“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

April Change Ideas


April is a very exciting month!  The weather is warming up, plants start coming up, and we celebrate Earth Day (or around here we celebrate Earth Month!).  What a better month to jump on board to our One Small Change Project!  Or if you are already a part of our community, what better time to spread the word to your friends and family about making eco friendly changes! 

Here are some ideas for April Changes: (if you have more ideas to add, please do so in the comments)

*Plant or plan a garden (if you don't have a back yard think about doing some Urban Gardening)
*Attend an Earth Day event in your area to support and learn about ways to lessen your carbon footprint
*Walk or ride your bike at least once during the month that you would normally drive
*Tell 5 friends about this project and encourage them to start making small changes
*If you have kids encourage them to get outside
*Bring 1 new houseplant into your home
*If it is camping season where you live, make an effort to reduce your camping waste
*Look into starting a compost pile

These are just a few small ideas that anyone can make in April.  Stop by in a few days to let us know what your idea for April is!
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earth Hour is Tonight!!





Alright folks!  If you haven't made a change this month yet or if you want to be a part of something amazing, here is your chance!

Tonight, Saturday March 26th, and 8:30 (your time) join millions of people around the globe in turning off your lights for 1 hour!

Come on folks...you can do it...just 1 hour!  Want to take it a step further?  Try lights out all weekend!
Enjoy!
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Friday, March 25, 2011

March Winners...Everyone Wins~

Congrats to the 2 winners of our March Giveaway of 1 Organic Sleepy Wrap and 1 Organic Boba Carrier.  It is so awesome to learn that this company is operating in such an eco friendly way!  They are a true inspiration to other small businesses!!  Now for the winners..

Congrats to Julie who says..."My family is making lots of changes this spring! we have decided to visit our local botanical gardens more frequently and my kids are loving it! we went this past weekend and got some amazing pictures of my kids enjoying nature! I'm also going to start loading up my 3 little ones in the wagon and a baby carrier to walk to the bus stop to pick up big brother instead of the driving down 2 streets and driving back! II think the little ones will enjoy it more, its better for the environment, and better for my waist line too! lol! i hope i win... i could use a new sleepy wrap for the walks to the bus stop! :)"


AND

Congrats to Dawn who says..." We do a lot of great things, but like anyone we can always do better. Our project for March has been to get our garden seedlings started. We're also cutting back on our meat consumption in hopes of eventually phasing it out all together. I have Lupus and protein is a definite source of flare for me. I was nearly vegetarian until getting pregnant last year. For some reason m baby-body was craving meat! Now that my son is here we would like to set a better example for him and help him be as healthy as possible. "

AND

...everyone is a winner because Hip Mountain Mama has decided to offer everyone who participated this month 15% off their order in their shop all weekend long! (use code "OSC" for discount)  We are just so thrilled with all the incredible changes everyone is making that we thought everyone should win something!  If you are looking for a small change for April maybe you could pick up some eco friendly goodies at a great price! 

Thanks and congrats to everyone for all your hard work and dedication in making our world a better place!!
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Giveaway: Organic Boba Carrier & Sleepy Wrap

This months prize donor is Sleepy Wrap (NAP Inc.), Boulder based company and creator of the Organic Sleepy Wrap and Organic Boba Carrier.  Whether you are a baby carrier or not, these make great gifts for friends, grand kids, grandmothers, or just a surprise to someone who could use it.  Please read below to learn about ways this company is making a green impact!  (Details on the giveaway at the end)
What they are doing:

~They introduced their Organic Boba Carrier made locally in Boulder, Colorado with both GOTS and OE100 certified organic cotton

~They introduced their Organic Sleepy Wrap made with Organic Exchange 100 certified organic cotton

~NAP, Inc. Management team’s commitment to using bicycles for at least 50% of their local transportation needs. They are lucky to live in Boulder which boasts nearly 100 miles of linked bike paths within city limits.

~All packaging supplies are now being recycled or donated for re-use

~They are now using virtual business cards! No more wasted paper. Send a text message “NAP” to phone number 50500

~NAP, Inc. invested into a new green server in April ’09 with Rackspace. It offers carbon neutral hosting and energy conservation. Data center emissions and power consumption can have a significant environmental impact so they opted for a carbon neutral low-voltage server and a processor with an energy efficient drive and memory. Although their website hosting costs increased almost 3-fold it is worth it for us to know that they are running a carbon-neutral website.

~NAP, inc. supports and donates to local Eco-Cycle and their efforts to build Zero Waste communities

~They use only CFL & LED lighting in all office and warehouse space

~They sponsor the Holistic Moms Network (www.holisticmoms.org)


In the future, NAP, Inc. plans to:
~Offset employee commute emissions through carbon credits

~Offset company facility emissions through carbon credits

~Work with their loyal customers and incorporate more GoGreen ideas – feel free to email them with your green thoughts at info@sleepywrap.com!

The giveaway:


Nap, Inc. has generously donated 1 Organic Cotton Boba Carrier and 1 Organic Sleepy Wrap


Anyone who participated in One Small Change this March is eligible to enter.  Even if you haven't started your March change yet, or even if it isn't going so well...if you had good intentions for an eco friendly change this month, you can enter!


How to enter:
Leave us a comment here and let us know what your change for March is...that's it!  Please leave me with an email address so I can contact you!  Winner will be announced this Friday March 25th

Good Luck!
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bag It

Did you know Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every 5 minutes?  We need a serious new attitude towards these disposable items!  Watch this trailer below called 'Bag It' and get inspired to make a difference in your own life!

Bag It Intro from Suzan Beraza on Vimeo.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Brad's Thoughts on Driving to Save Energy

Driving to work tonight, I thought about the difference between driving for myself, versus driving for the community.  I mean, I have a few thing to fix on the '95 Toyota pickup I bought last month, but on a business trip last week I got 29.9 mpg, the tank full before that was 23 or a little better.  I know from experience that with this vehicle, my best mileage is at 65-70, where the Lincoln Town Car I drove before (until it fell apart on the road) topped out at 45 mph - at 22 mpg.

I don't accelerate harshly, unless there is actual hazard or danger (much like my approach to yelling at livestock or kids).

1) I lived a couple winters in Minneapolis.  They advised there not to let the engine idle to warm up - after a few seconds, put it in gear, and drive, being very gentle on the accelerator until the engine warms, and let the engine work at above-idle speeds to warm up.  They contended it was less stressful on the engine and transmission (since you are being gentle on the transmission as well).

2) An uncle told me most accidents in intersections happen the first three seconds after the light changes.  So I don't enter then - and I don't try to 'beat' the yellow light.

- this has a community effect. People entering late in the yellow cycle may not be through the intersection when others get the green light - so 1, or 2 - or 40 cars wait an extra 3 to 5 seconds, because of one driver out to 'beat' the lights.

3) Another uncle was in the Army, and while showing my Father and me around Fort Hood, TX, someone came up behind - closely.  Uncle Robert claimed that if a tailgater is going to hit you, you are safer going at a slower speed - so gently slowing down does a couple of things.  First, it makes any ensuing accident lower energy, and hopefully more survivable.  Second, it makes it easier for the tailgater to pass.  I know the last thing I want behind me is someone anxiously breaking the law (tailgating), and getting angrier and more frustrated - and more daring - all the time.  Let the wiseacre behind go look for the speed trap.

- I am not sure there is an energy component to this one.  I do know that speeding up is usually the wrong thing to do - it encourages the odd wiseacre to 'push' you harder, to see how much you can be pushed.  On a family vacation one such driver passed and harassed Dad several times over several miles. 

- I am *not* advocating a sudden slow down - nothing abrupt, merely an easing back one mph every minute or so.

- I have had people pull too close - and when I stayed at my speed or started slowing, gradually - back off.  If they back off to a safe distance I speed back up to my chosen speed or the speed limit, whatever.  But some people maintain that longer distance back.  And that does save energy.  There is a *lot* of acceleration in following a vehicle at a close distance, a *lot* of small accelerations.  And that means their mileage improved by leaving that larger distance.

4) While commuting to work in St. Louis some years back, on four-lanes-each-way Interstate, I chose to not be an aggressive driver.  I decided to always leave enough room in front of me for two cars to pull in.  There were a couple of reasons - it gave me more time to react to the drivers ahead of and beside me, and reduced the risk that someone wanting to change lanes might attempt something desperate.

- Leaving more room in front of me doesn't do me a lot of good - or harm - time wise, but it does reduce some of my need for reactive acceleration - thus is a slight benefit, mileage wise.

- But that slight benefit, mileage wise, gets passed back to the cars behind me.  I am reasonably convinced that if everyone maintained the legal safe following distance ahead of them, both while driving in their lane and also when changing lanes - there could be no stop-and-go traffic jams.  If I recall correctly, safe distance, legally, is 200 ft between vehicles when the posted limit is 45 mph or higher, 100 ft for lower posted speed - regardless of the speed being traveled at the moment.

- Recall the comment about about the acceleration needed for following closely.  Not every vehicle, nor driver, will accelerate identically to the driver ahead.  So everyone behind a driver that falls behind the driver ahead falls behind a bit further; none of them can make up more speed or time than the vehicle ahead of them.  The 'flinch' - any time a driver slows - gets passed back to every successive close-following vehicle.  Vehicles with longer following distances - can ignore lots of small changes without affecting the cars behind him.

- So I contend that leaving that larger gap in front of me - not slowing down, just leaving that gap - benefits time wise and fuel wise, the cars behind me.

- My own experience, and observation of tailgaters, is that that longer following distance? It decreases the stress on the driver.


That is my suggestion for a 'small change' that might benefit the community.  And maybe decrease by one the number of energy and time wasteful accidents.

~Brad

You can read more on Brad's thoughts at his blog Brad's Take where he writes about ideas on draft horses, Peak Oil, conservation, and low tech living. 
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Mid Month March Check in


Yes...it's that time again!  How is your March change going so far?  Let us know here or stop by our facebook page and let us know there...or do both :)
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Would You Miss Plastic Bags

As I was driving my daughter to her awesome Nature School spewing toxins into the air from my car, I was pondering if driving her the 20 minutes there and back each day is counter productive.  But this is a totally different topic that I plan to address in the coming weeks.  As I was driving having these very deep thoughts on nature, and cars, and toxins, I started to notice something very disturbing.  It was a windy day and my deep thoughts were interrupted by plastic grocery bags flying all around.  Stuck in trees, on the road, and generally just flying around.  It really struck me as a most unnatural and disgusting sight.  My thoughts instantly shifted to, how can we stop this from happening?  How can we stop people's obsession with plastic bags?  I don't rely on plastic bags and I like to believe that a lot of other people don't either...but I don't think this is the case.  There are still people who use plastic bags when they get groceries and there are still people, gasp, who throw plastic bags in the trash instead of reusing them.  How can we stop this habit?

What if the plastic bag makers, just stopped making plastic bags?  Would we really miss them?  What do you use plastic grocery bags for and what alternatives could we be using? 

I don't really have a solution here, just throwing out my thoughts and wondering if you have any ideas.  There has been a movement towards bringing your own bags to stores, and I think there are thousands of people who are now bringing their own bags as opposed to just a few short years ago...but when I go to the store I only see about 5% of people using their own bags.  So, how can we get the other folks on board?

All comments welcome!


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Monday, March 7, 2011

Suzy's Change: De Cluttering

I gained a lot of inspiration from a video by my friend Shannon, at Free Spirit Knits.  In the video she talked about de cluttering your home and how wonderful it can be.  I am huge on giving clothes away that we don't wear anymore, but I had never gone any deeper than that nor had I ever thought about the benefits of de cluttering. 

We have been in our home for almost 6 years and the things have piled up...when you have a space, you tend to fill it don't you?  A couple of years ago my parents were moving into a smaller home and had some furniture to give away.  I gladly took as much of it as I could to fill my home...my home is filled with furniture, decorations, kids toys, and so many other things.  A lot of the things in my home give me joy, make me smile, and serve a purpose....but I would be willing to bet that I could get rid of 50% off the stuff in my home and not even miss it. 

Now, how does de cluttering tie into One Small Change?  How does it fit the eco friendly aspect of this challenge?  Well, the most obvious (for me) eco friendly part of giving things away is that other people can benefit from what I give away without having to purchase new.  If I have 2 coats and someone has 0 coats, wouldn't it make sense for each of us to have 1 coat.  The person with 0 coats can now have a coat without having to purchase a brand new coat.

Another thought I have on the matter is that freeing up space in my home allows me more time to focus on projects such as One Small Change.  You may have to think a bit deeper on this one, but if I am not constantly picking things up or organizing things or spending time looking for lost items, I have more free time, right?  If my home is filled with the basic minimums and a few joyful items, I should know where everything is, I should feel more at peace, and I should have more time on my hands.  With more peace in my heart and time on my hands I have more time to gather around the table with friends to talk about gardening, more time to create eco friendly changes at my daughter's school, more time to bake and cook from scratch, etc, etc, etc. 

Now, for my last, thought on de cluttering...I feel like de cluttering is going to help me fulfill a very large dream I have had for a very long time!  This dream I created several years ago, and am still slowly plugging away at the logistics, is to move to a smaller home with a lot of land.  My dream is to live a more sustainable life by using the land around me for most of what I need.  To use less energy in a smaller home and to be surrounded by nature's beauty.  This dream is very much in the making, but it is also something that will not come in to fruition for a few years...but one of the steps to getting where we want to get is to realize that we can live with less.  If we move to a smaller home, we may need some practice on living with less furniture, toys, dishes, etc. before we get there. So, yes it may be a stretch..but I do believe that taking this step now, is actually getting us 1 step closer to living our sustainable dream!

I started my change last weekend by clearing out my daughter's closets.  I filled 3 bags worth of clothes and am happy with the start.  My next step is to walk through the house and select at least 10 items that aren't serving me any purpose to give away. 

I hope your change is going well this month so far!  If you would like to share your change on our blog, please email me suzy@hipmountainmama.com.  We would love to hear from you!!
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thank You Sponsors!



I just wanted to take a few moments to give a shout out to our awesome sponsors!  They are helping make it possible for me to spend more time on this project that is very important to me.  I really feel like this little grassroots movement Andy and I started over a year ago is having an impact on our Earth and I get butterflies in my stomach every time I think about all the changes so many folks have made!!  So, thank you to all of you and to all of our amazing sponsors who are donating prizes or just helping us to spread the word! 

Sponsors:

~My Father's Hands: Handmade Wood Toys
~Inside Out: E Course
~Merrell-Outdoor clothing and gear
~Kids Loving Nature: Family Nature Blog
~The Waldorf Connection:  Waldorf information website
~Natural Suburbia: Crafting and Nature Blog



Prize donating sponsors:
~The Peaceful Peacock: Handmade beverage coozies
~Hip Mountain Mama: Bamboo Utensils
~Demilunes: Waldorf Doll
~Sleepy Wrap: 2 Organic Cotton Baby Carriers
~Lusa Organics: Organic skin care
~Green Baby Guide: The Eco-Nomical Baby Guide Book
~Mother Love: Pocket Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants
~Hip Mountain Mama: $50.00 gift certificate
~Strawsome:  Glass Straw
~Ecosystem: Eco friendly journal
~My Father's Hands:  Handmade wooden toys

Thank you thank you thank you!!
If you wish to support this wonderful project by becomming a sponsor, please email me for details
suzy@hipmountainmama.com

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Archives: Eco Friendly Gardening

With gardening on the brain I wanted to re post an article Andy wrote on  5/19/10 about using repurposed wood to build a raised garden bed.  If you plan on building some raised beds this year, please consider using old materials, rather than purchasing new. 

Using Repurposed Wood For a Backyard Veggie Garden

I grew up in central Iowa where growing food is a big deal. I was raised in the burbs but I still have family that farms to this day. My parents always had a huge garden. I remember planting rows and rows of corn, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, and many other wonderful veggies.

When we moved into our current house, 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to have a huge garden. But now that I live in Colorado there is a lot more involved in gardening. It is much dryer here and the soil doesn’t even compare to the fertile soils of the midwest. Here it is necessary to build a raised bed to provide enough good soil for your veggies to grow.

The first summer we lived in our house, I built a small 4’x8’ garden. I wanted more but I decided to start slow. The following year I built an additional 8’x8’ garden. This kept me pretty happy for a while and with a membership to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) we had access to plenty of locally grown organic food, but I still want more.

This weekend the weather was nice and the desire to grow even more food took over. I decided that this time I wanted to build a more sustainable garden. In the past I had walked into a chain lumber store and spent a bunch of money on new lumber. This time it was going to be different.



I visited Uncle Benny’s, a local family owned business that buys sells and trades used building materials. Stepping into the world of Uncle Benny’s was way too much fun for me. They have so many awesome items that are previously used but are still very usable. This business is not only saving all of these building materials from going into the landfill, but they are also offering some screaming deals on great products.

I spotted many projects that I would like to take on but decided to stick to the new garden project for this weekend. I purchased repurposed 2”x6” Redwood decking boards. These boards are beautiful. They were previously used for a deck but all of the screws had been removed. I sanded them down and they are like new. I would have never spent the money on brand new redwood so I am so pleased with how this turned out.



With just a couple hours of effort I was able to turn a small grassy area of our yard into a food producing garden plus I was able to support an awesome family business and keep some building materials out of the landfill. This was a very easy project. I definitely encourage you to grow some of your own food and/or purchase reclaimed materials. These are easy and simple changes you can do to be a little more eco-friendly.
~Andy

*Check out Andy's Nature Blog at Kids Loving Nature where he writes about getting your kids outdoors and tips on how to make it fun for everyone!

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Homemade Lotion Recipe

Yes, Winter is coming to an end, but who doesn't need a great lotion year round.  Here in Colorado the air is very dry and lotion is a must on a daily basis.  Sherrie, fellow One Small Changer, has been so kind as to share her homemade lotion recipe with us.

Winter Skin Lotion

4 tbsp beeswax pastilles*
8 oz olive oil (or other oil, depending on your skin type - grapeseed oil is a lighter option; sweet almond also works well)
4 tsp coconut oil
8 tbsp water
essential oils, if desired

Melt beeswax in a double boiler. A glass measuring cup in an enamel or stainless steel pot works perfectly. Add coconut oil when the beeswax is almost entirely melted. Warm olive oil briefly in microwave or on stove top, just so it's slightly warm and not cold (cold oil will cause the beeswax to re-harden). Add the olive oil to beeswax and coconut oil, and whisk until everything's liquefied.

Remove from heat. Use a stick blender and blend the oils while slowly drizzling in the water. Continue blending for another minute or so. The lotion will be quite hot and runny at this point, but will thicken as it cools. Blend it a bit every now and then as it's cooling. After it's cooled, you can add essential oils, if you like. Scoop into jars or bottles.** This is a perfect lotion for babies and kids with sensitive skin.

Makes approximately 2 cups. Recipe can be doubled, halved, tripled, etc.

Notes:
*This amount of beeswax pastilles makes a thick, butter-consistency lotion; the same volume of grated beeswax would make the finished lotion a little bit thinner.  You can control the thickness by adjusting the amount, and should also be able to substitute candelilla wax, if you're looking to make a vegan lotion.

**I prefer a wide mouth jar for the original recipe, since it's a firm lotion and doesn't work well in pump jars.

***Because there are no preservatives in this recipe, I wouldn't recommend storing it for long periods.

~Sherri

Please visit Sherrie at her blog Twenty-Two Pleasant
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 2011 Change

March is here folks!  What do you plan to change for March?  Something to do with Spring perhaps??  Leave us a comment and let us know what you plan to change.  This month we have 2 giveaways for a Boba Organic Cotton Child Carrier and an organic cotton Sleepy Wrap that will be open to all participants at the end of the month!
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