Eating Greener: Tips and a Recipe from Aviva Goldfarb

Eating green is not just about consuming more spinach, peas, and lettuce.  In her latest book, SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue; Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families, renowned meal-planning expert Aviva Goldfarb takes her signature meal planning strategies a step further by advising families on how to also reduce their personal environmental impact through smart dinner-time choices.

Here are some quick tips from the book that everyone can follow to make dinnertime greener:

Eat seasonally. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season not only tastes better and is smarter for the pocketbook, but it eliminates the carbon emissions caused by shipping foods thousands of miles.  One of the most cost effective and environmentally friendly options is to support your local farmer’s market or Community Supported Agriculture program.

Eat organic – but only when it matters.  We know that organic produce is better for your body and the earth, but since organic products can sometimes cost 50 to 100 percent more, families need to understand when it’s most important to choose organic.  Refer to the Environmental Working Group’s list of the produce highest in pesticides.  These items are worth the extra expense of buying organic to avoid ingesting those potentially harmful chemicals.

Eat more veggies and sustainable seafood. Incorporating more non-meat proteins such as beans, tofu, and eggs into recipes and eating sustainable seafood not only helps families do their part to preserve the planet’s resources, but it also is economical and healthy.

Eliminate food waste. According to the New York Times, a family of four will throw out an average of 24 pounds of fruits and vegetables per month, or by another estimate, 15 percent of their groceries.  By planning a weekly menu, creating and sticking to a grocery list and making only one supermarket trip per week, families will greatly reduce food waste and spoilage.

Grow a garden. Even if it is only a small planter, take the time to plant a small garden.  It is a sustainable source of food, is a fun activity for all ages and will save money on produce.

Reduce supermarket trips. Aim to shop at the supermarket only once per week.  Less trips means less fuel burned, less money wasted and more precious time to enjoy with family

Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk reduces the amount of plastic packaging.  Avoid buying individual “snack packs” and package the goods instead in reusable containers. Buy meat and cheese and freeze into individual or family serving sizes.  And like many environmental strategies, buying in bulk is a great way to reduce the weekly grocery bill.

Reuse and recycle. Recycling and reusing is about more than just recycling newspapers and plastic bottles.  Keep a stock of reusable canvas or nylon bags in the car at all times.  Reuse extra plastic or paper shopping bags for other tasks.  Pack lunches in reusable containers.  Rinse and reuse or recycle aluminum foil, along with other cans, bottles and plastic containers.

Compost. Composting is one of the easiest things the average family can do to reduce their footprint and help the environment naturally.  Turning everyday organic waste (like grass clippings, raked leaves, veggie peelings, and fruit rinds) into rich soil not only reduces the amount of garbage picked up curbside by fossil fuel-operated trucks (then dumped into landfills), but also creates 100-percent natural, organic fertilizer.

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Mango and Black Bean Salad

(From The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue; Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families)

Prep + Cook = 20 minutes + 20 minutes – 24 hours to chill (optional)

6 servings

Serve with sliced avocados sprinkled with fresh lime juice and lightly salted.

3/4-1 cup quick-cooking brown rice (about 2 cups prepared)
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 ¼ cup cooked black beans
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mango, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 sweet yellow onion, such as Vidalia, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup scallions, green parts only, or chives, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only (2 – 3 Tbsp.)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
6 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves (optional)
6 whole wheat tortillas for serving (optional)

Cook the rice according to the package directions.  Remove it from the heat immediately when it is done cooking.  (If you want to serve the Mango and Black Bean salad immediately rather than allowing it to chill for a while, put the rice in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the beans, mango, onions, scallions, lime juice, and cilantro.  Combine the rice with the ingredients in the large bowl, season it with the salt, and toss it gently.  Chill it for at least 10 minutes (an hour or more is ideal) and up to 24 hours.

Serve the salad on its own or wrapped in large lettuce leaves or warm tortillas, or both, topped with the sliced avocado, if desired.

Scramble flavor booster:  Stir in fresh cilantro and serve the salad with spicy salsa.

Tip:  If you don’t like raw onions, sauté the onions first until they are lightly browned.  If you have picky eaters, put some of the beans and rice aside before combining all the ingredients and let them have simple black bean and rice burritos with mango on the side.

Side dish suggestion: Peel and slice 2 – 4 avocados and sprinkle them with 1 – 4 tsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 tsp. per avocado) and 1/8 – 1/2 tsp. salt (about 1/8 tsp. per avocado) (or mash the avocados, lime juice and salt to make guacamole.)

Green Your Small Business: Q&A with Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan, author of Greening Your Small Business and founder of Greenhance, sat down with us to talk about easy and inexpensive ways to go green, her top online resources for small businesses, and her favorite green things to do in DC.

1. Tell us a little about how you got started with Greenhance. What was the inspiration behind the company?

My background is in market research and I was doing a project for a client who wanted to green her small retail store. I found that there is good information about going green for homeowners and for large corporations that have sustainability departments, but very little for small businesses.

There is actually a lot of information but it is all over the place. I thought: Someone should serve compile an extensive list of resources for small businesses that want to go green.  It quickly became clear that it could be a business and book. Then, along the way, someone I respect deeply suggested, albeit politely, that my writing a book of resources was a small idea. He was totally right.

There is so much more to greening a small business then simply changing business practices. For example, there’s a whole advocacy piece. The time a business invests in impacting policies and standards can be as valuable to environmental progress as installing new light bulbs.

And then of course, because I’m a marketer, there’s a whole marketing piece. How effectively a small business communicates its environmental commitment, objectives, and successes to customers, employees, and other stakeholders will in large part determine how much value they get out of a green program.

2. What are your top three cheap and easy ideas for businesses that want to be more green?

Use less. Virtually everything you use in your business can be assessed to determine if you can use less. We can all use less paper by employing double-sided and multiplex printing, and storing and distributing documents digitally.

Any business can use less energy by turning computers and lights off at night and by using power management strategies that power down electronics when they are idle.

We can also use less by reusing instead of purchasing new. When we use items that are refillable, refurbished, remanufactured, repairable, reusable and just plain used we reduce manufacturing and transportation related emissions, and keep those things out of landfills. The greatest waste prevention savings often come from not having to buy new things.

Buy local. This is a simple but important (and easy and cheap) greening strategy. In addition to the environmental benefits there are significant social and economic benefits to creating local economies. As a result, dozens of cities and towns across the country have adopted programs to label and promote locally owned businesses.

It is simple to check with vendors about the availability of local products and materials. Buying locally provides businesses with a variety of benefits: Reduced travel-related emissions, more control over materials and end products, shorter time to market, and lower inventory holding costs.  Also, buying locally isn’t limited to goods. Purchasing materials and goods from local suppliers, and hiring local subcontractors, will reduce transportation miles and fuel use.

Reduce business travel. There is a simple environmental truth about travel: It consumes a lot of energy and generates a lot of waste. In fact, airplane travel, lodging, and rental car usage can consume as much as one-quarter of a business’ carbon footprint and as much as 3% of its revenue. So, implementing green travel policies will often make it possible to reduce your carbon footprint, lower your expenses—and many believe—improve productivity.

Since airplane and car travel are such intensive greenhouse gas–emitting activities, the greenest thing you can do is find ways to reduce the need for travel or to eliminate travel altogether.  One quick way to do this is to use web-conferencing. But, if you just have to hit the road you can try to take fewer, longer trips.

Can you share a couple “can’t live without” online resources for green businesses?

I’m a big believer in cloud computing because it is inherently green; not only is buying less IT equipment more cost effective and efficient than owning your own data center, but data centers that house the software and store the data running in the cloud are inevitably more energy efficient than your IT operations.

So, my must-have online resources are all SaaS sites. I love Echosign.com, an electronic signature service that digitally stores and records documents with legally binding e-signatures. I also love paperlesspost.com, an online invitation site. Their designs and user interface are really clever and classy. And finally, Constant Contact, for email marketing and database management. All of these sites allow you to have cost-efficient technological capabilities that used to be reserved for large companies.

4. What’s your favorite green thing to do in DC?

I love taking my kids and dog for a walk in Rock Creek Park and buying local produce at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market. I also love to eat at Sweetgreen–I get a kick out of their refuse station.  It’s a great example of how business owners can choose not to promote landfill-only disposables.

Join Jennifer for a lunchtime discussion (12-1:30) of her book at Bethesda Green on March 9th.

Out with the Old: Recycle Your Old Electronics

Guest post written by Carrie Madren.

It’s a New Year — and time to get rid of unused clutter. That enormous computer monitor taking up precious closet space and that broken printer stashed in your basement can find new — green — life as recycled materials. E-cycling not only reclaims resources for new or refurbished electronics, such reuse keeps electronics out of landfills.

Since many community recycling centers only open their doors to electronics a few times a year, Whole Foods stores in the D.C. area are making it easy for customers to e-cycle this weekend.

On Saturday, January 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., drop off your old electronics before you shop for your organic groceries. Accepted items include laptops, modems, phones, faxes, printers, wires/cables, CD ROMs, floppy drives, keyboards, mice, circuit boards, CRT monitors, mainframe computer systems and much more. Televisions are not accepted. Esquire Environmental will scrub and destroy memory on all hard drives.

Participating Whole Foods include Bethesda, MD; (Kentlands) Gaithersburg, MD; (Tenleytown) DC; (Georgetown) DC; Reston, VA; Falls Church, VA; and Fair Lakes, VA.

Additional Resources:

eCycling (EPA)

Washington Post article by Rob Pegoraro

10 Tips For a Greener You in 2010

Resolutions. So much fun to make, so challenging to keep. This year, why not set your sights on some resolutions that are simple, small, and good for the planet? Here’s how to make 2010 your greenest year ever:

1. Grow your own fruits and vegetables. No yard? A yard-sharing program matches people who have land with people who have a green thumb but no place to use it.

2. Get involved in a community garden or volunteer at one like Common Good City Farm.

3. Walk more, use public transportation, and consider buying or renting a bike.

4. Buy local ingredients whenever possible from farmer’s markets and other small purveyors.

5. Remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store. The 5 cent plastic bag fee goes into effect January 1.

6. Plant a tree in your backyard. The DDOE can help.

7. Reduce organic waste by learning how to compost.

8. Replace regular lightbulbs with energy-saving compact florescent lightbulbs, turn off lights when not in use, reduce the thermostat. More tips from DDOE.

9. Stop buying bottled water and get yourself a chic stainless steel bottle instead.

10. Support environmentally friendly local businesses as much as possible.

Happy New Year!

Green Gift Guide: Part 2

Step away from the fruitcake and Chia pets. Instead, give a gift that shows you care about your giftee and Mother Earth, too. Here are some more eco-friendly gift giving options with a local twist.

Check out the Downtown Holiday Market for an assortment of handmade gifts from local craftspeople such as functional wall art made from recycled materials and vintage images.

On December 13th, warm up with a soup tasting from Souper Girl at Greater Goods and stock up on eco-friendly goods and wrapping paper.

Give the gift of food with Oceanaire’s “Sustainable Feast of the Seven Fishes.” Chef Klink’s holiday feast showcases sustainable, seasonal and local ingredients including U.S.-farmed Australis Barramundi and Sherry Crab Bisque.

Zoom zoom. Or should we say “zip, zip”? With a Zipcar gift certificate you can give the gift of a BMW, Volvo or a Mini Cooper (well, sorta) while cutting down on pollution and car consumption at the same time.

Happy Holidays!

–GG DC