March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration of the successes of women globally, which really needs a dose of reality as it is a major failure in terms of sustainability.  It is important to honor trailblazers in the women’s movements who have overcome major challenges and prevailed against adversity and apathy relative to sexism and the lack of economic parity, especially in the United States. However, it is equally important that we remain mindful of the plight of so many people globally, particularly women and children in emerging economies, working in sweatshops under horrendous conditions without receiving a living wage.

Women's History Month

In recognition of Women’s History, we choose to recount the tragedy in New York at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on March 25, 1911 in which 123 young women and 23 men died in a factory.  They were unable to exit the building primarily because of locked exit doors.  This fire and loss of life sparked and outrage that prompted factory workers to organize and demand safe working conditions.  By 1938, the United States was free of sweatshops.

The outrageous part of this story is that despite this tragedy, sweatshops still exist in other parts of the world, such as Bangladesh.  The workers in many of these sweatshops work 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and only get 1 day off per month.  Their wages are significantly less than $1.00 per hour.  Just think– these people are making the garments that are exported to the United States for companies such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Gap.

Bangladesh Factory

Bangladesh Factory








What We Can Do

It simply is not enough to commemorate the past successes of women during the month of March or Women’s History Month.  We each need to do out part to adopt an awareness of the plight of women and children in emerging nations who are forced to work in sweatshops to provide for their families.  We should commit to sustainable living, which first and foremost includes the “human factor.”  We are all connected in this world.  We have the option of buying food, clothing and other necessities from businesses that endorse principles of “fair trade.”










We owe it to ourselves and the world community to support legislation that bans the import of child labor goods to the United States.  With all the information available on the Internet, we encourage you to do a little homework before going out to shop to ensure that you are dealing with businesses who support fair trade.  Also, when voting in elections, please consider the candidates’ stand on fair trade legislation before casting your vote.

So, today in honor of the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, we hope that each of you commit to a life of awareness and sustainability.  It is up to each of us to destroy the global sweatshop economy.  To do so is to live green, be green.




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Today, right now at 1657 UTC (12:57 p.m. DST), spring has arrived, ushering in a welcomed opportunity to adopt a life dedicated to sustainability.  I say this because we have had a rough winter here in the United States with torrential downpours, mudslides, snowstorms, tornado strikes and warnings with significant periods of freezing temperatures all over the country.  We know now, more than ever, that we need a game change.  Whether or not we believe in climate change and global warming, maybe if we do something different, we can turn this weather thing around.  Also, we have been secluded at home due to bad weather days so much over the last few months, unable to go to work, school or just to get out to enjoy the outdoors, that our brains need to shift into high gear again.

think spring

This is the perfect time to spring into sustainability.  After all, spring is about rebirth and awakening.  We look forward to the green things growing again– plants, trees, fresh fruits, vegetables and beautiful flowers, etc.  Animals (including us humans) awake from hibernation, take to the outside and enjoy nature.

I have to admit that often the whole notion of living a green and sustainable lifestyle is presented in a way that is burdensome and onerous.  Who really wants to make homemade cleaning supplies and soap? That hardly sounds like fun.  Also, there is so much information out there in terms of “facts” that it is difficult to figure out what sustainability really means or how we can incorporate it into our already over-booked lifestyles.  After all, the human factor of sustainability is important too.  As with any movement, there are extremes that make us shy away from getting involved.

On this first day of spring, we here at LGBG invite you to watch a video by The Natural Step.  This two-minute clip does a remarkable job of explaining sustainability in terms of care instructions, similar to those found on labels  attached to clothing or that accompany the products we purchase.  Think about how we value our prized possessions and carefully follow their care instructions so that they last a long time and maintain their value.  Now imagine how much better the world would be if we adopted a similar approach to its preservation with a few simple but powerful instructions.


So we wish everyone a very happy first day of spring, and we invite each of you to join us on a journey to sustainability aimed at a life of simple abundance.  To do so is to live green, be green.

Nature seems to take our breath away. Whether it is the sight of the Adirondack Mountains from the summit of Dix or the sunset over the Chesapeake Bay from Thomas Point, the beauty of nature takes our breath away. Even New York City native urbanites take pride and find pleasure from the nature in Central Park. Yet in our fast-paced, technology infused, world, we find it difficult to secure time away from the 9-5 to explore and admire the natural world around us. If only there was a way to combine the beauty of nature with the constant callings of our rushed city lives…

In a city, such as NYC or DC, there are many “dead” spaces, such as concrete roofs and walls of buildings, that provide nothing but support for the building. Here, we present to you a symbiotic relationship between city and nature. Green roofs and green walls are becoming more and more popular with environmental activists and businesses looking to reduce long-term costs and improve the environment around them.

What are green roofs and walls?

Green roof on Chicago City Hall

Green wall in Paris










In a nutshell they are the product of taking inanimate flat surfaces and turning them into living, breathing, pieces of art that benefit the environment and society. They are soil based structures that can contain many different species of plants, depending on what your ultimate goal is. Most green roofs are made up of very resistant plants that do no require much attention. These plants are most often Sedum, which are small, brightly colored flowers that attract butterflies and and honey bees (oh how important!!)  as well as being drought resistant and low maintenance [1]. But don’t let that hold you back. Depending on the resources you have at your disposal, there are intensive green roofs that can contain a high variety of plants even including medium to large trees!

Not only are green roofs and walls aesthetically pleasing, but they contain many environmental, economic, and social benefits. The below list of benefits is paraphrased from page 2 of the Green Roof Toolkit put together by the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS).


– Creation of wildlife habitat
– Reduction of storm water runoff into watershed areas
– Reduction of urban temperatures in hot weather
– Improvement of the air quality


– Creation of desirable green space
– Provide an aesthetic appeal to urban landscapes
– Provide more space for growing food
– Educational space to teach young children about the environment


– Provides sound insulation for the building
– Monetary credits for storm water impact
– Increase of property values
– Decrease in energy costs
– Reduction of waste and landfill usage
– Increases the life of the roof

Wow! Such benefits! Would you believe me if I told you that not only do you and your city get to reap all of these benefits, but some cities such as DC are offering subsidies to help with the costs of green roof construction! The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) is currently offering a green roof rebate program that will pay $7-10 per square foot to

Green wall on PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA

incentivize people to invest in green roofs [3]. Even better is that the Anacostia Watershed Society is working in tandem with the DDOE to increase the subsidy to $15-20 per square foot!

If you live in the district and you have an interest in remodeling your roof, contact the AWS. They will work with you to find a contractor and a price that fits your resources.

Green walls are not only for the individual household. They can also be great ways to advertise and market your company or product! As you can see on the right, PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh has taken the concept to a beautiful level with the green wall on their building. This green wall, the largest in North America, is 2,380 square feet with over 14,000 living plants! [4]

Nature is a beautiful thing LGBG followers. So, with the mounds of benefits and the lovely aesthetics of nature in our concrete jungles, let’s work as one to push for green roofing and walls throughout our country!


Resources for this article:






Will you shake the hand that feeds you?

Food is essential for our survival as a species. Regardless of your dieting choices, omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, etc., as a living and breathing individual you must replenish your energy by consuming food. So isn’t it best to satisfy your appetite with the essential vitamins and nutrients grown naturally? What about going one-step further and shaking the hand that feeds you?

The news is in, and has been for a while now. Conventional farming methods that utilize GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and practice monoculture are terribly unhealthy and counteractive to improving the environment.


Founded in economics, the monoculture model is a theoretical breakthrough. Business wise it makes complete economic sense. The economy of scale theory states that as you produce more of the same good, it becomes marginally cheaper to produce a single item. Lets say a farmer grows a 100-foot row of broccoli and it costs him/her 10 cents per broccoli plant. If he decided to produce 500 feet of broccoli instead, then they can cut the cost of one plant from 10 cents to, lets just say, 5 cents. Selling the broccoli for the same price as before will yield a higher profit for the farmer. But at what expense?  The expenses are for you and I to bear! To meet their bottom lines, these gigantic agriculture firms reduce the nutrition contained in the plants with fertilizers and pesticides, as well as wasting drums upon drums of oil in simply transporting food across the country, let alone oil use in tractors and other large machinery. This leaves our health and environment in question.


YES! There is a solution! It’s surprisingly simple and right in front of us: eat local; eat food.  Smaller local farms are inherently better for our health and the environment.

Here is why. Smaller farms practice biodiversity, which works to strengthen the healthiness of the plants on the farm so there is little to no need for chemical fertilizers. Buying fruits, veggies, and meat from local farmers also works to boost the local economies and promote small businesses in your area.

But LGBG, say I want to change my food purchasing habits, how do I find local farms to buy groceries??  Well environmental enthusiasts, try starting with Slow Food USA! Slow Food is a global organization that advocates for small local farmers and works to combat harmful farming practices used by large conventional farms. From the website you can easily maneuver around to find Slow Food organizations in your area. There are many links to local chapters where you can find a farm right for you! Not only will they help provide you with farmers to meet but they sponsor many volunteer events that are a whole lot of fun. So I ask one more time, for the improvement of your own health and that of the environment, will you shake the hand that feeds you?From:





flags-ukraine-eu-russia-conflict-european-union-35666814A greener Europe can Undermine an ambitious Russia.  As the world watches the situation in Ukraine unfold with trepidation, the pageantry of the Olympics seems a world and a life time away (despite only being less than five hundred miles and several weeks apart). The conflict in Ukraine is playing out as a determination of spheres of influences; the EU and the United States seek to bring Ukraine into the western sphere of influence and Russia sees Ukraine as naturally being part of their influence. As such, both the EU and Russia offered Ukraine bailout deals, with the favoring of the Russian deal being the catalyst for the revolution. As of March 2nd, the crisis developing in Ukraine has led to the G-7 members pulling out of the G-8 summit, which is to take place in Sochi, in June. [1] However, some members were originally reluctant to go so far, with Canada and the U.S. leading the charge for the summit withdrawal. As of the moment that I am writing this, the US is bluntly stating that it will be moving forward with sanctions as a near certainty, while EU countries are scheduling a meeting for Thursday to consider targeted measures against Russia. [2] Where Russian resolves seems solid, Western resolves seems to be fractures by the Atlantic. What is the cause of this divide amongst G-7 and mostly NATO members? The divide is the bridge between the two spheres of influence: money and energy; the fossil fuels that Russia supplies Europe with and the desperately needed money Russia receives. This is a bridge that Europe has been seeking to dismantle and must is they want to truly counter Russian expansion of their sphere of influence.

As it stands here are the important notes the public needs to know to move the discussion forward.

  • Gazprom, which the Russian govt. has a 50.1% majority stake in, is the largest extractor of natural gas in the world. It produces over 80% of all Russian natural gas, accounting for 8% of Russian GDP in 2011.[3]
  • On three separate occasions Gazprom has stopped delivery of gas over payment disputes, twice with Ukraine and once with Belarus.
  • The deal deposed Pres. Yanukovich agreed to with Russia slashed natural gas prices by a third. Taken into account with the previous delivery disputes it is evident that Russia is willing to use natural to buy/demand political loyalty.
  • The E.U. is the largest energy market in the world. Currently, the EU imports approximately 65% of its energy; Russia being the largest exporter to the EU, providing 22% of EU imports.[4]
  • The Russian economy is slowing down; Growth, which was 5.1% in 2011, slowed to near 1% in 2013, and with projected growth remaining below 2% till 2016 at least. [5]


As Russia seeks to project itself back into prominence, while undermining democratic governments abroad, and squelching human right at home, the E.U. must, and has the ability to,  sweep the rug out from under them. Europe must stand united against Russia in this and show them that gas and oil are not solid ground to stand upon. Being dependent on autocratic regimes for energy needs undermines the liberal democratic foundations of the E.U. (as well as the United States).

What we end up having is a side track of dependency theory. Dependency theory has many different definitions depending on who is speaking about it, but a general definition is that, “[Dependency is]…an historical condition which shapes a certain structure of the world economy such that it favors some countries to the detriment of others and limits the development possibilities of the subordinate economics…a situation in which the economy of a certain group of countries is conditioned by the development and expansion of another economy, to which their own is subjected.”[6] However, we now have to take it a step further. The theory originally dealt with explaining the continued poverty of developing countries and showing how a dependency on industrialized nations, who would condition their economies to only export raw materials, led to this continued poverty. Now we are dealing with the conditioning of foreign policies. Energy independence and dependence carry a great deal of weight, particularly when a large portion of your energy import demands are met by a state-owned monopoly. Fear over secure gas and oil supply fills many nations with trepidations over the thought of outright challenging and responding to Russian aggression, as previously evidenced by the divide between reactions by the U.S./Canada and E.U. To be able to safely counter Russia’s anti-democratic policies Europe can no longer be dependent on Russia for their energy needs. As such, Europe needs to meet its energy demand with internal energy production.

Europe cannot fall back on its own gas production, as it has steadily been in decline. While liquid natural gas is another option, it is not truly available in the near-term. Europe does not have a properly integrated energy market nor does it have substantial LNG import capacity. Developing both would be a costly measure, with a long implementation deadline.[7]Where then is Europe to look? To the skies and the fields and to the progress it has made in the last decade.

The 2009 Renewable Directive set binding targets for all E.U. member states: the EU will reach a 20% share of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and a 10% share of renewable energy specifically in the transport sector.  By 2011 the E.U. was seeing 12.4% of its energy production come from renewable sources, with certain countries greatly outpacing the 20% target. The time has never been riper for Europe to determine a proper strategy to become more energy independent.  The E.U. is already ahead of its own schedule with regards to cutting carbon emissions; the goal set in 2007 was to get carbon emissions to 20% lower than 1990 levels by 2020. As of 2011 emissions were already 17.6% lower than the levels recorded in 1990.[8] What is required for Europe to strive forward is a bold plan, led by bold leadership. However, as the financial crisis has shown, no one is willing to carry this mantle. Instead, we find a divided Europe, with Germany being the practical leader, but refusing. Therefore, the key to any continent wide green energy plan that will lead to substantial change is Germany.


Such a forum is about to take place. In late January, the European Commission presented a framework for 2030. The intention of the framework is to seize upon the success of the 2020 targets and carry that momentum forward at a greater pace. As it stands, the framework aims to cut greenhouse emissions by 40% below the 1990 level by 2030 and to increase the share of renewable energy in EU consumption to 27%.[9] However, this framework was written in the shadow of a standing down in tensions in Ukraine. The situation in Ukraine and the virtual Russian annexation of Crimea have changed the relationship between Europe and Russia. How is Europe, particularly Germany, to respond in a proper manner when, “Russia is a major supplier of oil to Germany and the Netherlands in particular ‘and of natural gas to Western Europe generally’”?[10] The framework will be up for further debate at the spring meeting of the European Council. The differences in the situation from January to March are stark. The upcoming debate, which will likely not mean legislative action till 2015, is shadowed by the debate regarding green energy subsidies taking place in Germany; the ruling coalition is seeking to curve green energy subsidies.[11] However, Europe’s recent history should give the ruling coalition pause. As the Great Recession showed, regardless of where blame may actually lie, the health of the economy can slay even the most resolute government. As such, economic growth and security has taken precedence in many ways. This is not to say foreign policy has taken a backseat, as it is hard to dislodge from the forefront in a globalized world. The question Europe needs to be asking itself is: is it wise to have your economic footing being shored up by a country that is deliberately and consistently trying to undermine your liberal-democratic values in its own country and on your doorstep? How long will they allow you to stand in defiance, before they pull the rug to get you to bend a knee?


[2] risis-20140303,0,4752010.story

[3] “Gazprom in figures 2004-2008”. Gazprom. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-02.





[8] -files/id/ipa/10060.pdf




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Those recyclable, reusable tote bags, forgotten in your pantry, are the bags that can bear the burden!” –LGBG

A little less than a year ago, Live Green Be Green by PMD United set out to assist Lori Robinson and Africa Inside in her magnificent effort to eliminate the plastic pollution that affects many African Nations. We are happy to say that we have concluded this first project with great success.  Through the combined efforts of LGBG, Africa Inside, and Pati Arsenau’s class at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School located in Blufton South Carolina, enough bags were collected as incentives for the Samburu Women of Northern Kenya’s cleanup effort.

Handing Out Bags

Handing Out Bags

 We have hundreds more women for this than we expected. –Shivani Bhalia 

Women came in droves with the deadly plastic that they eagerly collected from the countryside, to offer in exchange for the totes.  It is truly amazing to see how such a small, and often-overlooked item, can make such a monumental impact on the lives of these women.  Samburu women, for now, will no longer have to travel with thin, mangled, unsustainable plastic bags, that most certainly would make their way to the precious fields and grasslands. They can now go to the markets with confidence that their staples (sugar, flour, spices) will return home with them safely and securely.  Just as importantly, the impact that this effort has on the environment is tremendous. Any reduction in plastic that makes its way to the countryside means less plastic for the precious wildlife to come in contact with and for an all around more aesthetically beautiful country.

We, at Live Green Be Green, have learned so much from this project and could not have done it without the wonderful people in our communities.  This project went from zero to sixty almost over night.  Right from the start, we received major support from friends, family, friends of family and strangers who got wind.  We received support from religious groups, senior centers and even a lobby firm!  Much to our surprise, we had major companies such as target and Wegman’s join the effort.  To all of you, we say thank you and we look forward to working with you in the very near future

Samburu Collection (women cleaning).Samburu Collection (Little Girl)


Samburu Collection (Women Plastic)

We have already begun working with Lori on what will be the largest bag collection effort ever!  It is set to take place in Kenya, in August of this year.  No matter where you are in the world, if you would like to participate please contact Patrick Halligan or Lori Robinson.

We also invite you to watch this youtube video a past collection executed by Lori and Africa Inside.

Everytime I’ve done this project, I’m touched by the enthusiastic response to our shopping totes from America.  And I am motivated to re-evaluate how much I take for granted here in my country. –Lori Robinson