Greek and Green

Photo credit: Kim Maxwell Vu

The new Dupont Circle  restaurant Agora (1527 17th Street, NW), which opened in May 2010, is working on being green from the ground up.

Most of the restaurant’s materials are recycled or reclaimed and the cement flooring and exposed brick walls are natural conductors of heat and cold.

Agora’s Mediterranean organic and biodynamic wines are kept in a naturally controlled temperature wine room with recycled wood racks and are even served in glassware made from recycled cork and glass.

Other eco-friendly elements:

– An in-house water filtration provides still or sparkling water.
– All bottles, paper, and plastic are recycled.
– Recycled paper is used for the printed menus
– The kitchen’s cooking oil is donated to be repurposed as biodiesel fuel
– Environmentally friendly hand dyers in the bathroom
– Natural light is used as much and for as long as possible

Agora, which means “gathering place” in Greek brings authentic Turkish cuisine to the heart of Dupont with a variety of Mediterranean mezes. The bar also offers six different types of anise-flavored raki, as well as cocktails that highlight Turkish ingredients, such as one that uses Turkish figs.

Earth Day-Inspired Fashion

Guest post by Heidi Strom Moon of the Closet Coach.

Armour sans Anguish

Every Earth Day, articles are written about “green” and sustainable fashion, from Bono’s Edun line to those totes that proclaim (perhaps a bit too loudly?) I Am Not a Plastic Bag”.

Many make a single green fashion purchase and consider it their contribution for the year; they’ve done their “duty.”

But truly eco-friendly dressing goes a deeper than that — and is almost as easy as tossing your recyclables in the ubiquitous big blue bin. In fact, if you’re already trying to live green, you can take a cue from the well-known 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Reduce

Listed first, in spite — or because — of being the most difficult to achieve, “Reduce” calls on us to use less stuff in the first place for multiple reasons.

So, the fashionista says with a tremble, does this mean you want me to … shop and buy less? It seems daunting, but think of it another way: all of the top stylists will tell you to transform your wardrobe by first editing (reducing) your clothing inventory, and then carefully supplementing the remaining pieces with a few, well-chosen, high-quality, classic items.

So this idea of reducing isn’t so new after all. The hardest part is focusing on key foundational items and ignoring the constant allure of the cheap, the trendy, and the on sale right now.

Reuse

Reusing takes a little more ingenuity. As you take stock of the contents of your closet, and remove the items you rarely wear, are there any that could be brought back to life? Are they in need of mending? Could your trusted tailor transform the silhouette into something more current? Could you rescue a boring or worn-out sweater with the artful application of buttons or beads?

Recycle

Recycle is a close cousin to Reuse when it comes to clothing. After all, you can’t place last season’s trendy top in the big blue bin.

But if you can’t reuse an item and make it wearable, can the fabric and materials serve another purpose?

Stockings with holes are often recycled by transforming them into practical applications. And Dad used to tear his old T-shirts into strips to use for waxing the car.

Going a step further, garments can be recombined and redesigned entirely. In addition to recycling your own garments, you can shop for new items that are made from reclaimed materials–such as the tops and dresses from Armour Sans Anguish and numerous other Etsy stores that embody the reuse and recycle ethos.

Finally, consider these principles not so much a new way to live, but a proud return to yesteryear. Ask any grandmother who lived through the Depression or World War II how they made do when materials or money was scarce. To them, the 3 Rs weren’t a slogan; they were a way of life.

5 tips for being more sustainable

You’ve likely heard the term “sustainable” about a million times in the past few years, but what in the heck does it mean? The most widely accepted definition is that “sustainability is the concept of meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The good news is that it’s easy to take steps that will turn you from a resource-guzzling biped to an informed, conscientious, and planet-friendly creature.

As this article points out, for many people, sustainability starts with food. Paying attention to where your food comes from, eating more locally, and eschewing fast food chains in favor of independent restaurants are all ways that you can start to be more sustainable.

Here are a few simple changes—from how you commute to what you eat for dinner—that can make a big difference.

  • Get a better buzz. When you need that caffeine fix, choose fair trade and locally grown coffee and tea. And, free yourself from the shackles of disposable cups by bringing your own cup or stainless steel thermal mug.
  • Dress for less. Consider consignment or gently-used clothing and furniture instead of buying brand new stuff. Our blog pal over at Righteous [re[]Style has oodles of great ideas from buying on eBay to decking yourself out in vintage duds from Eastern Market.
  • Buy local. Did you know that most food travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your table? That’s a long haul that uses up tons of energy and contributes to pollution. Plus, local food generally uses less packaging, is fresher and tastier, and comes in more varieties. You can find locally grown food at area farmer’s markets or through community supported agriculture (CSA) in your area.
  • See the light. Talk about a bright idea. Replace all the bulbs in your home with energy-saving compact florescent lightbulbs. The bulbs, which can replace incandescent, halogen and other electric lights around your house, use between 60% and 80% less energy than their incandescent counterparts. Plus, they typically last between 6,000 and 15,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours or so for incandescent bulbs.
  • Get trashed. You know you’re supposed to recycle plastic and paper, but sometimes even with the best of intentions, those items find their way into the regular trash bin, don’t they? Make it a no-brainer to do the right thing by outfitting your kitchen and office with a stylish and functional recycling trash masher.