Artist of the Month: Emily Landsman, EHL Creations

The following post is by Emily Landsman, Owner of EHL Creations, the Herban Lifestyle June 2014 Artist of the Month.

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I have been a photographer for more than twenty years and enjoy finding new ways to look at ordinary objects. I love taking kooky pictures with my many different Polaroid cameras and using the images to make greeting cards, belt buckles, tiles, magnets and more. Polaroid transfer prints are made by under developing Polaroid pull-apart films and transferring the images to non-photographic surfaces. The resulting images have an antique or ethereal quality. Polaroid image lifts are made by developing Polaroid pull-apart films as normal, soaking the image to remove it from the paper backing, and transferring the emulsion to non-photographic surfaces. Each print is different and has its own characteristics.

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You may have heard that Polaroid is no longer producing instant film. I collected dozens of packs of several different types of film for my artistic usage before they became unavailable. Once all existing film is used, this transfer process will no longer be possible, making these images all the more unique.

tiles

You can find more about Emily’s pieces on her Etsy Store and Website 

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Introducing Herban Crafts: Crafting a Better World!

Karen Lee of EcoKaren and I have partnered on a new social enterprise, Herban Crafts, that will offer a job and social skills training program to unemployed women in transitional housing in the DC and NY areas. To support our programming, Herban Crafts will sell DIY kits for various types of earth-friendly products. The kits will be manufactured, in part, by the trainees as part of their job skills training.

The first set of kits will teach people how to make their own organic bath and body products, and we will be adding additional types of kits in the future. We believe teaching people how to make their own products is empowering, and we also see it as an opportunity to teach people about the importance and joys of working with organic, fair trade, recycled and repurposed materials.

Our mission is multi-fold: to promote self-sufficiency while also supporting the health and wellbeing of people and the planet; and to help address the problem of unemployment, a contributing factor to homelessness, by offering a hands-on job and social skills training program for unemployed women living in transitional housing.
You can find more information about the company and our mission on our IndieGoGo campaign page where you can also pledge to help fund our initial production of kits. Suggested donations start at just $5.00, and there are lots of great rewards for our sponsors! And if this is something that you believe in as much as we do, please help spread the word to your friends on social media and via e-mail. And we hope you will follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest for updates!
For an idea of our overall mission and plan, you can view our presentation from the 2012 Global Health and Innovation Conference held at Yale University on April 22, 2012.

Love Your Mamma and Mamma Earth!

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

Mother’s Day – a time to show your appreciation and gratitude for the love, support, and caring of the wonderful mothers out there. This Mother’s Day, why not show your love for the special mother in your life and the greatest mother of them all: Mother Earth! In case you are still wracking your brain for the perfect gift or activity, here are a few ideas to make both Mammas happy.

As we have mentioned before in our Valentine’s blog there are many sustainable, local options for the traditional gifts (flowers, chocolates, cards) and plenty of fun things to do in Washington DC in the spring such as picnics, trips to the Smithsonian, and checking out some local festivals and events. Recently, Mary and I checked out the new sustainable boutique CARBON at the March SBNOW event. At this great little boutique, one can find the perfect Mother’s Day gift amongst the gorgeous clothes, shoes and beautiful jewelry made by local artisans (including one of our favorites, Melissa Lew, who makes gorgeous pieces from recycled silver). You can also check out these unique, creative, and totally awesome gift guides on two of my favorite websites Earth911.com and Treehugger.com. You can also snag a beautiful, unique piece on Ebay’s World of Good which will make your mother happy, mother Earth happy and bring economic opportunity to women abroad.

Organic Bouquet is waiving their shipping surcharge for orders placed by 3:00pm today (5/6/11). Not only are the flowers organic and sustainably grown, but if you go through this link, 10% of your order will go to Green America.

Personally, my sister and I are going to give the gift of food to our mother this year by whipping up some favorites in the kitchen. Check out our previous blog posts for some tasty recipes to delight your Mother’s taste buds. As always, the best place to find your ingredients would be at one of your local DC farmer’s markets, which are now in season! Don’t forget to look for ingredients that are local, fair trade, organic and free range. If you are looking to dine out or have been banned from the kitchen by your mother, my go to resource is the Eat Well Guide, which lists 54 sustainable restaurants in the DC area. Delicious! So many restaurants, so little time!

Remember to also check out our website for local, organic, and fair trade bath and beauty products such as our popular fuzzy soaps, lip balms, body butters, bath salts, and facial masques.

Have a blast celebrating your Mother and Mother Earth on Sunday!

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An Interview with Karen Lee of EcoKaren

EcoKaren's bottle cap birds' nests

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Lee, Co-Team Leader of the EcoEtsy Street Team (a group of Etsy crafters who are dedicated to earth-friendly practices), and owner of EcoKaren, a company offering eco-friendly, green, and reusable products for you and your home.

Karen also writes a very thoughtful and timely blog on the green living, including environmental issues and eco-friendly products.

Please tell me about your company! What do you make? What types of materials do you use? And what is your focus/mission?

Ecokaren carries one-of-a-kind, handmade, eco-friendly items. No two items are exactly alike as I only use materials (resources) I already have. When I do buy any new supplies, I buy sustainable materials like organic fabric and yarn. I also use freecycle and thrift stores to repurpose items that people want to throw out. My latest project is handmade journals that incorporate leftover paper from my kids’ end-of-the-year notebooks. The journals are handmade using coptic stitching and Japanese binding methods.

Upcycled journal by EcoKaren

My mission is to use existing resources for functional and practical eco-creations instead of buying new materials. If I look around, I can always find things to make with them. So, my shop’s focus may not be “home decor” or “jewelry” or “fashion” but it’s whatever I find that’s available that I can make something with, at that moment. I have fun being spontaneous and coming up with things to make by looking at a heap of fabric scrap and notions. And to take it one step further, I try to make items that will help reduce waste, contribute to being green, and also save money… like reusable utensil holders that allow you to carry your own utensils instead of using disposable plastic ones. It cuts down on plastic usage, reduces waste and saves money since you don’t have to throw away utensils!

portable utensil holder by EcoKaren

What inspired you to start your company?

I am a “retired” chiropractor. I sold my practice to support my family full time. So, while waiting on the sidelines for my two active teenagers to finish their after school activities, I picked up knitting and crocheting again, after stopping for fifteen years. I gave away numerous finished goodies as Christmas and birthday gifts to family and friends and they suggested that I sell them. That’s when I found Etsy. I sold my organic knitted washcloths and repurposed plastic bottle cap birds nest magnets when I first opened my first shop, ‘ecogeneration’.

So you are a chiropractor! How has this background influenced your choices as a green mom/blogger and eco-crafter?

Chiropractic philosophy is very much in line with taking care of the planet – our mother Earth. The chiropractic tenet is based on the belief that power that made the body heals the body. If we screw up our body, only the body can heal itself. We can use external interventions to help the process sometimes but in the end, the body has to do the healing. The life force in our body has the power to heal itself. Well, I believe the earth is like the human body. Given a chance, the Earth has its own life force to heal itself too. However, we are constantly abusing the Earth that we are making it impossible to do that on its own. So, like the way our body needs external interventions, the Earth needs us to help it heal. I want it to have the best possible chances for it to do its magic and get better. Being a chiropractor, I see myself as a healer, or as a helper in its healing process, and not the destruction process.

Becoming a green mom, a blogger, and eco-crafter all stem from the same philosophy. I don’t consider myself an environmentalist by any means. But practically speaking, I have been living an environmentally responsible life because of my mother. She lived a very frugal life as an immigrant and she taught me how to save and reuse. She was being green even before it was a trend. So I learned from her how not to waste our valuable resources. In addition, as a Chiropractic Doctor (doctor means ‘to teach’ in Latin), I used to teach my patients on how to stay healthy. Actually, I used to talk about many of the issues I currently write about on my blog. I used to relate nutrition, industrial chemicals, farming practices, pesticides and herbicide to health. Environmental issues weren’t really labeled as such, but I was addressing them when I spoke to my patients about how their environment affects them. Now, I carry the same torch when I blog about these issues. Spreading the word and ‘teaching’ my readers on how to be green is my way of helping to heal the planet.

As co-leader of the EcoEtsy Team and an eco-crafter, what is your advice for new (and experienced) crafters who want to make their businesses more eco-friendly?

When I joined EcoEtsy team as a new seller on Etsy, I was so inspired by the members’ creativity and their passion on being eco-friendly. I learned so much from reading the team’s blog, forum discussions, and team events. I was humbled by so many great sellers who cared about their eco-friendly crafts, business practices and educating others how to be green. So when the opportunity came along to become a co-leader, I took the challenge. I knew I couldn’t do it alone but I also knew that the members will be very supportive so I dove in head first. And guess what? I was right. The team is full of energetic, smart, and earth-caring members. We have a new blog, we had our first Earth Day Auction and raised over $450 (after expenses) to donate to the World Wildlife Fund, and I am planning our Fall event (already!). Being a member of EcoEtsy (and becoming a co-leader to give back to the team) was the smartest decision I ever made. And that is best advice I can give crafters who want to be eco-friendly – surround yourself with others who have the same mission. You need the support of others who think like you. You need to ask questions on what is more green, bamboo or organic, paper or plastic, reuse or buy new, etc. There are so many resources available on being green now that it’s almost impossible NOT to be green. And what’s better. It saves you money!! Imagine, never having to buy shipping supplies and being green at the same time!

One easy practical tip I want to share is to utilize your computer to the maximum. I save everything as pdf files and don’t keep any paper copy (saves paper). Do online banking and forget about paper statement (safer for identity theft too). Use e-mails and save them in a separate folder on your hard drive. Use internet shipping service and have the mailman pick up your goods to be shipped (no need to drive to the post office). There are so many things you can do online now that you don’t need to keep any physical files or papers or statements.

Once you realize the financial benefit of being eco-friendly, you’ll never go back to your old habits. Pretty soon, you will find yourself making the same changes at home too.

We recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. What are your plans (both professional and personal) for the 50th Anniversary?

Professionally, I hope to continue to be blogging and sharing eco living tips, but also shouting about the discovery of smart alternative energy that does not involve destroying the environment. I hope we will be celebrating the discovery renewable and sustainable energy sources. I hope we won’t ever have to deal with the disaster that is going on in the Gulf again. I hope I’ll be blogging about that happy news.

Personally, I hope to be living off the land and getting off the grid. My hubby is not a farmer, but he’s so fed up with the current state of the environment that he’s willing and ready to learn to be one. We talk about moving up state NY and buying some land and not worrying about where our food is coming from or relying on unreliable utility companies for energy (we had two black outs this past winter). As I get older, I yearn for a simpler life. And in ten years, who knows? Maybe I will be able to.

Thank you, Karen! You can find Karen on Twitter, Facebook and Etsy. And I highly recommend you check out the EcoKaren blog.

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Pumpkin Bread: A New Twist on a Fall Favorite That’s Good for the Planet and the Palette

Image from Simply Recipes

Posted by guest blogger, Kia Guarino

A few weeks ago, my annual fall craving for everything pumpkin kicked into full swing. I found and bought a big can of pumpkin puree at Whole Foods with grand plans…and let it sit. Finally, after staring at it wistfully for a few weeks, I decided to make pumpkin bread today.

After conducting a general Google search on “pumpkin bread recipes,” I figured out a consistent list of ingredients and decided to do something a little different: make it as healthy and eco-friendly as possible.

Two main points that I kept in mind: everything in moderation and natural is always better than processed!

Improved Recipe
1 cup (organic) pumpkin puree
½ cup organic butter (melted)
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 free-range grass-fed chicken eggs
1½ cups locally grown pesticide-free whole wheat flower
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves

Pumpkin Puree:
Having already purchased non-organic pumpkin puree, I let this one slide. In the future I will definitely use organic instead. Either way, pumpkins are full of natural health benefits. Like carrots, the orange color indicates that it is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant and has been shown to help prevent certain cancers.

Vegetable Oil:
One thing Americans need to learn is to not be afraid to use butter. The original recipe calls for ½ cup of vegetable oil, but I decided to use organic butter instead. Many vegetable oils on the market are made from genetically modified plants and go through extraction processes that can leave behind chemical solvent residues. You can use sunflower or safflower oils if they’re organic and cold pressed, but quite frankly, butter tastes better.

Sugar:
Refined white sugar has had all the minerals, vitamins and other benefits of natural cane removed. In a time when immune system strength is particularly important (to battle swine flu!), it is important to avoid refined sugar, which can lower the immune system and feed bacteria. I decided to use organic evaporated cane juice instead, since it does not undergo the same processing as refined white sugar and therefore maintains its natural calcium, iron and potassium.

Eggs:
Although they appear to be identical products, free-range eggs are much higher in Omega-3 than the factory farmed equivalent. There is also a significant difference between what chickens are fed in factories compared with those that are free-range grass-fed. These differences are then transferred to the egg. Plus, free-range just tastes better.

Flour:
As with processed white sugars, white flour is stripped of most of its natural nutrients and usually bleached. You can buy unbleached flours, but they are still missing the essential nutrients, including fiber. Using whole wheat makes the pleasure of pumpkin bread a little less guilty and is overall much healthier. Using locally grown flour is important on a much larger scale for long-term sustainability. While this might be hard to do, whenever you can buy local, do it! King Arthur flour is a good alternative since they are employee-owned and high quality.

Spices:
The spices used in pumpkin bread and in many fall favorites (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) also have many natural health benefits. Cinnamon and nutmeg have been known to help with stomach and digestive issues and clove with pain management. Cinnamon and clove also have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Cooking Instructions
1 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease a 9×5 baking dish.

2 In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, melted butter, sugar and eggs.

3 In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, then combine with the other ingredients. Mix slowly.

3 Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until a thin skewer poked in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let it cool.

This recipe makes one moist and delicious loaf!

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Go Green with the Etsy Twitter Team

GGETT_Globe1Please join the EtsyTwitter Team for our first ever green event! From July 21 through July 27, members of the EtsyTwitter Team will be featuring items that are green: upcycled, recycled, organic, sustainable, repurposed, earth-friendly, eco-friendly, etc. etc.

During this time, participating shops will be offering a wide array of sustainable products, discounts and/or free shipping, and there will be daily giveaways.

Team leaders Vickie Porter (of In My Head Studios) and Kristen Evans (of FireBirdHouse Designs) are spearheading this event. The impetus behind this event, in Vickie’s words, comes from the fact that “The handmade lifestyle is an important piece of the eco-puzzle and we want to be sure and share that with the rest of the world, on Twitter and off.”

Coco Watkin (owner of By Coco) has also written wonderful article on this event, and others being held by the Etsy Twitter Team, by  in Handmade News.

For more information about this event, including updates regarding which stores are participating, and what types of deals they are offering, please check out the teamblog. You can also find details about the Going Green with the Etsy Twitter Team event by following us on Twitter or by visiting our Facebook page.

Thank you, Team Eco Etsy!

listing-promoI am a brand new member of the Eco Esty street team, a group of artisans who are committed to using green practices in their products and packaging. The Eco Etsy Team’s Statement says: “Our members are just as dedicated to using recycled materials in their creations as they are about recycling packaging. We take the safety of the environment in mind in the way that we run our small businesses and create our sales items. During our team’s growth, we have become heavily focused on promoting eco-living as a whole; every facet of our lifestyle can be more eco-friendly, and our team has come to focus strongly on this all-around outlook.”

And, within my first couple of days of being a member, I had the honor of being chosen as one of the three winners of their Themed Nomination, which was announced on the Eco Esty blog yesterday. This week’s theme was “It’s Your Time,” in honor of the 10th annual National Women’s Health Week. This initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier and happier life, such as taking time to pamper themselves! So, they were looking for products that reflected the idea of self-care and self-nurture. My massage oil was chosen, along with LaPomme’s lavender sachets, and My Name is Muddy’s French green clay bath.

The Eco Etsy blog is a wonderful resource for eco-tips, information on eco-friendly creations, how-to’s and much more, all written and posted by EcoEtsy members! Eco Etsy team members’ products can be found by doing an Etsy tag search for “teamecoetsy“.

Thank you for the warm welcome, Team Eco Etsy!