A Clean Life – 3.0

After many months of sitting idle, A Clean Life is returning. I have many ideas I want to bring to life, but for now this is a simple blog. I plan to write about eating seasonally and living zero waste. There are a surprising amount of challenges and insights in doing so.

This is version 3.0 of A Clean Life. You can see the new design for the site. It is the newest theme from WordPress, called Twenty Twelve, and it is a fully responsive design. Which means that it looks great, probably better, on all mobile devices. I think we are entering an era where mobile readers will become more important than desktop/laptop readers.

It’s also a minimal design which fits my aesthetic. I hope it fits yours too and welcome to ACL 3.0.

Earlier Versions

My first post was on March 6, 2009, and titled Founders Note. At the time I was using ACleanLife.org as the “company” site and blogging over on GreensAlmanac.com. I liked the idea of splitting them up, but I really had no idea what I was doing. That was version 1.0

Soon after I switched to the popular (at the time) magazine-style WordPress theme. I liked the ability to display multiple posts and have many columns and sections. It never worked very well and it seems like I’m not alone as magazine-style themes fade into history.  That was version 2.0:


2010 Annual Report

When I first started this non-profit in May 2009, the most proffered advice was about how hard it would be to get tax exempt status. That turned out to be the easy part.

In 6 months we received tax exempt status to operate as a community focused non-profit. A fantastic benefit that I hope will bear fruit in the years to come.

The hard part became the most important part: learning how to impact change.

This topic is very controversial in the non-profit world. Some would say that you need a large national issue that can attract great attention,  and therefore great money and volunteers. Others, would say that you have to choose one issue and stick with it, over the years consistently building your reputation, influence, and donor base.

Most of the non-profits you know probably fall into one of these two categories.

Neither worked for me and so I went out searching for an alternative and found a movement instead. One that is fundamentally altering America at a grassroots level with success after success.

At the forefront of this movement is Yvon Chouinard, founder of the clothing company Patagonia. In his book, Let My People Go Surfing, he lays out the mindset, methodology, and most importantly the past experiences (failures) that led him to this way of thinking.

It is a fascinating discussion on business  and I definitely recommend reading the book. Also, if you purchase the book ($10) through the above link, a portion of the sale goes to A Clean Life.

A one sentence description of this method that is so packed with meaning you may have to read it twice:

“We fund at the grassroots level because we believe that action-oriented groups living and working close to the issue are the most effective at fighting for change.”

That’s exactly my focus.

In the upcoming year, we will be taking on local projects, invite in locals deeply involved in those issues, and provide them the support and funding they need to create change. The projects will be short term, although some may take years, because it’s important to have an achievable goal that everyone works, and fights for.

More to come on that to come in the strategic plan, but now time for the financials.

Income Statement


$2,179.92 – Received as donations


$2,120.26 – Itemized:

  • $750 – IRS fee, formation of a 501(c)3 non-profit
  • $30 – Incorporation Fee in CA
  • $56.14 – purchase website domains
  • $72 – website hosting fees
  • $170 – DC Farmers Markets Brochures
  • $175.43 – outdoor compost, backyard
  • $48.64 – indoor compost, buckets
  • $319 – indoor compost, automatic
  • $113.67 – outdoor compost, for apartments balconies
  • $62 – 6×3 banner of A Clean Life logo
  • $313.38 – event hosting fees, launch party & family/friends event




A great benefit to having a small non-profit means not all that much paperwork.

The established tax year for us is from Jun to May, and anytime after June (within 5 months) I submit my tax paperwork to the IRS (a postcard) and the State of CA (a few sheets). It takes no time at all, makes keeping the books simple/easy, and frees me up to get back out in the community.


I kept this post fluid but included all information needed to understand the operations of A Clean Life. This includes our revenues/expenses/assets, tax year, tax information, and operating strategy.

I expect that in years to come writing this won’t be so easy, so I will sign off here and enjoy the ease at which we currently operate.

A Clean Life Touchpoints

A touchpoint is the moment when a person interfaces with your product. This can occur before, during, or after a transaction. In the case of the internet it can occur on your own site or any number of other secondary sites.

In the world of customer service touchpoints are intensely important. They can often define a customer’s first impression of the the product and cause them to become immediately loyal or offended. For this reason it is important to know and understand all the ways a person can interact with your product.

For A Clean Life I approach touchpoints like a business would to enjoy the dogged determination, but also keep things open and collaborative. After all it is more important to get others involved and understanding the mission than it is to sell something. Further I want to develop trust that can lead to curiosity and eventually growth.

Possibly three of the hardest things to cultivate!

No matter, doggedeness shines through and here are two new touchpoints for y’all.

Email – Weekly Newsletter

I actually like subscribing to email newsletters. To me my inbox represents a private space where I can closely monitor whatever I’m obsessed with. For a broader perspective I move out into the social web and patrol Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.

weekly newsletter mail chimp a clean lifeFor my weekly newsletter I tried to recreate what I enjoy in newsletters. Not a lot of flash or pictures just compelling stories, easy to read, and well placed links to the content. This way you can easily browse and click to the site for more.

I hope I have accomplished something clean and simple with the newsletter. You can preview it with the screenshot at the right.

Feel free to sign up (the registration box is at the top of every page). Let me know about any tweaks or suggestions.

Facebook Fan Page

The Facebook fan page has been around for a while but only recently caught fire. More and more of the incoming readers are coming from Facebook. This is partially due to an ad I placed (pic at below, right). It is working fairly well and so far has cost me nothing (coupons!).

facebook ad for a clean life ninja locavoreMore importantly it allows folks to “Like” the fan page allowing me to create an ongoing relationship with new folks. Maybe it will also introduce existing members to new like-minded individuals.

There is also a new Facebook widget on the right of every page now. Where folks can “like” right from the site and gives the rest of us a fun view of everyone’s profile pics.

These are the newest touchpoints for A Clean Life. I hope you like them and thanks for all the support.

PS – because you read all the way to the bottom and because I love stats, here is a screenshot of my stats for running this ad:

stats for facebook ad dollars cost clicks actions

A Clean Life Internships: Beat Writers

A Clean Life is seeking out three writers to help push our message.

The role involves writing seven posts a week. Write about what you’re passionate about or take assignments. The articles can be short news stories, long-ish research reports, and in-between. Topics can be as broad as you choose, catered to your writing style, with a particular focus on topics like local foods, farmers markets, zero waste, fighting obesity, and saving the planet. Additionally, promote the articles on the various social networks.

Learn how to write on a professional blogging platform (metrics, real-time publishing, web 2.0, multimedia, online ads, etc.). Add valuable writing, communications, and social media experience to your resume.

Make a difference.

To learn more contact: steve@acleanlife.org

Note: this is an unpaid volunteer internship, hours per week required 7 or less, can work from anywhere.

photo courtesy of novecentino

A Clean Life Weekly Newsletter – Googlizer

Wow another week has passed in our clean lives. In looking back at the last newsletter I realized how quickly my operations are going, and that is great. The first goal in starting this business was to move extremely fast.

California State Route 1
California State Route 1 by goodrob13
I have quickly learned the lay of the land here in Southern California through field visits to business and in working with family and friends. The short and dirty of the sentiment is that everyone is extremely supportive but no one is doing anything. What!?

Southern California has a big city mentality of being too busy and expecting someone else to tell them when to reduce their waste. It’s kind of embarrassing the lack of social consciousness so many exhibit. With millions of people living in this area I have my work cut out for me.

Which means I’m hitting the mattresses and going back to my roots, grassroots building that is. I’m starting to formulate a 6 month strategy to raise that social consciousness and will even begin completely rewriting our corporate strategic plan to reflect this.

In other news, on Thursday my housemates (brothers, parents) put out our landfill can for the trashmen with it being only 1/3 full. Amazing! In one week we have already massively reduced our waste output. In fact, this reduction is without any of us changing our shopping habits instead just getting better at recycling and introducing composting into our household.

So, I have laid out a new goal for us….to become the first Southern California zero waste household!

All right well there is so much more going on, but for now I’ll end with our next fundraiser. It’s going to be July 12 from 4-6pm at Eastwinds in Huntington Beach. Save the date!



A Clean Life Weekly Newsletter – Getting My Feet Wet

I don’t know about you but the big question on my mind is…

Just what are you doing now?

Most of you probably know that I recently relocated to Southern California from Washington DC. It was an amazing trip home with Amy Senger (aka the Bear). She got me home safe and in love (with her, but that’s another story).

Getting home was the easy part. Now it’s ‘game time’ for me to start building momentum for the causes of A Clean Life. In that regard I am systematically building up my new network, developing leads, and learning this new environment. My first visits were:

Whole Foods (long beach and tustin)
REI (huntington beach)
Costco (tustin)
Mother’s Market (hb and irvine)
American Apparel (hb)

At each one I have learned about their current processes, received a point of contact for the ‘green’ operations, and gone about setting up a follow-up to meeting. The goal is to help each operation expand what they can do or share their leadership with others in the community (i.e. creating local business clubs).

I have also been helping my new roommates (my brothers and parents) learn just what this is all about. I have made sure to be home from 4-8pm when they are arriving home. We chat and talk about our day. These moments are perfect ‘lifestyle change points’ because it gives me chance to catch them during their daily routines and help/ask them to modify the habit. Its only been 4 days but so far its working. Just today my Dad came home excited about ‘reusing’ some bags.

I am very proud of them and also very patient. I know that it will take time. Though, I do know that once I get my home base set-up as a foundation I can quickly spread this to other households.

On another front I am proud to announce the mentorship of Spencer Mandzik. He is the Vice President of this non-profit and has started picking up duties. We make a good team so far and I think he is picking this business up fast. I do love teaching and helping others (especially my brother) and its also nice to have a ‘partner in crime’, so thanks Spence for…well, being you!

Ok, well time to wrap it up. Some movings and shakings in our clean lives are:

  • Sunday Dunch at the Mandzik Lodge (1-4pm, this Sunday, June 7)
  • SouthCali Launch Party at Eastwinds HB (Early July)
  • Executive Cocktail Hour at <location needed> (late July)
  • After Hours Party at Eastwinds HB (early August)

Message from a Concerned Member of the World

Poster: Spence

Who’s this?: your friend.

What is this?: my first post, also ->

(in Commemoration of the First Official Day of this Organization)

Hello anyone who is witness to this text, and Hello to any future readers who will read this post.  I have given an in-advance greeting in order to make an instant connection with you. YOU! Do you feel the love? See, now we already have the connection that I wanted, or at least I wish we do. Where I am going with this? Continue reading.

This disconnection between and within humans and our surrounding environment is one thing I would like to address.  I feel that we are losing touch with the things that matter, and we are being distracted by the material things that absorb our world. These things called possessions are temporary and fleeting, that exemplify and further our lustful needs.  Everyone must have experienced this unsatisfying moment where you feel the need to keep collecting and upgrading the objects in our life.  These things might not even be necessary, where we take for granted what we have.  Health, Safety, Education, Food, Water: the simpler things that some people around the world are desperate for.  We sometimes pine for what we think we need (including myself).  To clarify, I’m not a minimalist [maybe in the future], but excess and wastefulness are illogical actions that consume my mind. Appropriately enough, the word consume applies to this non-profit.  Actually, how we consume applies to conditions of the present and future of our town, city, state, country, continent, and Earth (aka Gaia, World, Globe, Home).

Home: a place you respect and take care of.  Now, why not apply this to wherever you are? Are you at home or outside of your home for most of the day?  So then, your home is wherever  you are at that moment.  You might have a place to settle and relax, but your daily life can consist of an uncalculated amount of places and environments.  Why not make an impact wherever you go? ( socially, environmentally, physically, whatever way you see fit).  However, according to this organization, our focus is the conservation of waste. Consciously think about what you buy and minimize the excess and waste that comes from this. This is something I feel strongly about.  Make this connection again. With your neighborhood, your friends, your strangers, your path throughout the day.  We are not only members of this created and structured land, but rather guests upon a land that has existed and gloriously provided for every creature on earth.  Respect her, and minimalize the impact you have on her, because it’s our home, everywhere.

PS: Now if you didn’t read all this or just want the cliff notes, here you go:

Simplify + Condense + Minimalize + Reduce  = Happier Earth

The connection/association/importance/emphasis on the people and places you encounter will bring for a greater global community that will prove the necessity we have for each other, and appreciation of the land we inhabit.

We are now a 501(c)3

To All Fans and Supporters,

Yesterday, I submitted a tank of papers to the IRS to make our little operation official. The bulk of which was IRS form 1023, an application for tax exempt status under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. This establishes us an applicant for public charity status as a tax exempt corporation.

Meaning that we can now accept tax deductible donations. Anyone who donates money to us will receive an official receipt allowing them to claim the amount as a tax deduction.

We do have to wait a little bit to get started, though. Our tax year is set to start on May 1.

In the next few days we will be finalizing our start-up plans. Some items in the hopper are social mixers in DC and CA, online donations, and a drive to recycle old stuff (donate old stuff that we can sell online).

This is an exciting time for all of us and we hope to share that excitement with you a we get the business operations started.

Throughout all of this we are also committing ourselves to professionalism and corporate responsibility. Two of the tenets that fulfill those goals, as outlined in our operating ByLaws below, are a commitment to transparency and zero waste.

To that end, we plan on sharing with the public all that we can. Our first move is to share our corporate organizing documents.

The Organizing Documents of A Clean Life

Thanks for all the support from everyone. This is a very important milestone and we are very excited!


Founders Note

For the very first post of this blog, which is also the mouthpiece for the nonprofit, A Clean Life, I thought it would be nice to write a little note about why I am doing this.

As an introduction…my name is Steven Mandzik and I want to be a trashman.  I am here with a simple vision:

Stretch your horizons, my son, for it is a big world of possibilities open to you, by Kreyten on Flickr
Stretch your horizons, my son, for it is a big world of possibilities open to you, by Kreyten on Flickr

I want to change the way America deals with trash.

I believe we have a true opportunity to effect change over the next few years. I pledge myself to this vision. Further, I believe in transparency, local communities, and using capitalism to lead to sustainability.

In the most succinct way that is what A Clean Life is about.

Why am I here?

Let’s switch gears now. A brief bit about me to explain why I’m here.

As those who know me can testify I’m somewhat restless by nature. This agitation has led me down many roads and many career paths. Each one seemingly more opposite from the previous one. I have worked in several fields (gaming, education, intelligence, technology, website production) and nurtured multiple educational interests (psychology, teaching, law).

Each one of those started out as a hobby of mine that grew into a career goal. I do love turning my passions into productive endeavors.

Now, I’m onto my next hobby, very personal one, trash.


You know I can’t always explain where my hobbies come from. I mean of all things for someone to latch onto, why trash?

I dunno, but, I do have a ringing memory. One of those that just keeps coming back into my vision and guides/haunts me.

The memory is from the autumn of 2001. I had just graduated from UCLA and was searching for my “true calling”. Failing miserably, of course, but I happened into the library one day. I left with nothing except a silly brochure on recycling. Or so I thought.

On the way home I read that brochure and it struck a chord with me. I hung it on my wall and I distinctly remember thinking to myself “this is where I start doing something”. Funny, because I had no idea what that meant, just felt it important to do.

That is where this hobby of mine all started. Everyday I would see that brochure as I left my room. It talked about the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). I spent the next 8 years of my life systematically progressing through each stage (I will save those developments for another post).


Well…here I am then. A self proclaimed trashman with a ringing memory. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of these posts. You can keep up with me more directly on twitter as @robotchampion.