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Darling Divas Loved the Anokhi Green Birthday Party

As all the giggly girls who attended my daughter’s 8th birthday party were leaving, Kate-the-Great-who-Just-Turned-Eight began doing what any normal lil’ diva does.

Planning her next event.

And it’s a good thing we’ve got 364 days, because this momma needs to put her feet up. But truth be told, the party was actually enjoyable, for me too!

With four kids, I’ve hosted my fair share of birthday parties. And usually, those 2-3 chaotic hours are almost as much work as the original day of birth; personally, I’d prefer to commemorate the blessed event face down on a massage table with only nature sounds and the scent of lavender to keep me awake.

But I can’t deny my child an essential right of passage. Even so, I just can’t throw a standard soiree anymore; mounds of paper and plastic trash destined for the landfill, and fake foods filled with unnatural colors, flavors and fats.

Because it doesn’t have to be that way. Our kids deserve better.

My daughter loves to make crafts, and wants her guests to take home something they’ll use and love. She has a budding eco-friendly conscious, and wanted to paint Anokhi jute bags and bird houses, and serve a vegan taco bar with gluten free cake.  Can I say I’m proud?

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Each girl decorated her own jute bag, and then they autographed each others. They each created a one-of-a-kind designer bag not available in stores!

Anokhi jute bags are ethically produced, very affordable and biodegradable. The girls now have their own reusable shopping bag that carries a delightful memory along with a sense of personal empowerment that they can make a difference. I challenged the girls to count how many disposable bags they don’t need to take from the store each time they take it shopping. They can keep a tally right on the bag!

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There are some lucky birds that will have new housing this spring. Notice the camouflage decor in the back. Good thinking. I think that one’s equipped with WIFI too….

I included Michaels and the grocery store on my weekly errand run so that I could get the supplies and ingredients that I needed. Check your own art supplies before you purchase more, and make a list before you go. Combine as many errands in one trip as you can, and take reusable shopping bags!

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The Vegan Taco Bar was LightLife crumbles, sauteed in cumin and chili powder, with chopped organic veggies, refried black beans, homemade guacamole and corn shells.

The party was scheduled for 1 p.m. I began food preparations at noon. The taco bar and cupcakes were ready by 12:45 p.m. This spread required no more effort than any other party; picking up store-bought versions is still time consuming! (But don’t let me fool you…I have two teenage boys who were “happy” to help…)

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I substituted orange juice for the water in Pamela’s Gluten Free Vanilla Cake mix, and made a simple icing with powdered sugar and more orange juice. Fresh organic strawberries served as the “edible decoration”.

If you’ve never played with the orange flavor, you’re missing out. It’s easy to substitute freshly squeezed organic orange juice for liquid in any vanilla recipe. Finely grate a little zest (orange rind) into the batter and prepare to be impressed with yourself. Check out my recipe for orange cookies.

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Each cake was baked in a silicon baking cup shaped like a flower. The color and shape offered a reusable accent that will be enjoyed again.

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This delicious orange cupcake is gluten free and vegan, made with whole and organic ingredients. It’s FAR better than anything you’d find in a plastic package at the grocery store.

Hosting a green birthday party is less expensive, simple to plan and far more rewarding than the typical alternative. Showing our children that their future is not disposable is the best gift we can give.

Be Anokhi…Think outside the bag!

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When expecting a baby, choosing the perfect name is a sacred honor in which every parent takes delight. What begins as an arrangement of letters expands into a sound…a breath…the essence of a precious life.

The name Anokhi comes from the Hindu language, and translates to mean “unique”. Besides connecting with the look, sound and feel of the word, our team felt anokhi embodies our intention to not only be different, but to make a difference. Because believe it or not, we aren’t just in business to build a better bag.

Don’t misunderstand! The joy in our job is listening to customers explain what they need, and then letting our design team play with colors, blend fabrics, and think outside the bag to create fun and gratifying styles.

But reinventing the handbag is not exactly an endeavor worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. And the distinguishing factor is that being anokhi has little to do with functional fashion. We see our products as a medium to raise consumer awareness and more importantly, demand, for sustainable products that value people over profit, and planet over politics.

Anokhi is not just a word, or even a name. It’s a lifestyle. We invite you to join us. Collectively, we can make a difference.

Sustainability

This Native American proverb speaks to the essence of sustainable living. In modern times, we are endowed with a birthright, taught that the accomplishments of our parents may be used as collateral in pursuit of our own dreams. Each generation is promised that their own lives will be fuller, richer and easier than ever before.

And while automated industries, medical advances and educational opportunities offer great improvement in our quality of life, the real cost of the development and use of these technologies is not something that can be paid for with money. Land and energy utilization, as well as soil, water, air quality are complicated commodities that must be protected through sustainable living.

Our lives are part of a delicate system. Our planet is designed as a web; each species has a purpose. Our ability to live independently of nature gives us a false sense of power. But the rules are very elemental.  Call it yin/yang, give/take, or ebb and flow, the universe is a system that must be in balance.

Balance is the essence of sustainability, which requires us to meet our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. It is analogous to a credit card. If we buy things we cannot afford, debt will mount, polluting our happiness and sense of freedom. Eventually, a bill we cannot pay will come due, and we will be held accountable for our careless actions.

The future is not a far-off event over which we have no control; rather it’s a moment by moment manifestation of every decision we make. We can create a legacy, or we can leave a burden.

Everything that we purchase has a lifecycle much longer than the season or two that we have it in our possession. Raw materials must be harvested and delivered to factories for manufacture. Merchandise is placed in boxes, wrapped in plastic, and transported via diesel engine to warehouses for storage. After we buy it, use it, and decide we’re bored, we throw it away…because out of sight is out of mind.

But nothing disappears. And some things will never decompose! If we truly appreciate the technology behind modern convenience, then we must exercise discretion in it’s use. For example, consider the 24-pack case of single-use plastic water bottles…set in cardboard and wrapped in more plastic. And all the un-recycleable plastic bags we acquire with each trip to the store. Consider the environmental impact just one person can make in a year by carrying a metal water bottle and reusable shopping bags.

It’s breathtaking to consider that every single choice, made on any given day, has both consequence and potential. Recognize your own personal power, and use it wisely. You complete the circle of life when you choose sustainable living.