An Interview with Green Seal’s Own Farmer, Pt. 2

20130722_124617

Think you know about organic certification? Chelsea Chandler, Green Seal Environmental Scientist and Certification Project Manager, explains why she pursued third party certification for her CSA farm. If you haven’t already, read our previous blog post, in which Chelsea introduces us to her farm.

Tell us about your farm’s latest achievement.

This past fall, my farm, Plowshares & Prairie Farm, achieved USDA organic certification through MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association, Inc.), a USDA accredited certification agency. (more…)

An Interview with Green Seal’s Own Farmer, Pt.1

CC and asparagus

Explore the smart and practical world of a CSA farm. Chelsea Chandler, Environmental Scientist and Certification Project Manager at Green Seal, takes us through her experience of managing a CSA farm outside Madison, Wisconsin.

How did you get into farming?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and was pretty removed from farming beyond some backyard gardening and a great appreciation for all the fresh food grown in my home state.

I had been a member of a few different Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms over the years, and then really just dove into farming. I learned how to drive a tractor at my godfather’s grass-fed beef operation and farm stay, which my partner, Scott, and I visited frequently while living in Seattle. Farm stays, a growing phenomenon in the United States, offer travelers an opportunity to vacation in and experience a rural farm setting. Scott had a little more experience doing a work share for a CSA farm outside of Seattle.

Scott and I started talking about pairing our sometimes more abstract environmental policy work with the tangible work of growing food that is good for people and the environment. I’m enthusiastic about creating a model for sustainable food production and consumption and empowering local communities to adopt healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. (more…)

Celebrate the National Parks with Sustainable Travel

fdrBy Ben Walsh, Green Seal’s Project Coordinator

When people think of National Parks, most think of majestic vistas and wilderness locations.  However, there are 409 parks throughout the country that include National Parks, National Battlefields, National Seashores, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites.  Washington, DC, itself has 23 different National Parks including the White House.  I am privileged to be a volunteer at a number of those with the National Mall & Memorial Parks.

In addition to my work with Green Seal, I’ve always been a fan of the National Parks and a history buff.  Looking for a chance to get outside and connect with people, I became a Volunteer in the Parks (VIP) in 2009.  For the last seven years, I have been honored to work at some of our nations most visited and most hallowed memorials. I’ve met soldiers who stormed the beaches at Iwo Jima, couples that marched with Dr. King, and family members who broke down crying at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I have been lucky enough to hear their stories and then re-tell them to the next generation, to the millions of students who come to D.C. to learn about their history. My day job involves enhancing suitability through researching best practices and environmental criteria, while my weekend job allows me to bring the parks alive for visitors and show them why conservation and protection is important.  (more…)

Presenting the Best Team at AASHE

The theme for the 2015 Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher education (AASHE) Conference & Expo was Transforming Sustainability Education. One well-attended presentation involving Green Seal clients and staff was a panel discussion on “Building the Best Team for a Sustainable Operation”.

The engaging and interactive session provided insights and solutions from four points of view. Steve Gilsdorf, from Western Michigan University (with Green Seal certification for its cleaning service) represented C&U facilities managers. Danny Huffaker of Georgia-Pacific, and Burt Klein of PortionPac Chemical Company represented manufacturers of Green Seal-certified sustainable sanitary paper and cleaning products, respectively. Mark Stanland, Green Seal’s VP of Client Services, represented the third-party ecolabel that awarded their certification. Mac Clevenger, also from Green Seal, moderated the panel.

AASHE Panelists Image

The panelists answered questions on whether green procurement guidelines are optimally working for housekeeping staff; how to easily identify the products and procedures that best protect staff, faculty, and student health; how procurement directors can source the best pricing and the most sustainable products; and how to be sure that the products and supplies purchased will meet performance expectations.

Green Seal also exhibited at the AASHE Conference & Expo, and traffic was heavy throughout the 2½-day show with many inquiries from facilities managers, faculty, and students about certified products and cleaning services.

Green Kleening Your Community One Building at a Time

MisterKleen EricKoch headshotBy Eric Koch, Mister Kleen Maintenance Company, Inc. Sales and Marketing Specialist

The cleaning industry certainly has evolved throughout the decades. This is especially true as it relates to the environmental movement, and the push for a healthier atmosphere using greener products, processes, and equipment.

While the 1970’s saw the creation of the EPA and OSHA, along with our very first Earth Day, it wasn’t until years later that we started to hear people talk more about cleaning for a healthier environment — “Cleaning for Health”.

Just Make it Look Clean!

Cleaning for Appearance was the phrase and direction we often received from clients throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and midway through the 90’s. There was no concern on the chemicals being used and the impact this was causing to building tenants and our employees. Our main objective was to make it look clean regardless of the impact these harsh chemicals had.

Flash forward to today and the conversation has changed to use green products to clean without releasing harsh odors that other chemical laden products have. This is what our green cleaning program, known as Green Kleen, is centered on to provide a healthier environment for us all.

Yes, being certified as a green cleaning company to Green Seal’s GS-42 Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services standard is a differentiator for our company. What many people don’t know, however, is how green cleaning is near and dear to our story. (more…)

The Benefits of Buying Green on Campus and Beyond

Daniel PedersenBy Daniel Pedersen, Ph.D., Green Seal’s VP of Science & Standards

The AASHE STARS program can serve as a road-map to more sustainable purchasing policies. Green purchasing can benefit higher education campuses in many ways, and even drive the sustainability of the broader market.

What’s to be gained from green purchasing? First of all, green products are reliable and cost-effective; the myth that they are more expensive and don’t work as well was debunked long ago. Environmentally-preferable products are specified by half of the state governments in the U.S.; if these products didn’t cut the mustard, states would have dropped them.

Second, any sustainable purchasing on campus can be used to strengthen your green branding, marketing, and alumni/customer relations. As we all know, there is increased interest among students, faculty, and employees in attending a sustainable college. (more…)

The Power of Buying Green on Campus and Beyond

Daniel PedersenBy Daniel Pedersen, Ph.D., Green Seal’s VP of Science & Standards

Summer marks the beginning of the new fiscal year on many campuses – this is a good time to do some housecleaning and review your purchasing policies. Green purchasing is an easy and powerful way for higher education campuses to benefit, and even to drive the sustainability of the broader market.

The principles of green purchasing can easily increase sustainability when they are incorporated into purchasing specs and policies of individual departments or across the entire campus. Your campus can use the AASHE STARS program as a road-map to sustainability; the list of Operations (OP) credits is a good framework for green purchasing. You can make a big difference when you choose products like electronics, cleaning products (such as cleaners, paper towels, and bathroom tissue), and office paper. An emphasis on local items and services reduces transport needs and strengthens the local community, while environmentally-responsible food and beverages and low impact meals can reduce the footprint of dining services. Less frequent purchases – paints, insulation, windows, doors, furniture, and carpets – are important for the sustainability of building operations and maintenance or design and construction.

With a little more thought, campuses can estimate the environmental impact of ownership of items across their entire life cycle (more…)