If you haven't heard a word about this week's monumental "once-in-a-generation" global conference on sustainability you're not alone. Rio +20 marks the 20th anniversary of the original 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil where for the first time, the world's most powerful and influential leaders met with thousands of activists and participants from public, private and non-profit groups to begin collaborating on solving the planet's most urgent environmental issues.
It was heralded as a game changer with regard to pollution, overpopulation, global warming, species extinction, deforestation and more. But unfortunately our collective global will to solve these problems has since waned and little action resulted from the 1992 summit or the many other successive meetings.
On the bright side, over 100 presidents and prime ministers will be represented at this year's summit today through Friday, however President Obama, David Cameron, Angela Merkel, and dozens of the other major global leaders have snubbed the talks. Environmental activists are looking for ways to help salvage things.
Vermonter, Bill McKibbon ("probably the nation's leading environmentalist" per the Boston Globe) has organized a Twitterstorm as a way for people all around the world to lend their support to the conference. Bill's signature issue is climate change and pollution from fossil fuels so he's asking everyone to tweet this message today: "Want to stop climate change? Stop funding it. Pls RT! http://endfossilfuelsubsidies.org/twitterstorm/ #EndFossilFuelSubsidies"
Logged in to your Twitter account now? How about lending Bill a hand? The world record for tweets in a day was set earlier this year, with birthday greetings for Justin Bieber. It would be a sad state of affairs if we couldn't beat that.
Since Earth Day is on Sunday this year, we decided to have our Vermont Woods Studios Earth Day party today. Here are a few photos of the crew indulging in local, organic food from The Works, a cafe, bakery and deli in Brattleboro.
We love the food and the people at the Works but we also like their green brand.
This sign on the wall at the back of the deli tells where all the recycled materials that make up the store came from. Furniture and cabinetry were made by our friend Chad Woodruff of Woodruff Custom Furniture here in Vernon, VT. Chad used old tractor seats and scythe handles for chairs.
The vintage steel lighting at the Works was salvaged from from an old amusement park in Rye, New York.
The menu is written on an old slate chalkboard reclaimed from Northfield Mount Hermon School, in Northfield MA.
They just used a lot of imagination in designing and building the Works and everyone in Brattleboro loves going there for the good green vibe.
So here's another idea for our "Greening Up Your Workplace" Challenge on Facebook– have an Earth Day lunch with natural food from a local restaurant or deli.
Guest Blogger: Shannon Albritton
WARNING: No hazmat suits, protective eyewear or gloves required to read this message
My very first thought when we launched our Green-Up Your Workplace Challenge here at Vermont Woods Studios was “I can’t wait to get those toxic cleaning products out of our bathroom!” There’s nothing worse than walking into a ‘freshly cleaned bathroom’ and needing to open the window to dissipate the smell of bleach and chemicals. I was quick to volunteer for the task of purchasing a new assortment of green cleaning products. Permission granted!
My personal aversion to the odor of chemical-based products aside, there are a variety of factors to consider when selecting cleaning products:
Important reasons to consider when going green with your clean:
- When toxic chemicals are sprayed, dumped, rinsed or washed the hazardous environmental effects are outstanding
- 6 billion pounds of chemicals are dumed into the environment each year
- Cancer, autism, birth defects, skin & respiratory sensitivies and asthma are on the rise without adequate explanation why
Possible environmental consequences of using chemical cleaning products:
- Air pollution
- Bioaccumulation of toxic substances in plants and animals
- Endocrine disruption in wildlife, which affects reproductive ability
- Ozone depletion
- Water pollution
And, if the above isn’t enough to convince you, consider the following warning label comparison:
Warning Label Clorox Clean-Up reads: Eye & Skin Irritant: Causes substantial but temporary eye injury. Do not get in eyes or on clothing. Wear protect eyewear (really?) Harmful if swallowed. For sensitive skin or prolonged use wear gloves. Avoid prolonged breathing of vapors and use in well ventilated areas. (Yeesh! – did they forget the hazmat suit?)
Warning Label Biokleen Bac-Out Bathroom Cleaner: Caution: In case of eye contact, flush eyes with cool water for 15 minutes. In case of ingestion, do not induce vomitting; drink plenty of water to dilute. (That was easy)
Have I convinced you yet? Here comes the reinforcement…
- Animal Testing – I’ll leave the gory details to your imagination but let’s face it, choosing products which use No Animal Testing and No Animal Ingredients should be a no-brainer in 2012. Store shelves provide a variety options and alternatives for friendlier choices that don’t include a science lab full of beagles testing your bathroom cleaner for skin allergies…
Products from earth-friendly companies like Biokleen (my personal favorite), Ecover, Seventh Generation offer a safe and comprehensive product line for cleaning your office and home. Many products are available in concentrated form which also helps keep our planet green. Less waste in plastic bottles and containers has a direct impact on our energy consumption and pollution from manufacturing. In many cases these concentrated products are very cost effective because you’re not paying for the bottle over and over again. I’ve been using Biokleen for years and strongly recommend them. Not only are their products safe and green they actually work and smell wonderful!
So, let’s recap: Choosing to green-up your workplace by replacing toxic cleaning products laden with harsh chemicals with green cleaning alternatives is my # 1 choice because it:
- Removes harsh chemicals from the air
- Keeps chemicals from leeching into our water systems and plants
- Prevents negative effects on the reproduction of our wildlife
- Keeps the air quality safe for myself, my coworkers & our customers
- No hazmat suit, protective eyewear or gloves required
- No Animal Testing or Animal Products
- Concentrated formulas save on waste and pollution
- Smells great – no artificial fragrances, colors or preservatives
Now head on over to the Vermont Woods Studios Virtual Green-Up Your Workplace Challenge and show your love for my #1 green-up tip. Be sure to share your green cleaning tips with the rest of us and tell us how you’re greening up your workplace too!
Warning: No animals, vegetables or minerals have been harmed in the making of this message
Congratulations to our Vermont Woods Studios customers and readers who celebrated Earth hour with a candlelight dinner, a cribbage game or a relaxing chat by the fireside. You joined hundreds of millions of environmental activists around the globe who made this annual climate change awareness event a phenomenal success.
Here are some cool pictures on the Earth Hour sponsor’s (World Wildlife Fund) website that show lights out from Sydney to Bejing to New York City. You can upload and share your own photos, films, blog entries and more.
We’d love to see your photos too. Send us pictures of you enjoying a candlelight dinner seated at your Vermont Woods Studios eco-friendly table and chairs and we’ll send you a $25 gift certificate!
We’re asking all of our Vermont Woods Studios customers, vendors and friends to join us this Saturday, March 28 at 8:30pm in turning out the lights for the Third Annual International Earth Hour.
Earth Hour is World Wildlife Fund‘s global initiative where individuals, businesses and governments turn off their lights for one hour to show their support for action on climate change. Major cities across the US and around the world have committed to participate in Earth Hour 2009.
Last year, all seven continents turned out their lights in the largest climate event of all time. The movement captured the public’s imagination with lights going out at some of the world’s most iconic landmarks including:
- The Sydney Opera House
- Bangkok’s Wat Arun Buddhist temple
- The Coliseum in Rome
- Stockholm’s Royal Castle
- New York’s Empire State Building
- Sears Tower in Chicago and the
- Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Even Google’s homepage went dark.
What does Climate Change have to do with Green Furniture and why are we so fired up about this initiative?
Believe it or not, 20% of global climate change is caused by deforestation. As woodworkers, we’ve been reaching out to educate others about the need to preserve the forests. Not just the temperate forests in which we live and work, but particularly, the world’s rapidly disappearing tropical rainforests.
We all depend on the forests for our survival. They are the lungs of our planet and house many of our most precious natural resources and endangered species. Forest preservation is our passion and Earth Hour is a way to symbolize that passion. We hope you’ll join us!