Spreadin' the Green Love

Shaklee Get Clean Special Edition Have you been wanting to "green" your home, but didn't know where to start?

Let me help you!

Oprah recently featured the Get Clean line on her "favorites" show...and because of that, Shaklee is offering the "Get Clean Starter Kit" at a huge discount (33%) until Friday, November 30. AND...by ordering the kit (or anything 50pv or higher) you will also receive a lifetime Shaklee membership, giving you a 15% discount on all future purchases (also a special that ends on Nov. 30).

I know that many of you have inquired about the Get Clean line...and this is a great chance to try it out. This is such an EASY way to green your home...the kit format makes it so simple and there is no getting confused at what you need to buy. I am LOVING all of the items in this kit...we use them on the road and have been so happy. Some of my favorite items:

*Fresh Laundry Concentrate: It smells so great and works MUCH better than other natural detergents I've tried. *Nature Bright Laundry Booster: Gets out stains and stinky stuff...great for soaking, carpets, and more! *Hand Wash Concentrate: I cut onions and garlic a lot and this works really, really good at getting the stink out! *Basic H Organic Wipes: Oh Basic H wipes...how do I love thee? Let me count the ways :) These are AWESOME. For those of you who still aren't at 100% cloth in your homes...check out these all purpose wipes that are safe to use everywhere. *Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste: I've never smelled a scouring powder so delicious.

These are just a few of my faves...but you really have to try them to believe it. Everything has a 100% guarantee...so check it out! And of course...by purchasing Shaklee items, you're supporting the Live Lightly Tour as well. This special offer ends on Friday (today!!)...so you have until midnight to take advantage of it.

Click here to order the Get Clean Special Edition Starter Kit...and don't forget to tell your friends!! Our goal is to turn 10 households green TODAY...will you help?

(cross-posted on Live Lightly)

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Some thoughts I've had lately about these 3 little words. REDUCE: Reducing our consumption (and not just recycling after we consume) is one of the most important things we can do to make a difference. It takes self-control, but once you start to work on mastering your consumer-driven desires, it gets easier.

We've been living in the RV just over 2 weeks, and I am keenly aware of my obsession with reducing. If there is something that is not serving an immediate purpose, it's gone. Nothing is safe! :) We've done two more downsizing sessions since we moved in. The first one consisted of mostly clothes and the second of household items. It feels so good to see open space in my cupboards and to have room to move my clothes around in the closet.

I am also very aware of what is coming into the RV. Even when we lived in the apartment, if I brought some new stuff home, I could just toss it in the closet and deal with it later. Now, I have to deal with it immediately, because if I put it on the couch, where will we sit?! :) I rarely even have the desire to go to stores, or garage sales anymore...because I know that if I end up finding something I "need", I will have to come back and find a place for it. Which, when everything already has a place and there is not a lot of empty space, is a little difficult. So I am content to make do with what I already have and when a need arises, I am better able to determine if it is truly a need.

REUSE: I love Klean Kanteens. We all have our own and we use them everyday, all day. In fact, most of the time, we don't even use cups at meals...just our water bottles! Because we can just re-fill over and over without washing, it reduces the number of dishes. This is a good thing. :) I take it with me everywhere and I will fill it up at random drinking fountains and in public restrooms. When we go to somewhere to eat...for example, Subway, I take it and fill it up with their water instead of taking their disposable cup.

Bottled water is super popular among RV'ers because many people don't trust their tank water. We have a Pur water filter on the faucet and as long as we filled up our tank from a tested source...we drink it. But if you have access to safe filtered tap water at home and on the town...drink it! Well, unless you live in Iowa which probably has the most contaminated water in the nation from all of the pig farms (check out this map!). The tap water/bottled water scandals have been all over the news lately. Here are some interesting tidbits on the topic from Colin at No Impact Man.

There are many coffeeshops switching to biodegradable cups in an effort to be more earth-friendly. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite spots in Bozeman put out a recycling bin for all of their plastic cups. But even though it's a step in the right direction...it doesn't solve the problem...the waste is still there. On my last trip to the Ecopolitan in Minneapolis, I was excited to see that they were requiring the purchase of a glass jar when you bought a smoothie to-go. You had to pay $1 for the jar/cup and you could either keep it, or bring it back in for a credit. It's ideas like this that need to stick...they may seem radical to the general public, but until we start to realize how much disposable junk we use everyday, the landfills will just continue to grow.

RECYCLE: It's been a little more difficult to recycle while traveling, because I'm never sure where the next drop-off site will be. But it's working good so far. Whenever I am flattening a box or washing out a can to recycle...I am usually thinking "did I really need that in the first place?". And the answer most often is no. Again, along the lines of REDUCING before even getting to this step, I want to buy products with less packaging, boxes, plastic, etc. on them. If you must buy something in plastic, try to remember to check the recycle number BEFORE you buy it. I'm always annoyed when I get something home and realize that it's a #5 plastic, which is not recycled in a lot of areas.

I'm soooo far from perfect in all of these areas...but try hard to be mindful of my actions and how they effect others, and if I mess up...I just start fresh the next day.

What are some of your own thoughts about these 3 little words?

One Step

All or nothing. That's me. If I am passionate and excited about something, I jump in and do it without looking back. But even with my personality as it is, the journey that I am on has taken time. All of the changes in my life did not happen overnight. I took one step at a time and eventually it came to equal big changes. I thought it would be fun and encouraging to hear about everyone's journey toward simpler and/or green living. You can write your story in the comments, or write your own blog entry and just leave a comment with the link. I'll kick it off with my own story.

In 2002, I was in Barnes and Noble and came across Mothering Magazine. I was enthralled with everything they said and was excited to get home and check out their online forums. Once I got there, I was hooked. I spent hours on there researching and learning and getting excited about "natural living". This was still two years before I was pregnant with Bella...but I loved reading in the cloth diaper forum :) I knew, even then, that I would use cloth, that I wanted a midwife and homebirth, and that I loved those cool slings. Most of my reading focused on attachment parenting, and natural baby products. I continued to explore all of these things and when I had Bella, I was finally able to put my natural parenting/birth ideas into action. Once I started down that path...I became increasingly more interested in using natural beauty & cleaning products. Research led to more research...and like my friends and I always say, "it's a slippery slope!".

In the Fall of 2004, I was getting increasingly frustrated because we just couldn't afford organic meat. But, I didn't want to buy non-organic meat. So, I just stopped buying meat altogether...and that was the beginning of my vegetarianism. My initial motivator soon morphed into other things, like being appalled at the way animals were treated at factory farms, the pollution from conventional farms, the studies showing how much healthier your body was by consuming less meat. At that same time, I just happened to run into a mom at the farmer's market who had just had a homebirth, was a vegetarian and had all of the same interests as I did. We hit it off and she was kind of my vegetarian "mentor". Denise and I are still close friends today, even though we live far apart! Matt was and always has been supportive of my decision. We don't have meat at home, but he regularly eat meats when we are out. I will occasionally buy him some organic turkey breast or organic beef jerky as a treat at home. :) I'm very blessed to have a flexible husband who loves my cooking. He says as long as he's full...that's all that matters! Eventually, I went fully vegan (no eggs, dairy or any animal product)...although I am not now. And I had a short stint where I ate 100% raw food.

When I started hanging around online with vegans and vegetarians...I learned about so many other things. Most vegetarians tend to be activist minded, thinking kind of people. They are questioning the norm...making a decision to go against the flow. I started to question everything that I thought was "normal" and I made sure that what I was doing aligned with my values. My interest in living a more earth-friendly lifestyle is rooted in my faith. I believe that those who follow Jesus should be the most outspoken environmentalists there are! Christians talk so much about being good stewards of their money, their time, or their body...but being a good steward of the earth He has entrusted to us is just as important. God cannot be pleased when he sees excessive waste, excessive chemicals being poured out into the waters, and excessively nonchalant attitudes among His people. You don't have to be a radical tree hugger to take care of creation. It's just part of stewardship.

In the Summer of 2005, we were staying in a hotel for 4 weeks for business. We had a small suite that had a bedroom and a little kitchen. I realized while we were there that I was EXTREMELY HAPPY living in a smaller space. I liked knowing where Bella was at all times without searching. I liked that cleaning up only took a few minutes instead of an entire afternoon. It just clicked. Matt and I talked about that for a long time and when we returned from our trip, we decided to sell our house (that we had just purchased a few months before)...and downsize everything. We spent entire weekends cleaning out our basement, selling things on eBay and Craigslist. Slowly, we came out from under our self-imposed weight of possessions. In that time, we also had a strict budget and paid off all of our consumer debt (credit cards, cars, etc). It took one year...but by the end of that year, we had paid the debt, sold our house, and moved into a smaller apartment. It was during that time that I discovered the Compact and also many blogs that were discussing simpler/greener living. I loved the freedom I felt in giving things away, helping others, and feeling the wonderful "light" feeling that comes with getting rid of things that you don't need. The group of friends I had in Des Moines were also instrumental in my journey...so many wonderful, thoughtful mamas, encouraging each other to make slow changes.

The jobs that we had during that time (working for my family) were great for the pocketbook, but not so great for keeping sanity. We made the hard decision to resign, move to Bozeman, MT and seek out a slower pace of life. It's been a great time of reflection, rejuvenation, and searching out what God has for our lives.

Before we sold our house, we had purchased a gorgeous VW Westy and we had planned on traveling the country in it. Circumstances arose and we ended up selling it before we moved to Bozeman...but the traveling lifestyle was still calling to us. We were always talking about how we wished that we would have just done it. We decided to follow our hearts. What is the worst that could happen by pursuing our dreams? Failure? No big deal...at least we can say we tried! And in the end, we'll have no regrets.

So, here we are today. We know that God has called us to downsize once again and travel...at least for awhile. He has graciously opened doors and provided wonderful opportunities for us to share our passion about living small and sustainably and sharing our love of Christ. We have dreams of starting our own ministry in the next couple of years, recruiting other young families, and traveling around the U.S...stopping at different camps to do work projects (1-2 months at a time). Matt would love to start doing work related to his true passion, which is leading worship. We hope to incorporate that into our traveling ministry.

So, that's the story. We have taken one step at a time; sometimes they are baby steps...sometimes they are huge leaps of faith. But wherever the road leads, we know that God has our future planned, they are good plans...full of hope! :)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11