Category Archives: Environment & Climate Change

Climate Action Program – Company wanted it – I wrote it

_MG_4308Today my boss and I introduced our office’s new Climate Action Program Policy. I wrote it in a jiffy, and promoted myself to Climate Action Program Manager immediately.

Yep. That’s me.

My focus when when writing this, hopefully successful program, has been to introduce eco- initiatives that take very little time, require very little effort, and cost as little as possible for the company. So, yes, we could have gone bolder, but my goal was to encourage sustainable behavior without anyone thinking it is “so much work”. Also, management had to approve it :)

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • Every flight taken for business will be carbon compensated, ton by ton, thru tree planting or other carbon offsetting programs.
  • Each person will get one work-from-home day per calendar month to reduce emissions from driving.
  • Prohibited to cater beef, lamb, farmed fish for company events. Cheese and pork strongly discouraged. (Showed a video on beef, link here)
  • All office coffee organic and fair trade. Milk: organic or plant-based.
  • Educate personnel on how they can avoid single-use-items. I held a presentation, and moved all single use items into one cupboard (on which I put a sticker that says “no excuse for one time use” LOL).
  • Recycling program for aluminum, electronics, batteries, print paper.
  • All paper products for office made from 100% recycled fibers.
  • Allow each employee to expense a reusable water bottle to be used when traveling and at the office.

Now, I will never understand how anyone can have such a strong emotional attachment to beef, that they feel targeted and uncomfortable when asked to not eat it on company dime. It’s mind blowing. One guy didn’t even come to the meeting because the lunch I had catered was healthy and vegetarian. *Brain exploding * So disrespectful.

Anyway. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable folks – change is coming!

The sustainable community is always talking about how “systematic change” matters more than individual actions, but let’s be honest: individual action and pressure create systematic change. I am sure the company where I work wouldn’t be asking each branch to take action on climate change hadn’t it been for activists like Greta Thunberg and employees asking upper management to do something. We all matter and I am super excited about finally being able to force some changes in behavior on my colleagues.

Have you suggested a Climate Action Program at your work-place yet? If not, what are you waiting for?!

Talk to me – let me help you write a simple program!

More on office eco-habits here.

I am back! More eco than ever. Or not?

Hello world.

I just finished writing a Climate Action Policy for the company where I work. It came out great, this is my passion after all, and I completely forgot to eat lunch because I was having so much fun. That just made me realize, “slash” remember, that I LOVE WRITING.

Time to pick the blog back up. Despite being more tired than an old-folks-home. Despite being in the middle of sleep training our new 6-month-old. Despite being back at work killing it while pumping as much milk as I can squeeze in. (Ha ha, pun intended.)

Maybe some of you are wondering how this eco-mama (note: self-proclaimed) is doing planet-saving-wise with two kids and a full time job?

Well, not the best I’ve ever done, I’ll say that, but we are eating veggie-based, driving our EV, cloth diapering at home and wiping our constantly runny noses with reusable wipes.

All that probably, most likely, for sure does not, compensate for the carbon and resources used due to me giving birth to a new little human, but hell, I decided siblings are a good thing and I am super into my kids.

Planet-saving is full of hypocrisy anyway.

Doesn’t prevent me from doing my best.

So, let’s kick off fall with this new blog post, with a commitment to blog (write) again because it makes me feel happy and inspired. I did write a dozen drafts this summer, so I’ve got some new posts in the making…

I hope you all will hang around and read along :)

Ending with an info-graphic, for no other reason than I can… I did put this in the introduction to the policy I wrote today as well. It’s pretty relevant in climate-change-denying-Texas.

climat222

See you pronto.

Green New Deal: Because suddenly there’s a vision of hope

Deep down I am definitely a climate optimist.

I believe we can change things, do better for our planet and be better allies for each other every day. I believe that we can create a world in which we watch our children grown up knowing the environment is part of their lives, not something to “save” or to exploit for profit.

Sometimes a little hope goes a long way, so I wanted to share this video on the blog. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is indeed a new type of politician, a type we are in desperate need of right now.  Who hasn’t heard of her or the Green New Deal? And now look this extraordinary project she has spearheaded to spread awareness.

So much love and HOPE.

Let’s keep fighting in our every day lives; ditching plastic, flying less, eating greener and let’s encourage everyone to vote (when time comes) and/or to support green candidates! It matters and we matter.

PS. Instead of dismantling oil pipelines I’d like to think we can use them to transport other things in the future. Wouldn’t it be so cool if we could use fresh water from flood zones in the East to water fields in California?

It’s Fri-yay, so let’s have some good news on the blog :ocean cleanup!

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

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

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

It is that time of year again when nature bursts out blooms, bikes start rolling, we shut off our lights for Earth Hour and gear up to celebrate Earth Day April 22nd. Let’s just say, spring is in the air and with that, it’s time to talk environmental issues.

On the agenda? Recycling plastic.

Oh no! Not again!? Yes, again.

Here’s why; as per January 1, 2018, China stopped importing recyclable plastic from the USA.

Maybe you missed the news, and maybe you are wondering why that is worth blogging about. Well, before this year, China took the majority of our plastic waste (16 million tons in 2016), recycled it, and turned it into plastic goods made in China. Even though most of those plastic items I am sure were unnecessary, this procedure meant that at least some our discarded plastic jugs, lids, boxes and wrappers got used for something.

When you add the fact that so many container ships sail half-empty back to Asia because of the huge trade deficit, filling containers with plastic scrap made even more sense from an environmental standpoint.

So, why did China decide to stop accepting “free” raw material? You probably think that sounds like a bad idea, especially since they already have the facilities and manufacturing equipment to recycle huge amounts of plastic.

The reason why China is saying “no more” is they are cleaning up their act and marketing themselves that way. That term includes more than implementing carbon taxes and reducing air pollution by shutting down coal plants; it includes looking good and clean. They are tired of drowning in plastic and having messy factories full of bins of materials; sometimes contaminated and always needing sorting. They want to buy newly made raw materials; neat, streamlined, no need for warehouses full of “stuff”.

I’d like to argue that the clean “green” thing to do would be to keep accepting discarded plastic for recycling and to use less virgin plastic materials in their manufacturing of goods. They’re helping us ALL recycle! (That’s good marketing too.) The decision to stop imports is upsetting the market and undoing decades of progress in handling scraps. That said, it’s not exactly fair to put the recycling responsibility on one country alone either.

The west coast is now drowning in the plastic that China used to pick up. We don’t have the facilities to deal with it and let’s not forget, the biggest pushers for consuming virgin plastic are American chemical companies working against local recycling infrastructure (laughing all the way to the bank when they heard China’s big news).

It should also be noted that China is one of the top polluters when it comes to plastic in our oceans. Turns out, they don’t have the infrastructure to deal with plastic either. So what’s worse? Our “recycled yoghurt cup” being shipped to China, maybe falling into the river and flowing into the ocean or it being buried alive in an American landfill, spewing methane?

Can we all just agree as a society in whole we SUCK at taking responsibility for used plastic? (Yes.)

Now we are at the “So what can we do?” part of this blog post!

Whooop! My favorite part.

recycling plastic

1. We must STOP thinking that throwing plastic in the recycling bin is an eco-friendly thing to do. Our goal should always be to look down our recycling bin and see mostly carton, metal and glass (if accepted in your area or you might have to drive to a station to recycle) in a half-empty bin. We should leave as much packaging in the store as possible. Now, I love chips just as much as the next person, but I am not pretending that the bag will end up anywhere but landfill. I know that is where it’s going and I have to decide how much I want quinoa puffs today based on that fact. Let’s no longer pretend that an item that doesn’t get recycled, magically does (“wishcycling”). Knowing what really happens, helps us make better choices. Studies have shown that people who believe items are recycled, consume MORE. Read about plastic and its recyclability here.

2. We must purchase and support local makers who use recycled material. You can read more about recycling and get ideas for brands in this post. If you are buying Chinese, or other imported goods, look for recycled content! Our goal is to let the market know that we care about where the raw materials used in a product comes from.

3. Even though we live in a plastic polluted world, companies who use recycled plastic still have an issue getting enough of it for their production lines. Like I said, we don’t have the infrastructure in place. We can help by asking specific companies what they need and provide it directly to them. For example US based, eco-company Preserve accepts number 5 plastics (yogurt cups, hummus jars) back via their Gimme 5 program (bins available at certain Whole Foods). American Oka-B and Canadian Kamik footwear companies accept and recycle worn-out styles as well.

4. Write to your favorite politicians and inform active members in your community about this issue. Volunteer in a recycling and waste handling committee where you live if you have time :)

Those are my ideas for doing something about this issue! What are some of yours?

I am definitely not the “perfect plastic free citizen” but every action to reduce matters. Do you think about plastic when you go about your day? Have you made progress in reducing your plastic consumption this year so far? Let me know :)

What is Climate Change? 17 questions answered.

My husband just sent me this AMAZING article from the New York Times:

Climate change questions answered

I don’t normally just share an article without putting my own words to it, however this one just NEEDS TO BE READ. And shared.

Please share it. Send it on to the “doubters” (who act like this is religion to be “believed in” when in fact, it is fact).

This article covers brilliantly what climate change actually is, how it works, what the repercussions are and provides the proof behind each answer.

Of course, they also answer the question: What can we do?

Read their tips and also find lots of inspiration here on the blog. So often, after we’ve talked about switching our light bulbs and travelling less, we forget to mention a “little” problem I like to call overconsumption of goods. That’s where many my tips and posts come in handy :)

*****

Here is the direct link:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/climate/what-is-climate-change.html

30 SUPER SIMPLE eco-friendly ways to combat climate change (for the average Joe!)

Super storms Harvey and Irma have shook the nation. And with that, no one active on social media has been able to avoid articles about how climate change (in other words we) may have caused these storms.

Though we haven’t exactly caused them, the warmer water in the ocean – a result of man-made climate change – has made these storms stronger and bigger.

Some people pretend money is what is holding them back from living a greener life, however eco-bloggers have again and again proven that that is not a valid excuse. Others claim they  “don’t have the time to make an effort”. (I think what is really holding people back is they don’t want to make an effort, also known as laziness.)

A wise man once said it’s not about having time, it’s about taking time. And these resent storms may have changed people’s attitude a little, making this the time to start thinking about taking the time to kick start some new habits which prevent further climate change. We can’t take back the warming that’s already been done, but we can slow down. Hopefully setting our children up for a better starting point when they are ready to come up with awesome ways to carbon capture and make salt water into fresh water without using too much energy.

Now, without further ado,

Here are my 30 SUPER SIMPLE budget-friendly and time-friendly green habits!

1. Buy organic food when it’s sitting right in front of you at the grocery store.

2. Use reusable produce bags and check out bags (keep them in your car!).

3. Never bag produce that don’t need to be bagged – see this post for more tips.

4. REFUSE straws when you’re eating and drinking out – every time.

5. Buy recycled batteriestoilet paper, kitchen towels and trash bags.

6. Use bio-based, all natural washing liquid and dishwasher soap/detergent.

7. Switch your plastic bottled shower gel for bar soap.

8. Use cloth kitchen towels to clean messes as much as possible.

9. Switch ground beef for turkey or better yet pea protein for ALL ground beef recipes.

10. Switch beef burgers for delicious black bean burgers.

11. Order a proper amount of food at restaurants so you don’t need to-go boxes, yet don’t waste food.

12. Never get cheesecake to go.

13. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, do dishes or wash your face.

14. Don’t buy clothes you don’t need (especially made in China). You do NOT need a new dress for every occasion. No one will remember what you wore.

15. Don’t buy home decorations you don’t need (especially made in China) including Christmas and Halloween junk.

16. Shop toys and baby items second hand. Babies and young kids don’t know where their things come from.

17. Buy eggs from locally pasture-raised hens (packed in cardboard not Styrofoam).

18. Vote for politicians who care about the environment and support a future based on only renewable energy.

19. Support an environmental charity via a monthly auto-draft. Most organizations let you start as low as $5 per month if funds are tight. Set it up once, then forget :)

20. Stop buying soda, reduce the amount you buy or get a soda stream to make your own.

21. Follow my blog and instagram @sustainableanna for more tips :)

22. Stop buying bottled water at the store for your family to just “drink at home”.

23. Order chicken or veggies instead of steak at restaurants.

24. Bring a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug from home with you every day!

25. Wash and reuse aluminum foil. No reason not to!

26. Switch your dairy yoghurt for coconut yoghurt.

27. Recycle!

28. Skip one phone upgrade, for example go from the I-phone 5 straight to the 7.

29. Avoid buying, wearing and washing polyester clothing  (or get a fiber-catcher.)

30. Switch your make-up remover and body lotion (plastic bottles) to coconut oil (glass).

There are more things you can do, like go vegan, go zero waste, buy an electric car, stop travelling, bike more, get solar panels, yada, yada, yada. But today I am not asking you to change anything major in your life for the eco-cause. My goal is not to scare you off. That’s why I love that this list is about simplicity.

Doing (some of) these super simple, minimal effort things, actually mean you care about plastic free oceans, clean air, climate change and preventing future EVEN BIGGER storms.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or hard! And you’ll feel great getting started :)

Harvey who?

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

If you’re not buying products made from recycled materials, you’re not really recycling.

I read this statement the other day, and it stuck with me because it’s so true (and people forget).

Recycling is an energy consuming process. It is not the solution to our waste issues, our plastic oceans and high consumption of resources, but a last resort that can minimize the carbon footprint of our modern, on-the-go, lives. IF we use the materials that come out of recycling, that is.

Here’s the twist; most of USA’s plastic “recyclables” are exported to China. There, they are used to make everything from fleece jackets to stadium seats. China imports around 40% of the world’s plastic scrap, so if you buy “recycled plastic products” from China, chances are the material came from your curb. It’s a crazy world (and sadly, China is drowning in western trash).

Another twist to the plastic recycling business is that many processing centers actually don’t have the funds to recycle low grade plastics anymore, like plastic bags and produce containers (think cherry tomatoes and strawberries) so they end up in landfill or being incinerated (dioxin pollution!) anyway.

Why? Because there is NO DEMAND for the products that can be made from low grade plastic.

So yes, we must stop consuming plastic like it is “recyclable”. We need to avoid it like the plague! Plus, whenever possible, we must choose recycled products.

In a perfect world we should not be shipping off our “trash” to other countries but recycle it locally, so in an effort to get there, we should buy locally manufactured products made from recycled materials.

Of course not just plastic, the other recyclables too; paper, glass, metals, clothes.

Need ideas? Ok!

Reusable water bottles

Liberty BottleWorks make lightweight and durable bottles from recycled aluminum in Washington State. In fact, it’s the only US-made 100% recycled metal bottle in the market.

Liberty BottleWorks take pride in having a zero waste factory and allocating a portion of their sales to environmental organizations and community services.

Did you know that recycling aluminum saves a lot of waste? While 2.2 lbs of aluminum extracted from the earth creates almost 200 lbs of waste in the process, 2.2 lbs of recycled aluminum creates only 7.5.

Batteries

Can an environmentalist live without using “disposable batteries”? Almost. Smoke detectors, wireless keyboards and baby gear use them though.

Energizer now has batteries made from 4% recycled batteries. I know that sounds low, but it’s a start! By voting with our dollars and buying these instead of regular batteries, hopefully that percentage will go up, up, up. (Always check where batteries are made. There is absolutely no reason to buy made in Asia, when made in USA costs the same.)

Toilet paper, kitchen towels, trash bags

We actually really like Seventh Generation’s paper products and I encourage everyone to make the switch to 100% recycled paper. Think you can’t afford anything but the bargain brand? Well, the solution to that is to use less paper, by opting for cloth napkins and cotton towels 99% of the time. We keep paper kitchen towels around for picking up the occasional dead cockroach or wiping greasy pans (then compost).

Did you know that if every household in the USA switched just one packet of eight kitchen towels to recycled paper we’d collectively save 3,400,000 trees in a year?

Seventh Generation’s large trash bags is a better choice as well, as they are made from 65% post-consumer recycled plastic. Think you can’t afford anything but the bargain brand? Well, the solution to that is to use fewer bags by creating less trash. Avoid one-time-use items and start a compost for food scraps.

Did you know that if every household in the USA replaced just one package of 14 count trash bags made from virgin plastic with 65% recycled ones, we could save 221,000 barrels of oil?

Plastic bottles (when/if we must)

If you’re buying shampoo or drinks in plastic bottles, look for the symbol that tells you part of the bottle was made from recycled plastic. Every bit of fossil fuel saving helps.

recycling USA recycled material

For the kids

Green Toys Inc. have a bunch of different products likes buckets, water toys, kitchen play sets, cars, airplanes and an awesome green recycling truck. All their toys are non-toxic, safe, BPA- and phalate-free, and made in USA from curbside collected recyclables.

Re-Play make their products using only recycled milk jugs. While Green Toys focus on play, Re-Play has all the essentials for baby dinner time.  Eco-friendly and made in USA.

Did you know that for every pound of recycled milk jugs used to make products, enough energy is saved to power a TV for three weeks straight?

Cookware

SCANPAN utilizes 100% recycled aluminum – aluminum that might previously have served as beer cans, bicycle frames or something else. These pans are made in Denmark though (from aluminum consumed over there naturally!).

Did you know that 75% of the world’s produced aluminum is still being used, over and over, thanks to recycling efforts?

There are countless products using recycled materials! We just need to make it a habit to read labels so we can pick them out from the rest. Remember, if you’re not buying products made from recycled materials, you’re not really recycling.

Got a favorite “recycling” brand? Please share it in the comments! :)

Read more about recycling and material’s recyclability here, at Going Zero Waste.

 

Five “help the planet” ways to celebrate Earth Day!

Earth day 2017 is this week; April 22nd!

Our lovely and diverse planet certainly deserves some extra attention and helpful hands during these strange times (leaving the Paris Climate Agreement? Come on! Is he for real?) – what better day to provide just that than Earth Day?

And, yes, this is a repost from last year’s Earth Day post; I have a newborn in the house and reusing is a good thing ;)

Now, here are five earth-friendly ideas for Earth Day, that’ll make a difference and hopefully kickstart some healthy and sustainable habits! 

Earth Day action items

1. Do a “Zero Waste” day

Create awareness about our dependency on single-use-plastic and packaging by attempting to do a “zero waste” day! (That means you shouldn’t create any trash all day.)

Bring your reusable water bottle, coffee mug, a fabric towel and a set of utensils everywhere you go. Say no to the receipt, buy in bulk and bring your own shopping bags, produce bags and containers to the store if you need to go grocery shopping. No need for anything fancy, as long as it’s all reusable!

(If you must buy something packaged, pick metal or cardboard containers which you, of course, must recycle. Plastic is strictly forbidden. More tips here)

2. Go Vegan

That’s no dairy, no eggs and no meat for the day. Discover how nutritious and great plant-based foods taste and make you feel! 

Keep in mind that butter and milk are in a lot of processed or cooked foods so read all the tags, ask questions at restaurants and dare to be “difficult” if you need to be. Indian, Thai and Mediterranean restaurants often offer good vegan choices.

(Yes, thank goodness wine is vegan, so go ahead and have that glass!)

3. Share transport, bike or walk 

Leave your car at home and take a ride with a colleague, friend or the local bus. Or better yet; walk or bike if distance and bike lanes allow.

4. Skip the shower 

Save some water and lots of chemicals from going down the drain by skipping the shower. I’m sure you can “make it” another day without… You might end up getting a new creative hairdo out of it! ;)

5. Plant a Tree 

If you’re feeling lazy and the four above are daunting – start with something simple like supporting a non-profit that benefits the planet! My favorite is Stand for Trees. For every 10 dollars you spend, you compensate 1 tonne of CO2, support a forest community and they won’t offer a tacky gift or ask for your home address – no risk for spammy snail mail. (The average American emits 20 tonnes of CO2 per year.)

You can get involved and do good at EarthDay.org as well.

If we all did these thing everyday, imagine the cooling effect it would have on our climate! But for now, I am just challenging you to attempt them all, as well as you can, on Saturday – I know y’all like small steps.

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

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

Ever found yourself at the grocery store or market completely unprepared? 

“It’s just so hard to remember the reusable bags when I go to the store! And sometimes I have them in my car but leave them out there and don’t remember until I’m almost done!”

I’ve heard this statement a few times. I am not really sure why it’s a big deal to go get the bags in the car, but apparently it is. Probably because the kids are DONE with shopping at that point, and the freezer section items are already in cart (do enlighten me, lazy bunch!)

Let’s leave the car-bags scenario off the table for now and consider if you’ve come to the grocery store completely unprepared: no reusable (shopping and produce) bags to be seen. Maybe you just stopped on your way home from work or an outing. How annoying!

But, are there ways you can reduce your waste output anyway? 

Yes!

Here’s my quick guide to bringing home less packaging, waste and fewer plastic bags, even when you are completely unprepared.

1. Most produce don’t need a bag!

Pineapple, melon, kiwi, carrots, potatoes, oranges, onions, avocados, eggplant; anything protected by a peel does not need a bag, so skip the produce bag altogether. Tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers (most veggies) actually have a protective layer and the dirt you bring upon them from riding the cart is minimal compared to what they’ve already been through before you picked them up. However, I get that it can seem strange to let them go bare. Start with produce with peels and work up the courage to never bag anything – except tiny things like mushrooms and berries that could literally fall through the bottom of the cart if you don’t. (Reuse any bags you do take!)

While you are in the produce department, ask if you can have the lid of a banana box – you’ll use this to pack in later.

Zero waste plastic free grocery shopping
“We don’t want plastic covers – we want to ride bare!”

2. Go for paper cartons, glass containers or metal cans

Rice, beans, eggs, sugar, flour, baking soda and other items will provide you with the choice between paper cartons and plastic packaging like bags or styrofoam (yuck!). Always go for carton, it’s recyclable (and/or compostable).

So is glass and metal, which makes these two materials good choices as well when selecting items like sauces, oils, PB and jams. Of course, you have to remember to recycle them!

3. Place the things you don’t absolutely need on hold

I’m sure you’ve got a few items on your list (or on your mind) that you planned on buying this time, which you could actually do without another couple of days. Leave them at the store until your next shopping trip, one when you hopefully remember your reusable produce, bread, bulkbin and check out bags. 

4. If all else fails – Skip the dairy

If your cart is filling up with plastic anyway, maybe you need some pre-made foods to get you through the week ( NO judging here!) you might feel bad about all the waste you’re creating. Lessen the blow by skipping the dairy aisle! Yes, dairy is a waste nightmare: a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. There are many good alternatives to diary, just a browse away (in the dairy section).

5. Be alert at check out

No time to snooze! Tell the crew to not use any plastic bags, you have a banana box in your cart! Big, bulky items like juice jugs, six packs of beer, paper towels and such, can go straight in the cart since you’ll be driving the cart to your car.

In order to encourage stores to stop printing receipts remember to say “no thank you” to receipts and printed coupons too. Did you know that the material that makes receipts “shiny” to the touch is actually BPA – a dangerous plastic coating PROVEN to be hormone disrupting? Knowing that, you don’t want to touch that receipt anyway, on a waste saving mission or not. 

(If your favorite foods in the whole world come in plastic or simply has too much packing, email the maker. Tell them to rethink their packaging: reduce or switch. If we all reach out when we see bad eco-habits, we can make a change!)

Do you have any other tips and tricks for the unprepared when it comes to avoiding waste at the grocery store? Let me know!

What do you know about methane? (A quick intro and what YOU can do)

A couple of weeks ago in reference to our compost bin, I told you that 20% of human methane emissions come from waste decomposition. I know, I know, you have probably been thinking a lot about that, maybe even stayed awake at night, and wondered, what about the other 80%?

Wonder no more. Here’s the breakdown.

Methane's impact on climate change

Why is methane an important greenhouse gas?

Methane (CH4) is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted from human activities. In 2014, it accounted for about 11 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but it is much more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2 is. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of methane on climate change is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.

The government has an important role to play in reducing our methane emissions, especially when it comes to the fossil fuel piece of the pie (42%). The majority of these emissions are leakages from fracking and processing of oil and natural gas. Fracking is a nasty technology, and no one has exact numbers on how much methane is released every year, as the fossil fuel companies conveniently hide that information from the authorities. Remember the Aliso Canyon leak in California last year? It spewed enough methane into the atmosphere to equal the greenhouse gases emitted by more than 440,000 cars in a year. Scary stuff.

Driving an electrical vehicle, reducing plastic consumption and installing solar panels are actions consumers can take to help reduce emissions from fossil fuel.

Speaking of consumers, I don’t think I need to tell you how to reduce the methane emissions (30%) from ruminants, do I?

Ruminants are the farm animals who eat and digest grass (called enteric fermentation), mainly cows raised for beef or dairy, but also buffalo, sheep and goats. So hey, just to be clear; CUT BACK your consumption. Choose chicken over beef if you insist on meat and replace dairy with plant-based options. (Cattle also contributes large amounts of CO2, through transports, processing and the clearing of forests to make room for more livestock.)

The easiest way to reduce methane emissions from landfill (20%), is to lower your total trash production! Yes, we humans produce trash like never before. Start a compost and stop using one time use items. Like what? Like plastic bags, straws, cutlery, paper plates, napkins, disposable diapers, Starbucks cups, wrapping paper. You know, all the things you only use ONCE but last in landfills forever.

In the “other” piece of the pie we find all the natural sources of methane (6%). Wetlands are the biggest emitter, but also volcanoes, wildfires and sediment play a part. Our wonderful planet is designed for handling the gases from these sources, and we don’t have to do anything about them. Phew!

I read somewhere that a reduction of global emissions by just 22 Million tons per year would result in stabilization of methane concentrations in the atmosphere. I don’t know if that’s still true (the article was several years old), however, such a reduction represents just about 5% of total methane emissions; a small reduction which should be more than doable. The problem is, with the world’s hunger for beef, corrupt governments who favor fossil fuel, and cheap coal becoming available to burn in areas of the developing world (hoping they won’t use it!), we could easily be moving the trend in the opposite (wrong) direction.

Finally, we should all be aware that this beef-loving, fracking-addicted nation, plays a HUGE part in the world’s total methane emissions. There are no exact numbers but it’s estimated that up to 60% of all methane emissions are because of the USA’s activities alone.

It’s HERE that change must take place.

At least we, you and I, can do our part. If we all take small measures to reduce our impact, a significant reduction will be in the bag.

‘Tis the season to be GIVING

And not some random notebook or scented candle.

It’s the season for giving to non-profit organizations. To trustworthy human rights advocates and local community initiatives, but more importantly to the groups and organizations fighting for our planet.

This year, maybe more so than ever, we have to step up and vote with our dollars. With the political climate and the uncertainties 2017 brings, this is the time to look at how and where you can find a few dollars per month to give to non-government organizations fighting for YOUR cause. Be creative; skipping just two take-out lattes per month equals 10 dollars for donations.

Now, how can one incorporate a charity gift into an actual Christmas present?

Below are just a few ideas I have on how to do it. All ways are grand when it comes to supporting a greener planet (or other cause) and giving meaningful gifts.

1. Make an agreement with your family

Instead of purchasing physical gifts to each other, make a pledge that all adults donate for example 100 dollars to an environmental organization of their choice. Don’t know any? Here are some I like.

Stand for Trees

This organization’s focus is to plant, restore and protect forests and forest communities in areas subject to deforestation and big money interests. The cool thing about their site is that you know the amount of carbon you prevent per donation, and you don’t have to give them personal details, like your address. I donate to them every year to offset my carbon footprint. (Link)

Rainforest Action Network

They fight for all types of environmental justice, such as saving rain forests, campaigning against fracking, standing up to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They recently took part in Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Before The Flood (which I recommend you see if you haven’t). They run a lot of petitions too, where all you donate is your name. Yes, free impact! I suggest you follow them on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss any. (Link)

National Park Foundation

Is there anything more amazing about America than her National Parks? I think not. America without them would be a disaster. Speaking of which, make a plan to go visit some next year, and while there, support the park by shopping for merchandise at the park shops. We like to bring home a refrigerator magnet from each park; made in USA and package free. (Link)

Sierra Club

If anyone can fight Trump it’s them. These guys stand up to corruption, take on big oil, and produce some kick-butt informative videos. They’re the most influential environmental organization we have. (Recently they actually sued the EPA for having too lax regulations in the Ohio valley, causing air pollution in Washington State.) Sierra Club is the organization that all environmental thugs hate (and fear) the most. That’s why we love them. (Link)

img_8048

2. Make a personal gift card

Did out that paper, that glue stick and those old stickers you never used. Make a little card of your own and inform the recipient that you’ve donated X amount of dollars to an organization in their name (include the emailed tax receipt of the donation if you feel the need). Pick an organization you feel strongly about and encourage the recipient to make monthly donations to the same. (Monthly, steady donations make the most impact even if low.)

3. Pick something from a gift shop

Now this is my least favorite since it’s bordering on “unnecessary consumption”, but I realize some people prefer to give an actual item (especially to the young Christmas guests). If so, you might as well support a cause with your purchase!

World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)

Adopt a species and get an information kit, or build a bucket of fluffy, endangered animals for a little one. Your symbolic adoption supports WWF’s global efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats. (Link)

Wolf Conservation Center (WCC)

Wolves are cool! Kids think wolves are cool, right? Adopt a wolf and pick something in the gift shop to wrap. WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. (Link)

Standing Rock T-shirt (#NoDAPL)

Get THE statement t-shirt of the season: supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock! The initiative is started by actress Shailene Woodley and all proceeds benefit the people protesting and fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tees are made by Bella and Canvas (known for fair and ethical production) and 100% cotton (eco-friendly!). Bernie already got his. Watch out for t-shirt scams on Amazon. (Link)

Not so hard to pick something, is it?! If for some reason, you’re not keen on any of these, search and you shall find!

‘Tis the season to make good choices. Fa la la la la, la la la la.

** Share this post tomorrow on the Global day of Giving 11/29/16 using hashtag GivingTuesday. **

Five easy ways to cut back on your dairy consumption (for the sake of your health!)

Yes, dairy.

I first started to cut back on my own dairy consumption in an attempt to reduce acne and breakouts and it worked, however this post is going to be about the cancer building properties of animal based foods, focusing on dairy.

Processed foods, refined sugars, air pollution and chemicals found in cleaning products and lotions all help cancer tumors grow. This is somewhat accepted knowledge by now, but no-one seems to want to talk about the effects that meat and dairy have on our bodies*.

plant food consumption vs disease diagram

Why is dairy so bad for us? Well, we consume a lot of it, and most importantly, the main protein (casein) found in milk, has proven to be an extremely potent fuel in firing up cancer cells, especially for liver, breast and prostate cancer.

A series of lab tests, for example, using rats, concluded that when cancer genes (or clusters) are present, a diet consisting of 20% dairy protein in fact grows the cancer, while a diet with 5% doesn’t. Switching from a 20% dairy diet down to a 5%, actually stops the growth and even reduces the tumor over time!

It doesn’t matter how organic, local or non-gmo your dairy products are – the building blocks are the same. You’ll think twice about that organic, “all natural” strawberry milk you put in your kids’ lunch box now, I hope.

And sit back and think about this for a second: why would breast milk, by nature designed for another mammal, be good for humans? Do we aim to grow at the rate of a baby cow? We’re the only species on this earth that steals and uses breast milk from another. Awful! Rude!** 

Now, let’s take action.

1. Change your milk.

There are lots of great options to diary, like organic almond, cashew, coconut, oat and soy milk. I promise neither you nor your kids will get sick from protein deficiency. Ask your doctor how many patients he sees for lack of protein in a year (none). Don’t worry about the calcium either, osteoporosis is most common in high dairy consuming countries (like USA and Sweden). Due to the high acidity in animal products the body actually uses our bones’ calcium (a base) to naturalize that acid, meaning the more dairy we consume, the weaker our bones.

2. Change your ice-cream and yoghurt 

Organic coconut milk ice-cream and yoghurt is like the best thing that ever happened to me. Try Nada Moo or So Delicious varieties. Your kids will LOVE this.

3. Change your sautee and frying base

Please note that I am not in any way a promoter of synthetic margarine or high fat oils! Personally I use mostly organic olive oil for any satueeing action. Recently I found a brand made right here in Texas. Shop around, find a vegan option you like, and use scarcely. 

4. Change your sandwich base

Peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil, hummus, avocado, tomatoes… so many foods are delicious on a piece of bread. Still, if you feel you need a sandwich basic, instead of using cream cheese or butter go for vegan mayo. There are lots of great versions, we use Just Mayo from Hampton Creek which comes in a gigangtic jar that lasts forever and saves packaging.

5. Just Cut back!

Sure, I’ll have a pizza and won’t reject a meal with dairy in it at mom’s house. It’s about reducing! Always opt for light or no cheese and skip it all together on bean burgers, fajitas, fries and other foods that don’t “need it”. Learn to enjoy your tea and coffee black. Have your pie without the ice-cream. Get it?

Our bodies are amazing and want to be healthy. Once you remove the constant fuel to the fire, they can handle a slice of cheesecake now and then. (This philosophy also applies to meat y’all.) A plant-based, whole foods diet is the best thing you can feed your body for longterm health (and beauty!).

Please continue to support cancer research with any means you want and can afford. (Just don’t buy useless merchandise!) We still need to find cures. But also remember to create awareness about diet based disease prevention.

Tell your friends and family about the effects of animal based proteins! Do your own research when it comes to disease vs. meat and dairy consumption (it’s a click away) or set up a screening at your house of the Forks over Knives movie (it’ll tell you everything you need to know and it’s on Netflix!).

In addition to all the positive changes to your body’s strength and health, our environment will also thank you for reducing your dairy consumption. Dairy cows fart and burp methane (greenhouse gas), use endless resources (grains, water, lands) and create much more waste per head than humans do.

Got milk?

*Refer to The China study.

**Dairy cows actually have a miserable life, separated from their babies only hours after birth, constantly artificially impregnated while living in small booths for three to four years until they become low grade hamburger meat.