This blog was started, and is intended to illustrate that environmentalism happens through small acts, is not difficult, and that it does not always have to be some big life changing event that forces you to live in the tree tops with no electricity. All that being said, one of my small acts was to start this blog to gain some friends to help me save the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I can't see..

Hello my name is Charlotte.  I am a resident of planet Earth (most of the time :)).  I understand (or at least think and pretend that I do) a lot of things that I have never seen.  I have never met a dinosaur, but there is enough evidence out there that without meeting one face to face, I am certain they once roamed where I now live.  I have never been to outer space, or to the very depths of the ocean, but I know there is a lot of cool stuff out there and down there, and there is a need to continue exploration so that maybe one day if we are lucky we can experience those places (for fun and not because we are forced to find other places to live, been watching too many movies!).  I do not have to see everything to understand that humans don't know much (nice segue right!).  But we do know some stuff, we are not completely unintelligent beings, so why it is so hard to comprehend and combat what we are doing to the planet. Here is my thought,  we cannot see it, at least on the day to day.
Right now on my small section of the planet there is a massive drought.  I do not see it though, because I go to turn on the tap and I have water.  However I get that what I can't see does not mean it is not happening so I try to turn on the tap as conservatively as possible (cool tip compost so you do not have run the water for the disposal).  There are people who really have experienced drought, those who do not have access to taps to just turn water on and off as they wish.  They can tell you droughts are real.  I know there are farmers who grow the food that I eat that are struggling.  I cannot see it, since I walk into a store and there is food.  But those farmers know how precious the water is.
I hope that I understand just a little the value of water and other things that my own survival is dependent.  I hope that even though I cannot see it, I do all that is possible to conserve and protect the resources that I and the rest of the people on this planet rely upon for life.  I hope that the rest of the world understands that you do not have to see something to help change what is happening.  I hope that we all start thinking long term rather than short term, and of others rather than ourselves.
I know that so many things are different now than say just 10 years ago.  We see so much with social media, smart phones, and the interwebs (trying to sound old and funny at the same time, not sure it worked) and whatever else helps us put out there right away the images and thoughts of our daily lives.  Nothing seems to go unnoticed, so why is the planet??
But just because everyone cannot see what is happening does not mean there are people out there who are not already struggling due to what we are all doing to ourselves.  I hope that we all take every action that is required, big or small, to help out those who can see the damage already and especially those who can't.  I hope those who have enough power to change laws do so, and are less easily bought by short term thinking companies. And most of all I hope we all realize that we are doing this to ourselves.  Denial, it ain't just a river in Egypt!
Here are a few tips that you can do to help conserve water

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Be a Yes!

I was blown away the other day, I was expecting the worst, and was shocked to hear an answer I so wanted to hear.  Let me explain.  I am obsessed with this food stand at our local farmers market.  They serve the best veggie coconut curry ever.  The downside was it was served in styrofoam.  Well that was a bit off putting for me.  So I asked the guy working as I was walking by if I brought my own container would he still be able to serve me.  Expecting a big fat NO or that is against some sort of stupid regulations, instead I got a big fat YES!   How thrilling to hear a yes every once in a while.  And not only that but I was told many people do it that way, oh there is power in numbers!  And so hear we come full circle back to Leftover Love, the incentive: the delicious curry (in moderation of course, for no other reason than my wallets sake) and the perk is not having guilt of throwing styrofoam into the landfill.  I am telling you this can totally work, we just have to work together.   The win for the food stand is, as the gentleman serving me mentioned, that he knows the spoon/serving size so he can charge me accordingly without having to use his containers as a form of measurement, and he mentioned he does not have to use his containers!!! (Not sure what it is called in writing when you repeat yourself, but thought it would help drive the point home) that the gentleman realized the cost savings when he does not have to use his containers (did I say that already).  
So go out there, ask questions, you may actually get the answer you want, and be a yes (as my old yoga studio used to say) it may surprise you have effective being positive can be.  
Goodness I am so hungry now!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Megan’s Guide to Minimalism…in Moderation

Have you ever met those people that just make everything they do look so easy.  Well I have recently, our fabulous new neighbors Megan and Chris.  I thought that after our move a few months ago I was doing good keeping the clutter down and trying in my own way to be a Charlotte version of a "minimalist" (using the term very gingerly here).  Well after seeing the neighbors house I must admit that I look like a complete hoarder, not so great when you have a blog about cutting back (gulp, and sigh!).  So I asked Megan to write a guest post for the blog on how she does.  Remember this blog is all about the simple things we can do in our day to day to help reduce, so without further ado here is the fabulous Megan to help me, I mean us, on some easy ways to do that.  Read it, good advice coming from someone who actually knows what she is talking about!

Greetings and salutations! I am Megan, Charlotte’s neighbor.  When I’m not creating tongue-twisting alliterations (see: blog title), one can usually find me residing in my 500 square foot abode.  In fact, for the past six years, all three homes I lived in were 500 square feet or less.  As a double dare to my life, I added another roommate to the minute living space mix, my fiancĂ©, Chris!  (I will exercise my mathletic prowess here: that means 250 sq. feet per human.) Here our four ways that I maintain moderate minimalism:

1.    Identify What Brings You Happiness and Invest in that: A year and a half ago, I sold nearly all of my worldly possessions and travelled to Argentina with Chris. Moving is a great opportunity to edit your life as it imposes an evaluation of what to keep, even in less extreme circumstances than mine.  I found that the sickening sum of the material items I had accumulated over the years couldn’t bring the happiness that a single meaningful conversation provided. It was a significant lesson: things don’t make me happy; experiences and people do.  
2.    Be Mindful of Purchases:  When we returned to the states, we did so with a Camry that was halfway full! We rented a small space knowing that the more room you have, the more you will need to fill it.  Still, when a 500 square foot house echoes, it’s time to start filling it up! While it was tempting to buy ready-made objects and expedite the furnishing process, we opted to re-purpose older furniture and were pleasantly surprised with how rewarding it was. For the first two months, our backyard became a DIY workshop (sorry neighbors!) and one-by-one, we filled our space with a style that we crafted. Literally!
3.    Walk Away:  While I love to do-things-myself, I draw the line when too many tools are involved. Shopping can be a little overwhelming for me with the agro salespeople and so.many.options. To cope with this, my strategy is to take flight instead of fight! In other words, I put the item down and bounce! If I continue thinking about it, I will return to purchase it, but more often than not, I find that I can’t even remember what I had picked up.
4.    One-in-one-out: I traffic the material items entering my house like an imposing bouncer at a club!  Before I purchase or accept one item, another item must vacate to make room. 

No trash

Thought this article was pretty interesting and inspiring, and also similar to one of the challenges presented on this blog many many moons ago.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Read Me

I have a problem (shocker I know) but I wanted to let you know openly, as I cannot hide it any longer, I hate (yeah I said hate) greenwashing.  Do not get greenwashed (aka suckered) into something, as I recently did.  I had a blonde moment (I can say that b/c I am blonde, and I am am owning it ;) ) in a shop the other day and I bought something I shouldn't because of the pretty label that was calling to me.  Oh and also the fact that it had a very well known ecological nonprofit logo on it.  I thought hey I can bypass reading this label, it has to be safe if the aforementioned (can I say that and be taken seriously if I am not in a court room??) nonprofit is endorsing it.  Well guess who was 100% totally and completely wrong, that's right, this girl.  When I finally do get around to reading the label I find that well known non-profit does NOT endorse anything made by the company, but instead the products parent company just pays royalties to plaster the logo of the nonprofit all over their stuff.  What a crock.  But unfortunately that is the way of things right now, and I was the sucker that fell for it.  Not OK, shame on everyone involved, including me.
The key to a lot of issues, including greenwashing, is education.  Educate yourself and be aware.  Keep researching, figure out what you are OK with and what you are not,  and shop accordingly.  For example I avoid all P&G products (this parent company hides behind a lot of names), I look for cruelty free, I try very hard to stay away from products with palm oil (again this sucker hides under a lot of names and is in a lot of different products, see below*).  We are going to table the palm oil discussion for a different day.  And I try (try being the key word here) to reduce waste by shopping for things with limited packaging.  I am not perfect (case in point this post), I get that, but I there is effort being made.  But the point here is still, READ. Pretty packaging does not mean pretty stuff.  If you love a certain product make sure you are OK with every aspect how it is made and sold and if not then find a better alternative that you are OK with.  And if there is not one, then make it (oh sure Charlotte you say, but I have faith in you I know you can)!
Look no one is perfect but we can be better, not perfect but better, shoppers the more educated we are.  I know everyone is saying it, but buy local whenever you can, and stop buying from those big companies who think we are all dumb enough (gulp) to buy something if it only looks good, or make it yourself.  Look I get there is a flaw with the overall "system" of things.  But you can do something really simple, use your wallet to change the status quo.  Vote against those companies through the use of economics.  They suffer without it, because money talks sister.  So create that change by being educated shoppers ( please note I am aware of some bigger economic and environmental concerns that could be addressed just not trying to put everyone to sleep, including myslef, every time a post is read) force those corporation dummies to make better stuff.  Don't let greenwashing happen to you!

*Side note: these ingredients are definitely palm oil or derived from palm oil: Cetyl Palmitate, Elaeis Guineensis, Epoxidized Palm Oil (UV cured coatings), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Octyl Palmitate, Palm Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Stearine, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmitic Acid, Palmityl Alcohol, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Palmolein, Saponified Elaeis Guineensis, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Palmate (Please see Philadelphia Zoo for more info).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Something

Here is the thing about me, call it a personality flaw or whatever you like, but at times I can be easily overwhelmed.  I want to do so much, and sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day.  Blahblahblah, I know you have heard it all before, and guess what so have I, since I am usually the one saying it.  But when I stop whining, I can create a moment of clarity and realize I am not supposed to do it all, but I DO have to do something.
So the "something" I did the other day was a beach clean up.  I was naive enough to think that this would be easy, since it was a nice beach in a nice area.  Hot damn was I wrong, people can be slobs apparently no matter where you go.
But I will not bore you with how disgusting people can be (sure you know that already), or what I picked up, or the amount of trash we found.  But what I will share is my point, which I am sure you already know by now, but I will say it again to drive it home.  I was doing something, I was not whining about how I should be doing something (which I am quite good at it).  And you know what it, that is all it takes some times to feel less overwhelmed and more motivated to go out and do more.  I am just saying, it is worth a try at the very least.  Don't get me wrong, I know I can always do more, I am not preaching trust me, this really is a small act.  But we all have start somewhere and do something!

The New Thing

So I wanted to share very quickly one of those little secrets that I discovered that actually works.  I read a natural way to hide scratches and blemishes in wood furniture was to add a little coconut oil to the scratch.  Well holy heck it works.  I know coconut oil is all the rage right now, and I must admit I am have jumped on this band wagon.  It is good stuff, and this is just the beginning of all the possible uses. For more ideas check out 101 Uses for Coconut Oil


Sorry for my little hiatus.  I am sure there have been a lot of sleepless nights wondering why I have been denying so many of my wonderful writing (gag!).  I have no good excuse why I have been away, and will not even try to make up a bad one to burden you.   But fear not I am hear now.  So as I get myself back into action be prepared to be wowed, well ok lets be real, at least see some new posts.   Be ready...dundundun!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Two Friends

So as unbelievable as this is, I have two friends, I know crazy, but sometimes strange phenomena occur that cannot be explained easily.  But these two people do some pretty great things that I would like to share some of their efforts and my appreciation.  So as these people are not shunned by others for befriending me I am going to let them remain nameless (not suspicious at all, but just know I am not creative enough to make this stuff up).  Here goes
Friend one: So friend one I noticed the other day while we were at a park was picking up some trash.  Now you may say why wasn't I doing that, and honestly there is no excuse, I should have.  And most of the time, if I am able, I do.  But anyway the point is that she just seemed to do it very naturally, not calling attention to the act, just doing it.  What a great habit that is.  I knew another wonderful person that did the same thing who is no longer with us which gives the small action even greater meaning to me.  Now this small action will not put Antarctica back together or take the big hole out of the ozone, but you know what, it is way better than doing nothing at all.  And so for that I commend friend one and say thank you.  Makes me feel better to know there are people out there who act rather than not.  (Side note do be careful when picking up litter, do it safely).
Friend two: Now friend two lives far away from me.  He lives in an area of the world where people like to travel to if they are fortunate enough.  And he is lucky enough to say he lives in the awesome country of Zambia.  Where he lives he gets to witness what most people only get to see in zoos.  There are elephants, zebra, and lions (at least what is left of them) hanging around in his backyard.  Maybe not all the time, but it is way better than the squirrels I get to see (no disrespect to squirrels of course).  This friend is thousands of miles away from me, but whenever I have called on him to help me with whatever environmental campaign I may be trying to promote he is there, and he helps.  Not a lot of people do that.  And honestly, even though I do not get to experience elephants in the wild on a daily basis, knowing that he does help to motivate me all the more.  This friend knows that conservation is key to being able to keep those animals in his backyard so he does not have to go pay to see them in a zoo or worse yet read about them after it is too late.  He really does get to experience first hand what we are all working towards saving.  His awareness and dedication about the importance of conservation makes me so thankful to be his friend.
The point that I often try and make with this blog is that these efforts are not wasted, small actions are appreciated and do help.  I know that issues such as the environment can seem overwhelming, but doing nothing is not the answer.  I am truly grateful to all my friends and all those who work to help protect our very fragile environment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

No really these are honest questions

So I would like to start this post off with yet another disclaimer.  Here it is: this post is nothing but sincere and honest questions that I am struggling to find answers to, any and all help appreciated.  I would also like to add that I am not a conspiracy theorist (or am I???), and I am not trying to get out of doing the dirty work (or am I???), and I am not crazy (or am I???) (please do not answer the last one, I think we all know the answer).
Here goes, (again remember I am truly being honest and sincere) how can it be more environmentally friendly (which is the claim) to pick up dog poop (especially with plastic bags) and create more waste for the landfills?????
Sure I understand the social factors around this issue.  Your neighbors dog who always goes in your yard can be annoying.  And seriously no one wants to step in a pile of pooh.  But I struggle to understand the environmental and health reasons around why we have to pick it, especially since to me it seems to be increasing the use of single use plastics.  I mean lets face it, pooh is one of the few naturally organic things that humans (and all animals) make so why do we have to wrap it up in plastic and send it to the dump (no pun intended). Let the doo do what it is supposed to do.

Lets go ahead and bullets some points and counter points out to discuss.

  • It is said that pet waste (can't do it have to call it pooh) when decomposes adds toxic bacteria to the ground.
  • Counter point: don't all animals poop, including those pesky wild animals?, and who is picking that up.  Isn't it just as toxic and decomposing into the ground???  And what is the sun doing, doesn't it have a natural bleaching affect?  And if we send a bag of poop to the landfill don't the toxic chemicals from the bag filled with poop add more toxic chemicals to the cocktail of human pollution?
  • Once in the ground it is said that pooh then has the potential to pollute humans freshwater supply.
  • Counter point: similar to above, everything poops right?  Fish poop, birds, lizards, etc.  And they all have the potential for being sick and carrying diseases as well, so are the all destroying our water, is that why we are destroying their natural habitats?   Interesting resource (Diseases Transmitted by Animals).  
  • I also saw it mentioned that pet waste is the third largest cause in water pollution.
  • Counter point:  This one seems to easy, since humans have to be number one and two for biggest polluters, just saying.  I think some of the recent oil spills might highlight my point here.
  • Now concentrations of poop, say from farms with larger animals, that are directly sourced into water, that is a no brainer, don't do that. But how does that compare to not picking up dog poop?
  • But a small counter point to consider, isn't a lot of poop, like cow, horse, and elephant a good natural fertilizer.   I know I have seen zoo poo for sale with the sales pitch being that it will make your roses at home grow and grow.  And I know there is work out there to try and capture the methane release from large farms.
  • Discussing the concentration issue leads me to a size issue.  Now no one wants to stand in a mastiff sized pile or in  a chihuahua sized pile, but it needs to be considered, especially when more plastic is entering our landfills due to tiny bits of caca.
  • Counter point: why are we wasting plastic bags on small amounts of poop.  Seems like the plastic has a more long term detrimental effects than the actual poop (regardless of size), which does decompose.
These are just some of the many questions that have crossed my mind at some point or another when considering picking up pet poop.  I am struggling to find answers that really address any of these concerns, and it bugs me.  If it is just a social thing to pick up dog poop at least I understand that.  May not agree, but get it.  I just hate to think of additional human waste (and cost) being added into the copious amounts of trash we already produce.  No we do not want streets line with poop anywhere in there world.  But remember it was the poop that was here before those streets, and for the most part that poop is gone and the roads are still here, which one seems to be the issue?  If anyone out there can answer any of these questions I look forward to hearing from you.  In the meantime if you do have some pooh to pick up do it as environmentally friendly as possible.  Reusable pooper scoopers, news paper, or paper bags.  Just remember it is still going to the massive man made piles of trash called landfills.  And not sure but think that trash may be contributing to some of the worlds pollution and environmental health related issues just a tad more than dog doo.  Some thing to think about at least.

Very interesting

I do not usually post a lot of other articles, but I really thought this was quite interesting and worth sharing.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Three Hour Tour

Just sit right back and your here the tale, OK I am kidding, but I really was on a 3 hour boat tour the other day and I could not get that song out of my head.  Yeah that is just how my brain works.  Anyway the 3 hour tour is the reason I write today.  It was a whale watching tour, and it was awesome (for the most part).  We actually got to witness some very active eastern Pacific grey whales, and that really did make my week.  And even though these particular whales are doing better than most, with numbers in the low 20 thousands, it was still very revealing to think how much humans have affected their populations.  There are many types of whales whose numbers are in the low 100's, and to me that just does not make sense.  But I do not write to depress you with those numbers, different post different day (get excited).  I wanted to depress you with some other numbers now that I learned during the tour (I know I am a giver like that).  On this particular tour, our boat collected 4 Mylar balloons from the ocean.  Now I am no mathematician, but that is slightly over 1 balloon per hour.  This was the not so fun part of the trip for me.
Now I openly admit that on most things I am a slow learner.  But I have seen enough images of dolphins or sharks, or insert any other marine wildlife here, to know that human trash, no matter what it is, in the ocean (or other places it is not supposed to be) is bad.  But when you see first hand what the researchers, and the scientists, and the people who actually know what they are talking about,  have been warning us about floating (less than 5 miles from shore) in the ocean, it can be a sober reminder of how destructive seemingly small actions can be.
And so on the flip side of that there are small actions that can be very positive.  So lets work on those actions.  Lets make sure we put all of our stuff in the right place.  I was able to start only a day or so after the tour.  We were walking the dogs in the park and we found 2 inflated and 2 deflated latex balloons entangled in a bush.  Easy peasy, I was able to take them home and throw them away.  I made sure to cut up all the string and the balloons and then put them in the trash.  Now just because I am boring with how I do stuff, don't let that stop you from being creative.  I am sure that there are other ways to reuse or recycle balloons if you put your mind to it.  The main goal is just don't let them get into the wrong places.  The amount of pleasure that the people on the tour got from viewing the whales was unbelievable, all the ooohing and aweing was proof.  I know they would be sad if all that came to an end because of something like trash.  I know there are so many people who really do care.  So trust me when I say I will not be offended if the number of balloons in the ocean decreases, but I will be if the number of whales, dolphins, sea turtles (insert any other animal name here) does.  So keep that in mind :) because I know no one wants to offend me (wait, what it is not all about me, oh loud sobbing noises start now, wahwahwah).  Please don't let my crying stop, go out and save the world!

I know you mean well

For the sake of everyone involved I am going to keep this post short.  But there is something that has been bugging me for a while now and I witnessed it first hand the other day, and that was the straw for this camel.  Please please please stop bagging your recyclables.  I have noticed a few people doing it recently, and I even noticed someone borrowing our recycling bin, which I do not mind at all, except all the recyclables were in plastic bags.  No, please stop.  Now I will not speak in definitive terms here, but most municipal recycling programs do not accept plastic bags.  The other part of this is that most of the recycling is still sorted by hand at some part of the process.  And bagging your recyclables runs the risk of them either not being sorted and thrown out or just making more work for someone.  We can avoid all that.  Make sure you read up on your local recycling program.  Most of them say what they accept and what is not accepted and most will tell you to keep the items out of bags.  There that was not so bad was it.  Please make sure you are doing everything you can to help.  
Thanks bunches.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nothing outside of you

Can I say something for a moment, this post may be a bit of a stretch, but in my crazy head it makes perfect sense, so lets just go with that for a second.  Yes nodding and smiling is acceptable, just no pointing and laughing :).  I think I may have said this before, I was reading the other day :) something totally unrelated to what is normally discussed on this blog.  But it struck a chord and just seemed to make so much sense to me, and in my mind was very easily able to be applied to the environment.  Basically it said "there is nothing outside of ourselves"(Momma Zen Miller).  The way that this spoke and the way that is made sense to this blog was that there is nothing outside of ourselves, we don't need anything to help us save the world, because we already have all the tools me need right now, us and our warm bodies.  Which sucks for me because I had a brand new list of excuses ready to go (kidding of course, but they were good ones ;) ).  So let me skip to the point that I TRYING to make here.
Save the world, sure not with magic powers (I am saving those for a really big surprise) but with all those small actions that you are able to do everyday right now.  It can be an overwhelming thought, a good one nonetheless, but overwhelming to think about wanting to save the world.  And I do, I want to save the world for the planet, for the people and animals on it, I want to help and I want to do so much.  Most of that is way out of the scope of my influence and probably not likely any time soon, but it can stall me a bit when I get overwhelmed.  But stop, take a step back and think about what you can do, right now, and remember you have exactly what you need, you DO NOT need anything else to get started except you.  Keep recycling, taking your own container for your leftovers when you eat out, organize or participate in a trash clean up in your area, anything, I mean the list is infinite.  And it all starts with you, no one else, it all comes from your efforts from within your world.  There is nothing outside of us, we already have what we need to make stuff happen.  So do those small actions, because the more that I think about it, it is all those small actions, that might seem insignificant, that will one day save the world.  We cannot expect huge results right away, but don't let the big picture overwhelm, look at what you accomplish when you motivate you and take it one step at a time.  Here we come planet, there are millions and millions of awesome fans working for you every day.  We have everything we need right now to start making a difference.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I did not fall off the face

Even though this is my first post of the year (pretty sad seeing that it is already February) I wanted to assure all my loyal fan base (I told you the voices in my head do count as my fan base) that I did not fall off the face of the earth and disappear into oblivion.  Nothing that exciting, really the reason for my hiatus was a boring old move.  And other than the normal hiccups involved with any move there is nothing terribly fun to report.  But that does not mean that I did not learn a valuable life (and environmental) lesson from this move.
I have written about it in the past, but now I can speak from very recent and very really experience, living more minimally.  That sounds really terrible when I say it like that, like oh I live in a boring bland room with nothing in it but a chair, at least that is what comes to my mind.  But it is nothing like that.  What I have discovered is that stuff (insert any sort of stuff name here) is a big pain in the bum when you move.  And when you move from one space that has a lot of closets for you to hide and hoard all your goodies, to a space that does not, reality can leave a brutal slap mark as it hits you on the face.  But really once the redness subsides, you realize that really downsizing is not that bad.  It is just a matter of how you look at it.
I will do you the favor of sparing all the minute whiny details of how I arrived at my own astonishing lesson. But here it is, you do not have to give everything away to be a minimalist or to show you care for the environment.  You just need to be practical.  There is nothing wrong keeping the things that bring me pleasure (this is how I make this work for me).  All my mementos from various trips, or things that people have given me, they are ok to hold onto and it does not make me a hoarder.  But if it is no longer makes me happy and if it is no longer practical to hold onto then go ahead and clear it out.
And the best part is most of your items that no longer serve you in some way can surely work for someone else.  So while you are getting rid of things, make sure you do not toss out, but rather have a yard sale or donate items to a local charity.
I still have all my pictures, all my souvenirs that I have managed to keep, but guess what that broken mug or that walk man that was made before fire was discovered is gone and has allowed me to better organize what I do have.  And items that had been sitting in closets are either gone or being used.  Really it was very simple and I still have stuff, just not as much.