UPS’s Green Smart Pickup Option

UPS announced last week their new Smart Pickup option, a new “green” option within their Decision Green program. Smart Pickup is for small to mid-sized businesses and gives them the option of scheduling a pickup for a package only when a package is actually being shipped. UPS will use their technology to make sure a driver only stops at the customer’s location if and when a package is ready to be shipped. Before this option many UPS drivers would stop daily at customer locations and there would be no packages, only there wasting time and fuel.

UPS says this new service is expected to eliminate 8 million miles from the total driven by UPS each year in the United States and will save an estimated 793,000 gallons of fuel and 7,800 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. This new option saves time, miles, and lessens the UPS carbon footprint overall.

UPS customers will also be happy to know that if they enroll in this new “green” option they will be saving money as well. The weekly flat fee for the Smart Pickup is $10. The process is also convenient and easy, all you have to do is use one of UPS’s three online shipping systems (UPS WorldShip 2010, UPS CampusShip, or UPS Internet Shipping) to process a package and notify a driver that you have a package.  

Other options in the Decision Green program include UPS Carbon Neutral Shipping. This is a way for your business to reduce its environmental impact, just pay five cents more per package and UPS carbon neutral will offset the carbon dioxide emission generated by the transportation of your packages.

The Brown-Deeply Rooted in Green plan is another part of Decision Green that uses advanced route planning, reducing left turns for thousands of vehicles, and using one versus multiple trucks for international, air, and ground deliveries; another way for UPS to use less miles, fuel, and lower emissions.

Posted by Megan/ Follow me on Twitter

Veggies Fresh from the Farm–Without Getting Dirty!

…well unless you want to…

Imagine receiving a weekly delivery of farm fresh vegetables, flowers, dairy and pasture grazed beef every week without getting one ounce of dirt on your hands…for those that agree that a little dirt won’t hurt you, there are ways to get your farming fix by helping to plant crops for your local farmer and with each delivery you’ll smile knowing you played a part in cultivating the delicious bounty before you.

This perfect balance of free veggies with or without dirt does exist, and it’s called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) my friends!

Community farming initiatives started out in Japan and Chile in the early 1970s, with influence in the United States coming from the biodynamic agricultural traditions of post World War II Europe from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The idea crossed the pond in 1986 and the idea of CSAs was born simultaneously at Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and at the Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire.

CSAs help to create a local, safe, and sustainable community. When people share in the harvest and even planting of their own food they feel a sense of pride. The benefits of owning a share in your local CSA is knowing exactly where your food is coming from, how it’s grown, and who the farmer is, minus the concerns of genetically modified organisms, cruel animal farming practices, and the contribution to fertilizer laden ecosystems from harsh over use. Because they are not government funded, the best part about CSAs is that all they need to thrive is involved members, farmers looking for community support, green thumbs and a good piece of land.

CSAs do have a few drawbacks just like anything else in this world. Shareholders must adjust to eating with the seasons and the inconsistencies of the harvest. Many CSAs will send out surveys asking what’s working and what families would like to see grown, but the farmers make the final call, and with any CSA, you take what you get.

But the thought of paying half the price of retail for locally grown produce, flowers and locally raised dairy and meat products outweighs any negative aspects in my opinion. If you keep track of how much you spend on average in the produce section or your local market each week–then multiply that by 26 you’ll have a figure to compare with what a six month share at your local CSA would be.

Great websites like Local Harvest and Sustainable Table can help you find local CSAs in your area, the farmers are more than happy for you to contact them regarding CSA product and pricing information.

Love your farmer–eat locally!

Posted by Amanda| follow me on Twitter

Become a Jedi of the Farmer’s Market

Now that spring has officially sprung itself here in our lovely state of Rhode Island my thoughts are drifting towards the 2010 farmer’s market season. I am a huge fan of the Aquidneck Growers’ Market; I get there early so that I can get first dibs on all the goodies while sipping on an icy cup of deliciousness from Custom House Coffee. Since buying locally is the biggest way to high five mother earth I thought I’d put together some tips and tactics in preparation for the upcoming season–to make sure you find the produce you are looking for.

Straight from the horses—or in this case farmer’s mouth

Don’t be afraid to talk to the person tending the booth—it is an amazing opportunity to speak with the people who grow it–they want to answer your questions! Ask where your food comes from, are they certified organic? If not ask why, I guarantee they’ll have a good reason…maybe they are a very small family run farm who practices sustainability because the price tag of organic just doesn’t add up…but hey…sustainable farming is great too!

If you don’t know how to cook parsnips, rutabagas, artichokes or that some squash blossoms are edible (and delicious when panko breaded and fried!), ask for suggestions on preparing them.

Make a list, no need to check it twice

Knowing what’s in season won’t be very hard to figure out while you are at the farmers market since it will be all around you…but doing a little recon before making any purchases will help you out in two ways.

  1. Do a little research for in-season produce and look at seasonal menus to help you figure out what you’d like to be looking for and what to do with your locally grown haul. Oranges and Avocados don’t grow in Rhode Island in May…but Asparagus does!
  2. Make a loop around and take in all the sights before buying (I like to grab a coffee and a blueberry muffin…grazing while I take in the sights) you’ll kick yourself if you find amazing looking basil two tables down…for half the price!

It always helps to have a few loose ideas in your head as to what you are going to do with your produce…often the grower will want to hear about that delicious blueberry trifle you made the week before, your feedback can help them sell to the next person who doesn’t know what they’d do with a pound of fresh berries.

Money talks…debit cards walk…

Please oh please do not get frustrated when the farmer forgets their credit card machine at home…unless you are at in indoor farmer’s market most of the time there is no electricity at such events. You’d think this was common sense…but since I’ve seen it—I had to put it out there…

Also don’t be afraid to use your cash to shop for bargains—it doesn’t hurt to ask especially if you are at the tail end of the day—if two items for $5 instead of $6.50 will work.

Tote along for the ride…

Since fresh produce hasn’t been dipped in wax or petrified to survive shipping thousands of miles it will absolutely bruise and damage easily. Collapsible market totes, boat tote bags and coolers will become your new bff and always go with you to the market. Damp paper towels or cheese cloth in water proof containers or baggies will protect herbs from wilting on your way home—and can be used in the refrigerator to help keep them a little longer. Chances are your farmer will have a few recommendations for storing, watering, and enjoying your purchases.

Do or do not…there is no try.” ~Master Yoda

Happy hunting–see you at the market!!

Here are a few great websites to help you along your journey:

Local Harvest

Epicurious’ seasonal map

Farmers Market online in season listing

Posted by Amanda| follow meow on Twitter

Skip a flush or change your system!

Skipping a flush just doesn’t seem right, it’s a personal thing for me but I can’t see it being sanitary.  There are so many way’s to go green and to help you save money and in return are also helping the environment.  Putting low flow water heads throughout your home is a huge step.  Putting in a waterless urinal in my bathroom doesn’t really seem like an option so many greenies have suggested to opt on flushing when not truly necessary. 

The average toilet uses between 1.5 gallons and 7 gallons with each flush.  This is an overuse of water in most cases.  Water is one of the biggest green issues, the earth only has so much water, and so much of it is carelessly being used up and polluted.  There are many way’s to make sure your toilet is saving you as much water and money as possible.  The first thing to do is make sure your toilet is running efficiently

Installing a dual flush system is a great choice for those who are concerned about overuse of water.  The system allows two flushing options one with little water for liquid and a little more water for those that need an extra push.  A dual flush system is available for most toilets and for those who are renovating and replacing their existing toilet can purchase a new toilet with it already built in.  Most major toilet manufacturers carry at least one and many people are opting for his option when remodeling.

Saving money and saving water are the two best reasons to switch the way your toilet works now.  Before ordering dual flush, make sure your toilet is compatible.  Studies have shown that toilets that have been replaced with a dual flush toilet have saved almost 17,000 gallons of water a year. 

Posted by Kate Kiselka, follow me on Twitter

A Green (and cheap!) Way to Get Textbooks for School

As a Political Science and Writing major in college, my textbooks were never too outrageously priced.  There might have been an International Policy text that set me back a bit, but for the most part, I watched my friends in nursing, engineering and physics spend $150+ per textbook every semester.  At the end of class, the bookstore might have offered students $25-$30 for the same book they spent well over $100 on – and that’s if the publisher hadn’t put out a newer version in the meantime, rendering yours useless.

This time around, as an MBA student, my business texts are insanely priced (I paid $186 for my managerial accounting book and that was heavily used!) and I was shopping around for a better way to save money.  That’s when I stumbled across Chegg, a site that allows students to rent textbooks for a fraction of the cost of buying.  After doing some research, I found my Finance book for my next class and clicked the 6o-day rental option.  The price for this $200+ text?  $56.60 plus $1.99 shipping.

In addition to the $160 or so I saved in the process of renting, Chegg offers to plant a tree for every textbook rented through the American Forests Global ReLeaf Program and lets you choose the region of the world you’d like to have it planted.

The tree planting isn’t the only thing about Chegg that’s green – by reusing a textbook that otherwise might find its way to the trash after many years of sitting on a shelf, you are helping to prevent waste and unnecessary manufacturing of new copies.

And Chegg is flexible – their 30 day return policy allows you return a text for whatever reason (dropped class, text unused, etc) for a full refund – no questions asked.

So join Chegg (and me, for sure!) in the “Don’t Buy Revolution” – it will definitely save you some green while supporting the planet.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter



Some no-no’s of taking it to go

The other night while sorting through the mounds of bills and junk-mail one glassine window in an envelope sparked a discussion about how such things including to-go containers can now be recycled and composted thanks to companies developing materials from plant fibers, sugar cane waste, and corn.

It dawned on me that since I eat, breathe, and live as green as I possibly can maybe it’s not as common knowledge as I thought that there have been great advances in the worlds to-go options.

I am always amazed when eating out when my leftovers are brought to me in some kind of awful Styrofoam container…in fact many U.S. cities like Seattle and Oakland have begun to ban the use of Styrofoam in restaurants and grocery stores. It’s like come on people it’s time to get with it and use an environmentally friendly package, it not only becomes a permanent part of our universe, but according to the EPA it’s a hazard to your health! It makes me think twice about bringing my own container with me the next time I visit that restaurant, or asking them to just wrap my leftovers in foil—if it won’t make a huge mess on the ride or walk home.

I’ll admit that it does slip my mind quite often to ask what kind of containers they package to-go items in, but it’s something I’m trying to get better at and be more conscious of. It’s being more away of little things like this that can help you reduce your footprint and tread a little lighter.

Posted by Amanda | follow me on Twitter