America and Captain Charles Moore from The Algalita Marine Research Foundation the scientist who discovered the Plastic Ocean.
I will be in touch with further details in case you want to donate money. Both organizations are non-profit so you will be able to get a tax deduction.

Here's a picture of my sweet, sweet ride: