All posts by Sustainable Anna

About Sustainable Anna

I’m Anna. I try to live sustainably and I never shop made in China.

It’s Fri-yay, so let’s have some good news on the blog (for once!) #oceancleanup

Hey you guys.

Sorry for being so gloomy lately. Al though I must say it’s warranted! Lots of things going on in the world that are “not so great”. However, today I have some cool, good news I wanted to share.

You may have read about it already; there is literally a system in the Pacific Ocean – RIGHT NOW – cleaning up some of our plastic waste that is threatening sea life!

The Ocean Cleanup. The name says it all. It’s the largest clean up attempt in history, with its first stop in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch“. By using this system, we can collect (and then recycle) about half of the plastic in the area every five years.

However, being somewhat nerdy, I was curious to know more about how the technology actually works, and I found this cool animated video. Have a watch :)

I love that someone is doing something to tackle this huge problem of ours. It’s inspiring and NEEDED.

On a personal level, the most important thing we as consumers can do to not contribute to further pollution in the ocean is, drum whirl please…

To stop eating fish.

Yes, that’s right! Almost 50% of all plastic in the patch is discarded fishing nets, with the majority of the rest being other fishing industry gear, including ropes, oyster spacers, eel traps, crates, and baskets. Plus, if we want to save marine life, why do we eat them?

Of course, don’t be a jerk and use disposable plastic unless you absolutely have to … but you know, think about what’s on your plate. The solution to our problem isn’t always the most obvious.

Happy Friday!

Time’s up: You can’t write an eco-friendly blog, without talking politics

I’ve been quiet lately here on the blog. I had planned to write a post about the  sustainable initiatives – or lack there of – that I saw in Scandinavia this summer, but it just hasn’t happened (yet).

I’ve been kind of low, lots going on in this world, and not been in the mood to write. But now I have to because I am upset!

Did you hear about the new climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-convened coalition of climate scientists)? We basically have only 12 years to change the course we are heading in, in order to prevent catastrophic events due to the increase in temperature caused by human industries! It’s not catastrophic for the planet as such, it’s catastrophic for the life on this planet. That’s us. That’s our kids.

The report talks about the importance of only warming the earth 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) instead of the somewhat agreed to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F).

“We know there’s a threshold somewhere, probably in the vicinity of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, where we’re very likely committed to more than 30 feet of sea-level rise over centuries. It may be possible to preserve those large stores of ice at 2.7 degrees, scientists have found.”

“The new prognosis is stirring. A world that warms by 3.6 degrees—and not 2.7 degrees—will find that its problems metastasize out of scale with that seemingly small difference. In the hotter world, the number of people affected by water scarcity will double. Twice as many corn crops will perish in the tropics. The size of global fisheries will drop by 50 percent. And 99 percent of the world’s coral reefs will perish.”

So let’s just talk about this for a second. We’re in crisis mode here.

I don’t know where you are sitting right now, but where I am sitting (in my office) I am surrounded by people who don’t give a shit. In fact, they couldn’t care less. They watch Fox News and never read reports about climate change or environmental issues. These people are lucky enough to be on the richer side of the population, which means they count on always using privilege and savings to make sure they still drink fresh, delicious water. At the same time, they’ll always vote for politicians who want to build walls. Walls are great because once we’ve built them, they can keep all the future climate refugees out too! That way they can just starve on the other side of the wall – super handy. (Plus, the wall builders let them keep their guns! Yay.)

So what are we to do in these situations, when so MANY don’t care. So many can’t be bothered to even quit one beef burger per week.

I have tried to lead by example. Show them my tasty veggie lunches, said no to straws 45628774 times, told them about livestock and dairy. I have shared my blog and advertised other blogs. Still, almost five years later, I am still the “idealistic millennial who they better not get caught not recycling in front of”. Sigh.

I think I have come to the conclusion that the government, the people who make policy for countries, have to play a huge role in changing the course. Of course, we the people, can make positive changes – some of us have – but I’ve come to realize (after trying for so long to be optimistic) that it’s not enough because most people don’t care. Nope. We need policy, policy, policy.

There won’t be that perfect politician out there who can just fix it all, but there are good people running for office who want to seriously transition to a 100% renewable powered future.  Most of these good people are running as Democrats. Most of these good people focus on power generation, not so much on agriculture yet, but they’ll get there. Donald and his crew will NOT get there.

More than 1,600 new coal plants are due to come online worldwide in the next few decades, most under contract from Chinese companies. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has tried to create new subsidies for coal companies. It has also moved to weaken or repeal pollution regulations limiting airborne neurotoxins, as well those reducing greenhouse-gas emissions—rules that attracted the ire of coal companies.”

This, ladies and gents, means that every single eco-friendly blogger out there has the responsibility to talk politics.

They don’t have to shove it in someones face (like I do. Sorry not sorry) but they need to mention it. If someone has a blog that focuses on reducing global warming by making sustainable changes, that person can’t NOT talk about voting.

Personally, I don’t believe many MAGA supporters follow green living bloggers, but in the odd case of me being wrong, isn’t it a great thing if they read, on a blog they like, that politics and zero waste are linked together? Fox and Breitbart aren’t going to tell them… I am sure there are one or two eco-friendly followers  who don’t vote because the system is corrupt though, who could get an aha-moment and actually get to the polls, if a sustainable blogger explained how important this is, and mentioned some candidates to vote for to advance environmental policy.

If Taylor Swift can get political (thank heavens she did), eco-bloggers must.

Policy is key here.

Midterms are less than a month away, November 6th. In some states you can still register to vote. I hope, if you are a US-citizen, that you will vote, and that you will vote for a progressive democrat, or whoever the best choice is – for us all – where you live.

Quotes from this article

Am I being green – even when I’m lazy and unmotivated AF?

Hi all.

Just a couple of hours after my last blog post confession was published, a good friend of mine texted me and said “Yes!! I am sooo in the same spot! I’m so tired of being green and looking frumpy – the world is shit anyway.” See, both she and I have been limiting our shopping for years now (in order to reduce) and we are both just ready to look cute. And new. And relevant. And hot. (Yes!)

However, fashion was just one part of our conversation; the chore of rinsing yogurt cups so they can be recycled without contamination was another.

So, she says the world is shit. And she’s not wrong. Recent studies are predicting we’re heading towards as much as 9 degrees F rise in temperature (!!) and up to 200 ft of sea level rise. That’s kind of shit. The world in all feels very turbulent right now. Personally, I think my lack of motivation has been building up for a while [see this post on my unsustainable shoes] and then re-discovering this summer (on vacation) that the general population in Scandinavia (Denmark and Sweden) hardly take any personal responsibility when it comes to sustainable living, added to it. Here in the US we totally think they’re rocking it. More on the state of things in Le Europe in my next post – #teaser.

BUT there are a lot of good initiatives out there too. Progress in renewable energy systems (to name one area) and hope for change. As a climate optimist with a son who will inherit the earth, I need to believe in the greater good and keep myself motivated. (I should regularly share more good news on the blog actually, so other’s who may feel demotivated like me get a little boost too.)

Time for a list. A pep-talk. A readjustment of expectations. Not expectations from other people, but the ones I have for myself to be this eco-champion.

I am not trying to brag or seem better than anyone (I’m not in that mindset at all believe me!) in listing what I am actually doing; I am reminding myself that I do enough, despite being lazy and unmotivated AF right now.

unpopular

  1. I compost.  The occasional banana peel goes in the trash though. Composting is easy and I love the smell of healthy soil.
  2. I eat a plant-based diet and serve my family the same. The most eco-friendly diet as it stands. Happens to also benefit my health.
  3. My kid uses cloth diapers (many of them hand-me-downs) about 50% of the time.
  4. One of two cars we own is electric, and we drive very few miles for living in a large city like Houston.
  5. I use only reusable bags (and reusable produce bags) for all shopping.
  6. I recycle (all though most of that curb-side waste is probably land-filled).
  7. All my kid’s clothes (and most toys) are second (or third) hand thanks to my sister having a couple of kids before I did. Thanks sis!
  8. We use a 100% renewable energy provider.
  9. I buy (almost only) organic food.
  10. I donate monthly to environmental groups and Democrats up for election this year like fantastic Texan Beto O’Rourke.
  11. I blog and tweet about environmental issues. YAY! This might be one of the more important things because this is spreading the eco message.
  12. Our house uses bar soap, natural body products and I don’t use make-up.
  13. I re-use a lot of containers. My husband says I’m a pack rat… (I realize that is not very sexy in this blogger world full of minimalists.)
  14. I never consume water in plastic water bottles.
  15. I have a to-go cup with me every day and refuse straws. Sometimes they happen but mistakes are inevitable.
  16. I try to only shop ethical and local brands.

When I first started looking into living greener, I was only doing number 6, 10 and 5 (partly). So thinking of it that way, I really have made huge positive changes!

Which ones of these do you do?

Now. Here’s expectations I have decided to let go of, or rather things I allow myself to do during this phase (life time?) of being more of a regular person.

  1. Throw away dirty plastic containers. Let’s be honest, since China is no longer accepting our recyclables, most of it is going to be land-filled anyway. Why bother the recycling people with sorting it all? Potato salad tub – consider yourself tossed.
  2. Buy things online that we need as a family, not knowing exactly where they’re from. Sometimes we need a tool or a battery. Our kid needed a made in China booster seat. I’ll just get these type items online. Not sweat it.
  3. Buy clothes when I feel like it. Mind you, I don’t very often! I will allow myself to browse and buy something new when I feel it’s right. I’ll always check tags for China and polyester – that’s in my blood now – but I might get that cotton tee from Turkey (or whatever).
  4. Donate and throw away things our family doesn’t need that disturbs peace at home because we don’t have enough storage. No pressure to find uses for it all or donate to the”right cause”. If I need to toss, I will toss. Freedom!
  5. Post eco things when I feel like it on Instagram. But if I feel like sharing a picture of my toe that has nothing to do with being sustainable, I will.
  6. Any other things/actions as I see fit.

Doesn’t sound so bad… right?

Finally, should eco-bloggers lead by that “perfect example” (also known as “It’s so EASY and FUN and budget friendly to be zero-waste-vegan!!!) or do we need to have real conversations about effort and demotivation?

Much love and ramblings, my friends!

Confessions of an eco-fashionista… (who kind of wants to skip that “eco” part for a while)

It’s already August 22nd! Every day now gets us closer to cooler fall winds and darker evenings. I am excited. I am done with summer.

Of course, I would say that, living in Houston, but this summer has been especially rough. Our Scandinavian summer getaway, which is supposed to cool us down, ended up serving nothing but sun, sun, sun and heat as Europe experienced a heat wave like never before (climate change, I’m looking at you). Oh, and do I need to mention there aren’t any air conditioners over there?

sommar
Thank you Emma for this wonderful photo of me and our minis.

It was a well needed vacation nonetheless and I must tell you that I’ve thought a lot during this little summer break about where I am going with this blog of mine; if it’s needed and has a future. I’ve truly been enjoying my time “off” which has led me to ponder questions like “Should one really need time off from a hobby?” and “Am I done with the blog?”. At this very moment, I feel like I am not done with it – there are more topics to discuss – but I am maybe a tad bit tired of being sustainable.

Aiyooo. I am probably not supposed to say that! But I am.

I just want to buy all new clothes and not care where they’re made and by whom. I want to throw old ugly things away (in the trash). I want to dump all my donations in a bin anonymously and be done with them (instead of say arranging a garage sale and try to give them a new home.) I want to toss my yogurt cups instead of washing and recycling them. I want to unfollow the perfect eco-queens of Instagram and never again have to see stories about their dogs (I have never and will never like dogs).

It gets worse. I actually went into H&M the other day out of pure rebellion and promised myself that I could buy what ever I wanted – no matter where it was made and from what (like poly!). This could have been a breaking point in my non-profit-career as Sustainable Anna but, of course, the clothes I ended up wanting were all cotton (two of which 100% organic cotton from the Conscious Collection at that) and not made in China. Still, my intentions were un-pure and I am hereby confessing to the community.

I guess after over four years of buying hardly anything and constantly learning about sustainability, taking on more eco-responsibility and educating people about climate change – I need a breather. And I think I need to share that here on the blog, so that we can have a conversation about it.

How “good” does one woman have to be?

As far as living a plant based life – which a recently published study concluded is the number one action an individual can take to lower her carbon footprint – I am loving it and thriving. So my baseline is already super sustainable… I can throw away ugly shit, right?

With that said, I am back from my blogging break and would love to hear your thoughts!

PS. WELCOME to all my new followers that have joined over the course of the summer. Felling so much love and excitement about having you all here. Hopefully everyone is good with eco-confessions!

Seasons greetings… Sustainable Anna is taking a (short!) summer break :)

It’s officially summer. Texas is hot, hotter, hottest and it’s time for all natural born northerners to get the hell out of here. Yes, that includes me.

My little family and I are heading to Scandinavia for vacation and family-visits tomorrow (yaaas!) and with that, I’ll be taking a tiny break from blogging and social media. At least, that’s my plan at this very moment :)

I have found myself checking my phone too often lately (especially when it’s slow at work) which means it’s time to get less “social” and more present. I do expect using my phone for taking photos, checking the weather forecast and texting friends to set up dates… and maybe the occasional Euro Instagram-share. (There’s no truly getting away from phones is there?)

Anyway, I wanted to wish everyone reading this a suuuper happy summer! And thanks for all the support this spring! I’ve had so much fun with “Sustainable Anna” and I am stoked because a blog-friend actually wrote me and told me she’d made the lentil “vegadeller” from my recipe! I’m a real blogger now that someone made my food.

Swedish summer

I’ll be back at the end of July. Hopefully I’ll be drafting and getting ideas for some awesome, new blog posts for fall while I am off; I am hoping to bring some positivity back to “Made in USA” (now that Donald is totally ruining that) among other topics!

Trevlig sommar!

Uh-oh. Someone bought boots made in China.

You know what guys? Internet shopping will get you.

There I was, four years since starting my not made in China challenge, thinking I was buying our toddler rain boots made in Canada, when they in fact, I was importing boots from China. I didn’t know this until they showed up at our house, of course.

Kamik is a Canadian brand with 90 something percent of its products made in North America an with that stat in mind, I assumed I was safe when I picked a pair of space themed boots for tot on the website. ”Assumed”. Kind of like when I recently assumed the nachos at Chili’s were gluten free…

Anyway, after clicking “purchase” it took several weeks for these boots to arrive. Impatiently waiting, suspecting that USPS had lost the package, I contacted Kamik and long story short, because it was taking so long, they refunded our money! So, when I finally opened the box and realized the boots were made in China, not Canada, it seemed like too much of a hassle (or craziness?!) to return the boots (and start my search over for more sustainable boots).

A mistake purchase, yes, but at least I am supporting a brand that makes most of their products here, recycles boots and uses sustainable practices!

Kamik rain boots space theme made in china

Our little man loves splashing, jumping and getting as wet as humanly possible in his new boots! He doesn’t care where they’re made, he’s just happy, so I guess I will be too – just this one time :)

More on Kamik here!

Five surprising ways a plant-based diet has improved my life!

A newly published study in Science Magazine concluded that switching to a vegan diet (from an all-inclusive one) is the single most effective way to reduce ones environmental impact*. Diet change is more powerful than for example switching to green electricity or electrifying travel, because it doesn’t just tackle greenhouse gases but also reduces ocean acidification, agricultural land use and water consumption. The study included data from 40,000 farms in 119 countries.

When I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle (from vegetarian + sometimes fish or chicken), I did so because of climate change sure, but mostly because of the health benefits and my personal need to clear my perioral dermatitis. Little did I know that changing my family’s diet would improve my life in a bunch of other ways too! Turns out, there are a few surprising benefits to plant-based living that truly enhances quality of life. At least I think so. Read on and then tell me what you think about these five amazing changes I’ve discovered!

benefits of vegan diet

1. Bye, bye gross bacteria

Here’s something amazing and convenient that comes with plant-based living: your trash doesn’t smell. Think about how fast your trashcan goes sour and gross after you toss a Styrofoam tray in there with meat juice on it. After just one day (tops) you have to empty the whole bin. (Since, you know, meats are forbidden in the compost). There’s another benefit to this bacteria thing as well: dirty chopping boards and having the toddler “help” in the kitchen is suddenly no big deal. I know that even if we miss a spot, the “chickpea residue” (lol) will not pose a health threat to any of us. Kids can lick their fingers after helping you out without any risks. If they drop the spatula on the floor, no biggie. Plus, you can taste the bean patties when raw to check if they need more salt. This is a TRUE win.

2. Bathroom breaks are FAST

Let me put it this way; you won’t be seeing any magazines in a vegan family’s bathroom. Because every time plant-eaters consume protein they also consume FIBER, bellies and intestines are generally super happy which means no constipation. Meat is also tough on your belly flora and stays inside you much longer than plant foods do. I hate public restrooms with huge openings around the door, so if I can shorten my time in there; mega win.

3. Serious savings

If you are like me, someone who shops at the grocery store, prefers organic and natural foods and cooks most meals at home, you’ll save money ditching animal products. Soy milk costs the same as organic cow’s milk. Legumes (beans, lentils) are much cheaper per pound than meat is. The savings add up even more when you consider legumes are often sold in a dry state. Did you know one cup dry lentils becomes almost three cups when cooked? Ca-ching! Also at restaurants, vegetarian and vegan meals cost less than that steak or seafood dinner. Every time.

4. More varied menu

How often did we really eat cauliflower steaks before going plant-based? How many fun salads did I actually make? Did we ever reap the benefits of nutritional yeast? The answer is no. Heck, I didn’t even eat squash regularly! I have invited so many new foods into my life since I started to cook vegan, which is what ultimately lead to my love affair with lentils.

5. Learning commitment by limited selections

This may not sound like an amazing benefit, but I tell you, ordering food at restaurants has never been easier. Sure, there are a few places where I can’t eat anything which is kind of inconvenient but in most places there are a few vegan options. And by a few, I mean two. Tops. This is what makes it so easy! Even at the Cheesecake factory where the menu is a thick as a bible, it takes me two seconds to flip to the “superfoods” section and pick the vegan cobb salad. Often, if a menu offers little or no options, combining two or three side dishes will do the trick.

How does those sound?! Great benefits if you ask me.

*A note from me: I am all about “do what you can” – also when it comes to diets. Every vegan meal matters, even if you are not 100% vegan. I call myself plant-based, not vegan, because cheese and leather sneakers, but most meals I cook are 100% vegan.

Are we going to clean up our PLANET or continue our toxic relationship with PLASTIC?

In case you didn’t catch it on Instagram yet: National Geographic just rolled-out an impressive campaign called “Planet or Plastic?”. Like the name indicates, this is Nat Geo’s multiyear effort to raise awareness about our global plastic trash crisis.

Three easy ways to reduce plastic waste

Not only are they featuring enlightening articles (with amazing photos) examining all aspects of this problem that we are knee-deep in, they are also encouraging people to take a pledge to reduce personal plastic waste. Considering the fact that all of us have been an active part in causing this crisis, of course we need to be part in solving it.

I am in a situation where I do consume and buy plastic. I love chips. Our kid just got a new ball and a few sets of Duplo Legos. I don’t make my own Cheerios or soy milk (surprised?!).

Because of circumstance, plastic comes in to my life. I am actually pretty ok with that. Living responsibly is about me reducing where I can. Maybe you are in a similar situation? Here are three simple things you can do to reduce your plastic consumption! I can handle all these without stress, being a full time worker bee/blogger/toddler-mom in suburbia. PS. No guilt though y’all. Just inspiration.

Americans toss 500 million

plastic straws every day.

Focus on the big four

Zero waste blogger Kathryn of Going Zero Waste often talks about the “big four” – four items that are key to effectively reducing personal waste. They are:

1) disposable plastic bags

2) disposable plastic water (and soda) bottles

3) disposable to-go mugs

4) one-time-use straws

Start your journey towards less plastic by cutting these four, and you’ll soon discover that there’s very little cost associated with doing so. Refusing straws is as simple as saying “no straw please” and you probably have a water bottle, grocery bag and travel mug at home already, so it’s only a matter of bringing them with you (more often, if not always!)

A trillion plastic bags are used

worldwide every year.

Swap shower gel for bar soap

I love this tip because bar soap is available here, there and everywhere, so you don’t’ need to buy this “eco-friendly thing” online. (Online purchases, even if plastic-free, do come with lots of packaging and miles). Whole Foods has a selection of bulk soap even. Switching to bar soap is easy and family members won’t mind the switch. If someone is worried about “germs” (which is a myth) getting one unique bar for each person works.

Nearly a million plastic beverage

bottles are sold every minute.

Be mindful at the grocery store (and in life)

Buy nut butters, jam and pasta sauce in glass jars – recycle or reuse. Pick pasta, eggs and rice in cardboard boxes – recycle or compost (after removing the tiny plastic film). Skip the produce bags or bring your own. Go for fruits without plastic wrappers. You know, the easy swaps that don’t cost you anything. Also, use trash cans. Don’t dump things randomly outside. EASY.

9 million tons of plastic waste

end up in the ocean every year.

Now that we’re talking about plastic AGAIN (sorry not sorry!), it may be a good thing to actually share some information of what plastic is and how it’s made! Nat Geo is taking care of that with this informative video, a part of the Planet or Plastic campaign.

You can read a LOT more on nationalgeographic.com/environment/planetorplastic and remember to take the pledge to do your best to reduce one-time-use plastic. Honestly, there are so many brilliant articles to read that you can easily spend a whole afternoon just learning and taking your awareness rating to new heights.

More of my personal stories with plastic waste, recycling and such in these Sustainable Anna blog posts and pages:

It’s time to spring in to recycling LESS! (Here’s why)

If you’re not buying recycled products, you’re not really recycling

Five easy ways to reduce grocery store waste – without planning ahead!

My Zero Waste page

Quotes, video and picture above from Nat Geo.

 

 

Lentil patties that’ll make meat lovers wanna go vegan! (or at least lick their plates)

Lentils are amazing. Filling, cheap ($2/pound dry), often available in bulk and full of protein (26% by weight) and fiber (31%). I never knew how amazing they really were, until I went plant-based and started experimenting making new vegan recipes.

Lentils are part of the legume family and Canada produces about 50% of the world’s lentils. Superfood and grown close – score.

vegan lentil patties vegan biffar

One of the ways lentils totally impress omnivores (and recently converted vegans) is by their ability to substitute hamburger meat (ground beef) in almost all recipes. Taco filling, lasagna, minestrone soup, pasta sauce, you name it. Speaking of which, you can find my recipe for vegan, Swedish moussaka (lentil and potato casserole) on Mother Earth Living Blog right now :) (Go check me out!!)

Today I am sharing another Swedish recipe for abso-lentil-ly delicious vegan, lentil patties or what my husband calls “vegadeller”.

First let me tell you that these are not easy to fry just right. Contrary to meat patties, burgers or steaks, heat doesn’t travel the same way within plants. There’s no browning the outside surface first and then waiting for the patty to slowly heat and cook “automatically” (chicken grill-masters know what I am talking about). Nope, you have to saute them super slooooow, in an abundance of oil. I’ve failed multiple times and made lentil crumbles… Luckily they taste amazing like that too ;)

Here’s what you need for 8-10 vegadeller:

  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped (really fine)
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils (mixed types work well)
  •  0.4 cups flour (gluten-free mix or regular)
  • 1 tbsp bread crumbs and 1 tbsp water
  • salt, paprika, garlic powder to taste (vegan food is safe to taste uncooked!)
  • oil

Here’s what you do:

  • Rinse and boil the lentils in water; 25-30 minutes will make them soft and mashable with a fork. Rinse in colander after boiling.
  • Mix the bread crumbs with water, let sit. It should turn into a “paste” after just a few minutes. Add more crumbs if consistency is runny, more water if dry. This paste helps “bind” the patties.
  • If you haven’t already shredded carrots and chopped the onion, do it!
  • Mash the lentils with a fork and mix them with carrots, flour, crumbsy-paste and spices. Add onion bit by bit. Too much onion or too big chunks of onion will make the patties fall apart so stay on the safe side. We want a sticky mash-up.
  • Form 1.5″-2″ diameter patties. It’s ok if they are different sizes, just try to make them similar thickness and quite flat (thin) for easier cooking.
  • Heat the pan to low-medium heat, add oil to cover the bottom and saute sloooow and carefully. As you cook them, add oil so they don’t stick. Yes, it’ll take a while but don’t stress them. THIS IS KEY for success.

I like to serve vegadeller with roasted potatoes, veggies and vegan bearnaise sauce (which we personally import ready-made from Sweden) or with cold (vegan) potato salad for summer. Let me know if you need a recipe!

One last word: If you can’t get the center of the patties to cook (they seem mashy and raw) turn down heat, give them more time or chop them up in anger with your spatula; also known as “you just made lentil crumbles”. You can use your tasty crumbles as salad topping (the potato salad you made will work!), in soup, on pizza. They freeze well also and are delicious. Then, please give the recipe another try. Play around with the ratios of ingredients and the heat in your skillet. Like I said, I’ve failed at this recipe too. They’re worth some practice though :)

Defining Sustainability / Just because it’s eco-friendly doesn’t mean it’s sustainable (or does it?)

Sustainability. The buzzword of our time. We throw it around and look for it on companies’ websites and products. Sustainable fashion. Sustainable agriculture. Sustainable growth. Heck, I even call myself “sustainable”. But what does it actually mean? And what do I mean when I say it?

sustainable

First, let’s get the cat out of the bag; being sustainable means something different to every single one of us.

I think most of us agree that renewable energy (wind, solar) is “sustainable energy” because we won’t run out of its sources, it creates jobs and it doesn’t harm the environment long term. (In other words, checks all the boxes!) However, a very-soon-to-retire oilfield worker, supporting their family by working for a fossil fuel company, who knows nothing else, might not agree that the solar power boom is sustainable development – for him.

There are three parts to sustainability:

PEOPLE
ENVIRONMENT
ECONOMY

You’ve probably heard of the “Zero Waste movement” which mostly is about living with as low carbon footprint as possible and sending (almost) nothing to landfill. The people who live zero waste are amazing and put a lot of effort into maintaining their lifestyle. To them, prepping meals, cleaning supplies and beauty products from scratch with ingredients bought without packaging is the sustainable thing to do.

To me, buying ready-made, organic, local, small business [insert item here] is the sustainable choice. Sure, that creates packaging waste and I don’t know if the maker composted their scraps but with that purchase, I am supporting a business I’d like to see thrive and that action is sustainable to me.

I recently saw a post in the eco community that said, “We should all cook more at home because restaurants create a lot of waste”. Despite that being true, I am not comfortable with us not supporting local eateries for that reason. Just because something is “eco-friendly” doesn’t mean it’s sustainable.

All though we all think differently when it comes to making the best, most sustainable choice, a common definition could be that “Living sustainably is to live true to one’s values and to act in accordance with how one wishes the future should look like”.

If I want a future where crops are grown naturally and organically, I must buy organic food.

If I want the air to be clean and safe for all beings on earth, I need to lower my personal emissions and vote for politicians who align with me on this topic.

If I want to see my local community flourish, I must shop small and locally made products.

If I want factory farming to be banned, I must eat more plants (less animal products).

If I want more fish than plastic in the ocean, I have to stop eating them and reduce the plastic waste I create that may end up in their habitat.

There are more hopes and dreams I could mention (I have so many!), and I can’t master them all 100% but this is where I am coming from when I say, “I want to live sustainably”. Maybe, “Because I have the privilege, I want to live responsibly” defines it better. (“Responsible Anna” – what a boring blog title!!)

Last but not least, we must remember that because defining sustainability is subjective we also have different opportunities to act. Personally, I can afford to donate to organizations, shop locally made, lease a Tesla, while I feel I don’t have the time it takes  to live a zero waste life, which can be very time consuming. Someone else may have lots of time on their hands and less funds, opting to be sustainable by making their own clothes and growing their own food. Many might fall somewhere in-between. Some people have very little privilege with neither time nor money and for them sustainability is probably something completely different, like working hard to create a more prosperous future for their children, being a good person in their community or simply just getting by.

There is no “one size fits all”. There is no “right answer”. Luckily, by many of us taking a different approach to sustainability (or responsibility!), we can get A LOT done. Don’t you think?

Note: I wanted to write this post because I felt it was time to share some thoughts. A blogger I follow did a poll on Instagram asking people if they felt inspired or guilty seeing eco-friendliness posts (specifically zero waste) and a staggering 50% chose the “guilty box”, which sure is not the intention when someone is sharing “sustainable” tips and tricks. Renee, the mentioned blogger, followed up with a wonderful article about privilege, zero waste and her take on inspiring change outside the “green living bubble”. Link to read it in full HERE.