Category Archives: Go Green

Sustaining Your New Year’s Resolutions

This Word by: Emily Holden

We are officially one week into 2011! Have you kept up with your New Year’s resolutions? Among the most popular New Year’s Resolutions this year are to lose weight, be happy, eat, drink, learn, or try something new, and a New Year’s resolution trend in Houston, to live in a green and clean house. If one or several of these objectives sounds familiar to you, then you might consider how sticking to just one or two of these goals can actually help you achieve all of them.

Studies show that people who commit to fewer resolutions and approach old problems in new ways are more likely to stick to their goals. Due to such research and an OMPP obsession with high quality, delicious, and local foods, we feel compelled to focus on how resolving to consume good food and drink may help you lose a few pounds, be happier, and keep a green household. And what a relief it is to know that food and drink are still essential ingredients in your 2011 recipe for success!

Drink local wines to optimize personal health and environmental benefits. According to Ron Saikowski, Texas wineries are producing more and better quality wines than ever, with some like Red Caboose Winery leading the way in green and organic viticulture. So, chose local wines and you can boost the Texas economy while funding environmentally sound wine production.  Also, this is good news for you ladies, research reveals that drinking a glass of wine each day may actually prevent weight gain over time in women and provide other health benefits like lower glucose levels and more optimal kidney functioning. Why not resolve to drink one glass of local red wine a day (moderation being the key of course) in order to lose weight, boost your mood, and maintain a green lifestyle?

If changing this one behavior is not quite enough to satisfy your New Year’s declarations, make grocery shopping a part of your fitness routine by walking, jogging, or cycling to your local markets. By taking this step towards change you can control many aspects of your life in a single errand. Aim for local markets and you’ve set an achievable destination for a day’s workout.  Surround yourself with local and organic foods and you’ll be faced with an abundance of smart, healthy food options to pick from. Limit the amount of items you can carry and you’ll buy only what you need for dinner or for the next few days, and you’ll be forced to make another fitness filled grocery run at least a couple of times a week. Stop by the Rice University Farmers Market every Tuesday, where we get the best organic, local goods for our menu!

Keep on ringing in the new year with us by making the little choices count for a lot. We’re right here with you working to make some big changes in 2011 through fundamental choices, choosing to serve local and fresh foods to keep our community healthy, happy, and green.

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Are your holiday traditions sustainably outdated?

This Word by: Ginny Torok

Holiday traditions are an important factor in creating holiday cheer. Does your family have a tradition? For as long as I can remember, Santa has left apples by our beds Christmas eve. In the morning, we awake, ecstatic for the huge red apple left mysteriously on our bedside table. When I think about this now, what a rip off – where’s the candy?! But hey, that’s one way to get kids to eat their fruit!

Family traditions have been in effect so long, no one notices their dihar need for an update, sometimes a sustainable one. We all look forward to piles of gifts under the tree, making this one of the most needed areas of a sustainable re-do. Just as you always should, think about where your gifts are coming from. The holiday season generates almost $500 billion from Americans alone. Think of how much economic growth you could create in your community if you contain most of your gift shopping within city limits. Every dollar you spend locally is more likely to get recycled through the community, resulting in a $5 to $14 value in that community!

Oh, the sweet smells of the holidays. Fresh baking pie, cinnamon apple cider, pine needles and sweet, sweet…landfill? One million extra tons of waste are accumulated nationwide during each week of the holiday period. Check out Green Solutions Magazine for some tips on holiday season recycling.

Remember, your Christmas tree doesn’t have to turn into a wasteful post-Christmas lawn decoration. Buy a live Christmas tree with roots and plant or pot it when you’re done. If you must get rid of your tree, make sure you find a place that recycles trees in your neighborhood. You can use Earth911 to find places to recycle your tree, along with all other types of recyclable materials, in your area.

Do you compete with your neighbors for the best looking decorations? This year, impress them with the best and brightest lights, when you use sustainable LED or solar powered lighting! LED lights use up to 95% less energy than regular bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours. Solar powered lights shine beautifully with no use of electricity. Also, try making your own decorations out of recycled, biodegradable, and reusable materials. See About.com Green Living for some sustainable Christmas decoration ideas.

Last, but never least, holiday food! As always – think local. Cater your holiday parties from local vendors. Leave it to us at OMPP to make your holidays delicious with an assortment of warm seasonal pies. If you wish to make your own holiday meals, remember to source ingredients from local vendors and farmers markets. See our Thanksgiving post for some tips on local holiday meals. And stay posted for an upcoming local vendor spotlight, who we think will ROLL right into your heart. 😉

Happy Holidays!

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green

This Word by: Ginny Torok

As the little guy, it’s not easy, but we do it. At OMPP we are committed to creating the smallest footprint possible – that’s why we use biodegradable materials, compost all our waste, and support local businesses and farmers. Our question is: if we do it, why can’t they?

Being sustainable and local as a business doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come cheap.  As a small business it can be a challenge. With fewer employees, and less money to throw around, the obstacles of being the little guy and being green can be pretty tough – but since it’s what we believe in, we go the extra mile. We have noticed more and more corporations going green and going local – we say, “It’s about time!”

Corporations have more resources, people and money, to use green practices. Businesses such as, Starbucks, HP, Coca Cola, Adidas and Walmart, have all begun to pave the path for green corporations. Starbucks and Walmart are also doing what they can to support more local artists and farmers.

Walmart recently announced its plans for sustainable agriculture. These plans will strive to put more locally grown produce in stores, and monitor the efficiency and sustainability of their produce providers.

Corporations of this size announcing dedication to sustainability and the local movement shouldn’t be so shocking. After all, these corporations are the guys with the resources to make such moves possible. Why aren’t all corporations following suit?

Our challenge to you: think about the businesses you support. Are they making moves to run sustainably, support local, or other green practices? Think there’s nothing you can do about it? Think again! Part of the reason any corporations are practicing in a more sustainable matter is because they have realized it is what people want. The people have spoken, have you?

Check out this Global 100 list of the top 100 sustainable corporations – If a corporation you support is not on this list, tell them! Like any good relationship, communication is key. Tell them what you want! Write on the customer service Web page, submit a comment in their store, do anything you can to get your voice out there – if enough people are talking, they will hear you.

With more corporations being more socially responsible, hold yourself responsible for making the right decisions too. Support the businesses making sustainable choices over the ones that haven’t stepped up. These kind of sustainable actions in big businesses are just the start. We are at the threshold of a major movement in which you can take part. Do your part.

Of course, you should always support locally owned businesses when you can, because like we said, it’s not easy being the little guy – and being green!

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A Green Halloween

This Word by, Emily Holden

Break with consumer tradition this month by celebrating the holidays in healthy and sustainable ways.  In honor of Columbus Day, celebrated yesterday across the nation, we at OMPP are keeping the spirit of exploration alive by discovering new and environmentally friendly ways to have fun over the holidays.

Halloween is almost here! Have you started planning your eco-friendly entertainment? I know that it is weeks away, but celebrating traditional holidays in unusual ways requires some preparation. It’s worth it for you and the environment! Halloween is in the running for one of the most excessive and unsustainable holidays, with consumers spending millions of dollars on candy and often unsustainable, non-biodegradable products that will only be used once. One of the best ways to save money and become a smarter consumer is to plan your purchases ahead of time to avoid buying unnecessary items. Necessity is the mother of invention and Mother Nature needs us to be creative!

Start thinking about ways to make this Halloween…green. By preparing for this exciting day in advance, you can find clever ways to make this Halloween fun for everyone without creating excess waste. To get you started, here are a few ideas for “green” Halloween costumes and goodies.

First of all, think about the costume that you or your children will wear. Be it a witch, goblin, or a Lady Gaga costume, you can easily find ways to use recycled fabrics and materials to create your outfit. Search local thrift stores for used costumes or reusable fabrics to save money and turn old materials into original creations. For a few ideas, see these homemade costumes that range from the human Etch A Sketch, to a handmade crocodile and more unusual costumes.

Also, consider household items that you can turn into costume accessories. Get crafty with the kids by using recycled plastic products, and old arts and crafts material to create Halloween decorations. Use costumes from previous years or trade with friends. For costume swaps in your area, check out greenhalloween.org. Although the swap in Houston appears to be “private,” this is the perfect opportunity for you to arrange your own swap among friends and neighbors. If that seems like too much work, try the site’s online swap. Use your imagination and have fun being so resourceful and clever!

If you’re going to carve pumpkins, why not use the whole thing? Consider turning your jack-o’-lantern leftovers into delicious homemade pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds. If you’ve never made pumpkin pie from scratch, here’s a great recipe. Also, once your jack-o’-lantern’s sinister grin turns into a soggy scowl and the flies begin to swar­­m your front doorstep you may think it’s time to finally toss it into the trash. But here’s a better idea. Compost it! If you’re not an active composter, but want to learn more about it, take a look at our previous post, or COMpost if you will, that explains the composting process. Speaking of delicious pumpkin treats, be on the lookout for OMPP’s pumpkin pie, during our fall menu…

Don’t forget about snacks and candy to hand out this Halloween! NatureMoms is a great source for healthy and homemade ideas.

These are just a few ideas to fit you October festivities into a sustainable lifestyle, but there are an infinite number of ways to celebrate in eco – conscious ways! Let your conscience and creativity be your guide this month and bravely start your journey towards a sustainable lifestyle.

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Green Eggs and Easter

Hold on Easter Bunny – ditch those old wasteful Easter baskets! there is still time to make this Easter local, sustainable, and green…

First, act sustainably and reduce waste by re-using your Easter baskets. Choose a nice, high quality, wooden or tin basket that will last for years. Easter basket painting can also act as a great craft for kids prior to the big day. A neat idea from SuperEco.com is to consider growing your own grass in each basket, instead of using more non-biodegradable grass of the plastic variety. But, if you are going to use plastic grass,  save it and reuse it each year – it will not go bad!

To fill those baskets we suggest, as with most other holidays, buying fair trade local chocolates and candies. You can easily find a candy shop in Houston to buy fine, organic, fair trade candy, but if you are looking for some bags of bulk candy for the kiddos, a good place to find them is Whole Foods or the like. They will have a large selection of fair trade, organic candies. Also, think about hand making your Easter basket gifts. Can you knit, sew, or even braid a friendship bracelet? Let’s face it – kids will love almost anything fun, colorful, and sugar-filled in their basket, so why not act sustainably and save some money by making your own gifts?

Next, let’s focus on the main event – Coloring Easter eggs. Put down the food coloring and step away from the mixing table. Check your fridge for a few simple ingredients that can color your eggs any shade of the spectrum, naturally. Here is a list from suite101.com of some ingredients to make a few colors, but you can go wild with any natural dye combination you can think of: Purple grape juice (for lavender), Red cabbage (for blue), Spinach (for green), Carrot tops, orange peels or lemon peels (for yellow), Coffee or black walnut shells (for brown), Yellow onion skins (for orange), Beets or cranberries (for pink), Red onion skins (for red). Find more instructions on how to color your eggs naturally here.

We hope these few tips will get you thinking about sustainability this Easter. It is important, always, but especially during each holiday, to remember how to stay green while you celebrate. Now that you have all these tips for a sustainable Easter, go out there and celebrate, Easter Bunny style!

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Party for our Planet

Coming up soon, once again, Discovery Green will be hosting this year’s 2010 Earth Day Houston Festival. This free, family friendly, all-day event kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 3. Developed by Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention, and Mothers for Clean Air, the collaborative event focuses on sustainable living, and educating and encouraging Houstonians to preserve, conserve and enhance the city and the Earth.

For those of you  dedicated “runners-for-the-earth”, the 5K run begins at 8 a.m. sharp. All 5K runners receive an organic cotton Earth Day Houston shirt, and are encouraged to bring any old running shoes for recycling. Along with the run, there will be a 5K walk and a Kids Run. (http://earthdayhouston.org/houston-earth-day-5k.php)

AIA’s Gulf Coast Green Consumer Exhibition will showcase green products to the attendees at Earth Day Houston. Other planned activities include, Earth Zone featuring interactive environmental awareness activities highlighting land, air, water, and renewable energy, a Farmer’s Market in support of locally-grown produce, and The Kids Energy Zone and stage. Also, some fun activities like recycled art projects, green living seminars and demos, plus live musical entertainment will make this celebration a blast! (http://earthdayhouston.org/houston-green-expo.php)

This event will surely be the party worth throwing for our beloved planet. Come show your support for this earth! Word to your Mother Earth.

For Directions and more information visit http://earthdayhouston.org/houston-earth-day-location.php

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Everything is Plastic in 2010, Even the Oceans!

The picture here is the North Pacific Gyre. A gyre is explained as any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Everything moves slowly in a gyre because of weather systems that work to reduce ocean circulation. The North Pacific Gyre sprawls across most of the northern Pacific Ocean and is currently spinning clockwise a huge collection, twice the size of Texas, of plastic, glass and other human trash.

Some of this trash, about 80%, floats out to sea from the continents, where many carelessly throw their soda cans and plastic bottles out car windows. About 20% of the debris collects from fishing boats, cruise ships, and other ocean dwellers, whether intentionally dumped or blown off board by wind. Most debris consists of small plastic confetti-like particles suspended at or just below the surface, with larger pieces floating around in the mix as well.

Finally, in April 2008 Richard Sundance Owen, a building contractor and scuba dive instructor, formed the Environmental Cleanup Coalition to address the issue of North Pacific pollution. Not only does the ECC work to remove plastic debris from our oceans, but strives to remove persistent chemicals and other organic pollutants from the water. Some other groups combating this huge garbage patch are the JUNK Raft, Project Kaisei, the SEAPLEX expedition. You go groups!

So, all this talk about plastic debris in the ocean is old news. But listen, this trash effects our lives more than we realize! The small pieces of plastic, (*shutter*) styrofoam, and other non-biodegradeables is the perfect size for marine life consumption. Much of this plastic absorbs toxic chemicals in our polluted oceans that then end up in the bellies of aquatic birds (their chicks), sea turtles, and even jelly fish and smaller fish. This means that not only is our trash, again, harming the world’s wildlife, but the chemical-absorbed trash is being digested by sea food-eating humans.

When we at OMPP heard about this polluted gyre, we felt disheartened and a little hopeless – which just fueled our motivation for better sustainability practices. We hope everyone learns about the effects of pollution in the gyre and around the world; We need to stop trash! Pollution comes full circle: Trash from our hands to the land – the oceans – the wildlife – back to our own digestive systems. Remember this; Some may see recycling and composting as a burden…but what do you think about that toxic, double TX-size pollution circle floating just west of our land mass?

For more information visit: http://bit.ly/25m0Yy and http://bit.ly/kl07w

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