The idea behind Virgin America is to "build a new kind of airline from the guest up," and that includes flying in the face of conventional ideas about sustainability. Founded just four years ago in 2007, Virgin America is growing fast and keeping a focus on their environmental impact the whole way. In their recently released sustainability report, Virgin America details green measures taken as well as the principles that guide future environmental decisions.  These “Sustainability Principles” include a commitment to transparency, leadership in carbon efficiency, investment in sustainable growth (things like LEED-certified buildings and terminals) and collaboration with industry groups and partners like Carbonfund.org. So what did the report find? The Virgin America fleet is 25% more fuel efficient than the U.S. average and, for their second year of operations, will continue to lead the nation in carbon efficiency with a .7% reductions in GHG emission despite the overall growth in its fleet and operations over the year. Virgin America recycles on 39% of their flights and has committed to increasing aluminum recycling to 50% by January 2011 and to 75% by 2012. In 2011, they are also pursuing Gold or higher LEED certification for the Virgin section of a new San Francisco terminal – a first for a major airport terminal in the U.S. In addition, through their partnership with Carbonfund.org Virgin offers guests the ability to offset their in-flight travel with the touch-screen entertainment platform. This is a new, innovate way to engage customers in sustainable travel while they're actually flying. Virgin also annually offsets their corporate headquarters' emissions. One of the projects that Virgin supports is the Truck Stop Electrification project, which reduces tailpipe emissions from some of the heaviest emitters of all: the 18-wheelers that transport our consumer goods all over the country. The project installs a small device in trucker cabins that eliminates the need to keep the engine running for power during rest stops. The technology in this device allows truckers to heat and power the interior of their truck, run the radio and check email without forcing the engine to burn diesel, saving a gallon of diesel per hour of operation. To learn more about Virgin America's sustainable practices, click here to read their full sustainability report.
Friday, 04 February 2011 10:22

Go Bananas for Florida Crystals® Demerara Sugar

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Demerara sugar is a type of unrefined sugar with a large light amber grain. Crystallized from the initial pressing of sugar cane (as opposed to sugar beets), the minimal processing gives demerara sugar a unique flavor and crunchy texture. Because demerara sugar is less refined than traditional sugar, it has a rich, creamy, almost caramel like flavor which enhances just about anything you use it in.   The large grains also remain crunchy through cooking, which makes demerara sugar a great choice to sprinkle on pies, sugar cookies and the like which might otherwise have a uniform texture.  Hint: next time you make cinnamon toast, make it with demerara sugar – you will *not* be disappointed! In particular, Florida Crystals® CarbonFree® Organic Demerara sugar offers a premium demerara to environmentally conscious gourmets. Florida Crystals® products are the very first sugar products to be certified CarbonFree® by Carbonfund.org. This label indicates a product’s carbon footprint was rendered neutral through greenhouse gas cutting measures. [caption id="attachment_7780" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Here's why flambe is best left to the professionals! Yikes! photo courtesy of waltgarrisons.com "][/caption] You can find Florida Crystals� Demerara Sugar at just about any retailer; pick up some the next time you go shopping.� Then bring it home and try it in this delicious, seasonal recipe for Bananas Foster.� �Bananas Foster is a dessert made from bananas and vanilla ice cream, with the sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum, and banana liqueur. �Traditionally, the butter, sugar and bananas were cooked, and then the alcohol was added and ignited. You can certainly try it that way if you�d like (personally I am a little leery of �igniting� anything outside of the fireplace).� Also, we�ve substituted the brown sugar for Florida Crystals� Demerara Sugar.� Demerara provides the same complex , mellow flavor as brown sugar but it retains a slight crunch , adding a wonderful texture to this creamy dessert. �The bananas and sauce are then served over the ice cream. ��The dish was created in 1951 by Paul Blang� at Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana.� It was named for Richard Foster, a friend of Owen Brennan's who was then New Orleans Crime Commission chairman. ��Now if there ever was anyone who needed a good dose of rum with his bananas, it would be the chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission. Enjoy! Bananas Foster Ingredients: 3 Tbsp - butter 3 Tbsp - Florida Crystals® Demerara Sugar 1/4 tsp - ground cinnamon 1 Tbsp - lemon juice 2 Tbsp - dark rum (or water) 1 Tbsp - banana liqueur (or water) 2- ripe bananas, peeled and sliced 4 servings vanilla ice cream Pinch of nutmeg Preparation: In a medium skillet, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the Florida Crystals® Demerara Sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, rum and banana liqueur. Cook and stir until mixture is bubbling and syrupy. Add the bananas and cook until they begin to soften, about 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon hot bananas and syrup over ice cream. Garnish each with a pinch of nutmeg. Serve immediately. Serving Quantity: 3 to 4
Thursday, 03 February 2011 17:32

Francophiles Find French Delights at Their Fingertips

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As the world continues to shrink and more people become “world citizens” -travelling and living in different countries and cultures - it’s only natural that cravings for country-specific products will develop. For those world citizens who are Francophiles at heart, now there is a solution. Mondizen has created an online French market, to ensure that anyone with a yearning for French foods, personal care products, baby care, cleaning products and gifts have convenient access to their favorite French products.  With Mondizen's website full of French products, delivered anywhere in the world, you have access to “everyday shopping” from the best of French markets. Mondizen’s creator, Sandrine Escoffier, developed the idea for an online French market after her experiences living in Japan and missing the everyday French products that were a part of her life. French culture cannot be reduced simply to luxury products. In fact it is the opposite; like all other cultures, French culture is full of everyday habits. It is these habits that are at the heart of the culture, that define its authentic reality. And the company name? “We wanted a name that was not yet defined; a name that would open possibilities for the company's development," explains Sandrine.  Mondizen is the combination of several words and concepts. “Mondial" means "worldwide" in French, and the “zen” comes from citizen. “Mondizen" captures the concept of a world citizen at ease, and Mondizen endeavors to make life simpler and freer for its clients. Globalization offers many advantages to humanity. When people travel, there is an opportunity to share cultures and increase understanding and compassion between people living in different parts the world. There are also risks that globalization could lead to the uniformity of cultures, and this would be a great loss to humanity. But globalization can also offer access to authentic ingredients of every culture, from anywhere in the world. Mondizen contributes to this vision. And Mondizen has an environmental awareness that’s evident in its business practices. Today, it is simple to send products around the world. Today, most of us accept that climate change is happening. One of the causes of climate change is human economic activities that release greenhouse gases such as CO2 into the atmosphere. Global trade increases CO2 emissions. To offset the CO2 from shipping products around the world, Mondizen has chosen to establish a partnership with Carbonfund.org to donate the cost of shipping emissions to support the renewable energy, reforestation and energy efficiency projects that Carbonfund.org helps to fund. “We believe the benefits of global trade can make the world a better place for everyone. We searched for a way to offset the negative environmental impacts of shipping our products globally. Mondizen does not want to make a bad situation worse and we believe this is important to our customers,” says Sandrine.   When your yearning for French goods gets the best of you, please visit Mondizen to satisfy your longings.� Tr�s Bien.
Thursday, 03 February 2011 11:43

Tell Your Representative to Bring a Water Bottle

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[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="261" caption="You don't need to drink this aggressively. Image courtesy of banthebottle.net"][/caption] In 2010, the House of Representatives spent $190,000 in three months on bottled water alone. That's nearly four teachers' salaries that could have been paid with the cash spent on prepackaged water while one-penny-per-gallon tap water is being snubbed. Is it laziness? Some water bottle lids are kind of hard to twist open, so one could argue they're expending about the same amount of energy grabbing a bottle from the fridge as they are exerting their biceps to pour from a Brita pitcher. If Congress is feigning lack of resources, George Hawkins of the local water utility DC Water wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner offering to supply free reusable water bottles for all members of Congress as well as free water quality testing in all congressional buildings. Congress is out of excuses. Boehner wants to cut $35 million from bloated House of Representative spending? Great. Let's start with ditching the disposable bottles, which end up discarded in our landfills, lakes and streams to the tune of one million tons of plastic each year. Let's get our representatives to spearhead the shift from disposable bottles, of which the energy to produce the plastic is enough to fuel almost three million cars a year. If you already tote a reusable water bottle around town and are feeling empowered the spread the message, check out these nine great ideas to reduce plastic bottle waste at your workplace from BanTheBottle.net.

Today’s business environment is all about efficiency and optimization – how to achieve the highest rate of results with the lowest costs, least amount of environmental impact and highest customer satisfaction. Businesses need tools to help them accomplish these goals. Carma Systems has developed unique “machine-to-machine” monitoring systems that help their customers do just that – measure and monitor their progress and results as they’re happening. Carma Systems was founded in 2007 by a team of creative tech enthusiasts (and a kitty) who are dedicated to bring high-quality, cutting-edge wireless solutions to the B2B market. With a focus on building long-term solutions to conserve the time, money and resources of their clients, Carma Systems was born. Carma Systems’ customized devices can help to monitor data for many industries in many applications, including fleet management, athletic training and performance, supply chain management, manufacturing, facility management and healthcare. While Carma Systems’ products have many applications, fleet management demonstrates the full range of effectiveness of employing Carma Systems. Major companies like UPS and FedEx have already implemented M2M technology into their fleet vehicles, with proven results of reliability and success. Research shows that the information collected using M2M technology helps to track the health of vehicle components, measure acceleration and deceleration speeds, decrease idle time, and as a result their customers save money and time. The benefits of Carma Systems in fleet management include: • Lower insurance costs for fleet vehicles • Reduce gas mileage and CO2 emissions • Increase fuel efficiency • Monitor driving safety and route precision Carma Systems also keeps their focus on eco-friendly business practices.  They created a proactive environmental policy called CarmaEarth that lays a foundation for responsible product development and reducing the impact of business operations. Their products are designed to use as little material as possible, thereby reducing their footprint on the environment. Along with the reduced volume of material needed, they also use low impact materials such as upcycled plastic which has up to 65% post consumer content and reduces the cradle-to-grave impact by up to 50% when compared to conventional plastics. While Carma Systems has taken strides to reduce waste and emissions, they recognize that they cannot completely eliminate carbon emissions. To take care of the rest, Carma Systems partners with Carbonfund.org to make emission offset donations to take carbon out of the atmosphere through Carbonfund.org’s various projects such as reforestation, energy efficiency and landfill off-gas recovery. To learn more about Carma Systems’ innovative products and services, please visit www.carmasys.com.

A new company called Earth Swag is introducing a line of reusable snack bags and sandwich wraps. There are few alternatives to small, plastic bags... until now. Earth Swag is releasing two new options: bags and wraps. The snack bags are a way to pack snacks to take for lunch, in the car or out for a hike. The sandwich wrap will keep a sandwich snug until lunch and then open into a placemat. Earth Swag reusable snack bags and sandwich wraps are made of a patented cotton that is both food-safe and bacteria-inhibiting. The fabric is also stain resistant, water-resistant and machine washable. The bags and wraps have no plastic coating or liner, and the fabric contains no phthalates, lead, PVC or polyurethane. Additionally, the fabric is printed with images of the Earth incorporated into various whimsical designs. Each baggy purchased has the potential to keep hundreds of plastic baggies out of our oceans, streams, and landfills each year. Earth Swag has also partnered with Carbonfund.org to offset their carbon footprint, and the business is committed to green practices. The product line includes: 1.    A set of 2 snack baggies ($15.99) 2.    A sandwich wrap that opens up to a place mat ($11.99) Both products are available in 2 prints: Bugs or Flowers. Earth Swag reusable snack bags and sandwich wraps provide people who are tired of plastic bags a safe and environmentally friendly way to pack their lunch or take snacks on the go.
Carbonfund.org announced today its latest initiative to make it easy and affordable for individuals to reduce their climate impact through the creation of a grassroots partnership with GreenCo, a San-Diego-County-based gas station and mini mart that has created what is believed to be the first ever “pay at the pump” carbon reduction program in the U.S. For an additional five cents per gallon, GreenCo customers now have the opportunity to neutralize the emissions created from the use of fossil fuels.  That 5 cents per gallon add-on, which is voluntary for the customer, is then forwarded to Carbonfund.org to support third-party validated carbon reduction projects, such as reforestation in Idaho, wind farms in Texas or truck stop electrification in California. “GreenCo’s gasoline prices are competitively low in order to incentivize our customers to choose to add on the 5 cents per gallon right at the point of sale, the pump,” GreenCo CEO Robert Warner said.  “Then Carbonfund.org can take the proceeds and do what they do best – combat the CO2 emissions that result from fossil fuels and support projects that provide the biggest environmental bang for the buck.” The green-and-white gas stations that dot Southern California send a direct message to customers who are concerned about the environmental cost of operating a car. “Feel Better About Fueling” is the GreenCo slogan, and they deliver on that message by empowering drivers to take a grassroots approach to lowering carbon emissions. “We are excited to develop this concept with GreenCo that allows consumers to take at-the-pump action,” said Eric Carlson, Carbonfund.org president. “Climate change affects every one of us, and we all must be part of the solution. Programs like GreenCo’s are helping individuals reduce emissions today while we transition to a low-carbon future.” The average American is responsible for 50,000 pounds of CO2 annually as a result of activities like powering their homes and driving their cars. “If someone buying gas with a credit card is automatically asked by the pump’s computer if they want to add on a car wash, why not ask the same customer if they’d like to neutralize their car’s carbon footprint by purchasing a carbon offset?” Warner asks. GreenCo hopes to continue to have an impact on climate change by expanding their environmentally unique approach to the local gas and minimart industry throughout the U.S.
It’s getting to be that time of year again – Hollywood film and television awards shows!  With the Academy Awards only a month away, and nominations released just this week, it’s time to consider the greening of the entertainment industry. One innovative “She-EO” is leading the way to greening film and television production sets.  Tonya Kay’s companies serve sets for Disney, Fox, Universal and Dreamworks, to name a few. Solid Hollywood’s craft service rental trucks bring “the kitchen you’ve always wanted,” stocked with groceries and supplies from Happy Mandible, to major motion picture or network television sets. The Solid Hollywood trucks come equipped with the following tools to green the set:
  • water carts for refilling reusable water bottles at set
  • filtered water spout for refilling reusable water bottles at truck
  • clearly labeled recycling bins
  • composting bins for food scraps and compostable cutlery
  • biodiesel-ready electricity generator
  • biodiesel-ready truck engine
  • LED light bulbs considerably reducing energy consumption
And Happy Mandible specializes in:
  • vegetable oil fueled delivery vans
  • compostable flatware and paper product suppliers
  • organic, raw vegan, gluten-free and health food shopping experts
  • transport for plastic bag and cardboard recycling
  • arrangement for soup kitchen pick up of excess food donations
As carbon neutral companies, Solid Hollywood and Happy Mandible donate to reforestation projects through Carbonfund.org.  The companies also generously support California's Performing Animal Welfare Society, the Los Angeles TreePeople.com and Thailand’s ElephantNatureFoundation.org. “I was born green.  Environmental activism, volunteer work and health advocacy has been the focus of my personal life for decades.  Luckily for me, the film and TV industry are catching up,” says Tonya Kay. “I found Carbonfund.org several years ago when I was looking for a reforestation and alternative fuel project charity for Happy Mandible to donate to.  It was easy to choose to donate to these projects through Carbonfund.org for Solid Hollywood as well.  I like that with Carbonfund.org, I am not only donating to projects I feel strongly about, but also earning a “carbon neutral” badge of honor, which is simply a way to communicate with my business contacts.  As studios now go green, they know that we are already there to support them." Disney has implemented environmental initiatives as part of its corporate responsibility program, and Fox’s 24 was the first television series to go carbon neutral in one season.  Tonya Kay was lucky to have both of her companies on set at these studios for all the sudden green action. [caption id="attachment_7649" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="photo courtesy of www.ecohearth.com, Tonya Kay blog post, photo by Neeta Lind "][/caption] Clients are delighted that Solid Hollywood’s equipment already includes most of their new environmental requests, including water stations (to eliminate plastic water bottles on set by providing a station for refilling personal bottles) and recycling bins.  But it wasn’t until studios provided the funding and transport logistics for compost bins that all the companies that comprise the craft service department were able to realize the dream of successfully separating compostables from recycling and landfill refuge. These sustainability-focused changes mark a momentous moment in movie making, and Carbonfund.org is glad to have our partner Tonya Kay on location!