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Valley of the Flowers Project's first blog!

Hello from Wren and Valley of the Flowers Project,

Welcome to Valley of the Flowers project's blog!

I am not in this photo, and it looks like I missed an awesome day! This is a photo of Bozeman kids on a Montana Outdoor Science School (M.O.S.S.) field trip. Valley of the Flowers Project's BYO Bag for Change gave a small grant to this group in 2014,our first year. Lots of $.05 reusable bag refunds are being donated and granted so that these kinds of programs continue to benefit more youth over the past 3 years, but we need your help to grow.


It is amazing what a difference experiences in the outdoors have in helping to create healthier, happy lives for all of us. Nature experiences are especially important for children, whose brains are stimulated by the natural world in ways we are just beginning to rediscover. However, many children, even in an outdoor paradise such as this, do not all have equal opportunities for recreational activities in the great outdoors. Getting youth out in nature is important for the health of the planet as well, for kids who have experiences in nature tend to care about it more as they grow up.

Raising my kids here in Bozeman, and realizing we are not being the best stewards possible of our "last best place", has led me on a long journey of activism to educate and create change regarding a very solvable crisis situation of toxic overflowing landfills that all eventually leak at some point, while zero waste solutions would create jobs and a healthier future for our Valley, yet they are not a priority.


It has been quite a journey,and there is so much to share, but I am starting here with the children because this journey began when I was an outdoorsy child who loved Woodsey the Owl, gathered bags of cans to take to the recycling center, picked up litter, cried with the Keep America Beautiful "crying Indian" television ads, and grew up to became a landscaper, writer, mother, activist, and nature photographer.

I am a grandmother now, and I know that I will continue to work for my vision to become a reality: for Valley of the Flowers Project to help my home community of Bozeman, and many more, become sustainable ones, so that the young ones of all species may grow up in a world where all have a deep understanding and respect for the interdependence and diversity of the natural world. BYO Bag for Change is doing that, raising thousands of dollars for sustainability efforts in our community in its first 3 years, and growing steadily. Bring the Bins! will soon have made it through the red tape part, with the help of Friends of Parks (Salal Huber McGee and Bogert farmers market), and by next summer the first Bozeman city park recycling bins will be installed (hopefully!).

My granddaughter, all the kids in this photo, all the children of the world, and of all forms of life, now and for many generations into the future, deserve to inherit a world we will be happy and proud to share with them, or we can leave behind a legacy of environmental pollution and degradation.


You might feel powerless to stop climate change, but we all have the power to stop plastic pollution. Stop using single-use plastic. Period. It is really hard, and I have not made it to zero waste, but I am on the journey. We all have to admit that we are a part of the problem, and it won't go away by itself. There are many things so many of you are already doing like BYO Bags and water bottles, buying local, growing your own garden, composting, reducing, fixing, saying no to straws, buying unwrapped produce,borrowing instead of buying, etc., but there is always one more thing you can do, or one more person you can take the time to talk to. We all need to roll up our sleeves and get busy, as there is lots to do.


This is a lengthy first blog, but I have one last request to make. A small act on your part that will make a big difference for BYO Bag for Change, is to be vocal to stores like T and C, the Co-op, Rosauers, Safeway, Alberrtson's ,Smith's , Owenhouse, Murdoch's, Town Pump, and every store/restaurant in town. Help these stores realize that BYO Bag for Change is a win-win-win. The stores listed that give you a reusable bag rebate are at least not charging you for the bags like other stores do, that seemingly "give away" "free" bags, because the bags' cost is factored into your groceries/goods, at all other stores.


So, if you use your own bag, and think it would be cool to see how many fewer bags would be used and how much a store like the Co-op or T and C could raise if they got involved with BYO Bag for Change, and if you're tired of paying for the supposedly "free" bags that taxpayer dollars also pay to clean from waterways, etc., and which are a part of single-use plastic/packaging's death knell for life on earth, think about getting in touch with the manager at your favorite store this holiday season.

Ask your favorite store if they will give the gift of sustainability to Bozeman, and to the planet, this holiday season, by becoming a participating BYO Bag for Change store. Write an email or card, make a call or take the time to talk, at your next store visit. If you're shopping at Heeb's or Joe's , thank the respective owners, Mitch and Tara, and donate your nickels to help the change grow.


What if every store in Bozeman signs on and we become the first U.S. city to voluntarily create a cooperative effort between businesses and their patrons to reduce/eliminate our single-use bag habit? Just imagine how many youth nature programs, recycling bins, edible gardens, and other sustainability projects will take root in our community with funding from BYO Bag for Change as it blossoms and grows, spreading like wildflowers!


States legislatures are passing laws prohibiting local ordinances for bag bans, taxes,

or fees, and even in California's ban, the $.10-.25 fee for using paper bags goes to the plastic companies due to job loss claims of powerful lobbyists (environmentalists wanted that fee to go to environmental cleanup.) Paper bag use has risen sharply, with claims of recycled paper as a positive single-use alternative. Although better because it is not plastic, the paper bag (even recycled ones) takes a huge toll on the environment, in chemicals, energy use, and water, to be produced and shipped.


BYO Bag for Change could really become a movement here in Montana with your help. Will you help keep the best in the "last best place" by helping to spread the word about BYO Bag for Change, a simple step to sustainability that Montanans are doing because we care?

Thank you for reading and taking action,


Founder,Valley of the Flowers Project/BYO Bag for Change

Bozeman, MT

Exciting and educational weekly blog updates will follow, plus a new bimonthly video series coming in 2018! (and the sidebar will be fixed!)

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