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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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What Is The Hardest Part About Living Sustainably, Frugaly, or Green?

A long while back many of us shared the most difficult things to change in our lives – on our paths toward sustainability.  We have so many new people joining us, and life has changed quite a lot since then.  So let’s do it again!

Once we share them here, we can help one another to make those changes over time.  Shall we?

For me, the hardest things have been:

  1. Making the time to cook.  Particularly at lunch,  I eat (organic) frozen food.  Ack – it’s true!
  2. Making the time to help other people make lifestyle changes.  Particularly lately, I haven’t made time to help others by way of the blog (sorry guys!), speaking, and other ways.
  3. Being a real part of my new community.  I don’t spend enough time at local events, I don’t volunteer locally (there are lots of local organizations that could use my help), and I don’t feel like I participate in my new neighborhood.

What Change Is The Hardest For You?

Think a bit, and then please share!  What do you wish you were doing, but you just can’t make yourself do?  What do you feel guilty about doing?

I will tell you it feels good to write them down.  Now that they’re there, on paper, I see what I need to work on.

Try it!

Earth Hour Tonight – 8:30pm Your Time

In one hour, you won’t change the world.  But you might change your perception of the world.  And that’s something.

I believe the world needs to redefine what normal is, and the way to do that is to start very small for some – one hour, one moment to think about the earth.  That one moment can have profound implications, or it can be one more step to redefining the way businesses, homes, and lives to think about the earth.

It’s only one hour.  Try it!  Don’t be disappointed if your neighbors don’t do it – they probably don’t know about it.  But know that across the world, millions of others are doing it.  Next year, maybe your neighbors will do it too.

Learn more here.

Are You Turning Off Your Lights?

Lunapad Winner!

Well, it appears you all like giveaways… so I will keep my ears open for more!  In the meantime, the winner of our fabulous Lunapad Giveaway is….

Lunapad winner!!!

Abbey W!

Abbey, please email me with your address, and you’ll soon be the proud owner of the Lunapad Intro Kit. (You have until 31 March 12pm PST to email me, otherwise I’ll draw a new name!)

Thanks for joining in the fun everyone!

All Come Free! All Challenge Check In!!

Ok, I’m going to leave this post up for a couple of days as I turn it over to you all:  Is anyone out there still challenging themselves?  And are you enjoying it or is it a pain in the butt?  Is it changing the way you think about things?

We have a lot of challenges going on and I would love to hear about all of them!  So please, check in and say a word – share how you’re doing!

The Growing Challenges

The Growing Challenge New! The Growing Challenge Advanced Edition – From Seed To Seed! The Growing Challenge: Evangelist Edition

Accomplish Your Dreams and Walk 10,000 Steps

Accomplish Your Dreams Challenge

Green Your Insides and Buy Sustainably

The Buy Sustainably Challenge! I\'m Green Inside

Do Tell!

Come, don’t be shy!  Whether you’re formally signed up or not, come share a word.  Tell me – what’s working, what’s fun, what’s awkward, what makes you want to run??

Sustainability Bloggers That Changed My Life: Part 1

I have been blogging for over three years now - three years!! (We’re on our third year of Growing Challenges!) And I will tell you that this blog has changed my life in so many large and small ways.  And know this:  it has most definitely set my life down a different road than I would have taken without it.  A very, very good road.

I began writing as a way to catalog Matt and my journey toward self-sufficiency back in Geyeserville, California, town of 1,600.  I wanted to help others learn from our failures and few successes.  But I had never written a blog post before in my life!

It has been a long road to learning and growing as a writer as well as someone who lives sustainably.  I’ve had the help and support of several people along the way.  This series is about the bloggers who have been there for me – they’ve helped push me in sustainable living, in my writing, and in becoming who I am today.

Sustainability Bloggers That Changed My Life

Rhonda1.  Rhonda Hetzel, Down To Earth. Who knows how we find the blogs we do – we follow one, and their blogroll leads to another, which leads to a third, where we click on yet another link until we find something that really sticks.  Is that about right?  Well however it was, one day I ended up upon Rhonda’s blog and was amazed at the way she was able to engage her readers.

So, I wrote her!  I wrote Rhonda and I asked her how she built up her blog, what tricks she might pass on, and just how she started.  She was ever so generous and kind with her time.  I think quite honestly what helped me the most was her telling me to look at some “How to Blog” blogs.  I spent many many days reading and reading!

But more than anything, Rhonda has been so supportive of me, my writing, and my life.  She and I trade emails occasionally, and we blog together at the Simple Green Frugal Co-op – which Rhonda founded!  Thank you, Rhonda, for all you have done and continue to do.  You are truly an inspiration.

Green Bean2.  Michelle/Green Bean, The Green Phone Booth.   Michelle and I actually met via the Riot for Austerity listserv.  She was looking for ways to help her son through his newly diagnosed asthma, and I had already gone through all of that for myself, so I had loads of tips!  We kept in touch after that, sharing local food resources (we lived probably 50 miles from one another), learning both of our husbands have the same name, and generally supporting one another as we built our online communities and learned about sustainable living.

A couple years later, Michelle found her sustainable life was taking her outside of her home to work with her child’s school and do many things in her community.  So she gave up the beloved Green Bean Dreams blog and started up a cooperative blog – The Green Phone Booth – with several other green moms.

While having never met her in person (someday!), I am proud to call Michelle a friend of mine – we have learned a lot from one another, and without her support it’s likely I would not be where I am today.

To Be Continued…

What Are Your Favorite Blogs?

Please share!  Are there blogs that have really changed your life?

For Older, Wiser Ladies: Green Solutions to Incontinence

The other day a reader wrote me anonymously asking if there were any green solutions to the normal leakage that occurs with getting older.

Our society is just full of “taboos,” right?  I received many emails from women thanking me for bringing up the idea of greening our menstrual cycles.  It’s a shame to me that we don’t talk about these things more readily – especially since they are so much a regular, normal part of our lives!  So I encourage you all to be a little more forthcoming about it, a little more willing and ready to discuss it, a little more ok with the fact that we are women and this is what our bodies do and that is just normal!

And to our lovely male readers – maybe you can help us all be ok with these normal parts of our lives, too?

I would say the same is true for incontinence.  It’s an embarrassing part of growing older and wiser, but it is a normal part.  Our muscles change over time – and that is that.  I want to anonymously thank the reader who asked me to write about this – it was brave, and it was just right on – thank you.  I know you’re not alone in looking for these solutions!

So…  Here’s the thing:  I’m not there yet, so I don’t know personally.  However, I did do some research.  Here’s what I found…

Panties for Incontinence

Green Solutions to Incontinence

  1. Lunapad – I asked Morgan, who so graciously offered the Lunapad Giveway.  Here was her response: “Cloth pads and pantyliners are a great eco-friendly solution. We have quite a few customers who use our products for just such purposes. Here are our recommendations.”
  2. Moon Pads – In addition to their cotton pads, Moon Pads have a line of waterproof pads that they recommend for incontinence here.
  3. Sckoon Organic Underwear – Sckoon has a line of Organic Cotton Reusable Urinary Stress Incontinence Underwear, where the liner is built into the product.  Check them out here – they look like a pretty light-weight solution, if you just need a little safety mechanism.  (They’re also available on Amazon, if you prefer shopping there.)
  4. HealthDri Cotton Panties – Available for men and women, there are several styles to choose from here.  They vary from light volume to much heavier volume.
  5. NatraCare Organic Cotton PadsThese incontinence pads are not reusable, but they are organic cotton and available in most natural foods stores.  I imagine they are much more comfortable and comforting than Depends.
  6. Nighttime Pants – If you need more protection in the evenings, I found these washable bedtime pants that are quite discreet.
  7. Bedding – You can find small bed pads at almost any department store, which you can just slip beneath your sheet.  I won’t list them all here, as there are so many good options I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding them in the bedding and nursing sections of a local store.
  8. Other Resources for Panties, Pants and Pads – While I don’t know these companies, I found several online that have quite a lot of options:  P&S Healthcare, Metro Medical, and LL Medico.  Each of these has a variety of styles, several of which are quite beautiful looking.

What About You?

Please let me know if you have tried any of these, or if you know of other good solutions.  If you’re shy to write a comment, please feel free to send me an email instead.  Or, in this special case, feel free to comment as “Anonymous”!

And younger ladies, feel free to share these tips with your mom!

What Renews You?

I’ve been working a whole lot lately, which has made me cranky and a bit down on the world.  It has also made me forget (a little bit) why I live the lifestyle I live.

It’s so easy to re-enter the old normal, isn’t it?  Sometimes, not always of course.  But sometimes when you are so busy, it’s easy to get take-out, or eat frozen packaged food from many miles away, and shop til you drop, and drive instead of taking the bus or walking, and in general just buy lots of stuff because it seems easier…

Usually my redefined normal is enriching, renewing, and embracing.  But sometimes… sometimes it feels like deprivation.  It feels like if I just stopped thinking about my impact on the world, it would be so easy.

And yet just writing this is giving me perspective again.  The reality is that we are not the only ones on this planet.  The reality is that we have a large impact on other people, other species, and other generations of people and species.

The diversity on this earth is mind blowing.  And it’s shrinking.  That thought is devastating.

But we can do something.  We can do lots of little somethings.  And when we do lots of little somethings, we have a positive impact.  When we live as though we care (because when we think about it, we really do care about other people and other beings), we are happier and healthier and more enriched.

My husband is gone to the Middle East for a business trip, and so I’m alone at home at night.  It is so easy to consume as if the rest of the world didn’t matter.  I walk past so many people every day who probably don’t think about all this, who don’t worry about the impact of their consumption.  And it is so easy to say “why not just be like that and not care.”

But once you care, once you know, once you understand and begin to redefine normal… You can’t really go back can you?  Now if I buy takeout I feel guilty, because I know what it’s doing to the planet, I know I’m supporting an unsustainable model.

All this circuitous writing is to say that today this is what brings me back, this is what renews me:  you.  Writing and the ability to be heard and be understood  – i’s a very powerful thing to have people around me who care and share in my journey.  Thank you.

So, my dear friends –

What Renews You?

What keeps you on your path, or what gets you back on the path if you step off?  Is it thinking about the future, talking with friends, reading to your children…. what renews you on the path of sustainability?