Thanks to Sustainable America for sending this video clip along to us!
By Heather Burns
I attended the inaugural Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) meeting led by Commissioner, CT Department of Energy, Robert Klee, and was deeply impressed by the depth of commitment and intention of the Council.
During introductions, personal anecdotes illustrated why the work “addressing climate change – the most important issue of our time” was essential for this and future generations, and a strong commitment to the mission of the Council echoed around the room. Governor Malloy addressed the Council emphasizing the importance of taking bold, swift action and to making the most of one’s time spent in government office. Collaboration and cross sector partnerships were iterated as key opportunities for developing and implementing solutions.
And while the “what” (carbon reductions); the “why” (healthy human existence on Earth) was clearly expressed; the how was not. Not unlike any multi-stakeholder group seeking to create a solutions-based plan to combat a complex problem, the how is always where the rubber meets the road.
A complex issue such as climate change – and the direct and indirect social and economic impacts of achieving meaningful carbon reductions – has deep roots in a broken system and requires clear and shared definitions before diving into the components of mapping a plan. An example was the continued reference to "clean energy" by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission as nuclear and gas rather than wind, hydro and solar which are supported by agencies such as NASA and the international science community, as well as the type of clean energy projects funded by GC3 member Connecticut Green Bank.
The “who” beyond government agencies and NGOs was also vague as a continued reference to business and industry as a key stakeholder, surfaced an absence of representation. One of the goals of the newly founded Connecticut Sustainable Business Council is to create a platform for businesses within the state to engage in processes such as these, and to be able to contribute innovative, triple bottom line solutions being developed by many companies today. We stand by ready to assist.
Even with all of the layers of complexities and dynamics to navigate, I have faith in GC3 to create clear shared definitions, include the sustainable business sector, establish realistic interim steps, and to consider implementation strategies when developing the framework of a plan.
Must watch - fully scientific based solution for transition to 100 percent clean energy!
by Heather Burns
We asked Ethan Allen what it means to understand the value of embedding sustainability principles and practices into company DNA; including finding ways to eliminate toxic chemicals from their products.
Answers provided by Farooq Kathwari, Chairman, President & CEO of Ethan Allen.
How does Ethan Allen view sustainability from a business standpoint?
Ethan Allen started with its first plant in the Green Mountains of Vermont in 1932, and sustainability has been an integral part of our culture as a company and our DNA as a brand ever since. We like to say that green isn’t a buzzword here, it’s a business model. We have always been always been an industry leader on environmental issues, from establishing our own internal standards of excellence on recycling and energy consumption to partnering with the American Home Furnishings Alliance on all of its important sustainability initiatives. Wherever we do business in the world today, we are deeply dedicated to the responsible management of our planet’s precious natural resources.
What led to the decision to stop using fire retardants in your products?
The effectiveness of flame retardants has been called into question, so with the revision of upholstery flammability standards, we took the opportunity to take a leadership position in the industry, and now Ethan Allen can offer upholstery fabrics, leathers and resilient filling materials that are free of flame retardants yet still meet or surpass the most stringent U.S. flammability requirements for residential upholstered furniture. We are a client-focused company, and the safety and peace of mind of our clients always come first.
How do you anticipate this action benefiting your business?
We have always prided ourselves on taking the long view. Not just on what’s best for short-term profits, but what’s best for the people we serve and the planet we share. The decisions we make today will have lasting impact on tomorrow, and we never forget that. From a business perspective, it’s our hope that we connect with people who share those values.
What have been some of the operational difficulties or other barriers associated with this action and how has your company overcome them?
I go back to the culture of this company and the DNA of this brand. In other organizations, maybe these changes would’ve been met with resistance or grudging acceptance. But here at Ethan Allen, the challenges are always met with raised hands and the answers are always, "Yes” and “How I can be part of this?”
What is the AHFA Eco3Home certification and what does Ethan Allen hope to accomplish by participating?
This is another area in which we are partnering with AHFA on environmental responsibility issues. Basically, the initiative encourages the use of tags on a product to identify its carbon footprint. It’s a great idea. We are working closely with our AHFA partners to bring it to life. In the meantime, visit the Eco3Home section on the AHFA website. And you can always find our environmental initiatives detailed at http://www.ethanallen.com/en_US/sustainable-operations.html.
The latest research on toxic chemicals in children's car seats was released last week by the non profit Ecology Center, www.healthystuff.org.
Hold on to your hats . . . Nearly three-quarters (73%) of seats tested contained hazardous halogenated flame retardants and over half contained non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants, some of which are hazardous as well. The study finds the hazardous flame retardant chemicals and alternatives used by companies are poorly regulated, putting consumers at risk, and questions the fire safety benefit of using these chemicals. “This is one more example of a consumer product containing extremely toxic chemicals that expose children. It is a huge concern,” stated Anne Hulick, RN, MS, JD, Coordinator of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut.
Best 2014-15 Car Seats:
Worst 2014-15 Car Seats:
Other brands with products tested include: Chicco, Cybex, Dorel Juvenile Group (Eddie Bauer, Safety First), Evenflo, Harmony Juvenile, Orbit Baby, Peg Perego.
HealthyStuff.org is now asking the one of the largest manufacturers of car seats, Graco, to take leadership to disclose and phase out hazardous chemical flame retardant additives. Consumers are encouraged to sign our petition to Graco at HealthyStuff.org.
Since 1996, researchers at the Ecology Center have tested over 17,000 consumer products, including over 370 children’s car seats, for chemical hazards. Research is conducted both through the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org in-house lab and collaborating laboratories.
The Ecology Center is a Michigan-based, nonprofit environmental organization working at the local, regional and national levels for a safe and healthy environment where people live, work, and play. Our HealthyStuff.org program is a national leader in testing products and disclosing information on hazardous chemicals in consumer products.
By a vote of 139 to 6, Connecticut’s House of Representatives last night approved Senate Bill 502, An Act Concerning Bicycle Safety, setting the stage for making Connecticut dramatically more bike-friendly. The State Senate approved the bill unanimously on May 7. The next step is for Governor Malloy to sign the bill into law.
Bike Walk Connecticut commends the bipartisan leadership that led to passage of SB 502. The bill’s legislative champions include State Senator Beth Bye (West Hartford) and State Representatives Roland Lemar (New Haven) and Cristin McCarthy Vahey (Fairfield), along with 29 other legislators.
Senate Bill 502 remedies Connecticut’s outdated laws that conflict with best practices for modern, safe bikeway design and active transportation. The bill lets state and municipal transportation professionals design the kinds of bikeways, including two-way bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and cycle tracks, that are used in the most dynamic, prosperous cities in the country and the world.
The bill also improves state laws on bicyclists riding “as far right as practicable” and passing slower moving cyclists and other road users. Current laws are outdated and ambiguous, leading to misunderstandings and highly variable enforcement. The bill includes model language recommended by the League of American Bicyclists and the Uniform Vehicle Code.
Bike lanes and greenways aren’t just good for our health. Since transportation is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in Connecticut, active transportation—biking and walking—must be a key piece of our climate action plan. Bikeways are also an extremely cost-efficient way to manage traffic congestion. Bike lanes, sidewalks and greenways cost a fraction of what it costs to build and maintain roads. People tend to bike and walk more when they have the bike lanes, greenways and sidewalks.
“Being bike-friendly isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ thing anymore,” observes Kelly Kennedy, Executive Director of Bike Walk Connecticut. “Being bike-friendly is now essential to competitiveness. In fact, not being bike-friendly is a competitive disadvantage. Connecticut's car-dependent lifestyle is not the lifestyle that millennials or the creative class have in mind. A well-designed active transportation network will help bring millennials and the creative class to Connecticut and keep them here, strengthening our economy.”
Audubon Greenwich will host the second annual Sustainable Food & Farm Expo on Sunday, May 31, from 10 am until 5 pm. This year’s Expo will showcase high quality food producers, retailers, a celebrity chef, and farmers who will teach guests how to prepare and enjoy a wide variety of local and sustainably grown foods, plus grow some of their own.
The public is invited to enjoy twenty food exhibitors and vendors plus talks, demonstrations, and tastings with a wide range of experts every thirty minutes. Fleisher’s Craft Butchery and Grass Rxoots will cater lunch, snacks, and beverages suitable for vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, locavores, and those with food allergies or adhering to an organic diet.
The Sustainable Food & Farm Expo is a production of Audubon Greenwich, the Fairfield Green Food Guide, and Strawberry and Sage aimed at educating the public about our rich and diverse sustainable food community. "Audubon is proud to host this exciting, family-friendly event. Organic farming practices, composting, and more wholesome approaches to eating will greatly reduce our burden on Earth's natural resources while enhancing our habitats, soils, and communities" says Jeff Cordulack, Audubon Greenwich's Events and Communications Manager.
Chef Silvia Baldini of Strawberry and Sage will share her passion for cooking in three different culinary demonstrations and tastings where locally sourced ingredients take center stage. “When you work with real food, it’s easy to be in the kitchen” says Baldini, Fairfield County’s first female Chopped Champion. “In fact, I believe that once you learn to cook with basic local ingredients, you’ll be able to improvise seasonally to prepare beautiful and tasty dishes to share with loved ones.”
Educational tastings were so popular last year that more were added to the May 31 event including organic, micro-lot, Guatemalan coffee with Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters; five local honeys with the American Honey Tasting Society, single varietal extra virgin olive oils with Olivette, and artisan cheeses with Greenwich Cheese Company. “We have curated a day chock full of special events so anyone with an appetite for new resources, fresh ideas, and a gastronomic adventure will leave feeling sated” says Analiese Paik, Founder of the Fairfield Green Food Guide. Guests are advised to pre-register for paid tastings online at brownpaperticket.com, event 1568464, since capacity is limited to fifty people per 30- minute event.
Fleisher's Craft Butchery, Fairfield County’s only whole animal butcher specializing in locally sourced, pastured-raised meats, will be doing a free butchery demonstration and talk at 12:30 pm. "The local food community in Connecticut is getting bigger, better and more focused on sustainability. We are proud of our leadership role in providing consumers with meat that’s not just better tasting, but better for our health, our farmers and the land we share” says Ryan Fibiger, CEO of Fleisher’s Craft Butchery.
No sustainable food event would be complete without a discussion about the loss of biodiversity in our agricultural system and efforts to slow and reverse it. “Slow Food’s Ark of Taste is a quest to restore the rich diversity and heritage of our food” says Mimi Edelman, farmer and owner of I&Me Farm and Chair of the Northeast/New England Slow Food Ark of Taste Committee. “I’ll be inviting Expo guests to participate in Slow Food’s efforts to preserve food culture and traditions of the Northeast/New England region that include livestock, poultry, fruits, grains, vegetables, added value products, herbs and wild edibles.”
The following businesses and organizations will be participating at the Sustainable Food & Farm Expo: Audubon Greenwich, Fairfield Green Food Guide, Strawberry and Sage, Slow Food Metro North, Slow Food USA, Fleisher’s Craft Butchery, Greenwich Cheese Company, Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters, the American Honey Tasting Society, Olivette, Suburban Homesteading, Growing with Nature, Farmer Doug DeCandia, Pound Ridge Organics, The CT Farm Table Cookbook, Grass Rxoots, Paul’s Custom Pet Food, Greenwich Community Gardens, and Natural Awakenings.
The Sustainable Food & Farm Expo is open to the public from 10 am until 5 pm on Sunday, May 31, 2015. Snacks, beverages, and lunch are available for purchase on-site from Grass Rxoots and Fleisher’s Craft Butchery. General Admission tickets are $15 per person, $20 per couple, or $25 per family. Paid tastings are an additional $10 per person, per session and online reservations are strongly recommended as seating is limited to 50 guests per session. Visit fairfieldgreenfoodguide.com for a complete special events calendar.
Register online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1568464. Event address: Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, CT 06831
About Audubon Greenwich:
The Audubon Greenwich mission is to engage and educate people to conserve, restore, and enjoy nature, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. The Audubon Center in Greenwich is also home to Audubon Connecticut, the state office of the National Audubon Society. http://greenwich.audubon.org
About Fairfield Green Food Guide:
The Fairfield Green Food Guide is dedicated to providing Fairfield County consumers with local and sustainable food resources, news, and events. This award-winning website helps guide consumers to farmers’ markets, CSAs, farm stands, organic and farm-to-table restaurants, specialty food retailers, and farm and food events. Fairfieldgreenfoodguide.com.
About Strawberry and Sage:
Strawberry and Sage is a creative and consulting food group. Clients served include the Royal Scottish Society, Bank of America, Vista Caballo, JMcLaughlin, Ralph Lauren, Wheelock Maidique, the Rye Nature Center, The New Canaan Library, The Carriage Bar Arts Center and Elm restaurant. Strawberryandsage.com.
What: Tour the LEED Gold certified New Fire Station at 121 Connecticut Ave, Norwalk
When: April 9, 2015 @ 5 pm
Presented by: The Connecticut Green Building Council, The B.E.S.T. Program at Norwalk Community College and the Mayor's Office Energy and Environment Task Force
Presentation of project:
David Pacheco, Principal, Pacheco Ross Architects, Voorheesville, NY
Peter Etzel, V.P. of Operations, Newfield Construction, Hartford, CT
Learn to make a remarkably simple and tasty yogurt cheese called labneh, a quick, easy and economical farmhouse ricotta and a delicious lemon and honey dessert cheese that is great for stuffing French toast or filling crepes! Learn all about raw vs pasteurized milk, the type of equipment you will need, the best ingredients to use, where to buy the best ingredients and how to safely make, season and store your own artisan cheese. Click here to register.
*Price includes a welcome glass of sparkling wine, all materials for the class, each cheese making demo and tastes of the 3 cheeses made: ricotta over croccantini with aged balsamic drizzle, labneh with garlic olive oil and herbs over crostini and the dessert cheese topped with organic fig marmalade.
A lifelong artist and an organic farmer and cheese maker for over 20 years, Carol Lake is a passionate educator that uses her art, farming and cheese making to encourage others to see the beauty of the natural world around them. “Basic, simple foods are what we have thrived on as a species for hundreds of generations”, she says. “It’s time to bring back that instinctual knowledge of simple things, like how to make cheese from good, fresh milk and other pronounceable ingredients.” Carol thoroughly enjoys teaching others how to avoid some of those very pitfalls, and shows us just how simple and cost effective it is to eat delicious, homemade artisan cheese!
Alina Lawrence is an olive oil educator, speaker, consultant and owner of Olivette, boutique olive oil tasting rooms in Darien, CT and Westport, CT. Alina received her training and certification in olive oil sensory analysis from the National Organization of Olive Oil Tasters (ONAOO) in Imperia, Italy and The Robert Mondavi Institute at the University of California at Davis. Alina grew up in Europe; and from a young age, she started spending time in the kitchen with her grandmother making everything from scratch.
There, in her grandmother’s kitchen she learned to appreciate quality food made from locally sourced, artisan ingredients!
On March 5th at 6:30 pm, at The Carriage Barn Arts Center, located on 681 South Ave., New Canaan,
Connecticut, Steve Conaway of the Greenwich Land Trust and The American Chestnut Foundation will tell the story of the blight that decimated billions of trees and efforts to restore a blight-resistant American Chestnut to its native woodlands. Last November, Steve led an initiative to plant hundreds of American Chestnut saplings in a sanctuary at the GLT.
Interested in learning about the latest trends in the recycling industry? Join NERC's 2014 conference for top-quality speakers, engaging sessions, and networking opportunities.
The upcoming 2014 Conference—The New Era of Recycling—offers plenary and concurrent sessions designed to provide you with the information needed to understand the recycling markets of seven materials (paper, plastics, tires, glass, steel, organics, and electronics). Click on the Agenda for more details on speakers and session schedules.
When: November 6 – 7, 2014
Registration: Deadline to register, October 31, 2014. Click here to register.
By Heather Burns
There's nothing quite like helping to make history, but even so, getting my kids up and at 'em at 6:30 am on a Sunday was as difficult as expected...yet more than worth it.
MetroNorth trains bound for the City were packed with Connecticut business leaders, students, environmental groups and concerned citizens all donning teeshirts, hand made costumes and/or signs telling their climate story. As the train picked folks up along its stops, a sense of community, collaboration and solidarity grew between strangers.
In fact, an estimated 400,000 people took to New York City streets for the people's climate march -- that's four times the number anticipated. Aside from the A-listers you'd expect -- like Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Sting and Leonardo DiCaprio -- were top corporate executives from IKEA, NRG Unilever and members of We Mean Business, a "coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors that recognize that the transition to a low carbon economy is the only way to secure sustainable economic growth and prosperity for all."
In fact, even Bristol Massachusetts district attorney, Sam Sutter, who dropped criminal charges against the fisherman who blocked a 40,000 ton delivery of coal heading to the Brayton Point Power Plant, joined in and provided Amy Goodman of Democracy Now with an interview.
What's this tell me? The Seas of Change are here; and not just because a bunch of hippies showed up to storm the streets. Business and political leaders, affluent individuals, religious groups, healthcare providers, youth, entrepreneurs, policy makers and celebrities all care about the issue.
In the wise words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "This is our world, this is our planet earth. It is a very small planet," "If we cannot swim together, we will always sink. There is no Plan B, because there is no Planet B."
The Passive House Academy from Brooklyn, NY is offering Certified Passive House Consultant & Designer Course!
This seven-day course is aimed at ALL Building Professionals including Architects, Engineers, Contractors and Builders.
Assembly Location: Central Park West, between 65th and 86th streets.
Enter on 65th, 72nd, 77th, 81st, or 86th street.
In 2010 - 2011, I had the pleasure of working with Jeff on the development of the American Sustainable Business Council. He was on his way out from Seventh Generation and on to bringing his vision of sustainable contraception and women's reproductive health - SUSTAIN - into being.
Check out this inspiring conversation on Bloomberg.
What: 2014 Annual Meeting with guest speaker Fabien Cousteau, French aquatic filmmaker and oceanographic explorer.
When: Sunday, September 28th 4:00 - 7:00 pm
Where: Ridgefield Public Library, Ridgefield, CT
RSVP: 203-787-0646 x104 or email@example.com by September 21st
For more information and directions, click here.
The Green Harbors Project is an initiative that is aiming to address and solve urban harbors environmental challenges that lead to habitat degradation and the loss of biodiversity, as well as human health concerns. Dr. Anamarija Frankic, director of the Green Harbors Project and founder of the Biomimicry LivingLabs, as well as an internationally-recognized researcher, professor and leader in the field of biomimicry, is leading a team of students from UMass Boston that is focused on designing and testing greener products and solutions that imitate nature to mitigate and restore our urban harbors. The team has established Biomimicry LivingLabs across the world, including Zadar, Croatia as well as many sites around Massachusetts, including Savin Hill Cove, Nantucket, Wellfleet, Mystic River, Neponset River and Pier 5 in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
The Green Harbors Project is a community oriented effort with local businesses stepping in to help. Here in Massachusetts, for example, Spencer-based FLEXcon, a manufacturer of engineered films and pressure-sensitive films and adhesives, has donated materials so that the team can design and test a solution that will prevent biofouling—one of the many environmental issues the team is tackling as part of the Green Harbors Project. Fouling is the accumulation of unwanted organic material on solid submerged surfaces such as the underside of boats, pilings, nets and other harbor infrastructure. Not only are removal costs very high, but the materials that are used (such as formaldehyde) are detrimental to the environment and humans alike. Dr. Frankic and her team are working to create sustainable alternatives.
Who: Audubon CT
What: Lighthouse Point Park Migration Festival Celebrating Birds, Butterflies & Dragonflies
When: Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 8:00 am to 3:00 pm (No Rain Date)
Where: Lighthouse Point Park, New Haven, CT
For more information on this event including the schedule of activities, click here.
The central Connecticut area will soon be home to a
new form of transportation that looks to revolutionize the way Connecticut residents commute. Projected to be finished in early 2015, Connecticut Fastrak will administer a swift ride for those who choose to utilize public transportation to get to their destination of choice. Stretching all the way from Waterbury to Hartford, this contemporary system will make travel in the area more convenient for all, and likely boost local economies with more folks having an opportunity to explore areas of the state they might not have had the chance to previously. CT Fastrak is a form of Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which is described by the CT DOT as, “A strategy to increase economic competitiveness through improved quality of life, reduced traffic congestion, lower transportation costs for households, improved air quality, reduced costs for providing city services, and growth management.”
On July 17th, CT Greenscene was invited to see what progress had been made on the Fastrak. Led by CT DOT’s Mike Sanders, we began in downtown Hartford, passing by many of the stations (Flatbush Ave., Sigourney St.) that are under construction. As you can see from the following photos, they are very modern looking and would appear to be quite comfortable. Having the opportunity to get out and walk around at a few of the stations was incredible. Simply seeing the signs with the map of stops, where the ticketing kiosks would be, and even the benches, helped me envision what the what this project is aiming to look like.
What: The Westport Electric Car Club has been invited to exhibit club-member owned EVs at the prestigious “Sunday in the Park” Concours and Gathering of the Marques at the Historic Festival presented by Lime Rock Park. This is the first time EVs will be featured in the 32-year existence of this event.
The Lime Rock Concours d’Elegance exhibition occurs each year on Sunday of Labor Day Weekend as a part of the Historic Festival. The Concours is expected to feature up to 250 cars, augmented by another 750 collector cars. It has gained renown as the premier vintage racing and concours event on the East Coast since 1983. The honored guest this year is Sir Stirling Moss and the honored collector is Ralph Lauren who will be displaying 5 of his collector cars.
When: Sunday, August 31
Where: Lime Rock Park
For ticket information click here.
For more information on The Westport Electric Car Club, please reach out to these resources with any questions: