Green is Universal

Welcome to Earth Week!

Most people are familiar with the “Three R’s” — reduce, reuse, and recycle. But many of us don’t know the everyday steps we can take to make those R’s impactful — and we don’t realize how big that impact can be when our individual efforts add up.

It’s tough to know how much your minor changes can affect the planet on a larger scale. It can feel like your contribution is small and insignificant, when in fact it’s not. Throughout Earth Week, NBCUniversal will share both habits that anyone can do to make a difference, as well as the impact those habits have on the planet.

This story is part of NBCUniversal’s 10th Annual Earth Week where we’re inviting our viewers and readers to “Green Up” by sharing steps you can take to help the planet. Follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more. #GreenUp

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Celebrate National Park Week

The sun is coming out, the snow is melting, and it’s time to get back outside. In celebration of its 101st anniversary, the National Park Service is hosting National Park Week from April 15-23. This means entrance into the parks is free April 15-16 and 22-23. Head here to find a park or event near you!

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Photo: National Park Service

The National Parks possess a rich history and have an interesting origin. John Muir, one of America’s most famous naturalists, fell in love with the outdoors at a young age and spent his life working to protect public lands. In 1903 Muir led President Theodore Roosevelt on a camping trip in what is now Yosemite National Park that ultimately convinced Roosevelt to return land in Yosemite Valley to federal protection. The impact that this trip had on Roosevelt became the catalyst for events that led up to the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

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Photo: Library of Congress

These protected lands have since transcended party lines and held steady through changing administrations. During his time in office George W Bush designated 6 new national parks, and following him, President Obama added an astounding 22 and put over 290 million acres under federal protection. Obama has now surpassed Theodore Roosevelt in his efforts in conservation.

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Photo: National Park Service

There are many benefits to exploring any one of our National Parks. You could learn about the fascinating theory of plate tectonics while visiting the volcanoes in Hawaii, or become physically rejuvenated from hiking in the temperate rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Wherever you choose to explore next week, just remember to leave only footprints and take only memories.

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Earth Day: A Look Back

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Earth Day is just around the corner, and it got us thinking. When did Earth Day begin? Why did it begin? What exactly is it celebrating? Here we examine the beginnings of this seminal day in order to ignite inspiration for this year’s actions.

The first official Earth Day occurred on April 22, 1970. Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, founded the annual event with the momentum of change happening in the United States at the time, especially among college students. Therefore, he chose a date that would henceforth fall between Spring Break and Final Exams. The inaugural event consisted primarily of rallies around the United States where thousands expressed their concern for the environment and of current large scale practices they felt were harming it. Political unity and progress soon followed with the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

In 1990 Earth Day became a global affair with 200 million people in 141 countries participating. Soon to follow was the pivotal United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In 2010 Earth Day was reinvigorated and 250,000 gathered at the National Mall for a Climate Rally. Today, one billion people celebrate Earth Day every year – it is the world’s largest non-religious celebration.

This year Comcast Cares Day, the country’s largest day of corporate volunteering, falls on April 22. More than 100,000 Comcast NBCUniversal volunteers will work on improvement projects, many of which will focus on the environment. We are looking forward to furthering the original mission of Earth Day: to unite and inspire.

Source: earthday.org: The History of Earth Day

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Comcast NBCUniversal and the Arbor Day Foundation Share 25,000 Trees

This past winter, Comcast NBCUniversal partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation for the annual Share A Tree campaign. With a donation from NBCUniversal to the Arbor Day Foundation, Share A Tree provided another merry season of giving back to the environment.

Photo: USDA Forest Service

Photo: USDA Forest Service

After 66,000 acres were ravaged by wildfires in the South Fork Complex Fire in 2014, the 2016 efforts went toward rebuilding Malheur National Forest in Canyon City, Oregon. Goals for the campaign focused on restoring forest areas ravaged by wildfire, improving conditions in area water shed, and providing critical habitat and cover for big game including elk, bears, red fox, coyotes and bison.

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This year, 25,000 trees (Ponderosa Pine, Western Larch, and Douglas fir) were planted across 250 acres in the National Forest.

Over the next 40 years, this tree planting initiative will have reduced net carbon dioxide by 9,380 tons, reduced air pollution by 340 tons, and increased rainfall interception by 460,000,000 gallons.

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“Successful regeneration is imperative to provide critical wildlife habitat. It is also important to restore forest structure to the South Fork John Day River and its tributaries to provide for stream shading and nutrient input,” noted Terry Corning-Sevey of the U.S. Forest Service.

Comcast NBCUniversal is proud of the success of the Share A Tree campaign, and the light shed on the great impact of working together.

 

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How to Have a Green Valentine’s Day

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1. Buy local flowers

If you are a classic romantic and want to convey your affection through a gift as old as St. Valentine, get your loved one a beautiful bouquet of locally sourced flowers. Check out your closest farmer’s market to avoid pesticide laden flowers that have been shipped from a galaxy far, far away. Help out your local economy while bringing a smile to your Valentine’s face. If you really want to show your love is eternal, pick up a potted plant from the farmer’s market, so that your love blooms even longer than cut flowers.

 

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2. Make a donation to a charity in a loved one’s name

Is there a charity that your Valentine loves just as much as you? Make a donation in his or her name.

 

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3. Whip up a special chocolate

Imagine how excited your special someone will be when you unveil a chocolate made just for your love. You can do this by melting down chocolate you already have and then adding special ingredients that your Valentine will go nuts for. Then, allow the chocolate to solidify in a heart shaped tray. If you’d prefer to purchase your chocolate, make sure you look for Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate. Nothing says “I love you” quite like chocolate that is a symbol for environmental, social and economic sustainability.

 

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4. Show love through acts of kindness

Participate in Random Acts of Kindness Week by leaving quarters at the Laundromat, donating books to a library, or treat your barista with a little extra love. You might even pay it forward by paying for someone else’s coffee Valentine’s morning. These February 14th activities can be done with a loved one, solo or with friends.

 

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5. Make valentine’s crafts from recycled materials.

We live in a DIY world, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to put your creativity to the test. Use old newspaper to give your handmade card some texture. Make a Valentine’s wind sock by gluing streamers to a toilet paper roll covered in red paper. You can also use the world around you to make a nature inspired card or gift.

 

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6. Send an E-Card

If all else fails, send some digital love by creating an E-Card that you can send around to all of your loved ones. Add personal messages or include a meme that will make your Valentine giggle. The internet is your oyster. Paperless Post (pictured here) is one of the many E-card websites that has a plethora of templates to choose from.

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Superstore

Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC

America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”) and Ben Feldman (“Mad Men,” “A to Z”) star on the hilarious workplace comedy Superstore about a unique family of employees at Cloud 9, a supersized megastore. Superstore centers around Amy (Ferrera), the store’s most stalwart employee as well as the glue holding the place together, and newly hired Jonah (Feldman), a dreamer determined to prove work doesn’t have to be boring. Their fellow associates include the sardonic Garrett (Colton Dunn, “Key & Peele”), the ambitious Mateo (Nico Santos, “Mulaney”) and the sweet teenager, Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom, “Shameless”). Overseeing the store is Glenn (Mark McKinney, “The Kids in the Hall”), the store’s affable, clueless store manager, and Dina (Lauren Ash, “Super Fun Night”), the aggressive assistant manager who enforces Cloud 9 policy with an iron fist.

After receiving an EMA Green Seal for their sustainable production practices on Season 1, the Season 2 Superstore production team has continued efforts to reduce their environmental impact.  The lighting department integrated energy-efficient Mactech LED lights throughout the sets, making up a significant percentage of the production’s lighting package. The construction department used FSC-Certified Meranti plywood to build their elaborate set walls, which ensures that the Meranti lumber is harvested responsibly and sustainably.

The Superstore set dressing department incorporated green messaging on screen by placing recycling bins in the store underneath a large sign that reads “CLOUD 9 CARES ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT.” Their department has also continuously donated large amounts of produce and snacks from set dressing to the non-profit Food Finders, which helps to feed those in need throughout the Los Angeles area. Between their donations and left over catering, this season of Superstore so far has donated over 2,270 lbs. of food, equaling over 1,892 meals for the hungry.

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The 7 Indoor Plants to Brighten Your Winter

1) Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): The spider plant is considered one of the most adaptable houseplants and the easiest to grow. These tough plants can tolerate a lot, but be sure to give them well-drained soil and bright, indirect light. Not to worry, spiders not included.

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2) Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum): If you want to bring a beautiful bloom into your low-light space this winter, look no further than a peace lily. This super-easy to grow indoor plant favors low-humidity and low light. Make sure to keep the soil moist throughout the pot while maintaining a good drainage system. Keep the plant in an area that isn’t going to get drafty or go below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep the flower waving like the white flag it’s named for.

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3) Aloe (Aloe vera): Not just for sunburns, this easy to raise plant provides foliage year round. Aloe does go dormant during the winter, so growth slows and water needs decrease. Growers should not be tempted to place the plant in the window. Instead, choose a well-lit end table that sits away from windows and other outdoor draughts in order to keep the plant safe from cold shock. Don’t forget this is a gel filled plant that can provide a soothing medicine to burns throughout the year.

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4) English Ivy (Hedera helix): Native to woodland areas, English Ivy houseplants thrive in an environment of bright, filtered light. English Ivy (Hedera helix) prefer an evenly moist environment.  Spraying English Ivy with soft water weekly will help prevent spider mites from infesting the plant.

 

5) Rubber Tree (Hevea brasiliensis): If you want to go with something a little larger, the rubber tree has the capability of growing up to 50 feet tall. If you’re looking for something to fit in your living room, have no fear, you simply need a younger, less mature rubber tree. Your rubber tree really only needs to be watered once or twice a month throughout the winter season, as it is not growing as it would during the spring and summer. For lighting, give your rubber tree a home in some indirect light, for example, near a window with sheer curtains.

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6) Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata): If you’re thinking you don’t have room in your small space for a winter plant, the snake plant is just for you. This incredibly tolerant plant tends to grow straight up, as opposed to up and out. They can survive low-light levels, very little water and don’t bring pesky bugs around your home. In fact, NASA research has shown that snake plants are able to help keep the air inside your home clean.

 

 7) Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens): If you spend your winter nights dreaming of sunny days, look no further than an Areca palm to bring the beach to your home. It can also be called the yellow butterfly palm, bamboo palm, or golden cane palm. Long evergreen leaf stems shoot up from golden stalks and arch outward and down. To thrive throughout the winter, the Areca needs filtered light and moist, well-drained soil. Make sure that the container you use to set your palm up has functioning drain holes, and be sure to empty any excess water that may build up after watering.

 

Bonus: Herb Garden

Spread some green around your house and take your winter meals to the next level with an indoor herb garden. The cold weather is a perfect time to set up a sanctuary of spices. Start with Chives, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme or Parsley. All five of these tasty herbs need about 6 hours of sun a day, so place your herb pot in the windowsill that gets some light throughout the day. You can also begin your indoor garden with established plants you may have started or purchased at the farmer’s market last fall.

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For more indoor gardening tips, visit: Today.com

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New Year, New Sustainable You: How to be Green in 2017

Every year, the prospects of a new year bring a plethora of personal goals. Exercise more, binge watch less. Cook healthier meals, don’t eat out as much. By Valentine’s Day, these broad intangible goals feel like distant memories. Our desired life-style changes all too often feel like impossible chores.

Do you want a greener 2017? Living a more sustainable life can sound like one of those distant memories, but it doesn’t have to be. Start small. Watch the progress you can make, and then take the next step.

WATER:

Start small: Recycle those water bottles. Whether you are at home, work, or on the go; take the extra moment to recycle any plastic bottles you may be drinking out of. That might mean holding on to it until you get home.

Next step: Don’t buy plastic water bottles at all. Invest in a stainless steel or BPA-free water bottle. Then, not only do you not have to worry about recycling plastic water bottles, you save money on buying them in the first place. This goes for coffee as well. Once you find a great coffee mug, you can make your own or bring it into your favorite coffee shop.

Long term: Work on conserving water. Find and fix any leaks you have in your home. Take shorter (5-10 min) showers or shower less. Did you know you can water your plants with ice cubes? The plant will absorb the cube slowly, so as to not waste any excess water. You could even purchase a water consumption monitor and set goals for lowering your overall water consumption.

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS:

Start small: Find the greener version. Whether it be hand soap, laundry detergent or paper products, support companies that not only create products that are better for the environment, but operate with sustainability in mind. Check out this FORBES article on environmentally friendly companies.

Next Step: Try DIY. Get creative with ways to mix up your own shampoo or a simple cleaning solution. Instead of buying tooth paste that comes in a plastic tube, give making your own a shot. Many DIY recipes include ingredients you already have in your pantry. Click here to check out a few great DIY recipes.

Long Term: Cut down paper towel and napkin consumption. Invest in cloth napkins you can reuse again and again. Be sure you’re doing your cleaning with cloths instead of paper towels. You can even use old t-shirts as rags to reduce clothing and paper product waste.

FOOD:

Start small: Buy organic. Keep an eye out for that “USDA Organic” sticker on your food. Keep a special eye out for the Dirty Dozen (pesticide prone produce) and focus on the Clean Fifteen (produce least contaminated with pesticides).

Next Step: Buy local. It may be frigid outside, but that doesn’t mean the farmer’s markets stop. Many towns operate indoor markets to support local farmers year round. The inventory will change from season to season, but you can find clean eating basics at most markets. You could even try growing herbs in your own home.

Long Term: Incorporate meal planning into your weekly routine, in an effort to prevent food waste. Make a list of everything you need before going to the grocery store, and be sure to use everything in your fridge before purchasing more.

WASTE:

Start small: Make yourself aware of what you’re throwing away. Is it food? Junk mail? Take out containers? Pack your lunch. You can unsubscribe from direct mail here and unsubscribe from catalogs here. Once a day, make note of what you’re throwing away.

Next step: Start incorporating products in your life that you can re-use or make use of the entire product. Avoid buying individually wrapped items.

Long term: Make a compost plan, and work towards a zero-waste life style. Contact your town’s department of sanitation about adding compost to you recycling and garbage plan. Seek out drop off centers like New York City’s Greenmarket drop off.

ENERGY:

Start small: Do you keep your phone or computer charger plugged in even though you’re not charging? Save energy by keeping chargers unplugged when not in use. Turn off the lights and lower your thermostat before you leave for the day. If you’re going on vacation, unplug your appliances to save on your energy bills while helping the environment.

Next step: Convert the light bulbs in your home to either LED lights or compact fluorescent light bulbs. These lights last longer and use less energy. Overtime, you can make this sustainable change in every room in your house.

Long term: Solar energy is clean and renewable, and installing solar panels outside to power your home is no longer an impossible task of the future. Evaluate your options at energy.gov.

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Green Gobbling: How to be Eco-Friendly This Thanksgiving

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The holiday season is upon us, and Thanksgiving is less than a week away. While some of your friends might be gearing up for a Turkey Trot or flying to the Caribbean for a 4-day getaway, you might just be hosting a good old-fashioned family gathering. Here are some tips for making your Thanksgiving Day a little more environmentally responsible.

DECORATIONS:  If you want to festoon your hallways with knickknacks, use the beauty of nature itself to do the work for you. Step outside and gather acorns, leaves and stones to use as table setters, and avoid buying plastic decorations that you don’t need. This also extends to things like cups and plates; there’s a certain joy in knowing that you’ve used the same cutlery over the years on Thanksgiving, and you won’t be creating a landfill in the process. Recycle. Reuse. Recycle. Reuse. That’s something we can all be thankful for.

TRAVEL: Thanksgiving, for all its non-denominational glory, is the busiest time of the year for traveling. People are taking trains, buses, cars, and maybe even unicycles all across the country to make it to the gathering on time. Make sure that if you are going to a different location for the holiday, be efficient on the roads. Carpool if you can, and minimize carbon emissions by driving at a steady pace and not constantly stopping and starting.

FOOD: What are you cooking this year? We know the turkey is in the picture, but what are your sides? Carrots, mashed potatoes, or caramelized brussel sprouts? Doesn’t matter – it’s all delicious. Try and buy organic, local foods: nearby farmers and markets will benefit and buying organic reduces the amount of toxic chemicals released into our environment.

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and reflecting. Take time to give back to Mother Nature and reflect on how you can help her stay strong.

(Feel free to check out TODAY’s Thanksgiving coverage for recipes, stories and more here)

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NBCUniversal Honored for Sustainable Film and Television Productions

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(Clockwise from left: SyFy’s “The Magicians,” NBC’s Superstore, and Universal Pictures’ “Almost Christmas” were among the winners at the 2016 Environmental Media Awards)

NBCUniversal had a record-breaking year at the 26th Annual Environmental Media Awards, further demonstrating its leadership in sustainable production. Thirty of NBCUniversal television and feature film productions were recognized with an EMA Green Seal for progress in sustainable production practices – the most the company has ever received in a single year. This is the second year in a row where NBCUniversal has received the most EMA Green Seals of any producing studio.

Below is a complete list of NBCUniversal productions receiving a 2016 EMA Green Seal:

Universal Pictures: Almost Christmas, Bridget Jones Baby, Fast 8, Fifty Shades Darker / Fifty Shades Freed, Girl Trip, Jason Bourne, Snowman, The Mummy

Focus Features: Book of Henry

Universal Television (NBC): Bates Motel (S4), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (S3), Chicago Fire (S4), Chicago Med (S1), Chicago P.D. (S3), Crowded (S1), Grimm (S5), Heartbeat (S1), Hollywood Game Night (S4), Shades of Blue (S2), Superstore (S1), Telenovela (S1), The Good Place (S1), The Path (S1), Truth Be Told (S1), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (S2), and Uncle Buck (S1)

Universal Cable Productions (USA/ SyFy) : Falling Water (S1), The Magicians (S1), Mr. Robot (S2), and Suits (S6)

For more on our sustainable production efforts, check out our infographics to explore how NBCUniversal’s filmmakers and crewmembers are reducing their environmental impact.

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(The award ceremony was hosted by Nicole Richie, a frequent environmental activist | Photo credit to Jason Laveris)

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