Eco Wise

Ways to Make Eco-Minded Friends

(By Sean Kelly)

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

I n environmentally minded Washington, it's easy to find friends who are also friends of the planet. Happy hours, book clubs and Internet communities offer numerous outlets for discovering your eco-niche. D.C. environmental professional Tina Schneider founded Green Drinks D.C., a chapter of the successful international happy hour group, in 2007 "to find like-minded people" outside her workplace.

Schneider has discovered that mixing socializing and learning about environmental issues (such as at a recent social fundraiser at the U.S. National Arboretum) is a popular concoction. "I've noticed that people in D.C. have an insatiable appetite to learn" and be part of something bigger than themselves, she says.

D.C. EcoWomen, a networking organization, also combines career advice with just having fun, says Jessica Frohman, head of the group's communication committee. Its monthly EcoHour features guest speakers who are leaders or pioneers in the environmental movement. "We look for those opportunities where we can educate women who are doing [environmental] work and want to live what they do," Frohman says.

Here's how you, too, can cultivate a greener circle of friends:

Toast the Planet

D.C. EcoWomen ( http://www.ecowomen.org) meets the third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. for EcoHour, usually at Teaism in Penn Quarter. The group also has a green-oriented book-and-movie club that alternates each month.

Green Drinks convenes the second Tuesday of the month for happy hours at restaurants and bars (to join the e-mail list, write to greendrinksdc@gmail.com).

Tree Hugger Happy Hour (TH3) is a social group for those working in or interested in the environmental field, "but without the heavy pressure of having to network or talk about work," says organizer Gustavo Silva-Chávez. TH3 meets the third Thursday of the month for happy hours. Join through Facebook (search for the group's name) or by e-mailing dctreehuggerhappyhour@gmail.com.

Eco-Bond Outdoors

Hiking groups Wanderbirds ( http://www.wanderbirds.org) and the Capital Hiking Club ( http://www.capitalhikingclub.org) organize weekend trips to such spots as Shenandoah National Park and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath.

Explore Rock Creek Park and other trails from your bike seat with Potomac Pedalers ( http://www.bikepptc.org).

Volunteer

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network ( http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org) seeks people to pitch in on their campaigns, from promoting clean energy to reducing home energy costs.

Beautify Northern Virginia with Fairfax ReLeaf ( http://www.fairfaxreleaf.org), whose volunteers work to restore and maintain urban forests.

Roll up your sleeves with the Potomac Conservancy ( http://www.potomac.org), which needs helpers to pull invasive weeds, clear trash and plant trees along the Potomac River.

Go Green Online

Join the more than 180 members of the Meetup group Living Green DC/MD/VA ( http://environment.meetup.com/341), who gather to see films with environmental themes, visit farmers' markets and volunteer for Earth Day. The site provides a great forum for environmentalists (including a green DJ and a green Realtor) to keep apprised of local events, says organizer Darlene Olsen.

Become a member of the Live Green network ($13 a year at http://www.livegreen.net), and you'll receive benefits and deals at eco-friendly businesses with "Live Green Spot" logos throughout Washington.

-- Christine Dell'Amore


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