Thrive Napa Valley encourages leadership through awareness, education, and outreach. We empower our community to connect and engage through inspired action to promote environmental sustainability, social equity and compassion. To learn more about these types of happenings in the Napa Valley and beyond, click on the links below.
THRIVING: a state of being characterized by balance, belonging, and harmonious relationships with other people and with Nature
COMPASSION: a sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it
Definition from Merriam-Webster Incorporated
Napa Valley CanDo brings together people from all over the Napa Valley who want to help our communities thrive through volunteerism and community action. Check out their CanDo Spotlight where events & volunteer opportunities from other groups around the valley are listed. Read the latest issue of the CanDo Connection
Neighborhood Networking
Nextdoor is the private social network for you, your community and your neighbors. Use the power of technology to build stronger & safer neighborhoods.
Over 113,000 neighborhoods across the country use NEXTDOOR.
Nextdoor is the best way to stay in the know about what’s going on in your neighborhood—whether it’s finding a last-minute babysitter, learning about an upcoming block party, or hearing about a rash of car break-ins. There are so many ways our neighbors can help us, we just need an easier way to connect with them.

We created this company because we believe that the neighborhood is one of the most important and useful communities in a person's life. Living in American Canyon, Napa (districts), Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, Saint Helena and Calistoga). Register online and connect with your neighbors.
'No Impact Man' Colin Beavan on helping the habitat
Click on the photo (above) to view a short video.
To learn more about living sustainably, go to the Q&A with Colin Beavan.
In 2009, Colin Beavan redesigned his entire lifestyle for one year to reduce his carbon footprint. He documented his experiment in his book No Impact Man. Since then, he has been an advocate for sustainability issues and consults regularly with businesses and other organizations on improving their eco-friendly and people-centred measures. The video was filmed at the launch of his new book, "How to be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness that Helps the World", at UN Headquarters in New York.
≈251 Million Tons of Trash Were Generated in the United States in 2012
When we recycle, we give garbage another life. Shampoo bottles transform into hairbrushes. Body wash bottles become toothbrushes. Toilet paper rolls turn into tissue boxes. Today, curbside recycling programs exist in 63% of American communities— making it more possible than ever to give new life to the products we use.
Even so, only about a third of the 1,600 pounds of garbage every American generates each year gets recycled or composted. Don't let littler linger in landfills when it still has more to give! Motivate your community to learn more about what they can recycle—including bathroom and other personal care products—and to make recycling an everyday habit. Think what we could create if we all worked together to turn more trash into treasure.  SPONSOR: Keep America Beautiful
For One, Another   TOMS TV Commercial
Together, there are no limits.
With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need.
Newlight: From Greenhouse Gas to Plastic
Watch the VIDEO: Greenhouse Gas to Plastic
Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Technology converts human waste into bio-based fuel

It may sound like science fiction, but wastewater treatment plants across the United States may one day turn ordinary sewage into biocrude oil, thanks to new research at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The technology, hydrothermal liquefaction, mimics the geological conditions Earth uses to create crude oil, using high pressure and temperature to achieve in minutes something that takes Mother Nature millions of years. The resulting material is similar to petroleum pumped out of the ground, with a small amount of water and oxygen mixed in. This biocrude can then be refined using conventional petroleum refining operations.

Wastewater treatment plants across the U.S. treat approximately 34 billion gallons of sewage every day. That amount could produce the equivalent of up to approximately 30 million barrels of oil per year. PNNL estimates that a single person could generate two to three gallons of biocrude per year.

Sewage, or more specifically sewage sludge, has long been viewed as a poor ingredient for producing biofuel because it's too wet. The approach being studied by PNNL eliminates the need for drying required in a majority of current thermal technologies which historically has made wastewater to fuel conversion too energy intensive and expensive. HTL may also be used to make fuel from other types of wet organic feedstock, such as agricultural waste.

Using hydrothermal liquefaction, organic matter such as human waste can be broken down to simpler chemical compounds. The material is pressurized to 3,000 pounds per square inch -- nearly one hundred times that of a car tire. Pressurized sludge then goes into a reactor system operating at about 660 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat and pressure cause the cells of the waste material to break down into different fractions -- biocrude and an aqueous liquid phase.

"There is plenty of carbon in municipal waste water sludge and interestingly, there are also fats," said Corinne Drennan, who is responsible for bioenergy technologies research at PNNL. "The fats or lipids appear to facilitate the conversion of other materials in the wastewater such as toilet paper, keep the sludge moving through the reactor, and produce a very high quality biocrude that, when refined, yields fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuels."

In addition to producing useful fuel, HTL could give local governments significant cost savings by virtually eliminating the need for sewage residuals processing, transport and disposal.

"The best thing about this process is how simple it is," said Drennan. "The reactor is literally a hot, pressurized tube. We've really accelerated hydrothermal conversion technology over the last six years to create a continuous, and scalable process which allows the use of wet wastes like sewage sludge."

An independent assessment for the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation calls HTL a highly disruptive technology that has potential for treating wastewater solids. WE&RF investigators noted the process has high carbon conversion efficiency with nearly 60 percent of available carbon in primary sludge becoming bio-crude. The report calls for further demonstration, which may soon be in the works.

PNNL has licensed its HTL technology to Utah-based Genifuel Corporation, which is now working with Metro Vancouver, a partnership of 23 local authorities in British Columbia, Canada, to build a demonstration plant.

"Metro Vancouver hopes to be the first wastewater treatment utility in North America to host hydrothermal liquefaction at one of its treatment plants," said Darrell Mussatto, chair of Metro Vancouver's Utilities Committee. "The pilot project will cost between $8 to $9 million (Canadian) with Metro Vancouver providing nearly one-half of the cost directly and the remaining balance subject to external funding."

Once funding is in place, Metro Vancouver plans to move to the design phase in 2017, followed by equipment fabrication, with start-up occurring in 2018.

"If this emerging technology is a success, a future production facility could lead the way for Metro Vancouver's wastewater operation to meet its sustainability objectives of zero net energy, zero odours and zero residuals," Mussatto added.

In addition to the biocrude, the liquid phase can be treated with a catalyst to create other fuels and chemical products. A small amount of solid material is also generated, which contains important nutrients. For example, early efforts have demonstrated the ability to recover phosphorus, which can replace phosphorus ore used in fertilizer production.


Indoor air pollution is an important environmental threat to human health, leading to symptoms of “sick building syndrome.” But researchers report that surrounding oneself with certain house plants could combat the potentially harmful effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a main category of these pollutants. Interestingly, they found that certain plants are better at removing particular harmful compounds from the air, suggesting that, with the right plant, indoor air could become cleaner and safer.

The researchers are presenting their work today at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics. A brand-new animation on the research is available at

“Buildings, whether new or old, can have high levels of VOCs in them, sometimes so high that you can smell them,” says Vadoud Niri, Ph.D., leader of the study.

VOCs are compounds like acetone, benzene and formaldehyde that are emitted as gases and can cause short- and long-term health effects when inhaled. They can come from paints, furniture, copiers and printers, cleaning supplies and even dry-cleaned clothes.

“Inhaling large amounts of VOCs can lead some people to develop sick building syndrome, which reduces productivity and can even cause dizziness, asthma or allergies,” Niri says. “We must do something about VOCs in indoor air.”

The most common solution is to install ventilation systems that cycle in air from outside. There are also methods that can remove these compounds, using adsorption, condensation and chemical reactions.

However, Niri is studying a cheap, simple tool to remove VOCs: house plants. Using plants to remove chemicals from indoor air is called biofiltration or phytoremediation. In addition to carbon dioxide, plants can take up gases such as benzene, toluene and other VOCs. NASA began studying this option in 1984 and found that plants could absorb these airborne compounds via their leaves and roots.

Since then, other studies have looked at how plants phytoremediate specific compounds, such as the carcinogen formaldehyde, in a closed space. Most of these studies focused on the removal of single VOCs by individual plants from the ambient air. However, Niri wanted to compare the efficiency and the rate of simultaneous removal of several VOCs by various plants.

To test this, Niri, who is at the State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego), and his team built a sealed chamber containing specific concentrations of several VOCs. They then monitored the VOC concentrations over several hours with and without a different type of plant in the chamber. For each plant type, they noted which VOCs the plants took up, how quickly they removed these VOCs from the air, and how much of the VOCs were ultimately removed by the end of the experiment.

The researchers tested five common house plants and eight common VOCs, and they found that certain plants were better at absorbing specific compounds. For example, all five plants could remove acetone — the pungent chemical that is abundant at nail salons — from the air, but the dracaena plant took up the most, around 94 percent of the chemical.

“Based on our results, we can recommend what plants are good for certain types of VOCs and for specific locations,” Niri says. “To illustrate, the bromeliad plant was very good at removing six out of eight studied VOCs — it was able to take up more than 80 percent of each of those compounds — over the twelve-hour sampling period. So it could be a good plant to have sitting around in the household or workplace.”

Niri says the next step in the research is to test these plants’ abilities in a real room, not just a sealed chamber. He would eventually like to put plants in a nail salon over the course of several months to see whether they can reduce the levels of acetone that workers are exposed to.

He acknowledges funding from SUNY Oswego’s Scholarly and Creative Activity Grants.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio

How Antique Wood and Brick Are Reclaimed
Watch this VIDEO: The Journey of Reclaimed Wood
Social scientists have found that the fastest way to feel happiness is to practice gratitude. - Chip Conley

The current generation is the most eco-conscious generation yet, but attitudes and actions don’t always match. A study by the Shelton Group found that while millennials were the most likely of any group to have a green attitude toward energy conservation, this doesn’t necessarily translate into actions. Statistically, millennials are less likely than the average American to sacrifice personal convenience when it conflicts with environmental interests, and less likely to take simple eco-friendly actions such as recycling, bringing their own bags to shop, drinking water from reusable containers or unplugging items not in use.

Research by the Glass Packaging Institute similarly found that millennials are less likely than other age groups to take actions that save energy. Truly translating pro-environmental attitudes into action takes conscious planning of your lifestyle. Here are four ways you can adjust your lifestyle to make green living easier.


Where you live can make a difference in how easy it is for you to be environmentally friendly. For instance, cities that have better public transportation systems and bike routes make it easier to travel green than cities that don’t. WalletHub ranks the 100 greenest cities in America using 20 indicators, such as greenhouse gas emissions per capita and smart energy initiatives. Six of the top 10 cities are in California, with San Francisco ranking first, reflecting the strong environmental awareness of the Golden State.

But even if you don’t live in one of the top eco-friendly areas, you can still look for places to live in your own area that support a green lifestyle. For instance, if you’re looking to rent an apartment in New York, finding an apartment within walking distance of your workplace will cut down on your carbon footprint while helping you get some exercise.


Where you work also impacts the green quality of your lifestyle. Working for an employer who follows energy conservation practices or uses sustainable materials is a way you can contribute to the general welfare of the environment. In partnership with the Corporate Knights, Newsweek publishes an annual ranking of the top green companies in the United States, based on eight specific indicators, including energy productivity, greenhouse gas productivity, water productivity and waste productivity. In 2016, Hasbro came in at the top of the list, followed by Nike and Hershey.

How you get to work can also make an impact on both the environment and your health. You can choose greener transportation by walking or biking to work, taking public transportation or working from home.


Being more selective about what you buy is another way you can live a more green lifestyle. The Environmental Protection Agency points out that 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used to produce, process and transport food and other goods. Shop for products made of sustainable, recyclable materials, and built to last so that you’ll generate less waste and consume less energy. Look for environmentally friendly packaging labels, such as ENERGY STAR, Water Sense, and Design for the Environment. Select green companies to buy from, using lists such as the Corporate Knights’ annual lists of America’s greenest companies or their list of the world’s most sustainable companies, currently topped by BMW.


Choosing a green lifestyle can also affect your relationships. If you want to conserve energy, but your roommate wants to run the air conditioner all day, you may find yourself butting heads. While you shouldn’t necessarily limit your friends to people who see eye-to-eye with you on environmental issues, seeking out friends, roommates and romantic partners who share your values in this area may make it easier for you to live a green lifestyle.

Being in favor of green living is one thing, but it takes some effort and being proactive to make a difference. But if you're unsure of how to put your principles into action, any or all of the above are great starting points!

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

  • Experiencing anger/emotional upset or heavy physical exertion appears to double heart attack risk.*
  • Being angry or emotionally upset while engaging in heavy physical exertion appears to triple heart attack risk.*
*The findings do not negate the benefits of appropriate,
regular physical activity in preventing heart attacks.

Being angry, emotionally upset or engaging in heavy physical exertion may trigger a heart attack, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

In a large international study, researchers found an association (more than twice the risk) between anger or emotional upset and the onset of heart attack symptoms within one hour. The same was true for heavy physical exertion during the hour before their first heart attack.

However, the association was stronger (more than triple the risk) in those patients who recalled being angry or emotionally upset while also engaging in heavy physical exertion.

“Previous studies have explored these heart attack triggers; however, they had fewer participants or were completed in one country, and data are limited from many parts of the world,” said Andrew Smyth, M.D., Ph.D., study lead author and a researcher at the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Canada, and at the HRB Clinical Research Facility in Galway, Ireland. “This is the first study to represent so many regions of the world, including the majority of the world’s major ethnic groups.”

Researchers analyzed data from 12,461 patients (average age 58) participating in INTERHEART, a study consisting of patients with first-ever heart attacks across 52 countries. Participants completed a questionnaire about whether they experienced any of the triggers in the hour before their heart attack. They were also asked if they had experienced any of the triggers in the same one hour period on the day before their heart attack.

Authors said that these triggers appeared to independently increase a person’s heart attack risk beyond that posed by other risk factors, including age, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems.

Smyth said that extreme emotional and physical triggers are thought to have similar effects on the body.

“Both can raise blood pressure and heart rate, changing the flow of blood through blood vessels and reducing blood supply to the heart” he said. “This is particularly important in blood vessels already narrowed by plaque, which could block the flow of blood leading to a heart attack.”

“Regular physical activity has many health benefits, including the prevention of heart disease, so we want that to continue,” he said. “However, we would recommend that a person who is angry or upset who wants to exercise to blow off steam not go beyond their normal routine to extremes of activity.”

One limitation of the study was that participants had to recall their triggers. After a heart attack, a person may be more inclined to say they experienced a trigger than they otherwise would be. In addition, participants were not given any descriptions of being angry or emotionally upset or of heavy physical exertion. Self-defined, these triggers appear to have the same effect across countries and ethnicities.

“This large, nearly worldwide study provides more evidence of the crucial link between mind and body,” said Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., an American Heart Association volunteer and director of behavioral sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Springfield, Pennsylvania. “Excess anger, under the wrong conditions, can cause a life-threatening heart attack. All of us should practice mental wellness and avoid losing our temper to extremes.”

“People who are at risk for a heart attack would do best to avoid extreme emotional situations,” Jacobs said. “One way many cope with the emotional ups and downs of a health condition is through peer support, talking with others who are facing similar challenges can be very helpful in better managing your own emotions.”


There is no better way to start the day than with a smoothie made fresh from your garden!

Do you have any pots or a small area in your garden for some winter veggies? If you start Cabbage, Spinach, Kale, Peas, and Lettuces in your garden this winter, you can go out and harvest, add to your blender or juicer, and enjoy amazing health benefits. Zero worries about where the food came from or how it was treated! Have any room for a apple tree or pear tree? These are the perfect fall harvesting for smoothies, and the apples can be really long keepers, giving you great health benefits long into winter.

Here’s a recipe for a favorite smoothies in the winter:
• 1 medium green apple from the garden
• 3-5 Kale leaves from the garden
• A handful of spinach leaves (5-7 leaves) from the garden
• Fill with water until all the ingredients are covered (some prefer a plain yogurt for a creamer blend) and blend until thoroughly mixed, and enjoy!

If you want to mix it up, add 3-4 inch piece of cucumber (preferably peeled) cut into chunks; if you prefer it a little sweeter, add 2 teaspoons of agave nectar.


If you’re lucky enough to have a pomegranate tree, here’s another green smoothie to try:

• 1 cup of fresh spinach from the garden
• 1/2 frozen banana
• 1/4 cup of pomegranate arils from the garden
• 1/4 cup of coconut water
• Blend until all is thoroughly mixed and enjoy!

The ABC's of Living Green
Our final month of spotlighting letters of the alphabet with suggestions for living a sustainable lifestyle:

X - Exchange Experiences, Xeriscaping, 

Y - You Make A Difference

Z - Zero-In on Zero Waste, Zero Energy Building, Zero Carbon Footprint
Purchase this beautiful 24" x 36" poster and start living the green life. Sassy and fun images and words by Donna Tarbania, Karen Kerney (illustrations and design), Dik Cool and many friends. SCW © 2010
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All sources have been reviewed and, where applicable, permission to reprint has been obtained. Active links have been provided and are current at time of publication.
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