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June, 2011

8 Ideas for a Greener Independence Day

Jun 28, 2011 by in News Comments Off on 8 Ideas for a Greener Independence Day

July 4th is just around the corner and if you’re anything like the ladies of Branch Out, you’re getting ready to celebrate our country’s independence with a great big party! Here are some useful ideas to help you make that celebration more eco-friendly.

1. Ditch the disposable party ware

They’re popular and easy. Disposable plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side, they’re not so convenient for the environment.

To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.

We also love the “bring your own plate” theme. The hodgepodge of different dishes can serve as talking points at your party. An added bonus: Turn it into a dish swap. Bring your own dish and leave with a different plate for your collection.

The same idea works for glassware. Instead of charging a “keg fee,” a party-goer’s ticket is his or her own glass.

2. Get outside!

The best way to reduce your party’s footprint is to calculate its energy usage. The No. 1 way to avoid added costs to your electric bill is to utilize the outdoors – perfect lighting, temperature and truly inherent green setting.

Host your barbecue at midday when the light is bright and fills your crowd with energy. Or fight soaring temperatures and take advantage of the cooler evening weather. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.

3. Use propane for grilling

Before diving into this one, we want to point out that we are not trying to step on any grillmaster’s toes. The debate between charcoal and propane is a tough one: Which one produces more flavor? Which is cheaper, faster? And most importantly, which is more eco-friendly?

We consulted a recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review to answer this one. Drum roll, please…

According to the study, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”

The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg.

ScienceDaily reports that as fuel, LPG is “dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production.” When purchasing a propane tank, make sure there is a trade-in option. Most retailers will let you bring in an empty tank in exchange for a decent discount on your next tank.

4. Save (and reuse) your decorations

If you’ve hosted Independence Day celebrations before, you know the décor is often the same: streamers, party favors and table toppers all in bold red, white and blue.

Sadly, most people often use these decorations once and then throw them out. But they can be reused year after year! So, this year, after the party’s over, take the time to store and save your decorations. You or someone you know can use them again next year, which helps to save on a bit of unneeded trash.

5. Opt for greener fireworks

Fireworks are hardly an environmentally friendly activity, but they’re an unwavering Fourth of July tradition. If you’re setting off your own fireworks this year, be sure to use fireworks rich in nitrogen. They often cost a bit more but put out less smoke into the environment.

Another option is to gather your group and go see your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much bigger fireworks show and negates you from harming the environment with your own personal display.

6. Gather in groups

This may seem like a no-brainer for such a popular holiday, but the larger a group you gather (preferably outdoors), the less energy you use at individual parties that may take place indoors. Plus, the more people to help prepare and purchase food, the less of a cost it is to each individual. Just make sure your fellow party goers know these green tips!

7. Use large water containers

Plastic water bottles are convenient, but like other disposable goods, they can add up fast. In lieu of individual plastic bottles, store water for your family or guests in large containers so they can re-fill their reusable water bottles or reusable cups. If you must use plastic water bottles, be sure to encourage your guests to recycle them.

8. Don’t forget to recycle

One of the easiest ways to go green is to recycle your waste. So be sure to put a clearly marked bin out at your party.

If you did opt for disposable dinnerware, remember that those plastic plates, cups and utensils can be recycled. Paper plates will have to be thrown out or composted due to food residue.

Article originally published on Earth911.com and was written by Amanda Wills.

Our Picks for June

Jun 6, 2011 by in Fashion Comments Off on Our Picks for June

It’s gettting hotter and hotter down south but never fear, Branch Out has all the clothes to keep you cool!

For the ladies we just love the Kitty Tank! It’s such a fun tank with the cool burn-out pattern and the twisted fabric in the back creates and neat new take on the racer-back.

We also just had to choose the Tawny Dress. We love this dress because each one is totally unique! Made entirely from reclaimed denim, the Tawny Dress is something you’ll want to wear over and over again.

For the boys this month, we are just smitten over the Ez E t-shirt. And we know once you put it on, you’ll be smitten too! It is just unbelievably soft and comfortable!

 

We were on a t-shirt kick this month so we choose the Keys t-shirt. The print is great and we think the colors just scream summer!

Hope you like our favorites for June! Stay cool and come check us out!

xoxo, Lauren + Thiri

Top Ten Reasons to Shop Local from StayLocal.org!

Jun 3, 2011 by in News Comments Off on Top Ten Reasons to Shop Local from StayLocal.org!

Branch Out is a proud member of StayLocal.org. Stay Local  is a city-wide initiative for creating strong economies based on locally owned and operated businesses. We encourage consumers to shop locally and help independent businesses compete more effectively.

Stay Local had a great list of the Top 10 Reasons to shop local so I thought I’d share them with you here. But be sure to visit their site to check out other local businesses in the New Orleans area and check out all the great information they have about how you can shop local.

1. Protect Local Character and Prosperity

New Orleans is unlike any other city in the world. By choosing to support locally owned businesses, you help maintain New Orleans’ diversity and distinctive flavor.

2. Community Well-Being

Locally owned businesses build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes.

3. Local Decision Making

Local ownership means that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4. Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy

Your dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development.

5. Job and Wages

Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6. Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7. Public Benefits and Costs

Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8. Environmental Sustainability

Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9. Competition

A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10. Product Diversity

A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.