by Susanna Parker

A Busy Week at Bethesda Green

This week is a busy one at Bethesda Green. Join us Wednesday evening for our Emergency Preparedness panel discussion, and be sure meet us Thursday at Parva Restaurant Bar and Lounge for our monthly networking happy hour. Hope to see you there!

Farm to Freezer a Finalist in the TEDxManhattan Challenge!BGnews_logo

Implemented in June 2012, Farm to Freezer works with Bethesda Cares and local farm markets to save leftover produce from being discarded. Farm to Freezer’s many volunteers have helped to turn 5,000 pounds of fresh gleaned produce into frozen vegetables and tomato sauce that will be used to provide Bethesda’s homeless population with nutritious meals year-round. After the resounding success of their first season, Farm to Freezer is ready to expand in a big way. One major step is their inclusion in the TEDxManhattan Challenge; if selected, Farm to Freezer founder Cheryl Kollin will speak at the 2013 New York TEDxManhattan event, and Cheryl’s presentation, “Changing the Way We Eat,” will be broadcast to viewers worldwide. But Farm to Freezer needs your votes! Voting is a simple click, with no personal information or registration required. The deadline is December 15, so please tell your friends and vote today!  To learn more about this challenge and their work, read Farm to Freezer’s full blog post here.

Savenia Labs Premiers Single Serve Coffeemaker Energy Ratings!

Savenia Labs is an independent testing laboratory that provides lab tested energy and environmental impact ratings on popular appliances. Their previous work includes toasters, microwaves, and dehumidifiers, among others, and they have just released their newest ratings: the world’s first ever energy ratings for single serve coffeemakers. The surge in popularity of Keurig brewers and Green Mountain coffee pods has turned these single serve makers into one of the hottest holiday gifts — but how efficient are they? Savenia Labs’ energy ratings allow consumers to make an informed decision, choose the most environmentally friendly makers, and the most efficient machines. Along with the newly released ratings, Savenia Labs’ blog features posts on all aspects of single serve makers, including waste generated, what is actually in those mysterious pods, and cost variations among brands. Be sure to check out their blog, read their press release, and be informed before you buy!

Upcoming Green Events

  •  Drilling Down: A Conference on Fracking Risks and Action in Maryland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 am – 4 pm, Langsdale Auditorium, University of Baltimore, West Oliver Street, Baltimore.

Hydrofracking is a hotly debated process that can lead to environmental problems like drinking water contamination and increased air pollution. The natural gas industry is applying for permits to begin the process of hydrofracking in Maryland, and we currently have no laws protecting our communities from the risks that come with it. The Drilling Down conference in Baltimore, presented by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, is a call to action for Marylanders to learn about this process and fight against its implementation in our state. The conference will include speakers such as Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur, State Senator Jamie Raskin, author and head of the Environmental Policy Institute Lester Brown, and many more.

Registration is $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Student tickets are available for $10. All tickets include lunch. For more information, and to register for this exciting event, please see Event Details.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

by Susanna Parker

While coffee may not seem like the typical way to green your daily life, there are several easily available options. Is the coffee organic, is it bird-friendly, rainforest friendly, fairly traded, or water processed? The variety of terms can be overwhelming, but there are a few easy ways to find an environmentally friendly coffee that’s right for you.

So do a little research, grab your reusable mug and fill it with an environmentally friendly coffee.

One common label to find on environmentally friendly coffees is the Fair Trade Certified Mark. This label signifies that the coffee was purchased from growers who have met the social, environmental, and economic standards set by the Fair Trade Certification. Fair Trade USA describes four main standards for farm workers:

  • Economic Development — predetermined community development premiums are placed on every sale, and that money goes to the community to aid its economic development;
  • Empowerment — workers are trained in areas such as health and freedom from discrimination, they are empowered to determine how community development premiums will be used in their community, and they are able to effectively represent themselves and negotiate for better conditions;
  • Social Responsibility — International Labor Conventions are obeyed, child labor is prohibited, and health and safety measures are established to reduce workplace injuries;
  • Environmental Stewardship — farms operate using best practices for sustainability, including practices to reduce soil erosion, proper waste management including limiting waste generated, eliminating the use of highly toxic chemicals, efficient usage of water resources, and the maintenance of buffer zones for protected areas.

USDA Certified Organic is another common label. This signifies that the growers have followed strict regulations set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including eliminating the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides; crop rotation; soil fertility management; and watershed protection.

Another criteria to consider when buying coffee is bird friendliness. Created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Bird-Friendly (Shade Grown) coffee comes from plants cultivated amongst and beneath trees and other plant species, rather than on ground cleared specifically for the crop. Created to protect the habitats of migratory birds, the regulations are strict, but benefit the farmer as well as the birds; polyculture (or having more than one species in the same growing area) helps to prevent pests and enrich the soil.

There are a lot of options for environmentally friendly coffee beans, and none are inherently superior to the others. Choose your beans based on what matters to you; just make sure to check for the proper labels!

For more information, visit:

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

by Lori Hill

I first heard about Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company (CBRC) just over 3 years ago when I was helping the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) plan their annual Keep Winter Cold Polar Bear Plunge. Since CCAN’s mission is to fight climate change, their event needed to be sustainable and it was my job to make this happen. Everything from food and beverages, cups and napkins and the way we disposed of our waste needed to be earth friendly. When it came to coffee, we wanted fair trade, organic coffee, ideally provided by a local roaster. In my mind, it would have been bad PR if an organization that cared about the environment used a mainstream coffee company that had little concern for sustainability or the health and well-being of its workers! Since that year’s plunge was in Annapolis, I asked Lynne Forsman, co-founder of Annapolis Green Drinks, and now the co-founder of Annapolis Green, for suggestions. She suggested I contact Rick Erber, Food Service Sales Manager and Partner at CBRC. Rick and his team generously provided the most delicious coffee for the Plunge and have continued to do so for 3 more Plunges.  I’ve been a fan of the coffee – and the company – ever since.

A Commitment to Sustainability

Roasting Fair Trade Organic coffee isn’t CBRC’s only sign of its commitment to environmental sustainability. First of all, they use a Sirocco roaster, a natural gas powered hybrid roaster that uses 78% less energy and reduces emissions by 80% over traditional roasters in use today. There are only a few in use throughout the country and CBRC’s is the only one of its kind in the region. Next, once their coffee is roasted, it is packaged in a steel can – the number one sustainable packaging material. The can is 100% recyclable and reusable as opposed to non-recyclable, non-compostable bags, and ensures freshness. On top of all this, CBRC purchases 100% wind power energy offsets.

Giving Back to the Community

But that’s not all. CBRC founded the H2O Initiative which gives 2% of sales to organizations across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that clean up, protect and preserve clean water — our most precious resource (we all need to protect and preserve our water).  You know, that’s what green companies do:  they operate sustainably, they provide an earth-friendly product AND they give back to protect the environment. Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company is the real deal!

Lori Hill and Rick Erber

Growing, Growing, Growing

Since I met Rick Erber 3 years ago, I’ve seen the company grow by noticing their expanded presence at not only earth friendly grocery stores, but also mainstream food outlets, too. Whenever I’m in a different grocery store from my usual one and I see their familiar cans, I pump my fist and say, “Yeah!” in celebration of a great company that is doing great things. Others are taking notice and hopping on the CBRC bandwagon. The company now serves more than 300 food service clients and can be found in more than 125 grocery and specialty food markets. Some of their many partners include campus dining and healthcare organizations, coffee cafes, restaurants, grocery accounts and dozens of independent retailers.

Recently, CBRC announced that their coffees are now available throughout the entire Whole Foods’ Mid-Atlantic region, including 40 stores across 8 states. In addition to Whole Foods Markets, the coffee can be found in retailers including Safeway, Giant Foods, Wegmans and Fresh Market.

Taste It For Yourself

If you haven’t yet tried coffee from Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, I encourage you to do so today. Just visit their website to find out where you can purchase their coffee or you can buy it online.

Bethesda Green gratefully acknowledges sponsor CBRC for keeping us well-stocked with coffee.

Lori Hill is a renowned green event producer and sustainable lifestyle consultant.  Visit her blog for more green lifestyle tips.