Green is Universal

How to Have a Green Valentine’s Day


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



For more indoor gardening tips, visit:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Green Gobbling: How to be Eco-Friendly This Thanksgiving


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)


NBCUniversal Honored for Sustainable Film and Television Productions


(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.


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


Winter is Coming: What You Need to Do to Your Garden to Be Prepared!


There’s a certain thrill to seeing a ripe, fully colored tomato in your garden and using it for homemade salsa the next week. However, the time for soaking in that feeling is over, and as the seasons change, so must our gardening habits. As winter draws near, here are a few different things you should think about doing to protect your garden during the offseason.

  1. Make sure that your gardening tools are polished. It doesn’t matter if you have a brand new leaf collector or the dirtiest wheelbarrow east of the Mississippi. Your equipment needs to be cared for and put away, so make sure everything from pocket snips to weeders goes in the shed as soon as you don’t need it anymore. If you take care of good equipment, you won’t need to be wasteful and continually buy new tools.
  2. Try not to rake your leaves. While raking can be a solid workout, it can also damage your yard. Research has proven that mowing leaves on and around your garden is more efficient and better for the soil, and unraked leaves in planting beds seldom smother shade-tolerant perennial plants.
  3. Not everything needs to be cut! Some flowers and tall plants should stay standing tall. Sunflowers and thistles are especially important to butterflies and birds during the winter. Some plants and flowers can still be used as food and sanctuary. While some plants need to be eliminated, keep a few around for our fellow nature creatures.
  4. Cover up with compost. One to six inches of compost should do the trick when covering up the garden. This can be made of many different things, so get creative! It doesn’t just have to be manure or leaves.

You can find more in-depth tips here.


6 Ways to be Green this Halloween



Halloween can often be the spookiest time of the year, what with folks dressed as goblins, ghouls, and zombies running around town all night long. But while parting with sumptuous candy might seem like a scary thought, being green on Halloween shouldn’t be. Here are some hard and fast tips for staying green this year before the full moon rises on October 31st

  1. Reuse and recycle candy bags or buckets – If you choose to spend your night going door-to-door hunting for snacks instead of giving them out, make sure to use something you can find around the house. A paint bucket, a baseball cap, a pillow case… these are just a few examples of things you can collect candy in.
  2. Transportation – Go door-to-door with your friends and family by foot or by bicycle. Take the night off from driving around. It’s more fun to walk around on Halloween anyway.
  3. Prohibit plastic at parties – If you are throwing a costume party –you can use biodegradable dishes , glasses and cutlery. Have your guests write their name on their cups with a Sharpie, so they can keep track of which glass is theirs rather than  using multiple at the party. Make your own decorations – don’t rush out to your local drugstore when you can festoon your home with eerie adornments all on your own. Goblins, witches, skeletons… all of these things can be created in your own personal arts and crafts work space. Imagination is cheap!
  4. Buy the local orange produce – Support local farmers and businesses and grab your future jack-o’-lantern from them. Maybe next year, you can grow one in your own garden if you’re really feeling green.
  5. Go full pumpkin – If you carve a pumpkin, use the insides for food! Don’t let it go to waste. You can find a whole host of ideas and recipes here.
  6. Create your own costume – Sure, you could go out and buy that Jackie Moon costume for 70 bucks. Probably wouldn’t be that hard to find a Michael Jackson “Thriller” jacket online. Heck, there are so many Harley Quinn costumes at Halloween pop-up they’re practically unavoidable. But why not be environmental and create your own mummy costume with toilet paper and some gauze? With some patience and creativity, mix and match items in your wardrobe until you get that Ace Ventura or Pepper Potts look you’ve always wanted. Characters live in your closet, and you can bring them to life without spending a single penny!

Global Citizens Festival 2016: Stars Shine in Central Park for Fight to End Poverty

This past weekend more than 60,000 music fans and social activists gathered on the Great Lawn in Central park for the fifth Global Citizen Festival.  MSNBC co-sponsored the event for the third consecutive year, thus continuing a partnership with the forward-thinking organization dedicated to ending global poverty by 2030. The celebratory concert featured public figures, actors, singers and politicians campaigning for a myriad of human rights issues championed by Global Citizen to assist those in need.

Saturday’s show capped off a three-month campaign that took a total of 1.3 million actions, leading to 44 commitments and announcements worth a total of $1.9 billion dollars in pledged donations. Global Citizen said that 199 million people will be impacted by this fundraising. From an environmental perspective, Global Citizen is actively dedicated to protecting the environment and providing clean, safe water and sanitation to communities without those luxuries.

Some of the highlights from the 2016 festival included:

Performances from artists such as Kendrick Lamar, who played hit song “King Kunta” to an enthusiastic crowd:

Businessman and “Shark Tank” star Daymond John and Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, who called on young citizens to make sure to vote in the upcoming election:

Chris Martin, creative director of the event and lead singer of British rock band Coldplay, who covered Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” live. He even improvised a verse about Rihanna, the next performer, who was running a bit behind schedule:

There were also some fascinating behind-the-scenes interviews with famous attendees and guests, including Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg:

For more on Global Citizen, visit their website.


The Joys of Carpooling

It’s that time of year again—time for kids to go back to school.  Students all around the country are packing their backpacks and emotionally preparing themselves for another year of learning avalanche of knowledge.

If you’re looking for an easy way to help the environment as your child goes back to school, consider carpooling!  If your child doesn’t take the bus every morning, make a carpool group with a few other families in your community to cut down on gas costs.  It helps keep the “green” in your wallet, and it’s also great for the environment by reducing the number of cars on the road.


Check out these carpooling facts from the National Resource Defense Council:

  • Carpooling saves you money: less driving means fewer fill-ups and less automobile wear-and-tear.
  • Carpooling increases productivity: less time stuck in traffic means quicker commutes and more time to get things done.
  • Carpooling saves lives: fewer cars on the road means fewer accidents and crash-related deaths and injuries.
  • On Average, a car produces 10,000 lbs of carbon dioxide and 600 lbs of carbon monoxide in one year, while consuming on average around 550 gallons of gasoline a year.
  • If every passenger car in the US carried just one additional commuter for a single day, the US could save over 30 million gallons of gasoline.


In case you have any lingering doubts about what carpooling can do for you or the planet, take a listen to Grimm’s Russell Hornsby and Royal Pains’ Mark Fuerstein:



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