Puma’s Eco-Friendly Move to Greener Pastures

Image from CrispGreen.com

When you think of sustainable design and green products, odds are that the first thing to pop into your mind isn’t going to be shoes. They have a limited amount of use before they fall apart, most people don’t recycle them, and they aren’t typically created in the most environmentally sustainable processes. However, there’s one company that’s making large leaps in gaining a greener attitude where shoes are concerned: Puma!

In April 2010, Puma released their sustainable “Clever Little Bag,” a reusable, lower-impact alternative to the traditional shoe box. Not only do they use 65% less paper than an ordinary shoe box, but they also reduce diesel consumption in the manufacturing process by nearly 60% annually. It’s all a part of Puma’s effort to reduce their “paw print” over the next few years. By 2015, Puma hopes to achieve the following major milestones:

• 25% reduction of CO2, energy, water and waste in PUMA offices, stores, warehouses and direct supplier factories.
• Paperless office policy through a 75% reduction and offsetting initiatives for the remaining paper usage such as tree planting initiatives.
• 25% CO2 reduction through more efficient product transport solutions by our logistic partners.
• Begin collaborating with our strategic suppliers and logistic service providers to offset their own footprints in the long-term.
• Introduction of the PUMA Sustainability-Index (S-Index) standard that serves as a benchmark for sustainable products and communicates the products’ sustainable features to consumers.
• 50% of PUMA’s international collections will be manufactured according to the PUMA S-Index standard by 2015, using sustainable materials such as organic cotton, Cotton Made in Africa or recycled polyester as well as applying best practice production processes.

Next on the road to greener pastures for Puma? Compostable sneakers! It’s true; Puma hopes that in the near future they will be able to offer shoes that you can toss into your compost bin along with your coffee grounds and apple peels. They’re also doing research and development on recyclable sneakers. Either way, it’s about time that the shoe industry jumped on the green bandwagon, and many people are looking forward to the day when buying a new pair of shoes comes with less consumer guilt and a little more green satisfaction.

Water Conservation Through Energy Efficiency

 

 

Image from Sears.com

Think that taking shorter showers and using low-flow toilets are the easiest ways to conserve water this winter? Well, although those are some great steps in saving water and reducing your environmental footprint, there’s actually an even easier way to reduce your water consumption: reduce your energy consumption! Due to the fact that the average coal-fired  power plant uses up to 28,000 gallons of water to produce a single megawatt hour of electricity, simply reducing your electricity use can play a huge role in water savings over time.

Here are some simple tips that will help your reduce your energy consumption and, consequently, your water consumption this holiday season:

  1. Switch to LED lights! Whether you’re decorating around your house or stringing a line of sparkling lights up on your tree, LED lights are the way to go. Not only do they use 90% less electricity than traditional Christmas lights, but they also are longer lasting, more durable, and come in a vast variety of styles and colors, so you won’t miss your old lights at all.
  2. Limit the time your lighted displays are on. By turning on lights only when it is dark and by turning them off before bed, you can save a ton of energy this season. And if you’re having a hard time remembering to turn them off before bed, you can always use a Christmas light timer to do the work for you.
  3. Use a programmable thermostat to control heating. A programmable thermostat is a convenient way to ensure that your home is only heated when you deem it necessary. Keeping the temperature around 68 degrees when you’re awake and lowering it by around 10 degrees when you’re away or asleep can save a considerable amount of energy and water this winter.
  4. Unplug electronics when not in use. Even when you’re not using your electronics, by remaining plugged in they continue to drain small amounts of energy that add up over time. This energy use, called “vampire energy,” can be avoided by only plugging in equipment right before you use it and unplugging it when you’re done.
  5. When cooking that turkey or ham, keep the oven door shut! We know it’s tempting, but every time you open the oven to take a peek at your slowly baking food, the temperature of your oven drops drastically, causing it to have to expend more energy to maintain the correct heating level. Use your oven light and peek through the glass window instead to save energy this holiday.

A Few Simple Tips for an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving

Photo from BeachFrontOnly.wordpress.com

Being eco-friendly around the holidays can be kind of like trying to stay on a diet during the holidays—not always easy. With the amount of travel between gatherings, the mass consumerism, and excessive waste, it may seem like having a green holiday is out of reach. However, by following a few simple guidelines, courtesy of EarthFirst.com, you can rest assured that your Thanksgiving will be environmentally responsible.

Stay close to home, or take the train – Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when airports and highways are jam-packed with travelers trying to make it to Grandma’s house. Why not skip the headaches and save some carbon by sticking close to home? Make a new tradition with your friends and family that live in your area. Or, if you must travel, consider taking the train – it’s far better for the environment than air travel or personal vehicles.

Keep it simple and buy local
– Don’t feel like you have to amaze your friends and family with a gourmet magazine-worthy spread rife with exotic ingredients flown in from around the world. Most people aren’t looking for novel culinary fare on a day like this – they’ll be happy with traditional dishes that celebrate the bounty of the local harvest. Check out your local farmer’s market for fall goodies like squash, greens, potatoes, yams, pumpkins and evergreen herbs like rosemary and sage. And don’t forget to check your local free-range farms for that centerpiece of the Thanksgiving piece, the turkey (unless you’re vegetarian, of course…).

Go vegetarian – If you’ve been thinking about trying out a vegetarian diet, Thanksgiving is actually a great time to do it. You’ll be amazed at how many options there are – you won’t even miss the turkey. Livestock put a huge strain on the planet, and factory farms do abominable things to those poor little animals before they end up on your plate.

Serve organic beverages – Pick up some local libations if you’ve got nearby breweries and wineries, especially if you have guests coming into town – it’s a great way to show off regional specialties. If you don’t live near any craft beer or wine producers, pick up a few bottles of organic brew – there are dozens of varieties available at most health-food stores.

Decorate with natural materials – There’s absolutely no reason to run out to the mall and purchase a bunch of Thanksgiving-themed junk that was made in China and will fall apart by next year. Skip the cheesy seasonal décor and take a cue from nature.  Many people like to place pinecones in a bowl or basket as a centerpiece, or wind a string of white lights around some branches in a planter or tall vase. You could also purchase a living plant that can go into the garden next spring, or pick up a bouquet or organic blooms from your local independent florist.

Illuminate your home with beeswax or soy candles – No need to turn on every light in the house for your guests. Create a romantic atmosphere without adding to your electricity bill by placing beeswax or soy candles around your home. Avoid paraffin candles, though – they’re made from petroleum and emit nasty fumes into the air.

Compost your scraps –  Don’t toss those potato peels, celery tops and carrot ends into the trash! If you’re not the type to save them for soup broth, toss them in a bucket along with a handful of shredded paper, leaves or other carbonaceous material. If you don’t already have a compost pile or bin, now’s a great time to get a head start on next spring’s garden by creating free, fertile compost.

5 Helpful Tips to Getting Published as a Green Writer

Photo from DegreeDirectory.org

Becoming a professional writer is tough. Especially if you want to write about the environment.

A simple Google search will lead you to hundreds of thousands of blogs, publications, and articles talking about sustainability, recycling, alternative energy solutions, and other subjects related to protecting the Earth. You can imagine how hard it can be to get noticed.

But if you hope to become a “green writer” in the near future, here are some tips that might help you get published and even paid for your work.

1. Do your research. And then do some more research.

Because of the interconnected relationship between science, politics, sociology, and ideology, writing about the environment requires a boatload of research to make sure you know what you’re talking about. If you make any sort of error, whether spelling or factual, someone out there will call you out on it. And that will not bode well for you.

2. Find a niche area to write about.

The environment is a huge subject. You can write about climate change, green energy, recycling, ecodesign, local/national/international policy, history, environmental science, pollution, green business, green jobs, etc. Choose a topic that is unique that publishers and bloggers will find interesting.

3. Take advantage of blogging and social media.

Blogs are a perfect way to launch your green writing career. If you use the right key words and tags, search engines like Google and Bing will pick up your content and share them to the right audience. Take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, and social bookmaking sites to boost your credibility. And remember, social media is supposed to be SOCIAL. Don’t be afraid to comment on other people’s blogs, “friend” and “follow” like-minded writers, and develop online relationships (even if you never meet these people) with other writers and experts in your field. Breaking into any business is all about who you know, not necessarily what you know.

4. Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimization.

SEO, or search engine optimization, means how prominently your name and brand shows up on major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. If you take advantage of tip #3, you’re already on your way to launching your web presence. SEO is a very large concept that cannot be explained easily, but blogging and social media can do wonders to get you started.

5. Seek out publications that accept submissions.

This should be obvious. Just Google “green writing submissions” and you should find enough resources to last you for a while. These days, being published online may get you more reads than being featured in a magazine or newspaper.

And always remember: CONTENT IS KING. If you have interesting, intelligent, and well-written content to share, these tips will make this adventure easier for you. So go for it!

Tour de France Athletes Are Not the Only Ones Who Benefit from Riding a Bike

Photo by the Associated Press.

You know summer is officially here when the best bicyclists in the world gather together in the sweltering heat of the French countryside to compete in the annual Tour de France.

Pedaling for more than 2,000 miles over a span of one month is a task for only the best of the best. Bicyclists who can survive those grueling uphill climbs are truly champions.

But riding a bicycle isn’t just for elite athletes. There are plenty of advantages the rest of us to bike to work, school, and everywhere else instead of driving a car. And these reasons are beneficial not only to your personal health, but to your community and environment as well.

1. Biking saves money.

Do you have to gas up every time you use your bike? Probably not. Unless you own a motorized bike, the only energy needed to ride a regular bicycle is your own. Think about how much money you can save on gas by not having to use any.

2. Biking can help relieve road congestion.

Fewer cars on the road means less traffic congestion. Less traffic means quicker commutes, fewer road accidents, and quieter living conditions. Noise pollution is a form of pollution that we don’t often think about.

3. Biking reduces air pollution.

Does pedaling your bike release harmful chemicals into the air? Of course not! Heavy concentrations of automobiles release benzene, cyanide, carbon monoxide and sulfates into the atmosphere while riding a bicycle does no such thing.

4. Biking is good exercise.

For most of us, we don’t live as active a lifestyle as we should. Sitting at our desks all day certainly doesn’t help! So why do the same while commuting to school or work? Biking is a great source of exercise that improves your cardiovascular endurance and strengthens your legs and core. Plus, getting more oxygen into your system never hurts. And if you do plan to ride your bike, keep yourself hydrated with one of Earthlust’s stainless steel BPA-free water bottles sold at Olive & Myrtle.

5. Biking helps your local community.

Having fewer cars and trucks on the road has another advantage: It helps your local community. Local city and state governments spend an enormous amount of money each year repairing streets across America. Reducing the number of automobiles we send out every day can alleviate the wear and tear these roads go through, which will save valuable taxpayer dollars.

What is “Ecodesign?”

Simply put, Ecodesign refers to the approach of creating a product that takes into consideration its environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle.

Any product, from a paper coffee cup to a diamond engagement ring to a cell phone, leaves behind some sort of environmental impact. But companies that take ecodesign into account can help alleviate that impact.

The ecodesign process includes these steps and more:

1. Development – What raw materials are being used to create the product? How are these materials being extracted? Does extracting these materials harm the environment?

2. Manufacture – Is the product being manufactured in an energy-efficient manner? How much land is being used? What chemicals are being emitted during the manufacture process? Are the people who make this product being paid an equitable salary?

3. Use – Does using the product harm the planet in anyway? What if it breaks? What can people do if there is a problem?

4. Disposal – Is the product biodegradable? If not, is there a user-friendly system in place for people to dispose of it? Can any of the materials be recycled?

5. Assessment - Is there a system of assessment and accountability to make sure nothing goes wrong? Is there a way to make improvements and adjustments? How can our company respect our customer’s need for transparency?

Ecodesign can also refer to building construction, landscape design, infrastructure, and other non-retail related projects. Luckily, there are ecodesign teams who recommend best practices and strategies for eco-conscious businesses as well as ecodesign watchdogs and international ecodesign commissions.

No product is perfect, but there are systems that are better than others. Manufacturers who take an ecodesign approach to creating their products do their part by doing business in a way that keeps out planet and future generations happy.

Summer in the City: Plan a Green Summer in the Pacific Northwest

Photo courtesy of www.seattle-tourist.com

When you think of “summer,” what comes to mind?

Hot weather? Beaches? Lemonade stands? No school for three months? Relaxing in your backyard hammock? Vacation time?

If summer makes you think of any of these things, guess what? It’s possible to enjoy the sun while also being nice to our planet. Sound intriguing? Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to stay safe and green this summer:

Sunscreen is a lifesaver! Make sure you apply plenty of sunscreen when you head outside because it helps protect you from harmful UVB rays. But not all sunscreens are created equal. The Environmental Working Group, offers a database on safe and healthy commercial sunscreens to help you weed out the best from the worst.

Consider planning a “staycation” to cut down on gas. There are plenty of fun things to do and hidden gems in the Pacific Northwest that doesn’t require tons of traveling.

The beautiful San Juan Islands are just a ferry ride away. Go sailing, kayaking, whale watching without having to spend unnecessary money on gas and other travel expenses.

Do you have a friend or relative who plans on visiting Seattle this summer? Refer them to this list of eco-friendly hotels and motels in the Seattle area.

Check out a local farmers market to see what succulent fruits are available to eat on a sweltering summer evening.

Think about purchasing some eco-friendly lunch totes that you can bring with you on your summer picnics. They can also come in handy to carry your sunscreen and towels when you visit the beach!

So have a happy and safe summer, everyone!

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Eco Traveling

Traveling responsibly can allow you to have a unique trip while avoiding leaving negative marks on culture, economies and the environment.

Eco Tourism presented us with 10 Do’s and Don’ts while traveling:

1. At the hotel: Ask about environmental policies and practices.  Talk with staff about working conditions.  Does the hotel support community projects.

2. Language: Learn a few words of the local language.

3. Dress: Read up on local conventions and dress appropriately.  In many countries, modest dress is important or even required.

4. Behavior: Be respectful of local citizens’ privacy.  Ask permission before entering sacred places, homes or private land.

5. Photos: Be sensitive to when and where you take photos/videos of people.  Always ask first.  Some people religious beliefs don’t allow them to be photographed.

6. Environment: Respect the natural environment.  Never touch or harass animals.  Always follow designated trails.  Support conservation by paying entrance fees to parks and protected sites.

7. Animal Products: Never buy crafts or products made from protected or endangered species.

8. Pay the fair price: Don’t engage in overly aggressive bargaining for souvenirs.  Don’t short-change on tips for services.

9. Buy local: Choose locally-owned lodges, hotels and B&B’s.  Use local buses, car rental agencies and airlines.  Eat in local restaurants, shop in local markets and attend local festivities.

10. Hire local guides: Enrich your experience and support the local economy. 

Being Green At The Local Farmers’ Market

(Image from ThirdCoastDigest.com)

Besides fresh warm weather, blossoming flora, and a sense of renewal, spring’s arrival brings the return of Farmers’ Markets to seasonal states! A responsible, affordable way to eat green is to shop the organic offerings of your local Farmers’ Market. Choosing the super fresh, natural foods from Farmer’s Markets stimulates and supports your local economy, and the quality of product is generally superior to supermarkets that ship their produce.

Tools and Tips for Fantastic Farmers’ Market Shopping:

-Check Local Harvest‘s huge list of Farmers’ Markets searchable by zip code, city, or alphabetically.

-Equip yourself with one large or several eco-friendly produce bags for stashing your fresh finds.

- Research ahead of time what’s available in what seasons, so you don’t miss out on popular or favorite items.

-Go early for the best selection, late for the best chance of deals.

Eco-Valentine Inspirations

Looking for some green romance options this Valentine’s Day? Here are some inspirations and ideas.

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(Photo from WholeLiving.com)

Purchase local, organic ingredients and whip up a feast for you and your sweetheart at home, such as thisWhole-Wheat Greek Pizza (above), or Roasted Sweet Potato Soup with Curried Apples (both fromWholeLiving.com). Yum!

2008_11_19-PaperFlowers

(photo from TheKitchn.com)

Forgo buying traditional flowers in lieu of creating unique paper flowers out of old paperwork, newpaper, or tissue paper. They’ll last a lot longer and the reciepeinet is sure to appreciate the creativity and effort. Tons (45+) of tutorials here.

peanut-butter-cup

(Image from iStockPhoto/ThinkStock)

Forget over-packaged candies. Make your own sweets from these eco-friendly dessert recipes fromPlanetGreen.com, including the raw peanut butter cups pictured above.

GHF_StandardCharcoal_77127_128_129_72dpi_6(Recycled Wood Frames in Charcoal at Olive & Myrtle)

Go virtual. Rather than buying cards and driving around town shopping, send an e-card and shop online for some awesome green Valentine gifts.

Love each other, love our planet…..Happy Valentine’s Day!