One of the main inspirations for the formation of the LI Interfaith Environment Network (LIIEN.org) was Greenfaith, a NJ-based nonprofit that helps faith institutions to embrace sustainability values and to take action as role models in their communities. Run by the charismatic Reverend Fletcher Harper, Greenfaith provides numerous programs to engage the faith community in environmental stewardship, including hosting forums entitled “Ground for Faith.” On March 11, 2012 a forum was held at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY in collaboration with multiple local partners. Topics included food and faith, sacred texts and the earth, and green facility management. The day also featured multi-faith prayers from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions, centered on the shared wish to bring about a spirit of awareness and stewardship. A very inspiring day indeed, which we hope to re-create on Long Island in 2013, so stay tuned…. For more info see Greenfaith.org.
Vegetarian Food Festival Nourishes NYC
Thousands packed the Metropolitan Pavilion on March 4-5, 2012 for the annual NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. The event, run by U.S. Veg Corp, featured multiple speakers, cooking demonstrations, and performances. Vendors offering food samples were popular spots for the enthusiastic crowd of attendees. Exhibitors included educational and advocacy groups, as well as companies selling vegan marshmallows (regular marshmallows contain gelatin, which is made from animal collagen), jewelry made of vegetables, and books. One new product I had never heard of was Sacha Vida, an oil made from the seed of the Amazon’s Sacha Inchi tree, and is very high in Omega 3 oil (sachavida.com). This is a healthy, more humane alternative to fish oil. See nycvegfoodfest.com and USVegCorp.com for info on future events.
Author and Green Marketer Jacquie Ottman Speaks in NYC
When I first met Jacquie Ottman, President of J. Ottman Consulting, she told me she’s been doing green marketing research since before the Exxon Valdez spill 2 decades ago. Her presentation and book, the New Rules of Green Marketing, validated that claim, by showing years of data explaining why consumers buy green products or not, and what obstacles companies must overcome when marketing green. Consumers can be broken into the LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability) group which always considers the eco-friendliness of their purchases, to drifters, who go either way, to non-convincables, with several other categories in-between. Since sometimes consumers may not know the benefits of greener products, she advocates a life cycle approach whereby the company communicates clearly how their product has a lower impact during production, how it can be used efficiently during the use stage, and finally how it can be disposed of properly. Consumers also want to know how it’s better for them, specifically in reduced cost, so she anticipates seeing more product labeling with much more information so that products can be more easily rated and compared.
Greenbiz Founder Joel Makower Speaks at Greenspaces
I am fortunate enough to be renting desk-time at Greenspaces, a wonderful location near Chinatown in NYC for green entrepreneurs to set up and work without having to pay for their own office & overhead (www.greenspaceshome.com). It is also home to EcoSalon, a location for events including a recent lecture by Joel Makower, founder of Greenbiz.com, and author of 20 books including “Strategies for the Green Economy,” “The Green Consumer,” and “Beyond the Bottom Line: Putting Social Responsibility to Work for Your Business and the World.” He spoke about 1) communal consumption — for example, instead of every home buying a power drill, one is shared by a neighborhood, or even, one car being used by multiple people — one person uses it when the other doesn’t need it. This is a way to reduce overall consumption of resources while still meeting everyone’s needs. 2) He said people generally are only motivated to buy “greener” products if they are somehow “better” — either cheaper, or have more value because they work better, are healthier etc. 3) He also mentioned that some companies are doing more to reduce their environmental impacts than they admit publicly, because they fear opening themselves up for criticism that they are still not doing enough. It was a thought-provoking discussion from someone who clearly has an ear to the ground on green trends. See www.makower.com.
“Every week you make dozens of decisions that directly affect the environment of the planet Earth. At work, at home and at play, whether shopping for life’s basic necessities or its most indulgent luxuries, the choices you make are a never-ending series of votes for or against the environment.” — Joel Makower
An Evening with Frances Moore Lappe’s Small Planet Fund
One of the reasons I love living near New York City is the opportunity to attend events like I did last night. I had the great fortune of spending an evening with Frances Moore Lappe, her daughter Anna Lappe, and 100 of their closest friends. It was the 10th Anniversary of their Small Planet Fund, and an auction was held to benefit this year’s grantee, Real Food Now (see realfoodchallenge.org). The event took place in a beautiful private loft in Soho, NYC, and guests included many from around the region who work to support local food production, fresh food access for all, and healthy options in schools — such as Catherine Gund, maker of the film “What’s On Your Plate?” and Bhavani Jaroff, of Slow Food Huntington. It was a pleasure to meet Frances Moore Lappe, whose seminal book “Diet for a Small Planet” published in the 1970s created such a wave of awareness, and it is doubly inspiring to see how her daughter Anna has followed in her footsteps. They co-authored the book, “Hope’s Edge” several years back, and each have newer books out since then: Frances has written “Eco Mind” about the psychology of changing our attitudes towards the earth, and Anna has written “Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It.” See smallplanetfund.org.
How Are Toxic Chemicals Related to ADHD, Obesity and Breast Cancer?
The Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, headed by Dr. Phil Landrigan, held an educational forum for 200 mothers and advocates in New York City 12/5/11 entitled “Birth Defects, Learning Disabilities, Obesity and Breast Cancer: How Can We Avoid the Effects of Toxic Chemicals?” It explored the connection between toxic chemical exposure during pregnancy or in early childhood to common health effects. I learned a new word: “Obesogen,” or a chemical that blocks the bodies natural hormones that regulate metabolism, and can actually contribute to children becoming overweight. Speakers included the following: [Read more…] about How Are Toxic Chemicals Related to ADHD, Obesity and Breast Cancer?