What LEED Interior Designers Want You To Know

With a long list of summer projects, like tearing down wallpaper and painting, I started thinking how to green the process. Are there sustainable designers to turn to for advice?

Then I came across this article on Houzz, “5 Things LEED Interior Designers Want You To Know.”

In the article, Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill points out that LEED interior designers are professionals on a mission. Gaskill explains, “The goal is to create spaces that are both more sustainable for the planet and healthier for the people living in them.”

This is what I like to hear. Sustainability doesn’t have to be confusing. Making green choices can be simple.

Here are four of the driving forces behind LEED interior designers according to Gaskill:

1. Green design doesn’t sacrifice style
2. Don’t be fooled by green labels
3. A healthy home makes for a happy home
4. Embrace the hand-me-downs

Whether or not you personally want to become LEED certified, you can still use sustainable strategies in your home. Don’t let the green label stand in the way of using the best practices for the planet and your family.

Would you consider working toward a LEED certification? Want to know more about what LEED interior designers do? Share your thoughts below.

3 Ways To Green Your Spring Cleaning

Spring is the perfect time to green up your living space and lifestyle. Living more sustainably doesn’t have to be complicated. Take these three simple steps to make you and the planet more happy and healthy.

Donate used clothes

As you start bringing out the shorts and sandals, take a look through your closet for clothes you haven’t worn in a while. Instead of throwing these garments in the trash, you can donate them. Clothing stores, like H&M have started a garment collecting program to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. H&M then takes the clothes and turns them into new products. Donating clothes not only helps to de-clutter and de-stress, but each item donated, on a small or large scale, helps the environment.

Donation initiatives, like Move Out 2013 at Boston University, show that organized campus projects can also make a difference. The university partnered with Goodwill in an effort to reduce the amount of goods in landfills on move out day. With over 12,000 BU students moving out at the end of the year, dumpsters used to fill with reusable goods. In 2013, BU diverted 90 tons of clothing and household items, making the project a great success.

Homemade cleaning products

photo (9)The typical bathroom cleaning routine often involves rubber gloves or bleached fingers. As you try to remove the cringing look from your face, you think, “There has got to be a better, safer way to clean.” To make the next time you clean more pleasant, try making your own homemade green cleaning products. Lifestyle blogger Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less suggests homemade cleaning products can be made from: white vinegar, baking soda, lemons, salt, olive oil, Ivory bar soap, liquid dishwashing soap, washing soda and essential oils. Combinations of these simple ingredients make for ten green and thrifty cleaning products to try in your home.

Making your own cleaning products means you can:

  • Pronounce all of the ingredients- By using simple household items, you won’t have to stress about toxic chemicals in your home.
  • Reduce your ecological footprint- Making your own cleaning products means you won’t be flushing toxins down the drain or spraying chemicals into the air. The earth thanks you.

Get active

Neon jacket

You won’t miss me on my bike when I wear this neon jacket.

With all this spring cleaning, it’s time to dust off the bike or rollerblades and get active. Living a more sustainable lifestyle means caring for the environment, but also means taking an initiative in your health. Getting outside to bike, rollerblade, walk or run are excellent forms of exercise and help improve your health. The Mayo Clinic suggests 30 minutes of physical activity per day has seven benefits, including controlled weight, improved mood and boosted energy. Are you ready to get a healthy dose of spring?

Whatever steps you take this season, a more sustainable lifestyle is within reach. Simple steps like donating clothes, making eco-friendly cleaning products and getting active are easy ways each of us can make a difference in the environment and in our own lives.

What are you doing to be more sustainable this spring?

How To Change Your Food Perspective

Grocery cartAs a college student, my diet usually consists of whatever is cheapest and easiest to make. This is not the best mindset to have as a strong supporter and student of sustainability. Buying local and organic is on my priority list, but convenience creeps above the rest. All excuses aside, eating more sustainably means I need to take an active role to know where my food comes from.

The Buzzfeed Investigation, 11 Food Companies That Won’t Tell You Where Their Meat Comes From, reminded me of how processed and mysterious our food really is. Talk about a wakeup call. Chris Ritter, author of the article, quite simply states, “Eating a frozen Tombstone pepperoni pizza is an act of ignorance and bliss.”

During an English class in my first year of college, I realFood Inc.ized the confusion and horror of our food culture and industry. After watching Food Inc. and reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I began to understand that the truth behind our food is hidden away and it is my job as a global citizen to care and take action. After opening my eyes to the ideas of sustainability, I committed to eliminating my use of plastic water bottles and picked out  a hormone-free grass fed turkey for Thanksgiving.

Even as my passion for sustainability continues, some of my actions still reflect my commitment to convenience. The next time I try to mindlessly run to the grocery store for lunch meat, this will be what comes to mind:

New York Times reports: “An estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.”

As unsustainable as our food supply is, there is hope. The documentary Fresh by Michael Pollan, offers inspirational solutions that make healthy and sustainable food supply possible. Will Allen of Growing Power believes everyone should have access to healthy foods, no matter where they live. He has a three-acre vertical farm in the middle of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and he teaches others on how to do the same.

Check out the trailer for Fresh to learn more about the food supply solution:

This spring, I’m inspired to build a backyard garden to grow fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. It’s also time to pick the farmers market over the supermarket for fresh, local foods. What’s more convenient, rewarding and sustainable than eating right from your own backyard?

What sustainable food choices do you make?  

#ADayWithoutWaste: How Social Media Encourages Social Change

Cell PhoneOur phones are usually never more than a two foot radius away from us. While some may see this as a negative, connecting through social media can raise awareness for meaningful causes like environmental protection and sustainability. In particular, trash is one subject that most people can relate to and was the focus of a global campaign, A Day Without Waste.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces 4.38 pounds of trash per day. Armed with the staggering statistics, the nonprofit Global Citizen partnered with Ekocycle, which makes products from consumer waste, to start A Day Without Waste on April 9. The campaign encouraged people to think twice about consumer habits like using disposable bags, drinking coffee from single-use cups and ordering to-go meals.

The campaign used social media as a way to connect with its millennial target group. According to a YPulse study, 68% of 14-30 year-olds get information from social media like Facebook and Twitter. As more young people turn to social for the news, A Day Without Waste primarily used Twitter to spread its message of sustainability through the hashtag #ADayWithoutWaste.

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 10.16.18 AMCelebrity support and influence helped spread the word about the campaign. Glee star Dianna Agron, encouraged her Twitter followers to reflect on the trash we create and take action.

Co-founder of Global Citizen Ryan Gall said:

“The reality is that a lot of people need a little bit of a push and they need a bit of a direction to know what actions to take. So we created GlobalCitizen.org and the Global Citizen Festival in order to reward supporters who take certain social actions.”

Social media is a powerful communication tool where people can take social action. Whether it’s to show support, share a photo or connect with other volunteers, social media can ignite social change. Although A Day Without Waste asks people to commit to reducing trash for one day, the hope is people will start to actually rethink wasteful habits and commit to a permanent change. Sometimes we all need some encouragement, so let’s do this together.

What changes have you made to limit the trash we create?

For more inspiration to live a life with less trash, A Day Without Waste created this video to compare the disposable lifestyle with a more eco-friendly mindset:

What Makes a City Green?

Everyone wants a city to call home. Although my heart will always be in the midwest, I’m looking for a green city somewhere new (and preferably warm) that offers alternative transportation, green space and clean energy. Wherever I live, I want green lifestyle choices to be easier and more mainstream.

As I get ready to graduate from college, deciding where to plant my roots is a big decision. Before I decide, I wanted to explore cities across the country that value sustainability. First, I’ll explore the parts of a green city that are most important to me.

Transportation

According to the Sierra Club, “Transportation contributes approximately one-third of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and must be a prime target for major greenhouse gas reduction.” Cities can help reduce emissions through the transportation sector by embracing high efficiency vehicles and by better designing communities around driving alternatives. These alternatives include, rail, bus, walking and biking. I look forward to living in a city where I can get my legs pedaling on my new ride.

Green space

A city with green space is not only good for the environment, but it’s also good for people. The CRC Health Group explains that spending time in nature helps reduce stress, gives us a sense of purpose and increases our physical activity. From the ocean to the forest, I’ll need to find a place where I can escape into the beauty of nature.

Clean energy

Another factor in determining a sustainable city is its use of clean energy. Instead of being dependent on fossil fuels that contribute to pollution, solar and wind technologies are renewable energy sources that can provide electricity to thousands of homes and businesses.

Green lifestyle

Some cities make green choices easier than others. The availability of organic products, buying local and clean transportation vary from city to city says Mother Nature Network. From bike trails to local farmers markets, going green can be right at your front door if you’re in the right city. While visiting Santa Monica, California, I loved the variety and availability of local and vegan restaurants. The Santa Monica Farmers Market also provides the community with healthful and sustainable products and is the largest farmers market in Southern California.

 

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What factors do you think make a green city?

A Bright Future for Green Marketing

For those looking for a career in public relations, advertising, marketing or business, green should be the brightest color on your job-search radar.

As a soon-to-be-grad, I see value and job-potential in brands telling a sustainability story. Many companies and experts agree that it’s one thing to claim to be sustainable and another to prove it. The “proving it” part is where I, and other grads, come in. Companies will need employees who understand and care about environmental issues and know how to market sustainability.

To better understand green marketing, let’s take a lesson from a brand who is making green more mainstream. Levi Strauss & Co. is a company openly sharing its sustainability strategy. The release of Levi’s Waste-Less jeans, made from 20 percent recycled plastic, represents the company’s bigger push for reducing its environmental impact.

“It’s not about offering a niche green product,” Jonathan Kirby, Levi’s VP of global men’s design, said in the AdWeek article, Green is the New Black. “We’re working to build sustainability into everything—from the cotton fields to our supply chain, to our stores, to our designs across product lines.”

In the article, The Next Frontier in Green Marketing is Responsible Consumption, Jacquie Ottman explains more about Levi’s sustainability initiatives. Levi has partnered with Goodwill to educate consumers on how to reduce blue jean life-cycle waste. The campaign, “A Care Tag For the Planet,” uses tags that explain to wash jeans in cold water, hang them out to dry and donate them if the jeans are no longer wanted.

In addition to learning from Levi’s marketing strategy, Ottman also enlightens us in her book, The New Rules of Green Marketing. Watch the video below to learn more about her book from Lorni Li, Editor in Chief of Green Marketing TV:

With case studies like Levi Strauss and experts like Jacquie Ottman, grads can not only be better educated consumers, but also more marketable employees.

How do you educate yourself on green brands and job opportunities?

What Every Grad Should Know About Sustainability

Germany

As I studied aboard in Germany, I learned how sustainability can be deeply integrated into a company’s culture and philosophy.

As “going green” becomes mainstream, it’s easy to find yourself confused about what this actually means. Many agree that sustainability is important as a lifestyle and a business practice, but what does this look like once you graduate from college? For soon-to-be or recent college graduates, a career in sustainability involves passion and understanding the basics, but also flexibility for the changing world ahead.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminds us that sustainability involves the concern for our society, environment and economy as our population grows and increases our consumption of natural resources. Reducing our current consumption for resources isn’t enough; we need a lifestyle change. This is where innovative ideas come in from the fresh minds of college grads. As forward thinkers who want to prepare for the long-term future, not just tomorrow, recent graduates are ready to tackle these hands-on problems.

Now, being a green grad sounds great, but what will make companies become more sustainable? Fronseys, a digital economy advisory service focused on sustainability and innovation, says there are several reasons why businesses have to go green:

  • Operating efficiently is a sustainability practice that can also cuts costs

  • Being sustainable helps build a positive reputation

  • Employees care about sustainability– Don’t forget the people in people, planet, profit Triple Bottom Line.

As people hold themselves and businesses more accountable for their actions, sustainability is becoming an integrated part of how consumers and businesses operate. For college graduates, this news comes as an opportunity to be part of original and creative solutions across all career fields.

Many people think the next big job boom will happen in the area of sustainability,” Debbie Freeman, Arizona State University Communications Manager for the School of Business said.

Sustainability is becoming an expected part of companies, which means new and evolving careers await. With patience and creativity, going green could equal a rewarding and profitable career.

What’s your advice to grads who want a career in sustainability?