Archive for : Environment

DIY Summer – Eco-Friendly Projects for Everyone

Summer is almost here, and what better way to celebrate the year’s most outdoorsy season than with digging into a do-it-yourself eco-friendly project or activity? Whether you’re gaga for gardening, tempted by travel, bonkers for books, or just feeling adventurous, here are seven ways to get your hands dirty while making a sustainable impact:

  • Build a garden. Got a backyard, a patio, a sunny window, or a kitchen counter with a little extra space? Flex your green thumb by building a garden and enjoy fresh, organically-grown herbs or vegetables all summer.
  • Learn to can (finally). You know you’ve thought about it before – learning to preserve summer’s seasonal produce that is. Whether it’s making your own sauerkraut, canning tomatoes, or simmering down freshly picked fruit for jam (best smell ever!), now’s the time! Learn how to can fresh food safely, and get to preserving.
  • Read green. When the summer gets too hot too handle, cool down by picking out and leafing through a stack of books at an eco-friendly library.
  • Road trip sustainably. Got summer road trip plans, but want to stay as green as possible along the way? Check out Ethical Ocean’s tips to avoid leaving a large carbon footprint along the way. Bonus points: offset the carbon footprint for the miles you drive, and contact non-profit organizations in a couple of cities you plan to visit, and offer to come in for a day (or week) to volunteer en route.
  • Knit a green hat for winter. Love to knit, or learning how? Make sure the yarn you use is made from organic or recycled fibers and natural dyes.
  • Clean grean. This summer, wipe your cabinets clean of all those bottles of unsustainable cleansers, soaps, and bleaches. Restock with homemade, environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
  • Ditch plastic in your kitchen. Stock up on reusable produce and grain bags to bring with you to the market or grocery store. Can’t seem to remember to bring them? Stuff them inside larger tote bags and and hang them on your door knob, so they’re the last thing you see on the way out the door.

How are you DIY greening your summer plans? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Get Your Spring Clean On (And Do Good Along the Way)

It’s official: spring is in the air. That means: it’s time to plan some picnics, finalize summer plans and – SPRING CLEAN! Whether you live love to clean, or can’t stand the thought of picking up a mop or dustpan, there is something about the arrival of spring that brings out everyone’s inner clean freak.

But spring cleaning doesn’t only refer to tidying up your physical space. It also means finding ways to de-clutter your life emotionally, and renew your commitment to helping others. Get a jump start on spring cleaning this year by finding ways to shed the clutter while doing some good:

  • Closet purge. You know you’ve been meaning to organize your closet. Go through your clothes, then organize a clothing swap with friends. Donate any clothes that don’t get swapped to charity.
  • Recycle your phone. Got an unloved cell phone (or several) lying around? Recycle it! Check out the EPA’s list of stores and facilities that accept old cell phones here.
  • Park (or beach) cleanup. Organize a park, beach or other public space cleanup in your neighborhood. Many cities, like Seattle and New York, also provide opportunities for people to plug into official clean up events.
  • Sort and file. Are you an organizing whiz? Volunteer to organize the files of your favorite non-profit – chances are, they would greatly appreciate the help.
  • Join a CSA. Now is the time to sign up for a season’s worth of fresh vegetables and fruit from a local farm. (Find out more about CSAs here.) After you sign up, scrub out your fridge’s vegetable drawers in preparation for all that tasty produce.

How are you adding service to your spring cleaning? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Celebrate Clean Air Month This May

Take a deep breath in – what do you smell? Hopefully the warm spring air, the budding trees and the scent of springtime barbecues.

But for too many people across the country and world, breathing comes with a fair amount of baggage – specifically the air pollution from idling cars and busses, smokestacks, factories, and the harsh chemicals we use to clean our buildings. Believe it or not, nearly 4 out of 10 people live in a place where pollution levels are often too dangerous to safely breathe!

May is Clean Air Month – the perfect time to take action to ensure that we all get to breathe free and easy. Here are some ideas to get you started:

State of the AirCheck out the State of the Air. The American Lung Association’s interactive website lets you type in your zipcode to see how clean your air is, learn the health risks that come with polluted air, and discover opportunities to take action.

Divest from Fossil Fuels. The folks at FossilFree.org are leading the charge in getting people and institutions (like college campuses) to divest their financial support of fossil fuels, which both pollute the air and impact the climate. Find out how you can be a part of the movement.

full_1367609132earthbakedpsdWalk in biodegradable style. Walking or riding a bike instead of driving is a great way to help keep polluting car fumes out of the air. But there’s no need to sacrifice your style – check out these rad biodegradable walking shoes!

Clean the air – indoors. Indoor air pollution can be as harmful as the stuff we breathe outside, and can lead to headaches, asthma, and fatigue. These 5 ideas – from adding plants to your home, to switching cleaning products – will keep the air in your apartment or office clean and fresh.

How are you celebrating Clean Air Month? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #cleanairmonth.

Celebrate National Bike Month This May!

Biking is the new driving – almost! Did you know that bike commuting has grown by 47 percent since 2000? That means more and more people are swapping four wheels for two, trading in gasoline power for pedal power, and getting out into the fresh air. And now, they are getting together all across the country to celebrate National Bike Month – a month dedicated to all things cycling!

Repair the World loves National Bike Month (we even have a few dedicated cyclers on staff). So as the country kicks off National Bike Month, here are some interesting events, opportunities, and news happening in the biking world right now:

  • Join a bike share program. Don’t own your own bike, or need a bike to get around a new city. Check out the sweet bike-sharing map, which charts bike-share programs around the globe. So cool! You can also check out Spinlister to find real live people nearby who want to rent their bike to you for the day.
  • BYOB (bike lane, that is) File this under genius: several new companies are piloting bike lights that project the image bright red lanes all around a biker when it’s dark out. The lanes help cars see the bikes on the road, and get a sense of how close they are!
  • Brake and refuel. Thirsty bikers in Zurich can roll up to a new crop of “drive-in” cafes designed just for them. The table top design lets riders drink their cappuccino and read the paper without ever leaving the saddle.
  • Biking can help you concentrate! Believe it or not, one effect of biking to work or school is better concentration – for up to four hours!
  • Join the fun on Bike to Work Day. Need a little extra inspiration to get on the saddle? Join thousands of cyclists across the country on Friday, May 17 for Bike to Work Day! There is nothing more thrilling than riding with a pack of other cyclists and feeling like you’ve taken over the road. Get the rush on May 17. You can make a pledge to bike to work with Transportation Alternatives.
  • Sign up for Hazon’s Jewish Environmental Bike Ride. Spend Labor Day cycling with hundreds of other riders on this fully supported and fully inspirational bike trip. Spend a relaxing Shabbat in the Connecticut Berkshires, ride into New York City, make great new friends and raise money for the Jewish environmental movement – what could be better?
  • Guns for bikes program. In Uruguay, the government has launched a new program where people can turn in unregistered weapons in exchange for a new bike or a low-end computer. This win-win approach will get illegal weapons off the streets, while adding to the city’s alternative transportation options.
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Someone in the Repair NYC office is an avid biker…

How are you celebrating National Bike Month? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @repairtheworld #bikemonth.

Promote Good Health In Your Community for National Nutrition Month

With First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move healthy living initiatives in full swing, New Yorkers contemplating smaller sodas, and healthy school food programs being piloted all over the country, conversations about good health and nutrition are relevant like never before.

In other words, it’s a particularly awesome time to celebrate National Nutrition Month – a month-long celebration of nutrition education, healthy food, and physical activity sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Whether you’re a super healthy eater, someone who lives with a food allergy or sensitivity, or simply someone interested in learning more about nutritious food, there are lots of ways to get involved with National Nutrition Month. Check them out here:

    • Learn more! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics put together a healthy eating reading list, with fascinating “good food” book titles for kids, adults, experts and beginners alike.
    • Buy local. One great way to celebrate National Nutrition Month is to celebrate the very people who grow our food. Buy local produce, grains, cheese, and more at your local farmers’ market, or sign up for a community supported agriculture project (CSA), and get weekly deliveries of fruits and veggies that support your health, and the farmers.
    • Cook right. Cut out all the processed and fast food from your diet by learning how to cook simple, delicious, and nutritious meals. Sign up for a cooking 101 class at your local JCC or culinary center, and check out publications like Cooking Light and Eating Well to get you started on the path of healthy cooking.
    • Prep your snacks. Snacking is one of the quickest ways to add unnecessary calories into our diets – but there are ways to really snack well. Get ahead of your cravings by making healthy snacks (like cut up celery and carrot sticks, fresh fruit, air-popped popcorn, and low-fat plain yogurt) readily available in your fridge or pantry. That way, you’ll be all the more likely to reach for something healthy during your next snack attack.

Promote healthy eating for all. Celebrate and support the organizations that are working to make health, nutritious eating accessible for everyone, regardless of their background. Here are a few week like: AJWS’ Reverse Hunger Campaign, The Fair Food Network, People’s Grocery, Added Value, Mazon, and Stockbox.

What other ways are you celebrating National Nutrition Month? Let us know by tweeting us @repairtheworld.

Green Your Passover Part 2: The Seders

Ahhh, spring is in the air. Which means so is the sweet smell of bitter herbs. Passover gives us a lot to chew on (literally—and not all of which is that tasty) as we retell the really, really ancient story of our exodus from Egypt, finishing on a note to plants seeds of hope for the future. So what better way to start this spring than by making your Passover green.

Our three-part Green Your Passover series gives you all the tools you need to bring eco-friendly style to your seder. (After all, the Passover talk about locusts and lice and vermin can get a little buggy.) Read Part 2 of the series – all about your seders – below, and check out Part 1 about getting ready for the holiday.

How are YOU greening your Seder? Send us your photos through Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be entered to win a gift from Repair!

PART 2: THE SEDERS

 

Green your charoset. Charoset is the sticky-sweet mix of apples, walnuts and cinnamon that represents the mortar the Israelites used to lay bricks while they were enslaved in ancient Egypt. This year, spice your charoset with fair-trade cinnamon, and use organic or locally-grown apples for an environmentally-friendly crunch.

Add something “green” to your seder plate. In the past several decades, many families have begun to add extra symbolic foods (like oranges and olives) to their seder plates to represent contemporary issues from gender equality to promoting peace. Pick a symbol that represents sustainability to you – like a leaf or a thimble full of clean water – and set it near or on your seder plate to spark conversation.

Use an organic free-range egg. The roasted hard boiled egg on the seder plate symbolizes both rebirth and the festival sacrifice that was historically offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. This year, use a free-range egg (ideally from the farmers’ market, where you can ask the farmer how he raises his chickens), and look for organic, hormone and anti-biotic free eggs as well.

Use potted flowers as your centerpiece. Skip the cut flowers – which are beautiful, but often grown unsustainably and shipped in from far away – and choose potted, seasonal flowers to make your seder table beautiful. They are kinder to the environment, and will last a long time after the seder ends!

Go vegetarian or source ethical meat. Go meat-free this Passover and swap out the chicken soup and brisket for homemade borscht and matzoh lasagna. Or, if you plan to serve meat, make sure it is ethically-sourced. There are several companies that produce ethical, kosher chicken and meat – serve them up, and let your guests rave!

Share food justice texts. The best seders are the interactive ones. This year, bring food justice and environmental-related texts to your seder and start a discussion around the table. Check out On1Foot’s text database or Hazon’s Food for Thought sourcebook to get you started. Plus, check out Repair the World’s roundup of awesome service and food justice-related haggadot and seder supplements.

For additional ideas and Passover inspiration, check out Hazon’s healthy and sustainable Passover resources, as well as Uri L’Tzedek’s, Bend the Arc’s, and The Shalom Center’s food, justice, and earth-focused haggadot.

Green Your Passover Part 3: Cleaning Up

Ahhh, spring is in the air. Which means so is the sweet smell of bitter herbs. Passover gives us a lot to chew on (literally—and not all of which is that tasty) as we retell the really, really ancient story of our exodus from Egypt, finishing on a note to plants seeds of hope for the future. So what better way to start this spring than by making your Passover green.

Our three-part Green Your Passover series gives you all the tools you need to bring eco-friendly style to your seder. (After all, the Passover talk about locusts and lice and vermin can get a little buggy.)

How are YOU greening your Seder? Send us your photos through Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be entered to win a gift from Repair!

Part 3: CLEANING UP

 

Green your travel. Lots of people end up traveling to family or friends for Passover. If you can, take public transportation like a bus or a train to lower your carbon footprint. But if you have to fly to you destination, you can offset your carbon emissions afterwards by making a donation to Carbonfund.org, or JNF’s Go Neutral campaign.

Repurpose your leftovers. Made too much food for the seders? Turn the borning leftovers into something new and exciting! Use leftover charoseth as a sweet topping for yogurt. Chop excess parsley from the seders and combine it with minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil for a bright and herby salad dressing or topping for fish, or turn a tin of unloved macaroons into a delicious, kosher for Passover pie shell for cheesecake.

Compost your leftovers. Make sure food doesn’t go to waste by composting any inedible food scraps or leftovers. Composting diverts food scraps from the waste stream, and turns them into rich, usable soil. And spring is the perfect time to start a compost pile or bin – in the backyard, garage, or even in your apartment kitchen with vermicomposting.

Donate your leftovers. It’s fair to say that nobody wants to eat your extra boxes of matzoh. But if you stocked up on non-perishable kosher for Passover products that you aren’t planning to use after the holiday (like jams or soup mixes), donate them to a local soup kitchen.

Tote your Passover food in eco-style. Do you spend the week of Passover carrying around kosher for Passover-friendly food to nibble on? If so, use reusable glass jars, containers and other eco-friendly food storage and lunch boxes.

For additional ideas and Passover inspiration, check out Hazon’s healthy and sustainable Passover resources, as well as Uri L’Tzedek’s, Bend the Arc’s, and The Shalom Center’s food, justice, and earth-focused haggadot.

Green Your Passover Part 1: Preparing for the Holiday

Ahhh, spring is in the air. Which means so is the sweet smell of bitter herbs. Passover gives us a lot to chew on (literally—and not all of which is that tasty) as we retell the really, really ancient story of our exodus from Egypt, finishing on a note to plants seeds of hope for the future. So what better way to start this spring than by making your Passover green?

Our three-part Green Your Passover series gives you all the tools you need to bring eco-friendly style to your seder. (After all, the Passover talk about locusts and lice and vermin can get a little buggy.) Read Part 1 about preparing for your holiday, then check out Part 2, which is all about the seders.

How are YOU greening your Seder? Send us your photos through Facebook or Twitter and you’ll be entered to win a gift from Repair!

PART 1: PREPARING FOR THE HOLIDAY

 

Use sustainable cleaning supplies Getting rid of the chametz (leavened foods) is a big job, but also an opportunity to get a jump start on spring cleaning. While you’re emptying your cabinets of cereal and crackers, and scrubbing down your fridge until all those little crumbs disappear, be sure to use eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning supplies – like these, or make your own – that rely on plants instead of chemicals to do their job. (Just keep an eye out for toxic additives that may be hiding in even the greenest-looking supplies.) Your house will smell and look great, will be chametz-free, and you won’t enter the holiday with any eco-baggage.

Dust off your good dishes Passover is a great time to break out the fine China and celebrate in style. The seder is modeled after a lavish Greek symposium, so all the more reason to use your best fancy-pants dishes. If you are planning on going disposable, however, make sure to stock up now on recycled paper dish ware or biocompostable goods (plates, cups, cutlery made from plants instead of plastic). Check out the goods from World Centric and VerTerra (they make their plates from – no joke – fallen leaves!)

Stock up on organic matzah. One thing is certain: you are going to eat a lot of matzah over the eight days of Passover. There’s not much you can do to make matzah taste like a warm loaf of bread, but you can make sure the matzah you’re eating is certified organic. Try Aviv organic matzah (which many Whole Foods locations carry around the holiday) or Lakewood Matzoh (which makes an organic spelt matzah). Even Manischewitz offers an organic line, bringing tradition into the eco-friendly 21st century.

Sprout your own karpas. Karpas is the green vegetable on the seder plate that evokes springtime and rebirth (and gets dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears the Israelites shed while living in slavery). The word comes from the Greek word “karpos” which means fresh vegetable. Most families use parsley, celery or lettuce for their karpas, but why not sprout your own? Quinoa is kosher for Passover and makes delicious crunchy sprouts in just a couple of days. Learn how to sprout your own (be sure to leave yourself about 3 days for the process from start-to-finish, then enjoy homemade karpas at the seder.

Start the holiday with eco-friendly candles. Passover, like Shabbat and many other Jewish holidays, begins with the lighting and blessing of candles. Start the holiday off on a green foot by using eco-friendly candles. Conventional candles are made from paraffin, which is derived from petroleum (an un-renewable and polluting resource). Instead, light your holiday the sustainable way, by blessing candles made of a green material like beeswax.

For additional ideas and Passover inspiration, check out Hazon’s healthy and sustainable Passover resources, as well as Uri L’Tzedek’s, Bend the Arc’s, and The Shalom Center’s food, justice, and earth-focused haggadot.