Green Festival Coming to Pier 94 in NYC on April 26th

600x250_NYC-BannerOn Saturday, April 26th, and Sunday April 27th, thousands of New Yorkers are expected to attend Green Festival New York at Pier 94. Green Festival will bring together the most trusted companies, innovative brands, national and local NYC businesses, pioneering thinkers, and conscious consumers to Pier 94 to promote the best in sustainability and green living.

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Green Festival offers something for everyone, with the widest selection of products and services to work green, play green and live green – from food, fashion, pets, kids, yoga and health, to energy, construction and design. People can shop and enjoy vegan, vegetarian, organic foods, hands-on demos, educational activities and learn from inspirational speakers.

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There will be speakers and performers throughout the day, including following. More speakers will be announced as we get closer to the event dates.

  • Matthew Dillon, Agricultural Policy & Programs Manager at Clif Bar & Company
  • Erin Schrode, Millennial Inspiration
  • JustFood.org Executive Director Jacquie Berger
  • NYCVegFoodFest.com founders Sarah Gross and Nira Paliwoda
  • Holistic Moms network President Nancy Peplinsky Massotto
  • Performances from DJ NappyG

And this year, Green Festival will introduce the new “Green Festival Award,” which will recognize the achievements of companies and brands that are transforming the way we live with innovative green solutions.

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The Green Festival will be held on Saturday, April 26, 2014 & Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Pier 94 in midtown Manhattan at 55th Street and the West Side Highway. The best subway stop is the 59th Street, Columbus Circle.

For more information about Green Festivals, visit http://www.greenfestivals.org. You can also follow them on Twitter at @GreenFestival.

Green Festivals, Inc. organizes Green Festival®, America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event. Green Festival is a vibrant, dynamic marketplace where companies and organizations come to showcase their green products, services and programs, and where people go to learn how to live healthier, more sustainable lives. Green Festival is inspiring and empowering consumers, communities and businesses to work green, play green and live green. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the organization produces Green Festival events in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Artist of the Month: Cynthia Brevil of Karmalades, Household Cleaners with a Conscience

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The following post was written by Cynthia Brevlin, Owner and Founder of Karmalades, the  Herban Lifestyle Store Artist of the Month. During the month of January, Cynthia’s eco-luxurious cleaning products will be featured at our new brick and mortar store in Fairfax, VA.

Physical Therapist by day, eco luxury cleaning maven by evenings/weekends, I take old school ingredients that grandma used to clean her house…baking soda, vinegar,etc and whip them up into fun, natural…and even a little luxurious dare I say … household cleaning products. My concoctions are not only effective but will surely bring a smile to your face every time you use them.

I believe that being green can and should = luxury. I also believe in Karma, or simply put – what goes around comes around. The contents of every bottle that we pull off of the shelf will eventually have some effect on our precious earth.

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With this in mind when developing my line, it was really important to me that my ingredients were easily recognizable to the customer and naturally derived…absolutely no synthetics!  It was also clear that the packaging had to be sustainable. Glass and tin not only look and feel luxurious, but they can also be indefinitely recycled.  And if these materials happen to end up in landfill, they have no adverse effect.

Cynthia Brevil, founder of Karmalades, is a physical therapist, health conscious crafter, painter, tiler, cook, foodie … and a true lover of all things eco-friendly and luxurious.

Cynthia Brevil

Three Tasty Trees For Your Yard

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image copyright Georgia Pecan Trees

The following is a guest post by Liz Nelson, a freelance writer based in Houston, TX.

When it comes time to plant a tree you might have your mind on things like shade, fast growth, or pretty flowers in the spring time. However there are many trees that offer edible benefits as well. Here are three trees that look great and give you something to snack on:

  1. Pecan Tree – The Pecan tree is not only a large shade tree but it also produces very tasty nuts. The Pecan tree typically produces the biggest harvest in warmer climates and does well in areas with lots of rain and sunshine. Pecan nuts form with a bright yellow-green skin over the nut. As it ripens the skin starts to pull back until the ripe nut falls out of the tree. There are several varieties of Pecan trees, some of which have larger or more flavorful pecans.
  2. Walnut Tree – Like the Pecan tree, the Walnut tree also produces tasty nuts. The Walnut tree grows better in cooler climates with less rain however so it can be a great alternative to Pecans if your area does not support them. Walnuts also form with a green skin that falls off as it ripens. The nuts are significantly tougher to shell than pecans however. There are also several varieties of Walnut trees, some of which produce bitter and inedible nuts so be aware of the variety you plant. [Editor's Note: Dr. James Duke points out that many varieties of seeds and nuts contain tryptophan, an important amino acid that the brain converts to serotonin]
  3. Date Palm – This tropical tree grows best in hot, dry climates. Like most Palm trees, the trunk of the tree is bare and the leaves are clustered at the top. When dates form, the seeds of this plant, they hang down from the crown of the tree in large clusters. Dates are very sweet and are used in many ethnic cuisines. They are best kept and eaten when they have been dried. The sap of the Date Palm can also be used to create a syrup or sweet drink if desired.
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image copyright Better Homes and Gardens

As you can see it all depends on your growing zone but you can easily find a tree that gives you both shade and food. Fruit trees are another great option and you can choose climate appropriate ones that serve both your needs and the needs of your environment. Plant a tree and reap the rewards!

[Editor's Note: If you are short on space, Better Homes and Gardens has a great article on growing fruit trees in pots. This is perfect for the apartment-dweller!]

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

Greetings from Sustainable Brands 2013!

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The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

This year, I was most fortunate to be a volunteer again at the Sustainable Brands Conference from June 3-6. I cannot begin to articulate how excited I was to spend four days amongst the leaders of the Sustainable Business and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement.

SB is held in San Diego at Paradise Point which is an island resort. Last year, I stayed nearby and had my first Airbnb experience, which was wonderful, but this time I stayed on the island with a fellow SB volunteer alum, so I did not miss a second of action! The conference is a four-day, packed-to-the-gills extravaganza that included over 180 speakers on panels, workshops, and TED-esque presentations, an expo that included over 80 vendors, and what seemed to be an infinite amount of networking opportunities and side events, including a yoga paddleboard session!

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This year, I was so excited to see that William McDonough was a speaker and was signing his book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability- Designing for Abundance. McDonough is the father of the cradle to cradle concept, and one of my all time heroes. I was also in line to get Hunter Lovins’ signature for her new book, The Way Out- Kick-starting Capitalism to Save our Economic Ass.

Last year I was blown away by the keynotes from Chipotle, Coca-Cola, the Shelton Group, and many more. You can watch videos of the plenary sessions online. You can also check out @SustainBrands or myself @theKatiePages on Twitter for info on the conference. I will be back with a full report of my experience!

How to Make Violet Cordial

It’s that wonderful time of the year when violets make their brief appearance, and my yard is filled with the beautiful little deep-purple flowers. A few years ago, I posted a tutorial on how to make violet syrup, and I thought it would be fun to revive that recipe with a twist. I made the same basic syrup, but added some vodka to the mixture to make a lovely violet cordial that can be sipped by itself or added to other beverages to make a light floral cocktail. The variety of violets I have in my yard are only slightly fragrant, so the cordial has a mild floral flavor. Different varieties will yield different tastes.

violetsyrup02I began by gathering 2 cups of violets, making sure to choose only those blooms that were open and free of bites and blemishes. When you are harvesting edible wild flowers, make sure that you are picking them from locations that are free from pesticide or other chemical applications.

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I placed the violets into a colander and rinsed them thoroughly.

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Then placed them in a Mason jar and covered them with 2 cups of boiling water. The water almost immediately began to turn a gorgeous sapphire blue! I let the violet infusion cool, then placed it in the refrigerator and let it steep for 24 hours.

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After 24 hours, I strained out the violet blossoms, squeezing them to get out all the gorgeous purple hue. I placed some in a bowl so that I could show you what a brilliant color it made.violetsyrup07

I placed the strained liquid into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

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Then added 2 cups of organic cane sugar and let this mixture come to a boil.

violetsyrup11I then turned down the heat to medium and let it cook at a low boil for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

violetsyrup10I removed the syrup from the heat, then added the strained juice of half a lemon. The acid from the lemon made the syrup go from deep violet to a beautiful magenta color.violetsyrup09

I then mixed the syrup, 50/50, with organic vodka and bottled it in sterilized capped glass jars, which I bought at the Container Store.

violetsyrup12After letting it sit for 2 weeks, it was ready to decant. It is very sweet by itself, but makes a lovely addition to champagne or sparkling water. Enjoy!

The Benefits of a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) Habit

bagmonsterThe following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

You are sitting in a park enjoying a lovely picnic. You are taking in the peaceful moment: the birds are chirping, children are playing on the nearby swings, a butterfly flitters by, and then you look up and your stomach lurches. It’s the lurch you feel when you see a plastic bag stuck amongst the highest branches of the maple you are sitting under. You start thinking about the birds that could get tangled in the plastic, the turtle that thinks he is about to chow down on a jelly fish, and your mind starts flashing images you have seen of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and all you have your mind set on is how long it would take for that bag to eventually break down and where can you find the nearest ladder.

Plastic bag pollution is a serious problem the world over. It is estimated that 1 million plastic bags are used every minute of every day worldwide. Plastics in the ocean is a terrifying situation as today there are more pieces of ocean plastic than plankton (you know the little guys who are responsible for our every other breath). Of the 100 million tons of plastic that are manufactured each year, ten percent finds its way to the ocean, and only 20 percent by means of ships and platforms. That means that 80 percent of the plastic in the ocean comes from the land. With all of this plastic floating in the ocean that does not go away but rather break up into smaller bits (46,000 pieces per every square mile according to the United Nations Environment Program), it is no wonder that a million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die each year from plastic bags and other plastic pollution.

Some quick facts about plastic bags and the environment

Some quick facts about plastic bags and the environment

So what can you do and what should be done? The first thing you should do is bring your own bag to the store. It is estimated that one reusable bag can replace 1,000 plastic bags in the reusable bag’s lifetime. Keep a small foldable bag with you in your purse or on a keychain, so if you are out and about and decide to do some impromptu shopping, you are prepared. ChicoBags makes some really cute ones that fold up super small. Next, keep a stack of bags in the trunk of your car so you have them with you when you head to the grocery store or any other store where you would need more than one bag.  For the non-car owners keeping a stack by the door is a helpful reminder as well. For the ladies, you can get a little drastic and stuff them in your bra, however, I am not exactly sure what the most lady like method of removing the bags would be when you actually need them. Once you have the BYOB habit down, start bugging your friends to remind them as well, you have a vast, powerful network, use it to help the planet out (and while you are at it, get your friends to start a campaign to ban plastic bags in your city!).

If you have a ton of plastic bags under your sink, try to reuse them as trash liners or packaging material. And if you have a desire to get creative, check out these crafts that all use plastic bags! You can also take them to most grocery stores and Staples to recycle them.

Just remember, for every bag you refuse to take you are taking a direct action to help stop the plastic pollution problem and subsequently saving resources, animal lives, and keeping those plastic bags out of our trees and waterways!

Editor’s Note: For more information on the issue of plastic bags, presented in a fun, entertaining way, we highly recommend Bag It!, the movie.

A globe made of plastic bags, as seen at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

A globe made of plastic bags, as seen at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Cleaning Up the Greenwash

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

Back in July, I moved back to Arizona and I’m now newest member of the my Econista friend’s household. With the move came a shift of my lifestyle to the greener side of things, one of them being greener household cleaners. Basically the only things we use are vinegar, baking soda, and thieves all purpose cleaner.

More people are using natural cleaning methods because most cleaning products on the market contain chemicals and toxins that create indoor air pollution and can lead to health side effects such as lung damage.

Because there is no industry certification for what is “natural” or “eco-friendly” or “healthy,” household cleaner manufacturers can get away with greenwashing their products. So the Environmental Working Group (EWG) launched their “Online Guide to Healthy Cleaning” a few weeks ago, to let consumers have a better idea of what’s in their products and what effects these products might have on their consumers. Unlike food and cosmetics, it is not required that cleaning products list all of their ingredients, so EWG had to do some real digging to determine the full ingredient lists.

Like EWG’s Skin Deep Database, the Online Guide to Healthy Cleaning really surprised me with the items that got a bad grade. Here’s an example: When I think toxic cleaners for some reason the first thing that popped into my head was Windex. So I typed in Windex, expecting to have a bad grade come up, which it did. Windex Original Glass Cleaner got the grade of D, so did Windex Nature’s Source Glass Cleaner and Windex Multi-Surface Vinegar Cleaner. So I wanted to try a more eco brand, thinking for sure the eco brand would get a better score. I looked at Seventh Generation’s window cleaner, Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner, Free & Clear, the score was better, but not by much, with a C grade, mainly because of the ingredient methylisothiazolinone. Frustrated, I clicked on the category “Glass/ Window Cleaner” to see who could best the C grade. Turns out of the 49 glass cleaners out there, 4 received an A: Simple Green Naturals Glass & Surface Care, Rosemary Mint; Whole Foods Market glass cleaner, unscented; Green Shield Organic Glass Cleaner, Fresh; and Citra-Solv Citra Clear Window & Glass Cleaner.

For the record, there are simple homemade DIY recipes out there, including pure vinegar; you can check them out here. Or try our Four Thieves Vinegar or All-Purpose Cleaner recipes! Happy Non-toxic cleaning everyone! Have any favorites?

Meet Us at The Mother Earth News Fair this Weekend!

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

This weekend, Herban Lifestyle will be exhibiting at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

This fun-filled family festival is a three-day event held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort starting at 12:00 pm on Friday and going until 6:00 pm on Sunday. The event is like a state fair, but better, because it’s all about rocking the sustainable lifestyle. So it’s like a Sustainability State Fair (as this Rogers and Hammerstein geek starts to sing, “Our State Fair, is a great State fair, don’t miss it don’t even be late!”)

Back to the fair… When you go, you’ll find a slew of activities to partake in to boost your sustainable expertise. First off, there are the workshops (with very entertaining titles), featuring hands-on experiences on topics ranging from modern homesteading to composting to DIY solar panels. Then there are the animal husbandry workshops with a variety of animal workshops on chicks, and ducks and sheep (oh wait, that’s another R&H musical) and llamas, alpacas, horses, and so on. I am torn between whether I would get a bigger kick out of “Hare-Raising Possibilities with Heritage Rabbits” or “Everybody Duck! The basics of raising ducks.” For those who are not as amused with word play as I am, there are also classes like “Pastured Pork Basics” and “Incubation 101.”

So where does Herban Lifestyle come into this mix? Well, we will be exhibiting in good company with an array of vendors including Affordable Barn Co., The Apothecary’s Daughter, Featherman Equipment, Flying Fibers, Gita Naguri Yoga Farm and Grandma Whimsy’s Cupboard. And I really like the name, Love at First Sit, which happens to be “portable, fair trade, ergonomic back support systems made of organic cotton and hemp.”

Tickets are $35 at the gate for a three-day pass or $20 for one day. By using this coupon, you can get $10 off those prices. Sounds like we are going to have a blast. I hope you can join us this weekend to get your State-Fair-Fix-with-a-twist. Mmmm pass the raw cultured veggies and vegan goodies this way!

It’s Park(ing) Day! Come sit down!

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

“Hey, would you like to come sit in the Park?”

“Excuse me?!”, I responded, “What is this?”

I stared, completely baffled at the guy sitting on a park bench surrounded by green grass. It was not that the question itself that was odd, the cause of my bewilderment was in the “park.” I was in Mid-town Manhattan, right across from MoMA in a traffic-cone-demarcated parking space in the street. And while I was perplexed, the offer was greatly appreciated since I had been desperately looking for a place to sit that hot September day as I killed time after a job interview before meeting up with a friend.

“It’s Park(ing) Day! Come sit down!”

So I did. I pulled off my sandals and sat in the cool grass in a “park-ing” spot. I ended up sitting there for hours, watching and observing the many people walking down this busy New York street during lunch rush. Many stopped in their tracks to ask, “What’s going on?”, “What is this?”, and to say “Err..yeah…Happy Park(ing) Day to you too, ah…right”.

In those few hours I learned that Park(ing) Day started in 2005 in San Francisco when one metered parking space was converted into the first pocket park (much like the one I found in 2007), the space covered with grass, a lone park bench and a tree. The idea was to create awareness of ways the public could use the space cars and trucks take up in a city where green space is lacking. In 2005, the first pocket park was created by the design firm, Rebar, a photo was snapped, that photo went viral on the Internet, and a global movement was created. Quick side note: In 2009, Manhattan closed off Broadway around Times Square to traffic and opened it up for the public to walk the once busy streets or sit and have lunch on the cafe tables. It is my personal theory that Park(ing) Day may have influenced this decision.

With each year, more and more parks are converted into pocket parks inspiring people to not only take a little time to enjoy some public green space, but also be creative. Pocket parks have progressed into pocket smoothie bars (complete with a bicycle powered blender), pocket yoga studio, pocket coffee house, pocket art installation, pocket you-get-the-picture. In 2007, when I found my park in front of MoMA, there were 200 parks created in 50 cities in 9 countries on 4 continents. And Park(ing) Day’s popularity has climbed each year. In 2010, I volunteered to spend the whole day in a parking space in Baltimore to wish everyone a very happy Park(ing) Day and raise awareness to the importance of public green urban spaces. That year there were 800 parks worldwide in 183 cities, 30 countries on 6 continents. Last year those numbers grew to 975 parks in 35 countries!

Park(ing) Day 2012 will be held on Friday, September 21. I will again be volunteering in a parking space, this time in Phoenix, starting at 6 am and wrapping up at about 10 am, so that I do not fry like a crispy critter (one of my mother’s favorite sayings). I hope you’ll join the movement! Checkout parkingday.org to find out where you can par-take in the nearest celebration of Park(ing) Day. Better yet, grab some friends and make it a tour!

Park(ing) Day NYC 2008

Food, Fun and Funk: Smithsonian Folklife Festival Celebrates Its 46th Year!

I have attended the Smithsonian Folklife Festival every year since moving to the DC area. And I am a big fan of this event on the National Mall that features art, dance, food, storytelling and other exhibits that highlight various American and international cultures. So when I was asked to supply huge amounts of my soaps and such for sale at the Folklife Marketplace, I was thrilled!

At the end of last week, I dropped off a rented SUV-full of boxes of products for the Marketplace volunteers to do their magic. And yesterday a friend called to tell me that my products were prominently displayed in the Marketplace tent, so I headed down to take some photos. When I entered the Marketplace, I found that the first three tables were filled with my soaps, men’s products, and Herban Crafts kits!

And the Marketplace is just one of the many features of the Festival. This year’s themes are Campus and Community, Citified, and Creativity and Crisis. I took some photos while I was there, and look forward to really exploring the exhibits when I have more time.

The Festival kicked off last night with a free concert on the Mall featuring George Clinton and other funk legends. The was the first of many free concerts being offered during the course of the Festival.

Citified celebrates the art, music, food and community of the area of DC that sits east of the Anacostia river. As the Folklife Festival website explains, “Citified alludes to the fact that many African American residents living east of the Anacostia River have parents or grandparents who migrated from the rural South, particularly North and South Carolina, and who continue to maintain connections with their southern (although often no longer rural) heritage.”

image copyright Washington Post

Campus and Community features exhibits from several land grant colleges and the USDA, both of which are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year. Several of the colleges have exhibits focusing on the theme of sustainability, such as UC Davis’ exhibit on the ubiquitous problem of plastic bags and the University of Tennessee’s Solar House.

And Creativity and Crisis features the AIDS Quilt, now celebrating its 25th anniversary. In 1987, The NAMES Project Foundation offered hands-on quilt panel-making sessions that allowed individuals and communities to commemorate loved ones, find support and engage in dialogues about how to address the crisis. Today, The Quilt contains nearly 48,000 panels, a portion of which are on display on the Mall.

For those visitors who want to have a hand in adding to The Quilt, participants of all ages will have the opportunity to learn quilting techniques, make panels, and share stories from their own experiences.

The Festival is being held from June 27–July 1 and July 4–8, and is open from 11:00am to 5:30pm.