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!

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 Ever Evolving Debate Around Climate Change!

We hear a bunch about climate change, global warming, and rising sea levels; but do we know what these terms actually mean?

Do you know where these terms originated? Do you know the different opinions and sides of this particular conversation?

I certainly 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 at all.

To many, including myself, climate change is a problem that will set back our ability to help restore the natural balance in our planet. This will lead to an increase in natural disasters, rising sea levels, 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 and more.

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.

Will all of that yelling and screaming actually make anyone 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 occurring. 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.



keeling_curve200-dcfcf0795da7688b757ef6224b24476134b8186f-s6-c30 (1).jpg

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


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! 

 

 

 

My Personal Trash Story- Zero Waste or Low Impact

About a year ago when I joined the Zero Waste movement, I focused all of my energy on creating zero trash because that’s what I thought you had to do. As I have talked about before, this made me stressed, aggravated, and full of anxiety. However, over time my family has made me realize that I can’t create Zero Trash. WHAT?! This was soul crushing to me, but also a big wake up call. If I wanted to embark on this lifestyle and movement, then I should do my research and explore ALL aspects of what it means to be an environmental activist.

Recently, Emmi from Sustainably Vegan released a video talking about how discouraging and limiting the term “Zero Waste” can be for many who are trying to reduce their waste. She also explored how a person shouldn’t concentrate on just their trash, but rather EVERYTHING that has to deal with the environment. This includes limiting your water and energy waste, carbon footprint, volunteering, and various other areas that will continue to help us make our planet a better place.

I polled my followers on Instagram and I was excited and shocked to see the amount of people who have decided to label themselves as low waste! However, I was also saddened by the amount of people who felt discouraged by the zero waste movement. I had a talk with Kaycee from @holistichue, once known as TheZeroWasteGirl. She explained how she was constantly receiving negative comments for not being zero waste enough to call her the zero waste girl. This made her feel discouraged and ultimately change her name. During this time she lost a ton of followers. However, she also felt more true to herself. She explained that the followers who did stick around were their because they loved her, not because they were looking for the someone who doesn’t produce any trash. 

This helped me realize that we need to step away from looking at the zero waste lifestyle as perfection and zero trash. The reason being that no one can actually produce zero trash. Better yet, many people who don’t have access to bulk stores, live with non-zero wasters, or who don’t have the financial capabilities to purchase a ton of the “zero waste” items, shouldn’t be pressured to do more than they feel comfortable with. We should also be concentrating on volunteering and advocating more for the environment. 

It’s important to note that if you have been following me for a while, you will know that the first 5 months of my transition I did try the trash jar. At first I got frustrated that I couldn’t start a jar right away. But a few months later, I had decided to try it again to see how much of a impact I was making in the amount of trash I was producing.  FYI I wasn’t able to fit more than a month’s worth of trash into a mason jar. The mason jar didn’t include any of the trash that I accidentally threw into my families trash can. It also didn’t include any of the waste that was created at the grocery store and restaurants I visited, and the amount of gas, water, and pollution I admitted into the air with having 2 part time jobs that forced me to drive everywhere. I am not sure many people take those into consideration when they hold up their fancy trash jar. Take a look at Sabrina from @sustainablesabs and her article on the trash jar! It will allow you to understand that despite how interesting the jar may be, it isn’t the “goal” of the zero waste/ low impact movements. 

Yes, even though I will be labeling myself as a zero waster, I am part of both movements. The zero waste movement is amazing to help encourage more companies to reduce the amount of waste that goes into the production of an item. However, it isn’t exactly ideal for many who want to reduce their waste at home. The low impact movement/ lifestyle allows and encourages people to do the best they can. The word itself is more inclusive for it’s members, and encapsulates many areas that the zero waste movement doesn’t. The zero waste movement has mainly focused on reducing trash; whereas the low impact movement focuses on how to reduce your water and energy consumption/waste, carbon footprint, and helps people want to get more involved in their local community! 

This zero waste/ low impact community has forced me to want to do more. I have a dream to create my own programs, co-ops, campaigns, and so many other big projects that will help make others become environmental activists and do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint, waste, and help save our planet! Please check out my video below that talks more in-depth about the two movements and the type of content that will be featured on this blog and Youtube channel! 

The History of Ziploc bags & A Zero Waste Alternative!

The average American family uses 500 Ziploc bags every year. This seems insane, since ziploc baggies are created to hold something for a moment of time. After the person removes that item from the bag, it is discarded in the trash or recycling. Yes, many ziploc baggies can be recycled, check out to see if your city recycles them in my Recycling Guide HERE!!! Needless to say, these baggies can’t be recycled an infinite amount of times. When they do end up in the landfill, oceans, or other areas of the planet they can be detrimental to our health and the environment. In this post, I will be going through the history of the plastic baggie, and an alternative that will help you reduce your waste and save you money in the long run.

In 1951, an inventor named Borge Madsen applied for a patent for a plastic slide fastener, which was the precursor of today’s familiar zip lock bag. His original design was slightly more complex than the current version and it looked like a traditional zipper with a tab. The same year, the company Flexigrip was founded with the intention of developing and marketing a product based on Madsen’s invention. As a result, he came up with the “press and seal” type of zipper that we most commonly use today.

Currently, the Ziploc is a brand name for plastic storage bags and many other products made by SC Johnson. The baggie is made out of either a low-density polyethylene (or LDPE, which corresponds with plastic #4) or high density polyethylene (or HDPE, which corresponds with plastic #2). Most film is recycled into composite lumber, a highly durable building material that is used for decks, benches, and playground equipment. These are great items, but they can’t be recycled again. All of the recycled plastic baggies will eventually end up in the landfill.

What if I could give you an amazing option that was waterproof and does NOT contain lead, phthalates, BPA or brominates and is tested for contact with foods! The Etsy shop BeegoHandmade creates amazing food pouches out of lightweight cotton and a Food, Medical Grade and Waterproof fabric for the inside lining of the pouches!!! They come in amazing patterns, including my personal favorite below!

I take them everywhere with me, including on weekend get away trips to ensure that I always keep snacks on me at all times! They are easy to clean with some soap and water, no washer machine or dishwasher necessary!!! These pouches do start off at $10 dollars each, which can be a little pricey. When you add up the amount of money you pay per year for ziploc baggies, these bad boys pay for themselves! Best of all you are supporting a thriving small business run by a women named Adriaan who currently lives in Richmond VA, where she creates all of the baggies!!


Best of all, she has offered a Coupon Code: ZERO15 for 15% off from now until March 24th 2018!! If you are in the market to purchase some amazing, durable, and waterproof baggies, I highly recommend checking her shop out!

StrawSleeves Review

Side Note: I have written a blog post about the Plastic Straws and the Ocean, which was featured on Straw Sleeve website HERE!!!

When I started my transition to a zero waste lifestyle, one of my first reusable options that I fell in love with was a metal straw! There is nothing better than drinking your morning smoothie or juice out of a plastic free straw. Currently, I have 5 metal straws and one bamboo one that come with me everywhere. So, why do people use billions and billions of straws everyday? 

Drinking straws is one of the oldest food utensils in the world. It gained popularity in the 1800's, being made out of rye grass. But, the original straw came out over 500 years ago! "In the ruins of the Sumerian cities and tombs, archeologist managed to find straws made from gold and the precious stone lapis lazuli. These expensive 3000 BC artifacts can give us the proof that the more simple designs were used far earlier than that, most probably created from carved wood or natural hollow plants." It is said that they use to drink beer out of their straws. 

 In 1888, American inventor Marvin C. Stone created first model of modern drinking straw. The straw was made out of paper that was wrapped around a pencil and then glued to stay closed. Around the 1950's, when plastic items came into popularity, the plastic straw was born. Now plastic straws are made out of Plastic #7. This plastic isn't usually recyclable. When it is recycled, it can only be turned into plastic furniture, or semi-recycled bags. As a result, plastic straws are usually thrown into the garbage and many times end up in the oceans. Once in the oceans, they can be eaten, stuck in turtles noses, and even stuck in octopuses tentacles. How can we continue to use this item, when it is so dangerous to the rest of our world? 

Many cities and towns have begun to ban plastic straws, bags, and other plastic items that aren’t usually considered recyclable. Guess what?! People didn't even notice that the ban had been put into place. They also didn’t mind the more environmental friendly alternatives, like paper bags, paper straws, reusable cloth bags, and even reusable metal and bamboo straws. In time, I hope that this will help inspire more cities and towns to ban more unnecessary plastic items. Until then, it's important to find companies that are working hard to provide more sustainable options to the masses. 

StrawSleeves, is a small online shop that has started to make big changes in the way of reusable straws, reusable utensil sets, and even reusable bags. All made of out reclaimed cotton, hemp, and denim. I own a reusable utensil set and one of StrawSleeves straws in the carrier case. The carrier case may not seem like a necessity, but it is definitely a nice thing to help keep your utensils and straws organized and clean while in your bag. I keep mine in my bag with me at all times, just in case.

The company is owned by Cheri Newcomb, a women who has dedicated her life to making reusable items more readily available to people who want to reduce the amount of plastic in their life. Their Instagram and Facebook pages are filled with information on their products, healthy recipes, and other resources that help you understand how beneficial living a plastic free life can be to our oceans and the environment.

I personally find these items to also make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for friends and family members who are travel a lot or are looking to help reduce their waste!!!

For more information visit the links below: 

http://www.eatingutensils.net/history-of-other-eating-utensils/drinking-straws-history/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/14/world/plastic-straws-ban-campaigns/index.html

https://www.tv3.ie/xpose/article/lifestyle/260549/The-end-of-singleuse-straws-is-nigh-here-are-6-ecofriendly-alternatives

https://earth911.com/home/food-beverage/recycling-mystery-plastic-straws/

 

 

 

 

How the Zero Waste Lifestyle Has Helped Cure My Acne

I have suffered from acne since I was 12 years old. I am currently 23 year olds and I haven't 100% cured my acne, but I definitely believe that the lifestyle has helped me improve my skin care and overall health. 

By transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle, I have stopped purchasing so much processed foods and items that aren't good for your health. I stopped experimenting with facial skin care products that seemed to only aggravate my skin, instead of curing my acne. I got rid of any oral medication that seemed to only mask the symptoms of my acne. All of these changes allowed me to simplifying my life and focus more of my energy on various issues that effect our environment, instead of those stupid little bumps on my face. 

My Glowing Skin Diet

During this time, I also began experimenting with my diet. I noticed that certain foods aggravated my skin and system. Currently my diet consist of mostly whole plant based food items, no gluten, no dairy, very little meat and eggs, no refine sugars, no processed foods, and a mix of raw and cook foods. I pretty much each the diet that everyone tells you should, but no one actually follows through on. 

Many of you may believe that this diet is impossible and to restrictive for anyone to follow. I believe that you have to find the diet and lifestyle that works best for you. Nothing starts off easy, but as you continue to find the positive outlook on the lifestyle and diet, and find that it makes you happy and healthy, then you can't imagine yourself otherwise. The only time I crave sweets and other unhealthy food items is when I am hungry and they are right in front of me. 

Conclusion:

By eating more cleanly, I don't crave chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, or brownies that much anymore. My craving for refined sugars continues to reduced the more I experiment and introduce healthy foods into my diet. I have added my video on my Zero Waste Morning Routine below to help show you all how simple your routine can be! 

 

 

Living with Non-Zero Wasters

Introduction:

(Disclaimer: We all have different experiences when it comes to living with non-zero wasters.)

About a year ago, I found the zero waste lifestyle and wanted to get rid of all of the plastic and trash in my life. The big problem was that I live with my parents who aren’t zero waste. When I first talking with them about the lifestyle, I hopped that they would be completely on-board. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. As a result, I began to argue with them about why they continued to use plastic water bottles, to go cups, paper napkins, cleaners full of chemicals, detergent, dryer sheets, and other wasteful things that I didn’t want in my living space anymore. These arguments made me annoyed, discouraged, and stressed out, because I felt like I couldn’t be zero waste as long as my family were continuing to produce a ton of trash. However, their trash isn’t my trash.

By preaching to my parents and getting into arguments, I was explaining to them that everything they do is wrong and I know how to fix it. Adults don’t tend to respond well to this type of explanations, since they believe they are suppose to teach you. As a result, these arguments just made it unpleasant to live with them and made me feel inferior. The Number 1 Most Important Thing to Remember is that Their Trash Isn’t Your Trash. As long as you are doing your part to reduce your waste, then you have to let go of some of the stuff that you can’t control. This will allow you to de-stress and not feel so anxious about living with non-zero wasters.

Support:

Support is the number one key factor when it comes to living with people. If you are living with people who don’t support who you are, then you can’t live with that person. It doesn’t matter how many conversations you have with that person, if they can’t be supportive then it’s not going to work. That goes for anything in life, not just the zero waste lifestyle.

Now, your probably wondering how can you tell if they are supportive? If they are constantly asking questions about the lifestyle, talking with you about the lifestyle, or even go right out and tell you that they support you in your decision to be zero waste, then they support you! This is integral to all conversations that you will have with them about the lifestyle. 

Once you understand that they support you in your decision to be zero waste, try to do as much research as possible. Ask them to watch some documentaries with you, or send them a few articles that have really interested you. Just as long as you aren’t spamming them with zero waste, they will begin to become interested in the topic and your new lifestyle without feeling pressured to start the lifestyle.  

Questions:

When they start asking questions, try to answer it to the best of your ability. If you can’t, then look it up and you two can have a discussion about it! A family member of mine asked me what are the essential items for the zero waste lifestyle, I gave them a list of my top 10, but I also explained to them that the lifestyle can’t be done with just these products, it’s an ever evolving lifestyle that becomes a part of you. This way, you provided them with an answer to your questions, while also leading them with wanting to learn more.

I have also had my fair share of “odd questions” like, well if someone gifted you a new item, would that be able to except that item? Does that item follow your lifestyle? Try to approach this question in a respectful manner by explaining that a gift is a great thing, and that you would never disrespect the other person by not accepting the gift. I also think it’s important to explain that you try to give everyone a list of gifts that you would really enjoy. This allows them to feel comfortable in still being able to buy you something, and makes you feel better by not getting mad at them for asking an odd question.

Make Changes in Your Own Life!

Start making changes in your life that wont effect the people you live with. By thrifting, purchasing package free items, and making your own you are starting your transition without making them feel like you are forcing them to change their lifestyle. This will also lead to more discussions and conversations with whomever you live with. People are naturally interested in what others are doing, and when they start asking more questions about how they can start making changes in their life to be a little less wasteful. This is your sweet spot to start asking them how you can start making changes in the common spaces.

What Changes Are They Comfortable With?

Talk with your roomies, family, or partner about what changes they would be most comfortable with doing that would help you all reduce your waste. I have heard people say that they started with getting rid of napkins and paper towels, or simply using reusable bags and water bottles. Whatever works for you, is how you need to start. Don’t feel like you aren’t doing enough because they aren’t doing enough. Everyone has to go at their own pace.

My parents have composted for years, so I started with the composting situation; since my family can be lazy and throw the compost in the garbage. This was an amazing start and allowed me to feel like I was making a difference in my zero waste lifestyle. I also began adapting a more plant-based diet. This wasn’t out of the norm as I was a vegetarian for four years in college, and my family doesn’t eat a ton of meat or dairy. About a year later, my family will still use paper napkins and towels, they don’t bring their own utensils, to go containers, or coffee mugs to places; and I am okay with that because their trash isn’t my trash.

Difference Between Roomies, Partners, and Parents

(Disclaimer: I have lived with roommates in the past, but not during my zero waste journey. This portion will explore how I have dealt with living with my sister, who is a year younger, since I believe many of the same principles can apply to a roommate.) 

For the first 5 months of my journey, I lived with just my parents. However, in May of 2017, my sister moved back home as well. This made it easier in some areas and more difficult in many ways. I believe that people who are around the same age as me are more understanding about the various changes within the zero waste guidelines then people who are a lot older than me.

Around the time that my sister moved back in I had also lost my job, so I wasn’t able to do the majority of the grocery shopping like I had done prior to her moving in. She also enjoys doing her own grocery shopping, As a result, there was a ton more packaged food products and other items coming into the house. Luckily, I was able to approach the situation without feeling as if I was preaching to them about my lifestyle. Instead, I focused on the fact that her garbage wasn’t mine. I also began to construct my grocery lists around what she was purchasing. This would allow me to feel better about using up what she already had, instead of it going to waste. This is one example on how you can help reduce their waste.

However, my sister also does a ton of online shopping, purchases clothes from fast fashion stores, and also buys a ton of body and face products. Yes, I can be there for her when she does ask me questions about the zero waste lifestyle, but I also can’t stop her from going shopping or doing something she enjoys. I also can’t make her feel bad about herself either. All of this would end up in the two of us having a big argument that wouldn’t go anywhere or make any sort of improvement. Instead, I go shopping with her when she asks, or I decide to do my own personal activity while she is shopping. We make it work by respecting and supporting each other’s lifestyles, instead of pushing our own point of views onto each other.

Roommates and Partners can definitely be different. Especially when roomies are friends, who aren’t completely on-board for being zero waste. At the end of the day, It’s all in the way that you approach the situations or topics, and how they seem to support you in your way of life. If they don’t support you, then this isn’t going to work; but if they do, then you will be able to make it work. You just have to start discussions and conversations, instead of arguing. Share information through a few articles and documentaries, instead of spamming their inboxes. Also, ask other zero wasters online or in person various questions that may help you get through a difficult situation that has arouse. This will make your life and others around you more stress free and enjoyable, especially when they decide to start making the transition themselves!

Focus on the Positives, Not the Negatives!

Whenever you do anything, don’t concentrate on why your family, roomies, or partner wont stop using paper towels or toxic cleaners, but focus on what they are doing to make their life a little less wasteful. This year, my parents not only followed me zero waste list, but also got me a really nice and comfortable sweater from Patagonia, a sustainable clothing brand that I continue to support. My sister bought me a nutcracker, since I collect them, and a few clothing items from Goodwill. This was an amazing win for them and me because I felt good that they took notice and made sure that they gave me presents that I would love.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, you are in control of how you speak with your fellow non-zero wasters about the lifestyle. By talking with them in a calm and more supportive matter, you are going to get someone who is supportive and wants to learn more about the lifestyle. If you speak to them in an aggressive and pushy manner, then you are going to get someone who is constantly pushing back against the lifestyle. This will allow you to feel as if you can make a difference within your own personal space and continue to want to become as zero waste as possible! Please comment below if you have any questions or comments about your own transition and living with non- zero wasters.

Articles and Other Bloggers:

Sustainability Vegan Video on Living With Non-Zero Wasters:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvtdMjpyd6Q&t=2s

Gittemary Johnson's Living with Non-Zero Waste Roommates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYe4cR-jZvs

Going Zero Waste article on Living with Non Zero Wasters: https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/zero-waste-and-roommates

Paris To Go article on Going Zero Waste When No One Else Wants To: http://www.paris-to-go.com/2016/04/zero-waste-life-with-non-zero-waste-family-members.html

 

 

 

Jonesboro AR Recycling Policy

Jonesboro AR Recycling Center

For information on where to recycle metal and bigger pieces of material that won't fit in your curbside recycling bin, please visit: http://www.jonesbororecyclingteam.com or the Jonesboro Recycling Team at 5403 Vance Dr Jonesboro, AR 72401.

 

Recycling Policy 

It took me a while to find any sort of information about recycling in the Jonesboro area. Unfortunately, many areas like Jonesboro do not make it easy on their residents to learn how to recycle correctly. Below is more information on what you can and cannot recycle! 

You can visit their website here to purchase a blue recycling bin and look up your local recycling pick up schedule. Unfortunately, they don't have a ton of information on how to recycle properly. However, I will be continuing to update this page as the town begins making more strides in recycling. 

According to their website here is a list of what you can and cannot recycle. 

What Can You Recycle:

Plastics

  • #1 PET Plastics - Most water and soft drink bottles.  There are other items made of PET, just check the bottom of things like clear plastic drink cups.
  • #2 HDPE - Milk jugs and other liquid containers.  Just check the bottom for the number 2 in the recycling triangle.
  • Currently the the market for other plastic is depressed and we are unable to find buyers for the products so we are asking that you dispose of those.  When the market changes we will be able to accept again.

Aluminum: We accept Aluminum Beverage Containers (cans) which can be recycled over and over again.  Other aluminum like foil and pie pans are not accepted at this time but there may be opportunities for those in the near future.

Steel Cans (Tin): Tin cans and other metals can be place in a blue bag and other metal that is to large for the bag may be brought to the recyce center.

Glass: We accept clear and color glass containers.  Glass has no value but there are companies that will pick it up and recycle it.

Cardboard: We accept all cardboard that is not contained with oil or food waste.

Paper: Newspaper, magazines, junk mail and most clean paper products including shredded paper.

What You Can Not Recycle: 

The following items are not accepted

  • Tires
  • Wood
  • Mattress
  • Furniture
  • TV's
  • Computer Monitors
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic Auto Parts
  • Used Diapers (you would be surprised how many we get)

Compost Policy

I couldn't find any information on how to compost properly in this area. 

Package Free Shopping 

Since Bea Johnson's app is closed for the time being, I will update this area of the guide once it's back and running! 

All About Zero Waste Tea

I have received a lot of questions regarding the tea companies I support. Especially since I can't find an bulk tea places near me, except ones that are super expensive. Unfortunately, many in the zero waste community have explained that all tea companies in the world use plastic in their bags to make sure that they don't biodegrade. Though many do, there are some companies that don't use plastic in their tea bags. 

Instead, they use a corn starch compound that when mixed with the paper, forums a bag that wont break when put into hot water. Companies like Tea Pigs, Yogi Team, and many others found in the natural food section of your local grocery store all have corn starch instead of plastic in their tea bags. Now, it's always a better option to purchase tea package free. Unfortunately, it isn't regularly available to everyone. I enjoy supporting these companies and their efforts to try and make more sustainable products available to everyone. 

I have decided to enclose a list of tea companies who are biodegradable and the prices of these teas, to ensure you that their really is a company for everyone! 

Yogi Tea-

This is my personal favorite because I can find it everywhere, including Walmart for $3. That is insanely cheap for a sustainable product. They also make all of their packaging out of paper, cardboard, and soy ink. Everything, including the box, can be put into the compost. A lot of their teas are also organic and all of their tea is fair trade! 

Tea Pigs- 

This company is another favorite, but is definitely on the more expensive side at $8 a box. I can only find it at my local health food store. The tea is organic and fair trade. They a pretty good selection of teas, but unfortunately their bags are put in a plastic bag to ensure they stay fresh instead of paper. This is the biggest reason why I have decided to stop purchasing their tea. 

Traditional Medicinals- 

This company is a great one if you are looking for some classic remedies! They are regularly available at many stores, including my main grocery store. They are usually around $5 a box. I personally love their Lavender and Chamomile Tea for at night, which is all organic and fair trade. They entire box and tea bags are compostable and the company itself runs on renewable energy!! Better yet, they explain all of their companies information on the box itself so no research necessary! 

Choice Tea- 

I haven't yet to try this company out yet, but I find that they are available at my local health food store. Like the ones above, they have remarkable values and packaging! They also have an organization that is attached to the company and make sure that their farmers are satisfied. They aren't too expensive at $5 a box and are completely compostable and organic. They also now have mushroom teas for people who are interested in mushrooms for anxiety and depression. 

Numi Tea- 

Like Tea Pigs, Numi Tea is on the expensive side at $8 a box. They do use a lot of turmeric and ginger in their tea. I personally enjoy their turmeric and black teas once in a while. The company is very similar to the ones above, and continues to work with farmers in India to bring sustainable and organic tea to the rest of the world. They also have a rooibos tea that I was obsessed with in college. Unfortunately, my local health food store stopped caring it. 

Reshi Tea- 

This is another company on the higher end, that makes a lot of interesting Tea Blends. You may have heard Catlin Shoemaker from FromMyBowl mention their Turmeric and Ginger tea. They are around $7-8 a box. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find them at many of my local health food stores. 

These are just a small list of the amount of teas that come in compostable packaging. I feel like everytime I go to the grocery store, I am pleasently surprised to see more companies moving away from using plastic in their tea bags. This is an incredible strive in the zero waste lifestyle and a great way to allow more people to start transitioning their lifestyle without breaking the bank or driving hours away to purchase bulk tea. 

Zero Waste Recipes: Homemade Gluten Free Bread

This recipe is my go to Gluten Free Bread! The original recipe comes from Gluten Free Baking! I don't think I could ever try a different recipe! I have added her original recipe below the video incase you are interested in it! I have replaced Mullet flour for Brown Rice flour, since I can purchase it in brown bag packaging or make it myself by grinding up brown rice from the bulk bin! I also use flaxseed eggs instead of regular eggs, since I eat a mostly vegan diet! 

This recipe is quick, easy, and will make your house smell amazing!!! Please let me know if you try it out! 

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water, about 110° F (6 ounces; 170 grams)
  • 1 packet instant/rapid rise yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons; 7 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups millet flour (6 ounces; 170 grams)
  • 1 cup tapioca starch (4 ounces; 113 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (1 ounce; 28 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon table salt (not Kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs , whisked (about 5 ounces; 150 grams total, out of shell)
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • *if desired , replace the eggs with 3 large egg whites.

Instructions

  1. Whisk together water and yeast in a small bowl. Allow to stand for five minutes.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine millet flour, tapioca starch, granulated sugar, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to combine. Fit the stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture, eggs, oil, and vinegar. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Dough will be thin.

  3. Spray an 8-1/2" by 4-1/2" by 2-3/4" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread dough evenly into the pan. Spay a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and place plastic wrap loosely on the pan. Allow dough to double in size. This takes about one hour.

  4. When dough has doubled in size, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove plastic wrap from the top of the pan.

  5. Bake until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 210°F, about 45 minutes. (If the crust gets too dark before the internal temperature reaches 210°F, place a piece of foil onto the bread. This prevents the crust from burning.)

  6. Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool for two minutes. Transfer bread to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

  7. When cool, slice into pieces with a serrated knife.

  8. Store bread on the counter for up to three days or freeze sliced bread, wrapped in freezer wrap with waxed paper between each slice, and placed into a freezer container, for up to six weeks.

The Plastic Straw Ban

During the beginning of my transition to a more sustainable and zero waste lifestyle, I tried my hardest to refuse as many straws as possible. Unfortunately, it looks like waiters and waitresses will continue to put straws in people’s drinks, despite how much you try to refuse them. But, what’s the big deal?

Plastic straws have been around since the 1960’s when TV dinners, plastic dolls, and other items entered into mainstream consumerism.

According to This country is on a mission to stop straws sucking the life out of our oceans “it is estimated that by 2050, the weight of all of the plastic in the ocean will be more than the weight of all the fish”. These numbers aren’t widely discussed in mainstream media, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. The lack of coverage has resulted in people not thinking twice about accepting plastic straws and other useless disposable plastic items. Is there a way that we can get the actual employees and places themselves to stop offering these useless items?

Banning different plastic items is nothing new. In 2014, California became the first state to enact a legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at retail stores. The bill also required a 10-cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain locations. The law as set to come into effect in July of 2015 and has lead to many other states, cities, and towns around the United States doing the same. The plastic bag ban has allowed for less plastic bags to end up in the landfill and opened people’s eyes to the possibility of reducing their personal plastic waste.

In 2017, restaurant, diner, and cafe owners in Seattle Washington, conducted a little experiment. They got rid of all of the straws in their drinks to see if people noticed that something was missing. Guess what? Only a few people asked for the straws. As a result, the city of Seattle has decided to go through with a ban on plastic straws, with the possibility for more plastic items being banned in the future. This hasn’t officially happened as of yet, but it’s exciting to see more and more places deciding to ban or put a tax on these unnecessary plastic items. Many places are supplying a biodegradable paper straw alternative, but it’s also important to note the amount of money that these restaurants, diners, and cafes will save by not constantly purchasing plastic straws.

This has helped inspired more cities to start banning plastic straws. In 2018 many cities and towns in Rhode Island banned plastic straws and bags. This has forced more to start bringing their own bags at the grocery store and use paper or metal straws. At restaurants, hospitals, schools, diners, and fast food establishments they do allow for plastic straws upon request. They have been taken out of stores, parties, events, and other areas of the community. In 2019, Washington DC banned plastic straws and stirrers as well- allowing for restaurant owners, schools, hospitals, convenient stores, and other places to use up what they have by the July 2019. They will have a “biodegradable” option for those who request a plastic straw.

This ban seems like a small change, but it will result in more people learning to live without these useless plastic items. Hopefully, by 2050, the numbers will explain how much mainstream consumers and business owners are trying to help save our oceans. Many may ask, why don’t we try and stop the companies who are actually manufacturing and selling these items to the restaurants, stores, diners, and cafes? By refusing these items, we as customers are creating less of a demand for them. In a world dependent on supply-and-demand markets, this will result in more manufactures trying producing these paper straws that can biodegrade in the compost.

If you live in a city or town that hasn’t banned plastic straws yet, you can still make a difference by refusing plastic straws in your drink. I also highly recommend talking with your local diners, restaurants, and cafes about the dangers that plastic straws have on our oceans and planet. Want to do more? You can sign the Last Straw Petition to help encourage more and more places to see the dangers that these useless plastic items have on our planet!

For more information on the plastic ban please visit these websites:

http://blueplanetsociety.org/2017/12/turning-tide-ocean-plastics/

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/movement-under-way-to-rid-outer-banks-of-plastic-straws/

https://pebblemag.com/news/plastic-straws-communities-getting-rid-of-waste


A Broke College Student's Guide to the Zero Waste Lifestyle

Recently, I have received a lot of questions from students in college, or recent college graduates about how to stay zero waste when you have LITTLE MONEY. The life of a college student is also a life where you totally lack expendable income. Zero-waste living may seem expensive, thanks to Instagram and advertisements. But, honestly, it's not as difficult as you may think. I graduated from college 18 months ago and I believe that the zero waste lifestyle has allowed me to be more financially free.

Here are my tips on how you too can live a life of more freedom and possibilities with less worry and stress:

1. Don't Let Anyone Intimidate You! You Are Doing Your Best!

I am starting off with this one because this is something that I tell myself every morning. Recently, on a Facebook group, someone asked if they should continue purchasing tea in compostable packaging, or if it was worth a 2 hour drive to their local bulk store to purchase bulk tea. Many people jumped on how they should have a bulk tea place near them because they are "EVERYWHERE". I immediately replied with, "my local health food stores has a very limited section of bulk items, and I have never been able to find bulk tea near me. I also swear by compostable tea because they are going right back into the earth.”

At the end of the day don't let anyone make you feel like your impact isn't good enough. Not everyone can find all of their items package free and put them in aesthetically pleasing mason jars. YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST AND THAT IS ENOUGH!

2. Try to Find as Much as You Can in BULK!

Now, I understand that you can't find everything in the bulk section, but that doesn't mean you should always rely on plastic packaging. My local health food store has a huge area full of package free fruits and produce that I can put in my own bags! They also sell package free rice, beans, dried fruit, and granola that I eat on a regular basis! By purchasing these times in bulk, I am letting them know that I prefer these items to those that have a ton of plastic packaging. My choice to “vote with my dollars” influences their decision to expand their bulk section.

That being said, it's also completely okay if you can't afford some of the bulk items. Think about buying items with a decent shelf-life in larger quantities. It’s better to get one plastic bag for 4lbs than 4 plastic bags of 1lb quantities. This, of course, doesn’t help if the food expires/goes stale before you can eat it. Think about this in terms of foods you can freeze, or items that are shelf-stable.

3. There are a TON of Items that Come in Compostable Packaging!!!

Just last month, I purchased some coffee in paper packaging! This is the most ideal kind of packaging because I am able to put it right back into the earth. I understand that many of you may not have a composting system in your dorm room or house. I know that it may seem as if plastic packaging is everywhere, but just look around and read some labels, you will be surprised to see what you can find!

4. Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, and Recycle!

For many of you who live in a dorm or at home, where you may not be able to compost, there are other ways to reduce your trash! By reducing, refusing, and reusing your packaging, you are also limiting a ton of plastic and other types of packaging from ending up in the landfill.

However, recycling is one of the most controversial topics within the zero waste lifestyle.

Many believe that sending things to the recycling center is just as bad, since it take a lot of energy to repurpose the items into new products. While, others believe that recycling is a great option for those who don't have a ton of bulk or package free items available to them. That being said, no one really shares how much they are actually sending to the recycling center. Until now: go check out Jane_and_Simple, an awesome zero waste blog run by a women named Jane. Every month she explains every item that she will be sending to recycle and landfill and why. These posts are informative and allow you to think about your own personal choices a lot more.

Try to find items you can reuse over recycling, if there’s an option.

5. Bring your Own Containers and Bags When You Are Eating Out or Getting Take Away!

I have found that many still feel a bit weird about doing this, but I have never been treated negatively for doing so. As a matter of fact, every restaurant that I have been to compliments me for bringing my own containers and some even reduce a certain percentage of my bill. You are saving them money by refusing their plastic to-go containers and plastic bags.

Whenever, I go to a coffee shop to do some work, I always bring a cup in case they don't have normal coffee mugs available. I have also been able to put bagels, donuts, and other items in my own bags as well. It's awesome what people will do when you ask!

6. You Don’t Have To Explain Yourself!

When I first started my zero waste journey and a person asked me if I wanted a plastic to go container, I would try to reply with "I am allergic to plastic and can't use your containers." This is a trick that many have used from Bea Johnson's book the Zero Waste Home and it may never fail, however it is lying. Do you want to go through life lying to others. Over the past 2 years, I have learned that it is better to just say “No, I have my own container.” You may get some weird looks, but don't worry about it as long as you get what you want! As far as I know, using your own containers doesn't violate any health codes or violations because you aren't asking them to clean or store your containers, just put your items into them.

7. STOP THE FAST FASHION MADNESS!

You may or may not have a full time job that probably pays you $40,000 a year at the most. You are probably paying off loans, rent, bills, and other important items that your money should go towards. Fast fashion items aren't manufactured or constructed well and are marketed for people who always want to be fashionable. Those items have a closet lifespan of about 4 months before they’re tossed to a thrift store or worse, a landfill. By purchasing items from thrift stores you are giving them a second life and promoting a circular economy. You are also not placing your dollars into the hands of corporations that are promoting unethical practices, and lack of environmental responsibility.

8. SPEND Your Money on Adventures and Memories, Instead of Items!

This has been a weird subject on Facebook. Many have begun asking, how do I talk my family into not getting me any gifts when they are so materialistic?

Many respond with, "Don't get them anything because people who are materialistic are shit heads" or my personal favorite, "Why would anyone ask that question?" As a result of years and years of marketing and influencing, our society has become largely materialistic.

Now, we all agree that this does have to stop; but that also doesn't mean that everyone who doesn't agree with this idea are "shit heads who don't deserve anything.” Instead I recommend writing them a list of activities that you would like to do with them as presents!

This allows them to still think that they are purchasing you something, while also spending time with you! The adventures and memories that I make with family and friends are more important to me than any items that I have been given. When I was in college, I enjoyed taking trips, hosting parties, and having fun with my friend's far more than getting lots of presents on my birthday and other holidays.

9. Forget about the TRASH Jar!

I know that everyone wants to be like Lauren Singer, who claims that she hasn't produced any trash in the last 4 years or so. That idea isn't exactly realistic for everyone (or anyone)! Especially when it comes to college students and recent grads who are concentrating too much on trying to find a job, a place to live, paying off their loans, and a bunch of more important things.

However, that shouldn't be a reason for someone to give up on trying to be zero waste! Even Lauren Singer withholds items from her trash jar, that are trash. Many people who promote a trash jar don’t put in items they are accidentally given (they say no straw, the waiter brings a straw), medicine, moving materials, etc. More so, a trash jar doesn’t show that there is plastic behind the scenes. In our beloved bulk bins, those package free items we joyously buy most likely arrived at the store in a large plastic bag.

10. NO ONE IS PERFECT!

If Lauren Singer was the perfect zero waster, than she wouldn't have a single item of trash or carbon footprint. She wouldn’t fly or drive. She wouldn’t use non-renewable energy sources like electricity. Her store would be 100% clean energy powered, etc. There is still a ton of waste that goes on behind the scenes, especially in New York City.

You shouldn't stress out about not being perfect either! It's amazing when you join a community full of people who believe in what you are trying to do and want to make the world a better place. I love that this lifestyle brings people together, instead of dividing them! It makes people want to do more and be better. It creates conversation and helps us all think about our actions!

You aren't perfect, but you are doing the best you can for now. Maybe in a few years, you can do more. Maybe not. Don’t freak out about it! We are all in this together, and together we can bring about positive change.


Do You Know What You're Smelling? The Haunting Effects of Candles on Your Health and the Environment

 

During the fall season, I love lighting a candle to help bring a sweet smell of cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves into the air. Bath and Body Works and Yankee Candle are two of the most popular candle companies, especially around the holiday season. Are there candles actually safe? What are you actually smelling/inhaling when you light those candles? Can they be harmful to your long term health? 

Underneath the amazing smell, are toxic chemicals that are just as dangerous as second hand smoke. According to Wellness Mama, most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned (both are known carcinogens). In combination with the possible heavy metals like led in the wicks, even a few hours of burning them can create levels of airborne heavy metals and toxic fumes that are much higher than the acceptable limits.

According to Green America, other toxic chemicals may be present in the paraffin mixture and released in during the burning. These ingredients include Acetone, Trichlorofluromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Carbon Tetrachloride, Cyclopentene, Stryene, Synthetic Fragrances, and other ingredients that can found in paint, laquer, and varnish removers. Do you really want to be inhaling all of these ingredients?

Since, this is an environmentalism blog I would also like to talk about the impact that these candles have on our planet. According to the Postconsumers’ website normal candles can produce a number of harmful byproducts when burned (including greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide). As an added bonus, the petroleum found in many candles is the same chemical that is found in your car. Not to mention the chemicals that haven’t been widely researched for their environmental impact. All of this research has resulted in me starting to find more eco-friendly alternative.

Thanks to Etsy, there are a ton of small businesses committed to making natural, sometimes vegan, and amazing candles. Instead of using paraffin wax and synthetic fragrances among the other toxic chemicals; these candles are only made out the simple ingredients of soy or beeswax and essential oils for smell, health, and mood.

Thanks to Kate from the Etsy shop DecorbyAdorned, her candles are natural soy candles are handmade in Minnesota, and are made with the best essential oils. Kate uses essential oils from Plant Therapy, to ensure that her candles are 100% pure. The awesome doesn’t stop there. She goes as far as to package everything in paper, using packing paper to ensure that the glass jar doesn’t break during travel. I am currently trying the Clove, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg candle, I have to say that it smells like Fall in a little jar and will definitely be repurchasing!!!! 

Kate hopes to expand her shop to include natural fabrics, blankets, and even maybe some pottery. She is committed to everything being eco-friendly, and shares her passion for the environment. 

Check back each week for more posts on small etsy shops and how committed to the zero waste lifestyle!!!! Don't forget to continue Zeroing In On Your Impact!!! 

Top 5 Best Sustainable, Vegan, and Minimalistic Documentaries!

There are a lot of documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. It is difficult to find great documentaries on sustainability, veganism, and minimalism that are actually trying to educate people on the lifestyle, instead of explaining it as a forum of entertainment.

It is also important that documentaries explore important issues in modern society, explaining how you could enter that lifestyle and ultimately bringing positivity into your life. It is always helpful when someone brings up an issue, or problem, to attach a solution to it. Introducing a problem with no solution may still be necessary but isn’t inherently productive, and it’s certainly not positive.

The reason I have chosen veganism, minimalism, and sustainability-centered documentaries is because there is a ton of overlap between these three lifestyles. Many who are sustainable are also vegan and minimalistic.

Here are my top 5 documentaries (in descending order) that I believe more people should watch to gain more knowledge and information about these three lifestyles:

5) Food Inc.

Food Inc. is the documentary that forced me to think critically about the vegan lifestyle, especially when it comes to the lack of current regulations in the meat and dairy industry.  The documentary follows the lives of farmers, parents, and many people who have seen the negative effects of the meat and dairy industry. One parent, in particular, watched her son die because of salmonella poisoning from uncooked chicken. This documentary shocked me into the vegan lifestyle, but it didn’t tell me how to go about pursuing the lifestyle. It just told me to stop eating meat. Since I didn’t know a lot about the veganism, I ended up eating a lot of salads and I actually lost weight very quickly because I wasn’t gaining the right nutrients that I needed. For those reasons, I have decided to place this documentary at number 5 on my list.

4) The True Cost

The true cost is a documentary that looks into the various issues concerning the fast fashion industry. The fast fashion industry includes H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, Target, and other cheap, unethical, and unsustainable clothing stores. The companies out source their employees to third world countries like Bangladash. The employees are not paid fair wages and are forced to work in inhumane working conditions. The documentary also talks about how the owners and CEOs of these companies reap all the benefits of their popularity. By showing you the horrors of the fast fashion industry, the documentary allows people to think more critically about our consumeristic society.

3) The Minimalists

Once I began eating a more plant-based diet, I began to understand the larger implications of consumerism. I decided to take my research a step further and take a look at the documentary, The Minimalists. This documentary explains positives and negatives of an extreme minimalist lifestyle, and how one can become more minimal. Instead of explaining minimalism as a trend, it reveals the various issues within the consumerist culture. The film is filled with footage of people kicking and screaming their way through stores on Black Friday. The two founders/The Minimalists, who created their website to spread the positive aspects of the minimalistic lifestyle also explain the unsatisfactory life that many consumers live. Stuff can buy happiness for that moment. Unfortunately, when the moment passes, one feels that they need to purchase something else to get that feeling back. This comes with even more intensity when people use coupons or only purchase things on sale. In the end, they have a whole bunch of stuff that they hate. We can combat consumerism by thinking critically about our purchases and really asking ourselves, “can we live without this?” When we as a society slowly begin to realize that what we thought we needed isn’t actually a need, we began to find ourselves spending less and less money and feeling more content.

2) A Plastic Ocean

We have finally reached the top two of the list! It was a difficult decision, but I have put this documentary at number 2 for many reasons. One in particular is that it ties the other three documentaries together, while also looking at plastic in a new way. I found that by trying to stay vegan and minimalist, I still continued to purchase things that were plastic. Plastic is an oil-based compound that can be made cheaply and molded into almost anything. However, it’s endangering our wildlife, especially those who live in the ocean. One of the most important facts about our world that no one can deny is that our planet is mostly blue. Unfortunately, scientists have predicted that because of the amount of plastic, including micro plastics that are in the ocean, every single underwater animal has some form of plastic in its body. When we eat these animals, we ingest this plastic material. Many have not considered or discussed this horrifying reality when talking about the plastic industry and veganism. The documentary also follows a family as they try to reduce the amount of plastic they use on a daily basis. Please check it out if you haven’t already, or don’t think you can give up some food items that are wrapped in plastic. This documentary will definitely have you thinking otherwise.

1)   The Human Experiment

We have finally made it to number 1! This documentary is one of the most eye opening documentaries that I have ever watched. Especially as someone whose family members have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This documentary may cross the fine line between educational and horrifying. However, it speaks to a larger audience, which I think needs to be done more often. Most documentaries are speaking to either a younger or older generation. This particular film takes stories from young people, older people, minorities, and people from varying backgrounds to explain how terrifying plastic, chemicals, and harmful toxins are to our bodies. For those reasons I have decided to put it as number 1. This is definitely not for people who have just started the zero waste lifestyle. Instead this is better suited for those who sometimes think it’s too difficult and need a bit of a push of encouragement to continue pressing forward. This documentary follows the lives of people whose health has been directly infused by chemicals that are mass marketed to everyone as safe and effective. It ties in elements from all the four other documentaries, while also touching on subjects that people usually turn away from wanting to learn about, since “everyone dies at some point in their life, right?” What if we could stop using plastic and chemicals and live longer?

Lucky for you, the majority of these documentaries are found on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

I am always up for watching and hearing more about amazing documentaries. Let me know in the comments if I forgot any!



The Issue with "Sustainable" Clothing Items

Second hand items are cheap and amazing for the environment. It's can be difficult to find the diamond in the ruff of cheap polyester. Many have decided to purchase new items that are made out of organic cotton and bamboo. Are those sustainable options? Is it really organic? These type of questions have made me skeptical about purchasing items made out of organic cotton and bamboo. However, it's also very difficult sometimes to find items from thrift shops and second hand stores that aren't made out of polyester. What should we do? 

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At the beginning of the summer I purchased a white tee shirt made out of organic cotton and bamboo. I thought this was the best purchase I had ever made. It was soft, comfortable, and sustainable right?! I even posted a picture of me wearing it on my Instagram! What did I actually purchase? Bamboo grows everywhere and is one of the most sustainable products right? That is not completely false. It is a very sustainable product because it can grow anywhere and very quickly. It takes a ton of labor to make a sustainable product that isn't very soft, and a ton of chemicals to turn the planet into a soft piece of clothing. 

In a pieces featured on The Guardian, it explains the ins and outs of the two different types of production. The first method involves crushing the plants into a mush, using natural enzymes to break it down and then combing out the fibers and spinning them into a yarn. This process is very labor intensive, expensive, and as I said, doesn't make that soft of a fabric. The second method, involves the plants being cooked into a cocktail of chemical solvents- primarily sodium hydroxide (lye, or caustic soda, as it's more commonly known) and carbon disulfide. Both are known to be harmful to human health, and sodium hydroxide can harm aquatic life when released into the water supply. After hearing both of these options, it seems impossible to get a pieces of clothing made out of bamboo without it being very expensive or full of chemicals. Is organic cotton any better? 

Organic cotton is grown just as wide spread as bamboo, but isn't as sustainable. In a pieces featured on the Fashion Hedge, explores the production of organic cotton and GMO cotton. Though the crop has been used for centuries, it takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans. 73% of global cotton harvest comes from irrigated land. 4% of the world's crop land is planted with cotton and yet it accounts for 24% and 11% of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively. The use of genetically-modified cotton varieties has increased in recent years. Organic cotton does seem like the better choice than cotton full of pesticides and other synthetic materials. It also isn't the most sustainable in the long term, because of the amount of water it takes to produce it. 

I have decided to go to option three, only purchasing items from thrift shops that are made out of sustainable products. As a result, I wear every item that I own. I use to donate 3 big garbage bags filled with clothes every season. Now, I only donate a small bag of clothes once a year! In doing so, I have been able to save up money and feel good about the purchases I do make. I have also been able to pay off a significant amount of my loans off and find new hobbies and activities to do, instead of going to the mall every weekend. 

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P.S- I will purchase "new" items that are made out of recycled materials, since I believe that they are a better and more sustainable option, similar to second hand shopping. Also, I have heard that GoodWill isn't the best company, in regards for wages and labor. I have invested the majority of my money in small business thrift shops and flea markets! Please let me know if you would like me to share my secrets in finding the best items at thrift shops! 

The Plastic Bag Ban!

One of the primary missions of the zero waste lifestyle is to limit the amount of plastic in the world.

Plastic is an oil compound that became popularized in the 1950’s with action figures, dolls, TV dinners, and a variety of other items that are labelled as both disposable and non-disposable. Plastic was a revolutionary innovation that allowed for people to have unbreakable containers, fast food in anywhere you want, microwavable dinners, action figures and games for kids to play with. Unfortunately, plastic isn’t indestructible, once these items break, start falling apart, or don’t work anymore- they are thrown in the trash. They will then either last forever in the landfill or turn into micro-plastics that will live forever in our oceans.

Yes, many of the plastic water bottles, containers, bags, and other items can be recycled. Do we know if they are actually being recycled. Currently, in the United States only 9% of all plastic is recycled. It wasn’t until the China recycling ban that the US didn’t start to become aware of their plastic waste.

Over the years, the topic of plastic has continued to gain buzz within activist communities but also popular media. Last year, the Huff Post published an article by Dana Ellis Hunnes, an adjunct professor at USLA Fielding-School of Public Health, titled Plastic: It’s What’s For Dinner, where she explains that “according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 30 percent of all fish have plastic in them.” This means that when you order fish from a restaurant or the grocery store, there is a possibility that you could be eating plastic. If that doesn’t gross you out, I don’t know what will.

At the beginning of August, Tesco, a popular UK grocery chain, made a statement explaining that they will be banning all plastic bags and providing reusable option that would cost customers an extra 10p (50 cents in US). Considering that most reusable bags usually cost a couple of dollars, getting a reusable bag for 50 cents is a steal. Back in 2015, Tesco started charging their customers 5p (25 cents) for plastic bags. By banning plastic bags altogether, they are reducing their environmental impact even more and making it easier for everyone to stop using plastic bags. Why can’t we do this in the United States?

When I walk into a local grocery store, I see people walk out with at least 10 plastic bags. Sometimes they have a bag for each item that they purchased. Not to mention the free plastic bags that people put their produce in whilst shopping. All of this plastic seems unnecessary when you could use reusable bags.

On August 14th 2017, Dana Ellis Hunnes wrote another article titled, Plastic Plastic Literally Everywhere. In this post she explains how 8% of the world’s oil goes to making plastic products. That may not seem like a lot of oil, but when you think about the amount of human rights violations, environmental, and cultural issues that have revolved around oil, it seems as if we should be limiting our use of oil as much as we can.

Everyone can make difference by using mesh bags for produce and reusable bags for their groceries. However, until the grocery stores stop stocking disposable plastic bags, people will continue to use them. Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, has also created a petition, that everyone is welcomed to sign and propose to their elected officials in the help to ban plastic goods.

It may seem that you can’t make a difference, especially in the current state of our political climate and government. That is not true. You can always make a difference. The more you talk to your local grocery stores and state officials, the more people you will inspire to do the same. I hope this petition inspires more companies to go plastic free! For now, take a look at your local food stores and explore your package free options.

Menstruation Products Around the World!

The average person who menstruates will throw away 250 to 300 pounds of pads, plugs, and applicators in their lifetime. That’s a lot of plastic, chemicals, and other non-biodegradable products that are going into the landfill. Pad and tampon users are also more likely to get toxic shock syndrome and other harmful infections from those chemicals and plastics.

One of the first zero waste purchases I made was a menstrual cup! Menstrual cups are made out of Grade A silicon and can be used for up to 10 years! There is zero chance of toxic shock syndrome and you can go up to 12 hours without having to change it, depending on your flow.

Recently, I have noticed more companies and organizations creating programs that will help change the world, by educating many on the importance of safe and healthy menstrual and reproductive care. It’s important to note that in many countries, the subject of menstruation is very “taboo” and is either not normally discussed/taught or is seen as unsanitary. In this post I will be concentrating on three major organizations that are determined to give more people sustainable and safe period products that they can use for the rest of their lives!

The Ruby Cup is a brand and a non-profit organization that bring menstrual cups into various countries in Africa. With their ‘Buy One, Give One’ program, every cup sold results in one being donated to help bring about positive change! The Ruby Cup trainers and partners create programs to help teach these adults and young people about menstrual care and reproductive health. They will also demonstrate how to use the cup correctly and provide support for them. Since the organization began in 2012, they have been able to impact the health of 24,000 people so far!

My Cup NZ is a New Zealand-based company that provides a selection of safe, healthy, and eco-conscious alternatives to disposable menstrual products. Their mission is to end poverty in New Zealand with their free cup program, student program, and by providing educational resources about reusable products! They sell menstrual cups, menstrual underwear, organic pads, and period product accessories like cleaning soap, pouches for reusable pads, and menstrual sponges.

The Cup Foundation is a non-profit organization that empowers underprivileged young adults worldwide by providing them with sustainable menstrual cups and comprehensive education on sexuality and reproductive rights. According to their website, in 2015 UNICEF and the World Health Organization estimated that at least five hundred million people lack sufficient resources to manage their periods. With insufficient menstrual solutions, many young adults miss a week of school each month, or they drop out permanently. Too often these people even engage in transactional sex to make money so they can afford pads and tampons. Since its inception, The Cup Foundation has impacted close to 10,000 young adults aged 11-16 in Kenya! These young adults now have higher attendance in school and are better able to concentrate during lessons. It’s important to understand that just because a culture doesn’t talk about this subject, that does not mean it shouldn’t be discussed. It is organizations like this that help bring safety and additional education into countries that would otherwise shame those who menstruate.

These are just three of the many organizations around the world that help provide sustainable menstrual products, like the menstrual cup along with education and continue to fight for reproductive justice. If you would like more information on additional sustainable period products please visit my article on “name of blog”.

(DISCLAIMER: I am referring to everyone as people instead of women and girls, because not every person who identifies as a women or girl menstruates. However, these organization’s do use the term women and girl through out their website. This choice was a personal preference and if you have any questions I would love to chat.)