Sostane Blog

Archives for the ‘Seattle Meetings’

Seattle May Meeting: Finding Your Sustainable Voice

Photos coming soon. (Thanks to Jessica who remembered her camera!)

Topic: How To Speak From Your Inner Sustainable Voice – Finding your green roots can help you speak up, communicate your passion and send out positive no’s.

We had a fairly healthy turnout seeing it was Memorial Day Weekend and many activities were going on around the city and how beautiful the weather was. Thank you everyone for spending a couple hours out of your Saturday to share in our discussions.

Focusing in and around the topic of saying “No” in a positive way, we started out the discussion on the Yes-No-Yes concept by William Ury and the book The Power of a Positive No. While the book itself is not focused on sustainability, we felt it was an appropriate topic for women who have a tendency of agreeing to too many things in their lives. Overcommitting, finding ourselves in situations where our gut was telling us we shouldn’t be there, or not staying on a clear path to what we really need in life – all of these things we can say no to but it ‘s learning how to do it in a positive way. By giving ourselves permission to say no, communicating it well and standing strong in our inner voice, we can show others what is important to us.

The book itself gives an example diagram of a tree (roots-yes, trunk-no, branches-yes). Our interpretation for our discussion was the bottom is rooted in your positive beliefs, the trunk wide with your unwavering policies of what you are unwilling to bend to, and the top branches are the positive outreach you are able extend to others freely and willingly. While the book showed how you can use this for individual issues you need help deciding in your life, we thought it was also a great visual for diagraming all of your sustainable values.

Jocelyn shared how she has deep roots in doing the best for the earth and was having trouble agreeing to spend over-budget trying to buy all organic at her local grocery stores. Her strength (trunk) was solid enough that it lead her to investigate alternatives for her and her family. She found that 21acres and other CSAs allowed her to stay in budget, purchase locally and give her family healthy food. Now she speaks this sustainable voice to others to encourage them to look into these alternatives to see if it can work for them as well.

Karen told us about her experiences as a music teacher . She knew that her roots of music were highly valuable and by insisting on raising her rates to the professional standards, she was able to tell others yes or no more easily because of her new policies. Those who didn’t value her services at the higher rate were not the type of clients that she needed any longer.

Becca related about trying to assist some non-profits who kept asking her for free help but then never heeded her advice. She realized they were overstepping their boundaries and decided to sever the relationship as they had not respected her needs in their relationship.

Jessica talked about her recent experience in trying to volunteer with a group that she was very excited about joining. During the training process she was dismayed with the rigidity which put a halt to her energies. Should she stick with it as she had done most of the hard work or was this a sign of things to come, that something that should be fun and artistic wouldn’t end up how she thought it would be. Using the Yes-No-Yes may bring her some answers to what she can offer them and what she can’t bend to due to her own mental and physical sustainability.

In what ways have you become strong and voiced your inner sustainable voice?

Attending sisters: Jocelyn, Becca, Karen, Gayle, Jessica and Kaytlyn

Seattle Meeting: Support Your Sisters


A touching turnout for Earth Day! Less formal than our last Lifeline Activity, our April meeting focused on ways as women we have been able to support one another. Whether it’s appreciating those who have stepped up to believe in our ideas or those we have encouraged along the way, our threads of connecting to each other are strong and unwavering. It’s also about asking for help when we need it. Something many women have trouble with. I know I have!


Jacquie shared that her son is a huge support system not only as a family member, but his background in environmental studies has allowed them to connect and inspire each other. It inspired her to look at her interior design skills and see how she can incorporate sustainability in all areas of sourcing materials, reusing elements and keeping chemicals out of our indoor environments.


Jessica informed us that she has been investigating art therapy as a way to give back. Her BA in arts and passion to make a difference locally has led her to seek out this resource.

Jocelyn has found many ways of being supported by the collaborations she has nurtured through other local business women. Even meeting entrepreneurs who may do very similar work to you usually lead to differences in preferred clientele that you can usually refer to each other. You can also pick each other’s brains for how you solved certain problems for your customers and clients. Together we can achieve more than if we were all separate.

Several of us knew Marlo (a fellow sister) who has helped us in many ways. She is a creative arts consultant and knows the ins and outs of becoming a self-employed woman who makes a living from their crafts. We definitely agreed that she is supportive and we love to support her endeavors.


Tara shared with us about a new cause she has connected with. Because of her passion for kids to have a chance to experience the outdoors, and being thankful that she had the opportunity to go camping when she was young, she found The Fresh Air Fund as a way for her business to give back. You could tell the personal connection and passion behind her commitment to this cause.

From Tara’s Blog:

In honor of Earth day, I would like to share a cause with you that is very close to my heart. The Fresh Air Fund helps give inner city kids the chance to experience nature. Please help spread the word, donate, or even become a host family. Check out my blog post to find out more.

It’s passions like these that we want to help encourage, inspire and promote through Sostane. Some may have found their purpose, some may still be experimenting. But I think we all need to take a look and see what ways we can support each other while fulfilling our own needs of happiness.

Near the end of the meeting we all shared what support we were still looking for. Jessica was looking for a running buddy close to her home, Tara is looking for a sales rep to help assist getting her clothing line in stores beyond Seattle. We also talked about common business supporters can be lawyers, accountants and financial specialists. Jocelyn shared her skills in bookkeeping and the local connections she has with similar business owners. I had personally made a great connection with a lawyer back east who is willing to host a scheduled phone chat to share her knowledge of business entities, liability concerns and business consulting. I would like to open this up to Sostane members soon, so if you are interested in participating please let us know!

Shared links:

The Fresh Air Fund
Get Rich Slowly
Pink Magazine and its article on women-owned partnerships
Wilderness Awareness: Youth Programs
Michelle Bomberger of Small Business Legal Services
Digital Eve Seattle
Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability

Attending sisters: Jessica, Jocelyn, Tara, Jacquie and Kaytlyn. Thanks everyone! See you next month!

Seattle March Meeting: What is Your Sustainable Path?


Looking at your past can help you identify what commitments you want to make in the future

The Past

This meeting was a little different in that we started out with an activity. We had a lifeline from birth to today and we were to write down pivotal, influential and meaningful times/people/events that we contribute to our sustainable beliefs. Whether it’s from your parents, family, friends, teachers, books, travel, life changes, moves, career changes or more, we have all either found the passion within ourselves or been inspired by it from outside sources.

Kaytlyn started with her experiences as a child and remembering how her father taught her how to start tomato plants, and how to create a garden that the family ate their meals from. To then recycling in her teens, remaining the northwest to be around the natural beauty and attending the event 101 Things Designers Can Do to Save The Earth a few years back that really opened her eyes to what power designers have on product creation.


Gay related to her biggest change in her life was moving out from Chicago. From literally seeing the trees from the plane to implementing her own sustainability with recycling, canning, growing their own food and teaching her children those values. Her story shows how you may not have found your sustainable side until much later. Kaytlyn agreed that there were parts of her life where there were definite gaps.

Iraz told us that she had realized a true connect to nature in her life from some of the earliest times she could remember, one vidid memory being a time where she was mesmerized watching ants and their behaviors. That they were animals to be aware of and are just important as we are.


Deborah said she had a huge impact by a book called Raising Your Child Toxic Free that completely changed her career in marketing to a life as a naturopath. Just reading the novel drove her to seek out organic foods and create a sustainable life for her family and son.

Amy had a great connection to her past as her parents were contractors, builders and constructed their home out of repurposed materials from an old school. Gym flooring, toilets, wood panels–all reused to form their home. At the time during the 70’s and where she was living (no hippie commune here), it wasn’t cool to be wearing used clothes, use cloth napkins (and reuse them), or even make all of your food from scratch. Kaytlyn could definitely agree. As a kid you don’t know why you feel a little unusual, but look at us now! That’s what everyone is striving for.

Colleen related that when she become exposed and active in PETA, did she find many other resources that resonated with her in terms of environmental information and ethical passion.

The Present

Jacquie communicated her attempts in keeping her interior design business materials as local as possible and a current project left her dissappointed but on a mission to find a better solution or collective that could help in her efforts. Perhaps purchasing materials as a group could lower the costs. Amy could definitely relate to that point as sustainable fabrics sourced locally could cost five to ten times as a client would want to spend. This creates an image of sustainability being out of reach and impossible to incorporate into our lives and provide for our clients. More research and demand could lead to lower prices and products being more plentiful.


Kristin talked about her current work being a bit unsatisfying due to higher management in her workplace unwilling to be open to education outreach. Instead of only fielding questions from their customers, she would rather inform and education. Iraz, Kaytlyn and Deborah all chipped in ideas of newsletters, emails, seminars or gatherings to monetizing the situation so her managers could realize the impact these outlets could influence and reduce costs.

Some resources mentioned during the meeting:

Raising Your Child Toxic Free, Herbert L Needleman
Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver
Maria Rodale’s Organic Gardening

• NPR: Reducing Carbon Footprint of New Gadgets (Omar Gallaga)
CurbWaste & Conserve, Ask Evelyn for Seattle Public Utilitities (example Q&A)
Chinook Book at Eco Metro
Killawatt and Smart Strip


Attending Sisters: Iraz, Colleen, Kristin, Ellen, Deborah, Jacquie, Gay, Amy and Kaytlyn. Thanks for coming everyone! What an enjoyable meeting. If you want to find a SOSTANE ME SISTER, contact us and we will help you find someone.

Seattle February Meeting: Living with Less

What have you removed from your life to bring you more happiness?

We held our meeting in Fremont’s Caffe Ladro this evening right before another snowy night. Very cold, so thank you for making the time to come out!


Tangible Items

We started off by recalling ways we have purged physical items in our lives. Jessica could relate to downsizing several times before moving. Once before moving to Seattle a couple times since while moving around the city. Christie could relate as she had done the same since moving out from New York. Jessica mentioned a space in her apartment building where she could leave items that were being given away and within a day they were all gone. Marlo agreed that she had a similar space or if you leave items out by the curb with a free sign, they are snatched up very quickly. Other means of getting rid of items: Freecycle, CraigsList, Goodwill, Salvation Army, a garage sale–and if you want to make a little cash on your good items, Ebay. We all agreed we have taken advantage of finding used items through these sources as well. As long as people are reusing the items, they aren’t going into our landfills.

We then talked about getting rid of personal documents and Margo was able to shed some light on what papers we should be keeping. Any tax papers should be kept 5-7 years, papers and receipts for your taxes should be kept for that year and any utility bills should be kept about 6 months. ALL paperwork with your name and address on them should be burned or shredded before disposing as they carry a huge risk of identity theft. If you can sign up for online billing, this will keep paperwork from coming to your home, but usually you can’t get rid of it all. Emily shared that the state of Washington is having Community Shredding Events. We are looking into coordinating a meeting with one of these events.


Mental Clarity

From tangible items, we moved into talking about mental clarity. Kaytlyn shared some personal experiences about saying no in her professional and personal life, and setting up boundaries that people will respect. Everyone could relate to how we sometimes feel overrun with responsibilities and giving to others. But clear communication with others about what you are willing to do (and not do) can actually breed more respect.

If you are getting to the point where you are mentally exhausted, you aren’t honoring your mental sustainability. Women at times can go, go, go and fail to look at the situation before deciding if it’s in their best interests to accept new responsibilities. If you need to, ask yourself multiple times if this is really good for you and what you are trying to achieve in life.


Personal Safety

Margo brought up some good points about physical personal safety that many women face walking around town or on hiking trails. Margo recanted a situation with the safety of her daughter and we all agreed that she had done the right thing by raising the issue with authorities in the area. Honoring our gut instincts of when we feel safe and when we don’t is important.

Wrapping Up

The sisters who attended were Christie, Margo, Emily, Marlo, Jessica and Kaytlyn. Great meeting everyone! You all brought up ideas we hadn’t even thought of. Keep the questions and ideas coming!

Seattle January Meeting: Home Assessment


Wendy was kind enough to open up her home for Gina’s presentation of an sample home assessment by Green Diamond Consulting. Wendy also runs Childish Things in Crown Hill/Greenwood. Thank you so much to both of you for your time and donations!

The Assessment

Instead of focusing on the home, Gina actually perfers to focus on how you are living your life and what makes the most sense to tackle first so it means the most to you. Some basics of looking at what you are eating (less red meat, organics, cooking from home) to how you are commuting, she can help you examine which areas can give the biggest impact.

Our exercise was to come up with one goal that we would like to tackle in the next month or so. And then to achieve this goal, she had us step back and write down the steps to getting to our goal. After looking at it as a serious of baby steps, the goal looked highly achievable! Thanks Gina!




Starting in the Kitchen

Many recommendations can start in one of the most used rooms of the house–the kitchen. Looking at energy saving appliances, using a dishwasher instead of hand washing, making sure your refrigerator coils are clean, warming foods on the stove instead of the microwave (we all agreed that food stayed hot longer from the stove), looking through your cleaners for safe alternatives, biodegradable trash bags, fabric towels/napkins, composting, less packaging and which plastic numbers to avoid, and more.

Washington Toxics Coalition
EO Hand Sanitizer
Jubilee Farm CSA
Green America (formerly Coop America)
Goods for the Planet
Nature’s Path


Attending Sisters: Kathleen, Masa, Gina, Wendy, Stephanie, Emily, Sarah, Jessica, Julia and Kaytlyn. Thanks again to everyone who could make it. It was great to have a private space to talk freely and connect with others.

Seattle December Meeting: Best Sustainable Gifts

What are the best sustainable gifts? What gifts keep on giving?

A hard meeting to schedule before the holidays! We met in Belltown’s Uptown Coffee on 4th.


Ideas for Gifts this Year

Jessica shared with us that she would be flying home and that her family is focusing on being together, food and cooking. She has many little ones in the extended family but they have agreed to not buy anything for them. That will be up to the parents. She was also going to give the gift of cleaning to her roomates and exchange household tasks.

Emily was also flying home and told us she had made writing kits with old art supplies and envelopes from bills she didn’t use. A creative way to use what you have and keep in touch with extended family. She also makes a point to give experiences instead of tangible items like those through the King County Waste Free Holidays.

Gina’s family was going to focus on a vacation for everyone into the mountains and Emily said there was a shuttle that could take them there and back, making it more eco friendly.

Kaytlyn was in the midst of hand-making most of her gifts for that year, inspired by items found in magazines and catalogs. Why buy them when you can make them!


The key thing to focus on for everyone during the giving season is what can you do to add and promote the values you believe in. Can you give to a charity like the United Way or use the White Envelope Project and let the gift giver decide? Since the economy is down, charities need your help more than ever. What causes mean the most to you? What causes mean the most to your loved ones? We agreed that Oprah’s Favorite Things seemed more meaningful this year. Please consider shopping locally and eco-logically this season.

Home Decorations

Organic Christmas Tree
• Tree from the UW College of Forest Resources
• Consider a live tree you can plant after the holidays
• Bring nature indoors (old branches instead of a tree, holly, tree boughs)
• Beeswax candles (instead of lights)
• If you still want lights on your home, consider solar or LED versions
• Find alternative wrapping like old cookie tins, flour bags, pillowcases


Spotlight Sister: Gina Diamond

Gina shared all of her information about her Parties with a Purpose and assessments she creates for home and business owners. It’s a great way to get everyone together for special events, holidays and parties. Please see all of her services at

Attending Sisters included Jessica, Emily, Gina and Kaytlyn. Very thoughtful meeting everyone! Enjoy the holidays.

Sostane Meeting: November

Let me start off by saying, this won’t be the last meeting we cover the topics of beauty and cleaning products and recipes. We had about 12 sisters show up at Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park and each brought their best finds.

Now to be clear with our promotional policies, only some of the items mentioned with be linked from here. The others you will need to search for yourselves from the names we provide. Our goal is to provide the most local and sustainable products available and we haven’t researched them enough to feel comfortable promoting them. There are many other sites out there that can tell you about the national and international options. We will leave it up to you to search the product names (they usually came up first in the results) and examine the ingredients and sustainability factors you feel comfortable with.


Jeannine started off by telling us about her recipes for fizzy bath balls and salts. Two local shops that carry the ingredients are Dandelion Botanical Company and Zenith Soap Supply in Wallingford. Sandra told us about the simplicity of using oatmeal and water to make a face mask. Or just holding your face (at least 8-10 inches) above boiling water for a lovely steam. Love that! Even almond, jojoba, coconut and olive oils can be good for the skin.

Local Products

Our fellow sister, Rebecca, offers Country Meadow Soaps which smell just heavenly! For those with sensitive skin, there is Bienella Eczema Butter Skin Therapy line or their regular BienElla. And make sure you don’t miss Ballard Organics and Moon Valley Organics who also provide honey and beeswax candles.


The subject of using Vaseline was brought up, but we quickly had to point out that it is in face petroleum jelly and don’t condone using it as a petroleum product. Jeannine mentioned purchasing Kimbery Sayer at Stylus in Belltown as well as other paraben-free products they have in stock. Cynthia brought all kind of products from Melaleuca, Tracy mentioned her Arbonne products and Enjo, Amy mentioned Origins, Debbie brought her Pureology line of hair products and Ecover cleaner.

Helpful Websites

Trish brought some very helpful sites that not only can help you pick out sustainable beauty products, but also some other handy sites for finding all sorts of green products (via Newsweek): This well-organized site rates personal-care and household products. Seventh Generation’s Natural All-Purpose Cleaner gets top marks. Info on packaged foods is coming soon. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic-safety database scores personal-care products based on their potentially hazardous ingredients. This site evaluates companies that produce apparel, food, beverages, electronics and household products for their impact on global warming. Results: Nike scores high. Billed as “the consumer action guide to toxic chemicals in toys,” this site lets you look up toys to find out how they rate in lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and PVC.

Spotlight Sister

Amy Woidtke of EcoKind Design gave a great presentation on some simple eco-styling and repurposing we can all do. CD case coasters, cork tile placemats, flower pot wine chiller, and creative ways to use draperies and tie-backs. She also brought beautiful organic cotton fabric swatches from Live Textiles made locally in Seattle.

Attending Sisters: Jeannine, Cynthia, Tracy, Amy, Julie, Meghan, Trish, Marlo, Sandra, Debbie and Kaytlyn.

Let me know if I missed anything!

Sostane Meeting: October


One of the best meetings yet, but maybe I am biased. Twelve of us gathered at the Flying Apron Bakery on this brisk October evening. We pushed a few tables together and got some great tasty edibles via owner Jennifer (who couldn’t make it for Spotlight presentation, but we will try it again soon). Thank you so much Flying Apron!


Main Discussion: Trade & Barter

How could our group implement a fair trade and barter system?

Many of the attendees could relate to trading items, whether it was items at local markets or trading child care hours with friends and neighbors. Most of us seemed open to setting up trades in the future, even if they weren’t a business owner. Sounds like we could all be creative enough to figure out SOMETHING to trade such as life skills or items around our home. Talk of needing a triangular type trade is sometimes necessary at times or someone to facilitate the trades. It all depends if what you have to offer is of worth to the trading party. Some of the extra veggie trading groups do not want to be publicized due to a larger need than they can provide.

Some links that came up:
Barter Faire via Gretchen
BarterSauce and Fremont Market via Tara
Growing Food, Growing Community
• And please see links from our previous Discussion post


Organizing an Organization

We then turned to talking about how to manage volunteer and grass-root campaigns. Many of us agreed that keeping your branding and name usage on the right track and not being mis-used would keep the value of your group and it’s members strong. Feed off the strengths of each member, write up a simple mission statement that everyone agrees so and keep referring back to it. Be open to new ideas and change, but make sure the basic premises are understood. A democratic voting system may work in some types of volunteer groups, or you may need to have a central decision maker. Gina brought up a great book, Forces for Good, that she highly recommended we take a look at about this matter. Awesome! I will definitely add it to our book review list.

Represented at the meeting were:
Phinney EcoVillage via Gina
Sustainable Kirkland via Lori

Influencing Co-Workers

Gretchen brought up some good points about trying to lead by example at her work, by bringing her own lunch or serve-ware, but was very disappointed with her co-workers easily bought food for lunch in styrofoam boxes and plastic-ware–throwing it all away when they were done. Jessica chimed it about her own initiatives she is working on at her workplace, with asking the city for more containers or pickup, making it easy for workings to participate and forming a committee to show management how beneficial it can be for the whole company. Amy also echoed the notion of putting it numbers or causes that management to relate to, in order to convey your message that something needs to be done. No small task, but thousands of mid-level workers have been chiming in across the country. You can be the voice of change!

Sisters who attended: Amy, Tina, Tara, Julia, Aubrey, Gina, Jessica, Gretchen and Lori for showing up! I know I missed someone, so please email me and I will get this list updated!

Busy Sisters!

Tara Smith is doing Local Bounce on Thursday and Shop Local Seattle on Saturday

Amy Woidtke is doing Green Masterminds Meetup on Biznik on Monday and an Art and Wine Tasting event at Thinkspace on October 29th

Gina Diamond is offering House Parties for the Holidays!

Please leave additional links info and anything I missed below! We want to share!

Sostane Meeting: September

September’s Meetup was hosted at Eat Local in Queen Anne

Located on the top of Queen Anne hill, Eat Local offers chef-prepared organic and wholesome meals, along with local products (Tote2Go! bags) and a lovely loft filled with artwork by a featured artist. Jessica, Amy, Sarah, Marlo, Emily and Kaytlyn all gathered for this month’s meeting to join in some great green girl talk.

Sun Dried Tomato and Cream Cheese and Caramalized Onion Canapés, Lorna Smith Ceramics, and some interesting reads

Sarah showing us the different kinds of organic cotton shirts

Sarah, of Sparrow’s Tail, had her moment in the { Spotlight } with her featured business of the evening. Organic clothes for every age.

Sarah showed us the durability of the cotton after a year’s worth of wearing and washings

Topics that came up for discussion

Cheap Business Promotion Ideas: Our time was mostly focussed on helpful business talk, low-budget ideas for startups trying to network. From Biznik, to Twitter, to leaving comments on blogs, if you want to drive some quick traffic to your new website, there is quite a lot you can do! But if you don’t focus on the ones that are the most appropriate for your business, they can be a waste of time. Amy’s comment on keeping track of each one with the time you spent and the return you got on your investment (ROI) is critical to make sure it something you should pursue in the future. Some of these items can just take minutes a day. And don’t ever forget the in-person networking. Priceless.

Greenwashing: At the end of the meeting, we briefly covered the hilarious new Escalade Hybrid that had the first featured ad spread in the latest Real Simple. I mean really, do you think we would buy that? Obviously, we aren’t their target market, but it’s really pushing the “green” talk a bit to far.

Great meeting everyone! See you next month!

Sostane Meeting: August

Wow, we had an amazing group this week! Jessica, Becca, Wendy, Jen, Sarah, Taylor, Carolina and Kaytlyn all participated in this week’s gathering.

Topics that came up for discussion

Green Cleaning Products: Which ones we liked, natural recipes, what to do with anti-bacterial soaps instead of letting them go down the drain or to the hazardous waste facility. Mention of nature’s filtering methods through ecosystems.

Four-Day Work Week: Some members were definitely interested in doing four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, but either knew their employer wouldn’t allow them or were turned down when asked. Some didn’t want to spend the extra hours at the end of each day as they were long enough, or they had children and needed to get home at a certain time.

Clothing Swaps: Becca described how much fun she has had in the past at clothing swaps. She says she usually trades some really good stuff without paying a penny. She says the quality is really nice and they usually have a variety of sizes. It’s also kept clutter out of her closets. Whether they have some chocolate and wine involved (sounds enticing, doesn’t it!), it’s definitely something to keep in mind when “recycling” clothes or staying within a budget. Links to come.

Supporting Small Business: Some great advice was given to Sarah, who was having trouble marketing her new organic clothing business. Women really responded to seeing and touching the fabrics, to bring examples of the textiles and show how much softer and durable they were. Becca chimed in and really would like to see the meetings include all members and have the community support them, instead of separate business and individual meetings.

Great meeting everyone!