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The Green Graze

A Taste of Everything Green 

Summer 2014
In This Issue
Exciting Endorsement for Growing Up Green Tots
Good News for our Climate!
Eco Gadgets & Innovations
Green Cuisine
Self-Suffcient in the City
Did You Know?
Survey Says!
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Welcome to TeachingGreen's Summer 2014 issue of The Green Graze, our seasonal newsletter offering a taste of everything green!

In addition to our usual green tips and insights, we are happy to announce the official launch or our Growing Up Green Tots program! The pilot has ended and outreach efforts are underway: already, 30 preschool and childcare centers in 13 states have signed up. And we are only just beginning! Read on to learn more and help us spread the word.

Inside this issue of The Green Graze:
  • Support TeachingGreen every time you shop with AmazonSmile 
...and more!
Happy grazing!
Endorsement_for_TotsWe Don't Like to Brag But...

Ed Begley Jr. Has Endorsed Our Growing Up Green Tots Program!
The actor and environmental leader agrees that we need to reach 'em while they're young 
Surely lots of people in Hollywood are concerned about the health of our environment. But there is one person in Tinseltown who stands out as a champion for environmental protection and his name is Ed Begley Jr. He lives in a Platinum LEED-certified home and has been known to show up at Hollywood events on his bicycle. How cool is that?  Ed Begley Jr.

As the star of "Living With Ed" and "On Begley Street" - both shows that aim to help individuals live a greener lifestyle - Mr. Begley considers himself in the "take action yourself" camp of environmental activism. So it's not surprising that he would support a program dedicated to instilling green values in very young children, which is exactly what our Growing Up Green Tots program aims to do.

"This free program helps preschool and kindergarten teachers create a green and healthy classroom experience for their students. The program engages kids with fun activities and changes the culture in the classroom from one of apathy and waste to one of awareness and conservation," Begley said. "This sounds great and you can list me as a supporter!" 

Our pilot program has come to an end, and we have now turned our attention to getting the word out. Already, 30 preschools and childcare centers from 13 states have signed up, and we're just getting started. Will you help us spread the word?

 If you know any preschool or kindergarten teachers, please let them know that Growing Up Green Tots is here to help! Schools and childcare centers that sign up will receive an all-inclusive, easy-to-implement program, free of charge. We do the research and produce the materials so that they don't have to. For more information and to sign up, please visit www.teachinggreen.org.
Good_NewsGood News!

Finally! A Light at the End of the Long, Dark Tunnel of Climate Inaction
Look who's calling for climate action now

You've likely heard by now about the Obama administration's big announcement on climate. Finally, after five and a half years, it's calling for new regulations to cut carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. Specifically, the EPA is calling for cuts of 26 or 27 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030 - from 2005 levels.
Power Plant
There's been a mixed reaction to this announcement, with many environmentalists underwhelmed by the target reductions, since power plant-related CO2 emissions already dropped by 13.2 percent from 2005 to 2012. Plus, the cuts fall short of the 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050 that climate experts have been pushing for.

Even so, this is a significant step, and it's another sign that the time's they are a-changing. It's no longer just climate scientists, environmentalists and Bill Nye fighting the good fight anymore. Along with Obama, lots of other people - including some extremely influential ones - have gotten on the old "I don't want to see my planet destroyed" bandwagon. To name a few:

1.    The American People

When asked in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted from May 29 - June 1, 2014, "Do you think the federal government should or should not limit the release of greenhouse gases from existing power plants in an effort to reduce global warming?," 70 percent of all respondents said yes, including 63 percent of Republicans. Only 21 percent said no. Going one step further, when asked whether Washington should still go forward with limits if they "significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly energy expenses by $20 a month," 63 percent of respondents say yes, including 51 percent of Republicans.

2.    The Pope

Following a five-day Vatican event where scientists, lawyers, economists, philosophers, and   others brainstormed what the Catholic church can do about the effects of climate Pope Francischange, the Pope gave an address to a massive crowd in Rome that included this statement:  "Safeguard creation. Because if we destroy creation, creation will destroy us. Never forget this." This is not the first time the Pope has spoken out for environmental protection. From his inaugural mass as pope: "The vocation of being a "protector"... means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live."

3.    Military Leaders

In 2007, a Military Advisory Board of eleven retired generals and admirals made the case that climate change poses a serious threat to national security. Now, asked again to advise the U.S. government on climate-change risks, the group (plus five new members) has released a new report, titled National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change. Not surprisingly, they reached the same conclusion the second time around: "we validate the findings of our first report and find that in many cases the risks we identified are advancing noticeably faster than we anticipated."

4.    Billionaire Climate Activist Tom Steyer

In U.S. politics, it's always the climate deniers that benefit most from the deepest pockets. But retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer intends to change that. He has pledged to spend $50 million of his own funds to help climate-friendly political candidates in the 2014 midterm elections. And his super PAC, NextGen Climate, hopes to raise an additional $50 million from other like-minded donors. The money will be funneled into campaigns in seven U.S. states to support climate-friendly candidates and attack the climate-denying ones.

Yes, climate change is a daunting problem that will require consensus among world leaders to solve. And with these developments (and others), I have renewed hope that we may actually be able to solve it.

eco_gadgetsEco Gadgets & Innovations

New wind turbine could be a game-changer for rooftop wind generation  

Wind power made up 32 percent of total renewable energy generated domestically in 2013 (EIA), but not from the wind blowing through America's residential and urban areas. That's because there are currently very few wind turbines available for rooftop use, and many cities wouldn't allow them even if there were. Their power output is too low (only 25 - 50 percent efficient, on average) for a reasonable return on investment, and they are just too noisy for high-density living. Liam F1 Wind Turbine

But the Dutch start-up company The Archimedes claims that it has developed a wind turbine that could change all that. Unveiled on May 27, its Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine is small, nearly silent, and "can generate 1,500 kWh of energy per year at wind speeds of 5m/s, or enough to cover half of an average household's energy use," according to the company.

Liam's inventor, Marinus Mieremet says that its unique shape - like that of a Nautilus shell - allows the blades to point into the wind to capture the maximum amount of energy, while also producing very little sound. "Even when the wind is blowing at an angle of 60 degrees into the rotor, it will start to spin. We do not require expensive software: because of its conical shape, the wind turbine yaws itself automatically into the optimal wind direction. Just like a wind vane. And because the wind turbine encounters minimal resistance, he is virtually silent," said Mieremet.

It will be interesting to see what independent tests reveal about Liam's performance. If all goes well, the company expects to be selling it here in the U.S. beginning in early 2015. As of now, they claim to have already sold 7,000 turbines in 14 countries, presumably at the posted price of €3,999 (about US$5,450). Stay tuned!

Learn more at dearchimedes.com.

green_cuisineGreen Cuisine

Dollars and Sense: Choosing Your Organic Food Wisely 
By Anna Furey

Each year, since 1995, in an effort to educate Americans and reduce their exposure to produce pesticides, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The guide lists the twelve conventionally-grown foods that test highest for pesticides, also known as the "EWG's Dirty Dozen ." 

The report was published this past April, and apples, with their diphenylamine (DPA), top the charts with the most pesticides. This chemical can be found in your apple juice, applesauce, and even your baby food. European researchers are under the notion that DPA reacts with nitrogen on the surface of the apple and results in cancer-causing chemicals, and therefore have banned this pesticide since 2012. The U.S. EPA will only ban it if more evidence against this pesticide is found, and EWG Guides to Pesticides unfortunately, the last assessment on DPA was done in 1997 and yielded the results of "reasonable certainty of no harm."   

That being said, most Americans already know that buying organic is always the healthier option.  As a result, the U.S. has seen increases in organic food sales since 2000. As stated in the report Organic food market in the U.S. - Statista Dossier 2012, organic food sales generated approximately 31.32 billion dollars in 2012 and that number is predicted to increase by 11 billion dollars in 2014. And according to the report United States Organic Food Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2018, the organic market is projected to increase another 14% from 2013 to 2018. Americans have shown that they are willing to spend a little more on food choices that reduce exposure to harmful pesticides, which has caused an emerging trend in big-box stores. Walmart, the nation's largest grocer, has responded to this growing demand and expanded its organic food selection by nearly 100 products this past April as a result. 

Great news, except that with demands for organic food increasing, the U.S. has begun seeking supply from China, India and Argentina. In fact, more than half of organic soybeans in the U.S. are now grown overseas, and just last year organic corn began being imported. Both of these organic vegetables are used for animal feed here in the U.S. The guidelines for organic agriculture for Chinese and Indian farms are the same as for American farms: no irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, or genetically modified organisms can be used in organic agriculture. However, concern is raised over whether or not the imported produce is actually organically grown and untainted. And of course, there's the issue of energy and climate: how much does it really help the environment to ship food halfway around the world? 

To really make your dollars work for your health and the environment, it's always best to choose locally-grown organic produce listed on EWG's Dirty Dozen. By avoiding produce with the highest levels of pesticides, you will of course decrease your risks of health implications caused by these pesticides. And for the future of our planet,it is important to choose locally-grown produce because it reduces energy consumption used for transportation. Lowering energy consumption reduces carbon emissions and our dependency on fossil fuels.

For more information on which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are the safest to consume, check out EWG's Clean Fifteen , which lists the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues, such as avocados. In addition, check out EWG's Dirty Dozen   to avoid purchasing produce with the highest levels of pesticide residues, such as apples. Remember when going on your food shopping trips to weigh the benefits and the costs. To reduce costs, it is not necessarily effective to purchase organic produce listed on the clean fifteen. Spend wisely by choosing organic produce listed on the dirty dozen instead.   
Dervaes_homesteadSelf-Sufficient in The City

One Family's Journey Down the "Path to Freedom"
This Pasadena, CA family is the living embodiment of simple, sustainable living in modern times

In this world of Facebook, freeways, and smart phones, do you ever think about what it would be like to ditch it all and just get back to basics? To not only see where your food grows, but grow it yourself? To produce your own energy and live a simple, self-sufficient life?  Dervaes Urban Homestead

That's precisely what Jules Dervaes of Pasadena, CA wanted for his family back in the mid-1980's. Specifically, he dreamed of "idyllic country living and five acres and independence." Instead, he decided to work with what he had: a circa-1917 craftsman on a 66' x 132' lot, located just 11 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. With the help of his three children, he transformed his ordinary urban lot into something quite extraordinary: a self-sufficient urban farm.

Working full-time on their "urban homestead" - a term first coined by Jules back in 2001 - this family of four grows 90 percent of their (vegetarian) diet right in their own backyard. On just 1/10 of an acre of land - or roughly 4,350 square feet - the Dervaeses maintain an organic garden that produces three  tons of organic produce every year. The family also fuels their car with home-brewed bio-diesel, and keeps several farm animals for egg production and Chickensmanure. And they didn't stop there. They also keep bees, irrigate with grey water, and employ several eco-gadgets, including a solar oven, a solar outdoor shower, a toilet lid sink, and hand-cranked appliances. 

All of this keeps their monthly bills very low, but even with the plethora of resource-conserving techniques used by the family, it still takes money to grow 6,000 pounds of produce per year. And because neither Jules nor his children has a paying job outside of the homestead, they've devised some wonderful ways to raise money selling products, services and experiences.

The family sells surplus produce to local restaurants and caterers (and occasionally to individuals) and operates a farm stand on their front porch. They also maintain an online store at www.urbanhomesteadsupply.com, where they sell all kinds of things for the urban farmer and otherwise eco-minded, including some of their gadgets. And when they're not busy tending to the farm, they teach a variety of workshops, including "Backyard Chickens & Ducks for Beginners," "Skill Share: Knit-Together (& Crochet too!)," and "Make, Do, Mend and Repair." 

Another source of (especially fun) revenue comes Hootenaneyfrom their bi-monthly "Sunday Social & Hootenanny" events. I recently attended with my husband and 4-year old daughter and we all agreed that it was a truly fun and memorable experience. We were treated to a delicious, reasonably-priced, and locally-grown dinner, accompanied by continuous live music entertainment, performed by anyone who can sing or play an instrument. Jules and his three kids were actively involved throughout the evening, and son Justin didn't let us leave without a petting session with one of their pet rabbits. This is community in the truest sense of the word.

To learn more about this remarkable family and their urban farm, and to see for yourself what is possible with just 1/10 of an acre of land, visit the Urban Homestead at www.urbanhomestead.org.

did_you_knowDid You Know?

How to Make Your Blue Jeans Last Forever
Denim aficionados share their secret to long-lasting jeans
Levi's CEO Chip Bergh raised some eyebrows recently when he told Fortune Magazine that the jeans he was wearing at the time - which appeared to be brand new - had not been washed in the traditional sense in Freeze your jeans"maybe a year." Yep, that's no soap and water, just spot-cleaning when necessary.

While this may sound a bit nutty, it turns out he's not alone in the denim world: Tommy Hilfiger says he too never washes his jeans, or at least not for months at a time. Why would these men go months or years without washing their jeans? Simple: to prevent fading and keep them looking new.

If you want to try the Bergh method of jean maintenance, there are a few simple things you can do to keep your jeans looking and smelling "fresh." It's recommended that you regularly spritz them with white vinegar or vodka (to eliminate odor) and then hang them out to dry. And to kill bacteria that cause odor, you should freeze them overnight about once a month.

Now I know this may sound gross, but as someone who is tired of watching her favorite jeans become increasingly faded after each successive wash, I found this tip fascinating and intend to give it a try. If it'll keep my jeans looking new and save some water and energy in the process, I'm willing to test it out.

Not that I don't have my doubts, of course: microbiologists point out that it's unlikely that all bacteria are killed by freezing, and that freezing does nothing to eliminate dirt, sweat and dead skin cells. But one has to wonder why Bergh and Hilfiger would promote this method of jean maintenance if they didn't really believe in it. Certainly, they have nothing to gain and plenty to lose from people rarely washing their jeans. Longer-lasting jeans mean fewer purchases of new jeans, after all. So I will put the skeptic in me aside and give it a whirl. I figure If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.

Survey_saysSurvey Says!

We're Still Curious...

When were the seeds of environmental awareness FIRST planted in your mind? Was it during your early childhood...teens years...later on? We want to know! If you haven't already, please take two minutes to take our short survey. Your response will provide valuable insight that could help us secure funding for our new Growing Up Green Tots Program. Thanks for participating!

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Have you heard about AmazonSmile? Amazon Smile

Amazon.com recently created a wonderful new way to support your favorite 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and we hope that you will choose TeachingGreen! 

Just click this link, and 0.5% of any eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com will automatically be donated to TeachingGreen. This will cost you nothing, and will provide us with much-needed funds to continue our work spreading the green message, especially to young children.

Thank you for your support!

For more information, contact Kathleen Jacecko at 310-372-7484 or kjacecko@teachinggreen.org.
We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative. Should you have any suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.
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Kathleen Jacecko