Friday, January 27, 2012

The next generation Betty: Welcome these tips from local teenager!

Teresa approached me several months ago wanting to help serve the community Betty-style so I suggested some guest blogs. Here's the first installment. Enjoy and thanks for making a difference, Teresa!

Hi! My name is Teresa and I am a 9th grader at Albemarle High School. I am interested in environmental issues because I am very concerned about the impact that global warming will have on our future. I’m volunteering with Better World Betty because I would love to help make people more aware that global warming is a problem and that we need to reduce our carbon footprint.

I recently read an article ( that stated that the temperature on the Earth is higher than it has been for the past 400 years! In the past century, the Earth’s temperature has risen 1 degree Fahrenheit. However, the rate of temperature increase will accelerate due to retreating glaciers. Ice reflects the sun, so as more glaciers melt, the Earth will absorb more heat.

Most people do not think a 1 degree rise in temperature is much at all (I definitely did not), but it turns out that even small changes in temperature can have a huge impact on Earth. A predicted 5 to 8 degree temperature rise in the next 100 years could cause sea levels to rise half a meter, put some island nations underwater, and wreak havoc in many areas of the world.

But I think the most surprising fact in the article is that 6 to 10 degrees is the difference between today and the deepest ice age!

Most of the recent increase in temperature is caused by human activity, so we definitely need to make it a priority to take action now to slow down global warming.

Here are a few small things my family does to reduce our carbon footprint:

1. We unplug electronics when not in use. Leaving items like laptops, cable boxes, and game units plugged in all the time can waste a lot of energy.
2. We take short showers.
3. We bring our own reusable bags when we grocery shop and our own reusable containers for restaurant leftovers.
4. With the holidays approaching, we will avoid excessive use of wrapping paper by using reusable gift bags, recycled wrapping paper or even the comics from the newspaper.
5. We go to the Better World Betty website for more recipes for green living!

Hopes this helps!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Time for a Pantry Raid

Pantry raid
(Find this article here or in newsstands at

Take a moment and consider how much coffee, chocolate, and flour you go through every week. Unfortunately, from farm to cup and bean to bar, chocolate and coffee (along with other staples) both involve an intense process to reach our mouths. This new year, green-raid your pantry and replace accordingly!

Fair-trade, shade-grown, organic. It’s hard to keep track, and it’s about to get harder with the recent split between certifying organizations Fair Trade USA and Fairtrade International. For now, these labels are the best way to protect against land loss, help smaller producers have access to resources, promote sustainable practices, and ensure a fair wage. Significant acreage of rainforest is lost every year due to cheap, monoculturally-grown coffee. Bird- and forest-lovers (isn’t that all of us?), look for the Smithsonian Bird-Friendly and Rainforest Alliance labels. The good news: Locally roasted coffee is readily available.

Again, fair-trade organic chocolate is best. Divine Chocolate is 45 percent owned by the Ghanaian farmers who supply its cocoa beans.

I recommend agave nectar, honey, stevia, or organic varieties like Florida Crystals.

Virginia has its own mill: Wade’s Mill, sold at local markets!
Tea and spice
The same designations are important here. What better time to make the switch? The new Spice Diva at Main Street Market is offering a 30 percent discount to folks who bring in their spices to exchange.

Want to know more about specific brands or other food producers? I love these two websites: and Find local sources of sustainably grown food in your area along with green brands and companies.