5 ways to go green this Earth Day
When we ski in Colorado and I admire the beauty of the white Aspen trees that fan across the mountains, I remember this fascinating fact. The Quaking Aspen Tree is the largest living organism on earth. Each individual tree is connected to the next by the root system underground, and each tree shares the same DNA. That fact just grounds me to the natural beauty of this landscape. The largest organism is an Aspen colony called Pando located in Utah.
I am a mother to four kids who on most days feels like I can barely keep my house in order and kids clean, fed and dressed. Women like Rana DiOrio, the founder of Little Pickle Press, fascinate me. Did I mention that she has three young children of her own? Rana agreed to let me interview her over the phone to assist me in my quest of understanding her particular breed of überwoman.
The first indicator of her destiny to be successful is probably in the fact that from a very young age she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to be a doctor, and though it may seem at first glance that she veered off her course, she would be the first to point out that despite detours along the way, she is on the path to doing exactly what she set out to do. I asked her if she planned to go back to medical school, and she said no, but that she is now helping children in the way that she had always wanted to. It turns out that the alternative route that she took ultimately made her uniquely suited to do the work that she does. When she was accepted to the Ivy League 7-year medical school she had applied to, around the same time the HMO came into existence, she did the math and recognized the long road to financial liquidity if she pursued medicine. Instead she went to law school where her investment in her education could pay off more rapidly. She became a lawyer then an investment banker, and a real estate investor. Each career switch imparted various pieces of knowledge that she would ultimately put to use in forming Little Pickle Press.
Her first book What Does It Mean To Be Green? was written for her children. It was Inspired by her own move from not very environmentally aware Rhode Island, where she grew up, to San Francisco in 1991 where she witnessed a different approach to the environment. People in the Bay Area were already recycling, composting and eating locally sourced foods, all of which struck a chord with Rana. She had already changed her way of living by the time she became a mom, so of course she was an environmentally conscientious mom. It was when she felt her children were old enough to begin to understand their relationship to the environment that she wrote the book What Does It Mean To Be Green? as a way to help explain it to them. She wanted to give them the construct to comprehend sustainability, to write a book that served as a springboard for discussion of how to be green, so that they would not just do it because she told them to but because they understood why it was important. It was a book that they read together and was intended just for them at that point.
When Barak Obama was elected President, her children were four and five years old, and there existed no context to help explain to them why this was such an amazing development. She wrote What Does It Mean To Be Global? to introduce to them the concept of diversity and accepting others with their differences. She wanted to plant the seed of the idea that we can only be successful within a community if we embrace diversity. When Rana showed this book to friends, the feedback was so positive that she decided to see about getting it published. Everyone agreed that her books were refreshing and distinctive. Of course she knew the publisher could only be one with environmental integrity, but even the most progressive publishers print in China on virgin paper and still use dust jackets. The Publishing industry as a whole she found was still entrenched in 20th century practices. Rana saw an opportunity to build a 21st century publishing company. There were a few elements she knew she wanted to include, the green publishing element was paramount. She sourced recycled paper, soy inks and made her books without dust jackets—superfluous paper that children inevitably remove and waste. She also wanted to make sure to give back by donating a percentage of the revenue to a charity. Having grown up with a brother who is a two time survivor of leukemia, Rana knows first hand how important support for the families and children with critical illness can be. Because of her experiences, 10 % of the revenue of her first three books is donated to Starlight Children’s Foundation .
Rana picked up the bible of the self-publishing industry The Well Fed Self-Publisher: How To Turn One Book Into A Full Time Living by Peter Bowerman. Published in 2006, this book became the cornerstone of her research in forming Little Pickle Press. At that point in time she could not have known that three years later she would be sitting on an experts panel with Peter Bowerman and have the opportunity to meet (and thank) him in person.
She has built a company that has become a certified B Corporation , a community of companies that strive to be the change they seek—environmentally friendly, humanitarian, and good to their employees. Little Pickle Press was recently honored as a Top Ten Best for the World B Corp with 10 employees or fewer.
Our discussion next turned to the power of women. Rana pointed out that she thinks women are gaining prominence in government and boardrooms because of the different way that they approach and solve problems. Typically, women listen more than they talk and synthesize what they hear to devise strategies. Fewer egos tend to be involved and they know how to calibrate what they hear and observe to solve problems. Her advice to other women starting out is trust your instincts, listen to your inner voice, and rely upon your multifaceted skills and attributes.
This past week Little Pickle Press, won the Appy award in the Muticultural Media App category for “Being Global”. The Appy Awards are the Oscars of the Digital world, and they pay tribute to the world’s finest and most exciting new apps in every imaginable category. The winners were announced Monday night in San Francisco, competitor up against Little Pickle Press for the award was Disney’s “It’s a Small World” app. Three years ago Rana DiOrio, who founded of Little Pickle Press did not know the first thing about the publishing world. Since its inception in April of 2009 she has founded an Environmentally friendly publishing company, written and published numerous award winning children’s books, and has now successfully conquered the digital publishing world. Meanwhile donating 10% of all book profits to charity.
I fell in love with the books that Rana had written the moment I encountered them. The messages they teach are all things I had been trying to impart to my own children for a long time, finally I had found these comprehensible ways to help my kids understand important topics that can be tough to explain. I loved the opportunity to find out more about the woman behind them in my interview with Rana DiOrio. I can not wait to watch Little Pickle Press Grow!
This month Little Pickle Press is offering the following Specials:
Like magician’s silk scarves, the woman in front of me began pulling environmentally friendly shopping bags out of her purse. These were not the boxy earth toned bags I now realized I had left in my car. …again. They were silky nylon, brightly colored, and geometrically patterned accessories. They were, dare I say, stylish? As she rolled her colorful cart away from the grocery checkout, and I sheepishly requested, “paper please”, I pondered the environmentally friendly shopping sack as the new “it” bag. Sure my shopping bags were practical, but attractive? Never. I am a big believer in functional design, and love the idea that if there is an item you must carry, it may as well be appealing. These days, plastic is passé, and though paper will do, to look like a truly savvy shopper the reusable bag is de-rigueur. While my ice cream melted holes in my paper bags once home, I raced to my computer to track down some pretty shopping bags of my own. A couple of the brands I found that make carrying your own shopping bags hip, are baggu and envirosax. Of course I had to purchase my own silky colorful bags to carry, and these bags hold a ton, do not rip, and they fit in tiny pouches or roll up and snap to fit easily in your purse. I was also excited since then to find flip & tumble produce bags, so I can avoid plastic at the grocery store altogether. I have since given them as gifts to my like-minded environmentally conscientious friends, and since they do fit so neatly in my purse, I have no excuse to forget them in the car again.
This post is a modified version of “The New “It Bag” written by me and previously seen on www.amomknowsbest.com