Sunday, June 14, 2015

Recycling Old Glory - With Respect

Flags fly in all sorts of weather, and they eventually breakdown, fray and fade.  While burning flags is a recognized method of proper flag disposal, burning American flags made of nylon (a petroleum product) creates hazardous gases and wastes resources.  Advanced Disposal is offering free US flag recycling is offering free recycling services for US nylon flags through September 11, 2015. You can drop off flags at any of their facilities or mail your flag to them at:

Carroll County Transfer Station
1400 Baltimore Blvd.
Westminister, MD 21157

American Flag Recycling also recyclesAmerican flags and ask for a small donation to cover the costs. And, If you're curious about the dos and don'ts of flag disposal, check out the Veterans of Foreign Wars website at https://www.vfw.org/Flag/

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dehydrating: Drying it out!

 The season's bounty of fruits is just beginning...but the season is ever fleeting and before you know it, the local strawberries and blueberries will be gone for another year.  This year, I've decided to preserve a bit of the riches and try dehydrating to preserve these goodies in some form for a later day, maybe just to snack on or sprinkle over my granola.

If you buy in bulk, most local farmers will give you a big discount on the price.  It's a bit tedious to slice the fruit into thin slices, but then, a couple of hours in a dehydrator and you've got some delicious dried fruit on your hands.  I even dried some not so local mangoes that were on sale at WholeFoods.Four quarts of strawberries sliced filled up the five strays of the dehydrator and took about 2 hours to dry.  They then all fit into the jar in the picture!    Even though I blanched the blueberries until their peel/skin split, it still took about 12 hours for them to dry. I don't think I'll do that again.  The mango tood about 3 hours.

While I should have bought the dehydrator at a local shop, I opted to buy a slightly scratched new dehydrator at a discount on Amazon. What I'm not so sure about is the energy efficiency of the dehydrator, but for now I'm enjoying it immensely!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Local Green Goods: Electric bikes, Ugly Fruit Juices and Online Garage Sales

Being green and buying local is getting easier and easier here in DC.  Here are just a couple of things I've learned about in the past week.
 
Misfit Juicery was started by two Georgetown students late last year.  There's a lot of noise about food waste out there, especially as we learn that some 40 percent of food is thrown out BEFORE it hits the supermarket shelves.  Eating ugly fruits and veggies is becoming all the rage. These guys are using uglies to make yummy juices like "Kale + Stuff", "Off Beet" and a couple more varieties.  Buy this good juice locally at Glen's Garden Market, Sticky Fingers, FreshFarm Markets at Foggy Bottom and on H St NE as well as a few more locations.  Yum!


Love to cycle, but not so crazy about the hills?  Check out Riide, a DC made electric bicycle!  While their Kickstarter campaign is over (they've raised all the funds they needed), this video gives a great overview of the bike.  With a battery that will last for 25 miles (don't forget that you can still pedal it, too) and a charger that can be plugged into any electrical outlet, there's a lot to love about this bike!

Finally, at least for now, maybe I'm the last person to know about Wallapop, an app that allows you to buy and sell things locally.  Think Craigslist with pictures.   It's searchable and now in DC. It uses your location and offers items that are close to your location. You can contact the seller and even go look at the item before deciding whether or not to buy it.  Pretty cool!

Enjoy, be green.  Recycle! Freecycle.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Green DC: Ask DC to plant a tree on your street!

From now until June 15, 2015, there's a fast and simple way to request a tree for your street or neighborhood. getdctrees.org provides an online map of where trees are missing from tree boxes around the city and provides a simple online request form. DC's Urban Forestry Administration will accept requests through June 15.  They'll then prioritize tree plantings for the Fall 2015 season.  The website also provides a breakdown of tree plots available by Ward. And, while you're at it, consider signing up to care for an urban tree through DC's Canopy Keeper program.

Friday, April 17, 2015

EarthDay Action: Tell DC City Council to Oppose the Exelon/Pepco Merger!

Hey folks, the proposed Exelon/Pepco merger is a bad deal for DC and for renewable energy in general!  Several councilmembers have come out against the merger....but others haven't.  Please send an email - similar to the one below today--and ask your friends/family to do the same!
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
Hello, 
My name is _______ and I am a ____________ year DC resident. I support clean energy and energy efficiency in the District to combat climate change and promote a clean, sustainable District for all its residents.
 
I note that you've not yet taken a stance on the proposed Exelon/Pepco merger, and I am writing to you today to ask you to oppose the proposed merger. Exelon is overtly anti-renewable energy and has worked to actively undermine clean energy policies at both the federal and state level. 
 
DC has made significant strides in the past decade to become a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency - these policies will likely come under attack if Exelon is at the helm. I very much appreciate the letter that your colleagues, Councilmembers Cheh, Silverman and Allen sent opposing the merger. I urge you to join them and PUBLICLY OPPOSE the Exelon merger as not in the public interest so that we can continue our city's progress as a clean energy leader. 
 
Sincerely, 
[YOUR NAME]
Ward ____
Please send to:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Earth Day Turns 45! Help DC Celebrate!



From Huffington Post
Yikes! Earth Day is turning 45 this year! 

The good news is that are plenty of ways to celebrate the event, and your (renewed) commitment to help save the Earth couldn’t come at a better time.  

Why not make your own Earth Day project for the month? Pick up the trash on your street, reduce your plastic footprint, sign up for Bike to Work Day, clean up a green space in your neighborhood (even if the city is supposed to do it), organize a clothes swap with friends, plant a few native grasses or bushes,  . Groundswell is organizing a bulk purchase for wind energy. Sign up! If you’re a renter click here and if you’re a homeowner click here.  It’s easy and it will get you off that coal power diet at very reasonable price!
,
 And, of course, plenty of groups are organizing events to celebrate Earth Day's 45th. Here’s just a smattering of things going on around town:


  • ·         On Saturday, April 18th, check out the Annual Earth Day concert on the Mall from 11am to 7pm.  For more information on the event, see http://dc.about.com/od/specialevents/a/EarthDayMall.htm



Friday, February 27, 2015

GET READY: THE 23rd Annual DC Environmental Film Fest: March 17-29, 2015

What's not to love about March in DC?  The snow is melting, temps venture into the 60s for a couple of days, robins arrive, daylight savings time starts and the Environmental Film Fest comes to town.  This year's fest offers some 160 films focusing on local topics ranging from the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, Riversmart HomesPotomac Vegetable Farms,  and Chesapeake Bay Oysters.  There are stories about the ugly side of Ewaste and inspiring upcycling stories like Paraguay's Landfill Harmonic. The website has evolved and you can now make your own itinerary online. All good! Go!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Timely Composting Primer: It's easier than you might think!

A guest blog by Sam from Organic Lesson



According to a study conducted by Duke University’s Center for Sustainability, the average person produces around 4.3 pounds of waste every day. As a result of all the waste we’ve been throwing away, the stress on not just the environment but also on landfills has been slowly reaching pressure point. One way we can help reduce such problems is by composting our own organic waste.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Many consumers avoid composting because of a number of misconceptions. For example, people may believe that composting will always lead to a huge, nasty odor. That isn’t always the case. As shown by this infographic created by Organic Lesson there are some methods that can be used, such as vermicomposting, that are much cleaner and better organized.

Composting is also not that complicated. It can be as simple as dumping all your organic waste into the corner of your backyard. What one does have to be aware of though is the good and bad composting items. As you look more into the infographic, you will notice a number of waste items that will help you yield better results. Happy composting!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Greening 201: Ideas for a greener 2015 for the already converted

So, you compost, always have a reusable bag and cup with you, you buy local produce and products, sold your car and haven’t used a clothes dryer in years.  What’s next? How can you take your greening to the next level?  Here are a couple of ideas as you ponder into 2015.

Ditch the straw: About 500million straws are used in the US every day and many of these contain BPA. While it’s easy enough to say you won’t use straws, the trick is that many restaurants bring drinks (water, iced tea, margaritas, etc) to the table with the straw already in the drink.  Order your drink sans straw.  It will keep you on your toes.  Even the National Park Service thinks this is a good idea!

My current cork collection!
Start recycling one funky thing: While many goods can easily be recycled in bins, other items (CFLs, corks, batteries, jeans, etc) can be a challenge.  Commit to recycling one funky item.  Tell your friends, colleagues, neighbors, coffee shop, fellow gardeners etc about your project and tell them that you’ll also recycle this one item for them.  Embrace this and do it with joy…and maybe someone you know will start recycling some other funky item.

Don’t buy eggs in Styrofoam cartons.  Duh. I had to throw in something easy.  Why are Styrofoam egg cartons even made anymore?  Even my CSA won’t take them.


Look, Ma! No plastic bag!
Tell your neighbors not to put recyclables in a plastic bag! Plastic bags can REALLY mess up a recycling sorter and can shut it down for hours.  Recyclables can go right into the bin; they shouldn’t be bundled into a plastic bag.  If you have a lot of plastic bags to recycle, take them to a grocery store OR DC DDOE says to put all the bags together in one large bag.  (I know you know this, but I bet your neighbors don’t.)

Carry eating utensils in your bag/purse and a container/jar for leftovers when you go out to eat.  You’ll be able to avoid food waste and plastic/Styrofoam packaging.

Commit to establishing a garden plot this year!  If you don’t have room in your own backyard, try getting a plot at a community garden.  It’s not too early to contact them.  Here’s a partial list of DC Community Gardens and contact info.  If you’re not into gardening, join a CSA. Here’s a 2014 list of CSAs.  I’m sure much of the contact info is still the same.

Stop coloring your hair.  It will save you time, money, and you’ll be doing your part to keep many b-a-d bad chemicals out of the waste stream.

Join Freecycle DC.  I love this list serv.  I have passed along COUNTLESS items I would not have thought anyone would want, from used (but clean!) ziplock bags to mailing envelopes.  There’s some really good stuff on the list serv too!

Canoe or kayak the Anacostia.  The Anacostia is DC’s hidden gem.  You can rent canoes and kayaks, paddle boats and rowboats at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, and it’s easy enough to get there by bike or car.  You can see the beauty of this river despite all the trash.  It will remind you why we need to keep spreading the gospel of recycling. 

Go forth, and green.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

UnDecking the Halls: How to dispose of your Holiday Trees, Bling and More!

DC Department of Public Works will pick up (real) Christmas trees and holiday wreaths between December 28 and January 10 for composting. Remove ornaments, tinsel and other decorations and put the tree(s) and greenery where your trash and recycling are collected. Trees and greenery collected after January 10 will be collected with the trash as space permits in the truck. Here's a link to DPW's brochure on trash and leaf collection. And, if the leaf raking crew hasn't made it to your block yet, it's time to give DPW a call at 311.

Collect holiday (and other occasion) cards (in your neighborhood and at work) and send them to St. Jude's Ranch for Children.  See details for this program here.

Meanwhile, instead of throwing out unwanted but usable decorations, tinsel, lights, gifts you really don't want, ugly holiday sweaters, bows, ribbon, wrapping paper, etc, try listing it on FreeCycle DC.  Happy undecking!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

And a Few More Green Gift Ideas.......


I met the kind folks of Vino Dolce Candles last weekend at Eastern Market. Candles are handmade in DC from wine bottles recycled from local wine bars and restaurants, and filled with premium 100% soy wax made from U.S. farmers.  They're online, too!

Know a composter wannabe who doesn't have a place for a large bin?  How about a subscription to Compost Cab or FatWorm Compost?  A membership to WABA will give your cycle buddy a 10 percent discount at most local bike shops.

How about some greener toys?  Check out Green America's Green Holiday Gift Ideas for Children in the Winter Issue of their magazine.

Need a gift for the foodie in your life?  DC's own Hill's Kitchen has a great selection of cooking goods including cutting boards and retro 100 percent cotton kitchen towels for every state...including (duh!) the District of Columbia. Meanwhile, this week's WaPo has a great article on DC Supper Clubs.  If you can't buy a ticket, make a gift certificate so you can dine sometime during the year. Or, how about a gift certificate for a beer tour through DC's ever growing number of local breweries!

Go even more retro AND support your local potter by buying a butter bell. Invented or perhaps "devined" in the late 19th century, butter bell consists of a base that holds water, and a cup (bell) that holds packed butter and serves as a lid. Butter (not oilier margarines) placed into the base, where water creates an airtight seal that keeps the air (and thus oxygen) away from the butter. Refrigeration isn't needed and your butter is ready to spread.

Finally, at least for now, Kaluah is usually a huge hit as we move deeper into the cold days of winter, and it's is easy as pie to make.  (try not to think about how much sugar you're using). Here's a recipe that I found.

I hope you're enjoying the holiday season!
  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

And on to the 2015 Green Gift Guide....

Let's go back to some of the basics this year.....

A drying rack will let you reuse some of those many (many) ziplocks and other plastic bags you have on hand.  Buy one
or make your own!


 
Remember these?  You can still buy potholder looms at your local hobby/toy store and now the looms come in larger sizes!  They're quick to make and ever appreciated!







What about some body lights for your favorite jogger/cyclist.  Check for LED models.  You can't have too many of them and they come in colors besides pink!

Check back soon.  I'll be posting more green gift ideas in the coming days!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ugly Side of Thanksgiving: how to minimize food waste

Turkey Day 2014 is almost here, and it's a great day to spend with friends and family. There will also be a lot of leftovers. Food waste is becoming a bigger issue these days as we learn that some 40% of edible good food ends up in landfills. How can you minimize food waste?  EndFoodWasteNow has some great ideas.  Here are a few more:
  • Prepare only the amount of food you'll need.
  • Have your guests bring a along some containers so they can take leftovers home.
  • Have a leftover meal with friends over the weekend.
  • Make soups and freeze it for later in the winter.
  • Make soup stock from the turkey carcass and freeze.
  • There are some 7000 homeless living in DC and DC Central Kitchen, Martha's Table, Capital Area Foodbank, and Food & Friends are just some of the DC organizations providing meals for homeless everyday.  While they won't accept half a pie or turkey, they will accept unopened packages or cans. 
  • Leftover Swap is an app that allows you to post and seek leftover food though it seems to have a limited number of users at this point.
  • Post leftover offers on a local listserv or email among friends.
  • As a (next to) last resort, compost what you can. Check out CompostCab and FatWorm Compost for pickup services if you don't have a compost..or can't find a neighbor who does.
Want learn more about food waste and how it impacts people and the planet?  Check out Tristram Stuart's TED Talk.  Want to get involved in the Food Waste Movement?  Check out EndFoodWasteNow and the Food Recovery Network. GW, American and U. Maryland all have chapters. Follow   Get involved!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tis the Season - To PLANT THINGS

Now, before it gets too cold, is the ideal time to plant bulbs and even trees so they can settle in over the winter and come forth in all their glory in the Spring!  

In addition to daffodils and tulips, plant cloves of garlic so you'll have your own stash of scapes and bulbs ready to harvest in the summer. Just take a bulb apart, keeping the papery coating on each clove.  Soak in baking soda and seaweed for a couple of hours.  Right, seaweed.  I just plant mine about 2# deep, rooty side down.  Worried about squirrels?  Pick up some dried blood at your local garden/hardware store and sprinkle some around the bulbs.  The squirrels will never touch them. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

In Praise of the Humble Mason Jar!

Manufactured to preserve jellies, pickles, and your grandma's homegrown tomatoes and with roots going back to Napoleon (really!), this humble jar has a myriad of uses and is now available in a multitude of shapes and sizes, all at a very reasonable cost and available (most likely) at your local hardware store.  While the lids can only be used once in canning, they can be reused to store anything else, hot or cold, including your lunch or a cup of iced coffee, etc, etc!  The jars can be reused for years - and your favorite canner will be grateful to have them back to refill again with the season's bounty.  They make a great set of inexpensive drinking glasses or pack food servings in them for your next picnic.  And for more on the joys of canning, check out this story.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Where to Buy Local NOW!

From the "better late than never" category,  I just found this great online map of DC area Farmers Markets from the Washington Post.  If your favorite market isn't listed, send in a note and they'll add it in.

There's also an interactive map of Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) in the DC Area that you can search by pickup point.  Most CSAs are lining up clients for the fall season about now, so it's a good time to contact them.

While Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in DC are flying and trucking in high carbon produce (even tomatoes and peaches) from Mexico and California to sell,  there's a wealth of really good local food to be found now!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Good News for DC: Hazardous Waste Disposal Goes Weekly

On April 5, 2014, DC began offering weekly electronic and hazardous waste drop at the Fort Totten Transfer Station.  The station,located at 4900 John F. McCormack Drive is open for electronic and hazardous waste disposal every Saturday from 8am until 3pm.  They are also open every first Thursday of the month from 1-5pm.  DOCUMENT SHREDDING is only offered on the first Saturday of the month. Click here for a long list of acceptable electronic/hazardous waste.  They will also accept up to four tires.  They will not accept ammunition or explosives (drop these off at a police station), air conditioners, microwaves, wooden TV cabinets or consoles (call 311 for bulk pick up).  For any unwanted medications, DO NOT FLUSH THESE, rather, mix with dirt and/or old coffee grounds/cat litter and place in the trash.  For any questions, call the Fort Totten Transfer Station at (202) 737-4404.  Finally, BE SURE TO BRING ID WITH YOU THAT IDENTIFIES YOU AS A DC RESIDENT!  Happy weekly electronic and hazardous waste recycling!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hey DC, Need a Composting Bin?

Upcycle a Recycling Bin for Composting!
DC is full of surprises, and this year, DC residents were (ummm, pleasantly) surprised to learn that homeowners are receiving new ...and larger recycling and trash bins.  While good news, it also means that there are now a LOT ..and I mean A LOT of unwanted recycling and trash bins that are heading to the landfill. So, what's the solution? Why not make a compost bin out of your old recycling or trash container???!! It's REALLY EASY to do this! Just drill some holes in the bottom and sides of your old bin. You can do this with a hammer and nail if you don't have a drill. Label the bin(s) as "Compost". Start filling with a health mix of biodegradables (food waste, leaves, newspapers, and a tad of water now and then). Stir occasionally with an old broom handle and in a couple of months you'll have some quality compost.  Keep both old bins around to let some compost mature while you start a new batch.  

If you didn't receive a new bin, ask around.  Chances are good that one of your neighbors or a friend in another Ward still has an old bin on hand. Composting + recycling will drastically cut down the amount of trash that you send to the landfill.  Check out this link for some Composting 101 tips. Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tis the Season: Plant those seeds now

It seems that Spring is finally here in DC.  It's a great time to get those vegetable and flower seeds planted inside the house so they can be transplanted outdoors once they're strong enough to tolerate the rain and sun.  Ask your friends and neighbors to save some of their plastic pots for you.  Be sure the pots have holes in the bottom and a nice mix of soil and potting soil to help ensure good drainage.  Consider starting a seed co-op where you plant dill seeds and swap your plants for the basil seeds your friend planted.  It's all good fun and will make the harvest even sweeter! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Check Out the DC Environmental Film Festival!!!

DC's 22nd Annual Environmental Film Fest begins this week (March 18th) and runs through the end of the month.  There are some great films this year - and several focus on the DC area. 
 Unfortunately, most of the DC focused films seems to all be showing at the same time and at various venues around time.  

On Friday, March 21st at 6pm at the Carnegie Institution for Science (1530 P St NW) Mayor Vincent Gray will introduce a series of short films as a part of the Sustainable DC Initiative including "Green Roofs in the District of Colombia", "Earthecho Expedition: What happens when we build cities", and "Rebalanacing" .Reservations are required (this is the link)!  Meanwhile, "Fishing the Anacostia" will be showing at 6h30 along with My Brooklyn over at the Anacostia Community Museum at 1901 Fort Place SE by the Anacostia Metro. No reservations are necessary.  Finally, "Tiny: A story about living small" will be showing at 7pm at The Hill Center on Capitol Hill (Eastern Market Metro).  This movie focuses on the tiny house movement and will include a discussion with the founders of Boneyard Studios, DC's tiny house community.  You'll need to RSVP at rsvp@hillcenterdc.org

There are over 200 great films, and most of them are free!  Enjoy!