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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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10 Ways Meditation is Green, Frugal, Healthy and Sustainable

I realized the other morning that there may be folks who wonder why meditation is something I’ve started mentioning at One Green Generation.  Meditation in our society is sometimes perceived as selfish, intangible, hippy-like silliness, time-wasting or… there are many other terms that could work here.  I’ll admit that I, too, had some of these misconceptions not too long ago.

But since I started a meditation practice a few months ago, I have come to understand how much it can play a role in our daily lives as we strive to be as sustainable as we can be.

If any of you are starting to wonder what meditation is and how it can play a role, or if you’re struggling to make it a part of your lifestyle, I hope this will help encourage you!!

How Mediation is Green, Frugal, Healthy and Sustainable

  1. It can take the place of or reduce medications that cost money, support the pharmaceutical industry and can become hazardous to our waterways and fish habitats.  This includes pain medication,  antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, asthma and heart medications, and more.  (Obviously make sure to work with your doctor on this!)
  2. It brings about compassion within yourself that radiates far beyond you to other people and other living beings.  I personally believe compassion is one of the keys to people chosing to live sustainably.
  3. It increases productivity at work, at home, during daily tasks and in daily thoughts.  I’ve heard it several times, and I believe it’s true: meditation actually puts more time into your day.  If you put 30 minutes into meditation, you get at least 30 minutes back via increased productivity.  It’s shocking (and makes “I don’t have time for meditation” a weak excuse!)
  4. It strengthens relationships as you learn to pause before letting anger blindly strike, to listen more effectively and compassionately, and to become more intuitive and caring in your actions and reactions.
  5. You are more likely to think about the honest consequences before doing something – which can affect your health, your relationships, and the environment.
  6. It’s free psychotherapy – meditation can help you break through anxiety, depression, childhood issues, and, I’m finding, so much more…!
  7. It can make your community stronger. If you meditate with other people in your community, it ties you with stronger bonds to those around you, it brings you together so your compassion ripples outward with stronger effect, and it strengthens, deepens and helps sustain your own practice.
  8. It can reduce your desires for material things, and heighten desires for non-material experiences.  This may be a personal effect on me alone, but it is a strong effect: material things don’t seem to matter as much.  Plus I’m more likely to read a book, go for a walk, chat with my husband or do other energy-saving activities – rather than watch tv or do something that requires driving and/or money.
  9. It makes you more thankful for the beauty and insight around you, more aware of your surroundings, and happier while doing every day chores.  Being present in the moment has made it more fulfilling, calming and meditating as I do the dishes, make dinner, bake bread, even do my taxes.
  10. It facilitates becoming more involved in your community, even in small ways like saying “hello” as you walk by someone on the street, going into a local shop instead of a large chain store, gardening or going for a walk, volunteering, or finding your own other route for becoming involved. Because you have more time in your day, different priorities for your time, and more devotion to well-being.
  11. There is one more big one for me: it has helped me transcend my every day labors to understand my own potential, where I want to head with my life and my work, and how I might best go about it.  This doesn’t happen so much while meditating as it does afterward, in the open spaces in my mind that meditation has cleared for just such important thoughts.

My meditation practice is truly becoming richer by the day.  This is my personal list of ways I believe meditation strengthens our sustainable lifestyle – there are several other resources and studies out there that show the health benefits of meditation. When you start to delve into it, it’s pretty incredible what you’ll find!

What about you?

Did I miss anything?  Do you have a meditation practice of your own?

Do You Use An Eco-Friendly Air Freshener?

I’ve been receiving a lot of reader questions lately.  It seem you all are pushing me to write again!  Ok, I’m trying to clear off my work load so I can get back to writing.  I miss it, too!

In the meantime, anyone have some good solutions for Sam?

Hi Melinda,

Do you have any suggestions on what one could use to freshen up a room or kitchen that is both cost effective and not damaging to ones health?

I use the store bought air fresheners but I am thinking they are probably not all that healthly am I right? There has to be another way? Any comments or advice would be great!

Regards,
Sam

I don’t really use air freshener, so any help you all have would be lovely!

Back In Time: 3 Personal Product Changes

There are big changes and small changes along the path toward sustainability, and from my perspective, they all matter.  As I spend a week in the San Juan Islands, I thought some of you all might enjoy some of the most popular articles here at One Green Generation.

How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe)

Simple recipe, quite effective.  The #1 most popular post on this site.  How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe)

Hair Without Shampoo

A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo

Think you need shampoo every day or every week?  Think again.  You might just find you don’t need it at all… A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo.  Also check out No ‘Poo: New & Improved!

Be Prepared!

Replace Your Cleaning Products

Ok this isn’t one post, it’s three.  But I think you’ll like them.

Know Another Great Resource?

Please comment!

 

Is Green a Hokey Western Invention?

GrandmaMy Grandmother

I received a thought-provoking email recently that I’d thought I’d put to you all to answer.

Hi Melinda!

I am soooooo not a blog-commenter, you cannot imagine! Pretty safe to say this is my first.

Your site is so real and honest. I was browsing purely for research yet the character ringing through these pages was so… crystal, I think?… I couldn’t help but engage.

I live in the Philippines, a developing country in Asia. While my family is in that slim ratio of the more materially fortunate, our country is beset with poverty, corruption and moral decay. As such, the ideals on this site sound removed from reality, as esoteric as a new religion. Even as IN PRACTICE it all comes down to things our pre-colonial ancestors took for granted! Conditioning shampoo made from tree-bark, leaves/roots/flowers in everything, water kept cool in clay jars, giant palm fronds pulled manually to cool the room, wood-burning stoves… my own grandmother was a poster girl for green!

It’s when we think of it as modern or alternative or even Western that it feels hokey. Being poor and still agricultural, maybe we don’t need to call it “green”. It’s just what our mothers did.

And then I wonder: isn’t that true even for you guys???

Best of luck with this undertaking!
If there’s anything I can do…

Adele

What I Believe

Thank you for your thought-provoking question, Adele!

First off, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about their lifestyle, because whether or not it’s a Western invention, I think it’s necessary given how far our Western culture has gone astray.

Secondly, I also believe that back to the basics or living as our mothers did is a bit artificial, because our lives ARE different than our mother’s and grandmother’s, and I don’t believe it’s realistic nor healthy to be always looking back.  There are many things I learned from my grandmother and mother that I do want to return to my normal life.  But there are a lot of aspects in the contemporary world that are essential to understand and be a part of in order to change society.

For example, I can’t blog if I go back to the simplicity of life during my grandmother’s time.  Yet I feel I’m creating great change in my life as well as thousands of others’ lives by blogging.  I also can’t run a business that creates wide-spread change without utilizing modern tools and reaching people where they are, which often means reaching people with technology.

And finally, my mother and grandmother didn’t always have it easy, and didn’t have time to do some of the things I do today.  I did try to live a lifestyle that was self-sufficient and idolized an old way of doing things. But I found that I didn’t have time to reach out to others, I didn’t have enough money to survive as a family, nor did I totally enjoy a lifestyle that so fully centered around my own daily life.

So I see living a sustainable lifestyle as utilizing the tools we need to use in order to generate change, while reincorporating some of the timeless values of our ancestors.  In other words, taking the best of both worlds, both generations.

What Do You Believe?

Are we just creating another artificial, hokey alternative?

What Is The Best Form Of Exercise?

Why Am I Asking This Question?

Because one of the keys to sustainable living is health and longevity.  If you are healthy, your life is sustainable.  And I love you all, and want you all to live long, healthy, and productive lives!

Are You Having Difficulty Exercising?

I have fought and fought myself about exercise over the years.  I’ve been through phases of aerobics, yoga, running, weight lifting, stair mastering, tread milling, rowing, biking, swimming, and lots more.  But all phases.  Nothing stuck permanently!

But if you need reasons to exercise, please read the Mayo Clinic’s top 10 reasons – they’re short and to the point.  Essentially the reasons are: to feel good, live long, be thin and healthy, and stay smart.  Pretty good reasons, don’t you think?  So let’s all just find a way to do it, shall we?

What’s the Best Form Of Exercise?

The one you’ll do.

My husband works out in the gym of our building.  I walk to work and garden.  Whatever works is what we stick with, because our health is the most important thing.  I found out over the years that I don’t like gyms.  I also can’t always afford yoga, taking exercise classes, or swimming.  But I can afford to walk, and I can afford to garden.  And so I allow myself to be ok with that.

You’re most looking for aerobic exercise that lasts 30-60 minutes at a time, and something you’ll enjoy doing every day or nearly every day:  brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, dancing, some types of yoga and pilates, tread mills (and equivalent gym equipment), etc.  There are 1,440 minutes in every day.  All you need is 30 of those to exercise.

Walk With Me!

If you enjoy walking, walk with me!  There are 24 of us walking together now – come join us!!

10,000 Steps Challenge

Bored walking alone?  Start a walking group!  Ask a friend to join you, walk with your partner in the evening, find a coworker who lives near you to walk with.

Be Smart & Safe

Wear Supportive Shoes

No matter what exercise you choose (except swimming), make sure you wear shoes that give you adequate support.  You don’t have to find them new – if you don’t have any good shoes, you usually find decent shoes at a local thrift store, just make sure the soles and arch support are still good.

Warm Up

Just like your car on a cold morning, your body doesn’t like to start up and go immediately.  Stretch and start out slowly, allowing your body to ease into your exercise.  Then do the same at the end: slow down and ease out of the exercise.

Be Safe

If you feel unsafe, exercise with a friend.  If you have heart troubles, make sure you consult your doctor.  Please be safe.

What Kind of Exercise Do You Like Doing?

Are you exercising now?  If not, will you start?  I want you to live long, be healthy, and stay smart.  So how about it?  (No excuses now!)

Time-Saving Tips For Sustainable Living

When I asked you all recently what was the most difficult part of sustainable living, many of you said “not having enough time.” I will admit this is my number one issue as well. So let’s tackle it!

I have been perusing the internet searching for time-saving tips that are in line with a sustainable lifestyle. Below are the best ones I found – many of which I know…. but don’t practice. So over the coming few weeks, I’m going to tackle this list. Please feel free to join me!

And if you are one of those people who has begun to master the art of getting everything done that you’d like to get done, please tell us your tricks!!

Time-Saving Tips For Sustainable Living

  1. Give Up Perfection and Focus On Being Human. I am a perfectionist.  I want my garden, my home, my work, and my life to be just the way I imagine them.  That is to say, I want them perfect.  Like the movies, like advertisements, like the picture in the recipe book or the photo I took on my own blog a year ago.  Alas, it’s time to give up perfection for something slightly more human!
  2. Find Something Constructive That Releases Stress. Most of us have the urge to plop on the couch after a long day’s work in front of the television.  Even those of us who gave up television, might go through phases of watching tv or movies via the internet or video rental (cough, cough).  And while that de-stressing time is incredibly valuable, I will be looking for ways that help me de-stress while at the same time being constructive.  For example, reading my book for my new book group, or planting greens on our balcony, or looking up tips for saving time.  Some of you might find knitting or sewing or cooking does the trick.  I’m going to start working on the latter more!
  3. Keep a Notepad Filled with To-Dos and Ideas. Keep a running to-do list to keep track of what you need to do on a daily basis, and group your to-dos into logical chunks.   Write down ideas you have throughout the day (I do this with blog post ideas all the time).  Also make sure to keep these all in one place, so you don’t have search for them and so you don’t have ten to-do lists in various spots.  (Right now I think I have 5 or 6 running to-do lists in various spots on paper and on the computer!)  Finally, make sure to check off things you’ve accomplished.  That’s the best part!
  4. Play Speed Games. While a slow and deliberate life is important, there are likely some to-dos on your list that just don’t need to be done very deliberately, or you don’t have time to complete them slowly.  My sister and I used to play “speed dishes” when we were kids:  who could get done all the dishes fastest, without breaking anything of course!   Maybe play speed grocery shopping, where you focus on getting everything on your shopping list as quickly as possible.  Or play concentrated cleaning, or if you’ve brought a little work home for the night play speed work and get it done quickly.
  5. Delegate Tasks. Whether you’re at work or at home, sometimes you can delegate work to someone else and have it done more effectively and efficiently.  At work, teach your coworkers or interns how to help.  At home, teach your children – teach them to tidy their rooms and those of the rest of the house, to do the dishes, to clean the laundry, to mend, to walk the dog, and to water the garden.  I am incredibly grateful my mother taught me these things!
  6. Organize and De-Clutter. You should see my sock drawer!  Sometimes it’s full of nicely folded and matched socks, and sometimes it is an array of odds and ends.  I cannot believe how much time it takes me – let alone the frustration – to find 2 matching socks when the drawer is in disarray.  The same goes for anywhere I keep daily items.
  7. Prioritize and Be Ok With Not Doing Everything. At work in particular I find it difficult to say no when a colleague or employee asks for help.  At home too, I want to go to every social function and take advantage of every event in my building.  But sometimes I have to say no.  It’s a tough balance I’m still learning.  I believe the most important thing is to figure out my long-term goals, and make sure I prioritize the tasks that will get me there.
  8. Create a Routine. I always feel better when I get up at the same time each day, go to bed at the same time each evening, and have a pretty steady routine in between.  It helps me plan my day better and I don’t have to think so much about each element of the day.  Big bonus points when I make my lunch as a part of that routine: it’s cheaper, easier, healthier, and often saves time.  I might just try making it the night before…
  9. Cook In Larger Quantities. Whenever we fill the crock pot for dinner, I have my lunch ready-made the next day.  We’re not very good about eating the same thing for dinner two nights in a row, but we do freeze unused portions for later.  Ok, time to do more crock pot dinners!
  10. Calendarize. A year ago, my husband told me I needed to live by my calendar.  I hated the thought, and felt it was way outside of my personality.  But slowly, I started keeping a regular calendar and using it to prioritize my day, schedule my week, and see the big picture.  I can track my goals, so I accomplish the things I want to accomplish!  I don’t forget birthdays (much), or anniversaries, or important social events.  I can also see my husband’s calendar and know what he’s up to, which is surprisingly useful.  This is one thing I do pretty well – phew!

What else?

I want to say again that I truly enjoy living deliberately and slowing down when possible.  But with my own business still ramping up, I work more than I want to and don’t have enough time in the day to do the community building and living locally that I’d really like to do.  So over the next few weeks, I’ll be working hard on prioritizing and using my time more deliberately and effectively.  Please feel free to join me, everyone!

Also, please share what has worked for you as far as time saving goes – and special tips you’ve come across?

Ten Ways Cloths Can Save the Planet Paper and Save You Money

Saving paper is one of the easiest ways to save both trees and money as you’re redefining normal on your path toward sustainability.  Some of these changes are difficult to get into at first – for some reason we have a mental barrier against making these types of changes.  But once you’ve passed that initial barrier, it is extremely easy to get used to using cloth.

10 Ways Cloths Can Save Paper and Money

  1. Handkerchiefs – instead of paper tissues.  Quick tip: if you’re going to buy handkerchiefs, try to buy ones that will look ok to you without ironing – it’s a handkerchief after all!
  2. Cloth Napkins – instead of paper napkins.  There is an elegance that cloth napkins add to a meal as well!  Again, make sure to buy napkins you don’t need to iron – 100% tight-weave cotton seem to work best for us.
  3. Rags - instead of sponges or paper towels in the kitchen or around the household.  Make these out of old worn towels – if you don’t have any old towels, you can find some in a local thrift store.
  4. Kitchen towels – instead of paper towels.
  5. Cloth Diapers – instead of disposable paper diapers. There are so many diaper services now, that if you don’t want to clean them yourself, you can just send them out to be cleaned!  However, if you can handle doing it at home it is sooo much cheaper!
  6. Glad Rags or Luna Pads – instead of menstrual pads.  You can read more about greening your cycle here.
  7. Cloth wipes – instead of toilet paper.  While I have not yet been brave enough for this change, Crunchy Chicken is full of cloth wipe challenges to get you started on the path.
  8. Dusting Cloths – instead of paper towels.  You can use the special microfiber dust cloths (I have some of these), or just cut up an old t-shirt or cloth diaper.
  9. Cloth Bags - instead of paper (or plastic) bags.  I wrote about how to make these very easily here.
  10. Cloth wrapping paper – instead of paper wrapping.  I have loads of cheap scarves I’ve been collecting over the years from thrift stores.  Several times I’ve wrapped gifts or flowers in old scarves and given them away – it is a beautiful wrapping paper that can be reused over and over again!

Many times using cloth instead of paper ends up emoting a feeling of nostalgia for older times.  That rag that used to be your favorite beach towel, that handkerchief that used to be your grandmother’s, the dusting cloth that was once your husband’s favorite t-shirt or your grown child’s old infant blanket….  So come, try it out!

What Else?

I’m sure several of you have more clever ways to save money and paper – please share.