With green rings…

November 10, 2009

Okay, so our rings weren’t actually green.  But that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t incorporate a green ring into your ceremony!  I’ve mentioned Etsy (the wonderful online craft fair) before, and I’ll probably mention the site several more times in the near future, but I can’t recommend it enough.  And it’s where we found our recycled gold, handmade in upstate NY wedding bands.  They’re similar to Jason’s parents’ (Jason’s mom actually made those herself; another option).  And the set was only a little more expensive than the single ring I bought Jason for our engagement (which wasn’t eco-friendly in any way, being from Zale’s and back when I was a kind of oblivious grad student, but we’ll keep it in the family and make sure it lasts a long time)!

Without further ado:

Jason & Amy's wedding rings

From Natalie Franke Photography: http://www.nataliefrankephotography.com

And here’s the Etsy listing.  We loved working with Elizabeth of esdesigns; even though everything was through e-mail, it felt so personal.  And we did have to have both our rings resized after we originally got them (our fault for guessing in the first place), which she did and then got them back to us in a matter of days.  I love the way it looks on my hand.  It doesn’t match my platinum engagement ring, but now I wear that on my right hand, so whichever hand I look at, I get to think of my wedding and the amazing man I married.

There’s an awful lot of great information about eco-friendly jewelry available on the internet, so I’m going to let you google all that yourself.  I also talked a little bit about them in an earlier post on the engagement ring post above, so check that out if you need a place to get started!  And let me know what you end up doing.  🙂

(this is also the first post with one of our awesome photographer’s gorgeous pictures.  There’ll be lots more!  You can see a few of us on her blog post “Amy & Jason’s Wedding,” but you should check out her whole website: http://www.nataliefrankephotography.com!)

Well, we had plastic cups at our rehearsal dinner.  Eco-fail.

But when dinner is served in a gorgeous outdoor setting at the family home of a really good friend (where some of our guests actually camped) and when dinner itself is homemade pizza and a green salad with the best dressing ever, everyone wins.  And it maybe makes you think that this, your family and friends in one place under the stars eating unbelievable food and drinking beer, is why the whole planet really is worth saving.

Because of Mark’s, his family’s, and Jason’s parents’ generosity we were able to have everyone who made it in Saturday (wedding was on Sunday) come to the rehearsal dinner, which was absolutely wonderful.  You know that whole part about weddings where you don’t really get to talk to your guests?  Well, that doesn’t have to be true at your rehearsal dinner.  It wasn’t at ours, anyway.  Mark offered us a pizza party as his wedding present, and we opted to take it the night before the wedding, when the most people would be in town.  Mark’s parents allowed their house, kitchen, and yard to be taken up by a bunch of happily buzzed friends and family from around the country whom they had no prior connection with.  Jason’s parents paid for the ingredients and the all important beer, and Jason’s mom baked enough cookies for everyone to have ample dessert.

So the more ‘green’ parts of the dinner were the number of people fed without using a whole lot of resources (and no pizza went to waste! and other scraps were composted by Mark’s parents), the use of local ingredients, and the atmosphere provided by nature.  Obviously not everyone has a Mark around (we’re pretty special), but a home-cooked, simple meal does wonders for the soul (if you do decide to do a restaurant, which we would have done if it weren’t for Mark as we were far from home, keep those local ingredients in mind and limit red meat dishes).  We honored (or embarrassed) our wedding party in front of a much larger audience, and our parents were able to do the same to us.  It’s a night we wouldn’t trade for anything.

Except the part where I lost my keys for an hour, then found them in a frisbee in the trunk, and was late to my bachelorette party.  That part I’d like to fix.  (We did carpool!  Which meant that 4 girls were stuck with me…meanwhile, the boys had a night around the campfire and laughed at us.)

Rehearsal Dinner in front of Mark's Bread Oven

Friends and family and Mark & Sarah & Friend? hard at work

My friend Leonore took this one:

Mark Making Pizza

Mark & Sarah & Friend and the delicious pizza ingredients

And this one’s just for laughs (this is the man I married), courtesy of our friend Andy:

Jason

I don't think he actually fell. He's a balanced guy...

Invitation to a Recycling

October 27, 2009

I’m not going to dwell, but I apologize for already not sticking to my Thursday schedule.  I’ll do my best this week.

But I realized I promised in a post awhile ago to write about our invitations.  We kept things pretty simple; we wanted the invites to be fairly cheap, made of recycled paper with as high a post-consumer percentage as possible, and without all the many inserts called for by tradition and paper companies.

First, my dream invites: Earthly Affair Fresh.  I actually love all of the Earthly Affair creations, and their commitment to making the entire process (from production to shipping) as eco-friendly as possible.  Beautiful and thoughtful!  And founder Jennifer Stambolsky runs my absolute favorite wedding blog, full of gorgeous pictures and ideas and products that are often useful no matter where you are in life .  Unfortunately, while they are by no means expensive in the world of wedding invitations, they were outside our budget for the number we needed to buy.  But I’m definitely keeping them in the back of my mind!

What we decided to go with: Invitations by Dawn Delicate Beauty.  These invitations are made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper, and fit the budget and our color scheme.  And we could order exactly what we wanted: invitations, envelopes, RSVP cards, response envelopes, and thank yous, sent in recycled packaging in a well-packed box.  We got exactly what we wanted as far as requirements go (a girl can still dream of soy-based ink and carbon-offset shipping!).  I also did an online coupon search (can’t stress how often you save quite a bit of money doing this!), making it even cheaper.

So I suggest, as you attempt to find the invitations were meant for you, to just keep your eyes out.  Almost all of the large invitation sellers we looked at had some recycled paper options.  Consumer demand is a powerful thing!  And you can always do a little homework, looking at reviews (you’d probably do that any way) and “about” pages to make sure everything, as in company policies and philosophies, matches with what you want.  And if it doesn’t, keep looking!   There’s an awful lot of options out there.

And you’ve probably already heard the advice that’s in every green wedding planner book/blog/whatever to keep the paper to an absolute minimum; don’t bother with all the inserts.  Use e-mail and websites (and phone calls to grandparents) to send out directions, no need to print those.  We also let people know that RSVPing by e-mail or phone was completely acceptable (just be sure to recycle the cards!), in a tiny effort to reduce stamp waste (both stamps and the paper backing) and transportation.

Bonus link: my friend Alison’s save the dates, which were absolutely stunning (so much so that I just spent 45 minutes trying to find them again because IT’S WORTH IT).

p.s. today’s post title (perhaps obviously) comes from Nabokov’s “Invitation to a Beheading.”  Which I read right before my wedding.  Whoo, happy thoughts?  I never did find an appropriate wedding reading in Nabokov’s work…

I heard yesterday through the Twitter grapevine that today is Blog Action Day 2009.  And that the theme this year is Climate Change.  Basically, it’s a day where bloggers can all join together their posts in order to instigate change.  So I thought it’d be a good day to get back into this blog.

So, it’s official, I’m now Ms. Amy Donahue.  I.e., Mrs. Schuelahue!  Yep, Sept. 6th, came and went, and it was perfect.  So now this blog is still going to be about our green wedding, but on what we actually did, not what we were just thinking about doing.  And we’ll see what happens when I run out of stuff. I’m going to try to stick to a regular schedule; weekly on Thursdays seems like a good way to go.  Perhaps there’ll be a bonus Tuesday occasionally or something.  I’ll announce new posts on my Twitter (hashtag #ecoweddingblog, for those who care), you can use an RSS reader, or you can just check back every so often.

Today’s post is going to incorporate all three R’s (um, reduce, reuse, recycle, just in case you forgot), and it’s going to start with a little story.

Once upon a time there were two people who both loved good beer.  They drank a fairly good amount of it.  And they always recycled their bottles.  But what to do with the caps?  They kept them (for the most part; friends & roommates occasionally didn’t realize…), thinking maybe they’d use them in a good game of caps or something.  Then they got engaged.  And started planning their wedding.  Looking at all the websites and books, they kept seeing silly, kitschy wedding favors that everyone would probably just throw away eventually, contributing in whatever small way (but think cradle to grave here; there’s a lot of petroleum and transportation involved in even the little plastic doo-dads) to climate change.  They wanted to reduce their impact, and buy as little new stuff (also thrifty!) as possible.  So they looked around.  And stumbled upon that giant jar of bottle caps.  Hmmm…There had to be some way to reuse them!

Bottlecap Magnets (although not ours; we havent uploaded the picture yet...)

Bottlecap Magnets (although not ours; we haven't uploaded the picture yet...) Attribution (Creative Commons license): http://www.flickr.com/photos/jopoe/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

And everyone loved them (and wanted more than the 2 each person originally got!).  Moral of the story?  1. Climate change is a big picture thing; talk to your legislators and your energy companies.  But while you’re at it, drink some (local, organic, sustainable, wind/solar energy produced) beer.  The little things just might add up, and just might be useful.  (Seriously, those kitschy favors?  just think twice, that’s all I’m asking).

We did do one other little “gift” for our guests, but you’ll have to stay tuned for that one.  Now go out and read some Blog Action Day posts!

Step 1: Decide you want to compost your wedding scraps.

Step 2: Also decide to use compostable serviceware (plates, utensils, etc.).  This is only a benefit if you decide to actually compost; throwing compostable stuff into the garbage is basically as bad as throwing away the regular stuff; it releases methane (one of the top greenhouse gases) in landfills and is no good to anyone.  There are many cool options; I haven’t decided what we’re going to use yet.  Anyone have any suggestions?  Right now I’m looking at Worldcentric (made of bagasse, or leftover sugarcane fibers), BiodegradableStore.com (various materials), Branch (mostly bagasse), etc.  More or less comparison shopping.  I also love Verterra, but it’s a little out of our budget.

Step 3: Search Google for your location and composting; i.e. “chestertown maryland composting.”

Step 4: Find results for the Warrington Foundation or similar composting organization.  Use contact info to e-mail wedding situation.

Step 5: They e-mail back and let me know that they work with agricultural compost, and can’t do regular food scraps.  But they suggest  contacting the local college, Washington College.

Step 6: Procrastinate, and maybe do other important things like order invitations (next post!).

Step 7: Caterer e-mails me with list of supplies he’ll need…oh, and by the way, his parents (living in Chestertown), would be happy to compost the non-meat scraps and serveware!

Step 8: Celebrate and write blog entry!

So I kind of lucked out.  But seriously, don’t give up if composting is something you want to do!  Contact local schools and state departments, or if you happen to live in an awesome city like Seattle that has composting programs, take advantage of it!  But first, ask your caterer if he/she has any advice.  🙂

p.s. I’m also hoarding yogurt containers (the big ones) and the like that I’ll provide to my guests in case they want to take leftovers home.  No need to buy specialized carry-out containers!  (They’ll be washed, I promise.)

I promise to…

June 4, 2009

Update for real again soon!  I have exciting things to talk about!  Composting!  Invitations!  Update on bridesmaid dresses!  Our officiant!  The fact that I’m getting married in 3 months!

I do need to figure out the tent situation and put a deposit down…that will come.  🙂

In the meantime, how ’bout a picture from our trip to Hawaii?

Jason standing on the beach in Oahu

Jason standing on the beach in Oahu

Okay, so that’s a compound word.  Whatever, it still only counts as one.

But pictures!  Who doesn’t want a way to bring back all the wonderful memories?  I personally take pictures of EVERYTHING, including food.  So while Jason and I briefly considered skipping the wedding photographer to save some money, we realized that we did really want a professional to help us capture the day.

And we completely lucked out.

I suppose I’m saying that a little preemptively, because we haven’t spoken with Natalie Franke face to face, or had her actually photograph us yet, but go check out her website, her blog, and her flickr pictures, and you’ll see why we’re excited.  And that doesn’t get into our wonderful e-mail exchanges where Natalie completely understood why we needed to cut costs by skipping the engagement session, and her enthusiasm for and support of our green wedding.  And not only is she talented and professional and wonderfully nice and responsive, but she’s a local college student.  We found out about her from one of her professors, who happens to be a friend of ours from Grinnell College (Grinnell connections have helped both of us so much).  And there’s something to be said for supporting local artists: I think it strengthens communities, you know exactly where your money is going, you get beautiful artifacts with a story not only of content, but of creation, and you get to work with someone who has an investment in you and your setting.  That all translates maybe not explicitly into a lower carbon footprint, but at least a sense of pride and awareness of the world that I think is the first step to realizing something needs to be done.

But back to wedding photography.  Here’s what we’re doing to try to take the saying “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” to the next level:

  1. Hire a local photograher.  Did I mention how awesome Natalie is?  But if you’re not lucky enough to be in the Baltimore area, it might be possible to find someone (even highly likely, although I still think we win) from an art school.  Here’s an idea: go check out your favorite coffee house/art gallery (there’s at least one of those in every city, right?) and ask who the photographer is.  Talk to your friends who got married in the area and see if they have suggestions.  Talk to your friends who are professors who may know of a student.  Talk to your friends who are photographers.  Word of mouth is great!
  2. DON’T USE DISPOSABLE CAMERAS ON THE TABLES.  Unless you’re absolutely set on it.  But disposable is the absolute other end of reusable, which is what eco-weddings should strive for.  There’s a ton of packaging for each camera, the development chemicals aren’t a good thing, and all the transportation associated with them isn’t great, either.  Other cons: you have to pay for the development of the pictures, many of which are bad or blurry or offensive and are thrown out anyway (more waste!), and more often than not, people just walk away with them and you never see the results anyway.  From what I could find on the intertubes in a brief search, disposables can be somewhat efficiently recycled (but a lot of those articles seemed to come from the industry), so if you do decide to use them (don’t!), make sure your guests know the rules and do your best to really get what you want from them.
  3. DO promote digital camera use!  Obviously, digital cameras aren’t zero impact either (make sure to recycle them properly at the end of their lives!), but one camera that can be used again and again, with rechargable batteries and a format that doesn’t require harsh chemicals to bring into view seems like a definite step in the right direction.  Jason and I are planning on setting up a Flickr pool, like this one: the Mason wedding, where both we and our guests can share our snapshots with the world (sorry, world!).  No need to print!  We’ll request DVDs of pictures through our registry (stay tuned, that post is coming up), too, for people who don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a flickr account, and we’ll add them to the group ourselves.
  4. Okay, I’m going to end with Natalie again.  Because she’s great.  And she’s giving us a data DVD of the high-resolution images to do what we like with.  We want an album, and we’ll do that somehow (looking for well-managed forest/recycled paper, keeping it small), but this way we don’t get tons of printed proofs and things that would probably end up in a box somewhere and while treasured, maybe not worth green or lack thereof (bad pun, i’m sorry).  There will be an online galley.  These options are often available from photographers; just ask!

As always, I guess the message here is to just spend a moment or two thinking about how your decision about wedding photography will impact the environment and your community.  In the end, you may just end up with someone amazing (final shoutout to Natalie), and hopefully lots of wonderful memories you can look at again and again.

At 891 words, this entry is worth just a little less than a picture, so I’ll share one of my not-so-great ones:

Original 1928 platinum setting next to the gold band + 1928 diamond

Original 1928 platinum setting next to the gold band + 1928 diamond

A site visit

February 15, 2009

Jason came to visit me for Valentine’s Day weekend. It was his first visit out here, and it was fabulous. And we even accomplished something! We went out to the Eastern Shore to finally see the Inn at Mitchell House (our ceremony/reception site) in person. And we’re really happy with our choice.

ceremony site, by the pond

ceremony site, by the pond

I took a few more pictures and uploaded them to my Flickr site: http://flickr.com/photos/ultimatelibrarian/tags/innatmitchellhouse/.  It’s a little brown right now, but imagine what it’ll look like in late summer!  There are plenty of gorgeous pictures on the Inn’s site, too.  But there’s room for some ultimate frisbee, and plenty of room for the ceremony down by the pond and then to have the reception tents up by the house (I didn’t actually take pictures of that space b/c that’s currently where the cars are parked).

Jim and Tracy are really knowledgeable, and we feel like we’re in great hands.  Tracy was ready with lots of recommendations as far as local vendors for tents, officiant, and so on.  And she was completely ready for my questions about composting and recycling.  (They don’t have an official compost on site and just throw non-meat items out in the woods, so I’ll probably work with Mark, our caterer, whose parents might be able to take care of that, and they have lots of recycling barrels.)  It’s also a pro that both the ceremony and the reception will be in the same place, although unfortunately Chestertown really is only accessible by car.  Tracy did give us the information for an adorable trolley service, though, so hopefully we can get the majority of the people from their hotels to the wedding site in large groups (better for more local beer and wine drinking, too!).

Jason’s parents came with us, too, and Jason’s mom especially had some great ideas for decorating.  So stay tuned!

Exercise: your options!

January 31, 2009

So, it’s pretty much the end of January.  We’ve had a month to make and break various resolutions.  Except maybe you haven’t broken them!  And maybe you haven’t made them.  Both work for me.  This year I do actually have 2, though, and I haven’t broken either of them:

  1. Run the Charlottesville 10 miler
  2. Get married to my best friend.

Yep.  Short and sweet.  One I’m looking forward to a little more than the other; take a guess.  🙂

But in all seriousness, when I moved out in September, I did kind of resolve to get my butt back into shape and in January I realized that I had actually been successful so far.  And I felt like having a reason to get in better shape would be extra motivating as I continued, hence the race.  Obviously, good health is the best and really only reason you need, but that extra toning isn’t really a minus when you’re wearing a wedding dress in a few months.  I also happen to really like distance running (I know, I know), and rediscovered that love after leaving the flat golf course 5ks in the midwest and the ridiculously hilly, rainy, and very urban Seattle runs I tried a few times.  I’m lucky in that I live right in between Rock Creek and Sligo Creek Parks.  Both have gorgeous running trails.  And I figure all this prep will help when I try out for Maryland ultimate club teams.

But what does this all have to do with green weddings?  Well, I decided that there are probably others for whom getting married is a pretty good motivator for getting in shape, and that some of you out there may be doing just that.  Also, I will be married in several months, and I plan on keeping this blog going to document how I’m working towards greening my life.  So I thought that this would be a good overlapping post: staying in shape is something I’m planning on  doing even after I’m no longer a green bride, but in the meantime, it’s also something I’m doing for my wedding.

My thoughts on greening an excercise routine begin the same way greening everything in life does: use less.  Really, you don’t need a whole lot of fancy equipment (well, at least this thing isn’t electric) that take resources to build and use and ship and will eventually get thrown in a dump.  All you need is your own body and some proper footwear and clothing.  And if you already have those things (body, check!), then you’re good to go!  Break out those high school gym shorts!  They’re in again!  Well, maybe… And then, go for a run, pace and length up to you.  Easy, right?  Um, yeah.  Well, here are a few free interweb tools to help you out that I’ve found useful:

  • www.dailymile.com for tracking distances and seeing how well you’re doing and for keeping track of races and such!  It’s actually pretty fun; if you join, you should friend me, and we can keep each other motivated.
  • mapmyrun.com lets you map your own route, and you don’t have to stick to streets.  I haven’t used it that much yet, but it seems really helpful for trail runs and the like, when you can’t measure mileage on GoogleMaps (my usual go-to for quick mileages).  Who needs expensive pedometers that use batteries?
  • there’s lots of exercise calorie counters out there, but here’s one that apparently has lots of different types of exercises, in case you want to track all those shopping for wedding dress calories or something…from BodyBuilding.com.

But I should also admit that I’m far from perfect.  I have kind of wussy excuses (the cold, dry air totally exacerbates my asthma!  It’s dark when I get out of work!), but I don’t always get to do the outdoors thing.  I do use the gym at my apartment building and the gym at work.  And I run on the treadmills, which uses a whole lot of electricity.  Whenever I can, though, I get outside, which is better for the environment and just a lot more enjoyable.  I also participate in classes at my work, ’cause not only am I not using that energy on the ‘mill, but I get to hang out with awesome old broads at Dance ‘n Tone!  But there is at least one “green” gym” (Portland’s Green Microgym) out there, and maybe you could convince your gym to get greener treadmills when replacing old machines for a happy compromise.  And if you decide to get your own machine, look on (get ready for my familiar refrain) freecycle and craigslist first.  But again, you can’t do better than using your own body to get someplace or do something, and by doing so, you’re ensuring that both you and the planet can keep doing just that for a long time.

And now I’ll share my last secrets.

  1. I joined Sparkpeople.com.  It’s totally cheesy, and there’s lots of ads, but there’s also lots and lots of tools, groups, and people to motivate you.  And I really like earning points.  It’s kept me on track for a whole lot longer than any other self-motivation I’ve tried (team sports are the only other thing that works for me, and the only team sport I play is ultimate, so there you go).  There’s even an environmentalist SparkTeam.
  2. I watch The Biggest Loser on Hulu.  I don’t really get into reality tv that much usually, but for whatever reason, this show is GOOD.  I’ve cried.  And it’s my dirty secret, so don’t tell, kay?  Well, Jason already knows and he still loves me, so I’m okay with it, actually.  But health is such a big part of my life, between my medical profession relatives, having a loved one with cancer, and my own choice to go into a medical field, and this show just hits the nail on the head as far as the right way to live your life for the right reasons.  That’s my justification, anyway.

As always, thanks for reading!  And don’t you love how I posted this just in time for Superbowl snacking?  ❤

Speaking of maiden names, and in order to make this post somewhat wedding related, I am 98% sure I won’t be changing my name.  The reasons for this aren’t arguably eco-related, but some of the repercussions of this decision could be viewed that way.  I won’t have to get all new credit cards, business cards, or replace anything else with my name on it.  But it was a purely personal decision, as I think it is for everyone.  

So, back to the entry title.  I’ve been a member of Co-op America for about a year, as the result of my volunteering at the Seattle Green Festival.  As a result, I’ve moved to a socially-responsible cell phone company, have discovered ways to research companies on their eco/social practices, signed petitions, gotten discounts, and just more or less stayed on top of key issues.  At the start of the new year, they changed their name to Green America, but they’re the same great organization.

And they asked their members to post the following to their blogs.  So I’m doing so, because it’s got some good general thoughts to keep in mind as we’re planning weddings and getting on with our lives, and because it’s a little free publicity. 

More new posts soon, I promise!

7 Fixes from the Green Economy

Bold solutions from the green economy are the antidote to the broken economy—and can repair the damage and create a world that works for all.

EconomyEveryone now understands that the economy is broken. What our members and readers have known for years— that the economy is not working for people and the planet—is now playing out on Wall Street and Main Street every day.

While many name the mortgage and credit-default-swap crises as culprits, they are only the most recent results of an economy with fatal design flaws. These design defects range from a dependence on growth, consumerism, and the structure of money to the short-term focus of today’s markets, and policy goals that are focused on growing Gross National Product. Yet, when GNP growth includes a whole set of “bads”—from sweatshop labor to manufacturing toxic chemicals—every dollar of GNP growth actually reduces wellbeing for people and the planet.

Taken together, these fatal flaws systematically create economic injustice, poverty, and environmental crises.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The green economy offers solutions that are the antidote to the current breakdown.

Green America members have been trailblazers for green economic solutions for years. We now have a teachable moment to be bold in stepping up with these solutions for long-term change toward sustainability—and helping people through tough times. Now these green economy solutions are more important than ever.

Simply put, we need to move from greed to green.

Here are seven green economy solutions to today’s economic mess.

1. Green Energy—Green Jobs 
A crucial starting place to rejuvenate our economy is to focus on energy—for the sake of the economy and the environment. It is time to call in the superheroes of the green energy revolution—energy efficiency, solar and wind power, and plug-in hybrids—and put their synergies to work with rapid, largescale deployment. This is a powerful way to jumpstart the economy, energy independence, job creation (with jobs that can’t be outsourced), and the victory over the climate crisis. The five green-energy keys are rapid, large-scale deployment of:

• Energy efficiency—moving toward 50 percent savings in five years.

• Solar and wind—getting to an all-renewable electric grid.

• Plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (PHEVs)—getting to at least 20 percent of the US vehicle fleet in ten years.

• Smart grid—rebuilding our aging electric grid with a smart grid that makes it easy to scale up energy efficiency and renewables.

• New national and state electric utility regulation and building codes that make it easy to scale up with efficiency, renewables, and PHEVs.

This year, Green America is launching Project LEAP—our Low-carbon Energy Acceleration Plan—to show how to combine these superheroes for real economic prosperity, energy security, and 80–90 percent greenhouse gas reduction. We shared this with our allies on President Obama’s incoming team (along with our idea for the financing mechanism; see #2 below). But you don’t have to wait for Washington—use Green America resources to get started today:

• Guide to Efficiency First!
• Solar how-to articles, and interviews with the solar leaders of our Green Busienss Network™
• Solar High Impact National Energy (SHINE) Plan. [PDF] 
• Utility Solar Assessment (USA) Study. [PDF]


2. Clean Energy Victory Bonds 
How are we going to pay for this green energy revolution? Green America and our allies at Clean Edge propose Clean Energy Victory Bonds. Modeled after victory bonds in World War II, Americans would buy these bonds from the federal government to invest in large-scale deployment of green energy projects, with particular emphasis in low-income communities that are hardest hit by the broken economy. These would be long-term bonds, which would pay an annual interest rate, based in part on the energy and energy savings that the bonds generate. During WWII, Americans bought over $185 billion in bonds—that would be almost $2 trillion in today’s dollars.

Millions of people are looking for a way to help the country right now. During the townhall- style presidential debate, one person posed this question to the then-candidates: “What would you ask us to do?”

Green America’s answer: Invest in Clean Energy Victory Bonds so our country can start building the clean-energy infrastructure and get people to work in good, green jobs, right now.

Sign up for the Green America e-newsletter to help advance these and our other green energy policy measures all year long.


3. Reduce, Reuse, Rethink 
Living lightly on the Earth, saving resources and money, reducing inequality, and sharing —jobs, property, ideas, and opportunities—are the principles crucial to restructuring our economy. This economic breakdown is, in part, due to living beyond our means—as a nation and, in too many cases, as individuals. With the enormous national and consumer debt weighing us down, we won’t be able to spend our way out of this economic problem. From planting gardens to conserving energy to swapping clothes to making gifts—these green economy basics will help us move to an economy that works for all.

As Dr. Juliet Schor, economist and author, puts it, “We’ve lost the ability to profitably … grow our way out of recession. The usual kinds of consumer spending (cars, electronics, furniture, apparel, travel) degrade vital eco-systems and have an economic cost. Business-as-usual puts us deeper into an economic hole.”

Ultimately, we need an economy that’s not dependent on growth and consumerism. So it’s time to rethink living over-consumptive lifestyles, and turn to the principles of elegant simplicity—what Green Americans have known all along.

 

4. Go Green, Fair Trade, and Local 
When we do buy, it is essential that those purchases shift from the conventional economy to the green and local economy—so that every dollar helps solve social and environmental problems, not create them. What we spend our money on—and refuse to buy—does matter. Expanding the green economy is fundamental to the transition to an economy that works for people and the planet. Moving dollars away from conventional agribusiness and toward supporting local workers and local, organic farmers creates more justice and sustainability.

Use the National Green Pages to make as many of your purchases as possible from the green economy. Turn to Green America all year long for ways to be intentional with your money—to help create a better economy with the choices you make every day.

 

5. Community Investing 
All over the county, community investing banks, credit unions, and loan funds that serve hardhit communities are strong, while the biggest banks—from Washington Mutual to CitiGroup —required bailouts. The basic principles of community investing keep the community investing institutions strong: Lenders and borrowers know each other. Lenders invest in the success of their borrowers—with training and technical assistance along with loans. And the people who provide the capital to the lenders expect reasonable, not speculative, rates of return. If all banks followed these principles, the economy wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today.

You can provide capital to community investing banks and credit unions—it’s as easy as opening a federally insured account. Check out the community investing section of our Web site to get started.

 

6. Shareowner Activism 
When you own stock, you are a shareowner and have the right and responsibility to advise management to clean up its act. Had General Motors listened to its activist shareholders, it would have invested in the efficient and electric cars that would have prevented the need for a bailout from bankruptcy. Had CitiGroup listened to its activist shareowners, it would have steered clear of the faulty mortgage practices that brought it to its knees. Activist shareholders are key to reforming companies—from jumpstarting them on the energy revolution to addressing executive compensation to stopping the corruption created by corporate lobbying—for the transition to the new economy. Let’s up the ante.

 

7. Building Community 
“Whatever the problem,” says Dr. Lynnaea Lumbard, psychologist and interfaith minister, “community is the answer.” Connected, resilient communities help people get through tough times—and celebrate during good times. Now is the time to get started. Get to know your neighbors. Do a neighborhood skills inventory—so people can help each other fix their roofs, repair their bikes, mend a torn coat—saving money and building community. Plan a community garden, a neighborhood garage sale, or clothing swap. Start a dinner or home improvement co-op. (Get more ideas and learn more here.)

The Time is Now 
It looks like we have a huge opportunity on our hands—a global economic breakdown that is teaching us that we are all interdependent. There’s no “there” to escape to, so we all might as well figure out how to live together —and transition our economy to one that protects vulnerable people and our vulnerable planet. Stay tuned to Real Green all year long. We look forward to working with you on turning today’s problems into opportunities for a more just, sustainable, and joyful world.

Alisa Gravitz