Archive for October 2012 | Monthly archive page

posted by | on , | Comments Off on October EcoHour: Bicky Corman talks about making a career

On October 16, women gathered in the basement of Teaism to hear Bicky Corman of the EPA recount her career as an environmental lawyer.  Not being overly interested in environmental law, I was only mildly interested in what she had to say.

Two minutes into her account of her career, I was fascinated and inspired.

Bicky didn’t have a huge life plan that she’s followed to the letter to get where she is today.  She didn’t go to a top tier law school and she didn’t jump straight into high positions.  She worked her way up by being good at what she did (and making friends along the way).  Bicky commented that one of the most important things in building a career is not just to network, but to make friends who will think of you later.  As someone who really hates networking, this was a wonderful way of framing it – and makes networking seem less scary!

Throughout her career, Bicky has worked in both legislation and policy.  There is a fine line between legislation and policy, but that line is not made in cement – it’s flexible.  You might find yourself working on both legislating a regulation and working on policy at any given time; you don’t have to decide between the two right now.  In the same vien, you don’t have to choose what your specialization is right now.  You can pick up an area of expertise along the way, following what interests you and what gets thrown your way.

The point that Bicky made that I really loved, was when she talked about the difference between working on a federal level and a local level.  Bicky has worked for the EPA and for the District Department of Environment.  Bicky remarked that at the federal level you know you’re having an impact, but at the state level it’s more visible.  And because of that great feeling, since going to work for the EPA again, Bicky has stayed involved with her local community, tutoring local kids (and inspring them to be environmentalists!).

Bicky was a wonderful speaker.  She made thinking about planning a career seem less daunting, and really drove home the idea of getting involved in local issues in my community.  I’ve been looking at my job search differently since hearing her speak, and am much less worried about finding that ‘perfect’ job right away.  Each challenge will shape me and push me a direction I might not have planned on.

Thanks to Bicky Corman for her wonderfully inspring talk!

posted by | on , , | Comments Off on A Day with Farm to Freezer

The following post is written by Ecowomen Cheryl Kollin of Full Plate Ventures and Katie Thatcher, Intern. 

Every Saturday Farm to Freezer’s volunteers meet at the Spiral Path Farm stand at the Bethesda’s Fresh Farm Market and with help from the residents of Montgomery County’s Pre-Release Center, collect, weigh, record, and distribute generously-donated produce. The unsold produce is collected, weighed, and redistributed to three locations: salad greens and other vegetables used fresh goes to Bethesda Cares’ cook, other produce is loaded into our cars for prep, and any remaining food we don’t have capacity to prepare goes to MANNA Food Center for needy families.

Within the hour we arrive at our prep kitchen in one of three donated church kitchens where we meet and greet ten volunteers and hit the ground running! After a quick orientation, we wash up, don aprons, name buttons, and gloves and start chopping. With the incredible culinary efforts of our volunteers, the entire stovetop is soon filled with pots of simmering tomato sauce and apple sauce, pots of brightly blanched sweet peppers and zucchini, while eggplant roasts in the oven. The mixed aromas waft throughout the church and attract curious visitors wanting to know what’s cookin’.

Farm to Freezer Fills a Need

Bethesda Cares serves 20,000 meals per year to the homeless population in the community through a dedicated and caring network of church and community organizations, businesses, Foundations, and government agencies. Bethesda Cares is the official ‘gleaner’ of the Bethesda Fresh Farm Market. Farmers, including Spiral Path Farm, donate fresh produce not sold at the Saturday market, donating an average of 300 lbs. of local produce per week—including bushels of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. When crops are at peak harvest, Bethesda Cares receives more fresh food than it can use before the food spoils.

To address this problem of spoiled food, Bethesda Cares and Full Plate Ventures launched Farm to Freezer this summer with support from a diverse network of volunteers, Churches’ donated kitchen space, and businesses. Bethesda Cares’ meals manager who cooks a hot lunch for 40-70 each day uses the frozen food in preparing healthier meals for its clients.

Back to the Kitchen

After everything is chopped and sauce is cooling we take a well-deserved break, munching on Cheryl’s homemade hummus, sliced veggies, and donated Honest Tea and Atwater bakery bread while discussing food issues –hunger and homelessness, local farms, food banks, wasted food, and community service.

We all head back to the kitchen to package our product with a vacuum sealer and in Ziploc bags. After all is sealed, weighed, recorded, and cleaned up, we thank our wonderful volunteers, and transport our food to Bethesda Cares’ freezer for the cook’s future use in casseroles, stews, and soups. The food peelings are composted, equipment stored, and aprons washed for the following week. Prep days involve hours spent meeting new friends, sharing a love of cooking and bonding over a common goal: to serve through the preparation of healthy meals for hungry members of our community.

Our First Season

Farm to Freezer is proud of its accomplishments this first season! In its first five months, Farm to Freezer has:

  • Engaged more than 150 volunteers from diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Redistributed over 5,000 pounds of organic vegetables generously donated from Spiral Path Farm
  • Prepared more than 1,500 pounds of food for the freezer to serve 2,500 homeless people through Bethesda Cares’ meals program throughout the year.

Farm to Freezer Benefits the Whole Community

1). Provides healthier unadulterated food for Bethesda Cares’ client meals that can be used through the winter when fresh local vegetables are unavailable.
2). Supports farmers through tax-deductible donations
3). Reduces the amount of waste from Farmer’s Markets’ surplus
4). Provides community-wide volunteer opportunities
5) Raises local awareness about homelessness, nutrition, and locally-grown food

Join us for Food Day—October 24th to celebrate our first season’s accomplishments. Free, with complimentary appetizers by My Thyme Catering.  Sign up on Bethesda Cares Meet Up: http://www.meetup.com/Bethesda-Cares-Community-Outreach-Program-for-the-Homeless/ click on Oct. 24th event.

For more information, visit: www.farmtofreezer.wordpress.com/ Follow us on Facebook www.facebook/farm2freezer for stories about who’s engaged and how we’re helping our community.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on The Bigger Picture is the Key to Moving Forward

Kendra Pierre-Louis spoke to the DC Ecowomen Book Club in September about her new book Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet.  We asked her to write a little bit about her experience talking with our ecowomen.  Below are her thoughts.

Kendra, left, talks to the group of Ecowomen at Teaism

There is never a shortage of things in life to complain about – the painful elegance that are high heels, arsenic in our rice, and you know, global climate change. Fortunately, getting to speak to a room full of smart, engaged women who have just read your book is not one of them. I can sincerely say, I thoroughly enjoyed the two hours that I spent discussing my book Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet with the wonderful women of the DC EcoWomen book club.

I wrote Green Washed in response to our misplaced focus on getting individuals to buy green products. Yes, I’d prefer it if you bought a shampoo that didn’t contain neurotoxins or hormone disrupters that are harmful to you and to sea life. But how effective is this at “saving” the environment? And, perhaps more importantly, why are these awful products even a choice? Why are they on our shelves? Why do we have to expend tremendous personal effort avoiding these products?

Writing is a generally solitary pursuit, a path wrought between you and the demons in your head, but surrounded by these women I felt for the first time in a really long time as though I wasn’t alone in being tired of the guilt that surrounds even the simplest purchase these days. I think it was Naomi Wolf in the Beauty Myth who pointed out that women spend so much time and energy on attaining unattainable beauty standards that this is time we are not spending on being scientists, teachers, writers, nurses, painters or pushing for true equality.

I think the same can be said for buying green.

Buying green doesn’t free us from the cultural drumbeat keeping us fixated on shopping; in fact, in many ways it keeps us tied to the same consumer systems that cause so much environmental destruction. Case in point: a curious pattern emerged during my talk despite the fact that every single person in the room clearly understood and felt connected to Green Washed’s core message on the limits of green consumption to bring about sustainable change. Almost compulsively, the topic of how to structure our purchases, how to master the art of buying green, continually came up. It’s a tough message to fully internalize as generations of women raised on the importance of consumption, of voting with our dollars. Unfortunately, it’s also a world view that can shift our eyes from the prize – true social and environmental sustainability.

So here is my confession: I haven’t mastered buying green.

What I have done is my eco-version of the serenity prayer. I have changed the environmental habits (avoiding driving, choosing less toxic cleaning products, consuming less overall) I can easily change, accepted the things I cannot as an individual change, and used the energy I once devoted to fretting over these tiny choices to help force change on a larger scale.

Kendra, center, sits in on the discussion

As great as it can feel to do the “green” thing, on the face many of these choices are little more than symbolic actions dwarfed by the actions of our economic and governance systems. Strapping a solar panel on one’s roof is not a substitute for a national, comprehensive, renewable energy policy. Composting in your basement is no substitute for a decent waste management system, nor is toting a water bottle an effective water use reduction system. It’s not that I don’t want you doing these things – I mean I’m a certified master composter – go ahead and do these things, but please, please, please take the energy you’re currently expending worrying about which brand of deodorant to buy to instead lobby Congress against mountaintop coal removal, or comprehensive chemical reform, or requiring more stringent metrics around GMOs, or hell educating your neighbors on the awesomeness of composting. These are the issues that when resolved on a bigger scale will free you from having to worry on a micro level about whether or not the shower curtain you pick up is poisoning the Mississippi and maybe also giving you a brain tumor.

We need everyone who is caring and committing working together, not worrying alone.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Eco-Friendly Office Attire: A Style Guide

On Tuesday, I talked a little bit about what you should or shouldn’t wear to work.  Now Rachel Mlinarchik takes it one step further and talks about how to wear eco-friendly fashion to work. Rachel is the voice behind Fair Vanity, a style blog that empowers its readers to live a fabulous, fun, stylish life that is also fair and kind. Each item featured on Fair Vanity was designed or supplied by someone who has made a conscious effort to be kind to the earth or the people on this earth…or both! Fair Vanity is charting a new way for compassionate women who love fashion but don’t want to compromise their values or their style when they shop. Rachel will be a semi-regular blogger here, so stay tuned for her great eco-friendly style tips!

We all want to be more eco-conscious in our choices when shopping for office attire, but let’s face it– in a sea of “made in China” tags, it’s tough to find high-quality, stylish pieces that are kind to the earth and the people on the earth. Never fear, my fair friends! Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean you need to waltz into the office wearing a hemp scarf and an organic jersey skirt made of the same material as your yoga pants.

When I begin the hunt for a new addition to my wardrobe, I keep an eye out for what I call the Fair Elements of Style. Today, for example, I’ve put together a few looks comprised of items that reflect one or more of the following qualities:

Fair Trade
Organic
Made in the USA
Recycling/Upcycling
Second-Hand
Vegan
Vintage

Look #1: A Day at the Office
You can’t go wrong when you combine navy, cream and camel. They are similar to grey and black in terms of versatility, but a little less severe. Timeless and elegant, these colors will never go out of style, so separates in these colors make sensible, long-term investment pieces.

  1. Bangles are fair trade and made from recycled Ankole cow horn and recycled brass wire from Connected Fair Trade.
  2. Pencil skirt is made in the USA by Three Dots.
  3. Necklace is vintage Monet from Etsy.
  4. Shirt is 100% silk and made in the USA by Carrie Parry. For each garment purchased, a tree is purchase through Trees for the Future. Read more about Carrie Parry’s extensive sustainability policies here.
  5. Pumps are 100% vegan by Stella McCartney (and deeply discounted right now).

 

Look#2: After-hours Event
These jewel-toned shift dresses are classic staples that can easily take you from lunch meetings to an evening event. Any piece of clothing that can do double-duty in this way is a style win and an eco win in my book. Create a conservative, casual style by adding flats and a cardigan or blazer to these classic shifts, or dress them up for evening by adding statement jewelry and black patent spike heels.

  1. Gold necklace is vintage Monet from Etsy.
  2. Black necklace is vintage Napier from Etsy.
  3. Dresses are made in the USA by Nanette Lepore. Yellow dress w/ tie detail (on sale!) available here; Jade and violet dresses w/ bracelet sleeves available here.
  4. Ring is hand-crafted from recycled 14k gold and available on Etsy
  5. Earrings are vintage onyx and rose gold (circa 1870-1880) from Etsy.
  6. Shoes are vegan by Stella McCartney from Ebay

 

As you can see from the looks above, Etsy and Ebay are go-to resources for me, especially when it comes to finding vintage and used shoes and jewelry. However, I’ve had many readers tell me that they find these sites much too overwhelming in terms of choices.

The trick to finding what you want and need on huge web sites like these is to know exactly what you’re looking for. For example, searching for “Stella McCartney black patent heels size 7″ on Ebay  is going to get you much better results than”black heels.” And on Etsy, you can filter your results to include only vintage items, making it easier to guarantee you are reusing and recycling through your purchases.

My last piece of advice is not limited to shopping for work attire, but can applied across the board to any clothing purchases you make in the future: no matter how good of a deal it is, or how on-trend it is, if you don’t love it–and I mean absolutely LOVE it–don’t buy it. I know we hear this all the time, but it bears repeating. Every piece you purchase should fit you well and make you feel confident when wearing it. If these criteria have not been met, you might wear it once, but your hard-earned money will be wasted, and the item will end up in the back of your closet or worse yet, adding to the tons of clothing that we throw away each year.

Today I’ve shared just a few of the many options out there for all of you stylish Eco Women who are looking to expand your wardrobes fairly and kindly. For more fair fashion inspiration, I encourage you to stop in and visit with me at www.myfairvanity.com every once in a while.

xo

Rachel

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If you’re like me, the phrase ‘business casual’ throws you into a panic attack.  Depending on the workplace, that phrase can mean anything from jeans and a nice blouse to dress pants and a button up.  So if you’re looking to ‘dress to impress’, just what does that mean?

Lots of people weigh in on what women should wear to work.  Some adhere to the philosophy that women in the workplace should look masculine and no-nonsense – pantsuits are required.  Others argue that style has a place in the workplace, making pencil skirts and blouses the norm.  Still others eschew the idea of dressing in anything other than what makes you feel comfortable and confident.

With all the ideas of what women should wear, it can get complicated.  So here’s a list of general guidelines to follow.

1. Dress for the audience.  Remember that not all workplaces are the same, nor are all meetings the same.  Think about wh you’re meeting with before you get dressed that day.  Do you have a meeting with an important client? Maybe a suit is best.  Or is your day going to be sitting at your desk reading emails? Something more causal may be ok.

2. Pay attention to fit and style. While it’s easy to wear the same thing you were wearing ten years ago, maybe it’s time for a change.  Changing up what you wear, or who you wear, can boost confidence.  Wearing clothes that actually fit can too! It’s not easy to get things tailored on a budget, but it’s easy to reject things that don’t fit as not a good use of your spare pennies.  So make each item count and get them to fit right.

3. Don’t be afraid to copy co-workers.  It’s absolutely ok to watch what your co-workers wear and copy their style.  Not exactly of course (stick to your own unique style!), but it’s ok to copy the tone and timing of their clothes.  If all your co-workers tend to wear suits for the Monday meeting, you probably should too.

For more great tips, check out this and this.

What’s your best dressed secret?