5 Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste & Ocean Pollution

Eco Craft: Recycle Recraft Restyle

A New Vision for a Greener America Emerges as San Francisco Transforms Waste into Resources

Summer's Best Accessory

What You Should Know About Juicing Before You Start

OneCoffee™: The World's 1st Biodegradable, Fair-Trade, Organic K-Cup Compatible Single-Serve Cup


Spotlight on: Ajiri Tea

Green America's 20 Plastic Things You Didn't Know You Can Recycle

nature conserve


As we close out the last issue of the Green Living Newsletter for the year,  we like to go back and review past issues to discover which stories generated the most interest, were clicked on most often, and generated the most feedback.  Below you will find reprints of our most popular stories of 2013.  We want to take this time to thank all of our readers, advertisers, and supporters for helping to make this year another great one.  If you have product you would like us to consider for review or have some exciting news to share, please contact us.

We wish you all a wonderful new year filled with all great things.

5 Tips to Reduce Plastic Waste & Ocean Pollution

Plastic waste is a growing problem in the northern Pacific Ocean and one that could change life on our planet within the next 20 years.

“I remember the first time I felt it; I was paddling out on my surfboard and noticed a mushy, plastic-like substance sliding through my fingers. That’s what started my obsession with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” says charity fundraiser and environmentalist Veronica Grey. “The patch is located between Hawaii and California in the northern Pacific Ocean, where millions of small bits of plastic have gathered in a vortex of ocean currents known as a gyre.”

As someone with ample experience raising awareness for worthy causes, Grey paired her professional skills with her personal passion for the ocean, creating the award-winning documentary “Aqua Seafoam Shame,” (www.Pacific-TV.com), which spotlights the mess in the ocean that has garnered precious little media attention, she says.

“Fifteen years ago The Patch was the size Texas, but now it’s the size of the continental United States,” says Grey, who used her iPhone to shoot the documentary, which features renowned scientists, journalists and environmentalists.

Plastic in the ocean has far-reaching implications that, if not addressed within 20 years, could change life on this planet, she says. To date, 177 species of sea life are known to ingest plastic; other species feed on those creatures, extending the chain of damage.

“People eat the seafood that eats plastic, and the planet gets its rain from the oceans, which are being polluted at an exponential rate,” she says. “We use significantly more of our planet’s surface as a dump than for growing food; this has to change.”

To begin addressing plastics pollution, Grey encourages people to use alternatives:

 Americans buy 2 million bottles of water every five minutes; ditch plastic bottles and use glass or recyclable cans.
 Carry a cost-effective canvas bag instead getting disposable plastic bags at the grocery store. We waste 10 billion plastic bags every week!
 Do not line your trash cans with plastic bags. Use paper bags or nothing.
• Skip the lid on your to-go drinks. The paper cup is normally recyclable but the lid usually isn't.
 Remember that each and every time you flush; it all ends up in the ocean. Be mindful of what you toss in your toilet!


Eco Craft: Recycle Recraft Restyle

By Susan Wasinger

"Everything here is fresh ... Plus, the designs are impressive...the layout not only complements the author's eco-theme but also calls attention to the important elements of the different crafts to make. Doing good was never so satisfying." - "Booklist" [Starred Review]

These days we're all seeking creative ways to protect our planet. "Eco Craft" delivers the goods in style with 30 truly beautiful home decor projects that elevate environmental consciousness to inspiring new heights. Every idea is amazingly clever: who would ever have imagined that plastic six-pack can holders could become a chic Moorish-inspired filigree tri-fold screen? Or that glass baby-food jars would make a charming candle chandelier? Every project features at least one beauty shot in a modern home setting and handy icons spotlight key techniques, materials and the estimated time to complete each one. Who knew taking care of the planet could look so good?

128 pages.  Available in hardcover and paperback from www.amazon.com.  Published by Lark Crafts.


A New Vision for a Greener America Emerges as San Francisco Transforms Waste into Resources

City Leads the Nation in Reducing Landfills by Keeping 80 Percent of Solid Waste Out

With severe weather events such as Superstorm Sandy drawing more attention to concerns about climate change, more and more Americans are looking for environmental solutions. One solution that is drawing increasing attention involves an unlikely suspect: trash, and more particularly, what we do with what we no longer need.

The city of San Francisco recently announced that it is now keeping fully 80 percent of its solid waste out of landfills, a statistic that leads the nation and a record that is attracting visits by officials from across the U.S. and around the world to consider the possibilities.

Composting Joins Recycling as Key to Success

According to Recology, which manages solid waste for San Francisco and 116 communities in the Western United States, including Portland and Seattle, a three-cart system is in place. Residents, businesses and multi-family dwellings place used items in three carts: blue for recycling (paper, plastics, glass and metals), green for food scraps and other organic matter, and black for the remainder that cannot currently be recycled.

With a high level of compliance, Recology processes approximately 750 tons of recycled items per day at a factory-like facility in San Francisco that sorts and bales them into 16 commodities, returning them to commerce and keeping them out of landfills.

In addition, since 1996, Recology has developed a large-scale composting program that takes 650 tons per day of organic matter and turns it into compost that goes to farms, orchards, vineyards and landscaping businesses.

A Model for the Nation

“What we’ve been able to develop with the city of San Francisco is a model that absolutely can be replicated by cities across the nation,” said Mike Sangiacomo, president and CEO of Recology. “And we’ve done this in an urban area that is second in size only to the New York metropolitan area.” Sangiacomo says that officials from municipalities from around the U.S. and abroad want to learn from San Francisco’s success.

Landfills historically have been the final destination for what people discard. But they are a dangerous use of land, as they emit substances that can harm ground water, and worse, they typically release methane, a greenhouse gas many times more harmful than carbon dioxide. “Food breaking down in landfills is the culprit,” says Sangiacomo. “Composting food dramatically reduces methane gas in the atmosphere. It also puts nutrients back into the soil, where they came from in the first place.” Sangiacomo believes that landfills could become a thing of the past if communities across the U.S. join San Francisco in moving toward its goal of zero waste.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton announced that the city will use the San Francisco recycling program as a model to triple their recycling efforts over the next seven years. The city’s “40 by 20” program seeks to keep 40 percent of recyclable trash out of landfills by 2020. Also, Massachusetts recently announced its intent to divert organic matter out of landfills and is looking at composting as a solution. And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed interest in increasing the city’s recycling rate before his term ends in 2013.

Benefits Beyond the Environment

The San Francisco model also shows that its approach to recycling can benefit more than the environment. The Recology San Francisco recycling facility is situated in a neighborhood where unemployment rates have been stratospheric for decades. The employee-owners (Recology is an ESOP) working the lines in the facility are, in most cases, the first generation in their family ever to purchase homes, and to send their children to college. “Research shows that, if this model were widely adopted, literally millions of jobs would be created,” said Sangiacomo. “What we’re looking at is a huge potential economic stimulus at a time when the nation looks to new economies to create jobs on a large scale.”

Political Will: A Renewable Resource and a Force for Progress

“We’ve seen what can happen when a city commits to a recycling ethic, and it’s very encouraging,” says Sangiacomo. “I would suggest that anyone wanting their community to move more quickly towards zero waste contact their local officials. When citizens talk, public officials listen.”

Summer's Best Accessory

First World Trash, the stylish, eco-friendly fashion accessory brand is saving the world one discarded billboard at a time and looking good while doing it!

All of their bags and accessories are born in the junkyards of America where they salvage seat belts from junked cars and rescue billboards before they are thrown into the landfill.  All materials are deep cleaned, cut and polished in preparation for stitching.  Each bag is individually designed and crafted by owner and designer, Jenelle Malbrough.  All billboard products are tear proof, water resistant, and built to last.  Each product is handmade at the first world trash studio in Queens, NY. 

Why we love First World Trash…Each billboard they salvage is unique and therefore as a result, each First World Trash product is completely unique offering many variations in color, scheme, graphics, images, and fonts.  These folks really know how to make art and fashion come to life from what was once discarded and forgotten.

First World Trash offers the must-have accessories for summer 2013, including fun, colorful Beach Totes, Wine Satchels, and Lazy Boy Totes!  They also offer a great variety of products which make great gifts…like commuter bags, laptop and ipad sleeves, makeup cases, wallets and more.

Because of their unusual manufacturing process, each First World Trash product is perfectly unique because no two products are exactly alike!  First World Trash products are truly “one-of-a-kind!” The accessories range in price from $24 to $160 S.R.P.  Product info is available at:  www.FirstWorldTrash.com

What You Should Know About Juicing Before You Start

“The Juice Lady” Offers Tips for Beginners and Veterans

It’s no longer just celebrities, world-class athletes and alternative-lifestyle hippies turning to green smoothies and freshly juiced vegetable and fruits for improved health, says nutritionist and juicing pioneer Cherie Calbom, MS. (“The Juice Lady”).

“People from all walks of life are looking for proven ways to lose weight, energize, sleep better, strengthen their immune systems, and have brighter skin and a younger appearance.  They’re also juicing to help their bodies heal from a variety of ailments,” says Calbom, author of a new book full of juicing tips, tricks and recipes, “The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies,” (www.juiceladycherie.com).

“No matter your diet, juicing offers a shot of goodness – nutrition, minerals, phytonutrients and more – that you might not otherwise get,” Calbom says.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been juicing awhile and want to optimize the experience, Calbom shares some important pointers that will help.

• Fruits & veggies happiness studies:  Plenty of new research shows that adding more produce to your daily diet can benefit your mental health and sense of well-being. In one analysis of the eating habits and moods of 80,000 British adults, researchers at Dartmouth and the University of Warwick found that those who consumed the most fruit and vegetables every day rated themselves as significantly happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who ate lesser amounts.  Research shows that the well-being score for people who ate seven to eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day was consistently three points higher than for those who ate little or none.

• More studies ... Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health concluded from a study of 982 Americans that those who exhibited the most optimistic outlooks on life also had the highest blood levels of carotene, a key antioxidant that’s delivered by a colorful array of produce: dark green spinach and kale, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and vibrant yellow or orange fruits like peaches, papayas and cantaloupe, among others.  And “juicers” should consider starting at a young age.  A study of 281 adults with a mean age of 20, conducted at the University of Otago, New Zealand, showed that those who reported the highest daily intake of fruits and veggies also declared they were happier, calmer and more energetic than those who ate less. 

• “Do I need to juice; can’t I just eat produce?”:  This is a common response, but the reality is that most people in today’s society – especially those who are booked from morning to evening with a busy lifestyle – rarely get an optimal amount of produce throughout the day.  A half-cup of veggies is a serving and ¾ of a cup of juice equals one serving; chewing seven to eight servings of produce every day requires much more effort and time than drinking fresh juice for some of the servings.  That makes people much more likely to benefit from juice, she says.

• Flavor diversification: Some people soon fall into creative ruts because they stick to the same basic ingredients, and that can be a disincentive for sticking with juicing. Diversify! Try gourmet and exotic juice blends, or even plant-based ingredients you simply haven’t yet considered, some of which may include: butternut squash, one-inch ginger chunks, beets with leaves and stems, Brussels sprouts, and fennel bulbs with fronds. “Juicing is not about just using common fruit ingredients – spice it up and experiment with healthy vegetables; it works!” Calbom says.

• An exotic example:  A fennel-watercress-cucumber blend juice is an excellent way to mix up your typical cocktail. It includes:  1 handful of watercress;  1 dark green lettuce leaf;  1 cucumber, peeled if not organic; ½ fennel bulb and fronds;  1 lemon, peeled if not organic. Cut produce to fit your juicer’s feed tube.  Wrap watercress in lettuce leaf and push through the juicer slowly.  Juice all remaining ingredients.  Drink immediately;  this portion serves one.

Cherie Calbom, MS is the author of 21 books, including the best-seller “Juicing for Life,” with 2 million copies sold in the United States and published in 23 countries. Known as “The Juice Lady” for her work with juicing and health, her juice therapy and cleansing programs have been popular for more than a decade. She holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Bastyr University.  She has practiced as a clinical nutritionist at St. Luke Medical Center, Bellevue, Wash., and as a celebrity nutritionist for George Foreman and Richard Simmons.  www.juiceladycherie.com

OneCoffee™: The World's 1st Biodegradable, Fair-Trade, Organic K-Cup Compatible Single-Serve Cup

Canterbury Coffee, a leading global roaster and supplier of specialty coffees and related beverages since 1981, introduces OneCoffee™, the World’s 1st biodegradable, fair-trade, organic K-Cup compatible cup for use with Keurig coffee makers. OneCoffee is Organic single serve coffee made with 100% strictly hard-bean, organic and fair-trade Arabica coffees. 

Established in 1981, driven by a spirit of innovation, Canterbury Coffee has steadily grown to become one of Canada’s leading roasters. It is a journey filled with purpose—continuously seeking out new opportunities to improve, to grow, to adapt. They are serious about their coffee and of upholding their reputation for producing only the finest quality products—including the OneCoffee line. 

“Previously we referred to K-Cups as the inconvenient convenience due to the amount of waste generated from these time-saving gems.  The K-Cup exploded onto the market but consumers have remained deeply concerned about disposal of the cups. OneCoffee offers a solution to that problem by creating the world’s first biodegradable, organic and fair trade single serve coffee,” said Derek Perkins, Sr. Marketing Manager at Canterbury Coffee. “Not only is OneCoffee eco-friendly, but the taste is also critical. As with all Canterbury products, we use only 100% strictly hard-bean, organic Arabica coffees with OneCoffee.”

OneCoffee’s soft bottomed cups use 40% less plastic than K-Cups, are 90% compostable/biodegradable, and packaging is carbon neutral. In addition, all coffees are fair-trade and organic for sustainability at origin. Standard K-Cups are made of plastic integrated with a coffee filter, coffee grounds, and plastic foil top with no easy way to separate the components for recycling.

OneCoffee offers a variety of flavors that include Breakfast Blend, French Roast, Decaf Dark, Columbian, Peruvian, Sumatran, Ethiopian and a Variety Pack. All blends are compatible with K-Cup style brewers and are individually wrapped for freshness and safety. OneCoffee is also perfect for those who are Vegan, Halal, Kosher and are BPA Free.

For more information please visit www.canterburycoffee.com.



Quinoa (pronounced: KEEN-wah), one of the ancient food staples of the Incas, was called "The Mother Grain." An ivory-colored, tiny, bead-shaped grain, its flavor is delicate, almost bland, and has been compared to couscous or rice. Quinoa is lighter, but can be used in any way suitable for rice. Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain, and is higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains and is a very good source of calcium, iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and vitamin E. Quinoa's slow-releasing carbohydrates help to maintain blood sugar levels.

We usually think of quinoa as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a plant that, as its scientific name Chenopodium quinoa reflects, is related to beets, chard and spinach. These amino acid-rich seeds are not only very nutritious, but also very delicious. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet slightly crunchy. They have a delicate, somewhat nutty flavor. While the most popular type of quinoa is a transparent yellow color, other varieties feature colors such as orange, pink, red, purple or black. Although often difficult to find in the marketplace, the leaves of the quinoa plant are edible, with a taste similar to its green-leafed relatives, spinach, chard and beets. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

A few quick serving Ideas: Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad. Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge. For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa. Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts. Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups. Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes. Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat with which this Middle Eastern dish is usually made. (Source: Food.com)


Spotlight on: Ajiri Tea

After graduating from Bowdoin College in May 2008, Sara Holby headed to Kisii, in western Kenya, to volunteer for a health-related non-governmental organization (NGO). Sara previously studied in Kenya for a semester through St. Lawrence University. Sara worked closely with Nick Miyogo, a Kenyan co-worker who spent hours patiently teaching her the local language, introducing her to friends and family, and answering her endless questions. Sara came to love the community--the incredibly welcoming people, its bustling streets and markets, and the beautiful rural areas outside of town where many of the HIV/AIDS patients live. The NGO provided free medication and food to the patients, but in January 2009 the organization lost its funding and this support abruptly stopped. There was no longer money to pay the local workers nor funding for the drugs that the organization had been dispensing. Sara began to question the role of "aid" in helping Kenyan communities. It became obvious that the aid had fostered dependency and that the people needed sustainable economic opportunities to emp ower themselves.

After being laid off in March 2009 after 30 years as a financial editor, Ann, Sara's mom, decided to return to Kenya, where she had studied in 1978, to visit her daughter. Following lots of discussion, Sara, Nick, and Ann decided to launch Ajiri Tea. The company's vision and mission is rooted in the opinions, passions, and skills of people living in the Kisii community. In addition to the hopes of employing local women, a recurring theme voiced by many in the community was the serious need to pay school fees for the growing number of orphans.

In May, Sara's sister Kate Holby traveled to Kenya to visit her sister and to scout out the feasibility of a tea company that would directly benefit the local women, farmers, and orphans. After visiting numerous tea factories, Sara, Nick, and Kate chose the Nyansiongo Tea Factory to supply our tea. Pauline, one of the managers, was especially helpful in educating us about Kenyan tea. Florence, in Kisumu, helped us with the initial banana leaf label designs and continues to help us. Today, our women's groups have over 40 members making our labels, beads, and twine.

Amidst these travels, they ate a lot of goat meat and kale, spent an afternoon with Mamma Sarah Obama--President Obama's grandmother--and hurtled around the country in matatus (terrifying public transportation) all the while struggling to communicate in a mixture of English, Swahili, and Ekegusii (the mother tongue of the Kisii people). Nick is at home in Kisii, working with the Ajiri Tea Company and coordinating the Kenyan activities.

Ajiri Tea embodies the richness of the land and the people. Their tea is as amazing as the company story.  Ajiri Tea is an award-winning Kenyan black tea. Winner of the 2011 and 2012 Buyer's Choice Award for Best Black Tea, and First Place at the North American Tea Championship in 2011.

High in antioxidants, Ajiri Tea is remarkably fresh, bold, and flavorful. Coppery in appearance, rich in body, and deeply pungent with a distinct flavor, Ajiri Tea is an enjoyable drink, hot or cold.  Ajiri tea is produced at the Rain Forest Alliance Certified™ Nyansiongo Tea Factory, a cooperative owned by local small-scale farmers. The farmers independently grow the tea on their one-to two-acre shambas in the Kisii Highlands, an area known for its fertile volcanic soil and its abundance of rainfall and sunlight.  The farmers pluck the top two leaves and a bud with their fingers, throwing these handfuls of shoots into a woven basket. Handpicking the tea ensures that the highest quality of tea is always produced. The leaves are then carried to the community-based tea buying center, where they are weighed and checked for quality before being brought to the factory. At the factory, the tea is withered, cut, oxidized, dried, and sorted.


Teas currently available include:

Kenyan Black Tea with Ginger
Kenyan Black Tea with Lemon
Kenyan Black Tea with Mango
Rooibos, Red Bush Tea
Kenyan Black Tea (available in bags or loose tea)

Most of the teas sell for $9 for a box of 16 bags.  To purchase Ajiri Tea or to learn more, visit www.ajiritea.com


Green America's
20 Plastic Things You Didn't Know You Can Recycle

1) Bottle and jar caps: Weisenbach Recycled Products accepts clean plastic bottlecaps, plastic jar caps, flip-top caps from personal care products, and flexible snap-on lids (e.g. butter tub lids) to turn into funnels and other items. CapsCando.com.

2) Brita pitcher filters: Preserve’s Gimme 5 program accepts Brita-brand pitcher filters for recycling. See #11 below.

3) Compostable bioplastics: Find a municipal composter at FindaComposter.com.

4) Computers and other electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers near you at e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler. Your local Best Buy store will also accept many types of electronics, large and small—from televisions and gaming systems to fans and alarm clocks. Best Buy partners with responsible recyclers that do not ship items overseas, including Green Business Network™ member Electronic Recyclers International. You can bring three small items per day to Best Buy for free. The company charges a fee to recycle large electronics. BestBuy.com/recycling.

5) Eyeglasses: Your local Lions Club collects them for people in need.

6) Fishing line: Mail to Berkley Recycling, which turns it into fish habitat structures: 1900 18th Street; Spirit Lake, IA 51360.

7) Gift cards and customer loyalty cards: Fill out the form at http://www.earthworkssystem.com/consumers.html to recycle them. (Accepts conventional cards only, not bioplastic/ compostable cards.)

8) Ink Cartridges: RecyclePlace.com pays $1 each and will recycle them. (Also see
#12, “Technotrash.”)

9) Pantyhose/tights: No Nonsense collects all brands of hose, tights, and kneehighs to be recycled into other products. NoNonsense.com/PantyhoseRecycling.aspx.

10) Plastic packaging: Many pack-and-ship stores will take packing peanuts and bubble wrap. For drop-off locations for foam blocks, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.

11) Polypropylene (#5) plastics (all types): Preserve’s Gimme 5 program accepts all types of clean #5 plastics, which are turned into Preserve personal care and kitchen products. Drop them off in the “Gimme 5” container available at select Whole Foods and food co-ops. Visit http://www.preserveproducts.com/recycling/gimme5.html to find a location or learn how to mail them in.

12) “Technotrash”: Organizations and schools can earn money for recycling ink cartridges and small electronics like cell phones and iPods through ProjectKOPEG.com. Recycle a large box of CDs, DVDs, jewel cases, audio and video tapes, small electronics, and ink cartridges for $30 (includes postage) through Green Disk, 800/305-GREENDISK, GreenDisk.com.

13) Telephones: Call to Protect (donateaphone.com/calltoprotect) refurbishes cell phones for domestic violence victims (see also “Technotrash,” above). Take corded and cordless phones to a local Best Buy for recycling.

14) Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet, 800/476-9249, www.playitagainsports.com.

15) Tennis balls: reBounces restores old tennis balls that have lost their bounce.

16) Tennis shoes: NikeReuseAShoe.com turns them into athletic flooring. http://www.soles4souls.org and OneWorldRunning.com sends still-wearable shoes to runners in need in developing countries.

17) Toys: Domestic Metals and Plastics accepts plastic toys of all types for recycling. Dmpgreen.com.

18) Trophies: Lamb Awards will break your trophies down and remake them into
new ones. E-mail internet@lambawards.com, and put “recycling” in the subject line.

19) Tyvek envelopes: Quantities less than 25: Send to Tyvek Recycle, Attn. Shirley B. Wright, 8401 Fort Darling Road, Richmond, VA 23237. More than 25: call 866/33-TYVEK.

20) Yoga mats: RecycleYourMat.com accepts yoga mats for recycling.

Green America is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982. (They went by the name "Co-op America" until January 1, 2009.)  Their mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.  For more information about Green America and the fantastic work they do, visit www.greenamerica.org