Do less.

That's been my mantra these last few weeks. I've wanted to do less, to slow down, to sit still, to stay in bed longer and listen to the world wake up.

Confronting this desire in me isn't always easy. I love having a lot going on. But lately, it's been too much and I can sense it in my body. After a particularly productive weekend, packed with ALL the things—work, writing, hikes, yoga class, dinner with friends, farmers' market sojourns—I was jittery. I had thought interweaving room for leisurely meals with loved ones and outdoor activity would've tempered the hours I spent working. I soon realized what I was craving wasn't a crammed schedule, however infused with joy—it was the space to be quiet. Having gone from one thing to the next made me achey with anxiety. I couldn't quiet my brain. I don't think more stuff is better but I have always felt more experience is. I'm coming to realize a jam packed life isn't the same as a full life. And what I want is fullness.

I am so hungry for new, more, adventure that I don't always take the time to waste a day reading. When I reflect on the last year, however, those moments when I felt achingly alive were about presence, surrender, and stillness. I can remember what it felt like sitting naked under the stars after a soak in a redwood hot tub, the eucalyptus trees around me casting shadows across my stomach, and feeling deliciously happy that I had nothing else to do right now. That moment was it. And that's what I want. To do less and to live more. 

Doing less takes reframing. We live in a capitalist culture that prizes perpetual productivity. But maybe, when everything feels so urgent, when it's easy to lose a day to answering e-mails and careening between appointments, what we need is to do LESS. The urgency of climate action. The urgency of political change. The urgency of growing up and figuring our s**t out. Being victim to this urgency has complicated my capacity to be present. And like so many of you, I want to be awake to my life.

So here's my hope—for myself and for you, too. That in doing less, I live more. That in slowing down, I focus my energy. And that in breathing in the simple, irresistible bliss of every moment, I find the sustenance I need to heal our world. 




Although skincare brings me joy—stirring up calendula-infused moisturizers is my kinda magic-making—it's only been in the last few years that I've celebrated the relationship between my daily beauty rituals and my environmental activism. Feeding my skin with plants from my garden and oils sourced from rad herbalists makes me happy, connects me to the earth, and inspires me to learn more about what's growing green in my corner of the universe.

Much like style, skincare is often derided as superficial. As I dig deeper into my studies of Ayurvedic medicine, however, I've loved discovering the emphasis on beauty within this holistic healing system. Taking care of our skin, embracing our natural beauty, and nourishing self-care rituals isn't shallow if it brings us into deeper relationship to the soil surrounding. 

Based in Sausalito, CA, Botnia is a skincare company that shares this same passion for holistic healing. When I first connected with founder Justine Kahn, I was struck by the joy she took in her work. Her commitment to healing the skin is really about healing our relationship to ourselves and to the land. Tune in as Justine and I talk about growing a botanical garden, feeding our skin, and what sustainable skincare really means (hint: spoilage!) 

KW: What inspired your work as an esthetician? 

JK: I was inspired to get into skincare mainly because I myself struggled with skin issues. I had horrific acne throughout my teen years. It really affected the way I presented myself to the world. I have an empathetic approach and I love helping people. I never went into it thinking I would make my own skincare line but I've always wanted to help people [feel at home in their bodies]. 

KW: What experiences encouraged you to launch Botnia?

JK: My inspiration came from the treatment room while I was working with clients. I really found as a skincare provider that I wasn't able to give my clients the proper treatment that their skin deserves—and needed—to heal and be healthy. What was in the skincare industry was a lot of chemicals, things that were inflammatory, and sythenthic ingredients that were made in a laboratory.

Botnia came from wanting to help my personal clients. I started to take classes through local [herbalism] schools in the Bay Area and began to craft these very simple and very basic formulations. I would take one client at a time. So if one client had acne and rosacea and was dehydrated, we would treat her skin with care by looking at anti-inflammatory ingredients.

KW: How does Botnia integrate your passion for environmental sustainability and holistic healing? And what practices do you use—both in your garden and in community—to heal our environment?

JK: Botnia is really something that I started in my garden in the Bay Area. I grew a small batch of botanicals that I thought were amazing for their anti-inflammatory properties. And when we need to outsource botanicals because of climate, we really focus on local and sustainable brands. We also have solar power at our spa in San Francisco and strive to hire from the area. Creating community and keeping it local for our clients—that's important to us. We're also really looking forward to partnering with more companies that are committed to healing our environment. 

KW: Although the skin is the largest organ in our body, we so often treat skincare as if it's superficial. What can we do to take better care of our skin?

JK: Our skin is our largest organ so what we put on our skin and in our bodies really affects us. Nutrition is such an integral part of our overall skincare regimen. I have a green smoothie with kale, coconut oil, and almond milk that I make myself—full of amazing vitamin A and minerals—every morning. It's such a nurturing drink to start the day off with. Greens and probiotics are really helpful for the skin. As is drinking water and getting sleep. Our body absolutely thrives on hydration. 

People always thinks about organic skincare but they don't always realize how very different it is than conventional skincare. Anything that goes in or on your body should go "bad." It should be just like food and have a shelf life. [At Botnia] we want our products to turn and spoil because that means they are alive and active. 

KW: How do you hope to grow Botnia in the coming year?

JK: The main thing I want Botnia to do is provide people with safe and natural skincare. I really want to deepen relationships with local estheticians to help push this message of clean beauty.

I'm always learning more about gardening too. Every day, I learn something new and discover an inspiring botanical or botanical extracts. So deepening my knowledge of organic farming and working with more farms—we currently work with Moving Roots in Petaluma—is important to me. 

KW: How do you embody hope for a better world in your everyday life? 

JK: The thing that helps me embody hope is bringing forward a handmade product. If we can go back to a time where we can value handmade things—where we can pour our love and energy [into creation]—we'll see people respond to that positively. 

For so long, we went in this other direction [of mass production and materialism]. So it's exciting to me that people are gravitating more and more to human interactions. To get to put on a cream that someone grew in their garden and made with their hands—that's magic. It gives me hope that people feel that love and energy on a daily basis [and can give that energy in turn] to the greater good. 



Perfection is a kind of death.

Pema Chödrön

Everything is imperfect and perfection is a kind of death. I know this much and still find myself craving smooth sailing and seamless days. The want arises without warning. Sometimes I'm in the grocery store and I'll suddenly turn toward my cart, cluttered with scratched glass jars and cloth bags, and think can I be buying better? Sometimes I'm working on Loam, feeling alive and energized, when I'm beset by the fear that I'll never have the time or money or discipline to make this passion project everything that it can be. 

I have so many dreams for Loam and my life and this world bubbling in my belly. And hard as I try, some days it's a real struggle to do what I need to do to make these dreams real. I waste time scouring for vintage evil eye rings on Etsy. I come home from a long day careening between part-time jobs and eat popcorn in bed because I'm too tired to cook myself a nourishing meal. More often than not, I fall short of my vision for "perfection."

For me, activism is interwoven into my everyday. It's a framework that fuels my daily decisions and drives the kind of work that I do and pursue. So when I feel that I've failed at being a "perfect" person, I feel that I've failed at fully realizing my life's work (eek!) Without meaning to, I confuse being a good advocate for this earth as being a "perfect" environmental activist. 

As many of Loam's readers have shared, this hunger for perfection is an issue that a lot of us struggle with. In our pursuit of personal growth as stewards of the earth, we're likely to sketch out a limiting definition of "perfection" that will always leave us in the lurch. "Perfection" might look like a vegan diet and daily calls to Congress. Or it might look like showing up for every climate strategizing session and forging a fruitful career at an environmental nonprofit. None of these goals are "bad" by any stretch. I'm only sharing these hypotheticals to suggest that whatever our "perfect" life looks like, it will never be exactly like that. We'll miss the protest. We'll make do with a day job that pays our rent even though it doesn't feed our soul. We'll sometimes buy stuff packaged in plastic and travel on carbon-intensive airplanes. We'll be imperfect, because it's wired in our blood, and we can either learn to celebrate our imperfections as a catalyst for change or perceive them as a roadblock to realizing our dreams. 

Sometimes, I fear that if I celebrate my imperfections—all the little ways that I'm learning and loving and messing up and making anew—I'll stay stagnant. Experience has taught me otherwise; when I'm at peace with my imperfections, I'm free. And when I'm free, I'm full of hope. And when I'm hopeful, I'm able to do what the world needs of me. I find delicious joy in my morning walk. I give my energy and time to the zero waste nonprofit that I volunteer with. I work on features for Loam in collaboration with the kind of kickass movers and makers who remind me this world is wild in wonder. In spite of (or maybe because of) my manifold imperfections, I do and dream and heal. 

So what can we do to feel free and full of hope? How can we see our imperfections as a vital energy source for our environmental activism? 

We can first (re) envision our imperfections. This opportunity came up for me just the other day when I was scrolling through Loam and found myself frustrated by how few features really met my vision. Archived online is every badly recorded podcast I'd produced and not-so-high quality photo I'd taken. There were interviews I wish I'd done a better job with and personal essays that felt unfinished. It took talking to a friend of mine to realize that for all its imperfections, Loam is full of heart and hope. It's reflective of my deep desire to do even when I don't have the resources for a "perfect" photoessay or podcast or feature. Loam is my passion project, and it's growing with me. When I returned to Loam with that in mind, I started to resee every imperfection as an invitation to do more and dream deeper. I felt so much more at peace with my work, so much more full of possibility, and it's my hope you'll feel the same when you bring this fresh frame of mind to your own work. 

It's in that spirit that (re) envisioning our imperfections helps us to renew our commitment to environmental activism. Making peace with our perceived shortcomings gives us the space to do some good in this world. We can waste precious time mourning our imperfections or we can buck up and try and love and grow and dream our hardest anyway. In my own life, whenever I'm wrestling with cognitive dissonance, strained by slippages between my values and my actions, I ground myself in the kind of rituals that affirm for me why I do the work that I do. I recognize those "imperfect" actions that didn't make me feel so good and strive to cultivate new practices that feel nourishing.

Because at the end of the day, we all have the power to live with, learn from, and to love our imperfections—providing that we trust that those imperfections truly are a power. 







Inspired by Loam Artist-in-Residence Kailea Frederick's project, Pause Within the Chaos, I've been planting prayers every day to keep me grounded when my eco-anxiety runs wild. It's such a simple practice but it helps me see beauty in my now. I love making my mandala from found materials—seashells I scavenged on the shores of Lopez Island, dandelion greens foraged from my neighborhood, dried flowers leftover from a bouquet—and sitting with this work of living art. And when I'm done, it's liberating to let it go. It's a reminder–shoutout to Pema Chödrön—that things fall apart only to come together. Again and again and again. 

As Kailea writes of her project: "How can we begin to become even more creative when thinking about ways to bridge our personal lives and the work of our lives?" How can we create daily rituals that not only enrich our present but also sustain the hard work of activism? I've found, in choosing to create moments where I can sit with my pain and explore the possibility of peace, the seeds for regenerating my relationship to activism. I've been vacillating between burnout and restlessness, between raw passion and deep sadness these last few months and so it's been especially healing to give over a few minutes every morning to disciplined creation. 

As we wade into the murky, muggy days of summer, I hope you'll explore planting a prayer of your own. Daily rituals for reconnection truly can restore the soul. 





As passionate as I am about trash-light living, I know that it's a privilege to live where I live and have access to the kind of resources—accessible bike paths, bulk stores, residential composting—that make sustainable living a cinch. Learning to live with less is a richly rewarding experience that has saved me money and nurtured my self-sufficiency skills. But it's a path that's infinitely easier for me to walk by virtue of the city I live in, the friends I share a home with, and the support system that Loam has interwoven across the world.

The last few weeks, my friend Andrea of Be Zero and I have been hosting Instagram Lives where we explore what it means to cultivate a circular mindset and answer questions from our community on putting zero waste philosophies into practice. One question we have heard a lot is: How do you live zero waste when you're not in a community that makes it easy? For so many of us, finding the type of regional tools, community, and norms that nourish sustainable living isn't within reach. We might live far from a farmers' market. We might live in the heart of car culture. We might struggle to find a secondhand retailer in our community or a local grocery store we can feel good about supporting or public transportation that's affordable. I have lived in New York, Valparaíso, Portland, San Diego, and Boulder throughout my life and each city has brought with it its own beauties and its own challenges. I've had to find a way to live my values as best as I can even when the streets I walk are littered in trash and finding fresh food is tough. 

Of course, there are a thousand and one ways you can live lighter on this earth no matter where you are. You can choose to mend your clothes rather than trash torn threads. You can refuse single-use plastics by bringing a reusable jar, cutlery, and cloth napkin with you. You can grow a little herb garden on your windowsill. Providing that you trust in the process, show compassion for yourself and others, and embrace imperfection, you will never need to wait on anyone or anything to create opportunities to live sustainably. You are your own permission. 

That said, it's sure nice when living sustainably is simplified—especially when you are new to the wild world of zero waste. Learning to cultivate a circular mindset asks us to radically rethink our relationship to ourselves, each other, and our land. And it's a process that's so much sweeter to sink into when we have some support.

Enter Bailiú. The lovely Meredith MacKenzie's online shop makes it easy for folks to find starter sets that mitigate the everyday plastic pollution challenges that arise within our household. As Meredith says: "I became more mindful about reducing my use of disposables and single-use plastics after a cross-country move from Oakland, CA to Southwest VA.  After a decade of carrying a reusable tote in the Bay Area, I found myself living in a place where Styrofoam and plastic bags were the norm, which felt shocking. I started paying closer attention to the choices I made and asking more questions. Although I found many helpful resources about a adopting a 'zero waste' lifestyle, they felt intimidating and the lifestyle struck me as unattainable. There seemed to be a lack of forgiveness and humor in the options out there. I wanted to offer an accessible way to start making better choices without taking ourselves so seriously, and while maintaining a sense of style. Practical goods should also be beautiful. So I started Bailiú to create a shop for the stylish, beginner minimalist, because you shouldn’t have to sacrifice style to be kind to the Earth."

Meredith's bridge into building Bailiú embodies many of the philosophies that I want to see better put into practice within the zero waste movement. Showing kindness to others, asking questions of our community, exercising compassion, humor, and open-mindedness—cultivating these characteristics as environmental advocates truly helps us to regenerate our communities as we reduce our waste. It's true that you don't need to buy anything to begin living with less. And learning how to make your own alternatives to plastic-based and plastic packaged goods is a viable (and sometimes really fun!) option. But as an environmental educator and lifelong student of sustainable living, I deeply believe that creating starter sets when we are just beginning helps us find our footing as we pursue new pathways. It's like gathering your supplies for the first day of school or supporting your dream of being a writer by investing in a gorgeous notebook. Sometimes, you need the tools to get started.

Herewith, a breakdown of Meredith's Kitchen Starter Set. Use it as a blueprint for beginning your zero waste journey at home.


Bento bags are beautiful cloth constructions that you can transform into everything from a reusable bag (I use mine to store bulk goodies from the grocery story and stash cherries from the local farmers' market) to a placemat for camping trip meals. Meredith selects her bento bags from Ambatalia, a Mill Valley-based textile supplier that creates goods to guide a non-disposable life. 


A mesh tote is super easy to fold up and bring with you in your day bag so that you'll always be prepared for the type of surprise situations—fresh fruit stand by the side of the road, post-work grocery store run—that crop up during our day-to-day lives. I love that I can carry this tote in my backpack to the market and fill it up with imperfect produce to share with friends.


Americans trash more than 500 million plastic straws PER DAY. Sip sustainably with a bamboo straw and always make sure to ask for drinks at restaurants without a straw. 


Bee's Wrap is a truly indispensable part of any sustainability starter set. I love Abeego's beautiful designs and minimalist mission. I've used their wrap for everything from storing goods and covering bread as it rises to rolling up sushi. 


One of the most impactful switches you can make when are diving into your zero waste journey is to refuse single use disposables by carrying reusable cutlery with you. A utensil roll is useful because it helps you keep your straw, spork, and knife in one place (I've lost many a reusable fork to the depths of my jam-packed book bag) and creates conversation when you sit down to share a table with friends! 
As Meredith notes of her starter sets: "A big part of the joy that I get from Bailiú is curating a collection of products that I would gift to a dear friend. Gift giving is my love language!  I love the idea of introducing a dear friend to a product that will make her home and her heart a little happier." Meredith's sentiment is a reminder that learning how to live with less is really about making room for more love in our lives. To truly love what we have and to care for it translates into how we love and care for ourselves, for each other, and for our earth. So get to it, loamy loves. Sustainable living is always within reach. 




Nearly every evening this week, I've taken the same 4 hour hike close to my home. I walk the forty minutes from my apartment to the trail entrance tucked behind a cluster of old homes before weaving my way up the yucca-seeded hillside. At the top I like to sit on the same lichenous rock and read; and on the way back, I connect with a secondary trail that takes me straight to a verdant field alive with orange poppies. My route (and my routine) doesn't change much but each trek brings with it fresh discoveries. Clusters of freckled mushrooms straight from the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Silvery junipers that stretch toward the sun. White-bellied birds with inky blue feathers who gather within the skeletons of shrubs and sing. I've been so restless lately, hungry for my next adventure, ready to move, that learning how to be where I am—right now—is truly a balm for the soul. 

Rituals for reconnection often arise for us when things are rocky. The decision to take this daily hike was in many ways a remedy for my unemployment. I was feeling blue and shaky and unsure what to do next and so I sought to ground myself in the foothills close to my home. But taking this daily pilgrimage has affirmed for me just how soul-nourishing rituals are. I want to set myself up for the kind of rituals that can sustain me thru the good and bad–thru my next move, thru the next setback, thru the next success. The world has felt so wild lately, so full of suffering and sadness and resistance and regeneration. I am starting to see how even the smallest rituals—a daily walk, a morning cuppa tea on my creekside balcony—can keep me rooted during this roller coaster.

Whenever I am feeling frustrated or fearful, my first instinct is to move. I know I'm not alone in this. Many of us search for new surroundings, new names to learn, new places to explore, when we're overwhelmed—even though we know, too, that if we haven't set things right in our soul, we'll continue to carry that restlessness with us no matter how far we go.

This is why I love cultivating a daily ritual the connects me to place. This isn't a place that I'll call home for much longer but it's where I am right now and it's where I've been for nearly a year. To learn how to love the present for what it is, to sink into the beauty of the world even as I'm filled with fear for her future—this isn't an easy practice but it's vital to do. 

My hope for you this week is to sit with yourself and dream up a ritual, no matter how small, that can connect you with somewhere or someone or something that you've been feeling separate from. Take a walk and wonder; or turn to your journal to write. Find one thing you can do every day and be disciplined about doing it for as long as you can (and forgiving of your sweet self when you forget). Rituals for reconnection give our lives light—and during these dark days, that's a gift we need to give. 



It's been a weird & heart-wrenching few days. Trump's decision to leave the Paris Accord has been one of the most violent attacks from our federal government on our collective right to life. It makes me furious that many of our federal representatives are continuing to promote policies that will accelerate climate crisis across the world and further threaten the lives of people of color in climate vulnerable communities. It's f*cked up. It's unfair. And it's not something that any one of us can abide by. 

It's okay to be angry. The U.S. is one of the biggest contributors to climate change on our planet; by refusing to take federal action, Trump is sowing the seeds for climate chaos and social injustice throughout the world.

It's important, however, to understand what's really going on (herewith, a helpful summary of what actually happened) and to use this major misstep as an opportunity to affirm the growing power of the people. Don't let Trump knock you to the ground. I know, I know—easier said than done. But the fight for an international call to arms against climate catastrophe is far from over. The resistance has been making major gains, communities have been activating incredible change, and folks across the world have been inspired to act passionately and persistently toward building a better world. 

In the spirit of finding opportunity in catastrophe, here are three ways to rise up in the aftermath of this disastrous challenge to international diplomacy. 


In the aftermath of Trump's decision, more than 200 city mayors, state governors, companies, and university presidents are working to submit a plan to the U.N. that will help America continue to mitigate climate catastrophe. This signals a major shift from relying on our federal government to protect us (a dead end if there ever was one) toward catalyzing change from the private sector.

There are many ways to be a part of this movement. You can participate in any one of the powerful OFF Fossil Fuels events that Food & Water Watch is coordinating across the country; you can join your local Citizens' Climate Lobby chapter to learn how you can advocate for your own city to be a part of this independent body of climate advocates; and you can send messages of support through 350 to those countries and communities that are continuing to fight the good fight. 


The power to catalyze change is truly with the people. For too long, we have fought for the federal government to create the kind of radical policies our world needs if we do not want to lose land and lives to climate catastrophe. And as important as it is to activate federal change, we have to bring that work on home. We need to act in alignment with our values and be vigilant about embodying hope in our everyday lives. We need to ignite change within our hearts and homes. 

Inspired by Mark Trahant's recent essay in Yes! Magazine, I'm taking time today to create my own carbon-reduction plan. It's a personal Paris Accord that I hope will provide me with a tangible roadmap for continuing to slash my carbon footprint and cultivate regeneration and resiliency within my life.


Trump's tone-deaf policies stand in defiance of the far more powerful market forces that are driving renewable energy from the margins to the mainstream. Continue to nurture divestment from fossil fuels at home and across our country by moving your money from major banks into credit unions, investing in community-owned solar and wind projects through companies such as Arcadia Power, and challenging higher institutions to invest in green technology and living economies. As Valeria Costa, Alec Connon, and Emily Johnston write in this practical essay: "To stop the flow of oil, we need to stop the flow of dollars." 


This is an end only if we let it be. Continue to resist, loamy loves, and to remember the power within you. 



The utter deliciousness of spring always makes my heart feel a little lighter. The purple wildflowers that frame my walk to the library; the sweet, succulent evening light; the light rain and chilly air. I love how everything seems to turn green in a day. You wake up, or leave work, and suddenly the whole world has changed. 

We're weathering a late-season snow in my neck of the woods but the spirit of spring still persists. I've found my energy for DIY herbal remedies has reawakened. Each morning, I pore through my favorite reads—A Wilder Life and The Healing Kitchen in particular have been guiding lights—and find a recipe that soothes something in my soul. 

My favorite herbal remedy to make is a calendula body butter, adapted from Rosemary Gladstar's recipe for face cream from "Medicinal Herbs: Beginner's Guide." For this recipe, I infuse the calendula oil myself. Infusing calendula oil isn't hard—you fill a glass jar with calendula buds and olive oil and let it steep in the sun—but it takes 3 to 4 weeks. Still, it's worth it. There's something magical about watching the midday light filter through a glass brimming with yellow buds. And there's something powerful about making something that most of us buy in plastic packaging.

The change in seasons is an invitation to be gentler with our sweet selves. I hope the act of creating this luscious body butter will remind you every day to be good and kind to yourself. 


3/4 cup calendula oil

1/8 cup cocoa butter

1/8 cup coconut oil

1 tablespoon grated beeswax

1/4 cup aloe vera gel

3/4 cup distilled water

A few drops of lavender essential oil. 


  1. Combine the calendula oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and beeswax in a saucepan over very low heat and warm until everything is melted together. Pour into a measuring cup or bowl and let cool for at least several hours or overnight, until the mixture is firm, thick, and creamy.
  2. Scrape oil mixture into a blender. In a separate bowl, combine the aloe vera gel, distilled water, and essential oil. Turn the blender on at a high speed and slowly drizzle the water mixture into the oil, continuing to blend until all the water mixture has been absorbed by the oil. The blender should "choke" as the mixture thickens and becomes white and creamy.
  3. Scoop the cream into glass jars and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.