Archive for the 'Environmentalism' Category
Raccoon Clan is one of the programs available through “Her Feet On The Earth“, a non-profit with a “vision to help raise young people who are ready to meet life’s challenges and be of service in the world: youth who have a positive sense of themselves as young women and men; who know what their gifts are; feel deeply connected with nature; have strong community support; and are full of resilience and vitality.”
So what does Bella do at Raccoon Clan?
She explores the mysteries and wonders of nature.
She wanders along the stream banks.
She searches for good things to eat.
She makes tracks, plays games in the field and shares stories.
Each week she has new adventures and nourishes her connection with nature by learning about the animals, birds, plants and trees around her and learns important skills to help her feel at home in nature, such as fire making, navigation, shelter building, archery, and more. (paraphrased from HFOTE)
We drop her off at 9:00 a.m. and pick her up at 3:00 p.m. There is a tipi on the land and so much beauty to explore. Lorene and Mary are fantastic with all of the kids and so mindful about what they are teaching.
I have noticed such a difference in her level of independence and how she interacts with others…and she LOVES her new friends there. She talks about going all week and loves packing her lunch for the big day. As you can see from the photo below…she’s pretty excited about it.
We are thrilled to have found this program and hope to continue in it for a long time.
I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of repurposing clothing, particularly T-shirts. I say obsessed with the IDEA because I don’t actually ever DO any of this said repurposing. But that’s about to change. We got this book. And we like to look at the pretty pictures.
And as soon as I locate a sewing machine, Bella and I all will be all over this!
Until then, I give you…my friend Christine. She is hilarious. And she’s crafty. Check out this short and sweet video, where she combines all of her superhero skills to make a rad t-shirt.
When we were in San Francisco, I picked up the May 2008 edition of Common Ground magazine and found this interesting list of stats compiled by Jenny Rough. I found them really interesting and in some cases quite crazy (like the 2nd one!). They will make you think.
Americans who suffer from hoarding or clutter.
Percentage of things Americans own that they never use.
Number of shoes thrown into landfills in the U.S. each year (donate them to www.giveshoes.org instead).
Percentage of retired personal computers that were recycled in 2001 (visit www.techsoup.com for info on donating computer hardware).
Percent of employed people of recycle at home (yet only 49 percent recycle at work).
Number of items needed for “zen-cleansing” (baking soda, borax, lemon, salt, and white vinegar).
Percent more headaches experienced by pregnant women who use air fresheners and aerosol cans at home.
Number of plastic bags grocery stores and pharmacies go through each year (San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban large grocery stores and pharmacies from using them).
Sources: treehugger.com, soles4souls.org, techsoup.org, Rastad USA survey, The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing, New Scientist, Newsweek.
Some thoughts I’ve had lately about these 3 little words.
Reducing our consumption (and not just recycling after we consume) is one of the most important things we can do to make a difference. It takes self-control, but once you start to work on mastering your consumer-driven desires, it gets easier.
We’ve been living in the RV just over 2 weeks, and I am keenly aware of my obsession with reducing. If there is something that is not serving an immediate purpose, it’s gone. Nothing is safe! We’ve done two more downsizing sessions since we moved in. The first one consisted of mostly clothes and the second of household items. It feels so good to see open space in my cupboards and to have room to move my clothes around in the closet.
I am also very aware of what is coming into the RV. Even when we lived in the apartment, if I brought some new stuff home, I could just toss it in the closet and deal with it later. Now, I have to deal with it immediately, because if I put it on the couch, where will we sit?! I rarely even have the desire to go to stores, or garage sales anymore…because I know that if I end up finding something I “need”, I will have to come back and find a place for it. Which, when everything already has a place and there is not a lot of empty space, is a little difficult. So I am content to make do with what I already have and when a need arises, I am better able to determine if it is truly a need.
I love Klean Kanteens. We all have our own and we use them everyday, all day. In fact, most of the time, we don’t even use cups at meals…just our water bottles! Because we can just re-fill over and over without washing, it reduces the number of dishes. This is a good thing. I take it with me everywhere and I will fill it up at random drinking fountains and in public restrooms. When we go to somewhere to eat…for example, Subway, I take it and fill it up with their water instead of taking their disposable cup.
Bottled water is super popular among RV’ers because many people don’t trust their tank water. We have a Pur water filter on the faucet and as long as we filled up our tank from a tested source…we drink it. But if you have access to safe filtered tap water at home and on the town…drink it! Well, unless you live in Iowa which probably has the most contaminated water in the nation from all of the pig farms (check out this map!). The tap water/bottled water scandals have been all over the news lately. Here are some interesting tidbits on the topic from Colin at No Impact Man.
There are many coffeeshops switching to biodegradable cups in an effort to be more earth-friendly. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite spots in Bozeman put out a recycling bin for all of their plastic cups. But even though it’s a step in the right direction…it doesn’t solve the problem…the waste is still there. On my last trip to the Ecopolitan in Minneapolis, I was excited to see that they were requiring the purchase of a glass jar when you bought a smoothie to-go. You had to pay $1 for the jar/cup and you could either keep it, or bring it back in for a credit. It’s ideas like this that need to stick…they may seem radical to the general public, but until we start to realize how much disposable junk we use everyday, the landfills will just continue to grow.
It’s been a little more difficult to recycle while traveling, because I’m never sure where the next drop-off site will be. But it’s working good so far. Whenever I am flattening a box or washing out a can to recycle…I am usually thinking “did I really need that in the first place?”. And the answer most often is no. Again, along the lines of REDUCING before even getting to this step, I want to buy products with less packaging, boxes, plastic, etc. on them. If you must buy something in plastic, try to remember to check the recycle number BEFORE you buy it. I’m always annoyed when I get something home and realize that it’s a #5 plastic, which is not recycled in a lot of areas.
I’m soooo far from perfect in all of these areas…but try hard to be mindful of my actions and how they effect others, and if I mess up…I just start fresh the next day.
What are some of your own thoughts about these 3 little words?
I picked up the Sunday edition of the New York Times a few months ago and I was hooked. The stories are diverse and
the writing is superb. Of course, I am an information junkie…so others who read it might not be so easily enthralled I thrive on learning new and exciting things. My heart literally races as I read facts that have never entered my thoughts before (disclaimer: nearly all traditional media outlets are owned by huge conglomerates and are biased…so always read with a critical eye!).
The article that jumped out and called to me was “Buying into the Green Movement”. I laughed out loud as I read the introductory paragraph:
“Here’s one popular vision for saving the planet: Roll out from under the sumptuous hemp-fiber sheets on your bed in the morning and pull ona pair of $245 organic cotton Levi’s and an Armani biodegradable knit shirt.
Stroll from the bedroom in your eco-McMansion, with it’s photovoltaic solar panels, into the kitchen remodeled with reclaimed lumber. Enter the 3-car garage lighted by energy-sipping fluorescent bulbs and slip behind the wheel of your $104,000 Lexus Hybrid.
Drive to the airport, where you settle in for an 8,000 mile flight–careful to buy carbon offsets beforehand–and spend a week driving golf balls made from compacted fish food at an eco-resort in the Maldives.”
The article goes on to say that even though there are so many eco-friendly products for you to buy…buying them does NOT necessarily make the earth more happy. You are still consuming. When you consume, those resources have to come from somewhere. Is it more earth-friendly to keep your non-organic, yet still comfortable cotton sheets until they wear out, or to buy brand new organic cotton sheets? When you buy the new sheets, cotton needs to be harvested and shipped to a manufacturer. The manufacturer makes the sheets which requires electricity, water, and numberless other items. Then the sheets are shipped in (most likely) a gas-guzzling semi (oh wait…maybe it’s a biodiesel semi ).
Basically, what they are saying is that the “green consumerism movement” is not so green after all. When you buy a lot of new things to be more “green”…you could be adding to the problem. However, in my opinion, there is an exception when you are buying something that is health related AND it’s more green. For example…should I just continue using my Nalgene bottles when there is evidence that they aren’t good for your body? No…you should run as fast as you can and buy some stainless steel water bottles. Or, should I just continue to use up my nasty chemical cleaners or use natural cleaners right away? My choice would be to get rid of them immediately (or donate them to someone or some place who hasn’t seen the eco-light yet ) Should you throw out all of your old clothes and only buy organic, natural fiber clothing? Probably not. Everyone will have a different opinion on what is right for them…just be mindful of your own choices.
Back to the article:
Paul Hawken, an author and longtime environmental activist, said the current boom in earth-friendly products offers a false promise. “Green consumerism is an oxymoronic phrase,” he said. He blamed the news media and marketers for turning environmentalism into fashion and distracting from serious issues.
“We turn toward the consumption part because that’s where the money is,” Mr. Hawken said. “We tend not to look at the ‘less’ part. So you get these anomalies like 10,000-foot ‘green’ homes being built by a hedge fund manager in Aspen. Or ‘green’ fashion shows. Fashion is the deliberate inculcation of obsolescence.”
He added: “The fruit at Whole Foods in winter, flown in from Chile on a 747 — it’s a complete joke. The idea that we should have raspberries in January, it doesn’t matter if they’re organic. It’s diabolically stupid.”
Basically, you just want to use common sense. Make the right choice for yourself and your family, but don’t do it just to be trendy. Just because it says it’s “eco-friendly” on the package doesn’t mean it meets your own personal standards. Just because it’s at your local coop doesn’t mean the food didn’t come from overseas. Be diligent in educating yourself about what exactly you are purchasing. Where did it come from? Who made it? Why do I need this?
When it comes to celebrities touting green lifestyles, etc…I want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. It’s a given that there are many companies and individuals who will use the green movement to make money (greenwashing), get their name out there, etc. And there are a lot of people who will say how those people aren’t “green enough” or they have other motives. I say…who cares?! Whether they have pure motives or not, they are still spreading the word about living greener and lighter on the earth. Even if one person is inspired to make a change in their lifestyle, all of those little changes will add up to big change.
A perfect example of this is the Live Earth event that happened on 07/07/07. If you haven’t heard about it…this event was a worldwide concert spotlighting green living and fighting global warming. Yes, there were celebrities. Yes, they will probably sell more albums because they performed at Live Earth. BUT…think of all of the concert-goers who heard the message of living greener who may have never even thought about it before! Just for that single fact, it was a wonderful event.
How green are you? Are you light green? Dark green? Sage green? Who cares. That’s silly It’s not a change that you make overnight…you make little changes, one at a time. Let’s not judge anyone on how green they are compared to anyone else. Let’s just make our own changes and encourage others in their journey as well.
Summer is the perfect time to eat outside and create community. I love eating with friends…and eating OUTSIDE with friends is even better. However, summertime is notorious for creating mounds and mounds of party trash. My friend, Rebecca, is throwing a “Stop Global Warming” Party this month. What a great way to create awareness and have fun! I encourage all of you to throw your own “Earth Party”! Here are a few things you could incorporate:
- Encourage party-goers to ride their bikes, walk, or carpool.
- Have everyone bring their own non-disposable plates, cups (or water bottles) and utensils.
- Have speakers from local environmental groups (Rebecca has the Sierra Club Student Coalition coming to hers)
- Make it a vegetarian potluck…meat production is a huge problem for the environment!
- Serve organic, raw fruits and veggies
- Have a tree planting ceremony
- Send invites by email to avoid paper trash
Have a great time at your Earth Parties…I’d love to hear how they go!
Filed under: Activism, Alternative Housing, Environmentalism, Friends, Green Living, Photography, Simplifying
I’ve been gone a long time…but I’m back with a really exciting announcement! Matt, Bella, and I are going on tour! We have recently purchased an RV that will run on straight vegetable oil, and we are going to travel around the U.S. for the next year.
Wait a minute! Did you say veggie oil?! Yes. FREE waste vegetable oil…the same kind that your eggroll was fried in for lunch. Pumped straight from behind your local Thai/Chinese/Fast Food restaurant into our tank (filtered of course). I am writing this post from Springfield, MO, home of Golden Fuel Systems. Golden Fuel Systems converts any diesel engine to run on veggie oil…and we are so excited to be a part of this alternative fuel movement.
BUT…I NEED YOUR HELP! We have a rough route mapped out…but we want to base our travels on YOU! I would love to come and meet you face to face…and also have you assist us in finding green/sustainable/alternative fairs, coops, and other educational opportunities in your local areas. We are going to be looking for companies/organizations to sponsor our educational tour as well.
While we are on the road, we will still need to make some money to live. I am going to be scheduling photo shoots in each area that we stop in. For those of you that could assist in getting the word out in your town…I will give you a significant discount on your own photos. You can see some of my portrait sessions here. I will also be available to help you simplify, downsize, and/or decorate your homes! Matt will assist by doing any handiwork/painting around your house.
If you are interested in adding your town to our tour…please contact me immediately and we’ll start talking details! We are planning to leave in late August/early September.
We just launched our new website today with many more details of what I have just shared… and we will be detailing the entire journey on that site. Check it out here: http://www.livelightlytour.com
Wheeeeeee! We are so excited to hit the road!
Greetings from the middle of Nebraska! We are at camp this week, and I am without a consistent Internet connection. I wanted to quickly post this reminder about Low Impact Week, which begins on June 1 and runs through June 7. Here are a few specific tips from Crunchy Chicken to get you started…please check her site out for more information.
For those of you who want to be more “green”, but don’t know where to begin, this “challenge” is a great starting point. You can do ANYTHING for one week, right? Just choose one item from each category (on her site) to start…and hopefully after that, some of these habits will remain for longer. Be sure to report your progress here (and on your blog of course!).
You can also check out Greenpa’s Planet Party (yes, Greenpa is the guy who doesn’t have a fridge!) and the ladies at Simple Living and Casaubon’s Book are hosting Lowering 93%. It’s so encouraging to see this grassroots movement taking place…everyone’s little actions add up to BIG CHANGE!
I’ll be starting to blog more again after June 5…see you then!
I have always loved bicycles. This love started out with the brand new blue and white Schwinn from my grandparents when I was 7 years old. Then it was the pink ten- speed Huffy. In my pre-teenage years, my friends and I used to ride around on my vintage tandem Schwinn. That was crazy stuff. Life was good. And then cars entered into the scene and stole my bicycle love. Somehow, riding around town in my 1977 White Toronado was more fun than a bike. But never fear, my bicycle love has returned full force.
Why do I love to ride? There is just something about arriving at my destination by pedaling that excites me. I love the wind in my face when I go down hills and the bugs that get stuck in my eyes when I ride too late at night. Nothing gives me greater joy than transporting my groceries via bicycle (our coop gives $5.00 off for every 10 times you ride/walk there ). Bella really likes riding in her Burley. Getting exercise without even thinking about it is a plus…and not having to find a parking spot is one of the best things in life.
I think that I could live and thrive without a car. Even in the winter? Yes! Many people continue to bike throughout the winter…installing “snow tires” and dressing for the cold. Bikes are everywhere in Bozeman. It’s so fun to ride around on a Friday night and see bikes parked everywhere, even at the “fancier” restaurants. The only thing that is lacking are completely separate bike lanes, which would be helpful. Bozeman is not quite as “bike friendly” as a town like Boulder, CO , but they’re coming around. The town is still small and slow enough where I feel relatively safe sharing the road with cars on city streets. Most drivers are respectful of your right to ride on the road.
Those of you that live in the suburbs, I feel for ya. We are visiting my family back in Des Moines right now and everything is so far away! I rode my bike to the Farmer’s Market with Bella and it took 40 minutes one way. Wow! There are many things within biking distance (malls, restaurants, etc), but it’s just not “bike friendly”. When I ride my bike up to a store, people look at me like a have something growing from my head. As I was walking up to unlock my bike from the rack one day, I overheard a little girl say to her mom…”Why would someone ride their bike to the store?!”. It was also a strange dichotomy to ride my bike alongside the Hummers (please don’t run me over! ). Overall, Des Moines is a great city to bike in…and they have a lot of great events happening this week for “Bike to Work Week“. This week, across the nation, thousands of people are riding instead of driving. Wheeeee!
With gas prices as they are right now ($3+ a gallon!) and the greater focus on green living, I suspect you will see more and more cities becoming “bicycle friendly“. Large metropolitan cities have always been more focused on bikes than the suburbs…by necessity. In the suburbs, you find trails that take you around in circles for a pretty ride (which is fun too), but in the city, you actually go places on your bike. I’ve always had the secret dream of being a bicycle messenger (like Puck on the Real World..but with less falling down). If I ever did start my little bike business…I would definitely be getting one of these sweet rides:
Aren’t those amazing!? I love the “Pedal Pick-Up“. It just goes to show that you CAN move some big stuff with a bike! If you don’t want to spend quite as much, you can make your own trailer. Cruisers are gaining popularity…I love the colors and designs on this one. I’m trying not to be jealous of Aimee who got this cruiser for her birthday…and Andrea who got one for Mother’s Day. Beautiful bikes!
This week, I challenge you to CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Ride your bike! Ride for fun. Ride to the store. Ride for exercise. Ride to remind people that cars aren’t the only option.
How to Live Well Without a Car
Why I Ride: The Art of Bicycling in New York (download the catalog for some fun reading)
I came across this interesting art installation (saw it on Thought Kitchen) and just had to pass it along. Be sure to read the amazing and disturbing statistics with each photo set. You can think about these numbers in your head, but to see it laid out in photo form is crazy. 2.5 million plastic bottles used every hour? That’s just mind-boggling.