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Posts Tagged ‘celebrate green’

Holiday season is fast approaching (yea!!), which usually means spending time with family and friends… and lots of yummy food! First up, Thanksgiving, and the the ladies over at Celebrate Green!® have got some great ideas on how to make our festive feasts a bit more planet friendly…and we think wallet friendly too!

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Buy local for a no-guilt Thanksgiving

Depending on where you live, this time of year it can be a real challenge to buy locally grown or raised food. But it’s important, especially as we approach our most foodcentric holidays.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture compared what it takes to haul food from other states into Iowa with semi-trailer trucks versus hauling by small light trucks within the state. Simply upping the in-state number by 10% would result in an annual fuel savings ranging from 294,000 to 348,000 gallons and annual emissions reductions ranging from 7 million to 7.9 million pounds.

And two years ago, the University of Washington predicted that if half of all King County’s (WA), approximately 1.8 million residents ate a locally grown Thanksgiving dinner instead of an “imported” one, they could avoid contributing to emissions equal to 2.4 million vehicle miles.

So homegrown or neaby-grown food can have an environmental impact even greater than what the big meal has on our waistlines!

Of course, most of us are aware that the grapes we use to garnish our Thanksgiving dessert may have spent two weeks traveling to get to us before being placed on display where they might languish another few days before we bring them home. Fresh, they’re not.

Unfortunately, the main constraint on shopping at your local farmer’s homestead is the time of year. Unless you live in a temperate climate or are blessed with a heated greenhouse, obtaining fruits and vegetables locally year around means that at some point in the summer you may be inundated by zucchini and by January you’re beginning to dislike turnips with a passion usually reserved for politicians.
But just because our consciences won’t allow us to enjoy oranges in November if we live in New York doesn’t mean our Thanksgiving tables will look barren.

Here are some ideas for finding locally grown foods and other Thanksgiving goodies.

1. Check LocalHarvest.org for what’s in season and available in your neck of the woods.

2. While most farmers markets are closed for the season, some sell year round. Do a search for “year around farmers market+your city” and see what you find. (Local Harvest also may list them.)

3. Check local farms. Again, do an online search, i.e. “organic farm near Seattle,” then if you find some, call and see what they will be offering prior to Thanksgiving.

4. Your natural market or co-op is the most obvious source of local fare.

Now that you’ve discovered some great places to buy, how do you afford it? Here are some ideas for saving green when buying green.

1. Group buy. Get together with friends/neighbors/schools and propose to purchase in bulk. Let your friendly neighborhood farmer know that you are willing to buy 50 pounds of her organic sweet potatoes and she’s more likely to give you a good price. Why not approach your local natural food store with the same offer−it never hurts to ask.

2. Seriously consider how much food you need too pull of the best Thanksgiving ever. Will serving six dishes instead of ten make the holiday any less successful? Eliminate the dishes with the most expensive ingredients, substitute less costly alternatives or leave them out.

3. Vow not to purchase anything but food. No décor (borrow from nature), flowers (ditto), tablecloths, napkins, plates, glasses or silverware (borrow or have guests bring their own place settings and tell them you’re having “an old-fashioned Thanksgiving,” because that’s what people did before there were paper plates and plastic flatware). You also could rent or purchase for very little at a thrift store.

4. Put together a potluck Thanksgiving where you provide only the main item, usually the turkey, unless you’re going vegetarian. Assign all other dishes to guests.

5. Forage. No kidding. You may find everything from seafood to mushrooms and greens out your backdoor. But be sure to know what you’re doing before you try this one. You don’t want to kill anyone off as a result of eating at your house! If you hurry, there may be time to sign up for a foraging class before the holidays.

6. Trade. Know a local farmer, but can’t afford to purchase what you want to feed your party? Ask what he needs. Maybe he’ll trade six months of haircuts or carwashes, babysitting or weeding for a big bird.

Aim for a 100% local meal, but if you can’t reach it, know that you tried. And in doing so, surely you’ve most likely impoved. Next thing you know, you’ll be thinking about Thanksgiving 2012 in July and freeze veggies in anticipation!

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Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green!® Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.
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It may not quite be Halloween yet, but National Costume Swap Day is right around the corner! And it’s never too early to start thinking about how to make one of the best holidays of the year more eco-friendly. Check out this cute video from Green Halloween!


On October 8, people across the country will get together for costume swaps in their own cities and towns. Swaps are a great way to go green by exchanging gently used Halloween costumes for new-to-your-kids. You’ll save the money you would’ve spent on new costumes for your kids and help the environment. In fact, swapping half the costumes kids wear at Halloween would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons—about the weight of 2,500 midsize cars!

If you’ve got friends and neighbors or a school or community group for whom a costume swap would be a good project, we encourage you to host a swap yourself or join with others. It’s easy, fun and a great way to build community around this money-saving and planet-saving idea.

You can learn the simple steps to hosting a swap here.

And be sure to register your swap so everyone can find out about it.

Many neighborhoods and towns have already begun planning their swaps. Find one near you, then spread the word and help make it an eek-o-fabulous success!

National Costume Swap Day is sponsored by Green Halloween, KIWI magazine, and Swap.com.

Ready to get started? Find existing swaps—plus information to help you start your own at CostumeSwapDay.com.

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The ladies over at Celebrate Green always know how to incorporate family, especially kids, into fun planet conscious events. Check out these great ideas…

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10 Fun Family Ideas for Earth Day


While Earth Day is about serious matters, why not use it as an opportunity to enjoy your family and focus on fun activities too.


Here are 10 Earth Day ideas everyone can enjoy.

1. Play Pin the tree on the Earth

One thing the Earth needs is more trees, right? They’re being cut down faster than they can be planted. Playing this game is a great way to explain the issue to kids and inspire them (and you, to take action).

This homemade game is made from Ecospun felt (from recycled plastic bottles), but you could make one out of paper if you prefer.

The winning player can be the one who pins the tree closest to North or South America or in an ocean without touching land.

2. Go on an Earth Day Treasure hunt

Write a series of clues on pieces of recycled or pre-used paper, leading from your home around the neighborhood to a “treasure chest” containing some organic treats or small treasures like polished rocks and seashells. The clues should focus on the outdoors and be tailored to the age of the children.

3. Read eco books together. Find a nice nearby tree, sit together beneath it. Read and discuss a meaningful book with an environmental theme like The Giving Tree. Here’s a list of great titles for kids of every age.

4. Visit an organic farm, preferably one with animals if you’ve got kids in tow. Find one near you at www.LocalHarvest.org

5. Volunteer! There are many organizations that will welcome families with children of all ages.

6. Download an Earth Day kit from the EPA. It’s filled with loads of ideas for fun activities.

7. As a family, take the 5-minute quiz at Practically Green. Find out how green you are and choose three actions that will improve your score.

8. Start a garden. If you’ve never done it before or don’t have room, just fill a container with the best dirt you can find (be sure the container has drainage). Follow the directions on a package of mixed greens. You’ll be nibbling lettuce very quickly. (And a secret you might not know. Children who grow veggies, actually tend to eat them even when they claim not to like them!)

Or plant some trees. You can get 10 trees for free when you join the Arbor Day Foundation.

9. Go no waste for the day. That means no purchasing anything in a package or at least, reusing or recycling any packaging, newspaper or anything else possible. It also means not tossing food scraps. If you don’t want to eat it, compost, put into the freezer for later soup making, share it with neighbors, anything but throw it into the trash. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a habit of no waste!

10. Do a recycled craft. Make birdhouses from milk cartons. Craft a solar oven from a pizza box (or any cardboard box). Download a list of endangered species and create your own hand drawn calendar. Empty out a drawer each, but instead of throwing away what’s you don’t want, challenge yourselves to make something from it!

Whatever you do on Earth Day, spend a bit of time noticing what nature gives us and give a little something back!

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Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.

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Our friends over at Celebrate Green recently posed a few questions to Joyce about Coco-Zen, her philosophy, and how being a mom impacted the business…

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The ladies over at Celebrate Green are starting off the New Year by passing on some great tips on how to make parties and celebrations both green and economical throughout the year. There are wonderful ideas for kids events as well as grown-up festivities.

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Focus on no-cost eco-friendly fun in 2011

Bring sustainability into every celebration this year by making fun the memorable centerpiece of your holidays and special events.

Instead of spending hours and lots of money on gifts, food and decor, focus instead on activities that everyone will enjoy and remember.

Cooking or crafting bring people together and can cost little. Group games, whether indoor or out, can be enjoyed by everyone from tots to grandparents.

Five years ago, to celebrate her birthday, Lynn Colwell, co-author of Celebrate Green!, started an annual tradition-hosting a chili cook-off for a dozen friends. She crafted a trophy for the winner and guests take home samples of chilis they like (assuming there are leftovers!), in specially decorated glass jars. Everyone looks forward to her waste free event.

For Valentine’s Day, what could be nicer than preparing chocolate fondue together with your love, then doing with it what you will? 

Or if you’re hosting a Valentine’s party, punch out old cards in the shape of hearts, cut them down the center in a zig zag shape and have teams put the puzzle together.

For an all-ages party, how about this competition?Fill boxes (based on no more than six people for each team) with an assortment of houshold items, everything from spoons, to hair brushes, blocks, small boxes, tape, old CDs, anything goes.

  • The goal is for each team to create a game (with rules) using only the things provided in their box. Set the timer for 15 minutes to create the game, then let everyone play each other’s.
  • If everyone enjoys it, you can mix up all the stuff and do it again.
  • You can do the same thing with an environmental focus by going ona walk at the beginning of the party and having everyone pick up items like rocks, twigs etc., then basing the competition on those items.

Think about how you can change or work with a traditional game to make it relevant to your event without spending buying anything new. That old favorite, Pin the Tail on the Donkey can be turned into “pin the X” on anything. Lynn made a “Pin the Trees on the Earth” game for one of her grandchildren’s birthday parties.

Variations on tag are always a favorite. (“Clothes pin tag” is pictured below. Just attach several clothes pins to each participant’s clothing. The idea is to grab as many clothes pins as you can.

You can imagine the strategizing that can go on to “get” the last player!)

White elephant gift exchanges when everyone brings something they already own that they’d prefer not to keep, are popular at Christmas. But why not enjoy the fun for a birthday. Instead of purchasing junky toys for kids to take home from the party, have each child bring one they’re tired of and exchange it for a new one. Take it from us, when a white elephant exchange is the center of a birthday or anniversary party, adults will enjoy the hilarity too.

Speaking of birthdays, hiding gifts instead of wrapping them is a way to engage everyone in a fun activity while avoiding buying and tossing wrapping paper. With young children, play “Hot and Cold.” Older ones enjoy hunting via clues.

Thousands of ideas for games and activities for any age are of course, at your fingertips via the internet. One of our favorites sites for kids games and activities is Family Fun. We’re also fans of cooperative game sites like this one.

The next time you’re hosting a party or celebration, be sure to plan some eco-fun for everyone!

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Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.

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The Ladies over at Celebrate Green have just published their annual 50% off coupon sheet…just in time for holiday gift giving! With great items from 12 green companies (yes, Coco-Zen is one of them), there’s something for everyone.

Click on the image below to download the coupon sheet (PDF file). From there, you can just click and shop from any of the offers on the sheet.
Participating companies…
Coco-Zen: www.Coco-Zen.com

Digs: www.Digs.com

Eco Party Time: www.EcoPartyTime.com

Kids Konserve: www.KidsKonserve.com

Magic Cabin: www.MagicCabin.com

My Mama’s Love: www.My-Mamas-Love.com

Overall Beauty: www.OverallBeauty.com

Sweet P’s: www.SweetPSkincare.com

Terra Trendz: www.TerraTrendz.com

This is it Creations: www.ThisIsItCreations.com

Wind and Weather: www.WindandWeather.com

World of Green: www.WorldOfGreen.com

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Our friends over at Celebrate Green offer some useful tips and suggestions to help make this Thanksgiving greener and less wasteful. What’s even better is that you’ll save a little money, too!

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Plan ahead Thanksgiving saves time, money and waste

You may balk, but the best way to save money, save time, save waste and save your sanity if you want to have an eco-friendlier feast this year, is to–say it with me now–plan ahead.

Planning helps zero in on when to buy, how much to buy, how to decorate, how to deal with leftovers and all the other details around hosting a fun, Earth-friendly celebration.

One hour of planning can make the difference between a pleasurable event and a frenzy of expensive over-consumption.

So gather the kids, a pen and pad (or be extra-eco and write on a blackboard), and start by posing and discussing these 10 questions:

1. What foods do we traditionally serve? Are we going overboard? If we usually provide eight side dishes, could we cut that to six?

2. What items should we be sure to buy organic? (Here’s the list of fruits and veggies with the most pesticide residues and those with the least.)

3. How are we going to decorate the table? Can we use décor we already have? Borrow? Use items from nature? Do double duty with edible décor?

4. Can we check with friends and neighbors to see if they’d like to join us in buying organic produce in bulk at reduced cost?

5. Can we aim for a no-waste Thanksgiving by avoiding pre-packaged items?

6. Can we find what we need at a local organic farm and save money while having fun by picking veggies and fruits?

7. Can we consider an organic turkey or a heritage variety? (It’s complicated and time consuming to wade through all the labels you may find on turkeys, but the USDA organic label offers pretty clear standards. If you’re buying from a local farmer, ask about methods used in raising and slaughtering. Their turkeys may not be labeled organic because of the cost involved in doing so, but assuming you trust the farmer, you should be purchasing a healthier alternative to conventionally raised birds.)

8. Do we have enough dishes, flatware and glasses for the crowd? If not, how will we sidestep purchasing new? (We suggest asking guests to bring their own place settings. To add meaning to the greening, ask them also to be ready to share the history of the plates. Were they a wedding gift? Handed down from great grandma? Purchased with your first paycheck?)

9. How much of our meal can we make using in-season items instead of those imported from far away?

10. What will we do with leftovers? Will we provide guests with upcycled glass jars for them to take home what they like? Can we make something delicious from leftovers and take to a food bank? Freeze for later? Will we compost anything we can’t use? If we don’t compost ourselves and haven’t asked, can we call our local trash service and ask if they will compost food scraps?

Whether you go all out in celebrating an eco-Thanksgiving or take one or two steps, be sure to give thanks for the bounty that the Earth provides.

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Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.

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