12 Ways to Green Your
Holiday Season

T-Shirts Made from Recycled Water Bottles
and Recycled Cotton

New Invention Aims To Reduce Paper Towel Waste New Pocket Towel Invention Hit Kickstarter This Week

Dining Green: Best of 2012, Trends for 2013
The Green Restaurant Association’s Year End Recap

Gift It Green This Holiday!

nature conserve

12 Ways to Green Your
Holiday Season

1. Treecycling: Christmas trees can be re-purposed into mulch and used in gardening and landscaping or chipped and used on hiking trails and paths. Christmas trees can also been used for erosion control, soil stabilization and shoreline maintenance. When used in this manner, the trees not only stabilize the soil, but also provide habitats for fish and birds.

2. Scrap the Traditional Wrap: Wrap holiday gifts with children’s artwork or a colorful section of your local newspaper. Some beautiful remnant fabric or what was once a “must have” scarf would make cheerful holiday gift wrapping.

3. Light up the Night with LED Lights: Energy-saving LED lights burn brighter, last longer, and save you money.

4. Green Greetings: sending e-cards—saves time, money and the planet. When the holidays are over, why not turn some of those beautiful greeting cards you received into gift tags for next year? Start by separating the front of the prettiest holiday cards from the back. Trim the edges of the front, following the design of the card, to create a festive gift tag.

5. Give Back: give a gift that makes a difference—changing a life or saving a life. Donate to a local or favorite charity in a friend’s name.

6. Decorate with Nature: create a beautiful holiday wreath using gifts from nature. Collect pinecones, twigs, branches adorned with berries and more from your own backyard, use wire to create the round wreath shape, and decorate with festive ribbons. A great, and green, family project.

7. Shop local: walk into town to do your holiday shopping. Neighborhood shops offer festive and unique holiday gifts—no more gas-guzzling spins around the mall parking lot looking for a parking spot.

8. Use Wrapping for Scrapping: Use holiday-themed wrapping from gifts that you receive for festive scrapbooking page borders. Ribbons, bows and embellishments will also help to create lively holiday memory keepsakes.

9. Give Battery-Free Toys: battery sales spike during the holiday season and these batteries can end up in landfills. Art sets and craft projects provide inspiration and feed imagination.

10. Serve Organic and Locally Sourced Meals: visit local farmers markets to shop for your holiday menu. Locally made jellies and jams also make great gifts.

11. Teach Kids About Giving: after all the new gifts have been opened, ask kids to select a toy they no longer play with and have them donate it to a children’s hospital or child care center. What was old will now seem new again to a child this holiday season.

12. Remember Those in Need: Clean out your closets and donate gently used clothes and coats to local thrift shops and shelters.


T-Shirts Made from Recycled Water Bottles
and Recycled Cotton

Spun from 50% recycled water bottles and 50% recycled cotton, these limited edition T's from Hydros Bottle give you another easy way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. These fitted crew neck T's for women and men are available in sizes S-XL. Choose your favorite message:

  • "never been dumped"
  • "don't trash me, bro"
  • "plastic where it counts"
  • "sustainable development is sexy"

The Hydros T-shirt line continues their commitment to eliminating the excessive waste created by the bottled water industry and does so with bold messaging. Each premium, ultra soft shirt is spun from 50% recycled PET water bottles and 50% recycled cotton, a surprisingly comfortable blend. Furthermore, part of the proceeds from each shirt sold go towards funding water infrastructure projects in developing countries. To the eco consumer, these American-made shirts are not only edgy, but they help reduce the 38 billion plastic water bottles that end up in landfills in the United States. Shirts sell for $30 at www.hydrosbottle.com.

New Invention Aims To Reduce Paper Towel Waste New Pocket Towel Invention Hit Kickstarter This Week

Each day, humans create 3,000 tons of paper towel waste headed straight for landfills without the option of recycling. When graphic designer Alec Ramsey heard this staggering statistic, he was inspired to counter such an overwhelming problem with a practical solution in the form of a new invention—the Jimmy Towel. In essence, the Jimmy Towel is a reusable hand towel that folds down into a durable case for people to use whenever they find themselves at sinks away from home. The invention launched earlier this week on the crowd funding site Kickstarter and will soon be available in stores.

But Ramsey and business partner and former solar company CEO Lee Johnson hope that the Jimmy Towel grows beyond its novelty to become an extension of the green movement that saves trees, reduces waste and brings greater consciousness to everyday habits. “The biggest appeal of the Jimmy Towel, for me, is its practicality,” says Johnson. “When it comes down to it, these small changes add up, and this gives people an easy way to start reducing their footprint.”

Paper towel usage creates a staggering impact on our environment. Every day, 51,000 trees are cut down to manufacture the amount of paper towels used in a 24-hour period. And most paper towels cannot be recycled or even composted. As a result, paper products amount to 40 percent of the waste in our landfills. The United States alone accounts for 30 percent of the world’s paper towel usage.

Johnson himself has been profoundly a!ected by the sustainability movement. Once a corporate CEO in Latin America with the carbon footprint of a small country, he now is an eco-conscious consumer living a sustainable life complete with vegetable-oil diesel cars and homegrown produce. According to Johnson, he was immediately inspired by the idea of the Jimmy Towel.

“I don’t know if I see the Jimmy Towel as a major advance,” said Ramsey, who also serves as Creative Director for the branding agency 20|20 Creative Group. “If anything, I hope it gets us back to where we didn’t depend on paper towels in the first place. I’ve come to realize it’s among many wasteful modern conveniences that we just don’t need anymore.”

The Jimmy Towel is made of a super-absorbent cloth branded with an inspirational eco-conscious message. The towel folds down into a pocket-sized carrying case outfitted with a moisture wicking system that keeps the towel dry all day. The towels can be removed from the carrying case to be washed at home. Each Jimmy Towel is assembled in Southern California, satisfying the company’s goal to maintain production as close as possible to their headquarters in San Luis Obispo, California.

The idea for Jimmy came in 2010 when Ramsey, Johnson, and fellow San Luis Obispo business leaders including Jimmy ApRoberts found themselves in a local leadership program.  While discussing their environmental impact, ApRoberts shared how he hadn’t used a paper towel in more than a year, opting instead to dry his freshly-washed hands on his pants.  The story hit home for Ramsey, though he understood promoting any real change would require a more practical, reusable substitute for paper towels. Ramsey immediately went home, taught himself how to sew, and began making pocket-towel prototypes that he named after his friend who inspired him.

After partnering with Johnson to move the Jimmy Towel into production, the team filed for a patent, established production, and launched the product in their community and online. To learn more about the Jimmy Towel or support its cause on Kickstarter, visit www.JimmyTowel.com.

Dining Green: Best of 2012, Trends for 2013
The Green Restaurant Association’s Year End Recap

As 2012 comes to a close, the Green Restaurant Association (GRA)—the  only official certifier of Green Restaurants® in the country—celebrates  the ongoing green accomplishments of Certified Green Restaurants® across the country, and looks forward to exciting green dining trends for 2013.

Over the past year, Certified Green Restaurants® took tremendous leaps to implement sustainable practices – including minimizing waste and conserving energy – all while sharing specific details of their environmental progress with their diners. These achievements in sustainability made 2012 a year for dining green!

Composting Programs
Over the past year, composting has become a more common practice in the food service industry, offering both economical and environmental benefits. While Americans collectively spend $1 billion to discard over 25 million tons of food products each year, Near-Zero Waste™ Restaurants have eliminated their total landfill input by 95% through recycling and composting programs, reducing their waste-hauler costs in the process. Not to mention, the composting process of recycling organic waste back into our food system enriches our soil and minimizes pollution. For these reasons, composting has been mandated in cities and states across the country, including San Francisco, Vermont and Massachusetts. Further, the GRA requires Certified Green Restaurants® in areas with competitive composting services to implement composting programs, including those in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington DC, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland OR, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and St. Louis.

Energy-Efficient Lighting
Incandescent light bulbs are being banned in the U.S., and many restaurants have been adjusting to this recent legislation by implementing more energy-efficient lighting solutions. For example, the Green Sage in South Asheville, NC has updated 90% of its lighting to LEDs, earning 16.2 GreenPoints™ towards becoming a 4 Star Certified Green Restaurant® in the process. Recent innovations in the rapidly evolving LED technology have made LEDs even more conducive to restaurant environments, such as the 10 watt Award Winning LED Bulb from Philips Lighting, the recipient of the LPrize® from the U.S. Department of Energy. This innovative 60 watt equivalent LED bulb offers a dimmable lighting quality that lasts for 25,000 hours – all while saving restaurants up to 83% of their lighting-related energy costs. Realizing that efficient lighting means efficient business, restaurants have not only made tremendous progress to replace incandescent bulbs in 2012, but are also certain to continue updating their lighting solutions for years to come.

Alternative Fuel
New technology has made it possible for restaurants to turn their used grease into energy. Given the environmental benefits of this growing market, the GRA has updated its Endorsement Standards to include companies that either convert 100% of the used grease into biodiesel, electricity, or Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO), or haul the grease product to a company that does. Further, Certified Green Restaurants® in Asheville, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, southern and central Connecticut, Washington DC, Los Angeles, southwest Montana, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland OR, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Spokane are required to convert their grease to energy, through waste-haulers, or by implementing an on-site pumping station, such as SpringBoard Biodiesel’s BioPro EX device. This safe and easy-to-use appliance automatically converts grease to biodiesel, which burns 78% cleaner than regular diesel, according to the EPA. With devices such as the BioPro EX, it has never been easier for restaurants, schools and hotels to convert their grease in a clean, reliable way.

Transparency Tools
The Green Restaurant Association understands the importance of transparency, and acts as an outside source to verify the environmental accomplishments of Certified Green Restaurants® across the country. After all, 94% of people want any green claims to be vetted by a third-party organization as being true. The GRA’s online tools provide customers with Green Labels that outline the specific steps each restaurant has taken to become more sustainable across their operations. Find Certified Green Restaurants® and view their Green Labels by visiting: http://dinegreen.com/customers/default.asp

Green Dining Trends for 2013
As the new year approaches, the Green Restaurant Association anticipates exciting green opportunities for restaurants across the country in coming months. Recent accomplishments from esteemed institutions such as Boston University and InterContinental Hotels indicate that diners are sure to find more Certified Green Restaurants® within schools and hotels in the coming year. All the while, restaurants will continue to adapt to environmental conditions and innovative technologies going forward. These exciting trends offer new ways that restaurants can satisfy sustainable-minded consumers who prefer to dine green.

Water Conservation
As much of the Midwest is suffering a severe drought, water conservation is certain to be a big priority in 2013. Both restaurants and manufacturers will continue to adapt to the repercussions of the drought, and take steps to reduce the 300 billion gallons of water used annually within the country’s restaurant industry. For example, while the least efficient Spray Valve sold today is 1.6 gallons-per-minute, many Certified Green Restaurants® have installed Spray Valves that flow 1.2, 1.0 or even 0.6 gallons-per-minute, which is an incredible step to conserve water. More restaurants will integrate these simple devices to improve water-efficiency in the coming year. Additionally, restaurants will also be more particular about purchasing water-efficient equipment, such as dishwashers. And while this is not the norm yet, there are even Certified Green Restaurants® that are recycling greywater, which has been previously used in sinks, showers, baths and washer machines, for use in their irrigation and plumbing practices. As water becomes scarcer and more expensive, conservation will evolve from a point of interest to a place of need, and many restaurants understand that this is a trend that will continue.

Electric Car ChargingStations
With the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf evolving the car market, modern highways have never seen so many electric vehicle drivers, and this number is only increasing. Now, diners can charge their batteries while enjoying a meal at Certified Green Restaurants® across the country. From the corporate cafeteria’s on Microsoft’s Redmond Campus to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Steakhouse in Chicago, there are Certified Green Restaurants® that already provide electric vehicle charging stations for their guests. On the edge of this technology, before charging stations are everywhere or vehicle batteries last longer, restaurants that meet this growing demand for electric car charging stations will attract more business and satisfy more customers.

Schools and Universities
Colleges across the country understand the importance of offering environmentally sustainable dining options on campus. In the past year, Boston University’s Union Court earned the title of “The Greenest Food Court in the Country,” while dining services for Northeastern University, Harvard Business School and Bates College have become Certified Green Restaurants® as well. In California, UCLA and San Diego State University are also taking steps to green their dining services. Research by the Princeton Review shows that 66% of college applicants and parents “would find information about a college’s dedication to the environment useful in their college selection process,” and as a result, more food courts and school cafeterias are expected to become Certified Green Restaurants® in the next year than ever before.

Hotels and Resorts
Hotels large and small are taking steps to become more sustainable, including greening their dining options. Last fall, the InterContinental Hotel Group committed to certifying all of their restaurants and bars through the Green Restaurant Association, and the renowned hotel chain recently achieved this tremendous accomplishment. Additionally, Doubletree and Wyndham hotels have also made exceptional environmental progress by earning certification for their dining services as well. Within the next year, more boutique hotels and large chains will be offering environmentally sustainable dining options that are vetted by a third party. At that point, their visitors can be confident that they’re dining green!

It is an exciting time for Certified Green Restaurants®! 2013 will demonstrate even more environmental progress across our nation’s restaurant industry.  For more information about the Green Restaurant Association visit www.dinegreen.com.


Gift It Green This Holiday!

Gift it Green™(gig) eco-chic fabric gift boxes are for those looking for an environmentally-friendly alternative to disposable paper wrap, gift bags, and gift boxes but still want all of the fun. Developed by a Chicago mom of three boys, Gift it Green offers kids and adults a fun and easy way to help save the environment by gifting forward. Gift it Green is a Green America Silver Certified Business and proudly support Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

During the holidays, Americans throw away 25% more trash than any other time of the year. This holiday season, start a waste-free family tradition with Gift it Green (gig) reusable cotton gift boxes. Gigs add the unique touch to any present and replace the need for cards, paper wrap, tissue, and paper gift bags. No other reusable wrap captures the fun experience of unwrapping a gift with its eco-friendly crinkly tissue paper, ribbon and multiple layers. Gigs are designed to be re-gifted, so write your name on the tag inside and "gift it forward" or keep it (perfect for holding jewelry or holiday keepsakes). Gift it Green – a fun, eco-friendly family tradition.

Gift It Green (gig) boxes are designed to be gifted forward and are available in several modern designs and sizes.  Gigs cost between $14 - $18 and can be purchased at retailers and www.giftitgreen.com.