Lisa A Stavig features Gena Mitchell aka Verdant Violet. Happy April Fool’s Day! Welcome to the count down to Earth Day. Each week I will try to feature a few different people that are forging ahead to try to lessen their carbon footprint and make a difference in the environment. To kick this off, I am featuring a fellow Etsy shop owner, Gena Mitchelll also known as Verdant Violet. Please make sure to check the Blog Roll on my homepage for links to some of the sites Gena references. You can also just click on the highlighted words in the article and go straight to the links.
Introducing: Gena Mitchell in St Paul, Minnesota!
Hello! I’m a born-and-raised Californian, a Neuroscientist by training, and an artist in my spare time. My husband and I had our baby girl last year and I decided to leave science and raise her full time. But I didn’t let go of my creative side; in fact, I’ve gone full tilt! For my daughter’s sake I decided to embrace my passions. I love creating and I love doing my part to protect the environment so this past October I put the two together and started Verdant Violet – verdant meaning green, and Violet being my baby’s middle name. My goal is to help save the earth and keep it fun. I’m attacking this goal from two angles: upcycled crafts and eco-blogging.
I sat down to list my eco-friendly activities, and I’m super proud to say it turned out to be a long list, but I didn’t think it would be a fun read. So for your sake, I’ll focus on just a few eco-conscious activities here. But if you want a pick-me-up I recommend that you make your own eco-list if you haven’t already. Here is a checklist that jogged my memory about my habits, and sparked ideas of new things I could try.
What I Do for the Environment:
1. We use cloth diapers on our baby. I’m so glad we went this route! Not only is cloth better for the environment than disposables, but it saves money in the long run. So far we have prevented at least 3300 diapers from going to the landfill, and saved hundreds of dollars. I do use disposables on occasion such as when we travel. Disposables were originally designed for use in travel and they do make travelling easier, and I don’t feel guilty about it! The toughest part of cloth diapers was the up-front cost and the huge amount of information we had to sift through to decide what to buy and how to use them. My advice is to do a little reading about it, ask a few people, and then if it feels right, go for it. If anyone would like to know more about it I’d be happy to share more of my experience with you.
2. I try to be as earth-friendly as possible in my handmade baby toy business Verdant Violet’s Etsy Shop. I sell cloth blocks and cloth books made mostly of upcycled clothing and linens and vintage fabric rather than new. In addition, I take clean plastic food packaging such as cereal box liners and chip bags and sew them inside the toys to make the crinkle sound that babies love. “cxz c bv” (That was my baby saying hello.) When I put out a call for crinkle, my friends joyfully give me their plastic packaging rather than send it to the landfill. To ship cloth baby blocks to customers, I re-use boxes when possible, and to keep the packaging looking nice I turn the boxes inside out to expose the clean side, a tip I learned from Bibliobags , a fellow Upcyclers team member on Etsy. I currently use new envelopes to ship my cloth baby books but I would like to try making my own padded envelopes by fusing plastic grocery bags as described here at Snickerdoodles . And my business cards are both handmade and eco-friendly – I cut up cereal boxes and other thin cardboard and put my shop info on the back. I’m always looking for good business card paper amongst the paper and boxes that are headed for the recycle bin.
3. We have relatively low vehicle fuel emissions. My husband bikes or walks/buses to work and I work at home. For errands and outings, we drive a fuel-efficient vehicle. I would love to say it’s a hybrid or electric car but it’s a 15-year-old 2-door Honda Civic that gets 40 miles per gallon. Due to its small size and lack of back doors it is quite a workout getting my daughter in and out of her car seat, and at those moments I wish we owned a slightly larger car, preferably a hybrid, even if we might have to lose a little bit on the gas mileage. But at every other moment, I’m happy with our combustible engine vehicle. I work from home and my husband bikes or walks/buses to work so we use very little gas overall. Our goal is to fill up the tank only once per month and sometimes we succeed. Our other car is a truck that gets a whopping 9 mpg, but we only use it in emergencies, such as when we need to pick up mulch from the city compost yard.
4. The green activity I’m most excited about is my eco-blog, Verdant Violet , which sports the tagline, “We’re going to save the earth, and it’s going to be fun.” Note the lack of exclamation point. That’s my personality coming through! The blog is only 4 months old and I wish I had more time to write posts but my baby girl needs me so I’m just doing what I can for now and not stressing about it too much. I write about ways to Reuse items that would have been thrown out, my correspondence with companies regarding their eco-friendly practices Verdant Violet letters , the process of making my upcycled baby toys, and other verdant topics. My long-term goal is to build an online community around the joy that is caring for the planet.