You Are What You Eat: "Live" Foods Give Life, Reverse Disease



"You are what you eat:" it's an age-old adage that has never been proven more visibly than when we observe the effects of our grab-and-go, convenience-foods culture on our nation's growing obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease epidemics. A more conscious approach to healthful eating can result in a major difference in how people look and feel, and even reverse disease, according to Danielle Heard, MS, HHC, a holistic health counselor certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and founder of Artemis in the City, a holistic nutrition services company.

The first time I met Danielle, I was blown away by her amazing mane of lustrous hair, luminous skin, and bright but warm eyes. This woman radiated health and harmony. Apparently, it wasn't always so. In 1996, Danielle became very sick:

"I was so very ill and was diagnosed with migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and depression. I saw about 20 doctors who could not determine the cause of my illness, and basically said it was psychological." 

After living for many years with a variety of chronic health problems and illnesses, none of which were helped by traditional medicine, Danielle took matters into her own hands and turned to healing herself from the inside out through adopting a "whole foods" lifestyle.

"I completely changed my diet, and within two months I felt noticeably better. Within two years, I was completely healed." After experiencing firsthand the 180 degree difference in her health following a lifestyle and diet change, Danielle trained to become certified as a holistic health counselor so that she could help others affect change in their own lives.

"I want to teach people that it is possible to take control of your own health. In our society, traditional medicine often treats individual symptoms after they have occurred rather than addressing the root cause of disease, or even better, preventing disease."

Danielle says that the body is capable of healing itself and reversing long time unhealthy patterns soon after healthful changes are made: "I help people transition to a whole foods lifestyle and eliminate processed foods. Living foods are the most beneficial to the body. Not all calories are created equal."

Danielle says most people will reach for whatever is most convenient, which are often pre-packaged or fast foods, filled with toxic trans fats and preservatives. "My goal is to help people become more conscious of their food choices." Something as simple as drinking more water, decreasing sugar, and adding more greens and whole grains to the daily diet can make a huge difference to energy levels and overall health.

I had the opportunity to pick Danielle's brain a bit about the best ways to improve our daily diet:

What is the most important thing we should eat every day?

"#1 = Water. Without a doubt. 64 ounces: at least 8 glasses! Most people don't even know that when they feel thirsty their body is already dehydrated. Most people exist in a chronically dehydrated state. Drink water. Often!
#2 = Greens! Eat leafy greens every day."


Should we take vitamins and supplements?

"Food is your medicine. A normal healthy person has no need for supplemental vitamins if she or he is eating a balanced and varied whole foods diet."

In your opinion, what is the worst thing we can do for our health?

"Fast food. Food should not be 'fast.' The transfats and hydrogenated oils in fast foods are toxic. Aspartame (found in equal, nutrasweet, over 6000 products including all "sugar-free" items) is a poison."

Is eating this way really hard and/or expensive?

"Eating this way is not hard once you know what kinds of food to shop for, and which foods to avoid. Slow food IS health."

What if I have no time or don't like to prepare and cook food?

If you care about your health, and see the effects a whole foods lifestyle has on your health, then shopping and preparing your food in this way becomes a top priority."

What do you do for your health every day?

"I drink at least 8 ounces of green juice every day: I make a 'green goddess' drink in my juicer that includes:

cucumber
parsley
spinach or other dark leafy greens
green apple
ginger root
lemon juice

It's delicious and keeps me well and healthy!"

Artemis in the City offers clients individualized consultations and tailored nutrition programs to address individual concerns and health problems, specifically helping clients battle obesity, decrease high blood pressure, eliminate food allergies, and reverse heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, chronic pain and IBS and fibromyalgia.

For recipes, client testimonials, additional resources, and more information, check out Artemis in the City's website: www.artemisinthecity.com and to learn more about Artemis in the City's services, Danielle offers clients a free health history session: call 212-535-3160. 


San Francisco Adopts First National "Eat Locally/Sustainably" Policy

In my last blog post, I wrote about the importance of trying to eat as locally and sustainably as possible, both for the betterment of our own individual health (the fresher the foods, the more living nutrients are retained within them) and global health (reduced emissions from food transport across long distances and decreased unsustainable/industrial farming practices).

I'm happy to see that this topic seems to be at the forefront of many people's consciousness, as I read today that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive directive outlining San Francisco’s (and the nation's) first comprehensive regional food policy. San Francisco seems to be battling it out with Portland for the title of "most sustainable city in the nation" but so far, San Fran seems to be leading in urban green efforts with their mandatory recycling and composting law implemented in June (wow, impressive!), and initiatives to ensure that San Francisco will be the "Electric Vehicle Capital of the US," through hopes of building the world's first fully electric vehicle grid.

This sustainable food policy is the third major initiative undertaken by San Francisco to help strengthen its place as "most sustainable city in the world" ...Aiming high, Portland and San Francisco, I love it! Except... where's Seattle amidst the fray? ...We are the "Emerald City" after all!

Mayor Newsom states: "The stark reality is that hunger, food insecurity, and poor nutrition are pressing health issues, even in a city as rich and vibrant as San Francisco. From the alleviation of hunger, to the need to support local and sustainable agricultural practices, these recommendations form a comprehensive and strategic approach to addressing pressing needs in all sectors of the food system."

The key elements of the new food policy include:

1) Requiring all city departments to conduct an audit of land under their jurisdiction in order to inventory land suitable for gardening
2) New health and sustainability requirements for food sold by vendors under city permits
3) A “healthy meetings policy” requiring the purchase of healthy, locally produced foods for city meetings
4) Requiring that food purchased by the city has been grown regionally and through using sustainable methods (within two months).


This directive calls for completion of these actions within six months, and within two months, Newsom says he will send an ordinance to the Board of Supervisors mandating that all food served in hospitals, homeless shelters, jails, and community centers be healthy.

There is also a reciprocity aspect to help local restaurants and food vendors find farms from which they can buy produce directly. Already the city's mandatory recycling and composting program sends tons of food scraps to local farms and wineries, which in turn produce the high-quality wines and food sold and consumed in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I find it so inspiring and heartening that a city is recognizing the importance of these issues and addressing them in sustainable and manageable ways. Food purchased locally saves money through reduced shipping distances and costs, which also trims greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, purchasing local foods reinvests money back into the local economy and supports the local growers. Mandated healthy food may also save the city money on healthcare treatment in the long run: if people as a whole start to eat more healthfully, people's health will improve and the number of people who develop diseases that result from poor eating habits and poor quality food such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, should also decrease.

Could it be possible that such initiatives could be rolled out nationwide? What do you think? What would be the drawbacks or backlash to implementing such food requirements? How could these be addressed specifically and effectively?

Easy Ways to Make Sustainable, Local and Healthful Food Choices



Today is the Fourth of July... US Independence Day. This has become the day for Americans to crank up the BBQ, pile on the potato salad and enjoy a summertime feast before the fireworks start. In recognition of the food-centric way in which we tend to celebrate occasions, and what seems to be a fair amount of buzz around exposing the dirty little secrets of the food industry lately, I thought I would take a conscious look at how the way we shop for food and the choices we make at the market affect our health and the environment.

Living in Seattle, I recognize my good food fortune in that I can walk to the country’s best farmers’ market, Pike Place Market (internationally recognized as “America's premier farmers' market,” attracting over 10 million visitors a year) within 10 minutes. The easy access we have here in Seattle to local, organic, and seasonal farm-fresh produce and dairy products as well as knowing the seafood offered at the local fishmongers is usually guaranteed wild and fished responsibly from nearby waters makes choosing healthful, natural and locally-sourced foods almost effortless. In most of the country, however, food options are dominated by whatever is offered in the local corporate grocery chain. Unfortunately, these large chains often emphasize size (bigger is better) and reduced cost (via mass manufacturing, industrial farming, genetic engineering, other technological “innovations”) over quality, natural growing techniques, or support of local farm operations.

Luckily, we seem to be in the midst of a tipping point with respect to recognizing the adverse health and environmental effects of supporting such a mass-produced, genetically- and synthetically-engineered food system. Recently, the unappetizing horrors within the modern commercialized food chain have been exposed in books such as Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Marion Nestle’s Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health, and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Recent documentaries such as King Corn highlights the frustrating system of governmental subsidies to corn farmers and high fructose corn syrup as the insidious culprit behind America’s obesity and diabetes epidemic, and Food Inc, which I have not yet seen but is high on my list, is reviewed by the New York Times as “an informative, sometimes infuriating, activist documentary about the big business of feeding or, more to the political point, force-feeding, Americans all the junk that multinational corporate money can buy” both cast a spotlight on the previously shadowy world of food manufacturing. As long as food tastes good, most people are happy to remain blissfully unaware of what is involved in getting it that way, or to their table. But no longer.

The sustainable food movement is gaining more momentum, rolling all the way up to Washington, via the political and environmental symbolic statement made by Michelle Obama's planting of the very first Presidential vegetable garden. Although starting a farm in your backyard or rooftop may not be immediately feasible (typical and immediate responses include: “I don’t have a green thumb!” “I don’t have time to tend a garden!” “I don’t have the space for that!” and/or “I wouldn’t know how to start a garden!”); technically, we do have the power to grow our own food. This Sunday’s New York Times magazine features Will Allen, an urban-farming expert of Growing Power Farming who has pioneered a local-farming movement to help educate people to do just that, regardless of where they live or how much money they have.

Each of us really does have the power to make a difference in the kinds of foods that are stocked in our markets. Choosing locally sourced foods from small, independent growers helps our health as well as the environment. Chances are the foods will be fresher, with less or no chemical preservatives since they were likely on the vine or in the ground as recently as a day ago, and the carbon footprint required to transport the foods to the market is minimized. In addition, every time we buy groceries and the scanner registers the bar codes of the products we buy, a marketing company registers our purchasing preferences, and the more we buy locally, the more locally sourced items we'll see.

Think about the following the next time you’re in the grocery store or at a restaurant:

1) Check to see where the produce you are buying is from. In my local Whole Foods, there are signs that proudly advertise “Locally grown WA Rainier cherries!” “Lady Washington apples from Snoqualmie…” etc., and I notice that often these local items are cheaper than others that have been transported from other states or countries. If there aren’t signs, the produce stickers usually contains location information: “product of Chile, Mexico,” etc. (I avoid these!)

2) Ask your produce manager if they carry fruits and vegetables from local farmers. The more you ask for it, and the more people who request it, the greater the chances they will start carrying it.

3) Print off and carry with you the “Seafood Watch List,” listing the seafood choices that are sustainably fished, abundant, and/or farmed in environmentally-friendly ways. You can view the guide online, or download a wallet-sized version. Try to avoid ordering or buying fish such as Chilean Sea Bass, Atlantic Cod, and others that are either overfished or unsustainably harvested. The list is long and surprising, but there are also many kinds of fish on the “best choices” list for abundance and responsible fishing.

4) Recognize that many label claims such as “natural,” “naturally raised,” “Raised without antibiotics,” and the use of “Organic” for seafood and personal care products are unregulated, misleading and basically meaningless.

5) Check out Food Democracy Now, a grassroots movement initiated by farmers, writers, chefs, eaters and policy advocates to: “implement real and significant change in our nation’s food, agricultural and environmental policies through advancing best practices in food production, animal husbandry, conservation of natural resources, renewable energy and soil preservation.” Sign the petition to make your voice heard for a sustainable USDA!

6) Consider signing the petition on Food Independence Day.Org, launched by Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International, who earlier this year petitioned the Obama administration to plant a Victory Garden on the White House lawn. Part of this effort was to gain the commitment of individuals to include local foods in their menu and to encourage support of locally grown food and local eating on the Fourth of July.

7) Remember that every small change is still helpful, in a large way at an individual wellness level, as well as becoming part of the aggregate contribution to our global health.

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Make your voice heard on climate bill THIS WEEK!

This Friday, June 26, 2009, the full House of Representatives will vote on the global warming and energy bill. In the words of Al Gore: "Make no mistake, this is the most important environmental vote of this generation. If passed this legislation will put us on the road to actually solving the climate crisis, in addition to building a green economy."

"The American Clean Energy and Security Act" aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, while creating "green" jobs. It would create a "cap-and-trade" system limiting overall pollution from large industrial sources and then allocating and selling pollution permits.

It is imperative that the US makes as much progress as possible on this issue before the December global climate change talks in Copenhagen, since US leadership is key to forging an international accord. "The whole world is looking at our capital. The whole world is waiting to see whether or not President Obama can arrive in Copenhagen as leader of the attempt to reduce greenhouse gases while at the same time unleashing a clean energy job revolution in our country and on our planet," said Democratic Representative Ed Markey, one of the measure's lead authors. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi described the legislation as "a bill that unifies our country and our industry."

Make a simple phone call to your representative: 877-9-REPOWER (877-9-737-6937) and make sure they vote yes and write your representative TODAY to make your voice heard and ensure this bill is passed.

Click here to contact your representative

Please feel free to copy and paste the text I used to contact Congressman McDermott, the Representative for the 7th District of Washington, changing the specifics (name and state):

Dear Congressman McDermott,
I am writing you to ask you to please vote YES this Friday on "The American Clean Energy and Security Act." As you well know, it is imperative that the US shows leadership on this issue early, in order to forge an international accord at the December global climate change talks in Copenhagen. In addition, Al Gore has said that this is the most important environmental vote of this generation. It is critical that Washington state, as a true "green leader," supports a solution to the global climate crisis.
Thank you for your time and your vote.
Amy Hale

Happy Solstice...! Fremont Parade 2009 (where art, politics and nudity can happily coexist)



Well I'm back after almost 2 months of hiatus, during which I traveled here, there, to and fro: all over France and just a bit of a toe-dip into Spain. I do plan to write about my adventures (and perhaps even some misadventures), hopefully with some kind of eco-spin to it all, or maybe just some pretty pictures, in the coming days. But first things first:

This weekend I covered the 38th annual Fremont Fair and Parade as part of the Seattle social media press corps, sponsored by Solid Ground, a local Seattle Nonprofit dedicated to raising funds, awareness and support for the needs of the homeless and underprivileged in our community. The fair celebrates the Summer Solstice, and has become synonymously linked with what has become the infamous naked bike ride, in which hundreds of cyclists, skateboarders, unicyclists, and rollerbladers/skaters paint, adorn, and decorate themselves in all manner of colorful "costumes" and themes. I'm actually not sure how the whole "naked bike ride" originated, but I'm going to take an educated leap of a guess in that it has something to do with Celtic celebration of the solstice, a liberation and joyful celebration of the true self, but I could be reading too much into what in fact, was simply a loosely organized event originally started by streakers who crashed the parade sometime in the hippie heydays.

The parade has changed over the years, as participants decided to emphasize bodypainting and other forms of creative artistry done in the spirit of the host event. The entire fair is a multi-faceted celebration of art, including musicians, vendors, street performers, and "art cars" from all over the country. The cyclists kick off the colorful and hugely celebratory parade originating in Fremont, the self-proclaimed "Center of the Universe," traveling a mile and a half to Gas Works Park, alongside Lake Union. This being only my second summer in Seattle, and my first-ever Fremont Fair, I had no idea what to expect, and showed up, camera in hand, with more than a fair amount of trepidation.

However, the Seattle energy that has come to be quite familiar to me immediately permeated the air... throngs were lining the sidewalks well before the parade was scheduled to begin. Bike riders, painted and ready to go, were visibly excited to be adorned in new roles and costumes and participating in such a community-focused, fun event. It wouldn't be a Seattle event without messages - always liberal, the parade float themes ranged from Peace to vegetarianism, saving the oceans, recycling and eliminating plastics, the Iran election, Israel-Palestinian conflict, to legalization of marijuana. There was also a healthy sprinkling of pure celebration of the (occasional) sun and (frequent) rain in this part of the world as well as some baffling abstractions. I had a blast, and, as they say... photos speak a thousand words... Check it out in the slideshow at the top of this post(Click to enlarge it)!

Happy Earth Day: Celebrate - Give - Preserve!


Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park, CO © Amy Hale

Happy Earth Day (in case you didn't know, it's today, April 22 - and the 39th anniversary of Earth Day, can you believe it?!) but so what... what to do...!? Of course, I'm of the belief that "every day is earth day" but Earth Day is the one designated day to kickstart everyone's consciousness about greening up your life. Essentially, I see Earth Day as a "New Year's" day for the earth. How about taking the day to make some "Earth Day resolutions" for the year ahead...?

Start with a one time donation for Earth Day, but then repeat annually/quarterly/cyclically/monthly... whatever schedule works best for you!:

1) Make a donation ($10 or more!) to Replanting the Rainforests, an organization collecting donations to help restore and permanently rebuild some of the 80% of the world’s native forests that have been destroyed.









2) Join or make a donation to Green America, (formerly Co-op America) the largest Green NFP membership organization, dedicated to promoting social justice, environmental sustainability, and healthy communities worldwide through economic action: Donate/Join HERE. In joining Green America, you'll also receive some really cool resources on green living, green businesses, investing, and current environmental issues.


3) Offset your carbon footprint. Carbonfund.org allows you to calculate your carbon footprint for your home, car, travel, or one-off event and allows you to offset it. Or just select the Gift option to choose your offset in $10 (tax deductible) increments. For more information on carbon offsetting, check out this great article from Green America on the variety of good, better, and best options available: Carbon Offsets Dymystified.



4) Choose an environmental or species-protecting organization, cause, or NFP, and donate to it. Donate of your time and energy (volunteer!) if opening your wallet is not the best alternative right now. Here are some of my favorites:
Greenpeace
WWF
Sierra Club
Nature Conservancy
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

5) Support your local Farmers' Markets or Food Co-Op: Obtaining your food from local sources is better for everyone: there is less energy expended to pack, preserve, and transport the produce, the small local farmers are being supported; you're getting the benefits of fresher, more nutrient-dense and healthier foods, and small farms are much more sustainable for the earth than the large pesticide-ridden and hormone-filled factory-farms that are decimating the landscape.



FREE! Give of your time, Get out and just be. Celebrate the earth and the gifts it has to offer. Consider how you can give back on a daily basis in gratitude and for future preservation of our planet.



Photo: North Cascades, WA © Amy Hale
1) Volunteer at a community garden, animal shelter, trail or parks renovation program, or other pro-green organization in your local community. Make a commitment to return once a month or more.

2) Start a green habit. Carry reusable bags everywhere, conserve water through shorter showers, install a low-flow showerhead or toilet, institute a greener commute: bike, walk, use public transportation, ride-share or carpool, become conscious of your energy use and unplug those unused appliances, make turning out lights a habit.

3) Plant something. Nothing feels personally greener than planting a tree or a garden yourself. Apartment dwellers, start your own herb garden. Anything to start locally sourcing your food more is better (for you, and for the environment!)

4) Get outside! Take a walk, hike, or ride your bike. Get out to a park, the woods, countryside, or mountains - whatever you have nearby, even if it's just your backyard or business park's lawn and try to really see the nature around you with new eyes. Seriously, stop and really look at the flowers blooming, the trees budding. The other day on a walk by the water down by Pike Place Market, I looked down and saw a seal. Within petting distance of the pier. I glance out my window to the regular sight of soaring bald eagles. I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where I wake up to the sun illuminating the Olympic mountains across Puget Sound to the west, the Cascades range to the northeast and occasionally the massif Mt. Rainier will make an appearance on the clear days to the south, and whether it's sunny or rainy, I am reminded always at how fortunate I am to live in such a magnificent place. Of course I want to do what I can to preserve it. Taking time to slow down quiets the mind, breath, and will positively affect the whole flow of your day. Magnifying what is so easy to overlook can often create a sense of wonder and stillness...

Photo: Arboretum, Seattle © Amy Hale





To find events in your area, go to the official Earth Day website: http://earthday.net/ and join the Earth Day social network at http://network.earthday.net/












Photo: Botanical Gardens, Chicago © Amy Hale

Top Five Friday

There's so much going on in the GreenSphere that I thought I'd walk my own talk and make it easy: I'm simply listing the Top 5 things I've found buzzing around the intertubes today that when added, followed, read, and/or acted upon, will indeed make a difference to the earth. Each will take less than 120 seconds each, I promise, yet the effects will be long-lasting.


1) Add the "Every Day is Earth Day" Application to your facebook profile and the company Cooler, Inc. will offset 5 lbs of carbon emissions for each user that adds the app. The goal is to reach 20,000 user adds for a total of 100,000 lbs of offset carbon emissions by Earth Day, April 22! Check it out: http://apps.facebook.com/gengreenearthday/ The app will also deliver daily tips that you can utilize to decrease the environmental impact of your daily routine in a small but significant way. 1620 lbs have already been offset and the app was just released today! Remember to invite your friends!


2) Determine your carbon footprint with the Carbon Calculator
at Al Gore's www.climatecrisis.net. When I saw An Inconvenient Truth years ago, the first thing I did after the movie ended was calculate my carbon footprint (I don't own a car but I fly medium to long-haul trips, on average, twice a month - travel is both my life and my vice). I'm not sure how many people even know what "carbon footprint" means, let alone are consciously aware of how they contribute daily to global warming. The carbon dioxide we all produce by driving and leaving the lights on adds up quickly. You may be surprised by how much Co2 you are emitting each year - I was; I thought I was doing great never driving and being energy efficient in my home! Calculate your personal impact and learn how you can take action to reduce or even eliminate your emissions of carbon dioxide.

3) Offset your carbon footprint: (What does that mean?) Well, it means donating money, usually... programs can differ and you never fully know what your money is going towards in this relatively new not-for-profit enterprise. Thus, caveat emptor reigns... however, I've done a bunch of research and can fully recommend The Nature Conservancy's program: Climate Change - Carbon Offset Program There is an easy to use carbon calculator on the site, suggested voluntary donation amounts per carbon use, and contributions to the voluntary carbon offset program help "fund projects that are specifically designed to capture and store carbon and thus, help reduce the build up of greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. Contributions will be used to set aside land, provide funding for forest conservation, plant trees and measure and verify the amount of carbon captured and stored over the next 70 years, by when the forest will have matured." I try to contribute each time I fly somewhere.

4) Sign up to volunteer at/support the Green Apple Festival (April 17-19) for Earth Day. Earth Day Network and Green Apple Festival's 2009 plans include simultaneous events in ten US cities (New York, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Austin, LA, San Francisco) over Earth Day Weekend that will focus on environmental volunteerism. The service events will be coupled with Earth Day on the National Mall in Washington, DC and free “Thank You” concerts for volunteers in each city. Activities will focus on climate change solutions like tree planting, energy efficiency retrofits, water protection, urban gardens and forest restoration in local parks, beaches, forests, and schools. See http://www.greenapplemusicfestival.com/ for more info.

5) Eliminate the need for plastic bags: Bring your own bag! Take a second and throw a crushable tote (the kind Whole Foods sells, for example, or any cotton bag) into your backpack, bookbag, purse, car, briefcase and just say "no" to plastic AND paper. If you ever needed a reason to reduce or eliminate your plastic bag consumption, just remember this: 1/3 of currently endangered leatherback turtles have been found to have plastic in their digestive systems, because their main source of nutrition is jellyfish (easily confused with plastic). The thought of these amazing creatures ingesting plastic unwittingly thinking it's a reliable food source just about makes me want to cry. See the following report on Treehugger for more information.

It's National Cell Phone Recycling Week April 6-12!


Who knew... It's the first annual National Cell Phone Recycling Week, sponsored and promoted (ahem, via the whisper method?!) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Note that the name is misleading: you can recycle your old phones at any time throughout the year though I think concentrated efforts at education and promotions are occurring this week.

I learned of the EPA's effort through a green social network Ecycle: http://ecycle.ning.com/, centered around educating and discussing issues related to the process of recycling the components of discarded electronic equipment like computers, laptops, monitors, televisions.

EPA’s "Plug-In To eCycling" program has partnered with AT&T, Best Buy, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Office Depot, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, Staples, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to launch a national campaign encouraging Americans to recycle or donate their unwanted cell phones.


The “Recycle Your Cell Phone. It’s An Easy Call” campaign aims to increase the public’s awareness of cell phone recycling and donation opportunities, with the ultimate goal of increasing the nation’s cell phone recycling rate from the current (pathetic) level: only 10% of unwanted cell phones are recycled or donated each year. There are an estimated 100 million cell phones that are no longer used in the U.S. If these are recycled, there would be enough energy saved to power more than 18,500 U.S. household for ONE YEAR.

Recycling: an Easy Choice - There are thousands of opportunities to recycle cell phones and accessories. Most cell phone retailers, manufacturers, and service providers have ongoing collection programs where phones can be dropped off or mailed in regardless of the age or brand, usually for free. Some charitable organizations and state or municipal solid waste programs also offer cell phone recycling; and a great choice is to donate old cell phones to women's and homeless shelters where they become "emergency only" devices.


Where to Recycle Your Cell Phone

Drop It Off or Mail it In: It's pretty easy to find one of the retailers near you that will collect your old cell phone (just make sure you wipe it clean of any data first and remove the SIM card...):

Visit the links for detailed drop-off, mail-in, and collection event information.

AT&T

Nokia

Motorola

Samsung

Best Buy

Office Depot

Sony Ericsson/How to recycle your Sony Ericsson Phone

Sprint

Staples

T-Mobile

LG Electronics

Verizon Wireless


Recycling: a Green Call - Recycling cell phones helps the environment by saving energy and keeping useable and valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators. Cell phones are made from precious metals, copper, and plastics—all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling these materials not only conserves resources, but prevents air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Recycling: a Social Call - Donating your cell phone also benefits your community. When cell phones and accessories are in good working condition, some programs donate them to a number of worthy charities or provide them for discounted sale to those who need them. In addition, many recycling programs use the proceeds to raise funds for charitable organizations, schools, churches and other social causes. In some cases, programs buy the phone back from the consumer.

For an interesting look at how the recycling process works (complete with pictures), check out:
Eco-Mobilize.com

To learn more, go to www.epa.gov/cellphones

Replanting the Rainforests Campaign




I committed to be a "volunteer blogger" for the pilot Replanting the Rainforests Campaign this year. The Replanting the Rainforests program is a fantastic program that is currently running the "Earth Day Birthday Gift to Our Planet Campaign" - a grassroots effort designed to tap into the power of blogging, volunteering, and social networking to spread the word about the campaign, and to make a difference through contributions, no matter how small. The ultimate goal is to raise $1 million by April 22, Earth Day in order to replant the rainforests.



Not another Conservation Program

This is not a Conservation Program. Conservation is critical, but 80% of the planets native forests are gone and conservation is no longer enough.


Not another Tree Planting Program

This is not simply Tree Planting program. There are several other tree planting programs, but these programs are fatally flawed. These programs do not have control of the lands where the trees are planted and in most cases the trees are planted in areas that have a history of deforestation.

Three "Critical Need" Projects for 2009


Borneo Reforestation - Save the Orangutans





Costa Rica Playa el Rey Reforestation - Saving Mono Titi













Belize Reforestation - Save the Jaguar




Sustainably Managed Permanent Rainforest Habitats

The Replanting the Rainforest Program creates Sustainably Managed Permanent Rainforest Habitats. Within these habitats both sustainable forestry and permagriculture techniques will be employed that will as close as possible mimic natural processes so as not to upset the continuity of the forest environment. The natural array of biodiversity is meticulously safeguarded, while at the same time the economic engine necessary is created to prevent the un-sustainable exploitation of the resource.

For more information, see: www.replantingtherainforests.org



Make the Easy Choice
Volunteer, Learn, Spread the Word, Blog, Contribute (no amount too small) to help replant the rainforests. It's our planet to nurture. We take so much from it, it's time to give back.

Seattle Green Festival 2009 Wrap-Up

To start my wrap-up of the Seattle Green Festival, check out my video introduction to the Green Festival as my first-ever foray into the world of an on-camera "Media Volunteer Host":



I attended both days of the Green Festival and just had a complete blast, and learned a lot too.  Read all about my experience (and my personal product picks here):

Renewed Blogging After Twitter Inspiration: Earth Hour 2009

So, I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus for a while as my admittedly ADD-driven attention span was captured by the much more immediate and iPhone-friendly micro-blogging of Twitter. In the past month, I’ve accumulated almost 500 “followers“ on Twitter as I’ve found myself in a rapid-fire posting and ”re-tweeting“ frenzy of interesting articles, posts, thoughts, inspirational quotes and the like, all in a bite-sized 140 characters or less. Just perfect for those of us with short attention spans and propensities for skimming. In turn, I’ve found an amazing group of Twitterers to follow, who have greatly enhanced the breadth and depth of my knowledge on all things green, eco-friendly, tech-oriented, as well as the exploding and ever-changing phenomenon of virtual social networking. I have a new heightened awareness of news, hot topics, and important issues, specifically about the topics that interest me most. I realize I learn about news faster via my TwitterDeck feed than monitoring CNN, NYTimes, (both of which I do follow on Twitter) or even my Bloglines RSS feeds. But I digress: my fascination with the dual-sided nature (i.e., useful connectivity tool/useless distracting time-waster) of technology-driven social networking, must be tabled for a separate blog entry. The point with which I start this post is simply that I have been overwhelmed with ideas to share and discuss, so it’s with this renewed inspiration that I relaunch my blog about making the easy choices to affect individual and global wellness.

As a reminder, there are two big Earth-friendly events I’m excited about this weekend: I’m prepping for the Seattle Green Festival this weekend, which I intend to live-microblog from on Twitter (follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/amyhale Twitter username: @AmyHale), photograph, and volunteer for, as well as ”Earth Hour“ this Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 pm ”local time, wherever you live on planet earth.“ In case you haven’t heard, Earth Hour is a global unification effort to raise awareness of global warming and climate change through the small yet hugely symbolic act of switching off your lights for one hour. Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the lights of Times Square in NYC all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour has a goal of achieving 1 billion supporters to switch off their lights as part of a global ”vote“ against global warming. The results of Earth Hour will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009 which will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. See http://www.earthhour.org/home/ for more information and some cool photos from past Earth Hour years. I, for one, am excited to see the lights on the Space Needle go off, and I intend on capturing it from the roof deck (or my totally dark living room, if the ridiculously cold weather in Seattle persists).

I’m very excited about the Seattle Green Festival, held this weekend, March 28-29 at the Washington Convention Center, where I’ll be volunteering both days at the Booth (Sunday afternoon) and also the store (Saturday evening). This year, the focus will be on the current state of the transitioning economy with information on the growing sector of green jobs, sustainable (easy) options for daily living, growing consumer consciousness around green products and choices, as well as evolving environmental policy. The following talks look cool to me, I’ll try to get to as many as I can to write about them:

Green Fixes for the Economic Mess
Seven Rules of Shopping for A Better World
Making Things Happen
The Consumption Conundrum: Buy Green Wtihout Buying Too Much
Tourist vs. Traveler vs. Vountourist
Sustainable Integration: Social Media, Networks, and Communities
The Slow Life Movement: Living Happier with a Lighter Footprint


Plus, the creme de la creme of simple, healthful and delicious culinary artistry will be here - Alice Waters, she of Chez Panisse fame and the mother of ”California Cuisine“ - maybe I’ll actually be inspired to cook for once!

Today’s Environmental Easy Choice:
I encourage you to turn off your lights this weekend for Earth Hour, check out the Earth Hour website, as well as the Green Festivals website: http://www.greenfestivals.org and continue in a daily practice of energy conservation in turning off unnecessary lights, turning down your heat, and unplugging or turning off the power strip your appliances are plugged into.

Did you know about the Green Festival?

I recently learned of the upcoming Green Festival to be held in Seattle March 28-29, and immediately signed up to volunteer! I'm completely excited, and not just because of the free organic cotton t-shirt I'll apparently get. What a fantastic opportunity to contribute to a great cause, meet a ton of people passionate about sustainability and green solutions, and absorb a lot of great information. The Green Festival will also be held in Denver (May 2-3), Chicago (May 16-17), Washington DC (Oct 10-11), and San Francisco (Nov 13-15) - check it out if you're in or near these cities!

Green Festivals are a joint venture between Green America, a leading national green economy organization, and Global Exchange, a leading international human rights organization. They are “parties with a purpose” – weekend long events that showcase the green economy, celebrate what’s working in communities, and help and motivate people, businesses and government to take the next steps towards creating more sustainable communities.

Each Green Festival is an amazing two day event centered around educating and celebrating sustainable economy, ecological balance, and social justice. There will apparently be over 150 speakers, how-to-workshops, green films, interactive activities, locally harvested vegetarian food, an organic beer and wine garden (you know where to find me...), and over 350 green business exhibitors at each festival. According to greenfestivals.org, Green Festival "is the largest sustainability event in the world and continues to grow year after year" with 30,000-40,000 people in attendance at each Festival!

At the first Green Festival in Seattle last year, 97% of all event refuse was diverted from the landfill, making the event a "practice what we preach" enterprise... but how much refuse was collected and subsequently diverted?

* Total waste collected: 16, 369 lbs
* Reusable content: 15, 839 lbs
* Total waste to landfill (3%): 530 lbs

Imagine that the next time you're about to toss that bottle, can, or newspaper... toss it right into the recycling bin instead - it's just as easy!

The Leap From Intention to Action

From a thought-provoking discussion I just had last week, I’ve been pondering the following for days: “Taking the step from intention to action involves crossing a very large chasm.” Often, people want to make the “right” choice in a given situation, but suffer from analysis paralysis in trying to determine exactly what the right choice is. In most situations we all know what the right choice is but, often, we eschew the “right” choice for taking the path of least resistance because it is easiest. However, what if the ”right“ choice becomes simply, the easy choice? I am passionate about many things, but at the top of my list reside two things that are intrinsically connected: the environment (our global health) and wellness (our personal health). It’s now time to take the easy choices in both.

After reading the following recent article: Climate change could be even worse than feared, it became a no-brainer for me to take action in the form of starting this blog as a way to discuss, learn, and educate myself and others about issues that are important on both a personal and global level. The article reminds us that it has been just over a year since the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its landmark report warning of rising sea levels, expanding deserts, more intense storms and the extinction of up to 30 percent of plant and animal species by 2050 if average global temperatures continue to rise. However, while this prediction was alarming enough, “recent climate studies suggest that report significantly underestimates the potential severity of global warming over the next 100 years. Greenhouse gas emissions have grown by an average of 3.5 percent a year from 2000 to 2007, more than three times the 0.9 percent growth rate in the 1990s.”

This is a dramatic call to action for all of us. Choosing to act at a personal, familial, and local level to protect the well-being of ourselves and that of those around us, extending outwards to the rest of the world, is an easy choice to make. We all have a voice; it’s an easy choice to use them, in whatever way we can. In the words of William James, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” Rather than bury our heads in the sand at this dire forecast, we must acknowledge that each one of us can do something, each day, to alter the current trajectory of events.

I look forward to embarking on this exciting journey to discovery and action and I invite you to join me... I welcome your comments, thoughts, and inspirations.

Amy