Happiness Has a New Address – Tagged "Zero Waste Maine" – Dulse & Rugosa
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    Ideas for #OptOutside & Buy Nothing Day

    Ideas for #OptOutside & Buy Nothing Day

    Many years ago, when my family was the only year round family on remote Gotts Island I actually did "Black Friday."  Black Friday is literally going to a mall after Thanksgiving and buying stuff.  I believe it came about because I listened to a talk radio station out of Boston.  This is long before talk radio was so political, of course the station talked national and local politics but also covered many human interest stories, food, psychology.  For me, it was background conversation while I worked alone in my log cabin.  I'm sure I was influenced by all the ads for Black Friday- it seemed the thing to do.

     

    So we headed ashore- no easy task- involving boats and our car.  I have no idea what we bought.  Probably broccoli and other fresh vegetables.  It was crowded, we ate at a fast food joint and by the time we got home we were all cross and grumpy.  That's my one and only Black Friday adventure.

    This year, celebrate sustainably and slow down.  There is no need to pile the family in the car, deal with hordes of people to buy cheap stuff made in China.  There are so many other things to do.  

    #OptOutside was started by the outdoor gear company REI a few years ago.  They are closed for business the Friday after Thanksgiving.  REI's mission is to connect people with each other and nature instead of spending time shopping for bargains.  

    Another alternative to Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day.  This began in Canada to highlight overconsumption.  Instead of shopping the idea is to slow down and participate in a community event, get outside or even spend a bit of time doing what you love.  It's a perfect day for some self care. 

    Both #OptOutside and Buy Nothing Day are movements and philosophies.  We're a small business which depends on sales to survive.  We understand how complex the world and economies are.  We also knowing making choices about your purchases is a way to vote for the kind of economies and world you want. 

    9 Ideas for #OptOutside & Buy Nothing Day

    1.   Take a walk no matter what the weather is.  Bundle up, put on rain boots or rub in the sunscreen- just get outside.

    2.   While outside pick up trash.  There's nothing like picking up lots od single use plastic to help you make better buying choices.

    3.   Clean out a closet, cupboard or room and donate useable items to your local charity shop.

    4.   Write letters, postcards or call family and friends far away.

    5.   Make holiday cookies or gifts.

    6.   Read a book, play cards or do a puzzle.

    7.   Get some ART and visit a museum or gallery.

    8.   Dedicate some time to self care, give your self a facial, a hot soak in the tub or simply a bit of time doing whatever you love most.  

    9.   No matter how you spend the day- do an activity that nourishes you and helps your community and environment.

     

    Trash Free Trick or Treating

    Trash Free Trick or Treating

    Halloween is coming.  I actually love this holiday especially when I was teaching.  It's an opportunity to celebrate the season, indulge in goodies and a chance to dress up and pretend. 

    The problem with all holidays is our enjoyment creates mountains of trash- bags of candy, plastic decorations and tiny toys make a lot of trash.

    Here are some ideas to help you put the green into trick or treat bags.  

    green halloween

    Plastic free candy is a challenge, look for candy wrapped in foil or paper or cardboard boxes.  They will be bulk packed in plastic but it is better than handing out plastic wrapped candy.

    It's easier to skip the candy and pass out other sorts of treats.  My favorite idea is a bowl of nature items including shells, sea glass, acorns and stones.  If you live in the city this would be a real novelty for some kids.

    green halloween

    Paper straws are a great treat to help raise awareness about the problems of plastic.  Amazon sells boxes of 150-300 and depending on your street a single box could last a few years.  

    Sidewalk chalk, tiny cookie cutters, pencils, erasers, bandages, magnets, coloring books or printed coloring sheets, remelted crayons all are lower waste treats and last quite a bit longer than candy.

    green halloween

     

    You can also buy an activity card set and hand out one card per child.  Your local bookstore or toy shop will have a selection.  Expect to pay around $10-12 for a deck of 50 cards.

    The website Teachers Pay Teachers has some different printables including Halloween Yoga cards and Halloween PE.   Download to make cute books, printable bookmarks are another option.  The downloads cost between $3-5 making these a fun and cheap treat.

    The materials to make a craft are also nice treats.  Friendship bracelets made from embroidery thread are a calming way to end the Halloween frenzy.  You can make a kit for each trick or treater and include directions.  Here is a link-DIY Printable Friendship Bracelet .

    I hope this blogs helps you think about ways to celebrate without making lots of extra trash.  Handing out an eco item can help raise awareness about our planet.  Let's all work to make Halloween more green.

    green halloween

     

     

    WOOF for Seaweed

    WOOF for Seaweed

    Seaweeds many nutritional benefits include being rich in iron, magnesium, iodine, and the omega-3 fatty acids.  Plus there's that great "umami" flavor.  Umami is Japanese for "pleasant savory taste".  These are the reasons we humans love to add seaweed to our diet- but what about our dogs? 

    Turns out seaweed is a great addition to our dog's diet.  Those same powerful nutrients that benefit humans help improve our dog's coat and skin.  Nori, the unseasoned sushi wraps can make great training treats for your dog.  That umami taste sensation is similar to a rich, meaty bone.

    If you are lucky enough to live near the beach, washed ashore seaweed is NOT a safe dog treat.  In general, my Puerto Rican street dog Tuffy eats a lot of gross things on the beach- but she's never shown an interest in beach seaweed.  The dangers are possible pollutants, salt poisoning and expansion as the dried seaweed expands in the tummy.  

    If you're looking for a good seaweed rich supplement for your dog check out the Maine company Source.  Susan Domizi developed a nutritional product to help her horse's health.  One of the problems of modern society is our soils may be depleted and not have all the essential micronutrients that our dogs need.  Source for dogs contains "selected seaweeds plus the added benefits of yeast cultures, brewers yeast, garlic powder, vitamin E, zinc and natural beef flavor."

    Source also makes a human supplement which I use but that's another blog!

    Find out more on the Source website- https://www.4source.com/product/source-plus-for-dogs/

    Find out more about seaweeds in general by visiting the Maine Seaweed Council website- http://www.seaweedcouncil.org/

     

    World Oceans Day 2018

    World Oceans Day 2018

    At Dulse & Rugosa we are passionate but not perfect in being as eco and ocean friendly as possible.

    Read more

    Growing Our Business

    Growing Our Business

    We want to have a sustainable business. 

    A few years ago, we rethought our packaging.  We replaced our cheap plastic jars and tubs with glass.  This was an expensive process for us.  The wholesale price for containers made out of plastic vs. glass or metal is considerable.  The price difference is something that you can't pass on to consumers.  There is also the price of mailing heavier containers.  Plus companies like Amazon who offer free or reasonable shipping.  I don't like to make purchases where the shipping cost more than the product.   We also made a switch to more eco-friendly shipping materials.  It shouldn't be a surprise that mailers made from recycled paper cost more than plastic ones.  My point here is that our cost are greater for eco-friendly products but the price for our products has remained  pretty much the same.

    We are so thankful for the folks who support us.  We make products that last a long time.  That's part of our philosophy- purchase products that last.  This is not the traditional "grow your business" path.  Carly and I frequently have conversations about how to grow our business especially wholesale.  One of our goals right now is to get our Seaweed Shampoo Bars into natural food shops and coops.  She points out that because our bars last so long there isn't really a lot of turn over and that is something stores don't like.  Even if it is a store with a Zero Waste philosophy they need customers to support them and the products they stock.  

    My point here is- it's complicated.  We got an email the other day from a customer who was upset with us.  She pointed out that we had a Zero Waste philosophy but we had sent them a postcard advertisement.  I believe she was referring to a postcard I sent in Dec.  I'll admit it was probably my most "ad-centered" and not personal postcard.  It was a message to support small, local or indie business during the holiday season.  Of course, we were thrilled if someone decided to support us but the general message was shop small.  I made it a bit more "slick" because I had decided to send a card in Jan with a more personal message.  When I'm addressing or stamping or decorating our "snail mail" I like to capture a bit of author Alice Hoffman's magic.  Her characters infuse ordinary things with magical intentions.  I'm not saying my postcards are magical but they do have good intentions.

    I still like "real mail".  It's partly my ties to Gotts Island.  Mail is a big deal there and the little mail house helps build and connect community.  When I lived overseas I had "postcard" buddies.  Postcards where what I'd buy in airports.  I just mailed a card of cheer to the mom of one of my grade school friends- she needs a bit of love.   I also realize how complicated every action we take is and how there are always consequences.

    We've tried so many different avenues to introduce people to our company.  I know it's easy for people to say "just use social media".  Social media is incredibly complicated and it's very hard for small businesses to make a dent when they compete against large companies with big budgets.

    The social media sites are also businesses.  In general, an average post is shown to about 2% of the people who like your page.  If people "like" or comment on the post the reach does increase.  You can also try to increase your reach by paying the social media company money to promote your post.  FaceBook just changed it's rules again making it even harder for little companies like Dulse & Rugosa.

    Another option is to join and participate in groups.  I joined some Zero Waste FaceBook groups.  I felt like I was a good group member.  I "liked" and made relevant comments on posts and whenever someone asked about shampoo bars I would post a link to our website.  One evening I got a message asking me "to not self-promote".  They explained -

    We just wanted to reach out to you to let you know that the group's rules around business posts have changed. Unfortunately, none of the Journey groups allows members to do any sort of promotion around their businesses, blogs associated with businesses or that have affiliate links etc etc etc. 

    I totally understood where they were coming from but the next day in the site's thread were posts about products from three big companies including posts about the wonders of Burt's Bees.  This company actually started in Maine and is always the example used in entrepreneur classes.  "Do you want to be another Burt's Bees?"  We always answer "NO".  I was so frustrated by this- Burt's Bees is a giant company owned by the multinational company Clorax.  My take away from this is it's OK for big business to continue to get their products posted because they themselves are not actually doing the posting.  It's coming from someone else- what's wrong is "self-promoting".  Even thought it's social media- you have no idea who is actually doing the posting or how much money and influence is being spent encouraging and influencing folks.  

    I'm frustrated today- how can I grow a business that isn't perfect but also tries?