Monday, December 12, 2011

6 ways to shop local

6 ways to shop local! Check out this article here, in newsstands or online at Abode

This season, Betty helps you think outside the gift box. Don’t fall into the Amazon trap; instead, give the gift of patronizing local businesses!

1. Couch shoppers, head to a cool new online gift shop created by Kate Bennis, Redbud Gifts, which offers local gifts, goodies, and experiences as well as charitable giving opportunities. Purchase a massage or language class, or have a local filmmaker “make your movie.” Everything in the shop originates within 100 miles of Charlottesville. See

2. Visit the Craftacular, a favorite venue of mine for unique hand-made gifts featuring local artists and designers, held this year at Cityspace on December 10 and 11, 10am-6pm.

3. Check out the great selection of upcycled clothing at Firefish Gallery, on Second St. NW just off the Mall.

4. Choose a book written by Virginia authors at Crozet’s Over the Moon Bookstore and Gallery or at one of the many used bookstores in town.

5. Support the local live-performance scene with tickets to a show at the Jefferson Theater, The Southern, Paramount or Live Arts.

6. Bring your holiday host a fine Virginia wine, or Red Rocker Candy (I’m addicted) made in Troy.

Happy Holidays! Betty

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Find this story online at Cville Weekly or in local newsstands!

This month, Betty highlights two local artists/creative recyclers, sure to bring out the green giver in you!

Bill Hess, a glass sculptor/artist, and Andy Faith, a mixed media artist, are both archaeologists of sorts with a love of found objects. Both have been known to “dumpster dive” as well as scour junkyards in search of treasures. With all the wonderful materials, textures, colors, and “stuff” available for free,who needs to go out and buy new?

Hess, who is also an engineer, loves reclaiming bits of glass (I once took him a broken vase) and embracing the design challenge of transforming it into something useable like counter tops, tiles,houses, and lamps. Hess’s latest project actually combines recycled glass and activism via a glass greenhouse in Mongolia.

Faith is a woman after my own heart –a collector of ALL things. The City thought she took it a bit too far a few years ago, telling her to clean up her backyard of “future art” (scrap metal) or serve jail time!

She says that “Street trash just isn’t what it used to be,” so she’s thankful that people keep giving her “junk”— broken jewelry, Brillo pads, you name it. Her specialty and a popular holiday gift item are her infamous “overaccessorized” objects. People bring her shoes, chairs, anything really, to have her add recycled/found flair to it. Remember the Barbie Christmas tree at the Consignment House? That was Faith’s. She likes to tell stories with her art–the tragedy and comedy of life and sometimes social commentary–while enjoying the play and the process.

Hess’s work can be found at Vivian’s Art to Wear, Muses, and Etsy, and Faith’s can be found at McGuffey Art Center. Other great places to access local, hand-made art are Cville art, Bozart, and other local art galleries, as well as Etsy shops, where you can search by “recycled materials.”

Go on now, green givers and support the local art scene...


Sunday, August 28, 2011

What's on Betty's Bookshelf?

Starting off the Sunday slow with some great reads, so I thought I'd share!

I feel remiss that some of these are still on the shelf, but hey, I need to give myself a break. Starting a non-profit, or any ground-up endeavor for that matter, as well as being a single-mother of two active boys doesn't leave a whole lot of free time, ya know?!

Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken. With the recent kick-off of the Better Business Challenge I was excited to get inspired by the pioneer of sustainaiblity in business. This book will continue to inspire change for generations...

Same can be said of Cradle-to-Cradle by Cville's own Michael Braungart and William McDonough which I feel totally embarassed admitting this publically: I'm still not finished with this important work. (Points for honesty?)

The Better World Handbook Small Changes That Make A Big Difference by Ellis Jones, Ross Haenfler and Brett Johnson I found this book ten years ago and refer to it often. Instrumental in creating the vision for Better World Betty.

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. A bunch of great ideas on turning vision to reality and creating action-oriented methods for making ideas a reality.

The Nonprofit Board ANSWER BOOK. Borrowing this from Center for Non-Profit Excellence. Next 18 months Betty's transitioning from an advisory board to a governing/working board. Betty's growing up!

I just cracked open: Getting Things Done by David Allen. A friend of mine says this one's a must for busy multi-taskers like myself.

Fostering Sustainable Behavior by Doug McKenzie-Mohr. Read this several years ago - relevant, helpful, inspiring.

Always on the shelf: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Nothing short of life-changing.

Just purchased: highly recommended If the Buddha Dated by Charlotte Kasl. that's for a different blog...

Still want to read: LOADS of books! Including...

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine M. Benyus

Better Bylaws (yawn) I'm sure it has important infomation

and with a name like Betty, how can one go wrong with this humorous guidebook:
Backcountry Betty by Jennifer Worick. A "Tongue-in-cheek wilderness manual for women who appreciate nature but prefer to maintain their coiffure while interacting with it" I'm pretty OK with an unshowered do, but could be funny!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fridge and Freezer Tips from Betty

A greener cool
Read this Abode article here or on Cville Weekly's website...

What is the one appliance in your home that is on ALL the time, and yet is absolutely essential even for the carbon tiptoers? Your refrigerator/freezer. This month Betty helps you reduce costs on the biggest loser in your kitchen.

First, if your fridge is older than 10 years, you should really replace it with a newer EnergyStar model, which can be as much as 40 percent more efficient. Remember: a top/bottom style is good and freezer on top is the best. Ditch the auto ice-makers and through-the-door dispensers, which increase energy use by 14–20 percent.

Keeping your existing model? Here are some considerations for placement, maintenance and usage. Place away from stoves or direct sunlight, areas where your fridge has to work harder. Vacuum the coils every six months or less. Set the fridge temperature at 35-38 degrees. And please, remember to close the door! According to Home Energy Magazine, door openings account for 7 percent of your fridge energy use.

Now here’s another “cool” tip: place a dollar bill in the door of the fridge and see if it holds. If it falls out easily, you need to fix the seal.

As for freezers, most new models self-defrost, but older models require regular defrosting. A friend recently confessed that she changed her garage freezer when she finally realized it was heating their garage instead of keeping food frozen. Also, keep your freezer packed, so that it doesn’t have to work as hard. You can do this by even filling plastic milk jugs with water (allow for expansion).

Finally, make sure you dispose of your old refrigerator properly by taking it to Cycle Systems where refrigerants can be drained and the scrap metal re-used.

Hope that helps!
Better World Betty

Friday, July 1, 2011

Betty's Top 5 Beach-Inspired Tips for a Greener Summer

Summer time and I'm blogging to you from the beach today. Seeing people with mounds of plastic water bottles, smelling charcoal briquettes, and picking up litter from fireworks left on the beach inspired this blog topic which I shared with you on 106 the Corner this morning...

1- Can charcoal grilling be greener?? There actually are alternatives to the traditional charcoal grilling with less deforestation, fewer gas and soot emissions, and healthier food. Look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label. They have stringent guidelines in six key areas which require, among other things, the use of sustainably harvested wood. At Lowe's and Whole Foods, you should be able to find a couple of brands - one being Cowboy lump charcoal. There is also "Green link" and even one made of coconut husks.

2- Sunscreen: go to the Sunscreen Database at the Environmental Working Group's website. They rate sunscreens on a scale of 1-10 according to hazardous ingredients. My column in next month's Abode magazine comes out this Tuesday about personal care products for more information. You may not realized that cosmetics in this country are not regulated. Unfortunately there are many unsafe chemicals in our shampoos, shaving creams, and sunscreeens. Lead (in lipstick), formaldehyde, benzoate,parabens,BHA, etc - harmful chemicals are rampant so check out their extensive website. And think about donating 5-10 dollars to keep the website funded.

3-Disposables: Plastic cups, foam and paper plates, paper napkins. You've heard the familiar family mantra: "We don't want to worry about dishes, let's just use paper plates." Wrong. Why not feel great about protecting Earth's resources and do some serious family bonding by asking everyone to BYOF - bring your own flatware - and rinse your dishes after the meal on-site. Invest in a couple of tubs - one for washing and one for rinsing or wash when you get home and your family is well on its way to a lower waste or zero waste event (if one of you composts).

4-Water bottles: We consume 160 million water bottles a day in America. The problem according to

•Picture a disposable water bottle ¼ full of petroleum. That is how much petroleum it takes to make and distribute a single plastic bottle of water.
•It takes THREE bottles of water to make and distribute ONE disposable plastic bottle of water.
•120 grams of greenhouse gases are generated by a single disposable plastic bottle of water.

Encourage family and friends to carry their own reusable water bottle containers and/or invest in a cooler for those big family summer barbeques.

5 - Seafood Choices: Help keep our oceans alive and well by being a smart consumer of fish. Buy sustainable fish. But how? I use the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Card: to download your seafood wallet card.

•Blue Ocean Institute
•Environmental Defense Fund
•Marine Stewardship Council
Monterey Bay Aquarium
•KidSafe Seafood Program From SeaWeb

Summertime is free and easy and beautiful. Let's keep it that way by being conscious of our choices. Best, BWB

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cooling off in the summer... less is more

Find this article at C-ville Weekly newsstands, online, or right here!

Who doesn’t remember splashing in a sky-blue plastic wading pool, flopping onto a vinyl yellow slip n’ slide, or running through the sprinklers? Nothing beats the hot summer sun like the cold splash of water. But can we have fun without all the plastic paraphernalia and water waste? Here are Betty’s secrets.
Mother Nature: Wait for a summer rain to play.
Share: Join a community pool instead of purchasing your own plastic pool or splash equipment.
Two birds: If you absolutely need to water the garden or your flowers or a brown patch of grass, turn on the sprinkler but avoid the hottest hours of the day: post-lunch to 4pm.
Save the leftovers: Use plastic milk jugs with their tops removed, recycled yogurt containers or big buckets, placing them to catch the water. See how much you can collect.
Awareness raising: Americans uses 100 gallons of water a day compared to much of the world consuming 31 gallons or less per day. So each summer our family celebrates “water week.”
We track our water use, using online water calculators. There’s one that takes less than 10 minutes at This tool from Siemens and Facebook shows your water use compared to other friends AND to other countries.
We borrow water books from the local library (check out our fave: A Drop of Water by Walter Wick). We study where our water comes from. And we play in the rivers and lakes. Naturally, water-saving actions arise and we have fun doing it.
Increasing drought conditions and our local water plan controversy help us realize that there is no resource more precious than water. So let’s use it wisely!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Houseplant helpers

Find this article in Cville Weekly's Abode

What do draperies, traditionally dry-cleaned clothing, men's aftershave, and flooring materials potentially have in common? They could be off-gassing formaldehyde, terpene, and other chemicals into your home. One solution? Let beautiful houseplants do the purifying work for you through their natural process of breathing oxygen into the air.

Kelly Agee of local nursery Elzroth and Thompson says, "The broader the leaf, the more purifying it is." You'll be needing over a dozen to really cleanse the air. Here are the top recommendations from National Geographic's Illustrated Green Guide:

Boston fern
golden pothos
spider plants
(known to reduce levels of formaldehyde)

areca palm
moth orchids
dwarf date palm
(reduce xylene and toluene)

gerbera daisy
spider plants
peace lilies
(reduce benzene)

Other healthy plants include bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, indoor Dracaena species and the snake plant. Now you can breathe a little deeper knowing your houseplants are helping!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Great Consignment Sale!!


Hi lovelies,

the first is my favorite consignment sale: "Divine Consign." i am one of many consigners who together are selling nearly 13,000 items. you can find ladies clothing, housewares, books, and great gifts for few dollars. if you wear a size 7 or 7 1/2 shoe, for example, there are over 130 pairs that await you . . .

it is located at aldersgate church on rio road and begins tomorrow. here are the dates:

Friday, April 29th

10am-6pm (Full Price)

Saturday, April 30th

10am-6pm (Full Price)

Monday, May 2nd

10am-6pm (25% off most items)

Tuesday, May 3rd

12pm-8pm (50% off most items)

Wednesday, May 4th

10am-6pm (50% off most items)

for more info:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It's hard to believe another Earth Day has come and gone! Here are some of the Highlights from the Betty booth...

32 young people "planted" their seed of intention in edible dirt (above picture - I'm handing the dirt to a surprised little guy!): they wrote one thing they would do for the Earth in the next month. My favorite: check out more books from the library. Some others were:

I will finally make a habit of using my reusable water bottle.
I will start composting.
I will use only one paper towel in public restrooms if they don't have an air dryer.
I will volunteer for Wild Virginia.
I will take myself off junk mail lists.
I will bring my own mug everywhere.
I will recycle my ink toner at work.

Thanks, everyone.

Also... 1061 the Corner played Betty's three Earth Songs. Staple It Together by Jack Johnson, Nothing But Flowers by the Talking Heads, Society by Eddie Vedder from Into the Wild Soundtrack (I love eddie vedder and the tribute to Chris McCandless).

Other cool news: We raffled off 3 Betty t-shirts. We received more than 20 new subscribers to the newsletter. And 7 business owners are already interested in joining our Better Business Challenge launching SOON!

All in all it was a beautiful day of interacting with Betty-loving, Earth-loving doers who want a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable Charlottesville for generations upon generations.

Thank you to my Western Albemarle Student Volunteers: Anna, Hannah, and Leah who helped make edible dirt for the kids and who made beautiful earrings and necklaces made of recycled wrapping paper.

Best, BWB

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Like a green neighbor, Betty is there...

Our ability to think creatively is essential for these personally and planetarily challenging times. This month Betty has inventive ideas for saving money and resources, including gas.

Beyond the clothing swap

Bring some clothes to the party, take some home. Easy and fun, right? Why not try a book swap, a DVD swap, a CD swap? What about exchanging meals? Get together with a friend on a Sunday afternoon, each make two meals for two families, and exchange: leave with four meals!

Hardware help

Drills, saws, screws of every size. Toolbox items can really add up and why, if we have a network of close friends or neighbors, couldn’t we all share? Introducing the traveling toolbox. Everyone pitches in money or tools to create a collective toolbox for everyone’s use.

Traveling toys

Parents know how quickly toys pile up and become less than interesting. When my kids were little a group of moms and I started a toy exchange. Once a month we would fill a basket with five to 10 toys, books, and puzzles and then rotate. The goodies were a “new to you” alternative to store-bought items.

The grocery trip tree

Another idea to save on extra trips (and rising gas costs) is to create a phone tree of neighbors who are willing to pick up a couple of grocery items for other neighbors. Like this: before my weekly grocery trip, I call Karen and Frank from the list to see if they need me to pick up anything. I pick up one to two items ($10 maximum) and they pay me back immediately or keep a tally and pay monthly. As a group, you lay the ground rules according to comfort level. I did this with an elderly neighbor and it worked well.

Do you have some other great green ideas?? Email Betty at

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SLOW is the (green) way to go...

OK. It's been a while since I got real and shared a green confession. But here goes.

My biggest hurdle to sticking with my e-conscious way of living is the speed at which I go through life.

And I'm not just talking about the fact that it pains me to go 55-60 miles per hour on the highway even though I KNOW that is going to reap the best rewards in terms of gas mileage. I set the cruise to 59 and SLOW down until I realize I'm five minutes late to my time management meeting (only slightly kidding)!

Why is it so hard to slow down?! It's why I have scratches on almost every single one of my fingers and my ankles (I nearly ran over my entire foot today rolling a shelving cart in the library!). I hit the ground running. I've always been this way. And I'm not alone. We are moving SO fast these days.

I remember my parents sitting me down when I was in elementary school, explaining to me that I need to SLOW DOWN and listen to ALL the directions. My teachers were saying I get up and run away mid-sentence. "Like right now!" I remember my exasperated parents saying mid-lecture. I was getting up to go back outside to play.

I get things done by rushing. It's the reason I'm able to be a library assistant, then a mom, then Betty. Case in point I wait until the last minute to think about what is for dinner and end up buying a farm-raised fish --on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch list, yes -- but it's been flown halfway across the globe, for Earth's sake!

I cut corners, I pause through stop signs, I forget to sign the homework, and I let unmended clothes pile up. I'm not proud of it, but would I really be here as Bettty if I didn't?

All rationalizing aside, tonight I'm slowing down.

Once again it comes from the prompting of my favorite eco-inspirations in the world: one of my adorable sons.

"Mom, you said you would sew that weeks ago!"

"Yup. Pinky promise - I'm doing it tonight."

So I dig out the needle and thread and here I sit, sewing the cuff of my son's favorite jacket (a hand me down from his older friend Stephen) and planning the next few meals deliberately, slowly, consciously so I can actually slip into hugging the tree instead of slamming into it head first. Aaaahhhh. That's better.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Charge it! With Betty's help...

Charging ahead

Whether you have one in your watch, cell phone, wall clock or TV remote, a collection of batteries of all shapes and sizes is at work in your home.
This month Betty provides the 411 on battery use and disposal.

The average American throws away eight household batteries per year, which some say is fine for landfills, but considering all batteries contain heavy metals, the truth is they should be recycled. The acid can be reused and the rest is melted down to scrap metal or converted to a new battery, making them 100 percent recyclable.

Which kind?

Rule of thumb for alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, D, etc.): In low-tech items (remote controls and smoke detectors), single use are a better choice because they drain slowly and last longer. For high-tech items, definitely use rechargeables.

Prolonging battery life

. Do not return a fully charged battery to the charger.
. Let discharged battery cool to room temp before recharging.
. Recharge batteries when almost fully discharged.
. Don't leave them charging for prolonged periods.
. Refrigerating batteries extends their shelf life (but let batteries
reach room temperature before using).


For household rechargeables and NiCad (nickel cadmium), try Batteries Plus, Staples and Best Buy, since McIntire no longer accepts them. Most cell phone retailers take phone batteries (made of lithium ion) for recycling. Lead acid-filled car batteries can be recycled at Auto Zone or other auto retailers. Button cell batteries (found in wall clocks and wristwatches) contain silver oxide and therefore are designated hazardous waste and legally cannot be trashed, so wait for the next household hazardous waste day. For more battery information and locations call 1-877-2-RECYCLE (

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enjoy this guest blog from Betty's friend, Sheffield...

Over the past few years, UVA students from various fraternities and sororities have tried through various organizations to promote recycling after fraternity parties. I was involved in a Student Council task force in 2009 before we realized that two other groups simultaneously attempting to solve the same problem. At last, the student organization Greek Recycling has finally succeeded in promoting recycling in the fraternity houses after parties.

“We picked up around 5000 pounds last fall which we considered to be a big success for our first semester of picking up. Our goal for this semester is 8000 pounds and I think we can easily attain that,” said Robert Chapman, the 3rd year Engineer and new Greek Recycling leader.

Chapman, who was also elected on Thursday night as the new chair of the Inter-fraternity Council’s Sustainability efforts, has really worked hard to get this group up and running.

“With most of the original members graduating last year, Robert quickly filled their shoes and led to the quick growth of the group,” said Peter Simasek, a 4th year in the Commerce School and one of the founders of Greek Recycling. The organization has come far in the past few years and built great momentum.

NBC 29 story on Greek Recycling:

“It’s a great group to be involved in and a good way to make a very real difference in our Charlottesville community and especially in this rugby road area,” says Chapman.

-Sheffield Hale

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Using good scents

Enjoy this month's article in Abode magazine reprinted here...

I strolled into the office yesterday and my nose was met with the powerful scent of my co-workers’ new cinnamon plug-in air freshener. The scent may be enticing, but many don’t realize that commercially sold air fragrances in aerosols, powders, and foams are unnecessary and sometimes polluting to indoor air quality. Phthalates as well as a plethora of other irritants can be released, not to mention toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), causing headaches or worse with people sensitive to allergens.

If you’re using air fresheners, ask yourself, what is your intention—to mask an odor or add a scent? If it’s the former, can you eliminate the offending odor? Does your trash can need cleaning or your bathroom need scrubbing? When was the last time the dog was bathed? Preventatively, sprinkling baking soda at the bottom of your trash cans and on the floor before vacuuming really helps.

Now let’s talk about adding scents naturally. Soy or beeswax candles scented with essential oils are great alternatives to the petroleum variety. Rather than burning incense (the smoke is harmful in large quantities), boil cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pan of H20. Can you get creative by making your own potpourri of dried flowers and spices? Lavender is one of my favorites. I keep a bag of cedar chips from a diseased cedar in my linen drawer. A rosemary plant in your kitchen can double as cooking ingredient.

Finally, bamboo sticks dipped in your favorite pure essential oil (try eucalyptus, lemon, or tea tree) look and smell nice.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

take one for the trees...

My eldest son and I have verbally jousted and butt heads since conception. Those things that will serve him well later in life - a sharp tongue, quick wit, and killer perseverence and strive to be independent - right now can be a real pain in the you-know-what. Parents, you know of what I speak.

So yesterday my boys and I venture into my less than favorite big box office supply store (sacrifice we made rather than adding car miles to our daily footprint). Today's case in point on the parental battlefront: a new math binder.

"Choose a new binder for yourself." I let the phrase escape my lips without considering that his fierce independence would put the Betty-approved 100% recycled binder squarely in last place on his list.

Of course he picks up the Made in Taiwan, bleached paper, 0% recycled paper, dead tree variety and begins to dig in his heels in that familiar way. "This one," he declares.

I sigh. "Nope. Sorry, Pal. I'm not buying that one." And I go through the litany of environmental offenses and call up our family love of trees.

"But you said..." I know and that was before your mother remembered that she's Betty and I can no more bring herself to buy that binder than go thru the McDonald's drive through, I think to myself. "That one has a leaf on it," he states his main objection.

"OK so X out the leaf when we get home, if you don't like it."

He's glaring now.

"Choose one of these made from recycled paper. See? Look. This one has guitars on it and no trees were harmed in the making of this one and we love our trees, right?"

He is unmoved.

And I know this is about differentiation and choice and all that developmental shmah. I could have easily caved here. We're both tired and after all it's only one notebook, right. But that's really not the way I run my life. I believe small acts of love add up to make a difference. I say this in an aisle piled ten-feet high with bleached white paper, imagining thousands upon thousands of these black and white composition books in stores everywhere. And I want to show my son that our choices DO make a difference.

I hold my ground. After several uncomfortable minutes he reaches for the recycled notebook with the leaf.

Phew. Trees: 1pt. I give him a shoulder hug. "Good job, Buddy."


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Greener View from Betty

Enjoy this month's tips from Betty on window treatments here or in the newsstands or at on Abode.

The windows in your home likely offer a beautiful view of the great outdoors, but did you know that they may be costing you as much as a fourth of your total heating/cooling expenses? So after you’ve caulked and weatherstripped your windows to reduce air leakage, Betty recommends purchasing eco-friendly window treatments. Blinds, shades, and draperies can reduce heat loss up to 10 percent in the winter and cut heat gain by 45 percent in the summer.

You’ll want to stay away from petroleum-based material like polyester, nylon or rayon and purchase organic cotton, linen, silk, or naturally fire-resistant wool. Ideally, buy a thick material that’s light-colored on one side and dark-colored on the other side so you can reverse them for the seasons. The drapes should overlap in the center and cover the window completely. When you clean them, opt for CO2 cleaning rather than the polluting percholoroethylene dry-cleaning.

Stay away from PVC or vinyl mini-blinds popular in the mid-‘90s, as some manufactured outside the U.S. contain lead. Unsure? Remove if installed before 1997. FSC-certified, low-VOC finish wood blinds are available at most online and brick-and-mortar retailers. However, roll-down or Roman shades made of natural bamboo, sisal, or other grass are a nice tree-friendly wood alternative.

At our home we did a combination of insulated natural grass blinds with a dark curtain for added efficiency. Until we could afford expensive new windows, this was an energy-smart solution.

Here's to blinds that help you see the green - in your pocket in terms of energy savings AND in your enviro-wise action!