One Thing You Have to Do Today

IMG_9234.JPGOn Wednesday I had the privilege to attend the listening session on the EPA’s proposed Repeal the Clean Power Plan. I was so impressed by the diversity of attendees all pleading for the EPA to keep the Clean Power Plan in place. From Doctors to Lawyers to Religious Leaders, Scientists and even representatives from PG&E there was no shortage of passion in the room. I was also not the only mom with a baby strapped to her chest, which I was pleasantly surprised about. Our very own Missy spoke to the panel bringing enthusiastic fist pumps, “good jobs” and many tears from the audience; it’s amazing how two strangers with a common goal can hug and cry in an unknown space. The theme was strong, we are busy professionals juggling families, jobs, and life yet trying to convince a big government bully to do their job. Their job that is supposedly to do the right thing by the environment. Now we can get into a heated political rant, believe me I am ready with my economic facts, but rather lets focus on what YOU can do right now.  Continue reading

Three things you can do today… while waiting in line.

Greetings from the Denver, Colorado Hertz rental car line. Why this line is sooooooooo long. Luckily I’m armed with an iPhone on full charge. Here are three quick things I know I can do before I decline any vehicle “upgrades” less it be a hybrid.IMG_0645

1. Message your representatives- let your local, state, and/or national representatives know how you are feeling. Not necessarily about the line you are in (hopefully), but about your concerns about climate change. If you are fortunate enough to have representatives in line with your values as I am, you can take time to thank them as well. I just shot Kamala Harris a grateful shout out for co-sponsoring a single payer healthcare bill with Bernie Sanders and to keep up the good work defending California’s coastline and national parks. I also wrote my California state senator Mike Mcguire in support of SB-149 which comes up for a vote on Tuesday. It would require any presidential candidate to disclose their tax returns before appearing on the ballot.

2. Plan a beef and palm oil-free menu. Check out Lily’s post in time for a tasty burger on Labor Day. 

3. Email a company about their sustainability practices. Here’s an example Lily used for our favorite yogurt company. One vice I can’t seem to kick is GT’s kombucha with its plastic cap and ring. I have tried other brands with aluminum lids, and they just don’t quench my craving for the Booch. Yes, it’s wicked easy to make your own and I even had my brew streamlined to just how I liked it with my scoby Artem (every scoby needs a slutty name). but I still find myself picking up bottles Of GT’s. I contacted them via their website:

Hi!

I love your Kombucha!

I’ve made my own and tried lots of different brands but yours is the one I keep returning to. I drank it through both of my pregnancies. I found it to be a great substitute for a glass of wine in the evening and an effective tonic for nausea.

I’ve embarked on an adventure to curb my carbon footprint. One reason why I went shopping around and brewing my own was because I’m avoiding the consumption of plastic. I appreciate that your bottles are made of glass, but they are capped with plastic and sealed in a plastic ring. While plastics are technically recyclable, 90% isn’t. Furthermore, plastics are derived from fossil fuels and cannot biodegrade, so it’s a product that’s dirty to make and lasts the lifespan of the planet.

I’ve noticed other brands of kombucha, while not as tasty as yours, bottle differently. Some come with an aluminum lid and built in seal. Even better is a returnable bottle with reusable lid. Please consider switching to either these or another form packaging that achieves the goal of reducing waste.

I’d also love to hear more about what your company is doing to decrease your carbon footprint.

Kind regards from a fan,

Mellissa

 

Sent from my iPhone

Where to Start….

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Paper straw on a kid friendly cup at Sotola

We just returned home from a 10 day vacation in my old stomping grounds. It was great to be “home” amongst friends and family and to drag along some “new” friends for the ride. How I just love the weather, the ocean, and being surrounded by the familiar. It is my fantasy to get back there, but the logistics are a bit challenging right now. During a park playdate with one of my nearest and dearest we got on the subject of this new lifestyle I have been exploring. I try not to be too excited or overbearing when the topic approaches so I often take the quiet road in hopes not to scare people off. She had wonderful words of praise to say, and warmed my heart when she said “I think about you all the time”, like “how do buy toilet paper?” I love it, one of the first things my mom said was “I am not visiting if you give up toilet paper”. Later I got a text saying she would like to get started but wasn’t sure how and requested this post. Its true that my list of goals can seem intimidating, and with a new baby like she has, the thought of turning your routine upside down can be more than overwhelming. So here is my go T, I know you can do it! Continue reading

Three Things You Can Do Today – In the Garden!

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My pollinator garden is taking off this year with all the rain!

Spring has sprung! In between this rainy winter and spring I find myself itching to get my hands dirty. Even enjoying a good weed pull every now and then, which if you saw my front yard you’d think I’d need to do more of. With all this time spent amongst the buzzing bees and lush plants it has me reflecting how not so green the garden is, well how not so green some gardens can be. Here I thought I would direct three things you can do today over to your garden for a a very appropriate change.  Continue reading

Three Things You can Do Today

Three more easy solutions for lessening your foot print.

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Ditch the Tissue Box

No kleenex? “WHAT!?!?!?!” you say!! What to do with the snotty nosed kid? We are a house with plenty of snot, yet we have ditched the box full of paper – even the box of recycled paper. The point is to reduce our waste and refuse waste into our homes. To make our bathrooms greener, which is no easy feat, we have adopted a beautiful brass box full of vintage hankies. Yes those pretty hankies that used to fill the purses and pockets of ladies and gentlemen past have found new life. They are pretty and that gets our daughter excited to blow her nose, which as a mom makes me so happy. They’re softer than you standard kleenex which is nice for the dry cold weather. Pick up a few from your grandma, the corner antique shop, or buy them in bulk on Etsy (don’t forget to ask them to package sans plastic!). You could use any container that makes a sweet addition to your space. I happen to have a love affair with brass so this box was the winner. But you could repurpose an old tissue box, fold the hankies so they interlock and then it functions in the very same way. We put a small hamper to catch the dirty ones and throw them in the wash. If you want them to lay neat you may want to run a steam iron on them before you fold them up. I also carry one in my purse and/or my pocket to catch runny noses on the run.

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Switch Out Your Light Bulbs

To the average person lighting and light bulbs is an uber boring topic of discussion, but for an interior designer lighting is ESSENTIAL. I’ve gone through enough light bulbs to satisfy an average person’s lifetime and finally through all my searching found a winner! This LED bulb is warm but soft, bright but easily dimmable, and long lasting. LEDs are the latest wave of eco-friendly lighting options and they have finally made them usable for your existing light fixtures. You used to have to purchase a special fixture to take advantage of this technology. No more. They are still pricey, at nearly $20 a bulb, but they last so much longer than your standard incandescent bulb and they save you money with your electricity bill. Its more money up front but do the math and you’ll realize you’re saving in the end, plus now you can keep Grandma’s lamp for the next generation. You may or may not be happy about that last bit. (wink wink) I purchased these Feit Bulbs at my local hardware store. I suggest you check yours before buying them on online to insure no excessive amounts of plastic are used to package these up for you.

Take Your Address Off the Mailing List

How many catalogs do you toss in the trash without ever opening? Junk mail is SO annoying!! It is very difficult to be zero waste when we are constantly bombarded with catalogs, real estate fliers, and coupons for places we’ve never considered shopping. It can be so overwhelming. On almost all of these imposters there is an address or a phone number. When the item enters our house I try to call the number immediately to stop it from coming back. When there is no number I send the intruder back with a letter requesting our address is removed from their list. Slowly we are getting less and less, it takes a lot of work, but unsolicited junk simply is not fair for anyone especially the planet.

 

3 Things You Can Do Today!

I have been in a whirlwind the last two weeks. My mom came for a visit and ended up throwing her back out and wasn’t able drive home. Having her is great, but any outsider stirs things up at home, and she is no exception. We had some interesting talks, she shared some stories from the family ranch, and took me on a marathon of Years of Living Dangerously (that show should be required viewing, especially for teenagers), but I didn’t make it here as often as I should have. I literally fell asleep with my computer several nights in a row. I apologize for my absence, please accept my “excuse.”

While she was visiting we tried out some great small steps that we can all apply to our everyday lives. Here are three easy things you can do today to combat climate change.

Forget the To Go Containers

This one is so easy I am so embarrassed that I did not start this earlier. When you grab a cup of coffee bring your own cup, duh, we all know that. Robert and I got insulated coffee cups for Christmas and I really love how warm they keep our morning brew. Well actually mine has been filled with water and lemon lately but its the same idea. We got ours through MiiR, I loved that they were insulated, had very little plastic, that they donate a portion of your sale and that you could track that donation so you know where it went. The two downfalls are that if you knock it over it will spill because the lid doesn’t close, and that they are not made in the USA. I tried really hard to find one in the latter, but the only one I found was made almost entirely of plastic. Moving on beyond coffee is tackling left overs, yes left overs. We go out to eat far more than I would like to admit. A lot of the time its just M & I and the last thing I want to do after a long day is cook and clean up the mess myself. Very rarely can the two of us finish all the food on our table which means we were left with two options – leave it for waste or bring it home in single use, likely plastic, containers. None of those are a good option!! Wait, we can bring our own containers!! My mom loves to go out to eat, so we went out almost everyday that she was here and every time we brought our own jars to fill with left overs. It worked great, Chinese, sushi, Italian, pizza, even California cuisine all were handled nicely with our jars. I simply slipped some clean options in a bag and carried it in just like a purse. When we finished with what we could eat we put the left overs in our jars and viola, no waste! The restauranteurs were very receptive to it, it saves them money, and I couldn’t tell if any other diners even noticed, although I hope they did. What’s also a hidden bonus, you pop the containers right in the fridge and because they are sealed so well there are no harsh odors every time to you open the door for some water! Phew.

Compost Your Dog’s Waste

Not exactly the most glamorous topic but a very important one to say the least. I once read an article about the amount of dog feces that pollute our water ways, lets just say its not pretty. It made me ashamed to be a dog owner. All those people who don’t pick it up…shame on you. Thanks to Sarah’s post Robert made the call to the garbage company to get the smallest possible garbage can and he asked whether we could put our dog poop in our green bin and they said YES! I am over the moon about this. Who knew one could be so excited about dog poop, but I am. I was so worried that our only option was going to be to install a pet composter in our yard, and while I am sure I could find the space I love every inch of my yard and barely want to share with the dogs as is…much less take up space for their waste! You should avoid the compostable bags because they clog the machines they use to chop up the green waste before they begin breaking it down. Not frowning on that as it will save us money! Bringing a paper bag on our walks should suffice and a pooper scooper will be ours soon, or his, I should be really clear who does the scooping at our house. We haven’t landed on a scooper yet, possibly this one, since its made in the USA, but as you can imagine I want to do more research…I’m only buying one! So if you have a pet check with your local waste management team, you could be composting their waste today!

Cover That Pot!

Another totally ridiculous and embarrassing fact is that I would never cover my pots when boiling water. I know it gets to boiling faster if I put a lid on it, but I never made the connection that the more time spent means more time burning fossil fuels.Missy helped me realize that if I put a lid on my pot of pasta water, in between stirs on my pad thai, or my pot of black beans they cook quicker, I use less fossil fuels, and it helps reduce my hefty gas bill, win win win! There are certainly dishes that you cannot apply this to but there are a lot that you can! I have a gas stove and I have begun to feel really guilty about using it. In Marin County the majority of our electricity comes from renewable sources, nearly all of it actually, but that is obviously not the case for gas. We just remodeled our kitchen two years ago with a built in stove top. At the moment it doesn’t necessarily make financial sense to make the switch, nor does it seem reasonable to toss out something brand new, but it does haunt me. I must practice what I preach and I struggle with this one. It is the only area where I do feel like the fossil fuel option is better, although they are making great strides in electric cooktops. They are certainly easier to clean and to maintain! Regardless of having gas or electric, when you can put a lid on it and save some energy and harmful fossil fuels.

Cheers and let me know how these go!!

Three Things You Can do Today

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I honestly don’t believe we are in the small steps stage anymore as far as global warming is concerned, however achieving small goals makes way for larger ones so I have compiled a list of a few things you can do today with very little effort that will make a large impact in the future.

Compost

After conversing with the girls in my office I was horrified how few of them compost. We live in Marin County isn’t it illegal not to compost???? I mean the green police in their prius’s will find you and shame you, so watch out! Well apparently not as I was def in the minority. I think they all could feel my WTF glares because I got texts and questions later asking how to start. Composting is seriously so so so easy! And so important for a closed system to function! If you are one of those non-composting types shape up and find a system that works for you. Some people keep a bowl next to the sink and put all of their green waste in it and dump it when it gets full. I do this a lot. I find I have a good amount of compostable materials accumulating that they never sit there and get stinky or bug infested. Another option is to purchase one of those compost tins that sits on your counter or under your sink. This works for a lot of people but I am not one of them. One I am frugal I’d rather spend my money on something that is pretty and two I don’t like the idea of using the same vessel over and over. This is strange and probably comes from my freakishly clean upbringing (today I do not live the way I was raised, ask my mom). I want to be able to toss the bin in the dishwasher and those vessels are meant to sit there, out in the open, for a long period of time. This just doesn’t appeal to me, which is why I utilize my freezer. I admit I buy my bread in a bag….a paper bag. Once or twice a week I buy a loaf of bread from Della Fattoria and save the bags for my long term compost. I keep the bags in the freezer and toss little things here and there that aren’t enough to fill a bowl or have the potential to go south real quick. When the bag is full I toss (or lets be real the hubby tosses) the whole thing in the green bin. So easy and it takes up very little freezer space. If you don’t have a green bin add that to your list to do today!

Use A Water Pitcher

How many times does your child leave a half full water bottle laying about? How many times have you overfilled your pot and poured the excess water down the sink? I know that in Northern California we are overwhelmed with water and rain right now, but it won’t be long before we will be rationing it again. Drought habits are good habits. Some people have no access to clean water, but here we just let it go down the drain. My simple easy solution is an antique iron stone pitcher that belonged to my Great Grandparents. It lives in the corner of my kitchen and when I have water left over from boiling eggs, water bottles, etc. I pour the water in the pitcher. When it gets full I use this water to water inside plants, pots on the porch, or for fresh cut flowers like I did on Sunday with some peach branches from the garden. You don’t have to use a family heirloom or even a pitcher, your kitchen may be modern or eclectic, but choose something that is easy to fill and easy to pour. Not just because I am a designer but I firmly believe that going green will never work if we cannot make it beautiful. Everyone is happier when their surroundings are pleasing to the eye, so take that into consideration and choose something that you love to look at. It sounds superficial, maybe it is, but bottom line its true and it works.


Ditch the Plastic Produce Bags

Doesn’t it feel a little wrong to put your beautiful organic produce all fresh and colorful into a plastic bag that’s laced with harmful chemicals? When the state of California banned plastic bags and retailers starting charging for paper bags we saw a huge change in the way people thought about reusable grocery bags. Now you hang your head in shame when you forget them and have to pay the fee for a bag. What if we took that same concept to produce bags? You could make some reusable bags or buy some, there are so many great ones out there and they sell them at the grocery store so there is no extra trip involved! Imagine if 100 people stopped using bags today? That would save a lot of sea turtles from harm and put a lot less chemicals into our air and our babies. After I unload my groceries I put them inside my shopping bags for the next trip so they are ready to go. Now that I am planning my shopping trips down to the second I don’t forget my bags, but my Mother-in-law puts hers in her car after she unloads the groceries so she can’t forget them. That might be a good solution for you too.

Remember a small step today can lead to a greater leap tomorrow.

Do you have any great ideas for simple ways to make your imprint smaller? Please share!!