I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

December 7, 2010
During the rush of the holiday season, it may be harder to beGreen ChristmasGreen Christmas the green person you strive to be throughout the year, but here are some simple ideas from Mahalo that can help us all feel a bit better.
The 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the United States could fill a landfill the size of a football field 10 stories high. Send e-cards or at least reuse cards you receive to make gift tags.
 
The tree: If you love having a real live tree, try to buy your tree as close to its source as possible to cut down on fossil fuels. If you prefer the artificial kind, make sure it was made in the U.S.A.
 
Switching to LEDs for your holiday light display is 90% more efficient than incandescent lighting. 
 
The best way to eliminate waste is to give less. 

Be a giver of green gifts, i.e., items made of organic or recycled materials.  

 Skip the wrapping paper if possible. Wasting an entire roll of paper disguising a new bike is a waste. And remember to reuse bows.

 For a complete list of green tips for the holidays, visit Mahalo.


Where Do We Begin?

June 18, 2010

Strategic mortgage defaults, childhood obesity, oil drilling and the devastating BP oil spill, one-in-ten unemployed. This list lies heavy on many hearts right now.  It is hard to turn a blind eye to the challenges that lie before us today.

And it’s really the uncertainty that keeps most Americans today on edge, not the actual problem at hand:

People with money walking away from mortgages even though they have money. When will it end? Has we lost our morals? The wealth that could be destroyed in this manner is incomprehensible.

Childhood obesity. 33% of kids are morbidly fat. We are turning out young adults at a record pace too overweight to even defend our country. There is plenty of blame to go around — parents, the media, fast food companies, soft drink conglomerates, and past government programs come to mind. Does anyone see this changing any time soon? 

Unemployment. It’s been between 9.7 and 10.0 since last August. We are getting complacent that one out of every ten of us are not working.

The Deepwater Horizon-BP Oil Disaster. Everyone is on pins and needles about this one. Worst-case scenarios could destroy the welfare of people and ecosystems from the Gulf to the Atlantic. I feel sorry for the families of the loved ones you were killed in the oil rig explosion who really were forgotten through this mess.

As the saying goes, this too shall pass. After all, we have survived the likes of world wars, cold war challenges, polio and the Great Depression.

Maybe I just worry too much. 

   


Living green has morphed itself

May 26, 2010

Living green has morphed itself. In a short couple of years, it has gone from being environmentally friendly and conserving energy to all things healthy. Just look at the homes that are currently being certified green by the Florida Green Building Council. The only Platinum Home — the highest designation available — is in Orlando, Fla., that indeed is not sexy green. It scored high marks not for its roof gardens or rain barrels, but for its low-VOC and no-VOC carpets and paints. The tight envelope of the home keeps out allergens as does the fresh air intake of the air conditioning unit. Moreover, Cambria countertops are installed in the kitchen and all bathrooms: Cambria is food safe since it is nonporous and food and moisture cannot penetrate the surface.

And it’s not only the sick buildings we are addressing; it’s the foods we eat that have become the newest green offshoot. It started with eating local foods to cut down on emissions and carbon footprints, but it has become a quest for eliminating obesity — especially in children — and returning our eating habits to those of our ancestors free of processed foods and out-of-control portions. The obesity factor has reached such a high scale that the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity was just released by First Lady Michelle Obama, which is aimed to reduce childhood obesity from 20% to 5% by 2030.

The greener eating craze has caused an uptick in the fight for exercise as well. It is not only a good diet that will keep you healthy, but it’s the regular exercise that so many people avoided way too long.

Indeed, it is the influx of baby boomers into their senior years that is really causing a stir.

If boomers are not kept healthy, their sheer numbers could crush even the best of health care plans.


Health-conscious Businesses Being Honored in Orlando

March 12, 2010

In the past couple of years, the hackneyed term “green” has morphed beyond just our social consciousness of the environment and into the realm of healthcare. We have seen this trend in publishing We Care magazine in Orlando, Fla., in which the tide toward being healthy — holistic eating, non-toxic cleaning products, and walking/biking to school and work — has seemed to take center stage.

Last fall I had the pleasure of becoming involved with a group called Get Active Orlando, which acts as an advisory committee to the City of Orlando, although we reach way beyond the city limits. This group of professionals representing hospitals, nurses, doctors, neighborhoods, entrepreneurs, associations, and local businesses and governmental agencies are engaged in fabricating the area in which we live into the healthiest city in the country. Tall order, but one that can be accomplished.

To that end, I am working with Get Active Orlando on a regional campaign to find and award the healthiest businesses in Central Florida. The first-ever Healthy Workplace Awards will honor businesses dedicated to the health of their employees.

For example, do you encourage your employees to include exercise in their daily activities? Do you know of a business that promotes bicycle riding or walking to work? Does your place of business offer facilities for exercise or working out for employees? If you can say yes to any of these questions, or have a wellness program of your own, let us know.

For applications, criteria, and submission guidelines to the 2010 Healthy Workplace Awards, e-mail info@getactiveorlando.com or visit www.getactiveorlando.com. The application was designed to take only a few minutes to fill out and there is no entry fee. Applications are due April 30, 2010.

So, stand and be recognized — apparently it’s the green thing to do.


What Did you Wish for This Year?

December 14, 2009

In the day, the Sear’s Wish Book was all my sister, brothers, and I needed to make our list of things we thought Santa should bring us. Like most every other kids in the world, it was more of a receive holiday than a give one. 

As we grow older, we tend to discover the true meaning of the holiday; that is, getting much more satisfaction from what we give — whether that be a gift or our time — than from what we receive. There are plenty of ways to show that true spirit. The Second Harvest Food Bank or any food bank (see food story above) always needs food and volunteers. And many organizations are still accepting toys for children who may not otherwise find much under the tree this year.
 GI Joe
Nonetheless, if I were a kid today, I am sure my list would include some of the top selling toys of the season, according to Amazon and eBay.  Oddly enough, some of the things on those lists are the same toys we asked for when we were young: GI Joe, Barbie, and the Easy Bake Oven. Of course these days, I would also be looking for DJ Hero and the Roboni-i Programmable Gaming Robot under the tree for me. And my sister Sandy, adorably pictured above with me in the Picture of the Week, would no doubt want that Barbie to be the new Twilight Barbie.
 
Easy Bake OvenBut no matter what you end up giving and receiving this season, we want to wish you the happiest of holidays, and a wonderful new year!
My final wish — may there be peace on Earth.


Who Cares?

September 17, 2009

 

From disrespect of the nation’s Commander-in-Chief and the ranting at town hall meetings to the music and sports world celebrities going wacko, it is getting harder to concentrate on a magazine I am deeply involved with right now.
 
We CareIt’s called We Care, but lately I wonder if we really do. It seems like the compassion once so prevalent in this country — especially after 9-11 — is melting as fast as the polar ice caps.
 
The other day, within a matter of minutes, my wife and I watched a woman throw a can on the ground as she was walking to her car — a garbage can only 50 feet away. Around the corner, a young man was throwing rocks at snake birds near the shore of a lake.
 
Were they reprimanded? Of course! But deaf ears and insubordinate attitudes seem to have become  everyday traits.
 
Maybe that’s why I have become so engrossed in We Care. Each day, I get to hear people tell me heart-warming stories of caring for another. It helps restore my faith in society that all is not lost.
 
Let’s at least hope so.