“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

Monday, January 31, 2011

January Winners

Congrats to Jenna and Alyson for winning a hand made coozie from Julie at The Peaceful Peacock! And thank you to everyone for participating! If you would like a chance to win a Bamboo Utensil Set, start thinking of your Feb change! Check back tomorrow and let us know what your Feb change is!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Giveaway: The Peaceful Peacock

We are so excited to be offering you these handmade eco friendly coozies for our very first giveaway of 2011. Julie of The Peaceful Peacock has created 2 custom made coozies specifically for this giveaway and we are thrilled to have partnered with her. She hand makes each of her coozies with creativity, love, and a whole lot of awesomeness. She uses eco friendly materials such as thrift store sweaters and fabric made from recycle plastic bottles. Julie embroidered the words "Be the Change" on the 2 coozies with the green one fitting a bottle or can and the burgundy one made to fit bottles only. Julie custom makes coozies, so if you have something in mind, be sure to contact her to get fitted with your own personalized coozie!

Today we will have 2 lucky winners! To enter, simply leave a comment here and let us know what you January change was. This giveaway is for participants only. We will announce the winner on Monday January 31st. Good luck!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January Wrap Up

Can you believe January is coming to and end? I hope everyone had a wonderful experience with their change in January and is ready to start thinking of another change! Remember, we are thinking small here! And if you feel like you need another month to perfect your January change, then do so! No one is judging you here, just encouraging! Here are some ideas for easy February changes

~Do you give Valentines Gifts? Make them eco friendly this year.

~Shorten your shower by 2 minutes

~Start planning your Spring Garden

~Get outside for at least a few minutes each day

~Bring a plant into your home

~Focus on always bringing bags to the grocery store...including produce bags

~Green up your laundry

~Stop buying bottled water

Let us know in the comments how your month has gone and if you have an idea for your Feb change yet!

Also...check back tomorrow as we will be posting our January giveaway! The giveaway is for participants only, so if you made a change in January, be sure to not miss this opportunity!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Activities With Kids

One of the most important things we can do to go green is to actually get out and enjoy nature. I mean why would we protect something that we are not using? More importantly, we need to get our children outside and teach them about their natural surroundings and how things work so harmoniously in nature. "What they will not value, they will not protect and what they will not protect, they will lose" Charles Jordan. I recently went and saw the documentary Play Again and was floored at how much time children these days are spending inside watching tv, on the computer, texting or on the phone. Some kids will go an entire day or several days in a row where their only outside time is walking to and from the car. Children will be in charge one day and we need to start now at teaching them to value and love nature.

So, basically what I am getting at here is get your kids outside! It may seem a strange request as we embark on the coldest months of the year, but I am here to encourage you to get your kids outside even on these cold months. Below is a list of ideas on what to do outside in this weather and how to prepare for going outside.

1. Sledding
2. Snow shoeing
3. Skiing
4. Winter nature walk…be sure to search for animal tracks
5. Building a snow fort or snow man/woman
6. Have the kids help you shovel the snow
7. Have a scavenger hunt for winter nature items
8. Ice skating
9. Just let the kids play

How to prepare

1. Make sure everyone is dressed in layers
2. Mittens, hats, snow pants, winter coat and good snow boots are a must
3. Make sure to stay hydrated..drink lots of water
4. Have children go to the bathroom before getting them bundled up!
5. Don’t forget about the sunscreen on exposed skin
6. Don’t stay out too long on frigid days and when kids get cold, head on in for some organic hot chocolate!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Conserving Water in Your Home

Last year my family decided to tackle water usage as a One Small Change. For that entire month and for every month since, we have been more conscious about the length of our showers, how we wash the dishes, and even the flushing of our toilet. Just being conscious of our use has helped make a significant difference. Our water bill has reflected a 1,000 gallon per month decrease from the same month in the previous year. That is a 12,000 gallon savings for the year.
We accomplished this simply by replacing the shower heads to a low flow shower head. We actually received two free shower heads from our power company who was offering them to help customers become more efficient. By spending 10 minutes switching to these free shower heads I was able to make a major reduction in the water we used. I recommend everyone use low flow shower heads as we really haven't noticed a difference in the quality of our showers.

Even though water in covering about 70% of Earth's surface only about 1% of that water is safe enough for human use. The average American is using as much as 100 gallons per day. This is really crazy when you consider that in many parts of the world people are forced to live on a daily ration of water that is about equal to one flush of an American toilet.

It is time that we think about how we are using water and what we can do to help conserve this valuable resource so future generations will have the water they need to survive.

Top Ways to make a difference in your water consumption:

  1. Install Low Flow Shower Heads

  2. Take shorter showers or commit to skipping one shower per week.

  3. Only do full loads of laundry or dishes if using a dishwasher

  4. Replace grass yards with native plants

  5. Place a plastic container with pebbles in your toilet tank to displace water to reduce the amount of water in each flush.

  6. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth

  7. Collect rain water for watering your garden

There are so many more ways to make a difference. Add your ideas in the comments.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Suzy's Change: Switch to Glass Straws

My daughters and I have been shamelessly using disposable drinking straws for the past several years. We love smoothies and we are hooked on drinking them with straws. I know, I know...bad stuff when we are throwing away 3 plastic straws every day! It is one of those things that filled me with guilt each day, but I kept on doing it. So, to start off the new year, eliminating this waste was going to be my first change.

First I did the math. I was spending $1.99 on a bag of 100 straws. We used 3 straws a day, so that bag was lasting us approximately 1 month...so at this rate we were spending around $25.00 on straws a year. And it was leaving 12 plastic bags and about 1,100 straws in the landfill each year. Wow...it really adds up and we sure were doing our part to feed the problem. The glass straws that we wanted to switch to were $12.95 each, so $38.85 total. It will take us approximately 1.5 years to make our money back on not purchasing plastic straws and 0 waste left in the landfill!

With this in mind, we were switching for sure! The glass straws we found ranged in price from $7.00-$13.00...we opted for the pricier ones so we could get a cool design on them. We all have our own design on our own straw and we absolutely love it! Drinking out of a glass straw is just more fun!
We loved these straws and the idea of using glass in place of plastic so much that we brought them into our shop. If everyone used reusable straws, think of the impact this would have! Our 1,000 straws per year could turn into 100,000+...and we could seriously help to slow down the production of these little guys!

If you would like to share your One Small Change on our blog, email me Suzy@hipmountainmama.com

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Plastic vs Stainless Steel or Glass

I got an email from a fellow One Small Changer asking about the whys on switching from plastic cups to stainless steel. She wanted to stop using plastic as she was concerned about the health effects of drinking out of plastic and having toxins leach into the drinks. But, her concern about switching to stainless steel was that the stainless steel would eventually end up in the landfill.

Here was my response..

"You are so right on, that it is important to know why we are doing things! As for the plastic, I think if you are switching for health reasons, that is a very serious concern and you should definitely switch out your plastic cups! Using stainless steel cups or water bottles is an excellent choice and something that will last. You won't find yourself throwing your stainless steel bottles away...when you are done with them, you will either pass them on to a friend or hang on to them for later use. When I was a kid I had 1 cup that I used...it was a cute little glass cup and it was the only cup I ever used. Today my kids use this very same cup..so as you can see these things will get passed on. Also...if you decide you don't want to giveaway or hang on to these items you can recycle them...Stainless steel can be recycled 100%. That is all stainless steel can be re-melted to made a new stainless steel. The typical amount of recycled stainless steel "scrap" that is used to make new stainless steel is between 65 & 80%."

I am hoping to eventually get a forum started up so we can all ask and answer questions to a larger audience. For now I thought I would get this blog post up and allow folks to comment with their thoughts on this matter. If you have a question and want me to post it on the blog, just shoot me an email suzy@hipmountainmama.com.

Friday, January 14, 2011

January Mid Month Check In

It's time for a check in! How are your January changes going so far? Have you started yet? Are you still thinking of a change? Did you change your mind? Is it easier or harder than you thought? Good or bad, we want to hear how it is going!
And remember we have a super awesome giveaway at the end of the month from The Peaceful Peacock! So keep on checking back!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Unintended Small Change by Andy

I've been happily cruising along for a year now helping make small eco-friendly changes in my family's household. Suzy, my wife, has made most of the decisions of what we are going to do and most months it is something that really doesn't affect me, like hanging laundry. I've changed shower heads, fixed a leaky faucet, and other things to help out, but I really haven't had a change of my own.

This month I've made a small change without even realizing that I was making an Earth friendly change at all and that is the beauty behind the One Small Change Project. Sometimes the changes we can make in our own lives to live more eco-conscious are changes that make sense, make our lives easier, and save us time.

I like to drink multiple cups of coffee each morning. Good or bad, it is something I enjoy. I work from home so I brew it here. I know its organic and fair trade and I'm not using a disposable paper cut each day so I always assumed I was doing a good job keeping my morning habit "green".

But I sometimes get into my work and drink my coffee slow. This allows it to cool down before I can drink it. I was taking time away from work to just refill half cups at a time or even wasting electricity microwaving the cold coffee so I could finish the rest.

Last week I decided to try drinking my coffee in a stainless steel travel mug instead of the same old ceramic mug. The coffee stays warm much longer. I have not had to use the microwave to warm it up and I am even able to turn off and unplug the coffee maker sooner.

It isn't a huge amount of power, but over the course of a year the energy savings adds up. After all, that is the whole idea behind the One Small Change. The smaller and easier the change the better to help us all get started on a journey towards living an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
~Andy Hawbaker, co-owner of Hip Mountain Mama and co-founder of One Small Change


Friday, January 7, 2011

10 Tips to Green Grocery Shopping by Kelli

1. Choose a local, independent store

Supporting local businesses has many karmic benefits including stimulating your neighborhood's economy and providing employment opportunities for your community. Additionally, independent stores often carry products from family-run companies close by. We benefit from enjoying food that traveled down the street from a local farm to shelf. By frequenting these businesses, we're directly supporting farmers, growers, bakers, and makers. Our business tells our local grocers that we appreciate their livelihood and their mission which enables them to continue making ethical business decisions.

2. Walk, Bus, Carpool

Walking to the grocery store has the lowest impact on the environment. Pushing a handcart the few blocks to our local grocer adds green benefits as well as health benefits. The empty cart serves as a warm up on the way to and exercise on the way home! Secondly, taking the bus or train eliminates the need for fuel (more eco-harm as well as money) and forces us to only purchase what we can carry. Carpooling has the added bonus of allowing us to stock up on more items and share commuting costs.

If driving is the only option, plan ahead, make a list, and buy as much in bulk as necessary to eliminate future trips. I follow the "Buy Two" rule of thumb: When I buy toiletries or cleaning products, I always buy two shampoos, toothpastes, cases of toilet paper, etc. to cancel out every second trip to the store. It also prevents you from making an emergency dash to Target to grab a single bottle of conditioner when you're left with an empty in the shower!

3. Buy items without packaging

There is seldom a bigger waste than the plastic bags used to weigh produce. Every type of produce gets its own bag and they're rarely sturdy enough to reuse (save for walking your pup). Mesh bags allow the transparency of their plastic counterparts and hold up to frequent use. I often stash a large mesh bag in the seat of my cart for all my loose produce, handing individuals to the cashier to weigh by type.

Filling up those plastic bags can also cause you to buy more than necessary to hit the quota "1/2 lb for $1.99." In reality, I don't need a half pound of mushrooms or an entire bag of potatoes. Using my own bag allows me to buy just what I will use.

Additionally, I will never buy a product that is packaged into servings inside of a larger package. Large containers of oatmeal yield less paper than boxes of individual servings as well as a case of toilet paper that's not internally separated into packages of four.

4. Choose packaging you can reuse or recycle

When comparing two products, I always take the packaging into consideration. Of course, an unpackaged item is a top priority, but recyclable containers are a close second. If an item is wrapped in plastic, but has a cardboard competitor, cardboard it is. Eggs are the most obvious culprit. Outlawing styrofoam in our house not only helped us transition to paper/cardboard egg containers, but to cage-free, no hormone eggs (as they're almost always the ones in recycled containers). Likewise, glass is easier to reuse and recycle than plastic condiment bottles.

5. Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is a great way to reduce packaging and the need for multiple trips to the grocery store. Rice, grains, spices, cereals, dry foods, and paper products do not perish quickly and allow you to cash in on bulk savings given you have the room to keep a back stock (like a pantry).
Grassroots UPCYCLED Farmers Market tote by greenie bean recycle

6. Use Cloth Bags

Using cloth bags is a no-brainer. Keep a stash at the house and in the car. Stores have become extremely accommodating to cloth baggers and if there is any worry, use the self-checkout lanes. Plastic bags require oil to produce, cost retailers $4 billion annually, and account for 8 billion pounds of waste in our landfills per year (source). Cloth bags are stronger, more durable, and can be used for years. They can be constructed from reclaimed materials in furthering our commitment to reusing.

For a few months, I made myself buy new cloth bags at the grocery store every time I forgot to bring them or left them in the car. The result is that I rarely forgot them at home and we have a stash large enough to bag even our most fruitful shopping extravaganzas.

7. Buy items with the fewest ingredients

It's no secret our food travels hundreds of miles to get to our plates in the United States. What's more, each ingredient initially traveled to be processed into the food we eat before it arrived at the grocery store. With the majority of our food comprised of water, we're paying to ship liquid cross country. When you're perusing the aisles of your local grocer, look for items in their purest state. Buy honey that only contains honey. Buy granola made from oats, nuts, and raisins. It is unlikely that we need any ingredient we can't pronounce and by eliminating them, we're lowering the fuel cost of our food.

Additionally, fresh local food is a smart buy, especially if it is organic, as its not pumped with preservatives to account for days of travel.

8. Buy everything in one place

Our local grocery store is three blocks away, independently run, and carries an amazing variety of fresh, organic, and local products at competitive prices. Unfortunately their Stoneyfield yogurt is $2 more than the Trader Joe's across town and my favorite Organix Tea Tree mint shampoo runs $1+ than the closest Target. While I grimace at such a blatant "loss of money," it's quickly realized that the same $3 would be spent in gas to drive 2 miles west to Target and then 8 miles back east to Trader Joe's. I also want to support our grocery store and show the importance of carrying organic products for conscious consumers.
Shopping List Organizer Yellow by allisajacobs
9. Only buy what you eat

To buy what we'll eat takes getting to know our families, eating habits, and schedules. There have been many times that I'll load up on fresh fruits and veggies to remember we have dinner dates scheduled and plan to be out of town for the weekend. We waste food by not planning ahead. Plan out your meals, consult your family, and write out a shopping list. Smart shopping equals less food for the compost and more money in our wallets.
Cash Money Print Gold on White by OrangeBeautiful
10. Pay with cash

It's said that 80-90% of money spent in the community stays in the community especially when that money is cash. Credit card fees crush small businesses. Our grocery money is used to buy products from local farmers and employ our neighbors who turn around and spend their paychecks at our auto garage, florist, or dog-walking service. It strengthens our economies and real estate markets. It keeps jobs in our communities and provides a future for our neighborhoods and children.


*Kelli is creator, owner, and operator of Greenie Bean Recycle. In Kelli's words:

"Being fascinated with all things “old”, greenie bean recycle began in July 2007 and soon became Kelli’s mark, her political statement, and her attempt to further the beauty of recycling and reusing. Her craft is her activism, an opportunity to educate others about all things political, beautiful, and life affirming.

Aside from being a crafter, Kelli is a Social Justice and Community Development graduate student at Loyola University and is a co-founder of the Urban Folk Circuit. She enjoys exploring every neighborhood of Chicago, cooking without recipes, frequenting local theater, and cuddling with her kittens, Killer Queen and Jubilee. Her obsessions include peppermint mochas, vintage housewares, avocado green, and protest music. Her life goals include learning to can vegetables from her frontyard homestead and running a brick and mortar arts and craft shop."

**if you wish to guest post on One Small Change, please email me suzy@hipmountainmama.com


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Welcome Sponsors!

We are off to a great start with our One Small Change Project this year and I wanted to deeply thank everyone for all your support and for helping us make a difference. Today I wanted to take a moment to thank and acknowledge our faithful sponsors. Our sponsors make it possible for us to put more time and effort into this project and for this we are grateful. Please take a moment to learn about a few of our sponsors today and if you are interested in becoming a sponsor, email me at suzy@hipmountainmama.com

Sustainable Baby Steps Sustainable Baby Steps is an informational website that helps you on your journey to becoming green. Tara offers suggestions, tips, ideas, and easy ways to get started on making changes. Sustainable Baby Steps is a wonderful compliment to our One Small Change Project and I encourage you to check out the website and sign up for the newsletter.

Inside Out Inside Out is an E Course that helps you to live the life that truly makes you happy. It is a creative journey to self discovery that can really help you to realizing and fulfilling your dreams. I have taken this course twice and am taking it again in January. (there is still time to sign up for the Jan course if you are interested in joining me!)

The Waldorf Connection The Waldorf Connection offers support and guidance in teaching your child using the Waldorf philosophy.

Gypsy Rose Stephanie blogs at Gypsy Rose where she writes about family, simple & creative living, organic food & dreams of a someday homestead. She also has an Etsy Shop where she sells her handmade goodness!

Stop by in a few days as I will be introducing even more sponsors! And check out our 2011 Prize section to see more of our wonderful sponsors!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

E Cloth Winners

I am so thrilled with the response we received this first month of the new year. I am so excited to see all the eco friendly changes going on with families, individuals, children, and schools. Like promised, I am here to giveaway a few packages of E Cloths. I have divided them up into 3 piles, so we will have 3 winners today!

1. Set of 4 General Purpose Cloths and 2 Dusting Cloths
Its_Lily " January will find me giving up store bought laundry detergent and making my own. I've seen rave reviews on the blogs so it's time to try it on my own. Thanks for hosting this fabulous idea again. It was so much fun last year and was really quite easy to make changes."

2. Set of 4 General Purpose Cloths and 2 Dusting Cloths
Raising a Sensitive Child "For January, I'm switching to cloth menstrual pads!"

3. Set of 2 General Purpose Cloths and 1 Glass and Polishing Cloth

Riotus Living "My January change is to not buy any paper towels at all - we JUST ran out in my household and have been using our cloth rags in the kitchen and at meal time and it's been ok for these few days. I'll need to get ahold of some more kitchen towels but if I don't need to buy paper towels in January I might never need them again!!"

Congrats! And congrats to everyone for starting out 2011 with intentions to make a difference. I will be checking in with you all throughout the month and if anyone wants to guest post, shoot me an email suzy@hipmountainmama.com!