Archive for June 2013 | Monthly archive page

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Winners of the 2012 Contest:

Women and the Environment: ‘Jill on the Turner River’ by Sarah Hackney

Photos of women exploring the natural (and urban) environment.  These can include volunteer events, nature hikes, apple picking, farmer’s markets, etc.

JillontheTurnerRiver_SarahHackney

Natural Landscapes: ‘Yellowstone’ by Kelly Richmond

Your most striking images of the interesting places you’ve traveled!
Yellowstone_Kelly Richmond

Conservation Photography: ‘Capetown, South Africa’ by Aneri Patel

Images capturing environmental degradation or injustices that could motivate eco-friendly behavior.

Visualizing DC: ‘Tulip Petal’ by Yumi Rydlun

This city is our home – Images that showcase all of the fun and interesting things that we do in this iconic area.

Tulip Petal by Yumi Rydlun

Thanks again to everyone who participated last year! Visit out Flickr Group to view more entries and start snapping photos for next year’s contest!


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Getting Closer to the Heart of Life – An EcoWomen Success Story

No matter how far down the path, you can always change course. You can always aim to get closer to the heart of your life.

Abigail Daken currently works for the Energy Star program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but it took a long time, and many transitions, to get to where she is today.

The Energy Star program is a vehicle for people who care about the planet to get the information they need about ethical consumption, to live according to their values. It’s extremely difficult to live lightly and efficiently on this planet, especially in our country – but programs such as Energy Star are a key part to reaching a sustainable society, according to Abi.

Abi loves her job because her work is in line with her values – living lightly, and forming a connection with other people and with the world around her.

You’d probably take it as a given that someone working for the EPA would hold environmental sustainability as a core value. But it wasn’t always this way.

Since she was young, Abi has loved being outside, being in nature. But that love didn’t translate right away into a career path. She graduated with a degree in Physics, and took on a job designing electronics, which she stayed with for ten years. As the years went on, she became disenchanted by the attitude of casual waste in her workplace – driven primarily by (distorted) costs.

Things started changing when she joined the Washington Ethical Society – a humanistic religious congregation – which helped clarify her morals and encouraged her to find a career more in line with her values.

So she asked herself: “What would 15-year-old me think of myself now?” And realized she needed something different.

Through the Ethical Society, she met her husband, and eventually found a new community. Together, the two of them moved into a co-housing community in Silver Spring called Eastern Village- another major turning point.

The co-housing community was a dream. Living with like-minded people, in a LEED certified building, no less, was something she dreamed about when she was 15 (well, perhaps not the LEED-certified portion).

A sunlight winter day in the Eastern Village Cohousing Community

What’s more, the co-housing community eventually led her to her job at EPA. But not without another transition first!

Ready to change her career path, but discouraged by the prospects of an entry-level position in the sustainability field, Abi enrolled in graduate school. At the University of Maryland, she enrolled for the Masters in Engineering and Public Policy. Through that program, and through her connections at the co-housing community, she started working with the EPA.

Throughout this experience, Abi became a mother. There were a couple of breaks along the way when she had her first and second child. She says that becoming a mother might have impacted the timing of her career – but it has added many gifts as well. Now, her whole life is in line with what she cares about: she lives in a closely knit community with a husband and two kids, and works for a job she believes in.

But the transition never ends. In fact, she predicts her life changing again in the near future, after an interest sparked in economics – particularly, ecological economics, and something called the “steady state economy.” She explains, “I’m getting closer and closer to the heart of my life.”

Abigail left me with a few words of advice: Volunteer for what you believe in. Invest time in the things you love doing. And, as is often heard in DC: network! The groups she joined, similar to DC EcoWomen, provided her with the opportunity to meet people in different fields but similar morals.

I hope DC EcoWomen provides its members with the same clarity and opportunities that Abigail Daken received throughout her transitions. No matter what outlet you choose, always look to get closer to the heart of life.

Abigail and her family on 'Bike to Work Day'

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Marin Rose presented at the DC EcoWomen Conference in the “Organize Your Life” workshop. The following is excerpted from her corresponding post on the Functionable Fashionable blog.

Wikimedia Commons

There are a lot about the environmental benefits of being organized. You might think that saving things rather than discarding them is better for the environment – this is sometimes the case. The truth is, though, that the basic principles of organized living support the tenets of being green. And there are, of course, eco-friendly ways to make your home more functional and more fashionable. It’s all about finding the right places for your existing belongings and making plans to reduce future consumption.

The first step in drawing order from chaos is the all-important “purge.” Disposing of large quantities of stuff sounds wasteful but, done thoughtfully, it is actually the very definition of efficiency. Many organizers advise you to sort your belongings into these categories:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Trash

Items that you keep will continue to serve a purpose for you and your family. Donated items will benefit others in your community. Sold items also help others, with the added benefit of a profit for you. Only trashed items are environmentally harmful. Ensure that your trashed items are few. In addition to the abovementioned four categories, also create piles to:

  • Recycle
  • Shred

Anything in working order that you are unable or unwilling (due to time or logistical constraints) to sell is eligible for donation. Goodwill, for instance, takes all sorts of clothing, books, music and household items. You might also consider offering things to libraries, schools or shelters.

It’s critical that you securely dispose of sensitive documents – anything displaying your social security number, or financial or medical information – by shredding it. Just remember that the shredded materials are recyclable.

There’s a common misconception that letting go of clutter means throwing away things of value. In fact, when items are disposed of conscientiously, they are actually set free to take on increased value. Unused, unloved items are redirected to new homes, where they will actively serve a purpose or be converted into something else that does so. Not only does this benefit recipients, it also eliminates the need to dedicate resources to the production of a brand new item. In this way, second-hand markets reduce overall resource consumption.

But these at-large efficiencies, though compelling, are not the only benefits of de-cluttering. They are also felt on an individual level. How many times have you purchased something only to discover you already had one – or more – at home? How many perishable items have you had to throw away unopened? When we finally take time to empty out our closets, pantries, attics and garages, we get a full picture of what we already possess. By taking stock of what we have and organizing it in a logical, accessible manner, we cease to over-buy. We save money by eliminating unnecessary purchases, and we save time searching or shopping for the things we need. We re-allocate existing products, thereby saving natural resources – all while providing for our local and global communities.

For young children who are resistant to the idea of cleaning out their bedrooms, framing the subject in an Earth-friendly vein may just help your cause. Kids now are taught in school to be environmentally conscious and often come home with all sorts of dictates for how the household must be more greenly managed. Organizing their own belongings is one way they can take personal action. Talking with your family about mindful consumption is an opportunity to impart valuable life lessons – not only about the environment but about personal organization skills and responsible financial management.

Your tech-savvy children are well equipped to contribute in an even greater way to household efficiency. Today technology presents some of the best opportunities for saving natural resources, as well as your time, space and money. Next month we’ll explore some of the creative ways we can use electronics to get organized and go green.

Wikimedia Commons

Questions for Marin? Send inquiries to functionalfashionable@gmail.com.

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Good As New – Tips on Revamping and Fixing Up Your Old Furnishings

Odds are that you’ve got a lot of old furniture around the house.  You might just want to get rid of it, if for nothing else, just to save the space. While reducing clutter in your home is never a bad idea, and keeping your older furniture in mint conditioncan be difficult, don’t be too quick to throw away those unique pieces that aren’t being used. There are plenty of ways that you can refinish or “revamp” your furniture and put it to good use, especially if you have something older that just needs a new style or look. There is a bit of a process involved, and how you proceed will depend on several things. The first decision you have to make is what pieces of furniture you want to put the work into.

What to Keep? 

In order to decide what to keep, you need to assess your home and figure out what you have space for and where you want to add another piece of furniture. Here’s the process:

If furniture is stored

Do a walkthrough of each room and decide where you have the space for extra furniture. Choose a piece of furniture from storage that would fit in those places or be useful in the room with the extra space.

If furniture is in use

Simply identify the pieces that you feel don’t quite fit in terms of style, then set them aside as your project pieces. Once you’ve chosen the furniture you want to work on, there are several different things you can do to create the 2.0, new and improved versions. A lot of what you do will depend on what kind of furniture you’re dealing with, but more often than not, you’ll be working with wood of some kind. Here are some of the basic things you can do that will apply to most pieces of old wooden furniture and can be implemented in a variety of different ways:

Sanding

Sanding is something you’ll have to get used to if you want to make a habit out of sprucing up old furniture is using a sander. An electric sander would be highly recommended, considering the amount of time it takes to properly sand something down by hand. You can get your hands on a mid-grade sander for around the $50 or $60 mark, which is a worthwhile investment if you plan on using it a lot. Sanding down a piece of furniture makes painting it much easier and will ensure that the paint goes on smoothly and properly. Painting over furniture with a finish or a glossy coat of paint isn’t going to look as nice as it would if you have a blank canvas to work with. Sanding basically allows you to start fresh with an old piece of furniture.

Spray Paint

Once you’ve got your furniture sanded, spray paint is one of your best tools available when it comes to giving it second life. The nice thing about spray paint is that it’s easy to use and comes in all kinds of different finishes, aside from just different colors. Whatever you plan to do with an old piece of furniture, the odds are pretty good that spray paint can help you get there.

Ignore the Tradition of the Piece

A lot of what makes an old piece of furniture interesting is that it can serve a different purpose somewhere else. For example, one might take an old thin crate and use it to hold a DVD collection, or perhaps an old chair could be spray painted and used to house a flower pot. That’s a big part of the trend of re-using older furniture, which is being powered in large part by the influence of Pinterest contributions. It’s all about being creative and working with what you have, so don’t be afraid to do some sanding, some painting and then try and place the piece in a spot where it might not be conventionally used.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles who covers everything from health, marketing, travel and design. She is always looking for ways to incorporate eco-friendly practices into her everyday life such as using gift bags and other household items for crafts with her three kids.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Kicking Off the DC EcoWomen Annual Photo Contest!

Say Hello to Summer!

Summer in the city is a wonderful thing. It means outdoor restaurants, canoes, swimsuits, lots of sunlight… and photos upon photos of all the fun you’re having!

We love hearing your voices on our blog. Now we want to see our city through your eyes, too! How do you see the world, and the EcoWomen community? Do you have beautiful images you’d like to share? We’re kicking off our 2nd Annual Photo Contest and we’re hoping to hear from YOU!

Submit your photos for a chance for your work to be recognized within our community – and to win some fabulous prizes!

There are three themes for your submissions:

Women in the Eco-Workplace: We want to see your photos of women eco-professionals, changing the world at work in whatever “workplace” means to you: from your office, to the Hill, to your stand at the farmer’s market or classroom.

DC’s Natural Urbanity: We’re lucky that our city is so full and so close to nature! Showcase your favorite city/nature hotspots ! Tell us in the description how they help you refresh your urban self.

Sustainable Living: Gardening in your backyard? Using a solar charger for your iphone? Vermicomposting? Show us how you and your friends are keeping your practices real and green.

Prizes will be awarded for each winners of the three Themes, and one for an overall Grand Prize.

Check out the official Photo Contest page – and be sure to read the Rules and Guidelines. And check out our Flickr Group, with all of last year’s top photo contenders.

Be sure to act fast! The contest is only open between June 8th and July 9th, 11:59pm EST. So don’t forget to bring your camera with you for inspiration on your next outing!

A submission from last year's photo contest

posted by | on , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rachel Carson: Ultimate EcoWoman

By DC EcoWomen Board Member Stephanie Madden

On May 29, 2013, 13 DC EcoWomen gathered to celebrate the birthday of ultimate EcoWoman Rachel Carson, who was born in Springdale, Pennsylvania on May 27, 1907. With plates of birthday cake in hand, our May book club discussion focused on Rachel Carson’s most famous work, Silent Spring.

Many people trace the start of the American environmental movement to June 16, 1962, when the first of three excerpts from Silent Spring was published in the New Yorker magazine. Carson’s central thesis was that uncontrolled and unexamined use of pesticides harmed not only animals and birds, but also humans. Silent Spring forced the banning of DDT and spurred many changes in the laws affecting the environment. Although revered by many in the environmental sector, Silent Spring remains a controversial book more than 50 years after its original publication. Both now and then, people seek to discredit the book and the author as ignorant, hysterical, misleading, and, coming out of the Cold War era, as a communist.

Our book club discussion focused on how eerily contemporary Silent Spring feels, despite being written more than 50 years ago. Many of the issues of the lack of knowledge and lack of regulation surrounding the chemicals in our lives is as relevant today as it was when Carson wrote her impassioned plea for the environment because powerful industries have an interest in keeping it that way. One of the common themes that emerged from the book club discussion was how to overcome the partisan divide that accompanies many environmental issues.

Both a gifted writer and scientist, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring based on extensive scientific research. However, one of the constant challenges faced when communicating scientific information to people is the degree of uncertainty inherent in science. Rarely, if ever, is anything 100% certain or 100% proof positive of something. However, the opposition often uses this inherent uncertainty to create doubt about the scientific credibility or certainty. We see this today with many environmental issues, including climate change. One of our past book club selections, Merchants of Doubt, delves into this issue more fully.

For many of the DC EcoWomen present at book club, knowing that Rachel Carson died of breast cancer shortly after the publication of Silent Spring made the book all the more powerful. To what extent did the toxic chemicals she passionately and persuasively discussed in her writing play into this illness? Additionally, although she writes with the objectivity of a scientist, to what extent did her health issues affect her writing and the urgency she felt in communicating these issues?

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, A Book That Changed the World is a virtual exhibition that presents the global reception and impact of Silent Spring as well as the book’s legacy in popular culture, music, literature, and the arts. Unyielding in her passionate and brave defense of the environment, Rachel Carson is the ultimate EcoWoman. So, who do you think the Rachel Carson of today is? Comment below and keep the conversation going!

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At the First Annual DC EcoWomen Conference, we were addressed by speakers with words of empowerment, words that brought us all closer together. The keynote and closing speakers brought everyone into the same room to share their visions for us as key players in the path to equality.

But what made the conference so special to many people were the smaller, more intimate workshops throughout the day. Each EcoWomen had a personalized agenda to cater to her interests, which varied widely – from yoga in the workplace to green financial investing.

In creating a network of empowerment and equality for women, someone has to make the initial offer to help. So the attendees of the EcoWomen conference wanted to share what they learned in the workshops with all who couldn’t attend the conference. Read on to learn the best lessons and impressions of the day from those who want you to learn how to build your sustainable career.

Public Speaking

The public speaking workshop was both extremely engaging and comprehensive. Standing style, sitting style, tone, eye contact, dress, hand positions — Chris Janke covered it all, and we were encouraged to stand up and practice in real time. The world of our unconscious actions was made completely conscious, giving us the self-awareness and extra confidence that each of us was eager to find.

  • Take pauses and relate to your audience, move naturally.
  •  Colorful language and storytelling help people to remember what you’re saying.
  • People need to hear things 7-12 times to remember them. Repetition!
  • No matter what you are saying, when you slow down it sounds more important.
  • Flatness of delivery can result in no one remembering what you said. Spice it up!
  • Stand with one foot in front of other, and your weight in back foot. No swaying. Create a strong presence by dropping your shoulders back.
  • Seated on a panel? Choose your clothing wisely! Steer clear of wrap dresses, shirt dresses etc.

Beginning Financial Planning 

When you invest your money, you need a strategy of what you envision, what you want. Ask yourself:  What is your goal, 10 years out?  Don’t just focus on retirement! It’s time to start planning right now.

  • Make sure you have a financial equation that equals security.
  • The equation: Protection + Savings + Investing + Tax minimization = Security
  • For protection: consider disability insurance, life insurance (if you have children) and long term insurance.
  • For savings: Consider the money needed for an emergency. Know the financial situations of yourself, your spouse and even your parents in case something happens.
  • For investing: research 401k, IRA, and investment accounts. Base your investment strategy off of your risk tolerance (more stock is riskier, more bonds is safer).
  • Buy a money magazine! Or start with your own statements and break them down.
  • Find a professional to help.

Salary Negotiation

Negotiation is about more than money – it’s about taking care of yourself and family. Women ask for raises and promotions approximately 85% less than men do. You stand to lose as much as $1 million if you don’t negotiate!

  • Know how much you’re worth! Research salary ranges for the job, and check with your network.
  • Let employer mention a salary figure first. The party who puts a number on the table first is at the greater disadvantage.
  • Use a range if you have to say how much you want. Be clear if it includes benefits or not.
  • Be confident in selling your skills. Use other offers to your advantage. By the time you’re negotiating, they want you, so they’ll pay.
  • Say it! I’m worth it, I need more, I have to have… If you don’t ask and don’t make a case for yourself, no one else will.
  • Act like everyday is a performance review. Make yourself invaluable and indispensable.
  • Translate the work you did as something that made the boss and company look good. Bring it to your performance review.
  • If you can’t negotiate for hard cash, try asking for benefits (days off, bonuses, insurance, work from home, trainings, classes).

Keep an eye out for our Career Resources pages, where we will be posting more information from the conference workshops and more!

Thanks to EcoWomen Dawn Bickett and Jessica Lubetsky for providing their insights from the conference!