Notes from New Mexico – Documenting Ecotourism

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From Albuquerque, highway 25 sprawls northeast to Santa Fe and Taos, alongside vast mountain ranges, beside pastel-red adobe homes and flashing casino lights, past cholla cacti and ranching supply stores and tribal reservations. The Rio Grande River Gorge cuts through the landscape, quietly winding south under a brilliant blue sky.

New Mexico is a place of converging cultures, a state where ranch lands border Native American reservations; where filmmakers, skiers, and artists flock; where Hispanics and descendants of Spanish conquistadors live together, along with 19 sovereign Native American nations. The topography is just as diverse, from sprawling deserts to high mountain ranges and pine forests.

I was in New Mexico with Green Living Project, a media production and marketing company that showcases sustainability initiatives around the globe, to check out the state’s ecotourism initiative….

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My 5: Carlyn Blake, Sustainable Futures, Executive Director

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Blue Planet Green Living asked Carlyn Blake, Executive Director of Sustainable Futures, to respond to the two questions we ask everyone we interview. Sustainable Futures, based in Boise, Idaho, repurposes used wine and soda bottles to create beautiful and useful glasses, bowls, candle holders, and vases. The company also provides jobs for hard-to-place workers. Following are Blake’s responses….

1. Recycle everything you can. Take advantage of city, county, and state recycling programs, and do your part to recycle paper, plastic, and glass….

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Fair Trade Connects Local Producers with Global Consumers

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Zulugrass necklaces are at home in both Kenya’s pasturelands and a trendy boutique in Los Angeles. A colorful, coiled group of The Leakey Collection’s Zulugrass™ strands costs $39.95. But what the price tag doesn’t mention is that the woman who cut, dyed, and beaded the native Kenyan grass into this necklace is earning enough money to feed and educate her family for years to come.

Katy and Philip Leakey founded The Leakey Collection™ after a devastating drought a decade ago destroyed the livelihoods of their neighbors in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. As the landscape became charred and depleted, the community’s men moved north to find grazing grounds for their cattle, and the women and children were left behind with no source of income….

Recently, Philip and Katy visited one of these retail outlets — Zero Minus Plus in Santa Monica, California — to discuss the local impact of buying fair trade products. “Fair trade is a response to globalization,” Philip said. “Several decades ago, people produced [goods] for their local markets. With the internationalization of markets, many producers lost their buyers.” Fair trade is a market-based attempt to connect these producers with their new, global consumers, focusing on ethical and sustainable business practices….

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Sustainable Futures Repurposes Glass Bottles – and Human Lives

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“I was like one of those used wine bottles. I was used and discarded. I laid on the ground, my label faded and my contents dried. I forgot the good that was once inside, the joy and happiness I once knew. I hated what I was and what I had become. Life was dark, bad and not worth living. The prison took what little hope I had reinforcing what people and drugs had told me about myself my whole life. I came to the work center looking for work. I was told I had to have a job or I’d be sent back to the prison and someone else who was employable would take my place. Once again I was not worth keeping, I found a job here at Sustainable Futures and I was recycled. I was picked up, washed off a little and was cut off at the top, sanded down and polished. I’ve been given hope, worthiness and self love. Now I shine, not just on the outside but on the inside. I’m like the glasses we make. I have a new use.” — Lisa Childers, IDOC inmate

Sustainable Futures is a brand-new nonprofit that repurposes glass bottles — and gives new purpose to human lives. It’s a simple idea: Businesses donate used glass bottles to their Boise, Idaho-based center, and hard-to-place workers process the glass to produce new and improved glassware. The company then sells the repurposed glassware back to the businesses. “It’s a great product, and it’s the right thing to do,” says Carlyn Blake, executive director of Sustainable Futures….

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — Be Happy!

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We’ve all heard it: Carbon dioxide billows into the atmosphere, icebergs melt, oceans rise, the world gets hotter — our planet is headed toward calamity. And, although businesses, governments, and individuals throughout the world have been working together to enact change, “our civilization is still failing miserably to slow the rate at which these emissions are increasing — much less reduce them,” wrote Al Gore in a New York Times editorial last week.

Sheesh. It’s enough to prevent you from getting out of bed in the morning, much less enjoy your day. But, if enjoying yourself — being happy — seems a trivial concern in the face of such doom and gloom, think again. While the study of happiness is hardly new and noteworthy — recent books include Rhonda Bryne’s The Secret (Atria Books 2006), a hokey if ubiquitous book that instructs us to manifest our own destinies through visualization and vibrations — a new set of pragmatic authors examines personal happiness as both a source of, and obstacle to, our ability to enact change….

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Notes from California – Time to Evacuate! What Will You Pack?

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When confronted with imminent evacuation — as thousands were during the largest fire in Los Angeles in a century — what do you take with you?

Smoke billows up and over the brown mountain ridge. Ash sifts down in swirling flakes and settling dust. The sky is an eerie golden grey, the color of the end of the world. Helicopters roll over and around every few minutes with ominous hums, dropping fire retardant in great white swaths onto flames.

August is fire season in Los Angeles, a month predictably scarred by blazes, when fires spread across the bone-dry desert chaparral like water sliding downhill. This one, the “Station Fire,” was the largest forest fire Los Angeles County has seen in a century and a half. It burned 242 square miles, destroyed 80 homes, and killed two of the nearly 5,000 firefighters who bravely fought the blaze. The scope is unfathomable…

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Megan Kimble, Contributing Writer

September 21, 2009 by  
Filed under BPGL Crew, Contributing Writers, Megan Kimble

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Megan Kimble is a Spanish-speaking, laptop-wielding, six-foot gringa wandering around Latin America and, as of late, Los Angeles, where she’s from. Megan runs, hikes, and really loves breakfast food — especially coffee. She is game to try anything new…

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