a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for April, 2007

Co-How-sing? cooperative housing is user-friendly

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Jerry and I first saw a co-housing community in Asheville, NC in 2004. The common sense, community-oriented, space-sharing eco-friendliness of it captured our attention and our eco-hearts. We were already living downtown in a dense, historic area, but we wanted to take the next step towards living both more sustainably and more communally. We eventually landed in a co-housing community in Carrboro, NC. It is conveniently located just 2.5 miles from the downtown area where many local businesses thrive, including a food co-op and music club.

Here in Arcadia, we make a small footprint with 33 passive and active solar homes on 16.5 acres, of which 6 acres are preserved as forested and open space. There are no roads running through the area, only foot paths. There are no garages, driveways, or overhead outdoor lights (hello stars!). There is an organic garden, shared composting and a Common House with guest rooms, playroom, dining and laundry.

Common living means people living holistically in a small, efficient way, but it also means common sense and – sharing resources, ideals and even meals. Private homes include all the ameneties of a conventional home, but the neighhborhood design encourages both social contact and individual space.

Most people wonder how and why it all works, so here is a really good list of FAQ.

My experience? We have been completely eco-happy co-existing in co-housing!

How Green is Your Yoga? yoga meets sustainability

Monday, April 9th, 2007

by Tao Oliveto

As a yoga teacher and eco-activist, I was super excited when the first sustainable yoga mat appeared. After all, it made little sense that the mats we yogis were using to clear our minds and bodies were mucking up the planet. The most widely sold sticky mats are filled with PVC chemicals and non-biodegradable materials. I was totally freaked out by the smell that filled my studio back when unrolling my first supply so I made the switch when green and clean mats became available. My students love them!

Go deeper into the roots of yoga (Eight Limbs). and you’ll find the Yamas and Niyamas (the inner and outer observances) which include a commitment to non-harming. It’s not a stretch to match this with avoiding putting toxins into our bodies and our environment. Alternatives to toxic, non-biodegradable mats are now widely available from several yoga suppliers. I personally like the 100% rubber mats from Jade Yoga – they are thicker and stickier. Keep in mind that traditional cotton or hemp yoga rugs have always been great, especially for a sweaty practice, and will outlast any other variety. Encouraging your local studio to provide and/or sell these mats would be a step towards greening your own practice – inside and out.

The Green Yoga Movement became official when Laura Cornell founded the Green Yoga Association in CA, with a mission “dedicated to fostering ecological consciousness, reverence and action in the Yoga community”. Since then, yogis everywhere have come to realize the nature of yoga – that is, the obvious connection between the system of yoga and the ecosystem. They will host the 2nd International Green Yoga Conference in Watsonville, CA this year on May 18 – 20.

Epilogue: I can happily say that those first sticky mats from the studio avoided the landfill by becoming cushions for my reused/restored couch found while dumpster diving.

Do You Bamboo? eco-fabrics pamper the planet and you

Friday, April 6th, 2007

bamboo shirtby Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I love shopping at thrift and vintage stores for eco-conscious reasons and for fun. But, if I do buy new, I make sure I’m buying Fair Trade, organic and/or sustainable products. I found all of these things at Bamboosa, a privately-owned company designing and manufacturing clothing locally from bamboo for men, women and babies. If you haven’t yet seen or touched clothing made from bamboo, please find a way to do so! Not only is the fabric soft and silky (bamboo – who knew?) but it’s also one of the most sustainable resources available. It’s a great wear – durable and naturally antibacterial – go ahead, sweat in it! Bamboo is one of the grooviest renewable resources going and you can make almost anything from it, from bicycles to toilet seats to underwear.

Speaking of groovy stuff that is good for the planet and you, don’t forget about hemp – it’s not just for hippies anymore and it’s pretty darn hip in the green department as well . I’ve found everything from shirts, skirts, scarves, hats, belts and socks to bags and jewelry. My most awesome find was a shower curtain made from hemp. No liner required – antibacterial, remember? Visit one of the many hemp dealers in your neighborhood or online.

Fashion Cents – thrifting is eco-smart and fun

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

moccasinsBy Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Style may not feed your soul, but it does feed something internal that both links us to our culture and to ourselves. Can you have you style and eco it, too? Thrifting has been around, but it now can make fashion sensible. Thrift/trade/vintage/consignment, whatever you call it, shopping this way saves resources, money, and tells good stories. Although the thought of shopping in a mall is my own personal idea of hell, I admit it – I’m hooked on thrift stores.

It’s not just about the clothes, but about creativity, experience and yes, style. In contrast, my self-professed trendaholic friend who can’t stay away from malls, lamented recently, “After all the money is spent, I don’t even feel that stylish.” Somehow, thrift shopping can move you more towards self-expression and away from following the crowd. Here are some of my recent fashion finds.

The more industrious thrifties may enjoy web shopping for pass-alongs and there is even a new site announced at SWSU that allows you to join a clothes swapping community, which is pretty cool. I’ve found a few treasures myself this way but coming to terms with the eco-expense of shipping has kept me using this option sparingly.

THE TAO OF CHANGE [the way of a better world]

brought to you by The Change, a strategy and design agency with an agenda to change the world