Eco-Friendly Mother’s Day Gifts

Show your love for your mother and Mother Earth with these eco-friendly Mother’s Day Gifts:


1) Organic Flowers: Send a traditional Mother’s Day bouquet made with organic and eco-certified flowers. Ask your local florist for organic options, or shop online at places like Organic Bouquet.


2) Charitable Donation: Make a donation in your mother’s name to an environmental NGO or a charity such as “Save the Children”.


3) Origins Gift Set: Pamper Mom with Origins lotion, body scrub, or a gift set. Origins products are made with plants, organic ingredients, and 100% natural essential oils. Origins is committed to environmental practices and uses renewable resources, wind energy and recycled materials as much as possible. Before May 5th, enter “FF” at checkout and receive 25% off .


4) Eco-friendly Jewelry: Give your mother eco-friendly jewelry from the online boutique Jaszy’s Jewelry, which uses Fair Trade and recycled resources and donates a portion of its proceeds to environmental organizations.


5) Adopt-an-Animal: For $25, your kids can “adopt” one of 90 animals in honor of Mom. Proceeds support WWF’s conservation activities around the world.


6) Envirosax: Give your mom Envirosax and make it even easier for her to live green. These stylish, extremely compactable shopping bags can fit into even the tiniest of purses, and are super convenient for last-minute shopping trips. From April 24 – May 5, purchase any pouch (set of 5 bags) and receive a Retro Kitchen pouch ($28.50 value) free.


7) La Chamba Cookware: Support fair-trade practices and give your mother high-quality, all-natural clay cookware handmade in Colombia. To locate a retailer near you, email La Vida Verde Inc.


8) Paddywax Candles: Introduce your candle-loving mother to Paddywax’s Eco Collection. These high-quality soy candles are packaged using soy-based inks, hemp twine, and FSC-certified recycled paper.


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

Vegan Gravy from

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole from

Vegetarian Stuffing from

Yams with a Cobbler Topping

Butternut Squash Chowder with Pears and Ginger from

Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Corn from

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

Tofu Turkey with Stuffing from

The Un-Meat Loaf from

Salisbury Tempeh from

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.

Cut the Waste – No more paper coffee cups! tells us that Americans alone consume 400 million cups of coffee per day — that’s 146 billion cups of coffee per year!

What’s really disturbing is that the US Census tells us that the American population as of 2007 is 301,621,157. 400 million cups per day for 300 million people!

Now, just imagine how many of those drinks are poured into single-use disposable coffee cups. According to Starbucks, if 50 customers at each location used reusable mugs, we would save 150,000 cups per day, reducing waste by 1.7 million pounds of paper per year.

Doing your part is easy – just bring a thermos or a mug to the coffee shop with you. Yale STEP has made it even easier with their stylish new STEP Mug, available for only $5. Contact your college’s STEP coordinator for one now!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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”

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

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

Price range: Wide.

Devidoll London: Ethical Fashion

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

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

Other cool links for Sustainable Fashion: Sustainable Designers

Yes! article on Sustainable Fashion

Organic Denim (in stores around the US):

The Story of Stuff & Sustainable Holiday Gift Ideas

Watch this great video with Annie Leonard — it’s an arresting account of the details and repercussions of product Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption, and Disposal. Spread the word, it’s really interesting!

The Story of Stuff

With that in mind, and with the holiday shopping season upon us, it may be better (and easier) to consider buying your loved ones services instead of products – after all, services don’t run out! Here is a range of ideas for

Sustainable Holiday Gifts:

Tickets to movies, musicals, plays, or concerts

Local Artwork

Tours, excursions, hikes

Classes or lessons (cooking, dance, martial arts, yoga, music, art, etc.)

Bus, train, or metro passes

Website or Blog Hosting

Skype credit, calling cards

Gift certificates for:

Spa & Massage

Rock Climbing


A Nice Meal

You could also combine some of these things to make a pretty neat gift package; for instance, you could get your loved one in New Haven:

– a train ticket to New York City,

-a gift certificate to a nice New York French or Middle Eastern restaurant,

– and a ticket to see Wicked or any other show.

They’re sure to have a blast, and who doesn’t love free stuff?


Update: December 18th.

Here are some more ideas for green holiday gifts:

Adopt an Acre, Rescue the Reef, or Adopt a Square Mile.

– Swim with the Sharks (and explore the rest of the site for other ideas, like CityZen Chef’s Table, Radio DJ Experience, Tasting & Tea for Two, and more)

 and definitely check out:

– Green Dimes: For only 15 dollars, cut your junk mail up to 90% and they plant 10 trees!

“Step 1: Sign Up
As soon as you join, our team does all the work to get your name off dozens of direct marketer’s mailing lists. This will take care of a big chunk of the junk!

Step 2: Hate Your Catalogs? Love Your Catalogs?
Just let us know! Log in anytime to your GreenDimes account and click on our easy-to-use Catalog Screener to enter the catalogs and other mailings that you want stopped.

Step 3: You Register. We Monitor.
Each month GreenDimes monitors the Direct Marketing Association’s mailing list to ensure that your name gets off and stays off their mailing lists. In order for us to do this, you will need to register your name with the DMA. They charge $1 per name, but registering will make a big difference in the amount of junk in your mailbox.”

… Happy Holidays! 🙂