Adventuureee is Out There!

I like adventure. I find that I am able to think most clearly when I am in the middle of a city I don’t know, in a country that is foreign to me, surrounded by people I have never met. Today I found myself standing on the corner of a busy intersection in downtown Seoul having just told my friends to drop me off because the kids were getting fussy and my friends needed to take them home for a nap. So there I was, umbrella in hand and Birkenstocks already soggy, ready for an adventure (it always seems to be raining when I have my best adventures).

leaf

I found a giant leaf and it made me happy.

When I have no plans and no ideas in mind, I usually find the most interesting things- it must have something to do with minimal expectations. I started walking in the opposite direction of the way I knew took me back to where I am staying. I passed a corner restaurant that made dumplings, and I made a mental note to return because it smelled amazing. I kept walking and when it felt right (I always adventure on the basis of impulse) I took a left hand turn down a side-street, made note of my surroundings, and continued on my way. I walked in the front door of teapot shop filled floor to ceiling with teapots of every make and color, and I walked out the side door onto another side street. When I looked right out of the shop I was surprised to find there was an outdoor market, exactly like what I had been wanting to visit while in Korea! Colorful umbrellas sheltered the vendors from the rainy day. Little old Korean men selling socks, fruit, and other things lined the small street, chattering and looking up with curious eyes. We bowed to each other as I walked past.

market

Yongmun Market

I bought a few Korean pears, which are my favorite. If you haven’t tried one, it’s like a pear and an apple combined in a juicy explosion of perfection. I continued through the nuts, the spices, the meat, and the fish- ohhh the fish. Dead fish, live fish, flat fish, long fish, puffy fish, shellfish, every single kind of fish. While they were amusing, their smells were not. I still stayed over the amount of time I probably should have for the odor-removing power of my homemade laundry detergent back home.

fish

Big fish, small fish, long fish, thin fish, live fish, dead fish. All super smelly fish.

When I had my fill of the market I walked out and found a corner restaurant with Gimbap, the Korean version of Sushi. Of course I had to purchase when I learned it was only 1,200 Korean Won (Roughly $1). They rolled it up in tin-foil and I ate it while walking… fast food, anyone?? At this point I was soaking wet but most certainly content, so I half-hardheartedly decided to find my way home.

gip

Colorful Korean Gimbap in Fast Food Form

Just as soon as I started walking I got distracted again at the possibility of more adventure. I spotted a restaurant where everyone had to take their shoes off at the door. I had just eaten and half of my mind was telling me that I could eat at a similar restaurant later this week, but that would have totally violated my theory of, “If not now, when?”… so I went in.

shoes

Oh, those soggy Birks

I was led over to a table and sat on my mat on the floor. I quickly discovered that no one spoke English there, but after a quick game of charades involving myself, the waitress and the two young Korean women at the table next to me, I placed my order. While I waited I checked out the rest of the room and noticed the diversity in ages of everyone sitting in the small restaurant. There was a young couple in the corner with their eyes glued to their smart phones (that’s not just a US American thing) and a group of little old women chatting and laughing at the table opposite of me. In the corner of the restaurant a 20-something guy sat by himself reading a book on his phone, and of course there were my silly “friends” at the table next to me who left shortly after that, smiling to me as they left the room.

me

The Kimchi kept me company

My food came quickly, but not before the manager came over and adjusted the fan so it was directly on me (I must have looked tired and lost). They unloaded seven different bowls of Kimchi, a traditional food of pickled vegetables, and my bowl of noodles. They must have cooked the soup right in that little black bowl because it came out to me still bubbling. The soup was incredible, just the right amount of flavor, salt, heat and substance. I struggled with the noodles in the bowl, they were a clear rice noodle that were very slippery. Once again, I accidentally dropped my metal chopsticks on the table, making a lot of noise in the quiet restaurant, but I had already made “eye-contact friends” with everyone in the room so they just smiled and giggled with me. I scraped the bowl to the very bottom.

soup

Amazing charades food!

When I finished my food I got up, said “Homsomnidad (thank you)” to the waitress and manager, bowed very low (a sign of respect, especially in the presence of elders) and told them in English how much I loved the food- I think they still got the point. I found my soggy Birkenstocks and set out onto the brick streets, under the dipping trees, looking for the next part of my adventure.

How to Overcome Awkwardness with Udon

Last night I walked out of Hannam Village and onto the busy street corner with the smell of noodles and Korean coffee easing from every brick building- it was almost time for the dinner rush and the smells of South Korea were filling the streets. I walked slowly down the street taking in all the smells and looking in all the shop windows. I finally found the little restaurant I had in my mind all day- I had seen it earlier that day when I went out to a bakery. The little old woman who owned the restaurant opened the door to greet me and we bowed to each other slightly as I said, “annyeonghaseyo,” or Hello. I sat at the table closest to the window and as I sat down she handed me a menu in Korean. I sat there looking confused for a few minutes before she brought me a menu in English.

 I have traveled a lot in my 21 years, but this was one of the first countries I have traveled to where I can’t read the phonetics of their language (Greek being the other). It’s a slightly intimidating feeling not being able to communicate at all, partly my fault for not working harder at learning the basics before I arrived. There are a few people who speak English here, but for the most part I am incredibly lost. That’s one of my favorite feelings though.

I decided to order a Gimbap, a Korean version of Sushi and a side of Udon. The woman came up to my little table by the door, I pointed to what I wanted, and we bowed our heads to each other when she understood what I wanted.

When I sat down by myself I began to feel a little self- conscious, thinking things like, what are people thinking when they see me, what do I do with my hands, what do I do to entertain myself? After a few minutes though, my mind stopped with the thoughts about myself and I began to think externally again. It was at that point that I looked around and saw that there were a few other Korean women eating by themselves too. I watched the feet of the Korean Nationals walk by outside the glass door- it was dinnertime and everyone was bustling around to get their food.

My food came pretty quickly and I said, “Homsomnidad (Thank you)” as she walked away. I took a picture of the beautiful dish and quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing (once again). No one else had received their food yet and I had no idea how to use the utinsles, so I just began with my basic knowledge of Americanized Japanese food, and picked up the metal chopsicks. I took a bite of my colorful Gimbap and let the flavors explode. It was so fresh. I also ate the Udon noodles with the chopsticks, but I’m still unsure as to whether I did that correctly or not. Once, when I reached for another piece of Gipbap, I dropped the metal chopstick and it clanked loudly on the table in the small restaurant of 5 tables. I laughed quietly at myself, picked my chopstick up, and tried again.

A Korean couple sat down at the table next to me and decided they didn’t like the Korean music on the radio, so they played their Bob Marley loudly on their iPhones (ahhh, Globalization). The owner of the restaurant didn’t even flinch, which surprised me seeing as her restaurant was quite small and there were quite a few other customers. As I sat there at my tiny table, watching the feet of the Koreans pass by the door in front of me, my thoughts sank deeper and deeper with every bite of Udon. Toward my final bites, my thoughts clustered around the thought of humanity. There are some things that are just universally human, like that guy who just ran into a chair and made an “Ugh” sound, looking quickly at the ground awkwardly- I would have done the same thing. I’m not sure if I ever cared about differences between people, but especially in that moment on the last bite of tasty Udon noodles I thought to myself, humans are humans, whether I am sitting next to them in an inactive war zone, or a coffee shop in my hometown in the Rocky Mountains.

When I finished, the sun had begun to set and I was ready to go home. I walked slowly out the door, nodded and said “Homsomnidad” to the kind owner once more. Then I slowly wandered back to the gates of where I am staying, full belly and happy heart.image

Heart and Seoul

Please excuse the cheesy title, I am sure I am not the first to take advantage of the play on words.

I’m in South Korea! I arrived in Seoul on Friday afternoon and as soon as I stepped off the plane I received notification that my God Son had been born a few hours earlier. It was a lovely surprise to land in the country and know that I had a new little light to add to my life.

I haven’t experienced too much of the culture yet because newborns don’t like Kimchi (I can’t tell you if I agree or not yet). For the last two days I have been in the house with the family of my God Son. They have two other kids, who are one and two years-old. I used to be in the Girl Scouts with the mom of the family, but more importantly we were amazing childhood friends.

A few years ago my friend and her husband got married and he enlisted in the United States Army. Two years later with two kiddos and one more on the way, they were sent to Seoul, South Korea. I’m a sucker for kids in general, but I’m head over heels in love with these three children.

I wrote a thesis in one of my courses- Children and Youth in a Global Context at Colorado State University last term about  communication between adults and children, and how it has been thought cross-culturally, that a smaller mind must occupy the smaller beings and thus their minds must function at a slower rate than those of adults. In fact, the brain of a newborn child has more brain cells than at any other point in life (Rebecca Shore, Citations upon request). The paper went on to examine adult to child interaction across four cultures- German, Chinese, Dominican, and US American. It was quite interesting to explore this concept, and at the end of the paper I came to the conclusion that adults have much to learn from children.

On a much less academic thought, while kids do involve the occasional “hitting of another child on the head with a book” syndrome, the heart of the child is incredibly pure. I’m a firm believer in the idea that spontaneous giving, which is so frequently talked about in my writing, originated in the mind of the child. You can catch glimpses of this love that children emit in their everyday actions. Making the decision that they don’t need the rest of their lunch, so they give it to their friend who forgot theirs, or voluntarily giving up their toy to another child just because they wanted to. I think we often forget these type of actions (in adult form) by the time we reach adulthood.

Along with the intelligence and love that I adore so much in children, I also love their sense of exploration. Kids have a keen desire to explore every nook and cranny of this world. Today, that meant sticking ice cubes in our mouths for as long as we can to see what happens (cool experiment for a two year-old to think of!). It’s like every single child is an exploratory scientist. Imagine if all the adults were still that curious… would we still have 870 million people starving in the world (WorldFactBook, 2013)– or rapidly melting polar ice caps?

So, to sum up my state of mind right now- I’m here on the opposite end of the world from where I call home, with three little balls of light and curiosity, and I feel like I must be the luckiest girl in the world. Now maybe I should go try some Kimchi.

children

The Science of Drinking Too Much Coffee

Since I was little, my mom always used to say to me, “Annie, you are such an Annie.” I never understood what that meant, but I always knew hearing her say that made me smile. The other day a good friend of mine told me the exact same thing- Quote, Un-Quote- “Annie, you are such an Annie.” This time, the phrase was spoken to me after I told my friend about all the activities I have going on in my life right now- running Coloring Countries, finishing my senior year of college, interning with an Electric Car Coalition, volunteering for several non- profits in town, AND I am leaving the country tomorrow for two weeks.

One of my professors my Sophomore year of college gave extra credit at the end of the semester to anyone who had kept track of all the countries she had traveled to (we had to listen to her stories very closely). I never got the final tally, but I do know she had traveled to at least fifty countries, and was still traveling strong! My professor’s advice for people who want to travel was to never turn down an opportunity to go somewhere. When I met her I had already traveled to Australia and the Dominican Republic a few times, but still had the infallible urge to continue traveling. It seems that when I sit in one place for too long, I feel like my insides will explode if I am not exposed to another culture. **Ding, ding** I think that is the root cause of my “Annie-ness” right there… culture.

I long for languages, Flamenco, Bachata, Seviche, Habichuela, Naan, Moussaka, and more importantly, the faces and souls I meet by experiencing these things.  A few months ago when I was in Spain, I tried to explain to my mom and Grandpa why I am constantly traveling around the world. It doesn’t quite make sense to them why every penny I save goes strait to another plane ticket, and why I work my little buttootee off to do so. My explanation (a bit less drawn-out) was that I live for the smiles I receive when I successfully communicate with someone who speaks a language I don’t. My heart is full when I learn a dance, to which an entire nation knows the same steps. I get goosebumps when I help make a traditional dish and my new friends are excited to write down their top secret family recipe just for me. I explained to them that it’s not about the plane ride, or the photographs, it’s about the experiences that change who I am, and write a piece of a culture into my soul.

Needless to say, my over-dramatized version of my travels, scared them a little but ultimately changed their views of my crazy life (I think). I will never stop traveling, and I will never stop overloading myself with things to do. I don’t know very many things for sure- but I do know that the ability to enjoy life on this earth is a precious blessing, and I will not waste one moment of my gift. To me, that means volunteering every moment I have, traveling when I am provided the opportunity, doing my best in all of my activities, and waking up each morning with a smile on my face because I am able to do these things.

Tomorrow I am heading to Seoul, South Korea for my first trip to South East Asia. In the last year, I have traveled to five countries- South Korea will be my sixth. This takes my total life traveling score to nine countries (and I just turned 21). My mother and my grandpa think I’m crazy, but I still feel that I don’t travel enough even though I just returned from spending five months in Europe, only to turn around two months later and head out to South Korea.

It’s part of my soul to have the overwhelming urge to travel the world while overloading my life so the word “Free-time” is non-existent… or maybe I just drink too much coffee. =)

There is a prospect for a thrilling time ahead of you.

There is a prospect for a thrilling time ahead of you.

DIY Facewash, sans Chemicals, Cost, and Conforming Encumbrance

Last year a few events correlated in my life that brought the flaws of the beauty industry to the forefront of my mind. I was taking an Ethnicity and Gender in the Media course at Colorado State University that taught me about sexism and racism in media advertising. While degrading ads exist across many industries, I was really shocked by the issues that are present in the beauty industry. One of the most disturbing issues for me is the beauty standard that is fabricated by these advertisements. With the use of photo editing software, images of women (and men) are manipulated to create an idea of beauty that is unnatural and simply unachievable. Below is an image from a wonderful article that discusses this issue,“Photoshop, Altering Images and Our Minds!” from the blog, Beauty Redefined, Taking Back Beauty for Females Everywhere.
Image

The Beauty Redefined post discovered, [this is the] “same mode with differing degrees of Photoshopping on REAL printed ads, Oct. 2009. Ralph Lauren responded: ‘After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and are going forward to take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.'” While this example is from a clothing company, there are countless of similar examples from beauty products.

Learning about these issues frustrated me because I believe that women deserve to be confident in their skin, without the pressure to conform to an idealized standard. These advertising issues were the first step to my rebellion against purchasing beauty products.

Step number two stemmed from the fact that in the last decade I had never found a face wash or lotion that kept me from breaking out or made my skin feel healthy and natural. This is slightly disturbing, seeing as that is the purpose of the products and industry.

Step number three was the cost of the products I was purchasing. One example of a face wash that is supposedly top of the line, ProActive, costs between $19.95 and $29.95 for approximately a one-month supply (on the ProActive website). I can think of about 6 billion things I would rather spend a yearly $360 on (Feeding the hungry, helping students communicate through Coloring Countries, travel, helping someone else travel, eating well, purchasing an electric car, etc, etc, etc). Beyond cost, is the fact that while these products may work for some, they do not halt breakouts for the majority of consumers. ResearchAcneTreatments.com reviewed ProActive saying, “Proactiv doesn’t entirely fail to deliver, and proves to work well for those with VERY oily skin.”

So I stopped the insane battle of trying to find the perfect face wash, and I started experimenting to find a DIY recipe that was simple, cheap, and effective. It took me ONE TRY, a grand total of 15 minutes, to create the most amazing face wash I have ever used.

Let me get my megaphone out really quick so I can tell the world to STOP USING THOSE RIDICULOUS CHEMICALS! Below I have included my face wash recipe for you to use, share with friends, post on your blogs, what ever you wish! I also included a cost break-down to show you how much you can save with this DIY recipe.

Annie’s Super Amazing Face Wash (~$5 for a three month supply, that’s about $0.05/ day).
2 Parts Ground Oats (~$3)
1 Part Baking Soda (~$2)

Tea Tree Oil (As Needed)

Instructions:

Grind oats in coffee grinder until very fine. Mix in Baking Soda until you are unable to see baking soda. Store dry in mason jar, or similar container. For more oily skin, add more Baking Soda. For dry skin add more oats.

To use:

Pour a small amount of dry mixture into the palm of your hand, add a small amount of warm water to make a wet paste. Massage the mixture onto your face to clean pores and remove all the dirt from playing the day away. Always wash face at the end of the day, only in the morning if you are feeling especially greasy or if your skin needs help clearing up.

For pimple spot treatment: Rub a small amount of Tea Tree Oil directly onto pimples. Rub in until dry. This works best if pimples have already risen to the skin, so the oil can penetrate the pore. Tea Tree Oil helps clear pimples by killing the bad bacteria that causes pores to become infected.

Tea Tree Oil can be used to help clear many infections beyond acne, and is completely natural. Here is WebMD‘s description of the oil-

“Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree. The tea tree was named by eighteenth century sailors, who made tea that smelled like nutmeg from the leaves of the tree growing on the swampy southeast Australian coast. Do not confuse the tea tree with the unrelated common tea plant that is used to make black and green teas.

Tea tree oil is applied to the skin (used topically) for infections such as acne, fungal infections of the nail (onychomycosis), lice, scabies, athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), and ringworm. It is also used topically as a local antiseptic for cuts and abrasions, for burns, insect bites and stings, boils, vaginal infections, recurrent herpes labialis, toothache, infections of the mouth and nose, sore throat, and for ear infections such as otitis media and otitis externa.

Some people add it to bath water to treat cough, bronchial congestion, and pulmonary inflammation.

How does it work?

The chemicals in tea tree oil may kill bacteria and fungus, and reduce allergic skin reactions.”

So there you go. Natural, simple, cheap, effective, and I don’t have to worry about supporting companies that do not have my best interest in mind. Thanks Mother Nature- you’ve always got my back.

Image

Back from a Big Blogging Break!

Hello Bloggers! For those of you who remember me, I am finally back after a 13 month blogging pause. I apologize for my leave of absence from the blogging world. The reason why I have not written in awhile will unfold with this post, so hang with me and see what is on my mind.

For curiosity’s sake, here is an update about where I have been for the past year. I am still a student at Colorado State University and I have now changed my major a total of SEVEN times. I couldn’t pick one so I found something that would let me study everything- Liberal Arts! Along with the switch to Liberal Arts I also added minors in International Development and Anthropology. I had a bit of an impulsive travel decision at the end of last semester so I took off to the south of Spain to study at the University of Granada and travel around Europe. On this trip I have been to Italy, Greece, France, Morocco, and all over Spain. At this moment I am back in Granada, sitting in a little café surrounded by books, drinking my cafe con leche.

I want to take you back to a post I wrote a few months ago. If you have not already read my post, <a href=”https://twohandscreatechange.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/its-random-act-of-kindness-day-participate/”&gt;“It’s Random Act of Kindness Day, Participate?”“>”It’s Random Act of Kindness Day, Participate?” I encourage you to do so. For those of you who do not have time to read the whole post, here is an excerpt that recaps the highlight of the story.

“Yesterday I was driving across a busy bridge that crosses a highway and river in my hometown. My car was nearly to the end of the bridge and I was about to enter a large and busy intersection. Something to my left caught my eye and I looked over to see a blind man feeling his way slowly onto the bridge and into oncoming traffic. I looked around to assess the potential harm in the situation. Without any more thought, I stopped my car in the middle [lane] of the bridge, turned on my warning lights, got out of the car, ran into the oncoming traffic and approached the man.” -It’s Random Act of Kindness Day, Participate? Annie Freyschlag

In the rest of the post I continue to describe how I walked the man off the bridge and helped him find where he was going. This experience was very emotionally eye-opening for me after the adrenaline from running into oncoming traffic wore off. Ultimately, this is a happy memory for me because I know that in the moment I acted the right way, it was what I did in the moments following the incident that I look back on with regret. After I watched the man walk away in my rear-view mirror, I immediately reached for my phone and dialed all of my friends and family to vividly paint the picture of this experience for them. It was as if I needed everyone to know how proud I was that I had helped. I know in those moments I was not looking for recognition, but is that how I could have come across to the people on the other end of the phone? I think a lot of us who work in the development and humanitarian fields struggle with this idea. This seemingly morally superior aspect is something that I never hoped to embody, but it seems that aspects have pulled their way into my existence.

Then I got to thinking, isn’t that what this entire blog is about- acting with kindness, then telling others about it (bear with me as I deconstruct and hopefully reconstruct my entire existence…). My current theory, developed after months of internal anguish is that this life is about finding balance, in many things but particularly related to volunteer and aid work; finding balance between working for ourselves and working completely for others. I have made a lot of changes in my life in the last 13 months because I had a revelation that before I can advocate for changing the world, I need to make sure I am the best person I can be. After doing a bit of research, it turns out that other people have also come to the same conclusion, which eased my mind a little bit. A monk in 1100AD wrote about his conception of this realization.

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

It took me a long time to put this transformation into concrete thoughts, you guys should see my draft box on WordPress, I must have six or seven attempts at starting a new blog post. For the past year I could not bring myself to write to my blogging friends explaining the ways I was changing the world when I needed to first change many things about myself. But I came full circle in this thought process when I realized that I love blogging and reading what my friends are doing to help other people in the world. This community, especially those of you who write about inspiration and volunteer work, you are little candles in the souls of all of your readers, you are rays of sunshine keeping our flames alive. So here I am, sitting in a Café in Andalusia, the south of Spain, asking you to continue sharing with me your acts of love and kindness.

Here are a list of things that I am currently working to learn about on a daily basis;
Sustainable development
Ethnobotany
Spiritual Development
Biodanza
Yoga
Learning multiple languages
Sharing and learning about culture
Communication methods
Environmental ethics
Art History
Painting
(And more!)

I hope to continue writing as I learn more about how I am changing my life. More updates to come! If anyone has had a similar struggle or similar thoughts please feel to share them with me, help normalize my crazy a little bit =).

Pictures: Paris, Córdoba Mezquita, Spain, Paseo de los Tristes, Granada, Spain.

20130517-135151.jpg

20130517-135251.jpg

20130517-135509.jpg

Sunlight

Sunshine

It’s the end of the semester here in the college world, which means there are ten million things I need to do today. Of course I am overwhelmed, as many of my college readers might also be at this moment. Just remember my friends, keep your face to the sun and know that you are amazing.

That’s your Two Hands Tuesday this week (sorry, no mission… I have given all my brain power to Finals).

 

 

Save The World… By Searching the Internet??

While I was browsing through local non-profits in my community, I stumbled upon an international adoption agency called Hope’s Promise.   This licensed child-placement agency was established in 1990 by Paula Freeman, after she and her husband adopted their daughter, Hope (About Us). The many experienced and qualified staff members at Hope’s Promise help facilitate both domestic and international adoptions. They have a deep understanding of the emotions involved with adoption, so they provide support and communication throughout the process. The agency works with Infant Domestic adoptions, international adoptions, as well as embryo adoption, which involves adoption of frozen embryos.

I have found that this agency has a very holistic approach to the process of adoption. By providing support for mothers giving up their children, support for adoptive families, and comprehensive information for both groups about the process, Hope’s Promise is ensuring ease of the process for all who are involved.

When I was reading about how I can volunteer with this company, they describe a search engine that directly funds their program. By using the search engine, Good Search, which is powered by Yahoo.com, we are actually donating to companies like Hope’s Promise. It’s as simple as that; switch your search engine from Google to Good Search and start changing the world. Don’t you just love stuff like this!?

So here’s your Two Hands Tuesday mission- switch your searching. Change that search box in the upper right hand corner of your internet window from Google, Ask Jeeves, or whatever you are currently using, to Good Search and make a commitment to using this for your internet searching needs.

Two Hands Loves the Earth

I am all about this glorious world where we live. I believe that my two hands can not only create change on a person-to-person level, but also on a global, environmental level. I believe that as earthlings, we have a duty to take care of mother earth. Earth Day is 7 days from today… have you started making your plans for changing the world? I have. To make your life a bit easier this year, I am going to provide a few options, in the event that you share my same passion for saving the world. Here are 7 options… maybe you can do one activity every day for the next week (that would make me very happy).

Ideas for Saving Mother Earth on Her Special Day

1. Plant a tree! This is a classic activity to do on Earth Day. New trees help clean the air as they mature by removing carbon dioxide from the air. You will directly receive some good Karma from this act, as they will help you breathe in the future by releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. If you can’t plant a tree, check out Treenex, where every greeting card you purchase will plant a tree in a forest.

2. Say Bye-bye to the Autos for the day. Use those gorgeous feet you were blessed with or ride that bike that is collecting cobwebs in the back of the garage! Live, work, or study super far away?? Check out Vride, where you can sign up for ride-sharing in your area instead of taking your car everyday. I love this company because they use vans (similar to gua-guas in the Dominican Republic) so there are always new faces to meet and friendly people to talk to!

3. Participate in a local Earth Day event. Find your fellow earthlings who are passionate about this wonderful day, and either plan an event for your community or sign up for an already existing event. Check out the Earth Day Network to find your event or group!

4. Pledge to stop drinking bottled water. Check out the video- The Story of Stuff, The Story of Bottled Water. Did you know that “San Fransisco’s tap water comes from the Yosemite National Park and is so pure that the EPA does not require it to be filtered? A bottle of Evian water that is $1.35 could be refilled with San Fransisco tap water once a day for over ten years before the cost would total $1.35” (DropthePop.info). Besides, metal water bottles are so much better looking.

5. Inspire your children! Teachers, babysitters, nannys, mothers/fathers, this is a perfect activity for you! Grab a sheet of paper and use all the colors in the world to spark some inspiration. Pick a few random pieces of garbage that you consistently see around your neighborhood and write them in a checklist on your colorful sheet of paper. Hand it to your kiddos and go! Who ever collects the most garbage (in a recycled plastic bag- we have to put them to use SOMEHOW, right?) gets to pick out their own flower or vegetable to plant this spring! I love hatching two birds with one egg.

A list from my scavenger hunt

My Earth Day Scavenger Hunt!

6. Rid the earth (and your family) of chemicals. Ecos Earth Friendly Products are sold in stores like King Soopers, Target, Vitamin Cottage, Whole Foods, and Albertsons. This company has made a commitment to creating products that do not use harsh toxins or chemicals like; petrochemicals, bleach, ammonia, and phosphate. This “clean guarantee” allows you to feel sure that you are not negatively impacting your family or the environment, and you are also supporting a sustainable company!

7. Clean out your closet! Yesterday I did a little spring cleaning and discovered that I owned 214 pieces of clothing. I was disgusted with myself because I had recently heard a story of a woman in Nigeria who owned two outfits; her work outfit and her church outfit, but sold her church outfit so her son could go to school. I cleaned out my closet, and now I own 80 pieces of clothing, including shoes. Still extreme compared to that incredible woman in Nigeria, but better than before. Next, shop at thrift stores for your next clothing purchase; who wouldn’t want to save 70% on a pair of shorts, and reduce the environmental impact of the clothing industry. For an interesting article about clothing waste and it’s impact on the environment, check out Environmental Health Perspectives, Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry by Liz Cloudio. In the article, Cloudio quotes, “The [cotton] crop accounts for a quarter of all the pesticides used in the United States, the largest exporter of cotton in the world, according to the USDA.”

Here’s my experience cleaning out my closet (more about this in a later post)-

before cleaning out my closet

Before my Earth Day Spring Cleaning- 217 pieces of clothing

After cleaning out my closet

After my Earth Day Spring Cleaning- 80 pieces of clothing

A box of my donations

My donations!