Thursday, December 2, 2010

Company Interview with Cafe Flora - Seattle, WA

As I am thinking of relocated to the city of Seattle, WA in the spring of 2011, I chose to find and interview a business leader in this city, rather than my current city of Las Vegas, NV.   Finding a leader in sustainable business in Las Vegas, is a challenge, however in Seattle it was quite simple.  Seattle is one of the leading U.S. cities engaged in sustainable practices.  With a simple walk down the block or with a quick search on the Internet, one can find a vast variety of sustainable businesses.  I chose to interview Café Flora restaurant, as they have been engaged in sustainable practices since 1991, well in advance of most businesses in Seattle, or any other city.  The interview was conducted over the phone and specific questions pertinent to leadership in sustainability were asked; yet many other topics came in conversation as well.  
Seattle, WA ranks number 8 in the “top 10 green U.S. cities”, ranked by Mother Nature Network (2010).  Seattle has been a leading city in sustainability and in many cases decades ahead of the game; Café Flora, a local vegetarian restaurant in the Seattle area is prime example of this.  For nearly 20 years, Cafe Flora off East Madison Street has been engaged in sustainable practices.  Whereas the majority of businesses today still do not understand what it means to make their business greener, Cafe Flora has written the manual.  From recycling cooking oil for conversion to biodiesel to buying food directly from farmers markets, Cafe Flora built their company on sustainable practices and continues to grow the concept with everything they do.  
In speaking with Nat Stratton-Clarke, now the present the owner of Cafe Flora, I was astounded by the amount of sustainable practices this quaint vegetarian cafe has implemented.  When Cafe Flora was first opened in 1991, sustainability was a top priority and is shown by their mission statement: “to establish a friendly, community based vegetarian restaurant close to home, to develop a restaurant that could stand as a model business in attending to the health of the planet and to start a restaurant that would introduce superb non-meat dishes from culinary traditions around the globe utilizing local, organic and sustainable produce” (Café Flora, 2010).
Sustainability is also shown by how the restaurant was designed.  An herb garden graces the outdoor patio, which not only provides a wonderful ambiance, but also provides the freshest possible herbs for the dishes.  Meanwhile, nature is still felt indoors, as natural plant walls embrace the surroundings.  The building was also designed with many skylights in order to maximize the amount of light within the kitchen and other areas, in order to cut down on lighting costs and the environmental impacts of power usage.  The website explains further how the initial owners of Café Flora went about designing a sustainable restaurant:
Architectural and environmental consulting firms were brought in based on their compatibility with the goals of environmentally sensitive, energy efficient design and construction along with the owner's commitment to hiring minority and women owned businesses for all of the sub-contracting work. The kitchen was designed to be appropriate for a vegetarian restaurant - that is, spacious and open with large amounts of prep space, and maximum opportunity for interaction and collaboration among the cooking staff (Café Flora, 2010).
The choices of designing a restaurant are typically made only once, as the investment can be quite substantial. By seeing the design of Café Flora, one can understand that sustainability was by and large their main concept, and not just implemented as part of a fad.  
As the design of Café Flora shows that sustainability was part of their strategic plan, their daily practices would be the main way to show how they stayed true to their sustainability plan.  The impacts of daily business choices can have much more of an impact on the environment, especially in restaurants where goods and resources are consumed at a very high rate.  Restaurants and their patrons consume large amounts of water, food, and dry goods.  With increasing consumer awareness and demand, it is progressively more important for restaurant owners to understand the impacts of the carbon footprint of food.  Café Flora has understood this concept from their inception.  Whereas many restaurants buy from vendors that ship the foods and goods across the country in freight trucks, which add thousands of tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, Café Flora held true to their sustainability plan and only purchases from local companies and farms.  The term “farm to table” is relatively new to American consumers, however Café Flora has shown to be once again ahead of the game, as they have been buying their food direct from local farmers markets for nearly 20 years.  Not only are their produce, dairy, and grains bought from local farmers, but Cafe Flora also supports local wineries as well.  Their wine list contains only vintages from Washington and Oregon.  Although California an Europe have an outstanding selection of wines, once again it is more important to have the lowest possible carbon footprint and the wines from Washington and Oregon provide a comparable quality without the environmental impact.
My interview with Nat Stratton-Clarke continued, and in addition to learning about all that Café Flora has accomplished, I wanted to learn more about how her career progressed and how leadership played a role in her business and with sustainability.  While working her way through law school in the Bay Area, Nat was employed with a local catering company.  The allure and love of the hospitality industry captured her heart, and after she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree she chose not to continue with law and focused on furthering her career in hospitality management.  Five years ago, in 2005, Nat joined the Cafe Flora team in Seattle as the General Manager and primary purchaser.  Three years later she became the owner.  In both of her roles, maintaining the vision of Cafe Flora’s strategic plan for sustainability was a top priority.  When Nat became the owner of Café Flora she initiated a remodel of the restaurant in order to give it a revitalizing new look for her regular patrons and a fresh look for new customers.  The remodel included refinishing of the floors with natural soy-based wood floor stain and a transformation of the décor and functionality of the restaurant.  The new decor was adopted from one of the local farms that the cafe purchases from: a cattle-gate serves as the staff entrance to the bar and beehive boxes from the honey farmer grace the shelves for functionality and ambiance.  In addition, the majority of wood used within the restaurant is reclaimed.  Choosing to remodel in a sustainable fashion not only saved the restaurant money while giving the physical space a fresh look, but they gave a new life to the farm goods that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.  Ms. Stratton-Clarke explained that, “sustainability is not just about decreasing your environmental impact, but looking for opportunities to collaborate with others in order to preserve and find uses for as many resources as possible.”
My interview with Ms. Stratton-Clarke resumed to discussing more about how leadership plays a role as a business owner of a sustainable company.  Ms. Stratton-Clarke feels that innovation is the single most important leadership trait one engaged in sustainability can possess.  “Sustainability will continue to play a predominant role in my business,” she explained, “as the movement grows, more avenues will be opened and I will have to learn to integrate and adapt to them.”  She elucidated that she feels that sustainability is not a fad and I could tell she was excited for the changes and challenges ahead.  Business owners such as Ms. Stratton-Clarke need to be open to the changes and new opportunities in sustainability.  Innovation is vital for gaining a competitive edge and she must be ready and willing to adjust wherever necessary to maintain Cafe Flora’s strategic goals.  
Ms. Stratton-Clarke noted that one of the challenges she has seen moving through sustainability over the past decade is the exchange of ownership of farmers.  Although Seattle is fortunate that the farms remain a family business and are not bought out by large corporations, which is happening more and more in the Midwest, passing along the family business also brings its own set of challenges.  Ms. Stratton-Clarke explained that when the younger farmers take over the farm, the struggles are visible to their buyers.  For example, one of the on-going challenges for farmers is that of increasing accessibility and variety of products.  In order to stay competitive in a global market, farmers must provide a wide variety of quality produce, or consumers may choose to purchase outside the local area.  As she explained with her own experience with innovation, she feels that these farmers need to keep up with the demands of consumers and business owners, being responsive and adapting to the changes quickly.  It is important for farmers to provide what is demanded to further the sustainable trend of farm to table.  
Local farmers must continue to meet the needs of local restaurants, providing the quality products they demand.  In return, the businesses must continue to support the local farms so they are able to survive and can continue to provide in difficult times.  Ms. Nat Stratton-Clarke explained that educating her staff and customers is her way of giving back to the farmers, ensuring their survival against large farming corporations.  Café Flora employees, from prep cook to server to hostess, are taken on regular visits to the local farms and the farms are given recognition on the restaurant’s menus.  By seeing directly where the food is grown and produced, the staff becomes engaged and develops a deep relationship with the food.  The staff then passes this compassion and knowledge on to the customer, further enhancing the bond of “farm to table.”  The spiritual connection with food has been lost in America and consumers no longer value what they eat.  A Big-Mac to the majority of people is simply no more than an inexpensive meal; the time and consideration to think about all the components is rarely taken.  By educating consumers about how and where their food is produced, as Café Flora continues to provide, the respect for food will spread far and wide.  This, Nat explains, is how sustainability will survive and continue to grow.
Not only is supporting local farmers important to enhance the sustainability movement, but so is supporting other types of local businesses as well.  For example, the company Café Flora uses for food composting also converts these composted materials into to-go containers for resale. Rather than buying a more inexpensive product, which is most likely produced from raw materials and shipped across the country, Nat chooses to support the local business that reuse precious resources, even though the cost may be slightly higher.  This is the issue of intrinsic cost vs. perceived or actual cost.  This intrinsic cost is also associated with the aforementioned concept of carbon footprint.  Even though a product may cost less in monetary terms, the unseen environmental impacts of producing the product may be much higher, which we will have to pay back in monetary terms someday, as we are starting to see with the impacts of global warming.
It is up to business leaders and those involved with sustainability to set the standard and pave the way for green techniques.  Many are fearful of jumping on the sustainable bandwagon because it is unfamiliar territory.  As leaders in sustainability, we must show that “going green” can be quite simple to integrate, that it can save business money, and that learning to live within the means of the planet is important for our survival on Earth.  Ms. Stratton-Clarke’s advice to sustainability students and aspiring business leaders is to, “jump in, learn as much as you can, and talk to as many people as you can”.  In addition, Nat explained that to be successful you should “make sure that you have the passion and desire for your chosen field, such as hospitality, for the challenges will only become greater with the added challenges of sustainability.”  She provided the example of students that go to culinary school before ever working in a restaurant. The restaurant industry is a whole different animals and the sheer love of cooking is not going to paint the picture of what a career as a chef will be like.  Real world experience is the way to find out if your passions align with your career goals.  She also explained that talking to purveyors is an excellent start, as they are well rounded and have experience with many different styles and types of business, “they can really help guide you in the right direction,” Nat claimed.
For learning more about sustainability, Ms. Stratton-Clarke suggests reaching out to as many different organizations as possible.  Many national organizations have outstanding information and the local chapters provide additional advice on how to adopt and implement specific practices within the community.  Nat recommended specifically “Slow Food” and “Chef’s Collaborative.” This was the primary way Nat honed in on her own sustainability skills, in addition to what she learned from her community.  These types of organizations provide particular benefit to those who may not be in such a “green” city to find the resources and means they need to achieve the goals they desire.  
Café Flora is a beautiful example of a sustainable restaurant and can be used as a model for many types of businesses.  In learning to adapt sustainable business practices, it is often less about the products you are servicing and more about the leadership practices you adopt and bring into your organization.  With innovation and adaptability, sustainability can be integrated anywhere.  This combined with passion for your chosen industry will help ensure that the sustainability movement continues to mature.


Café Flora. (2010). Our Story. Retrieved from http://www.cafeflora.com/aboutUs.php
Mother Nature Network. (2010). Top 10 green U.S. cities.. Retrieved from

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Banning Toys in Unhealthy Fast Food Meals

With increasing concerns of childhood obesity, consumers have been voicing their demands for healthier foods.  Michele Obama has rolled out a campaign against childhood obesity, with a main focus for schools to provide healthier choices.  This is a great start, but the popularity of fast food restaurants needs to be taken into consideration as well.  According to the article Fast Food Toy Ban Gets OK in San Francisco, preliminary approval of a law prohibiting toys in kid’s meals unless those meals “include fruits and vegetables and limit calories, fat, sugar, and salt.”  Children develop a like/dislike for foods at a very early age and if fast food establishments can aid in teaching younger children to eat healthier foods, this is a huge step for battling the childhood obesity epidemic.  Skeptics may say that children learn more from what they eat at home or school, rather than from fast food “treats”, however it is estimated that children get 29-38% of their meals from fast food sources and this number is only expected to rise (Pakhare, 2009).  The article states that franchisee owners of fast food establishments are claiming that this will hurt business and make turning a profit even more difficult.  The food cost percentage of QSRs (quick service restaurants) is extremely low, which is what makes them so profitable.  I am not seeing how QSRs will lose any money because of this.  When a consumer chooses to go to a fast food restaurant it is for convenience and low price, and because of these reasons they are unlikely to go elsewhere or eat at home.  If the child does not want the healthy meal because it does not contain a toy, the money will still be spent at the same establishment on other items.  This legislation is a great start to educating children about eating healthy.

image from: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/york-councilman-toys-banned-unhealthy-happy-meals/story?id=13310267

Pakhare, J. (2009). Fast Food and Obesity in Children. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/fast-food-and-obesity-in-children.html

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Leadership in Business & Sustainability

Many businesses and organizations are busy focusing their attention and resources on identifying negative aspects of operations and fixing problems. Many businesses have intensive disciplinary procedures in place, but no means of appreciating employees. Appreciative Inquiry (AI), as defined by Copperrider and Whitney, is “about the coevolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the relevant world around them”. This approach focuses on accentuating the positives within an organization rather than mirroring in on the broken parts. AI is effective in aiding organizations to realize their long term and inherent goals, while building a foundation of positive interactions with employees, consumers, and shareholders. Appreciative Inquiry, as opposed to problem solving, goes through the following steps: appreciating and valuing the best of ‘what is’, envisioning ‘what might be’, and dialoguing ‘what should be’ (Copperrider, p.29). The steps lead to the basic assumption that “an organization is a mystery to be embraced” rather than the problem solving technique leading to “an organization [that] is a problem to be solved.”

In most, if not all, of my workplaces, the theme has been to solve problems. Upper management, in my experience, has always had a tendency to focus on the negatives and pushed the managers to identify the problems that needed fixing: why is food cost up or check average down, for example. It seems contradictory in a setting that allows for immediate consumer feedback, but the restaurant industry focuses little time on praise. Ever since I became a manager, I recognized this within the restaurant field and told myself that I would lead differently, making sure to appreciate my employees and get to know them on a personal level. As the article Leader as Inquirer states, “problem-solving approach to inquiry creates a cycle that brings people down rather than propelling them forward.” I recognize now that the cold management styles in restaurants where I have worked have had the characteristic cycle of bringing people down, it is clear that part of the reason why was due to their problem solving atmosphere.

I have never worked for an organization that focuses on the Appreciative Inquiry approach. AI is unfamiliar ground to me, making it all the more intriguing. Using the fundamentals of AI would enhance my leadership ability. Although my leadership style includes allowing time to appreciate employees and focus on the positives within my organization, my management style is big on problem solving. In taking the extensive quiz in the book Strength Finder 2.0 for a employment leadership class, one of my top five leadership skills is “restorative”. I have a knack and a passion for finding problems and repairing them. Because I like the task of solving problems so much, I realize that I must not be focusing on the positives enough in my organization. Although being a good problem solver is an important skill, refocusing my efforts to identifying the positives and building upon them will make me a stronger leader and one that others will have more of an affinity toward, making the entire working atmosphere a warmer environment.

The AI approach can greatly benefit the view and quest for sustainability. AI uses a 4D cycle in which the elements are: discover, dream, design, and destiny. The cycle, explained by Salopek, “includes identifying problems, analyzing causes, searching for solutions, and developing an action plan” (2006). These steps will aid in identifying areas of opportunity for sustainability. In order to move forward with sustainability techniques, we cannot only focus on what is going wrong with the movement and what actions are aiding to climate change. Of course, a well-rounded background is needed to understand the problems; however to really make an impact, leaders in sustainability must look at what is going right with the sustainability movement, gear in on why certain aspects are working, and build upon them to make further positive change.

Friday, October 8, 2010

How can we fuel sustainability forward?

The governments’ roles as defined by Bell (2002) are to be a vision/goal setter, lead by example, act as a facilitator, be a green fiscal authority, as well as to be an innovator/catalyst. The government took on the responsibility of protecting and restoring the environment when they established the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969 and when they assembled the Environmental Protection Agency in December, 1970. It is clear that the government has had a responsibility to advance sustainability, but whether or not the US government has met that responsibility is the real issue.
The main achievements of the EPA since its inception, according to a letter from President Clinton, have been: regulating auto emissions, banning the use of DDT, cleaning up toxic waste, protecting the ozone layer, increasing recycling, and revitalizing inner-city brownfields (2000). These are significant accomplishments, but I feel that the government could have done much more. I, personally, would have liked to see the list look more like this: reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced usage of landfills by implementing recycling in to all public spaces, and improved sustainable agriculture development policies.
There is so much more that we should be doing and that we can be doing, and the government is the key to making all of this happen at the rate in which we need it to. Businesses can do their part, but just as Ray Anderson explained in his speech, businesses typically do only enough to “comply” with government regulations (2009). Mr. Anderson helps to make it clear that government needs to make regulations more stringent if we are to make a significant change for our planet, for some businesses will choose only do what is necessary to comply.
Former US Energy Department Official, Joseph Romm, explains in his book Hell and High Water that “if we hold off on modest government action today, we will almost guarantee the need for much more extreme action in the post-2025 era” (2006). In reading his book and understanding what the world could look like in 2025 with global warning’s affects (increased natural disasters, rise in sea-level from melting icecaps, etc), it is clear to me that we must do whatever is in our control to prevent the worst.
As most people do not take much initiative themselves to make significant life changes, it is up to the government to “act as a facilitator” and “lead by example”, as their role has been defined (Bell, 2002). If you take the law of littering or speeding, for example, do you think that many people would continue to choose not to litter or not to speed if it was not enforced? Although some may continue not to litter or speed, I feel that many people would start driving 80 on the highway and throwing trash in the park, simply because they would feel it makes their life easier.
I feel that the government needs to take an immediate, active part in sustainability and curbing climate change. Stricter regulations need to be put into place for auto emissions (including fuel-efficiency), energy usage (with implementing more renewable energy sources and making our current energy sources more efficient and clean), recycling, sustainable agriculture policies, food production, chemical usage, and deforestation, just to name a few. It may seem as though by implementing so many more regulations on the way we live will seem too controlling and many are worried that with this much government control that we would become a Police State. I feel that as long as we implement regulations that assist in sustainability and that do not control actions, the feeling of over-control from the government will not be an issue. For example, when implementing regulations with recycling, rather than going to the extreme of fining citizens for not recycling, instead regulations should be put in place that make it mandatory that every business and household has recycling services. Furthermore, I feel that regulations for businesses are much more important than regulations for individuals or households, as the impact would be greater.
In addition to moderate government regulations, I feel that the key to promoting sustainability is with education. I feel that if we reach children while they are still building their views of the world that sustainability practices and reasoning would make a huge impact on them. Children, especially under the age of 10 or so, are very in-tune with their initial feelings on subjects and have an affinity towards the environment, animals, and their surroundings, If we can influence children at this stage in their life, they will be more inclined to try sustainable methods and they will enjoy showing others what they are learning. Children already bring home what they learn and try to influence their parents, so why not send them home with information that can help save our planet? By putting sustainability on the curriculum for children in grade school, at minimum, we can reach a vast amount of the population and this will make a solid building block to facilitate change over the next generation and beyond. As the Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health in 1981 stated, “Children are one third of our population and all of our future.
The question now is: how do we go about educating the educators?

Anderson, R. (2009, April 20). Focus Green Series. Retrieved from <\/span>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKMoOLl6WD4<\/span>" class="mediaplugin mediaplugin_youtube" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://www.youtube.com/v/PKMoOLl6WD4&fs=1&rel=0" width="425" height="344">
Bell, D. V. J. (2002, March 27). The Role of Government in Advancing Corporate Sustainability. Sustainable Enterprise Academy, York University. Retrieved from http://www.g8.utoronto.ca/scholar/2002/bell11062002.pdf
Romm, J. (2007). Hell and High Water: Global Warming – the Solutions and the Politics – and What We Should Do. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
United States Department of Health & Human Services.: Public Health Service. (1981). Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health (DHHS-PHS-79-55071). Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED198956.pdf
United Stated Environmental Protection Agency. (2000). EPA’s 30th Anniversary Celebrated. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/epa/30b.htm

Friday, September 24, 2010

Meatless Monday's - Pledge to not eat meat

Meatless Monday's
Pledge to not eat meat on Monday's.

This is absolutely no expectation to make everyone a vegetarian.  A pledge to not eat meat is more making a stand against the global travesties that the current meat industries place on our planet.  Learning to consume less meat, to not see it as a necessity at every meal is a crucial lesson each American (and human) needs to learn. 

According to the USDA, Americans now consume 222 pounds of meat per person (stats from 2007) compared to 144 pounds per person in 1950, this is nearly double in a little over 50 years!.1  The amount includes 66lbs of beef per person per year, and 87 lbs of chicken per person per year, with pork, veal, lamb, and turkey not far behind..  As shown below, this means Americans consume over 41 million cows per year and over 13 billion chickens per year.  These numbers are only expected to rise, unless we start to change the way we live and eat. 


307 million people * 222 lbs meat = 68,154,000,000 lbs of meat consumed by Americans (68 trillion)

492lbs = Yield of meat on steer2
307 million people * 66 lbs beef1 = 20,262,000,000 lbs beef (20 billion)
20 billions lbs meat/492 lbs yielded meat = 41,182,926 cows (41.1 million)

2lbs = Yield of meat on chicken3
307 million people * 87 lbs chicken1 = 26,709,000,000 lbs chicken (26 billion)
26 billion lbs chicken meat/2lbs yielded meat = 13,354,500,000 chickens (13.3 billion)


So what?  So humans eat cows and chicken and other livestock and many say this is “natural” and that it is not a big deal.  Once again, I am not trying to turn everyone into vegetarians.  I am only trying to have each person limit the amount of meat consumed based on the glaring environmental impact that meat production has on our earth, based on the quantities of meat that American’s demand.  As shown below, it takes over 20 trillion gallons of water to produce the amount of beef that American’s consume, as well as 114 trillion pounds of corn.

2,500 gallons water = 1lb beef4
Americans consume 20 billion lbs beef = 20,655,000,000,000 gallons water (20 trillion gallons)
492lbs (1 steer) * 2,500 = 1,230,000 gallons of water per steer

2,800 lbs corn = 1 steer5
Americans consume 41 million cows = 114,800,000,000 lbs corn (114 trillion lbs corn)
2,800 lbs corn / 492lbs (1 steer)  = 5.69 lbs corn per lb of beef

**Conflicting figures were found for the amount of water and grain needed to produce one pound of beef.  According to John Robbins in Food Revolution, 5,214 gallons of water are needed for 1lb of beef and 16lbs of grain.  This is considerably larger than the figures I used for my calculations (see sources).  I chose to go with the smaller figures as it shows that the impact is still huge, so just image if I used John Robbins figures how monumental the results could be.  I will change the figures if and when I find the most credible source.

So if each American chooses to remove meat from their diet just once per week, as the RMOG Pledge proposes, how much impact will this make?  Let’s say that we shed off eating 1oz of meat per week (suggested serving for meat) and multiply that by 52 weeks, leaving each of us with 3.25lbs less of consumed meat per year.  This will reduce the amount of meat consumed by Americans by nearly 1 trillion pounds!!  This may not seem like much, but as shown below, this constitutes a savings of over 2 trillion gallons of water and over 5 billion pounds of corn (assuming, for simplicity, that all of this meat was beef).  So by simply giving up only one ounce of meat per week, look at the impact you, just one person, could have on our planet.  Choose to give up a few more ounces and see how the results will multiply.

1oz meat per week * 52 weeks = 52 oz / 16oz per pound = 3.25lbs meat

307 million people * 222 lbs meat = 68,154,000,000 lbs of meat consumed by Americans (68 trillion)

307 million people * 219 lbs meat = 67,233,000,000 lbs of meat consumed by Americans (67 trillion)

921,000,000 lbs of meat saved per year by eating 3lbs less meat per year

921 millions lbs meat (assuming beef) * 2,500 gallons water per lb = 2,302,500,000,000 gallons water saved (2 trillion)

921 millions lbs meat (assuming beef) * 5.69 lbs corn per 1b meat = 5,240,490,000 lbs corn saved (5 billion)

I won’t get into how that water and grain could be instead used, as it should be fairly obvious to most of you.  However, the most important fact about these savings is the other global crises we are facing, such as water shortages, deforestation (in order to grow grain and raise the livestock), the huge controversy over our seed supplies and GMO’s (aka Monsanto), and the use of antibiotics and the growing resistance of these antibiotics.  Reducing our consumption of meat will also help ease these other crises, or at least help prevent them from getting any larger.

Raising livestock at the rate American’s demand has other monumental environmental impacts, such as deforestation, CO2 byproducts, and CO2 transportation costs.  Once again, the grain required to feed livestock is enormous.  As stated by the Vegetarian Guide, “cattle consume 16 times as much grain as they produce meat, so right there we have 16 times as much energy just to grow these crops, just so we can waste them on livestock.”  The CO2 byproduct from livestock is also a huge concern with the issue of greenhouse gasses in our environment, not to mention the CO2 from transporting the livestock by truck, boat, train, or other means.  Simply put, the energy used to produce meat is colossal. 

Many people do not put the raising of livestock together with deforestation, yet it is a serious issue.  According to GreenPlanetAwards.com, “The United Nations estimates that in the Brazilian Amazon, 70% of the deforestation has been done for cattle grazing”7.  The site’s article also explains that Brazil is the leading exporter in beef (more than those countries ranked 2nd and 3rd combined) as well as soya, which supplies much of the world with livestock feed.  Explained further, “The rainforests act as the air conditioners to the world, providing much of the world’s fresh water, and regulating the overall temperature. But when they are burned down, they release CO2 into the atmosphere and disrupt the ecosystem of the entire planet.” 

Another important consideration when choosing whether or not to eat meat is regarding the use of antibiotics in our meat.  According to Princeton University, 80% of antibiotics in the U.S. are given to farm animals8.  “When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the bacteria resistant to these drugs live to reproduce”, as www.keepantibioticsworking.org explains and this is creating stronger and stronger strains of bacteria that are becoming more difficult to control and treat.  When you consume meat, you are subsequently ingesting a large amount of antibiotics as well.  Not only is this facilitating the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but also consuming large amounts of meat it is making you less resistant to antibiotics for when you might actually need them.

There is much upheaval about the inhumane treatment of the animals and although this deserves attention, I will not be touching on the practice of raising livestock, as this blog is about “going green” and not animal rights.  I will leave you with a thought to ponder on however, as many experts have referenced the raising of animals to be similar to “Concentration Camps”.

Reducing your consumption of meat can help the world in so many ways.  It will help will preserve our most precious resource – water, will ease the demand for land for raising livestock and their grain, curbing deforestation, help keep our antibiotics working (and keep you from getting sick so often), and helping to bring back harmony to our ecosystem.

I hope you will join The Real Meaning of GREEN in making a pledge to not consume meat on Monday’s.

9: http://www.keepantibioticsworking.com/new/resources_library.cfm?refID=69872

Going GREEN - Where To Start

-Reuse (Freecycle)
-Eat real food
-Eat local foods
-Eat organic foods
-Eat less (or no) meat
-Grow your own food
-Stop junk mail
-Use only reusable bags
-Don't buy bottled beverages - use a reusable container
-Use energy saving techniques in your home (turn lights/water off when not in use, reduce the escape of heat or AC, run only full loads of dishes/laundry)
-Use energy saving techniques when commuting
-Live by example
-Get a green job
-Help your workplace adopt green techniques
-Vote wisely & research your vote
-Research & know the facts!
**Demand and they WILL SUPPLY!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Real Meaning of GREEN Climate Action

Real Meaning of GREEN (RMOG) Climate Change Work Party,
in participation with 350.org
Sunday, 10/10/10

**Sign up through Either or Both Mediums 

On 10/10/10, I will help participate in the education of climate change and slowing of global warming.

As the members of RMOG live all around the country and some of us, around the world, the 350.org participation for 10/10/10 Climate Change Work Party (CCWP) will be a promise to participate in our own way and share our experiences online.  As I wish all of our wonderful RMOG “members” could all get together, as is what the "Work Party" is all about, however, it is simply better that we all are ACTIVE for climate CHANGE on this day.  It can be a huge project, such as setting up solar panels on your home, to a simple one like recycling any plastic bags you find.

Activities to Choose From
v     Show Your Community!!
o       Plant a tree in your community
o       Gather as many plastic bags as you can and return them to a grocery store recycling program near you
o       Gather as many plastic beverage bottles as you can and take them to a community recycling area (such as Whole Foods, Fresh and Easy, etc)
o       Clean up an area in your community
o       Get your friends and family to commute in a GREEN manner on 10/10/10
v     Individual Impact CAN Make a Difference!!
o       Start a small (or large) personal garden
o       Put up solar panels on your house or business
o       Buy your friends/family a reusable drinking bottle
o       Make your own soap or cleaning product
o       Eat only local foods.  Meaning no fast food.
o       Do not eat meat for the day (or longer).
o       Cancel your junkmail
o       Vow to not create a single item waste for the day (or longer).  Use only reusable goods.  Meaning no paper towels (and toilet paper for that matter), disposable containers, food packaging waste, etc.
o       Invite and encourage all of your Facebook friends to join the RMOG by writing them a personal message explaining the importance of learning about Climate Change and how “Going Green” needs to be the norm

**RMOG wants to see and hear about your activities for the day!! Send RMOG your 10/10/10 CCWP Pictures for a chance to win a GREEN prize!!

Our latest movement dispatch is a global round-up by Latin America organizer, Kelly Blynn...
Dear friends,
A friend recently asked me: "What's the single best way to solve the climate crisis?"
The question made me stop and think. I've been getting so many amazing updates about the climate solutions people are working on for the 10/10/10 Global Work Party, it's nearly impossible to pick just one.
The truth is, there is no silver bullet to stopping the climate crisis, no single technological solution that can fix everything at once.  We don't just need solar power, or wind power, or efficiency. We need all of these things and more.  What we need, in a word, is diversity.

I feel the same way about building the climate movement. We can't rely on just one campaign, one event, one organization, one country, or one strategy-to build a powerful climate movement we need a bit of everything.
This is why we have such a diverse campaign plan-and such a broad alliance--at 350.org. For those of you wondering what we've been up to and how all the pieces fit together, here's a quick round-up of the latest news from our various campaigns:
10/10/10-and Grants to Support Local Climate Action!
You probably already know all about our plans for 10/10/10, "The Global Work Party."  (If not, check out the invitation here)  It's less than 3 months away, and people's plans are really starting to take shape:  teams insulating schools in London,  a bike-caravan of lighting retrofitters in Mombasa, and hundreds and hundreds more.  With events in 116 countries and counting, it will be massive. 
One new development here: we now have a small pool of MONEY to support your local climate solutions projects for 10/10/10.  Submit your 10/10/10 plan by August 7th, get enough people to vote on it, and you could receive a grant of $1,000 USD to make it happen.  Check out www.350.org/funds to learn more

The Great Power Race: NEW VIDEO
Next up is the The Great Power Race, a clean energy competition between students in India, China, and the United States.  Starting this September, students will get to work making their campuses models of sustainability and spur our nations to create whole new industries-and win great prizes while doing so. The race doesn't officially start for more than a month, but the registration drive is underway. India already has over 200 campuses signed up.  Can China and the USA keep up?  As the young founders of the Great Power Race are saying:
"Our parents raced for the Moon. Our generation will race for the Earth."
We also have brand new video to get people fired up about the Great Power Race--check it out: www.greatpowerrace.org/video
Put Solar On It!
Just two weeks ago we launched the "Put Solar On It" campaign, and it's making big waves from Washington DC to Delhi.  We're calling for world leaders to go solar on 10/10/10-and to couple this symbolic effort with a real commitment to pass policies that can unleash the clean energy economy we need.  We've partnered with Sungevity, a solar provider who has agreed to donate the panels to any world leader who will go solar on 10/10/10. President Nasheed from the Maldives has already committed to going solar on that day-will other leaders follow suit?  Only if we build our numbers, so get all your friends to sign on today: www.PutSolarOn.It
US Campaigning
It's nearly impossible to make global progress on climate change without getting the US to act, which is why we've been working hard to kickstart climate action in Washington DC and beyond.  We've turned up the heat on Senators to make sure they didn't settle for a weak and watered-down climate and energy bill and we helped organize hundreds of rallies against offshore drilling
Senate democrats have decided that definitely there will not be a climate portion of a bill in the coming weeks. This is bad news--and further evidence that we have to keep working on the ground to shift the political climate as fast as humanly possible.

There's lots more brewing at 350.org, but that gives you a good overview. If you've read this far, thank you.
Looking over the list of campaigns above, it becomes clear: there actually is one silver bullet to solving the climate crisis, and it's not solar power.  It's people power. 
We can't do this without you. Let's keep building this movement.
Kelly and the 350.org team

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pet Foods - "Healthy" & "Natural"?

So one of the main reasons I started this blog is for my family; many of them do not have a facebook, nor will they get one.  This blog will expose them to the important issues that the Real Meaning of GREEN on facebook touches on.

For my first blog, in honor of my cat-loving (or maybe I should say cat-obsessive?) family, I decided that I wanted to write about the nutrition of pet food.  As I went shopping the other day for cat supplies, I was delighted to see an offering of “natural” cat food, “natural” cat treats and “natural” litter.  As I always preach on facebook, “Demand and they will Supply”, the prophecy was coming true in the grocery store!  Suppliers are hearing our demands for natural products with limited or no use of chemicals and other dangerous additives.

Yet, is this all just a marketing ploy to make us BELIEVE it is “natural”?  Well, I am going to analyze the products I purchased the other day that boasted “natural” against those that I usually buy.  Remember, one of Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” is to “avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.”  Our pets deserve the same standards.  

I have always fed my cats Iams, as it is boasted by many to be one of the "healthiest on the market", so let's see how it measures up.

Iams: Regular

  • Chicken
  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Corn Meal
  • Corn Grits
  • Dried Beet Pulp
  • Poultry By-Product Meal
  • Natural Flavor (um, which is what?)
  • Dried Egg Product
  • Brewers Dried Yeast
  • Sodium Bisulfate (acid salt, urine acidifier to reduce urinary stones in cats)
  • Potassium Chloride (used for making fertilizer, food processing: salt substitute)
  • Fructooligosaccharides (alternative sweetener, inulin-type prebiotics generally thought to stimulate the growth of Bifidobacteria “friendly bacteria” species)
  • Animal Fat
  • Fish Oil
  • DL-Methionine (amino acid, DL-methionine is the active ingredient in dog supplements to prevent yellow nitrogen burns to grass from their urine. The action is by reducing the pH of the dog's urine)
  • Choline Chloride (ammonium salt, accelerates growth in chickens
  • Calcium Carbonate (gastric antacid and calcium source)
  • Vitamins
  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (B6 source)
  • Vitamin B12 Supplement
  • Riboflavin Supplement (B2 source)
  • Inositol
  • Vitamin D3 Supplement
  • Minerals
  • Folic Acid

According to the website http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/how-to-understand-pet-food-label-ingredients-%E2%80%93-the-basics.html, “Chicken and Chicken Meal are meat ingredients providing a cat with essential meat protein. Chicken is obviously chicken meat; Chicken Meal is chicken meat with the moisture removed. Any meat contains a high amount of moisture, up to 70% moisture. Chicken Meal is chicken with the moisture removed and thus provides the dog or cat with more protein nutrition by weight. These are both quality ingredients.”

It continues, explaining that meat “by-products” are NOT meat.  According to the ingredient definition, they are left-over pieces of an animal not used for human consumption. Meat ingredients are optimal for your pet, left-over animal parts are not; this is another suggested ingredient to avoid. Meat and bone meal is another ingredient on the FDA list that can contain a euthanized diseased animal and the lethal drug used to kill the animal; a definite ingredient to avoid.

Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Corn, are grains that provide little to no nutrition to a cat (or dog if this was a dog food). None are ‘bad’ pet food ingredients, that is, unless the corn gluten meal came from China. Seeing this ingredient means you need to call the manufacturer to learn the Country of Origin of the pet food ingredients. You should also be aware that any grain ingredient in pet food is at risk to contain a deadly mold, aflatoxin. Pet owners that feed their dog or cat a food that includes grains must trust that the manufacturer did proper testing for aflatoxin contamination of grains. Pet food regulations do not require this testing, it is only recommended.

The website explain that that the pet food ingredient “Animal Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)” was determined by the FDA to be one of several ingredients that are commonly known to contain a diseased euthanized animal, AND the drug used to kill the animal. When you see Animal Fat listed in the ingredients of a dog food or cat food, unless you want to take the chance of feeding your pet a sick, euthanized animal, AND lethal drugs, look for another pet food.

Iams: All Natural  

Yellow = Same
Pink = NEW
Green = Taken Out

Chicken By-Product Meal
Corn Meal
Brewers Rice
Ground Whole Grain Barley
Chicken Meal
Corn Grits
Dried Beet Pulp
Poultry By-Product Meal
Dried Egg Product
Natural Flavor (um, which is what?)
Sodium Bisulfate
Potassium Chloride
Animal Fat
Fish Oil
Dried Apple Pomace
Dried Carrots
Brewers Dried Yeast
Dried Peas
Calcium Carbonate
Choline Chloride
Dried Spinach
Dried Tomatoes
Vitamine E Supplement
Pyridoxide Hydrochloride (B6)
Vitamin B12 Supplement
Riboflavin Supplement (B2 source)
Vitamin D3 Supplement
Folic Acid

Well, for Iams “Healthy Naturals” all they took out is “Corn Grits” and “Poultry By-Product Meal”.  Perhaps the corn contained dangerous bi-product chemicals such as aflatoxin, of which the dangers were stated above?  But why did they take out a protein source?  It is good that they added some whole grain and dried vegetables, however as cats are strictly carnivores I am not sure how much this helps them besides adding more natural vitamins and minerals (ones that should be there by a good, healthy variety of meat sources).  Yes this makes it appear that it contains more “natural” ingredients, but it all boils down to the fact that all of the same chemicals are still present. 

And the most shocking ingredient present in both is the Animal Fat, which “The Truth About Pet Food” explained contains diseased euthanized animal remains and the chemical used to put them down.  “Natural” or not, if the pet food contains the disgusting, dangerous “Animal Fat”, it is TIME FOR A CHANGE!!

Our pets are stricken with debilitating diseases just as we humans are, and just as I am convinced with humans, the ”bad” fuel we put into our bodies causes the majority of diseases.  Give your pets the same respect as you so your own body and give them the proper, healthy fuel.I am now in search for a different cat food and will post my findings soon!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Major Issues Affecting Our Planet

So this can seem over-whelming and all "gloom & doom", but it is our reality. It is THE REALITY of what humans have done to our planet and environments. The fact that we shouldn't eat meat due to its environmental impacts, shouldn't eat fish due to over-fishing, shouldn't take a bath b/c its wasting water, shouldn't drive due to using too much oil and polluting the air with greenhouse gasses, shouldn't buy bottled water because of our plastic usage, etc, etc, etc....are all a sad fact that WE HAVE BROUGHT THIS UPON OURSELVES. The challenges ahead ARE overwhelming, but we need to restrict ourselves in these vital hours, ENCOURAGE CHANGE among the GREEDY (read: big businesses and governments who listen to supply & demand), and the uneducated who can't vote (read: those who have little $ to "vote" with). 

Please NOTE: This is a work in progress, but I welcome your comments at any time. I will re-post on page as I add additional information. I have a lot to add, but so much good info already that I don't want to have to wait to share <3  Your feedback is welcome!

~These Issues are in no particular order.  But keep in mind that most, if not all, of these issues are related directly or in-directly to each other, so they all have very just importance

**Pesticide Use**
-how can foods treated with pesticides be safe for human consumption when the people who spray pesticides must be masked and suited from head to toe with proctetive gear?
(Watch: The World According to Monsanto, Home)

**Consumption of Meat**
-Concentration Camp-Style raising of livestock
-Livestock alarmingly susceptible to disease due to factory farming (and not eating grass as nature intended) and thus given antibiotics
-Livestock given antibiotics, making humans less susceptible to antibiotics and making the bacteria stronger
-Livestock given steroids which is harmful to humans
-Inhumane raising of livestock creates toxic water and land pollution
-2,500 gallons of water used to raise 1lb of meat (contributing to water crisis)
-Forests cleared to raise livestock (contributing to deforestation)
-Forests cleared to grow grain for livestock consumption (contributing to deforestation)
-CO2 is bi-product from cattle and other livestock, polluting air

(Watch: Food Inc, Home.  Read: Skinny Bitch)

**Oil & Over-Use of Fossil Fuels**
-Oil can be reffered to as a "Pocket of Sunlight", explaining its power yet its precious-ness
-Oil used to make toxic plastic that harm the health of humans
-Bi-product polution form the creation of plastic
-Bi-product pollution from the recycling of plastic
-Plastic made from oil fills our landfils
-Air Pollution caused by Oil bi-product CO2
-Land and water pollution caused by oil spills (contributing to water crisis, fishing levels)
-Los Angeles: # of cars =  # of inhabitants
-What will happen when the oil runs out and we are not ready????
(Watch: Fuel, Home)

**Water Crisis**
-by 2025, 2 billion people will be affected by water shortage
-Pollution: Only 3% of the water on earth is fresh water and much of it is polluted. Many large corporations are the biggest polluters and it is claimed that many pollute deliberately so they can make money on their expensive technologies to clean it up.
-Water Privatization is also a huge issue: water for capital is a growing concern in many countries and a long-time reality for many in the third-world in particular, where citizens are being forced to pay for clean water that was once accessible in their own villages.
-Global Warming: Climate change and increasing global temperatures are melting glaciers at an alarming rate. Many villages and countries have relied on these water sources for centuries and in many places there will be no water supply left in the coming years.
-Wells: Wells are drying all over the world at alarming rates
-Wells are replenished by fossil fuel waters.  Wells enable crops to be grown in desert climates.
-In India 30% of wells have been abandoned.  India is predicted to suffer most from lack of water.
-Colorado River no longer reaches the sea due to over-consumption of water
-Deforestation prevents rainwater from purifying by running its natural course along the Humus (earth) and gathering precious minerals
-Wars: "Wars of the future will be fought over water, as they are over oil today, as our Blue Gold, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace and political arena as a commodity to be sought out, fought over, and conquered...".
-Conflict (war) areas for water are: Brazil, Canada, and Russia.
(Watch: Blue Gold, Home)

-CO2 is bi-product of the machinery used to clear these forests
-Removing trees from the environment reduces the amount of CO2 that can be converted to O2 by these trees
-Deforestation prevents rainwater from purifying itself by running its natural course along the Humus (earth)
-Deforestation causes erosion of the earth (permanent in many areas), where water will not permeate and roots will not grow
(Watch: Home)

-By the end of the century mining will exhaust all of our precious resources
(Watch: Home)

-Creates mutant organisms and dangerous mutating genes (including virus' & baceteria)
-Creates pollen pollution
-Contaminates pristine, natural crops (perhaps to extinction)
(Watch: The World According to Monsanto)

**Climate Change**
(Watch: 11th Hour, An Inconvenient Truth, Home, Blue Gold)

**Consumption Rates**
-Americans consume 1/2 billion bottles of water on a weekly basis
-The average family consumes 700 gallons of water per week
-The junk mail Americans receive in one day could heat over 250,00 homes in the winter
-90% of trade is by sea
(Watch: Blue Gold, Home)

-Fishing rates have increased 5 fold since 1950
-We are exhausting most fish populations
-Many sea mammals and birds are dying of starvation because we are depleting their food-source (fish)
-Fishing fleets are at least two to three times as large as needed to take present day catches of fish and other marine species
(Watch: Home)

**Erosion of Soil**
-Soil indispensable to life
-All land on earth is linked
-Agriculture changed the relationship between animals and land
-Prevents rainwater from purifying itself by running its natural course along the Humus (earth) and gathering precious minerals
(Watch: Home)