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The deeper meaning of green...

Tortuguero, Costa Rica


Waking up feeling slightly philosophical today, I wanted to share some thoughts and inspiration on what I feel is the deeper meaning of “green.”

Yesterday was one of those “one thing right after another” kind of days where I had to keep pulling myself back to all of the things I had to be grateful for, what lesson I was supposed to be taking from each experience, and remembering that it was my choice as to whether I wanted to laugh or cry. What does this have to do with green you ask?

Well let me tell ya…

The word GREEN in mainstream context can and does have many connotations. Recycling, solar power, low energy use, composting, sustainability, healthy living, etc. Green can mean 10 different things to 10 different people, and none of those things -or people, would be wrong.

But what is the BIGGER picture – the bigger message and meaning in the word “green”?

Croc on the way to Tortuguero, Costa Rica


I believe it starts with thinking BIG and remembering small. Let me explain. Last July I took a trip to Costa Rica. My travel companion ended up with a nasty case of food poisoning, so I was left to have solo adventures (of course after leaving him with Gatorade and activated charcoal tablets). We were in Tortuguero which is a wild and remote area of Costa Rica, only accessible by boat or airplane. We had made the trek originally to witness the nesting endangered sea turtles, but I quickly fell in love with many other things about the region.


Howler monkey in Tortuguero Natl. Park, Costa Rica


Tortuguero National Park receives 250 inches of rainfall a year and is home to many species of birds, critters, flora and fauna. I rented a pair of tall rubber boots in town (which is required by the park due to poisonous snakes and lots and lots of mud.) All alone, I took my time adjusting to being swallowed up by this rainforest, allowing my senses to become heightened – sight, hearing, smell… I was enveloped. As I sunk in mud, was startled by the loudness of the howler monkeys over my head, felt the occasional mosquito bite from a spot of skin not covered by insect repellant, and made sure to watch where I was stepping; I suddenly felt very very small. Small in a good way. Small in a humbled way. There were no other human beings in sight. In fact, I didn’t see one other person for nearly 3 hours, which at that point felt like an eternity! Just me, lil’ ol’ me, alone in what felt like a ginormous jungle. What a feeling!

I am a guilty American consumer. I will admit it. Being a single mom with my own business, I am as tempted by “convenience” as the next person, but – I also remember to TRY. I continually TRY to do the right things, TRY to teach my children positive behavior and habits, TRY to inspire those around me to begin their “green walk” by simply taking one small step at a time. We don’t need to run, as my rainforest experience taught me. We need to walk slowly, think about each step we take, heed the lessons that our fellow creatures have to teach us if we’re open to learning, and not only take each day as it comes; but every single moment


So today, green to me, is simply an attitude. A way of life. A respect for this planet and all of it’s inhabitants – big or small.


This reminds me to “think big – and remember small.”


May you be moved today to feel inspired enough to inspire another.


Love and laughter.

  Stacey and Zoe

As a mama, I can say that being a Mother is the most selfless, but at the end of the day, most rewarding job in the world. We have an attachment and love for our children that can’t be measured. We carry them in our bodies, bring them forth into the world, sustain them with our breast milk, nurture and protect them with our instinct. We love them unconditionally from the moment they are with us.
 
Because it’s so exhausting, especially in our current day and age where many of us work one or more jobs, own our own businesses, are single mothers, and ultimately become jugglers extraordinaire; I personally feel that we should work toward celebrating Mother’s Day once a month instead of just once a year. But that’s just my opinionated opinion…
 
So… Mother’s Day should be a day of pampering, thanks, and respect. As most of us can’t expect to be sent off to a Caribbean beach for the day (or month) to bask in the sun, napping at whim and being attended to by a stable of attractive young men, here are some ideas for reality that are both thoughtful and environmentally conscious.
 
Send this article on as a hint, use the ideas yourself for your own monthly Mother’s Day, or treat the woman who gave you life.
 
Sleeping in with breakfast in bed.  Is there a more precious commodity than sleep for most moms? I can’t think of one personally, except maybe coffee (and the two seem to go hand in hand). 
 
♦ So let’s start with the bed itself. I have the most amazing bamboo sheet set that I absolutely love. They are cool like cotton but soft like silk. You can purchase them through an online store such as Organic Bamboo Sheets  or locally at Natural Territory in North Scottsdale.  Definitely a gift that keeps on giving!
 
♦ Ahhh yes – coffee! Women’s Bean Project  is a non profit organization that was founded in 1989 by Jossy Eyre, who after volunteering in a homeless woman’s shelter, realized she wanted to make a positive shift in women’s lives. Women’s Bean Project began when Eyre bought $500 worth of coffee beans and put her idea and two homeless women from the shelter to work. The coffee is organic & fair trade and they also have some other yummy products available as well.
 
What should you make to feed her? For every major holiday we usually have brunch and I always make Pain Perdu which has become a favorite tradition with my kids. It is a decadent affair made with croissants, eggs, cream and sugar. (Remember to use organic products where you can!) I always add slivered almonds and serve it with fresh mango slices, blackberries, and real maple syrup. If someone actually made this for ME and brought it to me in BED – I would be smitten for life! Top it off with a nice mimosa and I bet she’ll be the happiest mom in town!
 
♦ And after eating breakfast, wouldn’t it be nice to just stay in bed, sipping a mimosa and reading a magazine? A magazine subscription is a great gift that lasts all year, and with sites like Freecycle that allow you to keep passing them on, think of how many people could become more educated on green living. Depending on her style, a few ideas are Mother Earth News, Living Green Online Magazine, Natural Home and Yes! Magazine.
 
♦ All moms love sweets (because we’re sweet)!  Urban Cookies – located at 4711 N. 7th Street in Phoenix, AZ has the most tasty and amazing cookies made with organic ingredients.  They've recently come out with a new cupcake line as well.  Mmmmmmm - cupcakes...  Everything is sold individually as well as by the baker’s dozen.
 
♦ If you’re looking to take your mom out for a healthy meal, think about taking her to Mandala Tearoom located at 7027 E. 5th Ave. in Scottsdale, AZ. Not only do they serve scrumptious organic vegetarian fare, but they have also “walked their talk” by using green building supplies such as soy based concrete stain, low VOC paint, waterless urinals and recycled resin tabletops. 
 
♦ A mother doesn’t exist who wouldn’t want a break or an extra helping hand with the never-ending chore of housecleaning! A gift certificate from a green house cleaning service like Earth Maids would be a practical and extremely thoughtful gift.
 
♦ Because every mom deserves to look and feel beautiful, think about a gift certificate from one of our local businesses such as: puresalon, located at 7000 E. Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale, AZ who offer healthy, non-toxic hair services and Moss Wellness Spa, a leader in local “green” spas (and open by appointment only) which is located at 7135 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 240 in Scottsdale, AZ.
 
Whatever you choose to do for the Mothers in your life this Mother’s Day, just remember a heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way (and a bit of chocolate never hurt)!
 
"When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child." ~Sophia Loren
 
 
*If you know of a local green business or event in the Metro Phoenix area (or elsewhere in AZ) you would like to see an article written about, please feel free to pop me a note.

 Love and laughter.
 

Every “green” article you read usually mentions low or no VOC, yet they fail to teach you what Volatile Organic Compounds really are – or more importantly, why you really need to know what they are.

I thought it fitting that I write this article, as I just did a project yesterday where VOCs had been the culprit in making a couple sick in their rental home. The home in question had a catastrophic water incident occur last year (namely, a toilet which sprung a leak which wasn’t discovered until the neighbor saw water pouring out from underneath the front door.) The couple was not told about the incident until after they were living in the home when the homeowner needed access to install the new kitchen cabinets.

Because of this incident, everything in the home was new – new carpet, carpet pad, paint, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, etc. Compound this with the fact that our homes typically don’t have fresh air coming in (unless you open up the windows or provide it mechanically,) so you’re left with a chemical soup filled “box” full of pollutants - generally up to 10 times worse than you would find outdoors, and sometimes much, much greater.

The clients told me it had that “new house smell.” What they smelled, was the VOCs. This is also what ultimately made them sick…

So what are VOCs?

VOCs:

▪ Are organic chemicals that form gases at room temperature
▪ Are called organic because they contain elemental carbon
▪ Hydrocarbons have both hydrogen and carbon atoms and may include benzene and toluene (both known carcinogens)
▪ Are emitted by a wide array of products – thousands of them
▪ Can cause adverse health effects which may be short or long-lived (and can include serious effects such as central nervous system and internal organ damage and even cancer)
▪ Are commonly found in paints and lacquers, carpet, flooring, plywood, particleboard, adhesives, cabinets & countertops, and other building products.

After only about 5 minutes of being in my client’s home (which had been completely shut up with the air turned off for about 2 weeks) I experienced burning in my eyes, nose, throat, and had a headache within 20 minutes. This was in the first 5 minutes without my respirator being on. Can you imagine living there?

While increasing ventilation is a good first step, there are many great no and low VOC products on the market – and readily available in Phoenix! Stores such as Natural Territory (http://www.naturalterritory.com) and AKA Green (http://www.akagreen.com) carry everything from healthy bedding to no VOC paint.

We owe it to ourselves – and more importantly our health – to become educated and conscious consumers. As consumer demand for healthier building materials, furnishings, and other products grow; prices will continue to balance out to meet the consumer demand. It is the way our economy works. Not to mention the fact that spending a little bit more money up front could potentially save you thousands of dollars in healthcare costs down the road… Just say NO to VOCs.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” - Mahatma Gandhi

Upcoming Workshop

I will be teaching at an upcoming workshop being held at AKA Green located at 8100 E. Indian School Rd. in Scottsdale, AZ. The class is on Jan. 12th, 2009 from 6p - 8p and cost is $25.

Here is the info:

a.k.a. Green Services presents:
Understanding Indoor Air Quality

Presenter: Stacey Champion, CIE
We live in a world where most manufactured products are made with chemicals…including the building supplies used in your home. It’s no secret that indoor air quality can be up to 100 times more polluted that outdoor air as stated by the EPA. Did you know that cabinetry of all things can be the worst contributor? Most cabinetry is manufactured with formaldehyde. Other building materials such as paint, insulation, flooring, countertops and household cleaning products are typically manufactured with harsh chemicals as well. At this educational workshop learn about viable solutions and alternatives to these sources of poor indoor air quality in your home as well as what some of the specific health affects these products can have.

If interested in attending please go to: http://akagreen.com/workshop.php

Hope to see you there & Happy Holidays!

Champion Indoors, LLC Has Relocated!

I am excited to say that Champion Indoors, LLC has relocated to the Phoenix Metro area! We will still be serving our clients in Northern Arizona, but will be able to have a stronger presence state-wide now, and it will also give me the opportunity to be more involved with things such as educating a larger population and becoming active again in legislation to better our world. I am looking forward to what the future may hold...

New contact info may be found under the profile section and the Northern AZ phone number shall remain the same.

Sources + Design Magazine Interview



For those of you interested in what I do to put food on the table (as well as being my passion), I was interviewed for the March/April issue of Sources + Design magazine for the "Green Scene" column.

Here's the link to the interview/article: http://www.sourcesanddesign.com/archives/0803/0803_green_scene.html

-Ms. Champion

Mold Scams



Channel 5 (kpho - Phoenix) just did a great expose' on mold remediation scams that goes hand in hand with everything I've been shouting for the last 5 years.

They put some mascara on a bathroom wall (see photo above) then called in some companies to check out the mold.

Not one company even addressed potential root cause as to why "mold" would be there in the first place, none of them did a visual assessment, and only one company even offered to test the "mold."

BUT, they were all happy to give $1000 - $2000 bids to remove the "mold."

These companies are preying on people's fear, draining people's bank accounts, and potentially DIMINISHING the quality of the indoor air/environment with the use of chemicals which were not needed in the first place.

Until we have some basic regulatory measures in place, and the Associations governing my industry decide to step up to the plate and police their members to help protect the consumers, it will continue to be the Wild Wild West.

Consumer beware...

Here is the link to the full article and video clip:
http://www.kpho.com/iteam/15414355/detail.html?taf=pho

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