August 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
Wal-Mart, Wally-World, Mal-Mart, the Evil Force driving out small business. . . Whatever you choose to call it, it’s still a shopping center that evokes a mixed bag of emotions including skepticism. Ridiculously low wages, sexual discrimination and disturbing work conditions make it difficult to swallow the idea of an Eco-friendly Walmart. That being said, it appears that this Darth Vader of grocery super-centers is making a concerted effort to clean up their act. Keep reading. Even if you disagree, I’ve included lots of informative links!
On July1st of 2008 Wal-Mart announced its commitment “to source more local fruits and vegetables to keep produce prices down and provide affordable selections that are fresh and healthful”. This translates to cheaper produce for the average shopper, healthier food options and fatter pockets for local farmers. The perfect strategy to bring this plan to fruition was to collaborate with local resources. A silent program known as Heritage Agriculture would soon be created. The program would bring together the Wal-Mart Headquarters (in Arkansas) with the University of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center (the Wal-Mart Foundation happens to be a chief financial supporter). Consequently, the Applied Sustainability Center is part of a national partnership called Agile Agriculture. All partners that make up Agile Agriculture work to produce sustainable benefits for producers, distributors and consumers alike.
- Increased profitability from new marketing opportunities
- Transitioning to large-scale marketing may allow producers to focus on operational efficiency
FOR FOOD DISTRIBUTORS AND RETAILERS
- Meet consumer desire for local and regional products
- Reduce transportation costs and GHG emissions
- Provide fresher products to customers, potentially reducing waste
- Potential to develop local economies and create business opportunities
- Consumers know that buying local is beneficial to local economies
- Forming connections with agricultural supply chains increases confidence
- Increased availability of healthy, fresh, affordable products
Wal-Mart vs. Whole Foods
Although these plans began in 2008, it was not until last month that I noticed the single crate of “locally grown” zucchini in the neighborhood Wal-Mart. Two weeks later there were cucumbers next to the zucchini! It seems that Wal-Mart managed to roll out the red carpet at the perfect time. The strategy appears to be in competing with Whole Foods stores whose focus is natural and organic groceries. As Organic sales and oil prices increased, locally (and often organically) grown produce would decrease the length of distance traveled from plant to plate, therefore decreasing cost to seller (in this case Wal-Mart). Some Wal-Mart stores are even offering locally sourced milk. The Heritage Agriculture program would be capable of benefiting more small and medium American farms than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign.
Read the full article entitled The Great Grocery Smackdown for more detailed Mal-mart info.
Benefits of the Heritage Agriculture Program
- Introduction of hybrid 18-wheelers that use less fuel when transporting goods
- Increased reliance on renewable energy sources
- Reduction of packaging waste among suppliers will cause a “Green Labeling” ripple effect
- New environmental standards for its suppliers in China
- Increased collaboration with environmental advocacy groups
- Recycling of Wal-Mart’s used plastic bottles into dog beds sold at its stores
- Reduce the distance that food must travel to increase freshness and nutritional value
U.S. Wal-Mart stores plan to increase the percentage of locally grown produce to a whopping 9%. Canadian Wal-Mart stores are much more ambitious; expecting to buy 30 percent of its produce locally by the end of 2013, and increase that to 100 percent when local produce is available.
I have difficulty acknowledging that Wal-Mart may be capable of providing some relief to the currently struggling U.S. economy, but I would also like to think that any move toward sustainable living is a positive move in the right direction.
Check out the links page at the Applied Sustainability Center. They are chock full of useful info pertaining to green, sustainable and responsible living.
Now, if only I lived closer to locally grown avocados!
August 15, 2011 § 4 Comments
Over the years, I have developed a huge love for all things vintage and antique. Old things are charming. There is a certain character found in 19th century crown molding that simply doesn’t compare to modern building standards. These items have something that new items do not. They have history. They tell romantic stories about the past. I have spent hours in local Goodwill stores, snagged items from the neighbor’s trash and pilfered through piles of goodies at antique auctions just to hear their tales. My track record in window-shopping is not very successful.
That being said, I find myself at a crossroads. I now have more visual aids and photography props than are reasonable. You may recognize a few of these items from listing photographs on Etsy! In order to maintain some sort of organization in the studio (and some sanity over my life) I must either purge the older articles to make room for new. . . or the dreaded alternative, hang up my scavenging hat. Thankfully I have chosen the earlier! This means the store will be expanding.
MagpieTree will now be offering an array of vintage and antique findings from my very own personal collection! Although I am sad to see them go, I know they will all receive excellent homes. This collection of treasures has brought me great joy and has offered me fond memories. Now I offer them, in all of their charm, to you their new keepers.
Vintage and antique items will be listed in the shop over the course of the next few weeks. Be on the lookout for porcelain teacups and saucers, vintage jewelry boxes and jewelry findings.
May 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
Lots of new and exciting things are happening at MagpieTree! Seemed to be a good time to crawl out from under the piles of beads and supplies that have recently accumulated in my living room and give a little update
Over the past few months, (with the help of some fellow artisans) I have been diligently at work on a variety of things! To begin the exciting news, MagpieTree will soon be receiving a little facelift. . . nothing too extreme, it will still be recognizable, no worries there! Same great handmade goodies and custom orders but with a new fabulous and chic logo. It’s quite a surprise so I can’t give away too many details but it will be here very very soon! Be on the lookout for the new logo and banner on Facebook, Twitter and of course MagpieTree. The new logo was created by Graphic Designer Erin Murphy from Northern KY. Erin will be receiving payment in the form of Magpie Findings and other custom made Trinkets from MagpieTree! I can only hope that she is as satisfied with her treasures, as I am with the new logo.
A few additional things that you may see changing on the site will include additional pages, more frequent posts & featured articles from EcoEtsy. Slowly but surely some new pages will be added to help organize and help you locate your favorite MagpieTree Features. Just a few notes about the upcoming features
Cuppa Green Tea ~ As the new Business Tips writer for EcoEtsy, Cuppa Green Tea will be the posting grounds for eco-friendly articles featuring new and interesting ways to upcycle, repurpose, recycle and organize your life to increase your Green quotient and decrease that big ugly carbon footprint! Once things are underway, I will also be offering some fun DIY (do-it-yourself) projects. These articles are not only meant to save you some moola, they’re also meant to give you a big swift kick in the pants when it comes to considering the environment. Our resources are limited and we need to begin treating them as such.
MagpieTree Reads ~ A running list of interesting, eclectic and educational books, blogs, articles and journals for your reading pleasure.
In the Studio… ~ A visual journal of the inner workings of the MagpieTree studio. Photographs will include images of Custom Orders in progress, newly purchased and found objects to be used for future orders and anything else interesting that happens to take place within the confines of my little creative realm!
Traveling Magpie ~ A collection of articles and posts showcasing the unique art and artists found in communities both local and foreign. Special features will include Outsider Artists and Community Arts Programs. Who Knows? There might even be a feature pertaining to the Glad Writings Card Shop(for those of you who don’t know, I am the Coordinator for this program)!
Make sure to visit the Ecoetsy website to find everything from how-to-make-compost to how to ease into a vegetarian lifestyle. It’s much easier to be Green than people think. That being said, I encourage you to join me as this journey and world of what I like to call MagpieTree, unfolds around us! I cannot promise there will not be some typos (even though I hate them) but I do promise to give quality content with intriguing images and eclectic articles.
OOps, almost forgot to show you the new Fascinators and Bridal Accessories! Visit MagpieTree on Facebook , Like your Favorite (or two) and receive 20% off your next MagpieTree purchase!