Monthly Archives: May 2014

Looking At My Plastic Waste Footprint

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Last week I began to take an honest look at the plastic waste I generate.  I have been reading the book, Plastic-Free by Beth Terry (highly recommended), because of my desire to eliminate plastic– something I consider to be a huge environmental hazard.  Her book includes an exercise (Plastic Trash Challenge), which is also on her blog,  to assess and truly get present with the amount of plastic waste we generate, both recyclable and non-recyclable.  Anyone, care to join me?

I have been on my green journey for years and, perhaps, some people would consider me a little hardcore. So, as you can imagine, I was both humbled and surprised to see how much plastic waste I generated this past week– me the super greenie.  To be fair,  half of the plastic waste I generated was from a gift I received  in the mail (those darn plastic packing pillows!) and also snacks that my boyfriend purchased that I couldn’t resist enjoying as well.  You will also notice things that don’t look like plastic in the photo, such as cat food cans (all cans that hold food are plastic-lined), brown paper frozen berry bags (also plastic-lined) and my old, cheap, ruined boots (made from synthetic petroleum-based fibers.)  Now that I have justified my waste to feel less guilty, let’s get to the juicy stuff.

In the book, Beth invites her readers to truly get present with their trash.  Taking sage wisdom from her meditation teacher, she suggests that we feel our feelings as we look at the pile of waste that we have created.  Like any river, emotions (e-motion) need to flow so we can stay unblocked and clear.  With this clarity we can make wiser choices.

Yesterday, before I meditatively sat with my trash, I initially felt overwhelmed and filled with a flurry of anxious questions– did this mysterious wrapper for my butter have plastic in it? What about this cap to my wine bottle? It didn’t seem quite like metal nor plastic- but some strange combination.  Could I recycle, at the grocery store recycling bag drop-off,  the plastic packaging for my veggie burgers and the small plastic baggies that I had accumulated from snack items?  Was I ready to stop buying plastic-packaged foods and start making things, like bread, from scratch, even though I don’t really like cooking or baking?  The last question really overwhelmed me. I imagined hours of my life disappearing to extended kitchen duty as I made several staple items from scratch.  Ugh.  I even feel overwhelmed just writing about it.

Today, however, I meditatively sat before the plastic waste I generated in a week’s time.  I was actually surprised at what arose.  Instead of the overwhelm bubbling to the surface again, a calm clarity came over me.  It actually felt good to witness my waste.  The plastic waste I generated was no longer a vague idea.  Seeing everything before me so clearly, I intuitively felt the next steps I was ready to take. I didn’t worry about what I was not yet ready to deal with.  I knew, in time, my plastic-free journey would flourish like a garden, growing out of the abundance and the joy of living in harmony with the Earth, not deprivation, overwhelm and constriction.

In closing, I’d love to hear your feedback on going plastic-free and also the plastic waste we all generate.  Have any of you ever taken an honest look at your own trash? If so, I’d love to hear your experience.

Go Green 8 Week Challenge

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This is not my usual blog post, but I hope you will join the fun and spread your green wings with me.   The parameter of this challenge is to pick one green goal per week for eight weeks.  Your goals may be things that you have been meaning to do, but keep putting off.   They may be goals that are a little out of your comfort zone.  Or, maybe, you just want an inspiring launching pad to take your green journey to the next level.

Why Do An 8 Week Go Green Challenge?

Sometimes, our personal journeys can get a little stagnant.  This challenge provides an inspiring structure for us to play our edge and create new possibilities in our lives.

Going green also means taking better care of ourselves.  This is an opportunity to nourish our bodies and souls with healthy, sustainable choices.

We all know, somewhere deep inside of us, that we depend on a healthy planet to sustain us.  We also know that are a lot of environmental issues happening now like climate change, species going extinct, pollution driven health problems, habitat destruction and ocean acidification (to name a few).  This 8 Week Challenge is an inspiring chance to empower you too make a difference and realize how much you matter.

Instructions

Choose one green goal per week for eight weeks. After you complete your green goal, blog about it. Then post your blog link in the comments section below with a short synopsis of what your blog post is about.  This weekly challenge starts on Monday, May 26th and ends on Sunday, July 20th.

If you don’t have a blog, no problem!  Share a few sentences about your goal each week in the comments section.  Share with friends and family- maybe, they will even join you in taking the challenge.

Did you find out about this challenge a few weeks after it started?  No problem!  Jump in any time over the next eight weeks.  When the official challenge ends, you can continue on in anyway you see fit.

Types of Green Goals

The sky is the limit, but here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  •  Personal steps to green your life: buy organic and/or sustainable local food,  start a veggie garden, shop with reusable bags and eliminate disposable bags , stop buying bottled water, convert to sustainable personal care products, buy minimally packaged or unpackaged items when possible, buy your next piece or furniture or article of clothing second hand or made with sustainable materials, conserve water, research renewable energy options to implement in your home, watch an environmental documentary, etc.
  • Activism: Volunteer at a local environmental organization, go to an environmental rally, inspire awareness and sustainable action in your community, contact your elected officials about environmental issues, etc.
  • Inner ecology:  We are part of the Earth and its ecosystems. Taking that concept further,  we are each an ecosystem onto ourselves.  We need to allow our inner gardens to flourish. What unnecessary clutter, time-consuming distractions and out-dated perceptions take you away from your well-being and doing the things that matter most, like living in harmony with the Earth?

Want more ideas?  Check out my goals below and click around my blog.  You can also check out other green blogs, books, documentaries and resources.

Tips

  • If a goal seems too large to do in one week,  it can probably be broken down into smaller, more manageable goals that can be accomplished over a few weeks.
  • In a non-judgmental fashion, notice what feelings, thoughts and reactions arise when you embark upon your goal.  This is an opportunity to get to know yourself better and find what flows for you.
  • Remember to not force anything.  Check out my blog post on finding the flow in your green journey.  

My 8 Green Goals

Just in case you’re curious (and also for accountability on my end), here are my green goals.  They will be in the category, “My Green Journey”. They may not happen in this exact order and I may change one or two:

  1. Take the Plastic Trash Challenge to get an honest look at the plastic waste I generate, so I can make better choices.
  2. Set up my green YouTube channel and post my first video.
  3. Go on a electronic diet to reduce unnecessary distractions in my life.
  4. Call or email a one or two food companies I like and suggest more sustainable packaging alternatives.
  5. Talk to the neighbors in my 54 unit building about enrolling in the Organic Waste Collection program.
  6. Start a microgreens and/or herb window garden.
  7. Lighten my load and sustainably get rid of items I no longer use or like.
  8. Go to a rally to stop fracking or some other environmental cause I am moved by.

Last, but not least, tell your friends and spread the green goodness!  And please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions.

 

Solar Powered Cars Anyone?

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Photo: Daniel Borman, Flickr

Renewable energy cars are totally possible!  Our only challenges are the people profiting from the dirty energy of oil who do not want these new technologies to replace our gas engine cars and our collective beliefs that we are helpless to these people.  Deep in my heart, however, I do not believe that to be true.  We can find peaceful, creative ways to overcome that challenge.  I will be writing a blog post on that topic shortly.

So, without further ado, check out this inspiring article about a Nigerian student who converted a Volkswagen Beetle into a wind and solar-powered car:

Nigerian Student Converts a VW Beetle into a $6,000 Wind- and Solar-Powered Car

Also, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this article and on renewable energy cars in general.  Perhaps, you know something I don’t or have a unique perspective.  Do share, brilliant one!

 

 

 

 

 

You Can’t Scare People Into Going Green

Occupy Wall Street

A man paints a sign at Occupy Wall Street: “Give The Earth A Vote.”

How is truly sustainable global change created? 

I used to think that people would adopt a greener lifestyle if they truly knew the staggering and heart-breaking damage caused to our beautiful planet and the well being of the human race by many of our modern habits.  Perhaps, they would even persuade politicians and corporations to follow suite.  I used to feel that people were just unaware of the effects of their day to day habits (after all, we aren’t taught these things in school or via popular media) and if they were aware, they would change.

While I do think awareness is part of the key (it certainly changed me), I sure as heck know that the energy of fear, anger, begging, pleading and the doom and gloom scenarios of the climate change (and other environmental disaster) is not the answer to inspire most people into effective action.

A few days ago, I came across an article that shone to me like a beacon of light. It was like a missing ingredient in a grander dish where all the other flavors can finally begin to pull together into a successful, positive creation.   In this article, the author articulates the need to educate and inspire people, while giving them manageable, life-enhancing and personally rewarding actions that create positive change.  Please enjoy Creating A Culture Of Hope–Not Fear–Around Sustainability.

In closing, here’s a little food for thought.  Sometimes, when we are confronted with the potential of creating deep and meaningful change,  our own fears, frustrations and self perceived limitations can surface.  I truly believe that these larger issues that face us, like climate change, are an opportunity for us to both personally and collectively heal our perceived helplessness, complacency and self-imposed limitations to creating the peaceful and sustainable world we truly want.

How To Get Fabulous Hair With Baking Soda And Apple Cider Vinegar

With my desire to eliminate plastic from my life, I started trying new methods of washing my hair without bottled shampoo.  People are calling these methods “noo poo” (i.e. no bottled shampoo).  One popular method uses baking soda to wash hair and apple cider vinegar to condition it.  I was quite pleasantly surprised by the results.  Dare I say that my hair looked the best it had in a long time?   By my definition that means soft, wavy and shiny. In fact, it was probably the shiniest I had seen in years with amazing body to boot.  Who knew that I didn’t need conventional hair conditioner and that ACV  (apple cider vinegar) would do the trick?

So, if I have peaked your interest, here are my instructions so you can get gorgeous, shiny hair  that is full of body:

  1.  resizeIMG_2267                                        Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water.  Put contents into an empty shampoo bottle.
  2. resizeIMG_2274resizeIMG_2275                   Mix 1-3 tablespoons of ACV with 16 ounces of water into a spray bottle (I reused an empty household cleaning bottle rather than buying a new spray bottle.)
  3. Once you get into the shower, wet your hair and pour the baking soda mixture onto your entire scalp. The nozzle of your shampoo bottle cap helps control the flow. There is no need to pour this mixture onto the rest of your hair.  This is because when you rinse, the mixture will work its way down the length of your hair. It’s a deep cleanser, so this little bit of brief contact is all that is needed. Please make sure that you rinse out the baking soda mixture THOROUGHLY.
  4. Spray the ACV mixture onto your scalp and along the entire length of your hair.  Let it sit in your hair like a conditioner for a few minutes and then rinse.  The ACV actually smooths and seals the hair shaft, making it feel silky and look shiny.  For extra shine and conditioning, rinse the ACV mixture out with cool or cold water, which further helps to seal the hair shaft.  I kind of do a mini back bend so that the cool water only hits my head and not my body. And, don’t worry, the ACV smell dissipates as your hair drys and you won’t smell like salad. Your hair will pretty much smell like nothing, which to me is truly clean.

Here are two selfies of me with my freshly washed baking soda and ACV hair.  It also happened to rain that day, so that probably amplified my positive results:

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This is what my hair normally looks like (note that it looks less wavy and a little less shiny in these selfies):

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Observations, Variations And Tips

With the baking soda ACV no poo method, my hair felt very squeaky clean.  While my hair was wet, it did not feel conditioned enough and a bit dry.  However, as it dried, it grew softer and softer.  Even with this softness, it was tangly and a little harder to comb through.  To remedy that, I re-wet the ends of my hair and put a very small amount of coconut oil on my ends.  When I say small, I mean tiny– like 1/16 – 1/8 of a teaspoon.  It works like a charm!

If your hair comes out too dry with this recipe, try using less baking soda in your mixture.  If your hair still seems unclean and greasy, try using more baking soda. Everybody’s hair is different.  See what works best for you.

If you mix your baking soda with hot water, I would use a glass bottle instead of a plastic shampoo bottle (so that the heat doesn’t cause the plastic’s chemicals to leach into your mixture) and attach your shampoo cap to it like so:

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Well, that’s all folks!  Please feel free to ask me any questions and share your experiences with this method.  I look forward to hearing from you.