Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
December 1997


What is the Lifestyle/Education Committee?
by Mary Romano, Chapter Office Manager
and Fran Baxter

The Lifestyle/Education Committee believes there is enormous power in the action of each individual and that one inspired individual holds tremendous potential for change. Often we do not know where to begin; the best place to begin is with the first step. We're always looking for more interested folks and invite you to become active in this committee, where we address such issues as:

Consumer Choice: recycled products, durable, reusable, low-packaged, previously owned goods, organic and color-grown cotton, hemp and more

Gardening: organic gardening, promoting urban wildlife with landscaping, bat houses

Transportation: alternatives, including bicycles, walking, public transit

Self-sufficiency: environmentally responsible home construction, solar power, photovoltaics, wind energy

Waste Management: recyclable material collection, composting organic refuse, non-toxic cleaners, hazardous waste reduction

Water Conservation: low flow toilets, shower heads, xeriscape (planting native), organic landscaping

Dietary Choice: organic produce, eating lower on the food chain and

Culture and Family: emphasizing the importance of community and family structure, promotion of shared responsibility and community involvement, cohousing, eco-tourism, eco-investing, eco- psychology, voluntary simplicity, deep ecology

Please join us at our next gathering to learn and share ideas. For more information on the Lifestyle/Education Committee, call Jan Oen (303) 320-4895.



Turn Your Tree to Mulch
by Mary Romano

Denver and other municipalities will be collecting Christmas trees again this year. If you have regular trash pick-up with Denver, you can put your tree out near your trash can between December 29 and January 9 to be picked up. It will be chipped into mulch for distribution to gardeners in the spring. Prepare the tree by removing all tinsel, plastic, nails and stands and set it out by 7 a.m. on your trash day.

For more information about the Denver Treecycle Program call Cindy Bosco at Denver Recycles, (303) 640-2902. For more information on treecycle programs in other local municipalities (not yet available at press time), call Colorado Recycles, the clearing house for all types of recycling information in Colorado, (303) 231-9972.



Simply Sustainable
by Mary Romano

Resources on our earth are finite, yet catalogs and stores sell hoards of superfluous objects, fueled by mass media to entice consumers to buy, buy, buy. Conditions for some workers are near slavery. According to a recent news report, garment workers, not permitted to leave their work facility, face up to 20-hour days at a meager salary of $1 an hour. With only 5% of the earth's population, the U.S. consumes more than 25% of the global economic output.

Every object we buy has a complex life cycle that typically includes mining or harvesting of limited resources; transportation of those resources to a processing plant; marketing, packaging and transportation of those materials to manufacturers; product development, fabrication and merchandising with elaborate packaging to catch the eyes and dollars of the consumer. Typically a product, even if it is a durable good, will have only one owner before it makes its way to a landfill. All this activity in a world that is desperately showing signs of the stress! The environment suffers, the poor and disadvantaged suffer and consumers looking for more fulfillment in life also suffer.

As the holidays approach, attempts are made to capture our money and vulnerabilities. Remember that we have a choice. We can choose to make our consumption consciously rather than compulsively, as so widely promoted by the media. Living simply gives us a triple cure: it helps reduce degradation of the natural world we love, it frees up scarce resources for more equitable distribution to the world's poor and it improves working conditions for all. It can also promote joy, true satisfaction and fulfillment.

These ideas are discussed in "Simply Sustainable," a new brochure produced jointly by: the Consumption, Sustainability and Equity Project of the Sierra Club National Population Committee; Seeds of Simplicity, a program of the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy at Cornell University, and the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Population Committee. The brochure discusses why simplicity is the key to personal fulfillment, social justice for the disenfranchised and a cure for damaged environments. For a copy of the brochure, come to the next meeting of the Lifestyle/Education Committee (see calendar this issue), join the next discussion group on voluntary simplicity (as discussed in the Oct./Nov. Peak & Prairie), call Mary Romano at the chapter office, (303) 861-8819), or send $1 to Sierra Club, Attn.: Simplicity, 777 Grant, #606, Denver, CO 80220.


Enthusiastic Interest in Voluntary Simplicity Groups

A second discussion group for voluntary simplicity is already starting to form. There is only minimal cost for reading materials. See the Oct./Nov. Peak & Prairie for details. The group meets once a week for eight weeks. The dates and times will be determined. If you are interested in joining this group, to be held in Denver, please call our chapter office to leave a message for Bev Holstun, (303) 861-8819. We have found someone to coordinate a group in Boulder; call (303) 861-8819 to leave a message for Robin Crisp. Other available topics for discussion include deep ecology and bioregionalism. Call Mary Romano, (303) 861-8819, for more information.

Environmentally Minded Gift Ideas

With the holiday season upon us and back by popular demand, here are some alternative gift ideas that go easy on the environment, compiled by the Lifestyle/Education Committee.

For Most Anyone:
calendars on recycled paper (Sierra Club calendars!)
a bicycle and helmet
a wool sweater from a resale shop
basket filled with fresh organic fruits
walking shoes made of recycled materials (Deja)
stationery or a book on kenaf (tree-free) paper
a wild bird feeder and bird seed
a do-it-yourself repair manual
an RTD monthly or annual bus pass
a hemp backpack or briefcase
a deck of cards
a solar flashlight
an aluminum can crusher and recycling bin
a map or guide to area hiking trails (look for recycled paper or at the used book store)

Especially For Kids:
recycled tire swing
plant a tree in their name
non-toxic art supplies (Livos)

Housewares and Kitchen:
low-flow shower head
solar cooker or dehydrator
expandable wooden clothes drying rack
organic cotton sheets or towels
plastic bag drying rack
solar battery recharger
cloth coffee filters or tea infuser
cloth napkins
sprouting jars, screens and organic seeds
vegetarian cookbook
reusable lunch sack or lunch box
canvas bags for groceries
bag in a small sack key chain (Sierra Club Store)

For The Gardener:
compost bin
hand-held weeder
native wildflower seeds
native plant xeriscaping book
potted plant
push lawn mower
bat house

Home-made, Home-grown:
home-canned vegetables or fruits from your garden
home-grown dried flowers
home-made jam and baked goods
pot holders made from old jeans
coupon for home-made pot of soup each month, 3 hours of weed-pulling next spring or lawn mowing or snow shoveling

Gift Certificates, Memberships or Subscriptions to:
Sierra Club or other environmental organizations
used book store
continuing education course
second-hand store selling used clothing or housewares
ecology store or catalog
the Natural History Museum
environmental magazine like, such as Peak & Prairie, Sierra, E-Magazine, Yes, Vegetarian Times (or give a magazine subscription to an area library in someone's name)

Catalog Shopping Contacts (Share a Catalog with a Friend!):
Seventh Generation, home & personal products, (800) 456-1177
Alternative Choices, (719) 784-3603
Earth Care Paper Co., recycled paper products, (800) 347-0070
EcoSafe Products, (800) 274-7387
Jade Mountain, (303) 449-6601 or (800) 442-1972
Real Goods Trading Co., (800) 762-7325
The Eco Zone, (800) 874-2310

Avoid disposables, unnecessary electrical appliances, tropical hardwoods, styrofoam, plastics, toxic chemicals, aerosols, ivory, leather and fur. In general promote the simpler pleasures of life.

Reduce (items using fewer resources, minimal packaging),
Reuse (durable items that offer years of use, repairables),
Recycle (make it happen - complete the cycle and buy recycled products). Be eco-mindful, be creative and think sustainable.


Ideas for holiday wrapping:

Use your Sunday comics, colorful cloth napkins or dish towels, re-useable tins, jars or a simple wicker basket, all of which can be used later. If you do buy wrapping paper, be sure to look for "post-consumer" recycled content and re-use it when possible.



We're always learning from others and looking for new ways to do things greener. Please send your ideas for next year's list to Eco-Gift Ideas, Sierra Club, 777 Grant #606, Denver, CO 80203.