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As of late I have become a documentary junkie.  Give me a good turn-what-you-thought-about-the-world-on-its-ear story and I’m hooked.  Inspired to act.  I’ve hopped on the Food, Inc. bandwagon (and if you haven’t hopped on, it’s totally worth the ride) and seen a smattering of films that beg my eco-consciousness to broaden (check out No Impact Man).  I’ve watched films that bring you into the heart of the less fortunate. Pulling you in, for just a moment, to their world.  At which point you see, we are all human and whether we wear a suit or a hole-ridden t-shirt that hasn’t see a laundry machine in weeks, we have the same basic needs.

For those films, I’ve been the student.  Arriving to class, in my living room, awaiting the professor’s well thought out finished product.

Through the instant community of social media and the internet, I’ve had the good fortune to met one of my neighbors.  An aspiring professor in the documentary university.  Someone who is at the precipice of exposing sustainable hope in Haiti.

My neighbor is embarking on the journey to bring a project called Hands That Feed to life.  It is a documentary that aims to highlight the hope that exists in Haiti.  Human ingenuity that will break the cycle of the past through young people who have a fire of hope in their chest.

Through a random meeting with a neighbor in this digital community, I can impact lives a world away.  Join me as I spread the word that assistance comes when we partner with our brothers and sisters.  A partnership that doesn’t start and stop with aid, but transforms lives, expects much, and empowers.

Learn about the project.  Spread the word.  Support the effort.  Be inspired to act.

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Stewardship is a tricky thing.  For some good stewardship immediately brings to mind use of our natural resources in a way that isn’t wasteful or greedy.  For others a notion of the way in which we spend, or save, our money is the picture of good stewardship.  For me it’s both.  As of late the stewardship of my money has given me pause on my daily eco ambitions.

What happens when I can’t justify the all natural organic shampoo, when I see that Walmart (or insert any other all-in-one mega store)  has the run-of-the-mill chemical laden kind on sale?  Particularly when that store is just down the street and my local Whole Foods is nearly 30 minutes away?

Making the decision to “go green” can start with an organic, all natural, altruistic bang.   No matter the price, no matter the distance, ordinary products will no longer do.  But as situations change, as they have for many of us this year, how do you keep that focus?

There are do-it-yourself cleaners, local farmers markets, and other ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle that cares for our earth without the need for a bailout on your wallet.  The most important aspect of this quest is balance.   At the heart of good stewardship of resources (natural, finances, etc.) is balance.  Putting yourself in financial peril just to get organic shampoo may not be the right move.  So, what practical steps can you take to protect the environment, your body, and your wallet?  Try these:

  • There are lots of free resources out there with great tips of how to live a greener lifestyle.  Try some of my favorites – Taiga Company, Treehugger, Planet Green, SocialYell.
  • Jump into the conversation!  Get on Twitter, Facebook, or the social media du jour and start a conversation with those who are passionate about eco issues.  You will connect with a great group of people who will be eager to share tips and ideas with you.
  • Be choosy and do your research.  The imported uber-fancy organic (really expensive) face wash might have pretty packaging… but the organic store brand works just as well.  Ask about return policies at the store.  Many stores will offer you a refund on products you purchased if you don’t like them.

What do you do to keep balance in your quest to be green?  Do you feel guilty buying items that aren’t outright eco friendly?  I’d love to hear your comments!  Hit me up on twitter to keep the conversation going – @mjnesta.

Here’s to being green and practical!

I suppose one of the good things about a blog is that it doesn’t literally collect dust.  That might be also one of its down falls.  For the cyber in-tune and RSS fueled the dust here might be more obvious than dust bunnies collecting under furniture.  For a long time I put off starting a blog, paralyzed with the fear that I would fall victim to of the day when it would go dormant.  Nothing is worse than a neglected blog… and then the unimaginable happened.  My very own musings fell silent.

I write this post as a public declaration of accountability to get the dust off and start musing once again.  As the new year approaches, I am excited to see sustainability becoming more common to our general vernacular and the continued evolution of social media.   I’m also excited to see how this blog grows and evolves, hopefully with your input.

Here’s to a year filled with new thoughts, new relationships formed through social media, old relationships growing stronger, and understanding our ever-changing world together.

Blessing to you and your family for a Merry Christmas and a bright New Year!

Below is a blog of mine featured on SocialYell’s blog.

The truths about greenwashing are everywhere.  If you are just starting out on this journey of living a more sustainable lifestyle, along with the increasingly “green” product line on your local Walmart’s shelves, you’ll most likely notice a growing awareness that claims of greenness may not be 100% truthful.  So, OK, you check out SocialYell’s rankings, read news bits off your twitter stream and feel pretty confident on what to believe.

What you may not realize is that there is a greenwashing taking place in our food that, to the average consumer, may be even more difficult to decipher and understand.  Fauxganic (faux organic) food is becoming more prevalent and more difficult to really understand.

Organic means organic, right?  Well, kind of.  Like any industry, and yes Organic food is an industry of almost $23 billion a year (yes, that’s with a B), the bigger it is the more blurred the lines are.  Your organic strawberries may not be treated with pesticides, but truly sustainable farming practices are not being practiced at the farm they came from.  (For an in depth exploration of these topics, a must read is Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma.)

Here’s an illustration on the more far reaching effects of sustainability in food: I was on vacation in Florida a few weeks back and went to buy some organic oranges.  I’m in Flordia, a citrus mecca of sorts, right?  When I turn the bag over, I’m shocked to find that these oranges are actually from California!  So, does the lack of pesticides compensate for the journey these little fruits took to the store?  It’s something to think about.

The origins of organics, I argue, take into account much more than just adhering to a non-pesticide rule.  It’s the whole picture, the whole approach to how we produce from start to finish.  Earth to plate.

Be educated!  Take a few minutes to flip over the package, read the fine print, and peruse the interwebs to see where your food really comes from.  It’s an eye opening experience.

Meghan Nesta is a sustainability and social media nut residing in the Philadelphia, PA metro area.

This week as the G-8 summit takes place in L’Aquila, Italy I have been watching.  Watching what our world leaders are willing to do to address climate change.  Watching and waiting… only to be, unsurprisingly, a bit disappointed with what seems to be the outcome.

I’ve really been chewing on the issue of climate change.  Isn’t it really and issue of us, in industrialized wealthy nations, living beyond our energy means?  In the United States our culture of living beyond our financial means has been years in the making and a bit more obvious because we have something tangible – all our stuff.

I took a quiz (it assumes you live in Australia but still very powerful) that assess how many planets we would need if everyone lived the same lifestyle as I did.  It was sobering.

I think the most convicting part of the reality of climate change is the notion that I’m racking up a balance on my “climate credit card” only to be gaining comfort at the expense of the poorest, least advantaged people in the world.

It’s time to put aside politics, accusations of fabrication of fact, and join together to do something meaningful.  Something with social equity in mind.  Our time on this planet is brief and should be beneficial and not detrimental to the future.

I have been caught in an eco-pity party several time lately.  A pity party thrown, of course, by myself.  Wallowing in what seems to be an eco-friendly void.  Here in Metro Philadelphia, PA it seems as though everyone on the West Coast, UK, or insert-far-off-place-here has abundant opportunity to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.  Where I am merely Sisyphus pushing an every growing carbon ball up a hill, only for it to roll down for me to start over again.

Well, turns out it’s not so bad here in Pennsylvania, and it might actually qualify as good!  Philadelphia is taking steps to be a prominent green city and has started implementing several tangible small steps.  And the casa de la Nesta is moving toward minimal dependence on the grid.  We are pursuing solar energy!  With Federal Tax incentives and an incredible state rebate program, there’s some easier green living in Pennsylvania.

To say I’m excited would be an understatement.  Over the next several months I’m hoping to highlight the journey (hopefully with an emphasis on a joyful road) of getting our system up and running and touting it’s benefits far and wide.  I’ve been amazed at how little information there seems to be out in the blogophere about more homes going down that road.

So, here I am.  My little urban house in the Northeast.  Doing my part to be more self-sufficient and hopefully helping others realize the benefits.

Stay tuned!

Living in a pretty urban area  I love to see how sustainability and eco-friendly practices are developed by creative minds.  For example, what is becoming (dare I say) common, photovoltaic (solar) systems installed on rooftops.  This week I came across two stories of creative ways to bring sustainability to the city.

 The answer is blowing in the wind

A recent article on Treehugger  New York City Building Water Towers Could be Turned into Wind Turbine highlighted the ability to perhaps use old water towers to support a series of wind turbines.

The roof, the roof, is full of food!

Another article that I came across today is a group that getting ready to put at Hydroponic farm on a roof top that will generate 30 tons of food annually! 

What may seems like small, pie-in-the-sky ideas will quickly become the pieces of the puzzle that make our world a little greener and a whole lot healthier.  I’m excited to see how creative minds will bring us more ways to slow the forces of climate change.

So, when the lights do go down in the city (years from now when we aren’t so dependant on fossil fuels to keep us going) they will come right back up again only brighter and cleaner than before.

* And you are welcome for getting Journey stuck in your head.

As I propel further into the digital eco world it’s been amazing to meet and forge relationships with so many like minded people around the world.  I find it most interesting when I can learn the why behind someones passion for sustainability and not just the practical application they practice.

So, here’s a  little snapshot into my why.  Creation care.  The vastness and complexity of the earth is mind  blowing.  And the notion of the way in which I live my life can have such a negative impact on so many people I don’t even know is sobering.

I’m so fortunate to be married to someone who shares the same notions I do.  We took sometime to really examine why we care about the earth.  Is it just the hip think to do right now?  After all it seems “every one is doing it.”  For us it has nothing to do with being hip (though sometimes that’s an added bonus!). 

So we came up with a central mission, mantra, call it what you will for how we endeavor to approach life:

In response to God’s authorship, we consume deliberately in order to produce effectively.

Why to you care about sustainability?  Really ask yourself.  You’ll be even more excited to continue down this green road!

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