Tag Archives: Air pollution

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.

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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.

Four ways I plan to fight the new administration (without social media!)

Hey you. You, who like me, sat at home and cried elephant tears watching Donald be elected president of The United States on November 8.

You, who like me are now helplessly watching him fill his cabinet with racists, billionaires, establishment hot shots and climate change deniers.

You, who like me, want to do something. This post is for you.

The inauguration is this Friday and our new government is threatening many rights we hold dear. Same sex marriage, the right to safe abortions and health care (congress already started working on that!), freedom of speech and a free press. Being an environmentalist, what I fear the most is that the serious measures needed to combat climate change will not take place with a republican majority congress (wow, they scare me!) and a billionaire president.

However, I know that as an environmentalist I must always remain an optimist!

Despair never helped anyone win the war, right? So let’s not start thinking that the politicians (we didn’t elect) control everything that happens to us. They don’t!

On another note, anyone else feel like just tuning off from social media? The celebrity videos with serious faces talking about “fighting” this or that, the memes, the petitions, the “breaking news” that lead nowhere?

Personally, I’ve been thinking of ways to really fight. OFFLINE. In silence. Live my values. Stab them from behind (insert evil grin here). I know that no matter how clever my tweets are, congress is not going to stop their agenda because Anna got five re-tweets.

I came up with FOUR ways I can fight for myself, my values, my family and against climate change.

So, I am sharing them with you now, so you can do the same and make a difference too. (You could also just read my entire blog for inspiration! Ha!).

Here we go.

1. Go solar, take a stand

This is an easy way to fight back: change electricity providers! I’ve said it before, it’s not that big of a hassle, I promise. Search for providers in your area that offer green energy, and they will help you move over to one of their 100% renewable plans. Billionaire investors only care about good business, and a change like this one shows them that we demand clean energy and want to pay for it. My husband just joined our Home Owners Association’s architectural board to help push the board to eliminate the bylaw that says no homes can install solar panels on their roofs. The fight for clean energy starts locally, folks.

(Believe me though, no one can “make coal great again”. Building a solar plant is cheaper, faster and safer. Investing and reviving the old coal plants of this country is never going to happen large scale; there is no money to be made, no matter what Donald promised his supporters.)

2.  Donate and support

Support organizations that fight your battles while you’re in your cubicle. Yes, donate! Monthly contributions make the biggest impact so be creative when it comes to finding room in your budget. Maybe you can cut back on lattes, fashion, cocktails or change cable providers (more money savings tips here!). Donating to causes that matter to you will make you feel great. Planned Parenthood could use your help, the people of Flint still don’t have clean water, DAPL is not completely stopped yet, and a number of environmental organizations are in desperate need of strong support right now. (More inspiration here.) Pick some players and place your bets.

3. Get organized

Remember that time the tea party freaked out about Obama’s Affordable Care Act and started working like crazy to obtain congress republican majority so they could block all of his ideas? Take note – reverse. You may not be able to convert die-hard republicans (and they do have the Koch Brothers’ millions of dollars to back them) but you may still be able to inspire a few couch-potatoes to go vote blue in the 2018 mid-term elections. Few republican senator seats are up for grabs, but we should still aim for balancing the playing field there and flip the house. I’m not really clear yet on how I will play a part, however I am reading Bernie’s book right now, hoping to get some good ideas. Also, I found this list on how to put together a local activist group – it might be a good start!

4. Never eat beef. Yes, that’s a “never”.

No joke, the single most effective way to combat climate change without any government support, carbon taxes or legislation, is to eliminate beef, dairy and other animal products from our diets! (Beef being enemy number 1.)

The evidence is in, there are no counter arguments, our addiction to meat is a major contributor to climate change. The leading cause of deforestation. Major methane emitter. Leading cause for species extinction. Responsible for ocean dead zones. Oh, it’s a long list.

Here’s the cool thing, no matter how much we fear Donald, his cabinet and the republican sell-outs in congress, they cannot come to our houses and force-feed us burgers. Nor can they sneak up on us in the supermarket and make us buy a gallon of ice-cream for dessert.

For me, eating a plant-based diet means just that: it’s based on plants. I don’t call myself a vegan because I honestly eat a bit of everything when occasion demands. For our family, some flexibility is needed in order to maintain a low-carbon diet long term. We started our transition after watching Cowspiracy, about a year and a half ago. Before that no one had ever looked me in the eye and told me about the devastating effects the meat and dairy industries have on our environment. As soon as I knew, over night, I changed my diet. (I will admit I am a very strong-willed person ;))

Take a minute and make a list of obstacles you have in your life that might hinder your transition to a plant-based diet. Be honest, be open-minded, but don’t let “my husband/wife loves meat” be the reason holding you back, especially not if you are the one cooking at home!

Find out where you can make changes, and make them. When you do, you’ll find that vegan and low-carbon meals are available in a wider range than you imagined. Hello Indian food! And how great is Chili’s black bean burger? Ever tried to use Beyond Meat pea-protein in your bolognese instead of beef? Options are endless. You’ll feel so good making better choices. And every time you eat, you get to pat yourself on the back for fighting for your values and our future.

Republicans can NOT force-feed us. Yay!

This will be my last post about this awful election.

When midterm elections approach in 2018 I plan on bringing politics back into the blog again. This is an optimistic space I use to spread awareness and inspire change, and I can’t do much else but watch this republican spectacle unfold (while living true to my values). Please, if you have serious ideas on how we can organize ourselves and make sure we are never in this situation again, shoot me an email at made.right.here @ outlook.com.

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To read more on plant-based diets, I recommend these made right (here) posts:

  1. How to substitute dairy products and why
  2. Introduction to the Cowspiracy documentary (which you also MUST watch!)
  3. This post with a super informative video on meat (AND one on energy and one on electric driving)

And these resources:

  1. Appetite for Reduction: 125 fast and filling low-fat vegan recipes (cookbook)
  2. Veganomicon: The ultimate Vegan Cookbook
  3. Forks over Knives Page & App
  4. Eat Drink Better.com (Sustainable eats online for a healthy lifestyle)

Six months of driving a Tesla: What I know so far

First, let me just get the obvious, in your face Tesla fact out of the way. Yes, by the time I’m halfway to my house, your growling V8 is still revving up to get you out of the parking lot. Hang in there buddy!

Now, let’s get down to Tesla Model S owning business. We get lots of questions about our car from people we know, but also from strangers in parking lots. Based on the questions we get most, I decided to compile a list of information and answers in this post!

Of course, I’m an eco-blogger and this is all written from my point of view based on personal experiences with this beautiful machine.

It’s not zero emissions, but it sure can be

On paper, our Tesla is zero emissions because all the money we spend on electricity goes to a 100% renewable energy provider, but in real life our carbon footprint per mile is around 50% of that of a comparable midsize gas-driven sedan.

See, In Texas the energy is made up by several different sectors; nuclear, coal, natural gas and about 10% wind power is pumped into the grid. Since we use the grid for power, a mix of those technologies fuels our car. That combined with the higher efficiency of the electric engine, adds up to us emitting about half the pollution that a single gasoline engine emits. As Texas moves more towards wind and away from coal, that number of course will improve (there’s hoping!).

In states like Oregon, Idaho and Washington which are mainly powered by hydropower, driving an EV (electric vehicle) is actually very close to zero emissions, so owning one there boosts the eco benefits. If you have your own solar panels, of course you’re emitting zero carbon per mile for real. (We are looking into it!)

Flipping off the oil companies feels SO good (every day)

Let’s face it. Filling up the car with gas is not an enjoyable moment. Not having to do so at all is amazing (and less germy).

Each time I drive by a gas station I feel pretty darn good about the fact that my car was fully loaded by the time I jumped into it in the morning. People seem worried about the 4-5 hour duration it takes to charge the car at home (from completely empty to full), but honestly, don’t most of us spend at least 7-8 hours in our homes at night? I know I do. And for the charge to take that long, the car must be running on empty. If you drive 40-50 miles in a day, the charge time is more like an hour.

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At home “fueling”. Safe. Cozy. Smell free. No pin code needed.

Not giving my money to ExxonMobil or Chevron is also wondrous (every day). Like I wrote above, our electricity provider is 100% green, so that’s where our money goes now instead of going to oil giants.

Savings? About 30 dollars per month with our driving habits and electricity provider (and current low gas prices!).

You can charge your Tesla in a regular 110V/10A outlet, but in order to charge as fast as we do, you must have your house, or garage, wired with at least a 240V/40A outlet, a $700-$1000 one time cost. The higher the power, the faster the charge. (A certified electrician can tell you what is possible in your home.)

Do we ever forget to charge? Nah. Plugging in became habit right away. Do we forget to pull the charger out before a trip? No, the car won’t let us go.

Range anxiety is (pretty much) uncalled for

The furthest we’ve taken the Tesla so far is Waco, TX. A good 215 mile trip (one way) from Houston, ending in a town with six Tesla superchargers waiting for us. And with a 270 mile battery life, a trip like that isn’t an issue.

Here’s the thing. The Google maps system in the car is programmed to guide your travel so you stop and charge when you need to. Type in that you’re going to New York and the car will make a plan for your trip including which chargers you should stop at, and for how long to “fuel”. There is no risk of you running out of power, as long as you have half a brain and listen to the car’s needs.

Of course charging at the Tesla superchargers is free, so no need to save up for road trip gas money (just coffee money, unless you happen to find a café that offers that for free as well for Tesla owners, like the Collin Street Bakery chain in Texas).

Sure, charging may take 20 minutes instead of a gas stop that takes five, but on a road trip, it’s not that big of a deal. Take a break, have a snack (the chargers are often walking distance from other amenities) and frankly, we’ve been on one little road trip in six months. 99% of the time we stay in the Houston area, and 270 miles is more than enough to get us anywhere we want to go (or we could just charge at the superchargers here in Houston!)

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Three mean machines supercharging in Waco, TX

My manager thinks 400 miles in one charge will be the magic number to get people to lose the anxiety. Once the EVs get that, the market will boom. I hope he’s right. (Tesla’s new 100kwh battery package already gets 350+ miles.)

Silence is truly golden

No, we don’t miss the sound of a gas guzzling engine when we start the car, or accelerate. It does make a swishing sound, like a turbine starting, when you hit the pedal hard and it is quite awesome (and addictive). The silent cabin makes listening to music pure joy.

Speaking of which, it comes with internet radio (Slacker) and most of the radio stations in the world are accessible for live streaming, anytime, anywhere. There’s no extra charge for this radio awesomeness.

Service is not a problem and the software is constantly updating

At least it has not been for us. Living in a large city with several Tesla showrooms and service locations of course helps us feel confident and relaxed, if something was to happen the car would be picked up or serviced at the location as soon as a Tesla Ranger could make it there.

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Tesla Pick up day :)

And what other car actually gets better with time? As you drive the Tesla it can learn your patterns in order to use energy more efficiently, share road knowledge with other Teslas and the software is automatically updated with the latest improvements as well (via wi-fi).

I don’t care what the news say, the Autopilot works and it rocks

Every time there’s a car accident involving a Tesla, news agencies are having a field day. Imagine if CNN reported each time a Ford or Chevy was involved in an accident! Of course corporate media have ties to oil industries and large car makers, and will report negatively on Tesla whenever they get a chance. They’re hating on Tesla like they were hating on Bernie Sanders. So be it. New ideas and inventions are a little scary for the conservative crowd.

The truth is the Tesla Model S and X are the safest cars on the road today, exceeding the five star crash ratings in every aspect and the AutoPilot (the car’s ability to steer and control speed itself) really works. It is super convenient, especially when I have to peel a banana. Like, who can do that with one hand?

Keep your hand on the wheel (as soon as you’re done with the banana!) and be observant of traffic and when the car beeps and tells you to take control, don’t ignore it and continue watching Harry Potter on your phone (the 17″ awesome touchscreen will not let you watch movies!). Again, listen to the car’s needs.

Needless to say, having a long-range electrical car is just like having any other car, just way more convenient with less pollution, gas pumping and noise. Even if I keep saying that electrical vehicles are the future, I admit our car doesn’t feel futuristic at all, it feels contemporary. And why wouldn’t it? Why should a car in 2016 look, drive and function like a car did ten years ago (or make that a hundred years ago)?

I believe in and passionately promote a future where all our cars are electric! That’s why our family made it a priority to lease one. It matters to us. A lot.

Not everyone will or can have a Tesla, but other than the much longer range and free charging, several benefits above apply to other electrical cars as well. As the Tesla Model 3 is released in 2017, with a $35,000 price tag, we’re one step closer to making long range, beautiful EVs accessible for the masses.

(Ps. Tesla is made right here in the States, boosting American ingenuity and providing thousands of jobs out west and in motor city. Thanks Elon Musk!)

You can take me out of Europe, but you can’t take Sweden out of me (an eco-friendly air travel post)

KLM is my favorite cross-Atlantic airline. Not only can we afford the economy comfort seats (4″ more leg room, a bit more recline and a quiet cabin) but the connection in Amsterdam is usually a breeze (knock on wood) and year after year they earn the award for most environmentally friendly airline. Do I appreciate the fact that I can calculate and compensate the CO2 emissions of my flight immediately as I book it? Yes!

First, the contribution made to the “CO2 ZERO program”, as KLM calls it, is directly and fully invested in various sustainable energy projects. On top of their agenda is development and use of bio-fuels, which they estimate can lead up to an 80% reduction of CO2 emission when used on a large scale.

Interested? Take a look at this informative video about the work they’re doing and why! (Another animated one ;))

KLM reduces their energy consumption by the use of lightweight materials on board, fuel-efficient operations and improved engine cleaning methods. And although their tea and coffee cups are 100% biodegradable and the majority of the food is sourced sustainably and locally, the onboard meal service needs a total re-do, if you ask me.  The meals in coach are still served in single-use plastic packaging which, in addition to the food waste, adds up to an incredible amount of garbage for each flight. Reusable dishes, fabric towels and compostable materials (for disposables) shouldn’t be that hard to do. We also need to see the vegan meal become a standard option on all flights. Let’s not settle for the classic “Do you want the meat or the pasta swimming in cheese?” anymore!

The aviation industry is responsible for about 2-3% of the total CO2 volume caused by people. To be honest, I am surprised the number is that low! Compared to all transport, the contribution from aviation is 12% where cars and trucks come in at a combined 74%. Fun fact: Some of the newer planes, Airbus A380, Boeing 787, ATR-600 and Bombardier CSeries aircrafts, use less than 3 liters or 0.8 gallons of jet fuel per 100 kilometers or 62 miles (per passenger). This matches the efficiency of many modern compact cars (and is actually more efficient that many American SUVs).

In collaboration with Delft University of Technology (in Holland), KLM is working on the development of an aircraft they call the “CleanEra”, which will be 50% more efficient and produce 50% less noise. The expectation is that this aircraft could be flight-ready already 2025.

In this global world we live in, I realize we cannot function without air travel. We all use it from time to time and I don’t think electric planes or cross-ocean super shuttles are happening in my lifetime (but I’d love to be proven wrong – Elon Musk, hoping you will do so!) so it’s super important to me that the airline I choose to travel with, do what they can to promote sustainability!

Where are we heading? To the motherland.

Green pine trees, cold fresh air, family, recycling bins in every corner and the best potato salad and candy in the world awaits (nope, not being subjective at all) in my home of Sweden. It was recently named most sustainable country in the world, 99% of trash is reused, recycled or used as bio-fuel, and Sweden aims to be completely fossil fuel free by 2050. No wonder I became an eco-activist ;)

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Don’t forget about me and the blog while I’m gone! Thank goodness for pre-scheduled posts!

How many cows in one burger patty? How many barrels of oil does one EV save? What is FRACKING? (Watch a video and find out)

Ok, this is a cheat post from “Anna the writer”, as this post will have very few words. I just have to share some amazing videos with you that, personally, I can watch over and over.

Yes, they’re all about the environment and our future, so naturally I am super interested. But they are also super easy to watch – good animation does that to a video.

The first one contemplates this: what happens when electrical cars become mainstream? Can the oil industry ever bounce back from a crash created by pure lack of demand? How many barrels of oil per year does one electrical car replace? Hint; it’s more than 10.

The second one is all about them burgers and those sad feedlots. But this video is actually kind of cute, awesome and very informative. Did you know that eating corn makes the cows fart and burp MORE than they do eating grass? And how many different cows are mixed into one hamburger patty? Many more than you think. (Gross.)

The third one, I’ve watched so many times; it’s about fracking. As the people in Porter Ranch, California have left their homes due to the health risks associated with the largest methane leak in history, the energy companies keep doing this, and call it “50% cleaner energy”. Have a watch, there ain’t nothing clean about it. (And only one berning presidential candidate wants to stop it…)

It’s amazing what you can learn from three five-minute animated videos! If only more people would actually listen to the messages. (Be honest; did you watch them?)

Three videos, three important things we need to do to keep planet earth healthy:

  1. Drive electrical cars
  2. Reduce beef and dairy consumption drastically
  3. Stop using fossil fuels for energy*

I’m in – are you?

*Start today by switching to a 100% renewable energy provider, like Green Mountain Energy

Please don’t take my tag away from me! (What I learned from Cowspiracy)

Whenever there is a new documentary on Netflix promising to get our wheels turning, we always watch it. Watch, absorb, discuss, research and make necessary changes. So when Leonardo DiCaprio (my favorite eco-celebrity) posted that “Cowspiracy” was available, we knew we had to watch it.

There’s a lot to be learned from watching this amazing movie about how agriculture, raising livestock and eating meat, beef in particular, impact our environment. I will not be able to do the movie justice by attempting to summarize what it’s all about; you have to see it (and listen!) for yourself.

Personally, we knew eating meat was bad for the environment (cow burps and farts = methane), but honestly, we had no idea to what extent.

Water usage, meat vs. plant
Water usage, meat vs. plant

One of the sources interviewed in this fantastic movie said something like; “No meat-eater can call themselves an environmentalist”. Based on the fact that livestock is the largest global source of methane and nitrous oxide pollution, number one reason for deforestation, causes drought and produces excessive amounts of waste, to name a few issues; there’s no doubt that he is right.

This blog is all about tags. I’m always saying we must check the tag to see what something contains, where something is made, what a brand stands for. Tags and labels are important, and when it comes to myself, I like to think my tag says “made in Sweden”, contents: opinionated (150% of daily recommended value) environmentalist. I can’t have my tag taken away from me!! I’ve built a whole blog around my tag! Must eat better!

Land it takes to have a steak.
Land it takes to have a steak.

We saw the movie a few months ago, and since then, low, lower, lowest meat consumption for me and hubby. It’s not like we ate beef several times a week, and I was already doing meat-free-lunch every day, but we’ve stepped up our game dramatically. It hasn’t been a very hard change for me to be honest. But, yes, I do need to work on my vegan-cooking skills. I love cooking, so I am sure I’ll get better in time (that’s the optimist in me talking).

You know we’re saving for our first made right (here) Tesla, and here’s an interesting fact from the movie; switching to an electric vehicle (from a gas driven) will save a teeny bit more CO2 per year, than what switching to a plant based diet from a meat based diet will (only talking CO2 not the other worse greenhouse gases). But, how easy is it to change the purchases at the grocery store today compared to saving up and buying a new car? Exactly, that’s a no-brainer; start at the grocery store. Combined, these two changes are dynamite – in a good way.

We must all admit that we don’t know everything, and we all have the right to be wrong – that’s the cool thing about being human. We are wrong to eat meat in the vast amounts that we are, and the solution is really simple.

This movie got the world talking. It got me and my friends talking. Thank you Leo and Cowspiracy, that is truly grand.

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Pictures are from Cowspiracy’s Facebook page and copyright Culinary Schools.org. Read more at cowspiracy.com.

Personal note: I reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging I bring into our home, by not buying meats. It’s also easier to check tags on veggies than it is on meats (and processed foods) making it easy to shop local.

This week’s impulse purchase: A few tons of CO2 and some trees

Have you ever experienced the mysterious ways your friends like things on Facebook?

What I mean is this: Post a picture of yourself in a new dress, tag it #MadeinUSA #OutfitILove and get 25 likes, five comments and 100 views on the blog. Post a link to a relevant article on land destruction (so sad) or animals being saved from captivity (yay); get two likes, no comments, no views. (One of those likes being from my husband.)

So when I came across this video and shared it and no one seemed to care, I figured I’d share it here too. Maybe a few eco-conscious followers will watch it :)

I didn’t know who Prince Ea was before I stumbled upon his important message. He is saying EXACTLY what I want to tell people who seem to not have woken up yet. We have one planet.

Favorite Quote: “What ever you are fighting for; Racism, Poverty, Feminism, Gay Rights or any type of Equality – It won’t matter in the least, because if we all don’t work together to save the environment we will be Equally Extinct.”

No matter your cause; saving wildlife, planting trees, cutting back on meat, shopping sustainably, living homemade, committed to zero waste, driving electric… One way or another, you have probably implemented these changes in your life with an intention of doing better for our planet. And the thing is, once you start walking down one eco-path, you quickly embrace another. Why? Because they make sense.

Thanks to all the bloggers who inspire me to walk new paths! And, of course, thanks to Price Ea who made me make an impulse purchase (I hardly ever do!) in order to save some trees :)

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Must give cudos to Stand for Trees for not asking for my home address or offer to send me some sort of “thank you gift”. Above PDFs in an email, was all I got and wanted.

Got some money burning in your pocket? Donate here to plant some trees and support clean air and lives:

Stand for Trees

Just ’cause it doesn’t cost a lot – doesn’t mean it’s cheap

We live in a world full of opinions. We like, share, re-tweet, comment and favorite things on a daily basis. As I share my posts on social media, I get many lovely comments, likes and great tips for brands I need to check out, which makes me so happy! Thank you friends!

After I shared my post on shopping and new LookBook, there were some comments and questions about M-O-N-E-Y. “People must have a lot of money to be able to do what you do”. I have seen similar questions being asked to other people blogging about their sustainable lifestyle and zero waste. The question always is: Are you rich?

Well, no, but I know that not all people can afford to be on a not made in China challenge, since in many cases imports cost less (dollars), so I am very fortunate in that regard. I totally agree that someone struggling to make ends meet, cannot be expected to also read every single tag, worry about origin, and not shop at Wal-Mart. Changing the world cannot be on their shoulders, neither in the US, nor in other countries.

But, the way I see it, this challenge is more about effort than it can ever be about money. Not so much “Do you have the means to live sustainably and shop local?” but “Do you want to take the time and make an effort to make better choices?” People use money as an excuse to cover for lack of effort. (And on the flip side, some rich people don’t care at all, despite the fact that they can afford to buy everything made right)

Are you hiding behind the
Are you hiding behind the “money excuse”?
  • Everyone can afford to shop less. I know they call it retail therapy for a reason, but come on, it ain’t working for you long term anyway. If you “have to” shop, remember it’s better to buy one imported sweater than four.
  • Everyone can afford to bring their own shopping bags to the grocery store.
  • Everyone can afford to say “No thank you, I don’t need a bag as I have about 20 feet of walking to do until I get to my car”. Guess what – all stores accept that. There will be no embarrassing fight!
  • Everyone can afford to use reusable containers for leftovers, lunches, veggies… instead of using a one time ziplock bag.
  • Everyone can afford to drink filtered water from their fridge, faucet piece or pitcher instead of bottled water from the grocery store and to say “no thank you” to straws and lids.
  • Everyone can afford to shop previously owned instead of new.
  • Everyone can afford to eat less meat.

Now; What does my made in USA clothes really cost? Good question!

I am happy to share, so I listened to a comment and added prices to the LookBook! Just for kicks I decided to calculate how much I have spent on clothes in the last 20 months. This number includes shoes, jewelry, scarves, workout clothes… Pretty much everything except prescription eye-wear. It came out to about 85 dollars per month. Is that a high number? Are the clothes I show in the Look Book expensive? I don’t know what other people spend so I’d love to know! To me, $85 sounds very reasonable. Maybe, behind my back, people are thinking my clothes look old and dated (since most of my wardrobe is 2011-2013), I don’t know, but I don’t feel like I’m that person. I like what I wear and I buy enough new things to feel good :)

I’m on this journey because I believe in it 100% so keep the comments and questions coming! It inspires me to write more great posts (how modest!)!

I will end this post with the wise words of super awesome, inspiring woman Kacey Musgraves. (You can define “cost” and “cheap”, below, however you want.)

“I’m happy with what I’ve got, ‘cause what I’ve got is all I need. Just ‘cause it don’t cost a lot – don’t mean it’s cheap.”

Also see my post from 2014 on this subject: All the Money you’ll be saving…!

In a world of apps; my memories are still handwritten

I bet you didn’t know that USA organizers, calendars and day-planners are made in China – did you?

As an eco-girl I should be using some kind of “app-planner”, but I just don’t want to! I love lying in bed before sleep, writing some notes on what happened to me during the day, without the glare of a screen. My planners never end up in landfill though, I keep them all, and sometimes I go back and remember a random Wednesday from two years ago; maybe we saw a movie, went swimming or had delicious spaghetti.

plannerThat being said, the paper industry is a big polluter. You can read all about it on Wikipedia, it does not paint a pretty picture.

USA has hundreds of paper mills… yet we can’t seem to find the resources among the 100,000,000’s of tons of paper and paperboard they produce to make planners? I guess not; since all of the planners I saw at Barnes & Noble, except two, were made in China. The two best options were bound here, but the paper may still be imported! How can that be a better business case than using paper made here? – I wonder.

My choice was between Quo Vadis and Gallery Leather; both bound in USA. I picked Gallery Leather since the size was just right, had a weekly planner (best layout for me) and there was one in salmon color screaming my name (Hubby said “oh, that’s soo you!”). Researching it more, Quo Vadis would have been a better eco-choice as they are committed to materials from certified sustainable forests, no bleaching, water recycling, 100% controlled sourcing – to name a few environmental initiatives they have taken. At least the leather cover of my planner is handcrafted in Maine, I like that.

At the end of day, a planner can be made “here”, but with like many other paper products; hardly ever made “right”…

I still enjoy my planners! The little things you do every day are the things to cherish down the line; it’s nice to have a place to keep them, handwritten.

planner 2

My new best friend is saving the planet, straw by straw

You know, I didn’t want to buy a new reusable water bottle for myself, despite the fact that the cup I had been using had a huge crack in it. I was in super-sustainable-mode when my husband suggested it. But this one was cute, lilac and made in USA (of US and European parts) so I let him buy it for me. Introducing the Life Factory 16 Oz bottle – my new companion.

Picture1Most of us love drinking from a straw, right? So, cups with straws are nice for that reason (think “cold beverage Starbucks cup”), compared to a regular bottle you just open and drink from, but the big drawback is that they will spill if they get to ride the purse, or if you turn them upside down trying to carry groceries, lifting things… I hate that. THIS one on the other hand, combines the awesomeness of drinking from a straw and the convenience of having a no-spill container with its straw cap. And it has a little handle to carry it in (cute!). Another cool thing is that there are no BPA/BPS or phthalates since it is made of glass (water tastes delicious).

So now, this little guy gets to go everywhere with me.

A very fantastic part about this country in general, is that diners, fast food places and coffee shops alike will give you water for free with your meal or coffee. And when I say “I brought my own cup” everyone’s like “ok”. Can you imagine how many plastic straws, cups, lids and wrappers could be saved if more people were doing this?! I am not embarrassed to bring my own at all. I am proud and I love that I get to save cups from going to landfills every day. Every day, folks!

LifeFactory Bottle

And if you are one of those people that walk around your OWN house drinking bottled water from the grocery store, shame on you. That water was bottled, wrapped in plastic and trucked several hundred miles. Evian and Fiji water were imported on a ship! All that energy lost – for water. Even if you put the plastic bottle in the recycling bin, guess what, recycling something takes energy too, and plastic has limited recyclability.

Come on, join the revolution. A reusable water bottle is the coolest thing you can carry. Eco-friendly is so freaking cool.