Hippie in Disguise Rideau River Ottawa

Global Guardian Learning Capsules Giveaway

Hippie in Disguise Rideau River Ottawa Canada

I’ve teamed up with my friend Rebecca to *giveaway* a 6-month subscription to the new Global Guardian Learning Capsules. You can read all about them in my post here.

In a nutshell, the Global Guardian Project is a monthly online subscription focused on global stewardship for families and children, home educators and anyone who loves to learn about the world and help make it a better place. Each month subscribers receive a learning capsule by email focused on a country and its wild life. The first capsule was Brazil (released August 2016), in two weeks the Rwanda capsule will be released. Future capsules will feature other countries including India, Australia, England and many more. Each capsule includes beautiful photography, facts and information about the country, it’s wildlife, global change makers and inspiring people, recipes, vocabulary and much more. There are also art projects and free digital downloads, podcasts, videos and guided meditation recordings.
Global Guardian Project Rwanda Capsule Homeschool

The capsules are both informative and inspiring, helping us understand how simple, small actions can make a big difference. Most importantly, the capsules highlight some of the things children are doing around the world to make a difference, showing us that there is no need to wait to for adulthood to make a positive impact.

To enter the giveaway, visit my Instagram account (rules are explained there too) and look for the giveaway photo, and make sure to:

  • Sign up by email for the FREE sample capsule “Our Oceans” by visiting this link 
  • Like and comment on the giveaway photo to let me know you signed up for the free capsule
  • Tag a friend in the comments who is a fellow global guardian, and if they sign up for the free capsule and follow @globalguardianproject too, then you’ll both win a subscription if your name is drawn the winner. Pay it forward!
  • For an extra entry: Share my Facebook post about this
  • For an extra entry: Repost my Instagram post about this with hashtag #ggpgiveaway

Contest closes Thursday September 8, 2016 at midnight (Pacific Standard Timezone) and is open worldwide. Good luck friends!

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Plastic Free July Zero Waste Plum and Sparrow Market Basket

Plastic Free Living: 9 Ways to Get Inspired and Informed

Plastic Free July Zero Waste Plum and Sparrow Market Basket

This past July our family participated in Plastic Free July, you can read about it here. To update you, we are continuing on with our project to eliminate plastic from our lives, still making poor choices some days, but all in all doing much better at keeping plastic to a minimum in our home.

There are a lot of great resources on the web to get people motivated to eliminate plastic from their lives, both practical and funny. Here are a few places you might want to check out for more plastic free inspiration, resources and entertainment:

  • This video by Tim Minchin Canvas Bag – watch it to the end, it’s worth 3 minutes of your life.
  • Litterless Blog, a great resource for making less waste, practical and achievable. And read my interview with Litterless blogger Celia here.
  • A great post for beginners is over on Less Makes Happy where you will 5 tips for getting started.
  • The Beauty in Simple, another great blog with practical tips for how to live a busy life with kids and make zero (or close to) waste. You can also read my interview with Juliehere.
  • Resource: The book ZERO WASTE HOME by Bea Johnson is a resource I refer to every week to solve simple zero waste problems, so far I haven’t come across a problem the book couldn’t offer a solution to.
  • Real talk: I have been really enjoying the Petalplum blog lately, Ellie has been sharing her month of plastic free in a funny, practical, humble and achievable way. Read this post and this one too.

On my site:

  • How To: A simple tutorial for wrapping gifts with fabric instead of paper and plastic tape.
  • Inspiration: The original source of my inspiration to live zero waste was the amazing Devine Family from Australia. Read about them here.
  • DIY: How to make your own milk, the recipe is for cashew but you can use oats, almonds, sesame seeds, rice, and it works just great.

What websites, blog posts and other resources have you found funny, helpful and inspiring? Please share in the comments below!

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? These are monthly learning capsules for children and their families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code:HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off and read more about it here.
Bamboo toothbrush charcoal bristle Gaia guy Plastic Free July living roof succulent garden

Giveaway: Bamboo Toothbrushes by Gaia Guy

Bamboo toothbrush charcoal bristle Gaia guy Plastic Free July living roof succulent garden

This month is Plastic Free July and to help celebrate I have a giveaway for 4 bamboo toothbrushes from Gaia Guy. Find out how to enter at the end of this post.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Plastic Free July “aims to raise awareness of the problems of single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it.” People are encouraged to refuse all single-use plastic for the period of a day, week, month or longer. Either that or refuse the top 4 single use plastic items: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Sadly, it is estimated that by 2050, “there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. Most [of this plastic] comes from land and was was once in our hands.” Together we can refuse single-use plastics and keep oceans and waterways clean.

Toothbrushes aren’t single use items, but they are daily use items that are easily replaced with a non-plastic equivalent. Bamboo toothbrushes, with charcoal bristles, are recyclable and biodegradable. That means that even if you don’t have local recycling facilities your toothbrush will biodegrade and nourish the earth over time. Plastic toothbrushes will only breakdown into micro-plastics, at best, and will degrade the health of the planet over time. Not to mention toothbrushes prove deadly to sea animals who often mistakenly eat plastics and die as a consequence. Bamboo toothbrushes are affordable ($4-5) and last just as long as the plastic equivalent.

The bamboo brushes by Gaia Guy:

  • are made from 100% natural bamboo – truly sustainable
  • are vegan friendly, BPA-free, lead-free, phthalates-free, guilt-free
  • have bristles that are biodegradable nylon-4 infused with bamboo charcoal
  • are light, yet solid and are a naturally antimicrobial toothbrush
  • have packaging that is eco-friendly with recycled cardboard and no glue that is recyclable, compostable and biodegradable
  • last as long as conventional plastic toothbrushes
  • are a great eco-friendly gift

Imagine the amount of plastic you will keep out of the environment by choosing to use a biodegradable toothbrush. One simple choice can create a powerful positive change for the environment. What’s more: small simple changes encourage us to make more small simple changes over time that really add up and have a ripple effect with our friends and family.

So, the next time you need a new toothbrush go find a bamboo one at a local shop or order one online. Gaia Guy sells them here.

  • By the way, if you aren’t making your own toothpaste I would recommend that you check out Truthpaste – they make a superb paste that is free of plastic microbeads (yes, conventional toothpaste has plastic in it that you swallow and spit down the drain. Horrendous!)

I would also encourage you to visit Gaia Guy’s website to read about his passion for regenerative enterprises. (He didn’t ask me to share any of this or the facts on his toothbrushes, I just loved what I found on his site and wanted to share with my readers). As he explains “regenerative enterprises are about partnerships with living systems,” that is, business in harmony with the planet and its ecosystems. As he explains this is not an oxymoron. I truly think regenerative enterprise should be the model for business going forward. Thank you for your energy and inspiration on this Ian (Gaia Guy)! Everything Gaia Guy stocks is biodegradable, reusable and bio-based.

To enter the giveaway for 4 bamboo toothbrushes, visit my Instagram account and look for the photo above, and make sure to:

  • Follow @higaiaguy on Instagram
  • Follow me @hippieindisguise
  • Like and comment on the giveaway photo
  • Bonus entries:
    • Tag friends in the comments on the Instagram giveaway photo, separate each friend into a different comment so that it is easier for me to make the ballots ???? No limit to the number of friends tagged. Each friend counts for an additional entry.
  • Get 5 extra entries: post a photo of yourself, your children, family or friends doing something good for the earth, like planting a tree or doing something in a more sustainable way. Use the hashtag #hippieslovegaiaguy so we can find your entry
  • Get 2 extra entries for putting @hippieindisguise and @higaiaguy in your Instagram post
  • Bonus entry if you follow Gaia Guy on Facebook

Contest closes Sunday July 31, 2016 at midnight and is open worldwide. Good luck friends!

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Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Wilde Asher Mala Sacred Jewellery

Giveaway: Wilde Asher Malas for Women and Children

Today I have a beautiful giveaway with Wilde Asher over on my Instagram account! My friend Sophie is one of the owners of Wilde Asher, a small online shop stocking lovely handmade and ethically sourced goods, including sacred jewellery and home decor. The lovely women behind Wilde Asher would like to giveaway two malas: one women’s Chakra Mala and one children’s mala. By the way, you can read about Sophie’s beautiful creative, earth-centred life in Australia in my interview with her here.

Wilde Asher Mala Sacred Jewellery

To enter the giveaway, visit my Instagram account (rules are explained there too) and look for the photo above, and make sure to:

  • Follow @wildeasher
  • Follow me @hippieindisguise
  • Like and comment on the giveaway photo
  • For extra entries: Tag friends in the comments, separate each friend into a different comment so that it is easier for me to make the ballots 🙂 No limit to the number of friends tagged. Each friend counts for an additional entry.

Contest closes Friday July 15, 2016 at midnight and is open worldwide. Good luck friends!

But wait, there’s more! Wilde Asher would like to offer my readers and followers a $30 AUD discount on their Chakra Malas. Quite generous! Find their collection of malas online here.

  • You can use the discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for $30 off your mala.

Slow Fashion by Eco Label Four’eMki

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Four’eMki designs women’s and children’s wear. Show above is the Shape Dress and below the Poncho Dressboth for women. All garments are sewn to order.

 

I started a new blog series over on the Enfants Terribles Magazine blog today called ‘Eco Label Love’. For this series I will share interviews with small companies who produce clothing and other products in a sustainable and ethical way. The fashion industry can be pretty terrible in terms of labour practices (for example, this). And, fast fashion is sorely contributing to landfill.

We need another way to clothe ourselves. With care. Slowly. Ethically. Mindfully. Sustainably.

While the most sustainable choice is always to buy second hand or thrift, thrift is not an option for everyone. This is why I want to celebrate companies who are leading the way toward a more sustainable and fair (or more than fair) industry. When it comes to sustainability, this means the fabrics are organic and renewable, locally sourced and sewn, or eco-dyed. In terms of ethical production, this means the garments are sewn and produced under fair conditions, as locally as possible.

For the first interview and feature I spoke with Polish slow fashion brand Four’eMki, which produces their designs end-to-end in Poland: from fabric to final garment. With their current collection designed in a vegan spirit and called Natureholic, this little label, and the lovely woman behind it, stole my heart.

Please skip over to see my blog post and interview on Enfants Terribles Magazine here.

You can find Four’eMki‘s online shop here, follow them on Instagram here, on Pinterest here, and on Facebook here.

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You might also like my post:

Ethical Wool: Love Your Mother in Luv Mother

Slow Ethical Fashion: Dreaming with Little Creative Factory

The Slow Living Project

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Interview with a Minimalist: Celia of Litterless Blog

I always say that minimalism isn’t just about our possessions. It can be about minimizing all sorts of things like our social calendar, our electronic communications, the number of decisions we make in a day or the garbage we produce.

Today, I have an interview with Celia that I’m excited to share with you. Celia is a recent graduate who, upon finishing school and setting up her first home, seized the opportunity to craft a home space and home ethic founded in simplicity and anchored in her environmental values. This led her to set up a minimalist space and zero waste life. Zero waste can seem, at best, intimidating and, at worst, impossible, but Celia has a way of sharing her lifestyle that is humble and practical – which you can read about on her awesome zero waste blog known as Litterless. I encourage you to bookmark her blog when you visit it, she is always posting very simple, useful, implementable tips for living garbage free. We can take a big leap or small steps but we should all be working towards making less garbage each and every day. Less is best. Aside from writing about and inspiring others to live more lightly upon the earth, Celia loves walking, yoga, reading, cooking, traveling and exploring cities. I hope you enjoy the read and are inspired to share!

Litterless zero waste celia

Hi Celia! Let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What’s your background?

I’m in my twenties, loving my first few years out of college and the freedom that comes with them – to travel, to have time in the day to spend as I wish, to build my life exactly as I want. These are really good years.

What part of the world do you live in?

I live in the United States, in Chicago, which I love. It’s big enough to have really great public transportation but still be very walkable – both things that help streamline my daily routine.

I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you? And, in what ways are you a minimalist?

I want my home to be filled with simple, useful, beautiful things that I love and that are well cared for, so that I can spend my time and money on pursuits that matter more to me than possessions, like hanging out with family and friends, heading outdoors, reading, relaxing. I want to make sure the objects I own support rather than hinder these activities. Additionally, it’s important to me that my home is a calming, relaxing place that isn’t crammed with stuff; I want it to be a place where I live life, not where I store an overabundance of things.

Litterless Zero waste minimalist bedroom

Your lifestyle is, in part, focused on waste, that is, not creating any. Can you tell me more about your journey to a zero waste lifestyle? How did you get started minimizing waste? And how far have you come?

When I graduated from college and moved to my first apartment, I was faced with so many choices about how to live my life, how to set up my daily routines, how to do these adult tasks I’d rarely done before. I knew that I wanted my life to reflect my environmental values, and part of that meant reducing the amount of trash and recycling I made. To start, I set up a composting system so that I didn’t have to throw away organic waste, and began trying to reduce the amount of trash I made while grocery shopping. Now I don’t even own a trash can! An unexpected benefit of zero waste is that it’s made my life so much more efficient – I purchase what I need without packaging, and I no longer have to deal with a constant influx of disposable products into my home that I must then sort/donate/throw away. Not surprisingly, I don’t miss taking out the trash one bit.

What is your story, how did you start on a path toward a minimalist lifestyle? 

I came to minimalism hoping to free up resources from an environmental perspective, and also to save time in my own life by simplifying my home and daily routines. As I moved towards becoming zero waste and thinking more about how to reduce my environmental footprint, I wanted to make sure that things I wasn’t using could be used by someone else while they still had life in them – so I began donating them. At the same time, I was feeling the pressures of my first job and wanting to find more hours in the day, and I thought that simplifying my home would help with that. And it has! I spend much less time cleaning and organizing now, which is such a boon.

Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?

I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet in general, but one thing I do wholeheartedly love about it is the fact that it introduced me to minimalism and zero waste in the first place. The beautiful blog No Trash Project provided my initial impetus for going zero waste – I love how thoughtfully and carefully its writer, Colleen, thinks about the objects she owns. A few (of many) more favorite inspirations – Zero Waste Home, Reading My Tea Leaves, and JaneJoJulia.

In what ways/areas do you struggle with keeping things minimal? What is your weakness?

I have what some would consider an absurd number of books – but it works for me. I read constantly, am a fast reader, and often re-read beloved books many times, so having a well-filled bookshelf is a must. However, I no longer purchase books (even secondhand books!). Instead, I lean heavily on the library and swap books often with friends.

What have been some unexpected experiences, positive or negative, you’ve had with minimalism?

Parting with objects at first was hard and absolutely did not come naturally to me; I unconsciously associated my possessions (even unused, unneeded ones) with a feeling of security. But, unexpectedly, the more I downsized the more I came to really love minimalism and to be able to really see its benefits – how it helped me have more time, a more lovely and calming home, a feeling of lightness. The deeper I got into minimalism, the easier it became to identify and let go of excess, and now I know I’ll never go back to living with clutter and things I don’t love or need.

Litterless zero waste wool dryer balls

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

Some people (like Marie Kondo) advocate getting rid of everything you don’t need all at once, in one giant marathon session. That approach works for some people, but I kind of think it’s crazy! Going slowly and getting rid of things over a longer period of time has allowed me to to be more thoughtful about what I keep and what I pass along. Slowly decluttering (truly, over a period of several years) has also been a big help in making sure I’m donating each item to where it will best be reused or recycled (instead of dumping a huge load of random things on overcrowded local thrift stores or, worse, in the trash). I’m a big believer that the downsizing process should be approached with an eye to sustainability (here I’ve shared a few tips on how to do that!), and going slowly has allowed me to stay focused on that.

Litterless zero waste wrapping furoshiki

Thank you Celia! Readers make sure to check our Celia’s blog Litterless it is a great resource for living simply and garbage free. You can also find Celia on Instagram @go_litterless and on Twitter @go_litterless.

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You might also like my post:

Garbage Free: How to Make Your Own Delicious Cashew Milk

Interview with a Minimalist: The Devine Family on Living Garbage Free

How to Get Started with Minimalism: Assess your Personality

Talking about Minimalism and Sustainability with Robin Kay

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? These are monthly learning capsules for children and families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off, you can read more about it here

Label Love: Mikoleón Sustainable Shoes + Clothing — and a Giveaway!

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Growing up our family always had what it needed, but certainly there was no money to spare or to spend on being fashionable. Our clothes were most often second hand or sewn by my mother, and when we did buy new things we had to be price conscious.  Shoes, however, were one thing that my mother would not spare expense on. She always said her children had to have good shoes — for the health of the foot, not for the sake of fashion. She bought us sensible shoes that fit well and since we only had one pair of shoes at a time, they would be shoes we could do anything in: climb trees, walk to school, play sports, and so on. When my sister, who was the fanciest little toddler you will ever meet (she went through a phase where she couldn’t be seen in public without a bridal veil), wanted fancy shoes my mother found a local shoemaker who made my sister Mary Janes that were functional and fancy (of course this was long before the online shopping era, so my mother had to locally source shoes, a good thing for sure).

I carried my mother’s concern for healthy foot development forward as a parent and have always done my best to outfit Ro and Sen’s feet with quality shoes that would let their feet breath and develop in a healthy manner. With Sen and Ro growing like weeds over the winter (I love weeds, by the way) I needed new shoes for both of them this spring. I had the good fortune of getting them handmade shoes from Mikoleón, which, by the way, have proven to be exceptional quality.

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Mikoleón is a small company making children’s clothing and footwear. The production ethics are outstanding: their clothing is made from up-cycled fabrics, 100% cotton, chemical free, dye free, fair trade, reduced CO2, sustainable and handmade. Their shoes are handmade by cobblers in traditional slow production methods. The leather is processed in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. With all this production goodness I wanted to share more about the company with my readers (this is not a sponsored post!), so I asked Cony, the woman behind the company, if she might indulge me in an interview. She said yes and offered to do a giveaway too — yay!  I don’t encourage frequent or conspicuous consumption, but do take note of Mikoleón for the next time you need to buy some beautiful ethically made children’s clothing and footwear. And make sure to read to the end of the post to see how you can win something from Mikoleón.

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Cony, could you tell me a little bit about yourself, the person behind Mikoleón. What is your background?

I’m a mom of 5 and now grandmother to 14 beautiful grandkids including triplets! I’m an entrepreneur at heart! I love the idea of creating something and watch it blossom…I like to figure things out; I’m fascinated and obsessed with anything related to textiles and natural fibers; and I’m committed to living a green life as much as I can!

How would you describe Mikoleón in 5 words?

A brand with a conscience.

Why did you choose Mikoleón for your brand name? What does it mean?

A Mikoleón is a Kinkajou also known as “honey bear,” but not an endangered species…yet. They are native to the jungles of Central and South America, they eat fruits and live among trees. Mikoleón in Spanish means monkey-lion, and for us, it was the perfect name to describe the soul inside our company.

What inspired you to start designing shoes and clothing?

I wish I could say that my dream was to be a fashion designer! But the real reason is…I saw an opportunity to help people in Guatemala with sustainable jobs and that combined with my love of textiles sealed the deal! I was in awe of their craftsmanship and desire to have a better life. I couldn’t deny the opportunity.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be a mom. Now that I’m one, I want to someday write a children’s book about love.

Craftsmanship and sustainability are important to you. How do you translate these into your designs and their production?

Even though we have skilled artisans, there’s always a learning curve to produce high quality products for them. Training our employees to understand the level of quality we want is imperative and essential to our production. We strive to make products that are simple in design and that showcase our specialty fabrics.

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Where are Mikoleón shoes made and clothing is sewn? What is your relationship with the seamstresses?

Our shoes and clothes are made in Antigua, Guatemala. Our seamstresses and cobblers are skilled women and men that were in great need of a job to provide for their families. We were just lucky to find them…and have the chance to help them.

Our fair wage policy goes beyond what the local Guatemalan government considers a fair wage. Our in-house employees enjoy all the benefits the laws in Guatemala require, such as medical, social security, maternity leave, and vacation benefits. In addition, Guatemala laws require that you pay your employees for 14 months of wages but they actually work only 11 months! Twice a year they get paid for two months of work while working only one.

We take much pride to say that we pay fair prices for their goods.

What’s special about the materials you use? And your production methods?

Our denim is up-cycled. Basically, we collect new waste materials from the denim factories in Guatemala, and transform it back into threads; we then use the up-cycled threads to make new woven and knit fabrics. This saves a tremendous amount of water in the manufacturing process compared to traditional new fabrics.

We consider ourselves a slow fashion company, meaning, each piece is done in small quantities as needed. We don’t have a factory, I like to think of it more as a sewing shop, and much like a seamstress or tailor shop would be here in the USA. We buy raw materials from ISO certified factories (ISO 9000), and we are always mindful of the environmental impact of our production methods.

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What has made you the most proud of what you’re doing?

Being able to empower our employees to believe in themselves and their worth; and second would be, knowing that we are providing our customers with products that make them feel good while making conscious fashion choices.

Do you plan to expand the line?  What’s next for Mikoleón?

For now, we just want to educate consumers about the beauty of natural fibers, up-cycling, and the negative impact on our environment and the real cost of fast fashion.

When you are all caught up on work, what do you love to do?

I love a cup of chai tea, sitting on my back porch and staring at our beautiful Rocky Mountains, reminding myself how lucky I am for the chance to love my little tribe!

 

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Thank you Cony! Readers you can find Mikoleón’s online shop here and follow them on Instagram @mikoleonkids

Mikoleon wants to giveaway a $100 gift card and a Nena & Co Mini Clutch to one of my readers! …Details below

6042 mothers day giveaway flatlay

Example of a Nena & Co Mini Clutch shown above **If you are curious about Nena & Co, you can read about them here

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Sen calls his Mikoleon shoes his “Adventure Boots” — according to him the side pocket is meant to hold treasures collected while adventuring, I’m pretty sure he’s got that one right!

To enter the giveaway, visit my Instagram account (rules are explained there too) and make sure to:

  • Follow @mikoleonkids
  • Follow me @hippieindisguise
  • Like and comment on the giveaway photo to confirm your entry
  • For extra entries: Tag friends in the comments. Please separate each friend into a different comment so that it is easier for me to make the ballots:) No limit to number of friends tagged.
  • For an extra entry: Sign up for Mikoleón’s mailing list (and BONUS you’ll get a 20% off coupon sent to your inbox!)

Contest closes Sunday May 1st, 2016 at 3:00 pm NYC standard time and is open worldwide. The winner will be announced on Instagram on Sunday May 1st after 4:00 pm. Good luck friends!

You might also like my post:

Reincarnating Traditional Fabrics into Modern Bags: An Interview with Ali from Nena & Co

A Thoughtful Guide to Women’s Gifts for Any Occasion

Glimpses into our Home: Slow, Mindful, Minimal, Nature-Inspired Decor

Want to find me in other places?

Happy Earth Day: 10 Ways to Live a Greener, More Sustainable Lifestyle

HIppie in Disguise Gloucester Maine Luv Mother Nico Nico cLothing Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! A day late…but truly, it is earth day every day in our family. After a busy week of work and travel I didn’t have time to make an Earth Day post, so I’m catching up today.

In my experience, I never see my children happier,  freer,  more connected to the moment as when they are playing together in the great outdoors. So, my Earth Day indulgence is to share some of my favourite photos of my children connecting with the wild earth and enjoying themselves playing in nature. I’m also sharing what our family does each day to live lightly upon the planet, see our list at the end of this post.

Hippie in Disguise Cristina Rohde Clothing Earth Day

Hippie in Disguise Gloucester Mass Earth Day

As a family we do a lot to try to minimize our impact on the earth, to live a green lifestyle, to live lightly and respectfully upon this planet that sustains us and gives us life. Above all else I try to find ways each day to ensure my kids feel connected to nature and the health of our planet. This means lots of time spent outdoors enjoying life and connecting with the elements, whether it’s walking or cycling to the places we go, running bare foot on the grass, or eating snow.

Here are the top 10 ways our family lives lightly upon the planet:

  1. We follow a vegan diet to minimize environmental damage associated with animal farming
  2. We eat and buy local products as much as possible to minimize emissions associated with delivery transport. If not local products then responsibly manufactured, organic and small scale guide our purchases
  3. We live car free and either walk or cycle almost everywhere we travel within the city, year round
  4. We use reusable cloth shopping bags (these ones are great because they fold up really small to fit in your pocket or bag) and we use reusable produce and bulk shopping bags (these ones for produce and these ones for bulk)
  5. We package litter-less lunches with reusable containers. Our favourites are stainless steel lunch containers (like these for main dish, these for snacks and dips and these for drinks) and our newest love is for beeswax food wraps (truly amazing product! they may seem pricey but I guarantee you they are worth the investment, you can completely stop using all plastic wrap)
  6.  We wear things out before replacing them
  7.  We recycle and compost like there’s no tomorrow
  8.  We put on a sweater (or two) rather than heating our home and drink cold water instead of air conditioning
  9.  We plant indigenous plants in the garden that don’t need overwatering or chemicals to thrive and support bee populations
  10. We spend lots of time outdoors to cultivate love, enjoyment and respect for the earth in hopes that our children will make the best choices

Over the next year we are working towards a zero waste lifestyle having been deeply inspired by the Devine Family and by Bea Johnson (her book Zero Waste Home is a must read and share!).

Earth day, every day.

What do you do? I would love to hear. Please leave a comment below, no need to sign in or make a profile.

River Picnic Ottawa Hippie in Disguise

Hippie in Disguise Nico Nico Clothing Earth Day Childhood Unplugged

 You might also like:

Garbage Free: How to Make your own Delicious Raw Cashew Milk

Interview with a Minimalist: The Devine Family *** A family of 6 living in a treehouse

World Wildlife Day: What you can do to help conserve and protect wild plants and animals

Love Your Mother: The Most Sustainable Clothing by Luv Mother

Want to find me in other places?

Artist Profile: Kara Rane and her Cosmic Circles

Sen, by our bedroom window, enjoying the colours shine through two layered cosmic circles by artist Kara Rane. Such a fun, creative, open ended play thing. I always wonder what he’s thinking about. [ Sen’s necklace is from Tribal Dreaming “Earth Warrior” and his leggings are organics from Mabo ]

I remember well what my passions were when I was a child: drawing and arranging things artfully, dancing, playing in the forest, and (as crazy as it sounds) I was passionate from as early as I can remember about environmental protection. But I also remember thinking from very young that none of these passions could be an adult pursuit. (How wrong I was!!) I somehow thought that happiness came from things, from comforts, and that I couldn’t have those things (and thus happiness) without money. Since the statistical likelihood of earning money as an illustrator, artist or tree hugger seemed quite slim, I decided to be practical and enter a traditional, remunerative profession in order to find myself in a context that would afford me things, and thus enable happiness. Well, surprise ending: Things don’t make you happy. Passions do. People do. 

Today, I’m happy to share with you the story of a woman who knew and followed her passions throughout her life and has been able to provide for herself and her family what they need to sustain themselves and their happiness. Kara Rane is an artist, world traveller, and mother of one, who makes beautiful artwork inspired by her deep connection and reverence for the earth. She and her partner have a small homestead nestled in supportive community committed to sustainable living. What a beautiful environment in which to raise a child! I put much hope in children raised in such an environment for their future contributions to community and sustaining our planet. But I know that us urban dwellers living in the mainstream can also play our part in raising our children differently, it might just be a little harder to drown out the distractions, noise and clutter. But we can do it too!

Whether you are living rurally or in an urban setting I think Kara’s passion for art and sustainability will inspire you to find ways to nourish yourself and your family with creativity and the natural world. I hope so!

Dear Kara, please tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?

I grew up at 6,000 feet in the mountains of Southern California, in a log home.  Nature was a huge part of my childhood, and I found my favorite places to be were among the trees, streams, lakes & wilderness.  I also love the ocean so I decided to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara (studying Environmental Science and Art studio) where I could live by the sea.

I am deeply connected to the natural world, but my curiosity compelled me to explore urban life and I lived in San Francisco and New York City.  Having a passion for travel, I also lived for a time in the Caribbean on a tiny remote island, trekked the Himalayas of Nepal, returned to my native Nordic countries, explored Thailand and Vietnam and have road tripped throughout parts of the United States.  All of these experiences I was able to manage on only the money I earned. At times it was a daunting task as often I found myself with nothing other than my creativity to survive.

What part of the world do you live in?

We live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California on a 6 acre homestead. We have an organic and heirloom orchard of 44 trees, an organic hop yard and small gardens to grow our food.  We love the community, as there are many ‘back to the Earth’ folks. It is common practice for us to trade with one another for goods and this is truly a delightful way to know your neighbors.

at the Farmers Market Kara Rane Cosmic Circles

How do you spend most of your days?

Recently, most of my days and nights are spent caring for our baby.  I have learned to incorporate him into projects via baby wearing, so work continues on. We also make a priority to hike at least a couple times a week, often with other mamas and their babies and children.

Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from the great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.” -Chief Seattle

This quote resonates so strongly with me as I feel that I am trying to recover a part of myself that has died due to the loss of so many animals, trees, and the myriad of life forms who are now extinct, or are at risk of extinction due to human caused perils. In honoring these beings I feel wholly united. It is my hope to draw, paint, create them back into the world of the living. In nourishing this wildness, I too am trying to resurrect my soul.

Eco-Art cards - Kara Rane
What are you passionate about?

Our capacity to change as individuals and a collective global society gives me hope. Without this, it would be impossible for me to be passionate about anything as I have a lot of concerns for the future of the environment on which we depend. Hopefully, the work I do as an artist can help bring about this change.

Can you tell me a bit about your work as an artist?

Using vibrant, neon, and rainbow colors to layer sacred shapes and patterns, the vision is revealed to me as the lifting of a veil.  Into a dimension of light, a familiar yet brighter and more alive Universe is known. I see a place of harmony, peace and happiness. Through nature and ancient symbolism I glimpse the Divine.

Returning Forward © Kara Rane

Are you able to support your family financially with your artwork?

My art sustains me as a whole person. Throughout my life it has also been a source of income in various ways. Often times, I have been forced to get creative in how this might look. For example: I worked as a studio artist in NYC for a corporate art making company. Although, I was not making my own art I was given a lot of freedom. Currently, I am a full-time mama and have created several eco-friendly product lines featuring my art. They are sold in retail locations, at local festivals and farmers markets and via my website.

Can you talk about your cosmic circles?

The ‘Cosmic Circle’ designs are a kaleidoscopic portal allowing light, color, energy and beauty to fill your Life. I hand create the original designs and Greenerprinter, a business based on the highest standard in environmental printing, reproduces the images. These colorful, transparent clings adhere without adhesive, so they are easy to use, remove and re-use. Better than stickers!!

More ℃osmic ℃ircles © Kara Rane

When you aren’t drawing, what do you love to do?

Working with my hands, in all things!  I am very dedicated to living a sustainable lifestyle, to supporting and growing organic food and to understanding how to best care for the land and creatures we depend on.  This requires a lot of work outside on the land and that is where I love to be, with the trees, birds, sun and sky.

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Thank you, Kara, for sharing a glimpse into your world and creative vision and purpose. How beautiful visually and soulfully! Readers you can find Kara on Instagram @kara_rane and you can read more about her art and visit her shop at www.KaraRane.com.

This interview is part of my Creative Mothers series, you can find the rest here.

You might also like my post:

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Real Flowers

Garbage Free: How to Make Your Own Delicious Cashew Milk

How to Make a Mother Nature Leaf Dress from Real Leaves

Drawing a Day: A Summer Drawing Project

How to Make All Natural Bath Bombs with Dried Flowers

Want to find me in other places?

Magnolias by Robin Kay Twentyventi

Ecominimalism & an Interview with a Minimalist: Robin

Minimalism is about many things, much more than just aesthetics and trendiness. Often, to my dismay, minimalism is distilled into one or both of these things. And while, yes, minimalism is a style of interior design and is currently a trendy lifestyle, it really is so much more. The benefits of minimalism are not having a beautifully styled home or being on target with trendy fashions and interiors. No, the benefits are what having less affords us, the space it creates in our days, in our homes, in our activities, in our lives. Among other things, having less gives us more time. Time is the most precious resource. I am always chasing time. But I digress.

Magnolias by Robin Kay Twentyventi

Another aspect of minimalism that I’ve wanted to write about for a while now is sustainability. Acquiring few things (by shopping less), having less to clean, repair and replace is just simply better for the earth, kinder and gentler on our planet. In the comments from my post about how to get started with minimalism (here) the sustainability aspect came up. I mentioned that I’ve wanted to start my own term ‘ecominimalism’ to talk about my brand of minimalism. I know, the word brand is a bit icky, especially in this context, but what I mean is my version of minimalism is ecominimalism. My minimalism is about having less, but most importantly acquiring less (It’s not about having little but constantly acquiring new things and pitching old things out the door, so that you keep few things). Too often I read on minimalism message boards requests for advice on how to replace 5 things with 1, or how to start a personal wardrobe from scratch in order to have a capsule collection. Yes, this is minimalism, but not sustainably-minded minimalism. And I know that minimalism isn’t necessarily about lessening one’s impact on the earth, but I really wish it was.

So, I was really happy when I read Robin Kay’s interview answers (see below) because she talks about the sustainability aspect of minimalism. Not only do we (hopefully) lessen our acquisition through minimalism, but we are also inclined and more able to choose products that have minimal impact on the earth. With a little more money in our wallets (from not mindlessly consuming and impulse buying) we can hopefully afford to purchase products that are ethically and sustainably made, like organic and fair trade clothing and food. And if we can’t afford these then at least we are not further indebting ourselves for the sake of fashion.

When we sit back and reflect on living with less, living simply, living minimally (all variations on the same thing) I think we can see that the true benefits have nothing to do with trendiness and everything to do with having more time for the people and activities we love, and feeling better about the things that we do acquire, whether they are organic or not, because our acquisition is much more mindful, considered and intentional. Of course, it’s easy to live minimally when we have very little money in the bank, when living minimally isn’t a choice. When we are fortunate to have money to spend on frills and fashions, on vacations and commuting, that is when our true test of minimalism and environmental consciousness comes up. Buying eco products when we *actually* need something is the best choice, but if we don’t really need it, maybe the best choice is to go for a hike…?

Below, you’ll hear from Robin Kay, a fellow Canadian and minimalist. I hope you’re inspired not only by Robin’s beautiful images and home, but more importantly by the substance of what she shares in her answers. Thank you Robin for sharing your story!

Robin Kay Twentyventi Interview with a Minimalist with Daughter Ramona Jean

Let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What’s your background?

I am a twenty-seven year old wife, mother and teacher, currently on a year of maternity leave. I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, where I was homeschooled from age nine (except for one semester of high school). As an introvert, being able to learn on my own terms was very important, and I definitely thrived outside of the traditional classroom. Having a non-traditional education also sparked my interest in how others learn.

I was drawn to Early Childhood Education, and after I graduated my program I worked as an assistant teacher at a co-op, a nanny, and finally a teacher at a non-profit preschool/early years centre. I love the career path that I chose because I believe that it better prepared me, personally, for motherhood.

Robin Kay Twentyventi Interview with a Minimalist with Daughter Ramona Jean

It’s sometimes hard to remember what I did with my free time before I became a mother, because my days are now fully devoted to my daughter. We play, read, and sometimes nap together. I try to make time to brush up on my photography skills, and occasionally write while she naps. As a family we love to go on walks, visit new places and vegan bakeries, and just stay in together.

Robin Kay Twentyventi Interview with a Minimalist with Daughter Ramona Jean

How many children do you have and what are they like?

I have one daughter, Ramona Jean, who is 9 months old. From the beginning, I feel like she was brimming with so much personality – she was so alert and vocal even as a newborn (and I thought it would be such a boring phase!). We jokingly call her “nosy” because she’s so hyper aware and curious about everything, constantly straining her neck to see what’s around the corner.

Robin Kay Twentyventi Interview with a Minimalist with Daughter Ramona Jean

I find that she’s such a mixture of quiet and loud, calm and wild, spirited and sweet. It’s such a balance of strengths on either end of the spectrum. She’s quick to smile and laugh, but on the other hand deeply sensitive. She’s full of sass and determination, but has such a calm, thoughtful nature. She’s opinionated, yet easygoing. We’ve just been over the moon in love these past nine months, and cherish every second we spend with her.

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Robin Kay Twentyventi Interview with a Minimalist with Daughter Ramona Jean

Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” – Ansel Adams

I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you? And, in what ways are you a minimalist?

Minimalism means, in the most basic terms, living simply. And I really think that applies to all things.

To me, there is a huge sustainability aspect to minimalism – buying less, consuming less, and choosing products that have a minimal harmful impact on the earth. I came across a quote by Vivienne Westwood the other day: “Buy less, choose well, and make it last” which just felt so appropriate for this time in our lives. My husband and I choose to buy mostly used goods from an environmental standpoint (they don’t use up new resources, often don’t have packaging, etc), and when we buy new we try our best to support brands that use sustainable materials or practices, and that are high quality that will last over time.

Robin Kay Twentyventi Interview with a Minimalist with Daughter Ramona Jean

With this mindset we strive to live with less, and to be more mindful about what enters our home, separating want from need. We try to apply this simple, more thoughtful way of life to all aspects of our lives, even the food we eat. We buy as much organic and locally grown produce as our budget will allow, and prepare all of our meals with whole ingredients. Ultimately this simplified way of life allows us to focus on what’s really important, which is spending time together as a family, and tending to our passions.

Robin Kay Twentyventi Interview with a Minimalist with Daughter Ramona Jean

I’ve heard from others in this series that they wouldn’t call themselves a ‘minimalist’ and yet the notions of ‘less is more’ and ‘live simply’ permeates their life perspective. So, what is your story, how did you arrive at a point where simple, less, minimal feel right to you?

When my husband and I were married five a half years ago, for the first little while I carried on living the way I was raised, filling our home with things we didn’t really need, often that we thought we needed. Growing up, it had been very normal for me to be surrounded by “stuff.” Good deals, roadside finds, intentions for projects, things we might need later, multiples of almost everything. There were more things than there was space or time for. And there was also this attachment, this innate need to hold on to everything.

As newlyweds, it felt like we were always organizing or trying to find places for things. There seemed to be an ongoing conversation about buying MORE furniture or moving into a bigger place just to hold our stuff, which is just ridiculous to me now, thinking back on it. There was just so much waste – waste of time, resources, money – and this general dissatisfaction with what we had, even though we had so much.

So two things happened all at once, and that was realizing how wasteful we were being, and deciding that we didn’t need more to be content.

And from there it was a process of undoing everything that I was taught, both in my upbringing and by our consumer society. Each year our resolve grows stronger – we declutter more and are more realistic about what we really need (or don’t need, which is more often the case). When we moved last April I realized how much stuff we had accumulated that was out of sight and unused – we de-owned almost half of our furniture and possessions in the move, and have since shed even more.

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Early on in the simplifying process a friend told me that everything he owned could fit in his car and that he could uproot and move anywhere at a moment’s notice – it was such a beautiful, inspiring thought, but also gave me a little anxiety thinking about the size of car I would need to fit all the things I currently owned. Ideally, everything that we own needs to have a “home.” I often strive towards the popular William Morris quote:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

(And even better if it’s both!)

The more that we commit to this way of life, the easier it gets, and the more at peace we become with ourselves and our lifestyle. It’s almost addictive how freeing it is – I find myself wondering how little I can possibly live with. Is there even more I can get rid of? I don’t think I could strip down to standard-car-size level (at least yet), but I’m working my way down bit by bit.

Since Ramona was born I find I am a lot less attached to things, maybe because it’s readjusted my focus on what’s really important. I know that I want her to grow up in a calm, uncluttered space, with more time to spend together instead of our possessions.

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Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?

I have heard great things about the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, which I have yet to read myself. This website (Hippie In Disguise) has been a great resource, and always gets me thinking and revisiting my ideas on sustainable minimalism. [ editorial note: Thank you Robin! ]

Other than that my method is fairly unstudied. I’ve always felt inspired by the clean, minimal look of Scandinavian homes, which is very apparent from my Pinterest boards (minimalism, of course, doesn’t mean all white and lots of negative space, but that’s what inspires me personally). I’m also quite inspired by Waldorf education, which to me has always felt very minimal in its simplicity and focus on nature.

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In what ways do you struggle with keeping things minimal? What is your weakness?

Books, without a doubt. When we moved 10 months ago, most of or boxes were filled with books. I generally only ever buy secondhand, and it’s the one thing I never feel guilty about having too much of. But I do feel guilty for not having read all the books we own.

My other weakness is holding on to certain things for too long, wondering if I ever might need it again.

Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?

My husband is right on board with me, and also sees the benefit in having less. Sometimes we differ in our opinions of what is essential, but we respect what is important to other. As an artist, he needs to have a lot of supplies and mediums, as well as paintings or set pieces he is working on – and while I sometimes am frustrated at having to find places to store giant canvases (there’s a stack beside our dresser at the moment, and two 5×5 foot canvases in our dining room), it also beautifies our space, and encourages creativity.

In what ways has minimalism improved your life?

There’s this Swedish proverb that says “He who buys what he does not need, steals from himself.” It frustrates me to think of all the time I’ve spent rearranging, reorganizing and moving clutter from one place to another, when I could have been writing or taking photographs or any number of more useful things.

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Less really IS more. It’s more time, more energy, more focus on what’s important to us. And that has improved my life by making more present, more appreciative and content with what I do have, rather than always seeking more of something.

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

I think the term “minimalist” always frightened me because I thought I would be judged or misusing it if I didn’t have tons of bare space, or if I didn’t live off the grid, surviving off the land, growing my own vegetables and knitting my own clothes.

There are no rules – minimalism looks different to everyone. You have to start somewhere, and it begins with just trying to get rid of the excess in your life (the old blender you never parted with even though you bought a new one, three of the five frying pans you own, etc.), and then in a few months, revisiting what your idea of excess is. At first it might seem difficult and a slow process, but after actively working towards your own vision of minimalism, it eventually becomes second nature.

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Do you have any goals for this year or next few that you want to share?

I want to read more – not online articles, not emails, and especially not Instagram captions, but actual physical books. I was an avid reader growing up, and it pains me that so much of my time these days is spend “plugged in.” My goal is one book a month, at least. I also want to learn a new skill, whether that’s knitting or bookbinding or woodworking or doing a cartwheel.

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Minimalism Twentyventi

As a family, one of our goals is to try to exclusively purchase from ethical brands. It often means saving up and buying less, but it is in harmony with our lifestyle.

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Thank you Robin! Readers you can find Robin on Instagram @twentyventi or over at her blog Twenty Venti.

Find all the other interviews in this series here. Please share this post if you liked it!

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You might also like my post:

How to Get Started with Minimalism

13 Ways to Simplify Your Wardrobe

The Slow Living Project

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places: