Compostable Cell Phone Covers!

While working to open my eyes to all the plastic in my life, I noticed that my cell phone was wrapped snuggly in a cover of teal blue plastic. Ugh. But I am thrilled to say I have an alternative that is seriously cool! Never heard of compostable cell phone cover?

Pela Case to the rescue!

Cell Phone Cover by Pela100% compostable, made from flax. Its flexible, durable, and smooth. The company works with great organizations such as Save the Waves World Wildlife Fund and Amnesty International.

Check out this great video that shows you why you need to ditch the plastic and go flaxstic!

Writing Calendar

The Blank Page

Hey there writers. Ever have a blank page crisis? Whether you are focusing on fiction or non-fiction, sometimes our minds just go blank. It happens to everyone. But getting over that rather large bump in the road is an absolute must if we want to keep the writing juices flowing.

I’ll admit, sometimes I’m exhausted from writing one piece and I just need a break from my self-imposed pressure to keep pumping out the articles, blog posts, books. But we are writers and somewhere deep down, we love to write and tell stories. So, overcoming the ‘blank’ must happen, sooner preferably, than later.

Writing Solutions

Here are a few ways I get my writing mojo reactivated:

1. I review my “Ideas” log. I have a list on my computer of ideas that have interested me in the past but I haven’t done anything with them yet. I’ll review the list to see if any are now itching to get written.

2. I’ll flip through photos of places I’ve been that I have strong feelings about. The feelings do not have to be happy ones – in fact sometimes the scary or ugly memories are the best ones for getting that idea spark.

3. Reading in the genre you are thinking your next project will fall into is a great way to get more ideas crawling up from the depths. Also, I find that reading a book that is at a different level than what I write for, helps me see story ideas. Such as reading a picture book for a middle grade idea or an adult mystery for a YA novel idea.

What if your issue du jour is not what to write but how to get started or keep going? I put together a tip sheet for how to get around writer’s block. Check it out – it’s free!

Here’s to a great day of writing effortlessly!

~ Gretchen

Toothpowder to the Rescue

The Dirt ToothpowderI am loving toothpowder as a new way to scrub my teeth. They not only feel super smooth afterwards, but the taste in my mouth is minty fresh!

Company: The Dirt is a woman-owned company that cares about ridding our morning routines from toxins and plastic. A US based company that is focused on keeping Americans employed as well as helping the earth.

Product: I tried the trial size of the “Super Mint Toothpowder” and it is great. The glass jar with metal top is filled with a greyish powder. It will keep me brushing for six weeks. Super easy to use. Simply wet your (non-plastic 🙂 brush, tap off the excess water, dip into the powder, tap again (why be wasteful) and then gently scrub away.

The large (glass jar) size will last up to six months. My current toothpaste costs about $5 every two months. The Dirt Toothpowder costs about $5 per month – so a bit more, but the upside is that it contains only natural ingredients, zero flouride, does not have soy/gluten/corn, and is woman owned. Give it try!

etee food wraps

etee Food Wraps & Bags

etee food wraps & bagsDitch the plastic!

etee creates beeswax and organic cotton and hemp wraps and bags. I have been using them since last summer and I love them. They are super easy to use, pliable, reusable, and when they wear out (after about 150 uses), you simply cut them up and put them in the compost.

Company: Family owned out of Toronto, Canada. They are big outdoor people and kept running into plastic – even while kayaking. So etee was born: everything touches everything else.

They use only organic cotton and hemp blends. The dyes used are free of heavy metals and are non-toxic. They manufacture their products with little water use and recycle a good portion of what they do use. They are certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard – so they are a socially responsible company too.

The wraps and bags come in three sizes. You work with the warmth of your hands to roll and seal them. Cleaning is easy – just take a soft sponge and run cool water over them and hang to dry. Just don’t put raw meat in them and do not put in freezer. The company is now coming out with a line of satchels as well. Give them a try – ditch the plastic!

Hiking to the Top of the World

Hiking to the Top of the World

I made it to the “Top of the World.” It wasn’t as high as I thought it would be, just 4,500 feet. And amazingly, getting there only took 2 hours. All kidding aside, hiking in the Sierras was like a deep sigh; my mind relaxed, my eyes opened wide, my breath grew deep and my muscles stretched out long. While much of the US was relaxing for the Labor Day weekend in backyards with friends, bbqs and beers, I decided to head out on a solo hike to rejuvenate my body and soul.

Arnold Rim Trail Starting the Arnold Rim Trail

Sierra Nevadas

Just two hours outside of Sacramento, California I landed in White Pines, a tiny neighbor to the small town of Arnold.

Just beyond the White Pines lake, I parked at the Logging Museum and headed out on what turned out to be a near 12 mile round trip hike along the Arnold Rim Trail to the lookout at the “Top of the World.”

I so hope you have had the opportunity to have walked alone on a path in the woods, with trees over 200 feet tall, dappled sunlight filtering through and a whisper of a breeze at your back. The quiet just grounds me. Then to hear a rustle, almost see some movement, and to realize you are sharing this gorgeous space with birds and lizards and all sorts of wild creatures. I may be waxing too poetically – but it does fill me up with such joy that I wonder why I live in a city.

The Wild One

After about an hour of hiking, I heard crashing sounds as if something were falling – like large branches – behind me and off to my left. I stopped and tried to see what was causing the disturbance, but the small undergrowth blocked my view. I didn’t think much of it. Then I turned back around and 20 feet in front of me a young Black Bear scampered across my path (from left to right). A few feet off the path it stopped and looked back to check me out. Stunned and thrilled at seeing a bear in the wild (my first!), I just stood there and smiled. I was so excited.

Black Bear Cub This is about the size of the one I saw. Photo Credit: The Mercury News

Then my “when you see a bear in the wild” training kicked in and I slowly brought my backpack above my head to make myself look bigger. The cub didn’t move. If it had stood on its hind legs it would have been taller than me. But standing there on all four, it was closer to the size of a very large, hairy dog.

After a few minutes it became bored with me and started to wander off. I was tempted to follow. Crazy I know. But I would have loved to get a picture. Then I remembered the loud sounds that had come from behind me. Thinking momma might have made them, I realized I was possibly now directly between her and her cub. So I walked away quickly, with my backpack over my head. Five minutes later my adrenaline started to come down and I texted a bunch of folks to tell them where I was…just in case.

Arnold Rim Trail Photos

Hiking Along the Meandering Trail

For the majority of the time, hiking along the Arnold Rim Trail was sinuous and full of gradual ups and downs. Sometimes I could hear the rushing of a creek nearby, but mostly I was slowly going up in elevation at an easy pace through a peaceful forest. At one point, four mountain bikers whizzed by smiling, enjoying the curves of the trail. Then came the last mile or so. The trail itself became filled with small and large rocks. The pitch became quite steep. The path turned into short switchbacks and I soon found myself caught up to the mountain bikers pushing their bikes.

The Top of the World

There have been a lot of fires all over California and Oregon this summer. So, while the vista was beautiful, it was tempered by the haze of smoke from the fires still burning.

5.8 miles down, I decided it was a perfect time and spot for lunch. My frozen Camelback water bottle had now melted, my etee wrap had perfectly kept my pb&j sandwich crisp and I finished off with a sweet mandarin while enjoying my view and the fabulous breeze. Knowing I had another 5.8 miles to go, I saved my KIND bar for the return journey.

lunch at Top of the World

After a lovely break, I did a bit of yoga to stretch myself out and then packed up and started hiking back towards White Pines. While normally I prefer doing a loop rather than an out-and-back, returning on this same path was lovely and all seemed new. I obviously had a different perspective, but also because the sun was now high in the sky. Either way, the return was nearly as enjoyable.  I came upon a fox leaping into the air from her hiding place attempting to catch a squirrel unawares – but to no avail – and to lots of angry chatter. Later a gorgeous garter snake slithered out and alongside me for a few feet.

When I eventually returned to the Logging Museum, I was exhausted, dusty and thoroughly happy. Another great day in the wilderness.

Interested in heading out to hike the Arnold Rim Trail? Click here for more info.

Earth Positive Resources

Resources – Yes!

I am exploring how to be a better consumer (impactor?) on this planet. In doing so, I am discovering great companies and products that I would love to share with you. I promise, that before they are listed on my Yes! resources page, I’ll have tested them personally. Next to each recommendation I’ll write a short blurb about why I think they are worthy of your attention.

At this point there are only a few suggestions – with more coming as I decide they meet all the requirements:

  • Ingredients sourced sustainably, non-GMO
  • Packaging contains little or no plastic, or is truly working on getting there, and is either or both: recycled or recyclable
  • Company is focused on the triple bottom line – or is truly working towards this
  • Product works – and I love it

This is just the beginning. I am on a mission to minimize my plastic use, as well as lessen my imact overall. So that means changing things up. When items I already own need replacing, I’ll look for an eco-alternative. I am working on not only staying within my budget, but also not overwhelming myself with drastic (from feeling guilty) changes.

If you are interested in making some plastic-free changes in your life, head on over and check out my new resource page. Click here: Yes! for the latest earth-positive awesomeness I’ve tried and love.