Little way’s to Green your BIG day

Throwing a wedding is an expensive and time consuming process.  There are so many options and ways to make your day special.  Making your wedding day as green as possible is always a plus.  Even if you choose to only do a few things here and there.  There are some great magazines and web sites that can provide you with different options and ways to make your special day as green as possible, I really enjoy planet green and the ideas they have to offer.  Although for some of us it may be difficult to have an ALL green wedding here are some great ways I think might help you and the planet!

Sourcing locally is probably the most obvious choice for having a green wedding.  By using a local brewery instead of having kegs sent from across the country you can help cut down on CO2 emissions.  Almost anything you want or need, can be found locally, it’s probably the number one way to go green at your wedding. 

Encouraging your caterer to use local and organic foods is also a helpful way to green your wedding.  Renting a tuxedo is also a great idea since buying one might not be appropriate if you will never wear it again.  This goes for wedding and bridesmaid dresses, if you know a place that rent’s dresses, it might be worth checking out!

Choosing your venue location based on where you and your guests live is also a great idea.  This cuts down on driving to your wedding.  Also think about encouraging your guests to carpool or set up a way for your guests to get from hotel to venue easier and safer.  You can look into buses and trolleys it will save on CO2 and be safer for your guest’s allowing them to have an extra glass of Champaign while celebrating your nuptials  

When thinking about invites for your big day, think about using recycled paper or tree free invitations.  Save the dates are a huge waste of paper and not really necessary for local weddings.  If planning a destination wedding they are almost a must do!  If save the dates are important to you think outside the box, maybe an evite?  

Posted by: Kate Kiselka, follow me on Twitter

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Organic beer is the smarter choice

When I think of Beer, I think of a nice glass of Newport Storm or maybe a blueberry beer from Coddingtons.  With an older brother who brews his own and another who likes to consume it, I was taught to appreciate beer and to stay away from bud light!  Although I prefer wine with my meals, on a summer night nothing is as good as a Hefeweizen with a slice of lemon.

I have been noticing many  organic brews available at the local package store.  Organic beer is part of a growing industry and with it are some really great organic wines.  When drinking a beer or wine labeled organic you can rest assure that the U.S. department of agriculture has checked it out.  You can expect the hops and barley to be organically grown, no toxic pesticides and no artificial fertilizers.

There are some key ways to make sure the beer you are consuming is done in an environmentally fashionable way.  First off when out at a restaurant or pub opt for a beer on tap, this saves hundreds of beer bottles and cans from being produced.  Also opt for re-using your glass.  This too will save on water that you would normal use to wash each glass.  If you do buy a case from the local packy down the street for you and some friends, make sure one of you is sober enough to get it into the blue recycling bin, aluminum can be recycled and repurpose into a new one fairly quickly.  And who knows it may end up holding your next beer!

Drinking locally brewed beer is another important choice as it saves money in gas and helps cut emissions caused by shipping of imported beers.  Also consider taking home a growler from your local brewery, they are reusable and save on individual packaging and recycling costs.

Cheers!

Posted by: Kate Kiselka, follow me on Twitter

Salty Brine Goes Green

One of southern Rhode Island’s busiest and most popular spots, especially in the summertime, is the village of Galilee in the town of Narragansett. Recreational and commercial fishing boats bring their bounty to the pier here every day. The Block Island Ferry shuttles travelers to and from the island from its dock here. Camping is available at nearby Fishermen’s Memorial State Park. And tiny Salty Brine State Beach, along with longtime local favorite restaurants like Champlin’s Seafood and George’s, regularly attracts a brisk volume of visitors.

It’s at the nexus of many of these attractions that a major green project is now underway. It’s causing huge parking and aesthetic issues and inconveniences this summer, which surely aren’t making merchants and visitors as happy as they’d like to be. But for Galilee’s long term, this is good news: Salty Brine Beach’s 37-year-old public bath house is being replaced with a new handicap-accessible, LEED Silver-certified, sustainable, energy-efficient facility. And it’s all going to be powered by a wind turbine and solar panels. (In case you’re curious, the wind power will be provided by a residential-size 10KW Bergey wind turbine on a 100-foot tower.)

The project is being coordinated by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation’s Renewable Energy Fund and the state’s Department of Environmental Management, who view the upcoming 2,478-square-foot bath house not only as an upgrade to the previous facility but also as an educational tool for the public about green energy. 

Lighting, exhaust and circulation fans, and hot water for showers and flushing toilets “will be provided on-site by a small, residential-scale wind turbine and solar hot water heaters on the roof of the building,” says the press release. “The building has been designed to maximize energy efficiency with its R30 building shell, energy-efficient lighting fixtures, lighting controls, faucets and low-energy hand dryers. Other measures, such as heating only half of the building for early spring and fall public use and maximizing the use of daylight, will enhance energy efficiency at the facility.”

Besides education, the public will get bathrooms, showers, an outdoor rinsing shower, a foot-wash, a snack bar with utilities for possible hot food concessions, and an upper-level lifeguard station. “The bath house deck with ramp, and a new shade structure and observation decks on the stone jetty that are connected by a boardwalk along the parking lot edge, will enhance public access and use of the facility,” continues the release. “Bike racks and additional parking spaces will also be provided.”

Compared to the minor mess that’s there now, this sounds awesome. Until the project is completed on Memorial Day 2010, however, we’ll have to deal with fences, port-a-johns, no showers and hardly any parking spots. It’s a small price to pay, though, for getting Rhode Islanders working and going green at the same time.

Trivia: Did you know that the beach was originally called Galilee State Beach, but renamed Salty Brine in 1990 after a beloved local radio personality of the same name? Sounds like this guy was quite the character!

Posted by Joe Paone

Did you know…you could shop for the Earth?

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Just a heads up to all you Rhode Islanders! If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, there is a new store offering eco friendly alternatives for shopaholics in Wakefield and East Greenwich. It’s called THE Did You Know? STORE. Here is their mission:

  1. To give consumers an environmentally conscious alternative to everyday products
  2. To support recycling and reuse, organic farming, fair trade, and less waste
  3. To allow consumers to be able to choose affordable eco-friendly products without sacrificing quality and without having to completely change the way he or she lives.

 It has some great apparel (really cute t-shirts), and stuff for your pets babies and kids, among other things. The founder, Claire Hall (a URI graduate) is quoted on her website saying “I want a store that is about more than just selling green products. I want to provide people with information that will help them make eco-friendly choices in their everyday lives.” You can take a look at THE Did You Know? STORE here, or check our their blog here. Happy Shopping!!

Posted by: Ashley (intern)

URI teaches the basics: REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE

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Are you a master composter and recycler? Would you like to be? Well if youre a Rhode Islander you should check out URI’s Master Composter and Recycler Program. It not only teaches you how to compost and recycle in RI, but also the ins and outs of Rhode Islands trash systems. The class takes place in a green house at Roger Williams Park, and includes 30 hours of Volunteer work and field trips to landfills, and the Earth Care Farm in Charlestown. The basic goal of the class is to teach you the many ways to reduce what is making it into the landfill. This class is perfect for those of you who, like myself, want to recycle and compost but dont quite have the hang of it or arent sure where to start. I talked with a super cool dude and Master Composter and Recycler student, Mr. Robert Redinger, about his experience with the class and I found what he said about the trip to Earth Care Farms to be especially interesting…

 “The trip to Earth Care farm was fascinating and Mike, the owner was very happy to teach, show and explain to the class.  All of the zoo waste along with local landscapers waste is taken, then a couple times a week, all of the fish waste and clam waste from Point Judith is shipped to the farm and buried for compost.  Every three weeks the pile is turned in on itself and the pile reaches 160 degrees and kills all seeds, weeds, and almost anything other than micro-organisms.  Eventually after 6 months or so, the compost can be screened and sold to the public and to landscapers at $60 and cubic yard.  Katherine Hepburn bought some and the owner had just shipped 3 semi trucks full to NY.  All of the organic stuff can be turned into fine fertile compost, mixed with our poor RI soil and we can all have lush lawns and gardens, healthy plants without chemicals, and we can all reduce the waste stream. “

That’s just from one farm, composting at home is alot less effort that composting on a farm. Imagine if we all did this kind of thing in our own yards? No more money on fertilizers, beatiful lawns, no chemicals, less trash in the landfill, and no more guessing what to toss in the recycling… its WIN WIN people!! Click to check out more about the class, Earth Care Farms, and the landfill. Thanks for the heads up Rob!

Posted by: Ashley (intern)

Local Foodie Reviews

Though it’s not brand new, the fairly recent opening of a restaurant in Providence dedicated to providing locally grown, sustainable foods cooked and prepared in an intensely delicious fashion made me (and many local foodies I know) very happy. 

Local 121 is located in the heart of downtown Providence and is housed in the former Dryfus Hotel which has been transformed into a beautiful live/work space for artists care of local art group AS220 (upstairs) and an equally stunning dining room and accompanying bar next door.  For me, the biggest draw was the promise of everything on the menu being both locally harvested and incredibly savory. 

Kim and I had dinner there Friday night and I have to say, all the expectations I had going into the dining experience were far surpassed.  We started off with Point Judith fried calamari (to which I replied – squid live in Narragansett Bay?), carrot and turnip soup and red baby romaine casaer salad with a creamy lemon dressing.  The calamari was great, the soup wasn’t necessarily the best dish of the night but still tasty and the salad?  Amazing.  The dressing with the pine nuts was just a phenomenal combination.  For the main course, Kim ordered steamed Matunuck Littleneck Clams (living in a coastal state has incredible benefits…)  with fingerling potatoes, bacon lardons, Pernod, chives and creme fraiche.  I can safely say that the combination of the bacon, potatoes and tasty clams made for one of the best experiences I’ve had with littlenecks. 

My favorite dish of the night was, luckily, my own.  I ordered mustard crusted Gloucester grey sole with brown butter, carrots and parsnips.  The combination of the slightly crunchy mustard glaze with the tenderness of the sole, paired with the carrots and parsnips was genius.   I ate until I almost burst but made a point to save some for Kim to enjoy too.  We also had some completely delicious organic chardonnay, some Pinot with dinner (locally harvested from Kim’s husband’s wine cellar) and with dessert, some Newport Vineyard ice wine (there is a special place in my heart for ice wine). 

Speaking of dessert, we ordered bread pudding – which is always a must try when we go out and the roasted apple & cranberry oat crisp, though we opted to ask for vanilla ice cream instead of maple walnut because, well, we’re under 65.  No offense. 

The bonus part of dining there repeatedly is that the menu changes frequently due to the nature of where and when the food is harvested.  You can be tasting completely new flavors every season.  Overall, the experience was amazing (have I said that already?) and I’d go back there in a heartbeat.  

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

Red is so cliche, go green this Valentines day

How many cards do you think are sold for Valentines day? That’s easy, about a billion. The real question is how many of those are recycled? And isn’t the saying REDUCE, reuse, recycle? Spending three bucks on a completely unoriginal, non-unique card just so they can read it once, toss it aside, and get to the good stuff is probably not the best reduce method. Send an e-card, or better yet, use your big kid words and tell them you love them! I’m sure you could get the point across just as good if not better than some guy named Earl at Hallmark can, (no offense Earl). Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a Valentines Grinch. I just think that on a holiday about love we should consider the planet we love as well. So here is a list of the usual gifts given on February 14th, and a couple of eco-friendly/socially aware alternatives…

1. Chocolates!- Instead of the the ridiculous, lace trimmed, $20 box of Russel Stovers (or the $60 box of Godiva’s) try these “Life is Sweet” chocolates from OrganicBouquet.com. They are USDA certified organic, fair trade certified, packaged in recyclable and biodegradable materials, and some of the proceeds go to non-profit programs. Or for the fellow Rhode Islanders that want to keep it local, check out Ocean State Chocolates and Confections. They use fresh and local ingredients in all of their chocolates. And if you want to give a truly unique gift, sign your sweetheart up for one of their chocolate classes that teach how to use chocolate in all kinds of cooking.

1558ced753948e9206bb1cc3b13026d022. Stuffed Animals- Personally, I am not a fan of stuffed animals, but the TofuBear is actually pretty cute.  He is made out of soy silk, (made from the residue left over from tofu manufacturing). This makes him free of any petrochemicals, he’s made from a comletely renewable resource, and is totally biodegradable. PLUS he’s super soft and machine washable. Teddy bear too cliche? They have goats, bunnies, even a ram.

3. Flowers- Instead of ordering a bouquet of flowers online and having them delivered to your valentines home or work, be  considerate to momma nature and just buy local and hand deliver. Again, its much better get flowers from your actual Valentine than from the Fed-Ex guy. Maybe instead of a bunch of flowers that are going to die anyways, you could try a potted plant. Keeping plants in the home or office is good for the mind and body (thank you Treehugger). OR you can do even better than that and plant a tree in the name of love. How romantical.

Hopefully I have given you somewhat of a headstart on a more eco-aware Valentines day. Anybody have any other Valentine alternatives to add?