How Do You Buy Your Clothes?

I think a lot of people look at me and don’t assume that I’m an environmentalist. I’m not a fashionista but like to somewhat follow trends and look a little put together on days that I’m not in yoga pants! I’m also human and not impervious to a good sale, especially right now when everyone is doing a little bit more online retail therapy due to Covid. It would be lying to say that I haven’t bought myself something new, but I’m also trying to be better about my clothing sources. Fast fashion (cheaply made and then quickly discarded) is terrible for the environment. It takes a lot of natural resources to produce these garments and they often end in a landfill. (Yes, even if you donate them to Goodwill). If you are getting rid of old clothes, please see the helpful pyramid below, courtesy of @firemyselfby40. I also thought it would be fun to share some of my recent purchases and see where I got them.

Ask your community. As I’ve shared here, I am new to skiing and love it. It’s only my third winter and I’ve been accumulating gear as needed. When I first started, I wore a long coat and sunglasses, but then realized I needed more appropriate items. In this photo, you can see goggles and a ski coat that were literally given to me by local friends. I put out a call and they answered with items they had laying around their home. Happily, I took these items off their hands. Their closets are lighter and I have what I need without purchasing new. I usually bring something to swap, like flowers or baked goods, as a thank-you gift.

See a friend in there? My husband added him!

Kidizen/Thred-Up/Patagonia Worn-Wear. I’ve been using Kidizen for over five years now, as a way of clothing my children and making a few dollars on the side. It also allows me to buy nicer items for my girls (Boden, Hanna Andersson etc) without spending full price. For the holidays, I also purchased my husband a new-to-him coat via Patagonia Worn-Wear. He had no idea it was secondhand until I said something. Now, when I need something for our family, I usually check these sites first.

Local Consignment – Lilise, Chic Boutique Consignments. I haven’t gone into stores in a long time but still manage to support these businesses via their Instagram accounts. Lilise offers curbside and Chic has mailed my purchases to me. I shy away from getting things I can’t try on, but have still had fun treating myself to things like purses! Even if you don’t live locally, they will both ship anywhere. Or, search for local consignment stores in your area and start following them on social media. It’s a way to shop online while also supporting your community and the environment.

Swaps. This option isn’t available right now but I organized a kids-clothing swap at my daughers’ school and it was a huge success. People were able to find some much needed items for their kids (I walked away with snow pants and some other winter gear) and we donated a lot of good quality leftovers to a local children’s agency. It was a fun and easy way to build community, and I think we will hold it again once Covid is over. Really recommend!

Thrift. Our family has varied thoughts on thrifting. Personally, I love the thrill of a good find. My husband feels otherwise. He think that since we can afford to buy new clothes for ourselves (nothing super fancy but items from Old Navy etc), we should leave items for people who struggle more financially. I definitely see that point of view so don’t thrift very often. However it’s a second-hand source that I still think is preferable to fast fashion, so I do partake from time to time. What are your thoughts?

Anyway, hope this little peek into my recent “purchases” was fun. I personally love it when people offer glimpses into their lives. See any options missing on this list? Please share below! – Rachel

It’s a New Day!

How was your week? Very happy campers over here. The nation made history (hello, Vice President Kamala Harris!) and the new President mentioned our climate emergency right in his inauguration speech. But after we take a moment to revel in this new day, we need to get back to work. Lots to do. Let’s see what also happened in climate-news this week.

What were you doing when you were nine? I can’t say I was doing something like this

President Biden has been busy during his first few days in office. Some big climate decisions have already been made. ““We’re going to combat climate change in a way we have not before,” Mr. Biden said in the Oval Office on Wednesday evening, just before signing the executive orders. Even so, he cautioned: “They are just executive actions. They are important but we’re going to need legislation for a lot of the things we’re going to do.””

The New Hampshire Chapter of Surfrider.org is working with our Northeast Regional Manager to support the passage of a law that would ban polystyrene foam food packaging statewide! “Persistence pays off; in most instances of statewide plastics mitigation law, it took multiple session attempts before finally passing the law (think about the bag bans now in Maine, Washington, California and Hawaii). We are laying important groundwork now for future law in New Hampshire, and YOU can help!”

Elon Musk makes news again. I’m excited to hear more about these projects, but how about we start by less cutting and more planting of trees?

How do Covid and the environment connect? The effects might be seen for over a decade…“There is no vaccine against climate risks, so post-pandemic recovery plans must focus on growth aligning with sustainability agendas to build back better.”

And now here’s a recap of other topics Hannah and I discussed this week on GreenLifeNH!

Like what you see? Make sure to subscribe (look on the bottom of the home page) and tell us what you thought about the articles. Which did you find most interesting or important? We are all on this journey together. Thank you and enjoy your weekend! – Rachel

P.S. The above photo was borrowed from the New York Times

It’s Burger Night! Hold the beef, please.

There are lots of burger alternatives out there, but there is really nothing compared with a freshly made, delicious, and healthy burger that the kids love and makes great leftovers. Think I’m dreaming? It took us awhile, but we finally found the perfect burger recipe in The High Protein Vegetarian Cookbook. Not only does the “Protein Powerhouse Veggie Burger” contain lentils, black beans, quinoa, walnuts, and eggs (hence the powerhouse!), but the added flavors of red onion, garlic, red pepper, cumin, and cayenne are the perfect amount of savory. Does it taste like a beef burger? No. But it’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to taste like a damn good burger and it does.

I’m sharing this (moderately modified) recipe here in the hopes that you will check out this cookbook someday. The recipe makes 11 burgers, more or less, which means you’ll have leftovers for lunches or you can use them in burritos, tacos, or salads as a ground beef substitute. It’s not a quick recipe, but since the burgers end up making several meals, the time is worth it. We buy all the ingredients in bulk or from the bulk bins, further saving packaging and money.

Protein Powerhouse Veggie Burgers inspired by The High Protein Vegetarian Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup beluga (black) lentils
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of dried black beans or 2 15-ounce cans of black beans
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (or other grain)
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, processed into flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped or minced
  • 1 red pepper (don’t buy fresh peppers in the winter!), chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the black beans. I use an Instant Pot and it takes like twenty minutes, which saves packaging and money. One heaping cup of dried beans equals about 30 ounces of cooked beans. So do two cans of black beans. 🙂
  2. Boil water for the lentils. Add lentils and cook for 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender.
  3. Cook the quinoa, unless you already have some cooked grains hanging around. 1/2 cup of dry quinoa equals about 1 cup of cooked.
  4. Blend oats into flour and walnuts into small pieces in a food processor or blender. Don’t wash the machine. You’ll use it again in the next step.
  5. Puree the lentils with 15 ounces (half) of the black beans.
  6. Mix the pureed beans and lentils with the remaining black beans, plus the quinoa, oat flour, garlic, red onion, red pepper, walnuts, eggs, and spices.
  7. Refrigerate for an hour or more (it’ll still work if you don’t do this, but it’s easier if you do).
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or grease with oil. I use this cookie sheet, which needs no greasing or mat.
  9. Form patties and lay onto the cookie sheet. The patties will not expand, so make them the size you’d like and don’t worry about the spacing.
  10. Bake for 12 minutes on one side, then flip carefully and bake for 12 minutes on the other side.
  11. Serve like regular burgers, with ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Store in a an airtight container in the fridge for a week or two.

ENJOY!

– Hannah

Made these burgers or have another great burger recipe to share? Please comment below!

What’s Bringing You Joy in January?

Rachel: Inauguration Day! Without getting too much into politics, there is much to celebrate today. My two daughters get to watch the first woman and person of color become our Vice President. Joseph Biden has worked in public service for over forty years and will try to unite the country. Our environment also receives a new fighting chance that is desperately needs. (Photo source: Billboard.com)

Skiing! I love sharing that I started skiing my 30s. It all began when my older daughter learned through school and wanted someone to take her on weekends. People seem to love it, and it was an opportunity for some outside time with my child, so I learned. Let it be known that I am not a naturally athletic person; it wasn’t the kind of experience where I put on skis and started magically gliding down the mountain. I was nervous and scared but I did it. Now I can ski the easy slopes and LOVE it. Due to Covid, and a general aversion to crowds, we sneak away for a few hours during the week (I’m lucky that my day-job is flexible) and I sometimes go alone. It’s such a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and time with nature during the colder months. I recognize it’s a pricey sport but much of our gear is used and weekday half-day prices tend to be cheaper.

Take-out and movie night! I think many of us have seen our usual joys fall out of reach this year. My daily life melded into a routine of cooking, cleaning and entertaining others. Enter take-out and movie night. I know that take-out gets a negative reputation because there is a lot of waste involved. Pre-Covid, I’d go to restaurants and bring my own tupperware for leftovers. But I’m not doing indoor dining right now and they need our help. So once a week, my family orders from a small local place, we support our community, get a break from cooking and receive some joy. But all of those containers! What should we do? Many of them will just become instant trash. Try your best to reuse them as much as possible. They are great for freezing leftovers in order to prevent food waste.

Some leftover chocolate chip pancakes that will be happily eaten another day

Hannah:

The First Day of (my) New Year! I’m lucky enough to have a birthday close enough to the New Year to feel like my year and the New Year start simultaneously. I like to take some time between the New Year and my birthday to get my shit together and to reflect on how I want to learn and grow. It’s a good chance to think about who I am and who I want to be. I was so lucky to be able to spend some time outside around the fire with people I love to celebrate and to receive some lovely low- and zero-waste gifts. For example, my parents are having my antique typewriter repaired in Portsmouth and my husband gifted me the time to do the New Hampshire Master Gardeners program (I still have to get in!) and a list of “52 Reasons I Appreciate You”. My sister gifted me a lovely new houseplant and friends gave me candles, a very clever knife, a delicious apple bread, homemade jam and salsa, some very kind letters, and a gift certificate to Lilise. I felt very celebrated, but still light.

Pond Skating! I grew up next to a pond in southern New Hampshire and I have lots of wonderful memories of skating on the pond with my family. My sister and I used to created choreographed dances to the Lion King Sound track and, later, have very messy ice hockey games with our neighbors (no one owned hockey skates, pads, or a proper stick – mine was left-handed – and several of us didn’t know how to stop without turning around or grabbing onto cattails). Last week we took the kids skating on my parents’ pond and I loved watching them enjoy the same simple pleasure I did as a child. My husband is an amazing hockey player and he brought my toddler on lots of wild spinning rides around the pond. My older kids are both quickly surpassing my ability on the ice and I love watching them learn.

Reading! As much as I love being outside in the winter, I also enjoy snuggling up with a good book. Luckily, my kids do too. We’ve been enjoying lots of classics this year as part of their homeschool and I’m really enjoying revisiting old favorites, like the Secret Garden, the Wind and the Willows, and Peter Pan (I have found wonderful illustrated copies of these books online, pre-loved). Personally, I am reading A Promised Land, Barack Obama’s new book about his political career. It’s been truly eye-opening to read about how muddled and muddling politics are behind the scenes. My dad warned me from a young age – I was voted most likely to be President in elementary school – that politics was a rough go and now I see why. But Obama was able to maintain his integrity and his sense of humor somehow and Biden wants to do it again, so maybe there is hope for our country. Very excited to watch the Inauguration today. I am very excited for my children to see Kamala Harris take her oath.

Who’s paying for your burger?

Meat and dairy production accounts for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. CarbonBrief

The United States Department of Agriculture’s guideline for a healthy diet is illustrated with a plate divided into fourths. The largest portions on the plate are fruits and vegetables; next comes grains; and, lastly, proteins. The USDA lists the following foods as good proteins: seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy products. So, if you are varying your protein sources, as the USDA recommends, meat makes us a very small percentage of a healthy diet. If vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts are so important to a healthy diet, then why does the government allocate next to nothing to help farmers who grow those crops, while spending billions to feed meat animals?

According to recent data from Metonomics, the American government spends $38 billion each year to subsidize the meat and dairy industries, but only 0.04 percent of that (i.e., $17 million) each year to subsidize fruits and vegetables.” –The Medium

Subsidies that prop up an unhealthy and destructive industry are unacceptable. And while the USDA does have programs geared toward helping farmers switch to more sustainable practices, they are small, and completely sidelined by Trump, who gave unprecedented billions to farmers without any oversight through a loophole and without congressional approval. And most of the money went to large farmers. The top 1% received 26% of the payments and 62% of farms received no help.

Farm subsidies act like regressive taxes. They help high-income corporations, not poor rural farmers. Most of the money goes toward large agribusinesses.” – The Balance

Here in New Hampshire, most of our farmers, excluding a few dairy operations, are considered “small farmers”. That means our farmers do not benefit from government subsidies. Instead of supporting large meat industries by paying for the grains they feed their animals, shouldn’t we in New Hampshire be supporting our local farmers instead?

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?!

Eat Less Meat! Sure, it won’t stop the subsidies, but it will send a strong message to the beef producers… we don’t want products that hurt our planet!

Stop subsidizing unsustainable agriculture. Unfortunately, the federal subsidy programs are very entrenched and wrapped up in big Farm Bills (which include benefits as well as drawbacks). Senator Jeanne Shaheen voted to extend them in 2013. Both Senator Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen voted for them in 2018. Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster both voted against them in 2018. Write to your Senators and Representatives with your thoughts on subsidizing beef and other destructive farming techniques.

Support a Green Recovery, including the re-allocation of federal money toward sustainable farming practices (hint: no beef). Write to your senators and representatives about including the reduction of meat subsidies in the program.

Tax beef production! Mark Bittman makes a great argument for taxing unhealthy foods instead of subsidizing them. Beef seems like a great candidate for a tax, especially beef raised in unsustainable ways. We should definitely be taxing (and boycotting) beef coming from countries that destroy rainforests, but I think we should tax it all, at varying levels.

Get informed:

Shop Local and Support Small Farmers Our farmers in New Hampshire need our support. Buy your fruits and vegetables as locally as possible whenever possible. The government may have its priorities all messed up, but we don’t have to! Shop your local farmers markets and/or join a CSA.

Photo credit: ABC News

I hope this gets you fired up to make change!

– Hannah

Thoughts on Government Subsidies? Feelings about the 2018 Farm Bill?

In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr Day

I’ve been thinking about how best to honor this day on GreenLifeNH and decided to focus on environmental racism. It’s no secret that people of color and and lower income communities experience higher rates of pollution and other climate change effects than upper-income, white localities. One only needs to look at the Flint Water Crisis, high asthma rates in the South Bronx and the practice of shipping first-world plastic trash off to third-world countries. I asked a friend to help me write this post because I am admittedly not educated enough to do this topic justice. Her advice? Look to people of color and see what they’re saying. Here are some of the Instagram accounts I’ve recently started following in order to learn more. Note they are not all “climate change” accounts. Some aren’t even American. But they all allow access to a point of view that I cannot offer.

@marandasworld, @greengirlleah, @queerbrownvegan, @latonyayvette, @rachel.cargle and @wildberriesandfables. If you’re not on Instagram, here’s an article from an African American scientist and her thoughts on racism and climate change.

I’ve thought about how to best personally acknowledge this day. My children and I will talk about why they’re off from school and how we can make positive change. I will read more articles and think about how I can be an active ally. I will keep fighting for our environment and remind people that while we’re all one world, we don’t all experience life the same way. There are many inspirational MLK quotations that I know people are sharing today. In an effort to be honest, here’s the one that best speaks to me: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” I’ve used it on my own life when things feel overwhelming and/or I don’t know where to start. I hope it helps you, too – Rachel

(Above photo from quotefancy.com)

Friday Links Around the Web

How was everyone’s week? Hannah and I took a peaceful walk, where she introduced me to Yak Tracks. These little slip-ons made such a difference and allow you to walk in the icy woods during the winter. I was so impressed. My family also had a Covid scare in our community, which thankfully turned out to be false. It caused quite the stir for a few hours. Luckily everyone is alright for now. I am looking forward to the time when we say goodbye to this pandemic! Meanwhile the world keeps turning. Let’s see what happened in climate news this week

It’s exciting to see more political candidates focus on global warming, especially in my home town of NYC. Big cities, such as NYC, also see high amounts of environmental racism. I truly believe that while there are many important societal issues, they all involve climate change. Without a viable Earth, those others problems become worse – food insecurity, housing shortages, health issues etc.

Back in New Hampshire, the town of Keene is organizing local composting programs! The “goal is to normalize composting and reduce the number of trucks that send Keene’s waste away to Rochester, NH’s landfill.” Concord – get on board! Plus, in addition to avoiding additional landfill waste, composting solves another problem as well!

I heard this story on the radio the other day and was naively surprised. Climate migration is already starting, and it’s landing some people in New Hampshire!

Does the winter weather have you dreaming of spring? Are you already starting to plan your garden? To Help Save Bumble Bees, Plant These Flowers

Ending on a positive note, there are Reasons for Hope on Climate Change in 2021. “To be clear, climate despair does not square with current scientific understandings. We are in trouble, not screwed. Actions taken now and in the next decade, individually and collectively, can make a difference.”

And now here’s a recap of other topics Hannah and I discussed this week on GreenLifeNH!

Like what you see? Make sure to subscribe (look on the bottom of the home page) and tell us what you thought about the articles. Which did you find most interesting or important? We are all on this journey together. Thank you and enjoy your weekend!– Rachel

My Top Five Cookbooks, plus one bonus

Let me preface this post by saying I am not an amazing cook. I am not a foodie. I do not pretend to be an expert on cookbooks. But I do know what I like and these cookbooks have been my go-tos for years now. I wholeheartedly recommend them. Two of these cookbooks are vegan; one is vegetarian; and two are omnivorous, but focus on the good stuff (grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables).

The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan

If you are new to healthy eating – as I was when I found this book – this is the perfect place to start. Actually, if you don’t want to commit to the book, his website is helpful too. The cookbook is organized by food groups (you can skip the meat section) and gives you tons of information about each healthy food, like how to choose it, store it, and cook it easily. It also provides tons of nutritional and dietary information. What I like best about this cookbook is how ridiculously easy the recipes are. Almost all of the hundreds of recipes can be made in under seven minutes – now that is my kind of cooking!

Spilling the Beans: Cooking and baking with beans and grains every day by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan

My children are completely unaware that there are large quantities of beans in their favorite pizza crust or that their morning muffins have lentils as a main ingredient. They also don’t know their favorite brownies, cookies, and even their pancakes are all bean-based. And don’t any of you tell them!

Grains and beans should make up a large portion of your diet and this book shows you how. The recipes are flavorful and inventive and not too crazy on the ingredients. There’s a lot of standard fair (with the beans and grains taking center stage), but there are also some more exciting recipes. Think “roasted beet salad with wild rice, goat cheese, and chickpeas” level.

But the real reason to get this book is the baking section, which shows you how to hide beans in everything you bake. And I promise, they taste just as good, if not better, than the original. My husband requests the chocolate brownies for his birthday cake each year!

The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

If I were going to write a cookbook, this would be it. The recipes are organized into romantic dinners, casual meals for 4-6, formal dining for 6-10, menus for special occasions, feasts for the holidays, and “buffets, heavy appetizers, and finger food”. For someone who never quite knows what to serve when and how, that is super helpful. And each section has a menu for the Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, which helps when you are trying to eat seasonally, which we all should be doing.

This is my go-to book whenever we are having people over, especially for holidays. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has great advice for being a vegan host and has excellent menus ideas to leave everyone feeling full and happy. I always feel inspired after looking through her book.

The Family Cooks by Laurie David

This cookbook is another one that inspires me. Laurie David argues for cooking your own food, preferably as a family and from scratch. If you need a push in that direction, her introduction is thoroughly convincing. This is a great book for those with small children or picky eaters who want to makes healthier choices. There are also lots of quick dinner suggestions for when you’re in a hurry. One of our favorites – cannellini bean tartine – has five ingredients and is ready in less than ten minutes. And it’s a crowd-pleaser. David gives some great hints for involving children in the cooking process to get them excited about food. I have found my kids will eat just about anything if they cook it themselves.

Food is the Solution: What to Eat to Save the World by Matthew Prescott

Yes, it’s a cookbook, but Matthew Prescott’s book is also a pretty thorough education on why meat is bad for the Earth. The first section of the book shows how meat production is harming the world’s water, air, and land, with lots of graphics and pictures, which are pretty convincing.

But this isn’t just a plea to eat less (or no) meat. There are also some pretty great recipes in this book, many of which are geared toward new vegetarians and vegans. Prescott clearly wants to make sure former meat-eaters don’t leave the table dissatisfied.

BONUS: The High Protein Vegetarian Cookbook: Hearty dishes even carnivores will love by Katie Parker

I wrote about this cookbook before, but it is worth mentioning again briefly. At least six of our favorite meals come from this book. The food is hearty, satisfying, and tasty and easily scaled up for a big family or for leftovers. The meals are definitely not vegan and not as healthy as some of the other cookbooks I’ve listed, but if you are thinking of going vegetarian or trying to convince your family to make the change, this is your book. You will not be disappointed.

There you have it. I hope these recommendations help. I know I always like hearing what cookbooks other families love. That is how I learned about several of these.

– Hannah

What are some of your favorites?

Five Questions With Stephanie Zydenbos of Micro Mama’s

I was first introduced to Micro Mama’s products via the Hot Bar at the Concord CO-OP. My younger daughter and I would go weekly and fill our plates with her various delicacies. We especially loved the beets and my then 4 year old would specifically ask for them. Last month, Stephanie and I both commented during an NHPR program about buying locally. I reached out to Stephanie after hearing her like-minded point of view and this conversation was born. I really enjoy connecting with local businesses via GreenLifeNH. Enjoy her responses. I loved reading them!- Rachel

1) Please tell us a little about Micro Mama’s. What made you want to start it? What is your favorite aspect of owning this business? Micro Mama’s: *Produces Certified organic locally grown & made living Probiotic & Prebiotic fermented vegetables that are nutrient dense. *Artisan & Medicinal graded production. (Vegan, Raw, Local, GF & Organic). *All of our products are made free from major allergens with the highest quality practices & ingredients. Woman owned business at the intersection of health &  convenience. Where crunchy meets science.

The relationship of Micro Mama’s and myself was founded on the shared mission/path of alchemy, I guess is the best way to say it.  I guess you could say we started in each other a long long time ago, yet we start anew every day .. however woo woo or corny that sounds… it’s true. We continue together doing tasty, and meaningful work that feels good. 

When I started Micro Mama’s, I was going through a major life challenge/change. I was a solo parent, and my number one goal was to provide, be present & available to and for my kids. Let’s be honest…that’s one of the toughest jobs, yet bar-none has been/is the most rewarding. So, in the beginning, my combined favorite was that & creating something that met the metrics of my definition of “having it all”. Everyone should define what “having it all” means to them. Tweaking it as life evolves is good & there isn’t a wrong answer if it makes you truly happy. So being the facilitator of goodness & well being is a favorite too. Cultivating healthy relationships from the ground-up. Supporting small local organic family farms that nurture soils to grow amazingly clean, trustworthy, and nutritious vegetables. Working with an amazing team in the art of making naturally fermented nutrient dense vegetables is awesome. Supplying our local retailers, restaurants, and customers with our region’s premium products is of equal joy & importance. 

2) What are the challenges to owning a small business in NH – environmental or otherwise? We’ve always navigated with the spirit & inspired action that every challenge is “figure-outable”… in the early days some nine years ago… we were the first vegetable fermenters in our state. Educating state health departments, working with federal regulatory departments, providing scientific based evidence, and crafting our mission was time consuming, but worth it. Our state was allowing other fermented vegetables to be sold, but there were no NH commercial makers/processors. There was also no one in our region (east of the Mississippi) who made clean products we’d want to eat ourselves.  By NOT fermenting plastics, we’d be doing something no one was doing (we are still the only ones to our knowledge) & that was part of our mission. The obstacles that presented were time intensive and financially consuming. Living in the bare bones of personal material needs can keep you inspired/innovative, and it didn’t equate to sacrificing core foundational goals… and it never will.  Simmered down … honestly the determination in knowing the “why” we were able to figure out the “how”.  I also work in the world of healthy bacterial intelligence… so that definitely factors in most definitely… all giggles aside. 

3) Please tell us about Micro Mama’s experience with COVID-19. What challenges have you overcome? We’ve been consistently blessed by the increase of sales in our retail sector during the pandemic. Reason being that people are learning, embracing, and implementing healthier food choices to build immunity, and feel better to navigate through through these scary times. While profitability in this sector is really low, it’s still worthwhile in the mission. Another reason could simply be that people are eating most meals at home, and are incorporating our products for the joy of a new tasty condiment… both are great news!! 

Our wholesale/restaurant accounts, food service family and friends have been hit the hardest, as have our shared sales in that sector. We lost close to 50% of food service sector sales, but we’re hopeful much of this WILL bounce back. We’ve also built stronger sales with the restaurants hanging on. As restaurants have had to be innovative with changes we’re in transparent partnerships that help each other navigate the storm.

Restaurants & food service establishments are hurting & the importance of their survival is vital to our communities. We need to continually support each other with the dedication to the shared mission to provide for our local economy &  food web… so if you’re able to afford take out even once a week… order from a locally owned establishment!! DO IT so they are there on the other side of this pandemic. Locally owned restaurants that use local suppliers, and have dedicated local regulars make all the difference. We are dependent on each other and that IS GOOD NEWS. If everyone who has the privilege to eat out makes that choice than we’ll literally get through this stronger… In. So. Many. Ways. And when the pandemic is over.. keep this up!!

4) Buying local food is a huge part of preventing climate change. Can you tell us about your own zero-waste journey?  Our ingredient lists are SMALL, but we process up to 60,000 pounds of vegetables annually. Some years more, some years less. Every vegetable that we use is locally grown in accordance with healthiest practices for the earth & its inhabitants.  Every part of every vegetable is 100% used. About 5-10% is given to local farmers for animal feed & compost. All of our commercial bulk containers can be returned & reused. We work with our farmers in exchanging harvest bins/totes, WE HAVE NEVER FERMENTED in plastics, and support regenerative & organic farming practices. We don’t use any heat or cooking and fermenting naturally increases vitamin & nutrient content. We work in partnership with Three Rivers Alliance, and Community Farmers Alliance to distribute locally grown & produced foods. By working with these Alliances we are able to increase regional availability while reducing our emissions footprint. Once our food service customers are able to offer our products from their olive bars, and salad bars again… ( hopefully soon) than customers can purchase our veggies by the pound using their own containers if they wish. 

5) Anything else you’d like to share? Your GUT is intelligent. Feed it well. The brain/gut relationship is pinnacle to good health and for vibrant immune system. Every bite of Micro Mama’s has you a millionaire with probiotics & prebiotics.  When you eat our fermented veggie you can feel good about who grew it, who made it, and who’s serving it up! You’re an ambassador & we’re proud to be the embassy of integrity. Living * Loving * Local 

Eco-Laundry 101

Want to green your laundry routine? You’re in the right place. We’re going to start at the clothing store and make our way through the hamper, into the washer, and onto the clothesline as sustainably as we can, choosing products that reduce waste and still get the job done. Ready? Here we go!

Reduce your loads. The easiest way to cut back on washing, is to cut back on the amount of clothes you own and the amount of clothes you put into the hamper. We have a running Laundry Challenge in our house to see who has the fewest clothes in their pile on laundry day (socks and underwear don’t count). The challenge (which has no prize except praise from mom) is pretty effective at cutting down our loads. We simply check our clothes after wearing them to see if they smell or have visible stains. If not, we re-wear them (again, not socks and underwear – we’re not that hardcore). And towels, sheets, and such do not need to be washed once a week. They just don’t.

Let this be your mantra: Buy less, wear more, wash less.

Choose eco-options. Less waste options for laundry detergent abound. Pre-Covid, we used to refill our giant laundry detergent monthly at the Concord Coop (We Fill Good, Bonafide Green Goods, Candle Beans and Company, and Granite State Naturals are among some of the local stores that do this). When this wasn’t available during Covid, we tried out Dropps, which I also liked. Honestly, I don’t know which one is greener, but choose one of these options over buying a new jug of detergent each month. Even if it is Seventh Generation or another eco-brand, the packaging isn’t worth it.

Got stains? I picked up a new – totally package free – stain stick from We Fill Good recently and it is amazing. I have yet to encounter a stain it can’t handle!

Like dryer sheets? I gave up on them a long time ago, but for awhile I used these aromatic satchels to keep our laundry fresh-smelling and they were really great.

Give your washer a break. Whenever possible, choose “Cold” and “Quick” to reduce the amount of energy it takes your washer to wash a load. Chances are your clothes aren’t dirty enough to require hot water or a full “Normal” cycle. Save the energy-intensive cycles for when you are washing diapers or dirty rags or rugs.

Skip the Dryer. Dryers are a huge energy suck in your household and they are completely unnecessary. If you have the space, I would definitely recommend building a clothesline. It also works pretty well to string a long rope between two trees. If you have a smaller yard – or none at all – invest in a drying rack. You might not be able to dry your whole load, but just taking out the large items (like towels, jeans, and sweatshirts) will allow you to reduce the drying time on your load and therefore reduce your energy use.

Invest some time – and a bit of upfront money – in your laundry routine this year. Having clean clothes shouldn’t mean destroying our planet.

– Hannah

How have you greened your laundry routine?

And, since we’re airing our (clean) laundry right now, does anyone have any tips for a better folding system than my leaning tower of clothes here?