Organic Winemakers: Napa Valley’s Stewards of the Land

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The story of ZD Wines is a family saga—a family as principled about the environment as it is dedicated to wine making.

It’s evident as soon as you pull into the parking lot, where, you’ll note, everyone on staff drives a hybrid. “Except our CEO,” Dustin Moilanen, the vineyard’s hospitality director, explains. Winemaster Robert deLeuze’s car is all-electric. “He plugs it in at his solar-powered home, so his commute to work is completely ‘green.’ ”

For the ride home, he can charge up at the winery, where 712 solar panels generate more electricity than the entire facility can use. “The excess is returned to the grid,” Molainen assures his visitors….

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The Green Garmento – An Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning Tote

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“Using The Green Garmento for your dry cleaning is similar to the reusable totes movement, which started as something grocery stores were offering and has changed the way people do their grocery shopping,” says Jennie Nigrosh, president and co-founder of The Green Garmento.

Nigrosh’s product is a dry cleaning bag that consumers use over and over again, both as a hamper at home and as a way to transport their dry cleaning without plastic bags. “Way beyond the fact that we have an interesting product that helps make life easier, helps to organize your closet, and helps you be green all at the same time,” Nigrosh adds, “it’s a new category.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Nigrosh by phone from her California office to learn more about The Green Garmento as well as its acceptance in the dry-cleaning world and in homes around the nation….

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BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit Coming to Monterey

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Monterey, California, is a lovely seaside community with a world-class aquarium. It’s long been a vacation destination for ocean enthusiasts. And now, it is the new, permanent setting for the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit.

If you’re planning to be in Northern California August 24–29, consider attending the festival to see the year’s leading films about the wonders of the ocean, to hear lectures and panel discussions by leading ocean researchers, to view an ecstatically beautiful photo exhibit by National Geographic photographer David Doubilet, and to participate in other exciting events….

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California Green Chemistry Initiative to Improve Consumer Safety

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Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is determined to provide the United States with safer consumer products.

“More and more consumer goods are recalled lately because of the chemicals they contain,” Movassaghi said in a phone interview with Blue Planet Green Living.

Consumer products manufacturers will be required to “show they’re not using harmful ingredients, or face restrictions including a possible ban on selling those products,” according to a press release from Movassaghi’s office….

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Full-Circle Learning – Global Partnerships Unlock Potential

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After the 1992 civil unrest in South Central Los Angeles, a small grassroots group began an after-school program to show the children living in the area that diverse members of their community cared about them. Teresa Henkle Langness, who later founded Full-Circle Learning, was among them.

“Over time,” Langness says, “we began to see that what these children needed was to be a part of a community, to be a part of the solution, instead of feeling like victims of society’s ills.”

Langness adds, “When we began to incorporate character themes linked to local and global service within each lesson plan, the students’ scores suddenly began to leap. They became much better students, much better people. They began to teach their parents conflict resolution. Outside organizations in the community began to benefit from their work. Families wanted to replicate the model and began asking us for help in doing so.”

Today, Full-Circle Learning provides a full preschool-through-high school curriculum in 13 nations. Langness told Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL), “The mission of Full-Circle Learning is to help young people embrace their role as humanitarians and change agents. We do this through educational programs that integrate and expand students’ character strength, academic excellence, creative capacities, and conflict resolution skills.” …

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SPG Solar – Bill O’Reilly and Me

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I did not set out to pick a fight with Bill O’Reilly. As a new edition of the old saying goes: Don’t pick fights with people who use power by the gigawatt.

But let this be said: O’Reilly drew First Blood.

It happened just a few hours after the Irvine (California) Unified School District selected my company, SPG Solar, to install solar energy at 21 of its campuses. The new energy system will save the district $17 million over 20 years; will generate about half the energy the schools need; and best of all for this cash-strapped district: It all comes at no cost….

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The Green Lounge – Where Eco Meets Luxury

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This past Sunday night at the posh Lowes Hotel in Santa Monica, television’s Nicole Sherwin (Celebrity Soul) and Wellness2Day.com hosted the first-ever Green Lounge. Set in the back of the ocean-side hotel, the lounge was lit in Oz-like emerald green and centered around an indoor fire pit filled with sparkling crystals. In a word, it was magic. Indeed, it did feel like entering the Emerald City. And, in a way, that was what the lounge was offering to guests — a new, better, green way to live….

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Photographer Della Calfee Focuses on Green Clients

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When Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Bay Area artist and ecopreneur Della Calfee, we were intrigued by her self-description as a “green” photographer. How does that look in terms of her portfolio of images? we wondered. And, What kinds of clients hire a green photographer? We asked Calfee about these topics when we spoke with her by phone from her San Jose, California home.

CALFEE: I’ve been shooting pictures for decades, but it was only a couple years ago that I looked back at my body of work and realized that I was a “green” photographer. Once I realized that, something crystallized, and I have been able to move forward with much greater passion and direction and confidence.

To me, “green” means making environmentally conscious choices in every action taken. It means respecting life — including people, but not exclusively. So my photography focuses on clients working toward a better environment. Sustainably produced products; and green-minded services, leaders, and events would all be examples of “green” photography clients. …

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California Green Chemistry Initiative – “Rethinking the Way We Create Everything”

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California Department of Toxic Substances acting director Maziar Movassaghi told Blue Planet Green Living that the Green Chemistry Initiative is working to rethink the manufacturing of products.

MOVASSAGHI: It’s a really fundamental shift for environmental regulation. We don’t wait for stuff to reach the waste stream. And we don’t think of waste as garbage, but as nutrients. If you think of waste as nutrients, you require that at the end of a product’s use, you should be able to grind it up, throw it in the ground, and have it be a nutrient for an organic product. Or, if it doesn’t fit that model, it should be able to be reused in an industrial process.

Now, whether it goes to create energy for material productions or whether it goes back into the reuse of the product, those are two ways of approaching it. But it’s really a different way of looking at our waste, as “waste is food.” …

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Coolerado AC Units Excel at DOE/NREL Performance Challenge

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under 2009, Blog, California, DOE, Electricity, Energy, Front Page, Water

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University of California, Davis issued a challenge to manufacturers to build more efficient air conditioners for the Western U.S. The objective was to exceed the 2010 U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards by an aggressive 40 percent. Coolerado Corporation, the first certified winner of the UC Davis Western Cooling Challenge, entered the program with its new hybrid commercial rooftop unit — a system using its proprietary indirect evaporative technology in concert with a traditional compressor and refrigerant system. DOE laboratory testing indicates that Coolerado’s new system, the Coolerado H80, beat the 2010 standards by 60 percent at peak demand and will use 80 percent less energy overall…

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Take Action – Remove Toxic Flame Retardants from Kids’ Products

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In California, babies and children are exposed to toxic flame retardant chemicals in their clothing, sheets, and other materials nearly every minute of every day. Healthy Child Healthy World has launched a campaign urging citizens to send faxes to Governor Schwarzenegger and other government officials TODAY, with a strong message in favor of SB 772. According to Christopher Gavigan, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, the bill would “exempt baby and juvenile products from California’s regulations that create a de facto mandate for the use of toxic fire retardant chemicals.”

On the surface, fire retardants in children’s clothing, bedding, strollers, infant carriers, changing tables, cribs, high chairs, and other products sound like a good idea. We all want children to be protected from flames. But Gavigan points out the flaws in this reasoning…

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Hall Wines St. Helena Earns LEED Gold Certification

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You’re out to dinner with friends, ready to order a glass of wine with your meal. You look over the wine list, considering your options: White or red? Dry or sweet? Domestic or imported? Organically grown or not? And on and on… But it’s a good bet that you never stop to wonder whether the wine you will choose was produced with energy-savings in mind. For most of us, energy savings don’t spring readily to mind when we’re sitting in a restaurant. But starting today, there’s another factor to consider when choosing a wine…

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SunRidge Farms – Organic Treats from an Eco-Conscious Company

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One of the many fun parts of my job is to review product samples that we receive here at Blue Planet Green Living. Of course, when goodies are involved, I have to share. And the products I’m writing about today are definitely in the goodies category. SunRidge Farms sent us three packages of treats (Organic Sunny Worms, Organic Yogurt Pretzels, and Hickory-Smoked Almonds), so I enlisted the aid of my daughter, Lindsay, and my husband, Joe. They were more than willing to act as test subjects …

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San Ramon Eco-Festival – “Good, Green Fun for Everyone”

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Want to learn how to live an eco-friendly life and have a great time doing it? You can do both by attending the first annual San Ramon, California, Eco-Festival. This family-friendly event will be held at Bishop Ranch Civic Center on August 29 and 30, 2009.

The event will be open Saturday, August 29, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, August 30, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eco-Festivals, sponsor of the event, aims to help people “live simple and cost-effective green lifestyles”…

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Conserving Water, a Sinkful at a Time

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Slowing global warming is a long-term process that requires efforts on a global, or at least a national, scale. What can Californians — or any other drought-affected people — do about the water shortage right now, on a local level?

One suggestion is to reuse the waste water generated by showering, washing clothes, and using the sink. These sources of waste water are called greywater, and though you won’t want to drink it, you can easily reuse it to water some of your plants and trees…

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Take This House (and Float It Away) Flooding Play on Midwest Tour

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In the heart of levee-protected suburbs along California’s American River, a middle-aged couple think they’re immune to anything nature blows their way — catastrophic flood included — only to find themselves terribly deluded. This original theatre piece, Take This House (and Float It Away), spirals into the tragicomic world of Stu and Marlene’s floodplain living room, where the couple is unable to comprehend nature’s effect on their safe, suburban sphere. As Stu hides behind “groundbreaking” research into bird gestures, Marlene extrapolates caffeinated solutions to newspaper headlines, conflating staying informed with staying afloat…

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My 5: Julio Marchi, CEO, SIP Global

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BPGL asked Julio Marchi, CEO of SIP Global – The Green Foundation, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

JULIO MARCHI:
1. Education is the key to a better future. Information is what we need now to minimize current problems, but future generations must carry with them the concept of preservation, as it is a civil matter.

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SIP Global to Host Green Trade Show and Conference

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“We believe the answer for a better future relies on the availability of environmentally friendly products for everyone’s everyday use…. A real shift in the current situation will only occur when manufacturers worldwide understand how important it is — and how profitable it can be — to invest in new products and technologies that will improve and protect our environmental condition.” — Julio Marchi, SIP Global – The Green Foundation

BPGL spoke by phone with Julio Marchi, CEO of SIP Global – The Green Foundation. We wanted to know about SIP Global’s upcoming conference, as well as what the foundation is doing to further green products.

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Healthy Child Healthy World – Inspiring Positive Action for Kids’ Sake

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Whatever question you may have about the environment and its health effects on children, Healthy Child Healthy World is a place where you’ll find well-researched, thoughtful, and practical answers. We are impressed by the work that the folks at Healthy Child Healthy World are doing, and are pleased to share with you our interview with Christopher Gavigan, CEO. He and his team are continuing the work Nancy and Jim Chuda began when they co-founded the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition, following the death of their only child, Colette, to environmentally caused cancer.

GAVIGAN: It doesn’t take much in a conversation with any parent, no matter how old the child, to see that their top priority is their children’s health and, certainly, their happiness. If you ask any pregnant mom, she says, “I just want it to be a healthy baby.” That sentiment is so powerful, and every new set of parents can rally around this thought.

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Healthy Child Healthy World — A Story of Heartbreak and Hope

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“When a parent loses a child, there really are no words. There are no words to describe this grief, and there are no words to mend the broken heart that remains forever after. But my husband and I chose to try to make a difference,” said Nancy Chuda, referring to the death of their only child, Colette. “We said, let us take the remains of what would have been her life and, in her memory, establish something that would give benefit to countless millions. It fueled our passion. It was our pain that carried us through — from pain to passion — in building the network.”

I spoke with Nancy Chuda about Healthy Child Healthy World, the organization she and her husband, Jim, founded nearly twenty years ago in honor and memory of their daughter. This is her story.

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