the TAO of CHANGE

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Archive for the ‘Eco-News’ Category

Where Balloons Go To Die

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I run or hike on trails in the woods every morning with my dogs and I appreciate the fact that I’m out there on nature’s terms. It’s not exactly Wild Kingdom, but I’ve been up close and personal with snakes, turtles, raccoons, deer and was even followed by a coyote one day (ok, that one was not my favorite, but still, all part of the package). This morning, I came upon a very baby possum, living proof that all things in infant form are adorable.

So, it felt entirely out of context to come across these deflated party balloons in the woods yesterday. What’s up with balloons anyway? There’s a store down the street that sells nothing but balloons. Really? So much for form and function.

Ok, I really do have a life, but still, I had to look up a little balloon history:

The first balloons were invented/discovered in the 18th century in France and made from paper. By 1803, we made balloons in the first rubber factory, and now balloons are made from latex, which is rubber mixed with chemical additives. Some of these chemicals, of course, end up as waste in the manufacturing process – the others? Well, most end up as waste in their burst balloon state – like these in the forest, after just a few hours of use. Although rubber and latex will slowly degrade, the coagulant chemicals – or the ribbons tied onto the tails – will not.

Watching a helium-filled balloon float off “into space” is only a fantasy. Those balloons inevitably end up earthbound, tangled in tree limbs, on the ground, or in waterways, where they endanger wildlife and the environment.

MOON CYCLES and the Diva within me – better than tampons, period.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

yoga mudraHere it is again – information on the simple, convenient, healthy, money-saving, no-waste Diva Cup and The Keeper for women. If you haven’t made the switch, read on. If you have, send this to a friend. This is great news for women and for the planet! Tao

The environmental question lurking behind that time of the month. Throw away or wash/reuse? Traditional tampons and pads are made with bleach and other toxic chemicals. Friendlier feminine products are now available and although better for your health, they don’t solve the problem of using resources and creating waste.

All of you green goddesses will be thrilled to hear there is another option, good for both you and the planet. The Diva Cup http://and The Keeper http:// are reusable menstrual cups made from silicone or latex rubber, respectively. They are convenient to use,waste-free and super-economical since they will last up to 10 years. I love my Keeper! In fact, these woman-friendly products are so freeing and comfy, that I really hope the word gets out in a big way, so pass it on!

While we’re at it, why don’t we embrace the entire experience with awe instead of dread? As it turns out, in pagan times, when nature was revered and honored, the menstrual cycle was celebrated and acknowledged as a woman’s link to the cycles of the earth and the planets. Wow. It turns out that not only can I use this altered state to contact my inner goddess, but I can now buy and waste less in the process!

I’ve had more than a few students and friends try this. I always encourage them to not be intimidated by the insertion process the first few tries. Embrace the newness and it will soon become second nature! Namaste!

More info. on Yoga practice during Moon Time below.
Tradition:  Women don’t practice during their moon time (menstrual cycle) because their energy is better used for this cleansing process. Using the time for restorative postures and seated meditation is recommended. It is a wonderful way to check in with your emotions, thoughts and the other messages being sent by nature and your body.

Practical application: Once you are proficient/fluent at engaging bandhas, it becomes more logical from a physical perspective not to practice asana since these deep contractions can restrict the menstrual flow. Holding inverted postures can further upset the body’s natural inclination to flow with gravity.

Experience:  I have found through my own experience and that of former students, that the beginning stages of learning Ashtanga does not have a significant effect on the menstrual flow. I’m guessing that this may be because it takes a long while to learn to actively engage the lower bandhas and/or use a full Ujjayi breath. Also, in this first stage, we are not doing or holding inversions more than 5 breaths. So, during this period, I recommend taking off your home practice, but feeling free to participate in a class. if your flow is heavy, you may want to exclude all closing inversions.

If you are a more advanced student, I recommend avoiding asana practice at home and possibly avoiding class – depending on how far the instruction has moved into the series. If you are unsure, talk to your teacher.

Other no-practice days: Tradition dictates that there is no vigorous practice on Full or New Moon Days, due to the high “lunar” energy that may cause distraction. Many women flow with the dates of the Full or New Moon, so this works out nicely. If you do not yet do this, you may find you cycle slowly adjusting to this calendar – if you keep up a regular practice. Energetically, this is optimal, so look forward to it!  If you do not flow with the Moon phases, still skip practice on Full or New Moon Days. Restorative or seated meditation practice is a wonderful experience on those days.

To view full/new moon dates

Crop Mob is alive, well – and a blast

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Crop Mobbing is growing (pun intended) in NC, and spreading all over the country. I’d like to call it progress and innovation, but of course, this kind of collective community is what past generations of farmers counted on at planting and harvest times. Sustainable farming was (and still is), labor intensive. People came together when necessary, to make food happen.

Crop Mobbing today hasn’t changed much in theory, though it’s novelty lends it a modern allure. Just watch this video and try to tell me you don’t want to be one of those people digging in the dirt!

Crob mobs are made up of anyone and everyone who understands and is excited about the local food movement – student groups, experienced and inexperienced gardeners, the agri-savvy or simply the agri-curious. They may do any number of necessary tasks, such as weeding, rock-picking, gleaning, planting, fencing and more. The group on the above link is making a boggy field into a rice paddy (in NC!!) – a job that may have taken months for the two farmer/owners, took this mob of smiling faces about 4 hours.

Although the time, place and tasks of each farm encounter is planned ahead, anyone can join in at any time, and the mobbing looks more like spontaneous fun than grueling work. (More likely grueling work is transformed into fun.) No money exchanges hands, but a meal is shared between mobbers and farmers – one that is surely infused with more energy and fresh deliciousness than I can imagine.

NC is known for it’s plentiful mobbing. To date, The Crop Mob has descended upon 15 small, sustainable farms in the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. And, the trend is spreading into city neighborhoods as well, with the growing popularity of urban farms and edible landscaping.

Educational resources are also showing up online and through community workshops for those of us intimidated by what we don’t know about planting, growing, and harvesting food. Me? I like to connect with nature, but I admit to a tiny lazy streak when it comes to the thought of tending a full garden. But even a small plot can provide a lot to a household hungry for local, organic grub. Now, I just have to find a shovel…

Larry’s Beans Turns the Caffiene Business Cosmic

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I’m always looking for inspiration and when I met my now long-time friend, Larry Larson, I hit the motherlode! Larry is founder of Larry’s Beans, which started out as a coffee company and has since evolved into a living, breathing sustainability whirlwind – with coffee at it’s core.

Larry is the perfect role model for sustainability because he understands what it takes to marry his environmental principles with his business ones, and does it with aplomb. The renovated warehouse – the “Bean Plant” – is so eco-smart and fun, he has opened it up for tours – Willy Wonka style. (Really! He is thinking of getting a velvet suit!)

This isn’t someone who has much down time, yet if you sit with him for dinner – like I have – expect a 2 or 3-hour meal with stimulating and far-ranging conversation. He is as good a listener as he is a communicator. Larry is a bon vivant who loves hiking, dancing and wine as much as he loves coffee – and composting.

Are you inspired yet? You should be! Find out more about Larry’s Beans at this recent news story, or visit the website at Larrysbeans.com.

photo by Takaakiiwabu@newsobserver.com.  (That’s Larry on the right!)

Treasured Trash for the Feet on The Beach

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

by Tao

We’re starting to shed layers here in NC. My whole body sighs a big Ahhhh, when that happens, but my feet are the most joyful this time of year. I spend yoga time barefoot, of course, but otherwise, I’m a wool socks and boots person for almost half the year. So, when warmth hits, I want to go as naked down, er, there, as possible. My latest pair of sandals came from RocketDog.com and are made from hemp and recycled tires. Love ’em, but like most people, I usually gravitate towards the good old flip flops. (BTW – Rocket Dog has partnered with Soles4Souls to provide shoes and other relief supplies to Haiti.)

So, this art installation/shoe recycling project profiled by Oregon Surfrider.org really floats my surfboard! Dawn Stetzel, Portland artist/entrepreneur, has been collecting lost beach footwear at beach clean-up events, making art, and now working on a line of “Beach Found Footwear”. Cleaned up and revitalized, this is definitely trash turned to treasure. Contact Dawn at dawnstetzel@hotmail.com.

Preserve Products Introduces Gimme 5 (#5s that is)

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Most of us rabid recyclers find great frustration and a healthy dose of guilt when we end up with number 5 plastics (like yogurt tubs and clam-shell containers) that are recyclable, but have no where to go to be recycled. Arrgh! Collection is few and far between in most communities.

Once you’ve converted to all the seedlings pots you can use, how do I keep these out of the landfill where they will sit for something like a gabillion years – ? I cut way back at buying foods in this kind of packaging, but, well, it’s not fun or easy. I like yogurt! (although, I do salute my local co-op for packaging their homemade cream cheese in a single plastic wrap instead of container with lid).

Discovered the great news about one of my fave companies, Preserve Products. They have always rocked recycling when it comes to their own stuff. First it was the recycled, recyclable toothbrush and razors with easy and free mail-back bags included. Now, they’ve implemented Gimme 5 is a program taking all # 5s, as well as Brita filters. Mail back, schmail back – all you gotta do is drop at a Whole Foods Market or one of the other participants. There will still be plenty of us using ground UPS, but if you combine your stash of #5s with friends or neighbors, the cost will be very low.

Impressively, Preserve made sure the equation worked. They did a Life Cycle Assessment to prove that the benefits of keeping #5s out of landfills outweighed the environmental impacts of the shipping. And, it does.

Thanks Preserve,

A Rabid. Relieved. Recycler.

Life Box – Save the Planet One Cardboard Box at a Time

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This is what I’m talking about! People following their passions – living their heart’s desire, but working and molding those desires to move us ALL towards change. There’s so many role models out there now – it’s hard NOT to be inspired!

What am I onto today? Let me fill you in. Working in the nutrition industry for the past several years has allowed me privy to the lastest and the greatest health news and supplements. In the past, it was all about SELLING, but in recent years, I’ve seen a shift towards mission-driven ideas and actions. Many people and their companies are looking both forward towards innovation and science as well as “back” to basics, towards nature and common sense – for instance, more and more supplement choices are coming from REAL FOOD, albeit packaged to be convenient for consumers. Well, now the packaging itself is part of the plan —

Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, loves mushrooms. So he studies, harvests sells them and their healing powers for humans and for the planet. But there’s more. This from his recent press release:

“PAUL STAMETS ANNOUNCES THE LIFE BOX SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE ONE CARDBOARD BOX AT A TIME. Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti and author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, announces the Life Box. The Life Box re-invents the cardboard box. Within the corrugations of the Life Box are hundreds of tree seeds and thousands of friendly spores of mycorrihizal fungi. Once a customer receives whatever is shipped inside, the box is torn up, planted and tree seedlings emerge….Of the ten species of trees each Life Box hosts – approximately 25% will survive in 90% of the continental United All the space you need for the first two years is that of two lap tops.

It takes up to two years for a transplant ready baby tree to emerge, so you have that time to decide where to plant them. The Life Box Company also hosts a web site where you can enter your GPS coordinates – Wow. Cool.

We’re a smart, motivated a passionate species. Full steam ahead everyone.

ido30.org —– washing in cold water saves 80% of energy use

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Little things, little things, right? We can and should keep moving forward towards less energy use and less CO2 emissions individually, collectively, and as consumers. So, Ido30.org caught my attention. As in, “I do 30degrees C when I use a washing machine – the cold setting. I’ve been doing this for years, but I didn’t know that I was saving a LOT of energy use. Almost 80% of the energy use of a washing machine comes from heating the water. Wow. Get everyone on board and that’s some math equation.

Did you know:

Enzymes have been used to improve the cleaning efficiency of detergents for more than 35 years, and are now well accepted as ingredients in powder and liquid detergents, stain removers/laundry pre-spotters, automatic dishwashing detergents and industrial/institutional cleaning products. Industrial/Institutional Detergents Industrial and institutional laundries have traditionally used strongly alkaline detergents and high temperature washing. However, because of increasing wastewater treatment and energy costs, many industrial and institutional laundries have opted to use enzyme-containing detergents as an effective means of reducing costs and maintaining cleaning performance at lower temperatures and alkalinity.

35 years? Where have I been? This information needs to spread faster and farther. So many people still assume they need to use hot water to get things clean. Join the group on Facebook or just pass on the info. to friends.

Yep, this group is sponsored by an enzyme company called, NOVOZYMES. But, you know, it needs to come from the source and bringing consumers and other environmental organizations into the loop is more than fine by me.

In fact, they’re not hard-selling because I couldn’t figure out where/how to buy their products or what to look for in my current detergents. If anyone else has luck, let me know?



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