Green, frugal, sustainable, simple, healthy, happy... No matter what we each call it, we come together here to support and learn from each other.

We are preserving our planet with our lifestyles. We are creating sustainable communities for our children. We are living the lives we want to live. Please join us!


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!

Join Us Here, Too

Buy Sustainably

Join us in saving our family budgets and helping our local communities thrive.

10,000 Steps

With numerous environmental, physical and emotional benefits, what are you waiting for? Let's start walking!

Green Your Insides

For your family and our planet, start greening your own home.

Great Reading

Cleanse: Day 14 and 15 - Toxins In Your Home

Some of our household products

It turns out going green and going healthy often go hand in hand!

One of the important things you can do on a cleanse is get rid of the toxins around you.  Toxins aren’t just in your food, they’re in your home, your work, in the air you breathe.  They come from the clothes you wear, the makeup and hair products you use, cleaning products, your printer at work, the formaldehyde in your carpets, etc, etc, etc.

This is not to scare you, but just to show that there are a lot of places in your life where you can eliminate toxins before they ever enter your body.

Matt and I have already made most of the changes we could make in our home environment, so I’ve shared many of my tips with you already (I’ve even created a Challenge for it!).

A Few Posts About Toxins

  1. Toxic Soup
  2. What’s The Matter With SLS?
  3. Non-Toxic, Frugal, & Nurturing Skin Care
  4. Start Greening Your Own Home
  5. What Eco / Green Household and Personal Cleaning Products Do I Use?
  6. Why To Keep Toxic Products Out Of Your Family’s Home
  7. Ten Household Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide
  8. Twenty Uses For Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
  9. Vinegar: The #1 Cheapest And Most Versatile Product For Your Home
  10. Organic Ant Control
  11. How To Make Your Own Deodorant (A Very Simple Recipe)
  12. A Non-Toxic, Frugal Way To Wash Your Hair Without Buying Shampoo; No ‘Poo: New & Improved!; A Year Without Shampoo

Day 14 and 15

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Salmon, greens, brown rice from the Whole Foods grill for lunch.

Green smoothie for dinner.

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Aduki beans, brown rice, and chard for lunch.

Chia smoothie for dinner.

Well-Being Meter

I woke up at 10am – I think I slept about 10 hours!

Weight 127.0 lbs (lost 6.6 lbs in 2 weeks).

I felt very normal most of the day, rather than super-normal as I had the past week.  Was it lack of exercise?  Lack of skin brushing (the only day I’ve skipped since I started)?  Just getting used to the cleanse?

I felt so normal, in fact, that I felt a bit hungry. Not sure if it was psychological, or I was actually a bit hungry.  I didn’t exercise today – I sat around the house and did odds and ends errands on the computer.  So it may be habit, boredom, or actual hunger – I’m not sure.

I feel like I’m getting down to my true weight and size. I always thought I was “big boned” or “never lost the childhood roundness.”  But apparently, that was inflammation.

We’re beginning to think about the next step, after the cleanse.  What shall we do in February…?

Cleanse: Day 12 - Water

Water on Papaya Leaf by By Chad Podoski on Flickr


Don’t freak out, but in Clean, Dr. Junger writes that if you’re not urinating every hour, you’re not drinking enough water.

Every hour!!  Yeah, I freaked out, too.

The good news is that throughout the cleanse I have rarely had quite that much water.  It’s not super practical when you’re working with clients and the nearest bathroom is all the way on the other side of the pier (I work on the waterfront).  During the cleanse I think some of the weight loss I’m sure is due to the amount of long walks I’ve taken to the bathroom!

So on the weekends I try hard to drink that much water, and on weekdays I get as close as I can.

How Do You Remember to Drink That Much Water?

I found this fabulous free app called Time Out.  You can set it to time out your computer as often as you like.  While at work, I set it to go off for a few minutes every hour.  When it times out my computer, I look at my water glass.  It’s often totally full, I haven’t drunk a sip in an hour.  So I drink.

It’s also great for reminding you that you’ve been sitting in the same position for an hour.  I use the opportunity to stretch my shoulders and neck, and look around the room to rest my eyes.

And if you’re in the middle of something, you can either skip or postpone the break with one click.

I love it, and will continue to use it after the cleanse!

I would also recommend adding fresh lemon to your water. It is good for your cleanse, as it increases your body’s alkalinity (I know, that’s counter-intuitive but apparently true).  And it makes water taste more flavorful – which makes it easier for me to drink.

Why Drink So Much Water on the Cleanse?

Water is a huge element of any detox or cleanse.  I’ve written more about why in this post.  Essentially, it helps support every major part of your body’s detox system as it removes toxins in your body.  Without it, the detox doesn’t work so well.

Day 12 and 13

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Scallops, brown rice, greens for lunch.

Tropical smoothie for dinner.

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Lentils, brown rice, greens for lunch.

Green smoothie for dinner.

Well Being Meter

A good friend had a birthday party.  It was definitely difficult to not drink and eat together with friends!  I felt bad, but actually left a bit early because of it – after-partying at a bar all night seemed not as appealing without toasting a few drinks.

We went rollerskating, though, which was a blast – and quite a workout!  And, I was very pleased to see this photograph on Facebook the next morning:

Sarah and Melinda - 80s Rollerskating Night

What pleased me was that for the first time ever, I caught just a glimpse of my cheek bones!!

Note #1: don’t worry, it was 80s night – we don’t normally dress this way!

Note #2: I’m not wearing any makeup – the rosiness is from feeling good.

128.6 lbs – no change in weight.  But all my pants are too big!

Cleanse: Day 11 - Toxins and Inflammation

Cropduster spraying pesticides, leading to toxins in your body

Ok, so where were we?  Day 11… Getting a little behind here!  Well, onward through the journey…

What Does Inflammation Have To Do With a Detox?

I’m no expert, but here’s what I’ve learned…

When your body finds toxins in your system, it immediately goes to work protecting yourself from them.  It puts a layer of mucous around the toxins, and then waits until you have enough digestive energy to get rid of those toxins.

That process of getting rid of the toxins only starts to happen about eight hours after your last meal.  If you eat between meals, the process starts over again.  If you never give your body more than eight hours between meals, it begins to accumulate mucous, which looks like fat but is really puffiness – inflammation – throughout your body.

A cleanse helps rid your body of those toxins and mucous by jump-starting the detox process.  Because they are already in liquid form, juices and smoothies allow your body to take in nutrients and digest quickly.  That gives your body time to get to the detox process faster.

Once it does, the mucous separates from the toxins and you begin flushing them out of your system.

What Gets Rid of the Toxins?

You need to help your body flush out those newly released toxins asap.  That means you need:

  • Lots of filtered water for your kidneys (as well as your skin, intestines, and liver)
  • Skin brushing and sweating for your skin
  • Antioxidants and extra nutrients for your liver (this is why it’s important to drink carefully selected ingredients in smoothies and juices, or take a supplement)
  • Fiber and enzymes for your intestines (you get enzymes by eating raw food)
  • Clean air for your lungs

If you don’t flush them out, the toxins will re-enter your system.

And, of course, if you eliminate exposure to toxins as much as possible, your body will be able to focus on the old toxins.

Day 11

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Aduki beans, kale, brown rice for lunch.

Green smoothie for dinner.

Well Being Meter

After the acupuncture, I feel I can breathe a bit deeper. The range of motion in my neck is incredible.  However, my neck is pretty sore, and I have a mild headache.  I believe it released a fair amount of toxins.  Drinking lots of water to flush it out.

Less nasal mucous in the morning. My body tends to release a lot of mucous in my lungs and through my nasal passages, but this is the clearest my lungs and nasal passages have been for as long as I can remember.

I needed a bit more sleep this morning. Maybe from the acupuncture?  Maybe just spending so much energy eliminating toxins?  Maybe just tired?

Have You Ever Done a Cleanse or Detox?

Berry Smoothie

Hey y’all – I have two days full of intense client meetings, breakfast through dinner, so I’m turning the microphone over to you!!

  1. Have you ever done a cleanse or detox?
  2. If so, what was your experience?  Which one(s) did you try?  Any tips, advice, words of wisdom or warning?
  3. If not, are you thinking about it?  What questions do you have that I might answer?

Also please feel free to let me know if these posts are irritating the heck out of you, or they’re really hitting home, or anything in between.  I’d love to know what you’re thinking!!

Cleanse Day 10 - Naturopath


Given my philosophy about life, medicine, and nature, you would think that by this time in my life I’d have visited a naturopath.  But I haven’t.  I honestly hadn’t even thought to do it before.

My grandfather was an anesthesiologist.  My grandmother was a nurse.  My mother in law is a nurse.  My husband worked in a hospital for several years.  Maybe it is just so ingrained in my being that this is the way medicine is done.

My magical masseuse had mentioned to me a few months ago that acupuncture has been known to help asthma patients.  At first I wrote it off, and then it slowly seeped in.

So I asked my primary care physician about it during my annual on the first day of the cleanse, and she wrote me a prescription!  I asked around, and a good friend of mine sees a naturopath who also does acupuncture.  Sort of two for one… she loves him, so I made an appointment.

Seattle Healing Arts

The Office

I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this!  I walked into a bustling waiting room much like any boutique practice – still charts everywhere, still people sitting in the waiting room, still the hustle and bustle of nurses and doctors and receptionists.

I was told to print and fill out all the new patient paperwork ahead of time, so I did it on the bus on the way there.  There were extra questions to fill out about my Wellness Plan, my health goals, my well being.  I liked that.  It made me think about myself and my health a bit differently.

The wait wasn’t as long as a “normal” doctor’s office, and the N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor) took me into the office himself.

The Diagnosis

First, he read the paperwork I’d carefully filled out.  Actually READ it.  And he asked me lots of questions about how I was feeling, why I came, what other ailments I had, my history of illnesses, etc.

That took a while, because I have always been a rather sickly person until recently.  Asthma, allergies, migraines, bad PMS, atopic dermatitis, tendonitis, bronchitis, acid reflux, a newly discovered gluten allergy, etc, etc.  So there was a lot to talk about.  I started to feel like a hypochondriac.

And then… it was magic.

He said:  “Pretty much all of those are likely related.”

That’s every sick girl’s dream, to find that there is a root cause and it is treatable – even curable! !!!

His hypothesis is that it is all related to my digestive tract.  When the digestive tract isn’t working properly (if, say, you have celiac disease and keep eating gluten), many things happen, including lack of nutrients and – most importantly, inflammation.  Inflammation – puffiness – throughout my body.  My body has been attacking itself, in a way.

Additionally, the medicines I’d been taking for things like acid reflux were actually making it worse, not better.  Acid reducers in particular keep you from being able to digest everything you eat.  If food is not broken down by the time it gets to the digestive tract, your immune system will actually attack it as if it were a disease.

The Treatment

I will write about the acupuncture in another post – because it deserves another post!  Other things we discussed:

  • Physical therapy.  I need to strengthen my shoulders and arms so I have better posture.  It will open up my chest, and help my improve my asthma.
  • Take Fish Oil.  I’d been taking Flax Oil as a vegetarian, but apparently it is a lot harder to digest.  Omega-3s are very good at reducing inflammation, among several other things.
  • Keep doing the cleanse.  It’s exactly what I need to be doing.
  • Make sure I carefully reintroduce all the eliminated foods after the cleanse, so that I can see if there is anything else I’m allergic to.  He gave me explicit instructions for doing that.

One of my wellness goals is to be off of prescription meds by the end of this year (except for a rescue inhaler).  I believe very strongly that this naturopath will help me get there.  I’m so excited!!

The view on my walk home

The Cleanse Day 10

Blueberry Smoothie.

Beans, rice, greens.

Green Smoothie.

Well-Being Meter

Highly elevated. It is really, really good to know that there is a root to many of my past ailments.  By paying closer attention to my body in a holistic way, I’m much much closer to ridding myself of my dependence on medicines and my ever-constant pain.

I felt so good after the appointment, I decided to walk home.  It was 5 miles.  And it was wonderful.  I took the photo above on the way home.

Why The Year About Me?

Beautiful Hawaiian coast

There are many reasons why I need this time for me, but there is one very big one.

I’ve always been the type of person whose work and life are one, they are balanced and they are equal.  My dreams are my work, I work toward my dreams….

In 2008, I put my heart and soul into a business I truly believed in.  (Here you can read about how this blog directly instigated that.)

Over the last 2 years, my belief in the business and my drive to make it succeed impacted my relationships very much – friends and loved ones.  It heavily impacted our finances (I made a few thousand dollars in total), and it impacted my physical and mental well-being.

I worked long hours, I argued with partners, I stopped exercising, going out with friends, and doing other things I loved (like writing!).

And, in a way, it failed.

In the summer of 2010, the three remaining partners decided what we had wasn’t working for us – for a number of reasons – and we decided to phase out the company.

I say “in a way, it failed” because a whole lot of very positive things came of it.  Several other consultancies spawned from RVL, most of us learned a great deal during our time together, and all of us have a list of “things not to do next time.”

So it wasn’t necessarily un-successful.  Heck, we helped a lot of really great clients to do their socially and environmentally conscious work much better.  That was amazing and truly good for the world.  Truly a remarkable experience.

I also I learned a lot about myself.  Among other things, I gained personal confidence and learned to trust more of my instincts (because they were usually right!).

But… I thought RVL was The ONE.  The One job that all my previous skills-building and career-building and self-building had led up to.  I thought RVL was going to directly lead me to “change the world,” in big and  powerful ways.  I put everything I had into it – heart, mind, soul, finances – because I truly believe this.

And it didn’t work.  I was wrong.

There are many reasons why it didn’t work.  We started with too many partners (turns out 8 is more than enough!), our opinions and career directions were miles away from one another, we expanded too fast, we bid too low, and, probably most importantly, we started a company during the worst recession of our lives.  Hard to go up when everyone else goes down!!

All this left me (and most of us) having to completely rethink where we were headed, personally and professionally.  We dropped a lot of other things to focus on making it work.  We’d put our full selves into this and believed it was where we would be for a long time, making really amazing and world changing things happen together.

So NOW what??!

I need to regroup and recoup.  I need to refocus on my physical being.  I need to recharge my relationships.  I need to make peace with my self and search within me for what I want to do next.

Together with my husband we need to decide where we want to make our lives, where we want to settle.  And what we want to do now.

Welcome to the year about me!  Where my values haven’t changed, but my path certainly has.  I just don’t know yet where that path will take me….

Cleanse: Day 8 and 9 - Probiotics


Incremental Changes

There are so many changes that the cleanse has instigated in my life, that I’m trying to gradually introduce new elements of the cleanse.  First I started with the food changes – the Elimination diet, followed by the Cleanse diet.  Then after a few days I added skin brushing.  Then a couple days later, I added olive oil, followed by a deep tissue massage.

I feel it’s personally necessary for me to take each day at a time, and to allow myself to try it and redefine normal with each new addition before moving onto the next.

The Next Incremental Change – Probiotics

One of the many things my massage therapist mentioned was that it would really help to take probiotics during the cleanse.  Dr. Junger writes about this in Clean, as well, listing it as one of the many things you can add to your cleanse to improve its effect.  So I asked him which brand he used, and stopped on the way home to pick some up.

I’m taking Jarrow’s Allergen-Free (ie dairy- and wheat-free) Probiotic Supplement.  I also decided to try the one particularly for ladies, to bring balance to other functions.

The Benefits of Probiotics

Your beneficial bacteria are essential to digestion – helping break down food so that you can synthesize it as nutrients, filtering out toxins, and protecting you from infections.

Some of the things that kill those essential beneficial bacteria are:  antibiotics, alcohol, caffeine, toxic chemicals, and some medications and preservatives.  If you are constantly exposed to any or all of these things, it’s highly possible that your inner bacteria are imbalanced.

That can lead to all sorts of complications, from bloating and gas, to lack of certain nutrients, overproduction of yeast, depression and irritation, to IBS, “leaky gut syndrome”, and autoimmune disorders, as well as potentially serious complications that can result from each of these.

During a cleanse, you are cutting out the things that feed the bad bacteria (starches and sugars) and the things that kill the good bacteria (alcohol, caffeine, preservatives, toxins).  As a result, your intestines begin to fall into balance.

You can help that balance along by taking probiotics.

Oh, and 2 little fascinating factoids:

  1. Your intestines make up 80% of your body’s total immune system.
  2. Healthy intestines apparently hold about two pounds of beneficial bacteria.

The Cleanse Day 8 and 9

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Azuki beans, brown rice, red kale for lunch.

Green smoothie for dinner.

Blueberry smoothie for breakfast.

Lentils, brown rice, green kale for lunch.

Tropical smoothie for dinner.

Azuki Beans, brown rice, red kale

Well-Being Meter

My wedding ring almost fell off in the shower! It’s getting pretty lose on my finger.  As are my pants around my waist!

I’m beginning to tune into my emotional toxins, as well, and trying to retrain my mind to keep from repeating over and over the negative thoughts that run through it.  I think I may focus on this more during the coming months.

I’m not sore after my massage the way I usually am 2 days out.  This is probably due to all the water I’m drinking, the inflammation that is being reduced, and the new part of the recovery arc I’ve likely reached.  (In other words, I’ve been working out my shoulder and neck issues for a few months, so I may have hit a new level of mending.)

Weight 129.6 lbs (lost 4 lbs since I began).