Celebrating Earth Day – A Year of Green Living

Earth Day is Every Day!

You hear this phrase all the time.  In one very important sense, it’s true.  We should be considering our impact on our planet home every day, with all of our decisions.  But is there any value in actually taking time out to celebrate a single “Earth Day” each year?  Yes, I believe there is.

Like any holiday, celebrations remind us of things that are important to us that we may have lost track of in our busy schedules.  Celebrations help us rejoice and come together as communities with shared values.  So I believe it’s well worth taking note on April 22nd of all the activities that effect our environment and having a little fun together in the process.

So, what should you do for Earth Day?

Attend a Fair or Festival
Many conscious businesses, artists and organizations spend a lot of time and effort to set up earth day festivals.  So check one out.  Learn, mingle and just enjoy all of the effort.

The Earth Day Network has a Find an Event in Your Area option.
The EPA has a small listing of Earth Day events.
Events12 has listings of all fairs and festivals for a number of larger cities.

The best way to find a local event is to do a web search using your city name, check with your local paper or contact your city hall.

Here in Oregon, I’ll be attending the Portland State University Earth Day Festival on Friday.  It’s free and located along the PSU Park Blocks.  On Saturday, the Oregon Gardens is offering free admission for it’s Earth Day event.

Volunteer
There are so many beach, trail and forest clean-up efforts centered around Earth Day.  This is a great time to chip in a few hours, get outside, and meet up with other caring folks.  While there’s no single website or link that covers every area, a quick web search should point you in the right direction for a local event.

For example “Oregon Earth Day Clean Up” produced these helpful links:
EarthShare Oregon Volunteer Opportunities
SOLVE Oregon’s Environmental Clean Up

Donate
Chip in a few hard-earned bucks to an environmental charity.  There are so many great organizations, you can definitely find one that resonates with your values.  Charity Navigator rates charities based on how they use funds that are collected.  It’s a great way to ensure the charity you give to is using your money wisely.  The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Guide also helps donors make more informed giving decisions.

Vote for the Environment
The League of Conservation Voters is a non-partisan, political action group that “works to turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities.” Check them out to find out how your elected representatives are voting when it comes to the environment.

Contact your Congressperson and Representatives to let them know you’re pro-environment.

Get Outside and Enjoy the Day
The single best thing you can do for the environmental is to get outside.  People fight to protect what they love, and they only love what they know.  So go introduce yourself to the beautiful places in your area.

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Black Friday, Small Business Saturday… WTF Wednesday

As a conscious business owner, I get a little conflicted this time of year.  While we definitely want folks buying sustainable gifts, and organic clothing fits the bill nicely of course, it’s hard to condone or to ignore the commercialism that comes this time of year.  And yet, we count on the extra holiday sales to keep our books balanced.

 
On a completely unrelated topic, I’ve gotten a lot of eco-living questions lately unrelated to clothing.  Many people assume that since I know a lot about eco-fashion, that I might have done a little research on greening other parts of life.  So I was just pondering the idea of highlighting some of my favorite conscious businesses in the blog for next year. 
 
Then lo and behold, as a little holiday miracle, the following gem just landed in my personal inbox today from the awesome organic coffee company, Dean’s Beans.  Here it is in it’s entirety.

Black Friday,
Small Business Saturday…
WTF Wednesday


My first sit-down, face-to-face meeting with Dean was supposed to last 10 to 15 minutes. It was my intention to pitch him on my experience, explain away the inadequacies in my resume, and impress him with my innovative pseudo-millennial-tampered-with-an-old-soul approach to marketing. Within moments of meeting him, the resume was pushed to the side, my stress about finding the proper number of professional references was put to rest when he quickly called a former coworker of mine (whom he had known for 30 years), and told me that he didn’t doubt her judgement of my character. The conversation, very naturally, and very quickly, turned into a thorough examination of my soul.

Dean’s Beans, as I have come to know the company, carries itself like a man who has just seen his doctor and been given a few months left to live. There is a fundamental focus on the soul of the company, the legacy we are leaving behind, and the quality of the relationships that we are building. No one enters into an unmeaningful relationship in the final moments of their life. They don’t have the time, and every moment must be savored and spent with the people that are as excited about you as you are about them. Dean’s Beans as a company is alive and well, but as a company, they carry themselves as if every move is the defining moment of their legacy. It has to be ethical, it has to build meaningful relationships, and it has to feed the company’s soul.

Now, what does any of this have to do with the mad dash of consumerism that takes place after Thanksgiving?

Having had my soul thoroughly examined by every member of Dean’s team at his beanery in Orange, I was hired and given the title of Chief Media Magnet. As the go-to guy for all things marketing, I immediately extended my brain to the opportunities that the holiday season provides. I even began composing tweets, email blasts, and other social media pieces about the importance of supporting this amazing company in the holiday season- especially during the feeding-frenzy of online shopping at the end of November and beginning of December.

Except that none of it felt right.

 Black Friday has reached an almost comical level of chaos in most stores, to the point where REI publicly announced that they aren’t participating this year… ironically the publicity has been a major boon for the company, and others like Nordstrom have followed suit and are making beaucoup bucks. Small Business Saturday is getting a ton of love this year from congress, the president, and small business owners world-wide. BUT IT WAS CREATED AND CONCEIVED BY AMERICAN EXPRESS IN 2010! There is a foul odor emanating from any “selfless” promotion propagated by a huge corporation like American Express.

Now all of this isn’t to say that that these days of shopping are intrinsically evil. Thousands of small, wonderful businesses really benefit from this time of year, and this increased exposure. Heck- we sure do! But to ally ourselves with them? It feels like that’s a dicey defining moment to our legacy, and I now judge all of my actions by that company standard.

Therefore- I propose that you celebrate WTF Wednesday with us this year. It’s a wonderful way for you to plant your tongue firmly in your cheek, all while supporting the stores that you want to support. We are able to engage in meaningful, direct development work all across the coffeelands, partly due to the sales we make this time of year. We are so incredibly grateful that our customers have given us the opportunity to operate in this way- and we know that as we seek out only truly meaningful relationships, you are all a huge part of that.

As the newest member of the Dean’s Beans family, I want to thank you for feeding my soul.

Drink Deep.

Robin Stewart DeMartino
(the new guy)

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Greening Your Whole Life: The Turtle Approach

Happy 2014!  You’ve made it through another year and you may already be tackling a list of resolutions.  I’m here to tell you to toss out that list.  Instead, I’d like you to consider this ridiculously slow (and permanent) way to go green and healthy forever.

I used to make loads of New Years Resolutions and, like most other folks, I’d be down to working on just one or two (if any) by February.  It’s hard to change everything overnight.  Especially if the night before was a drunken debacle – or at least a late night with a few too many glasses of wine.  

Long before I became a vegan, before I owned an organic clothing shop, before I washed my hair with mud, I was an everyday woman who wanted to green up my life a little and get healthier.  Pretty simple.  Each year I’d make my list and then end up giving most of it up.

That is until one year, I decided to address just one thing

That first year, I took on household cleaners.  That’s it.  I dedicated the entire year to greening up my household cleaners.  There was no big rush on January 1st and nothing overwhelming.  It was just this: as I ran out of each cleaner, I would take the time to checkout what’s in it, what shouldn’t be in it and what I could get to replace it. 

Over the course of 12 months, I switched my laundry detergent, stopped using dryer sheets, got rid of everything with bleach or ammonia in it and effectively changed the look of my cleaning closet.  Of course, it got easier with each cleaner.  I got to know brands I liked and could trust and automatically went to those first when the next cleaner ran out.  The beauty of that concept, was that nothing was wasted.  I didn’t throw a bunch of stuff out on January 1.  I simply switched when I would need to replace anyway.

The next year, I decided to switch out my beauty products.  I found new soaps, lotions, deodorants (that was the hardest one) and hair care.  I purchased my first wood-bristle brush.

The year after that was make-up, which I rarely use anyway.  But I looked into natural mascara, non-toxic lipstick (you shouldn’t have to poison yourself just to look good), and natural mineral powder blush and foundation.

You get the idea.  Just one thing.  Each year.  Consistently.  Food, clothing, cleaners, cosmetics, car, kids toys, you name it.  Even food changes weren’t overwhelming. 

One year, I committed to just consciously looking at the ingredients in every packaged item I purchased.  That’s it.  I could still buy whatever I wanted, but read the ingredients to learn.

The next year I committed to stop eating anything with high fructose corn syrup. 

The thing is, if you have the entire year to make just one commitment, it works.  Living a healthy, green life is great, but you don’t have to (nor would you really want to) change everything all at once. 

I know there’s a lot of change-your-life advice that comes out every January.  I recommend not changing your life.  Just pick one small thing and work it in to what you’re already doing.  By the end of the year, it will be so ingrained you won’t have to think about it any more.  And then you’ll be ready for the next thing.

That’s it.  One small step, taken slowly, will help you be a better you each year than you were the year before. 

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It’s that time again… Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

I had planned on doing a post about eco-wrapping later this holiday season.  Today I was going to write a bit about the first ever Eco-Model, Rachel Avalon, who won the Project Green Search eco-model competition.  I had the chance to meet Rachel very briefly last week at the first ever Green Bloggers Convention.  (On a side note, it’s thrilling to see all these new environmentally-focused events popping up.  More and more people are taking action to dance lightly on our planet.)

To my surprise, while I was looking for an introduction on Rachel, I found this fantastic little video that she produced on… you guessed it… eco-friendly gift wrapping.  So here’s Rachel introducing herself better than I ever could with some awesome green holiday tips.

In addition to all of Rachel’s great ideas, one of my personal favorites is wrapping gifts with the Sunday comics section.  If you happen to have any old maps lying around, they also make great wrapping paper. 
Reusable gift bags are good in a pinch as well.  Although many of them are made from virgin materials, well made ones can be used again and again.  I’ve had some holiday gift bags pass back and forth between family members for years.  Just fold them after use and store them for next year.
We offer a selection of tree-free gift bags made from a mix of kenaf, hemp, sugar cane, flax and recycled materials that will last through many gift exchanges.


If your child is asked to sell gift wrap through a school or event fundraiser, be sure to mention to the coordinator that you’d like to see recycled gift wrap on offer next year.  Many of the fundraising companies don’t receive a lot of requests or feedback, so letting them know what you would purchase can really make a difference.  If you have a chance to write or e-mail the company directly, take it.

As a final thought, if you’re purchasing any holiday gifts from FaeriesDance.com, you can always have us gift wrap them for you using 100% recycled apparel boxes (65% post-consumer) with 100% post-consumer recycled tissue paper and 100% post-industrial recycled kraft gift wrap finished with natural raffia ribbon.  New for this holiday, we just got in this festive tree motif recycled kraft wrapping paper design.

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Swap Your Halloween Costume this Sat, Oct 10

Folks who live in Los Angeles have a unique opportunity to swap their old Halloween costumes with other eco-savvy swappers.  Swap-O-Rama-Rama is hosting a Halloween costume swap in Venice, CA.  What a great way to reduce our holiday footprint.  You can also bring pre-loved clothing items and swap them for new-to-you fashions – a true eco-fashion initiative.  Both adult and children’s costumes are welcome.

After you’ve found your treasure, design stations are set up where you can hem, silk screen or appliqué your new clothing to make it unique to you.  What a fun idea!  Here are the details:

Saturday October 10, 2009, 12 noon to 5pm
Swap-O-Rama-Rama – Halloween Costume and General Clothing

Venice Center for Peace with Justice and the Arts,
located at Venice United Methodist Church
2210 Lincoln Blvd (at Victoria, just north of Venice Blvd)
Venice, Ca 90291

For more information, visit: http://www.hiplinemedia.com/swaporamarama.html

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