Eco Moms Who Made a Difference

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This Sunday, families across the country will celebrate Mother’s Day by sending cards and bouquets, gathering for brunch or simply spending some quality time with Mom. Earth911 wants to take part in the Mother’s Day merriment by recognizing nine extraordinary eco moms who not only look after their families but also the planet.

Sustainable holidays with Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell

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Photo: ©Holli Dunn Photography

While trick-or-treating with her two daughters and a group of other moms in 2006, Corey Colwell-Lipson noticed that kids were getting more excited about prizes like stickers than they were conventional candy.

Puzzled, she began thinking about Halloween and other holiday celebrations and wondered: Could kids be craving a change? Could this be a small window of opportunity to give Halloween, and potentially all holidays, a much-needed sustainability makeover?

Colwell-Lipson brought the idea to her mom, Lynn Colwell, who jumped on board right away. The following year, the mother-daughter duo launched the first Green Halloween® in their hometown of Seattle. Afterwards, they were approached to write a book, and penned “Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family,” in a mere six weeks (seriously).

By 2009, Green Halloween official cities included Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Tampa, Daytona Beach and New York City. The following year, Green Halloween expanded to even more cities and the duo created National Costume Swap Day™ to further reduce holiday waste.

“The idea was: Could we create a cultural shift around making holidays healthier and more sustainable?” Colwell-Lipson says. “We believed it was possible, but we weren’t sure if that would happen. Now, heading into the sixth year since Green Halloween launched, you will find communities all across the country…implementing ways to make the traditions a little healthier.”

The mother-daughter team also blogs about sustainable celebrating at Celebrate Green! and posts daily tips via Facebook and Twitter. With nationwide growth in less than six years, the sky is truly the limit for these cool eco moms.

Karen Lee turns reuse crafting into social enterprise

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Photo: Karen Lee

Karen Lee began experimenting with reuse crafts while waiting to pick up her children from sports practices, clubs and other after-school activities. She thoroughly enjoyed her new hobby but never thought it would go any further until she discovered Etsy.

After opening an Etsy shop to sell her crafts, Lee joined up with the EcoEtsy team, a group of sellers dedicated to creating eco-friendly handmade goods. As she talked with her teammates at EcoEtsy, the creative crafter discovered she had a lot to learn about sustainability. Lee began to chronicle her green living journey on her personal blog, EcoKaren, and quickly developed a passion for the environment.

As part of her most recent endeavor, Lee is partnering with fellow EcoEtsy seller Mary Kearns to launch Herban Crafts, a for-profit social enterprise selling organic health and beauty DIY kits. The first kits should be ready to ship in June, Lee says.

In addition to giving customers the ingredients they need to make nontoxic personal care products at home, Lee and Kearns will also be helping low-income women in temporary housing get back on their feet financially. While assembling DIY kits, the women will receive job training from social workers and Lee and Kearns will educate them about sustainable living practices.

“It will create a community-based type of environment…we really want to foster that type of support,” Lee says, adding that racial, social and economic differences are often seen as roadblocks to embracing sustainability and that increasing education low-income populations could go a long way towards healthier people and a healthier planet.

Based in Westchester, NY, the mother of two children, ages 16 and 19, is now an EcoEtsy team captain and blogs regularly at EcoKaren. To support Lee’s fledgling social enterprise, head to their campaign on IndieGoGo.

NEXT: More inspirational eco moms

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Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.
Mary Mazzoni