Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breath of fresh air

Earth Plush by necessarynonsense 

Happy Earth Day , everyone !! Here we are , Earth day is officially 40 years old. So, on this important day, I thought I could broach on a subject that is very basic in our daily lives. I need it, you do and so does everyone around us. If it weren't for this natural 'resource' - well, we'd all cease to exist  - AIR.

What has happened with industrialization and our quest to achieve the unattainable ? Over the years, it so very common to hear people developing respiratory ailments . With all the advancements we have made , we have also contributed to carbon emissions , smoke and other factors leading to the degradation of air quality.

I am not an expert on sustainable living nor do I claim to be. But, I know someone who is :-) My blog needed a fresh breath of air ( pun , intended !) .For Earth Day, I wanted to post something meaningful and informative What better way to do that than to have the most eco-friendly person -  that I know personally -  share some of her sustainable thoughts with us. My good friend- Mary Ostafi. Before I introduce Mary, I would like to thank her for agreeing to do this for me :-)

Mary and I go long way back. We met at Flad and Associates in Madison, Wisconsin . We worked together on the same project , we became friends. We share a lot in name a few ... we are both vegetarians, love our professions, we love dancing  !

Mary graduated from Northern Illinois University with her undergraduate degree in Interior Designer . After adding a couple of years to her work experience, she worked hard and passed the A.R.E exams and became an architect. Clearly, needing to fill a void in her life , she decided to pursue Master's in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola . Now she works for one of the largest firms in the world as a Sustainable  Design Strategist. 

Without further adieu... Mary Ostafi ...

What and when  is your earliest memory of wanting to lead a sustainable life ?     What steps have you taken to lead a sustainable living

It is difficult to recall the exact moment in my life when I started becoming a more conscious human being. I've always had a deep appreciation for nature but I have never considered myself an environmentalist, even to this day. Sure, there are reasons why others would label me as so, but I simply live my life in a way that is most meaningful and rewarding to me, which entails passion and respect for the natural world in which I am a part of.

I stopped eating meat as early as grade school and officially became a vegetarian in high school. In college when I was studying interior architecture I was fortunate to have a professor who helped mentor me in green design. Soon after graduating I became a LEED AP (over 8 years ago now - before most people even knew what LEED was). And after 8 years of struggling to push sustainability to the next level at my work place I decided to move on and pursue a degree in sustainability...which led me to the position in which I am today - Sustainable Specialist for one the of the largest design and planning firms in the world.

What is the biggest problem that we as a human race have inflicted upon our planet and is there a way to reverse the problem ?

It's very simple, there is an increasing demand in our society for natural resources and ecosystem services...but the ability of the planet earth to supply these natural resources and ecosystem services is declining. We are consuming natural resources as if they are in infinite supply, when in fact once they are gone, they are gone forever.

To reverse this problem we simply need to look to nature. The earth has been in existence for 4.6 billion years and life began to exist soon after. Life has found ways to optimize existence and adopt to all climates and conditions around the globe. Humans can look to life's prinicples for inspiration and design guidance for innovation. We currently live in a take-make-waste society, we need to transition to closed loop processes evident in the natural world where one organisms waste is another organisms food. It is not until humans are in balance with the natural world that we will sustain human existence on earth. 

 Our basic need to lead our lives is AIR . What are your thoughts on pollution and other factors leading to the degradation of the quality of air we breathe. What are the measures we, as individuals,  can take to improve the air quality around us ? 

SELL YOUR CAR! Start taking public transportation, walk, ride your bike, carpool, and drastically reduce your carbon footprint. "Live where you work and work where you live". As a North American having traveled to 4 continents I have witnessed the drastic lifestyle differences around the world. Americans like space and freedom, which is why so many of us (myself not included) live in oversized homes in the suburbs where we are completely dependent on cars for mobility. Urban dwellers drive less, therefore contributing less to air pollution.

BUY LOCAL and grow your own food! Most of the food and products we purchase are shipped from halfway across the world, not only consuming a tremendous amount of energy but polluting our air along the way. Become a more conscious consumer, research before you buy, support companies that are stewards for the environment and help your local economy prosper.

REDUCE YOUR ENERGY DEPENDENCE from fossil fuel resources and switch to renewables. If you consider the entire life cycle of coal and natural gas (standard energy sources in N America), from mining to transport to manufacture to use, it becomes glaringly obvious that a tremendous amount of carbon emissions are released along the way, hence polluting our air to say the least. And do not get me started on the nuclear energy debate (another topic another time)!

REPLACE THE GRASS LAWN with native plant species that will help filter the air around you. Grass is hugely energy intensive requiring fossil fueled lawn mowers whereas natives require less water and maintence to grow in your region.

I hope this has been an enjoyable yet informative read for you. It certainly makes you think , doesn't it ? Well, thats the point of an informative read ...  it should be- well -  thought provoking.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

le papier studio giveaway !!

One of my favorite shops on Etsy is having a giveaway !!  Le Papierstudio's  Vana Chupp  creates beautiful artwork and stationery with silhouettes . The timeless elegance and crispness of the work caught my eye as I perused through her shop.

Who doesn't love silhouettes  ? I know I do ...and if you do too ..head on over to Le Papier Studio's blog and dive right in to take part in the giveaway. She's got some great stuff lined up for the winners :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One step at a time

                                                  T-shirt by Muncheys

April is the month that we as citizens of this planet , stop and think about what we are doing - to our planet. We should be thinking about it everyday of every month . So, this month, in our household, we are taking a few small steps to ensure we do our part .

I don't know about you, but we are guilty of going overdrive when we go grocery shopping. We usually end up buying more fresh produce than we actually consume in a week  . That results in some of the produce not being consumed and ultimately not good enough to eat - and eventually ends up in the garbage. Our conscious effort , recently, was to buy less than what we needed . So, somewhere in the middle of the week, I go again to the grocery to pick up more fresh produce for the rest of the week. We figured this way , we will buy only what we need and eat all that we buy. Also, we minimize waste along the way..its working better this way. It does involve driving to the grocery store .So, we try to a combine couple of errands , thereby utilizing fuel for more than one task.

I have taken up an eco- challenge for myself and it is proving to be really difficult to keep up to ! (Check out scoutie girl's  blog post on April Stash Bust .) No art supplies this month ! I need a printer cartridge, but I am trying to hold off until the end of the month .My son and I always use recycled paper for coloring and other fun activities. Paper airplanes and paper boats rule ! He is learning to recycle paper and not dump it in the garbage bin.

What are you doing to help save our planet ? Share your thoughts and ideas, lets learn from each other !
After all , everyday is a learning process for all of us . We try to instil values in our children . So , when we teach our children the difference between garbage and recyclable material, we are ensuring we are preparing the future citizens of our planet for tomorrow. There is a Kenyan proverb ... Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. 

Kid's one piece by circles and squares

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Paper, plastic OR cloth ?

Over the weekend, we attended a carnivale in our neighborhood . They had the usual slides ,rides,  food and the various booths for local businesses. As usual, I went snooping around checking out the handmade products . There were people selling jewellery , cards , bags - all handmade. I am a bag hounder ! I love bags , especially cloth and jute bags. I got to talking to one of the sellers and she walked me through her collection. One of the bags, she said she made it the night before . Now I can't stitch/sew to save my life, so I am in complete awe of people who stitch/sew stuff up in one night. I wish I had taken pictures of her works  . One of her bags was made out of re cycled curtains ! How eco - cool is that ?!

When we go to the supermarket, we have choices - paper, plastic-  or cloth.  Please spare a thought for the environment and choose paper or better yet cloth bags. It's important to make that choice. I know in this day and age, when plastic products make our lives so much easier, they are here to stay -  not necessarily in a good way. Somedays, we do need plastic bags, for the garbage and other needs. Ever taken a look at the bag which stores all your plastic bags ? Maybe there's too many of them there, maybe its time to recycle the bags - at your local grocery store. Many grocery stores give us that option - so please take it up .

On a more fashionable note, I'd like you check out some cool bags ...Who says being eco friendly compromises on style  ?

Our Gardens Bag made with vintage linen by ThongbaiTatong   



                                                    Forsythia Tote Bag by cicadastudio


 Simply Tote Bag by bayanhippo


                                            The Jenni Tote by Julip Bags


Its not just being friendly to the environment, its fashion, darling !!