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:






The LEAD stuff from pencil case

The LEAD stuff from pencil case (Photo credit: Christoffer Mørch)


Over the past few decades, the issue of lead paint poisoning generally has been associated with low-income, multi-ethnic urban families; however, recent data indicate that this problem has migrated to middle and upper classes, and now is characterized as a “silent epidemic“.  The  focus on the troubling health problems associated with lead poisoning has prompted new efforts to alert parents of the mechanisms and dangers of lead exposure and actions needed to prevent lead exposure in children, as well a to detect and treat children who have been affected.


A major project in the works to provide information on lead paint poisoning currently is being undertaken by Tamara Rubin, a film director, whose upcoming film documentary, MisLEAD, “aims to dispel a long-standing misconception that lead poisoning is confined to low-income communities and to children who eat paint chips”.  Ms Rubin, who also is the executive director of the nonprofit, Lead Safe America Foundation, notes the importance of educating all parents, particularly  those in the middle and upper classes, on the realities of lead poisoning and dispelling the perceived stigma and shame often connected to lead paint exposure.  This, in turn, will encourage parents to discuss this issue with their pediatricians and to insist on tests for their children to rule out lead paint exposure.


This project is very personal for Ms Rubin as she had to confront lead paint exposure in her family following a home renovation project that included the removal of old paint.  Two of her children became violently ill, and it took their pediatrician a long time to entertain the thought of lead paint poisoning in the differential diagnoses.  Additionally, due to the lack of awareness of lead poisoning, Ms Rubin never considered the possibility of lead paint poisoning in her children or the need to get them tested.


Ms Rubin’s experience is not unusual in that many older homes in middle class neighborhoods containing old lead paint in walls, pipes, etc., are now occupied by wealthier Americans.  This paint, which was used many years ago because of its durability, is now deteriorating and creating “a new wave of lead exposure that wasn’t happening 10,20, 30 years ago”.  Exposure to lead paint typically occurs during renovation and rehabilitation processes or during rebuilding projects that disturb the soil, which often contains accumulated leaded gasoline from automobile exhaust.  Another noted source of lead exposure is realized from many products that we use everyday, including, but not limited to, “pipes, crystals, shoes, jewelry and car keys“.


Studies show that lead poisoning usually affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the area that controls decision-making and compulsive behavior.  Over the years, lead paint poisoning has been associated with higher crime rates, lower test scores by students, ADHD, and even autism.  These health problems occur in children from all economic sectors.  Simply stated, lead paint poisoning does not discriminate.  Currently, we see families who have to rely on pharmacological “treatment” for their children’s symptoms, with the realization that these products mask symptoms, rather than cure the problems and often cause adverse side effects.


Detection of lead levels in the blood is done through blood testing.  Results showing lead levels above 5-micrograms-per deciliter are indicative of lead poisoning in a child.  It is imperative that all parents request that their children be tested for lead poisoning, regardless of their economic status as neurotoxic conditions arising from lead poisoning can be devastating to children’s physical and emotional health and development.  The first line treatment for lead poisoning is avoidance of the exposure, which often is enough to reduce the lead levels in the blood.  In the home, this can be accomplished with lead abatement projects.  With detection of lead poisoning, doctors are able to treat children with a number of therapies, including chelation therapy, which involves administering medications that binds with the lead so that it is excreted in the urine.


A great place to start to get information on the important issue of lead paint poisoning is  Next, consider a discussion with your child’s pediatrician for guidance on this issue.  Please remember that the protection of our children from environmental toxins is tantamount to our effort to live green, be green.


Sources for this article:






P1304138.jpg (Photo credit: Sigfrid Lundberg)

The reality of climate change, combined with global warming and deterioration of infrastructures, has resulted in numerous power failures in many areas of the country, and now is the time for each of us to accept the responsibility of maintaining power in our homes when our utility companies fail to maintain the flow of electricity during extreme weather occurrences.  The need to take matters into our own hands is more urgent than ever as we now witness the task of finding solutions to climate change being undertaken by our politically divided Congress.  We can assume that major upgrades of power grids will happen one day, hopefully before a complete irreparable power failure ensues.   Meanwhile, on a more frequent basis, we are forced to endure days or hours without electricity during winter and summer storms or during excessively hot days when the present power grids face an undue burden.

A little research shows that there are remedies to ensure house power when the utility companies fail, some more costly than others, but solutions, nonetheless.  We will take a look at few of these.

  • Gas generators.  Most of us are familiar with gas generators that can be purchased for as little as $299, especially if bought during non-emergency periods.  The simplest generators operate off of gas.  Cheaper models can support a few lights and perhaps a fan or electric heater  and a refrigerator during power failures, but not much more.  These generators tend to be very noisy.  However, the biggest issue is that they MUST be placed in an open area to prevent carbon monoxide buildup and exposure, which can be fatal.  In times of power outages, gas generators do help us have access to some power in our homes.
  • Backup generators.  A more sophisticated generator is the backup version which is wired into a gas or propane line.  Depending on the size, these products can keep the lights on in the entire house, preserve refrigerator function to prevent food spoilage, maintain power supply to heating and cooling systems and keep sump pumps and well pumps in operation.  These systems have built-in battery chargers to guarantee battery operation and feature automatic transfer switches between utility power and generator power.  Backup generators are available for purchase or for lease.
  • Solar panels.  As President Obama noted in the State of the Union Address this week, the cost of solar energy is getting cheaper.  As solar energy becomes a more mainstream option, there now are many financing, leasing and equipment options available.  Cost can run from about $1500 to more than $10,000.  When we hear the term solar energy, we immediately think about “photo-voltaic panels,” but there are other sola products available.  They include ground solar panels or grid-tied solar energy systems with a battery backup.  The latter option is very expensive, but it may be a worthwhile investment, particularly in areas of the country that are forced to endure repeated extended periods without power.  Another option is small portable emergency solar power systems that can be used to operate a few small appliances but is inadequate for large appliances, furnaces or cooling systems.  A review of other available products indicate other options, including stand alone systems, remote power systems and emergency power systems.  Solar energy systems often include a bonus of energy tax credits, thereby making them even more attractive.

Considering that the storm season is approaching and that it is more than reasonable to expect as many or more power outages than we have previously experienced during the past summer seasons, it is important that we take charge of the responsibility of keeping our electricity running when the local power grid fails.  We must continue to hold our elective officials, federal, state and local, responsible for enacting policies to protect the environment and to make it a priority to upgrade deteriorating infrastructures and power grids.  Also, we must communicate with utility companies and demand to be included in the conversation on the power needs of our communities.  Lastly, we must continue to rally and speak up for the environment, the need to reduce our carbon footprint, protect our waters and to accept the reality of climate change based on hard scientific facts.  We must continue to fight to live green, be green.



Photo Credit:

While deep in my search for outstanding companies of all kinds the other day, I stumbled upon this sustainable gem — VerTerra.  I immediately decided that I must write this week’s spotlight article on it, to let all LiveGreenBeGreen readers know about this amazing company.  So, here it is:

VerTerra is a manufacturer of single-use dinnerware, an undoubtedly saturated industry.  However, unlike nearly all competitors out there, VerTerra operates with a special spark at its sole.  The company is completely focused on the environmentally and socially conscious consumer, as it sustainably produces its eco-friendly, high-quality products using fair wage labor practices.  But that does not mean its only customers are those environmentally and socially bleeding hearts — anyone can and should use their products!

Striking the perfect balance between smart and sexy is one of the most daunting and difficult tasks, and VerTerra makes it look effortless in their products.  What is most amazing, though, is exactly how the seed of this business idea came to be planted in the mind of its founder, Michael Dwork.  On a trip to India, Mr. Dwork stopped to buy some food from a street-vendor of sorts, not an unpopular practice.  To his amazement and delight, he found the woman serving him simply took fallen leaves, soaked them in water, and with a fairly primitive waffle-iron-like device, pressed them into serving plates!  He knew he wanted to bring this concept to full manufacturing fruition back home, so he fittingly set out on a journey to do just that.  And with one of the best ideas and founding stories in the industry, LiveGreenBeGreen agrees, he has gloriously succeeded.

To find out more about this eco-friendly entrepreneur’s brand, please visit and explore VerTerra’s Official Website at:

And to explore and purchase the eco-friendly, disposable dinnerware solutions of VerTerra and other brands, please visit:

Are you tired of the way your living room looks? Do you find yourself browsing through interior decorating magazines looking for ideas, only to be scared off by the prices for room re-dos? Do you yearn for a fresh new look for one of the most popular rooms in the house? If so, you are far from alone. Redecorating the living room is a common item on the household To-Do list. Fortunately, with a little time, creativity and a bit of money—but not too much—anyone can transform their drab and dull living room into a warm, environmentally friendly and inviting area the whole family will love.

Budget Decorating

One of the first things you should do when sprucing up your living room is determine what you want for the focal point. This can be the fireplace, a television set, or an attractive piece of artwork. Once you decide on the main feature of your room, set up conversation areas around it with furniture and other accessories.

Focal Point

Rearranging where and how your items are situated can make a huge impact on your room in very little time. Instead of putting everything against the walls, read up on furniture placement and put chairs and other items closer together so people can visit easily. If you can, try to have seating for at least six people in the living room. If you’re not sure how to stay environmentally aware while purchasing your focal point, you can buy antique chairs and tables; that’s an easy way to stay green.


Add an accent to the focal point; this could be an attractive vase filled with long-stem red roses, an interesting piece of sculpture, or a long painting behind the sofa. suggests you create your own arrangement to fit any them, color scheme or occasion and gives a step-by-step guide to creating your own. You can use anything fresh; from cranberries, to oranges, to lemons, you will have a more organic setting in your home.

If you feel your living room could stand to have a bit more color, but you are nervous about painting the entire thing a vivid shade of red, blue, orange or other bright color, consider an accent wall. A Houzz article features beautiful photos of accent walls in various colors. As a bonus, you don’t need a ton of paint or time to create an eye-catching wall that adds a definite touch of pizzazz to the room without feeling overwhelming.


The style and color of drapes in your living room can really impact the overall feel of the room. In most cases, the drapes should match the largest piece of furniture in the space. Changing the window coverings can be a relatively inexpensive way to jazz up the living room and make it look newer and more contemporary. Use more natural, organic material. Stay away from big name brands that use dyes, synthetic polyesters and nylons and silk. And shop local; buy products manufactured within 500 miles or less.


The floors should be a bit darker than the walls. Achieving this can be done in a variety of ways; wooden floors could be stained in a darker tone, area rugs in deep colors could be placed over the carpet, or if you have it in your budget, you could re-carpet the area in a rich tone that complements the walls. suggests to use bamboo and eucalyptus because they grow quickly; they’re hard woods and are sustainable.

Small living room

On this good green news Monday, LGBG has opted to use this opportunity, in light of the tragic events at  Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, to reflect on the meaning and obligation of green living.  We know that green living means different things to each of us, from protecting the air, land and water to recycling and not polluting to eating healthy diets and getting exercise.  No matter the individual perspective towards green living, I think it is safe to say that there are basic tenets central to our understanding of green living.  They are as follows:

  • The choices made by any one individual affects all of us.
  • The choices we make today will affect us at some point in the future.
  • When we speak about saving the planet or the environment, we are talking about saving ourselves.

With this understanding, it is important for everyone to make living green an obligation, not a choice.  The greatest obligation we have is to our planet and to our children, each and every one of them.  They are the future of this land and as stewards of the Earth, we are obligated to deliver to them a clean, healthy environment.  It is our responsibility to love and protect our young and to do all that we can to ensure that they grow up to be healthy, happy and prosperous adults.  To that end, we are obligated to educate them.  We send them out to school each day with the expectation, and a very reasonable one, that they will return home to us.  In turn, our government has an obligation to provide a safe learning environment for our children and a guarantee that they will be protected and will be returned to us at the end of the day.

A major concern of green living is the safe and environmentally friendly design of buildings, and the conversation regarding this matter must be a top priority.  It is urgent that city planners, engineers, environmental consultants and elected officials design and build schools that are safe and secure from intruders, with the staff and technology to monitor all visitors and deny admission to anyone perceived to be a problem or who pose a potential danger to staff or students.  We know that buildings can be designed to be secure as our prisons are secure on any level that we need.

We also must address the safety of our society, especially our children, from a health perspective.  This begins with coming face-to-face with the issue of mental illness.  We need for every citizen to have access to health care.  This goes a long way to aid in the identification of people, young and old, with mental health or emotional problems, which apparently is a substantial portion of our population as evidenced by the widely used mental health diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder , bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  We must provide treatment for these individuals, just as we would for people with cancer, heart conditions, arthritis autism or any other physical anomaly.  A change in attitude that regards mental illness as a sickness will help families to come forth and seek help, rather than hiding these conditions so that a loved one will not be made to feel like a pariah in the community.

Green living obliges us to raise our children to respect our environment and the other people and animals who occupy this space with us.  Our choices on how we treat our children, what we feed their minds and bodies, and the examples that we set for them to follow will determine their physical and emotional development and well-being.  We must teach them to be kind to others and to never be a bully to any person or animal.

If we all accept green living as an obligation, not a choice, we can take a major step forward to heal from these recent tragedies and move forward to save our planet and our children.  Let’s all respond to the call of duty to live green, be green.

On Children by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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Description unavailable (Photo credit: theloushe)


Here at LGBG, we work diligently to provide our readers with an easy and enjoyable reading experience, while keeping in line with our blog’s end goals of educating and informing. However, it is important to note that we are not the only ones on the web dedicated to all things green. With this in mind, we have decided each month to highlight a particular blog which peaks our interest in the way that it addresses green issues uniquely and daringly.

This feature is on a blog called Joyfully Green, appropriately titled after its creator, Mrs. Joy Sussman. Inspired by her two young children (ages 5 and 8) Mrs. Sussman states that, “Special attention is given to parents and teachers who are looking to nurture ‘the littlest environmentalists’ – tomorrow’s leaders on the green frontier.” With that mindset, Joyfully Green focuses on doing, rather than simply preaching, about how to be green, and shows ways in which we can accomplish this goal. She reverts to her actual experiences with her children as a way to give real examples of change rather than just proselytizing about it. With entries titled “Time Out: How to Get Outdoors with Kids as the Weather Gets Colder” and “Unplugging from Technology to Reconnect with Your Child”, she stays true to her roots and her concentration of educating with children in mind.

Joyfully Green is written with a down-to-earth sense of practicality, stressing simple changes to implement to make yourself more green. As Mrs. Sussman has quoted on her site, through an inspirational book called Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life, by Ed Begley Jr., “You don’t climb Mount Everest in a single day.” Her blog’s focus, a commendable and wise one at that, is to make green changes a daily idea, so that the amalgamated effects of those changes can be seen farther down the road.  By positively influencing the behavior of families to act in green ways, she is helping to build a future of green conscious citizens.

Lastly, Joyfully Green’s dedicated section of green-approved books and literature stands out, and it is frequently referenced throughout the blog’s posts. A different book seems to be reviewed every day, and the wealth of knowledge, particularly regarding the book’s effect on children and families, is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. In addition, within the book reviews is a section reserved for children’s books, which further emphasizes the motifs of family and creating “little environmentalists” – two consistent themes throughout the blog.

With that said, please check out Joyfully Green and all that the site has to offer for both you and your family. It is truly an inspiring blog written from a unique, but relatable perspective. Also, if you have any suggestions for a blog site worthy of being the focus of next month’s Clean NRG Blog of the Month, please email your idea to 

The recent ad launched by opponents of the fossil fuel industry declaring “Exxon Hates Your Children” is disturbing, provocative and unsettling.  Two advocacy groups, Oil Change International and The Other 98%, launched the controversial ad on its website on Wednesday in an effort to cajole Congress to “eliminate fossil fuel subsidies amid fiscal cliff negotiations”.   The ad portrays an actor posing as a representative of Exxon, stating, “We all know the climate crisis will rip [your children’s] world apart, but we don’t care because it will make us rich”.  The targeted markets for this advertising campaign includes the very same areas where the American Petroleum Institute is running ads arguing that “[m]ore energy development produces more jobs, revenue and energy.  More taxes produce less of all three”.

This ad war comes on the heels of the budget crisis and looming fiscal cliff.  Proponents of climate change face the possible elimination of wind energy tax credits amid the arguments of conservatives voicing objection to the 2% subsidy by the federal government.  If not extended the PTC credit will expire.  Conversely, opponents of the fossil fuel industry voice objections to not only the huge subsidies received by oil companies, but also to their business model, which requires continuous drilling for oil, which is proven to be responsible for climate disruption.  They cry foul also because in the last year alone, renewable energy, though recognized as important for a healthy environment, received six times less support worldwide than fuel subsidies.

While the declaration that “Exxon Hates Your Children” grabs the attention, it is propaganda.  We all know or should know that Exxon and all major corporations exist at the will of the people.  As long as Exxon (the current poster child for the fossil fuel industry)  has a viable market, it will be around, doing what it does–  drilling and manufacturing oil for oil-hungry consumers.  Exxon does not hate children.  Rather, it loves money, and in its quest to make the money it loves so much, it harms the environment.  Perhaps the best analogy for this scenario can be found in the circumstances surrounding Timothy McVeigh‘s bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  It was not McVeigh’s intent to kill the children in the nursery in the federal building.  Rather, they were “collateral damage” in his quest.

Currently, the earth and its inhabitants all are the “collateral damage” of the fossil fuel industry.  However, we do have a choice.  Let’s strive to reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.  We can start at home by conserving energy, reducing our use of water and electricity, recycling and using energy-efficient products.  Moreover, we can make sure we are heard by our representatives, who serve at our will.  Demand that they vote green or be voted out of office.  Let’s fight to live green, be green!

Sources for article:


Exxon (Photo credit: Tom Haymes)

For good news Monday, we have tips for getting the best Christmas tree and keeping it fresh and healthy throughout the holiday season.

For beginnings, the best trees are live trees, not artificial ones, because the latter often are imported and contain toxic materials, such as lead.  If possible, try to purchase a tree from a local tree farm.  This will guarantee the freshness of your tree.  Also, buying local reduces transportation and shipping costs, along with reducing carbon emissions.  An excellent website to find local businesses for family farms and organic products is

When purchasing a precut tree from a nursery or local group, such as the Scouts or churches, inquire about the freshness of the trees as well as the location

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States.

A Christmas tree farm in Iowa, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

which they were shipped.  When inspecting trees for purchase, check the needles to ensure that they are flexible and not dry.

Once you have selected a tree, it is important that you get it home and in water as soon as possible.  Try to select a place for display that is out of direct sunlight and away from fans, heaters, or humidifiers in order to avoid drying out prematurely.  Decorate with inflammable, nontoxic ornaments  and LED lights, which burn much cooler than incandescent lights.  Once the holiday season is over, please check local community directories for programs that collect trees for mulch.

Let’s make getting a Christmas tree and decorating it a green family activity.  Have a Merry Green Christmas and live green, be green.

For good news Monday, the message is that green Christmas gifts keep giving long after the holiday season is over.  We now are approaching the end of November, and the holiday shopping season is in full swing. Many of us dared to brave the crowds on Black Friday and throughout the weekend, only to find many of the offerings did not excite us.  A lot of the toys were imported and were not that stimulating and most likely will entertain children for a few days and then end up in toy boxes and closets.  Some were even toxic and unsafe.  The selections in clothes often were pretty boring, and we know that they will end up in a drawer or on a hanger, ignored until the spring yard sales.

This holiday shopping season is a great time to be conscious of green initiatives.  With the philosophy of giving green Christmas gifts that keep giving, Christmas shopping becomes more meaningful.  First of all, this brand of shopping makes gift giving more thoughtful because it requires really thinking about the recipients and then selecting something special for them that you know they  would enjoy but may not likely purchase for themselves.  A gift could be a class for the budding photographer, painter, dancer or maybe ski lessons.  Tickets to an event or show often make great gifts.  Gift certificates to a farm-to-table restaurant is a great way to introduce friends or family to eating green and supporting local eateries.  Membershipsto museums, green foundations and organizations, which offer meetings and special events for members provide opportunities for recipients to learn and be entertained at functions and programs.  Two great sites to check ideas and deals for Christmas shopping is and Groupon.

All i want for christmas is you

All i want for christmas is you (Photo credit: Lauren Manning)

So for this holiday season, please try to think out of the box when selecting gifts for family and friends.  Have a green Christmas when it comes to giving gifts.  I guarantee you that this will be less stressful, eco-friendly and healthier for you and the environment.  As always, live green, be green.