A Bay Area Certified Green Business

Gorgeous and Green Events is a certified green business!

It took a few months, well quite a few, mostly because I've been so busy.  But we're certified.  I hope to get the seal up on the blog and website soon. For information about Bay Area Green Certification go here: http://www.greenbiz.ca.gov/ Gorgeous and Green was already fulfilling most of the requirements and usually going beyond them,  but there were still some things I worked on.  One thing I do now is keep a tally of waste.  I think it's really key to see how much waste, even biodegradable or recyclable materials, we are responsible for on a daily basis.  Overall, I think it was a good step in the process of being green.  I plan to continue to find new ways to act as a sustainable business and offer sustainable product. I've been sick this week, so I apologize for the short blog. In Green and Health, G&G

 

Sustainable Arrangements for the Green Festival

For the Green Festival this past weekend in San Francisco, I (Gorgeous and Green Events) donated some large arrangements for their speaker stages.  I used all locally grown flowers and branches, glass vases and no floral foam.  I also did the deliveries in our recycled bio-diesel wagon.  I think the pieces were enjoyed by the crowds because when I came back to pick up (and reuse) the vases, people were asking to take the flowers home to reuse as decor in their homes. Here are two large arrangements that were about 6 feet tall.  I loved the lichen growing on the branches.

 

I used amaranth, large roses, spray roses, vintage pink and purple hydrangea, white delphinium, curly willow and tree branches. In Green and Health, G&G

Green and Sustainability at the SF Green Festival

Useful Vendor Connections and Mounds of Trash

This Weekend I participated in the Green Festival in San Francisco.  I donated some local floral designs, bridal bouquets, attended the event and helped with cleanup.  It was fun to meet local vendors and vendors from afar, as well as listen to guest speakers and artists and take part in the massive recycling and composting activities after the event.

green festival arrangementan arrangement I made (Gorgeous and Green Events) for a stage at the festival, I love the combination of red and lavendar

It sort of felt like a county fair with a green spin.  I do love the fair and love shopping for stuff, but I did wish there was a little less focus on the retail side of things.  I also noticed that although there were quite a few vendors and organizations who were very green and sustainable, many were not quite as green and it made the festival feel a little green-washed at times.  I think for future events it would be great to have higher standards of vendors and possibly include more demonstrations and hands on activities, instead of such a main focus on retail sales.  I think it is important to offer green and sustainable items for people to purchase or learn about, but one of the main tenants of sustainability is getting by with less.  Living simply.  And I would definitely like to see the festival incorporate this tenant a little more next time. For the most part, however, the experience was valuable.  I met some other green businesses, learned a lot about recycling and trash and realized how much responsibility we all have in reducing our impact on a daily basis.  Sifting through the festival's bags of trash, recyclables and compost made me realize how all of the little things we touch can add up to create something big.  A big pile of trash that goes to the landfill, if we let it. Thankfully, I'm not willing to send piles of trash to the landfill and either are a lot of other green businesses.  I hope to showcase a few this week in upcoming blogs, but here is a sneak peak at some of the folks I met: righteously raw

Righteously Raw: raw chocolate bars, super tasty!

conscious clothing sign

a bouquet I made for the Hemp fashion show and Conscious Clothing,who also make cute lingerie beside their wedding gown collection

Lydia's Lovin

Lydia's: A local organic and raw food company, who also caters!

table nectar

Table Nectar: an organic and raw catering company

cafe gratitude

Cafe Gratitude: A great organic and raw food restaurant in the Bay Area

water station

A water station at the Green Festival, I loved that they actually showed you where the water we were using was coming from:

water from where I hope to show you more from the festival in future posts. In Green and Health, G&G

 

 

The Green Festival, San Francisco

Green Weddings and Green People in San Francisco

www.greenfestivals.org And no, we're not all eating granola.  I like granola like everyone else, but I definitely don't see myself as "granola" just because I live green or sustainable.  Besides, granola isn't a bad word these days.  It actually is pretty tasty, especially homemade.  Put it into a jar and you've got a great gift or "wedding favor" for your guests. Ok, so what will we be doing at this green festival?  Well lots of talking, sharing and looking at new ideas and guest speakers.  Check out the Schedule.  Online you can download a guide to the festival that gives you all the cool info.  It's huge and includes so many inspiring words, visuals and people.  Here are just a few of the highlights:
  • 450+ exhibitors and organizations in the Green Marketplace
  • 45 minutes presentations and speakers on the sustainable economy, ecological balance and social justice
  • how-to workshops in the Green Buiding Pavilion
  • Hemp fashion shows in the Hemp Pavilion
  • Music acts
  • Food Demonstrations in the Soul Kitchen
  • Green Social Media Demonstrations
  • Organic food and drink
  • Concerts and dance parties after dark:  greenbash.com
I'm actually going to be volunteering for the festival and donating some large sustainable arrangements (I'll post the photos this week).   I'll also be checking out new ideas I can use in my business and in my life (my husband wants to get a small wind turbine for our front yard... in Oakland)  and making connections with other green-minded folks.  One connection I've already made is going to be there, and I look forward to seeing their hemp silk bridal attire at a fashion show Friday and Saturday night.  They're called Conscious Clothing and you can check out there stuff here:  www.getconscious.com Here are some beautiful examples of the things they can do.  What I like, is that they do custom designs.

ruffle hemp silk wedding dressHere is the dress with all the layers, but you can unzip the last three and make it shorter.

IMG_3279

IMG_3295_1

low back hemp silk wedding dressI love the low back and silk ruffles of this dress.

IMG_3320

IMG_3316love it.

So if your in or around the Bay, definitely come check out the SF Green Festival this coming weekend.

In Green and Health,

G&G

 

 

 

 

Biodegradable Floral Foam?

Non-toxic and Biodegradable Floral Foam, Where are You?

I wrote a post a few months ago about the toxins found in floral foam and that it's essentially made of plastic that isn't biodegradable.  I've gotten so many hits on my blog about it, and yet, I still don't have much in the way of another option.  Until I dug up this information from Stanel Co, a bioplastics firm based in the United Kingdom.  Here is an informational pdf about a new bioplastic technology that can allow someone to make biodegradable floral foam made from plants: www.stanelcoplc.com .   This new polymer: bioplastic 2189 is both biodegradable and compostable!  What a relief.  Can you imagine?  being able to throw the foam and the flowers into the compost bin? What's more, the bioplastic works in the same way as the fossil fuel plastic, so it can be switched out and used in the very same factories and machinery as the other stuff.   I can't wait to go order this foam... But wait, who's making it?   Well apparently one floral foam specialist company is using this polymer to make biodegradable funeral foams: www.valspicer.co.uk .  They have wonderful foam shapes and molds, but I don't see any biodegradable options on their site.  I've contacted them and hope to find out what they have available! I will share any updates as soon as I can.  I would also urge you to write a letter or email to floral foam manufacturers suggesting they make a switch to nontoxic and biodegradable. Here's a couple of the top manufacturers: Smithers Oasis, Ultra Floral Foam. In the mean time, I totally avoid the stuff, and find creative and fun ways to display flowers without foam.  Take a look at how Gorgeous and Green tries to stay sustainable: G&G Services.  I know it means more work sometimes and possibly more cost, but to me it's worth it.  And it's worth it to a lot of customers to, not to mention to the planet. Check out these two designs from Gorgeous and Green Events that are totally floral foam free:

GG bouquet blue fuschia

GG fruit and veggie glass

Courtesy of www.seandonnellyphotography.com     In Green and Health, G&G

Vintage, Antique and Reused

Reusing Vintage Vases in Weddings and Events

I've started collecting vases for Gorgeous and Green customers interested in renting vintage collections of vases for their wedding or event.  It takes some time and dedication, but so far I have almost two collections ready to go and a couple in progress. Here is my current collection of white milk glass vases: milk glass reused

There are some really cool designs.  So far my favorite is the bubbled vase that actually doubles as a candle holder.

milk glass reused2 And my vintage green glass collection: green glass reused3

This collection is actually two-toned, a slightly brighter kelly green and a darker grass green.

green glass reused2

green glass reusedMy favorite is the long stemmed dish on the right, so delicate.

I have a huge collection of clear glass vases that I've been gathering from the last weddings I've done.  Although they aren't vintage, they will lower the price for customers and act as a truly sustainable way to add decor to their events.   I also just recently purchased some large vases that are made from recycled glass, which I plan to rent to customers.  Talk about a sustainable practice! Besides buying recycled and reused, I always go biodegradable.  Glass, rubber, wood or metal.  Never plastic.  It makes it a lot more difficult to find cool and updated styles on a budget.  But I hope by creating these vase collections, I can reduce the price for my customers by allowing them to rent. I've started a vintage red collection and a blue collection, but I'm finding it harder to get the really cool vase shapes in those colors.  Still looking... I hope to show you some pics when they're more complete. In green and reusability, G&G

Getting Good Gas Mileage, or none at all

Driving a Floral Business in Sustainable Vehicles

My small business philosophy is centered on sustainability, green ethics and eco friendly options.  So what do I drive?  Well, for a while there, it changed from week to week. I was using City Car Share, to get myself around town for meetings, small pickups, deliveries and non-business needs.  One of my favorite cars to rent was the plug-in hybrid in Civic Center, SF. plug in hybrid2 green vehicles sf plug in hybrid The gas mileage was pretty darn good, especially after a good charge.  I could get upwards of 60 mpgs with a full battery.  Although an extra step or two, charging it was fairly easy.  My neighbors were probably wondering why I had an extension cord running out my house and into the car...  little did they know it was saving gas and the air. I often use our family wagon to deliver to larger events and make large flower runs for Gorgeous and Green Events: the veggie wagon We run it on recycled biodiesel from Biofuel Oasis.  Thankfully, this recycled vegetable fuel cooperative actually moved into a fueling station within a mile of our house, so we can go fill up at most hours of the day without a big hassle.  Since it's relatively safe in comparison to gasoline, we fill up two carboys with the stuff so we have extra on long trips or when we want to stay away from the station longer.  Thankfully, there are biofuel stations popping up all over California, so taking a road trip has not been a hassle.  Check out this cool map of fuel stations across the US if you have a diesel car and are looking for a fueling station near you: www.biofuel.org.  Make sure you learn about how it works and how to take care of your car, since it is a little different than petroleum diesel.  When it's recycled, it's way better for the environment too! Recently, I have been driving a lot more on a weekly basis, and got a little tired of having to pick up a city car share car so frequently, so I decided to get a car.  Two years without my own car, and I finally broke down.  Since I wanted to go affordable as well as fuel efficient, I decided on a Mini Cooper.  Ok, ok, so I was also looking for stylish and cute, can you blame me?  I had tried them out using city car share, and really enjoyed them.  Plus, I noticed they got great gas mileage and got even better if I drove them more consciously.  I had been waiting for MINI to start selling their E Mini, but they haven't come out with them just yet, and so I decided to lease a regular one for 3 years until they do. my mini So far, my gas mileage has been steady, an average of 36 miles per gallon for my combined city, bay area traffic and freeway driving. 36 mpg I bet I could get my freeway mpg's well over 40, on a steady trip.  How is it so high? ... You might ask.  Well, I bought the basic version, few extras with a manual transmission.  So it's light and I have more control over the gas.  I have also made neutral my friend and don't rush up big hills, after light changes and up to stop signs.  It takes some getting used to and a little patience from my co-drivers on the road, but it doesn't mean I can't go fast.  I do have a 6 gear engine, after all. All in all, I wish there were more cars out there with better gas mileage, or no gas mileage for that matter.  I would love an all electric car, or a high performing hybrid and more style options to boot.  We have the technology, and we've had it for almost 15 years, but someone has been locking it up. For more info, do check out the film: "Who killed the electric car?". At least every once in a while I get to see one of these, which makes my heart go pitter, patter:

Rav4 ElectricA Rav4 all electic car on the streets of San Francisco.

In good health and great gas mileage, G&G

IKEA is earth friendly, right?

Sustainable or Not: IKEA (the big blue box)

Now, I love the idea of affordable household goods, tools, dishware, furniture and plants all in one big store.  I especially like to hear when big stores are selling items that are made from sustainable resources.  But, you have to dig a little deeper than the tags on that couch to find out if it's really a sustainable purchase.  Or maybe not, as in the case of the IKEA item of the month below. First off, if you've already got a couch, cups, plates, rugs, sheets, frames, etc. in your home, you probably don't need to go to Ikea.  That is the first step is acting sustainably when it comes to shopping. Second, if you do need something, you probably don't need to buy the plastic candle holders and the cute scented candles that smell like fake gardenias.  This step requires the most strict determination to avoid putting unnecessary items into your cart.  This is probably the wisest of steps. Third, if you just want to see what Ikea has, because you're thinking of putting bamboo floors in your house, due to the fact that your current floors have either 1: completely disappeared beneath your feet, 2: have a complete termite infestation, or 3: the carpet has completely gone bald and you are mad that you still call it a shag rug from when it was first put in, in 1969.  Then, don't bring your wallet.  See above. The problem with IKEA, is that they sell a lot of items you would need when first starting up your home collection.  Necessary and well priced stuff, that can be sustainable (see glass food containers and low-wattage lamps).  But it also has a ton of stuff you don't need.  Let's face it.  You don't need a large stuffed snake made of plastic or a paper box to hide your overgrowth of office junk.  Just recycle it already. Want to see some specific examples of what you don't need?  Take the following items for example:

plastic plants

plastic plants2

These, are plants.  Plastic plants.  Sure, they don't need water, but they are also made entirely of petroleum and probably led to chemical pollution where they were made, where they will hang for a few years and where they will be thrown away.  Pretty much defeats the purpose.  It's almost like the ironic opposite of an oxygen producing and air purifying, real live plant.

And get this:

ikea plant a tree Buy their plastic plants, and everything else you didn't need, and you can make up for part of the pollution by donating money to plant a tree.  More irony please? Ikea, I love your low watt bulbs and your glass jars, but I can't forgive your plastic plants and other plastic crappola. Avoiding unnecessary plastic stuff, G&G

A few plants here and there

Growing Flowers for Sustainable Weddings

part deux

So, I love gardening.  So much so, I've been gardening both at my house and at my good friend's house in Richmond, because she has a big backyard.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be planting at her house after we cleared her wilderness of a backyard.  So far, I've only gotten to the clearing stage, but  in the meantime, I've planted a little more at my own house.  

On one side of the house, I cleared some space for some ferns and larger leaf plants.  Mostly because it's a moist area and doesn't get as much sun as other parts of our lot.  

gg side house

 

Here are some of what I planted:

gg fern

 

gg leaf

 

gg pink hydrangea

 

And this little guy, I didn't plant, but is a byproduct of our bird feeder.  More sunflower seeds to come for the neighborhood birds.

gg sunflowers

 

I also planted a few other plants elsewhere in my garden, with the specific idea of using their leaves and flowers for green and sustainable flower design:

A gardenia plant

gg gardenia

 

Jasmine

gg jasmine

 

A small lemon tree

gg lemon

 

Lavender

gg lavender

 

Mint

gg mint

Rosemary

gg rosemary

 

When we moved in to our house, it happened to come with 6 green hydrangea plants.  They are so great for floral decor and I just love their light green/chartreuse color.  They are just starting to come back this spring/summer, and are looking great so far.  Last year we had a little bug issue, maybe some caterpillars eating the leaves, I'm hoping they'll satiate their bellies with just the low leaves, and leave the flowers and top leaves alone.  Otherwise, I'll be looking into some pesticide-free methods of dealing with them.  I'll let you know how that goes.  

gg hydrangea green

 

I'm excited to watch all these plants grow over the next year, and of course to start using their beautiful leaves and flowers for floral designs.  I have to say, it's been so great having fresh flowers to cut and display in my own house.  It adds so much joy and seems too easy.  I definitely suggest growing your own plants and flowers, (pesticide free of course) not just for the benefit of the planet and the health of our atmosphere, but also for your emotional health.  

In Green and Health,

G&G

Earth Day Everyday

Why not make the earth a part of your day, everyday, while you jet around town?

In the life of a green and eco-conscious business woman, I have become more and more conscious of the small and big things I can do to support local communities, reduce my impact on the earth and share knowledge so that others can be more conscious and act sustainably as well. Over the weekend, I decided to buy an electric bike.  My previous bike had been stolen and I was looking for something I could ride around town without having to use our bio-diesel wagon or a hybrid City Car Share, especially for short local trips.  Both our recycled bio-diesel wagon that's fueled with diesel from biofuel oasis and the city car share are often great options, because of the reduced emissions and sustainability factor.   But, I was looking for something a little more convenient.   So here I am with my new electric bike (which looks like a vintage scooter).   me-and-electric-bike I also bought one for my husband so we could go on local trips together.  Here we are with two bikes that look a little more modern... electric-bikes I know, a little dorky, but  overall, the bikes are great and a lot of fun.  They charge in about 4 hours and have a 15 mile range.  They go 15 to 20 miles an hour, and it's possible although a little cumbersome to pedal them if they run out of charge.  You'll notice I brought an extension cord: we knew we'd head to a friends and asked to charge our bikes up while we helped them with their garden.  A fair trade I believe.   You don't need a separate driver's license or vehicle license, since they are considered a bike.  They were also fairly affordable, which is a plus.  I bought them at pacific Electric Bikes www.pacificebike.com  in Berkeley. I'm still waiting for the affordable all-electric car to come out (The Mini has come out with a cute electric trial version and the Tesla looks stunning, however expensive) Some of you may be wondering: why is all electric a good thing?   In brief, electricity is less obtrusive and damaging to the earth and air than harvesting and processing fossil fuels.  If we can get more of our electricity from the sun, for example, than it's even cleaner and more sustainable.  Electric vehicles can be just as fast, if not faster than gas cars, and although their radius is within a charge, the more infrastructure that is built to support electric vehicles the easier it will be to use them for long and short distances.   Into a Green Future we go... G&G