A Thanksgiving with Meaning

A Thanksgiving feast that originates from within 100 miles of you is not only good for the environment, but it gives you and your family the opportunity to enjoy a local meal that’s as delicious as it is healthful.
While a few of the suggestions may seem a bit redundant and applicable to situations outside of Thanksgiving, I think a little redundancy around this time of year can go a long way, especially as many of us get caught up in the excitement and fast-paced nature of the holiday season.
Instead of using imported flowers or plants for your table centerpieces, bring the outdoors in by using twigs, bright orange and red leaves, berries, pine cones, and branches found in your own yard to create a visually stunning, seasonal, and of course eco-friendly centerpiece. Use items found in your yard to create interesting, eco-friendly centerpieces reminding us that seasonal changes are critical to the environment and global warming is dangerously close to preventing natural changes to occur.
Try to cut back on ingredients you cannot find locally as much as possible, including coffee, salt, and other spices. You may even substitute traditional Thanksgiving dishes for those that can be made entirely from ingredients found locally. If you live in a warmer climate, take advantage of the local farmers’ and produce markets in your area. Google http://www.localharvest.org/ to find your closest market. This can lead you to a local food co-op, which helps not only the organic farmers, but greatly decreases your carbon footprint.
If you have family members who are traveling, encourage them to coordinate and carpool with other nearby relatives. Try mass transit as an option. I stopped driving into NYC and now take the train. No more tolls, gasoline bills and parking costs for me.
After the meal it pretty traditional that everyone chips in to clean. Believe it or not, sometimes washing dishes by hand uses more water than the dishwasher. If you have stacks of plates to tackle, load up the dishwasher and use your own detergent (recipes can be found at http://www.giveagreenbag.com)

There are other things to do to make Thanksgiving more meaningful than a huge meal followed by snoozing on the couch waiting for football games on TV (High Def of course). After the game and a rest, head back to the kitchen and eat a mini-version of the main course. Did you know The average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone. Surprisingly, most of these calories come from the all-day snacking in front of the TV while watching parades and sporting events. Did you know it takes 1 mile of walking to burn 100 calories? Do the math!
Start a family tradition. Get a scrap book or journal (www.giveagreenbag.com carries TREE-FREE journals) and ask each guest and family member to bring a leaf from their yard. Glue the leaf on a page and have each person write what they are most grateful for that year. Bring it out each year.
Surprise your guests with some background information about Thanksgiving and Native Americans. Many Native Americans still fry bread in goose or bear grease. Smoked salmon, succotash, squash casseroles are often served. Having spent time with the Intuits in Tuktoyuktook (as seen on Ice Road Truckers) I had the opportunity to see a typical menu.
There is no place to plant due to permafrost so all meals consist of some form of caribou and dough fried in caribou fat. Being a vegetarian, I lived on rice and canned peas.  Native Americans used a motto “All My Relations” meaning that all life is sacred and related. A simple motto with a lot of meaning.


Survivor’s Stories: Celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Give A Green Bag is highlighting survivor’s stories. In 2010, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 54,010 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. Each post, we’ll talk with women who’ve been through the struggle and can offer hope for those struggling right now.  Our first story comes from Patti, a Ph.D. in Oklahoma.

“As with many working women, I rushed through my day barely keeping up with my children, husband and full time job.  I did, however, stay committed to taking care of myself to reduce my ‘risk factors’ for breast cancer.  I watched my diet, exercised, went for every annual test and had no risk factors for breast cancer except age.  At that time, experts argued the benefits of yearly mammograms and suggested  they were unnecessary for women my age. Every other year would be sufficient.  I decided this would be my last yearly test.  I squeezed it in my schedule, to check off my ‘to do’ list.  I was surprised when I received a call from the Imaging Center to schedule an additional mammogram. The results, they said, were inconclusive.  Since I worked in a hospital, I got an appointment within a day. I wanted to clear my ‘to do’ list.

When I arrived, I was told that the radiologist wanted to talk to me.  I noted several people I knew would not look me in the eye while I signed in. Shortly, I was with the radiologist, a good friend.  He broke the bad news: a nodule in my breast not palpable on my monthly self-exams.  My life passed before my eyes and I’m not sure I heard everything he said. I began thinking of the important things I’d miss.  Everything was on hold.

Since I worked in the hospital, I got things moving quickly.  The radiologist would do the next tests immediately and produce results within two days. I went home and thought about who my diagnosis affected.  I had daughters, sisters and nieces who would need to know.

I opted for a lumpectomy the next week, followed by radiation. Finally,  I told my family.  I said Having a relative with breast cancer changed their risk profile. My daughter responded, “You can’t do this to me, I need you”.  My son asked if he needed to be worried.  I said no and would let him know when he should start. My husband was devastated, not at the physical changes, but if treatment was not successful.  I called my sisters,  letting them know that having a relative with breast cancer changed their risk profile.  I told very few.  The ones I did share with often began tearing up and I felt the need to comfort.

At the end of four months of treatment, I was told everything looked good.  I would go for quarterly mammograms and begin medication to reduce the possibility of reoccurrence.

It was somewhat of a long and lonely road. There were bumps but I tried to be the reassuring one.  As a nurse, I’m a better care taker than patient.  I didn’t question why.  I needed the steps to get this off my ‘to do list’.  Contrary to my usual way of approaching problems, I did no research. Instead, I put myself in the hands of competent physicians, strictly following their recommendations.  I fought with my life, trying to work and manage my family “normally”for almost a year until testing was positive.

I can’t say I don’t have anxiety each time I go for results but I believe I overcame this life threatening situation.

Although its strange, I feel it was a blessing in disguise.  I make each day count.  I rarely get angry and tell my family and friends how much I care for them. I have quit climbing unconquerable mountains and  done away with my need for things and possessions.  I have my life and live to leave my family with great memories.

Probably the one thing I am most passionate about since my experience is to pester female family and friends about their annual mammogram.  Had I not gone for mine, I may not be here to tell this story.”

October is National Breast Cancer and Vegetarian Month

Interesting combination… Coincidence or Not

  • These two — affect me personally. I decided to investigate the correlation between a vegetarian diet and breast cancer. The American Cancer Society’s statistics are sobering.
  • An estimated 182,800 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2010.
  • Approximately 42,200 deaths will occur in women from breast cancer in 2010.
  • One in eight women or 12.6% of all women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer risk increases with age and every woman is at risk.
  • Every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer.
  • Seventy-seven percent of women with breast cancer are over 50.
  • Approximately 1400 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in 2010 and 400 of those men will die.
  • More than 1.7 million women who have had breast cancer are still alive in the United States.
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women between the ages of 15 and 54, and the second cause of cancer death in women 55 to 74.
  • Seventy-one percent of black women diagnosed with breast cancer experience a five-year survival rate, while eighty-six percent of white women experience five-year survival.

I was convinced I would never have to become a statistic … I had none of the most common risk factors: I breast fed my daughters, I never took birth control pills, I had quit smoking and adopted a vegetarian diet 25 years ago, and there was no family history of breast cancer. THEN I GOT “the call” from my sister… she had breast cancer.

Now I had to reevaluate my thinking. According to a study at Cornell University study: “Having a family history or family member with breast cancer, does not play a large role in most women’s chances of developing breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer make up only 5 to 7 percent of all women with breast cancer.” I was comforted with these statistics, but I wanted have a zero percent chance. I wanted to know what other risk factors are associated with disease. The American Cancer Society detailed other risk factors.

Risk Factors

Risks for breast cancer include a family history, atypical hyperplasia, delaying pregnancy until after age 30 or never becoming pregnant, early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 55), current use or use in the last ten years of oral contraceptives, and daily consumption of alcohol.

Early detection of breast cancer, through monthly breast self-exam and particularly yearly mammography after age 40, offers the best chance for survival.

Ninety-six percent of women who find and treat breast cancer early will be cancer-free after five years. Over eighty percent of breast lumps are not cancerous, but benign such as fibrocystic breast disease. Oral contraceptives may cause a slight increase in breast cancer risk; however 10 years after discontinuing use of oral contraceptives the risk is the same as for women who never used the pill.

Again, a sigh of relief. But, I was not satisfied by these very general variables. There HAD to be more, undocumented factors that were involved. I have heard of endemic areas that an unusually high number of cancer victims. So, there ARE MORE FACTORS. I researched areas where women (and men) rarely get breast cancer.

According to a study by Curtis Mettlin, “The lowest breast cancer mortality rates are reported in Asian regions, leading researchers to speculate that dietary, cultural,and/or environmental factors might be implicated in the etiology of the disease. I felt empowered by this, simply find out what type of food was common in these areas. According to the Mayo Clinic studies, Breast cancer prevention starts with your own health habits — such as staying physically active, limiting alcohol and eating right.

Can healthy eating and regular exercise really contribute to breast cancer prevention? So far, the evidence says yes. What’s more, if you combine these risk-reducing habits with limiting your exposure to substances that promote the disease, you’ll benefit even more. There are some breast cancer prevention steps you can control.: limit alcohol intake, maintain a healthy weight, stay active, and examine your diet..

According to research by Sharon Brock “Since Asian cultures have lower incidence of cancer, let’s look at what they’ve eaten for generations, as opposed to giving a small research group a cancer-fighting food and measuring the effects. Not one food, such as fish, green tea or soy, will make a huge impact on its own. But changing your overall dietary patterns and leading a more active lifestyle will.” O’Brien recommends adopting these eating habits from the Asian diet to ward off cancer and other chronic diseases. THE CONCLUSION.. Vegetarians and Breast Cancer go together.

Machine Turns Plastic Back into Oil

Check out this great video about a fantastic human being.

Plastic, though the holy grail of modern convenience, causes a trifecta of problems. We’re running out of places to dump our non-biodegradable plastic waste and it’s clogging up our oceans. Burning plastic releases tons of CO2 into the atmosphere contributing to global warming. And to make the stuff, it soaks up 7% of our annual petroleum use, an in demand diminishing resource.

Akinori Ito, the CEO of Blest, a Japanese company, has somewhat of a panacea. If plastic is just oil, why don’t we simply turn it back into what it was, he pondered. So the guy made a machine to do just that. His solution is safe, eco-friendly and efficient.


With ideas like this, we can solve a problem rather than create new ones.  Municipal garbage is made up of close to 15% plastic according to the EPA.  We could start turning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into usable fuel for the country.  It’s a shame people don’t know more about tide changing products like this one.

Keep Father’s Day Green with the 100% Hemp Outdoor Enthusiast Kit

Outdoor Enthusiast Kit

Make sure Dad can hit the trails running with our stylish collection of eco-friendly apparel for men and women. Every outdoor product we sell is made with all natural hemp, grown outside of the United States and processed into the fine yarn used in these green items. As one of the strongest fibers created by the planet, hemp products maintain durability and soften with wash and wear.

Each kit includes the following items, each of which can be purchased individually:

Is Dad always looking for the keys? The Extra Pockets will save him the stress. Made from 100% natural hemp, the carrying pouch is adjustable for any waist size. Two inner pockets are durable enough for the toughest hikes, in nature or into the city. The streamline design and GoreTex lining are the perfect combination of style and power, neither gaudy nor cumbersome.

Give Pop some style this year. The Hemp beanie is a one size fits all addition to our hemp collection. Hemp’s hollow fibers provide the perfect insulation for winter yet promote coolness in heat. It will keep its form longer than any of the hats he’s had for 30 years. Give A Green Bag also offers the best pair of gloves he’ll ever wear. The hollow hemp fibers are nature’s best insulation from the cold. It even creates warmth when wet. These gloves soften with wear so tell him to use the in the yard, the garage of walking in the cold.

The hemp shoe laces are the toughest ever made and the last he’ll ever want to use. At 42”, they’ll fit the smallest shoe or the biggest boot. Hiking, biking, trekking through mud, these shoe laces will never rip or tear. Give A Green Bag’s exclusive hemp collection is sure to get you excited for shoe laces. You’ve been excited for shoe laces before, haven’t you? Don’t worry about the guilt trip about how much you spent either.

You can find the entire Outdoor Enthusiast Gift Set for only $50 at Give A Green Bag. A portion of each Outdoor Enthusiast Kit is donated to Forest Trends, a nonprofit organization. Their mission is four-fold: to expand the value of forests to society; to promote sustainable forest management and conservation by creating and capturing market values for ecosystem services; to support innovative projects and companies that are developing these markets; and to enhance the livelihoods of local communities living in and around those forests.

BP Prepares Testimonies Better than Operating Plans

Floating Booms protect residents from BP...'s oil spill.

According to BP’s prepared testimony for today’s Congressional hearings, the explosion and sinking of a BP oil rig that left 11 workers dead, threatens the lives of millions of plants and animals and a multi-billion dollar seafood based economy, and is continuing to leak an estimated 200,000 gallons of crude oil into Gulf of Mexico per day is…not their fault.  They have said it was a critical shut off device, made by Transocean, “failed to operate”.

Meanwhile, in Transocean-Land, officials have turned the blame around on BP.  CEO Steven Newman claims ,”Offshore oil and gas production projects begin and end with the operator, in this case BP”.  His prepared testimony alleges BP was responsible for the drilling and capping plans for the deepsea well.  Blaming the blowout protector “simply makes no sense” because there is “no reason to believe” that the equipment was not operational.

Officials at Halliburton, the company responsible for pouring cement at the rig, seem to agree.  Though Transocean says the cement may not have been set correctly, Halliburton executive Tim Probert asserts the company’s work was finished “in accordance with the requirements” set out by BP and with accepted industry practices.

News stories about the blame game are burning around the internet.  Writers are clamoring to report which company will have to swallow the pill, bite down hard on the leather, get what’s coming to them.  The sad truth is that the victims of this catastrophe are not the suits being grilled in Washington, but the Gulf Coast residents who are waiting for answers.  It’s hard to tell at this point whether Hurricane Katrina or the BP oil spill is the faster disaster.

Oil Spill Spreading into Coastal Wallets

Massive Oil Slick

Brendan Farrington / AP The massive oil slick spreading into the Gulf of Mexico this week.

In the aftermath  of oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP has announced they will pay for the clean up of their oil spill.  Meanwhile, in Alabama…Attorney General Troy King has told representatives of BP Plc. that they should stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians.

The agreements require the citizens to forgo their right to sue in exchange for $5000 in what President Obama has described as a “massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.” Notice the word environmental,  not natural; this was a manmade problem.

Let’s also realize that Alabama has claims to a $400 million seafood industry. Louisiana reels in excess of $2.4 billion dollars annually through crawfish, oysters and shrimp.  As a result of the massive spill, federal officials have already placed a 10 day ban on fishing. The price of seafood has already risen 10% in Gulf coast states where seafood makes up at least 80% of menus.

At a point in our economy where almost every institution is failing and the working class suffers the most, BP has taken the virtuous path and begun relinquishing responsibility by bribing these victims.  This man-made disaster has created a generational problem.  It’s been announced it will take at least 90 days to fix the leak at the bottom of the ocean, but three months is longer than many species of life exist and in an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina, it will be hard to recover financially. If no seafood is caught of sold for at least this amount of time, it could equal a $500 million loss to their economy.

BP has already found the solution: shell out $5000 to residents – the chefs, fisherman and restauranteurs, maybe enough for a month of bills – and flee the scene without any punishment.  From a company whose website and advertising campaigns boast responsibility, quality gasoline and benefits for the community and environment, the angelic BP voices have been singing a different tune.  From the onset, BP have downplayed the effects of the crude oil spill and each new revelation seems to be a revelation to them as well.

The oil spill is hitting their pocket books – BP shares have dropped 20% since April 23 – but for some reason, oil executives have never had a problem turning  profits.  As we can see, they have no problem shifting burdens onto the community.  Doing his talk show rounds, CEO Tony Hayward announced they will pay “legitimate” oil spill claims but a sneaking suspicion says BP lawyers are hard at work pinpointing exactly what that word means.