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The Green House

5 Sustainable Living Influencers You Should Be Following

5 Sustainable Living Influencers You Should Be Following

As much as we love Instagram, it can often be a massive time suck, and a trigger for insecurity. But it doesn't have to be that way, and your feed doesn't have to be filled with celebrities on beaches or influencers selling you diet teas. Sustainability influencing is a growing niche, as more and more young people are devoting their accounts to helping others lower their carbon footprint, and their Instagram presences can add some much needed education and inspiration to your feed. Here are five accounts you should definitely follow.

1. @SustainableDaisy

The woman behind Sustainable Daisy is an environmental scientist, so her advice on how to make your wardrobe, skin and makeup routines, and daily cooking and cleaning habits more sustainable is backed by hard evidence. Her academic expertise also means she often drops proven statistics and serious arguments into her very readable captions. 

2. @OldWorldNew

Addie Fisher's instagram is rife with hot tips on slowing down, living more intentionally, and treating the planet better in the process. From how to avoid greenwashing (which is when products market themselves as more eco-friendly than they actually are) to environmental documentary recommendations and giving you eco-friendly home checklists for every room in your apartment, Fisher's account always has a fresh new way for you to live more sustainably.

3. @Renee.ElizabethPeters

Peters is a model turned eco-activist who now runs a lifestyle site called Model4GreenLiving. On her Instagram, she lets followers in on her educational journey as she studies permaculture (design inspired by naturally resilient ecosystems) and regenerative agriculture (farming that aims to capture carbon in the soil). She also posts gorgeous landscape photos as she travels the world, visiting the few pristine ecosystems that remain intact. 

4. @ZeroWasteHome

Bea Johnson has been devoted to living completely trash free since 2008. If that's not enough of an incredible feat, she's sharing how she did it in easy to follow, user-friendly how-tos posted on her instagram and website. Her feed is rife with helpful infographics, lists, and motivational thoughts. She's also relatably honest about her fails, posting pictures when someone gives her a drink with a plastic straw or using something disposable is unavoidable. 

5. @HomesteadBrooklyn

Summer Rayne Oakes believes we don't have enough plants in our daily lives, and her social media mission is to educate people on how they can incorporate more flora and fauna into urban living. She posts informational videos on how to care for basically every houseplant you could possibly imagine, along with videos that tell you what kinds of climates certain plaints thrive, and where to put them in your home to promote growth. This account will add some much needed greenery to your feed.

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Sustainability Events Roundup: January 2020

Sustainability Events Roundup: January 2020

It’s officially 2020. As we begin another decade in the anthropocene, building your sustainability practice is more urgent than ever. To start the first year of this decade off right, check out some of the inspiring and educational climate-focused events happening in New York City this month.

1. Manhattan Trash Talk

On January 16th, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is hosting a discussion around New York’s goal of reaching zero waste to landfill by 2030. Multiple speakers, including a New York Lawyers for Public Interest Environmental Justice lawyer and the President of the Frederick Samuel Houses Resident Association will present projects in various stages of development. This event will be held at the Harlem JCC on 118th street from 6:30-8:30 pm and is free, but you can register here.

2. Package Free: Future of Retail Tour

Package Free is a Brooklyn boutique that sources products only from people and companies devoted to low or no waste packaging, and their store is chock full of reusable versions of things you throw away thoughtlessly every day. This informational tour is sure to be full of tips on how to replace disposable products with reusable ones, and will be at Package Free on Grand Street on the 13th, from 2:30-3 pm. It’s free, but you can register here.

3. Cupping& Coffee Tasting + Discussion

Bird & Branch, a midtown coffee shop with a mission, is hosting Cupping&, a coffee tasting and discussion of sustainability in coffee production, distribution, and sales. Reuben Villagomez, one of the founders of Zero Carbon Coffee, the only coffee company that purchases carbon offsets for all the coffeeit sells, will be leading a panel discussion after the coffee tasting. The event costs $5 (buy tickets here), and is happening at Bird & Branch on 45th street on January 27th, from 6:00-8:00 pm. 

4. Vegan Soap Making Workshop 

Spend an evening making your own bar of vegan soap at Ethel’s Club on January 29th! This workshop also includes discussions about how to reduce your overall soap usage, the health benefits of natural soaps, and the environmental impact of traditionally mass produced, plastic-packaged soap. This event is free, but you can register here

5. Sustainable Social & Green Drinks

Because we love you, we’re finishing off this list with a party! On January 8th, One15 Brooklyn Marina is hosting a free happy hour intended to inspire discussions of sustainability between people working in climate-focused startups, NGOs, academia, government, and any layperson who is interested. The theme is green energy, and speakers will include the founders of Brooklyn Solarworks and Greenbanc. Happy hour at Estuary Brasserie in Brooklyn Bridge Park lasts until 7 pm, and dinner will be for sale at their community table afterward. Continue reading

Sustainable Gift Guide

Sustainable Gift Guide

Christmas and Hanukka are a week away, which probably means you’re scrambling to pull together gifts for friends and family. Don’t let the time crunch make you abandon your environmental goals! Here’s a list of sustainable ways to buy holiday presents. 

Thrift & Vintage

The most environmentally friendly place to buy gifts is at a thrift or vintage shop. Besides their low carbon footprint, vintage and thrift stores are straight up extremely fun, and often offer much more unique gifts than what you’ll find at the closest fast fashion store. Look up your nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army if you want to dig through a vast trove of all kinds of items, or look up your city’s best vintage and thrift boutiques in local papers or on yelp. 

Dims

Dims makes chic, minimalist pieces of furniture out of sustainably sourced wood (Forest Stewardship Council approved) and their finishes and adhesives meet GREENGUARD’s rigorous chemical emissions standards. Plus, they have an accessible, transparent pricing structure, which means your gift will probably look more expensive than it was.

Threaded

Luxe new sheets and pillowcases are a pretty much fail safe gift. Threaded’s bedding is not only OEKO-TEX-certified sustainable, which means they use chemical-free dyes and low-emission processes, but is also produced in factories that provide community empowerment initiatives and education to their communities.

Sabai 

A Sabai pillow is an easy, sub-$50 gift that doesn’t harm the environment. With fabrics made from natural fibers and post-consumer plastic bottles, these pieces promise to brighten a room without increasing its carbon footprint. Plus, they come in an array of colors, textures, and patterns, so you can find something for everyone from your friend who loves minimalism to the friend whose apartment is a cacophony of colors. 

Reformation & Girlfriend

If you want to buy a friend or relative brand new clothing, hit up a store that lists sustainability as a top priority. If you haven’t been living under a rock the past three years, you are probably aware that Reformation uses less water and more sustainable fabrics in its manufacturing processes. Purchase there if you’re in the market for a slinky going out look for a friend. If you’re looking for athleisure, Girlfriend uses recycled polyester and recycled post-consumer water bottles to make its leggings and crop tops, and ships in exclusively recycled and recyclable packaging. 

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Tips on Sustainable Pet Ownership

Tips on Sustainable Pet Ownership

The most eco-friendly among us can succumb to the temptation to spoil our pets. But making sustainable purchasing decisions for your animal companion is integral to minimizing your carbon footprint, so we pulled together some hot tips on easy eco-friendly choices to make around pet ownership.

1. Buy Vegetarian Pet Food

A 2017 study reported that American pets consume 25% of the country’s meat calories, which equals the annual emissions from 13.6 million cars. Switch to vegetarian food for your pets to cut down on your animal’s carbon footprint. Look for environmental certifications on your pet food. If you want to feed your pet animal products, choose pet foods that use meat byproducts that aren’t consumed by humans, like bone meal or organ meat, which often end up wasted when not turned into pet food.

2. Don’t Buy Plastic Toys

Plastic pet toys only contribute to your larger plastic footprint, and are likely to end up in a landfill. Instead, buy toys made of natural fibers and textiles. Your most sustainable source for animal toys is your own closet, where you can find old t shirts you might want to weave together into homemade chew toys. Otherwise, you can buy used toys in the children’s section of most Goodwills. If you want to purchase new toys for your pet, Harry Barker is a great source for toys made out of hemp and recycled fabrics. 

3. Choose Your Grooming Products Wisely

Buy natural, sulfate and paraben free shampoo for washing your pet’s hair. Also, make sure no bathing products you buy have plastic microbeads in them, which end up choking wildlife in the ocean. If you can, refrain from buying chemical-filled pest repellents. The National Resource Defense Coalition says that soap and water can work just as well as synthetic flea and tick products at keeping pests away, as long as you wash your pet often. 

4. Conscious Waste Disposal

If you are a dog owner, buy waste bags that will decompose. BioBag makes totally compostable bags that won’t stay in a landfill forever. If you are a cat owner, choose your litter wisely! Watch out for the very  environmentally detrimental strip-mined chemical sodium bentonite, and look for litter made of natural, non-mined materials like corn, wheat, and old newspapers. Cedarific makes litter form wood, and Purina sells a litter made from recycled newspapers. Continue reading

Sustainability Tips for the Holiday Season

Sustainability Tips for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is officially upon us. Bars and restaurants have pulled out their Christmas decorations, your schedule is rife with holiday parties, and your roommates have probably already started arguing about whether you’re decorating the apartment. With all the festivities and traveling, it’s easy to slack off in the daily struggle to reduce your average environmental footprint around this time of year. Luckily, we’ve pulled together a few tips on how to stay relatively sustainable this holiday season.

1. Travel Light!

If you travel by plane often, it’s almost definitely the biggest piece of your carbon footprint. Because airplanes need to use more fuel for every additional kilogram on the aircraft, packing light is an easy and effective way to incrementally reduce your contribution to your flight’s emissions. 

2. Remember Reusables

Also, make sure you don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle and/or thermos on whatever trip you’re taking! Not buying that overpriced airport bottled water and not getting that much-needed latte upon arrival in a disposable cup can easily cut out plastic and paper waste.

3. Ground Travel

If you’re headed somewhere in your region of the country, or you have a full day or more available to devote to travel, consider not taking a plane at all. Trains have a way smaller environmental footprint than airplanes, and Amtrak’s routes crisscross the country on all kinds of interesting routes. Plus, you can see states you never otherwise would have, and experience the retro thrill of a sleeping car.

4. Use Eco-Friendly Decorations at Home

If you’re getting a Christmas tree, real trees are the way to go. Artificial trees contribute to plastic waste, and are mostly made oceans away, so they also leave a footprint via the gas guzzling transportation they go through to get to your apartment. When purchasing a real tree, ask your local tree vendors where they source their trees, and choose the one that’s traveled the least distance! In terms of other decorations, try to avoid one-time use decorative items like streamers and themed paper tablecloths. Instead of electric Christmas lights that add to your apartment’s electricity use, light your space with festive candles.

5. Don’t Party With Disposable Plastic!

Post-party dish duty is objectively a drag, but don’t let the fear of drudgery prevent you from throwing a low-waste holiday party. Disposable plastic and paper plates, cutlery, and cups create a shocking amount of new landfill waste every year over the holiday season, so if you can, use the plates, silverware, and cups you already own. Put on some holiday bangers while you do the dishes and it will be done in no time.

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4 Plants that Improve Indoor Air Quality

4 Plants that Improve Indoor Air Quality

Contrary to what you might assume based on restaurant decor and instagrams of influencers’ apartments, there are more house plants in the world than just the fiddle leaf fig. And, many of those plants can do more than simply add a bit of greenery to a boring shelf. Many common houseplants can actually help clean the air inside of your apartment. 

You might be wondering why the air inside your apartment needs cleaning. If so, you would probably be surprised to learn that indoor air, which the EPA estimates we spend 90% of our time breathing, can cause a terrifying plethora of ailments from an eternal cold to recurring headaches and nausea. These issues arise because commonplace furniture, paint, and upholstery release volatile organic compounds into your indoor air, bringing the rate of VOCs anywhere from double to quadruple its outdoor rate inside your home. 

Luckily, plants can help get rid of some of these harmful compounds, in addition to lowering your indoor CO2 level and serving as a natural humidifier. We’ve pulled together a list of plants that not only suck toxins out of your apartment’s air, but are also hardy survivors, which means they won’t die if you forget to water them for a week.

1. Dracaena 

These plants can get up to three feet in height, so they are a great addition to a sparsely decorated room. There are over 40 varieties of Draeceana, so you will definitely be able to find one that fits your space constraints. This plant does quadruple duty on indoor pollutants, sucking up formaldehyde, benzen, trichlorethylene, and xylene. 

2. Barberton Daisy

These flowers have gorgeous red blooms, which can do a lot to add some variety to a plant shelf. Barbertons pull out formaldehyde, xylene, and trichlorethylene.

3. Broad Leaf Lady Palm

Besides having a great name, this plant’s fronds add a fun, tropical touch to a plant collection. These will suck ammonia out of the air in your apartment. 

4. Spider Plant

Sucking up xylene and formaldehyde, these plants are also super easy to take care of. They only need indirect sunlight, and they produce shoots that can be easily re-potted and grown into brand new baby spider plants.

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NYC Sustainability Events: November Roundup

NYC Sustainability Events: November Roundup

Don't feel too guilty if you didn't make it to any of the sustainability-focused events we curated for you in last month's edition of this roundup. We are back this month with four essential happenings in and about the anthropocene: a climate change teach-in at House of Yes, an exhibit of print-based art by climate activists, a conversation between climate reporters, and a talk hosted by Extinction Rebellion. 

Festival Albertine: The Climate Moment, November 8

Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben have been on the vanguard of climate reporting since the 80s, and each one of them have multiple game-changing books on the subject under their belt. Albertine Books is hosting these two luminaries, among other writers documenting the climate change movement, for a discussion about both what our future holds and the human experience of living at this moment in history. The event is free, but you can register here.

Extinction Rebellion Talk, November 14

Extinction Rebellion is the youth-led movement taking over city streets across the world. They are using civili disobedience to disrupt the everyday functioning of cities across the world, highlighting the urgency of climate change by emphasizing the fact that we are currently undergoing the sixth mass extinction in planetary history. At this event, Heading for Extinction (And What To Do About It), activists involved with Extinction Rebellion will talk about our planetary future, the social psychology around actually addressing climate change, and offer some potential paths forward, rooted in a discussion of historical social movements. The event is free and open to the public, and you can register for a spot here.

Climate Crisis Conversation, November 20

On November 20th, an array of schools, community centers, offices, bars and restaurants are working together to put on a 24-hour climate change teach-in. Activists trained by Al Gore will be giving presentations and leading conversations about the dire future our planet faces at venues across the country, and one such venue is House of Yes, in Bushwick. There will be a presentation at 7pm followed by a discussion at 9pm, intended to inspire solution-focused brainstorming occurring simultaneously in rooms across the country. This event is free (register here), and the bar will be open all night in case you need a little pick-me-up after a sobering talk.  

Climate Justice In Print, November 21

Like the Waters, We Rise: Climate Justice in Print is an exhibition and celebration of the work of artists interpreting our rapidly changing climate through visual, print-based mediums. The art on view will span the Climate Justice Movement's evolution from 2005 to the present, highlighting wins and losses, activists' emotional struggles, physical changes to our landscape, and much more. The event on the 21st is a free opening reception for the exhibit, which you can register for here, and if you can't make this reception, you're in luck: the exhibit itself runs from this month through mid-April. 

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Your Guide to Green Home Cleaning

Your Guide to Green Home Cleaning

In an era when most of us have roommates for the majority of our twenties, we have likely all been terrorized by a chore chart at one point or another. Some of us find washing dishes, mopping the floor, and scrubbing our bathroom tiles meditative. Others of us find it draining and boring. Either way, these tasks usually get completed with the help of a lot of paper towels and chemical products like Dawn, Windex, or whatever product was on a reachable shelf at the bodega on your block. 


However, the chemicals you use to clean your home can have a surprisingly large polluting effect once they make their way into your city’s waterways, and the packaging they come in can create a massive amount of plastic waste, so we’re here to give you a few easy ways to make your cleaning habits more, well, clean. 


When buying surface, window, and toilet cleaners, choose brands that prioritize the environment like Mrs. Meyer’s, Method, and Seventh Generation. These companies have all been rated A or B by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that analyzes company’s environmental impact. Mrs. Meyer’s products are all formulated to be totally biodegradable, and their packaging is made from recycled plastic. Method uses renewable energy in their manufacturing plants, and their products are also packaged in post-consumer recycled materials.


If you would rather purchase you cleaning products online, Grove is an online marketplace that curates household cleaning supplies that won’t mess with the outdoor environment or your indoor air quality. They are a Certified B Corporation, which means their efforts to minimize environmental pollution have been recognized officially, they ship in post-consumer recycled packaging, and they purchase carbon offset credits for every shipment they make, which means you don’t have to feel guilty about ordering online. 


The other simple way to make sure cleaning your apartment doesn’t pollute the environment is to swap your disposable paper towels for reusable cloth versions. NatureZ makes perforated bamboo towels that can be rinsed and reused one hundred times per sheet. If you want something that lasts even longer, you can buy cotton cloths like these from Skoy, which are totally biodegradable when composted, and can replace up to 15 rolls of paper towels.

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7 Eco-Conscious Beauty Brands

7 Eco-Conscious Beauty Brands

We have been living in the self-care industrial complex for a few years now, which means we are all pretty used to being bombarded with instagram ads promising us that the right serum or bath salt will take our minds off our melting planet and late stage capitalism. Honestly, sometimes, for a minute or so, it can work. But all the consumption is, in the end, contributing to the destruction of our planet, producing waste and carbon emissions at a rapid clip. The best thing for our planet would be to never buy products, but none of us are perfect people, and acquisitiveness has gotten the best of most of us on bad days. So, we’ve curated this list of brands that reduce waste, package sustainably, and source fair trade and organic materials. 

Credo Beauty

We have all succumbed to that late night urge to click buy now, but one of the easiest ways to reduce your waste production is shopping in person. Buying your beauty products irl gets rid of carbon emissions created by shipping, and reduces excess packaging waste. Credo has eight locations where you can find a selection of products that meet the industry’s strictest safety and sustainability standards.

Lush

Lush has been prioritizing sustainability since it became a mall staple, years before other brands began hashtagging their environmental efforts. Almost all of their products – from bath bombs to bar formulations of soap and shampoo – were designed to not need packaging, which completely eliminates an entire layer of the waste created by the beauty industry. They also formulate their products with almost no water, so you can feel a little less guilty about that long shower if you use your Lush soap in there.  

Bleach London

With a roster of vegan haircare and makeup products, Bleach London considers sustainability in all its retail decisions. Their eyehsadow palette is a choose your own adventure that allows you to only purchase shades you will actually use, and refill your existing palette when you run out to avoid repurchasing containers. To top it off, their products are packaged in 100% recycled cardboard. 

LOLI Beauty

Loli makes the eco-friendly choice at every stage of production. Their efforts include cutting out excess water on the manufacturing side, using up-cycled food supplies in its product formulations, and packaging their products in recycled materials that can themselves be recycled again, and using compostable material for their labels and bags. 

L:A Bruket

This Swedish brand keeps its carbon emissions in check by streamlining shipping between factories and warehouses across its international supply chain, and uses boats to bring materials from the countries where they are harvested to the countries where products are made. All their products are encased in either glass or recyclable plastic. 

Tata Harper

If you’re in the mood to treat yourself, Tata Harper is a lavish indulgence that might put a dent in your wallet but definitely won’t leave a mark on your conscience. Gwyneth loves these products, so that should give you all the proof you need that we are talking serious luxury here. The product lineup is housed in recyclable glass bottles, and labels printed with ink made from soy. 

Love Goodly 

If you’re addicted to your Birchbox subscription but feeling guilty about all the products you end up throwing away, not to mention the box it arrives in each month, there’s a more sustainable option you can switch to. Love Goodly curates a monthly selection of vegan, cruelty-free products with an emphasis on fair trade sourcing and ecologically sustainable production processes. Continue reading
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