Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday: Celebrating a Smoke-Free Virginia

With Virginia's bar & restaurant smoking ban taking effect on December 1st, I thought I'd organize a happy hour to welcome Virginia's newly clean indoor air. You're invited to join us Tuesday from 6-8pm:
To celebrate, we're hosting a happy hour at one of Arlington's smoke-free pioneers -- Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. While many restaurants in Arlington have long been smoke-free, Liberty was among the pioneering bars who took a chance on clean air. Judging by how packed they are on weeknights and by how absolutely mobbed they are on weekends, it paid off.

Even if you can't make this event, be sure to stop by a local bar that went smoke-free long before it was the law (Eleventh in Clarendon, Union Jack's in Ballston, Cap City in Shirlington, etc.) and say thanks for their leadership. Hope to see you at Liberty on December 1st!
Read more details on Virginia's smoking ban from the Department of Health.

Photo via Flickr's Maryland Route 5

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Thanksgiving, Do You Really Need That 4th Slice of Cheesecake?

The Green Miles is driving up to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving with my family. Don't worry, I'm carpooling in my re-used '99 Saturn (35mpg highway).

I'm sure I don't need to tell you to buy local and organic when you can. But let me give you one question to chew on: Do you really need to eat that much on Thursday and buy that much on Friday? Is the crazy level of consumption making you happy or do you just feel obligated?

At my family's Thanksgiving dinner, there will be approximately 20 cakes, pies and plates of cookies for the 20 people. Why? Because everyone brings a dessert. Why? Because that's just what everyone's done forever and now if you don't bring a dessert you get some sort of Catholic guilt. Then at the end of the night, everyone tries to get out of taking home 12,000 calories worth of cheesecake they don't really want but will feel obligated to try to eat before it all goes bad.

In this case (as in so many cases), going green isn't about depriving yourself -- it's about making everyone happier. This year, I'll be stopping by Cardoza's in Fairhaven to grab some organic wine and local beer. Mom will be happy we're making contributions to the feast, the guests will be happy to have some good drink options, and I'll be happy that the leftovers can be enjoyed at our hosts' leisure without going bad.

Then on Friday, everyone gets up at the crack of dawn to go shopping. While a few people like my cousin Bernadette have their purchases mapped out and expertly take full advantage of the bargains, many just wander out because buying lots of stuff on the day after Thanksgiving is The American Way. They return with shopping bags and unpack them in a daze, like they're honestly not sure what's in there.

Look, if gorging on 8,000 calories and blowing money on random junk you may or may not use really makes you happy, go for it. Spend your Saturday gorging on leftovers and going back for round 2 of shopping. But I can't help but think most people go overboard just because they think they're supposed to.

My little bit of challenging the conventional wisdom: Sipping instead of scarfing. What's yours?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Senate Clean Energy & Climate Bill: "Why It Matters"

On Tuesday, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee begins its mark-up of the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act. Here's a video from Committee Chair Barbara Boxer on why it's so critical we act now: