Friday, April 25, 2014

Meaning Business in a Green Way

Earth Day got me thinking about businesses. As a small business owner I knew I wanted to be as Earth friendly as possible. Vintage is inherently eco friendly since it is a good that is being reused, recycled or even upcycled and isn’t adding to the mounds in the landfills. It’s a bonus since you get something really cool with a bit of history. When Jeremy added wood products to the shop we made those products as sustainable as well, using locally sourced reclaimed wood whenever possible.

I’m a small business so I have control over my actions and can pretty easily show my customers my impact on the environment and my community. What about big businesses? How are they contributing to the world’s environmental problems and who is keeping them in check? Individually I strive to create less waste, be less of a consumer and take care of the planet by being as sustainable as possible. I can compost my little heart out, but if the brands I am buying from aren't eco conscious then aren't I part of the problem, not the solution?

How do you know if you are part of the problem or part of the solution as a consumer? Transparency always helps. I recently discovered B Corporation, a non-profit that is helping eco minded companies become transparent by “compet[ing] not just to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world.” B Corp certified companies are leading in the way in how businesses impact the world by measuring their businesses’ relationship with the environment, community and with their workforce. There are over 900 certified companies that support fair trade, paying their workers above the living wage, are LEED certified and are in a variety of other ways awesome.

Because B Corp is for companies a little larger than a workforce of one, here are some of my local-small-business-owner-friends to tell you how they are eco conscious when they do business.

I’m Joan, the designer/everthing-er from Goodspeed Empire, a jewelry and accessory company.  If I could only be happy and comfortable with that sentence.  

The more I craft and create, the more I feel like I’m contributing to a global problem.  It seems that I’m feeding a machine by buying supplies and making jewelry from unknown vendors.  Do I know if the company I bought the supplies from cares about their impact on the environment?  Do they pay their workers a living wage?  And here I am trying to sell you, the consumer these products.  This is deep stuff man, and I’m just trying to make cute stuff.

With Earth Day and my recent crafter distopia I thought I’d share one of my creations that use upcycling and recycling.  I shifted my thinking: “No I’m not going to run to the store for supplies.  I’ll use what I have and challenge that creative part of me.”  I also asked myself “what’s around that I’ve missed?”  I noticed a resource I’ve until now left untapped.  The trash can.  I work in a costume shop, so the trash can usually has hidden gems.  I can pick fabric out of the trash at my work and turn it into art.  A tiny piece of art that I worked on that you can wear on your body.  I make cuffs, only 2” wide max, with a funky pattern and a vintage button for a closure.  

This is just one idea; one project in which I challenged myself to think differently.  I challenged myself to have as much creativity in the search for supplies as I do when I dream up designs.  What are your thoughts?  What are you doing to be a sustainable crafter?  Share with Nat and myself the fun and funky experiments you have tried using recycled or upcycled items.

As a person living on this planet, I'm already super conscious of ways I can live without polluting the Earth. As a business owner who organizes others for a living, I still do the same. Every time I help another person get organized, we find things that can be donated, recycled and repurposed. Often times my clients are so tired of their clutter that they just want it out of their lives. However, we take the time to separate the items that can be donated, recycled and repurposed. It does take a little bit longer, but in the end, we both have a good feeling about doing the right thing.

Hi! My name is Lindsey and I’m the creator of The Pod Shop (@thepodshop on Instagram). Since I was old enough to wander off by myself I’ve wanted to be encased in nature. I would find little shrubs to lay under and just touch the leaves. Years later I visited Yosemite for the forest time and found myself still huddled under a tree, just touching the leaves. I was so at peace and in love that I could’ve cried. I feel like plants are kindred spirits, and that’s why I gravitated towards the most natural objects for my creations.

Although I plan to expand my shop one day, right now I make artisan jewelry from seed pods and other natural materials. I collect most of these myself, except for the pods that I cannot find in Southern California. They’re gorgeous vessels that would otherwise be picked up by a gardener or smashed back into the ground. Because it’s important that some pods are left to return to the earth, I only collect small batches at a time. After I clean the pods and wipe them with oil, they are mostly left in their natural state.
Of course, not every item I use is natural because I construct with wire and beads. But it’s a priority of mine to reuse beads from old necklaces and to purchase everything else from a local bead store or Etsy. If I cannot use a natural item, then I want to at least support my community. Even then, I worry about not offering more to the world than fashion, and plan to donate a percentage of sales to an environmental charity one day.

Until then, hopefully my customers know that I love the earth and that I’m always looking for a way to take better care of it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014: Beyond the Reusable Shopping Bag

I've been shopping with reusable bags for years now. I carry grocery size bags in my trunk and foldable bags in my handbag so that I can be prepared to say no to plastic and paper wherever I go. If I forget to bring my own bags I try to only buy what I can carry out without a bag. If it happens that I do leave with a disposable bag, I try my best to reuse it as a trash liner or properly recycle it. It seems like I've been bringing reusable bags shopping forever.

1940s Bring Your Own Shopping Bag and Shopping Bag Pattern
Maybe that’s just me channeling my 1940s spirit who was bringing their reusable bag shopping to save paper for the war effort. Vintage shoppers often used crocheted bags that could be made at home. If you weren't crafty, a picnic basket worked just fine for a quick grocery trip. It wasn't until the 1960s that plastic, or single use, bags were introduced to shoppers. There is no question that accepting a single use bag for your purchase is easier then remembering to pack your own bags, but if our grandmothers could make the extra effort in war time, we should be able to help eliminate single use bags today.

Since I've been toting along my reusable bags, I've also started to find other ways to eliminate single use products like plastic sandwich bags and plastic water bottles. By raising the bar for myself, I know that I am doing a part everyday in being more sustainable and eliminating waste. At Expo West I was introduced to three new products that have helped me lessen my carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of waste I produce.

I've raved about my love for Chico Bags in past Earth Day posts, and now have a new reusable bag company that I love for a different purpose. While Chico Bags make awesome, compact shopping bags that fit well into my handbag or center console in my car, Blue Avocado makes great bags for smaller uses when taking snacks and other food on the go. Blue Avocado’s (re)zip line is a replacement for single use sandwich bags. Their products are created to be no hassle and can be machine washed and then air dried. I received one of their fold up shopping bags in a media bag and have been using it as a lunch bag. On the Expo floor I received a zippered bag that is the size of a large storage bag. So far I've used it to store cookies in. The downside to this bag is the fabric edge that takes a while to dry. Since it is a zippered closure, it isn't air tight. At the Expo, Blue Avocado was debuting their new clear food storage bags that will come in the same sizes as single use storage bags. They have a different closure and hopefully will create a more air tight seal.

In the kitchen I store a variety of goods in Mason jars. In addition to the food I preserve, I also store flours, powders, syrups and other foods in jars. I've been using the white screw on lids made by Ball, but since they don’t have a seal, they leak. If I’m keeping liquids in jars I especially don’t want to store it with a metal ring long term since the ring will start to rust. This is especially true for the jars I keep in the bathroom with scrubs or other beauty care items. I was hoping I’d run into other Mason jar lovers that would have a solution with a non-rusting lid that sealed. When I discovered Intelligent Lids, they had rusty lids sitting next to their one piece sealing lids demonstrating exactly what I was looking for. Their lids come in regular and wide mouth and in a variety of bold colors. The one piece storage lids are designed for easier stacking which is awesome for cabinet storage. I've been getting well acquainted with their drinking lid which has made taking drinks on the go more convenient.

Since you can usually find me drinking water, I’m always on the lookout for a great water bottle. I’m totally weird about my reusable water bottles. I don’t want to deal with a screw on lid or something too time consuming. When I found my Ello glass water bottle that has a cork style lid that is held in place by a bit of silicone, I was sold. I was, however paranoid that I would break it, since it is a glass water bottle. [Knock on wood] It has been a few months now and I haven’t had any issues. Since we don’t have a dishwasher, I use white vinegar to clean and disinfect the inside of the bottle once a week and rinse with hot water daily. This has kept my bottle clean, especially since I only use it for water. For the gym I do not trust myself to take my glass water bottle, so I have an Ello BPA free plastic water bottle that also is easy to open. I bought each water bottle at different times, and later noticed that they were the same brand.

I've been using Blender Bottles for my post workout drink for years and love them. When I saw their booth at Expo West I was excited to learn about the GoStak, their new stackable containers that are perfect for (you guessed it) on the go! The containers come in different sizes and twist onto one another. I can’t wait to take these guys hiking. They are perfect for snacks and because they are slim, fit in the water holders on the side of my backpack.

Share your beyond the reusable bag suggestions in the comments! I’m always looking for new ways to be green and I hope you are too.

***Keeping it real! Although some items were received with the intention of reviewing them, I was not paid to do so. This is not a sponsored post and all views are my own.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Read Something: It's Library Week

A few years ago I witnessed a phenomenon that impacted my life in a major way. Book retailers started closing their doors in numbers. As I said goodbye to Border’s bookstores, a chapter in my life closed as well. That was the bookstore I shopped at for my latest reads, where I would meet friends to study and sometimes catch live bands. During college you could find me searching the shelves as soon as finals ended looking for a new book to read during the upcoming break. Around the same time my local used bookstore, the Book Baron, also closed its doors.

Without a doubt the closing of books stores changed my life.

Books weren't as accessible to purchase anymore. If I wanted a book immediately, which is often the case, I had to drive further away to find a bookstore or I had to order it online and patiently wait for its delivery. Because I insist on reading the printed word, access to books remains the same today. I’ve come to depend greatly on my local libraries to feed my reading habits.

Anaheim alone has 7 branches in addition to the Bookmobile and Heritage Reading Room. Although Buena Park only has one library, they usually have books that I am looking for, not available at the Anaheim libraries. The Orange County Public Libraries has over 30 libraries in their network. In honor of National Library Week I have plans to add the OC Library’s card to my current stash.

Beyond fulfilling my need for mental stimulation, or book worm entertainment, my blog would not be what it is without my local libraries. Victory Book Club would not exist without access to historical fiction or books written in years past. I wouldn't be able to share all of the wonderful historic photos in A Place I Live series if it weren't for the truly wonderful work of Jane Newell. Jane is the manager of the Anaheim Heritage Center and Reading Room, and knows so much about the local history that I am always amazed. A big thank you to Jane and all those who make our local libraries thrive. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Victory Book Club: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, 2013

I imagine that France in 1955 was rather glamorous. To find an abandoned perfume shop filled with scents from around the world would be a treasure to the senses, especially when those perfumes were collected by one of the world’s most sought after perfumers. In The Perfume Collector, perfume isn’t just something women apply to their wrists, but how two stories are told.

Grace Munroe’s story starts in London in 1955. She has a husband with money and a good family name; she spends her days napping and nights getting dressed up for socialite hosted dinner parties. As goes the tale of the 1950s housewife, she wants to be more than just someone’s wife. Her monotonous life is interrupted when she receives a letter from a Monsiour Tissot, asking her to travel to France where she is to sign papers as heir to Eva d’Orsey’s estate.

Eva d’Orsey’s story is told through three perfumes: La Première, Auréole Noire and Choses Perdus. From 1927 to 1935, and just briefly in 1942, Eva lives a life much different from Grace’s. She is not a wife, she finds herself without a good family name, but has a unique gift and scent that take her on a journey around the world.
Having never met Eva, Grace is determined to find a connection between them, two women separated by decades and seem to be linked by an abandoned perfume shop.

I enjoyed reading about perfume making, specifically the slow process of extracting scents. It was interesting that the best perfumers weren’t interested in making a popular scent for all women to wear, but instead crafting a memory. The perfumers were chemists and artists, mixing scents to recreate memories of snow or summer rain with the intention of transporting their wearer to a different time through their sense of smell.

Although this story is told during two wonderful decades, there is little history to be had. While I especially enjoyed reading about the perfumers, there were too many underdeveloped characters and holes in the plot for me to really enjoy this novel. If you want to give the novel a try, it did receive many great reviews, it just wasn’t for me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Anaheim Plaza Sculpture by George Tsutakawa, 1963

photo source / drawing source

Last year the Anaheim Historical Society hosted a lecture featuring art in public spaces. My friend and Anaheim artist Kevin Kidney highlighted 8 art pieces along with their historic and city significance. One piece really stood apart. I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that the bronze sculpture I was admiring on the screen was from the 1960s and so MODern.

The sculpture happens to be a water fountain designed by artist George Tsutakawa, a painter and sculptor from Seattle Washington. What I found so interesting about this piece is that the sculpture was designed so the metal shapes directed the water to create a dynamic sculpture of its own. How cool is that? Tsutakawa created over sixty public water fountains across the US starting in 1960. So why had I never seen Anaheim’s Tsutakawa sculpture?

Tsutakawa was commissioned to design and create a bronze sculpture water fountain for the front of the Anaheim Shopping Center’s new Robinson’s Department store which opened in 1962. The fountain itself was added later in February 1963. The very glamorous department store not only offered shopping, but 2 dining options: The Mission Room and Carousel Round Robin. When I headed out to visit the sculpture I took advantage of the opportunity to dress in my very best early 1960s outfit complete with my little terrier along for shopping and lunch.

The Anaheim Robinson’s closed in 1988 and shortly after the shopping center was demolished and rebuilt as the Anaheim Plaza. Not to worry, the fountain still exists though it is no longer functioning. Unfortunately it is hidden behind a Rubio’s restaurant and surrounded by planters, which explains why I had never seen Tsutakawa’s artwork.

Lovers of vintage and art, what do we have to do to restore this great piece of art and get the fountain working in maybe a more eye catching spot?

Friday, April 4, 2014


I am a fan of French films. Who doesn't love, and I mean looove, Amelie? Am I right? Even if you hate subtitles, but are a lover of Mid Century, give this film a try for the eye candy. The fashion! The hair! The décor! It is all très magnifique.

And yes, this is a movie about a typing competition and the glamorous secretaries that compete for the international title. Follow Rose on her adventure in 1959 Normandy, France as she goes from secretary to competitive typist. With her boss turned Coach, Louis, along for the ride, you know there is bound to be a love story too.