Today is Valentine’s Day and we hope that each of you will celebrate green.  Many of you reading this post have not finalized your plans for Valentine’s Day celebrations.  Although some people procrastinate in making plans until the actual day, this year is different.  The severe weather occurrences with heavy snow and ice storms over most of the United States for the past week considerably hampered many people’s ability to get out and shop.  A lot of families are still snowed in with no power.  Additionally, gifts that were supposed to be delivered by mail may not come in time for the holiday.



The most important thing to remember is that Valentine’s day is about love, and materialism is not necessary to convey love.  While Valentine’s Day often is criticized as being a man-made holiday, it still is important to us as humans.  As we journey towards sustainable lifestyles, we learn that while investment in the environment is important, it is crucial that we include the investment in human lives as essential to achieving full sustainability.

The History of Valentine’s Day

In reality, this “lovely” holiday evolved from a very violent history.  Valentine’s Day is named after a Roman priest under Emperor Claudius II during the third century.  In this tumultuous era, the Roman Empire was divided into three competing states, with constant threats of invasion by one faction or another.  The survival of the Empire became so threatened that Claudius struggled to maintain war power.  Under the belief that unmarried soldiers fought better than their married counterparts, Claudius banned marriage among young people.  However, the priest Valentine, held high marriage as a God-given sacrament and began officiating these unions in secret.  He eventually was discovered, imprisoned and then beheaded.  Later Valentine was martyred by the Church for giving up his life to perform the sacrament.  Thus, Valentine’s Day is about love– love of God and love for each other.

St-Valentine-Kneeling-In-Supplication.  Credit:

St-Valentine-Kneeling-In-Supplication. Credit:

Celebrate the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

The true spirit of Valentine’s Day should be reflected in our celebratory choices, and sustainability should be a driving concern in making these choices.  Why buy chocolate candies produced by workers who are underpaid and treated unfairly when we can purchase guaranteed fair trade products?  Why buy cut flowers that wilt and die in a matter of days when we can purchase potted plants and flowers that can be maintained in containers or  transplanted outside to thrive and be enjoyed for years to come?  Why spend long hours working to make money to buy “stuff” that creates clutter, especially when most families are starved for time together?

Emotionally-drained-love-valentines-day-ecards-someecards.  Credit:

Emotionally-drained-love-valentines-day-ecards-someecards. Credit:

Green is the way to go.

So as you ponder ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, please be sure to remember that the day is about love and sustainability.  Celebrate a green Valentine’s Day.  To do so is to live green, be green.


Resources for this article:

Credit:  Live Green Magazine

Credit: Live Green Magazine

As we are approaching the annual celebration of Halloween, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about ways to make sure your festivities are fun, safe and green for both children and adults.

We remind you here of the importance of making sure any costumes you select are safe.  When selecting costumes and accessories, particularly masks, avoid products that contain lead.  Many of the products made in China contain toxic material, and the best way to avoid contamination is to purchase costumes made in America or to make costumes at home.  Face paint also is a concern as these products often contain lead and heavy metals that can be toxic and often cause allergic reactions.

If you are decorating at home, pay special attention to lighting.  Remember that tea lights placed in bags along paths are particularly dangerous to trick-or-treaters.  LED lights are a better choice.  Also, the autumn with its bounty of pumpkins presents a great opportunity to make natural decorations.   Combinations of carved pumpkins with scary faces, bales of hay and ghosts made with sheets make intriguing scenes for Halloween revelers, and the pumpkins and hay bales transition easily into Thanksgiving decorations.  Additionally, the pumpkins seeds can be saved and roasted for an enjoyable treat.

As you plan your evening of trick-or-treating, here are some ideas to take Halloween to the next level:

  • Have a family dinner before heading out.  This likely will discourage snacking on candy along the trick-or-treat route.
  • Reinforce the rule that all treats need to be inspected for safety by parents prior to consumption.
  • Consider trading candy for gifts, such as puzzles or Legos.
  • Take candy to work to get it out of the house.  Your fellow workers will enjoy it.

Finally, for a new idea this year, consider reverse trick-or-treating.  Give a treat to the houses you visit with your children.  Note that this treat has a twist.  Collect small fair trade gifts.  Possibilities include fair trade coffee divided into single serve units, individual chocolate bars, teabags, or decorator soaps made from natural ingredients.  Wrap these articles in Halloween decorations (made from recycled paper) and give the gifts with a note (see below) explaining the concept of reverse treat-or-treating:

The act of knocking on people’s doors on Halloween and giving each house a little fair trade, organic treat instead of taking the conventional stuff that isn’t fair trade to any of us.  We hope to see you at our door next year.[1]

In light of the many accounts we hear about random acts of kindness and paying it forward, imagine the good feeling you will spread among your friends and neighbors, not to mention the pride your children will feel, for using the opportunity to trick-or-treat to start a movement that empowers us all to live green, be green.


Sources for this article:

[1] #Green Halloween.

While I am not that enthusiastic about shopping (largely owing to my goal to save money and to reduce my “ownership of stuff”), when I do shop, I want to be able to find good buys that suit both my tastes and my price range or fair trade treasures.  This past week, I devoted some time to shopping for fair trade products with the intention of celebrating Fair Trade Month (an annual global event occurring in the month of October).

Being the creature of habit that I am, I initiated my shopping expedition on the Internet with a Google search of “fair trade” products.  I learned a lot here about fair trade in general.  Specifically, I discovered that there are several “fair trade organizations” whose labels certify its members as being in compliance with fair trade rules and standards.  These organizations include, but are not limited to:

 Fair Trade USA








Fair Trade International

fairtrade International








Fair Trade Federation











Most of the products that I found were coffee, tea, handcrafts, sugar, bananas, honey, cotton, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold.  I also found some sports balls, particularly soccer balls; however, with my soccer children all being adults now, there was not anything there for me.  After poking around some more, I found some nice scarves.

Then needing a break, I visited my favorite local garden store, Homestead Gardens, where lo and behold, I was greeted by a beautiful display of fair trade roll-on bracelets by a company called Aid Through Trade.





Then I went to Target and found that several of the products they carry are certified green and fair trade.  I am confident that with more time, for visiting stores in my area, I will find many other fair trade products.

On my return to my computer, my search for “fair trade” products took a new and unexpected turn.   I branched out beyond the restrictions of sites operated by the major fair trade organizations, and instead, looked for products, particularly clothing, that I liked.  In each instance, while browsing the various online company catalogs, I also read the sections of the websites entitled “our story” or “our mission” and discovered many businesses, who may not carry the “fair trade certification” issued by the major fair trade organizations or federations, but who endorse sustainability, practice fair trade in their dealings with exporters who provide their materials and who promote conservation and clean energy initiatives.

The lesson learned here is that we definitely should support the certified fair trade organizations for the remarkable work that they perform and their efforts to ensure decent wages to exporters of so many of the products that we enjoy.   However, we also should support companies not listed on these sites under these “certified fair trade labels”  who also work hard to deliver quality products, treat their employees and their business partners fairly while investing in their local communities.  These companies often are under the radar of widespread advertisement, but they are the “fair trade treasures.”  I hope that each of you will get out this month and do a little shopping, paying visits to small businesses and boutiques in your neighborhoods to discover your own “fair trade treasures.”  To do so is to live green, be green.

Nativity scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church...

Nativity scene at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in the historic Barelas neighborhood, Albuquerque, NM, Jan 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Friday is approaching fast, and with it comes the official start of the Christmas shopping season, which we hope will culminate into a great green Christmas.  Now is the perfect time to put into place a game plan to ensure that this hectic time of our lives can proceed as smoothly as possible.  Also, with some planning, we can have an enjoyable holiday without disrupting our commitment to live green.

A great place to begin with our holiday planning is in the selection of retailers to shop for holiday foods, gifts and decorations.  A good source to make this determination is Newsweek Green Rankings.  This website provides several listings, including the greenest retailers in America, the World’s greenest companies, as well as the least greenest companies.  Additionally, listings per industry, such as food and tech companies also are provided.  In reviewing these entries, the savvy green shopper can see how publically traded companies in the United States are globally rank “based on their actual environmental footprint, and sustainability communications“.  These rankings have been produced by Newsweek in collaboration with Trucost and Sustainability, two leading environmental organizations.  Making this list is not a matter of choice, and companies cannot opt out of inclusion.  These evaluations provide green-minded consumers an excellent resource to make informative decisions on businesses worthy of their dollars.

Perhaps the second largest area of importance to consumers during the holiday season is decorating.  Starting with Christmas trees, it is important to remember that there is nothing green about an artificial Christmas tree.  Even the color is not natural.  Generally, they have been imported from China, and they are made from petroleum-based chemicals and often contain lead.  Most importantly, they cannot be recycled.  On the other hand, a real Christmas tree provides a beautiful and fragrant decoration for the holiday season, and it can be recycled into mulch or purchased with a ball root that can be planted.  Imagine a grove of trees representing past Christmases celebrated by the family.  Another point to mention is that the purchase of live trees often can be made from local harvesters, thereby providing economic support to the community.

Tree lights and decorations also are important.  This year, please try to use LED lights.  They burn 10% of the energy of older incandescent bulbs, and they are safer because they run cooler in temperature.  LED lights can be used indoors and outdoors.  When purchasing other greenery, try to avoid plastic wreaths and garland because they contain harmful compounds.  Visit local nurseries and buy natural products that can be recycled.

When it is time to shop for gifts, try to break out of the box this year.  Support local holiday fairs and fair trade bazaars to purchase unique gifts while simultaneously supporting these artisans.  With the popularity of online shopping, please consider online gift cards and email Christmas cards.  These items reduce the need for paper and transportation for delivery, thus reducing the carbon footprint.

Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate life and family.  It also is an excellent opportunity to recognize the beauty of our Earth and the need to preserve it for future generations.  To that end, let’s use this time to renew our commitment to live green, be green.



Eco-fashion is a term that denotes the commitment of designers to produce and promote the use of sustainable, ethical and environmentally-conscious products.  The term is contemporary; however, a green relationship between fashion designers and environmentalists has existed for centuries.

The major concerns of green fashion are the following:

  • Recycling of materials
  • Origin of material (fair trade concerns)
  • Textile dying and production
  • Quality of craftmanship
  • Fair labor practices
  • Humane treatment of animals

Eco-fashion has evolved further to include reducing consumption and recognizing the need to be stylish while being fashionably green.  This movement focuses on centering a wardrobe around the basics, i.e., the little black dress or basic suit, and then accessorizing with scarves, jewelry and shoes to transition a look for different periods of the day or various events.  Magazines, television shows, You Tube videos now feature helpful money-saving and style-enhancing techniques to look nice and be green.  Also, there are several books available on the market that provide great tips on everyday and specialty and seasonal dressing, all accomplished in a tasteful, frugal and green manner.  An excellent place to start is with Katy Tsui‘s blog on the Huffington Post at  Katy provides great multimedia references on the subject of fashion.  Her dialogue on green responsibility is refreshing in its simplicity.

There are so many ways to go green, and eco-fashion is a fun way to get involved.

Let’s dress green, go green, be green!