Reducing Food Waste- Lentil Pasta Curry Recipe!

 

The other day I found myself with overcooked lentil pasta. Instead of throwing it away, I thought how could I turn this mistake into a tasty recipe! What about a Curry?! This is by no means a traditional curry recipe, but it has all the flavors and definitely does the trick when you are still hungry and don’t want to start from scratch.

I am going to be starting a new series on my blog that talks all about the creative recipes that I make out of items that I would normally throw away!

This recipe is for a single portion!

 The mushy Lentil Pasta that

Ingredients:

Lentil Pasta

1 tablespoon of coconut butter (or 1/3 cup of coconut milk)

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of curry

1 teaspoon of masala spice

1/4 teaspoon of veggie broth paste

a pinch of salt and pepper to taste

IMG_7751.jpg

Recipe:

(I cooked this in a microwave since I don’t have a stove, but the recipe I have made it so that you can cook it on a stove)

Add the lentils, coconut butter or milk and spices into a pan on medium heat. Once it has combined add about 1/4 cup of water to thin out the mixture and the veggie broth. Continue to cook on low until desire texture.

Serve over rice and veggies! Enjoy!

 

Are Your Recyclables Actually Being Recycled?

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Those are the 3Rs that have been instilled in us since we were in elementary school. In the last 10 years, it seems like recycling has become more prominent than ever. With a high stress work environment, where people put in about 60-80 hours a week, go to school part-time to continue their studies, the last thing they want to do is come home and cook all of their meals. As a result, more and more people are relying on take-out and quick microwave meals. At the end of their meal, people are more likely to just chuck the empty containers into the recycling bin, without thinking if they will actually be recycled and what they will be turned into.

Did you know that only about 9% of our recyclables are actually recycled into new products? Since going zero waste, I have started to think about where all of the packaging is going when it comes to landfill waste, compost, and recycling. Since China’s ban on accepting the majority of our recyclables, it seems that more people are starting to question where their recyclables are going and if the recyclables are actually be recycled. Items like pizza boxes and other containers that are contaminated and can’t actually be recycled. With the introduction of single stream recycling centers, people just assume that they can recycle any material without thinking about it. If they can’t be recycled, well my recycling center will dispose of it correctly, right? Well, I just found out about 6 months ago that my local area actually burns the majority of our waste because we don’t have enough space in our landfill or dump for it all. Burning of the waste is a very common practice that admit a ton of toxins into our air that increase the amount of pollutants on our planet.

During my research on recycling policies around the United States, I found on the Lansing MI recycling policy page, that every 1,000 tons of recyclables that the city collects has helped save 14,903 trees, 6,404,606 gallons of water, 408,412 gasoline, 2,856 metric tons of greenhouse gases emissions. It is amazing to see that some cities and towns in the United States are transparent about how much of an impact our recycling efforts have been on the planet. When you try to figure out where the recyclables are going/ what they are being turned into, it seems like you get stuck in the depths of the internet with no answers.

What I have been able to figure out is that the majority of glass bottles, metal cans, and scrap metal pieces can be turned back into more glass bottles, metal cans, and metal pieces. What’s hard to figure out is what is all of that plastic being turned into it. Many companies have started to recycle plastic bottles into more plastic bottles. That being said, there isn’t a plastic bottle out there that is made entirely of recycled plastic materials. Same goes for plastic bags, plastic containers, and other pieces of plastic. Most of the time we find a sticker that says it’s made of 25% or 50% post recycled materials. Where is all of the rest of that plastic going?

I am not entirely sure. Once the recyclables are packaged, companies actually have to purchase those recyclables so they can be turned back into new products. According to China, the majority of our recyclables are actually garbage, due to contamination. The United States is working with other companies to see if they will use our recyclables to create new products. In the meantime, it looks like a ton of our recyclables just pile up in the warehouses. Even though your local state will package the recyclables, not many companies are actually purchasing them so they can be created into new products.

Recently, I have found out that a large portion of our glass isn’t actually recycled into more glass, but instead are burned to make charcoal to cover the landfill. I am still researching this issue, for another post. I am not sure which cities and towns do this/ why this has become a popular practice. All of this information has left me in a bit of a pickle. Then I think back to the 3Rs. Despite all of our best efforts to find new countries that will accept our recyclables, we need to change our mindset and figure out how to live without a ton of plastic packaging. We need to figure out what plastic is necessary and what we may be able to actually live without.

As everyone says in the Zero Waste Movement, we cannot rely on recycling as a sole solution to our environmental problem. It is also something that we will not be able to get rid of anytime soon!


Can We Travel Zero Waste?

I have talked about travel a little bit on the blog because it is my favorite hobby. I can’t imagine not traveling around the world. I am currently working on a bucket list of places I want to see in the next five years. Whether it be a 7 hour plane ride to another country, or a short car ride to the next state over. Travel is an essential for my personal growth.

Since becoming Zero Waste, I have begun to feel guilty about all my travels. Especially my most recent trip for a week long vacation in London. Many would tell me that I should just stop traveling. Too many, travel isn’t that important and isn’t something that they are interested in. I personally believe that our planet was built to explore and there are many friends and family members that I would never be able to see if I didn’t travel. What am I supposed to do? In this blog post I am going to answer two main questions. How much is the real cost of travel? What can we do to help “offset” our travel carbon footprint on this planet? I put offset into quotation marks because I believe that we can’t really offset our Co2 emission that is created during our travels. As a result, I hope to inspire more of you to pay attention to your travel carbon footprint and find some alternative ways to book your next travel adventures!

According to an article in the New York Times titled: "Flying Is Bad for the Planet. You Can Help Make It Better" by Tatiana Schlossberg, “the aviation industry accounts for 11 percent of all transportation- related emissions in the United States.” 11 percent may not seem big when you think about the grand scheme of things. That number is only going to increase as the airlines continues to add more flights onto their daily schedule. What are we supposed to do?

Driving seems like the right answer as it is lower impact and doesn’t admit as much co2 into the atmosphere right? For trips from New York to San Francisco, where your averaging about a 7 hour long plane ride, driving will take longer and use more gas. If you are thinking of traveling long distance than flying is definitely the better option. That being said, if you are planning a trip that takes less than an hour to fly too, you may want to drive or take the train. The reason being that it takes more Co2 to take off and land a plane. It’s also important to note that many shorter plane trips are usually not that full and could take less than half the Co2 emission to drive or take the train. Driving or taking the train may cost you more, but your planet will thank you.

What about offsetting your carbon emission? The main issue with “offsetting” your carbon emission is that you aren’t actually getting rid of that pollution that you just admitted into the air. I still recommend that many try and donate as much as they can to organizations who are trying to make our planet a better place for future generations. To say that it will solve your pollution problems during travel is unrealistic and completely false. So, unless you plan on walking everywhere or just staying home, there’s no way around co2 being admitted into the air.

How can we make our trips more eco-friendly and pleasant on our planet. They have energy efficient cars, why not have the same for planes? “The problem is that electric motors can’t produce enough power to get a plane off the ground, so the only alternative to regular kerosene-based aviation fuels are special kinds of biofuels.” Some biofuels can be environmentally problematic as well because it would take a huge chunk of the world’s arable land to grow enough crops to fuel all the world’s planes. Despite the name, it may not seem like the perfect solution to this serious environmental problem. So what is really? How can we make our next vacation more Zero Waste?

The truth is, that you really can’t make your travel completely Zero Waste. I am sorry to burst all of your bubbles. You can make your next vacation a little bit more environmentally friendly. Over the last year and a half I have continued to research and find new ways to help make my vacations a little bit more zero waste. Below is a short guide of some tips and tricks that I continue to follow every time I travel.

  1. Don’t Fly If You Can Take the Train or Car- I know I already mentioned this in the post. I think it’s very important that people recognize that the easiest choice may not be the most environmentally friendly one. Flying takes more carbon emission than driving or the train. Your carbon footprint only increases the shorter the flight is because there are more empty seats and it takes more fuel to take off and land than it does to fly the plane itself. Try to take flights that are sold-out and/or to very far away destinations. If it can take you less than a day by car, than it isn’t long enough to take a plane.

  2. Airline Programs to Help Offset the CO2 Emission- I know that I said you can’t really “offset” your carbon emission. That being said, I do believe that people should donate more. Offsetting is still fairly new, so not many airlines have a program where you can donate to organizations that are trying to make our planet a better place for our future generations. This does require you to spend more money. It also forces you to think about your travels a little bit more and how they may impact the overall planet. More information on offsetting your carbon emission can be found here!

  3. Longer Flights= Longer Vacations- If you are thinking about traveling to somewhere that is over 7 hours away by plane, I highly recommend staying for longer than a week. Make sure that the flight is actually worth it. You wouldn’t take a weekend getaway from New York to Australia. If you are taking some time off of work to travel, see if you can go for a few weeks or even a few months to really make it worth all the co2 emission that you have created during that flight.

  4. More Layovers= More CO2- If you are planning a trip, it may be cheaper to take connecting flights, but it is worse for the planet. Like I said before, it takes more Co2 to take off and land. If you are doing that more than twice, that means you are emitting more co2 than if you had taken one flight straight to your destination. I know that it isn’t always feasible, financially or in distance. Next time you book a trip from New York to California, rethink that layover in Cincinnati and book a direct flight- you will thank yourself and the planet!

  5. Bring Your Own Food- Not only are the plane meals usually filled with nasty ingredients, they don’t usually taste that good. Pack your own or try to eat before you leave depending on the length of the flight. This will help reduce the amount of trash you make on the flight, helping to shorten your carbon footprint that much more during your travels!

  6. Sustainable or Wastefree Airlines!- According to the Green America Today, United and US airways rank worse on a sustainability scale. This scale compared 11 airlines and explained that US Airways throws away about 1 million plastic cups every 6 hours. British Airways was not far behind, in 8th place. That being said, there are many airlines that are trying to be more mindful of their waste. Alaska airlines just recently banned all plastic straws and more airlines are trying to recycle. Do some research before booking your next flight and try to find the most sustainable fight possible that will allow you to feel better about taking your next trip!

  7. Return Freebees- When you fly, you will probably find the cheap plastic headphones, a pillow, and maybe even a blanket on your seat. Once your up in the air, tell one of the flight attendances that you don’t want them and ask them if they can reuse them for the next flight. Those free items don’t last long and aren’t worth the waste. You will be happy that you brought your own headphones, blanket, and pillow onto the flight. If you can find an airline that doesn’t provide those cheap freebies, then cotose to you and write about them in the comments below :)!

  8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up- You can think of a million reasons why you should and shouldn’t travel. You just have to figure out what is more worth it to you. I have heard a ton of zero wasters explain that they have told their family that they can’t come visit them because it is too much co2 for the planet. That may work for them, but I think that my family would kill me if I didn’t actually visit them in person. Skype is amazing, but it doesn’t replace the smells, tastes, and real moments that you get during your travels. I will continue to fly, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t label myself as zero waste. I am doing the best that I can, and I don’t want to beat myself up about the small stuff.

I hope that this article helps bring some stuff into perspective for you and help you realize that you can try your hardest to reduce your carbon emission in all areas of your life, but sometimes you just have to bit the bullet and go on the trip. Hopefully in the next five years or so, someone comes up with a new more efficient way to fly that won't cost an arm and a leg to be able to purchase. We will have to wait and see.

Work Cited and Some Helpful Articles:

https://medium.com/milena-glimbovski/there-is-hardly-one-subject-in-the-zero-waste-scene-which-is-that-controversial-9f1e1f7dbdd4

http://www.theweek.co.uk/96017/best-green-travel-ideas-environmental-sustainable-holidays

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-bad-is-air-travel-for-the-environment-51166834/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/apr/06/aviation-q-and-a

https://zerowastehome.com/2010/07/05/less-not-zero-waste-air-trave/

 

6 Step Guide To Becoming a Volunteer!

Zero Wasters aren’t just a bunch of people who carry around a mason jar full of trash. We are environmentalists who want to do whatever it takes to make our world a better place for future generations! One of the best ways to go about doing so is by volunteering! Volunteering shouldn’t be seen as a requirement, but as an enjoyable activity that will make us better people. It’s an ability to meet people and forum a community of like minded individuals. It has become a forum of medication for me that I look forward to each week.

Unfortunately, many people believe that they are too busy to get involved and make a difference. I have curated this guide to help inspire more people to find ways to volunteer and get involved in their local community!

  1. Do some Research!- If you are looking for a weekend commitment, summer camp program, or even the occasional party and event, I highly recommend googling local foundations or non-profit organizations that you are interested in. Take a look on their website and look into their volunteer program! Fill out the application or send an email to the organization and see what kind of volunteer opportunities that may have for you. Organizations and Foundations are always looking for volunteers. If you can’t volunteer for one of their events they will help you figure out what kind of volunteer opportunity would be best for you. You may believe that you are burdening them with all of your questions. As someone who has worked in the nonprofit sector, I can let you all know that the best non-profit organizations will be thrilled that you are interested in getting involved.

  2. Look Into Some Connections That Your Work May Have With Organizations- Don’t have time to volunteer on the weekends or after work? Ask around and see if your company has any connections with local organizations. When I worked for a local education foundation- we partnered with a company to host a elementary homework help program at the company. The students loved it because they got to work with super smart and successful adults. The employees loved it because they got to take a break from their work life and create amazing relationships with the students! If your work doesn't’ have anything, think about contacting some employees and local organizations and seeing if you could create something yourself.

  3. Get Your Family Involved- I started out as a volunteer because my mom got involved in a local education foundation. My sister and I would help out at local book fairs, school functions, and other events. Best of all, the money that they raised helped create more programs and activities for our local school system. Organizations love having kid volunteer and family volunteer groups because it helps them recruit more volunteers. The parents love it because they are working with their kids to help make their local community a better place!

  4. Become a Member of the Board!- This isn’t realistic for everyone, as you have to make a yearly donation of a certain amount to stay on the board. You also have to go through interviews and be a very active member of the local community. If you want to meet people, forum a team of passionate individuals, and get involved in your local community then I would highly recommend getting on a board. The board usually talks about programs, fundraising efforts, volunteer recruitment, and other aspects of the organization. It’s a great way to understand how the non-profit sector works without having the stress of trying to find a job at the organization.

  5. Any Type of Volunteering Helps!- Many of you 20-something year olds are probably asking yourself, what kind of difference are you really making. I see people on social media traveling across the world and talking about how they are really making a difference. I want to reassure you that just because you can’t go to South America, India, or any other Third World Country, doesn't mean you can’t make a difference. Your local community is a great place to get involved without having to actually go super far away. Yes, those organizations have a great impact on our overall planet. I use to work at a camp that was geared more towards children from wealthy neighborhoods. As a volunteer, I was donating my time to help teach kids ranging from 3-10 years old on the environment, nature, animals, and other aspects of the world that will help to inspire and motivate more kids to help save the planet! That camp volunteer job helped me gain about 5 years of work experience and my first job at a local education foundation!!!

  6. Gain Experience and Connections Wherever You Can!- Even though it may look like the best life ever on social media. It’s incredibly difficult and expensive to find a good organization with living accommodations and good food in another country. Not to mention, the majority of people who volunteer around the world are usually getting paid by the organization to create content for them. That being said, there is no volunteer job that is too small for our planet!

Volunteering is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life. I can’t imagine not having volunteered all my life! It’s the reason that I am a strong advocate towards the environment, animals, and my local community! Get out there, find friends in like minded individuals, and make a difference in your local community!

How to Start Your Zero Waste Journey for Only $10!!!

So many people think that it is expensive to be zero waste. Yes, I don’t believe that zero waste is for everyone. That being said, I believe that we can all be doing more than we think we can. I have created guides that will help people find zero waste essentials that are for every price point. I will attach the free zero waste essentials and the $20 dollar guide below. Today’s post is all about how to be zero waste for only $5 bucks! This is guide is great for the broke college students that want to make a difference, someone who is just getting started, or even kids who want to purchase something with their allowance.

  1. Reusable Tea Bags: Did you know that the majority of tea bags have plastic in them. This is so that the tea bags don’t break when they are in hot water. This also means that you are drinking plastic tea water. Want to still enjoy your cup of tea, I would say that loose leaf tea is the best way to go! However, the metal balls break all the time or get super rusty. I recommend checking out these reusable tea bags! The pack comes with 12 and they are all 100% cotton. They are easy to wash and will last you for many years to come!

  2. Shea Moisture African Black Soap With Butter: Did you know that soap bars are smaller and last longer than soap and shampoo bottles. This soap is filled with natural ingredients, including charcoal that help detoxify the body and shea butter to help keep your body moisturized. Best of all the packaging is made out of paper and you can bring it through TSA security without having to abide by the 3mL rule.

  3. Stainless Steel Straw Set: We can all refuse plastic straws at restaurants and parties! It’s not that difficult, especially since they have metal reusable straws that you can carry in your purse and use anywhere! Even better, this set comes with a straw cleaner to make sure that you clean your straw thoroughly before using it again!

  4. Bamboo Toothbrushes: One of the best and easiest switches that you can make to help make a difference in our environment. Once your done with it you can either chuck it in your compost or use them in your garden to label your plants.

  5. Spork Set: When it comes to going out to eat, traveling, and even attending parties and other activities, it can be difficult to refuse disposable plastic utensils. This spork set is small, compact, made out of bamboo, and you it’s a spork! I feel like a kid again anytime I use a spork! For anyone who is looking for cheap and well made bamboo utensils, here you go!

  6. Toothpaste: This toothpaste is effective, natural, and not toxic if you were to swallow it! Many ingredients such as SLS, Fluoride, and other toxic ingredients can lead to many long term health issues. Best of all it comes in a glass container that you can reuse once finished!

  7. Reusable Produce Bags and Bulk Bags: These cotton bags come in various sizes and are perfect to use for bulk items and produce from the grocery store and farmers market. They are handmade by the etsy seller and come in some amazing and fun colors! Best of all they cost less than 5 bucks for a pack of them! Next time you feel yourself going for the plastic disposable bags to hold your produce items, think again! These bags are washing machine safe and can be used for many years to come!

  8. Shampoo Bars: Shampoo Bars are the best and more natural ways to clean your hair! They will not strip your hair of their natural oils like generic shampoos full of chemicals. This shampoo bars are handmade and packaged in cardboard and paper! Like soap bars they are more convenient to fit in your bag for traveling and fit the TSA requirement because it isn’t a liquid, gel, or cream. This one in particular has tea tree oil and lavender to help clean and nourish your scalp as well as your hair!

  9. Lip Balm: Lip balms are items that not many people think about because they are so cheap and affordable at the drugstore. Since you are ingesting a little bit of it, it can’t be that toxic for you right? Wrong. Generic lip balms are filled with petroleum jelly, fragrances, and other chemicals that you don’t want to be ingesting when you put them on your lips. These lip balms are handmade with natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils! Try these out, your lips will love it!

You don’t have to purchase all of these products to be considered zero waste. However, all of these items will help you lead a more natural and eco-friendly life for very cheap! All of these products can be found on amazon and etsy, this means that you don’t have to waste a ton of gas in order to find any of these products!!! If you don’t have access to any health stores that have these products, then you are able to bring them to you!!! Yes, shipping cause a ton of carbon emission into our environment- however we aren’t perfect, we are doing the best we can do lead a more eco-friendly life!

How to Start Saving the World on Only 20 Dollars!!!!

This is a 20 dollar challenge! My last Zero Waste Beginners Guide was about how people can start this lifestyle without spending any money! Now you have started your lifestyle but, you are looking to make a bigger impact in your local community, but you don’t have a ton of money to spend on fancy safety razors, organic cotton bags, or a ton of mason jars. Here is a list of items that all cost less than 20 bucks to purchase. All of these purchases will help you to further your transition to a zero waste life.

  1. Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson- This book is revolutionary for anyone who wants to live a zero waste life. I read this book during the beginning of my transition to a more eco-friendly life. Not only did it help inspire me to make new things, try new products, and be more creative. It also helped me to

  2. J.R. Liggett Bar Shampoo- I love these shampoo bars because they are filled with natural and simple ingredients. It also cleans my hair very well and is TSA approved for travel! Unlike Lush, these shampoo bars do not have SLS in them or other controversial chemicals. You don’t have to worry about harming the plant or your health!

  3. Soap Nuts and Wool Dryer Balls- Laundry is one of the first things I tackled when it came to my zero waste lifestyle because conventional detergents and dryer sheets have a ton of chemicals in them that have been linked to cancer, mental illnesses, and other health related issues. These Soap Nuts are completely organic and natural way to clean your clothes. The dryer balls help to get rid of the static cling when drying your clothes and also cut down the drying time in half. That means you are also saving electricity and money!

  4. Produce and Bulk Bags- These produce and bulk bags are cheap, easy to clean, and are 100% organic cotton. These bags are on the pricey side of other produce bags. However, the majority of produce bags are made with polyester mesh. When the polyester mesh bags start to rip and can’t be used to hold produce anymore, they have to be thrown away. However, these organic bags can be thrown into the compost to decompose back into the earth! Pay a little bit more for our planet and invest in something that will not last a lifetime in our landfill!

  5. Schmidt Cream Deodorant- I have tried at on of different brands of cream deodorants. There is a reason why I keep coming back to Schmidt. Because it works! This cream deodorant is made with natural products, no nasty chemicals. It allows you to still sweat, whilst also doing an amazing job at covering up the nasty smells of body odor. One jar also lasts me anywhere between 6-12 months, depending on the season and how much I sweat. Best of all, it is TSA approved. That’s right! You don’t have to purchase two different deodorants anymore when you travel!  

  6. Mason Jars- What would a zero waste list be without some handy mason jars! Though you can reuse your old sauce jars. For those who have just started out, I highly recommend picking up a few bigger mason jars to fill with some of your bulk items! These big mason jars are made with sturdy glass, are cheap, and easy to clean! I have also add a link to these amazing mason jars that can be used for meals on the go! Just add your salad stuff into the jar, your dressing in the cap. When you are ready to eat, add the dressing to your salad, shake it up, and your good to go!

  7. Bamboo toothbrushes- As someone with super sensitive teeth that seemed to always be filled with cavities. Everything that my dentist seemed to recommend for me didn’t work at all. When I first heard of the zero waste lifestyle, one of the first things I purchased for myself was a bamboo toothbrush. I loved how well it cleaned my teeth. I don’t think I could ever go back to normal disposable toothbrushes ever again. This more natural alternatives are super soft, yet stiff enough to actually clean your teeth. My dentist has yet to complain or advise that I switch to a new toothbrush. Better yet, my teeth aren’t super sensitive anymore!!!

  8. Emulsion blender- Why purchase a super expensive high speed blender when you can just get a simple and cheap emulsion blender for all of your high speed blending needs! I use my emulsion blender for soups, sauces, banana ice cream, smoothies, and anything else that needs to be blended super well. Best of all, it requires very little electricity and can fit into the drawer!

You don't have to purchase all of these items, but these are just a few of my cheap and trusty items that have helped me live a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle! I hope that some of you find this inspiring and educational! I will have more lists like these for more type of items in the future! Please let me know in the comments if there are any items that I forgot on this list!!! 

Can You Be a Zero Waste Traveler?!

I have always loved to travel! I have been to Canada, Mexico, England, Italy, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, and Hungary. I even lived in Scotland for 5 months while I was studying abroad at the University of St. Andrews. These are just the countries that I have visited. I have traveled all around the United States by plane, train, and car. Needless to say I love to travel. But, can I consider myself a zero waste traveler or am I actually the most wasteful person on this planet?!

According to an article in the New York Times, “ One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year, the average European, 10.” This is a ton of carbon dioxide that is polluting our environment. What is one to do? Stop traveling?

I can’t imagine my life without travel. I currently have dreams to visit India, Thailand, Vietnam, France, Iceland, and so many other countries that not traveling isn’t an option. So, I try my best to find other ways to help reduce my overall waste. I try to only support local farms as much as I can, even when I am traveling, I bring my own food onto the plane for meals, and I only purchase “souvenirs” that people will actually use. But, what about all the waste that you may end up producing. What if I forget or don’t have enough time to make my own food- forcing myself to eat what’s on the plane? What if I can’t find any local farms while traveling that are within my budget? All of these what if’s are terrifying for many zero wasters who want to travel.

Try To Do The Best You Can!

Just because you aren’t in your house doesn’t mean that zero waste goes out the door. But also don’t beat yourself up if you get hungry and you end up eating the airplane food. If you have any dietary restrictions- just make sure to make it clear on your ticket before you get on the plane. This trash could have been avoided, yes, but don’t beat yourself up because no one is ever perfect. Many times the waste is out of our hands. If you visit countries like India that don’t have clean tap water, your only option is to drink bottled water. This usually comes in plastic water bottles and there is nothing we can do to avoid it. Even many of the high tech filters still wont extract many of the bacteria that is found in the tap water. Just be safe and drink the bottled water that many times has been imported from other countries in Europe. At the end of the day, we have to focus on trying our best and forgetting the rest.

Always Bring Food With You To The Airport!

Airport food usually sucks and is super expensive. Pack your own oatmeal that you can add hot water to when you get on the airplane. I have even packed some potatoes and veggies to eat for dinner before or during my flight. You can bring pretty much anything onto the plane- with the exception of fresh fruit to many countries- just as long as it isn’t a liquid or a gel. This means avocado, already made oatmeal, nut milks, maple syrup, honey, and other foods that have a gel and creamy like texture. This allows you to eat healthy, cheap, and plastic free whilst you are traveling!

Bring A Empty Water Bottle through TSA And Fill Up At The Gate!

I can’t not live without my empty water bottle. It is a simple and easy thing to do as soon as you pass through security. If you are going to a country with unsafe drinking water, then I would leave the water bottle at home and just grab a big one from the gate. I also keep a few tea bags with me and an empty travel mug with me to make some hot tea wherever I go. I love hot tea whilst I am flying, it really helps me to relax and sleep while I am on any red eye flight! Just make sure that there is no water in it before you go through security.

Shampoo And Soap Bars!

The Zero Waste lifestyle is the perfect Minimalist lifestyle because it allows you to pack all of your items into a small carry-on suitcase or backpack! Instead of trying to fit liquid shampoo and soap into your little plastic baggie, just opt for the shampoo and soap bars! For any liquid face oil or essential oils- I keep them in the same plastic baggie that I have been using for years. It doesn’t stay close all the time, but I just make sure that it is when I pass through security. A few times my bags have had to be checked again, but it’s not a problem.

Essential Oils!

Ever feel nauseous, get a headache, or that stubborn pimple? Essential oils are your best friends on flights. Bring some tea tree oil as an antibacterial after using the bathroom or to wipe down your seat before sitting down. Peppermint for that stubborn headache or nausea when you are on the plane. I also have some that are super helpful for I get really bad stomach aches. My current favorites are Lavender and Clary Sage for when I have to get a few hours of sleep on any red eye flights!

Bring a Disposable Razor!

Yes, I know this may sound a bit odd but if you are a women that is going somewhere warm and you want to carry on your suitcase, bring a disposable razor. I have thought about just bringing my metal one, but it is more likely to be flagged during security because it is bigger and made out of more metal than a disposable razor. I have never been caught with a disposable one, doesn’t matter what country I am going to. I have heard of quite a few people that have been forced to throw away their safety razor. Save your money and just have on disposable razor for any trips that you end up going on!

Bring tooth powders and facial powders!

Try to bring as many powders as you can to help limit the amount of liquids and creams that end up having to go into a plastic bag if you are carrying-on your bag. It is also just way more convenient to carry around with you wherever you go. I have some recipes for my tooth powders and facial powders on my blog.

Refuse What You Can On The Plane

Refuse the single use plastic cups, the headphones, the pillows, and even the blanket by bringing your own! This doesn’t always happen, especially if your carry-on isn’t that big. But, your own pillow and blanket will be a lifesaver for red eyes, since the blankets aren’t usually that comfortable. By refusing all the disposable items, the food that is packaged in a ton of plastic and non-recyclable materials. This will do a ton more than not flying to a different state or country on our planet. Even though carbon dioxide is very harmful to our environment. By continuing to use disposable items that pollute our environment by creating more greenhouse gases and filling our land with a ton of trash that will never decompose. By following these steps, we can help limit our carbon footprint on our planet more than just refusing to fly the world! However, at the end of the day, we need to focus on what we can and can’t do. We can’t stress ourselves out for the mistakes that we make!

For more tips and tricks I highly recommend checking out Emilia from The Girl Gone Green who traveled around Asia for a few months. Emilia is a well known zero waste activist who gave a Ted Talk on how to live a more eco-friendly, sustainable, and zero waste life. However, during her trips to Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and various other countries- she found that she couldn’t live the “perfect” zero waste life that her audience had presumed she lived all the time. Instead of forcing herself to only show the “perfect” aspects of her travels, she revealed the hard issues and the amount of trash that she produced whilst traveling. This allowed for many to realize that the majority of the world can’t be zero waste because of the amount of health issues that occur if you eat and drink any of the fresh food and water in that country.

At the end of the day, no one is perfect all the time. If you believe that I shouldn’t be traveling than that is fine. I try to limit my travels by car. Instead, I opt to take the plane or the train when I can, because those two modes of transportation are always running. If I didn’t take that seat, then someone else would. When it comes to a car, you are the one who has decided to do the traveling to a different state, city, or even down the street to visit someone, go to the grocery store, or to your job.  

 

Free Zero Waste Staples!!!

According to Instagram- Zero Wasters have to have a ton of mason jars, bamboo bowls and utensils, glass containers, cotton handkerchiefs and napkins, and a bunch of other zero waste products that are really expensive. You don’t have to own anything of these things to actually be zero waste. Zero waste is a mindset and a lifestyle. If all you do is carry around a reusable water bottle or pick up plastic at the beach, you are still just as zero waste as the person who has the perfect instagram zero waste feed. So, why spend money on items that you already own?

When many find the zero waste lifestyle, they want to live the perfect instagram worthy lifestyle. But, they already own a ton of plastic containers, old rags, old produce bags, bowls, plates, utensils, old rags, cloth napkins, and towels. Not to mention that you can reuse many of the old tomato sauce and spice jars. Why get rid of these items just because they don’t fit the “perfect mold”? Even if these items may not be the most Instagram worthy, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful. The first rule of the zero waste lifestyle is not to throw anything away that you can use!

These items are all free and things that you probably have around the house that will help you take the first steps to your zero waste journey!

Old Sauce and Spice Jars

Whenever we go shopping and grab some tomato sauce or spices we usually will chuck the glass jar into the recycling- or worse the garbage. I have decided to clean them up and start storing my bulk items, granola, plant based milks, and even leftovers from restaurants into them. Why toss something away when you technically paid for it to just to end up purchasing mason jars from the store. Save your time, money, and resources and just reuse what you already have! I also give these to other people who are looking for more glass jars but don’t purchase tomato sauce and other items that come in glass jars that often.

Use the Bags that You Are Given at Parties and Events

So many zero waste bloggers talk about these amazing white organic cotton produce bags. Guess what, I don’t own any white organic cotton produce bags. They are expensive and I already own bags that I use on a regular basis. Yes, some of them are plastic, but hey I helping them from ending up in our oceans and the landfill. I may end up purchasing some of those organic cotton bags when my current ones ripe, tear, or just can’t hold anything anymore. For now, I have continued to use what I already own and save my money on more important things!

Plastic Containers

Unless you are just moving out of your parents house and don’t have any plastic containers, I find it hard to believe that people don’t have perfectly good plastic containers that they can hold take out food and leftovers in. Many zero wasters tell their followers to donate their old containers and then replace them with more sustainable options like glass and rubber. The majority of those containers will probably never get purchased from Goodwill, so unless you're dropping them off at a homeless shelter- which many don’t accept plastic containers. I think it’s better to just use those containers until they break and then begin replacing them with more natural alternatives! If you are worried about the plastic chemicals leaching into your food, just heat it up on the stove or oven before eating it.

Old Rags and Towels Make Perfect Natural Alternatives to Paper Towels!

Forget about purchasing organic cotton napkins and handkerchiefs- use what you already own! I have a bunch of old towels and rags that I have specially for cleaning up messes. They work just as well as paper towels and I just chuck them into the laundry to be washed and used again! I am not sure what nutshell invented paper towels and why they are such a large part of our society today. When you stop using them, you release that they aren’t necessary at all. Our grandparents and our parents all grew up using old rags to clean the counter and floor with. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! I have also turned a few of my old tee shirts into rags to clean messes with so I can give them a new life!

Bring Your Metal Utensils With You Wherever You Go

Many zero waste bloggers, like myself, constantly carry around bamboo utensils that are lightweight and great for travel- especially when you are going on a plane. As your metal utensils may send off a red flag at TSA. If you are going to the office, out to eat, a friends house, or anywhere else where the TSA won't be, take your metal utensils wrapped around a cloth napkin! This will help you reduce your waste whilst on the go, stop you from having to use single use plastic utensils, and better yet, will make you feel better about investing a little extra money on a special meal for yourself. You already own a bunch of metal utensils in your house- so why not take a few with you on the go!

The Main Street Zero Waster

I have just finished the book Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran. Moran is a long time vegan who has helped coach and educate others about the various ethical and health issues concerning the meat, dairy, and egg industry. The book is filled with amazing chapters and easy recipes such as Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vegan Mac and Cheese, and even Chocolate Cake. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too on a vegan diet. This helps others understand that this “extreme lifestyle” is easy, convenient, and better for us in the long term.

In this article I will be taking many of her main principles to the next level. Both the Zero Waste and Vegan lifestyle are focused on trying to live a compassionate and healthy lifestyle. We cannot live a compassionate zero waste lifestyle while continuing to eat meat, dairy, and eggs that come from factory farms. The reason being that factory farms are detrimental to our environment, the health of animals, and do play are large part in the issue of climate change. We can’t live a compassionate vegan lifestyle while continuing to purchase processed food that come in plastic packaging that will end up hurting millions of animals in our oceans. Unfortunately, Moran doesn’t talk a ton about the zero waste lifestyle and doesn’t refer to the lifestyle when it comes to the issue of plastic packaging.

In one of her chapters Moran does touch on the issue of plastic packaging in our oceans. Especially since millions of sea animals are hurt or killed by the plastic in our oceans. This is very important to understand when it comes to learning about the Vegan lifestyle. Especially since millions of people on Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms continue to advice many of their followers to purchase products that come in disposable packaging that could cause more harm to our animals and planet. However, I don’t believe it should stop with this chapter. I have decided to divide this article into various sections that I hope will inspire and educate more to look at both lifestyles when they are trying to live a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. That being said, in this article I will be focusing on the zero waste lifestyle. Read The Main Street Vegan, if you want to learn more about how to live a more compassionate vegan lifestyle.

(Side Note: I am not explaining that to be Vegan you must be Zero Waste or vise versa. You can do whatever you want. However, I believe it’s important to research both lifestyles when it comes to living a more compassionate and health lifestyle).

Who Is The Main Street Zero Waster?!

When you Google the term Zero Waste it looks like the lifestyle is only for those who are under 30, single, and live in their own apartment or house that they have 100% control over. That is not the reality for many around the US. It can be tough to live a perfect zero waste lifestyle, especially if you live with others who don’t want to reduce their waste. It can also be a sore spot for people because they believe that their family won't understand or respect their decision. Many people will actually “quite” the zero waste lifestyle because they can’t dedicate enough time to being the perfect zero waste. These are some of the main issues that the majority of people encounter when it comes to living a zero waste life. That being said, I believe that like the vegan lifestyle, the zero waste lifestyle isn’t as complicated as many believe. There are also a ton of sub sections to the lifestyle that many don’t understand or realize when they label themselves zero waste.

Many, like myself, probably came to the lifestyle from women like Bea Johnson or Lauren Singer who have successfully made the term zero waste trendy. But, I want you to think about how our ancestors grew up. Even take some suggestions from your grandparents, who probably still do many of the “trendy” zero waste tricks. When I first started my journey, I took some notes from my grandparents and parents who have been raised on cooking dried beans, making pasta from scratch, and even using vinegar, lemon, and water as their multi-purpose cleaner. It’s important to note that I do live with 3 non-vegans and non-zero wasters. Needless to say, I can’t control everything in my house. I think it’s important for everyone to recognize that I do have control over the choices I make.

I make all my own meals, except when my mom cooks dinner or the rare occasions that I am forced to get take-out. I make my own cleaning products that I use in my room and bathroom. I also use bar soaps to wash my hands, face, and body, essential oils to help cure my acne, scars, and bug bites, and even old rags as tissues. These are all things that I can control and also help reduce the amount of waste that I produce on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. These changes have also helped inspire more people in my life to start looking at their waste with a more critical eye. I would also to point out that I still produce trash and I am okay with that.

I call myself a Main Street Zero Waster because I talk more about the waste I do produce, instead of limiting myself to the waste I don’t produce. I share my “mistakes” and explain how you can be a zero waster, a vegan, and any other label that helps define who you are, even if you live with people who may have different beliefs to you. I believe that this is important for people to recognize when they are first starting their zero waste journey. I will always be a zero waster, even if people bash me for purchasing products in plastic packaging, because it’s impossible for me to be the perfect zero waste.

The Different Subsections of the Zero Waste Lifestyle

Just like the vegan lifestyle. There are many different subsections of the zero waste lifestyle. In the vegan community, there are junk food vegans, raw vegans, high carb low fat vegans, high fat vegans, high protein vegans, paleo vegans, keto vegans, vegans who only eat local food, vegans who don’t believe in having pets, and even vegans who don’t believe we should have children. Within the zero waste movement there are people who label themselves as less waste, low waste, waste free, no waste, and most recently low impact. All of these labels are different and also very similar. It’s interesting to find that people within all these circles have embraced and inspired more to help create less pollution, water waste, and more education around the various environmental issues and how we can help save our planet!

In the zero waste movement, I believe I am a Zero Waster who does the best they can. I will continue to travel, purchase food that has traveled by trains, planes, and ships to come to my local grocery store, drive a car even if it takes a bunch of gas to bring me to and from work, and other areas of my life that people deem to be too wasteful to live a zero waste life. I am doing the best that I can. If I could purchase a hybrid or fully electric car, I would. If I could only purchase my food from local farmers or farmers markets, I would. Just because I don’t have these items, doesn’t make me any less of a zero waster.

Sure, there are many people you will see out there that say if you still purchase items in plastic packaging that you aren’t a zero waster. If you don’t boycott this company then you aren’t zero waste because they still use palm oil in their products. Some people even say if you aren’t vegan than you aren’t zero waste. It’s a crazy world that we live in. However, no one can label you. If you identify as a zero waster, then you are a zero waster. Many people who identify as vegan may accidentally eat meat, dairy, or even eggs if they didn’t know that the item had meat, dairy, or even egg in it. There is no such thing as perfection.

Are we Perfect?

I would like to go back to the theme of Main Street Vegan, which is living a life full of compassion for our planet. Factory farms is the largest contributing factor to climate change and greenhouse gases. By becoming a vegan, many are fighting against various factory farms and explaining how detrimental they are to the animals, our society, and our planet. HOwever, they continue purchase items that come in non-recyclable packaging and could end up in our oceans killing various animals, or in the landfill that takes away a ton of land from our animals. They may even continue to support companies that use palm oil in their ingredients. Palm oil is one of the largest contributing factors to forest fires and deforestation. Just because they are vegan, doesn’t mean they don’t kill any animals on our planet or purchase items that will contributing to the killing of animals. They are doing the best that they can by not eating any of the animals that come from factory farms. Now, I am not demoralizing the vegan movement, but rather humanizing it for many who continue to try and live a “perfect” life. Sorry guys, but it just can’t happen.

Even Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, two of the main pioneers of the zero waste movement still eat, dairy, meat, eggs, and seafood that could be coming from various factory farms around the United States and the world. Even if they are able to fit their trash into a mason jar, they could still be contributing to factory farming and other aspects of our culture that are detrimental to our environment. However, these aren’t areas that many talk about. When it comes to zero waste, like veganism, people focus on whether or not that they fit within the set guidelines that the media has set up for everyone. Well, how come they are better than me, just because they don’t produce any trash. The truth is that they aren’t.

No matter how difficult it may seem to be, there is no such thing as perfection. Even the people who are deemed to live the most "perfect" lives all over social media have their struggles and issues. To say that all zero wasters live a perfect life of zero trash is completely 100% false. It's also important to note that. no one but your can label yourself as a zero waster. So no one can tell you that you aren’t a zero waster. I love that I am able to continue make more changes within my own life that help reduce my overall footprint. I hope you all decide to read The Main Street Vegan, especially if you want to live a healthier and more compassionate life!

 

 

Fast Fashion And Grassroots Solutions - The Palette Couch Manifeston

By Sage Territo

The Impact of Fast Fashion

Introduction

The modern fashion industry is extremely harmful to the environment and garment industry workers. The Fast fashion facilitates a linear economy as opposed to a more sustainable circular economy. Garment industry laborers face poor working conditions and low wages. Clothing is manufactured using hazardous chemicals and synthetic fabric to create low quality disposable clothing. In the United States, this clothing is often thrown away or sent to be sold second hand overseas . However, this research solely focuses on the environmental impacts and the economy that enables the fast fashion industry. A purposed grassroots solution to this problem is the manufacturing of products from used clothing. Some companies have recycled textiles to create products such as insulations. However, not everyone has access to textile recycling programs, especially college students. Furthermore, students buy furniture manufactured in an unsustainable way. The creation of a couch out of recycled materials will allow college students, and anyone else in the market for a cheap eco-friendly couch, the ability to intervene with a solution to the negative cycle of the fast fashion industry.

Linear versus Circular economy

Environmental movements have begun to challenge the economy that fosters pollution and consequently global warming. The linear consumer economy is being questioned while a circular economic model is being proposed. A circular economy is an “industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.” It replaces disposable culture with concepts of , “restoration [and] shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminating the use of toxic chemicals...[ the circular economy] aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems and business models.” [1] Contrarily a linear economy is based on production, consumption and disposal, this is the system fast fashion operates under. “The increased volumes of clothing being made, sold, and thrown away magnifies the human and environmental costs of our clothes at every stage of their life cycle.” [2] This economy has become popular by the fast fashion industry and its ability to create large quantities of clothing for cheap and affordable prices.

Fast Fashion

Tasha Lewis, a professor at Cornell University's Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design points out that fashion used to be organized into four seasons a year, but has now grown to be about 11 to 15 seasons. “Around 80 billion garments are produced worldwide, the equivalent of just over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet.” [2] According to financial holding company CIT, the most popular fast fashion retailers grew “ 9.7 percent per year over the last five years, topping the 6.8 percent of growth of traditional apparel companies.” [4]

Chemicals and Synthetic Materials

Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE’s) are surfactants (dyes/ industrial detergents) found in 89 of 141 pieces of clothing tested in a case study.[2] The production of NPE’s results in the byproduct Nonylphenol (NP). According the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NP is “persistent in the aquatic environment, moderately bioaccumulative, and extremely toxic to aquatic organisms.”. NP is also released into local waterways when consumers wash clothing in washing machines. Furthermore, when clothing is thrown away the NP’s leach into groundwater, introducing toxins to marine life and drinking water. Phthalates are a chemical present in most clothing with prints. “There are substantial concerns about the toxicity of phthalates to wildlife and humans. For example, DEHP, one of the most widely [used phthalates], is known to be toxic to reproductive development in mammals.” [2] Phthalates, like NP’s are released when clothing is cleaned in a washing machine and when it is disposed of in a dump. Some biodegradable chemicals used in the production of clothing are still toxic in some regards. Benzyl benzoate “has been classified as toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.” [2] “The most commonly found chemicals were alkanes, with one or more of these substances found in 59 of the 63 items tested; some kinds of alkanes can have toxicological effects, although alkanes are biodegradable.” [2] Natural materials, are more expensive in their production, so in order to support the broken system of modern day fashion these chemicals are consistently used. These chemicals disproportionately harm female Garment Industry workers in industrial hubs such as Bangladesh. Studies have shown that general health of women is impaired by garment industry working conditions. Pratima Paul-Majumder, author of “Health Impact of Women's Wage Employment: A Case Study of the Garment Industry of Bangladesh” has done extensive research on this topic. According to her, “The garment workers are vulnerable to these illnesses en masse since they have to continuously inhale toxic substances emitted from chemicals used in dyeing fabric, dust and small particles of fibre.” This situation is made worse by the expectation that workers that have cough, cold and fever. This leads to the spread of disease in factories. Incessant cold and fevers sometimes lead to asthma.

Disposal of Clothing

"We don't necessarily have the ability to handle the disposal," Tasha Lewis explains, "The rate of disposal is not keeping up with the availability of places to put everything that we're getting rid of and that's the problem." According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, 12.8 million tons of this waste was discarded. [4] As mentioned in Chemicals and Synthetic Materials, when disposed of clothing made of synthetic material will leach chemicals into groundwater.

Furniture Production

Much like clothing, couches are often produced using chemicals. In the case of commercially manufactured couches, flame retardant coats the exterior. According to Time Magazine, “The half life of some of these chemicals is five to seven years, meaning it takes that amount of time for the concentration of that chemical in your body to fall by 50 percent...and studies have shown that 90 percent of the American population has these flame retardant chemicals in their bodies.” The disposal of these items, like with clothing, leads to chemicals leaching into groundwater.

Recycled Couch

The Recycled couch project is a grassroots solution to the disposal of textiles specifically on college campuses. Instead of disposing of clothing, thus allowing it to leach toxins into groundwater, I am encouraging students to give this fabric a second life and support a circular economy. This project proposes an alternative to purchasing dorm furniture. Furniture is often

unsustainably produced and harmful to the environment when disposed of. By addressing the

issue of clothing disposal (which is encouraged by fast fashion) and the unsustainable practices

of furniture production, this project will be intervening at both ends of the linear economy in order to create a closed loop. This project is also specific to college students who often have the

resources and facilities to do projects of this nature. Students can gather damaged clothing from

“free piles”, as well as collecting from friends and peers. Palettes can be found at most loading

docks by dining halls and grocery stores.

Sources

[1]From linear to circular—Accelerating a proven concept, World Economic Forum, <http:// reports.weforum.org/toward-the-circular-economy-accelerating-the-scale-up-across-global- supply-chains/from-linear-to-circular-accelerating-a-proven-concept/>

[2]Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up , Greenpeace International <https://

storage.googleapis.com/p4-production-content/international/wp-content/uploads/

2012/11/317d2d47-toxicthreads01.pdf>

[3] Risk Management for Nonylphenol and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates, EPA<https://

www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-management-nonylphenol- and-nonylphenol-ethoxylates>

[4] ZHAI YUN TAN (April 10, 2016). What Happens When Fashion Becomes Fast, Disposables

And Cheap? NPR, <https://www.npr.org/2016/04/08/473513620/what-happens-when-fashion-

becomes-fast-disposable-and-cheap>

[5] Markham Heid (August 24, 2016) You Asked: Can My Couch Give Me Cancer? Time

<http://time.com/4462892/couch-cancer-flame-retardants/>

[6]Howdeshell KL, Wilson VS, Furr J, Lambright CR, Rider CV, Blystone CR, Hotchkiss AK &

Gray Jr LE (2008). A mixture of five phthalate esters inhibits fetal testicular testosterone

production in the Sprague Dawley rat in a cumulative dose additive manner. Toxicol. Sci. 105:

153–165

[7] Grande SW, Andrade AJ, Talsness CE, Grote K & Chahoud I (2006).

A dose–response study following in utero and lactational exposure to di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate:

effects on female rat reproductive development. Toxicol. Sci. 91: 247–254

[8] Gray Jr LE, Laskey J & Ostby J (2006). Chronic di-n-butyl phthalate exposure in rats reduces

fertility and alters ovarian function during pregnancy in female Long Evans hooded rats. Toxicol.

Sci. 93: 189–195

[9] Towards the Circular Economy 1 and 2, 2012 and 2013, Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

[10] Pratima Paul-Majumder, Health Impact of Women's Wage Employment: A Case Study of the

Garment Industry of Bangladesh (Bangladesh Development Studies, March-June 1996)

 

How to Make a Palette Couch

Figure 1

Cut Palette in Half

Figure 2

1-Drill 3 holes ( larger than your screw) diagonally in area indicated with circle. Make sure these

will allow the screw to line up with Side B. Do not drill all the way through leave about an inch

of wood depending on your screw length

Figure 3

1-Pre-drill holes for screws in Side B that align with the holes in Side A

2-Insert screws in the holes

Figure 4

1-Stretch out strapping over the top of Side B

2-Mark Strapping and wood (under Side B) where you will screw it into the wood

3-Pre-drill holes for screws in side B

4-Punch holes in Strapping to match with predrilled holes

5-Drill strapping into the bottom of the couch using washers to ensure it is secure

Figure 5

1-Get two pieces of fabric large enough to make a cushion (old sheets/tablecloths/quilt smaller

pieces of fabric

2-Put fabric inside out and sew all openings except for one

3-Fill with recycled textiles that you cut into strips

4-Sew on buttons or a zipper to close final side

5-Sew two strips of fabric to each corner of the bottom of the cushion (this will be used to tie the

cushion to the frame)

6-Repeat 1-5 as you need two cushions for this couch

Confessions of a Zero Waste Mama

By Laura from The Mindful Mama Blographer

“MAMA!”

I hear my name being called as I’m doing dishes in the kitchen.

My 2.5-year-old is sitting on the potty, and needs my help doing, well 2.5-year-old potty things.

I go in and do my mama thing, help him wash his hands, then say:

“Go into your room and get a new pull-up”.

I take the old pull-up and throw it in the trash.

Yes, you read that right.

The trash.

Yes, you are reading a zero waste article.

Yes, I consider myself a ‘zero-waster’.

Before I get any judgy comments or emails, let me explain.

When my family and I first started our zero waste journey, my son was a couple months shy of turning two. We had tried using cloth diapers when he was a newborn. For three months, every single diaper style we tried leaked and he was going through 5-8 outfits a day. After three months, I threw in the towel (pun intended), and we switched to disposables. As a new mom (and dad) with a newborn, leaky diapers were just one extra thing we felt we didn’t have the energy to allocate. Despite how wasteful we both know disposable diapers are, it just made our lives a whole lot less stressful and easier. When it comes to having a newborn less stress definitely trumps zero waste.


Once we started adopting more zero waste ways, the thought of making the switch to reusable diapers when we (hopefully) would be starting the potty-training process in the very near future seemed more trouble than it’s worth. Do I feel guilty? Yes, a little bit. But I’ll admit, it feels good to confess and get it off my chest.

While I’m at it, here are other things we DON’T do as ‘zero wasters’:

  • We don’t buy groceries in bulk. For budgetary reasons, we shop at Aldi almost exclusively. For those who are unfamiliar with Aldi, they do not offer any type of bulk section, and most of their produce comes in some sort of packaging.

  • We have pets. Pet waste contributes to a lot of our trash. Does that mean we’re going to give up our pets? No. And while there are some sustainable pet waste supplies, they are super expensive and not in our budget right now.

  • We sometimes buy take-out, it is a rare occurrence, but we do. Have you ever noticed just how much trash is produced with takeout? Sure, there are restaurants in our area that serve items in compostable packaging, but we don’t always choose them.

So why has this article turned into a zero waste confessional?

While my family and I have made MANY changes to our daily lives to reduce waste (in the last nine months we have reduced our trash by 25-30 lbs a week), there are still certain areas that we are working on. And, there are areas that we won’t be working on. At least not right now. The zero waste movement (as it is named) is not always appropriate for people in their current season of life, and that’s OK. I am a firm believer in doing what you can, with the resources you have right now. We are making changes wherever we can. It isn’t any one’s business how little or slowly we make these changes because it is still leaps ahead of those who aren’t doing anything!

So while I may not be able to fit my trash into a mason jar this month (maybe someday!). I will continue to throw my son’s disposable pull-up in the trash knowing that my family and I are always working towards reducing as much waste as we can.

Bio:

Laura loves all things Harry Potter, edible cookie dough, and musicals. Additionally, she is a mom, wife, nature photographer, proud Minnesotan, outdoor enthusiast, self-care advocate, and so much more. Laura blogs over at The Mindful Mom Blographer and helps others REDUCE mental clutter through mindful and intentional living, minimalism, and zero waste living.  

The Screen to My Phone Has Been Cracked for a Year and I Am Not Replacing It Anytime Soon!

That’s right. My iPhone screen has been cracked for a year. As a result, I haven’t been able to use my front camera, as it looks really blurry. When this occurred, I thought that this was the end of the world for my business. In the last year I have continued to expand my following as well as inspire and engage with more around the world! It’s also important to note that my phone case is starting to looking a little bit worn, but I still love it too much to throw it out. The old me would have replaced my iPhone and the case to the newer model as soon as it came out. Now, I am hesitant to replace my phone because it’s so freakin expensive and wasteful. Yes, have you ever realized how wasteful your camera, iphone, computer, and other gadgets you use are to the environment. It’s also important to note that many of these equipment are created in countries that have child laborers and continue to under pay their workers.

According to the EPA, e-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, less than 20 percent of unwanted cell phones are recycled each year. This is because no one really knows that your cell phone, computer, and other gadgets can be recycled! But, don’t put them in your curbside recycling bin. Unfortunately, the plastics and electronics found in our cellphones need to be separated. I recommend checking out your local Best Buy and other electronic stores to see if they have a recycling program. If they don’t, or if your electronics are still in good condition, I would sell it to places like Gamestop who professional refurbish phones and computer to resell at a cheaper price. Before you chuck your old phone to purchase the new phone that just released, I want you to ask yourself a few questions.

On Instagram, I asked my followers on Instagram if they could live without their phone, would they replace their cracked screen, would they purchase a new or used phone, and lastly if they could tell that my iphone screen was cracked and that I wasn’t able to do a ton of instagram stories. First of all, no one knew that I wasn’t doing a ton of instagram stories because my phone was cracked. This made me over the moon, and allowed me to realize that my following wasn’t hindered by the lack of instagram stories. On the other hand, I was also shocked that the majority of people said they couldn’t live without their phone. I would also like to mention that the majority of people said that they would purchase a new phone over a used phone. This made me question a ton of different aspects of our society. Why aren’t people okay with purchasing a pre-owned phone instead of a new phone?

Many Zero Wasters have begun to purchase a Pre-Owned or Certified Refurbished Phone for 100 bucks off of Amazon or Craiglist. I thought about that, but how do you know that someone didn’t fix something right or there is a malfunction in the phone that will make it die in the next year. This could result in many people spending more money than they had intended on fixing their phone. In the end, they may even end up purchasing a brand new phone. I have spent hours upon hours trying to figure out if there is another way for me to purchase a phone and computer that I am confident will work, plus have a guarantee of the company in case there are any issues.

 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a sustainable electronic company in the United States. Now, in Europe there is a phone called the Fairphone. The Fairphone is the only eco-friendly phone that is made up of recycled electronics and is as zero waste as an electronic can be. Unfortunately, this phone is exclusive to Europe, which means that no one in the states can purchase this phone. The phone is also on a big waitlist that could take up to several months to receive. This is amazing, but I live in the United States. I thought long and hard about how I could get a phone that I would feel comfortable with purchasing and that wasn’t brand new. I finally came to a solution.

Despite how wasteful Apple is, I have decided to purchase one of their refurbished iPhones and Computers when mine decides to stop working. The main reason being that I would still get their 1 year warranty and usually the refurbished iphones are extreas or phones that have been returned for an upgrade. I am saving these perfectly good iPhones from going into the garbage/landfill. However, my phone current phone still turns on, sends messages, makes phone calls, and allows me to upload pictures to Instagram. Should I go out and purchase the phone right away or wait until my phone dies?

Yes, I do wish that I could use the front camera for Instagram stories and live streams. At the same time I don’t believe those areas of my business are worth any amount of money. I will not be purchasing anything new until my current gadgets wont turn on anymore. In the meantime I am saving all of my stuff on flash drives, so that I can be prepared whenever that time comes. I am not worried about not having a computer because I already have a plan in place and I love that I don’t believe it’s the end of the world if my gadgets were to die.

I should also mention that having a cracked screen has allowed me to feel like I can live without many of these gadgets. Yes I do believe that I could only live without a computer for a few days because I love being creative and working on new articles, videos, and other content for my blog. I wouldn’t go insane if my computer were to die as I am writing this post. I have also been super careful to make sure that everything is backed-up on a weekly basis. I should also mention that I have lost all of the content of my phone, computer, and camera card countless times. The more you realize how insignificant these aspects are to our lives, the more we begin to feel more present with others and focus less on trying to be perfect.

Why Some People Believe that Recycling is a Waste of Time- The Other side of the Argument

When started my research on the other side of the Recycling Argument, all I found where articles that explained how people were either too lazy to clean the items and recycle properly or misinformed about how to recycle properly. However, I found an opinion piece in the New York times from October 2015, that explained a different story.

In the Reign of Recycling, writer John Tierney explains his reasonings for not recycling and instead throwing everything back in the trash. He starts the article with telling the reader that back in 1996 he wrote a long article for the New York Times Magazine that argued how the process of recycling is actually very wasteful. He goes onto explain that since the modern recycling movement had just begun a few years earlier, many of the defenders explained that it would flourish as the industry matured and the public learned how to recycle properly. Unfortunately, as we can tell from China’s new laws and regulations against the United State’s recycling policies, it looks like the majority of people in the United States do not actually know how to recycle properly. Even then, according to Tierney it looks like the process doesn’t limit the amount of pollution and it actually cost more to recycle than to send items straight into the landfill. These two reasons are among the many that makes people believe that recycling isn’t worth putting effort into.

He then goes onto explain that it is typically more expensive to recycle household waste than it is to send it to the landfill. This is a big statement that he doesn’t back up with any sort of article or citation. Towards the end of the article he does explain that it takes 300 dollars more to recycle something than it does to throw it into the landfill. However, he doesn’t explain if that is per item, per day, per month, or per year. He then goes onto to explain that prices for recycled materials have plummeted because of lower oil prices and reduced demand for them overseas. The slump has forced some recycling companies to shut plants and cancel plans for new technologies.

 

He also explains that politicians set higher and higher goals, when the national rate of recycling has stagnated in recent years. This is a statement that I have read in a few articles about recycling. However, it looks like more popular areas are starting to switch away from focusing on recycling, and taking part in banning plastic bags, straws, and other items that are not cost effective to recycle. He then explains that areas such as the Bronx and Houston, who are lower income, don’t have time to sort the garbage in their spare time. This implies that it takes extra time to recycle- I want to believe that he is alluding to the lack of information for residents, which is something I agree with.

As the article continues, he begins to provide more examples to help back up his big statements at the beginning. However, he also adds a few false claims to help back up his case. When he  explains that as more cities and towns moved beyond the simple paper and metal recycling system to include glass, food waste, assorted plastics, the cost rose sharply. Unfortunately, as we all know you cannot recycle food waste. Yes, you can compost it, but very few cities and towns have begun to start composting. Also, composting and recycling are not the same thing. He even brings in a statement from the Chief Executive Officer of the Waste Management in New York City David P. Steiner, “If you believe recycling is good for the planet and that we need to do more of it, then there’s a crisis to confront….Trying to turn garbage into gold cost a lot more than expected. We need to ask ourselves: What is the goal here?” I don’t know about you, but my goal has always to been to help limit the amount of new plastic that is being created and instead use whatever is being recycled. Yes it may cost more, but it is better for our overall health and the planet.

I will not continue to go paragraph by paragraph to explain everything that is wrong with this article as he continues to use the same ridiculous examples and lack of information as reasons not to recycle. However, I do believe that the main problem when it comes to recycling is that their is a ton of misinformation out there around how to recycle properly. Thus explaining how the majority of our items usually end up in the landfill. This confusion also allows people to believe that they can’t/ shouldn’t recycle.

I am not sure how much it actually cost for us to recycle and how much pollution that recycling may put into our atmosphere. I also do believe that these are still important factors in the recycling discussion, especially since the money is coming from tax payers money. Towards the end of the article he explains that our nation’s fear around the landfills is not realistic as back in 1996, he found an article that explained how all of the trash generated by Americans in the next 1,000 years would fit on one-tenth of 1 percent of the land available for grazing. To that I say, why do we have the great garbage patch or garbage island. It’s important to hear all sides when it comes to making your final decisions/stand on a particular issue. However, it’s also important to note when the information may be outdated and no longer true.

The Ever Evolving Debate Around Climate Change!

We hear a bunch about climate change, global warming, and rising sea level; but do you know what these terms actually mean? Do you know where they originated? Do you know the different opinions and sides of this particular conversation? I seriously didn’t until a couple of months ago. After talking with a friend of mine and visiting a class on biodiversity, I realized that there was a ton of information about climate change that I didn’t know about. Now, I do believe that this is an important issue; but it’s important to note that many don’t believe this is an actual issue. To many, including myself, climate change is a problem that will set back our ability to help restore the natural balance in our planet. Leading to an increase in natural disasters, rising sea level, and other issues concerning our planet.

Climate change is a change in global or regional climate patterns. More specifically, it has been a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. The popular belief is that these fossil fuels are man made and a big reason for the increase in hurricanes, wind storms, snow storms. However, many believe that climate change is natural, and there is nothing we should do to help stabilize the global and regional climate patterns because doesn't need to be stabilized. When someone says that Climate Change isn’t real, they are explaining that they don’t believe that these changes in climate patterns are an issue. (Check out more information on both sides at ProandCon.com.) This may be the less popular side of the debate, but many still believe in it.

So, why is it important to show both sides? It’s important because you will probably encounter people who don’t believe that climate change is a result of human activity- namely, the use of fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases. No matter how many times you want to yell and scream at them, it’s important to understand that change doesn't come from anger. As yourself, will all of that yelling and screaming actually make them change their mind, or just stress you out? This is especially important if you have a friend, family member, or someone else in your life that you have to be around on a daily basis. Very similar to when talking with people about Zero Waste, take a deep breath and do your research!

Did you know that the term Climate Change goes all the way back to the 1800’s. In 1896 to be specific, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius was the first to suggest that fossil fuel combustion may eventually result in enhanced global warming. Before plastic, factory farms, and oil spills had become daily news, Arrhenius had already known that the use of fossil fuels would cause severe issues for our planet. He and Thomas Chamberlin calculated that human activities could warm the earth by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This research was a by-product of research that was being conducted on whether carbon dioxide would explain the causes of the great Ice Ages. However, it has been said that this wasn't verified until 1987.

Unfortunately, after these discoveries, the topic of climate change wasn’t talked about for a long time. It was during this time that many thought that human influences were insignificant compared to natural forces, something that many still believe today. It was also believed that the oceans were great carbon sinks that they would automatically cancel out our pollution. I don’t believe that many feel like this is true anymore, however, people do deny climate change as it is seen as a natural force that we can’t do anything to prevent from occuring. Despite all of our fossil fuels imitation, it was going to occur because that’s what mother nature has planned for us.

In the 1940’s there were developments in infrared spectroscopy that measured long-wave radiation. At the time, it was proven that increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulted in more absorption and warm up the planet. It was also discovered that water vapor adsorbed totally different types of radiation than carbon dioxide. In 1955, Gilbert Plass concluded that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would actually trap the infrared radiation that was getting reflected off the earth’s surface and back out into space. In the 1950’s and early 60’s, Charles Keeling used the most modern technologies to produce concentration curves for atmospheric CO2 in Antarctica and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. These curves have become one of the major icons of global warming. They showed a downward trend of global annual temperature from the 1940’s to the 70’s. At the same time ocean sediment research revealed that there has been no less than 32 cold-warm cycles in the last 2.5 million years. As a result, many began to fear that the development of a new ice age might be near. Many believed that the media and scientists ignored the date of the 50’s and 60’s in favor of global cooling.

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In the 1980’s, it was acknowledged that the climate was warmer than any period since 1880. The greenhouse effect theory was named and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. People began to question the theory of an upcoming ice age, especially in the late 80’s when the curves began to increase so steeply that the global warming theory became headline news. Environmental NGO’s started to advocate global environmental protection to prevent further warming. This press gained an interest in the topic of global warming. However, it seems like nothing has really changed.

In the 90’s, many scientists started to question the greenhouse effect theory, because of some uncertainties in the data and model outcomes. Cooling trends were not explained by the global warming data and satellites showed completely different temperatures recorded from the initial ones. The idea began to grow that global warming models had overestimated the warming trend of the past 100 years. Currently, this idea is being widely debated by scientists, politicians, and people all around the world. That is why many don’t believe that Climate Change is an issue. What if you ask them about their thoughts on the amount of trash the produce. Would they like to limit their trash as much as they possibly can? The majority of people would think that this a good idea. Especially since many cities and towns around the United States don’t have curbside garbage or recycling.

By limiting your and others’ trash/consumption, you are not buying into capitalism, which part of what perpetuates the consumption of fossil fuels that negatively impact our planet. If you encounter someone who doesn’t know a ton about Climate Change and are wondering why people don’t believe that this is an issue, you have the research to explain the other side of the debate. You are also able to have a very well-researched debate on this issue that is more than just trying to tell them that we have to save our planet. I am not telling you to agree or believe in their point of view, or to even support it. I believe that by exploring the other side, we are more likely to have constructive conversations with people about these issues and show others that we have explored the two main sides to the argument/debate. In layman's terms, if you listen to the climate deniers/ skeptics, in return they are most likely to listen to you.

I also want to add that this will allow you to become more passionate about the topic of Climate Change. I had no idea that this term began in the 1800’s. As a result, I have continued to do more research on the scientific papers and research that had come out during that time and compare it to the type of research that is coming out today. This has allowed me to continue finding research that supports and possibly contradicts the point of view- which is that Climate Change is an artificial man made issue that has increased the amount of hurricanes, storms, and other natural disasters. This will help me strengthen my argument when it comes to discussing this particular topics with people who don’t have the same opinions and point of view.

Here are a list of websites that will be more helpful in your research on Climate Change and the ever evolving debate.

http://www.climatedebatedaily.com/

https://www.livescience.com/16388-climate-change-debate-man-nature.html

 

I Went Off The Pill and Got Clear Skin

Yes. What is even more controversial is that I was first put on the pill to help clear up my skin. When I entered college, my once clear skin was ruined with a ton of cystic acne that covered my face from the top of my forehead, down my neck, and even on my shoulders and back. My sister had gone on the pill and her skin had cleared up. I had decided to visit a dermatologist and go on the pill. Now I do want to let you all know that I did receive some positive results with going on the pill. However, it didn’t clear it up completely.

For 5 years I continued to take the pill every single day. I would like to let you all know that I have never gotten my hormones tested, and was put on other harsh medications to help clear up my skin. In the end, I had just seen my acne as stress from college that would clear up when I graduated. Well I graduated, and I didn’t get clear skin. Yes, my cystic acne did diminish a ton, but I still got a ton of pimples. This started to drive me crazy. I tried various diets and cleanses, and had even debated on going back on a very harsh drug for the rest of my life. Fast forward 2 years after graduating from college and I finally decided to see a naturopath.

My naturopath was very open about getting me off the pill. I had thought about getting off of it for a couple of years, but the first time I had tried, I had gotten really bad migraines that wouldn’t go away. This scared me to ever go off the pill again. Well at the beginning of this month, April 1st 2018, I had decided to off the pill. (Side note: this time I had decided to off the pill during the middle of my pack.) I didn’t get any headaches, and my period had actually just come a week earlier. Now, I haven’t received my next period completely off the pill yet, so I am not sure if my period is going to be more painful or last longer. However, I would like to mention that my skin began clearing up almost immediately after going off the pill. 

About three or four days after I went off the pill, I only had three active pimples on my face. I have always had about 20 big cystic pimples at all times. 3 weeks later, my skin is still clearing up more every day, My scars are finally starting to diminish. I can’t believe that a medication that I was originally put on to clear my skin was actually causing me to have breakouts.

Now looking back at my acne story, I do believe that my cystic acne in college was the outcome of bad college food, stress, and possibly the water. If I hadn’t gone on the pill my skin probably would have cleared up after I graduated. The reason I have written my story is to let people know that it is okay to question your doctors and the medications that you have been put on. Yes, birth control isn't all bad, and if my skin had gotten worse I probably would still be on it. But it’s important to play around with your medications when it comes to curing various issues that you may be dealing with.

Before getting off the pill, I was told that my acne was the result of high testosterone levels that aligned with a disease called PCOS that many of the women, including my mom. Now I believe that the birth control pill actually made my hormones go crazy and made it seem like I had PCOS. This hasn’t been confirmed, and won't be until I receive a hormonal test. But, it’s crazy to think that my acne has cleared up only a couple of days after going off the pill. I would also like to mention that I have been put on some supplement and a new diet that have definitely helped clear up my skin as well.

What's the Big Deal with Cleanses and Detoxes

When people hear the words Detox, Cleanse, De-Stress, Amazing, Passionate, they will immediately jump on board right?! Why not, all of these words sound amazing to us. However, it’s important to note that not everyone needs to go through at “detox” or a “cleanse” because our bodies cleanse and detox naturally. Our kidneys and liver are amazing body parts that actually cleanse themselves on a daily basis. Many doctors advice that by simply drinking plenty of water you are able to flesh out all of the “toxins” from your body.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I put toxins, detox, and cleanse in quotation marks. Well, it’s because I don’t see these words as necessary in our everyday life. Just because you ate a donut, doesn’t mean you need to “detox” and get rid of the bad “toxins” in your body. It’s normal for us to indulge every once in awhile and our bodies are equipped to handle getting rid of the bad sugars and other crap that are in that donut. Side Note: I will also be talking about juice cleanses and other trendy detox and cleanses in future articles. Today’s article will be sticking to the topic of cleansing and detoxing, along with my current month long “cleanse” diet.

If you have been following me for a while, you will know that I have recently gone to see a naturopath about my acne. During this time, she has advised me on a strict and odd diet, along with some supplements to take. For the next month, I will not be allowed to eat dairy, eggs, gluten, sugar (including honey, agave, and maple syrup), oats, yeast (this includes nutritional yeast), and even limiting my consumption of nuts and seeds, along with garlic, onions, and kale. The reason being that my gut was not feeling its best, as a result my skin was breaking out in very bad harsh cystic acne. This diet is suppose to help me figure out what kind of food sensitivities I have, without having to take a very expensive food sensitivity test. After the month is over, I can start to re-introduce many of the foods back into my diet!

In short, I am not doing this new diet to cleanse my body of “toxins”, but instead to figure out if I have any kind of food sensitivities/allergies. It is vital for us all to know if we have any food allergies, as they can cause us to experience bloating, gut issues, anxiety, weight, depression, and other health related issues. And, FYI I haven’t had a single green juice this entire time. Online, I found tons of lists on various cleanses and detoxes and why a person should go on these cleanses or detoxes. However, it was difficult to find explanations as to what exactly cleanses and detoxes do to our body, how long we should be on them for, and why they are beneficial for us. I find this is the reason that the majority of people just feel like cleanses are used to get rid of toxins in our body. I also believe that you shouldn’t do anything too restrictive of our self without consulting a doctor, naturopath, or even a nutritionist, as you may not be doing it correctly.

I know when I first started my journey to a plant based vegan diet, I didn’t know that B-12 was something I needed to supplement. I just thought that I got everything I needed from plants. Boy was I wrong. The same goes for a detox or a cleanse. You can read a bunch of trendy articles, but if you aren’t following up with a professional, you could do something that is actually harmful to your overall health. That being said, I don’t see it a problem if you want to give up dairy, eggs, gluten, or any other foods for a while to see if you have some sensitivities to them. You don’t need a medical degree to know what doesn’t make you feel good. I just believe that people are sometimes too quick to jump on the cleanse and detox bandwagon before doing their research. Throughout this process, my naturopath has also told me that I have to do what’s right for me. Sure, she has told me to avoid these foods because they are foods that many people have allergies/sensitive too. She provide an exact meal plan to me, as she doesn’t know what foods work best for my body, only I know that. Whereas, many popular cleanses and detoxes have very strict programs that you are told to follow in order to help “cure” your health problems. She has even advised me to eat between the hours of 9am-6pm, but has told me that I need to eat when I am hungry.

In conclusion, don’t do something because it’s trendy, do it because you want to feel better! We are the only ones that can know if our bodies are okay with certain types of foods or not. And the whole “cleansing our toxins out of our body” is complete BS. Our kidneys and liver do this naturally, without the added help of special juices and other meals that deem to do so. 

My Acne Story- Why I am seeing a Naturopath!

Recently, I have become frustrated with how people hold zero wasters to be the most perfect people on the planet. They must not have any health, mental or physical, because you can solve everything if you just eliminate toxic chemicals, processed foods, and the worse culprit plastic. That isn’t true. Thought, I do feel like my long term health will benefit from the zero waste lifestyle. I am not perfectly healthy. For the past 4 years I have dealt with severe cystic acne, anxiety, gut issues, and allergies. All of these issues make it difficult to refuse plastic packaging. I believe that zero waste doesn’t matter when it comes to your health. That being said, I have never been a believer in antibiotics or medication. I have only taken them when I didn’t feel like I had any other option.

As a result, I have decided to dedicate the next month to blog posts and videos that are all about zeroing in on your health and well-being. I have always taken the researchers approach when it comes to my personal health and well-being. Today’s article is all going to be about the medications that I have taken in the past for my acne. I will have more in-depth article at some point that talk more about the various issues and side effects that go along with these medications.

I have suffered from acne since I was 12 years old and have never found a cure. I have had moments of clarity but, it has always come back. As a result, I have tried a bunch of drug store and prescription topical creams, facial washes, toners, and even oral medications. Yes, I have taken oral medications such as birth control, spironolactone, and tetracycline. None of these medications have worked. I have decided to not go on Accutane because none of the other medications worked and I believe it is too harsh of drug for me to take.

I was given tetracycline because my dermatologist thought that my acne was the result of bad bacteria in my body that was making me break out. Once I took it for several months then I would be cured. Well, not only was I not cured of my acne, but I also became allergic to the medication. My dermatologist actually denied that my symptoms were real. This made my parents and myself so pissed that I stopped seeing that dermatologist and decided to just continue researching and finding more ways to deal with my acne.

I did have clear skin for about a year or two when I was 16 years old. However, when I was in college my acne came back like a horrific skin condition. It covered my entire face from my hairline to my neck, my arms, and even my back. My acne was a big trigger for my anxiety and I tried my best to figure out what exactly was going on in my body. When I was 18 I decided to see a different dermatologist. They put me on birth control, hoping that my hormones would “stabilize” and clear up my acne. This does help many women, but I also believe that I was put on it without receiving any tests to see what exactly was going on with my hormones. I also didn’t know any of the long- term side effects like brain tumors and cancer. I also didn’t know exactly how birth control works- this is something that I will be covering in a separate article.

The birth control pills did seem to help limit some of the big cysts, but it didn’t cure anything. Again, I felt hopeless and a great need for some answers. I became obsessed, constantly researching various products and possible answers for my acne. When I was 20 years old, my dermatologist told me that my acne must be the result of high testosterone and that a harsh medication called spironolactone would help limit my testosterone levels and cure my acne. Well, it did clear up my skin. I was so happy and thought that I had finally said Goodbye to Acne! However, I didn’t want to be on the medication for the rest of my life. I decided to get off of it. Unfortunately, my acne came back. I initially thought that it was due to bad stress and anxiety from being laid off from my job. It has been 8 months since I was laid off, and I still have acne.

I had thought about going back on the medication, but I really wanted to know if I had high testosterone. I wanted to get tests done to figure out what exactly was going on in my body. I also, wanted to see if there were any other natural supplements that would help cure my acne. As a result, I have decided to see a naturopath. I will have a full series on my channel all about my experience with a naturopath and the different answers that I receive from them. I believe that people should do more research on their personal health and be okay with questioning what their doctors want to put them on. I have also decided to stop seeing my dermatologist and have even decided to go off of birth control to see what exactly is going on in my body.

I will also be leaving some more amazing links that I hope will inspire you to do more research and find answers! You have control over your personal health and well-being. If you don’t want to be put on medications that is your choice. I have nothing against any of these medications and believe that people should have the choice to be on these medications. However, I believe that doctors are too quick to prescribe medications, instead of looking into other avenues.

Please comment below any questions or future posts you would like me to write about when it comes to health, nutrition, and diet! I want to help everyone be able to Zero In on their health! 

Do You Feel Comfortable Eating Your Skin and Body Care Products?

I have decided to dedicate the next month to talking about my personal health and well-being. When we think about Zero Waste, we don’t think about physical health and mental health. However, our state of mind and health is the most important aspects of our personal life. We can’t do anything without making sure that our mental and physical health are in check. My health is important inside and out. Why would you eat only organic food that is unprocessed and nutritionist, if you continue to put chemicals all over your body in the forums of facial creams, body lotions, hair gel, etc. I make sure that my body and facial care items are good enough to eat! Yep, you heard that right! I mean, they probably wouldn’t taste very good, but they wouldn’t kill me!

When I transitioned to a more zero waste life, I decided to start making some of my own products. This included facial toners, makeup setting powder, mascara, etc. However, I also love supporting small businesses and encouraging more to use natural and organic skin, body, and hair care products! NATURAWL BODY is an amazing company that is compassionate about making sure that more people fill their home with natural, organic, plant based, raw, and vegan items! The shop is run by a women named Kelly, a certified raw nutritionist, nature lover, gardener, and health food enthusiast. As a mother, she believes that everyone should have access to the best ingredients for their family.

Today, I will be reviewing her Peppermint and Green Tea Body and Hand Lotion. This items is completely raw vegan and is filled with the best ingredients. Kelly only includes USDA Certified Organic Ingredients. The ingredients include Green Tea extract, Jojoba oil, Peppermint oil, Vitamin E oil, Vanilla oil, Rosemary extract, Grapefruit Seed extract, and emulsifying wax glycerin. The mix of vitamin e oil and jojoba oil kept my dry skin moisturized throughout the winter season, despite the negative temperatures, without making it feel really greasy like coconut oil does. All the oils and extracts make me feel amazing. My guinea pig Jelly Pig loves the smell of it as well. I will continue to use this body lotion throughout the summer season as I get out in the sun more.

It’s also important to note that all of her products arrive in sustainable packaging, including a cardboard box and paper packaging. The bottles are glass, and the pumps are the only items that are made out of plastic. However, I plan to reuse the bottle with the pump once I have finished the lotion. All of her items are either fair trade, recycled, or biodegradable. This is to ensure that she is creating amazing products for herself, her family, and the planet. At the end of the day, what is the point of using organic and natural products if they come in wasteful packaging that is extremely detrimental to our planet.

Kelly also sells various other items for your body and home. This includes some awesome baby and kid friendly products that you don’t have to worry about putting on your child. Please go check out her website here! Currently she is offering 20% off of all baby essentials with code: KTJBABY20!!! Please go check out everything before this sale runs out!

 

Why I Have Decided to Stop Donating to Goodwill

I know that I have been creating videos for the majority of this challenge, but as I was thinking about today’s topic, I felt that a blog post would be the best way to explain my issues with Goodwill. In Heidi’s article in this month’s issue of #ZeroWasteStoryTime she explores other organizations and opportunities that you could donate to, instead of just dropping off all of your items at your local Goodwill. She also explains Goodwill’s system and how long your items last until they eventually end up in the landfill.

Now, you can argue that all of our items will eventually end up in the landfill. However, are your items actually going to people in need when you donate to Goodwill? Now, it is great for people who are less fortunate to be able to receive items at a discounted price, but what about those who are living in shelters who can’t afford to go to their local Goodwill for clothes. Shouldn’t we give these items to the people in the shelters and other homeless people who can’t afford the items at even Goodwill prices? With a little bit of research, I have found half a dozen shelters in my area that will take used clothes and shoes that are in good condition. I know that if they believe that my items aren’t good enough for the shelter than it may end up in the landfill. At least these clothing items are going to people who really need them.

The money that Goodwill makes is suppose to go towards the staff members and the organization itself. On their website, Goodwill claims to “meet the needs of all job seekers, including programs for youth, seniors, veterans, and people who disabilities, criminal backgrounds and other specialized needs. In 2016, Goodwill helped more than 313,000 people train for careers in services they needed to be successful- such as English language training, additional education, or access to transportation and child care.” Unfortunately, there have been many claims of underpaying staff members with disabilities and giving more to the higher ups in the foundation. Here is a link to a petition that was created to help bring this issue forward into the media. It is currently closed, but that doesn’t mean the problem has been solved.

As a result, I have decided to stop donating my clothes to Goodwill. Instead, as Heidi explains in her article, I will be bringing my clothes to one of the local shelters in my area. Instead of going towards a mismanaged company and then eventually into the landfill, I hope that I will be able to give my clothes to people who really need them. This is just a small snippet of the issues that I have will Goodwill and their policies, but I hope that this inspires more of you to do your research and like Heidi says, Donate Good Vibes Only!

Why I am Vegan for the Environment~ My Diet History!

When I tell someone that I eat a mostly plant based diet, I get a lot of mix reactions. Some people think that it is a great idea but explain that they could never give up cheese. Others ask me how I get my protein, calories, etc. There are even people who think I am some sort of weird hippie that is going to get into an argument with them about their personal diet. The last on is a little bit less popular, but does still happens. 

Now, many people are vegan or plant based for ethical reasons. However, people are very shocked when I explain to them that the main reason I don’t eat a ton of meat, dairy, and eggs are for health and environmental reasons. For years I have been flexatarian, vegetarian, dairy-free, and even completely vegan before. I honestly believe that eating a mostly whole foods plant based diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies is best! I do also eat a ton of whole grains like steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, beans, and legumes. Not to say that I don't eat processed food, but I try to keep it to a minimum. It's most important to note that I am doing this completely for my health and environment.

In the video below, I talk a lot about why I have decided to start eating some animal products to help save them from going into the landfill. However, in this article I will be focusing on my personal diet history. This will hopefully help motivate some of you to start researching various kinds of diets, the destruction factory farms have on our planet and health, and most importantly that no one is perfect. 

When I was in high school, I took an environmental science class that really opened my eyes to the issue of factory farms and animal products in general. At first I wanted to get rid of all the animal products in my life. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to go vegan correctly, so I decided to only eat meat, dairy, and eggs from my house, since I knew they were organic. When I went out to eat, I wouldn't order any sort of meat, dairy, or egg product. This is something that I was ok with doing, but was also somewhat difficult when going out to certain restaurants that didn't have may vegan friendly options. Eventually I went back to eating the normal Western Diet. 

When I was in college however, I decided that I would become a Flexatarain. This meant that I wouldn't eat meat products unless I knew they were organic. As a result I never got sick from the mystery meat that was found in the dining hall. It was also during this time that I realized that dairy played a significant part in my cystic acne, especially on my chin and jawline. So, I decided to cut that out as well. This was the best, considering that I didn't eat many eggs that often. However, I found that I would still cheat occasionally when I was home with my parents.

While, I was in college I also started binge watching a ton of amazing vegan documentaries, like Cowspiracy, What the Health, Food Inc (the documentary that first opened up eyes to the dangers of the meat and dairy industry), and a few other ones. As a result, I decided I would try veganism for my last year of college. This was amazing! My anxiety began to lessen, despite having a harder work load than in previous years, and I even saw a reduction in my acne.

For a while after graduating from college, I stuck to a mostly vegan diet. However, after learning about the zero waste lifestyle, I absolutely hated seeing perfectly good food going into our landfill just because it had meat, dairy, and eggs in it. I believe that we can all do our best to help save our plant. I have decided to do what is best for my health and the environment by only eating meat and eggs to help them from going into our landfill. That means I eat animal products about 2-4 times a week. Which, according to many health nutritionists, is around the recommended amount for most people. Above that, these products can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, clogged arteries, and a bunch of other health issues. I know that this isn't a very popular topic to explore, especially since many Zero Wasters are also Vegan. However, I believe this shows that we all have to do what is best for ourselves. Hopefully, when I move out of my parents house, I will be able to go fully vegan. For now, this is what makes me happy!