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.

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

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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

 

 

 

 

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

Simply Green Parties Review

Book Review:

Simply Green Parties

by Danny Seo

  gg-simply-green-parties1 This book is set up in a way that really stimulates interest.  There are a lot of colors and pictures and the layout is simple to follow.  It includes directions and material lists to allow the reader to reproduce the ideas and projects that Danny creates with ease and comfort.  Many of the ideas are very simple and easy to duplicate.   It's a fun book to look at, however I felt that there was still something missing from the projects and ideas he presented.  I think most readers probably won't reuse as many ideas as are presented in the book, but use it rather as an example of some fun and exciting and "oh, isn't that creative" projects that are available to the eco-conscious event planner and lay person.  I would have liked to have seen more ideas that are more tangible for the reader.  For example, how to reuse and decorate old paper grocery bags for wrapping presents or how to convert those toilet paper rolls into something fun like party favor holders.  I know that some people do have access to tree stumps, forest moss, excess makeup compacts and oyster shells,  but at my house those items are a little harder to come by.   Adding a few more easy to find materials  that we might actually have at home (rather than having to go out and buy craft supplies) would have touched more people's lives.   Over all, I know it's a good start, and I have not seen an eco-friendly event idea book as easy to pick up and get ideas from as this one.  I just wish it offered a few more ideas that were in my range of possibilities and those of so many folks who live in big cities and urban environments, those with less financial access to craft supplies or possibly less time to create or gather up materials, and those who may be new at sustainable living. Some highlights that enjoyed from the book include:
  • The storybook birdhouse project, which would be a fun activity to do with kids who've grown out of a few of their children's books.
  • The naturally flavored water with cucumber or grapefruit, however I think it would be important to add that using plastic water bottles aren't the greenest option.  Using tap water or filtered tap water is not only a greener option than water in plastic bottles, but is often healthier as water in plastic bottles isn't regulated like tap water and may result in contamination by Pthalates and other chemicals found in plastic.  
  • The idea of having socks at the door for folks to be welcomed to take their shoes off.  Not only does taking your shoes off a great way to keep your floors and carpets clean, it also prevents a lot of toxins your shoes come into contact with out in the world from making their way into your house.  I would have liked for that comment to have been made to suggest that this is something we might all want to start doing.  But, I did learn from Danny that putting rolled up newspaper in the shoes you take off can absorb moisture and odor.  
If you're a crafty person or looking for some crafty ideas, this book might offer you some great examples and start you on your way to thinking green in many aspects of your life, including your events or dinner parties.  If you already are crafty and green, start looking around your house for what you already have, and figure out how to put it to good use in a second or third life.   In Green and Health, G&G

Green Cleaners

The most toxic environment in your life might be your home.

Yes, you may in fact be surrounding yourself with toxic chemicals, cancer causing agents and hazardous waste.  From the carpet right on up to the paint, there may be toxins leaking into our everyday and night, without a second thought. So what can you do about it?  First off, you may want to think about switching out the chemical cleaners you use to wash your home, dishes and clothes with.  I have taken a vow of avoiding chlorine bleach in my home, which of course is linked cancer.  But, for some, a change like this can take some adjustment.  My whites are not as white, but they're still clean and less toxic for my body and my mind.     Natural Household Cleaners What cleaners are better for you?  Well, generally any cleaner that is said to be safe for the environment will probably be safe for you too.  Overall, if the ingredients on the back label have a bunch of chemical words you can't pronounce, it's probably not very healthy for you.   In the flower and art business, avoiding chemicals can be pretty difficult, but there are some measures we can take to reduce the amount we depend on.  Using clean and fresh water for flowers, finding earth friendly paint stripper and turpenoid (similar to turpentine), and natural dish soap for washing.  The list of course goes on.  I'll probably write more about this in another post.    From glass cleaner, dish soap, scrub powder, to all purpose cleaner; there are many makes out there that purport to be safe for both the environment and you.  They often come in recyclable containers and have essential oils and scents, which can be an added bonus.  For the most part, they work pretty well.  I have some favorites, of course, for a few different reasons.  The line of products put out by Method is pretty cool looking and smells good, plus it's easy to find.  Target carries many Method varieties.  I really appreciate the cleaning power of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day, but it's a little pricier.  I have also been able to find Meyer's at Target as well as Whole Foods and Elephant Pharmacy. If you have a favorite natural cleaner: please share! And don't forget to be sustainable with your sponges and rags!  Pictured above is a Natural Value sponge made from post-consumer recycled materials.  Rags make a great reusable cleaning material (way better than paper towels).  Just cut up an old t-shirt or towel you're ready to give away, and voila!  When it gets dirty, throw it in the dirty clothes and wash it for future uses. In clean times and health, G&G