Archive for November, 2010

digital detox deluxe

November 28, 2010

(image: unplug)

No email. No internet. No computer.

For 5 days (starting midnight tonight) I will be away from my trusty laptop. I’ve done this before and I’ll do it again. It serves me well on many levels. It centers me. It keeps me focused on what’s important, especially what (or who) is right in front of me. And as the emails clutter my inbox, I will remain unaware. When I check them at the end of the week, I’ll get a sense of what kind of info I’m gathering and perhaps unsubscribe from the unnecessaries and prioritize the rest. Separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

What makes this digital detox a “deluxe” is that I’ll also be doing a 5-day yoga cleanse. I’ll be simplifying my diet (no meat or dairy, nothing heavy, fried, or too sugary) and practicing 2-hours of cleansing yoga every morning. It’s quite a treat (and kind of a birthday present to myself).

I’ll be back soon to let you know how it goes. Enjoy the week!

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baa is the word

November 18, 2010

The secret word that is!

The grand opening of Icebreaker of New Zealand’s first TouchLab store in New York City is Wednesday, December 1!  And anyone who shops at the new Icebreaker store and says the Secret Password (“BAA BAA”) at check out will receive 10% off at checkout between now and January 1, 2011.

The 2,500-square-foot SoHo store will be Icebreaker’s flagship, located at 102 Wooster Street (betwn Prince & Spring) across the street from Patagonia’s SoHo store (look out Patagonia!).

If you don’t know about Icebreaker and their totally traceable, ethically sourced wool, check out this post (or this one) I wrote about them a while back. (See also their site.)

More incentives to visit Icebreaker…

You can also enter to win 1 of 50 pair of Icebreaker merino socks to people who help spread the word about Icebreaker’s first New York City store. See http://blog.icebreaker.com/2010/11/icebreaker-opens-new-york-city-store-in-soho. I can tell you from experience, these are some seriously awesome socks!

Plus, they’re giving away a trip for two to New Zealand, including an overnight at a merino sheep station (farm).*

What’s so great about Icebreaker’s merino wool goods?

Natural and sustainably produced Icebreaker merino regulates body temperature in both hot and cold weather, is highly breathable to prevent the clamminess associated with synthetics, and protects the wearer from the sun’s harmful rays. It’s also “no stink” without washing, resisting odor for days – sometimes weeks – saving water and detergent versus stinky synthetic materials. Plus, the wool Icebreaker uses comes directly from the farm, so Icebreaker can ensure ethical sourcing and animal welfare.

Icebreaker believes “nature is better than plastic.” I do, too.

*As part of the grand opening, Icebreaker will give away a trip for two to New Zealand. Entrants must visit the store and try on an Icebreaker merino garment and complete the entry form. The prize includes airfare from New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles to New Zealand, one night accommodation on a merino sheep station (farm) in New Zealand, and an Icebreaker layering system for two. See the store for complete details.

change your underwear

November 16, 2010

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’m doing Brooklyn Green Team’s No New Clothing Challenge – a 3-month new clothing fast. Not to brag, but it’s not too challenging for me. Buying used, swapping, hand-me-downs, whatever – most of my clothes are new to me but not straight from the factory. Except for undergarments. And luckily the Green Team’s challenge gives participants a pardon for the skivvies, because I just found this new undies brand that I’m thinking of giving a try. (Wow! I’m getting personal now aren’t I?)

The brand is called PACT. All of their underwear, for women and men, are made with organically grown cotton. But that’s not all! They give 10% of all of their sales to a range of causes, including one of my faves, The Green Belt Movement.

Creative Growth Splatter Bikini

The Green Belt Movement Boxer

Oh yeah, and then there’s this. All of the packaging is either reusable or compostable (read: no plastic). Their goal is to provide a no landfill product that you’ll love.

Learn more about PACT and get a pair or two for you or your loved ones!

designed for the dump

November 11, 2010

If you haven’t checked out the latest installment of the “Story of…” series, it’s worth a look & listen. It’s about the lifecycle of our electronics. All of the TVs, cell phones, game consoles, laptops that we buy and eventually kick to the curb are seriously toxic to produce and dispose of. Do we really need a new cell phone every two years like the phone companies like to push? Do we really need that fancy new laptop when we can upgrade ours with a new hard-drive? Watch the video, and then decide.

The Story of Stuff home page

green books campaign review

November 10, 2010

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green” books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

For the campaign, I chose Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills by Thomas J. Elpel (Hops Press). This book is printed with 100% soy-based inks on 100% recycled paper, bleached without chlorine.

I have a confession. This book was actually my second choice to review for the Green Books Campaign. But when it arrived and I began to peruse its pages, I’m glad that my first choice (Less Is More, which is being reviewed by everydaytrash) was already taken.

I was pleasantly surprised by the personal approach to the writing of Participating in Nature. The writer takes us on a day’s journey, both literally and metaphorically. We start out at sunrise, awakening our senses to the world around us, all through the writer’s observations. He guides us through his experiences and demonstrates shelter building, fire starting, water collecting, edible plant IDing skills and more. The journey naturally ends with sunset.

Being a city girl with dreams of the wilderness, this book was just the thing to entertain my fantasies of roughing it out in “nature.” The funny thing about that is, as the author points out, nature is all around us, even in urban settings. In fact, it’s a big misconception that we are ever separate from nature. It is easy to forget that we and everything in our lives is of the earth when the material items we’re exposed to daily include technological luxuries like computers, televisions, and refrigerators. Their components are so highly processed that the natural sources from which they’re derived are unrecognizable.

“Our modern lives have become so removed from hand-to-mouth survival that we delude ourselves into thinking resources come from the store rather than from nature. We think of ourselves as separate from nature. We think we can draw lines on a map and separate “wilderness” from “non-wilderness,” but there is only one wilderness, one ecosystem, and we are part of it. Like the deer eating grass, or the robin bringing materials back to build a nest, we all must use the resources of the earth for survival. This is true whether we live in an apartment building in the city, or in a wickiup in the woods.”

He goes on to drive home the paradox of our being a part of nature while simultaneously being seen as its destroyer.

“We are similarly admonished for consuming resources at home. We learn that we negatively impact the world from the moment we get up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night. We cause harm every time we drive, or go to work, or entertain ourselves. We learn that we are destroying the planet, and we are told to “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” to slow down the pace of destruction. It may be true that we are destroying the planet, and certainly there is nothing wrong with reducing, reusing, and recycling, but there is something wrong with an ideology that tells us on the one hand that we are part of nature – and on the other hand that we are the bad part! The best we can ever achieve is to be less bad.”

This is where I smiled to myself and was reminded of my permaculture studies. The author touches on several concepts which I learned from permaculture, especially the notion that “attitude matters.” This is further brought to light in the second chapter titled, “Mind.”

“Reality is ordered by our perception of it.”

There is a humility in the tone of the writing in what is essentially a primitive living skills guidebook. Although it is clear the author knows his stuff, there is no air of superiority in this knowledge. He makes it clear that he is continually learning and is sure to let the reader know of certain shortcomings of the guide. Specifically, he attempts to make the guide applicable to most regions of the United States, but only to a point. His most direct experiences are in Montana and he reminds us this when necessary. And although this is the case, I think people in all regions can benefit from this introduction to primitive living skills. The instructions are fairly clear, though of course not as clear as learning from a video or in person. In between the demonstrations, the chapters are peppered with narrative and first-person accounts of interactions with plants, animals, and the elements of nature.

Aside from the entertainment value of the insightful stories the author tells, Participating in Nature serves as a great introduction to survival and primitive living skills. There may be other guides out there that are more definitive (though I haven’t met them yet). But the book satisfied the initial curiosity I had for certain skills like building primitive shelters with on site materials, making cordage from natural fibers, and butchering a roadkill deer. I would love someday to be able to attend a wilderness school to learn firsthand some of the other skills covered in this book such as making a bowdrill and starting a fire with it, creating shelter with a hot coal bed, and fishing by hand. Perhaps I’ll even get a chance to attend the author’s school, Green University. I’m going to try felting wool on my own, based on the instructions in the book.

And speaking of wool… Since the first time I went wilderness camping in high school, I was taught that cotton is the “death cloth” (in camping circumstances that is). So I was surprised to read that the author wears cotton sweatpants and sweatshirts while out in the wild. He does wear layers and insulates the sweatpants with found natural materials like grasses, but what happens when the cotton gets wet? Cotton does not wick away water like wool does, so it stays wet and cold, contributing to hypothermia in some cases. Perhaps the insulating grass provides this wicking barrier. Or maybe the cotton phenomenon is exclusive to the Northeast where we have consistent precipitation throughout the year (unlike Montana). This was one of my only gripes or “huh?” moments while reading the book. The other pertains to the images in the book which were sometimes hard to decipher. They are in black and white and in many cases there is little contrast, making it hard to see what is being demonstrated. Color photos would vastly improve this guide.

These small criticisms aside, I truly enjoyed Participating in Nature. What I respect most about this guide is that it’s based on the direct experiences of the author. It is not a distillation of other guide books, it is not all theory or hearsay. Thomas J. Elpel lived these tales, and continues to teach us the skills he accrues as he learns them. This is evidenced by the number of editions he has put out – this is the sixth edition of the book since 1992. The author has the freedom to revise his books this frequently because he also runs the press that prints it. Learn more about the author, his school, and printing press at his website.

Do you have the urge to learn more about the world around you? Do you want to learn how to survive in the wilderness?

no new clothing challenge

November 4, 2010

(Image: Posh Girl Vintage)

I dare you to buy no new clothes for the next 3 months!

(GASP!) Is it possible? You can bet your bottom dollar it is. I buy just about all of my clothes from second-hand/vintage shops (except for the intimates, that is). I’ve scored lovely clothing items at swaps, too (read: free clothes!).

What inspired this dare? The Brooklyn Green Team – self-described as a team of Brooklyn superheroes dedicated to reducing our environmental impact and inspiring othershas started a new challenge to buy no new clothes. They didn’t give a time frame in their message (below), but if my memory serves me – and I have been eating my ginkgo nuts these days – their challenges last for 3 months. (Also see below several compelling reasons why one would want to eschew new clothes.)

How will I accomplish this 3-month marathon of nothing new? I can take some cues from The Uniform Project or Brown Dress and wear the same dress in different ways for many days. If I’m craving something “new” I can scour Etsy and ebay for retro duds, or seek out unique finds following Brooklyn Based’s timely post on Brooklyn’s bevy of vintage boutiques. I can also make or remake my clothes a la Threadbanger. Or I can just make do with what I’ve got – limitation leads to creativity!

So I’m taking the challenge to buy no new clothes for 3 months – won’t you join me?

From the Brooklyn Green Team…

We’re going old-school (is 3 years old school?) and digging in our closets to bring back our
No New Clothing Challenge!*
Join us in going vintage, thrift, recycled, hand-me-down or eco-friendly. Every single action has an impact in some way somewhere on this planet. Because of globalization, we are often disconnected from the impact of our everyday choices. For example, our new fall shirt might be made with cotton that requires 1/3 lb of chemicals to produce and manufactured in a pollution-emitting factory far away.

Let’s make a positive impact and equal the balance. Support local shops owned by locals that dig out wearable treasures from the past and present. This will make you more stylish because five other people aren’t wearing it to work. Unleash your inner fashionista, while helping the planet. Worried about bedbugs? Us too. Throw your clothes in a dryer right away to kill them off OR you could put them in the freezer for 2 weeks (really)!

More compelling reasons to do it:

  • The average American throws away about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year.
  • 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides in the U.S. are used to grow cotton.
  • The materials used to make our attire are often environmentally toxic and require significant amounts of energy and water during the manufacturing process.
  • The 12 to 15 percent of people who shopped at consignment and thrift stores in 2006 saved 2.5 billion pounds of clothes from re-entering the waste stream.
  • The manufacturing of nylon emits nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with a carbon footprint 310 times that of carbon dioxide.
  • According to the USDA, in one year alone over 50 million pounds of pesticides were used on U.S. cotton fields. Pesticide and fertilizer use on cotton has been linked to ground and surface water contamination, and the pollution of drinking water. In California, cotton ranks third in the state for total number of pesticide-related illness. Fish and wildlife and also impacted, with pesticides causing migration die-offs and diminished reproductive capacity.

For those of you living in the New York City area, we’ve attached a list of vintage and second-hand clothing stores in our area.

Resources:
Brooklyn is Vintage Store Mecca. Here are a few we know and like:

There are also clothing swaps:

Want to host a Clothing Swap? Rachel Avalon lays out the fundamentals in this video.

If you would like to join the Challenge, please email brooklyngreen@gmail.com
and say, “Yes! I’m ready to join the No New Clothing Challenge !”

Questions? Email us. (brooklyngreen@gmail.com)
Read our [blog] (http://brooklyngreenteam.blogspot.com/) for occasional updates and helpful bits of information.
Stay tuned for an invite to a challenge encouragement get-together…

You are all Super-Duper Heroes!
POW! YOU’VE BEEN GREENED!

*Challenge does not apply to underwear or environmentally friendly clothing. We think it’s only fair.