Totally Selfish Reasons to Practice Sustainability

Okay, so unpopular opinion time: I love the idea of trying to save the planet, but when it comes right down to it, I typically make decisions that are most convenient for me.

When I started working for the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT), I made more of an effort to keep the environment in mind when making daily decisions. I found that practicing sustainability didn’t just help the environment, it also made my life much easier.

Don’t believe me? Here are three totally selfish reasons to practice sustainability:

vtgreen31) More space
Do you know what DOESN’T maximize space in your apartment? The ten thousand plastic grocery bags sitting on your washer and dryer. Carrying a reusable grocery bag immediately solves this problem (and HEVT gives these away for free, so if you need one hit us up). Also, most reusable grocery bags carry more groceries than plastic bags, which means less trips from the car. As for the stack of plastic bags already robbing you of your closet space? Micah’s Backpack and other organizations collect plastic bags so they can use them when packaging food for donation.

2) Money money money (monaaayyyy)
Even with gas prices going down, I still get that sinking feeling when the numbers at the pump go up and I can picture my balance at the bank going down. Opting to walk or take the bus a few times a week can make a large difference. If you are in the market for a new car, hybrids have been proven to save consumers money over time. Unplugging items such as coffee makers when you are not using them can also cut down electricity costs, which creates less of a burden on the environment.

3) Locally-grown food tastes better
Buying local is a good idea all around. Less travel means less pollution and gas consumption. Supporting local business means keeping money in the community. Seeing where your food comes gives you control over what hormones do and do not enter your body. But the biggest reason I buy local? It tastes So. Much. Better. Nothing can compete with a tomato picked fresh off the vine.

vtgreen1Written by Sara Lepley, the communication manager of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech (HEVT). HEVT competes against 16 other universities in a four year competition in which they transform a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric vehicle. Their two headline sponsors, General Motors and the Department of Energy, challenge HEVT to reduce petroleum usage and greenhouse gas effects, while maintaining safety, performance and customer acceptability. They also help in mind cost and innovation. This is Sara’s second year on the team.

Revitalize Your Passion for Life

We’ve been fortunate enough to survive the “me” generation to learn that life is much more inclusive than it used to be. Thanks to social media, “me” exploded into “we,” and a socially conscious generation was born. What was once considered personal fulfillment has changed for the better.

Let’s have a little fun, shall we? Even if you were born circa 1990 or later, we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy this quick reprise of a few of you or your parents’ greatest hits. You might even laugh out loud to discover how seriously you took life back then.

A few decades ago, you may remember that life got really big. Big hair, big shoulders, big houses and big mini-vans. Music videos and Madonna’s material world allowed us to dream bigger than we ever had before. We thought we’d finally made it, and that there was no turning back as to what we could personally achieve.

Not only were our prospects for a better quality of life opening up wide, women began to have more choices than just motherhood, teaching, nursing or secretarial positions. Race relations were improving, the Berlin wall fell, Gorbachev was in office, and Space Shuttles were orbiting the Earth.

It was the Me generation. Individual expression was “bustier”-ing out all over in shocking new ways. We fretted over our children’s self-esteem, the number of orgasm’s we were having, and making sure we kept up with the latest fads and trends.

Reminiscing, you may be recalling your own personal triumphs. More importantly, how are you feeling about life right now?

Undoubtedly, your hopes and dreams are different than they once were. Change is occurring at such speeds, you might not be sure of what to wish for except for a global group hug and a well-earned paycheck in everyone’s hands.

What has become glaringly obvious is that our society is set up to push us toward an imbalanced lifestyle.
A new science is emerging linking happiness to our well-being. According to the World Happiness Report 2015 published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the United States ranks 15th in the world.

What is the common thread of personal well-being, or even ever-elusive personal fulfillment?
The difference between maintaining your zeal for life and heart-breaking disillusionment ultimately begins with you and where you are placing your focus.

Here are 7 proactive life responses for the most common reasons why you might feel your passion for life slipping away:

1. You feel you have failed at something.
Feeling cynical or defeated, or that your hard work is not paying off? When there is disappointment in life, seeing everything as an opportunity will keep you invigorated and challenged in a good way. The ability to adapt and learn are vital to living the good life. Consider changing course or starting something new. Age is not important. Follow your bliss.

2. You play the comparison game.
Making a living becomes complicated when you wish to live like someone else. Materialism and title are fake substitutes for real affluence—the ability to inspire people. Make a list of what you admire and begin to make changes in your life to reflect your values.

3. You’ve mortgaged your life.
Economy provides us with sustenance of life, but when it becomes the goal, you work like a machine, losing your passion for living. Investigate new markets that allow you greater life flexibility through stewardship rather than ownership.

4. You self-medicate to fill the void.
Innovation and automation have provided us with more free time than we’ve ever had. Instead of self-medicating your off-hours with TV, smart phones, information, and shopping, regain a sense of wonder by looking at every day as a fresh beginning filled with possibility. Rediscover your inner child.

5. You are daunted by all the strife in the world.
Living the good life is being peaceful even when those around you are stirring the pot. When others engage in negativity, don’t get sucked in. Consider ending support of violent media content. Become response-able for you and your corner of the world. Seek common ground with those you come into contact with to build upon, supporting change as needed.

6. You’ve allowed technology to supplant human contact and nature.
Do you ever walk your neighborhood and ask where all the people are? When was the last time you roamed a nature trail? Technology is nice, but it’s not nicer than a sense of community and all the wisdom and health benefits hidden in nature’s vastness. If you’ve forgotten this, stop what you’re doing right now. Come back in 30 minutes and report your findings.

7. Too much “me” time.
Self-love and self-care are certainly important, but keeping a healthy balance between ego and selflessness is the striking point of cultivating personal fulfillment. In a synergetic world, personal fulfillment and social responsibility are intimately connected. Try volunteering just two hours a month to discover what you would grumble about at minimum wage. It is a gift—the most exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling gift you could ever give—the gift of you!

Finding balance between economic, social, and environmental objectives (or mind, body, and spirit) is key to personal and community well-being and happiness.
Even if you aren’t ready to embrace a life of We, life is the joy in being alive. If you think there is something more important than this, you are bound to experience disillusionment. 

unnamed-1Your life becomes beautiful as soon as you put your heart into it. Your passion for life can never be taken away from you—unless you take away your focus.
Don’t worry, nobody’s perfect. We all have our rough patches. Focus is the key to mastery in life. Which do you wish to master? Gratitude for being alive or being alive and feeling like you’re dead?
Once you let go of what is illusory, you embrace life’s mystery and finally begin to live!

unnamed-22014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize nominated author, philosopher and humanitarian, Christine Horner, is dedicated to the advancement of human consciousness. She is the co-founder of the What Would Love Do Foundation and author of Awakening Leadership: Embracing Mindfulness, Your Life’s Purpose, and the Leader You Were Born to Be. Learn more at www.ChristineHorner.com.

Product Spotlight: Little Passports

Help your little explorer learn fun facts about the United States and other countries with Little Passports’ Explorer Kits for Kids!

Choose from Early Explorers (for ages 3-5), World Edition (ages 6-10), and USA Edition kits (ages 7-12). The first month you will receive an introductory kit complete with everything your child needs to get started with the program (based on which one you choose). For the USA introductory kit, customers will receive a USA Field Guide, Scratch Book, a wall-sized USA map, a welcome letter, and a disposable camera.

Subsequent kits in the USA Edition include information about the two states featured each month. Enjoy a 32-page activity journal, stickers and postcards, pop-out models, and access to more information and activities online.

You can win The Discovery kit AND one State Adventure kit from the USA Edition on our Facebook page!

 

 

Lazy Summer Afternoons

We have to be honest— after an amazing weekend on the mountain, our minds and hearts are still in Floyd. Whether you are missing FloydFest like us or you just need a little relaxation and reprieve from Monday, here are a few great products to enjoy from the comfort of your hammock:

berry_cupRecharge your body with a nutritious smoothie as you relax. Daily Harvest’s ready-to-blend ingredient packs work with any blender. Add water or milk and enjoy the beauty of no prepping, no mess, and no leftovers! Also, because they are frozen, you won’t need to add any ice and can enjoy their blends whenever you want. These ingredient packs are also free from sweeteners or preservatives— so you can be sure you are putting only the best nutrients into your body. Visit their website, www.daily-harvest.com, to choose a few blends and start a subscription today.

Protect your skin with Vi Derm SPF 50+ Sun Protection. It provides broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection with 10% Zinc Oxide and 7.5% Octioxate, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Pueraria Lobata Root extract and Chamomille to soothe your skin. The included Green Tea extract protects from UV damage and inflammation. This lightweight formula dries weightless on the skin. For more information, go to www.vipeel.com.

51mlX8WegtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Take a trip back in time with Behind Every Great Man: The Forgotten Women Behind the World’s Famous and Infamous by Marlene Wagman-Geller. This book tells the remarkable stories of forty captivating females who stood behind their legendary partners, often at the cost of their own careers, reputations, and happiness. The untold stories include spouses of Alfred Hitchcock, Salvador Dali, Nelson Mandela, Ian Fleming, Bernie Madoff and more. Through fame and its attendant ills— alcoholism, infidelity, mental illness, divorce, and even attempted murder— these powerful women quietly propelled their men to the top and changed the course of history.

And, if you’d rather spend your afternoon listening to music while reading— check out some of our favorite bands from the weekend:
Annabelle’s Curse
First Aid Kit
Skribe
Chamomile and Whiskey

So relax and enjoy your summer afternoon– we won’t judge you if you pretend you are on the mountain too!

It’s OK to Be Bitter

Summer and cocktails go hand in hand. Whether you are relaxing at home or enjoying an evening on the town with your friends, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you are drinking classic cocktails like the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned without bitters.
We are still experimenting to determine our favorite brand, but we do have a couple that we prefer so far:

The first is Bittermilk. Founded by husband and wife team Joe and MariElena Raya, it is a line of cocktail mixers made for cocktail enthusiasts by bartenders with real ingredients. Our personal favorite is Bittermilk No. 2, Tom Collins with Elderflowers & Hops. The bright and refreshing taste feels perfect for a relaxing by the pool on a Saturday afternoon. They are crafted and bottled by human hands in Charleston, South Carolina. You can purchase them online at www.bittermilk.com.
cgjuly1
We also love Crude Bitters. Don’t be fooled by the name— it is a reference to the rudimentary origins of bitters that included exotic roots, herbs, and spices aged in various liquids with beneficial (and unverified) claims attached to them.

In truth, they are very careful to make sure their methods are not crude and that their ingredients are all natural. Their selection, preparation, maceration, bottling and labeling is done by hand in Raleigh, North Carolina. Our personal favorite selection from Crude Bitters is “Sycophant” Bitters. This flavor starts as a sweet, citrus taste and finishes with earth tones and vanilla bean. It pairs well with gin or bourbon. For more information on purchasing Crude Bitters and trying them out for yourself, visit www.crudebitters.com.

Pick up our July issue (while you still can!) for more information on the history and uses of bitters. Visit our Facebook page to win samples of a variety of bitters from the above mentioned companies! Good luck!

Product Spotlight: D’s Naturals Protein Bars

Daniel Katz of Blue Ash, Ohio is creating quite a stir in the organic food industry. At just 18 years old, Katz has created a company called D’s Naturals that, in his words, “redefines the word natural.” They use only healthy ingredients so customers can believe in what they eat and feel good about the choices they make.

His unique version of the standard protein bar, the “No Cow Bar,” contains natural, plant-based foods and leaves out harmful ingredients. Choose from three flavors: Blueberry Cobbler, Mint Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookie.

2032092_setHe has also created a delicious treat called Fluffbutter. This comes in two flavors including Chocolate Fudge Cake Batter and Vanilla Maple.
There are many ways to enjoy Fluffbutter– including melting it into fondue.

These items are dairy free, soy free, gluten free, and vegan-friendly. Visit Katz’ website to celebrate his accomplishments and try his products!

 

Written by Lani Maddox

7th Annual Touch-A-Truck!

Is your little one obsessed with the idea of driving a tractor trailer, operating a bucket truck, or riding in a race car? If so, you don’t want to miss the seventh annual Touch-a-Truck event on Saturday, July 25!

UnknownFrom 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., come out to see these vehicles and more at Roanoke County’s Green Hill Park. Kids of all ages can climb, touch, and explore many unique vehicles that are not always accessible to the public. This FREE event is open for kids and adults to sit in, touch, and learn about vehicles they usually don’t have the opportunity to be up close and personal with.

Touch-a-Truck has popular vehicles from the previous six events, accompanied by new participants. Interstate Battery will showcase their battery route truck and race car. VDOT, who has attended Touch-a-Truck in the past, will have their snow fighter for the first time.

super duty

The DMV 2 Go van is also a new addition to Touch-a-Truck. DMV staff will help citizens renew their ID card, purchase hunting and fishing licenses, apply for or renew their driver’s license and more! Additionally, the Blue Ridge Soaring Society will be in attendance with their sailplane glider.

Vehicle drivers and operators will be on hand to educate the public and answer any questions about their vehicles. Favorite activities from past events will return this year, including Firemen’s Foam, petting zoo, food vendors, and a magician along with other special attractions! This year’s event will also include not one, but two hay rides! Parental supervision and participation is essential and cameras are highly recommended.

Vehicles vary from small bobcats to large monster trucks. As well as airplanes, helicopters and boats for the public to explore.

Enjoy a day filled with adventures, new opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime. For more information visit www.RoanokeCountyParks.com.

Product Spotlight: Eos Chocolates

Catherine von Ruden, the creator of Eos Chocolates, integrates her passion for all things sweet into her chocolate creations. She grew up in Switzerland and developed an interest in Greek Mythology. This interest inspired Catherine to name her company Eos, after the Goddess of Dawn, which is fitting because the product is meant to satisfy chocolate lovers bite-by-bite. She describes her brand as “guiltless pleasure,” which sets her apart from the rest, since dark chocolate is typically the only type of chocolate consumers consider to be healthy.

IMG_1011_B_CROP_largeEos Chocolates represent four different lines of indulgence, including Chocolate Spreads ($11.5), Energy Bars ($2.5), Nibbles ($8), and their signature piece Eos Chocolate Man ($7-10). Each is fair-trade, organic or contains sustainably farmed ingredients.

Nibbles and spreads are made of 70% cocoa to ensure the perfect amount of sweetness while leaving out the unneeded sugar, which leaves you UN-satisfied post indulgence. Energy bars are sweetened with honey and coconut sugar, and also contain organic rolled oats, 100% cocoa nibs, and hemp seeds, which is not only good, but also good for you! As far as the Chocolate Man goes, he comes in dark, milk, and white; and also, he can be enjoyed solid, filled with fruit or creamy ganache. Yum!

Visit www.eoschocolates.com for more information on Catherine and her delightful creations!

Written by Lani Maddox