Sunday, May 30, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
With the change in the season, so comes a change in lifestyle. Many of us travel in the summer, enjoy backyard barbecues, camping trips, and days lounging at the pool. For others, not much changes, other than just spending more time outdoors. Either way, I think it is safe to say that there are many new and different ways we can make one small change in the summer months. If you are planning to participate in June, here is a list I put together of ideas.
-Use a natural or home made bug spray and/or sunscreen
-Start a garden
-Bring reusable or compostable utensils and plates on camping trips
-Try to eliminate grassy areas in your yard with things that don't need watering
-On hot days put your blinds down when sun is coming in and open your windows on cool evenings to keep your house cooler
-If you have a sprinkler system, check it regularly to make sure it is working properly
-Ride your bike more often instead of driving
-Buy local food at farms or farmers markets
-Use a reusable water bottle
Here are some great ideas...if you have any other summer time change ideas, please leave a comment and let us know!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
My hope is that the Progressive Pioneer site will inspire families to make small changes here and there, where they can, gradually building on each small change to make overall shifts towards a greener, simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. A trip through the archives will unearth plenty of ideas from making things yourself, to self-sufficiency and sustainability, to thoughts on simple parenting.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We have always enjoyed going to parks with our dog to hang out and play in the grass. So we feel blessed to have a large grassy area of our own now. The only problem is that we don’t know much about caring for a lawn.
So starting with the knowledge that good soil is crucial to growing healthy organic plants and that lawns need watering and mowing, I did a few internet searches and found these websites:
• The CSU Extension Office
This is what I learned:
• Turf generally needs 1 - 1 ½ inches of water per week.
• Water deeply and infrequently – which means watering once per week to a soil depth of 6 inches. If the soil is very sandy or heavy clay then split the amount and water twice per week.
• The best time to water is when it is cooler, more humid and less windy. Sunrise, between 8 and 9am or between 10pm and Midnight are typically the best times to water.
• If you walk across your lawn and the footprints remain, then the lawn is thirsty.
• Shallow and too frequent watering promotes weed growth such as dandelions.
• Dandelions are also a sign of alkaline soil.
• Grass can only get nitrogen through the soil. So, if clover is present then the soil is poor in nitrogen.
• Grass should have at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.
• Mowing to a height of 2 -3 inches is best. Shorter grass can result in decreased drought tolerance.
• Sharp mower blades make cleaner cuts which reduces risk of disease.
• Sharpen mower blades about every 4th mowing
• Leaving grass clippings on the lawn does not typically contribute to thatch but thatch should not be thicker than ½ inch.
• Aerating is good for a lawn
• Add an inch of compost in the fall.
• All areas of the lawn and soil are not the same so check different areas for health and moisture.
• When weeding, always start in the same place. So the weeds to not have an opportunity to take over the previously weeded area.
With my new-found knowledge, I took a walk around our lawn and observed the following:
• Thin areas.
• Dog spots.
• Some areas have a lot of thatch.
• Weeds, dandelions, clover and broad grasses.
• The grass is a thin, very dark green blade that has invaded the strawberry patch.
• We don’t know how the sellers maintained the lawn.
• The lawn seems to be holding moisture well.
What this means for us:
We have been directing our dog to a specific location in the corner of our lot which will help to prevent the dead spots in the future, but the existing ones will need to be reseeded.
I think the grass is a Blue Grass variety, but I may take a sample to a garden store or County Extension Office to get a more educated opinion before we buy any seed.
We will power rake and aerate the lawn which should allow more oxygen and water to reach the roots of the grass. Then we will re-seed the thin, bald and weedy spots and finally cover the entire lawn with manure. The organic matter should help to neutralize the soil as well as increase the Nitrogen content. I’m also hoping it will discourage the birds from eating all of the fresh grass seed.
Since we have 11 alpacas, we will use alpaca manure on our lawn.
Often times, farms and stables will let you have their manure if you load and haul it yourself. My sister and brother-in-law live near a horse stable and swear that free manure is the best manure. They just compost it before they put it on any green plants.
Once all of this work is done, we will embark upon a methodic weeding regimen and most likely aerate and spread manure again in the fall.
I’m hoping that next spring we have fewer weeds along with a lush green lawn that is perfect for lounging on.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Our society is addicted to oil. In fact we are all a part of the problem. Today I was driving to pick my daughter up at school when I heard another report on the radio about the hundreds of sea turtles that were dying in this disaster. It is hard to be critical of the oil companies when they are just providing us with the product that we desire, and in many ways can't live without.
While wind, solar, and other alternative energy sources are being developed and improved, we have a long way to go to kick our nasty oil habit. It would be awesome if we could make a major change and give up our cars. Since this site is about small changes I'll give you some ideas of how to lessen your personal use of oil. Lets start the weaning process now.
Your Car: Obviously the best thing to do would be to trade in your car for a bicycle, scooter, or at least a fuel efficient hybrid vehicle. If you can't do that start with these easy and inexpensive small changes.
- Slow Down: Consumer Reports estimated that driving at 65mph on the freeway instead of 55mph means that drivers are using 12.5 % more gasoline.
- Check Your Tire Pressure:You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
- Plan Your Trips: Avoid times of high traffic which would increase you idling time and running errands together saves gas because warm engines run more efficiently that cold engines.
- Carpool: Look for opportunities to carpool with friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
- Take Public Transportation.
- Ride your bike. Start with one trip per week. Maybe a weekly trip to the library or something else that isn't too drastic. Then try and add more and more bike trips instead of car rides.
- Switch to a push or electric lawn mower
- Bring your own reusable bags. The oil in just 14 plastic bags could power a car to drive 1 mile.
- Use natural hair and body products. There is oil in many cosmetics and also in the plastic bottles they come in.
- Give your children beeswax crayons and natural toys. There is oil in all of the plastic toys and even in conventional crayons.
- Wear clothes made of Natural Fibers instead of nylon and polyester clothing.
- Use soy-based ink most printing inks contain petroleum.
- Stop buying bottled water. Imagine each plastic bottle filled about a quarter of the way up with oil. That is about the amount of oil used for the plastic and the energy used in manufacturing the bottle. Just buy a nice reusable bottle and kick the plastic bottle habit.
Andy Hawbaker is co-owner of Hip Mountain Mama and is a regular contributor to One Small Change and the Hip Mountain Mama Blog. Photos in this post were borrowed from internet sources.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Please welcome Shannon:
“You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.” – unknown
I like to consider myself an explorer of life. I live in the Midwest with my husband, my 2-year-old son, and another baby boy due to enter the world some time in October. I make art, love yoga, practice being mindful and living presently each day, and I especially love connecting, sharing and growing with others.
I believe each and every one of us is an artist and has the innate ability to be creative. I think most of us are taught at a very young age to conform, to be like the others, that the sky is blue and the grass is green, and that only certain people are born with artistic ability. The rest of us will only have to wish and wonder what it must be like to be creative. I’ve struggled with these beliefs throughout my life and chose to let my self-doubt and fear get in the way of being authentically me.
Through years of soul searching, questioning, reflecting and lots of practice, I have found myself at a place where I can say, “I am an artist,” and I actually believe it! It is a wonderful feeling – to embrace myself as a creative being – and I have a passion for helping others rediscover their creative sides. That’s why I created my first e-course called, “Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery.” This course offers you an opportunity to learn more about your dreams, helps you let go of self-doubt, worry and fear, and allows you to embrace living a more authentic life. Through art, writing, yoga and meditation, you’ll take time to slow down and go within, to relearn how to connect more deeply to your heart - the place where your true wisdom lives. This 4-week online experience allows you to become a bold explorer of your own life, in the comfort and privacy of your own home, at your own pace, while connecting to a like-minded community.
Inside Out is a beautiful compliment to One Small Change because I believe that we can find true happiness in our lives with one small change at a time. When we love ourselves, and become more aligned with our true nature, we feel a sense of deep connection to the people and the world around us. When we take care of ourselves we are happier and in turn, spread that goodness and joy to all those we come in contact with. What a great way to take care of our wonderful earth!
As a way to give back to our earth, and in honor of One Small Change, I would like to offer a special this week. If you sign-up for the Inside Out e-course by next Friday, May 28th, 30% of your registration fee will be donated to NRI Global Charity Haiti. (They still need our help!)
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I grew up in central Iowa where growing food is a big deal. I was raised in the burbs but I still have family that farms to this day. My parents always had a huge garden. I remember planting rows and rows of corn, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, and many other wonderful veggies.
When we moved into our current house, 5 years ago, I knew I wanted to have a huge garden. But now that I live in Colorado there is a lot more involved in gardening. It is much dryer here and the soil doesn’t even compare to the fertile soils of the midwest. Here it is necessary to build a raised bed to provide enough good soil for your veggies to grow.
The first summer we lived in our house, I built a small 4’x8’ garden. I wanted more but I decided to start slow. The following year I built an additional 8’x8’ garden. This kept me pretty happy for a while and with a membership to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) we had access to plenty of locally grown organic food, but I still want more.
This weekend the weather was nice and the desire to grow even more food took over. I decided that this time I wanted to build a more sustainable garden. In the past I had walked into a chain lumber store and spent a bunch of money on new lumber. This time it was going to be different.
I visited Uncle Benny’s, a local family owned business that buys sells and trades used building materials. Stepping into the world of Uncle Benny’s was way too much fun for me. They have so many awesome items that are previously used but are still very usable. This business is not only saving all of these building materials from going into the landfill, but they are also offering some screaming deals on great products.
I spotted many projects that I would like to take on but decided to stick to the new garden project for this weekend. I purchased repurposed 2”x6” Redwood decking boards. These boards are beautiful. They were previously used for a deck but all of the screws had been removed. I sanded them down and they are like new. I would have never spent the money on brand new redwood so I am so pleased with how this turned out.
With just a couple hours of effort I was able to turn a small grassy area of our yard into a food producing garden plus I was able to support an awesome family business and keep some building materials out of the landfill. This was a very easy project. I definitely encourage you to grow some of your own food and/or purchase reclaimed materials. These are easy and simple changes you can do to be a little more eco-friendly.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Please welcome Eileen owner of Little Acorn Learning! You can read more about Little Acorn below and please leave a comment to be entered into a giveaway for a free June Guide! Winner will be announced on Wed. May 19th.
"The Little Acorn Learning Guides are a nature-based monthly childcare program which gently guides parents and caregivers through a healthy rhythm each day. The guides assist caregivers in all areas of their lives with weekly caregiver meditations, daily housework suggestions, recipes, grocery lists, crafting lists and ongoing encouragement and support. Our goal is to reconnect children and their caregivers to nature and inspire a love for the home arts - putting the focus back on the family, conscious parenting and preserving our earth.
Inline with the philosophy of the One Small Change project, the little acorn guides foster a love of nature in our children while supporting the caregiver’s soul. This is a holistic, whole life program warming and nurturing both the children and the adult, helping parents and teachers to find true meaning in their work with young children. Using Nature and Mother Earth as their classroom, children are engaged in circle time, nature walks, stories, songs, crafting with natural materials, gardening, yoga and much more! Free sample weeks can be found at http://www.littleacornlearning.com and many giveaways and free projects are also posted on the Little Acorn Learning blog at http://eileensplace.blogspot.com."
Congratulations Juniper on winning this giveaway!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
National Parks. There are lots of them. And at a very young age I fell in love with nature because of the impression National Parks made upon my little, budding soul.
Perhaps it was not an intended small change—my parents choosing to take us on vacations immersed in America’s protected greenery—but family vacations cemented in me the importance of caring for the environment.
So maybe it’s the one thing about me that didn’t have to change that I find important to write about here. There was no magic light bulb that went off inside my brain making me love nature. That deep-rooted love made it all the easier to make small changes (cloth diapers, homemade baby food, etc. etc.).
And here is where I’m going with this…
As a parent to a (big) six-month-old baby boy, there are a multitude of things I want for my son. Very high up on that list (next to ya know, decent health?) is my desire for him to love nature the way I do. I want him to grow up understanding how crucial it is to hug those trees.
I see the clearest path to that in how we spend our family vacations. Those relaxing, altruistic family moments away from our usual routine will be golden opportunities for truly demonstrating to him that this world is worth our green efforts. I guess I am hoping those memories, picture-framed as cherished, will leave him with warm, green fuzzies.
I get excited at the thought of making plans to camp in Shenandoah or hike the Smokies, to climb sea walls in Acadia or be wary of Grizzlies in
So let your love of nature and your family moments transcend a love for the earth. If you already hold the environment dear, maybe this isn’t a change you should be making—it’s time you should be making, time with your children out in nature as a family. National Parks are an amazing place to let this happen.
Let your kids explore as Junior Rangers. Attend the amphitheatre nature talks. Examine wildflowers. Discuss turkey vultures. Pick blueberries and make pancakes with them the next morning.
If you make the memories, I am willing to bet that taking care of our earth, learning about the wild, and appreciating natural beauty will, well, just come naturally to our children.
Erin Bernard is a cloth-diapering new Mom, wife, and freelance journalist living in
Explore your potential National Park family adventures here: http://www.nps.gov
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
I have truly loved the act of drying my clothes on the line. It feels so right and I enjoy the time spent outside chatting with neighbors and hopefully setting an positive example in the neighborhood. It is one of those old fashion things that is starting to gain popularity with my generation. I imagine that when dryers first became available, women were excited about the new convenience they were being offered. Now, just a few generations later, we are realizing how much money and energy is used to dry our clothes in the dryer. We are slowly and naturally slipping back into the slow and natural way of life, which includes hanging our laundry outside to dry. And, we have the best of both worlds today...we have the option of using the convenience of our electric dryers in a pinch.
Not only am I saving money and using a lot less energy, but I have also noticed a few other things going on. I am getting to know my laundry. I started to notice that my kids wear the same things over and over....I find myself hanging the same pink and purple dress every time I hang the wash. This lead me to go investigate in the kids closets and purge a lot of their clothes that aren't getting worn. We are blessed to receive a lot of hand me down clothes from friends and family which can some times add up to extra clothes that just sit in the closet. Last week I went through the drawers and closets and came up with 2 garbage bags full of clothes to give away to some one in need.
Something else I have noticed is that we are washing our clothes less. Now that I have added the extra work of drying our clothes, I am very cautious about what goes in the wash. Is it dirty? Does it smell? Can it be worn again? These are all things I ask myself before putting anything in the wash. Working from home offers us the luxury to wear the same clothes 2 days in a row...so we do just this. And the kids have gone from changing their pajamas each night, to wearing the same pajamas for a week at a time before they get washed.
So, not only are we saving money and electricity by hanging our clothes outside to dry, but we are also doing the wash less often and we were able to donate a lot of clothes to a needy family. Getting to know my laundry has been a lot of fun, and believe it or not, I actually enjoy doing laundry more now than I did before I started hanging it to dry!
I wanted to leave you with a funny spoof on hanging laundry to dry done on The Colbert Report last week! Enjoy!
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Enemy Within - Backyard Clothesline|
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Now I know that not everyone lives their lives towards sustainability, nor do they even want to... I get that, and I fully understand and feel that there are choices that we make for our families.... but, there was still this small voice in me that wanted to say something. It took until March of 2010, and the challenge of One Small Change for me to take action.
That same person who told me there is no such thing as a small voice, also told me that for every person who stood up for something there were another 50 people who agreed with the cause, but remained seated. So this month, I decided to stand up and to start talking.
I approached the Parents Teachers Organization and mentioned that I was interested in creating a Eco- Team for the school, and I found out that there was a teacher who was in charge of a "green school plan" in the school. (hmmm... we have a green school plan???really?!?). It also happen that the teacher in charge, was my son's teacher this year (hmmmm...... another little perk!). So I talked with her a bit after school one day and she was inspired. She called a meeting with the other teachers on the "team" and invited me to talk about Plastics, and other things that were on my mind.... basically I had the floor and could mention things that we could aim towards over the next year.
~The garden was approved, the lumber for raised bed donated, A rainwater collection system is being developed and the group of children are already starting to make plans for their area of garden.
and this is only the beginning..... there is more to come as the months unfold....
My hesitation. my insecurities. my passion. my convictions. my small voice..... All became an impact that will change our school, change our community and even our world. It was in March of 2010 that this woman realized what Ghandi meant when he said to "Be the change you want to see in the world." That change started with one voice, and that one voice can make a chorus sing out loud!
Tiffany Hellum is a wife and a mother. Her early years were spent teaching in California but after the birth of her first son, her small family packed up and moved to Oregon. She now stays home with her two young action packed boys... where she hopes to make a difference towards living simply, creatively and compassionately. What brings her joy is crafting, knitting, sewing, gardening and creating meals from scratch. She dreams about one day having chickens and never having to step into a market.
Monday, May 3, 2010
4. Become a sponsor of One Small Change (email email@example.com for details)