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From Tax Day to Earth Day, Mother Nature’s bizarre, yet undeniable, connection with Money

17 Apr

‘Celebrated’ by the ‘refunded’, mourned by the owe-ers, April 15th, Tax Day, is a red letter American ‘holiday’. For better or worse, it’s a day that seemingly sums up successes, and/or survival of each year.

Subtly, Tax Day honors life’s most dominant ‘character’: the almighty American Greenback, slang name for USA’s green money.

As much as Americans may hate Tax Day, we love Greenbacks. It’s weird though, we love money, think a lot about it, but think it’s taboo to talk about it. Personally, I wish we’d talk about it more – I think a lot about how I spend and save money, and, how it impacts my day to day life. For me, money is freedom and the ability to explore and expand my horizons. Yes, I know I’m lucky…

If we were chatting over a cuppa I’d ask: what role does money and the almighty Greenback play in your life? How does money define your values and what’s important to you?

USA Greenback is loved and desired around the world and hungered for as much as McDonald’s and Starbuck. Money is POWER. Money influences.

Humankind has this strange love affair with Greenbacks – and really all money, any currency. That love affair isn’t healthy and like with all unhealthy relationships destroying those that keep us healthy and alive.

Greenbacks, have a deep, dark secret though. A secret shared by currency currently everywhere: Greenbacks’ value depends on, and is in thanks to Mother Nature, and, her bounty. Humans love affair with money and all the great things we need and crave are expensive – and at Mother Nature’s expense.

Think about it: the only reason Tax Day exists is because of the Environment. EVERYTHING we buy and need comes from Mother Nature.

Somehow we humans think we’re at the top of the food chain, though as we’re learning from the coronavirus – and all viruses – we’re not. In fact we rely on and are connected to all living things. We’re part of a WEB.

Humans think we need money, stuff more than we need the environment. That’s bad science, bad science education. The coronavirus can be our new teacher: We humans can’t trample on the environment as we have: we’re connected to everything living. The tiny and powerful coronavirus has proven that connection AND shown how the tiny can conquer the big and mighty.

We HUMANS would not exist without Mother Nature’s Environment and all she provides.

Tax Day, 15 April, (extended this year because of the coronavirus) is followed a week later, 22 April, with Earth Day. Coincidence they are a week apart? I don’t think so considering their connection.

Proof there’s a connection between Greenback and Mother Nature is in their (nick)names:

Still not convinced Greenback and Mother Nature are connected?

Shorten Greenback to Greenie, a nickname for someone caring about nature and the environment.

Mother Nature becomes MoNaPronounced: Muh Nay – sounds like money.

Cliff Note: We need MoNa for Greenie! Save Greenie by Saving MoNa

We’ve got all this wonderful time to think more about this important connection. A connection that impacts every aspect of our life and allows us to live. Some food for thought:

  • What’s most important to you NOW (in the coronavirus-age)? Health? Healthy food? Eating out (food, again!)? Breathing fresh air? Taking a walk? New clothes? A better phone? Stuff?
  • Walk through your room, your house, peak into closets, drawers and identify what gives you pleasure, what you use now, and know you’ll use in the near future (when you can leave your house).
  • Think (and calculate) how much you’ve spent on things piled in the corner of your room or basement, hidden in the back of a closet. Write that number down somewhere. What would you do with that money now? How would you spend it differently to give you more pleasure, more happiness?
  • How much money have you spent on what’s important to you? Your health, the air and water responsible for your health? For parks, trees, and, rivers you want to walk and run past now?

Earth Day is coming; one day soon-ish we’ll re-enter ‘normal’ life, or the new normal. Answering these questions will help you stay focused on what’s important for YOUR quality life.

Let’s all put money on what we value:

  • Let’s buy stuff that will last for years: A friend went to buy a cartridge for his printer and was told it was cheaper and easier to buy a new printer: wtf??? That is criminal on so many levels.
  • Buy quality clothes (natural fibers) and shoes: it’s why vintage clothes look and feel great; because they were so well made. I’m addicted to second hand I admit to feed my retail therapy cravings. I justify buying as better for the environment and better for (my) wallet. A true win-win.
  • Volunteer, somewhere, anywhere to help others. Plant a tree, or two, or three! In Portland, OR, “Friends of Trees” plants trees which are regularly monitored by volunteers – I bet there’s a similar organization in your city to get involved.

Back to my optimism: Spending money is POWER – If we don’t buy – leaders and corporations MAY finally listen:

  • IF we don’t buy something, it won’t be made.
  • IF people refused to take plastic bags (and I realize the coronavirus has delayed a plastic bag ban most places), oil and petroleum companies would stop producing them.
  • IF we carried reusable bottles and didn’t buy bottled water – same thing for all those bottles that end up in land fills – they wouldn’t be made.
  • IF people bought smaller more fuel efficient cars which help decrease air pollution – like most of the rest of the world drive, car manufacturers would make those kinds of cars.
  • IF we stop buying clothes that look great the day you buy them and look like crap a month later and have to be tossed – crappy fast fashion wouldn’t waste so many materials and resources making us poor and filling garbage dumps.

Let’s measure success by Earth Day action, not by Tax Day numbers. We’re in this together. Let’s create a healthy, happier world with our actions. And remember:

Save Greenie by Saving MoNa!

The Money Tree

30 Mar

I used to tell people I had a money tree in my backyard when they wondered how I could afford something (without going into debt). I had no backyard (or tree!), but, I was a darn good bargain hunter and shopped second-hand!

Currently, self-quarantined with cousins outside of D.C., I sure wish that tree outside my window was a money tree that I could pick from every morning. Yet, I have to remind myself that every tree is a money tree, whether with fruit, nuts, shelter from the sun, sucking up rainwater and keeping it in the soil, and, most priceless of all supplying OXYGEN.

Don’t we all wish we had a money tree in our backyards? It’s hard to remember that trees supply the most precious of all riches: OXYGEN!

Oxygen… Ironically, the coronavirus impacts our lungs, our ability to breathe. Breathing, like trees and all they offer, is something we may usually take for granted. Looking at the silver lining in our surreal self-isolated rooms: now is the perfect time to think about what’s important to prioritize and protect.

Even though it’s hard to think about balancing the economy and the environment as the world is stopped for the pandemic; Money/Economy will survive ONLY with the Environment/Trees: The Economy, like each of us individually, needs the Environment to keep alive.

Perspective: two months ago, the world was awash in news and warning of climate change and environmental dangers. Pictures of plastic waste, wasted forests cut for cattle grazing or construction filled our news feed. Unseen and sorely felt, microscopic Coronavirus has now replaced our worry for the future with alarm for the present.

It’s a bit overwhelming now to realize climate change is still a critical issue!

Priority: I bet most of us right now are craving the comfort of walking in nature, seeing a tree, listening to a bird, smelling the freshness of spring. As important as oxygen, walking in nature is like a needed gift, filling us with calm, good energy, and optimism. It’s PRICELESS.

Balance: Everything is changing and we can weigh the options and refocus our wants to prioritize our needs: We need fresh air and the calm of nature. The economy needs the environment for survival.

Where and what is your sense of balance?

WEIGHING OUR OPTIONS: FRESH AIR AND NATURE OR THE ECONOMY?
IRL it looks and feels as if we have to choose between money – or – trees. AS we’re currently indoors most of the time, it’s the perfect time to think about what makes us feel rich and full of life: a walk in a park or down a tree filled street or locked at home waiting for deliveries. Mull it over for the next week, especially if you’re sitting at home in quarantine or isolation.

Nature and trees are ‘priceless’ and add value far beyond their monetary worth: oxygen and Emotional Well Being!

The best way to not stress (too much)? Take action! I don’t want to stress about money so I won’t buy that T-shirt or jeans; I certainly don’t want to stress about the environment and I can relax knowing cutting down on spending and using throw-aways is a win-win. And I certainly don’t want to be stressing about the coronavirus, so I’m staying away from others and washing my hands (a lot) with plain soap and water.

Most of all I know how lucky I am to have time right now to re-prioritize my needs and wants, while also paying attention to my checking balance and mental health. Let’s plan to make this pandemic an opportunity for changing actions when we re-emerge from our cocoons of isolation.

What do you choose? Have a discussion with friends and family about:

  • Where are priorities based on what’s important to you?
  • How do you define ‘Money Tree’?
  • What are some actions you can take to address both the environmental and economic challenges we’re faced with?

Let’s choose life: oxygen, water, and safe food! Trees give life and support our health and well-being. There are some things money can’t buy. Let’s remember this for our present sanity, future environmental health, and long time well-being.

AND – reach out to friends, even those who aren’t reaching out to you – it’s a kindness as important as fresh air!

Fast Fashion DON’T: #WasteFreeWednesday

18 Mar

We’re all at home – or should be – self-isolated to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Not to mention that most shops, public places, restaurants, even coffee places are closed. It’s a new bizarro world out there, right?

One thing I always think is weird: if I just want to be home and not go out it’s a wonderful luxury. BUT, if I CAN’T go out because of the weather, or now this virus, I’m frustrated and annoyed, and, all I can think of are all the places I could be going.

But, for the health and safety of all of us, we’re home, not just where you are but around the world. Likely, figuring out what to do with our time and energy; boredom and fear.

What have you been feeling these days? Can you put a name to it?

In the meantime, it’s easy to get on-line, and think about all the things you WILL be doing, and all the things you’ll need to do them. On-line shopping is easy, fun, and expensive. Expensive for those of us unable to work and collect a paycheck right now, and, even more expensive for Mother Nature.

Check out this article about FAUX FAST FASHION and the quote by Emma Watson: ‘We have the power to change the world by just being careful of what we buy.” https://apple.news/AnBZb7fuQRe6oGr-h3tgdRA

If you’re like me and feeling powerless to do much as we self-quarantine and self-isolate, how we shop and spend money is one way to take back that power. That will be even more important since so many of us are not working, not making money, and in truth, don’t have the money to buy clothes that won’t last as long as it will take to pay them off. So here are some actions to take:

Thoughts for this week’s #WasteFreeWednesday?

Don’t add to your (financial) debt;

Don’t add to the landfill excess of today’s trend that will pollute the planet even more.

INSTEAD:

  • Go through all your clothes and stuff.
    • Take pictures and think what feels good and what you need – post on Instagram and/or FB and ask people for their opinion
  • Reach out to friends and FB friends and see if someone wants to swap or just take things out of your closet
    • See if anyone has something you want and can easily swap

There’s so much written about this and here are just a few articles…

Read in South China Morning Post: https://apple.news/AJoWwW42NRdqc5-xlSWsdOg

AND:

Model Arizona Muse speaks out against fast fashion in new video with Extinction Rebellion – The Independent

Model Arizona Muse speaks out against fast fashion in new video with Extinction Rebellion – The Independent

Here’s a great article that showed up in my newsfeed today to help you focus your self-isolation time today and probably the rest of the week!

How to recycle your clothes: the guide to sustainable de-cluttering

Posted bySarah BiddlecombePublished13 hours ago

how to recycle clothes

Is 2020 the time for a full wardrobe detox? If your clear out has left you with a pile of unwanted clothes, read on for our guide on how to recycle clothes you no longer want or need responsibly.

Are you de-cluttering your wardrobe? Purging your closet of the clothes that no longer make you look and feel confident will leave you with two things a) the streamlined wardrobe you’ve always dreamed of – and –b) a mounting pile of clothes that you need to dispose of. 

The mere thought of that jumbled pile growing on your bedroom floor has been enough for many of us to postpone that long overdue clear out for another few months. But not any more – when it comes to finding new homes for your unwanted clothes, there have never been more options. Whether you choose to sell your pieces online, donate to a local charity shop or even take them to a clothes swap, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your old pieces find a new lease of life. 

But what about the pieces that aren’t in a fit state to find a new home? We’re talking the moth-eaten jumpers, damaged-beyond-repair jeans and stained T-shirts that can’t be cleaned. Though it might be tempting to chuck the odd ripped sock or pair of laddered tights into the bin, what about those bigger ticket items? 

With Brits sending a nausea-inducing 350,000 tones of clothes to landfill in spring 2018, our fashion waste problem is an epidemic that we can no longer ignore. Campaigners are urging us all to start recycling our old clothes rather than throwing them in the rubbish – and for good reason.

Over the last decade, clothing has become the fastest growing stream of waste in the UK, and it now represents the fifth biggest environmental footprint of any industry in the UK. 

Plus, the staggering 350,000 tonnes of clothing that go to landfill each year could generate a massive £140 million if they were reused or recycled.

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10 questions to ask yourself when cleaning out your wardrobe

Though the figures leave us little to argue with, we find  ourselves asking exactly how can we recycle our old clothes, and what do we need to know before we detox our wardrobes? 

To answer these all important questions, we looked at the recycling options available on the high street and spoke to Catrin Palfrey, project manager for the Love your Clothes campaign, to find out how we can do more to help at home.

How to recycle clothes: all your questions answered

Stylist spoke to Catrin Palfrey, project manager for the Love your Clothes campaign, part of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), to find out how we can do more at home, and how taking our unwanted items back to the high street can help.

Where can people in the UK go to recycle their clothes?

“People can donate clothes for reuse and recycling through a number of routes. For example, this could be via charity shops or collection bags from the door step, at a textiles bank at a supermarket or the local Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC).

“Some councils will also offer a clothing collection service as part of their recycling collection. The best way to see what to do in your area is use the Love Your Clothes Recycling Locator, where you can pop in your post-code and find out where your nearest textiles bank is.

“Or, you could try refashioning or upcycling unwanted items.”

Why is it important to recycle our old clothes rather than throwing them away?

“Globally, the natural resources (e.g. water and petroleum) needed to make products such as clothes are reducing. Repair, reuse and recycling reduces the amount we are sending to landfill, and makes use of resources already available rather than making them from scratch.

“Ultimately this means reduced levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere which contribute to climate change. It’s also believed that better reuse and recovery can maximise value, create jobs and build skills.”

Are there any parts of clothing that can’t be recycled, such as zips or buttons?

“European Recycling Company is a SCAP signatory which recycles garments and shoes. Nothing goes to waste: buttons, zips, chains and rivets are all removed and sent for recycling.

“Even the dust generated in the process is compressed into blocks and used again in the manufacture of paper, concrete production or utilised as energy.”

Where to recycle clothes on the high street

A number of high street retailers are offering in-store initiatives that aim to make recycling even simpler.

h&m recycle clothes
How to recycle clothes: H&M offer a £5 voucher in return for a bag of your unwanted textiles.

Recycling clothes at H&M

H&M has been offering a garment recycling service since 2013, with every item donated being recycled, reused or re-worn. The fashion giant collects clothes or textiles in all H&M stores worldwide, and if you drop in a bag of clothes to be recycled, the company will give you a £5 voucher to spend in-store as a thank you.

Speaking to Stylist, Catarina Midby, H&M UK sustainability manager, said, “We are one of the world’s biggest fashion companies and this comes with both responsibility and opportunity as we have a unique reach and possibility to create change that few others have. 

Currently 26% of all H&M products are made using sustainable materials and our goal is to produce 100% of our products using sustainable materials by 2030.”

Recycling clothes at Zara

Zara began installing collection bins in its stores across Europe in 2016, and currently has containers spread across countries including the UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. 

The clothes left in the containers are donated to charities such as the Red Cross.

Recycling clothes at & Other Stories

You can swap your unwanted clothes, textiles and beauty packaging in & Other Stories stores in exchange for a 10% ‘recycling treat’ voucher. Not too shabby…

This article was originally published in June 2017 but has been updated throughout

Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter

https://apple.news/AfGDPzyuXQRy3uYn9ttcuHg

#WastefreeWednesday 11 March

11 Mar

It’s #WasteFreeWednesday – again! Another chance to take actions – we’re starting small – to combat our changing climate. Remember, not only will our daily actions allow each and every one of us to feel we are in control of what is happening around us, it will ALSO show politicians and corporations we want change NOW.

Why should we take action and basically boycott plastic makers? Read the article below and then ask yourself that question! Remember if we don’t buy it they can’t sell it so they won’t make it!

Read in National Geographic: https://apple.news/APtHRXSXyT2Cwu5WGP7Io5w

An old-school plan to fight plastic pollution gathers steam
Companies like Coca-Cola used to collect 98 percent of their bottles, and new entrepreneurs are learning from their tactics.

This is a big reason I’ll stick with re-usables to cut down on plastic use…

Last week, I suggested a few small changes – like carrying your own mug and reusable bottle and bag to keep from using plastic. This is so important – taking actions to slowly cut back on plastic, I’m going to feed your motivation to take action with just a few pictures, once again urging you to become a REAL influencer and promote a #WasteFreeWednesday movement.

Please spread the word and take action. Share your own photos and/or post them on your own FB or Instagram page.

The world has changed a lot since Tevvy’s mother didn’t need plastic, true. Now, we need to think about how to use less plastic. What can you give up?


Tevvy’s is a restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia. NGO’s are tackling social and environmental issues – think about what you can do in a few minutes this Wednesday.

While this isn’t about plastic, per se, think about how much of our food comes in plastic whether it’s from the grocery store AND the plastic and waste we use when we buy delivery food/uber eats and all the other delivery services that make our life so ‘easy’.

Composting has begun in Portland, OR and I’m sure around the country. One interesting thing to look at with your garbage, is how much is food waste – and what the rest is… Urge your city/town to compost!

Think of all the plastic STUFF that’s cheaply made – or just easier to buy new then repair. Think about where that ends up (in our water and food, and…. This idea is good for the planet and food biz idea for fix-it types that are looking to start a business.

It’s way to easy to throw stuff away and just buy new (and new things are so pretty – and fun! Look at something you are about to throw away and think about what it would take to fix it: shoes that can be re-heeled or soled?

Someone recently told me it was cheaper to buy a new printer than to buy an ink cartridge! Tell me that’s not crazy. If a cartridge can’t be easily replaced it shouldn’t be bought – we all have that choice!

Another brilliant reuse for plastic bottles -(in Cambodia) why buy a new fixture when this ‘waste’ can free up money and garbage?
This is likely to be a familiar site EVERYWHERE – garbage – take-away containers and plastic at the base of the tree while a garbage can is steps away. it won’t take much for that garage to end up in the river…

The easiest way to keep garbage off the streets and out of our water is just not to buy it and to use reusables. That idea works for the pic above and the one below.

Take away containers that HAVE ended up far down-stream and in a part of the river where people swim and fish. Nice, right?
A small section of the Mekong River, a river where people eat from, bathe, live on and yet it’s also now filled with waste. First world waste is a global issue we CAN do something about.
Plastic bags have been banned around the world including Bangkok, Thailand and parts of Vietnam. And NYC, usually the leader in action can’t ban plastic bags??? Yet one more thing each and every one of us has to take action on and just say NO!

Spread the word and take action. I know I’ve contributed to the plastic that is in a field now – BUT – I also know I can take action now and make a difference. Join me – Join the activitists around the world to greatly decrease plastic production and pollution.

#Waste-Free Wednesday

25 Feb

It seems every day we hear and/or experience outcomes from our irresponsible environmental behavior and Mother Nature’s response. It’s overwhelming, with scary, dire predictions shared daily.

Politicians and corporations are dragging their feet; unwilling to change their role in polluting the planet. Even with dynamic climate leaders like Greta Thunberg providing reasons why they shouldand must – take immediate action. I say: it’s time WE lead!

Time to change where we put our energy and frustrations.

As individuals WE have Power. Power to change ourselves, and, to rebalance the environment. It’ll be hard and sounds hokey, but it’s time to acknowledge the change we can create by where and how we spend our money – and our energy.

Money speaks. Every day and every time we spend a dollar, we are providing support of corporations, and their actions. Time to spend money (in a way) to show what is important to us – on what we value.

There’s so much pressure, incentive, opportunity to buy something cheap, new, and shiny. But we all have to decide what’s important to us – really, in the long term.

Buying new, cheap and shiny things is fun – it makes us feel good, right? And all around us we’re shown how something new and wonderful makes us a better person. Especially new clothes that are on trend and Instagram perfect.

Ask yourself: WHAT IS IMPORTANT? Do I want to eat plastic in fish?

Power starts with small actions. It’s what we do and how we spend for starters. Each action may be a drop in the bucket, but, a single drop in the ocean can cause a tidal wave.

Imagine if each of us said YES to Re-usable mugs and bottles each and every Wednesday – how many disposable cups and single use bottles would NOT be used.

IF we stop taking our ‘STARBUCKS’ (or other brand) coffee cups, stop buying a bottle of water and instead refill our water bottles, companies will listen (because they won’t be making money!) and change – because WE have made them do so!

Time to start a tidal wave, one action, one drop at a time with #Waste-Free Wednesday.

Here are some ideas to put into play this Wednesday:

  • DON’T take a bag that’s offered – even from a trendy store (and even if it’s paper).
  • Bring a reusable bag with you.
  • Carry your own mug to the local cafe for your morning cup of tea/coffee.
  • If you commute, carry one of those commuter cups – you probably have a few in your kitchen.
  • Don’t buy FAST FASHION! We all know those trends of the week that are in style today, are cheap, and cheaply made. (it will end up in a landfill soon.)
  • Bring your own water bottle, or if you’re lucky to live in a place with good drinking water use the water fountain (or bubbler if you’re from Wisconsin).

If you already do some of these, perfect, add another action to your list, or make a longer time goal – and share here.

Spread the word and become the #Waste-Free Wednesday leader in your class, office, and family/friend group.

Imagining a rebalanced environment:

Imagine a Wednesday when 50% of people walking into Starbucks didn’t take a disposable cup and lid.

Imagine a Wednesday where 50% fewer people bought a bottle of water and instead refilled it at a water fountain, or, cafe/restaurant, office, etc.

Imagine not taking a bag at the trendy store (or drugstore) you just shopped.

Imagine shopping a local “BUY/SELL clothes store nearby – no packaging to throw away. And it’s fun! Make a shop date with friends like I recently did in Chicago with J. and L.

Money speaks. Money is a step to environmental action when we DON’T put our money in things that are unsustainable!

Join the movement: Become a #Waste-Free Wednesday leader, share on Instagram and Facebook what you’re doing today!

A little extra: Margaret Weis’ powerful quote reinforcing our power – and our ability – to start a tidal wave!

“We each have within ourselves the ability to shape our own destinies. That much we understand. But, more important, each of us has an equal ability to shape the destiny of the universe. Ah, that you find more difficult to believe. But I tell you it is so. You do not have to be the leader of the Council. You do not have to be king or monarch or the head of a clan to have a significant impact on the world around you.
In the vastness of the ocean, is any drop of water greater than another?
No, you answer, and neither has a single drop the ability to cause a tidal wave.
But, I argue, if a single drop falls into the ocean, it creates ripples. And these ripples spread. And perhaps – who knows – these ripples may grow and swell and eventually break foaming upon the shore.
Like a drop in the vast ocean, each of us causes ripples as we move through our lives. The effects of whatever we do – insignificant as it may seem – spread out beyond us. We may never know what far-reaching impact even the simplest action might have on our fellow mortals. Thus we need to be conscious, all of the time, of our place in the ocean, of our place in the world, of our place among our fellow creatures.
For if enough of us join forces, we can swell the tide of events – for good or for evil.”

― Margaret Weis, The Seventh Gatetags: changedestinyinspirationalphilosophyRead more quotes from Margaret Weis

What’s your (recycling) style?

25 Oct

It used to be talking about the weather meant that there was nothing else to say. Now, the weather is a powerful character in our stories, changing lives wherever it visits. Mostly thanks to climate change.

The UN Climate Action Summit in late September brought energy and reality to an earth on fire (literally in California, and many places around the world). Activist Greta Thunberg urged world leaders to act NOW. Corporate leaders are hearing the same cries of anguish.

Hearing and listening are different things.

Sexy plastic bottles?????

When and why did carrying around plastic bottles, and coffee to-go cups become sexy? And they must be, otherwise why would people around the world want to be seen with them? Hollywood is surely the greatest advertiser for pulling a water bottle out of the fridge, steps from a sink with running water, cool (read Nadine Zylberberg’s “Single Use Plastics On-Screen and Off). Unless you’re in Flint, Michigan or The Warm Springs Indian Reservation (where water needs to be boiled), in most of the developed world tap water is fine. Perhaps a new reality show will be the ‘Battle of Hydration’: what will get us first: thirst or plastic pollution.

Sign at the Paris Airport declaring wonderful water in their fountains!

A few facts:

  • March 18th is Global Recycling Day. Put it on your calendar for next year.
  • Recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves the equivalent energy usage a two person household will use in a year. BUT: only 27% of plastic is recyclable! The math: 73% of plastic is destined for a landfill, the ocean, or a park near you.
  • Every three months, Americans throw enough aluminum in the landfills to build our entire commercial air fleet.
  • Littering isn’t just ugly – chemicals from plastic leach out into the water or soil. Micro-plastics in fish is known, but what about the effect on trees and their ability to produce needed oxygen?
  • The most littered item: cigarette butts!

Scary, true… especially waiting for the UN Climate Summit, Paris Accord/Agreement, and/or corporate leaders to take real and immediate action. Screw them, we got this:

Are you an Instagram influencer or want to be one? Start ‘Throw-away&Waste Free Wednesday’s”. No plastic&to-go cups & containers on Wednesday’s.

Looks good doesn’t it? #Throw-away&Waste Free Wednesday: No plastic&to-go cups&containers on Wednesday’s.

Redefine sexy and cool and be the influencer in your office or school:

  • Have ONE reusable mug for your coffee that you carry on Wednesdays Each reusable mugs need to be used 300x to offset the materials. Basically it’s having one for a year.
  • Get one of those little reusable bags that folds into the size of an apricot, throw it in your briefcase or handbag and use it for a year.
  • Chat around the water-fountains (or bubbler if you’re in Wisconsin) instead of texting.
  • Demand Hollywood make desk mugs, reusable travel mugs, and, water out of the tap sexy again. If fashion and jean styles are being recycled, why not how we drink coffee and water?

E=MC2 is about a small mass creating a huge amount of energy. That small mass is me, you and, all of us! We can’t wait for The UN or corporate leaders LISTEN and take action. People listen to action. We can do this by starting small and influentially starting a movement:

#Throw-away&Waste Free Wednesday: No plastic&to-go cups&containers on Wednesday’s

Margaret Mead’s truly Genius Quote!

Flash to Fallow: Mother Nature’s 5 Financial Lessons

4 Oct

This post originally appeared on blogher’s ‘Diary of a Single Professional Woman’

Nature is rich – in resources – just like I want to be.

I often say ‘Everything I need to know about the economy and life I learned from Mother Nature’.   As fall sends nature’s flash into fallow (or dormancy), it’s the perfect time to learn from her (save, spend, grow) sustainability plan.   After all, she’s been around a long time – so what does she know that we don’t?  And more importantly what can we learn so we spring open along with the crocuses come April?   Here’s my simplistic, and metaphoric thoughts on ‘environmental economics’ to kick around along with the leaves.

seedling

Fall may feel like an end rather than a start – look out the window and nature looks like it is dying.  Ha!  Mother Nature is transitioning from her extroverted spring/summer flash to a well-deserved introverted fall/winter recovery time.  Her withdrawal of energy allows time to reflect, rejuvenate, and save for spring’s big bloom roll-out.

Shorter days likely darken our mood.  Especially as color leaves our external environment.   Green, in particular colors our thoughts – and the U.S. dollar or greenback, that universal currency.  Simply:

Lush, rich, life = Green

Green = Money

Green = Nature

Nature = Resources

Resources = Money

Money = Nature

Nature = Resources = Life

Yet, when it comes to linking the economy with the environment, it seems we are colorblind, too often living in the red.  I think we need to ask: which resources are needed for life?

For a brief period of time, I thought it was a ‘red handbag’.  As you’ve read,  it was a temporary want.  Sure, I love ‘stuff’ that makes my apartment home.  But honestly, I don’t need it – I just want it.   The only resources any of us really need for life are oxygen, water, and food.  Resources only nature can provide contrary to food package’ ingredient listings.

I say our challenge is working with Mother Nature for our needs while satisfying our human nature with our wants.

It’s asking:  What Would Mother Nature Do (WWMND) for economic success?   She’d say begin with her 5 steps:

1.  Balance:    Mother Nature has obviously spent plenty of time on a playground seesaw.  She understands the need to maintain balance even while going up and down.   She uses what she has – while saving a little for the future.    Mother Nature foregoes debt, once her bottom line turns from green to red, she catapults into endangerment/extinction.

Lesson:   We may become morally, emotionally, financially bankrupt overusing resources, causing our internal peace (balance) to become extinct.  Live under your means to keep your personal seesaw going.   Debt drives your energy, emotions, finances and goodwill into the red.  And remember: There is no plastic – no credit cards – found in nature.

Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child's play.
Maintaining balance, like on a see-saw can seem like child’s play.

2.  Save:   Mother Nature saves everything including those piles of leaves in your yard.   This is not hoarding.  She reduces those dead leaves/blooms by recycling (decomposers de-clutter causing decaying leaves to smell like a frat house bathroom on a Sunday morning) and reusing (notice those leaves are gone by spring – broken up and back into the soil like using old clothes to make a quilt).  All this saving leads to new blooms – and a reminder that the future is no predictor of the past.

Lesson:  use what you have to grow your future – like with an IRA.    And don’t bother raking those leaves in your yard!

3.  Spew seeds:  Seeds are nature’s C.D.’s (certificates of deposit), little packets of possibility to ensure future growth.   They even sound similar!   Seeds, like C.D.’s only open at the right time, in the right place, and the right conditions – and they are supported by all those unused seeds and leaves that ‘die’.  There are even special seeds that open during a forest fire to ensure that tree species survival.  Kinda like emergency C.D.’s/funds.  

Lesson:  save for emergencies as well as the future – though the stock market provides better returns than C.D.’s.

Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already  open (like all CD's should be!)
Nobody would touch this funky burr-covered seed till it was already open (like all CD’s should be!)

4.  Diversification: The healthiest forest and gardens are filled with diverse trees that play host to lots of different bugs, and are called home by lots of birds.   Having only one species like Dutch Elm (on decorative paths) found one ‘sick’ tree caused them all to die.

Lesson:  Diversification of your holdings maintains balance and growth so even if your ‘Dutch Elm’-like stock tanks/dies, other stock species survive.

5.  Be sustainable:  Mother Nature thrives because everything she has is used and supports everything else, even though it may seem to be in conflict.

Lesson:  Invest in things that feed your future.  Material things that overwhelm you and end up in landfills throw you off-balance and leave nothing to decompose – unlike the leaves left in your yard that will decompose to nurture spewed seeds.  Experiential investments always leave you with seeds or kernels of thought and growth.

Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium
Part of the Coney Island boardwalk by the NY Aquarium

 Mother Nature’s 5 lessons keep you blooming in all seasons:

  • This holiday season, stay green and out of the red by matching  spending with your values (http://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/values-activity/) and keep you growing.
  • Make every day is your special Valentine’s Day by making black the new red.  Love yourself by loving your finances and living under your means to live fully in the future.

And really, just one more thing to think about:  We may say money is the root of all evil, and we should add, resources are the cause for conflicts personally and globally...

Meanwhile, what steps will you take to support your spring blooms?

Oh Brave New World: Are we there yet?

31 Jul

When I’m brave, I notice old things in new ways.  Even when I barely remember ‘it’, my second viewing can feel as fresh – or even better.

Before your imagination runs rampant with romanticized ‘do-overs’, I’m talking about rereading ‘A Brave New World’, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 shocking and ground-breaking novel.  It’s initial review: ‘nothing can make it come alive.”

Or, oops, have we brought to life this fictionalized world?

Revisiting anything after 40 years or so (YIKES) is like entering a brand new world.  A reminder of how experience and age adds perspective.  I’m reminded why ‘do-overs’ can be wonderful.  The reason we should all literally be physical tourists to our past.

But here’s what I wonder:  does Huxley’s world  need to be relived, or it our own?

Here are my 7 perspectives on our bridged worlds:

1.  Conformity:  Their brave new world was big on conformity.  Our thoughts are freely shared – with the hope of FB likes – and the affirmation that others agree.

2.  Consumption:  Their economy survived because people consumed new stuff.  Post 2008 crash and awareness most people had no savings, we’re now told to go out and spend money to build the economy.  Throw away stuff anyone?  Products that don’t last and have to be replaced?  New styles that must be purchased to update your look every season?  Check, check, check.

3.  Never alone:  Their society shunned being alone.  Our society doesn’t have to be alone, or not virtually.  Most of us are never thumbs away from texting – or more like tweeting and FaceBook-ing our thoughts, whereabouts, and eating habits.

4.  Feeling good:  Their drug of choice, soma, made bad thoughts disappear without negative side effects.  Our society may not match that, though we do have eating, shopping, and drugs and alcohol to make us feel better even momentarily – though, unfortunately all with negative side effects.  O.k., we need to

work on this one.

5.  Class differentiation:  Their classes were separated and defined by ‘pre-natal’ nurturing (or rather test-tube), educational conditioning, and by dress.  Our society is still challenged with school inequality based on zip code, higher drop out rates and lower literacy in ‘inner cities’.  We are reminded about the importance of pre-natal care and faced with young children’s learning difficulties based on lead poisoning, fetal alcohol treatment, and poor nutrition.  And differentiation by dress:  before I knew there was a name for them, I could identify them on the ‘F’ train:  hipsters.

6.  Dislike of the natural world:  Their entertainment focused on the beautiful and clean.  Our entertainment still takes us into the natural world, though even National Parks are feeling the strain of consumerism with wildlife lying victim as roadkill.  Perhaps we can handle the dirt though because of our ubiquitous anti-bacterial sprays and hand lotions, which thankfully kill off the very bacteria which our bodies are equipped to keep in check and keep us healthy.

 There’s clearly a divide between the ‘natural’  – outdoor – world – and humankind’s ‘unnatural’ one.  Hmmm….  What does that say about our place within ‘livingkind’?

photo-117

His first choice: the remains of a Dorito’s bag in Prospect Park

7.  Love of beauty:  Their world thrived on eternal youth and beauty:  a lack of wrinkles, fat, and ugliness.   Suddenly I’m sold on traveling to this brave new world.  Then I glanced through a fashion magazine while watching T.V.  Oh, wait, we are getting there.   Check, check, check to the aforementioned.

There’s no excuse for aging or ugliness in our world (though I’ll come up with a reason soon):  anti-wrinkle/aging creams are easily found at all price points in every drug/department store.  Botox is like soma.  (I think I use parenthesis often because I see them every time I look in the mirror.)   Fat is bad: Diet advice, pills, powders and food are as plentiful as those anti-aging potions.  Spanx and slimming undergarments come in all sizes for both sexes.  Even size 2 actresses wear layers of Spanx.    If you don’t get the picture yet, just turn on your computer to watch T.V. or a movie, then look around you.  Last reminder for our distaste of the unattractive:  we’re shown pictures of stars aging poorly (i.e. look like ‘regular’ 55 y.o.’s) or look imperfect without make-up or a done hair do.

I don’t mean this to be as cynical as it sounds.  Really, I don’t.  I also don’t think it’s us following art.

Rather, I think it is us following our human nature.   Seeking natural selection to be our best, while still discovering what that best may be.

If we are ‘there’ – or where-ever we are – where do we go next?  Are we brave enough to decide?

WWMND? (What would Mother Nature do?): A fictional conversation begins

5 Jun

What’s real?

As the new normal emerges as packaged austerity and annual 100-year storms,  I’ll let you decide once you’ve ‘listened’ to these somewhat fictional conversations I’ve been writing between somewhat fictional characters: Mother Nature, Humankind, Greenback, and Credit Card.

Here it is:

“Meet me for coffee.”  Mother Nature’s  invitational text sent in frustration was born from

frustration and sadness.  She’d heard too many rumbles of despair, drowned out by the constant drone of cell phone chatter, overwhelmed by music seeping out of ear plugs.

Overheard messages:  “They did it to me; fool me once, shame on them, fool me twice, super-sized shame on them”.

“I didn’t know.  How could I have known? “

“What do you mean my job isn’t there anymore?”

“It’s not MY fault.  They made me do it:  it was the advertising, the celebrities, the catalogues, my friends, my parent”s.

“They knew I’d lose the bet:  you just can’t eat one – or buy just one”.

“Don’t tell us what do – but if you don’t – it will be your fault”.

“It’s their fault.  They came in, gave us jobs, then, spilled their oil.  Lost our jobs.  Ruined our environment.  We want our jobs back.”

And most of all she heard:  “Bamboozled.  We’ve been bamboozled”.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature listens and shakes her head again.  She has watched exploding globalization, make America’s number one export the American Dream.. She’s watched so much melt away.  Literally:   icecaps, savings, and even happiness have seemed to POOF!  evaporate into thin, or rather carbon-dioxide heavy air.

Staring at her text to meet for coffee, she looks for blame.  But where to start?  Is it Greenback’s fault for the greed he ignites in Humankind?  Or is Humankind’s irresponsible and insatiable hunger for Mother Nature’s rich resources to blame?

These bullies are culprits – and potential saviors.  Much as Mother Nature hates the idea, she knows she has to practice friendship with her enemies, or she will be the planet’s sole inhabitant.

Not that this would necessarily be a bad thing.  After all, she doesn’t need Humankind or anyone else to survive.  Yet, she is an optimist and collaborator.

And meeting for coffee doesn’t sound so bad.  In fact, it sounds pretty good.  And she wants to meet these ‘characters’.

So off she goes to the local java joint.

sustainable mug - party talk for environmentalists

Later….

At the cafe:  Greenback joins Mother Nature in ordering lattes.  Credit Card arrives in time to swipe.

Sipping, Mother Nature shakes her head as she looks around:  “Ha!  People say they’re green as they drown in their mounds of organic clothes, fair trade coffee and ‘save the planet’ coffee mugs.”

“I know what you mean.  I may be called Greenback;, but I’m seeing red these days on too many bottom lines.  I feel like I’m having an existential crisis.  Do I exist or have I been passed over for a shiny piece of plastic?”  Holding his head in his hands, Greenback glances at Credit Card who is snickering  while chomping on a scone.

Has she found an ally so quickly?  Mother Nature looks sympathetically and says, “Yup, now you’re as screwed as I’ve been for decades.”

“But he has me to help.  Together we are invincible thanks to Humankind,” Credit Card adds pointing to Greenback.  “Where IS Humankind?”

Hopes of camaraderie fade, as Mother Nature’s mood changes as quickly as the weather:  “Sure you’re invincible – at MY expense.  Sure your value has multiplied since you’ve devoured all I have to offer, from the depths of my oceans to the tops of my mountains.  Wake up:  you grow, but I’m dying.”

“Humph!”  Greenback chortles, patting Mother Nature condescendingly on the back.  “Quit whining Mommy Dearest.  I’m never down for long.  My comeback is inevitable.  What’s YOUR problem?”

“Actually, it’s YOU.”-

Stay tuned for Humankind’s entrance.  In the meantime:

What do you think a successful relationship between Mother Nature, Humankind, Credit Card, and, Greenback would look like ?

Who is to blame for the mess our world is in?

What do you think will happen when Humankind shows up?

Do you think it’s possible for Mother Nature to form a win-win relationship with Humankind, Credit Card, and Greenback?  Why or why not?

Happy Earth Day 2013: Go get hugged!

21 Apr

‘They’ say we need 8 hugs a day to be at our best.

A celebration of earth's bounty: 'Spice and Tease' at NYC's Chelsea Market

A celebration of earth’s bounty: ‘Spice and Tease’ at NYC’s Chelsea Market

‘They’ say each person needs 56 trees’ oxygen to offset her personal production of carbon dioxide.

How many hugs then do trees need – or deserve – for taking care of us each and every day?

Before you read further:  go hug.  Hug a person and/or a tree.

Not aware of Earth Day?  It’s probably because it’s not a Hallmark holiday.  That’s a good thing –  (wasted) paper would exhaust the very resources to celebrate:  trees and water.

But the downside:  it’s not well celebrated – and our survival depends on it.  Literally.

Wikipedia  ‘facts’:  Earth Day (the first in 1970) and  International Mother Earth Day (by the United Nations in 2009) is observed annually on April 22  in support for environmental protection.   Around the planet, people are listening to music, learning about eco-friendly technology, recycling electronics, clothes, bottles and cans, and participating in cleanups.

I’ve done beach clean-ups, including in the Hurricane Sandy devastated Rockaway’s.  One long-time Rockaway resident observed:  ‘lots of people come here to clean up on one day.  Then, nothing.  Nobody comes to clean when the beaches get crowded – and dirtier.’

It’s true of course.

We put a lot of momentum into one day, and then go about our business.

That one day is our consolation, and a commemorative prize.

Aveda's annual water campaign provides awareness and clean drinking water!

Aveda’s annual water campaign provides awareness and clean drinking water!

But I wonder: why do the beaches need to be ‘picked up’ so often?   We’ve picked up cigarette butts, toys, bottles, cans, socks, towels, styrofoam cups, those big plastic cups, straws, and suntan lotion bottles. In April or May. Long before beach season begins.

People must believe it’s okay to bury their garbage along with their heads or feet in the sand….  Or that small stuff, like thousands of cigarette butts won’t make a difference because they are small.

Btw, cigarette butts don’t degrade.

Saturday, I volunteered with Riverkeeper, at NYC’s Hudson River Greenway.  The bright sunny day masked the freezing wind, keeping people moving along the beautiful green space that parallels the High Line and the Hudson River.  This event brought several environmental groups together to share information.

Solar One:  those little black squares are solar panels and the little colored things are spinning around

Solar One: those little black squares are solar panels and the little colored things are spinning around

(Interestingly, I was told, environmental groups compete for attention and funding, often not communicating and sharing thoughts and action.)

These groups do amazing things - not many people because it was FREEZING! Panelists including:  Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper, Grow NYC and Hudson River Greenway

These groups do amazing things – not many people because it was FREEZING! Panelists including: Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper, Grow NYC and Hudson River Greenway

The passing public collected ‘swag‘:  reusable bags from Magnolia Bakery, Aveeno face cream, and pamphlets.  People love free stuff.

Swag (bags from Magnolia Bakery) roadkill?

Swag (bags from Magnolia Bakery) roadkill?

I asked one event participant why Earth Day wasn’t a widely celebrated ‘event’.

‘Exhaustion from being over publicized’

Is this really what we want to hear?jbblogfloprotacohvac.com

Is this really what we want to hear?jbblogfloprotacohvac.com

I wonder if it’s become like the boy calling ‘wolf’:  the environmentalist calling ‘global warming, global devastation’ one time too many.

first-earth-day-1970_1366004188 earthday2013funphotos.com

And we deal best with catastrophes when they strike –  all of us trying to stay afloat between devastating events from super storms to job loss.  Exhausting!

It’s almost understandable that clean air, water, healthy food, the diverse ecosystems that provides these things are exhausting to think about. Much less do anything about it.  I’ve often seen bottles in cans in Whole Foods garbage cans when a recycling bin is steps aways (and yes, I take them out and settle them in their proper receptacle!)

But here’s the most interesting thing:  Earth Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day are days apart.  

Coincidence?  

Maybe.  But these two days are joined in a tight hug.

This WWII poster says it all!

This WWII poster says it all!

Last year I wrote about the Bielski Partisans (movie: Defiance) WWII survival in the forests.

Wars, hate crimes, genocides ultimately are over resources.  Natural resources that come from the Earth.

People are killed over land, water, diamonds. Food.  Not to mention Nike’s.

So my thoughts on this beautiful Earth Day are:  Stand-up!

Hug a tree.  Hug a person.

Fight Genocide – fight for a healthy planet.

You can prevent war- reduce your consumption of ‘stuff’, turn off the water, drive less, recycle.

less is more earth day

Let’s focus on quality – not quantity.  Let’s care enough about ourselves and future generations to leave them a real inheritance.

Stand up by donating time, money, and energy.  Talk about and share these organizations:

Riverkeeper

Grow NYC

Waterkeeper

JNF (starting planting trees in Israel in 1901!)

Sierra Club

US Holocaust Museum

A Meaningful World (anti-Genocide)

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