Archive for November 2013 | Monthly archive page

posted by | Comments Off on Giving Thanks, Giving Back

If gratitude unlocks the fullness of life, then volunteering provides another key. As environmentalists and women striving to make the world a better place to live in, most of us recognize the need to give back to the world. But it can be easy to overlook what’s right in front of your eyes, like the many people in need in this very community.

Instead of just giving thanks this year, you can take it further by giving back – to your home, to your planet, and especially to your surrounding community. As you gather for Thanksgiving on Thursday and think about what you are grateful for, here are some ways to give back to your community as well.

Give Your Time

There are many different outlets to volunteer in the D.C. area and luckily, a lot of those are outdoors

Casey Trees has long given DC EcoWomen good opportunities to volunteer, with many opportunities year-round.  The Anacostia Watershed Society also schedules environmental restoration and preservation projects, like restoring the wetlands, or planting and maintaining native species. There’s nothing like the instant gratification of seeing your hard work immediately come to fruition, in the form of a newly planted tree.

You can also make the world instantly more beautiful by participating in a cleanup; the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust offers opportunities to fight invasive plant species and cleanup projects in local parks and communities. And the National Parks and the National Mall are always looking for volunteers to help with maintenance and cleanup efforts, to preserve our nation’s treasures.

Further, the United Way of the National Capital Area provides recycling drives that rely on volunteers, and the U.S. National Arboretum could always use more gardeners and tour guides. There are so many fun ways to volunteer, it might be hard to pick just one!

Give A Thanksgiving Meal

Providing a meal for those in need on Thanksgiving Day is possibly the most common way to give, but no less important. You can make sure no one goes hungry on this day by donating to Food and Friends, or helping the Capital Area Food Bank‘s  Brown Bag program deliver Thanksgiving food baskets to needy senior citizens.

Search Online

If you’re having trouble finding the perfect way to volunteer, you can try using a website that will match your abilities to the best opportunities, like VolunteerMatch. According to Volunteering in America, DC is ranked 9th in the US for volunteering, so you won’t be alone in your efforts!

Giving Tuesday

Don’t forget, DC EcoWomen’s end-of-year fundraiser is coming up, once again participating in Giving Tuesday this year. Head to on December 3rd to donate to your favorite local nonprofit. If you’ve ever benefited from our EcoHours, workshops, mentor dinners, book clubs, volunteer events, or even just from being on the community listserv, we hope you’ll give back on December 3rd.  This year, donors can even choose to receive a limited edition DC EcoWomen t-shirt as a thank you for their donation or simply donate directly to DC EcoWomen without receiving a gift.

This year, in the final days of calm before the holiday storm — before finding (or making) the perfect gift and planning a trip to see your loved ones —  find the opportunity to give back.

posted by | on , , | Comments Off on What’s your exit strategy? How to wrap up your internship

By DC EcoWoman Dawn Bickett

Flickr User Victor1558

Are you prepared for the end? Of your internship, that is!

Many EcoWomen come to Washington, D.C. for short-term positions — from internships, to fellowships, to contract jobs. These experiences can shape career choices and help develop new skills, but they can also zoom by before you are ready for them to be over.

Here are a few strategies for continue benefitting from your experience long after your last day.

Forget the vanishing act

While quickly saying a few goodbyes and ducking out on your last day is the easiest approach to leaving, it is also the one that does you the least good. Make sure that your coworkers and supervisors know when you are leaving, where you are headed next, and if you are interested in working at the organization permanently, well in advance of your last day. If colleagues don’t know what you are looking for next, they won’t be able to offer help.

Keep connected

Whether or not you want to come back to work at an office where you interned, you never know when a contact you made there will be helpful. Make sure you have your coworkers’ and supervisors’ personal contact information and that they have yours. And don’t hesitate to check in with them from time to time (although careful not to go overboard!). Social media can also be a helpful tool to keep in touch.

Stay involved

Taking part in volunteer opportunities with your old office or organization can be a great way to show that you are still interested in the organization’s mission, especially if you would like to be hired there permanently. It will also keep your face fresh in the minds of those with whom you worked.


Don’t want to leave? Talk with your supervisor or mentor early on to express your interest in a permanent position, and keep yourself informed on openings. If you know what position you want in the organization, make sure you are learning the skills needed for that specific job so you can make your case when the job becomes available.

There’s a lot to do, so don’t let your last day sneak up on you! While an internship or fellowship position may be temporary, the opportunities that arise from them can have long-term impacts on your career. Want more tips? Check out Ending an Internship on a High Note.

posted by | Comments Off on DC EcoWomen Success Story: Mary Ellen Kustin

Since moving to the DC area seven years ago, I have had two blatant “ah-ha” moments of realization that I have found my community. The first was when a friend of mine from grad school convinced me to come see Jamie Rappaport Clark speak at an EcoHour; I was blown away by the talk and the group discussion that followed. I found myself in a room with over 50 well-informed women hailing from government, non-profit, and private sector jobs, all passionate about environmental and social issues. While still finishing up my degree, the event reassured me that, yes, I would be able to work on issues that matter to me with people who also care deeply about the world around them.

After the formal Q&A part of the evening wrapped up, I stayed to chat with some of the other ladies there. I don’t remember any of what we talked about, but I do remember heading home on the train with my friend and thinking: I guess this seemingly mandatory DC ritual of networking isn’t so bad after all.

Granted, I’m a fairly extroverted person. But I was hooked on the thought of hanging out more with these people who took time out of their busy lives to learn and discuss topics ranging from ecology and politics, to advanced technologies and meditation. So I did. I went to book club meetings, happy hours, and of course more EcoHours. I graduated and started working downtown. I went to more EcoWomen events. I volunteered to help run some of the events and eventually joined the all-volunteer board.

Fast-forward to February 2013. I was  back in a room full of fabulous EcoWomen and although I didn’t know it yet, I was about to start down a path to my second “ah-ha” moment. The featured speaker was Heather White, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Heather’s talk was awesome, the discussion that followed was fun — I didn’t want it to end. So I spoke to Heather afterwards and learned that we had more in common than I realized. She told me that she was happy to share some of the words of wisdom and the patient ear she had benefited from along the way. She said I was welcome to stop by her office sometime and chat longer — so I did.

Now, I’ve enjoyed many an informational interview conversation, but this one was a pure delight. Thankfully, the abundance of EcoWomen interactions I’ve had and skill-building workshops I’ve attended that set me up for success when the opportunity presented itself. And I probably wouldn’t have made it to that coffee chat if I hadn’t met her at EcoHour.

I joined the government affairs team at EWG this summer. The position is exactly what I want to be doing. A few weeks into the new gig, I looked around and thought, “ah-ha, these are my people.”

Don’t worry — I haven’t forgotten about the kick-butt network that led me to my new job! I’m currently serving on the national board and helping to start chapters across the country. One of those chapters is being co-led in Colorado by EcoWomen who used to live in DC. And one of those ladies is the very friend who took me to that very first EcoHour I attended.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this growing community of women who empower each through knowledge and friendship. I’m confident that this won’t be my last EcoWomen success story.

posted by | on , , , | 2 comments

I’m pleased to introduce you to one of my favorite new sustainable style retailers: Modavanti. Even though they are less than a year old, they’ve already pulled together a solid collection of stylin’ clothes and accessories that are environmentally friendly, ethically sourced and/or promoting social good. I put together a few of my favorite pieces in the image above, but those are just the highlights!

Modavanti also makes their sustainable evaluation process easy to understand by using a simple badge system that is nearly identical to what some of your may already know as my Fair Elements of Style:

But even if you put all of that do-gooding aside, the items they carry are simply well-made and on-trend, which is exactly as it should be. Probably the strongest section is the selection of bags, which has a variety of styles available at several price points, from polished clutches to fringed hobos. These make Modavanti a solid option for the ladies on your holiday shopping list! If you’re going to consumer, this is a place where you can be a proudly eco-conscious consumer.

On the more affordable side of the spectrum (and my personal favorites) are the bags by Angela + Roi that are pictured below. Not only do they come in a slew of beautiful colors, but $5 from the purchase of each bag is donated to a worthy cause related to the color of the bag in some way. For example, the poppy red bag benefits AIDS research in Chicago.


And guess what: I still have more good news for you! This month, I’ve partnered with Modavanti to offer the DC Ecowomen (and MFV readers) two ways to save a little cash as the holiday shopping season approaches:

1.  Take 15% off all of your purchases at Modavanti through the month of November with special code MYFAIRVANITY.

2. Each one of you can enter to WIN a red Angela + Roi bag over on My Fair Vanity!

In the meantime, I’ll be seeking out more eco-friendly online retailers, brands and style advice to share with you in December. Until then, may the Sustainable Style Force be with you.

Ecowomen fashion blogger Rachel Mlinarchik curates sustainable style that is kind to the earth and the people on it at
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Extraction Has A Human Face

Written by Caroline Selle, the Zero Waste Girl

At Power Shift 2013, thousands of young people gathered to talk and learn about justice in the environmental movement. Held Oct. 18-21, the latest edition of the biannual conference focused on the the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality with fossil fuel extraction and climate change. And as the problems with racism and environmental justice issues continue to be prevalent in Washington, D.C., this conference couldn’t have come sooner.

As an environmental reporter focusing on justice and as a past Power Shift organizer, I was eager to attend the conference’s newest iteration. It’s no secret the environmental movement is deeply divided. Environmental justice (EJ) advocates have long said mainstream environmental activists focus on politics and policy at the expense of people. Mainstream environmentalists argue some sacrifice is necessary for progress. But sacrifice for whom?

“We don’t think of the people who are sacrificed to make our lives easier,” said Yudith Nieto, one of the conference’s keynote speakers. “I am one of them.”

With panels such as “A Cage or a Classroom?: The School-to-Prison Pipeline Affecting EJ Communities,” and “Economic Justice and Empowerment: Challenging Classism in Our Communities,” attendees were introduced to the impacts felt by frontline communities by people from those communities. “People, not policies,” is an uncomfortable reality, but one that needs to be faced.

Nieto lives in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, Texas, one of the most polluted neighborhoods in the U.S. The community is surrounded by the Valero, Lyondell Basell, and Texas Petro-Chemicals oil refineries, and residents suffer from elevated incidence of cancer and asthma, among other disease. Now, the community is preparing for an onslaught of tar sands from the Southern half of the Keystone XL.

In addition to Nieto, activists traveled from frontline communities in states ranging from Louisiana to California, and Indiana to Utah. The keynote speakers included Kimberly Wasserman of Little Village, Chicago, Josh Fox, director of Gasland, and twelve-year-old Ta’Kaiya, singer-songwriter of the Sliammon Nation who performed to thunderous applause.

Power Shift 2013 wasn’t without its controversies, including a counter protest and pamphlet handed out criticizing organizers for using empty words. “I wasn’t sure if this was the right space for my voice, my community,” Wasserman told the crowd at her keynote, explaining she her tough decision. She decided to attend Power Shift, she said, because, “…the reality of our movement calls for tough conversations.”

If the conference had a theme this year, it was a simple one: Extraction has a human face.