Category Archives: mindset

Green Living is for EVERY Body

I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years. I recycle, garden, worked at a farm, and am an advocate for greener living; I’m also fat. There is a perception that the ecofriendly community looks a certain way, lives a certain life, votes a certain way, and fits into a neat category of people… except they don’t. Ecofriendly people are old and young, democrat or republican, all races, all socioeconomic levels, and all sizes. Some people are surprised when they meet me that I’d rather chomp on turnip than cheese hamburger, or that I am a strong worker who can be in the farm dirt all day long. I am an advocate for Health at Every Size (HAES) which supports actions to make bodies healthier rather than just focus on weight loss. Here’s a link for more information http://www.haescommunity.org/

 

We cannot judge how people live, or what choices they make just by looking at them, or assuming that if they fall into one category, they are automatically excluded from another. Oftentimes my body makes me an outsider to many traditionally ecofriendly avenues. When we go to Greenfest (or other conscious style shopping places) I know that there will probably be no clothing that fits me. Oftentimes various organizations that promote vegetarianism or veganism use weight as a way to persuade people into a vegetarian lifestyle; in fact many times a fat body is shamed to promote vegetarianism including this advertisement by PCRS which uses both sexism, ageism and body shaming to promote veganism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIzngoAUoNM&list=PL-s1fMMoG8xVt7vMKGzskiAiRBtQ-GSqp&index=1 In order for a greener movement to be possible, we cannot continue to exclude people based on things like looks. ALL people matter and ALL actions are important.

The truth is that any step a person makes, whether a person does meatless Mondays occasionally, uses reusable bags at the grocery store, carpools, recycles, buys used, or ANY activity to make less footprint is imperative to creating a sustainable community: we are all neighbors on Earth. There is no way to know a person’s choices just by looking at them. Instead of assuming a person lives a certain way based on how they look, or who they vote for, understand that people who make earth friendly choices may not just be your hippie aunt with dreadlocks drinking kombucha but maybe your republican boss, the bodybuilder at your gym, your shy neighbor, or your heavy writer at TheMindfulConsumer.com.

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Labor Day 2013, Americans are Working Everywhere

Labor Day 2013President Obama is adamantly clear that Labor Day is important to “the working men and women of America”, and that he wants more for the middle class, countering “the forces that conspire against working Americans”. Yet what I see is a country in which Labor Day is all about the “end of Summer” and making money … which means many Americans are working today. The Labor Day sales of retailers ensure that many “working Americans” are at work today. For others, the once-clear boundaries of the office are gone with the advent of mobile technologies, the Internet, and the expectation that one can work anywhere, any time. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that Labor Day is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” By 1894, Labor Day was a national holiday, to be marked with parades and speeches celebrating the workforce that made this country great. Today, the fast-food workers reported to work as usual. The retail store workers also reported as usual. Construction workers were on sites building. Yes, the Federal Government and many businesses are closed. Yet many of the bottom-of-the-rung workers are working, because they can’t afford to take the day off without pay. Or because they simply don’t even realize what Labor Day is supposed to mean. The very people for which this day is supposed to honor are being treated as if it’s just another day. And these same people have lost their Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Year Days as everything must remain open every day now. While there is much not to like about the unions responsible for Labor Day, they did once improve the position of this core of America – the worker – and they deserve some thanks. will work for foodIn 2013 workers are the center of some huge arguments in America. From a faltering economy to a pending healthcare plan to immigration debates, the lower and middle class workers are not only the focus of discussion, they are key to the success of this country. People with hopes and dreams are working to survive, and many expect to make their lives better. Yet we can’t even take one day off from the massive mindless consumerism that defines our culture. So as some of us bask in the sun waterside of those soon-to-be-closed swimming facilities and beaches, let us at least stop a moment and thank our workers, all of them working today, from the janitors to the farm workers, from the bus drivers to the nurses, from the teachers to the information-age workers. Tell them today, Labor Day 2013, or tomorrow or any day that they are appreciated. If you own a business or have influence in one, show the employees some respect.

If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. Abraham Lincoln

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Is Earth Day Irrelevant?

earthday*304I’m not sure I like Earth Day anymore.

As I wrote last year, the Earth, our home, is a wondrous but closed system that warrants our appreciation and care every day.

Having one day designated for paying attention to our home seems token, a mere slogan.

  • Earth Day gives Google a topic for its changing home page image/doodle.
  • Earth Day provides pundits with a platform to discuss progress and failings.
  • Earth Day means that activists turn up the volume because people might be listening more today than other days.

Yet the state of the Earth is not a passing news headline, a curiosity worth only a quick glance, or a snapshot image in a line of our views of cute animals and celebrity nonsense. The Earth is our home, without which there is nothing else. And an endless stream of data and analysis is showing that we are not properly caring for our home.

Recently, we polled people, asking, “What’s the most important action we can take as individuals to live a green/sustainable lifestyle?”

  • Buy less stuff
  • Buy local stuff
  • Recycle
  • Eat less meat/eat non-GMO
  • Turn down the heat and a/c
  • Drive a hybrid vehicle or drive less
  • Other (leave a comment)

One third of the 35 respondents picked Recycle, with the remainder scattering their top choice amongst the other actions. While we can argue the relative merits of all of these actions, it seems to me that in a closed system, reducing use is most important.

While recycling is helpful, it is really a misnomer because the economics are such that recycled materials are usually turned into something different; meaning recycling is usually really downcycling. According to the Dictionary of Sustainable Management, a project of the alumni and students of the Presidio Graduate School,

Most recycled industrial nutrients (materials) lose viability or value in the process of recycling. This means they can only be used in a degraded form for components other than their original use. White writing paper, for example, is often downcycled into materials such as cardboard and cannot be used to create more premium writing paper.

It’s not that recycling is bad, but that its value is perceived to be higher than it really is. If I don’t buy the bottled water, there is no plastic to recycle or otherwise be concerned with. In our daily lives, it is the consumption choices that most affect the Earth, not what happens to our consumption leftovers.

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Google’s Earth Day 2013 graphic

Whether you agree that climate change is a problem, or think that a consumption economy is essential to well being, we must move towards caring for the Earth every day, including today. Our collective health, our survival depends on paying attention to what we do and the consequences of our actions (or inaction).

So, Earth — Happy Earth Day – some attention is better than none! We’ll continue to work on thinking about you every day.

 

 

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AT&T is Wrong. More is NOT Better. Mindful Consumption is Better.

AT&T’s popular commercial “More is Better” not only exploits children, it promotes the ill-founded and overly simplistic concept that more is always better. Really? Better for whom? Many people don’t need faster phone network service or don’t want to pay more money for faster speeds. Some can’t even afford to own a cellular phone or subscribe to such services.

AT&T More is Better campaign

Some people practice mindful consumption and don’t buy everything we’re encouraged to consume. These phone companies work daily to convince us that more is better – faster network, more Gs (we’re up to 4G – wow!), more apps, larger screens, lighter devices, longer battery life, higher resolution, better cameras.

Meanwhile, where do cell phones go when they stop working and are discarded by their owners? In the U.S. in 2010, 152 million mobile phones were disposed of, with 11% of those recycled. In the UK and Europe, over 105 million mobile phones are discarded each year, according to a recent report by Mobiles2Money.co.uk. The phones contain palladium, gold, silver, and copper as well as plastics, glass, and ceramics. According to the EPA, some of the internals of phones are hazardous to the environment when tossed into landfills. “EPA is very concerned about ensuring the proper management of used electronics and has undertaken important work to increase the collection and responsible recycling of used electronics.” We need to recycle phones more than we do today.

This ad promotes the idea that even children inherently know that more is better. Mindless consumerism is in part the result of the assumption that more is better. However, always wanting and taking more, while there isn’t enough to go around, is short sighted and destructive. Sustainability comes from mindful consumption in which we each take what we need. Yet our modern society expects us to want more and take more when we are able. We need to adjust our thinking – more is not better when it comes to consumption.

To be better stewards of our planet requires us to change our thinking. If we can use what we need, and improve inefficiencies in our processes, we can sustain a larger population and potentially close the gap between the overabundance some enjoy and the shortages elsewhere. A circle of children who appear to be privileged  is not representative of the majority. How many of us would want to hear our children say, “We want more. We want more” as they sit in a group as portrayed in the AT&T spot? What would a circle of children in impoverished areas say? “We want some. We want some.”

So AT&T has it wrong. Faster is not always better. And more is certainly not always better.

It’s not complicated.

 

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Nine Podcasts Worth Listening To: How To Be Green

95506096About a year ago, we discussed podcasts about living green. Please don’t waste your time searching online for green podcasts! A Google search today for “green living podcasts” has the two highest ranked results as a TLC article which must be old because many of its links are expired, and a discontinued podcast. The same search on iTunes provides equally anemic results. The only way to find a decent podcast for living sustainably is to try them. I’ve listened to all of these podcasts and give you a short list; if you know of others then let me know. The podcast universe is fluid, and many of the podcasts mentioned in our last post about this are gone, and some survive. I still spend lots of time alone on the car, so I sought out others.

Podcasts Listed in November 2011 Post

  • More Hip Than Hippie – inactive
    • Founders moved on to other ventures. According to this Facebook post, “We ended the show in February after Val closed Greenfeet as it was the major sponsor of the show.”
  • Here on Earth – cancelled
    • After nearly 30 years on Wisconsin Public Radio, Jean Feraca, host of Here on Earth, has retired. But you can listen to the final episode here.
  • Living Green Podcast – inactive

Simple Criteria for Selection

  1. Content – who cares? If it’s overly technical or academic, I’m not always listening. If the topic is too esoteric, it might also lose me.
  2. Quality – does it sound like a bad phone call? I can’t hear what you have to say if it is painful to listen.
  3. Opinionated – does it have a voice? If it’s just news, I’m yawning; I read that elsewhere. But if it’s a rant or in-depth discussion about the news, I’m listening.

Here are the green living podcasts I’m listening to these days, with specifics about each, including links to their Web pages and iTunes pages as well as Facebook and Twitter. The list of nine, with my ranking 9-1:

9. GREEN GRID RADIO

Personality: Adam Pearson

What it Is

Recently started, in Oct 2012, Stanford University is the backdrop for Green Grid Radio that focuses on renewable energy. The students are intelligent and find some great guests to interview, asking some excellent questions.

The Stats

  • iTunes  – no ratings/reviews
  • 45 Twitter followers @greengridradio

In Their Own Words

The goal of Green Grid Radio is to provide a local and regional perspective on the Californian and American transition to renewable electricity sources. We seek to inform the broad public, as well as to showcase the work of our academic, industry, and student speakers. The program is a weekly interview, panel, and news show that will explore different components of sustainable electricity networks, regenerative systems, and technological efficiency. Some of our show topics will fall under the umbrellas of utility-scale wind, solar, and geothermal facilities, energy efficient buildings, and transportation. Guests on the show will run the gamut from Stanford professors to industrial professionals to environmental conservationists. Green Grid Radio airs every Thursday from 6-7 pm PST, on KZSU Stanford 90.1FM

Recent Episodes

  • Taking on Climate Change Through Education and Grassroots Action
  • Wildlife Challenges and Opportunities with Wind Energy (with Justin Allegro of the National Wildlife Federation)
  • Climate Change in the US after Superstorm Sandy (with Dr. Philip Duffy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories)

8. HOW TO BE GREEN WITHOUT BEING A JACKASS

Personality: Jason Aubrey

What it Is

Jason considers himself an “entrepreneurial sustainable conservative” and hosts an entertaining podcast. However, many in the green movement might be taken aback by Jason’s frank discussions and open criticisms of the status quo in the world of living green. He attacks organic and vegans, for example. He asserts, and I agree, that the economic elements of sustainability are important – his slant on green is applying business sense. Jason thinks that everybody in green is promoting an agenda. This podcast is a bit different from the others, in that it’s positioning may not align with many in the green movement. Yet there are valuable perspectives and tips, backed up by extensive show notes on his Web site.

The Stats

  • 15 episodes since August 2012
  • 9 ratings on iTunes, 7 are 5 stars
  • 223 Twitter followers @jasonaubrey

In Their Own Words

Jason formed Nourish the Planet Enterprises to bring business development into the greenspace and deliver quality content to the growing segment of “pro-sumers”.   He has spent his career in business development and startups. A consultant, former commercial lending officer, marketing director, sales manager, and special projects coordinator, he brings a unique perspective to a changing business landscape and how companies communicate their message.

Recent Episodes

  • Green Gifts
  • Alternatives to Big Food
  • Toxins

7. SENSE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Personality: Jisung Park

What it Is

Sense and Sustainability looks at the research around sustainability from a broad perspective, with in-depth discussions and expert opinions.

The Stats

In Their Own Words

Sense and Sustainability is a podcast, a blog, and an online community devoted to translating the research frontier on sustainable development to the general public. We seek to provide a forum for rigorous yet accessible, incisive yet balanced conversations about a broad range of issues pertaining to global sustainable development – to students, researchers, professionals and practitioners in the field. We also pitch a broad tent when it comes to defining what “sustainability” means; in other words, we’re not just another environmental blog. We believe that truly sustainable development requires practical solutions to a wide range of interconnected problems that are by no means limited to the environmental sphere. Sense and Sustainability is a collaborative effort with Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

Recent Episodes

  • Faith-Based Environmentalism
  • Why Should Businesses Care about Sustainability?
  • Aldo Leopold and “Sustainability Through a Historical Lens

6. THE ORGANIC VIEW

Personality: June Stoyer

What it Is

The Organic View podcast has an extensive history and following, with a focus on organic living, as the title suggests. There are interesting topics and a diversity of guests. My only complaint is the sound quality; June sometimes sounds as if she’s on a bad phone connection. The rich Web site provides additional show details, recipes, and articles in categories: animals, bees, environment, and health.

The Stats

In Their Own Words

“The Organic View Radio Show” is a unique, live, interactive, internet talk-radio show that features key leaders, innovators and educators who work within industries that involve organics, environment, politics, living green and sustainability. Host, June Stoyer, explores the background and mission of each guest.  June Stoyer, is a native New Yorker, born on Long Island and raised on a private organic farm in the Catskill Mountains. Her father’s passion for organic farming provided the perfect foundation for which she now thrives as an educator and an activist. After working 12 years in Corporate America with technologies that focused on supermarket retail, consumer packaged goods and consumer behavior marketing, she decided to take the plunge as an entrepreneur. June owned and operated an organic specialty foods retail business as well as a culinary instructional business, teaching over 900 culinary, nutritional and horticultural programs for all ages.

Recent Episodes

  • Jackie Wilkinson Discusses How She Won Gold
  • Creating Biodiveristy by Bringing Nature Home
  • The Role of Pesticides in Honey Bees

5. PRI: LIVING ON EARTH

What it Is

If you like public radio, you’ll like Living on Earth. It’s coverage is broad and deep, and goes beyond just the news. The podcast delves into the science of sustainability and ecology, more than most of the others. Also, the Web site PRI’s Environmental News Magazine has show archives and additional content.

The Stats

  • 57 ratings on iTunes (52 5-star)
  • 4196 likes on Facebook page
  • 590 Twitter followers @livingonearth

In Their Own Words

Living on Earth with Steve Curwood is the weekly environmental news and information program distributed by Public Radio International. Every week approximately 300 Public Radio stations broadcast Living on Earth’s news, features, interviews and commentary on a broad range of ecological issues.

Recent Episodes

  • Chemicals That Promote Obesity Down the Generations
  • A Troubling Climate Assessment
  • Working Woodlands for Carbon and Cash

 4. KEXP MIND OVER MATTERS

What it Is

KEXP is a service of the University of Washington, who holds the station’s FCC license.  The podcast had a northwest U.S. perspective with a focus on interviews to shed light on pressing environmental issues. If you’re wanting depth and expertise, and don’t mind (or appreciate) the northwest perspective, this podcast is for you.

Stats

In Their Own Words

The Sustainability Segment presents one-on-one interviews with inspiring leaders and grass roots activists on a variety of environmental, social, and economic issues affecting life and the future of our planet.

Recent Episodes

  • Guests Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, Campaign Director, and Erika Schreder, Science Director, Washington Toxics Coalition, speak with Diane Horn about toxic flame retardants and discuss the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act.
  • Guest Dennis Canty, Pacific Northwest Director, American Farmland Trust, speaks with Diane Horn about the report “Planting the Seeds: Moving to More Local Food in Western Washington.”
  • Guest April Linton of the Fair Trade Association speaks with Diane Horn about her book “Fair Trade from the Ground Up: New Markets for Social Justice.”

3. THE HARVEST EATING PODCAST

Personality: Keith Snow

What it Is

Chef Keith Snow talks about food, with a slant towards homesteading. He discusses using natural ingredients to make simple recipes. He promotes using food grown locally. There is a cookbook and a PBS TV show Harvest Eating with Chef Snow. Keith’s podcast style is friendly and informative, tying in his personal experiences with the local food messages. The podcast has a Web page that has archive and more information.

The Stats

In Their Own Words

Welcome to The Harvest Eating weekly audio podcast. We discuss all things Harvest Eating and provide lots of encouragement for people getting into seasonal cooking with local foods. We’ll discuss what I am doing on the farm, new recipes and videos that are yet to be posted on the website and also career updates. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in i-Tunes and leave a review. 

Recent Episodes

  • Black Lentil Soup
  • Power of Kale
  • Making Beef and Chicken Stock

2. Sustainable World Radio

Personality: Jill Cloutier What it Is The focus here is permaculture, and the podcast discusses topics involving homesteading, gardening, and other earth-connecting practices. Jill is enthusiastic and easy to listen to, while her guests are an interesting and diverse lot. The most recent episode was in November, but the blog is active so I suspect a new episode soon.

The Stats

In Their Own Words

Jill Cloutier is an environmental educator, freelance writer, and videographer. Jill has been producing Sustainable World Radio since 2004. After surviving her early 20’s,  as a militant vegan, (“How could you eat that!?), and a “Voice of Doom”, (“Lester Brown says that we have 8 years left.”), Jill realized that it was much more fun to educate through laughter and positive energy than through guilt, fear, and gloom. What is Permaculture? Larry Santoyo (LS)- Coined in the early 1970s by Australian ecologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, Permaculture is a contraction of the words “permanent” and “culture.” Permaculture is a highly developed Art, Science, and a Philosophy- all in one.  Permaculture Design is a Community Planning and Land Use Planning system that mimics nature. It offers a natural, practical and inherently economical way to model the way we build and operate our homes and communities.

Recent Episodes

  • All Good Things Organic Seeds- A Conversation With Organic Farmer Justin Huhn
  • The REAL Green Revolution In Africa: Permaculture in Zimbabwe With Julious Piti
  • Urban Homesteading- Heirloom Skills and Permaculture

1. Mrs. Green’s World

Personality: Gina Murphy-Darling

What it Is

Gina Murphy-Darling started talking green in 2008, motivated by a speaker at a conference. This growing podcast started (and remains) on the radio as a weekly local 30-minute show. Mrs. Green’s World has expanded, now with a newsletter, blog, videos, and social media presence. The podcast has about 1,400 downloads each month. While there is a local southern Arizona-based slant to some of the discussions, the messages are applicable all over.

The Stats

In Their Own Words

Welcome to Mrs. Green’s World where we don’t tell you what to think, we just want you to. Join us each week to learn everything from simple tips to live green to living life in balance. You will hear cutting edge leaders from around the world share exciting information about energy, technology, automobiles, healthy living, fashion and so much more. Listen to Mrs. Green’s World live every Saturday at noon.”

Recent Episodes

  • A Planetary-wide Blueprint for the Future – Daniel Rirdan, author of The Blueprint, Averting Global Collapse
  • What Can You Learn from an Octopus? – Rafe Sagarin, PhD, Institute of Environment, University of Arizona
  • Southwest Airlines: Operating with the Green Filter –Laurel Moffat, Outreach Communication, Southwest Airlines

That’s all folks – happy listening!

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Happy Green Year!

14472145-new-year-2013-on-the-beachIn this new year, about half of adults make resolutions; many of us have resolved to lose weight, exercise more, and otherwise make improvements in ourselves.

According to history.com, the practice of making resolutions began about 4000 years ago, with the ancient Babylonians. They figured resolutions to pay off debts and return borrowed equipment would help them fare better with the gods.

The blog 43Things shares that, “a University of Washington study found 47 percent of the 100 million adult Americans who make resolutions give up on their goals after two months. This figure has grown to 80 percent in the past decade, according to recent research completed at the University of Minnesota.”

How can we keep resolutions? One of the Washington study’s lead researchers suggests:

  • Have a strong initial commitment to make a change.
  • Have coping strategies to deal with problems that will come up.
  • Keep track of your progress. The more monitoring you do and feedback you get, the better you will do.

Of course, there’s also an app for helping you keep resolutions.

And you are likely to fail when you are:

  • Not thinking about making resolutions until the last minute.
  • Reacting on New Year’s Eve and making your resolutions based on what’s bothering you or is on your mind at that time.
  • Framing your resolutions as absolutes by saying, “I will never do X again.”

What about green resolutions? None of these will change the world, but we can all help. I scoured the Internet for decent green resolutions, but none of the lists caught my attention. I’m not big on making resolutions – I try to live every day in a mindful way as much as I can. It’s better to do a little bit than nothing at all. So here is my reluctant list that I think is reasonable for about anyone to easily achieve in 2013:

  1. Grow something. Plant a tree or a tomato plant. It’s simple. Of course plant the big garden if you can; the food we grow ourselves is the best food we can eat.
  2. Educate yourself and others. Maybe you worry about climate change. Perhaps your passion is organic food or fighting GMOs. Learn something and teach others; you will benefit and so will others.
  3. Eat less meat. Better for the planet and for your health.
  4. Think of water as gold. Water is the key to our survival yet many of us take it for granted. Related to this – ditch bottled water because the plastic used for them is staggering.
  5. Buy less. What can be easier than not doing something?
  6. Of course, you have to buy some things. Buy fair trade and local. Go to the farmer’s markets and Join a CSA. And bring your own bags to the store!
  7. Read this blog.

Start whenever you want. Let others know what you’re doing. Let us know about your progress at themindfulconsumer [at] gmail [dot] com or on facebook.com/themindfulconsumer.

 

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Boxing Day is Really About Charity, Not Shopping

Yesterday was Boxing Day, which is the day after Christmas and is a day celebrated in all places British. Being a naïve American, I thought this was something about celebrating the sport, however it is instead akin to Black Friday in the U.S. — all about shopping.

According to BBC News, there were record numbers of online shoppers in the U.K. yesterday, and analysts have suggested that DIY and gardening will see the strongest performance in the retail sector in 2013, compared with 2012.

In Australia, says The Age, Boxing Day transactions rose by about 30 per cent from last year, according to data from National Australia Bank.

tzedakah2Yet Boxing Day might have had its origins in helping the poor. According to My Daily News, its origins are thought to date back to the late Roman era when Christians would leave a metal collection box outside of churches for the Feast of Saint Stephen. Later, in the Middle Ages in England, Boxing Day became popular as a day designated to give gifts to those who were poor, and fill boxes with money and presents for tradesmen.

As we focus on mindful consumption this time of year, it is important to help those in need. Regardless of your faith, whether it’s in the spirit of Christmas, Muslim zakat, or Jewish t’zedakah, as humans we should do our part to help those less fortunate.

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Moving Day

Moving can be green!

Ron and I have had to move every year for the last three years and I think I’ve become quite an expert at it. We are always trying to find more eco-friendly ways to move, so here are a few ways we saved money, and practiced sustainable ideas at the same time.

1. Packing supplies. Besides using our old newspapers, we also used some of the things we move as padding! Things like towels, blankets, and other things we need to move helped as padding for the packages- its free and it saves space. If you use a moving service, watch out for the ones that wrap everything in that non-reusable plastic wrap. Not only is it a hidden extra cost, it is not needed and gets thrown out immediately after you unpack.

2. Boxes. There are some really cool companies that rent plastic boxes, deliver them to your home, and pick them up at the new place. I would have loved to try one of these services, but I started packing a month before the move, so this wasn’t a viable option for me. There are lots of places to get free boxes, from Craigslist and Freecycle, to recycling bins behind shopping centers, to grocery and liquor stores. Some of my favorite size boxes are wine boxes from the liquor store, and I usually get quite a few good, free, used boxes from there. It may look to my neighbors that I am quite the party animal, as I carry wine box after wine box in the house, but I’m just being green! When you are done with your boxes, recycle them, or even better- pass them on to someone else who is moving.

3. Paring down. You will save your back, your space, and your sanity by using moving time as a way to get rid of stuff you don’t need or want. I consider trash as the last option for something I don’t want, but first I see if I can sell it, donate it, give it away, or recycle it. Someone is usually looking for exactly what I don’t want any more, and instead of stuff going in to the landfill, we can actually make a transfer of goods fairly easily.

4. Buying furniture. While looking for a new couch, a furniture salesman explained to us that the leather used in a couch was “green” because it was just the hyde from the cows that are used for meat. While Ron and I don’t eat meat, and thought that was a strange definition of green, there are ways to get more eco friendly furniture. Many companies are now specializing in more eco friendly materials, but my favorite eco-friendly furniture by far is used! I found two beautiful 1920’s wooden chairs at the thrift store (2 for $30) that, when looking up the maker’s mark, are beautiful American made furniture that sells for a pretty penny in the antique market- not even Ikea can beat those prices! You don’t need to go to an expensive antique store to get good furniture, often times I find it at second-hand shops. Check consignment shops, thrift shops, antique shops. By buying used you can save money, and there is zero carbon footprint for already produced items, and oftentimes furniture was made better years ago.

So beautiful, so green, so cheap!

While moving can be a pain, you can make it green by making some small changes in your actions. Move on!

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Earth Day 2012 – Appreciate First

It’s Earth Day. You can get a free reusable bag at Target. There’s activities commemorating our planet. Many of us are thinking about what we can and should do to help better our home.

There is so much to do. Climate change. Pollution. Energy depletion. Population growth. But step one is to appreciate. The sounds of birds chirping and waves sloshing the sands of the beach. The colors of the sunsets and feel of raindrops on your head. The glory of mountain peaks and the miracle of the tiny flower.

A mindful consumer thinks about what they eat, where it comes from, where the packaging ends up. Are the lights on in rooms where no one is? Does the temperature inside need to be that warm/cold? Do I really need to take that trip or can I combine it with another? All small stuff that we can each do.

Yet as important is to be aware that the Earth is a closed system with limited resources. As we enjoy its fruits and its beauty, we can show our appreciation every day, not just today.

And remember to use those free reusable bags!

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Benefits of Buying Local: Our Weekend Away

Ron and I went on a weekend away in Harrisonburg, Virginia after original plans went askew. Although we did not plan it this way, we sure did a lot of local buying on our mini weekend getaway. We stayed at a privately owned cabin (The Dry River Cabin http://www.vrbo.com/391297 ) and instead of talking with a woman behind the counter of a corporately owned hotel, we were greeted by the owner of the cabin, who had already gotten the fire in the fireplace started, and wanted to make sure we had a nice weekend. It was also so much cheaper than some hotel somewhere… or rather, the hotel would could have gotten for the price of the cabin would not be the type of hotel we’d WANT to relax in. Our cabin was comfy, one of a kind, and just the beginning of supporting local spending.

Our cabin had a full kitchen, and so we headed off to the farmer’s market to get a few things (http://harrisonburgfarmersmarket.com/ ). We were both surprised that in January, in Virginia, the farmer’s market was bustling with good stuff. Locally made raw-milk cheeses (my favorite), vegan lentil soup, and all those good earthy vegetables like radish, carrots, potatoes, and onions abound. I love Farmers Markets because you can ask questions (“What’s a kohlrabi? How do you cook it?”) straight to the farmers and producers. These farmers were bundled up on this frosty day, but there was loads of different things to buy, and everyone seemed to be in a great mood. Sometimes living in the Washington D.C. Area can get a person a little entitled, believing their particular area is where progress of the nation is, but I’ve got to say- their farmer’s market in January sure beat anything local in my area! After picking up the cheese, and soup, we also took home some sprouted grain bread, a sinful pecan bar, free range eggs, blackberry jam, potatoes, carrots, and onions. By buying these things locally, we were able to give the money straight to the producer of the goods, and getting the food local means fresher, healthier, and better food. Plus, it’s just plain old more fun than the grocery store. The local restaurant co-op that we only had the pleasure of one meal at had many items on the menu from local farms, plus a great vegetarian menu that made us both wish we could have had more meals there (http://littlegrillcollective.com/ ). A restaurant co-op means those who work in the restaurant own it, and the giant tip jar on the counter means the money is shared with everyone.

Later we stumbled upon a historical mill (http://silverlakemill.com/ )which had a gift shop with local artisan work. I brought home a rug made on a hand-loom from an 86 year old local woman who has been weaving since she was a child. The kicker is that it really wasn’t too much more expensive than its over-seas mass produced counterpart. I have to admit that I am an antique junkie and hardly a shop passed without at least a browse while we were there. The items I have in my house that always get the most comments are the antiques that I’ve found either at antique, or thrift shops. Antiques are great because they hold nostalgia, can be inexpensive depending on your fancy, create no carbon footprint as they are already produced, and its like a treasure hunt finding them. I walked in to The Pottery Barn the other day and could not believe the items that were meant to look like antiques that were more expensive than the actual antique, produced in China, and anyone could pick one up! Antique shops are independently owned, and your money goes straight to the seller. We stopped by a local winery (the third oldest in the state) (www.shentel.net/shenvine/) and it ended a perfect weekend of mindful spending.

A vacation (even a weekend away) is an opportunity to vote with your wallet. Instead of chain restaurants and grocery stores, we chose the farmers market, and individually owned restaurants and hotels. Instead of major retailers, we bought our souvenirs from local artists and antique shops. Shopping local makes sense for the economy, and it makes sense for the purchaser: many options were cheaper than their counterpart, and the money supported what we believed in. A few hundred dollars spent in corporations means little, but a few hundred dollars in to the local economy is truly tangible to the people who live there. Remember that every dollar spent is vote towards what we as consumers agree with.

 

*none of these places payed us to write about them in this article, nor is this really meant to be a commercial to any place in particular, I just included them because I enjoyed them. Local, wonderful shops with these values are everywhere, you just need to seek them out.

 

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