Buy Nothing Day was a big success at our house and it helped that we didn’t leave the house at all. Small Business Saturday meant a great trip to Alaska Mill and Feed for pet supplies. Today is Cyber Monday but I left my wallet at home so I guess I won’t be able to do scads of online purchasing. Darn. Anyway, “Trash Backwards” has awesome ideas.


Oh, and their web app ROCKS.

Trash Backwards Blog

Today is “Black Friday” in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving, when the Christmas shopping season “officially” opens.

Here at Trash Backwards, we’d love to help you celebrate Buy Nothing Day, instead. In fact, we think we’ve got enough reuse solutions in our database to get you through a Buy Nothing New Year of gift giving.

We’re not saying you have to give up giving gifts. We’re wagering that you’ve got what you already need, or can easily get the materials from a friend or neighbor,  to give freely to everyone on your list using only reused or upcycled materials.

We’re not just talking about tchotkes (although there are plenty of those to be made from upcycled materials, and they’re undeniably fun to create), we’re talking useful things, pretty things, items that will bring joy to the recipient while keeping stuff out of our landfills and…

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Well, here’s a personal post…


On my computer at school I have a yellow sticky note with my year-long research question for my work on the CRAVE project with my students.20121121-095452.jpg

How can my family live more lightly on the earth?

And then stickies referring to the categories I need to investigate and blog about. But as I stared at them I realized that I should have drawn a big elephant to represent what I wasn’t going to talk about. Weight. Certainly becoming a teacher instead of a retail worker made me more sedentary and I gained a little bit of weight around 14 years ago. I didn’t gain much weight with Cormac and actually lost weight while pregnant with Finley. But in 2002 I had major work stress during which I was bullied by a parent and treated very badly by the administration and fellow teachers. It was an incredibly horrible situation and I definitely gained weight from the stress as much as from stress/comfort eating. I’ve just kind of hung onto that trauma and I think issues with my weight are an outward sign.

I know that one way an individual can reduce his/her impact on the planet is by eating less and maintaining a normal weight. So that’s my goal. For the last week I have been following a very strict Whole 30 with calorie restriction and tracking. I did a Whole 30 in January 2011 and lost weight without tracking what I ate so I expect this time to be even more successful. This plan is similar to a paleo diet: no sugar, no grains, no legumes, just protein, vegetables, and a little bit of fruit. I’d been doing well with no processed food and eating lots of vegetables so it’s been a pretty easy transition. I was told this summer by my ND to give up gluten and it has been a struggle even though I feel better, much better, without it.

If I am making efforts to make simple changes then I can’t ignore the elephant in the room,, the change that most needs to be made. It’s harder to lose weight as an adult but people who are well within a normal weight range use fewer medical resources, eat less, eat better quality food, and are more active. So, as I work toward the Exercise part of this research this is a plan that can immediately be put into motion.

Wish me luck.



Chicken with Brussels sprouts

Green Christmas – Lego key holder

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Yeah, I might just need to make this when I get home tonight. Kevin already has a Lego guy on his keychain so we may as well just take this one step further.

Update: We made one yesterday but it needs a little work still. Finley added quite a bit of Lego decoration to it so it looks extra spiffy. :/  Anyway, I’ll keep working on it because I love this idea.

Design Milk's Lego key holder

Design Milk’s Lego key holder

Green Christmas – Ten Ways to Refashion a Sweater

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We are practicing the recommendation on Simple Kids for a simpler gift-giving this year, especially since the boys and I are going to Florida for a week and most of our money has been spent on that. But in the meantime I thought we’d highlight some great upcycled projects from around our homes and around the net.

Ten Ways to Refashion a Sweater.

via Ten Ways to Refashion a Sweater.

Daily Prompt: Be the Change


Daily Prompt: Be the Change.

I should start paying attention to the daily writing prompts. Really. But this one fits in with how I’ll be using the blog for the next several months. The three of us who started Green Momma are all moms and teachers. I teach high school English and like to use problem-based (aka project-based or inquiry) learning projects as a way of encouraging students to explore their passions, learn research skills, and, hopefully, bring about some positive change for the world.

Last year I adapted a common AP Language project, REHUGO, into a project called CRAVE. Students begin with a question and by the spring should have a solution.
C – Community and current events consider the history behind issues & current events regarding your issue)
R – Reading books, articles, journals (consider areas not typically covered in an English class)
A – Active – music, museum visits, lecture, podcasts, etc.

V – Visual – film, art, theater, etc.

E – Exercise (this is your research in the form of a plan)

My question is “How can my family live more lightly on the Earth?” and I’ll be trying to answer that question in the form of blog posts addressing food, energy use, spending, materials, and systems, along with my usual exploration of permaculture principles. The change I want to see in the world with this blog is that everyone realizes that life is a process and little is perfected. Too often we see only the results in a pin on Pinterest or a cooking post, and wonder why we haven’t achieved that same look. We all have to practice and maybe, with time, practice will make perfect.


via Daily Prompt: Be the Change.

Anchorage’s Permaculture Guild

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“Permaculture Guild Meeting.” Personal interview. 11 Nov. 2012.

The Anchorage Permaculture Guild met last evening, as it does about once a month, for a potluck and informal meeting. A guild is an association of artisans who control the practice of their craft and, as evidenced by this month’s meeting, also help to teach their craft to others. For me there were only a few familiar faces: Cindee and Curt (thanks for the nudge, Cindee!) of Eagle River EcoEscape fame, my gardening teacher, Saskia, and one of my gardening classmates, Bridget. Both the visiting and the food were warm and nurturing but soon the official meeting business began. Everyone spoke about how their summer and experiments with permaculture had been. Several meeting attendees had been students or teachers in the permaculture course that ran in Homer this past August. Other members made good use of the rain by hunting for elusive cloud berries or edible fungi. Many of us suffered losses in the September wind storm. Ironically, Cindee and Curt had a tree fall on their hugelkulture bed. The group is planning to figure out ways of doing more community outreach and hands-on education through the Williams Street Farmhouse, the EcoEscape Bioshelter, the Alaska Botanical Gardens, and other community groups.

The meeting was pretty calm and casual though it was obvious that people’s passions run very deep. Though my understanding is that the guild has been around for a little while it seems like it needs a jolt of energy and organization (no, this is NOT where I come in) though people may still just be recovering from the harvest and preservation aspect of permaculture that I know I personally could not keep up with this year. It seems to me like there are a lot of complementary events happening around Anchorage, from the Fungus Fair to the REAP Renewable Energy Fair, that should be serving as means for more exposure for the group and for the local businesses that help nurture the guild.

I volunteered to host the next meeting. I liked what I saw in the meeting last night and had already determined that I would like to continue to participate, so when no one seemed willing or able to host in December the spirit moved me and I spoke up. I don’t know that I have a lot of energy or time to give to the guild (or experience, or skills) but I am willing to try and I do feel like there is room for me in the meetings.

(Readers: I am using my experiences and blog posts as a model for my AP Language students so you will see many of my posts written in the form of an annotated bibliography. Thank you!)

MUD IS GOOD! Ten Easy Ways to Connect Your Family to the Joy of Nature

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MUD IS GOOD! Ten Easy Ways to Connect Your Family to the Joy of Nature : The New Nature Movement.

Looking for ideas to help get your kids out in nature? This is a great blog full of fun, easy ideas to connect your children with nature. There are many great books out there as well–check out my resources page for my favorites!

Kids love finding natural forts in nature!

via MUD IS GOOD! Ten Easy Ways to Connect Your Family to the Joy of Nature : The New Nature Movement.