“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 30, 2010

April Changes

If you are a One Small Change participant and have a blog post written about your change, please leave a comment to this blog post with a link to your blog post. If you leave a comment before April 5th, you will be entered into a drawing for some awesome prizes (see below).

If you would like to read about what changes people are making, please browse through the comments below!

Prizes include:

A custom handpainted piece of jewelry by Hannah Handpainted. Hannah is a wonderful artist who has offered to paint whatever the winner chooses on a one of a kind necklace or pin. This is a really special prize!!

Little Acorn Learning Guide and Menu of your choice. Little Acorn Learning Guides are full of great ideas for parents to use with their children. Includes crafts, activities, recipes, and so much more!

Can't wait to read about your changes!

Monday, March 29, 2010

April Giveaway Announcement!

I can't believe April is almost here! I am completely floored at all the amazing changes everyone is making. For April, 2 of our sponsors will be giving away a prize to 2 lucky winners! All you have to do is write a blog post that includes your March change wrap up and your plans are for an April change...come back here and post a comment to our April Change Blog Post (will be up on Wednesday the 31st) and leave us a link to your blog post. Do this by April 5th and you will be entered into the drawing.

Prizes include:

A custom handpainted piece of jewelry by Hannah Handpainted. Hannah is a wonderful artist who has offered to paint whatever the winner chooses on a one of a kind necklace or pin. This is a really special prize!!

Little Acorn Learning Guide and Menu of your choice. Little Acorn Learning Guides are full of great ideas for parents to use with their children. Includes crafts, activities, recipes, and so much more!

See you on Wednesday...can't wait to start reading about your April changes...I still need to come up with mine! :)


Friday, March 26, 2010

Is there a pesticide lurking in your soap?

For today's Community of Change Post I would like to welcome Kathy Dolan who has written a very informative and important post about the dangers of Triclosan:

Ever since I learned about the dangers of triclosan, I’ve started looking, really looking, before I buy. Triclosan is a pesticide often used in personal care products like toothpaste, face-wash, hand and dish soap and laundry detergent. Manufacturers add triclosan to these products in order to make the claim that their product is antibacterial and protects against disease.

But the reality is that triclosan is no more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness. In 2000, the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that, “there is little evidence to support the use of antimicrobials in consumer products.” Similarly, in 2005, an FDA panel of experts voted 11 to 1 that antibacterial soaps were no more effective than regular soap and water in fighting infections. So really, the manufacturers of these products are just fear mongering and trying to convince consumers that bacteria are enemy number one.

As a pesticide, triclosan can kill both good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria that live on our skin keep us healthy. So not only does triclosan remove good bacteria, it may allow for the strongest bad bacteria to survive. Research suggests that the overuse of antimicrobial products could lead to antibiotic resistance.

Triclosan has been linked to even more human health effects like skin irritation and endocrine disruption. Triclosan also accumulates in our bodies over time. Researchers have found triclosan in human urine, breast milk, blood and umbilical cord blood samples.

Now that you know that these products don’t prevent illness and may cause more harm than good, what can you do?

  • First, start looking at ingredient labels before you buy. Really look.
  • Then, flex you purchasing power and buy products that DON’T contain triclosan.
  • Next, take the anti-triclosan pledge!
  • And lastly, spread the word!

- Kathy Dolan

Kathy Dolan is the Triclosan Campaign Coordinator at Food & Water Watch. She works to advance our national and grassroots strategies aimed at limiting the non-medical use of Triclosan. Prior to joining Food & Water Watch, Kathy served as a research assistant at the Center for a Livable Future where she researched local food security & sustainability issues as well as investigated US food trade policy and subsequent pesticide risk.

**Thanks Kathy! If you would like to write for our One Small Change blog, please email us at suzy@hipmountainmama.com


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Words from Andy: Our Green Future

We all know that our hard work trying to save the planet doesn't do any good unless we can get the next generation to buy in on the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle. The One Small Change challenge was initiated with the next generation in mind and none of these changes mean anything in the long term unless our children will accept the challenge and pass it on. Suzy chose the picture of our daughter holding a doll to be the image associated with this challenge. That image symbolizes our child caring for her child (although imaginary at this time) in a way that passes our beliefs on to future generations.

So what are we doing to bring the kids into this challenge to be green? Well, we have always been an outdoorsy family. We love nature. We hike, hang out at the river, go camping, and spend weekends enjoying the nearby mountains. I've always assumed that my children would grow up loving nature and therefore would be good stewards for Mother Earth but this challenge really has brought the discussion to the forefront.

We have taken our children to the Landfill to discuss where our waste goes. We have talked about how composting works and how valuable the nutrients are to our soil. We have discussed the long term effects of buying plastics and packaging that doesn't recycle or compost. We have even spent an afternoon hanging out by the river discussing the importance of clean water and how we can reduce how much we use to ensure there is enough water for everyone to use and plenty more for the fish to enjoy.

I truly believe that there is no greater gift I can give my children than the love of nature and how to care for it. I also believe that there is nothing more important for me to leave behind in this world than two little girls who have the potential to carry the things I have taught them on to make a much larger impact.

There is nothing small about changing the way we teach the next generation about energy, waste, natural resources, and the Earth. In fact this could create the largest impact of all. So please join us in educating the next generation to take our small changes to the next level.


Andy Hawbaker is a lover of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, father of two daughters, and co-owner of Hip Mountain Mama.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Community of Change Welcomes Kyce Bello

Today we welcome another member of the community of change: Kyce Bello writer of the wonderful blog Old Recipe for a New World.

How to Reduce Disposable Platic Waste: A Primer

Last fall, my husband and I decided to do a four-month “plastic fast” in which we wouldn’t buy or acquire anything made of or packaged in plastic. The fast was born out of our desire to walk our talk more fully, and to discover our capacity to live simply. We wanted to lessen our waste as a symbolic act of solidarity with the oceans, which are increasingly being destroyed by plastic garbage (the UN estimates that there is the equivalent of 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of ocean). We wanted to lessen our exposure to toxic phthalates, PCBs, and Bisphenol-A that surround us in everything from toys to canned food. But most of all, learning to live without plastic felt like the most authentic and accessible way we could find to reduce our participation in the “disposable culture” that threatens to dispose of the planet. We wanted to learn to live in a way that caused less harm to the earth.

At first, it seemed impossible. After all, what would we eat? A quick survey of our kitchen revealed that close to 90% of our (organic) food came in some form of packaging. But as soon as we started looking for alternatives in a more serious way, we learned that plastic need not be a fact of life. After all, until about sixty years ago, our ancestors did just fine without it. With a little more awareness and a willingness to make what I couldn’t find commercially available, I found almost everything we needed.

If I had had to stop buying plastic all in one go, it would have been stressful beyond belief. Instead, we prepared for our plastic fast by weaning ourselves slowly, over a three month period. Despite the inevitable challenges of making such a big change, I was delighted to find that well before our official fast began I’d managed to almost effortlessly cut our plastic waste down to almost nothing. The most important step was developing the awareness that I wanted to find a new way to live, and a conviction that the old way was no longer acceptable.

Here’s a summary of the ways I’ve found to cut back on food related plastic:

Befriend the bulk aisle. I’d always bought my rice and beans from the bulk section, but suddenly, when forced to concentrate my list in that little section of the store, I discovered the incredible bounty therein. Why did the rest of the store exist, I wondered, if I could get everything from noodles to baking soda to earl grey tea to shampoo without a single scrap of waste? Now, your store might not have the most sophisticated bulk aisle. Look around at other stores, or if no others are available locally look into creating a buyers co-op with friends. If items you need aren’t available, ask that they be carried. I stayed up for several nights in a row trying to figure out how to get the bulk items home without plastic bags before thinking of cloth (duh!). Some health food stores sell them, but in a matter of days and for less than $10 I made a couple dozen bags in sizes ranging from Enormous Bunch of Kale to Poppyseed. Reuse your old plastic bottles and jars for liquid items. (Since it’s become a finite resource, old plastic has become a treasured commodity in our home. Nowadays I wash out even the old yogurt containers from the back of the fridge filled with moldy bean dip.)

Look for alternative packaging.

After falling in love with the bulk aisle, I had the kind of startling experience that happens when you begin to see something that has always been plain as day, but never before noticed. Many of the things I needed—milk, ketchup, juice, and even yogurt—were available in glass jars. Whoa! Yes, they were sometimes more expensive. But since my understanding of the true cost of disposable waste had taken hold of me, an extra 82¢ just didn’t freak me out the way it used to. (I should say I’m on a very tight budget, and that I keep it in line by choosing carefully which things we really need. Milk in a returnable glass bottle: yes. Multi pack flavored yogurt: no.) Choosing goods packaged in glass or paper or nothing at all is also a way to reward and thank the companies that make responsible packaging an integral part of their operations. We need more organic food producers who don’t think it’s acceptable to write “Good for the Earth!” all over the plastic wrap surrounding their product.

Keeping produce fresh. The cloth bags I made for bulk food also work well for produce. Durable veggies like kale and broccoli can keep in them comfortably for a week. If they start looking wilty, I spray them with a little water. Salad greens keep well once cleaned and dried and stored in a salad spinner or glass jar. Some veggies, like carrots and celery, do best if kept partially immersed in water. I no longer buy the pre-bagged five lb. sacks of potatoes or apples or onions, and skip the stryofoam tubs of mushrooms. We miss berries. Terribly. Which will make them all the sweeter when they come back into season locally.

Make it from scratch. Despite all the lofty environmental reasons to reduce plastic waste, my real motivation was much more personal. Almost selfish. I wanted to learn to live like my great-grandmother did when she was my age. To leave modernity behind just a little and take a little trip to the “olden days” where if we wanted something to eat, chances were we had to make it ourselves. Unable to buy the plastic packaged processed foods we were hooked on, I had no choice but to learn to make it myself. It’s been trial and error, certainly, but I’m so grateful to have learned to make bread, crackers, pasta, tortillas, cheeses, and yogurt. It has been a joy and a pleasure to delve into these “lost kitchen arts.” In fact, I feel creatively fulfilled by my time in the kitchen in a way that is profound and motivating. Rather than wanting to escape the drudgery of doing it myself, I continue exploring ways to get to the next level of self-sufficiency. It has been a personal revolution for me to take back my role as a provider of my family’s sustenance.

I often get asked, “But what about—.” What I’ve found is that there is almost always an alternative to our plastic habits, another path waiting to be taken, if only we seek it out.
While you might not be ready to make drastic changes, think of a few small areas where these tips might be applicable. Try your hand at making yogurt, cut back on a certain type of plastic packaging, purchase in glass when that option exists, bring re-usable bags to the store for produce and bulk food. As you look for ways to reduce your waste, be gentle with yourself! This is a journey, and ideally a joyful one. Happy travels,

Kyce Bello lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband and daughter. She is an herbalist, nurse, and novice knitter. Her blog, Old Recipe for a New World, is in turn a practical, philosophical, poetic, and personal log of her family’s journey to living with less waste, and more joy.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Giveaway: Reusable Produce Bags

One of our One Small Change participants, Stephanie from Gypsy Forest (one of my favorite daily reads), has generously offered to giveaway a set of her handmade drawstring bags. She told me she was passionate about people using reusable bags and wanted to make this easier for one lucky winner.
Stephinie is a wife, mama, gardener, homeschooler, earth lover, photographer, crafter and writer of Gypsy Forest. She spends her days in a house full of wild kids, funny pets, a guitar playing man and sewing items for the shop. She is currently learning to live sustainably in the south, wondering where the next move will take them and always dreaming of her someday farm

Please welcome Stephanie:

"Gypsy Forest is my space to write about our days. It enables me to keep in touch with our friends and family all over the world. The name was born from our gypsy lifestyle of moving often and our love of nature. I've learned to knit and sew over the past few years and I share lots of projects and inspiration on the blog.

This spring I opened up my etsy store to sell some of my handmade items. Function and sustainability are very important to me, so in my shop you'll find handmade things to last and
that help us protect our earth.
I am really excited to offer these produce bags. They are made from vintage sheets, a love of mine. Using something old to make something new has always been a passion of mine. And when it also functions as a way to produce less waste it's even better! These bags are sergered for durability and machine washable for ease of use.

The giveaway is for a set of two drawstring bags, as pictured. Perfect for produce, bulk items & farmer's market shopping."
To be entered into the drawing please have a visit to Stephanie's blog and etsy shop. Come back here and leave a comment on this blog post. To increase your chances of winning, please tweet, facebook, blog, or email your friends, then let us know and we will add your name to the pot for each of these that you do.

Congratulations Candace! Thanks to everyone for participating!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Community of Change Welcomes Abbie

Today I am excited to welcome Abbie from Organizing Life! Abbie Park is a wife, a mother, a blogger and a crafter. She blogs about her crafty inspirations, surviving the suburbs, contending with commercialism, and getting to a greener lifestyle. When she isn't sewing, knitting or doing embroidery, she is watching NBC's Heroes with her husband or teaching her children about the outdoors, artistic creativity, and culinary exploration.

"With a bit of trepidation, I signed on to take the One Small Change challenge last December. There are so many fabulous bloggers out there walking the eco-friendly talk using cloth diapers, homemade household cleaners, composting, and living off the power grid. I wondered, “are my small changes going to even make a tiny “ping” in the giant bucket of earth clean-up?” Since I would love to live greener, I figured this was the time to start putting my money where my mouth was and take that first step to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Since January 1, 2010, our family has made some great beginnings reducing the paper and plastic the trash truck picks up from our home each week. In January we decided to halt our paper towel use. February was the month we chose to forgo Ziploc baggies--which got me thinking about the disposables we consume and the trash we toss out every day.

How can we reduce our consumption? How can we toss less into our recycle bin and trash can? What does our excessive consumption say about our lifestyle? And what kind of earthly environment are we creating for the generations to come?

So in March I decided to write 20 short pieces about the packaging we consume each day. I hope to get my family thinking about the paper, plastic, and Styrofoam that enters our home and then gets tossed out. How can we purchase less packaging? How can we throw out and recycle less? How can we be more responsible consumers?

So if you are interested in following my pondering about packaging, I invite you to visit me at www.organizing-life.com. I’d love to hear your tips about how you and your family choose to consume less packaging and make our earth a greener place to live."

Thanks Abbie!

The Community of Change is our way of introducing One Small Change participants to you. We are all in this together and think it is very important for us to get to know each other. If you are interested in writing for The Community of Change, please email me suzy@hipmountainmama.com....we would love to have you!!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Words From Andy: Water Conservation

I have always loved water. I grew up water skiing every summer and throughout my life I always seem to find myself hiking to lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. I have found great fun rafting, kayaking, and boogie boarding and would love to learn to surf.

As you know, almost 3/4 of the Earth is covered with water but only 1 percent of that water is safe and available for human use. Demand for water in the United States alone is over 26 billion gallons per day. It is pretty clear that this precious resource that we could not live without needs to be conserved.When my family was brainstorming changes to make for the month of February we quickly realized that reducing water consumption would be the perfect change. The idea behind the One Small Change challenge is really that we can all make small changes that don't really take a lot of effort or aren't necessarilly life changing but yet the change does make a difference.

Conserving water is really an easy thing to do. We already make sure the kids understand that we never leave the water running when we brush our teeth, I've always had the yellowest grass in the neighborhood, and we had already displaced water in our toilet tanks with the use of weights to reduce the amount of water per flush. These things are all great and we've done them for years, but now it was time to step it up a notch.

Our local power company was giving away low flow shower heads. I easily switched out both of our shower heads in 10 minutes and at no cost to us. We love the new shower head and don't even notice the difference from the standard shower head installed by the home builder.

In dish washing we had read pros and cons of using a dishwasher. We aren't willing to give it up at this time. But I have been using a sponge to wipe off dishes before loading them in the dishwasher instead of using running water. I also have turned into the dish washer police: hand washing anything odd shaped to insure that every load is as full as it gets. I was also very cautious about water usage on the dishes I did hand wash.

We also vowed to take shorter and less showers. Now that I work from home I really don't need the 15 minute shower every day. I now try to take a 7 minute shower every other day. That is cutting out 3/4 of my previous water usage on showers. We also are pushing the kids baths out a little farther and lessening the amount of water they use in each bath.

These changes have had almost no change in our lives. It is not an inconvenience by any means and after the first month it is just standard procedure now. The good news is that we have now received 2 water bills since we started this challenge and we used 1,000 gallons less on each statement cycle than the same month a year ago. We should be able to save over 12,000 gallons in a year without much effort at all. Imagine if every family in America was able to do this.

Even if we could get the 300 participants of the One Small Change to save this much water each, together we would save over 3.6 Million Gallons in one year. This is amazing. Together we can make a huge impact through such small and easy changes.

This post was written by Andy Hawbaker. Andy is a father of two daughters, lover of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, co-owner of Hip Mountain Mama and regularly contributes to the Hip Mountain Mama blog's Tree Huggin Tuesday feature.


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Community of Change Welcomes Lisa

For today's Community of Change post I am very excited to introduce Lisa of Earth Mama. I invited Lisa to write for the blog because I feel she has such a nice variety of changes to share. From simply putting a glass jar in her toilet to using oil lamps to see by, she has found changes to make that fit into her life at the perfect time. Please sit back and read about Lisa's One Small Change journey so far! I know you will find inspiration and hopefully come away with some ideas that might work nicely for your family!

The Community of Change welcomes Lisa:

At the tail end of 2009, when I happened upon Suzy and Hip Mountain Mama’s One Small Change project I was very intrigued. Recently, Suzy has told me that the interest in the movement has grown to a resounding 350 participants, and I am truly in awe to be a part of such a big group of people all striving to make our footprints a tad lighter. Environmental awareness is a topic that my family and I consider to be of utmost importance in our daily lives. I think often of all the ways that we could all just put our heads together and figure out a better way to live with respect and harmony in our environment. Suzy has done a wonderful job in facilitating such a change, by organizing the One Small Change Project, and offering a tremendous opportunity for growth for all of us. What I realized right off the bat, is that it doesn’t matter how much we think we are doing for our environment…we can always do more.

In January, my family chose to displace the water levels in our toilets. We read a bit about it and figured out that glass jars were the best option for this task. The other topic of change that came naturally with this change was the issue of not flushing every time you use the toilet. This took a little bit of discussion with my three and five year olds, and to this day does not get accomplished 100%. Most importantly though, was the discussion we have opened up with our children in dealing with conservation and being careful with the resources we use. After our first one small change, the awareness of our environmental footprint just spiraled into action. We lowered our thermostat to 55 degrees and put some extra blankets on the bed; we solely used our woodstove for heating our home, and became aware of taking fewer and shorter showers.

In February, we tried sprouting and made lots of green smoothies with Macro Greens. I needed to pick and “easier” challenge for my family. I still wanted a challenge…just one that would allow me to focus our energy close to home for the month. Sometimes when I am focusing my energy and intentions outwardly, I forget to take a look inside, and take care of myself and my family with what we need. We also switched back to using G diapers with our one year old. G diapers offer a flushable/compostable insert and you can diaper without using excess water for washing, and you don’t add anything to the landfill.
In March, we chose two larger challenges. The first was to go around the house and unplug everything we could. The only things we left plugged in were kitchen appliances that we couldn’t get to, like the refrigerator and stove. We put all computer stuff on a power strip, which gets pulled out of the outlet when not in use. I have heard that a lot of appliances still pull energy through the outlets when left plugged in, even if they are off. This has been something I have thought about for years, and am glad I had an extra urge to just do it already. We also purchased two oil lamps this month. After dinner is cooked we turn out the lights and light the lamps and eat our family meal together with the warm glow of the lamps. With all of our small changes, there were times when we obviously didn’t achieve what we wanted to all the time. With our oil lamps, they do not offer a lot of lighting, so we are just using them at dinnertime, not all the time. As far as the unplugging goes, there are times when we forget to unplug the power strip at night.
I think the most important part of this process for us is awareness and teaching our children about ways to be more conscious of our actions and the capacity we can have if we just make some small changes to our daily lives. So much of our world has been built in a disposable fashion. This is something that is going to affect the next generation greatly. By taking the time to teach our young people now how important it is to use our resources appropriately, we will be helping create the change that is necessary for the future of our planet.

Thanks Lisa! If you would like to write for One Small Change, please email me for details (suzy@hipmountainmama.com)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Midway March Updates

How is your March change going so far? We are about half way through the month and I would love to hear some updates! If you would like to share, please leave a comment here!

Keep up the amazing work everyone!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Community of Change: Welcome Chrissy

~As a community of people who are all making changes, Andy and I thought it was important to feature some of our members on this blog. I enjoyed reading through everyone's posts, but not everyone has time for this. This is where The Community of Change comes in. Over the next few months we will be featuring anyone who is interested in sharing their experience with One Small Change. (If you are interested email me at suzy@hipmountainmama.com)

Today we are featuring Chrissy from Calming the Worms Within and she will be sharing her fabulous homemade dish washing detergent with us!

Please welcome Chrissy:

"One Small Change prompted me to make more than just one small change in our home. We have been looking at everything we buy, cook, and yearn for, and whether or not there is a substantial environmental impact based on our choices in everyday life. Boy, did we wake up to see errors we didn't even know we COULD make.

A few weeks ago, my husband went to the local grocery store and bought dishwasher detergent for our automatic dishwasher. I usually buy an eco-brand, but he came home with a name brand cleaner. This cleaner worked great, but as I was putting it away, I noticed it had bleach in it. And many other toxins, not to mention phosphates. So, it got me thinking: How can I make my own cleaner? One that doesn't smell too “industrial” and a cleaner that would be good on the pocket as well as the environment.

A quick google search confirmed what I suspected – castile soap could work in the dishwasher. Nervous as I was to try my own hacked version of dishwasher detergent, I was determined to do something other than remain ignorant to the solution.

Castile soap is a wonderful soap that can clean pretty much anything, including your body, and it doesn't make a great amount of suds. It's also biodegradable and is made in a way that causes less environmental impact.

Here's what I came up with:

Peppermint Lime Detergent

1/2 cup liquid Peppermint Castile soap

1/2 cup water

1/2 of a fresh lime juiced or squeeze into glass bottle - make sure no pulp gets in there

1/4 cup white vinegar

Store in glass bottle (I just retained an empty glass vinegar bottle).

Use 2 tablespoons per wash, or three for a super-heavy load.

If you find you have a film on your dishes, you can add white vinegar to your "rinse-aid" cap in your washer. DO NOT use regular dish soap to make this recipe. It will not work, and it will possibly break your washer. Castile soap is a low-sud soap.

Not only is this soap eco-friendly, but it's actually aromatherapy! It will fill your kitchen with a delightful pepperminty and lime smell, and it's invigorating.
The lime is used for the acid to cut grease, but also for the smell - lovely!"

Doesn't this sound amazing, and so simple! I can't wait to try it...thanks for sharing Chrissy!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

March Updates!

If you have an update on how your March change is going, please leave a comment and let us know how it is going. Feel free to link to your original March post or to any update posts you may have on your blog!

Hope your March is going great! Please check back as we plan to update this blog a few times a week!