All posts by Sustainable Anna

About Sustainable Anna

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

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.

Is shopping from the clearance rack environmentally friendly?

Let me start by admitting that I do a lot of my shopping from clearance racks and department store outlets. Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Nordstrom – bring it on.

The reason shopping clearance works quite well for me is that I am able to find natural fibers and made in USA or Europe clothes without breaking the bank. Plus, I am not the one to jump on the latest trends, so whatever I like at the store – last or current season – is what I buy.

And yes, this is a legitimate question of mine, one which I’d really like your input.

Is it environmentally friendly to shop clearance racks?

Helmut Lang wool shirt Bloomingdales

First, here’s what all major fashion retailers do with unsold clothes:

  1. They try to sell them at the clearance rack.
  2. They donate them to organizations and hope they will be sold or given away.
  3. They try to sell them thru programs that distribute merchandise in other countries. (Often talking about poorer countries that are already overflowing with western unwanted goods.)
  4. They throw them away in a dumpster. (After making the clothes unusable by staining, cutting or similar so no one can have that fancy shirt for free.)
  5. They shred them and recycle the fabric into, for example, rugs.
  6. They burn them.

According to statistics from the World Resources Institute, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a single cotton shirt and polyester production for textiles releases something like 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases yearly, all while 26 billion pounds of clothing end up in American landfills every year. Us consumers are responsible for throwing away plenty of clothes after we’ve worn them a few times, and we need to buy better, yes, but it is without a doubt that corporations are contributing huge amounts of waste to that number. (Do we need a #FashionRevolution? YES!)

I just bought the most amazing shirt at the Bloomingdale’s outlet. It’s a Helmut Lang made in Portugal, checkered, wool, button down shirt with some interesting details, like a frayed hem and a real pocket. I paid 88 dollars for this shirt, originally listed at $395.

So I am thinking, from an environmentalist’s stand point, that had I not bought this shirt – at the 78% discounted price – it would have ended up in a dumpster or burned. What are the chances that another size small woman, walking around the outlet, would want the same shirt, since it hadn’t already sold?

I don’t have the answer to this question. Which, of course, is why I am asking and rambling.

I love shopping clearance, like I said, and I’d like to think that it is better. If I were to buy the latest new shirt at H&M and they end up selling out real quick, wouldn’t they just order a similar batch as soon as possible? The rack doesn’t have that option.

On the other hand, outlets and clearances encourage impulse shopping, which leads to over consumption of goods – something I’m very much against.

Let me know what you think, please!

PS. My favorite way to buy new clothes is to do it from shops that produce upon order. The downside to that is that they’re available online only and I do love to actually browse and try on clothes now and then :)

Fashion Revolution week is important -here’s why and how to take a fashionable stand

It’s been a bit crunchy on the blog lately; plant based meals, recycling and Earth Day chit chat. Thankfully, the last week of “Earth Month” is Fashion Revolution week (April 23-29), so with that we have a good excuse to talk about clothes.

It’s funny because when we say “fashion revolution” we’re not mainly talking about shopping second hand or choosing sustainable fabrics, rather it’s about ethical labor, feminism and ending the extreme wealth inequality in this world.

fashion revolution week gap

Because I am Swedish I am guilty of (maybe) hating on H&M more than I should. Sure, they have a conscious collection, which is a step in the right direction (and super), however, I can’t applaud them yet because I know they could do so much more. Plus I feel like they could have started to make positive changes a long time ago. Not only to tackle environmental issues but for ensuring ethical treatment of workers. Do you think Stefan can afford it?

Stefan Persson, whose father founded H&M, is ranked 43 in the Forbes list of the richest people in the world, and received €658m ($917M) in share dividends last year. Meanwhile, a female garment worker in Bangladesh works 12 hours a day (no lunch break) and earns just over $900 dollars a year.

It’s not just H&M; Zara, Gap, and similar big clothing brands can do quite a bit more as well. We are not asking for perfection right now. We’re okay with a few polyester blouses in the fall lineup, we know there’ll be imports from the East. We ourselves are not perfect either. We’re simply asking the big players to make an honest effort when it comes to moving the fashion industry towards a more sustainable future.

This is why, this week, we ask them “Who made my clothes?”

Oxfam, a global non-profit organization that works to end injustice of poverty, just published a fascinating (yet sad) report about today’s current state when it comes to inequality in the supply chain. It’s called “Reward work, Not wealth” and I recommend you read it. I decided to share some of the statistics and findings here on the blog, in order to bring awareness to these issues and prove why we actually need a fashion revolution.

Oxfam report reward work, not wealth
Picture by Fashion Revolution

In Bangladesh, many young women working in garment factories suffer from repeated urinary tract infections because of not being allowed to go the toilet. (Similarly, a study by Oxfam of poultry workers in the United States found that they were wearing nappies, as they were not permitted to go to the toilet.)

New data from Credit Suisse shows that 42 people now own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people.

It would cost $2.2bn a year to increase the wages of all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers from the average wage to a living wage. This is the equivalent of a third of the amount paid out to shareholders by the top five companies in the garment sector.

Gender inequality is neither an accident nor new: our economies have been built by rich and powerful men for their own sake. The neoliberal economic model has made this worse – reductions in public services, cuts to taxes for the richest, and a race to the bottom on wages and labor rights have all hurt women more than men.

The International Labor Organization has estimated that 40 million people were enslaved in 2016, 25 million of them in forced labor.

We, the fashionistas, can be part of the change, by shopping with intent, researching brands before supporting them and reaching out to them through social media, emails or calls demanding transparent supply chains; fair wages, safe workplaces, eco-friendly materials, local sourcing. Initiatives like H&M’s Conscious Collection is proof that consumers like us indeed have the power to change industries by demanding change.

Which companies are you reaching out to this week?

Fashion Revolution is a global movement that runs all year long, not just on Fashion revolution week! Read more about the movement and the organization behind it at FashionRevolution.org.

EARTH DAY – What the day is about and why we celebrate it!

I did a poll on Instagram to see how many people actually knew that Earth Day is coming up this weekend. Being surrounded by zero wasters and eco-friendly folks on social media all the time had led me to believe that everyone knew. Turns out 62% of earthlings who voted in my little poll didn’t! Wake up call, Anna!

That’s why I am writing a post about EARTH DAY today. It’s coming up this Sunday, April 22nd.

why we celebrate Earth day 2018

The reason we celebrate it on the same date every year is that the very first Earth Day happened on April 22nd! It was 1970 and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not yet been founded. Activists and environmentalists had just started their fight for a cleaner world; biodiversity, cleaner air, less pollution and more government imposed regulations were on their agendas, as they demanded action thru peaceful protests and gatherings. Environmentalism was gaining momentum at this time in America and on the very first Earth Day, millions of people gathered in parks and streets to create awareness among individuals  and demand action from government to regulate polluting industries. Later that year, the President founded the EPA; laws for cleaner air, cleaner water and protecting endangered species were written and put into immediate effect. (#peoplepower)

So, what do people actually do on Earth day nowadays?

Well, it’s to up to each of us to decide!  Most cities arrange get-togethers or events in parks or similar spaces to bring attention to one or two specific environmental threats. Zero Waste and plastic pollution are buzzwords this year (thanks to in large the Blue Planet II series) and the official Earth Day Network  are focusing their efforts on just that; creating awareness about plastic pollution (single use!) and arranging clean ups. Other eco groups are gathering to plant trees, doing speeches or hosting educational events.

As for me, being very much a homebody, I’ll be at home with my boys. This environmentalist isn’t exactly the “joiner type” – we all don’t have to be right? If you’re not big on going somewhere to hang out with eco-warriors or attend a big event, try some of these ideas:

Donate to a cause. Chip in a few dollars to the Sierra Club, Stand for Trees or any other, trustworthy environmental organization you like.

Support a politician. The best thing we can do right now is to replace representatives in Government who don’t have ours or earth’s best interest in mind. Donate cash or dedicate some time promoting sustainable candidates up for local or national election this year.

Clean out your closet and meet up with friends to do a clothes swap! I just did this with one of my good friends and I love the shirts, vest and shoes I got – plus I feel so good about her resurrecting some of my clothes so I don’t have to sell or “donate” them (who knows where they’d end up).

Cook from scratch and enjoy a plant-based meal. Connecting with the food we eat by taking the time to cook it can be medicine for the soul and make us more thankful. It’s especially awesome if no earthling had to die for you to eat it. Try my vegan lentil moussaka, why don’t you!? I just had my recipe published on Mother Earth Living – get the recipe here.

Spend the day outside. Talk to your kids, friends, family members, whoever you are outside with, about threats to our lovely planet, its animals and us, due to climate change and pollution. Smell some flowers, do a cartwheel (yeah, right), pick up the trash you find. Just enjoy what we’ve all been given and rekindle that connection with earth!

ideas how to celebrate earth day

However you decide to spend the day I hope you have a wonderful, fulfilling Sunday! Also, next week is Fashion Revolution Week, so rest up for tackling the fashion industry, starting Monday, by asking all your favorite brands: Who made my clothes?

I’ll be posting my outfit of the day each day next week on Instagram to bring awareness to this cause @sustainableanna :)

Photo credits: Taken by me and my husband in Smokey Mountains area

The green blogger you need to know in the Deep South! (Earth Month special feature)

When most people talk about The South, ice tea, rich foods, hot sunny days and mosquitoes come to mind. Green living bloggers? Not so much.

No offense Southerners, but sustainability isn’t exactly your best trait. Oil lands, high consumption, fast food wrapped in plastic and running the truck’s AC constantly when parked do not sustainable make.

That said, there are always exceptions and good environmental stewards live everywhere, here too, trying to inspire change. I happen to know a woman in Louisiana doing just that. Not only did she invent the most brilliant hashtag ever #resuableisinstagrammable but she also lives green, writes a sustainability blog, bikes (a lot), picks up trash, recycles, composts and hugs trees (they all need some love!).

Meet Caitlin of Eco Cajun

Caitlin

Because it’s Earth Month and us green living bloggers are feeling the love, Caitlin and I decided to do a blog post swap – introducing each other to our respective blog audiences because we are both eco-warriors in The South!

Catlin has been blogging for almost 10 years (so impressive!) and she writes a column for a local newspaper, Times of Acadia, where she discusses environmental issues and promotes a healthy and green lifestyle.

This time, it’s my turn to write, and so I had some questions for the Eco Cajun of course…

When and why did you decide to start a green living blog?

“I originally started writing back in 2009 after getting more involved personally in my green efforts. I wanted to share what I was learning with others, and show them how simple it can be to make green changes in your life. I had bought my first stainless steel water bottle not long before (one which I still have and use today!), and had recently started using cloth grocery bags, and those were kind of the catalysts to me wanting to do more.”

What’s been one important or encouraging change you have seen around you in the south, or in family members and friends, that you know you have inspired them to make?

“I think what I get the most feedback about from family, friends and this online community is about skipping straws or investing in reusable ones! I’ve had a lot of people either say they are more conscious now about refusing straws at restaurants or tell me they purchased their own set for themselves and their families. I see more people using cloth grocery bags these days, but I don’t consider that from my influence, haha. It still makes me happy to see!”

reusable stainless steel straw

I always want to know this from fellow bloggers; Is there anything you miss in your day-to-day life since you became “green”?

“Probably impulse shopping, haha. Although I don’t miss it that much! Especially when it comes to clothing, I’ve gotten into a rhythm of shopping secondhand or eco-friendly brands online, rather than going to the mall.

Sometimes, I also wish it would be easier to dine out without having to worry about single-use containers/utensils/cups. Just recently, I picked up lunch with a coworker, and although my food came in a plastic container that I ended up recycling, I chose to skip the drink because there were only Styrofoam cups – and I was so thirsty while eating! Although it would’ve been easier to just take the cup, I stayed committed.”

(I have done that too! That’s a real struggle!)

If you could give the people reading this, one eco-friendly tip for how they can make a positive impact for Earth Month, what would it be?

“Focus more on ways to reduce your waste, rather than on recycling plastic/glass/cans. Invest in good reusable items for your home – I promise you will get used to toting them around! I’ve got a set of reusable utensils and straws in my purse at all times, and I can always be found with a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug, haha. It does become habit, and it makes SUCH a big impact – even on an individual or family level.”

Catlin shared some exciting news earlier this month on her blog; she and her husband are expecting their first baby! She’ll be diving into cloth diapers, eco-friendly toys and second hand baby fashion soon. I am hoping Sustainable Anna (moí!) can continue to be a good resource as she plans for her little one.

There has been some talk among hardcore environmentalists about how not having kids is the best and most eco-friendly path for one to take, encouraging people to not reproduce to lower the carbon footprints of families. I asked Caitlin what her take on it was, now that she is pregnant, glowing and excited about the upcoming mini Eco Cajun.

“I think that it is true that having children increases your carbon footprint and your amount of waste. But to me, the decision of having or not having children involves a lot more than the environmental aspect. On my blog, I try to focus on the fact that you don’t have to live your life a certain way to be considered eco-friendly or zero-waste (like living off-grid, not having children, growing your own food and making your own clothing). You can make more eco-friendly or responsible decisions in aspects of your life and still have a positive impact on the environment. As I get ready to welcome our little one, it’s important for me to still focus on ways we can reduce waste, be minimalist, and shop secondhand. I am very excited to raise a little environmentalist, as well as grow our little family and keep our legacy going.”

Well said Caitlin! And I agree so much with that. Living life here on Earth can’t be 100% centered around lowering our carbon footprints, if it were, we’d all have to end it right now.

Speaking of ending it, let’s end this post by mentioning two of Caitlin’s favorite sustainable clothing brands, because we have to include some fashion :)

Amour Vert is probably my favorite eco brand – they utilize organic cotton and sustainable materials like modal, silk and linen. SSeko Designs is an ethical brand that helps empower women in Uganda!”

Thank you Eco Cajun! I love your blog and your positivity.

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