Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 25 - Get Mamma Nature a new bra?

So perhaps Mother Nature doesn't actually need a brassiere to hold up her lovely mountains, but supporting her in other ways is going to help make this world a better place.  Today I thought about how important it is to support all the mama's out there trying to make a difference (and dada's, sister's, friends.) 

For today's eco challenge I am going to make sure I am supporting a friend who just co-started an organic eco-friendly lip balm business.  You are also making a difference by supporting a mama by reading this blog!  Thank you. 

And if you want to help support my friend check out her products on Amazon, just search for Mama Purist. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 24 - how's the air out there?

For the first time in as long as I can remember (about 9 months back currently...) it was hot in the Northwest yesterday.  Okay, so it was only like 75 degrees out, but that is a big step up for us!  I got into my car about mid-afternoon and went straight for the air conditioning.  After just a few minutes I realized, wait, here is another one of those decisions I make throughout the day without putting any thought into how it might affect the environment.  I turned the air off and rolled down my window.  I forgot how nice it feels to have fresh air cooling you off when the convenience of air conditioning seems to be the default choice.  I know there are times when air conditioning might feel necessary, but try to remember the next time you are in your car to roll down your windows and enjoy the feel of the outside air!

Happy Summer everyone

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 23 - back in the saddle again

Such a long lapse in writing, thank you so much for those who encouraged me to get back in the saddle and continue the cause.  I became derailed in my writing due to a short vacation.  Isn't it funny how a long weekend can take you away from an exercise routine, a diet, a new habit you are trying to form?  It also took the baby back to a state of non-sleep which might explain the lack of writing...

Now on to the creation of daily habits.  Has anyone noticed the culture of fear that the media is (and has been) creating regarding nature?  It's interesting as a parent to see how nature and natural things are portrayed in the media towards children and towards providing for our children.  From the threat of organic veggies being tainted to cartoons depicting the forests as a scary place full of villainous creatures no wonder we have such a disconnected relationship with nature.  Perhaps the newest habit is to break down some of these myths and be more aware of the balance of reality and myth. 

Yes, it is important to understand the risks but risks are everywhere but they need to be balanced.  What about the benefits of non-pesticide soaked food?  Or the benefit to learning to enjoy a peaceful moment watching wildlife or exploring a new trail?  I have had the joy of watching my four year old getting into the dirt to capture a worm or a potato bug and stare in fascination at it wriggling around. 

So go out and find some worms this week and try to remember that joy and quiet wonder you used to experience daily as a child.  This is the start of a new connection to nature. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 22 - creativity in repurposing

At work on Friday I found an empty gift box on my desk.  It turns out that as I have been doing these little things to encourage reduction of waste and reusing resources at work people have started to pay attention.  As this gift box was on its way to the garbage bin someone put it on my desk to see if I could find a new use for it.  Although I am not hoping for all garbage to end up on my desk, it was exciting to think of the endless possibilities of finding new uses for our everyday items. 

Ideas for finding new uses for items you might not be using anymore:
old jewelery, scarves, buttons, random decorative items - Maybe it's just me, but I love to take these things, cut them up into new designs and hot glue them on to blank headbands.  I have an assortment to wear on my own and the others can be given away as gifts (if you know anyone who is willing to sport gaudy headpieces on a daily basis...)
clothes that aren't in good enough shape for goodwill - first I check if something is worth giving to goodwill for someone else to use, but if it torn or stained I try to think of other purposes before throwing away.  Cut into strips as rags, or use the strips to do some old school hair rolling (like curlers but takes longer...)  Other uses are making braided rugs, braided belts, or guitar straps out of longer strips of fabric.  Not too long ago I cut the sleeves off of some plaid shirts and lined them with fleece to make fingerless gloves.
cardboard boxes, wrapping paper tubes, misc cardboard - make a fort, a car, a spaceship or house for your kids.  And if you don't have kids, why not make one for yourself?  It provides a little more use before these head to the recycle bin.

What other ideas do you have?  There are endless suggestions at Etsy as well, try looking up a new use for something before you throw it away!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 21 - my new baggies

I am not going to try and keep track of how many days I missed blogging this week, I will just start where I left off.  It has been a challenging week as the baby was sick and the weekend was busy.  But here I am, back at it again. 

I received my re-use-it bags in the mail yesterday and was giddy to use them today.  The kid's lunch was packed in his usual lunch box, but instead of plastic baggies that would be thrown away he had his snacks in adorable cloth bags with guitars on them.  He was tickled when he saw how they velcro shut.  I sported my very trendy "This is not a paper bag" paper bag looking reusable bag today and got several compliments.  Don't you love when eco-conscious crosses with trendy fashion item?  Okay, maybe not, as that is what has gotten us in this pickle in the first place, right?  At least the current fad is somewhat productive on a consciousness level.  I digress.

Good news is, I love my little lunch baggies and it makes me want to pack a lunch which will reduce waste and will save me some money by bringing food instead of eating out.  Note to anyone going to try and switch your family to something like this, do NOT try to convince your husband that it is worth buying these because they are cheaper than Ziploc.  When I tried to explain how the average American spends $85 a year on sandwich bags I got laughed at for a long time, apparently we only spend a few latte's worth on our baggies.  I suggest going with the eco-friendly argument or the "I will eat out less" argument, it might work better. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 20 - baggie blues

I am not blue at all about the order I just placed for reuseit snack baggies and lunch baggies.  Great idea sent to me by my dear friend Nikki.  Thank you! 

BUT, the blues do hit when you learn what all those little sandwich bags lead to.  I learned today the following facts at
  • The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually at an estimated cost to retailers of $4 billion. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The extremely slow decomposition rate of plastic bags leaves them to drift on the ocean for untold years. According to Algalita Marine Research Foundation, these plastic bags cause the death of many marine animals (fish, sea turtles, etc.), every year when animals mistake them for food.
  • Numbers were kept on 43 different types of refuse. Cigarette butts were the most common. Plastic bags came in second. (Ocean Conservency, 2008)
  • When plastics break down, they don't biodegrade; they photodegrade. This means the materials break down to smaller fragments which readily soak up toxins. They then contaminate soil, waterways, and animals upon digestion.
  • Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up to harvest them. These are then woven and sold as hats and (more durable) bags.
 Ouch, huh?  Once again it comes down to convenience and awareness.  I totally loved checking out this website as there are a ton of facts and they have a whole section of DIY ideas that are earth friendly.  I am definitely going to spend more time on this site and I can't wait to get my adorable kid friendly snack bags in a few days.  I got the ones with guitars on them for the kiddo and a cute lunch bag for myself.  Now to make the transition to reusable baggies for more than just grocery shopping. 

Anyone else going to go bagless? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 18 and 19 - digging a little deeper

I can't claim to have done a whole lot of new and different things the last two days, but I have been working hard on digging deeper into the core of me and trying to figure out where I got so far off track.  It used to be the norm for me to buy all my clothes and furniture second hand, look for ways to conserve resources better, spend my free time out on trails or adventuring in the snow and use my time and energy to make the earth a better place.  Something has happened to pull me away from those values.  Now I am a mom, at a time where I feel it is so important to be exemplifying these behaviors, and I am doing no such thing. 

Is it the lack of time and energy as you get sucked into the daily insanity of juggling a family and a full time job?  Is it the instant gratification I get from buying something shiny and new, a treat for working so hard and sacrificing so much?  But why have I gone so far as treating myself for the sacrifice of those things I used to hold so dear?  Writing this blog and changing my priorities are a new way to 'treat' myself and to stop having to give up so much. 

New priorities:
1. Teach my children how to enjoy Nature and the importance of conservation and preservation. 
2. Exemplify by spending more time outside.  Awareness is the entry to Action.
3. Have fun again...  

How about everyone gets outside and has a little fun playing in the dirt.  It's a great reminder to not take everything so seriously.