Posts Tagged ‘ecohour’

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on A Note on 2019-2020 Leadership Transition

By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

It is with gratitude and every other kind of emotion that I reach out to you as I conclude my board service with the District Chapter of Ecowomen. In the six or so years since I returned to Washington D.C. to pursue another chapter of my career, to marry, and make friends in a new city I have been rewarded. I have taken part in so many great conversations with leaders across the field, enjoyed opportunities to grow my leadership in ways that no single job could offer, and have helped to guide the evolution of our “moose lodge for women” where we have explored ideas for how working life balance may be made to meet the needs of modernity. And I have blogged about so much of it.

In my board service terms’, I have been fortunate to have worn a few hats. As a member of the professional development team, I supported two years of Ecohours, Mentor Dinners, and special programs that are a part of the forty program offerings each year put on by your chapter of volunteer board members. Next, I held the position of vice president of professional development where I focused on revamping the organization’s signature salon and monthly educational forum—Ecohour. During my tenure the professional development team changed the format, of our salon, from  a lecture program to a fireside chat style and worked hard to add some humor, accessibility and humanity to the offering. In those years, I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty or so Ecohours where I engaged in one hundred eighty hours of preparation for twenty hours of interviews, dialogue and discussion with women who are reshaping the world of work for women in the environment in the District.

In the last two years, April Martin and I joined forces to lead our chapter as a co-chairs. This was an intervention to the tradition of one woman as a single source of leadership and guidance as an experiment in governance based on our experiences in the chapter. I can say without hesitation that it has been a sincere pleasure to try on each of these roles and to continue to advance my personal mission and life work in this space—the meaningful engagement of women in the environment across, race, class and ability as partners, champions and principals.

Our work at Ecowomen has resulted in the intentional inclusion of black, indigenous, and women of color who have been thought leaders in environment and conservation, non-governmental organizations, federal agencies and start-ups. In my oversight of the salon we set goals for and provided real time demonstrations of the ways that the work of black, indigenous and all women of color is always present. And with intention provided a space to reflect with agents of change, in a public dialogue on the many ways our shared work has been made invisible as the status quo.

If I could do anything differently, I might have tried to organize a space where our community could more explicitly examine the role of a feminist practice in our work; and programmed for reflections on the ways that racialized dynamics are heightened amongst women who should be allies and often don’t quite make it. As I leave the chapter, but not this deeper work and conversation, I look forward to seeing what the new leaders, the board members, President and what each of you bring to this discussion and to our shared goals to create an equitable and healthy society where we live, work, and exist as Ecowomen.

Thank you for taking the time to connect over the last six years, to add your energy and talents to the building and rebuilding of this community. Thank you to the women on the board from 2013 to the present day who work consistently and constantly to make Ecowomen a space where good things are made to happen for and with women.

As I leave the District chapter, I have been thinking a lot about the dormant Baltimore City chapter and what I might bring to it as I make my home there. In the meantime, I will continue in my day job as the North America Director at 350.org and hope to see you in it  as Ecowomen and as fellow humans in adult and aging ally response to the youth call for climate action on September 20-27, 2019. It looks to be the largest global climate mobilization to date and will be followed by a week of action that will only strengthen the work of our lives to protect people and planet.

Feel free to reach out to me directly If you ever want to talk. And do sign up today to get involved in the climate mobilization which is already supported by partners including the Women’s March and 500 women in Science among others.

Fondly,

Tamara  Toles O’Laughlin

@Tamaraity

posted by | on , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Photos: DC EcoWomen Looks Back on 15 Years

 

By Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Blog Manager and Communications Committee VC

More than 15 years ago, two women hatched a plan to launch EcoWomen. Today, there are more than 5,000 women in the DC EcoWomen network. Here are a few photos to showcase DC EcoWomen through the years. I hope you enjoy them!

Alisa Gravitz, CEO of Green America, was the speaker at our first EcoHour – a free event where successful women in the environmental field discuss their work (left). In 2005, we heard from various women during our EcoHours. Juliet Eilperin, Environmental Reporter at Washington Post, was one of them (right).

In 2006, we held a Green Halloween Fundraiser. Here’s a picture of our board members at the event at Madam’s Organ (right). In May 2007, we had a spring fundraising date auction at Ireland’s Four Fields (left).

Eco-Outings hiked Old Rag in November 2008 (right).  In December 2008, they went ice skating in a sculpture garden (upper left). By March 2009, Eco-outings took archery lessons (bottom left).

Here’s our Five-Year Gala, held at the National Botanical Garden in June 2009.

In August 2009, DC EcoWomen went tubing (bottom right). We had fun at our 2009 Holiday Party (left), and enjoyed our wine tasting and networking event in April 2010 (upper right).

Our November 2010 EcoHour featured former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, seen here with Kelly Rand, former DC EcoWomen Chair.

Our Spring Wildflower Hike in April 2011 (upper left). In July 2011, we held an EcoMoms meeting (bottom left). By November 2011, former DC EcoWomen President Jessica Lubetsky instructed 20+ women on how to improve their resumes at our resume building workshop (right).

DC EcoWomen volunteered at the Walker Jones urban farm in July 2012 (right). In November 2012, we held a Craft, Chat and Chocolate event (left).

This picture was taken during a session at the May 2013 DC EcoWomen conference – I’m Here, What’s Next?

Our book club – a time when women discuss a book or series of small articles, blogs and podcasts with an environmental angle – met in May 2013 to discuss Silent Spring at the Navy Memorial/National Archives.

DC EcoWomen members tabled during the 2013 Green Living Expo DC (upper left). Our members volunteered at a 2013 coastal cleanup with Women’s Aquatic Network (bottom left). In October 2013, we hosted a locavore potluck (right).

DC EcoWomen coordinated a mentor tea at Hillwood Estate in 2014 (left). We also put on a clothing swap in fall 2015 (right).

DC EcoWomen went behind-the-scenes during a tour of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Sept 2015 (left). We held a rock climbing event in February 2016 (right).

This picture was taken during our August 2016 Board Retreat.

Our Women’s Suffrage Parade Walking Tour in March 2017 (left). We participated in the People’s Climate March in April 2017 (bottom right). We also coordinated a Working Women in American History Bike Tour in May 2017 (upper right).

The Skills-building Leveling Up Workshop in December 2017 (left). DC EcoWomen and Department of Energy’s May 2018 event, which showcased two of the world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell cars (right).

Back to where it all began, an EcoHour! This picture is from February 2019 and includes members of our Professional Development Committee and our speaker Stephanie Ritchie, Agriculture and Natural Resources Librarian at the University of Maryland (third from left).

Alyssa Ritterstein is a driven communications professional, with a proven track record of creating and executing successful communications and media relations strategies for nonprofit organizations, associations and a public relations firm. Her career spans various climate, energy and environmental communications work.

posted by | on , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Reflection on 15 years of DC EcoWomen

By Nicole Bateman, DC EcoWomen Board Member

Nearly two years ago, I arrived in D.C. from Seattle. Fresh out of graduate school, I was anxious to become active in a community of environmentally minded people in the District. DC EcoWomen was immediately recommended to me by a former graduate school colleague. During my first event, the Fall Meet and Greet, I spoke to one EcoWoman about recycling and composting and then another about in the ins and outs of proposed carbon pricing models in Washington state. I walked away knowing I had found a community of (nerdy?) women with a passion for these issues to match my own. Within a year of becoming involved with the organization, I was so completely sold on its mission that I applied and was fortunate enough to be selected to join the board.

As we celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of DC EcoWomen’s first EcoHour this month, it’s important to reflect upon all the organization and its members have accomplished. Since that first EcoHour, more than 150 EcoHour speakers have shared their professional insights and expertise with nearly 5,000 EcoWomen.

But the organization has also grown beyond its signature event. EcoWomen have learned how to write an eye-catching resume, negotiate salary with confidence, master public speaking, and communicate their professional brand at our many professional development workshops. Our mentor dinners have also given members an opportunity to meet with and learn from environmental women leaders in a more intimate environment.

Professional development is great, and central to our mission, but DC EcoWomen also knows that actually experiencing the environment we all care about reminds us why this work matters. We encourage our members to get outside with events like the Anacostia River tour and foraging in DC. And with events like clothing swaps, bike workshops, and sustainable food and drink events, EcoWomen have an opportunity to live our eco-values.

What else does DC EcoWomen do? Well, there are book clubs, holiday parties, fitness fundraisers, board meet-and-greets, and so much more. Nearly 100 DC EcoWomen members like me decided to get involved with the organization on a deeper level and have served as board members!

Although the organization has expanded to engage more women in more ways, we have not lost sight of the goal of DC EcoWomen’s founders, Leda Huta, Alicia Wittink, and Tracy Fisher, as they organized the first EcoHour – to create a space for women in environmental fields to build relationships. Those relationships are still the centerpiece of our work and we look forward to the next 15 years of building.

Nicole Bateman is on the research team at the Brookings Institution. She is passionate about protecting natural places and the people who enjoy them through equitable and science-based environmental policy. Nicole has a Master’s in Public Administration, with a specialization in Environmental Policy and Management, from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on How DC EcoWomen Started: Story by EcoWomen Co-Founder Leda Huta

By Leda Huta, EcoWomen Co-Founder and Endangered Species Coalition Executive Director

More than 15 years ago, my friend Alicia Wittink and I hatched a plan to launch EcoWomen. We recognized a need in Washington, D.C. for a space to build relationships among women in environmental fields. While it was in its infancy, we roped in our friend Tracy Fisher to help grow the organization.

We had heard that other efforts to do something similar had sputtered out. But there wasn’t much to lose, except perhaps our pride. We organized the first event – the very first EcoHour – and invited our first speaker—Alisa Gravitz, CEO of Green America. We had no idea if anyone would show up. But 15 or so women did. Today, there are more than 5,000 women in the DC EcoWomen network, and 1,000+ women who attend the chapter’s events each year. There are also four more EcoWomen chapters around the country.

The best decision we made was not allowing the organization to become personality-driven. We didn’t want it to succeed or fail based on one person. We took succession planning seriously, making sure that many women played leadership roles, so that any one of us could step in and chair our board. And we always had exceptional, powerhouse chairs of the board.

We quickly created a volunteer board of talented and hard-working women. The discussions and decision-making processes were always energizing. It felt great to be in the presence of these women and jointly grow an organization. The organization’s strength has always been this diversity and collaboration. It is a community based on openness, respect and connection. And it is a model of leadership that should be expanded.

Our signature event was, and has always been, the EcoHours—happy hour with a dose of eco-inspiration from veteran women leaders in the movement. We had some of the most extraordinary speakers—one of the first female National Park Service rangers, the first woman to have a whole neighborhood transplanted because of toxic pollution, and the first Minister of the Environment in Iraq’s Interim Government. We also had accomplished women speakers who went on to play even more important roles in protecting our environment—continuing to become a Member of Congress or the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Hearing from these heroes gave us hope and they still do today.

Now, EcoWomen is stronger than ever, with amazing leaders taking charge. It is so much bigger than Alicia, Tracy, and I envisioned it could become. It offers women so much, not only in building their professional networks, but also in creating community. Environmental work is hard. This community is incredibly restorative. These smart, cool, funny and able women really do have the power to change the world.

Leda Huta, EcoWomen Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition, has 25 years of environmental experience, managing grassroots, national, and international projects. At Endangered Species Coalition, she leads staff across the country in protecting imperiled wildlife, from the charismatic gray wolf and grizzly bear to less visible species, such as Rusty patched bumblebee. Previous to her role at the Endangered Species Coalition, Leda was the Acting Executive Director for Finding Species, an organization that uses photography to advance wildlife and wild lands conservation. Through this work, she had the good fortune to spend time in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Her work at Resource Conservation Alliance protected forests using a “markets” strategy, working with university presses to shift to eco-friendly papers. Leda has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in environmental science and environment and resource management from the University of Toronto. She is currently studying environmental law at Vermont Law School. www.huffingtonpost.com/leda-huta/

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on DC EcoWomen’s EcoHour with Talia Buford

By Sonia Abdulbaki

DC EcoWomen is a group with a mission “to provide an educational forum for women that empowers women to become leaders in the environmental community and the world.”

Women. Environment. Community.

9RTw2657The monthly EcoHour event sets out to empower these words and apply the mission statement by inviting accomplished speakers to inspire other women with their stories. Talia Buford, a successful Black American environmental journalist, was invited to speak at the September EcoHour event to share her experience with us.

Buford received a degree in journalism from Hampton University and then went on to acquire a master’s degree in law from the Georgetown University Law Center. Currently, she is a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity and formerly an energy reporter for Politico, where she covered natural gas and the Department of Interior and authored the daily Afternoon Energy newsletter. Prior to that, she held a position as legal affairs and municipal reporter for The Providence (R.I.) Journal. The Rhode Island Press Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Foundation have all recognized her work.

Buford spoke fondly of her work at her hometown newspaper in Michigan because it reflected her community. It was while working there that she was exposed to the environmental justice reality created by a power plant near her neighborhood. The issue was reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is still pending for 17 years to date. This issue hit close to home and motivated Buford to investigate on more of the same and to make sure the public and communities like her own were informed.

Her work as a reporter for The Providence Journal was described as tedious and prolonged, taking the immediacy out of journalism. She expressed that sitting in court, vigorously reporting on cases through serial narratives, was not her calling. Instead, she shifted her focus to reporting on environmental justice and labor issues; those topics have always appealed to her, especially because her loved ones were directly affected by these issues. Buford’s approach was informative, humble and relatable.

"It's important to see women as journalists. It's important to see people of color as journalists. It's because we tell different stories, and that's valuable." - Talia Buford at ??EcoHour?

“It’s important to see women as journalists. It’s important to see people of color as journalists. It’s because we tell different stories, and that’s valuable.”

Recently, Buford reported on the EPA Office of Civil Rights’ response to environmental justice issues. She unearthed various civil rights complaints that were made to the EPA since 1964 that had never been addressed or thoroughly investigated. EPA is reforming their approach, especially with the ability to submit complaints online.

Other issues she has covered include vital pesticide regulation in California, radioactive dumping in New Mexico and issues surrounding the EPA’s environmental racism.

She expressed the importance of journalism, to her community and to her own identity as a Black American woman. The advice she gave EcoWomen was to advocate for ourselves, something she wishes she’d known to do at the start of her career.

Buford was a lovely speaker who spoke with a natural conviction that will resonate with the community of environmental women.

Sonia Abdulbaki is a freelance writer and the vice president at Daly Gray Public Relations, a firm specializing in hospitality. Sonia has extensive experience in the field of communications that includes her work at Green America. She is a contributing writer for Business Traveler magazine and contributing editor for MovieswithMae.com.

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The following is a guest post from EcoWoman Board Member Alison Alford

 I recently attended DC EcoWomen’s EcoHour with Teresa Durkin, Senior Project Director for the Trust for the National Mall.  I was astonished to find that the Trust plans to make over 700 million dollars of improvements to the mall over the next decade, and raised over 350 million to match the government’s funding to get to the 700 milllion dollars needed for the project.  Teresa told us that each year, there are over 3,000 permitted events that bring 25 million people to the the Mall.

How do you capture their hearts? With all of those visitors walking around and through the Mall each day, this is the question on Teresa’s mind. After all, the 700 acre plot that make up the National Mall isn’t just a landmark, it‘s a teaching moment for ecology.

At Templeville University in Philadelphia, Teresa learned that building things right the first time is the key to saving money in the end, and applies that knowledge to projects on the National Mall.  You can’t just throw money at the trampled grass on the Mall and just replace it with new grass; you need to restore it with a working system. The National Trust for the Mall decided to dig four feet down into the earth, re-blend the soil and add turf and native grass plants before replanting the grass.  They also added a curb, and a solar powered irrigation system that grabs weather data from satellites. The reflecting pool was cracked and leaked 6 ½ million gallons of potable water into the tidal basin, but the Trust for the National Mall spent 100 million dollars to fix the cracks and refill the pool with 4 million gallons of fresh water from the tidal basin.  Now, the reflecting pool no longer leaks, and the Mall does not need to waste drinking water to fill an ornamental pool.

Teresa tries to develop learning initiatives, so when people visit the National Mall, they learn a little about ecology and environmental preservation, along with the rich history that surrounds the Nation’s Capitol.

Teresa did not start out as a landscape architect.  In fact, Teresa began as a film producer and went back to school for landscape architecture when she was in her thirties.  She was apprehensive, because she thought she would spend her life designing perennial gardens for “ladies who lunched,” but she became a protégé of Ian McHarg and  learned that “Land Matters.”  Ian McHarg taught her that we need to think of the impact of our designs, and that green roofs and storm water management will make more of a difference to the landscape than just a few ornamental trees planted here or there.

Before working at the Trust for the National Mall, Andrea worked for Andropogon Associates, a design firm that focused on sites covered with invasive species and restoring them to their native and natural habitat.  In fact, Andropogon Associates is named after a pioneer native grass species. Teresa worked on creating infiltration beds, restored sites, and wetlands where no wetlands were before it.   At Andropogon, Teresa learned that, when you communicate creatively with people, you get them to believe in your science and ultimately in your goals.  

As a living example, when Teresa worked at global firm in Dubai, she found herself trying to sell storm water management to a place that receives only three inches of rainfall a year.  Since Dubai is built on top of salt flats, in monsoon season those three inches of rainfall actually amount to 4 million gallons of water all at once. Without storm-water management, the city would be wasting over 4 million gallons of water a year.

Teresa told us that we must think of cities and parks as whole systems – not just individual components.  Urban forests are in poor shape, watershed parks in cities now need stewardship because they are too small of a system to take care of them.  Without access to nature, children need to be taught environmental stewardship.  We need policy changes, legislation and management to all come together to get something to work.

It’s wonderful to find out that the people that take care of our National Mall love it and work hard to preserve it for generations to come.  After attending DC EcoWomen’s EcoHour, I can take my out-of-town relatives to the Mall and truly turn the visit into a teaching moment – just as Teresa envisioned it to be.

VIU

 

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on Toxins in the Environment, Toxins in Your Body

The following is a post by DC EcoWomen boardmember Alison Alford.

http://myggm.org

I recently attended a fantastic DC EcoWomen EcoHour on environmental toxins and their effects on your body. I was spell-bound as Heather White, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group, told us that EWG preformed a study on ten Americans and found levels of harmful chemicals in their blood, including BPA, mercury, phthalates, and triclosan. EWG knew that these toxins didn’t come from the air, water, soil, or food, because the ten blood donors were newborns.  Toxins are showing up everywhere – in our cleaning products, produce, cosmetics and sunscreens, and they are flushed down the drain and polluting our rivers and oceans.

Fortunately for us and our children, there are numerous resources to use when trying to find the best product to clean, cook, or consume.  Heather advised us that knowledge is indeed power – and that our voices are the best weapon to protect us from chemicals in every day products.

Find out about cosmetics, cleaning products, sunscreen and more on EWG’s website:

Once we educate ourselves on toxins in the environment, we need to speak up, and to speak up oftenWrite a letter to your member of Congress to let them know that you will no longer accept toxins in your sunscreen and cleaning products.  Sign a petition to stand up to pesticide lobbyists.  Show your support with your wallet by purchasing environmentally-friendly cosmetics, produce, and cleaning products.  But, most importantly, become educated on the dangers of toxins in the environment – because then you will know how to keep those toxins out of your body!

Want to read about the right things to put in your body? Check out our post on nutrition and malnutrition in women.

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on EcoHour with Thu Pham – Can we have it all?

Below is a post by EcoWoman Dawn Bickett.  Dawn is a former science teacher passionate about combating environmental and social injustice through non-profit work. New to Washington, D.C., she is proud to learn from, and contribute to, the active DC Ecowomen community.

Before EcoHour began on Tuesday, November 13, speaker Thu Pham was already engaged in discussion with attendees about the struggle many working women face in cultivating a stable work-life balance. “We need to stop being so hard on ourselves,” she told the table over dinner. Nodding to Ann Marie Slaughter’s much-discussed essay in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Pham noted that “‘Having it all’ means something different for every woman.”

This week, Thu Pham offered her thoughts on the challenges of creating a satisfying professional life and still finding time for personal fulfillment. As the executive director of Rachel’s Network—an organization that builds leadership and connections between conservation-minded, philanthropic women—and as the mother of three young children, Pham is well-versed in the hurdles that women professionals face.  Prior to her work with Rachel’s Network, Pham was a finance director and consultant on congressional campaigns, and an associate director of development for the League of Conservation Voters. At Rachel’s Network, she is dedicated to creating the collaborative and affirming work environment she envisioned throughout her career.

During her talk, Pham provided three key pieces of advice drawn from her own experience. First, don’t let others impose their expectations of your career path on you. Pham discovered this tenet early in her professional life when she felt pushed toward a career in a field that didn’t suit her. Over time, she learned to reject others’ expectations and find a direction that truly suited her interests.  Second, actively seek out a work environment that is positive and fulfilling. For Pham, this meant finding mentors that inspired her and believed in her abilities, and co-workers she enjoys working with. Third, create a personal network of peers to support you.

During the question and answer after her talk, Thu Pham circled back to one of her most resonant messages: Don’t be so hard on yourself. She suggested that we give ourselves permission to say ‘I’ve had enough today,’ and define our own work-life balance. Pham also encouraged her audience to support and lift up the women around them, because all of us benefit from a positive workplace environment.

Attendees of the November EcoHour left wondering not whether “having it all” was possible, but rather what “having it all” means in our own lives—and how we can help other women achieve a balance that works for them.

For more from Thu Pham, see her response to “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” at Forbes.

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 Thriving At Thrifting

By Kate Seitz

 

 

Growing up, the extent of my thrift store experience involved sifting through racks of old t-shirts at the Salvation Army. Dated Cleveland Indians gear that perhaps no longer seemed relevant to a disgruntled fan. A cast-off souvenir from Jamaica. An outgrown pee-wee hockey league championship memento. For whatever reason, my girlfriends and I couldn’t get enough of these worn tees, and the more random the motif, the better.
It wasn’t until a few years back that I realized the multi-faceted benefits of thrifting and really came to view it as a means of discovering a wide range of unique items (clothing, home décor, kitchen tools, you name it) that still have plenty of life left, and for a fraction of the off-the-shelf price. I have since vowed to embrace my admiration for all things vintage and recycled and take the time to find distinctive, second-hand items instead of rushing to the nearest mall to buy new.
I’ve stepped foot in pretty much every thrift and consignment store within a 15 mile radius. I’ve hounded Craigslist for many furniture and athletic equipment needs. I’ve discovered a charming cluster of antique stores out in Loudoun County, Virginia. And I’ve even turned up some great vintage shops on Etsy. My favorite finds thus far include a hand painted dish set; my current road bike; various vintage necklaces; a leather couch and matching chair; a beautiful oak-framed mirror dated 1906; and various dollar-a-piece picture frames and flower vases, many of which I used as décor at my wedding reception and are now sprinkled around my apartment. All for a pittance of what it would cost to buy these new.

1) A sample of my thrifted jewelry collection

2) A hand painted dish set I found at an antique store.

 

 

Thrifting sometimes gets a bad rap for being tricky and tiresome. It does indeed require patience to sift through other people’s cast offs. It sometimes can lead to buried treasure, and other times leave you empty handed. But boy, is it a joyous occasion when you dig up a worthwhile piece. To me, giving a second life to thrifted finds is simply recycling what would otherwise end up in a landfill. Our country’s consumer-driven nature constantly bombards us with reasons to buy new, upgrade, purchase the latest and greatest. Some of this may be necessary, and in fact good for innovation and economic growth. But many times, it’s downright wasteful.

These days, whenever I feel the need to make a purchase, I first evaluate whether a thrifted item would fit the bill. This mantra continues to lead me to unique finds that have an interesting history, or that perfectly worn-in feel. It truly is a win-win, both for the environment and the wallet. The next time you’re looking for new workout tees, jewelry, dishware, a new kitchen table…whatever!….I encourage you to first check out the multitude of options out there for buying second hand (Craigslist, Etsy, a local thrift/antique/consignment store, a neighborhood yard sale (my fave, especially in the summertime!), an EcoWomen clothing swap) and see what treasures you uncover. Happy hunting!