Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A New Year, A New Waste Less Challenge

Have you noticed that by the end of the year, or sometimes even by the end of January, no one is chatting about their resolutions anymore? This year I am dumping resolutions and instead working to build better habits all year long.

The 2015 Waste Less Challenge will strengthen habits that inspire treating our body and earth with the same kindness. Each month will feature a new challenge that will encourage decreasing the use of synthetic chemicals, using less plastic and creating less waste. Guest bloggers will share tips so you can develop similar habit to fit your own life.

Follow along on the blog at www.thesunshinegrove.net and on social media #wastelesschallenge and #sustainablyvintage.

Download your monthly Waste Less challenge calendars:


Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Tips for Low Waste Gift Wrapping

I used to have a wrapping paper problem. Every year I would find the cutest holiday wrapping paper, which usually involved a furry animal and snowflakes, bring it home and wrap away without much thought. As Christmas gifts were opened my family would fill at least an entire garbage bag with wrapping paper, ribbons and bows.

This year I've been giving plenty of thought to how I can reduce waste during this gracious time of giving. Unwrapping a gift is fun for both the recipient and the person giving, so we won’t scrooge around and ditch wrapping all together, although that would be the most green solution.

Reusable bag is an easy solution to low waste gift wrapping via The Sunshine Grove
Make the wrapping part of the gift with a reusable bag.

1. When the wrapping is part of the gift, it is 100% waste free and a time saver. No need to wrap a bag in a bag, just add a tag and you are done. Think canvas bags or home sewn zipper bags that can be used as make up bags or pencil cases. If you have more than one gift for the recipient, fit it inside the bag and tie it off with a tag.

Kraft paper is a blank canvas - personalize the wrapping with a topper or get creative via The Sunshine Grove
Kraft paper is a blank canvas - personalize the wrapping with a topper or get creative

2. The clean and classic look of kraft paper or even reused paper bags is one of my favorites. If it is too plain for your style you can easily dress it up with a nature inspired topper or stamps. Dots with the back end of a pencil is an easy at home DIY. Best of all you can compost that trash!

Furoshiki wrapping cloths can be used to wrap just about anything
Furoshiki wrapping cloths can be used to wrap just about anything

3. Furoshiki is a Japanese wrapping cloth used to wrap all sorts of things. Traditionally it was used to wrap up clothes and bento box lunches, but nowadays is used to wrap up gifts in a way that can be reused over and over again without creating waste. No tape or ribbon needed since the fabric is tied together with folding and knots. Like origami, but with a surprise inside.

Reuse your Christmas bags again and again. Just remember to collect them once the gifts are open via The Sunshine Grove
Reuse your Christmas bags again and again. Just remember to collect them once the gifts are open

4. Last year’s holiday bags work great for this year’s gifts. As they unwrap their gifts, my family has been subjected to me shouting “Don’t throw the bag away. Give me the tissue paper. I’ll fold it.” As a result we have a stash of holiday bags and tissue paper from the last few years that we reuse so we avoid buying new bags.

If you have wrapping paper use it as your last option via The Sunshine Grove
If you have wrapping paper use it as your last option
5. Remember when I mentioned I used to collect cute holiday wrapping paper? Well I haven’t used it all. In fact I had 5 unused rolls laying around. The wrapping paper is only for gifts leaving our home, where I cannot control how it will be disposed of. That doesn't excuse the waste, just makes it someone else’s trash. TOTALLY KIDDING! Wrapping paper you have stashed away can be used and recycled, but consider a greener alternative when you run out.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Eco Conscious Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season to be conscious. Conscious of where money is being spent and what exactly it is buying. Eco Conscious shopping can become complicated since it has a different meaning to each consumer. My trick for headache free, stress free eco friendly shopping is shop local and shop small. By shopping local you are supporting your local economy which is always a positive. It what you are looking for isn’t available locally, consider shopping small. Small businesses value the uniqueness of their handcrafted products, and always appreciate the business.

If you are wondering how shipping a product just to shop small is eco friendly, consider that many small businesses source their materials locally rather than importing. Read the about page or reach out to the small business to find out how their product is eco friendly and if they use recycled materials when shipping.

Need help getting started? Here are a few Orange County local small businesses that incorporate eco friendly approach into the making of their products.

Hogan's Goats' cashmere accessories via The Sunshine Grove
Hogan's Goat's cashmere accessories made from repurposed vintage cashmere sweaters
Molly of Hogan’s Goat repurposes vintage cashmere sweaters into hats, scarves, pillows and throws. As a fellow vintage lover, Molly started giving new life to sweaters by creating her own patterns and putting every piece of the garment to work. She uses turtlenecks to create scarves, sleeves to make wrist warmers and any scraps stuff plushies. I loved the way she used textured pieces for her berets. They are soft, warm and a great accessory for winter.

I Must Draw repurposed wool stuffed animals via The Sunshine Grove
I Must Draw cards on recycled paper and repurposed wool stuffed animals.
Knowing that recycling fabrics is the responsible thing to do, Desiree of I Must Draw decided to upcycle wool clothing into stuffed animals. By repurposing wool fabrics she is able to create unique toys that are one of a kind, as well as eco friendly. Desiree also designs whimsical greeting cards that are printed on 100% recycled paper. I have a feeling her woodland creatures would approve.

Greenleaf Avenue Candles via The Sunshine Grove
Greenleaf Avenue Candles come in vintage glassware
Vintage glassware is always so unique. It comes in different colors, shapes and sizes. Sara of Greenleaf Avenue Candles fills beautiful vintage glassware with her handcrafted soy candles. Upcycling vintage glassware not only gave these pieces new life as candles, but the glassware can be reused after the candle has burned down.

Handmade Heatherly repurposed cardigans via The Sunshine Grove
Handmade Heatherly repurposed cardigans
No one loves cardigans more than me. When I recently spotted Handmade Heatherly cardigans at a craft show, I thought she had a great upcycling idea. Heather takes thrifted cardigans and gives them new life by adding lace collars, pockets, elbow patches, stencils and fabric paint, pop poms and anything else she finds to be cute. “When you’re thrifting it really is like a treasure hunt looking for the perfect pieces, the pieces you’re meant to have or find,” Heather explains.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Dogs, vintage and repurposing – all things I love that can be found at Charmed Menagerie. It was because of these 3 details that I found Melissa’s Etsy shop. Coincidentally, she lives in Anaheim as well. Her charm bracelets are adorned with vintage, or personal dog tags and mixed with beads and filigree. Dog tags really are a dog’s jewelry. To wear it, especially after losing a pet, is to wear their last physical attribute. Maybe it is because I am a dog lover, or that I recently lost my Aussie, but Melissa’s charm bracelets are not just upcycling, but uplifting. Here’s her story.

Hi, I am Melissa, owner and jewelry designer of Charmed Menagerie on Etsy and my website: http://www.charmedmenagerie.com/. I love Natalie’s blog because I am all about upcycling, recycling and salvaging. My Elliott family lived out in the country and my Wallace clan came from Scotland. They lived by the motto of “use it up, make it do, or do without”.  I have so many antique and vintage treasures because they took care of their things and made them last. I grew up on stories from my Grandma Alice about “making do”. During the Depression my Mom had to have white tennis shoes for a school gym program but all she had was black tennis shoes. Grandma opened up a can of white paint . . . problem solved. They cut down old adult coats to make new coats for their children, wrapped bolted lettuce in newspaper for family to take home so they could save the seeds and plant them in their garden, and saved every scrap of brown paper and string so they never had to buy packaging. Grandma Alice also wrote on the back of every picture I have hanging on my walls so I knew what family member it had originally belonged to, as well as the bottom of every honey jar and dish. Her house was an eclectic treasure trove of turtle shells, pheasant feathers, dried flowers and herbs, scraps of fabric for dolly clothes, and lots and lots of jars of all shapes and sizes.

I inherited a number of pieces of vintage costume jewelry pieces from my grandmother, some of which had belonged to my great grandmother. That piqued my interest in vintage jewelry and as a young mother I would go thrifting and antiquing for more, collecting some lovely old pieces. I was always in a quandary about what to do with the little bits and bobs I had inherited that were missing stones, clasps, or were broken, as well as some single earrings, etc. The answer was vintage assemblage, a form of jewelry making where you take parts of vintage jewelry pieces and combine them with other parts and end up with a beautiful one of a kind vintage piece. I started taking vintage assemblage jewelry classes at a wonderful shop in Fullerton, Gilding the Lily, and began making my own vintage assemblage jewelry.

One day I was randomly shopping on Etsy for some vintage elements and found a listing of colorful old aluminum dog tags covered with solder. They just spoke to me. I made them into a charm bracelet, pairing them with some vintage curb chain, a Scottie dog charm, and vintage glass beads. I listed the bracelet on Etsy, wondering the entire time if anyone else would see the charm and whimsy in these beat up old dog tags. To my great surprise, the bracelet sold quickly and my vintage dog tag charm bracelet business was born. I do all kinds of vintage assemblage jewelry but I always have a soft spot for my dog and cat jewelry. Last year my husband and I rescued a little Maltipoo, Winston, who oddly enough came from a pit bull rescue. We just adore him. Because I love animals and want to give back, for every order over $100 I donate 10% to an animal rescue group. Donating to animal rescues has given an even more satisfying dimension to my jewelry.

If you are ever in West Anaheim stop by and meet Winston, sift through my glorious collection of vintage glass beads, vintage dog tags, vintage earrings, and all kinds of lovely old bits and pieces, check out my organic garden and share a bottle of our home-brewed kombucha. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Luna in the Stars

The Sunshine Grove's Luna in the Stars logo
With the encouragement of family and friends who have heard me advocate for chemical and plastic free skin care, I am thrilled to introduce Luna in the Stars skin care products. I will be handcrafting the products I use myself, and making them available for anyone looking for eco-friendly skin care.

I will be launching Luna in the Stars with two of my favorite products: vegetable based eye makeup remover and lavender sugar scrub. Alongside the skin care products will be hand sewn reusable cotton flannel rounds that take the place of disposable cotton balls, which can be used with the eye makeup remover or to apply toner.

Luna in the Stars will be available on Small Business Saturday at RSSA Vintage & at Voici Holiday Pop Up Shop during the month of December. Both are located at 423 S Brookhurst St in Anaheim, CA.

The Sunshine Grove presents Luna in the Stars skin care

In the meantime, cue up the elevator pitch please:

The Sunshine Grove believes in providing the most eco friendly products while cutting down on waste and the use of plastics. Whenever possible we try to source our materials locally, reducing our carbon footprint, and supporting other local businesses. We believe in nourishing our bodies from the outside with chemical free products that come from nature.

Luna in the Stars skin care products are vegetable based and handcrafted using oils without synthetic preservatives. We are proud to offer simple and clean skin care products for everyday use. Our products are packaged in glass containers that can be reused again and again. To encourage the reuse of our containers we offer a 50 cent credit on our customer’s next purchase with the return of one of our empty containers. Any paper products used for packaging are made of recycled material and can be composted.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

America Recycles Day

Today we are going to talk about 3 things; recycling, our welfare and convenience. Last year President Obama’s America Recycles Day proclamation, opened with some sustainably vintage facts: “During the First and Second world Wars, Americans showed their patriotism by participating in scrap drives and salvage collections. A committed citizenry gave up their personal typewriters, joined in volunteer efforts to harvest oil-producing peanuts, and donated old tires in a nationwide push to conserve and repurpose resources vital to our common welfare.”

What it meant to recycle back in the early 20th century is much different than what recycling means today. Back then it was about taking kitchen grease, donating it to your local war office and having it sent to a factory where it was broken down and repurposed into ammunitions. A little dark, but it fits the bill for the true meaning of recycling. These days consumers are encouraged to recycle plastics, because let’s face it, plastic is all around us. Without plastic packaging the things we buy would just spill all over the place. All jokes aside, a majority of the food, drinks and products that most Americans buy is wrapped in plastic, unwrapped at home and hopefully tossed in the recycle bin.

But then what? Remember, according to that proclamation recycling our goods is vital to our common welfare. Let me remind you that our welfare is defined as “the state of being happy, healthy, or successful.” So recycling really means convenience, right? Say you walk into a grocery store for an apple and this grocery store individually wraps their apples in plastic for your convenience. It’s been prewashed and ready to eat after you unwrap it, which makes you happy to not have to eat a dirty apple or have to find a place to wash it. It’s healthy because it’s fruit, and feels like success because you’ve just contributed to your healthy eating and it didn’t take too much effort.

The real effort came in making that piece of plastic in the first place, followed by the energy used to recycle it. When you compare the amount of fossil fuels and energy it takes for the convenience of a clean apple versus purchasing an apple just in its skin, giving it a good rinse and then enjoying it, take the second choice. It’s better for the environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I think recycling is great, but don’t give yourself a reason to recycle out of convenience. The 2013 proclamation asks for activism, for “a new generation of environmental stewards.” Today I ask you, can you go without that plastic? Can you do without the conveniences plastic has given us for the sake of being gentler on the environment?

If you are looking for a (excellent) rant about America Recycles Day, visit Tree Hugger.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's a Blogiversary!

Have you noticed it has been quiet around here? Yeah, me too.

I have a confession to make. Last month I almost bagged up The Sunshine Grove, tossed it out and had a vision of starting over. Then a friend of mine pointed out that The Sunshine Grove was an ambiguous place. So ambiguous that it could become anything I wanted it to be. If I wanted to talk about vintage and picking up trash, and sometimes add a book review or two, I could. Why? Because The Sunshine Grove is an extension of me.

Finding the perfect content to blog about took finding me.

To be happy and satisfied with The Sunshine Grove, I needed to put more me in what I wrote. So that is what you will find. I’ll share my adventures (and failures) in being chemical free, low plastic, low waste, and more often than not, freaked out by the facts I learn. I will continue to look at the past for inspiration and ideas for living a greener life, because to me living a vintage life isn't about looking the part, but acting the part. Since I’m a sucker for furry dogs and a good book, I’ll probably share stories about those too.

It is with a hearty thank you to all my readers that I celebrate this 3rd Blogiversary with you. Here’s looking to another year, sharing my sustainably vintage life!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Clean it up!

Six months ago I gave my medicine cabinet an overdue cleaning. Aside from Sustainable Sam complaining that I had too many products lining the shelves, I also knew there were plenty of products filled with chemicals, close to expiration and some that I just no longer used. Sentiments got the best of me, and I kept the majority of the products. I kept thinking I might have a need for the hair products or body lotion, despite my consistent chemical free beauty routine.

This time as I approached my medicine cabinet I meant business. I took every single product off the shelves and evaluated each one; if it was expired, filled with chemicals or if I hadn’t used it since my last medicine cabinet purge, then it was out. I wiped down the shelves and started sorting.

As I placed products back into my medicine cabinet I set the bar high for what I would let back in. All products would need to be as natural as possible, with the majority vegetable based. If it was vegan, organic or gluten it was a bonus. Chemicals that would not be making an appearance would include sulfates, parabens, phthalates, paraffin, mineral oil, and synthetic colors and fragrance.

I started thinking of all the other places beauty products might be hiding that also needed to be tossed out, like my night stand, car and even my desk drawer at work. I made sure to replace these with natural products in glass containers.

Since I’ve been trying my best to reduce waste, I started to think of how products are packaged. Could the container be recycled? Was there excess packaging? Was it made in the US, or even locally? Was it something I could make myself? For the products I made myself, I chose reusable jars when possible or BPA free bottles to hold products in the bath.

Skin care and beauty products shouldn’t cost a fortune, our health or compromise sustainability out of convenience. Magazines, TV and radio advertisements are filled with new ways to get perfect hair, skin, nails, and teeth. The question remains; why do we rely on chemicals for perfection when there are plenty of natural options that work just as well, if not better?

This post was part of the XOXOrganizing 30 Day Challenge

Monday, September 22, 2014

Waste Less Challenge: Week 4

Since announcing the Waste Less Challenge I’ve been picking up trash every other weekend. I've visited parks, neighborhoods and even the Santa Ana River. Armed with gloves, a bucket, tongs and some friends, I've discovered picking up trash is the most stress free, relaxing volunteering I have been a part of. And I’m not going to stop!

The second Green Bird clean up was held at Maxwell Park in West Anaheim. Between soccer games, birthday parties and the new bike trail, this park is a high traffic area, especially on weekends. Surprisingly the park appeared to be clean. That’s because the majority of the trash was small. Between picking up food wrappers and bottles, we collected cigarette butts, water bottle lids and remnants of broken piƱatas. It was disappointing that most of the trash collected was within feet of the park’s many trashcans which are emptied regularly and are rarely overflowing.

Though in a historic area, Pearson Park and its surrounding neighborhood, has a problem with park visitors abandoning much of their trash after late night gatherings. Heading through the neighborhood we found plenty of trash in the street gutters including paper, food wrappers and of course, cigarette butts. We passed a corner market that sits in the neighborhood that had so much trash in the parking lot and gutter around their store. Left behind were the metal beer tops that had melted into the asphalt and the piles of trash in the alley behind the store that simply didn't fit in our buckets. I just hope the ducks, turtles and birds that live in this park have become good at recognizing the difference between food and trash.

This past weekend I got to take a dip in the Santa Ana River for the first time as part of the Inner Coastal clean up. Though it wasn't really a dip, because the river bed was dry, it was a big deal since I had never set foot in the river since Southern California Rivers are paved in concrete. This happened decades ago so that the rivers couldn't change their course and the water could reach the mouth of the river faster without flooding cities along the way. I was pleasantly surprised to find the bottom of the riverbed was coarse sand sprinkled with sea shells and dried seaweed.

This reminds me of Wall-E
We encountered the typical litter – food packages, cigarette butts and water bottles. There were some articles of clothing which is most likely from the people who make the riverbed their home, but aside from a golf ball, we didn't come across anything too interesting. It was however the first time I came across large amounts of Styrofoam. Not just any Styrofoam, but Styrofoam that was coming apart in pieces. Since I had only ever seen whole Styrofoam I never really understood how fish, birds or turtles could mistake it as food. Holding a piece in my hand, it looked like coral, and definitely is something wildlife would think was food.

There isn't water recreation going on in the river, but many of the runners and cyclists on the river trail parallel to the Santa Ana River expressed their gratitude for the trash pickup with their thank you. I kept hoping some of the runners and cyclists would stop and help pick up trash because it is their bike trail. One cyclist stopped and said, “You guys are everywhere.” I responded, “The trash is everywhere.” Eventually we just had to stop picking up trash, because there was so much of it. At some point you have to say you've picked up enough for today.

Have you picked up your enough for today?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Waste Less Challenge: Week 2

In 1960, plastic was less than one percent of our waste. Today, plastic is everywhere. There’s even an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. We come in contact with a variety of one time use plastics such as containers and packaging, however more durable, long term use plastics are part of our life. Don’t believe me? Look at your cell phone’s case, the exterior and interior of your car, or even your toothbrush.

Replacing plastic with more sustainable options helps break the consumer culture cycle that insists we need everything to be shiny, new, considerably cheap, and abundant. Generally sustainable options are not shiny, or new. Take bamboo for instance – it is organic so the color is going to vary, and even though bamboo grows quickly, it has to be grown. Sustainable products can be inexpensive and may even be considered cheap, because they are going to break down – naturally.

Replacing plastic items should be done responsibly. If you own something plastic and it still functions, keep it. There’s no need to create unnecessary waste. When you find something plastic that does need replacing, consider plastic alternatives. More and more product options are becoming available made with bamboo, hemp, wood and corn, or even glass or metal. How and where a product is made also impacts how sustainable a product is. Shopping local, where there is a lower carbon footprint based on the transportation alone can make a difference.

 I chose to replace my toothbrush. My old toothbrush had at least 3 different types of plastic. There was the hard plastic that made up the body, the silicone grip, and the bristles. There was no way to take apart these components which made my toothbrush unrecyclable. To be honest I didn’t do a whole lot of research before choosing a sustainable toothbrush. I had seen Brush with Bamboo toothbrushes at Expo West, and then again at a screening of the documentary Urban Fruit, so that was the toothbrush I went with. 

Before I even used my new toothbrush, I knew I was going to be using an eco-friendly product. The paper box and nylon bristles are recyclable, and the wrapper and bamboo handle compostable. They are made in China so they do have a larger carbon footprint based on having to be imported. Their website even shows you ways to dispose of the toothbrush, which tells me that the company cares about their product even after you've used it. 

Since bamboo toothbrushes don’t come in neon colors, I used some washi tape to differentiate between my brush and Sustainable Sam’s brush. I like the bristles – not too hard, not too soft. Sustainable Sam has some texture issues with bamboo and wood utensils, but he’s managed pretty well with the bamboo handle. Since using our bamboo toothbrushes for a few months now, we have noticed some wear to the bottom of the toothbrush where it sits in our toothbrush holder, but otherwise is holding up great.

What did you choose to replace?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Waste Less Challenge: Week 1

If you've been reading my blog for a while, I’m sure you are tired about hearing how reusable grocery bags are great at reducing waste, but I have failed – until now – to mention another lingering plastic waste in the grocery store. Plastic produce bags, though smaller than regular grocery bags, largely remain unnamed when discussing how to limit plastic waste at the grocery store. My guess is because produce bags become part of the weight per price at purchase with reusable alternatives actually costing the consumer.

Luckily, there are some options that make buying produce, and bulk items eco-friendly.

The easiest and most simple? Skip the plastic bag when purchasing produce and avoid individually wrapped products. Veggies and fruit come in a handy bag already. They naturally have a thick skin or peel that protects the goodness inside. If you feel uncomfortable with what your food might pick up while being “naked” in the grocery cart, consider that they have potentially traveled hundreds or thousands of miles without the “benefit” of a plastic bag. They should be washed regardless of how you handle them in the cart. By giving them a vinegar and water bath when you get home, you will clean the skins, and often times help the produce last longer.

Look for a store that is willing to join you in your waste free mission. Find a store that sells dry goods in bulk, package free produce or even a local butcher. The Bulk app has a search feature that can locate stores near you that sell bulk products. Yes, I know, these places have those pesky little plastic bags too, however many of these retailers are more likely to work with you if you bring your own reusable containers.
No joke – bringing reusable jars shopping is not easy. Sometimes even finding a market that is willing to let you use them without charging for the container’s weight can be trying. Just remember, if more consumers ask for sustainable, waste free options, the more these options will become available.

My first stop was Buy n’ Bulk’s Anaheim location. The gal behind the counter was super patient and willing to figure out how I could make my purchases with jars without charging for the extra weight. Since it was both of our first time, it wasn't very smooth, but she made it work and that’s what counts. The next time I came in she was able to help me just fine. Buy n’ Bulk even rewards their customers that bring their own jars and containers with 10 percent off their purchase. Why? Because you are also helping them be eco friendly. Adam from Buy n’ Bulk shared that “when you do use our bags they are brown paper and recyclable. Our main focus is to be eco-friendly, economical and a health alternative to the traditional grocery items.” Shopping with jars was bulky and heavy, but it was convenient to purchase bulk items in the container we were going to store them in.

My second stop was to Sprout’s Farmers Market. I already knew to leave my jars at home because their current Point of Sale isn't able to avoid charging for the weight of the jars. Instead I brought reusable produce bags made from cotton muslin. I had just finished sewing them and was excited to see them in action. To keep the weight down, I used the least amount of fabric with the most room for what I would purchase. I haven’t quite figured out the best way to close and label the bags, since Sprouts has you write down the SKU number of what you are purchasing. For now I am planning on reusing their twist ties. That works for me since I always purchase the same foods from their bulk bins. I’ll keep thinking of a more waste free option.

Do you have tricks for waste free shopping? 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Crafting Felt Flowers

My sister gifted me a 1950s spaghetti poodle pulling a little cart. After deciding that she is too fancy to join my other novelty planters in the backyard, I knew felt flowers would be the perfect bouquet for her little cart. I had just finished putting together felt brooches for my family and still had not only the felt flower bug, but plenty of felt to work with. I’ve been trying my hardest to use what craft supplies I have at home before purchasing new supplies, but I was out of black felt so I found myself also bringing home a beautiful red coral and light peach felt.
In the floral section, I found green wood sticks that were the perfect height for the flowers. I was going to use wood kabobs, but the floral sticks saved me the time of cutting them down to the right size and painting them green, plus they were inexpensive. Armed with my felt, wood stems and glue gun, I was ready to get crafting. I just had to figure out how to make some buds.

Since I already knew how to make felt roses, I started searching for other tutorials for felt flowers. Luckily my search was short, since my friend Lisa of The Makery had just pinned a felt flower tutorial from SomethingTurquoise showing how to make felt ranunculus, anemone and peony. I also wanted to add a couple of Marigolds for some pre-Dia de Los Muertos practice and tried a tutorial from Jones Design Company and Momnivor’s Dilemma.

I love how the flowers came out, and am loving how great they look in my poodle planter. I even made a few extra rose buds for my poodle cigarette holder that I was planning on using as a vase.

Have you crafted any felt flowers lately?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Green Bird Anaheim & Waste Less Challenge

Logo courtesy of green bird, Photo courtesy of Maurice Turner

A couple of weekends ago I met up with my neighbors for a neighborhood trash pick-up. The trash pickup was the launch of Green BirdsAnaheim – the first in the United States. Green Bird was started in 2003 by a group of young people in Tokyo, Japan. Their goal? “To clean the towns we live in and love” through their message that “littering is ugly and uncool.” Green Bird arrived in Anaheim through the continued dedication of trying to make their neighborhood a better place to live. My friends Kevin and Jody, the driving force behind Green Bird Anaheim, had visited Tokyo and not only noticed how clean the streets were, but also a Green Bird team picking up trash along the streets. Once back in the states they reached out to Green Bird, so that Anaheim too could promote that a clean city, starts with a little community and a whole lot of city pride.

Left, photo courtesy of Amber Foxx, Ctr, Rt, photo courtesy of Maurice Turner
There were about 45 neighbors decked out in our green jerseys with the official Green Bird logo, orange gloves, bags and trash picking tongs all sent over from Japanese headquarters – how cool is that? We set off in smaller groups in different directions to conquer the litter in the streets of Downtown Anaheim. My group set off East, then North along Broadway and Anaheim Blvd. Like other groups we came across tons of cigarette butts and potato chip bags. I picked up quite a bit of paper from the gutters that was blocking water drainage.

Photo courtesy of green bird Anaheim
At the end of our 2 hour cleanup we compared the most interesting things we found. I think our group took the cake with having found a pair of high heels and beer bottles in some bushes. My personal most interesting find? A can of vegetable soup that had been left in a bush so long ago that the bush started to grow around it. On our walk some of us spoke with community members that were interested in why we were spending our Saturday morning picking up trash. We heard compliments of "good job" to people questioning if we were serving community service hours because we had done something wrong. Isn't it a sad state when picking up trash is seen as punishment instead of helping your community?

Aside from stories of our encounters, we also had a mountain of trash which we displayed at the Anaheim Vegan Faire. We wanted to make a statement of how much litter there was in our streets, but also how much trash a small group of people was able to pick up in 2 hours. Was that pile of trash uncool? Yes. Did it make a point? Totally.

I believe that where there is litter, there is an excess of household waste. If we reduce the amount of trash in our homes, there will be less trash to become litter. The post World War II consumerism culture that remains today has perpetuated the trash problem that exists today. Take for example this clip from Mad Men where a family picnic shows littering as acceptable.

 As I challenge myself to find new ways to reduce waste in my home, I invite you as well to challenge consumerism and waste. If you are just starting out on your waste less journey, join the Beginner’s Challenge, or if you have been going green for a while, join me in the Green Challenge. Every week I’ll post about that week’s challenge, so feel free to comment on the blog or use #WasteLessChallenge on Facebook and Instagram.