Archive for January, 2011

announcing my new body care & cleaning CSA

January 19, 2011

I’m very excited to tell you about something I’ve got cooking. It’s a CSA – community supported agriculture – but it’s not for food. It’s for my natural body care and cleaning solutions. I’d like to think of it more as a CSB or Community Supported Botanicals program. This is how it works:

1. You sign up to be a member of the CSB

2. Each month, you’ll pick up a whole new batch of body care and/or cleaning solutions (made with the best organic botanical ingredients available) from a conveniently located pick-up point (in Brooklyn or Manhattan)

Benefits of membership

  • Every month you’ll get a fresh batch of organic botanical products with ingredients you can recognize (no artificial fragrances or preservatives)
  • You’ll also get free bonus samples of new products I’m working on, and other free goodies
  • At the time of pick-up, I’ll be available for free tutorials and advice on how to get the most use out of the items in your share
  • Discounts on my private healthy home consultations

Right now I’m recruiting members and asking for some initial input, mostly on the most convenient pick-up locations and times and which products they’d most like to see in the share. In the 3-month beta version of this CSB, members will also provide valuable feedback so that I can shape the program to best suit their needs.

Interested in joining? Contact me via email liz (at) raganella (dot) com and I’ll send you an application form.

an exercise in mindful living

January 6, 2011

If you’ve started down the path of “greening” your home or making your lifestyle more eco-friendly you may have noticed how easy it is to get caught up in minutiae. Maybe you’ve faced dilemmas like, I want to buy the locally produced organic butter but it’s sealed in a plastic container or These vegan shoes aren’t made with organically grown cotton canvas and the soles are made of some kind of synthetic material.

I’ve fallen into this trap of analyzing every little thing I purchase to the point of feeling either paralyzed into inaction or guilty once I’ve deemed my choice was the “wrong” one. This is obviously not helpful. Beating ourselves up or racking our brains over every choice we make is neither productive nor healthy.

Instead, I prefer to look at things more holistically and globally, which is why I’m working on a tool to help heighten the awareness that each of us makes a difference in the world. Essentially, the method is based on permaculture’s zones of use and a series of questions that arise when thinking about our place and choices in the material world.

We are at the center of our own little universe. What we give spirals outwardly and what we receive spirals inwardly. Each level of the spiral gets physically further than the personal, yet there is clearly still a connection to our daily lives even as the spiral emanates away from the self. The following are some of the questions that arose as I thought of each level. You may arrive at more and deeper questions as you perform the exercise. If you do, please share them in the comments. May it be of benefit!

level 1 – me

What goes in my body?
Is it nourishing me?
Is it poisoning me?
Where and how was it grown?

What goes on my body?
How does it make me feel?
Do I recognize the ingredients (body care)?
Do I recognize the material (clothing)?
Can I trace its origin?

level 2 – my home

How do I fill it?
How does what I have in my home make me feel?
Is it comforting?
Is it harmful?
What is it made of?
Where does it come from?

How do I maintain it?
What do I clean my home with?
Is this harmful to me, my family, my pets?
How do I heat/cool it?
Where does the energy come from?



level 3 – my garden

(this represents where your food and other plant-based goods come from)

How are the plants grown?
Is the way they are grown beneficial to the soil? to the ecosystem? to the people around them?
Are there healing plants and foods growing?
How near to my home are they grown?

Who is tending the garden?
What is their life like?

level 4 – my community

How do I support it?
Do I shop at small, locally owned shops or use local services?
How am I involved in community organizations?
Schools? Gardens? Neighborhood committees?

How does it support me?
Do I have all of the services I need nearby?
Do I earn a living in the community/neighborhood?
Do I find joyful activities in my community?
Do I have meaningful connections in my community?

level 5 – the world

What do I contribute?
How do my habits benefit the world?
How do my choices have any negative impacts?
Who am I supporting with my choices?

What does it give back?
Are all of my basic needs (water, sunshine, food, shelter) met?
Do I feel connected to or isolated from the world around me (ie, nature)?
Am I healthy?
Do I enjoy life?

at every level…

I also like to ask the questions: Do I really need this? and Is it of benefit?

Did you come up with any other questions? Please leave them in the comments!

landscapes of extraction and e-waste recycling

January 4, 2011

Right on the heels of last night’s post about Manufactured Landscapes comes this, from Manhattan User’s Guide:

J Henry Fairs‘ extraordinary, consumptively beautiful, sickening photos of our ailing planet are gathered in a new book The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis, released later this month. An exhibition of the photos, Landscapes of Extraction: The Collateral Damage of the Fossil Fuels Industries, will be at Cooper Union’s Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery starting January 20th.

I know I’ll be checking that out. It runs January 20 – February 26, 2011.

And to help reduce the need for extracting rare earth metals and other materials we scar the planet for, here are some opportunities for recycling your old electronics instead of kicking them to the curb (via Lower East Side Ecology Center, be sure to check their site for more details):

January 8, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer(English) Flyer(Spanish) Directions
East 163 Street, between Southern Boulevard and Bruckner Boulevard, Bronx, NY

January 8, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer Directions
Bowling Green Park east side, Broadway at Beaver Street, New York, NY

January 9, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer Directions
Queens Botanical Garden, parking lot entrance on Crommelin Street, Queens, NY

January 15, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer Directions
Tekserve, 119 West 23rd Street, New York, NY

January 16, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer Directions
Prospect Park West and 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY

January 22, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer(English) Flyer(Spanish) Directions
Ring Garden, Riverside Drive between Dyckman Street and Seaman Avenue, New York, NY

January 22, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer Directions
Habana Outpost, Fulton Street b/w South Portland Avenue and South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY

January 23, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer Directions
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 East 70th Street between First and Second Avenues, New York, NY

January 23, 2011 | 10:00am – 4:00pm Flyer Directions
West 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, New York, NY

If you’re not in NYC, check out Earth911 for e-waste recycling near you.

every thing you own was made by human hands

January 4, 2011

Or at least parts of it were and then they were assembled, packaged, transported, and sold by humans. And every thing you (and I) have in your possession required energy – extracted and refined fossil fuels which require energy – to extract, manufacture, and transport it. Likely, part if not all of these things were made in China. And likely, part if not all of these things will end up back in China in the form of waste to be taken apart by human hands. And the ships that transported them to and from their new home and eventual grave were made in China by humans. And those ships go to die in Bangladesh where they are disassembled by human hands (and often by barefoot men between the ages of 18 and twenty something).

This monotonously unfolding chain of events is the subject of the documentary Manufactured Landscapes, which I finally just watched (it had been on my list for a couple of years). It may sound boring, but it is visually stunning and truly eye-opening. With minimal dialogue, the film shows us the work of Edward Burtynsky who has been photographing landscapes since the 80s. In a sense, the film is a culmination of his work as he delved deeper from extraction of earth materials all the way to the end of the line for the products and ships created with them. Of course, through this culmination we see the real impact of these activities.

The film sure got the wheels in my brain turning about this world we’ve manufactured. We’ve not only physically changed the way the landscape looks, we’ve changed the quality of the air, water, and soil. It’s the type of film that motivates me to reconnect with nature, to stop supporting a destructive economy, and to keep talking about what we need to do to move humankind in a more positive direction. I hope you’ll get a chance to check it out.

In the meantime, here is Edward Burtynsky’s TED talk about the film and the trailer.

it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

January 1, 2011

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of harmony, in large part because I’m reading Prince Charles’ book by that name. What the Prince of Wales suggests – I’m paraphrasing here – is that we have fallen out of step with the rhythm of nature (ie, the world we inhabit). We’ve constructed an entirely new reality that is out of sync with the way the world works. We need to restore the harmony once felt by our ancestors. There was a time when people knew in their hearts something we have forgotten with our heads. But there is a spark of something that’s growing – a movement towards accord, a movement towards peace, for that is what harmony means.

Listen to this song performed by Nina Simone. Pay attention to the lyrics – I believe this song embodies this spirit of harmony with nature, when everything feels aligned and just right (Birds flying high, you know how I feel; Sun in the sky, you know how I feel…).

May this year bring you peace, harmony, health, happiness, and the freedom to feel good.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

“Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.”
~Sallust

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”
~Anatole France