Do you know which number plastic bottles are safe to reuse?

Apparently, according to Trusted MD.com, it is NOT recommended to re-fill plastic bottles made from #1 plastic. And many #7 plastic bottles (bottles made from non 1-6 resins or more than one resin) contains Bisphenol A, a harmful xenoestrogen that interferes with human hormonal messaging. (However, not all – Nalgene makes a non BPA bottle that is made of a #7 plastic)

However, numbers 2 (high density polyethylene), 4 (low density polyethylene), and 5 (polypropylene) should be safe.

One particularly important note to take away from the article is that many baby bottles are made from unsafe materials – as far as chemical toxins go, your best bet for your own water and for babies’ milk and juice is glass or #2 HDPE bottles.

For more info on baby-safe bottles, go here.

For a more in-depth look at the different types of plastic, go here.

Pringles Can Accessories and Bubble-Dye Origami Paper

Hi there folks,

Just wanted to share some videos I made for “eco crafts,” a green DIY fashion, arts, and crafts blog. One video shows how to turn Pringles cans from non-recyclables into recyclables AND cool accessories (hair clips and pins from the aluminum disc at the bottom). The other video explains how to make old printed-on paper into fun, kid-friendly origami paper with food coloring and soap bubbles.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Hey there folks,

As a vegetarian who always gets the short end of the stick at my family’s Thanksgiving meal, I thought I would share some neat recipes I found online in the hopes that you will add these great veggie options to your traditional holiday feasts (or, better yet, have an all-vegetarian thanksgiving!). And for those of you who want a Vegetarian Thanksgiving (or vegetarian Thanksgiving options) fast, you may be glad to know that many health food stores, including Whole Foods, offer pre-cooked Vegetarian Thanksgiving meals.

Appetizers, Dressings, and Sides

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

Many of the appetizers and sides at a traditional Thanksgiving feast are already vegetarian. Here are some nice ideas for especially delicious foods or dressings that I found online:

Pumpkin Soup from Boutell.com

Vegan Gravy from Boutell.com

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole from VegWeb.com

Vegetarian Stuffing from VegWeb.com

Yams with a Cobbler Topping

Butternut Squash Chowder with Pears and Ginger from Epicurious.com

Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Corn from Epicurious.com

Main Course

Salisbury Tempeh

Salisbury Tempeh

For most vegetarians, this is where the traditional Thanksgiving meal becomes problematic. There are, of course plenty of turkey-alternatives to choose from: Tofurkey, Field Roast’s Celebration Roast, and Garden Protein’s Veggie Turkey Breast With Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing… any health food store should stock this sort of item, especially around Thanksgiving. I did a quick search and found a few other veggie main-course options that looked particularly delicious:

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie from VegWeb.com

Tofu Turkey with Stuffing from VegWeb.com

The Un-Meat Loaf from VegWeb.com

Salisbury Tempeh from VegWeb.com

Spanakopita A classic vegetarian recipe from Greece: rich and delicious spinach-cheese pie.

Helpful Hints

An SFGate Article highlights some great advice from bay area chefs, and has some nice recipes at the end.

— Diana Adkins Glassman, Insalata’s: Festive fall dishes should feature the best produce, such as butternut squash soup with cinnamon creme fraiche; a fennel salad with pears, radicchio, escarole and orange-anise dressing; open-face ravioli with baby artichokes, leeks and wild mushrooms; a side dish of sliced delicata squash. Use special ingredients such as pomegranate seeds, dried apricots, dried plums, persimmons.\

— Gary Woo, E & O Trading Company: Highlight grains and seasonal produce. Try breads with dipping sauces, chickpea curry, lemony lentils and a saffron rice pilaf. Use warm earth colors associated in table decor and menu.

— Hoss Zare, Zare on Sacramento: When shopping, walk around the market once to see what is fresh, then buy. Rely on produce that is seasonal and hearty such as portobello mushrooms, squash and peppers. Choose herbs carefully; their freshness can make or break a vegetarian meal.

Also check out this great guide on How to Have a Vegetarian Thanksgiving, which gives hints on how to accommodate vegetarian guests, how to prepare tofurkey, and several other helpful how-tos.

Have a Happy Veggie Thanksgiving, everyone!

Living Green: My Sustainable Halloween Costume

 

My Pocahontas Costume

My Pocahontas Costume

This year for Halloween my roommates and I decided to be the eight Disney Princesses. I excitedly volunteered to be Pocahontas, my all time favorite Disney heroine. Immediately I began to think of ways I could craft a costume while being sustainable and saving cash (luckily, the two go hand in hand!). The first thing I did was ask around for costume ideas; my friend’s were a great source of inspiration and many of them had items I could use for my costume. For example, I borrowed my friends turquoise necklace (one of Pocahontas’ key features) and in return I lent my friend a pair of white satin gloves for her Cinderella costume. I am always surprised to see what unique costume elements my friends are hoarding in their closets.

The next place I checked out was the local Salvation Army store, the Mecca of sustainable and affordable costumes. In general, local second hand stores are great places to look for costume basics: shirts, skirts, dresses, coats etc. You just have to get a bit creative with the apparel options. For example, a purple velvet night gown can be turned into a purple magician’s cape, or a pink dress can be turned into a Grecian Goddess’s gown.

At the Salvation Army, I was lucky to find a tan floor length sundress and some curtains that had a great fringe on them that I could use to border the dress (all for under $10). All I needed to do was shorten the dress and add some of the fringe from the curtains and my costume would be complete (not to mention, I would have the bragging rights to say that I made the costume myself).

So don’t be afraid to get creative with your costumes this year. The best place to start is in your closet and your friends’ closets. And remember to check out the local second hand store for some unique costume pieces. With a touch of creativity you can make a lasting impression with your sustainable Halloween costume!

Offsetting your Yale Flights

Considering that out-of-staters and non-New Englanders comprise about 54% of Yale Students (including 10% international students), the fact is that a lot of us fly to get to and from Yale. In 2000, 1409 freshman matriculated, and of them, roughly 760 were not from the New England or “Middle Atlantic” area (Regional Origins of YC Freshmen PDF).

Almost inevitably, this means that about this many students had to fly to get to Yale at the start of the term, and that most of them probably had to fly to get back home at the end of term. And let’s not forget the winter break, where the majority of these students do fly home.

Let’s do the math

1 flight from San Francisco to Hartford (with a layover in Chicago) generates about .58 metric tons of carbon dioxide. A flight from Florida to Hartford generates about .2 metric tons of CO2. You get the picture.

When you add up averaged domestic flight emissions data for one class of Yalies from the south, the middle states, the south-west, and the pacific coast, and multiply for Winter Break and end-of-term, Yalies must create at least 828 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year on flights alone- and that’s not counting international students, Thanksgiving break, Spring Break, a capella tours, study abroad, and summer study abroad!

If you include international students, the numbers more than double: if you calculate average international-regional flight emissions and multiply them by 3.75 (domestic students’ numbers were multiplied by 4: coming to Yale, going home for winter break, coming back from winter break, going home at end of term. I changed this to 3.75 for international students because I figure some of them will stay in the states for winter break, but may take a domestic flight), these flights would have to generate about 1,247 metric tons carbon dioxide.

This brings us to an average total of about 2,075 metric tons of carbon dioxide for one undergraduate class’s  flights in one academic term. Multiply this average by the 4 undergraduate classes and you find that

Just by flying to and from school, Yale undergraduates create 8,300 metric tons of CO2 in a single term.

Though this number was obtained using averages and estimates, the numbers are still pretty astounding. To give some scope to this number, an average two-person household (including waste, electricity, cars, heating, and gas) emits 18.8 metric tons per year. This means that over the course of a term, a bare-bones CO2 emissions estimate reveals that

Yale’s undergraduate flights alone are equivalent to an entire year’s worth of carbon dioxide emissions from at least 441 American homes.

What’s the solution?

It’s not as if we can force our families to move to New England. When flying is a necessity, one of the best ways to repair the CO2 damage done is to pay an organization that specializes in offsetting, like the highly-acclaimed UK group Climate Care, to do it for you.

On their home page, they have a neat calculator (used for all the calculations above) to determine how much CO2 your flights have created, and how much money it would cost to offset the flights. To give you some ballpark estimates, offsetting a flight from JFK to London costs about $13.75. To offset a flight from San Francisco to New York costs about $10.25. From Dallas to Hartford, it costs $4.60.

I know what you’re thinking: Who are you going to get to buy these for you? Well, as someone who’s up to my ears in useless stuff, and can’t afford to bring back another suitcase full of unneeded winter gear from my naive California relatives this Christmas, I for one am going to ask for greener gifts this holiday season – one of which is going to be a handful of carbon offsets from Climate Care UK.

Sustainable Fashion: Clothes with a Cause

Hello everyone,
As eco-friendly everything becomes more and more trendy, an important thing to keep in mind is to do your own research — just because something says it’s green or earth friendly doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to hold up to your standards.
That said, an important step is a buyer’s intention to buy green in the first place, and a vendor’s intentions to 1. let the public know that they care about sustainability and 2. to live up to their promises.
Below are some of the cooler websites some colleagues and I found while doing some research on sustainable fashion. Check them out, and see for yourself whether they are up to snuff.

Conserve, Reduce, Offset: One Ton CO^2

http://www.onetonco2.com/store.php

Buying one of their shirts offsets one ton of CO^2 emissions. Plus, they’re cute! Check out the rest of the website for other neat ways to nix one ton of CO^2!

Price range: $28

Luxury Eco – Fashion Designer Linda Loudermilk

http://www.lindaloudermilk.com/

Linda Loudermilk is a fashion designer who uses sustainable fabrics and really seems to care about the environment. Check out her really neat designs.

Simple Shoes: Really Cool Sustainable Footwear

http://www.simpleshoes.com/index.aspx

http://www.simpleshoes.com/greentoe/

This brand seems really serious about sustainability, and their shoes are really cute. Definitely check them out.

Shoes and bags for guys and girls.

Price range: $45-$100

Clothes with a Cause: Tonic Tees

t_shirt_combo1.jpg

http://www.tonicgen.com/

Each of Tonic’s shirts is made for a cause. The Tree Tee plants 25 trees in North America. The School Tee funds three school kids’ education for a year. The Net Tee will fund the delivery of 3 mosquito bed nets to families in Africa. The Fresh Tee will contribute to a lifetime of fresh water, latrines, hygiene education and sanitation.

Price range: $45 per shirt.

Onno Textiles: Wholesale Organic Clothing

http://www.onnotextiles.com/

ONNO’s shirts are made with sustainable fibers: bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. They look really, really soft. You can buy in wholesale, or you can buy just one. In a variety of colors. Also, check out the clearance!

Organic shirts and tote bag for men and women.

Price Range: $8-$26

El Naturalista: Eco-Chic Sustainable Shoes

http://www.elnaturalista.com/index.php/en

This company, originating in Spain, sells super fashionable eco-friendly shoes. They have stores all over the world, and also have an online E-Shop.

Sandals, shoes, and boots for men and women.

Price range: 89 € to 200 € (Euros)

Rapanui: “The Green Clothing Company”

Rapanuiclothing.com

Established by a pair of surfing brothers, this sustainable clothing company sells, among other things, “Ethical Underwear”.

Shirts, underwear, and hoodies for men and women.

Price Range: £10 – £45 (British Pounds).

Sustainable Superstore: Organic Bug

http://www.organicbug.com/

This site has everything, from women’s and men’s clothing to home to garden products.

Price range: Wide.

Devidoll London: Ethical Fashion

http://www.devidoll.com/AboutUs/Ethical.aspx

Really fashionable ethical clothing. Give it a look!

Clothing, shoes, bags, spa, and accessories. Men and women.

Price range: £30 to £150.

Sustainable Couture: Designer Anna Cohen

http://www.annacohen.com/

Check out Anna Cohen’s eco-friendly, high-fashion designs.

Other cool links for Sustainable Fashion:

Treehugger.com: Sustainable Designers
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/12/best_sustainabl.php

Yes! Magazine.com article on Sustainable Fashion

http://www.yesmagazine.com/article.asp?ID=1342

Organic Denim (in stores around the US):

http://www.loomstate.org/collection/denim/

Tunes for Trees – Plant Trees with iTunes!

tft.jpg

If you buy music on iTunes, definitely check out tunesfortrees.com .

This little LLC is a partner with iTunes and works with organizations around the globe to plant trees – especially ones close to the equator, which are purportedly better carbon sinks.

The cost is no different, you just have to use http://www.tunesfortrees.com/ to seek out the songs you want to buy.

Give it a try!