Happiness Has a New Address – Dulse & Rugosa
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    Plastic Free July in the Age of Corona, 5 Tips to Get you Started

    Plastic Free July in the Age of Corona, 5 Tips to Get you Started

    Going zero waste and becoming plastic free is always a dance of two steps forward, one back and some spinning around but since the start of the Corona pandemic this journey has gotten a lot harder.   Plastic Free July is a global movement focused on everyday solutions to plastic pollution.  

    Plastic Free July Tips

    Our first ever blog post about reducing your waste was Plastic Free Friday- BYOB.  Published in July of 2016, it was about bringing reusable shopping bags.  Now reusable bags are banned in my state.  I do wonder why you can shop without a face mask but not use a reusable bag?  But that's a subject for another blog.

    Here are some tips to help you navigate the new realities while continuing to reduce your plastic consumption.

    Tip 1- Be registered and have a plan to VOTE.  If you've followed us for awhile I start just about every blog with this statement.  We need elected leaders at all levels who care for the planet and recognize we are ALL CONNECTED.  A cleaner planet means a shift from business as usual in all areas including social justice, education, manufacturing practices, tax breaks and incentives,  a diverse economy, etc, etc, etc.........

    Plastic Free July tips

    Tip 2- Practice self care.  It's harder to take care of others when you are tired or angry.  Take time for a breather from the chaos and uncertainty of the news. Being outside and connecting to nature is one of the best ways to help ourselves and have the energy to help our planet.  Be mindful of your social media use.  I have a personal pledge to not check emails at night.  It doesn't matter if the news is good or bad, I don't need a rush of energy before bed.  Realize that social media is a double edged sword, and "doomscrolling" is real.  Protecting your physical and mental health is vital for this marathon we find ourselves in.

    Plastic Free July tips

    Tip 3- Practice good hygiene.  The sooner we can contain the virus, the sooner we can begin to return to the "new normal".  Wash your hands frequently and use good soap.   "Soap works better than alcohol and disinfectants at destroying the structure of viruses."    We need to be sure we don't grow complacent but remain vigilant to protect ourselves, others and ultimately the world.


    Plastic Free July Tips

    Tip 4- Wear a reusable face masks.  "Namaske"- the mask I wear to protect you recognizes the mask you wear to protect me.  I've seen posts on social media about the litter created from disposable masks and gloves.  It's maddening!   A washable reusable mask helps protect others and the planet. 

    Tip 5- Pick a place to start and recognize you're on a journey, made more difficult by the realities of Covid-19.  Start small, be forgiving and realize you'll have to make adjustments and compromises.  Our pre-Covid blog 20 Zero Waste Tips for 2020 is a great place to start.

    Remember it's a dance, forward, backwards and some spinning but in the end you'll be in a new and better place.



    Survival Tips for This Terrible Horrible No Good Very F&*$ing Bad Year

    Survival Tips for This Terrible Horrible No Good Very F&*$ing Bad Year

    If you're a parent or teacher you know I've stolen the title from Judith Viorst's book and I hope she doesn't get mad at me but it's a perfect description for this year.  It's been a rough one but we are going to get through it just like Alexander got through his no good day.   And no, we aren't moving to Canada!

    Here's a few tips to help you and our world survive-

    • VOTE in every single election.  Have a plan for voting because as this year has shown us- guano happens!  You have to think beyond election day with an absentee or mail in ballot.  Even with the ballot- be prepared. 
    Have a voting plan- don't assume everything will run smoothly.

      Here are a few examples from my city.  Posted recently on social media was an alert that the absentee ballot required additional postage.  When the responsible citizen called city hall and inquired she was given the run around.  While the city had included some instructions the simple statement "Ballot MAY require additional postage" was too difficult to include.

      Another example, one election day was a "wicked pissah" it was pouring cats and dogs.  A couple was before me and it was quite a long walk to the entrance.  However, there was a nearby door but it was locked.  The man decided not to vote while the woman forged ahead.  He didn't want to get wet.  Shortly after the election, I went into city hall and spoke about the experience and how I witnessed a voter decide not to vote.  The city manager argued with me about the location of the door, blamed the closed door on petition signature collectors, "wah, wah, wah".  I pointed out I simply wanted access to voting to be accessible despite the weather.

      This examples are minor compared to what we are witnessing happening in other states.  Be registered to vote and have a plan for your ballot to be counted.

      • Support small businesses and sign up for their emails and newsletters.  The past few days amongst all the chaos has been stories about social media, particularly FaceBook and Instagram and the rise of hate speech and hate groups.  Large companies like Ben & Jerry's, REI, Patagonia and The North Face are participating in an ad boycott.   Hey, we get it and believe in #votewithyourmoney.  Most of FaceBook advertisers are small businesses like Dulse & Rugosa, who use the platform to reach a larger audience.  Especially if you live in a rural, low income area you need access to a wider demographic.  For businesses like us who want to vote with our money we need another way to reach our audience, a way that we can back with 100% confidence.  With the Covid-19 pandemic the other ways we typically reach folks are non existent, including our favorite markets.  So, please please join the mailing lists of small businesses you support.  Join our mailing list (and other's) so that we have an alternative way of reaching people and we can continue to stay in business.  
      Vote with your money

        Honestly working with both FaceBook and Instagram has always been frustrating and now its become downright painful.  Our best product to reach like minded people is our #resist creme.  However, we can't use this in an ad because it's considered "political".  #resistracism, #resistsexism, #resistwrinkles is too political but apparently the same algorithms that reject our hardworking creme introduce folks to hate groups.  It's a bit incomprehensible to us.

        Shop Your Values

        And frustrating.  We want to stay in business.  We want people who value diversity and independence to know about our handcrafted skincare.  Our business is more than simply selling.  We aren't perfect but we try to be ethical and fair.

        That's why we need you to sign up for our email list.  I know some companies flood your inbox with way too many emails.  Not us.  Currently we send about one email a month- almost always offering a discount, sale or give away.  We try to say thank you and not be too "salesy" but the harsh reality is that we need to sell our products to pay our bills and grow our business.

        So in order to survive this Terrible Horrible year- Vote, in every single election and Vote with your money.

        Zero Waste Tip- Shop Small and Local

        Zero Waste Tip- Shop Small and Local

        One easy, fun and satisfying zero waste step is to shop small and local whenever you can.  Sure we all buy some items from big companies both in stores and online.  We can choose to make some purchases small and local, both in our community and online.  If we value diversity, independence and innovation we all collectively need to make sure we vote with our money for some of our purchases.

        Zero Waste Tip- shop small and local

        The easiest and tastiest way to shop small and local is to support farmer's markets.  Markets have so much more than veg and fruit.  Cheese, breads, flowers, prepared foods, skincare, dog treats, art and handcrafted goods.  One of the best things about traveling is to visit the local market for a taste of regional foods.  It's easy to BYOB- bring your own bags and containers.  Get to know your farmers and makers and they will happily accommodate you with bulk and package free purchases.  It's also a great way to feel connect, vendors love to talk about their wares and how to prepare seasonal produce.  You're buying fresh healthy foods and supporting communities and family farms.

        Zero Waste Tip why to shop local

        Another way to support small is to shop Main Street including coffee shops, restaurants, art and craft store as well as speciality shops.  Part of what makes towns vibrant is the business community.  My tip is to pick a few items you really value and buy them from a local vendor.  For me, it's coffee.  I love my morning cup, well cups and have a routine that involves grinding beans, boiling water and a slow pour.  For a long time I purchased good coffee from a major retailer at a very decent price.  The problem?  The containers were trash- made from mixed materials that couldn't be recycled.  I didn't know what to do with all the containers and ended up with a cupboard of empty coffee canisters.  I decided to buy my beans locally and to reuse the brown bags.  I've had the same bags for a few years.  I pay a bit more for my coffee but it's always delicious and I feel good supporting my local roaster, sipping great coffee and creating zero trash.

        Online is another way to support small and local.  I heard on the news the other day that FaceBook, Google and Amazon were the three biggest companies in the world.  I know everyone loves Amazon's free and fast shipping but it's important to support smaller, more independent companies if we want diversity and innovation in our economy.   The support can be very similar to picking an item to purchase from a local shop.  it can be anything you enjoy and value.  Tea?  Skincare?  A speciality sauce?  Spices?   If the company is small feel free to include a message about how you value plastic free shipping and chances are they will do their best to accommodate you.

        Zero Waste tips for beginners

        Many small businesses walk a fine line between staying in business and offering goods at a reasonable price.  I'll read a complaining post on social media about how shocked a customer is with the packaging or shipping on a "zero waste" product.  Often this item is bought from a big box company at a price that doesn't reflect the actual cost.  Folks- the truth is if the price is to good to be true- someone or some place is paying the true cost. Becoming a sustainable shopper means choosing better and buying less crap. 

        Each step we make, no matter how small makes a difference.  Vote with your money, support small, local and sustainable businesses.    


        Earth Day Bingo

        Earth Day Bingo

        What a long strange trip it's been lately with the Covid-19 virus, stay at home orders and a whole lot of stress.

        Tips for Earth Day while staying at home

        But somehow life still goes on and it's the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  Our original plan was to do some trash picking up, a recycle drop off, community connections and prizes.  Instead we are offering Earth Day Bingo.

        Earth Day Bingo is fun, creative and you can win prizes while making connections.  Plus you can help out small businesses.  Each square is open ended and allows for creativity.  Everyone's situation is different.  At first, I had "take a walk" but realized not everyone was living the rural life.  If you are in a city taking a walk is so different than my reality.  We share big ideas and common feelings but each of us has our own reality.

        There are nine squares to fill in.  The center- Planet Earth is the free square.

        The most important square is Be Registered to VOTE.  Each state differs but don't wait if you are not registered.  A great site for info is The Environmental Voter Project. 

        Donate- donate time, blood, money, items.  There are so many community and grass root initiatives that it can be hard to choose.  Here in Maine since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the lack of PPE safety equipement a drive was created to sew fabric masks for essential workers in retirement homes, public safety, grocery stores and more.  Check out Sewing Masks for Maine

        Shop Small- this is more important now than ever.  If you value community, innovation and just plain old spunk please use some of your purchasing power to support small businesses.  Green America has a great blog about the power of voting with your money.  

        Plant Something- focus on a bit of green.  Start some seedlings.  Repot a house plant.  Get some seeds sprouting in the kitchen.

        Make Less Trash- This might be the hardest square to fill in during the quarantine because it's so limiting what you can purchase at the store for food.  One big change for me was to shop from our local farm and buying my milk in glass jars.

        Notice Nature- If you are stuck inside look out your window- chances are a bird is tweeting.  If you are lucky enough to walk or hike safely be grateful- nature is a gift to treasure.

        Repair or mend- clothes, furniture, a relationship.....  Our recent blog The Joys of Slow Stitching has ideas for using a needle, sewing or knitting to help reduce Covid stress.

        Share an Eco Tip- we'd love to hear about your experience with zero waste, being mindful, voting with your money and any tips or strategies to help make staying home a community and growing experience.

        We are offering prizes!  3 in a row gives you a code for $5 off our website.  You can only use the code one time per order.  If you fill the cardin share with us to be entered into our Eco Extravaganza Bundle- cool stuff from our downeast shop which is currently closed.

        Come on and play some bingo!



        The Joys of Slow Stitching

        The Joys of Slow Stitching

        We've done a few social posts about the joys of slow stitching.  I posted "stitch-meditation" and someone commented knitting is "hand yoga".  Did you know knitting and hand stitching have many benefits beyond the sweater, scarf or mended pair of jeans?

        Benefits of slow stitching

        Knit for Peace did a study of knitters in the UK and found "that knitting has physical and mental health benefits, that it slows the onset of dementia, combats depression and distracts from chronic pain,”  I thought the chronic pain part was interesting but it makes sense, focusing on something else gives you a mental and therefore a physical break.  I know I rely on hand work either knitting or hand stitching to help me destress especially after listening to the news.  

        The Craft Yarn Council sponsors #stitchawaystress in April as part of National Stress Awareness month.  This year's campaign is "all about self-care and its intersection with yarn crafts."   They'll have all kinds of cool tips including "how to incorporate self-care into your life, meditative stitches to practice, soft yarns to soothe your nerves and so much more!" 

        I loved Eileen's thoughts on the Stitch Away Stress video where knitting helped her go from "react, react, react to calm down".  Kristy spoke about how stitching helped deal with her anxiety and most importantly created an opportunity for breathing.  Watching the video made me feel good, sometimes I think the only time I really breath is in yoga class.  Now I can consciously expand into breath awareness while stitching.

        Don't get stressed if you're new to knitting or crocheting there are plenty of youtube videos and Craft Yarn council's learning center has a list.  Even better than a video is a class at your local yarn shop, giving you get stress relief, creativity and community.   

        A few years ago I discovered the designer and slow fashion advocate Natalie Chanin and her company Alabama Chanin and The School of Making.  I bought the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and the world of hand-stitching opened up.  I stitched every cold winter morning so I can start my day with something good.  I made my dress for Carly's wedding using bottle caps as circle tracers.  It was such a great project for travel because the materials were easy to pack and therapeutic to use.

        Benefits of slow stitching

        Katrina Rodabaugh is another slow stitch inspiration.  Her book Mending Matters  has specific details for mending mostly jeans including the inner thigh tear.  There's a big focus on "how to" with great pictures and lots of details.  There's also Katrina's thoughts on "the relationship between fiber art, sustainability, and slow fashion."  It's both practical and inspirational.

        Benefits of slow stitching

        If you want a bit of community in your stitching think about joining 25 Million Stitches, a public engagement art installation incorporating activism, stitching, community and raising awareness about the plight of refugees worldwide. "There are no bad, ugly, or uneven stitches in this project. Uneven stitches and personal designs make the panels more unique and beautiful. We encourage you to be creative! "   It's a chance to be creative and stitch for good but don't wait to get started, panels need to arrive in CA by April 30th. 

        We hope this blog got you excited about the joys and calming effects of working with your hands.  What are you working on?  We'd love to hear.