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Category Archives: Lifestyle

  • How to Choose the Right Light Bulb for Your Home

    Sometimes we forget that choosing the right light for our home can be just as important as choosing the correct paint color. In fact, without light, color wouldn’t be much to look at.

    While light is a necessity in every home, the type of bulb you select can have a dramatic effect on how rooms are accentuated – or left dark, dull, or even dirty. That’s why assessing how light affects color is so important.

    HDSupply created this illustrated table showing how choosing a bulb with a higher or a lower rating can change the ambiance of a room from cool and chic to relaxing or even romantic.


    In a nutshell, the correlated color temperature (CCT) of the light emitted from the bulb is expressed in Kelvin. For instance, lower color temperatures (2,000K to 3,000K) emit a warmer light while higher temperatures (>4,000K) radiate a cooler light.

    The interactive color temperature scale below will save you time when deciding on the bulbs for your home. Be sure to make a note of the watt + Kelvin combination that creates your preferred color temperature.

    Created by HD Supply Facilities Maintenance

    For a full breakdown of light bulb lingo and the scale of brightness, visit HDSupply.


    by SCGH - October 02, 2015

    MONTECITO, CA — One usually thinks of a supermom as a corporate or Wall Street hotshot by day, June Cleaver at home with the kids and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith when alone with her husband. Oh, and that’s in addition to running a fully sustainable home, daily grueling workouts and girl time with her BFFs. While not exactly a corporate climber, Leslie Zemeckis checks all these boxes, and thus validates the moniker “unconventional supermom.” So let’s get to know this glamorous, green bookworm.

    I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Leslie at the poolhouse of her environmentally correct compound in this low-key, but ultra-prestigious burg, just south of Santa Barbara, to talk love, life, kids and burlesque. No that is not a typo — in researching her recent treatise on this novel subject, Behind The Burly-Q, Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, Leslie became one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts and memorabilia collectors of this gone, but not forgotten, performance art. Prior to the book’s publication, she produced and directed a documentary film by the same name in 2010. And before that, she performed a one-person live show entitled Staar: She’d Rather Be a Mistress in which her signature song was “Boobs.”

    Not only does this supergirl rock an organic garden, but she also dons a bling-bling beekeeping suit to tend her hives, which delights her youngest child, six-year-old Zsa Zsa (yes, as in Gabor). This on a manicured, seven acre spread sprinkled with the latest green accoutrements, including solar panels, drip water irrigation, low flow plumbing, bamboo floors, reverse osmosis water and drought-tolerant plant species, all designed by Leslie and her husband, the legendary film director-producer Robert Zemeckis (as in Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, and Flight, among many others). The Zemickises drive hybrids and electric vehicles, and went to great lengths to avoid use of chemicals and poisons in construction of their home. Chickens are raised to produce organic eggs. In all, an admirably green lifestyle that is a family affair. And, in typical offbeat Leslie Zemeckis fashion, an aviary is being constructed in anticipation of the exotic birds that will soon inhabit it.

    What makes Leslie unique is she also is a master researcher and talented writer-historian. So why burlesque?

    “I have always been drawn to people who are judged by their looks or livelihoods, for better or worse. Many times, these people do not have the opportunity to tell their real stories. The burlesque movement came and went, and nobody really asked or cared about the backgrounds of these women. Their lives — as mothers, daughters, divorcees, survivors — I thought they had compelling stories to tell, and many of the most revered and notorious burlesque performers are still alive. So, I set off to find them, and to listen…”

    In the foreword by Blaze Starr, she purports that “Men need strippers.” I asked Leslie if she subscribed to this theory. “Yes, men are visual creatures, it is in their DNA,” explained the forty-ish, auburn-haired beauty, herself a former actress and model. “I also believe that women need to dress themselves up, not everyday, but don’t sit around eating bon-bons in sweats all day, either.”

    Indeed, Leslie got them talking. I read of Blaze Starr, Lily St. Cyr, Tempest Storm, Gypsy Rose Lee and many others, all of whom were indeed notorious in the heyday of burlesque. This was during the 1920s-50s until widespread availability of hardcore pornography and x-rated magazines eclipsed this subtle but scintillating adult entertainment genre in shock value — and thus its commercial viability. During their reign, these women were the Holly Madisons if not Jenna Jamesons of their day — scandalous, beautiful, sexy and popular for the working class folk.

    Leslie is a relentless researcher and spins her tales with straightforward, easy to understand yet elegant prose. There is also a treasure-trove of period photos of the women, the costumes, the theaters, the glamour and the seedy underground lives of some performers. Overall, a part of life that is foreign to most of us but worth a trip back in time.

    With two sons and a daughter, ages 10, nine and six, Leslie is a doting but not smothering mom who also is careful to carve out alone time for Robert and herself. When asked what he thought about the mother of his children deciding to become the world’s top expert on burlesque, Robert says, “I thought, it’s show time!” I also asked him where Leslie gets her John Malkovich-like literary point of view on the world? “I believe Leslie’s creative take on almost everything comes from her insatiable love of all things artistic and fashionable — I mention fashionable because Malkovich always wanted to be fashionable.”

    So how has Burly-Q been received thus far, any interest in taking this subject matter into other mediums like Broadway or Film?

    “We have already been approached by Broadway because of the “Americana” aspect of the story to do a musical. As of this writing, the book has already been optioned for what she envisions as a weekly TV series revolving around life at a burlesque club.”

    So who would play Blaze Starr?

    “Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, or perhaps, Amy Adams,” mused Leslie. “I am drawn to her red hair, although a cartoon-like voluptuous character may be more physically appropriate,” she chuckled.

    Given the family’s history in the entertainment industry, the question must be asked: Would you steer your children toward a life in Hollywood? “I would not steer them anywhere. I would try to instill in them a love of music, art and books,” explains Leslie, who herself devours five to ten books per month.

    As a lover of unusual subject matter, Leslie recently completed a documentary film about Siamese twins, which is currently on the film festival circuit.

    Watch the trailer for Leslie’s Zemeckis’ film, Bound By Flesh.

    “I’m not interested in things everyone else is doing. I like things that the populace may reject or may not see value in.” The film focuses on the Hilton sisters, who were significant Vaudeville and Hollywood Siamese twin film stars during the early 1900s through 40s. She will soon publish another tome on burlesque, this time about Lily St. Cyr, another burlesque stripper who ruled the nightclubs during the 40s and 50s.

    At the end of the day, Leslie Zemeckis’ first love is researching a subject that is of great interest to her. “I wish I had known that you could make a living doing research. Back when I had a day job, it would have been a great gig for me.”

    by Jennifer Schwab - March 26, 2014
  • Redefining Sustainability: 6 Steps for Happiness & Well-Being

    Guest blog post by Jerry Meunier of Creating Your Desired Life.

    The definition of sustainability by the United Nations Brundtland Commission is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.”  There are many examples of this definition in today’s world; i.e., wind & solar energy, water conservation, recycling and environmentally-friendly building materials.

    For me, the definition of sustainability as it relates to our emotional happiness and well-being is “personal and professional goals and desires that are achieved and the ability for them to continue forever.”  There are many common goals and desires we humans share; relationships, careers and finances to name a few. I believe we are all responsible for creating and sustaining our desired life.  I also believe that what we think, say, do and feel is a direct reflection of the life we are living.  These are my life learnings that have allowed me the ability to sustain my goals and desires.

    Belief – Beliefs (positive or negative) are simply thoughts that have been acquired from various sources.  Your family, friends and environment have all contributed to your beliefs.  You will know when a limiting belief is not serving you because you will feel the uncomfortable feeling within yourself.  When this happens, look at the belief that is causing the uncomfortable feeling and challenge where that belief originated.  If it was from a person or situation in your past or present that you don’t agree with, then change that belief into one that is positive and will serve you well. If you’re thinking right now, “sure, that’s easier said than done”…that’s a belief and you can change it to one that will bring you positive reinforcement and well-being.

    Perception – Perception is a key ingredient to sustaining a feeling of well-being.  Perceptions are a direct reflection of our beliefs.  You always have the option of perceiving any situation as a lesson, gift or positive momentum towards something good.  Remember you always have the choice. You can choose to see the gray clouds or the blue skies and sunshine in any situation.  Which perception makes you feel good?

    Appreciation – Having and showing appreciation for the way your life is now allows for sustained happiness.  Giving thanks to yourself, people, the Universe or to your God is very powerful.  Showing appreciation can be done in many ways, and by doing so, you are telling the Universe, “more please!” Be specific about what you are appreciating from yesterday, today or tomorrow.  For tomorrow, always visualize what you want and feel the feeling of the end result of what you want. From there, you allow it to manifest at the right time.  Feeling the appreciation of having received your desire before it has appeared in the present is powerfully sustaining.  I inspire you to keep a written list daily, weekly or monthly of what you appreciate in your life.

    Unconditional Love – Having unconditional love for yourself first is very empowering.  Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.  Remember, you can’t give to someone else what you can’t give to yourself.  This will build confidence and will rid the desire to judge yourself and others.  Always being the person you want to be with (whether it’s a romantic partner, boss/employee, family or friend) is a true achievement.  This is emotional sustainability at its best! 

    Self-Worth – Having a strong foundation of self-worth is a key ingredient in emotional sustainability.  The environment you grew up in, the conditioning and learning you’ve experienced since day one have both contributed to the person you are today.  If there’s anything in your life that has threatened or is threatening your foundation of self-worth, change it. You have the power and control!  There are new ingredients (tools/processes) and emotional well-being recipes I’ve created that you can learn and begin practicing today.  All of these ingredients are accessible to you in abundance, they simply take practice….and practice makes permanent! 

    Awareness – Be aware, conscious and truthful about the actions you are taking daily to sustain your desired life achievements.  When you continue to positively nurture your relationships and connections, there will be no end.  They may change in some way, but they will not end.

    Achieving sustainability as it relates to our environment and our personal emotional happiness and well-being will result in the continuation of all that is good and wanted in our lives and on earth. These two types of sustainability go hand in hand and we can do it together!  The energy, creativity and collaborative efforts of ten like-minded people are more powerful than a million that are not.

    Mastering the ability to sustain your emotional health and well-being is a win-win in every area of your life. If you need any additional proof of sustainable well-being in business, look no further than the #1 New York Times bestseller, “Delivering Happiness” by Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh.  Tony brilliantly describes how building and sustaining a happy and joy-filled work environment produces amazing employee engagement and satisfaction, which results in excellent and exciting productivity and profits.

    From the day we are born, we all are emotionally programmed for the wanting of love and belonging.  One of my daily intentions is to give and receive love and peace, both within myself and externally.  This can be done in many forms and shapes. I want to inspire you to do this for one day. From the moment you wake up until the time you go to sleep, show yourself and everyone and everything around you love and peace.  You’ll be amazed at the fun, joy, peace and beauty you experience all day. This is emotional happiness & well-being sustainability at its best! Remember, practice makes permanent!

    If you’d like to learn more about the topics in this article and others, along with “Emotional Happiness & Well-Being Recipes”, please contact Jerry “The Life Coach Chef” at [email protected] or www.creatingyourdesiredlife.com.

    Related Articles
    Dalai Lama on Global Warming: ‘Take Care of Our Home’
    Being Green…It’s More Than Just Buying Trendy Products
    Feng Shui and Sustainable Living for Happy, Healthy Home
    by SCGH - February 13, 2014
  • Top 5 New Smart Home Technologies

    By Heather Logan

    TOKYO, JAPAN – I’ve recently returned from an explorative journey to Japan as part of Panasonic’s eco press tour to discover the latest and greatest innovations to make your home easy to care for. Below are the top 5 technologies to come from Panasonic’s showcase center and Eco Ideas Home. This zero-emission smart house combines science and nature’s elements to make an intelligently designed home that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.

    Hydroponic Kitchen Counter Herb and Veggie Garden

    From one side, it looks like a modern kitchen counter. On the other side, you can feed your family from your own hydroponic garden. Vegetable cultivation conditions are monitored on a 24-hour basis with smartphones or computers fitted with network cameras. This monitoring even allows growth records to be shared. Now everyone can have a green thumb.

    Color Changing Rooms

    This groundbreaking innovation from Panasonic uses LED technology to allow you to extract color from one object and impart it in another object instantly. With the use of color extraction tubes, you can change the look of a LED-equipped wall or furniture piece at a whim. The company is keeping mum as this technology is in development, but from what we’ve seen so far, this is painting of the future.

    ECO NAVI Ventilation System and Air Conditioning

    This hybrid air-conditioning system uses both natural and mechanical ventilation to maximize air temperature control and energy efficiency. The system detects people’s movements throughout the home to direct air where it is needed most.

    The Wind Passage Tower can measure the differences in temperature between indoor and outdoor air to bring in cooler ground air in the summer and warmer air in the winter through an underground duct.

    With sensors to detect any wastage of energy, now you don’t have to stress about a light being left on. Did I mention this works in harmony with their floor heating system? I’m feeling comfortable already.

    Smart Home Energy Management System (SMARTHEMS)

    Panasonic’s Smart Home Energy Management System (SMARTHEMS) will make you feel like you’re living in a smartphone app. It links all appliances and energy supplies into one central network. The program, which can be accessed by a TV or smart device, visualizes the energy, gas, and water consumption throughout the home. It acts as your personal energy consultant, displaying the progress made towards energy-saving targets and providing advice to support energy-saving activities.

    If you live in a community with other smart homes, you can link your system to the Community Energy Management System (CEMS) for the town, as seen in the Fujisawa Smart Town in Japan. With CEMS, residents can share excess energy, respond to energy needs, and track community usage trends in an effort towards electricity conservation.

    Energy Storage Cell for SMARTHEMS

    This small, easy on the eyes energy storage cell from Panasonic uses high-capacity lithium-ion batteries to store electricity. It provides electricity at night from energy created from the home’s solar panels during the day and offers up to 3 days of energy independence during natural disasters.

    These smart home technologies are demonstrative of a world where beauty, creativity, and innovation are bringing us back into balance with nature and a higher quality of living. To learn about more smart home technologies, follow my posts as I explore how sustainability and technology converge.

    Related Posts by Heather Logan
    Save the Seas with Your Diet
    Shrimp Cocktail with a Side of Snared Endangered Species
    How Religious Sites Are Using Eco-Technologies To Reflect Their Values 

    by Heather-Leigh Logan - December 26, 2013
  • Planning an Eco-Friendly Wedding

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    Blog Post and Photos by Leah Deitz & David’s Bridal

    Weddings are a symbolic time to celebrate a couple’s union. However, this celebration does not need to be at the expense of the environment. Today’s modern couples are making strides and designing weddings that suit their lifestyle—and their values. As the eco-friendly wedding increases in popularity, so do the options. SCGH covers some key planning considerations, so couples can feel good about entering marital bliss with a beautiful, memorable, and environmentally responsible celebration.

    The Location
    First things first: Location, location, location. This commonly used expression holds true for eco-friendly weddings as well as real estate. When it comes to planning your big day, location is a key consideration.

    According to The Green Guide, the main focus of an eco-friendly wedding is to conserve both electricity and water; large hotels and resorts often use a considerable amount of both. Therefore, choose either an outside location or an indoor facility that donates a portion of the deposit towards a charity—like many art museums and theatres.

    Another consideration is driving—or even flying—distance for your guests. Extended travel ups the eco-impact through the burning of fossil fuels. Try to choose a location that’s close to the vast majority of guests, and you’ll be saving the environment by saving fuel!

    The Rings
    Rings are the ultimate symbol of commitment, and it goes without saying that your choice of bling has a major environmental impact. There is no denying that the diamond trade is riddled with controversy. This commonly used symbol of marital bliss has also come to represent revolution and bloodshed as the market grows more and more competitive. For this reason, websites such as Inhabit.com suggest that couples should reflect on the possibility of seeking out a “conflict free” diamond or going with another gem altogether.

    Increasing numbers of modern brides are opting for alternative stones, as well as utilizing recycled jewelry to create their own rings. Using pieces from the couple’s family allows for the most eco-friendly option (as well as perhaps the most sentimental). If the design isn’t quite what is desired, couples can have metals melted to create new wedding bands.

    “Custom pieces are a great way to incorporate personality and heritage into your wedding,” says Daniel Eaves, Master Jeweler for Dansfield Jewelers in Richmond, Virginia. Many small jewelers can utilize old jewelry to create something entirely unique for both the bride and groom. This saves on new resources while allowing the couple to have more traditional wedding rings.

    The Dress
    No matter how eco-conscious you are, every bride wants and deserves a beautiful dress. And that dress need not come at the expense of the earth. National Geographic explains that many retailers now offer dresses made from sustainable materials such as silk, organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. However, if a crisp white dress is what you are truly after, shop around for the vintage dress of your dreams. Other ways to green your dress includes opting for a dress that can be worn more than once, or donate it after your big day.

    The Invitations
    One of the biggest ways a couple sets the tone for their upcoming wedding is through the invitations. The paper, style, font, and theme tell the guest what kind of wedding to expect. Therefore, a green wedding must have environmentally conscious invitations.

    This doesn’t mean that you have to make your own invites from grass and pressed flowers. Well known retailers such as David’s Bridal offer wedding invitations made from recycled and eco-friendly materials. If you want to be rid of paper entirely, Paperless Post enables you to craft and send email-based invitations to guests.

    The Flowers
    When it comes to flower arrangements for the eco-friendly wedding, the possibilities are endless.  Today’s modern bride can choose from local wildflowers that don’t have to be shipped overseas, or opt to feature organically raised blooms. Other options include fruit and fruit blossoms, as well as even more unique paper or recycled art bouquets. Florists can even fashion the bouquet with cuttings that can be rooted after the ceremony and grown into houseplants for the new couple to enjoy for years to come.

    The Honeymoon
    Finally, once all the festivities are over, the happy couple embarks on their honeymoon! While there are plenty of green resorts in exotic locations, newlyweds can lessen their carbon footprint by vacationing close to home.

    Wherever you decide to stay, always inquire about what specific practices your hotel is taking to limit their impact on the environment. Asking these questions lets businesses know that protecting the natural world is important to their customers, and that any additional measures they take will be rewarded.

    To a life of love, happiness, and natural beauty—happy wedding planning!

    For related articles, see:
    Green Wedding Guide
    Send the Write Message
    The Natural Beauty

    © 2013 SCGH, LLC.


    by SCGH - August 28, 2013
  • Feng Shui and Sustainable Living for Happy, Healthy Home

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    By Janice Zaltman

    Creating an indoor space that reflects who you are and makes you thrive does not have to be expensive or complicated. On average, we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, where the environmental risk to human health has been highlighted in numerous reports. Yet, how about the effect of our home’s indoor environment on our emotional and mental health?

    Debra Duneier, founder of EcoChi and a feng shui practitioner, poses this question to our SCGH community, “How do we take control and regain our best selves, so that our environment works for us and not against us?” The following is from a recent interview  on her new book, EcoChi, Designing the Human Experience.

    Here are some easy tips to get started:

    GET RID OF THE CLUTTER. Clutter prevents us from creating what we want in our life, according to Duneier: “Clutter, from a feng shui perspective, is like having clogged arteries in your body and is a heart attack in the making. When you clear it out, it opens up your veins and arteries and allows wonderful things to happen.”

    BRING THE FIVE ELEMENTS INTO YOUR HOME: FIRE, WATER, EARTH, WOOD, METAL. “Classical feng shui teaches that heaven, earth, and humanity energies need to be balanced to attain health and prosperity,” says Duneier. “These energies are called the three gifts of prosperity.” By bringing in each of the above online casino elements you can help bring balance to your environment. Examples of this include:

    • Fire: The colors of fire are red and orange. To create this in your space, place candles or a fireplace in your home. Have hot foods in your pantry, or showcase in your kitchen jars red- and orange-colored peppers.
    • Earth: The color which represents earth is yellow. The earth is what grounds, supports and nourishes us. “You can bring the outside in by having terracotta pots,” Duneier advises. “Grow some herbs in organic soil near your window.”
    • Wood: The wood energy is represented by the color green. Wood energy symbolizes rebirth and growth. You can achieve this in your home by having photos or artwork with trees, or better best online casino yet, a live tree in your home.
    • Metal: The color of the metal energy is white and all metallic shades (gold, silver, brass, chrome, and bronze). The metal energy symbolizes wealth and protection. This can be brought into your space with silver candlesticks, an area in your home painted white, or a soft oval-shaped sculpture, rather than something with sharp edges.
    • Water: The color of water energy is black. It is the element most closely tied to prosperity. Place a water feature, such as a fountain or a miniature waterfall, in the southwest corner of your property, and watch greater abundance enter your life.

    Reducing clutter and utilizing the five elements is the first step to mental well-being. Using sustainable products can bring your space to an even higher level.

    Sustainable choices include the following: Buying wood objects from sustainably managed forests which include the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) symbol or furniture from secondhand stores. Using natural daylight as much as you can in your home. Utilizing natural fabrics for your bedding, curtains, towels, area rugs, and furniture. Cleaning your home with green, nontoxic products. Updating your lighting to include LED lighting. Buying organic food and buying locally whenever possible. Considering solar shades and solar water heaters. Using filtered, not bottled, water. Recycling whenever possible.

    By incorporating these practices into your life, you can begin to breathe new vitality into your indoor environment—creating a peaceful, happier, and more vibrant YOU.

    © 2011 SCGH, LLC.

    by Janice Zaltman - August 05, 2013
  • Environmental Education Goes Social with Practically Green

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    By SCGH.com

    In 2006, Susan Hunt Stevens embarked on a healthy green lifestyle makeover but couldn’t find the resources she needed. After lots of digging, reading, and blogging—and taking on a graduate program in Sustainable Design—she created Practically Green to help people who want to live healthy, sustainable lives…but aren’t sure where to start. SCGH.com interviewed Susan to learn more about how Practically Green brings environmental education to the interactive social space—and beyond.

    Where did YOU start? What resources did you pull together, and how did you go about developing this solution for “greening people”?

    I began as a mother with an almost two-year-old diagnosed with serious food and environmental allergies. I started reading labels and researching ingredients I didn’t know, and was frankly shocked at what I was finding. Then I started reading anything I could, including books and magazines. I found that blogs were the most helpful, which gave me the idea to start blogging about the changes we were making in our own family.

    About half way through a major “green renovation” of a historic home, I enrolled in a graduate program in Sustainable Design. In my third course, we were exposed to the LEED system and I kept thinking, “Why isn’t there a LEED for daily living?” That was the original vision for Practically Green. However, given my background in digital technology, I also knew it would never work if it didn’t leverage great content, real science, and the power of social and game mechanics to drive real-life behavior change.

    Your approach utilizes gamification, social media, and interactive technology as a vehicle for sharing sustainability knowledge. Can you explain this approach?

    We use game mechanics to create a shared framework for people to share, compare, compete and collaborate because unlike weight loss or fitness, there is no shared scale or national guidelines for sustainability.  The game framework provides that scale and then encourages ongoing participation and motivation.

    The social mechanics are equally powerful because they address the issue of visibility. Most sustainable choices are invisible.  My colleagues and friends likely have no idea if I’ve turned down my power settings on my computer, switched to an LED light, or signed up for eBills or green power.  By bringing visibility to who in your social network has done these things, it can leverage the power of social norms to drive change.  If I see that 85% of my colleagues have switched to eBilling, I’m likely to switch too.

    How is it unique to other forms of “environmental education”?

    It’s similar to the changes occurring in all education, not just environmental. It’s moving it online and going from one-way transmission of information to an interactive, engaging, social experience that is more effective.  What we also believe we’ve done well is taking what can oftentimes be hard (and even guilt-inducing) information and making it more accessible and solution-oriented.

    For many of us, sustainability isn’t something that we grew up learning about in school. So there is a huge population that really would like to do something, but they are busy, have other priorities, and no idea where to start or the time to figure it out. We use the power of discovery and social recognition to inspire that first step.  When people see both positive reinforcement from peers and the real time impact they are making, they are more likely to take another steps—and another.

    You work with companies all over the world to engage and educate their employees, members, and customers. Can you disclose the names of any of your clients?

    We have more than 17 global clients, including Fortune 500 companies, as well as sustainability leaders like Seventh Generation. Our clients range from companies that want to start a sustainability program, to others that want to enhance an existing program.

    Please share one of your greatest success stories.

    I think one of our biggest successes to date has been the growth of our employee engagement platform. Having CSOs and business executives tell us that they love what we are doing and want to make it available to their employees or customers wasn’t something I expected at the outset. But companies are really the pioneers in sustainability and it’s been amazing to see how our solution is helping them achieve their sustainability goals.

    How does your success directly relate to your mission to make healthy green living the conventional way of life?

    If you had told me ten years ago that I would be a big time tree-hugger, I would have laughed out loud. What I realized after making many of these changes personally is that sustainable, healthy living is just smarter living for the 21st century. It saves money, but I also honestly believe many of these choices can make people and families happier and healthier. Companies have figured this out too.

    However, I truly understand that it is really hard for people to change. It’s so NOT easy being green when you first get started.  The challenges can feel daunting because it touches everything: your food, your transportation, your home, and anything you purchase. If we can provide a solution that makes these choices simpler, faster, and way more fun—and people get access and encouragement to participate at work—I think that will reach more people more quickly.

    How does the social element come into play with colleagues at a workplace?

    Social is a huge part of the success of Practically Green. The people you work with often become influencers in your life, mostly because you spend so much time together. So when someone finds a new coffee shop around the corner that gives a ten-cent discount for brining in a reusable mug and they share that information as part of an action they take, it is adding to your overall arsenal of sustainability knowledge.

    For businesses, what are the advantages of Practically Green compared to an in-person seminar or workshop?

    The biggest advantage is that you can participate in Practically Green 24×7, 365 days a year, from any digital device. As a result, every employee can participate at a time and place that works for him or her, from any office location you have.  We also cover a wide variety of topics, and employees can choose what they are most interested in versus having one topic that may or may not excite people. It is customized to the goals of the company, as well as the individual, and allows both the company and employee to see the real-time metrics of the actions that they are taking. It finally gives context to the age-old sustainability question: “Does it even matter if I do this?” Because individuals and companies can see that yes, it does actually make a difference if you carpool to work one day a week, or shut down your computer each night before leaving the office.

    For individuals who decide to join (independent of a businesses or invitation from a friend), what advice can you give for making the most of Practically Green?

    We have a saying that Practically Green without friends is NO fun. Get your friends to join, set goals, and take some actions. Remember: you don’t have to do everything all at once. We also have a great product directory that is something that we vet and curate on an ongoing basis. It’s a way to help you navigate the world of green products, which can oftentimes be confusing.

    How many people now work at Practically Green full-time?

    We have 16 full time and 3 part time employees. It’s amazing for me to see our company, which literally started at my kitchen table, move into a beautiful new office space in Boston and quadruple in size!

    Can you disclose your revenue numbers?

    I can say that last year was our most successful year to date. We continue to see an influx of businesses looking to engage employees in a real and measurable way, and that is what they are able to achieve with our program.

    Since starting Practically Green, how has your experience influenced/inspired/changed your dreams about sustainable living?  

    For me, it’s a journey that has no defined end. I have been creating goals for myself for over five years now and still have so much to do! The innovations in this space are truly remarkable, and I think will give all of us plenty to do for years to come. That said, I think I respect even more the need for people, companies and governments to work together to make it easier for people.

    Visit PracticallyGreen.com.

    For related articles, see:

    Los Angeles Interactive Sustainability
    Teaching Kids Environmentalism with Edible Schoolyards
    Being Green…It’s More Than Just Buying Trendy Products
    Opportunity Green Start-up: Practically Green

    © 2013 SCGH, LLC.

    by SCGH - February 12, 2013
  • Eco-Friendly Sunglasses Make Waves

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    By Hannah Malan

    When the package arrived at the SCGH office, I was stoked: I was about to get my hands on the newly released Taylor Jensen – World Champion Eco-Friendly Sunglasses. A new line from Kurtis USA, the surfer shades are designed with handcrafted bamboo frames and polarized mutating lenses (they auto adjust based on UV exposure) made from a natural tree pulp base. Ripping open the package and unwrapping the biodegradable bubble wrap, I found more than a pair of cool sunglasses—it was an experience, a statement, and a chance to be part of a movement.

    The company’s mantra says it all, “No Fried Eyes and No Fried Earth.” Not only is Kurtis a savior for surfers whose eyes suffer from overexposure to the sun, but the company is also a champion for the environment. In addition to the innovative sunglasses, sweet bamboo sunglasses case, and artsy micro fiber cleaning cloth, the package includes an eco tips guide (printed on recycled paper). The guide explains the environmental benefits of the materials used and reminds the new owner that for every pair purchased, Kurtis funds the planting of 10 trees in endangered forests of Nicaragua with their partner, Trees for the Future.

    Throughout the surf community and beyond, Kurtis is leading by example and spreading the green message loud and proud. “One of the coolest things about Kurtis Bamboo Sunglasses is that conversations are started by wearing them,” says Kurtis Shipcott, Founder and CEO. “Many people have strong views about the environment, but are unable to convey their message because it seems invasive in certain settings.  When we launched, the immediate feedback was, ‘I’ve never been asked so much about my sunglasses.’  This leads to ‘show and tell’ and initiates conversations about the environment and the future possibilities for environmentally focused construction.”

    Designer, spokesperson, and World Surfing Champion Taylor Jensen is definitely on board with that. “I’m all about supporting companies because they are doing the right thing for the planet and because they share the same beliefs as me,” Jensen says. “My signature [Kurtis Eyewear] design is handcrafted, eco-friendly and beautiful… epic sunglasses.”

    Considered to be wearable art, these shades hold a list price of about $200. “Not all sunglasses are created equally,” explains Shipcott. “Most sunglasses are made from plastic injection molds and hinges are plugged by a machine with very little human interaction. Quality handcrafted eyewear spends many hours in the hands of quality artisans through dozens of stages of development. Kurtis Eco-Friendly Eyewear is created with passion and made of natural, sustainable bamboo.”

    SCGH confirms: The passion is evident and the result inspiring. Kurtis and Jensen have developed a truly innovative product that achieves much more than its promise to protect your eyes from the sun—it’s an experience, a statement, and a chance to be part of a movement.

    “These [sunglasses] were created for individuals that want to save their eyes from UV rays and to lower their carbon footprint in style,” says Shipcott. “We have great supporters … but until your neighbor that doesn’t recycle takes an active approach, we must all do what we can and lead by example.”

    For related articles, see:
    Environmentally Friendly Clothes
    Khmu Craftswomen Create Earth’s Greenest Bag
    Be an Activist in Your Everyday Life

    © 2013 SCGH, LLC.

    by SCGH - January 30, 2013
  • Misto Reusable Cooking Oil Sprayer: No Chemicals, No Aerosols

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    By Courtney Hayden

    The Misto Olive Oil Sprayer is a sleek and convenient cooking tool. The 8-inch, pressure-activated container comes in a variety of colors and designs, so you can even match it to your kitchen’s decor. Misto can be purchased online or at many stores for less than $20.

    Misto sprayers replace traditional disposable cooking sprays, such as Pam and Mazola, which rely on a combination of aerosols, propellants and chemicals. In place of ingredients like propane and butane, Misto builds pressure by hand as you push down and pull up on the lid. SCGH welcomes this great addition to a sustainable kitchen!

    For related articles, please see:
    Ovens and Cooktops
    Toasters and Toaster Ovens
    Garbage Disposal: Do You Really Need One? 

    © 2012 SCGH, LLC.

    by Courtney Hayden - January 22, 2013
  • Be an Activist in Your Everyday Life

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    By Kristina R. Anderson
    November 5, 2012

    We all have ideas as to how we would like to see society change. But how does one become a doer, a changer, an activist? How do we create change? While many of us dream of influencing large changes, of having a great big voice that triumphs over the rest, that’s not always possible for everyone. Most of us have jobs we must do and people who rely on us, so “activism” comes second to our obligations. But does this mean we cannot affect change at all? Of course not! There are so many ways to be an activist and change the world without making a huge time commitment or taking a radical stance. Often, it’s the small steps that matter the most. With that said, what can you do to make a difference?

    “That’s the number one question: ‘What can I do to help?’” says Charles Hambleton, producer of two acclaimed documentaries, The Cove and The Big Fix, and another about the executives at Britesol, a company committed to changing the world through technology.  “The answer is: look in the mirror. What is it you do in your daily life?”

    Think about it for a few minutes. What are your sustainability shortcomings? Is it the disposable coffee cup from your daily Starbucks run? Do you leave lights on when you are not home? By the same token, what areas of your life are you using to mitigate your impact? Maybe you pick up litter by the side of the road once a week, or perhaps you take public transit to work instead of driving. Take an inventory of your habits. What do you do?

    “Every single time we make a choice, we make a difference,” says famed tree-sitter and activist Julia Butterfly Hill. “Because we do not live in a vacuum, every single choice has an impact and therefore, it is not only spiritually impossible to make no difference, it is scientifically impossible to make no difference! Ever!” she says. “Therefore, seven BILLION of us … are actually ‘activists.’  The difference is are we being conscious or unconscious activists with each and every thought, word, and action.”

    Ready to take control of your power to affect change? Here are 15 simple actions that you can take to be a more conscious activist in your everyday life:

    1. Eat less meat. Producing meat releases more greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere than either industry or transportation. Less meat consumption, less global warming. If you want to be an over-achiever, go veg!
    2. Kick your single-use habit. Disposable goods don’t disappear when we’re done with them. Plus, they require significant resources to manufacture. Something we use for a matter of minutes shouldn’t take up energy, materials, and space in a landfill. Think about all the GHGs we could avoid creating if we replaced single-use with reusable items.
    3. Learn. Watch a documentary about water-use. Read an article about deforestation. Knowledge is power. You can’t fix something you don’t know is broken. Expose and empower yourself to think and form an opinion. (You’re on the right track if you’re reading this article!)
    4. Have conversations. You cannot change other people, but you can be a source of information. Being a body of knowledge, or even simply alternative thinking, is an activist action.
    5. Plant a tree. Trees are a valuable ally in the fight against global warming. They absorb CO2 and release oxygen.  They have super powers. Be a tree-hugger and stand proud.
    6. Go to a beach clean-up. Trash that is swept into the ocean becomes food for the fishes, literally. Or it becomes part of the garbage patch in the Pacific Gyre, which is larger than Texas. When you clean up a beach, you’re helping to keep our oceans safe and beautiful.
    7. Choose organic. Organic produce isn’t just good for your health, it’s good for the planet. Pesticides are highly toxic. Humans end up ingesting these chemicals through food, but they also end up in our water.
    8. Buy local. When you buy locally, you not only support your local economy, you also save fossil fuels from being burned by cutting out the transport of that item. Find out about your local farmers’ market and look for “local” labeling at your neighborhood market.
    9. Reuse. Visit your local thrift stores and look for items you can buy used. If you buy a used flower vase or picture frame, you’ll save money and the raw materials needed to make it new.
    10. Flex your muscles. Ride your bike to work. Walk to the grocery store. Take public transit. All of these alternative transportation methods lower our carbon output.
    11. Use your voice. Write a letter to your senator. Call the White House. Sign petitions. Your representatives are elected and paid to listen to you.  Your voice matters.
    12. Watch what’s happening. Watch the news, check out YouTube videos, and browse articles online (find great material in Sierra Club Green Home’s Learn More section). See what social, cultural, and environmental leaders are up to. Get inspired by current events and people who are doing great things.
    13. Consume less plastic. Plastic is made from oil, which is toxic and takes hundreds of years to fully degrade. In the meantime, plastic that gets lost or thrown away will photo-degrade (be partially broken down by sunlight) and animals that have access will eat it. For more info, watch the documentary Bag It.
    14. Volunteer. Pick a cause you care about and get busy. No matter where you live, there are likely to be plenty of local organizations that you can donate your time to. You’ll not only do good, but you’ll feel good, too.
    15. Let love rule. “You want to know the very best thing you can do for your daily life and for the world?” asks Julia Butterfly Hill. “Ask yourself in each moment and every choice, ‘What would love have me think, say, and do right now?  What would love choose?’ Love always calls forth our greatness, our best and most conscious selves, moving us past and through the limits of our minds, fears, apathy, laziness, and other ways we sell out on our world and ourselves.  And our world, planet, and future desperately need our best from us right now!”

    You are an activist. You make a difference. What conscious actions will you take or are you already taking to steer your world in the right direction? Comment below.

    For related article, see:
    Sundance 2012 Environmental Films
    Sustainable Seafood Guide: How to Save the Seas with Your Diet
    The Best Green Home Books and DVDs
    Global Warming is Now

     © 2012 SCGH, LLC.

    by Kristina Anderson - November 05, 2012

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