Transition

Reducing Food Waste- Lentil Pasta Curry Recipe!

 

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

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

This recipe is for a single portion!

 The mushy Lentil Pasta that

Ingredients:

Lentil Pasta

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

1/4 teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of curry

1 teaspoon of masala spice

1/4 teaspoon of veggie broth paste

a pinch of salt and pepper to taste

IMG_7751.jpg

Recipe:

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

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

Serve over rice and veggies! Enjoy!

 

Can We Travel Zero Waste?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work Cited and Some Helpful Articles:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can You Be a Zero Waste Traveler?!

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

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

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

Try To Do The Best You Can!

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

Always Bring Food With You To The Airport!

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

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

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

Shampoo And Soap Bars!

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

Essential Oils!

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

Bring a Disposable Razor!

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

Bring tooth powders and facial powders!

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

Refuse What You Can On The Plane

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

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

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

 

Free Zero Waste Staples!!!

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

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

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

Old Sauce and Spice Jars

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

Use the Bags that You Are Given at Parties and Events

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

Plastic Containers

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

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

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

Bring Your Metal Utensils With You Wherever You Go

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

The Main Street Zero Waster

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

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

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

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

Who Is The Main Street Zero Waster?!

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

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

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

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

The Different Subsections of the Zero Waste Lifestyle

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

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

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

Are we Perfect?

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Acne Story- Why I am seeing a Naturopath!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Multi-Use Nut Bag

In my personal zero waste lifestyle I have tried to re-use as many items as possible, so that they don’t go to waste. However, when I do purchase a new item, I make sure it’s multi-purpose. This helps keep my items down to the bare necessities and not feel like my house is cluttered with stuff. Now, I have promoted that I use an old pair of tights as my nut milk bag. This worked out well for my nut milks, but I was looking for something that was big enough to strain my veggie broth and other juices that I enjoy making. 

Recently, I have tried out Gaia Guy’s XL nut milk bag and it is revolutionary. You can use it to strain nut milk, bone broth, veggie broth, and even smoothies/juices. If you have ever thought about investing in the plastic juicers when you already have a blender, don’t hit the order button just yet. These bags are made out of 100% cotton and completely compostable! Best of all after using it, just toss it in the wash with the rest of your clothes to clean. Please air dry, as it can shrink in the dryer.

Here are some awesome nut milk, veggie broth, and juice recipes that are perfect to use with this amazing bag!

Homemade Almond Milk

Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight. Strain the water out and add them to a blender with 4 cups of fresh water. Blend it up. Strain it through the nut milk bag, and you have some awesome homemade almond milk! (Side Note: I have a recipe for some Almond Pulp Granola on my YouTube Channel HERE!!!)

You can make milk with any nut and oat that you want! Most Almond Milks at the store are filled with sugar and preservatives. This homemade recipe is also cheaper and will last up to a week in the fridge.

Homemade Veggie Broth

Add cut up leftover veggies of your choosing to a big pot. Cover the veggies in water. Add 2 Bay leaves. 4 crushed garlic cloves. And Salt and Pepper to taste. Bring it up to a boil, then simmer on low for 2-3 hours. Strain the broth through the bag and squeeze all the veggies! You can place it in a big mason jar in the fridge for a week, or ice cube trays in the freezer for a month.

The Veggie Broth is amazing for your immune system, especially when feeling under the weather. The veggie broth also gives you all of the amazing nutritionist from the veggies, without feeling like you need to eat a bunch of veggies. The homemade is also a lot less salty and healthier for you than veggie broth at the store.

Homemade Bone Broth

Follow the Veggie broth recipe, add left over bones or chicken caucus. Bring it to a boil and then simmer on low for up to 4 hours. Strain through the bag and enjoy! The broth will last for a week in the fridge, or longer in the freezer.

Like the Veggie Broth, the Bone broth is very good for colds to boost your immune system. The collagen from the bone broth is also very good for your skin, hair, and overall health.

Homemade Green Juices- No Juicer Required!

Add half a cucumber, 3 pieces of kale, half a beet, quarter piece of ginger, and a carrot or two into a blender. Optional: some celery, additional greens, replace the beet with an apple, and add some lemon. Blend it all up with 2 cups of water, strain it through the bag and enjoy your fresh juice! Save the pulp to add to smoothies or on top of oatmeal.

Green juices are a great way to get a lot of nutritionist from the greens without feeling like you have to eat a big salad everyday. This recipe is great for a single serving. Triple the batch and store it in the fridge for a week’s worth of awesome green juice.

These recipes are easy and really convenient, especially for people who are trying to eat healthier but don’t feel like they have the time or resources to do so. Visit Gaia Guy's etsy page for more awesome items like bamboo yoga mats, bamboo slippers, and much more! I also have a give-a-way running on my instagram. Visit my page for your chance to win a free milk bag of your own! 

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/

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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. 

No Spending In 2018!

Yes, you heard that right. I am not spending any money on unnecessary items during 2018. No clothes, accessories, books, haircuts, online programs, and even gifts. I have wanted to do this challenge for a while, but I didn’t think it was possible. Well, last year I embarked on the zero waste lifestyle, where I decided to limit my trash to a single garbage can for the entire year. Guess what, I did it! If I was able to limit my waste, then why can’t I stop spending money on unnecessary items?

This idea started when I realized that I spent 500 to 600 dollars on extra expenses outside of gas, loan payments and groceries, during the month of November and December. Where did this money go? Presents, train tickets, and nights out with my cousins, that’s where all my money had gone. I couldn’t believe that I spent that much money in just two months.

My list will not include groceries, medical bills, loan payment, blog related items and subscriptions, gas for my car, and 2 restaurant visits per month. By the end of the year, I am hopping to save enough money that I am able to pay off a huge chunk of my loans and take a few trips to visit some friends. This will allow me to start 2019 feeling empowered, financially free, and allow me to realize that the money I use to spend on necessary items, wasn’t actually necessary.

Thankfully I do live with my parents, so I don’t have to pay rent and additional bills from my health insurance and loan payments. You’re probably wondering how exactly I am going to embark on this challenge.

1.     NO MORE SHOPPING FOR THE SAKE OF SHOPPING!

No you don’t need that new shirt, dress, pair of shoes, or necklace. These items aren’t and wont ever be a necessity. They are items that you like at the moment, but will probably get lost in your closet in the next couple of months. Go to the library and get a book, or have some friends over for a dinner party. Shopping is an unnecessary “hobby” that will lead to more clutter in your life.

2.     Start making your own products!

Before going zero waste, I use to purchase a ton of different makeup items, facial serums, acne treatments, and hair care products. This resulted in me spending 50 dollars a month on things that I really didn't need. When I decided to go zero waste, I tried to find homemade alternatives to these products. Currently, I now make my own mascara, lip balms, facial powder, dry shampoo, body scrub, toothpaste, facial masks, and many other products. This has helped me save a lot of money and really evaluate what products are actually necessities. 

3.     Use up your old products

We all have stockpiles of soaps, shampoos, skin care, and other products that we need to go through, but just haven’t. I personally have way too many soap bars and old shampoo bottles. Once you go through your items, then try and making those products. The big rule of thumb is that if you can't make it or go with out it, then you should repurchase it. Currently, I one item that isn't zero waste that I will continue to repurchase is a facial spot treatment from my dermatologist, because it's the only thing that helps to get rid of my acne and prevent scarring. 

4.     Keep track of what you can do for free!

I love going to the library to look for new books and movies, volunteering at a local shelter, and going to my cousin’s house for a small dinner party/ movie night. These are both free activities that only cost a little bit of gas every couple of weeks. Don’t feel like you have to go shopping, sign up for a work out class, or go to a restaurant to distress and relax. There are way more free activities that you can do with the same results!

5.     How to stop feeling discouraged!

During your no spend year, don't let others suck you into making plans or feeling ridiculous for not wanting to spend money. Whenever someone tells you, “come on, let's just go out.” “You got the money, why not spending it on something you enjoy.” My response is always, "sorry guys but I am trying to limit my spending in order to save up for (whatever you are saving up for), but I would be completely okay with (eating in,going for a hike, or any other free or very low cost activity)". You will be amazed on how understanding true friends can be. If they aren't understanding, then you may not actually want to be friends with those people. SAVE SAVE SAVE!

6.     NO MORE IMPLUS PURCHASES

I have made too many impulse purchases because I had the money in my checking account. Once 2018 hits, I am only going to allow $2,000 dollars into checking account every month. This is just enough money to pay off my loans and other necessary items. All the rest of my money will be going into my savings account. This will force me to not spend relentlessly on unnecessary purchases.

7.     Get rid of your credit card

I don’t have a credit card, so this isn’t a problem for me. But, credit cards force you to spend more money than you have. Cancel your card, and cut it up. If you need one for emergencies, just put that money into your checking account and use a debt card for emergencies. You will thank me when you don’t have a big anxiety attack every month from your credit card statement.

8.     Think strategically

The holidays and birthdays will definitely be a challenge. Think about what you own that you can gift to someone else. Is there a dress or a skirt that your friend has been eyeing in your close that you rarely wear, gift it to them! This is a great way to purge items and not have to go out and spend money on something new. At the end of the day, the thought matters more than the gift itself!

9.     But, I can’t re-gift old items to friends and family, that’s an insult.

Than make them something! Homemade body products like scrubs, lotions, and other products are great things to gift to others! Best of all, you can make them from every day items. No unnecessary purchases needed for these items!

10. You Got This!

I am not saying that you have to be a hermit in your own house to save up money. I am just telling you that they should re-evaluate what is necessary in your life. Is that trip to the local café 5 times a week really necessary, or can you make coffee at home for way cheaper? You don’t need to be a hermit to not spend money; you just need to be a little bit more cautious with your spending. You don’t need to spend 500 dollars a month on clothes, coffee, restaurant bills, and other items that aren’t necessitates!

I will be doing monthly check in videos on YouTube about how my no spending challenge is going! Also check out Jane And Simple and SustainablyVegan No Spend Challenge. Let’s Do This Together!

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

Recently, I have gotten a lot of questions from student's in college or recent college graduates about how to stay zero waste with NO MONEY!!! Honestly, it's not difficult as you may think. It's been a year and a half since I graduated from college, I believe that the zero waste lifestyle has allowed me to feel more financially free. Here's my tips on how you too can live a life of more freedom, possibilities, and 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 is really worth it to drive 2 hours away 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 sufficient enough. Not everyone can find all of their items package free and put them in perfect mason jars! YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST!!! 

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. Thus influencing their decision to expand their bulk section!!!! However, it's also completely ok if you can't afford some of the bulk items. 

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.

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 complements me for bringing my own containers and even reduces 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 some work, I always bring a container in case they don't have normal coffee mugs! 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. Say Your Allergic to Plastic! 

Whenever people tell you, "Ohh sorry no we can't use your own container." Just 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 never fails! 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 max. $40,000 a year. You are probably paying off loans, rent, bills, and other important items that your money should go towards. Fast fashion items aren't made well and are marketed for people who always wants to be in fashion. Those items have a closet life span of about 4 months before their tossed to a thrift store or worse landfill. By purchasing items from thrift stores you are giving them a second life. 

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 them! 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 more so 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! 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! 

10. NO ONE IS PERFECT! 

If Lauren Singer was the perfect zero waster, than she wouldn't have a single trash/ carbon foot print. However, that isn't true. 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! 

However, it's also amazing when you create 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 diving them! It makes people want to do more and be better. It creates conversation and makes people think about their actions! You aren't perfect, but you are doing the best because you are part of the larger community that is doing their best to save our planet!!! 

Let's Talk About....Anxiety!

Mental Health and Wellness is a huge part of my personal zero waste lifestyle. Now, I have been struggling with anxiety since my First Year in College. It seems that the most popular way to deal with anxiety is to scramble around until you figure out what's "wrong" with you and try to find simple medications that will "fix your anxiety". Now for many, I do recommend that they take some forum of medication. However, I have such a mild forum of anxiety, that even the lowest doses of medications actually creates more problems than solutions. That's when I started conducting some research and trying to figure out where my anxiety was coming from, and if their were any natural supplements that I could take to help control my supplements. (Side Note: I did see a counselor from my first year to my senior year of college who helped tremendously with my anxiety.)

I have talk about this before on my Instagram, but I don't drink coffee anymore. Back in college I use to drink a Medium size latte every morning. Unfortunately, the caffeine would still be running in my body at 3am. As a result, my body would go into ultra panic mode, making me feel like I had to run a marathon. During my junior year of college, I decided to quite drinking coffee. To this day, I have decided to only drink green tea to help me wake up! Green Tea has a ton of great antioxidants, vitamins, and other amazing properties for your health and well being! It has just enough caffeine that it helps wake me up, without also waking up my anxiety! (Side Note: I also have to be careful about Black Tea as well, since 2 cups of black tea equals one cup of regular coffee, whereas 4 cups of Green Tea equals 1 cup of coffee.) 

During all four years of college I had bad cystic acne. I have struggled with acne since I was 12 years old. Once I entered college, it got even worse. I hated it so much. I tried everything to make it clear up. That's when I first found out about my hormone imbalance and decided to go on birth control. Now, this didn't change my anxiety and actually made my skin clear up a little bit, but wasn't the solution to my problems. (Side note: I will go more in-depth in another post about why I have decided to stay on the pill.) During my senior year in college, I decided to go on a hormone supplement that would change my life. The name is Spirolactone, and it's a hormone supplement that helps regulate the testosterone in your body. It sounds great right?! Just to let you know, I don't take the medication anymore.

The medication helped to drastically clear up my skin! (Side Note: the water at my college was also very hard, which was problematic for my skin.) As a result, I thought that I should go off of the medication. It went really well for about 5 months off of the medication, until I go laid off from my job. I wont go into to much detail since I have talked a lot about my personal job search. I will say that this caused my anxiety to spike, causing my skin to flare up.

The majority of people would just go back on the medication RIGHT? Well, I didn't want to because I thought that I needed to start taking care of my anxiety and my skin by myself. I am still on birth control pills, because it has helped a lot with my hormone imbalance. It definitely took some time getting use, but now I feel AMAZING!!!!! It was around this time that I also stopped wearing makeup everyday as well.  I realized that makeup, or no makeup, acne, or no acne, nothing changed. My bosses still respected me, I felt empowered to speak up and with others, and I have lead a social platform with people that couldn't be more awesome!!!! I did it all with acne!!!! 

Makeup has always been a creative outlook for me, which is why I do wear it occasionally. I love DARK LIPS!!!! I also feel like I use to wear it as a shield to hide my anxiety and skin problems!!! Last night, I went to dinner in New York City with my parents without any makeup on, which is something I would have never done a year or two ago. 

I know that many of you have been waiting for a video all about my essential oils. However, instead of doing one long video; I am going to break them up into a seires of videos! Here is the first one all about the oils I use to help combat my acne and anxiety!!! Enjoy!!! 

 

My Fall Capsule Wardrobe!

There are a lot of different types of capsule wardrobes. The most popular Capsule Wardrobe is Project 333. In this capsule wardrobe, you are supposed to have only 33 items, including shoes,  that are changed every 3 months. I have always enjoyed fashion, and believe that this strict limit doesn’t allow me enough creative freedom. With the help of some awesome minimalist fashion bloggers, I have curated the best capsule wardrobe for any season. I love my current fall wardrobe the most because it’s me. The best part of all is that I have found ways to ensure that it stays me!!!

1.     What are your Fashion Words and Colors!

This little tip is from fashion blogger Budget Bohemian, and is the best start to any wardrobe. Before you start purging, find the three words that you want your wardrobe to capture. This season mine are Comfort, Vintage, and Adventurous! These are the two pieces that I believe best exemplify my words. My colors are burgundy, brown, and black! Even thought I have ventured out of these three colors a little bit, I believe that these words and colors allow you to be critical of every piece you currently own or will at some point in the future. Live by these words and colors, and your wardrobe will make itself!!!

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2.     Take everything out and lay it in one spot!

I take everything that I own it put it on my bed. It’s a ton of clothes, but it really shows me how much I actually own. It may seem overwhelming, but I swear this will help you see that you may be hoarding some unnecessary items that you have to get rid of. Make sure that you leave enough room to make three piles. One for keep, another for maybe, and another for donate or to reuse. (side note: I always take EVERYTHING I own out onto my bed. I know that many wont have enough time, so you can just do your fall clothing items if you want to).

3.     One at a time

Take each one of your items and look at it critically. Does it fit in your color and words palette? Can you wear it with more than just one other item? Do you truly love the item? If the item answers all of it with a yes, then keep it! If it answers most of the questions with a maybe, then put it in the maybe. If it answers all of the questions with a no, then get rid of it by donating or turning it into something new! This section of decluttering takes a while, sometimes the whole day, and can be emotionally and physically draining. You will love yourself after your done!

4.     Take another look!

Put all of your Yes clothing items into your closet. You can start with just the fall items and move your way through your closet. Once you have done this, then you can start looking at your maybe pile more critically, do you already own a bunch of the same items? Do you really need it? Does it fit? If you believe so, then add it back in, but switch the hanger. That way when you reach for the item and put the hanger back, you will actually know that you wear that item. However, if the item answers all the questions a second time with a no instead of a yes, then put it in the donate pile.  

5.     Arranging your Capsule Wardrobe!

I have a big walk in closet with shelves and hangers. This means that I am not able to hide all of my clothes that I don’t wear the rest of the year, and only leave out those that are in my capsule wardrobe. Instead, I divide my wardrobe into seasons. The first part of my wardrobe is for my current capsule, and the rest are for the other seasons. This way, my other clothes do not distract me when I enter my closet and get ready for the day.

6.     Poshmark or Donate!!!

I would recommend trying to sell your clothing items to see if you can make some money on the side! If you donate your clothes, that item may go to someone in need, or it may go straight to landfill because they have too many clothing items. If you really want to donate your clothes, look up your local shelters and foundations, and find ones that aren’t as popular as the others. I wouldn’t donate to GoodWill, since they have been under a lot of fire for not paying their employees fair wages.

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7.     Make the week’s so much easier!

Don’t you wish that a fairy godmother would come down in the morning and pick out your clothes for the day and lay them out neatly on the bed. I am not sure if this is going to happen anytime soon, but I do have a fashion hack that will make your life a little bit easier. When you are putting your clothes away, find some outfits, take a picture and store it in your phone. That way, when you are scrolling through your phone in the morning, you already have a couple of outfits to choose from that are in your closet!  

7.     Should I buy this?

Now that your done decluttering and formulating your capsule wardrobe, you may want to go shopping! What should you buy? Make sure that anything you purchase is made of high quality materials, I am currently not purchasing any polyester items, and that it will go with the majority of your wardrobe. If you need to some help, I would recommend taking pictures of a couple of items in your closet to ensure that your new items fit in your current wardrobe!

These tips will help you continue to downsize and curate a wardrobe that you love! I am currently working on hopefully downsizing my closet to be 20 items per season. I am far way from that goal, and I am okay with that because I love everything in my wardrobe. Whenever I step into my closet in the morning I am overwhelmed with the amount of clothes I want to wear!!! 

Top 5 Best Sustainable, Vegan, and Minimalistic Documentaries!

There are a lot of documentaries on Netflix and Amazon. It’s 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’s also important that documentaries explore important issues in today's society, and explain how you can enter the lifestyle and bring more positivity into your life. The reason I have chosen veganism, minimalism, and sustainable documentaries is because there is a ton of overlap between the three lifestyles. Many who are sustainable are also vegan and minimalistic. Here are my top 5 documentaries that I believe more people should watch to gain more knowledge and information into 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 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. Especially one parent who had to see 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 the lifestyle. It just told me to stop eating meat. However, since I didn’t know a lot about the vegan lifestyle, I ended up eating a lot of salads and actually losing weight very quickly because I wasn’t gaining the right nutrients that I needed.  For those reasons, I have decided to put this at the bottom.

 

4) What the Health

This is another veganism documentary that concentrates more so on how one can be part of the vegan lifestyle. This in conjunction with Food Inc, allows for people to understand the dangers of the meat industry, as well as how they begin eating a more vegan diet. This documentary also digs a bit deeper into the marketing and lobbying of the meat and dairy industry. One example, is the American Cancer Society explains that one should eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet. This can be accomplished with a vegan diet. However, the website tells it’s audience to drink protein shakes with powdered non-fat dry milk, instant breakfast mix, and other dietary supplements. During the documentary, when asked to talk about these options on their website, that decline to comment. This is just one example of how lobbyists have a huge influence on the types of food we eat and the information we are given about our diet.

 

3) The Minimalists

Once I began eating a more plant-based diet, I began to understand the issues with 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 the lifestyle, and how one can become more minimalistic. Instead of explaining the minimalistic lifestyle as a trend, it reveals the various issues within the consumerist culture. The film is filled with footage of people kicking and screaming into their way through stores on Black Friday. The two founders/The Minimalistic, who created there website to spread the positive aspects of the minimalistic lifestyle also explain the unsatisfactory life that many consumers live. The reason being that 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 especially comes when people use coupons or only purchase things on sale. In the end, they end up with a whole bunch of stuff that they hate. By thinking critically about our purchases and really asking ourselves, can we live without them? When we as a society slowly began to realize that what we thought we needed isn’t actually a need, we began to find ourselves spending less and less money.

 

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, whilst also looking at plastic in a new way. I found, the issues with trying to stay vegan and minimalistic, is that I still continued to purchase things that were plastic. Plastic is an oil based compound that can be made cheaply and into pretty much anything. However, it’s endangering our wild life, 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 forum of plastic in its body. When we eat these animals, we ingest this plastic material. This is a horrifyingly realistic point that not many have considered when taking 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. Most documentaries are speaking to either a younger or older generation. This one takes stories from young people, older people, minorities, and people of all kinds to really 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 for those who sometimes think it’s too difficult and need a bit of a push of encouragement to continue going. 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, thus living longer?

Luckily for you, all of these documentaries can be found on Netflix, as of September 2017. I am always up for watching and hearing more about amazing documentaries. Let me know in the comments if I forgot any!!