Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Old Calendars... New Envelopes

 As I was doing some spring cleaning this past weekend I came across a bunch of old wildlife calendars. I really have no idea how I acquired all of them, but I did. Although I really don't need any of them (some were from 2006!) I hated to part with them - I don't know what it is about baby animals.. so cute! So, I decided to find a new use for them. I decided to take a stab at making my own envelopes.

 I gathered the supplies I thought I would need: pen, scissors, ruler, glue stick. I also grabbed a few old envelopes to use as a template. After carefully unfolding an old envelope I decided to make a stiffer more durable "template". I decided to dig into the recycling bin and found a cereal box. I traced the envelope onto the cardboard and cut it out.

The next step was to cut out the new envelopes. I took apart each calendar and made a stack of pictures. I laid the template down on the "calendar" side and lined it up so the picture would be on the outside of the envelope, traced it, then cut it out. I continued this process until I had a good stack of new envelope pieces. I took the ruler and folded down the sides - making a nice sharp line. Using the glue stick I glued down the sides. 

I love the way some of them look. I don't plan on using these as mailing envelopes, but instead as gift tags and for gifts that are hand delivered. This was a fun and easy craft  that will help me to add a personal touch to gifts while reusing a material that would otherwise be discarded (although I would most definitely recycle them!).

Baby Animal Envelopes!!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day!

Amicalola State Park, GA
I am so excited that the sun is shining on this Earth Day. Aside from getting outside to enjoy the day and getting some yard work done, I am also reflecting on my like and the impact I have on the earth. I believe that I am doing an excellent job at recycling, composting and trying to reduce waste and buy responsibly. I know I am not perfect and today am making a pledge.

Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA
Although I own and use my reusable water bottles and coffee mugs - I don't always to remember to bring them with my. Today I pledge to only use my reusable water bottles and travel coffee mug. If I forget my coffee mug, then I will not get coffee. I pledge to keep an extra reusable water bottle in the car in case I forget. At this point in my life there is no reason to be using paper or styrofoam coffee cups or buying plastic waster bottles.

Wind Turbines, ME
As for transportation - I pledge to only drive my car when I really need to (and pledge to carpool as much as possible). Even though I own a clean diesel vehicle, it still pollutes the air. As the weather gets warmer I pledge to ride my bike to work at least 3 days a week. This will help me reduce emissions, save money and be a healthier person.

I pledge to go to my local co-op and become a member. With proper budgeting I know that my husband and I can buy more local organic foods and buy in bulk. I am looking forward to starting an organic garden with some friends in a few weeks. I would much rather get down and dirty in a garden then spend time washing the pesticides and chemicals off my fruits and vegetables. I also plan to buy more local meats and support local farmers.

I know that I can be a better more responsible person, both for myself and for mother earth. This is the only planet we have and I want all the natural beauty to be around for my children.

My husband and I on top of Camel's Hump, VT

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Chair

The dog chair.
 When my husband and I first moved to the Montpelier area several years ago we started to collect and scavenge for furniture for our apartment. Much our stuff was "borrowed" from my parents house. Others were picked up on the side of the road or given to us by friends. One lovely piece we acquired was an old green chair. It was very tattered, but comfortable. Initially I covered it with a blanket and hoped that no one would take a close look at it.

 We got our first dog, Devin, after we moved into a bigger place a little farther outside of Montpelier. I take the blame for letting her jump up and sleep on the couch and bed. Her favorite piece of furniture though, that ugly green chair. I am guessing it's her favorite because she can sit (or stand) on it and look out the window.

Odin our new puppy!
I never really thought about fixing the chair until we had a new pup join the family. We picked up Odin from a local boarding kennel (that adopts out dogs) this past week. Although he is adorable and crate - trained, he has a knack for picking up things (that are not his) as well as romping around  the small living room. The moment I knew I had to do something about this chair was when I came around the corner and saw him attempting to eat the stuffing and pick at the strings of upholstery hanging off.
All patched up!

Devin and Odin lounging  

During a lazy day yesterday I figured I would tackle patching the massive holes. I grabbed a bit of scrap fabric I had and went to work. Now that the job is finished, I am loving the look of it. It's only a chair for the dog - no need to be beautiful. I plan to continue to patch the chair, as the dogs toe nails continue to pierce the already worn fabric.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What I'm All About..

Growing up I never thought much about recycling, reuse or the environment. At home we recycled, fed our food scraps to chickens, had a garden and enjoyed the outdoors; hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, etc. This was our way of life and no one made a big deal of it. I ended up staying in my home state and getting a BS in Environmental Studies at University of Vermont with a concentration in environmental education and wildlife conservation. I had found my passion.

Nature Center in NJ
After graduation I was employed at a nature center in NJ and a residential environmental education center in GA. Between those amazing opportunities I worked retail at a big box store, DSG  in Williston, Vermont. That job almost killed me. Seeing the all the excess and unnecessary packaging and lack of recycling drove me crazy. Although I enjoyed my job, I felt guilty every day I worked there. I continually applied for jobs in environmental fields and was continually rejected. Not enough experience, too many applicants. For a while I felt hopeless.

My luck finally changed at the end of 2009. I took a part time job as a "compost monitor". I stood in the lunchroom at a central Vermont school and helped students separate their food scraps from trash and recycling. Although it was only 2 hours a day (and was highly over-qualified), and made my retail schedule awful (working nights 5 days a week), I was happy and felt good about what I was doing. Quickly after that luck was on my side again. The woman who was my supervisor found out she got into graduate school and was leaving the job in one month. I was snatched up for her position faster than I could ever imagine! See ya later retail!!

Simon the dog with his new sweatshirt!

 So now here I am. Working as the School Zero Waste Coordinator at the local solid waste district. I help set up composting programs in schools and am working to help schools reduce waste and recycle more. I am working to create recycling program and convince schools (students, faculty and staff), why they should invest into the 3Rs. This is not as easy at it may seem. I have come up against many people who think composting is ridiculous and recycling is a waste of time. It's safe to say that some days I come home feeling hopeless about the future of the planet.

Rosie the pug with her fancy sweatshirt!

Well, enough about work life - my life outside of work is much more exciting. I love to knit and craft. My newest hobby (which may becoming an obsession) is reusing materials and making them into something new. So far I have made 2 dog sweatshirts out of old sweatshirts from work. I envision making more dog clothes and stuffed animals out of old t-shirts, etc. I am also collecting old clothes to use to make a patchwork quilt for my bed. Anything I can do to reuse materials I will do.

 My strive to be green also includes reducing the amount of stuff that I own and making responsible purchases. I want to buy local and American and really buy only what I need. Determining the difference between wants and needs has been an amazing journey for me. My Mom is still amazed when I say that I there is nothing I need right now (I would say that I am a reformed shop-a-holic). Over consumption is a problem that is plaguing this country and I am putting a stop to that practice in my life immediately.