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mate-conscious-college

Changing our habits and turning ourselves onto sustainable systems that work for the planet takes work. It sounds wonderful when we read about it, but what are we doing, in our space now, to really affect change by spreading the message to those around us?

The crew at Teens Turning Green have been activating students on college campuses for years. They’ve just wrapped up their 2014 Conscious College U.S. tour, which began in March and covered campuses throughout the South and Midwest — from Houston all the way up to Ithaca.

They’ve shared alternatives in the form of sustainable, organic, fair trade foods and products, and followed up their demonstrations — which include lots of mate sharing — with a town hall meeting of student leaders engaged with the process of green change.

Many are already in tune with TTG’s mission to boost food and product consciousness. Others have quickly followed suit.

“In Kentucky, a student came up to me, and he would pick up products and go, ‘Tell me why this is sustainable,’” says Erin Schrode of TTG. “I think it’s more of a hearsay thing for a lot of students.”

Sustaining momentum for this movement can be a challenge — especially in parts of the U.S. where it isn’t mainstream to think so heavily about the production chain of your supermarket food.

Many of these products aren’t as easily accessible. But Schrode has seen really positive change over the last several years, thanks in part to the emergence of Whole Foods.

Sust Food

“Even if these kids aren’t the Whole Foods market shopping type, they all know where it is, and they know where to find it,” she says. “It gives them sort of a follow-up place to go.”

Being an active presence on campuses and encouraging students to create and continue the conversation about sustainability in their communities is an important step towards creating actual change.

“[It's been] that thing they’ve heard about, but it’s never been real,” Schrode says.

Follow TTG’s Conscious College blog and follow them on Twitter.

CCRT at Rice

vegan-eggs-and-bacon-mate

It’s time to revolutionize our morning ritual! We’re proud to bring you the first breakfast mate that is certified organic, vegan, and fair trade.

We’ve fused the essence of our sparkling yerba mate with one of our most beloved morning meals. Wake to that familiar bubbly, effervescent lift of mate and a pleasant, mellow after-taste of vegan bacon and egg chunks. A treat to both drink and chew.

When the spirit of the rainforest meets the power of your favorite breakfast, the potential is limitless: Boundless energy, hearty morning sustenance, and a body ready to take on any task that comes your way. And what a time-saver!

On groceries shelves this summer.

don-miguel-bcorpMore companies are becoming aware of the fundamental need to do business in a way that resonates with our greatest good. There are now over 1,000 certified Benefit Corporations worldwide, all finding their own way to meet “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

There isn’t one type of B Corp. We’re part of a diverse community of companies operating in different markets, each finding their own way to honor their deeper beneficial purpose. And each of us will do B Corp a little bit differently.

Part of our way of walking a sustainable path is by maintaining our grassroots approach. Guayaki began with a small team seeding yerba mate across the U.S., and we’re still a small team – although with our mission, we do big work. The way we think of Guayaki, those sharing our mate and participating in our business do the work with us.

We also don’t buy advertising — which can be challenging for a company in the North American drink market, where big-budget marketing is the standard. Our resources are budgeted so that most of our money goes to our rainforest reservations — and by our latest count, we’ve saved 29,600 rainforest acres in 2013, which is $29.5 million trees and $23.6 million in ecosystem services. If that money went to advertising, we wouldn’t get our work done.

Slow movement and lack of flash may seem counter-intuitive in our industry, but walking the slow road has helped us accomplish some beautiful work protecting and restoring the rainforest. And we can use the extra time to breathe and enjoy our steps amidst the trees.

 

mountainmateIn our latest giveaway, we’re listening to stories from Guayaki fans about their first yerba mate experiences. This week, our winner came from Instagram: Suzanne from Oregon shared this picture of a mountain and described her first gourd ritual, where she would watch the view and sip mate with a friend. When we heard the full story, we felt how powerful the mate really was in her life, and the subtle but crucial way it gave her strength.

Enter our latest giveaway by sharing your story on Facebook, Google+, or Instagram. Tag us and use the hashtag #yerbamatelife.

From Suzanne:

I’m originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. When Katrina hit in 2005, my husband and I lived less then a block up from the beach and everything was destroyed. A lot of friends and family had flooding or roof tile damage, our house was basically in the eye and it was beyond soul shattering.

We packed up the few things we had and came to visit friends that moved to Oregon. I’m sure we had post traumatic stress along with culture shock. Our amazing friends did everything to comfort us. Coffee is big out here, but in that state I could not even think of the jitters mixing with my imbalance of myself.

My friend made me some Guayaki Yerba Mate, and it began our mountain viewing ritual. Some days with a book, some days with music, some with tears. It really became my special thing that I could do (that and the show Arrested Development). Some days, they went hand-in-hand. I didn’t have to wake up and feel sad; I got up and was making my drink, and it’s what I was doing.

Eventually, we had to go back to Mississippi to deal with FEMA, and I had a duffle bag of Guayaki with me. Being back there was too tough, and most everyday I thought to myself, “It’s fine, we will move back to Oregon, I will sit with my drink and my mountain.”

In 2007, we moved back, and everything was awesome again. When I send a care package to my southern friends I always include things I know they aren’t ready for! Local chocolates, outrageous local publications, and mate. When a friend stops by having a tough day, I make them some with honey and half and half and we chill out. I have converters from coffee.

big yerba mate leaf

A big leaf of Ilex Paraguariensis, a.k.a. yerba mate.

Before our longtime mate scientist, Garth Hokanson, retired from our Guayaki family last month, he gifted us with some vital know-how on growing and maintaining yerba mate plants. Here’s his vital guide to learn more about the plant, great if you’re ready to cultivate your own Ilex Paraguariensis.

The Cultivation of Yerba Mate

By Garth G Hokanson

Yerba mate is native to a specific region of the world, principally Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. This region is similar to what we call the Mediterranean climate. Coastal California with its Mediterranean climate is a perfect location to grow yerba mate plants (Ilex paraguariensis).

Mate needs shady conditions with well drained soils. It likes frequent watering. The more shade, the larger and darker green the leaves grow. Plants grown in full sun will have small, narrow dry leaves that are bleached of some of their rich green color.

Yerba mate is part of the Holly (Ilex) family. The plants are dioecious, which means that seeds may produce male plants or female plants. Each plant will have only one sex. So if you eventually would like to harvest seeds from your own plants, you need a number of plants to hopefully get at least one male and one female. Flowers are tiny white star shapes. Not very showy as they occur on the stems, under the leaves, not at the tips or a flowering stalk. Berries start off green, turn a mustard color and then red and eventually with age to a dark purple red. At any of the red stages, harvest the seeds and dry them for several weeks. The fruit pulp which protects the seeds can be removed from the seeds to speed up germination, or you can just plant the entire dried berry.

Mate can be grown from seed or propagated by cuttings. Seed takes nearly 12 months to germinate. Seeds are about the size of grape seeds and should be planted twice their diameter deep, in a very fertile planting mix. Do not start them in an inert mix, like perlite or vermiculite. Since the plants are so small when they germinate, one must leave them several months in the seed flat until they get the second set of leaves before transplanting them to individual pots. The seed has a short life. Six months is about the longest you can get good germination from yerba mate seed.

Seedlings are very fragile for the first 2-3 years. They are best grown in a cold frame, hot bed or greenhouse for the first year.  The fragile plants are susceptible to snails, slugs and pill bugs, which can quickly eat the tops of the seedlings. Once the apex is gone, the plant will die. So take measures to guard against these pests. Growth of a seedling is very slow. Only about an inch a year for the first 2 to 3 years. When plants are 5 to 7 years old, you can expect between 2 to 4 feet of growth a year.

Propagation by cuttings is another way to start yerba mate. Half ripe cuttings about 4 inches long will root in perlite in about 6-10 months. Unlike the seedlings, cuttings are best in an inert media. As soon as the cuttings produce roots, they can be transplanted to a small pot with soil. Cuttings will give you a more robust plant but seedlings tend to have a vigor that outgrows the cuttings the first years.

Yerba Mate can withstand temperatures down to 15 degrees. So essentially most of coastal California up to Sonoma County are perfect locations. In the spring, summer and fall, the plants are a dark green with shiny leaves. At the first outbreak of cold weather the stems will start turning red and new growth will turn a purple to dark red color. This is simply the winter color and is normal. Extended freezes may cause plants to lose leaves, but they will grow back when warmer weather comes again. Plants do not need to be covered, if planted in the ground during bouts of cold weather. But it is critical that they stay watered, as a frozen root ball will remain at 32 degrees when air temperatures drop to the 20s. If you are growing mate in containers, then it is advised that you move the containers close to the house, under a roof eve or patio to help protect from extended cold weather.

Yerba mate comes from rainforests where dead tree trunks and leaves are continuously decomposing creating humic acid and a rich acidic soil. So a regular fertilizing plan is needed if you want to see rapid growth of your plants. Foliar fertilizer sprays or granular fertilizers will do fine. Choose fertilizers that are balanced, where the first number (Nitrogen) is approximately twice the second two numbers (Phosphorus & Potassium). Combinations like 18-6-5 or  20-10-10,  etc. are examples of combinations to look for. The key is to always keep the first number Nitrogen) high, which is responsible for stem and leaf growth. Turf fertilizer is too strong.  Bulb food 0-10-10 or similar low Nitrogen combinations will cause the plant to stop elongating and stop producing leaves and to begin producing seed, which is not what you want for the first 5 years.

When your plant grows large enough to harvest-about 4-5 feet, prune the plant back as you would a small fruit tree, leaving a strong limb base for future growth. Leaves and small stems can be separated from the thicker branches. Discard the thick branches and rinse the leaves and stems with cool water and allow them to dry. For best results, once leaves are dry, you can put the leaves on a cookie sheet and put them into a 400 degree oven for 2-3 minutes. This high heat (Sapecada) deactivates the leaf enzymes and keeps the leaves from fermenting. Then drop the temperature to 100 degrees for 2-3 hours. Or, after the Sapeco of 400 degrees,  just allow the leaves to air dry for a couple weeks, where there is no direct sun. Placing a paper towel over top of the leaves will prevent dust from settling on the drying leaves.

Once dry, you can crumble your leaves to fill a gourd, or French press or make your own tea bags and enjoy your very own home-grown yerba mate.

Sharing optimismThis card came to us from John, a passionate optimist who is on a mission to share positivity with all who come to his farmers market produce stand. John has handed out 22,000 copies of The Optimist Creed,” a small card with 10 objectives for living a positive life.  He says people have come back to him with stories of how their life has changed in remarkable ways, and shared a disclaimer that these aren’t for everyone: You need to be prepared to live a great life.

John’s directions: Read these in the morning and in the evening — and more, if you dare.

Here they are, as listed in the picture. See which ones resonate strongly with you.

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself:

 

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance  at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large to worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

yes-on-522-success-kid

The day is fast approaching for Washington residents to vote on I-522, a measure that would require GMOs be labeled in products. Many companies in the organic world have been spreading the word about the bill for the past several months leading up to Nov. 5.

There’s a great deal more awareness surrounding the issue since the push for Prop 37 in California, and our vision is that state by state, we’ll work together to bring more food and product consciousness to everyone.

If you want to learn more about the issue — or you’re ready to arm yourself with some great points —  read the great FAQ at the Yes on 522 website. And make sure to share with your friends in Washington.

 

 

Guayaki Terere bottles

As the message of yerba mate continues to grow, we feel the call to evolve our offerings and share as much as we can about the significance of this plant. With love for mate’s incredible specialness, culture and meaning, our bottles have been reborn, and our line of “Pure” flavors will be called what they truly are: Tereré.

Tereré means “cold mate” in Spanish. It refers to the cool infusions of yerba mate beloved in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. You can’t go far in any of these lands without seeing mate lovers carrying a thermos full of ice water with a holster for a gourd or guampa, ready for a pour and share. Enjoyed with simply the rich flavor of the leaf or fused with lime, orange, pineapple, or any other citrus or juice, it’s a beautiful delight for the spirit on a warm summer day.

We’re excited to bring this piece of mate culture to our fans, friends, and family, further deepening our mate community and connecting to a tradition we know to be magical.

 

tree-on-revel-berry
Being in the circus requires an endless wellspring of dedication and energy, and acrobat / stuntman Dmitrious Bistrevsky has that. He’s driven by a passion for performance, constantly training to work on an ever-growing repertoire of tricks. The results are dazzling: He can do handstands, back flips, complex balancing and juggling — and that’s just where his list begins.

We met Dmitrious at a circus festival in Los Angeles and were blown away by everything he could do. Not to mention, he’s 6’7! His focus is inspiring, as is his training schedule: He’s working out daily to improve his skill set and be ready for auditions and shows. While most of his energy comes from his regimen and determination, we also discovered he was occasionally dipping into coffee and a few notorious energy drinks with some not-so-great ingredients. We just had to step in.

We gave Dmitrious cans of Revel Berry, Enlighten Mint, Lemon Elation, and each of our sparkling yerba mate flavors, and he’s heeding the call: He’s feeling it! That pic on the right is Exhibit A, and we’ll be posting more of these on our Instagram feed as we get them. Hope he’s not considering juggling any sparkling yerba mate cans…

August is an amazing time for a road trip — so we’re taking one! Our team members Grant and Beau are visiting colleges throughout the Rocky Mountains, sharing a gourd and reaching out to get yerba mate onto more campuses. We’ll share pictures and stories from the road as they come in.

Here’s the route Grant and Beau are taking (or click on the map to view). University of Utah was first on the list. They just got a yerba mate machine!

rocky-mountain-map