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Making our way to the Monarchs

The journey to the Vanilla plantation was about a five hour drive, so the return was about the same.  We drove back to Veracruz and stayed in the Hotel Deligencias again.  Dinner was in the hotel restaurant and we all enjoyed recapping our time with Jorge, Mike and Jesus and sipping margaritas.  Then it was off to bed as early as we could stand it because the alarm was going off at 4:00a.m.

At the Veracruz Airport saying “Adios” to our guide, Jorge.

Packed up and ready to leave the hotel by 5:15a.m. (not morning, btw), the eleven of us were driven by Jesus to Veracruz airport and then escorted in by Jorge.  We checked our bags and then settled in to have some breakfast (and coffee!!) at a restaurant in the airport since we had two plus hours until our flight departed.

Waste sorting in the Veracruz Airport – in my experience, it’s confusing everywhere…

When I booked my AeroMexico flight, I chose the Carbon Offset option, especially since Mexico City’s air quality is, albeit better than it used to be, still is not particularly good. They have committed to reducing their carbon footprint by participating in the MexicO2 program, whose goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.

To improve air quality, Mexico City instituted “No Drive Days” where people can’t drive on different days based on the color of their license plate. People got around it by buying a second car….

But then they added the last number of your license plates. Anyone can drive on Sundays. Bus transportation is pretty decent and there is a subway that is the most used public transportation system. For safety, the first two cars are for women, children, disabled and elderly (Because there used to be a lot of muggings). Also, electric taxis and bicycle taxis
Speed cameras – hidden so everyone drives carefully. 🙂

We boarded the plane to Mexico City at 7:55a.m. and, after a smooth and very quick flight, during which we saw the (active) Popocatepetl volcano (see cover photo), we landed around 9:00a.m.  In Mexico City, we were greeted by our new guides, Reuben Encalada (Dopamina Travel) and Carlos Solis.  They took us to get cash (pesos) and use the banos and then to our new transportation for the next few days – another 18-passenger van.

Landing in Mexico City, I couldn’t help but notice the smog.  I had heard that the air pollution in Mexico City was bad, but I had no idea – it’s like Denver on it’s worst high ozone day – times 10.  Many of us started coughing upon arrival and the lack of air quality was noticeable right away.

Thankfully, we didn’t linger and, once packed up, we drove out to a town called Metepec for lunch and a bit of sight-seeing.  Part of our lunch break was exploring an artisan village of sorts (Centro de Exposicion y Venta Artesanal) where many artisans made pieces of art – many themed with the Tree of Life or Dia de Los Muertos.

Before departing, we walked around Metepec and checked out the Capilla del Calvario chapel.  It had a bit of the feel of Paris from Sacre Couer.

Then, we were off again and drove a couple more hours to Valle de Bravo – a lovely Mediterranean town (that had more the feel of Urbino in Italy – or maybe Como).  It’s a great escape for residents of Mexico City. We checked into our boutique-y hotel, Meson de Leyends – our home for the next two nights.  We had some time to walk around town before dinner.

Dinner was at a lovely restaurant down the street and then we were off to bed.

Next we see the butterflies! Stay tuned….

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Green Up Your Garments

Lisa Curwen

Eco-Fashionista

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Curwen, a fashion industry veteran and founder of Lisa Curwen Studio.  She got her Master’s degree studying, researching, and publishing on the subject of sustainable practices for the fashion and textile industry. She is a former treasurer of Fashion Group International (FGI.org) and has taught an Eco Fashion course as an adjunct faculty member of the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (RMCAD). She really knows her fabrics.  Read on!

Interview with Lisa Curwen:

S3:  What do you focus on mostly in your studio?

LISA:  Recently, I have been designing tablecloths and tea towels for a company called Amelie Michel.  The company is located in Connecticut, but will be having a pop-up sale in Denver at Wash Park Studio. Thursday Sept. 13th through Wednesday September 19th, 10am-5pm every day.

I have also designed home furnishings textiles, many of which are sold in showrooms in the Denver Design Center and at Calico Home. In addition, I re-upholster furniture as a hobby.

 

S3:  What do you see as the more sustainable aspects of the fashion industry?

LISA:   Sustainble practices must include the social (fair labor practices), the environmental (non-toxic techonology and organic farming), and the economic aspects (being able to make a profit). All three have to be present to have a viable model. Historically, it used to be much harder for companies to be profitable while implementing sustainable practices in both the labor market and environmentally friendly textile manufacturing; but it is more accepted now, and almost required, for companies to operate in a socially responsible manner.

 

S3:  What are some ways the fashion industry practices sustainability?

LISA:  Reduce the amount of packaging, reduce transportation (energy usage) in the supply chain by using smaller and more local supply chains, reduce water usage and pesticides for farming, make sure effluents from textile manufacturing don’t go into water supplies,  create prodcuts that use closed loop lifecycles.

 

S3:  What is the best way for fashion consumers to support eco-fashion?

LISA:  First and foremost, do research on companies.  Find the ones that are more socially responsible and support them. 

Consume less! Launder clothing in cold water and hang or dry flat to reduce energy usage. The biggest load on the environment comes at the consumer level in the care of clothing.  Buy organic cotton products.  Avoid textiles that use a lot of chemicals in their manufacturing such as rayon and leather products, however Tencel (trademark symbol) is an environmentally friendly brand of rayon. Resell, recycle, or repurpose your garments. Buy wool, alpaca or PLA (a naturally derived polyester).

 

S3:  What other choices can fashion consumers make to live more sustainably?

LISA:  Buy fewer new clothes and ones that have longevity.  Frequent thrift stores and consignment stores.

Beware of “green washing”! 

Research companies for authentic certifications – Listen to/watch the news and watch for business practices.

Put pressure on companies to be more ecologically/sustainability focused.

Support initiatives that are more sustainability focused.

 

S3:  Do you think “slow fashion” hurts fashion trends?

LISA:   Slow fashion is just a different way to approach fashion.  For instance, it might mean buying more classic styling that can be worn for a longer time.  One could always accessorize with updated fashion items, but keep the bulk of their wardrobe changing less frequently.

 

S3:  What do you see as the number one choice people can make towards living more sustainably?

LISA:

#1:  Reduce energy usage (Consume less, drive less, recycle, reduce at home, change diet, invest in LED light bulbs, change climate controls to be more eco-friendly, turn off lights, etc.)

#2:  Compost (Divert from the landfill)

#3:  Buy less (See above tips)

 

S3:  Which companies would you suggest people who are passionate about slowing the effects of climate change invest in?

LISA:  Socially conscious companies.  Invest from the heart.  Vote with your wallet.

Having said all that, it is super challenging to be a purist.  Taking steps to be more green with your garments is a start.

Here are some tips to “green up” your garments:

  • Go to or host clothing swaps (have a party with friends and swap outfits)
  • Fix it when it’s broken (sew back on buttons, darn socks, repair zippers, tears, etc.)
  • Give clothing to charities when you’ve out grown them. Even clothes that can no longer be worn are useful for certain charities like The Little Red School House which turns fabrics into rags for shops and cleaning companies.  (Second hand clothing is sent to other countries like Kenya)

 

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Dealing with Pests in your Compost Pile

Composting is a great, satisfying endeavor.

However, sometimes other little beings decide they want to use it as a food source and sometimes even set up camp.

Mice and rats are not an uncommon variety of these unwanted guests.

Unfortunately, mice and rats can spread disease through their feces and you really don’t want them hanging out in your compost pile.  If you have an above-ground tumbler, this shouldn’t be a problem.  But, it’s good to take precautions if you have a pile (or a box, like we do).

I found this article which is helpful should you find yourself facing this challenge:

Mice in Your Compost?

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CHALLENGE DAY 21

HAPPY EARTH DAY 2018!

Today’s challenge is to slow down…

…is there a way you can create more time to allow to make your lunch? 

Make your own bread, jam or yogurt?

How about just taking some time for self care?

Life today is busy and stressed for most people.  I don’t think we are on this planet to live busy and stressed.

Mindfulness about ourselves, our community and our planet means taking the time

to “look around once and a while or you might miss it ” (in the words of Ferris Bueller)

Ferris Bueller Quote

So, today, can you take some time and go for a walk? 

Observe birds chirping, the color of the sky, the color of the grass. 

Have you seen bees yet this season?  They are critical pollinators for our food sources. 

Can you sit and take 10 minutes to focus just on your breath?

Can you lovingly make a meal for yourself and your family?

Can you make time to bake a loaf of bread with care?

That is all.

Just slow down today.

And, enjoy.

Thank you to all of you who participated, took a look and asked questions or made suggestions.  This has been a fantastic journey!

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CHALLENGE DAY 12

Coffee Klatch – Bring Your Own Mug and Linger

kaf·fee·klatsch
ˈkafāˌklaCH/
noun
noun: kaffeeklatsch; plural noun: kaffeeklatsches
1.  an informal social gathering at which coffee is served.
Today’s challenge is to have coffee (or tea) with someone at home or at a cafe and make a mindful connection with them.  OR, have a coffee date with yourself.  Can you make a new friend?
Whichever you choose, be sure to bring your own mug or ask for a “for here” mug so there isn’t any waste.
Most of my meetings these days happen over cups of a hot drink – coffee or tea.  Because we are involved in the same activity, it creates a space for connection and communication.
In the spirit of Mindfulness, you can be Mindful in the way you enjoy your cuppa.  Sit with your cup of warm beverage.  Observe the steam rising from it.  Observe the color.  Make these observations as though you are an alien or a child and have never seen coffee or tea before this moment.  Smell the aroma.  What do you notice?  Feel the warmth of the mug with your hands.  Do you like milk or sugar, honey or lemon?  Each of these changes the original beverage.  I like my coffee with almond milk and agave nectar and for the color to be a beautiful caramel tan color.
Can we settle in to these moments and let them be little gifts to ourselves?
We are nearly halfway through this challenge and today is about taking some time for ourselves.
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CHALLENGE DAY 11

Just Bike It!

Today’s challenge is to take your bicycle to go somewhere:  to work, school, a meeting, class, the store, coffee or a meal.

That’s it.

Just see if you can break the car habit.

It doesn’t matter how far you take it.

Oh, and please wear your helmet*.

Don’t have a bicycle?  There are many options around that allow for you to rent a bicycle.

Here are some:

Lime Bike

B-Cycle

Ford GoBike (in the Bay area)

Zagster

BikeShare

If you have a bicycle and it needs to be tuned up, maybe take time today to make an appointment to get it tuned up or tune it up yourself.

If this challenge doesn’t work for you today, please do one of the Optional Challenges today.

 

*Safety First!  Please wear a proper bicycle helmet and use a bell or indicate your presence to pedestrians and other cyclists on the road by saying “on your left”.  Bells, and lights are important, too.

#JustSayNoToHeadInjuries

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CHALLENGE DAY 10

Tare It Up!

Packaging…one of the most tedious items to eliminate from our daily lives.  But there’s hope as, more and more, you can bring in your own containers to select stores and get what you’re paying for without having to dispose of/recycle the packaging.  Ironically, my parents generation did this anyway with milk and soda bottles.  They were taught to throw things away.  Now, we can teach ourselves, and the younger generation, to reuse…and save money in the process.

When you buy in bulk, you can not only eliminate packaging, but help your food shopping budget dramatically.  Think 1/3 of the cost, for the same product.

Today’s challenge is to try TARE* shopping.

  1. Find a clean, dry, wide-mouthed container in your home.  (I like to use Mason jars, but Tupperware or other upcycled containers work well too).
  2. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the empty container (and lid).  Write that weight (pounds and ounces or grams) on the container on a piece of tape with permanent marker.  (If you don’t have a kitchen scale, the store can weigh the empty container for you).
  3. Go to a store that sells in bulk (Natural Grocers, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, (some) King Soopers (Kroger family), etc….
  4. While at the store, fill your container with the bulk product you are purchasing.
  5. Write down the PLU code – on the piece of tape, a piece of paper (or put it in your phone).
  6. Check out.  Sometimes the cashier doesn’t know how to deal with tare, so here’s where you need to practice some mindful breathing and smile while they (may have to) get a manager to help.

The easiest to try this with is probably coffee as more stores have coffee in bulk.  This may be a very new thing for you to do, so don’t make it harder on yourself than necessary.  Items that frequently come in bulk are seeds, rices, grains, cereals, oats, nuts, etc.  But you can also get nut butters, candy, dried fruit, and much more.

I see this as a process.  People (especially retail stores) are not used to thinking in zero waste terms.  So, you can consider yourself part of the package-free revolution!

If this challenge doesn’t work for you today, do one of the Optional Activities and try it another time when it works with your schedule.

See this side blog about Zero Market for inspiration

*Tare weight /ˈtɛər/, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. By subtracting it from the gross weight (laden weight), the weight of the goods carried (the net weight) may be determined. (Wikipedia)

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