Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas is for the Birds

Courtesy; Daphne Dixon, Manhattan Beach, CA

December 14th marks the beginning of the 112th annual Christmas Bird Count, a project of theAudubon Society. Data collected teaches us about the long-term health and status of the North American bird population and changes that have occurred over the last century. Some conclusions that have been drawn from this data is that some of America’s most popular birds have shown a large decrease in population and 217  rarer species are imperiled. Christmas Bird Counts occur throughout the country. To volunteer at a CBC near you visit CBC Count Date Search.
For more information about Conscious Living, visit Conscious Decisions Mag

Friday, November 11, 2011

Green Coast Award Winners Announced at The Green Faire at Green Drinks, November 16th, 2011, in Stamford

The 4th Annual Green Coast Award winners will be announced this Wednesday, November 16th, at The Green Faire at Green Drinks at Grand Restaurant and Lounge In Stamford.
Voting for the Green Coast Awards was done on from January 1st through November 10th.
All winners are reviewed for their contribution to sustainability and approved by Matt Turek, Director of the Green Coast Awards, as well as approved by the Green Coast Awards advisory committee. The Green Coast Awards are an initiative of Conscious Decisions, an organization dedicated to educating the public on sustainable and holistic living practices.
Over thirty businesses, organizations and individuals, from Greenwich to New Haven met the guidelines and will be recognized at the Green Coast Awards reception, from 5:30pm-6:00pm at Grand Restaurant and Lounge in Stamford. Past winners include Bridgeport's Mayor Finch, the city of Stamford, RBS, and R.C. Bigelow. The Green Faire at Green Drinks follows immediately and starts off with the Sustainable Communities Round Table Discussion, moderated by Patrice Gillespie of Clean Air - Cool Planet.
 To RSVP for the Green Faire click HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Green Market Exposition Showcases the Green Technology Behind Sustainable Communities

MetroCrops, CT Green Building Council and Bridgeport Land Trust headline this year’s Green Market Exposition, Thursday, October 20th at City Hall Annex, Bridgeport, CT and will provide presentations on green technology that support Bridgeport’s growing sustainable infrastructure. Other presentations include a roundtable on Building Sustainable Communities, Creating and Supporting a Sustainable Food Infrastructure and Indoor Air Quality. More than 25 Connecticut organizations and green businesses are exhibiting at the Third Annual Green Market Exposition. GreenTowns, new to the Green Market Exposition this year, will feature it’s CT Campaign for Sustainable Communities and will invite people to join town pages, share local initiatives, and connect with sustainability leaders, mayors, green businesses, non-profits and community members who want to work together to build awareness and support each other in the “greening” of Connecticut. GreenTowns is designed to facilitate and accelerate these connections. The faster people connect around green, the quicker Connecticut will become sustainable. Returning to the GME this year, is St. Vincent’s Medical Center who will also be exhibiting and sharing their commitment to sustainability with the community.

Other exhibitors include Sunlight Solar Energy, Hometronics Lifestyle, Easy Care Energy Solutions, Gumdrop Swap, BGreen 2020, and Recyclbank. Media sponsors include E Magazine, CT Environmental Headlines, Fairfield Green Food Guide and Natural Awakenings-Fairfield County.
“The beginning phases of a sustainable infrastructure are becoming to become a reality in towns throughout Connecticut. Single-stream recycling, EV charging stations, farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture are all part of our communities. And this is just the beginning,” said Green Market Exposition Co-founder Daphne Dixon.

The Green Market Exposition is open to the public and there is no fee to attend. All are welcome and encouraged to come and learn about sustainable communities.

For a complete list of exhibitors and schedule of events, please visit

Sunday, October 2, 2011

EarthTalk®: Banks That Fund Mountaintop Removal

Photo Courtesy:
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I understand that mountaintop removal as a way of coal mining is incredibly destructive. Didn’t a report come out recently that named major banks that were funding this activity?    
-Seth Jergens, New York, NY

Yes it’s true that many major banks invest in companies that engage in the environmentally destructive practice of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining, whereby the tops of mountains are removed by explosives to expose thin seams of recoverable coal. The wasted earth and other materials are either put back onto the mountain top in an approximation of their original contours, wreaking havoc on local ecosystems and biodiversity, or dumped into neighboring valleys, polluting lakes and streams and jeopardizing water quality for humans and wildlife.

According to the non-profit Rainforest Action Network (RAN), this dumping—especially throughout Appalachia where MTR is most prevalent—“undermines the objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act.” The group adds that some 2,000 miles of streams have already been buried or contaminated in the region. “The mining destroys Appalachian communities, the health of coalfield residents and any hope for positive economic growth.”

This past April, RAN teamed up for the second year in a row with another leading non-profit green group concerned about MTR, the Sierra Club, in publishing a “report card” reviewing 10 of the world’s largest banks in regard to their financing of MTR coal mining projects. The new 2011 version of “Policy and Practice” takes a look at the MTR-related financing practices of Bank of America, CitiBank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, GE Capital, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, PNC, UBS and Wells Fargo.

What did they find? Since January 2010, the 10 banks reviewed have provided upwards of $2.5 billion in loans and bonds to companies practicing MTR. While some of the banks—Chase, Wells Fargo, PNC, UBS, and Credit Suisse—adopted policies limiting their financing of MTR, few actually pulled funding in place from any such activities upon adopting such policies. Citibank, despite announcing publicly in 2009 that it would limit its involvement in MTR, doubled its investments in the business in 2010.

RAN and the Sierra Club are also keeping a close eye on UBS which, soon after stating that it “needs to be satisfied that the client is committed to reduce over time its exposure to [MTR],” went ahead and acted as a paid advisor on the merger of Massey Energy, which operated the West Virginia mine where 29 men died last year, and Alpha Natural Resources. This merger created the largest single MTR company in the country, now responsible for some 25 percent of coal production from MTR mines.

The report card grades each bank based on its current position and practice regarding MTR investments, and calls on the banks to strengthen their policies and cease their financial support for coal companies engaging in MTR. “The ‘best practice’ a clear exclusion policy on commercial lending and investment banking services for all coal companies who practice mountaintop removal coal extraction,” says RAN.

RAN and the Sierra Club hope that by exposing the impact these banks are having on the environment through their financing programs, they can help alert the public and policymakers to the need to outlaw MTR coal mining altogether.

CONTACTS: Rainforest Action Network,; Sierra Club,

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( Send questions to: Subscribe: Free Trial Issue:

What you can do RIGHT NOW:
Share your environmental initiative on GreenTowns.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Connecticut Campaign for Sustainable Communities Launches October 1st, 2011

The Connecticut Campaign for Sustainable Communities, spearheaded by Fairfield-based, aims to connect 1,000 people in the state who want to work together to build awareness and to support each other in the “greening” of Connecticut. The Fairfield town page is filled with local green initiatives, residents who support sustainability efforts and a quote from First Selectman Michael Tetreau. Show your support for local sustainability by joining your town page.
More than 80 organizations, businesses and green leaders from across the state, are involved in this campaign to connect green initiatives and their supporters in and across every city and town in Connecticut. 
With so many ground-breaking and worthwhile green efforts underway across the state that can be replicated or expanded, GreenTowns can facilitate and accelerate connections that will hasten the growth of sustainable communities.
Launched in May 2011, as a unifying network to share information, ideas and connections across all categories of sustainability, is already a vital resource that features green initiatives large and small: from energy projects and shore preservation to electric vehicle charging stations and farmers markets; from innovative recycling programs and organic gardening classes to green building ventures and local community advocacy efforts. More than 15,000 local efforts in nine green categories are now featured on the site, where connections are being made between people across America.
GreenTowns’ Connecticut Campaign for Sustainable Communities will connect people through, personal profiles, email updates and expert-moderated list-serves, as well as on the GreenTowns Facebook page, Twitter and the GreenTowns Talk blog.  New this month on GreenTown are newly-designed town pages, a group talk tool and a way to stay informed about green events and efforts through regular updates.
The Connecticut Campaign is the first effort to intensify connections and mutual support for green efforts. Fairfield serves as a model for other towns as there is already a strong commitment to sustainability, and also an opportunity to reach out to more people interesetd in sustainability. 
Supporting the Connecticut Campaign for Sustainable Communities are local, regional and national green organizations including E-The Environmental Magazine, CT Environmental Headlines,  Soundkeeper, the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Energy Challenge, the Connecticut chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, Live Green Connecticut!, local ”Green Designees” of the NAR (National Association of Realtors),  green bloggers, Fairfield Green Drinks and Fairfield-based Planet Fuel,Fairfield Green Food Guide and Snappy Green
The faster people connect around green, the quicker Connecticut will become sustainable. Check out GreenTowns and support local sustainability.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moving Beyond Fossil Fuels

Saturday, September 24th, people around the globe, are engaged in a worldwide effort, through over 2,000 events in more than 175 countries, to move beyond fossil fuels. The organization behind it all is is growing an international, grassroots movement that brings people together, and unites them around solving the climate crisis.
Learn more about Moving Planet and see the latest event photos and updates here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Growing Green

When I moved to Fairfield, eleven years ago from California, I thought one of the signs of being a good gardener, was the ability to successfully grow all sorts of exotic and non-native plants. So, the first six years, I cultivated a variety of plants, including many varieties from California, and delighted in discovering and planting the unusual.
But then everything change. I was lucky enough to go through the Master Gardener program at the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford. Going through the program changed the way I looked at gardening, and not only gave me a true appreciation for the impact that home gardeners have on the environment, but also taught me the importance of native plants and the very important habitats they support.
Over the last four years, I have taken what I have learned and am transitioning my yard into a mainly native landscape. First, I worked on restoring a vernal pool in my backyard. Then, I started the process of transition my lawn to more native species. The lawn is mowed with reel mowers with the help of MowGreen.US. With guidance from my friends at Ganim's Nursery, I switched from Miracle Grow and other traditional fertilizers to organic fertilizers like Plant-tone. And now have many native perennials and shrubs like wild geranium, New England aster, bayberry and mountain laurel. The lawn and perennials require minimal water, the native species bring many birds into the yard, and I have eliminated the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The yard is low maintenance and supports native habitats. What I love most about transitioning the garden is that in those shady places, where it was always difficult to get plants to grow, native ferns and grasses have started to establish themselves and happily exist.
Although it requires patience, change in perspective, and some hard work, it has been well worth the effort. 

Washington State University, started the Master Gardener program in 1972 as a response to overwhelming requests for horticulture information. The specialized program was developed with a two-part training program, including classes and required volunteer community outreach hours. That standard remains and today every state has a Master Gardener program. Typically, there is a registration fee to cover the cost of educational materials, about 40-60 hours of volunteer service and class instruction in a wide range of horticulture and related areas including entomology, soil, vegetables, woody landscape plants, integrated pest management, plant pathology, organic gardening and more. In most states, training is offered in several county extension offices in the fall and winter months. After completion of the classes, students become Master Gardener interns. After a final exam and completion of the volunteer outreach service commitment in their community, interns become Master Gardeners.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What is “Green Drinks” Anyway?

What is “Green Drinks” Anyway?

When I first heard about events called “Green Drinks” I assumed there was an actual green drink that was the focus of the gathering. I thought  “Green Drinks” was just a local group who got together around these seemingly mysterious green beverages. My curiosity was peaked. I am a big fan of green drinks: green tea, green vegetable juice-even the occasional wheat grass shot. So, I definitely wanted to find out more about these “Green Drinks” events that I had heard about and try one of these drinks for myself.

Well, if you have been to an actual “Green Drinks” you know that it is all about connecting with people, and the drinks may or may not actually be green. There is no actual green drink; but, something much more interesting.

Brief History of Green Drinks

It all began in 1989, at a pub called The Slug and Lettuce in northern London, when Edwin Datschefski along with Yorick Benjamin and Paul Scott, all green design colleagues, recognized a few others at the pub that they knew were interested and involved in sustainability. The group began a conversation around “green” and something extraordinary happened. The concept of environmentally minded people meeting together every month, in a casual environment to share and discuss green, that started that night in northern London, spread globally. Datschefski took the initiative to support this effort and in 2001 created an official Website called Green Drinks and now moderates over 700 Green Drinks all over the world. They are a great opportunity to talk and network with others interested in sustainability and local green issues, in a casual and friendly setting. It also serves as great place to job search, make friends, develop ideas and learn about the newest eco-friendly trends.

In 2002, New York City was the first official Green Drinks in the United States. Norwalk Green Drinks was started by Remy Chevalier in 2004.

Fairfield Green Drinks
Fairfield Green Drinks has been around for almost three years and meets the first Tuesday of the month at The Shack Hometown Grill, from 6:00-8:00pm. Fairfield Green Drinks is very casual, all are welcome and there is no charge to attend. Our June Green Drinks will feature Michael Trahan of Solar Connecticut, Inc., who will be on hand to answer your questions about the benefits of clean, renewable solar power. We hope you can join us for a casual gathering centered around green. To RSVP, click HERE.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Welcome to GreenTowns

Amazing people are starting green initiatives every day, in towns and cities across the country.
Until now, there has not been one place where people locally and across the the country could connect and share all of these efforts. Introducing a national community called GreenTowns: a place for everyone, all across the country, who are interested in building sustainable communities, creating “green” infrastructures and spreading eco-friendly information, to gather and share ideas, initiatives and resources. GreenTowns will live both online and in our towns and cities, through gatherings, projects and on The website features a blog, social networking, photos, videos, advisors and initiatives. GreenTowns provides everyone an opportunity to participate in creating sustainable communities. 
I'd like to invite you to join the local and national sustainability conversation. Welcome to GreenTowns.

Monday, May 2, 2011

AmericanTowns Launches

New Online Network Connects and Celebrates Local Green Initiatives
in Towns Across America

Built on AmericanTowns’ Local Platform, GreenTowns’ Partners at Launch Include
Reader’s Digest, Bob Vila, E-The Environmental Magazine

Fairfield, CT, May 2, 2011 – AmericanTowns is launching, a new online network that connects and celebrates green initiatives and their leaders, locally and nationally.  Now, through GreenTowns, residents of 15,000 towns and cities in the United States are invited to discover, share and support inspiring sustainability efforts in their community, between towns, and across a range of environmental concerns. 

“We are adding a new dimension to the green landscape available online by featuring green initiatives that are working, spotlighting ways to get involved and sparking local interaction,” said Daphne Dixon, Director of GreenTowns. “By sharing the expertise and enthusiasm of both dedicated specialists and local citizens who care, GreenTowns will be a valuable resource and a catalyst for change, as it connects and supports local green efforts across the country.”

Building on the technology and communication tools that power – currently organizing and sharing information on hyper-local events, announcements, local resources and community organizations in 15,000 towns across America – features local sustainability initiatives that are searchable by location and category.  GreenTowns will also offer green community pages for each town in a feature called “How Green Is Your Town.” In partnership with Reader’s Digest, “How Green Is Your Town” will invite users to share additional local green initiatives and will help each community identify ways their town could become greener.  Initiatives of special note and the people leading them will also be featured on AmericanTowns community websites and, in select cases, in Reader’s Digest

A broad range of environmental issues are brought together in including: building, energy, food, land and conservation, lifestyle, connections, recycling, transportation and water. Subject matter experts including Bob Vila, and category advisors will supplement content and facilitate conversations through blogs and the sharing of questions, information and support across topics and throughout the site.

In the coming months, will also provide a hub for local green events: community organizations and environmental nonprofits will be able to post their information for free, utilizing the calendar and resource tools that have been a popular feature on  Local e-mail updates will keep subscribers informed. 
“We are applying the technological foundation we designed and implemented successfully for to now directly benefit green efforts,” said Theodore Buerger, AmericanTowns Chairman and co-founder.  “Our ultimate goal with is to create a trusted network for sustainable communities -- a source of information, inspiration and connection that will further the greening of America.” is a free service for green non-profit organizations and local communities.  It plans to be self-supported through local, green-conscious sponsors, following the local business model which brought to profitability within two years of its national launch.

National, regional and local partnering organizations announced at the launch of include Reader’s Digest, Bob Vila, E-The Environmental Magazine, Go Green Expo, Conscious Decisions, Edibles Advocate Alliance, Planet Fuel and SoundWaters.

About GreenTowns: is a network for sustainable communities -- connecting and celebrating green initiatives and the people supporting them, locally and across America.  Built on the foundation of -- a network of hyper-local websites serving 15,000 cities and towns – GreenTowns aims to inspire people to grow sustainable communities and thereby to help build a green America. is hosted and owned by L.L.C., headquartered in Fairfield, CT.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The End of Telephone Phone Directories?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Green Coast Awards Announces New Director

Matt Turek of Stamford, CT and team member of Conscious Decisions has just accepted the position as Director of the Green Coast Awards.  Congratulations Matt!

Check out some of the 2010 Green Coast Award Winners HERE

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Connecting locally and nationally to create a sustainable infrastructure in America:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fairfield Green Drinks celebrates two years Vinti Singh, Staff Writer Published: 11:08 p.m., Sunday, January 9, 2011

-- Like any entrepreneur, Amy Barnouw had an idea. She wanted to make a healthy juice for children that came in packaging that was good for the environment. But an organic drink inside an aluminum bottle equated to premium prices. And was there a market for a premium drink for children?
The Barnouws had been working on their idea for three years, during which time they transplanted from Seattle to Fairfield.
"Seattle already has a strong liberal, socially aware community that is already committed to organics," Barnouw said.
Wondering if she would find a similar community in Connecticut, she attended a Fairfield Green Drinks meet-up. Members of the environmentally minded group gather at The Shack on the Post Road once a month to discuss their varying passions over drinks.
"When I walked into Green Drinks, I realized there was a strong and growing community concerned about the environment here, too," Barnouw said.
The realization was inspirational in launching the Planet Fuel Beverage Co. in April. It sells the juice to almost 40 regional schools and stores in Fairfield County and Washington, and is looking to expand.
"We feel incredible support when we come to Green Drinks because the people here are passionate about what they do, whether it's electric cars, solar panels or juice," Barnouw said.
Barnouw had buckets of juice on hand Tuesday during Fairfield Green Drinks' two-year anniversary celebration at The Shack on the Post Road.
In those two years, Fairfield Green Drinks has fostered entrepreneurs like Barnouw. The group has stayed true to its grassroots mission, which is simply to spark discussions, Fairfield Green Drinks organizer Daphne Dixon said.
"There's a lot of heart in it," Dixon said. "It's more than a chamber mixer."
"It's more casual than name tags," Remy Chevalier, who runs an environmental library in Norwalk, said.
Those who drop by include businessmen, housewives, retired folks and young people just starting their careers.
But not everyone comes to Fairfield Green Drinks just to chat. Bridgeport resident Raymond Caddy founded Brighten Your Home, a sustainable lighting company, and he comes to Fairfield Green Drinks meetings to find potential employees for his growing business.
Although she brushes off any credit, Dixon works silently behind the scenes at Green Drinks, introducing people to the ones they need to talk to.
"She has a quiet way," Barnouw said. "She is a pebble doing an amazing ripple effect."
Barnouw, Caddy and Chevalier credited Dixon with personally fostering their businesses.
Green Drinks was founded in the late 1980s in London and since then has expanded all over the world. Townwide Green Drinks have sprouted throughout Fairfield County, including in Stamford, Bridgeport and Norwalk.
The Shack lends space to Fairfield Green Drinks once a month for its meet-up, and the owner keeps organic wine in stock for the environmentally minded group. Dixon boasted that Green Drinks has influenced Shack owner Walter Miller to switch to all organic cleaning products.
Chevalier, who was sitting at one of the dining booths, grabbed the hanging lamp above him and examined the bulb.
"They haven't switched to LED bulbs, yet, though," he said. "It's OK. We'll find Walter later tonight and have a little talk."
Contact Vinti Singh at or 203-330-6285. Follow Vinti at

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lead an initiative in Your Town

Lead a green initiative. Start now by joining us at Fairfield Green Drinks on February 1st at The Shack.
 Click here to sign up and share your initiative with others. Click HERE to RSVP to Green Drinks.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Green Initiatives at Green Drinks

On February 1st, Fairfield Green Drinks, at The Shack in Fairfield, CT, will feature local green initiatives.

Join us to learn about these initiatives and to share your sustainability story at this friendly and casual gathering. RSVP HERE.

At the Fairfield County Green Faire, local initiatives were celebrated.
View the video below to learn about the school garden program in Stamford, developed by Pam Sloane.