The Green Team

100 Park Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92101

Baseball season opens this month! How green is the home of San Diego's Padres? As one of the newer baseball parks, PETCO Park was built with the environment in mind. The park's sustainability efforts are managed by a Green Committee and they have won a slew of conservation awards.

GOOD: Here are just a few things to feel good about while you cheer on the San Diego Padres...
Building construction. The park location itself has helped revitalize a previously neglected part of downtown itself. Its construction incorporated an existing building, the historic Western Metal Supply Co. The kids' playground is partially made of recycled materials and some of the flooring elsewhere in the park is made of recycled rubber. 
Recycling. The people at PETCO are finding ways to recycle as much as possible, right down to cooking oil, food waste, uniforms, grass clippings, and wire hangers used by the dry cleaning service. Plastic packaging is collected and used by an outside company to make decks, railings, and fencing.
Water Conservation. Bathroom water flow is minimized and field irrigation is carefully timed to avoid waste. 
Energy Efficiency. A master computer system monitors and controls all heating, cooling, and lighting systems for maximum efficiency. Motion sensors assure that lights and air conditioning are switched off when PETCO offices and suites are empty or the doors open. Compact fluorescent lamps are used wherever possible and recycled when they burn out. 
Education. Recycling is deeply ingrained in the PETCO Park mission, from employee training videos, newsletters, and handbooks to Jumbotron messages and signs for the fans. The team also hosts "Green Night" and several recycling nights.
BAD: Just by the virtue of being a ballpark, PETCO is a huge consumer of land and resources and a huge generator of trash. However, SGSD is glad to see the measures PETCO Park and the Padres have taken to ease their impact on our environment and hope to see even more in the near future.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Be sure to leave the car home and take the Trolley right to PETCO. Once you get there, grab some fish tacos or a veggie burger.

BOTTOM LINE: 4 Stars ****

Never too young...

Pure-Rest & Ecobaby Organics
9541 Ridgehaven Ct.
San Diego, CA 92123

Becoming a parent brings out the paranoia in all of us. Before kids, you scoffed at the flu shot. Now you're calling all around town to find the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines for the whole family. Even before his or her birth, you probably also started worrying about all the household chemicals your little one might be exposed to. You don't know exactly what they might do, but now you're willing to spend a little extra money "just in case".

GOOD: Pure-Rest & Ecobaby Organics is a local, family-owned business that caters to that strong urge to go all organic when it comes to your baby. They sell mostly baby mattresses (made of organic cotton, wool, and natural latex), clothes, towels, and blankets manufactured and sewn on site in Kearny Mesa. Ecobaby has a zero tolerance for chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and phenols in their products and even in the construction of their building. In fact, they take organic and allergen-free so seriously that they only hire employees who use fragrance-free beauty products and come from a smoke-free home.
BAD: Not to sound like a broken record, but price is a major issue here. A few extra bucks doesn't seem like a big deal when it's an occasional meal in a restaurant or a nice box of chocolates, but $10-18 for one little shirt that your kid will only wear for a few weeks before it's torn, stained, and too small? Even though that's generally less than you would spend on organic clothing at Babies R Us, there's no way most people could afford a completely organic baby wardrobe. As for the mattresses, it sounds nice to be chemical-free, but is wool really a safe alternative to chemical fire retardants? 
RECOMMENDATIONS: If you can afford it, spend the extra money on a crib mattress, bedding, and sleepwear for your baby - that's where they are most of the time. In comparison, babies only spend a short amount of time in each of those cute onesies before they're covered in food and/or poop. 

BOTTOM LINE: 4 Stars ****
SGSD is glad places like this exist, but the prohibitively high cost goes against our goal of making green shopping more realistic for those of us who care about the environment, but also need to consider cost and convenience.  

Saving the planet one cup at a time

2619 National Ave., San Diego, CA 92113
Store hours: M-F/8 am - 5 pm

Coffee. You drink it every day, so there's lots of time to ponder its impact on the planet. From an sustainability point of view, few foods are more controversial. What country is it from? How are the workers treated? Is it shade grown? Organic? Does it come in a styrofoam cup? Is it from a chain or the corner bistro? Fortunately San Diego is home to one very progressive little bean brewer: Cafe Moto.

GOOD: Cafe Moto is a small, family-owned business that sells only organic and fair trade products. They brew coffee and package their wares in a downtown building made of recycled materials and powered exclusively by the sun and natural gas. They even donate their old burlap coffee bean sacks to the San Diego Zoo. Apparently tigers love to play with them!
BAD: The actual shop is out of the way and while several local business sell their coffee, it can be hard to find. But then staying small (a good thing) is one of Cafe Moto's goals.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Buy Cafe Moto coffee, tea, chocolate, and other gear online or at their downtown headquarters. Or look for Cafe Moto coffee served at the Landmark Theatre in La Jolla. What could be better than an indie movie and cup of joe you can feel good about?

BOTTOM LINE: 5 Stars*****

Celebrating a Sustainable Valentine's Day... the San Diego Way

Chuao Chocolatier Cafes
The Lumberyard
937 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
Del Mar Highlands Shopping Center
3485 Del Mar Heights Rd., San Diego, CA 92130
University Towne Centre
4465 La Jolla Village Dr., San Diego, CA 92122

Chuao Chocolatier (pronounced chew-WOW) creates "unusual, unexpected and delicious flavors using their secret blend of premium chocolate and fresh natural ingredients."

GOOD: Not only is Chuao chocolate locally made (in North County), its founders, two brothers from Venezuela, are committed to social responsibility. They give to local charities, are working to lessen their environmental impact, and have founded the Aguasanta Growth Initiative, a program dedicated to cacao restoration. In Venezuela, the source of Chuao cacao, farmers are typically paid well and treated fairly. However, the highly prized Venezuelan cacao crop itself needs help. The goal of the Aguasanta Growth Initiative is to provide the tools, education, and support necessary to grow and care for this special plant in a way that will preserve it for many generations.
BAD: The price. Good stuff doesn't come cheap, but yikes.
RECOMMENDATIONS: If you visit one of the local Chocolate Cafes, order a Winter Hot Chocolate with whipped cream or Spicy Maya gelato (depending on the season), then take home a Firecracker bar as a fun gift. This chipotle caramel fudge truffle with popping candy, salt, and dark chocolate is a real conversation starter. Chuao chocolates can also be found all over the country at places like Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Wegman's, and Crate & Barrel.

BOTTOM LINE: 5 Stars*****
This place is just plain awesome.

Non-Toxic Nails

You can probably smell your way to the nearest nail salon. That's most likely due to the acrylics that make up fake nails and the toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalates (DBP) in nail polish, all declared by the state of California to be possible carcinogens and/or harmful to human reproduction and development. The European Union banned DBP in cosmetics four years ago, but the FDA still doesn't regulate most beauty products. Meanwhile, many nail salon employees have blamed respiratory irritation and other health problems on chronic exposure to these potentially dangerous chemicals.

When looking for a less-toxic salon, know what questions to ask. Look for places that don't even offer acrylic nails and ask about their sterilization techniques. Autoclaving, which relies on heat and pressure, is better than harsh chemicals that eventually go down the drain. The only problem is that most of these places are high-end spas and resorts, not dedicated nail salons. Though not truly "green" like some salons available in L.A. and San Fransisco, here are a couple of okay places to get your nails done in the San Diego area, where manicures start at $45, pedicures at $75:
In a pinch, use your nose. The less smelly the salon, the more likely they at least have good ventilation, which reduces your exposure. You can also buy your own toluene/formaldehyde/DBP-free nail polish from companies like Nubar. And always check the health risks associated with any brand of beauty product and its ingredients at the Cosmetic Safety Database.