Green Tip of the Month

    December 2022

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    Happy Holidays!

    With the quarter coming to a close and winter break quickly approaching, there are many ways to implement sustainable practices this holiday season! Whether or not you celebrate holidays, there are everyday opportunities to work towards sustainability. 

    If you’re traveling for the break, consider your environmental impact of transportation. If possible, carpool or use public transportation to reduce emissions produced. If you’d like to learn more, there are organizations like the Carbon Fund or Terrapass that provide helpful insight into carbon offsetting and alternatives.


    If you celebrate a gift-giving holiday, here are some helpful tips to reduce your environmental impact.

    • Consider purchasing from local or sustainable companies. Not only does buying local support your community socially and economically, it also requires less transportation and therefore reduces emissions greatly. If this isn’t possible, there are also many great options online, and this gift guide features many ideas that support ethical & sustainable companies. 
    • Give experience-oriented gifts or get crafty and DIY them! A great gift option are those that don’t require physical waste, such as a trip, a meal, a membership pass, or a concert. If you like crafting, there are also so many thoughtful gifts you can make yourself. Some ideas are a photo collage or album, dessert mix in a jar, homemade cookies or soap, a fun recipe book, and more.

  • November 2022

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    Sustainable thanksgiving tips, if you celebrate Thanksgiving!

    We hope you have a wonderful start to the holiday season and enjoy the near approaching thanksgiving. By being mindful of a few things, you can savor the holiday while also being more sustainable!


    • Plan your menu ahead of time to reduce food waste and eliminate overbuying when you may already have the item or a similar one. You can also utilize tools such as the Guestimator, that calculate food quantities depending on your number of guests and meal types. 
    • Purchase reusable to-go containers for all of those delicious leftovers instead of using disposable plastic bags or packages. There are many great options to choose from, such as Pyrex containers or other sustainable companies such as the Package Free shop.
    • Save or freeze your leftovers to prevent food waste and to get the most out of your meal. This may seem like a no brainer to some, but in the U.S. food waste is estimated to account for 30% - 40% of the food supply. To cut down on this statistic, it’s important to package up, share or freeze your remaining food. Many foods can be easily stored in the freezer, preserving their freshness, and there are many helpful guides that describe what can or cannot be frozen.
    • Consider opting for more veg-focused options at the dinner table. There are so many great vegetarian options that have a lighter carbon footprint, and incorporating a few into your meal can have a wonderful impact! Here are 89 delicious recipes that you can utilize this holiday. 

    We recognize that not everyone celebrates this very controversial holiday and we acknowledge the multiplicity of cultural views around the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.

    We encourage you to attend Indigethanx, by the American Indian Resource Center, on November 17, 6 - 8 pm. Registration encouraged.

  • October 2022

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    Happy fall quarter!

    With October here and Halloween approaching, here are some easy and simple ways to make the holiday more sustainable! 

    Get crafty and make your own sustainable Halloween costumes. Consider making your own costume, such as using recyclable or reusable materials, to skip plastic store-bought costumes and craft yourself an awesome outfit. There are many ideas that utilize household things such as old sheets, cardboard, or even old clothes! 

    • You can also visit local thrift stores, such as Grey Bears to find some clothing options for good prices and a good footprint.

    Consider buying local treats and pumpkins. There are many great options at the farmers market or local stores that have a better impact and are just as delicious! Buying food locally has many benefits such as reducing travel emissions, preserving green space, and importantly supporting and building sustainable communities.

    • Importantly, after you carve your pumpkin, don’t forget to get the most out of it while also being sustainable. There are so many ways to utilize pumpkins, such as roasting the seeds, or making pie, bread, or soup!

  • Summer 2022

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    Happy Summer! 

    Now that summer is finally here, it is time to go outside and spend time with friends. When hosting a picnic or summer barbeque, try shopping at the local farmers market. The Santa Cruz farmers market is Wednesdays at 6pm Downtown, Tuesdays from 1-6pm in Felton, Sundays from 9am-1pm in Live Oak, Saturdays 9am-1pm Westside, and (insert Scotts Valley). The benefit of buying from local vendors is that allows you to purchase healthy foods while supporting local businesses. 

    Additionally, check to see which foods are in season. The USDA has a seasonal produce guide which highlights which common foods are best during certain times of the year. In season local produce is fresher, tastes better, and better for the environment unlike out of season produce which is harvested early in order to be shipped. Some in season summer foods include peaches, tomatoes, watermelon, bell peppers, and corn.

  • May 2022

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    Sustainably moving out!

    With campus move-out approaching soon, there are some simple ways to make this process easier and better for the planet. 

    Moving can often generate many forms of waste, such as boxes, packing materials, and disposing of items no longer used. However, there are many easy ways to reduce this waste.

    Avoid the trash, and instead donate items you no longer need. To make donating at school more accessible, there will be Goodwill donation bins all around campus beginning June 2nd. If living off campus, Grey Bears thrift store is open everyday from 7:30 - 2 and has a great program for donating a wide variety of items.

    Instead of buying all new items, such as food, consider waiting until you move to properly assess what you need. According to the FDA, in the United States, food waste consists of about 30-40% of the food supply. One way to prevent adding to this is by determining what food you already have, and to fill your kitchen with necessities once you move out. It may be helpful to sort already purchased food and make note of what is needed, and if you share your space, to coordinate with those around you. 

    Many Consider using reusable moving materials. A great way to reduce moving waste and also save money is to buy reusable moving bins and containers. Instead of using materials one time, it may be beneficial to buy large bins that you can later utilize for storage. 

    • If you don’t have space for storage bins, many local businesses acquire an abundance of boxes that you can ask to pick up for free.
    • Alternatively, neighborhood networking services such as Nextdoor are a great resource for finding free moving supplies! Not only that, but there are many other household items for free or low cost that you can use to fill your space.

  • April 2022

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    Happy Spring Quarter!

    With warmer weather approaching, there are greater opportunities for taking time outdoors for personal sustainability. One practice that involves taking intentional time in nature is called nature bathing. Nature bathing involves connecting with the sights, sounds, smells, and touch of the environment to slow down and unplug with technology. Noticing the environment around you while being fully present can be a nice shift away from the stresses of the day. 

    To connect with the outdoors in Santa Cruz, here are some viewpoints or walks:

    • West Cliff Drive or East Cliff Drive has great ocean views and paths for walking or biking
    • Shark Fin Cove on Highway 1 has a beautiful view of the sunset and is distinguished by a rock formation that looks like a shark fin
    • Wilder State Park has a variety of walking paths and lead to nice ocean lookouts 
    • Upper East Field on campus has benches to sit and on a clear day you can see the entire Monterey Bay

  • March 2022

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    Spring Cleaning!

    With spring approaching, it’s time to deep clean and de-clutter your space! When going through junk drawers, consider donating household items to a local thrift store. Grey Bears is a thrift store in Santa Cruz that accepts a wide variety of items and is open every day from 7:30 am-2:00 pm. 

    Another great way to declutter is to clean your digital devices. Holding on to old digital files not only affects your computer’s performance but could put your devices and information at risk. Additionally, storing data on the cloud uses a lot of energy due to cloud data being stored in buildings on energy-intensive hard drives. Carnegie Mellon University found that the energy cost of transferring and storing data on the cloud is 7 kWh per gigabyte, compared to 0.000005 kWh per gigabyte to save data to your personal hard disk. 

    To spring clean your digital space, there are a few steps you can do. Take time to delete unwanted digital files, close unnecessary online accounts, review and update passwords, clear your browser cache, uninstall outdated apps, update software, and backup devices.

  • February 2022

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    Bringing Your Own Dishes and Cups 

    One great way to reduce your environmental impact is to bring your own reusable cups, tuperwares, and cutlery to events or restaurants. It is estimated that 561 billion disposable food accessories are disposed of annually, leading to 4.9 million tons of waste. Using your own dishes eliminates the need for single use food accessories and can be a step towards preventing food accessories from polluting streets and waterways. Bringing your own containers and cups will also be important in Santa Cruz because by March 9th, 2022 restaurants in Santa Cruz will have to comply with the Environmentally Acceptable Packaging and Products Ordinance. This will result in a charge of .25 for each disposable beverage container, require customers to ask for disposable food accessories, and a switch to better compostable fiber based containers. 

    Did you know there’s an option to avoid single-use waste when eating on campus? Using an Eco-Box each time you visit a dining hall will eliminate the need for all those single-use compostable products. Eco-Boxes are reusable containers that allow guests to take food to go without the waste! If you have a 5- or 7-day meal plan it is free to participate! All you need to do is ask the dining hall cashier for an Eco-Box when you arrive. Fill it up and leave. After you’re done with your meal, wipe the box clean with a napkin  and return it to a cashier when you visit a dining hall again. Request, eat, return, repeat! For more information visit Dining’s Meals To Go page. 

  • December 2021

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    Happy Holidays!

    Consider buying from companies that are leaders in environmental and social responsibility when shopping for gifts this holiday season. This can be done by typing in any company into the search bar at Better World Shopper or at Good On You for clothing brands. Additionally, if you are located in Santa Cruz, check out this list of local black owned businesses to support during the holidays. 

    Wrapping paper results in a large amount of waste. Instead of spending money on wrapping paper which is immediately torn up and thrown away, consider some sustainable alternatives. Some substitutes for packaging gifts include using reused bags or boxes, tote bags, or cloth.

    Check your Christmas lights for replacement fuses. Rather than throwing away an entire string of lights or purchasing new ones, install replacement fuses using the spare fuses that come with the lights. If new lights need to be purchased, consider shopping at thrift stores. Thrift stores also have other decorations for the holidays that can be bought second hand and repurposed. 

  • November 2021

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    Sustainable Thanksgiving and Black Friday 

    Consider shopping locally for in season items when creating a Thanksgiving meal. To reduce food waste, repurpose your leftovers with these creative recipes and compost your food scraps. 

    When Black Friday shopping, look for gifts by local artisans or fair trade. Additionally, avoiding unnecessary purchases helps lower greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and shipping and reduces waste in landfills. 


  • October 2021

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    Sustainable Halloween 
    When brainstorming costume ideas, look through your closet to see what items can be repurposed or visit a local thrift store, rather than buying one from retail. 
    To decorate, use items from your own home  such as cardboard tombstones or make spiderwebs out of old stockings. 
    Additionally, when possible buy pumpkins that are locally grown. After carving, the leftover pumpkin and the seeds can be used in yummy recipes

  • Summer 2021

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    World Ocean Day, June 8

    Plastic waste in the ocean is dangerous to marine life and can break into microplastics.   Save Our Shores has a campaign to minimize pollution from six pollutants: beverage containers, toiletry bottles, microfiber, contact lenses, balloons, and coffee pods. You can donate to their cause, or find other ways to support their campaign. 

    But plastic waste isn’t the only thing threatening the ocean. For example, by conserving water, you can help prevent excess runoff and wastewater from flowing into the ocean. Check out these 10 simple things you can do at home or around town to help our oceans. 

  • May 2021

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    May 8th is World Fair Trade Day, a worldwide celebration of fair trade’s contribution to the fight against poverty, exploitation, and climate change. 

    This year, UC Santa Cruz passed a fair trade resolution that reflects its commitment to join the efforts of the Fair Trade Colleges & Universities, a division of Fair Trade Campaigns! Help keep the momentum by getting involved with campaigns on campus or in the Santa Cruz community. Not in Santa Cruz? Find a campaign near you!

    Are you planning to celebrate Mother’s Day by buying a gift? Check using this search tool from the Fair Trade Federation to search over 200 verified fair trade businesses. You can even look for online businesses!

  • April 2021

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    April 14th is National Gardening Day. Gardening can be a great way to get outside and produce food for you and your family, so here are some tips to help you do it a little more sustainably!

    Reducing water use is especially important during times when water is scarce or restricted, and it’s a great way to save money. Try to water during the morning or evening (when temperatures are cooler) to limit evaporation. You can also consider planting drought tolerant plants.

    Seed libraries can help to preserve the genetic heritage of food. Consider getting involved with UCSC’s Demeter Seed Library, which supplies information about urban gardening and freely distributes seeds. For those of you outside of Santa Cruz, you can check out this directory to find a seed library near you.

  • Winter 2021

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    For all the basketball fans out there, March Madness is coming up soon! Here’s a few tips on how to make your watch party a little more sustainable. 

    Know how to dispose of your takeout containers. Ordering pizza? Make sure you don’t recycle that greasy box when it’s done; throw it in with your trash.That Styrofoam container from the wings? That’s not recyclable either. Plastic take out containers? Make sure they’re clean before you recycle them! Check out Santa Cruz’s “What goes where” guide to help you avoid recycling contamination. 

    Better yet, try cutting down on single use containers with reusable plates, cups, and silverware. If that’s not an option, think about using compostable dinnerware. You also might consider trying to make one of these healthy snack recipes, like roasted buffalo chickpeas, black bean chili, or sriracha cauliflower bites.

  • February 2021

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    Sustainable Valentine’s Day

    There is going to be an abundance of chocolate and candy hitting the shelves this month. If chocolate is a must-have, try buying organic or fair trade chocolate. Click here for a delicious vegan truffle recipe that you can make with your chocolate. 

    Nothing says “you’re my Valentine” like a flower bouquet. Consider going to a farmers’ market, or another way to get in-season flowers from a local grower. Check your local county’s regulations to see if you can put flowers in green waste or compost to help keep them out of landfill trash once they wilt. 

  • December 2020

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    This holiday season, remember to follow COVID safety guidelines. Check these guidelines to help you stay safe. 

    Being a conscious consumer and buying gifts locally is a great way to support your local economy and reduce emissions. If you do end up buying a gift online, try looking for a brand with a third party verification of their positive impact, like 1% For the Planet and Be Climate Neutral.  

    Coral reefs are crucial to marine life and producing oxygen. Sadly, these reefs are under threat from ocean acidification and bleaching. Consider adopting a coral reef for a loved one this winter to help protect these vulnerable ecosystems. 

    Americans spend about $3 billion each year on wrapping paper. That’s a lot of money for something that will get immediately torn up and thrown away! Consider ditching wrapping paper. You’ll spare yourself the trouble of cleaning it up, and you’ll also help keep paper out of landfills. You can also check out these sustainable wrapping paper ideas.

  • November 2020

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    Sustainable Thanksgiving tips

    Remember to follow COVID distancing guidelines and avoid large group gatherings; try calling or video-chatting your family members instead of meeting up. Check these guidelines from the CDC to assess the risk level of different activities to help you plan a safe Thanksgiving. 

    Consider buying foods that are local and in-season to use for your meals. Create a detailed list of items you want to buy from the store beforehand. This can help to limit the gas needed for multiple car trips to and from the store, avoid unnecessary exposure to other households to limit the risk of COVID transmission, and prevent you from overbuying food that you would have to throw away.

    To avoid producing unnecessary trash, try reusable dining ware instead of disposable. You can also look at these tips to learn more about ways to reduce food waste.

  • October 2020

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    Sustainable Halloween tips

    Make sure to follow COVID physical distancing guidelines. You can hold a virtual movie watching party. Dress up, video chat with other friends who dressed up, and watch a scary movie together while on the chat.

    Instead of decorating with non-recyclable plastics, get crafty and make decorations with reused items from your own home. You can upcycle soup cans to make spooky lantern, or make these mason jar lid pumpkins.

    If you get a pumpkin, consider purchasing one that was locally grown. If you make a jack-o-lantern, you can save the seeds and roast them, and keep the insides to make one of these pumpkin recipes.You can also check out these tips on ways to reuse a pumpkin, in honor of National Reuse Day.

  • June 2020 Issue

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    There are lots of ways to enjoy quality time together without purchasing gifts, like cooking your dad’s favorite meal. Try one of these plant based recipes, which result in lower emissions and water use on average than meat products. You can also enjoy family time over Skype or Zoom.

    Shelter-in-place is a great time for DIY projects. You can make something like soaps or cleaning products.Try using those old things in your house to repurpose into a great gift for your dad that is eco-friendly and useful. 

    Plastic packaging is made from fossil fuels and only about 10% of all plastic is recycled. If you do decide to buy something, look for items from places like Package Free Shop, that don’t use plastic packaging in their products. You can also consider supporting your favorite local business and buying a gift from there.

  • May 2020 Issue

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    How to make your quarantine a little more sustainable!

    Use old clothes to make a fabric mask.  Based on the new CDC guidelines, it is recommended to wear a fabric face mask when in public. By using old clothes or linens, you reduce the need for new materials and/or the emissions needed to ship masks. You can learn more about how to make them and the new guidelines here.

    Tell Amazon you want less packaging.  While we always recommend reusing or shopping local, unprecedented times may be leaving you with more smiley-faced packages than normal. You can request to reduce the amount of packaging in your delivery by emailing customer service. Follow this link to learn how.

    Start a quarantine garden.  In these strange times, many of us have extra time on our hands. It can feel stifling to always be indoors. A great way to get outdoors, stay productive, and maybe even get some free groceries is to start a garden. Learn some more tips and tricks here.

  • April 2020 Issue

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    Here are some tips to make the best of this April!

    Worried about finding paper towels?  Ditch them all together!  Use hand towels and rags to keep things clean and dry.

    While others are grabbing all the packaged meals, reach for the fresh fruits and veggies!  They are more plentiful in the stores, often come in less packaging, and will keep you healthy in trying times.  If you’re trying to avoid going to stores frequently, most fruits and veggies can be chopped up and frozen to last much longer.

    Instead of rushing the stores, take the time to plant a veggie garden! Gardening will provide a fun, relaxing activity during the shelter-in-place, and also yield some nutritious snacks. It’s a win win! Learn more about gardening here: Grow your own veggies? Orin Martin offers tips for novice gardeners

    Left Over Recipes
    To avoid food waste, trips to the store, and help you cook with what you have left in the fridge and pantry, use this very helpful online tool, that will give you a recipe based on ingredients you have left.

    Social distancing can sometimes feel stifling.  No better way to stay healthy, protect others, and appreciate the Earth than going for a hike or walk around the block.  Get outside! Just make sure to keep your distance from others.

    Try Composting. Hard Core Compost, a Santa Cruz local business, is now offering compost self drop off at the Homeless Garden Project. This service is open to everyone, and is a great way to reduce waste to landfills while working from home! Drop off times are from 12pm -4pm, and you can learn more about it here. They also have a GoFundMe page to supplement lost wages, which you can donate to if you wish.

    While times are hard and things can seem really bleak, it is important to take this time as an opportunity to reflect on our impact on the world.  This is a good time to return to the basics, strengthen community, and spend solitary time in nature.  

  • March 2020 Issue

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    Forget spring cleaning, try out spring greening!

    When clearing out that junk drawer, make sure to take all old electronics (cell phones, tablets, etc.) that are no longer usable, old appliances, and used batteries to an e-waste drop off.  You can drop off your e-waste items at the UCSC H Barn without an appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 12:00PM and 3:00PM.  Or take your items to Grey Bears at 2710 Chanticleer Ave, Santa Cruz to be repurposed or recycled.

    Skip the chemicals when cleaning your house.  Traditional store-bought cleaning products can be expensive and harmful to both the environment and your health.  Follow this simple recipe for an all-purpose spray cleaner. Combine and store in a reusable/old spray bottle 2 cups water 1/4 cup white vinegar; 1/4 tsp. tea tree oil; 1/4 tsp. lavender oil.  Thank you to Earth911 for this recipe!

    No better time than the warmth of spring to try out cycling to school or work!  Not only will this give you fresh air and killer calves, but it will reduce your carbon footprint and air pollution

    Make a pledge to learn more about your local ecosystem while it’s in bloom!  Start a small garden with native plants, buy in season fruits and veggies, or go to a workshop at the UCSC CASFS Farm or Arboretum.

  • February 2020 Issue

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    Don’t make Valentine’s day just about chocolates and flowers, show some love for the environment too!

    Skip the balloons.  Balloons that accidentally get set free often end up in our oceans and hurt wildlife.  Reduce excess waste and stick to thoughtful gifts and romantic gestures.

    Give a live plant instead of cut flowers.  Store-bought bouquets often use flowers that are sourced from other countries and, therefore, use lots of fossil fuels to get to us.  Giving your loved one a locally grown potted plant is not only eco-friendly, but can be a fun new hobby. A gift that keeps giving!

    Make baked goods.  Baked goods and chocolates often come in lots of unnecessary packaging.  Making homemade gifts and baked goods gives you the power to reduce waste as much as possible and shows the people you love that you’ll go the extra mile for them.  

    Skip the steak. Steak is a staple in the “fancy food” world.  Yet, the production of beef has a huge carbon footprint (6.61 lbs of CO2 per 4 oz of meat).  Instead opt for fish, white meat, or even better...veggies!

    Register to Vote! There’s nothing more romantic that helping guarantee your loved ones a bright future.  Get your voice heard and register to vote by February 18th for the upcoming election. 

  • December 2019 Issue

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     5 Ways to Have an Eco Friendly Holiday

    DIY your own wrapping paper: You can reuse wrapping paper (they can be used many times over), or use newspaper, comic books, magazines, cloth, even old t-shirts instead. Or, alternatively, do not use wrapping all together, which will be even more sustainable! 

    Use locally grown food on your holiday meals: This will not only help local markets and farmers, but you will know where your food comes from. Much healthier and sustainable. In addition, you can eliminate meats for a change (if that is new to you)! 

    Need new holiday lights? Try LED: If you’re in the market for a new set of Holidays lights, opt for energy efficient LEDs. They use 90 percent less energy than older, incandescent lights. And while they might be pricey, they’ll save you money in the long run. They also last longer than regular holiday lights. 

    Turn off your holiday lights when you're not using them: Holiday lights look better at night, so try to turn them on only when dark, and remember to turn them off when you go to sleep. This will help you save money on your electricity bill and help the planet at the same time. 

    Make your own decorations! You can make your own decorations with pinecones and leaves for example, that you can easily find outside. You can also make things such as chiffon flowers, popcorn steamers and even snow globes. Since many of these projects are done with nature’s gifs or found objects, you’ll be significantly reducing your carbon footprint. On top of being sustainable, home projects are a good opportunity to bond with friends and family members, and to have a great time!

  • November 2019 Issue

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     If you celebrate Thanksgiving, have a more sustainable event!
    A few simple actions can help, here are some ideas for a great Thanksgiving:

    End wasteful practices 
    Use reusable dinnerware, glasses and napkins. Not only is it better for the environment, but who likes cutting turkey with a plastic knife and hoping the gravy won’t soak through the paper plate? 

    Purchase local and organic food when possible
    There are significant benefits of using local and organic foods, and free range and naturally fed animals taste better. While a lot of these choices may seem cost-prohibitive, buying even one or two items locally and/or organically grown can make a difference. 

    Eat mindfully
    Thanksgiving is traditionally a day for eating to excess, but if you take a few moments to enjoy your food and eat with a purpose, you’ll most likely find that you’ve eaten less than you normally do. 

    Eat less meat
    The meat industry is the number one source of methane gas, which is a major contributor to climate change. Another major environmental impact of a meat-eating diet is the depletion of natural resources. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, try adding a little less meat to your plate and filling the rest of the plate with healthy sides, such as squash, green beans or kale. 

    Get outside
    The temperature around Thanksgiving is perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Connecting with nature doesn’t have to involve hiking up a mountain, just being outside and feeling the sun on your face improves your mood and health greatly. 

    Source: Harvard University: Sustainability 

    We recognize that not everyone celebrates this very controversial holiday and we acknowledge the multiplicity of cultural views around the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.

    On that note, we encourage you to attend the Indigethanx event on November 22, as seen on our events page.

  • October 2019 Issue

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    Green Halloween! - Challenge yourself to creating a spooky halloween without the more terrifying environmental impact!


    Swap polyester spiderwebs-in-a-bag for a more friendly black yarn option or use old sheets and a marker for a truly hair-raising ghost! Or, opt for the very traditional, very environmentally friendly jack-o-lantern. View more ideas here.