Green Weekend Ideas: RSVP Now for Bethesda Green Gala

September 30th, 2011

It’s unusual for someone from “the burbs” to hear Washingtonians whispering about all that is going on in Bethesda.

But it’s true.

So I’d be holding out if I didn’t remind you, dear readers, that it’s the last day to RSVP for tickets to the annual Bethesda Green gala, coming up on October 5th, from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Roundhouse Theatre. You can RSVP here.

I’ll be there. Will you?

— Lynn

Easy Green Weekend Project: National Recycling Day Events Saturday AND Sunday!

November 13th, 2009

Time to clean out the basement! This Sunday is National Recycling Day. What better time to clean up than right before the holidays hit?

All across the country there will be events designed to make recycling easy – especially for those “special items” that aren’t always picked up. However, the national list here has broken links to the Maryland events, so I’m summarizing those I’m aware of the four Montgomery County events –  in Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Germantown.

At each County Event, you can shred up to five small boxes of old bank statements and other personal documents for recycling. Donations of   clean clothing, household goods and small furniture will also be collected to benefit  The Arc of Montgomery County Thrift Store, Lupus Foundation of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, and National Children’s Center, Inc..  (And yes, you can get tax receipts for your donations!)

Saturday, November 14 from 10:00am to 2:00pm

Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center
3300 Briggs Chaney Road
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904

Upcounty Regional Services Center
12900 Middlebrook Road
Germantown, MD  20874

Sunday, November 15 from 8:00am to 12:00pm

John F. Kennedy High School
1901 Randolph Road
Silver Spring, Maryland 20902

Sunday, November 15 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm

Walt Whitman High School
7100 Whittier Boulevard
Bethesda, Maryland 20817

The Bethesda event is co-hosted by  Bethesda Green and Montgomery County’s Division of Solid Waste Services.   If you’d like to volunteer, send an email to

I’d love to say I’d join you, but that Swine Flu I last blogged about? It ran through the house, and then the nasty germs turned into bronchitis and laryngitis, from which I’m still recovering. So unfortunately, I think I’ll miss National Recycling Day! But tell me how it goes!

This post is for the Green Moms Carnival on Recycling, to appear on Sunday the 15th  (On Recycling Day) at  Recycle Your Day.

Leslie (aka @LaMamaNaturale on Twitter) of Recycle Your Day is one of the newer members of the Green Moms Carnival – it’s her first time hosting, so be sure to check out her site and all the great submissions from the wonderful women of the Green Moms Carnival!

— Lynn

Copyright 2009

Amazing Things Happen When a Community Pulls Together

October 5th, 2009

It’s hard to believe that it was  a year and a half ago that I wrote this post about the launch of a sustainability initiative in my community.  No one could have imagined that just 19 months later, we’d be cutting the (green) ribbon on a beautiful newly renovated  Community Center/Green Business Incubator in the heart of our city.


But it happened, and the DC and Maryland press turned out en masse to hear Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea, Ike Leggett, County Executive, and other assorted dignitaries celebrate the launch of Maryland’s first Green Business Incubator and the Bethesda Green  Center.

And how could I have imagined that my own business would be housed in this green and gorgeous new space?


Back in March of ’08, I reported that:

In what may be the first effort of this type, business, government, community, and non-profit leaders are coming together to develop  programs that will reduce Bethesda’s carbon footprint, increase its recyling rate, and reduce landfill waste and pollution. And this is just the first phase of the project! In the second phase, Bethesda Green aims to encourage smart growth and green development and to green its business community.

Sounds like we more than hit our goals – with an outpouring of  community support from everyday citizens,  county government and area businesses like these sponsors.

Truly, amazing things happen when a community pulls together. If you’re in Bethesda, get involved! And if  you happen to just be visiting the Washington, DC area,  stop by for a tour of our Green Community Center!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Green Schools: Five Lessons Learned the Hard Way

August 9th, 2009

Editor’s Note: This post is for the Green Moms Carnival on Green Schools, which will appear here at OrganicMania on Tuesday,   August 11th. There will be great contributions from green women bloggers from all around the country, weighing in on green schools – from nursery school to college!

It seems like just yesterday that I squeezed into a seat at the kid-size cafeteria tables at my son’s new elementary school. I was there to participate in my very first PTA meeting, and while I was interested in many of the things going on at the school, what I really wanted to learn about were the school’s environmental initiatives. I wanted to get involved in the Green Committee.

Imagine my surprise when the PTA leadership didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about. They invited me to become involved with the committee that watered the trees over the summer. Oh, and they  really wanted some help with a children’s garden.


But I’m not much of a gardener. I may feel green, but my plants are brown. I wanted to focus on environmental issues like substituting  conventional school cleaning products with more environmentally friendly options;  introducing  waste-free lunches; eliminating the throw-away styrofoam trays used in our lunchroom;   replacing Sally Foster fundraisers with more eco-friendly options; and stopping the Cheap Plastic Crap giveaways used at school fundraisers.  And that was just for starters! Then I could see moving on to including walkable schools in our County and State Carbon Reduction Programs, retrofitting the school with solar or wind power, and more…

I think the other committee members went into overload just listening to my wish list.   Our principal suggested that the new parents hold back and watch and learn what went on at the school instead of jumping in with a million new directions.  So I did what comes unnaturally to this Jersey girl: I shut my mouth.

After the meeting, several other of the incoming parents approached me and said they understood and supported what I was proposing, and would be glad to help. The problem was that no one wanted to lead the effort. No one could seem to find the time.  I agreed to co-chair a committee, but soon found that coordinating with a co-chair and getting the committee off the ground fell by the wayside as I focused more of my energy on work, home, family, other volunteer work,  OrganicMania, and the Green Moms Carnival.

I blogged a bit about my Green Mom Culture Shock during this time and how I was Dealing with the Schools: Coping as  a Green Mom…but then I went all quiet on you. Didn’t say too much about what was going on…

So did we make progress this last school year? Yes, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I did learn a few lessons, though, which I’m happy to share with other eager parents as they seek to navigate the new world of PTAs and public schools.  What about you? What’s worked for you? Please leave a message and share, because the new school year is about to start up and  we can all learn from each others’ experiences.  What’s worked for you as you’ve sought to green your school?

Lesson #1: Meet People Where They Are

Only months after that first meeting did I learn that the existing gardening committee had plenty of “greenies” involved who would have been happy to take on many of the other issues I proposed.  And had I volunteered first with that committee, proved myself, and learned how things worked at the school, our Green Committee probably would have had more impact.

Lesson #2 Get Support from Area Non-Profits

Through the Green  Schools committee of my town’s sustainable communities initiative, Bethesda Green, I learned that the Audobon Society’s Green Schools Initiative was  trying to reduce waste at my son’s school.   Several of the other committee members were from my son’s school, and we were encouraged us to go back and try again with the Green Committee, or just to do things on our own as we could fit them in.  The woman who led the charge? Probably the busiest one among us – she has triplets!

Lesson #3 Seek out Liked Minded Allies in the School Early On

Through the Green Schools committee, I met a teacher from my son’s school.  She was able to shed some light on mysteries like WHY the class buying lists contained so many plastic items, and how to get that changed for the next school year.

She was also able to explain that there were a bunch of different Green initiatives going on at school that would have more reach and impact if they were coordinated. Coincidentally, I heard the same thing from the PTA president at that time.  Soon we were able to get things a bit better organized, and on much sounder footing for this coming school year.

Having friends “on the inside” of the school really helps!

Lesson #4 Connect with other Local Schools and Learn  What’s Worked There

Some of the other schools here in Bethesda, Maryland  have had far greater participation in their “Waste-Free Wednesday” lunch campaigns than we did with ours. It may just take time for new ideas to take root, but  it would  have been ideal if we could have touched base with the green leaders at our town’s other schools to see how they achieved so much success.  Thanks to our community-wide Green Schools initiative, we’ll be connecting with those other green school leaders soon.

Lesson #5 Propose Well Thought-Out Alternatives

It’s not enough to say, “Get rid of the traditional school fundraising programs and  all of the “stuff” that they push on people!”   When well established fund raising programs are bringing in $20K or so for the PTA, you’ve got to have a plan to replace that money.  There are many new green school fundraising programs emerging, but how much money are schools actually making from these programs?  That’s one question I haven’t yet been able to answer to our PTA’s satisfaction.   (Perhaps a kind reader  will leave a comment here with that information!)

What about you? What’s worked and what hasn’t worked as you’ve sought to “green” your neighborhood schools?  Please leave  comment and share!


Copyright OrganicMania 2009

What to Get A Green Mom for Mothers Day (Or Any Other Time!): Top 10 Gifts for Green Moms

May 9th, 2009

Some may think posting about Mother’s Day gifts on Saturday morning is kind of late. But let’s face it – most guys put gifts off to the last minute, don’t they? So here it is – this Green Mom’s Top 10 Wish List.

In past years, I’ve taken a real minimalist view – all this Green Mom wanted was a clean car. That may still be a need, but with so many of us putting off desires this year due to the economy, I have a hunch that many of us secretly yearn to be a bit more spoiled this Mother’s Day.

1. The Gift of Time
Many Moms feel “guilty” about this. It’s Mother’s Day and (horrors!) they don’t want to spend the whole day with their kids? You mean, like they do every other day of the year? Give her some time off. Tell her to take the afternoon off. Go for a walk. See a movie. Lie in bed. Whatever. She can pretend there are no responsibilities on her plate, no to-do lists.

2. Crossing Something off Her List
For some, washing the car, running an errand, or crossing something else off her list is still a great gift. This year I’ve made peace with the messy car (and it’s not quite so bad this year!) But if I came home and found my containers brimming with plants, and my front garden weeded…wow! Would that ever make my Mother’s Day!

3. Eco-Chic
We may be green on the inside, but it’s nice to look green on the outside too! There are so many cool eco-accessories now. You can find purses and jewelry made of recycled materials, clothing from bamboo or organic cotton, shoes made of bamboo, and more… One of my favorite online sources is (who also happens to be a client of mine). If you’re in my neck of the woods and want to buy at a store, check out the gift shop at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. I was there yesterday and saw a wonderful assortment of eco-chic bracelets and earrings made of old magazines. Prices were between $15 and $30.

4. Eco-Helpers
Going green requires preparation, especially when you are on the go. How about some useful green chic gifts such as To-Go Ware(R), which is reusable cutlery packaged in cute little bamboo bags. You can stash it in a reusable bag and reduce some of that green guilt when you find yourself at a roadside restaurant or to-go place that only stocks plastic utensils. Other great options include chic reusable bags like those sold by the Chico Bag Company. In my neck of the woods? Stop by Creative Parties in Bethesda and check out their selection of reusable bags. (And while you’re there, look across the street and see the new headquarters of our local sustainability initiative, Bethesda Green, located on the second floor of the Chevy Chase bank building).

5. Donations to a Favorite Green Cause
How about a gift in her honor? Try these fave green causes: Environmental Working Group, The Nature Conservancy, or The World Wildlife Federation.

6. Eco-Dining or Fine Dining

There are organic restaurants and restaurants specializing in local foods springing up all over the place. What better day to check one out than Mother’s Day? So many parents avoid dining at nice restaurants with kids in tow. One of the great things about Mother’s Day is that the fancy-pants places that don’t typically cater to children will grudgingly do so on Mother’s Day. That’s what we’re doing on Mother’s Day! At least I know that The Blue Moon will put up with my kids on Sunday!

7. Flowers – Make them Organic!

How about a twist on the time honored tradition of a beautiful bouquet of flowers? This time, make them organic! This Mother’s Day, Organic Bouquet is running a promo with The Nature Conservancy – you save 10% and it’s donated to The Nature Conservancy!

8. Great Green Books
There are so many inspiring books available about going green. One of my faves – a real resource – is fellow Green Moms Carnival member Diane MacEachern’s The Big Green Purse. You can order it here on Amazon, or check out your local bookstore or even Whole Foods for a great selection of books about going green.

9. Yummy Greens
What better excuse than to try some organic and fair trade chocolate? And what woman doesn’t love chocolate? Some of my faves: Divine Chocolate and Green & Black’s.

10. Green Entertaining
Having friends over, or just relaxing? Get her some wonderful sustainable, organic or biodynamic wine and cheese from your local natural market.

Happy Mother’s Day! Did you find these tips helpful? Leave a comment and share!

— Lynn

Earth Day & Graham Crackers

April 20th, 2009

“Mama, can you fix my graham cracker?”

It was a plaintive question from a small voice in the back of the car. As parents, our instinct is to help our kids whenever we can. But sadly, I had to explain that some things — like broken graham crackers — can’t be fixed.

No sooner had I responded than it hit me. With Earth Day reminders all around us, I couldn’t help but take that question and apply it to the environment. How much of the environmental degradation will we be able to fix? What is reversible, and what is not ?

The answers are not simple.

And as Earth Day continues its metamorphosis into a Buy Green Holiday, it’s important to recognize that we can’t buy our way out of this mess. Sure, investments in certain areas can help, as can replacing toxic products with eco-friendly substitutes.

But what would happen if we all took a close look at our local environmental issues and tried to figure out what we could do to fix things? Here are a few things you do:
– Clean up the litter in a local park or along a river, as these people do in DC’s Rock Creek;
– Plant a tree or take inspiration from this 21-year-old and support a reforestation program;
– Support one of the many fine environmental organizations trying to make a difference in this tough economic environment. Some of my faves: The Nature Conservancy; Environmental Working Group; and Healthy Child, Healthy World. Others? The local groups working hard to make a difference in your own backyard. Here in the DC area that means groups like Friends of Rock Creek, The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Bethesda Green.

What have you fixed recently? Leave a comment and share. Really, I want to hear what you’ve been up to! Haven’t done anything lately? Hmm…quit surfing the ‘Net and get moving!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Easy Green Weekend Project: E-Cycling.

December 12th, 2008

If you live in my neck of the woods (Bethesda, Maryland), this weekend’s project is really easy. If you don’t live nearby, maybe you can pick up the phone or email a local government representative to ask when your municipality will be sponsoring an e-cycling day. And check out the list of more than 25 items that can be e-cycled! I had no idea – and I’m someone who’s really “into” recycling! Can you name all 25 e-cyclable items listed below?

On Sunday, bring your old electronics to be e-cycled between 12:00 and 4:00 p.m. at Walt Whitman High School. (There is a limit of 3 TVs per car).

You can win a new Samsung 26” Energy Star TV and everyone will leave with a bottle of Honest Tea!

Here’s the full scoop:

Electronics Recycling Day in the parking lot of Walt Whitman High School. The county will have trucks and staff to remove electronics from residents’ cars as they drive through the parking lot.
Accepted items include:
* small electronic appliances
* calculators
* camcorders
* CDs and floppy disks
* CD players
* cell phones
* computers and computer-related products
* consumer electronics
* copiers
* cords and cables (including chargers)
* digital cameras
* electronic typewriters
* fax machines
* microwave ovens
* personal digital assistant equipment
* printers
* projection equipment
* scanners
* telephones
* small electronic toys
* televisions
* VCRs

All collected items are recycled.

Sorry, we do not accept videotapes in our electronics recycling program.
How many items may I bring?

You may bring up to 3 televisions.

If you have significant quantities of other electronic items, contact the Division of Solid Waste Services online or call them at 240-777-6560 to see whether they can accept your items, or whether they must refer you to a private electronics recycler.

Green Entrepreneur: Interview with Eco-Coach Founder Anca Novacovici

September 22nd, 2008

One of the best things about my green journey is the many fantastic people I’ve met. And over and over again, I kept hearing about Anca Novacovici, founder of DC’s Eco-Coach. So OrganicMania sat down with Anca for this two-part interview about how she’s helping businesses and consumers to go green and how she got her own green business off the ground. By the way, if you’re in the DC area, you can meet us both this Wednesday night (September 24th) at Bethesda Green’s Be Green event. Register for free here!

OrganicMania: Why did you start Eco-Coach?

Anca: I’ve always been passionate about the environment, and I got to the point where I had to ask myself, “What do you want to do with your life?”

It was always in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to continue not to help the environment…I was working as a consultant with pharmaceutical and telecom companies. I enjoyed the work that I was doing but I also wanted to use my skills to help businesses and individuals be more eco-friendly. I had a few other green ideas before Eco-Coach, and when I saw other people making them a reality, I thought, “That’s it. I have ideas, and others are acting on them. I’ve got to do this.”

OrganicMania: So once you made that decision, how did you turn your idea into a real business?

Anca: I spent the first few months looking at strategy and direction. My first official business client was a business just down the street. I went in and spoke to the owner of a restaurant whom I knew was socially minded and I thought he might be interested in greening the place. From there, it was all word-of-mouth.

OrganicMania: I know you serve consumer clients too, in addition to businesses. What is the split in your customer base between corporate and consumer clients?

Anca: It’s about 65% corporate and 35% consumer. Actually, on the residential front, I started with a workshop for Moms on going green and having a healthy home, which was very well received. This was even before the first business client. One of our most popular services is a workshop on how to green the home. Another is our in-home eco-audits, where we walk through the entire house and go through steps people can take to go green. Sometimes individuals will organize workshops at their homes, and people get together with ten or so friends to do it. We offer these at Greater Goods in Washington DC. We also do individual consultations and coaching for those that feel they need additional support. Many of our clients on the residential side are Moms with newborns or small children who are interested in making their homes healthier for their children.

OrganicMania: A lot of Moms struggle with getting things clean, while trying to avoid harsh, toxic chemicals. It’s especially frustrating when places like daycares and after-care facilities insist on using Clorox bleach and other nasties. Do you have any suggestions?

Anca: Yes, hydrogen peroxide is a great disinfectant. You can use it instead of bleach. Vinegar and water is another good option, as is Borax. These are all low-cost green solutions. There are also products made by brands that work well and can be found at your local health food store.

Check back tomorrow for Part II of the OrganicMania interview with Anca Novacovici, founder of DC’s Eco-Coach.

Did you like this interview? Leave a comment and share. And be sure to check out the other OrganicMania interviews here. There you’ll find great talks with Honest Tea Tea-EO Seth Goldman, Mom Made Foods Founder Heather Stouffer, Big Green Purse author Diane MacEachern, Mothers & Menus founder Karen Gurwitz, and more to come!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Ten Things You Can Do To Help Fight Global Warming

August 3rd, 2008

Global warming can seem like such a huge, depressing problem that it’s easy to wonder what one person can do to fight it. Sure, we all know that we can change light bulbs and buy hybrid cars.

But what else can one person do?

Here are ten ideas: Ten Things You Can Do. OK, maybe you think you can’t do all ten – at least not right now. But take a look at this list – I guarantee there’s something you can do to help fight global warming right now.

1. Sign up for alternate energy. Here’s how. Did you know that residential housing – not transportation – is the biggest contributor to global warming? In fact, globally the biggest contributor to global warming is US residential housing stock and the second largest contributor is Chinese heavy industry.

2. If you are renovating your home, or building a new one, insist on green building materials. This Green Home Guide from the US Green Building Council is full of helpful information.

3. When replacing your appliances, buy only those with the ENERGY STAR label. According to the EPA, replacing a 1990-vintage refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR fridge would save enough energy to light the average household for nearly four months. Just remember to recycle your old one:

4. Consider downsizing. Do you really need so much room for all that – stuff?

5. Move closer to sources of public transportation, or closer to your job. Better yet – see if you can telecommute.

6. Did you know carpooling has become chic? Start a carpool or better yet – walk or bike ride as much as possible.

7. Buy locally produced goods. They don’t need to be flown across oceans or shipped cross-country.

8. If the children in your community are bussed to school, ask why. Lobby your school district to open up shuttered buildings so that more kids can walk to school.

9. Ask businesses you patronize to turn down the a/c and to turn off the lights at night. Speak up. Customers matter.

10. The power of many like-minded people coming together is awesome. If your community doesn’t have a sustainability initiative like Bethesda Green, start one.

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any others? I’d love to hear what you’re doing to make a difference. Leave a comment and share!

— Lynn

— Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Thrilled that Blogging Continues to Change My Life

July 8th, 2008

Shortly after starting OrganicMania, I wrote this post about How Blogging Changed My Life, which ran on LaMarguerite. As I wrote then, I “realized that organics and green living are more than simply an interest of mine. I want to find a way to make these passions fit into my work life too. This is obviously a huge change, and I’ll be blogging more about this as I explore what new doors may open for me.”

Happily, many doors have opened since that post. Not only do I want to share this good news with all those who have encouraged my efforts with OrganicMania, but I think it’s important to do so in the interest of “full disclosure” as well.

When I started OrganicMania, my marketing consultancy was focused on technology businesses, which was a logical step since I had spent my entire career in high tech marketing. Yet when it was time to explore social media and blogging, I chose to blog not about tech marketing, but about organics and going green.

Now, thanks to OrganicMania, I’ve expanded my marketing consulting business into the organic, green and non-profit sectors. My new clients are: Mom Made™ Foods, a leading brand of organic children’s foods; Livability Project, an organization focused on building sustainable communities; and .ORG, The Public Interest Registry, which manages the .ORG top-level Internet domain.

At times this journey seemed like something straight out of Oprah. Following my bliss was scary for me, as there was no defined career path, no specific roadmap to follow. There was no rational plan for how all of this unfolded. I met Heather Stouffer, founder of Mom Made, after she left this comment on OrganicMania. I met Dave Feldman of Livability through my volunteer work with Bethesda Green. In fact, I’ve met so many amazing people through OrganicMania – that’s another way blogging has changed my life, and another post for another day.

Thanks again to all of you for your support.

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008