Meet Julie Hancher, the editor-in-chief and co-founder behind the hugely popular blog, Green Philly. As Philadelphia’s number one eco-news and events source, Green Philly eases you into a sustainable lifestyle “with a sprinkle of sass.” We sat down with Julia to find out how it all got started back in 2008 and what you can do to effortlessly make sustainability a part of your life.
1. Why’d you start the blog Green Philly?
Beth and I started our blog Green Philly in 2008. We were co-workers at the time and carpooled together from the suburbs. One day, during a typical commute, we put two and two together and realized that, although our company provided recycling bins, they’d been throwing the contents straight into the trash. It was quite the scandal in the office, but, for us, it was more than office gossip. We were angry and frustrated. We realized how little people knew about being sustainable (clearly having a recycling bin wasn’t enough) and decided to share our knowledge to educate and inspire people. Though it started as just a hobby, it’s developed into it’s own business.
2. What’s the biggest thing you want your readers to take away when they read your blog?
I hope that readers can leave with practical advice to incorporate in their own lives. We hope to make sustainability an easy to approach, low cost activity and that more people will make little changes to their everyday routines. Small actions can add up, and together we can make a difference for the long haul.
3. If you could advise your readers to make one small change for the environment in their day-to-day practices, what would it be?
I recommend that people try to buy, use and spend less in the first place. There are so many products out there that are incredibly unnecessary. Evaluate your need before making a purchase. A lot of consumption isn’t really thought about in the first place and, most of the time, I don’t think it makes us any happier. Next time you’re shopping, think about whether you the purchase is really needed or if you can reuse or repurpose instead. You’ll feel much better when you take a step back to think about your need.
4. When it comes to being sustainable, what are some surprising ways that people unintentionally harm the environment?
Again, it comes down to purchasing decisions. I think a common place to make amends is food shopping. Even if you’re buying an organic vegetable, you’re harming the environment if it has to be flown across the world. Shop at a local farmers’ market instead. Something as easy as switching to reusable flatware and napkins—it’s pretty easy to avoid those disposable purchases and still make a big difference. Every action has an environmental effect; it’s all about recognizing the impacts of your choices and making do with less.
5. If a reader has some time or money on their hands to donate, what do you recommend they do to select a charity or non-profit?
I personally love to advocate for shelter animals. I volunteer at PAWS Monster Milers in Philadelphia, a group that run around with the shelter dogs. It helps get them to become more adoptable faster.
Other great environmental organizations in the Philadelphia area include the Clean Air Council and Clear Water Action. I also remind friends and readers that social advocacy groups are just as important to keep the world healthy. Lifestyles dictate the way in which you interact with your environment. Whether you want to feed the homeless or volunteer at a local school, find something that you’re passionate about and you’ll make a big difference.
6. A lot of runners were recently in town for the Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon. How can runners train and compete sustainability?
Look into mass transit options to travel to the race (whether you’re from out of town or need to conserve energy between your house and the starting line). From buses to subway lines, there are always public, cheap ways to get to the start on time. It’s also exciting to travel to the start with other runners. I know their presence gets my adrenaline pumping for the upcoming race!
I know it’s difficult to bring your own supplies, but I try to pack my own reusable water bottles for training runs or plan to run by a water fountain. I also recommend making your own granola bars, which eliminates packaging. Though race sponsors typically do a great job cleaning up after the event, it helps to eliminate that added waste.
And to bring it back to purchasing decisions, you can select your clothing based on the sustainability of the materials. Organic cotton is a great raw material for running shirts and shorts. But overall, running is one of the cleanest sports—it’s really green (and I’m a big fan!).
7. What do you recommend runners, tourists and activists do while they’re in Philadelphia?
My favorite running route in Philly is Kelly/West River Drive. It goes right by the river and the park. It’s full of beautiful views and you’ll pass the Art Museum, which is always filled with people. I find that is a huge motivator!
Another recent favorite is to go over the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey. The skyline in the morning is gorgeous—one of my favorite views in Philly!