A Clean Life Thanksgiving

If you remember back to the stories we learned in school then Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. This is in two specific areas thanks for the fall harvest and gratitude to others (thanks in general).

This Thanksgiving I ask you, the reader, to honor this tradition by getting into the fall harvest. Head to your local farmers market for fall harvest potatoes, vegetables, etc. Stop by your local whole foods for a free range, cage free heritage turkey.

Potatoes at the farmers market should be abundant and cheap (comment if you can’t find a market in your area). At Whole Foods you can special order a turkey (link helps you find a location). I went in and talked to the butcher, he said to estimate about 1.5 pounds per person and the price was $2.50/pound. For my family dinner of 6 people that will be about $25 for the turkey.

The benefits to doing so are numerous and powerful. Supporting a local farmer builds up our Capital foodshed and adds to a sustainable food industry. It reduces pollution in your community and in our water. It even increases you and your family’s health.

If you’ve heard me speak before you know that our current food system is one of the largest polluters in the world. It is also one of the unhealthiest (67% of all adults are overweight). Unfortunately, the alternatives to this food system (farmers markets, coops) constitute only 2% of our food system. Some studies show that if every American were to buy one item at a farmers market each week then that 2% would grow to 10% in one year. Maybe this Thanksgiving is your chance to join in.

Turkey’s are another story altogether and its not a sweet bedtime story. Most turkey’s purchased for this Thanksgiving will be obese and loaded with drugs. Their weight problems and our industrialized food system also make them sterile or unable to reproduce. They are fed an unnatural diet that kills their organs, requiring more drugs. Their cages are indoor factories where they have no room to move (rarely move their whole life) and often sit in their own bathroom stuff.

I won’t scare or bore you with any more details. But, I hope it does give you a motivation to develop a new Thanksgiving tradition this year. If you do you can join several million people around the country and the world who are doing so. In the process we are all making ourselves healthier, the planet cleaner, and creating a sustainable future for our children.

More is better?

You might find this strange but the most friction I encounter in my work with A Clean Life is through food. Folks are okay with trash and recycling. Many even entertain composting. But when it comes to food we are in scary territory.

Imagine that…more people are okay with sorting their trash than with learning about food.

I am lost on this one, but I do have a little clue. That is to question one of our basic assumptions, more is better.

I mean if you go to the market and their is a sale, that is good. You can get more food for less money. At first glance this is very simple and logical. Food is expensive, we work very hard for money, obviously we don’t want to overpay for food.

At second glance, this is not so good. And this second glance is where I zing most people. Nearly everyone can challenge organic, green, expensive food, etc, but no one and I mean no one can answer our obesity problem.

We are an overweight society. The basic assumption ‘more is better‘ is starting to haunt me. I hate seeing children, active children, that are overweight. I cannot imagine what their psyche is like (I’m very active, I’m following the rule more is better, yet I’m fat).

If childhood obesity doesn’t bother you, then maybe healthcare does. You just might live a shorter life because of obesity. You just might have to help pay the healthcare of others (through taxes) who have health problems due to obesity.

Finally, if you care at all about the environment then you should know that ‘more is better‘ is definitely bad for the environment. Honestly, if all of this extra food solved world hunger I wouldn’t make this argument. But, it does not and it will not. Solving world hunger is not about chesseburgers for 99 cents. It is about something entirely different.

You should also know that to produce so much food means we go to great lengths to exploit nature. This includes growing pigs in factories (pic), chickens in 6 inch coops (pic), and cows in manure pens. Our food is washed over with fertilizer (that is oil based) and pesticide.

The waste from fertilizer and pesticide goes into our rivers, streams, and waterways. It ruins beaches, bays, and entire ecosystems. Our factory animals are ridden with disease (so we shoot them up with antibiotics), or better yet we just fatten them up earlier in life and then turn them into food before their bodies fail (about 18 months for cows).

As with most things in life more is not always better. We are ruining our own land, fattening ourselves up, and burdening our society (taxes, healthcare, children).

So, I challenge everyone to re-think ‘more is better’. Come up with a better rule for yourself. May it be ‘less is more’ or ‘better not more’, whatever works. Perhaps, person by person we can start to transform ourselves into a fit people and through that improve our food system and our environment.

P.S. – For those of you interested in learning more from an expert. Here is a talk from Michael Pollan titled “Where does your food come from?”

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)

We’re Throwing Party!

A Clean Life has partnered up with Amy Senger of 1X57 to bring you our first charity event!

It will be on Thursday, May 21 during the happy hour of 7pm.

The location is in Washington DC, soon to be announced. In attendance will be anywhere from 100-150 interesting people.

Register now to attend!

Since it is a charity event there is a suggested donation amount of $25 that will be tax deductible (and include a receipt). Never too early to get your tax deductions..

Tell your friends and relatives 🙂

Also, we are looking for interesting people to contribute. Our needs are:

  • Sponsorships
  • Raffle Items (gift cards, cheap and expensive bottles of whisky, etc.)
  • Amateur Photographers (and videographers too)
  • Chef desserts, fresh made
  • Tech angle (twttr mash-up, live streaming, etc.)
  • Also, send any interesting ideas you may have…


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.