Sostane Blog


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Portland February Meeting: Living with Less

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

This month we held our meeting in the new Laughing Planet location in the Ecotrust building. A little cold, but wonderful somewhat sunny Saturday afternoon.

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Tangible Items

Almost half of our attendees could relate to moving in the last few years, long or short distances. Brie recalled her story of getting all of her boxes and packing materials from a family who had just moved, used them on her trip out east and then completed the cycle by giving them to another family who was getting ready to move. It’s almost as if those boxes had a long story of their own!

We all related on the many ways to donate and get rid of items we no longer need: Freecycle, CraigsList, Goodwill, Salvation Army and garage sales. None of us missed our old stuff and we all felt freer for doing so. Jennifer related that she had one room in her home that she purposely left empty and loves it. Maybe you could do the same and turn it into a mediation, dance or partying space.

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Brie and a few others could relate on signing up for Green Dimes (now Tonic) and have found a definite reduction in junk mail. You can also do this at a few other site: Do Not Mail, Catalog Choice, 41 Pounds, and the DIY version at the Direct Marketing Association. It was also mentioned that you can feed your shredded papers to your worm bin. Never thought of that! Of course, you have to keep in mind the amount you are feeding them.

Some other ways of keeping items out of our homes, but still in our lives, was to use the library. You can borrow so many movies, documentaries, music, books and other entertainment and never have to keep a collection in your own home. Granted, you may need to wait for some of the latest releases but it’s free!

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Local Experiences

Jennifer brought up how she would like to create a bike machine that could provide her with energy using her existing bike. Most businesses are trying to sell the whole machine, but we should be able to buy just a few parts to transform our existing assets. If anyone has any information on how to do this, please contact us!

We also touched upon low price or free yoga instruction and it was mentioned that Portland City Parks holds yoga classes in your local parks. We weren’t able to find a link for it as they were still showing their winter schedules, so if anyone has a good link, please let us know! You can also find instructional videos at the library or some studios hold a free class or two to let you find out more about their services. Here is a good example from January that allowed 21 free classes and you could try out 21 different instructors, seeing which one best fit you.

You could also try finding others to skill share with. Maybe you can provide some services for their services in return.

Brie also shared with us that she had done a presentation for her local Toastmasters group about living green and was surprised with how many people were interested and had questions for her after the presentation. Although we all may share our experiences in our green circles, it’s when we step out of them and share with others that we are spreading the message.

Wrapping Up

A book worth checking out: The Gort Cloud by Richard Seireeni

Barbara shared an upcoming event with City Repair and the Humanities Sustainability Research Project. Cheryl shared her new about Leave No Plastic Behind and her efforts to live plastic free for three months. See if you can take up the challenge!

Attending sisters were Kelly, Barbara, Brie, Cheryl, Siobahn, Jennifer and Kaytlyn. Great meeting everyone. Always inspiring.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Portland January Meeting: Looking Back, Moving Forward

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Our kickoff meeting in Portland (woo hoo!) at the Ecotrust building. We would have had it at Laughing Planet, but they were not open yet so we found a great spot in the atrium.

Looking Back

How did you green your live last year?

Many sisters had participated in their local CSAs, purchasing from thrift stores, buying locally, and supporting local groups. Cheryl told us about her involvement with Leave No Plastic Behind and Hannah relayed info about her Q19 Greening cleaning company.

Many of us had expanded our personal gardens with bigger plans in the coming months. Composting, worm-bins, growing your own food. It was a hard year for tomatoes, but we were looking forward to this next year.

Some of our holiday giving last season was done through Heifer International and allowed us to connect with younger members of the family due to their “give a goat” or “give a duck” campaigns. A great way to introduce children to farming, sustainability and social impact.

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Moving Forward

What do you have planned for next year?

Since Brie was new to the area, she appreciated learning about all the local resources such as the closest CSAs and Farmers Markets, New Seasons Markets, Portland’s Bright Neighbors, Tryon Life Community Farm, Free School Portland, and more. Barbara was a great resource in telling us all about these local avenues to source your food or to get more involved in your community. She seems to be connected with everyone! But we were amazed how many resources everyone brought to the table. We were all interested in finding more ways to trade products and services, either through bartering or skill trade.

Cheryl was also brave enough to put her idea out into the world of a grocery store that has no containers or plastic. We loved this idea and will help and cheer her on in any way possible. We know she can do it.

Sisters who attended: Hannah, Brie, Cheryl, Melora, Barbara, Kathryn, Kathy and Kaytlyn. Great meeting everyone. Thanks for making the table in the atrium work and your enthusiasm to start up this group!

Seattle January Meeting: Home Assessment

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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 HelpMeGoGreen.org.

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

Daily Sustainable: Tuesday ~ Heating Your Home

Wood, I Wouldn’t, Slate Magazine

Wow, I found this surprising. I grew up in a house heated by solely by wood and just this last weekend we enjoyed the real wood smell during a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. It was so nice to smell that traditional wood smoke smell that the pressed logs just don’t give off. But we weren’t heating the house with wood to be green, just for atmosphere. We have yet to turn on our gas heat, but have been finding the doors sticking and towels not throughly drying, so I think we will have to do it soon. I even found condensation on the inside of my iMac screen due to my computer being off and in a cold room for four days. The moisture could have easily short circuited something, so I just had to be careful. Have any of you found any problems with waiting to turn on the heat in the winter, or keeping it down too cold?

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Daily Sustainable consists of a relevant sustainability article, selected to entice thought and conversation. Please leave your feedback!

Daily Sustainable: Monday ~ Slowing Down

Hello everyone, thank you for your patience. Between being sick and being burnt out on blogging, I had to take a break the last couple weeks. It’s now December and I thought I would change it up a little bit. Instead of three links for Daily Sustainable, I am going to try one a day. This way I can write a bit about it and it can be more meaningful. We will also be introducing new writers very soon.

Haste, Scorned: Blogging at a Snail’s Pace, New York Times

And on that note, I got to read this great article on blogging from a new client, Stephanie. Sustaining your mental health while blogging is essential to not only the life of your blog, but your own life. Personally, I think that there are way to many expectations on us all, and slowing down to realized what our version of life and blogging actually is will help us be more authentic. A blog is whatever you want it to be. Please read and leave your own feedback on how you have made your blog, forum postings, comments and web travels uniquely yours.

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Daily Sustainable consists of a relevant sustainability article, selected to entice thought and conversation. Please leave your feedback!

Sostane Meeting: November

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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.

Recipes

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.

Products

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):

goodguide.com: 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.
cosmeticsdatabase.com: The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic-safety database scores personal-care products based on their potentially hazardous ingredients.
climatecounts.org: This site evaluates companies that produce apparel, food, beverages, electronics and household products for their impact on global warming. Results: Nike scores high.
healthytoys.org: 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!

Daily Sustainable: Tuesday ~ Saving Green Lists

Thank you for your patience. Kaytlyn’s been sick and is on the mend.

Things You Can Compost That You Didn’t Think You Could, You Grow Girl
Awesome list. Sometimes items are totally obvious, but if we are in our daily routines we don’t see the solutions right in front of us. Mark these on your list of moving towards zero waste.

Top 8 Ways to Go Green on the Cheap, GreenBiz.com
What ways have you found to save money and go green at the same time?

Sending And Saving Green, Earth911.com
How many of you reuse your boxes? How many of you are business owners that need more supplies to reuse for shipping? Let us know!

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Daily Sustainable consists of three daily relevant environmental articles gathered in one place. Just for you. Please leave your feedback!

Daily Sustainable: Wednesday ~ Greenovations

verterra biodegradable dinnerware, Garden Party NYC
Has anyone ever used this product? It sounds amazing and much more ideal than corn-based biodegradable-ware. Could you really wash it and reuse it? And put it in the oven? Going to have to check this one out!

GE to Introduce Remote Control Appliances
, EcoGeek
Digg.com founder Kevin Rose was talking about how your iPhone could one day control all the appliances and electrical systems at home. You could be out and check to see if you turned off the stove or turn down your thermostat. Looks like these appliance could make it happen. How else could this be helpful?

NEC Shows Off Latest E-Paper Advancement, Treehugger
Just awesome. If they integrate this into the Kindle or other book reading devices (especially if they don’t require power to the device while reading) I would definitely get one.

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Daily Sustainable consists of three daily relevant environmental articles gathered in one place. Just for you. Please leave your feedback!

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