Over the years I have read Adbusters, participated in TV turn off week, and generally avoided brands. I prefer to shop locally. I prefer to find great independent clothing designers, such as those that can be found on Stars and Infinite Darkness, who are more often in line with my beliefs that the larger companies. My look is more unique because of this. Spending my money this way makes me happy because I feel like I am supporting a more diverse marketplace. I am the last person that you would expect to see wearing all the ‘latest’ fashion trends. Granted there are some things that currently can’t be purchased unbranded or lesser known because of functionality and quality, just like not every community can currently produce for all of its needs.

While helping out at the StartingBloc 2009 Institute for Social Innovation, the fellows and volunteers received a number of items. The one that caught my attention the most was from Terracycle; it was their Reusable Target Bag. Very cool concept- it is made out of multiple layers of old Target plastic bags that were pressed with heat. Should it rip in the future it can go back into their system and be fixed. Love the concept, but I would be less likely to use it because of the very visible and prominent branding. I did take the bag because I give away reusable bags that I collect over time to people who need them. I figured I would give it away.

Upcycled Target bag by Terracycle
Upcycled Target bag by Terracycle

Before I could give it away, one day it was the only bag in the car and I had to use it or take new plastic bags from the store. I felt self-conscious walking into the grocery store with a bright red and white bag on my arm, literally covered in targets. Walking up to the register the cashier made a comment about it being deer season, and we started talking. From there I was able to talk about Terracycle and the great things that they are doing with upcycled materials, the importance of buying local, why it is a good thing to reuse bags and rethink waste, et cetera. With what was initially something I dreaded, I found that I was able to initiate a conversation on a topic that I am passionate about and get more awareness out to someone because of the branding. My discomfort with the brand was greatly lessened by the more comfortable ease into an important conversation.

So while I will still support Adbusters, buy local, and stay as unbranded as possible, I appreciate the opportunity that that experience gave me. I have Terracycle to thank for that.

From this experience I take the lesson that if you are trying to get a message out, it helps to meet people part way and allow them to ask instead of preaching at them. This instance indicates to me that conversation is enabled when you are living lightly in a friendly manner. What do I mean by friendly? I mean acting in a way that allows for an opening for the questions to be asked. And what does that mean? Well, I think we need to really think about how we present ourselves and our opinions. If the way I present myself is off-putting, it makes those ideas more off-putting. Consider what this means for the expansion of going green, being sustainable and saving the environment.

(Facebook) breaking up is hard to do…

My ‘friends’ on Facebook include colleagues, former students, family, friends, people I met once and though were cool, et cetera.  They are the people I know some very well and other not.  Consequentially, I tend to keep my page and information to what I wouldn’t mind the public knowing even though my information is only visible to ‘friends.’

When I decided to change my status to ‘In a relationship with…’ I was thrilled to be in the beginning of a new relationship.  Happy and in love, I had no problem sharing this information with my Facebook friends via social media.

I had never felt upset changing something I had publicly posted, until it the breakup.  The relationship crashed with little warning and one of the first things I had to confront was the change my public status.  It was so early on that the last time anything had been said, I was happy.  UGH!  I don’t want to have to publicly dump myself!  But I certainly wanted to be the one in control of the process and get to it before he could.

My first line of attack, I decided to go from ‘In a relationship’ to ‘Single’ and immediately erased the update so that I could keep my hurt as private as possible.  Then I realized that I could just make the relationship section go away and not have to say single by setting the status to (blank) so I went in to make that change.

Instead of the desired quiet and solitude I started getting comments like  “Congrats! Who’s the new person in your life?” or “Ooh do tell!”  It was then that I realized that when I changed my status from Single to nothing at all, Facebook sent out something to my friends saying that I was no longer single, which they interpreted to mean that I was in a relationship.  In a panic that my private breakup was getting very public I erased the update as soon as I could.  Fortunately, this quickly made additional well wishers go away.

I was ready to get over it on my own, which is what I wanted in the first place, and then every time I logged in the feed from my ex’s page would pop up.  His friends kept saying how sorry they were to hear.  They assumed he had been dumped and were comforting him.  It made me want to scream “He dumped me!  He shouldn’t get condolences for being an idiot!!”  but I held back.  Post after post.  They wondered if I had worn crocs (a major fashion faux pas to him.)  Everything I had tried to avoid in erasing my status update was still in my face.  If we were no longer friends I could have turned away by unfriending him, but I didn’t.

In the end I coped by hiding his updates and erasing the update that said I was no longer single.

If you too want to have an extremely private, public break-up here’s what you have to do:

How to hide the jerk’s updates (don’t worry this can be undone in the case you make the mistake of getting back together)

1) To the right of an update from the the person who you are trying to block there is a box that appears that when you scroll over it.

2) Click on the word ‘Hide’ and then again on ‘Hide (person’s name)’

How to change your relationship status so that none but a Facebook stalker might know.

1) Go to the box on your profile on the left that says ‘Information and click on the pencil in the right corner.

2) Go down to and click on ‘Edit Information’

3) Under Relationship status change the line to be blank.  This will hid your relationsip status in the Information portion of your profile.

4) Finish editing/ save changes

5) Go to your profile and next to the update that touts your new realtionship status a ‘remove’ button will appear to the right when scrolled over  (just like the ‘Hide’ feature). Click on it.

Now go buy some fair trade chocolate, read a good book or go for a hike and move on.  He/she wasn’t worth your time in the first place!