Tag Archives: blogging

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.

Another year of blogging, more growth and 12 years to save our world

Hey y’all. Is it too late to wish everyone a happy new year?

2018. Wow. I am not sure if it was a great year, a good year or a bad year.

Personally, I think I had a very good year; what’s there to complain about with a beautiful family, stable job and privilege?

Blog wise, I guess I had quite a “bad” year. Not because I didn’t have visitors, but because I lost some of my inspiration to stay green, clean, shop local and to then write about it. Only 37 published posts!

ideas how to celebrate earth day

In terms of personal development, I had a big year. I had to lay someone off at work – not fun but a good learning experience. I had to redefine what sustainability means to me and define how much I can (and want to) actually participate in personal green efforts (like recycling and not shopping). I had to work through endless colds and sleepless nights with our toddler, leading to serious development of skills in the raising children department. I also had to survive the first few months of pregnancy with a toddler and a job that has been more demanding than ever – yes, we are adding to our carbon footprint and having another little one :)

But hey, let’s focus on the sustainability part. I wrote some posts about my efforts and failures last fall and I haven’t really bounced back since then. I am still kind of in that “ah, I’ll do what I have the energy to do” phase, yet I have to say I am super, duper stoked and EXCITED that media, politicians and regular people are finally talking about climate change!

Hello “Green New Deal”, school strikes for climate and every single car manufacturer getting ready to release their own line of electric car models. Yay to more coal plants closing and more wind and solar being built every day. Thank goodness for the scientists who told the world we only have 12 years to change course or head towards extremely severe weather conditions.

About the “12 years” the world has got left to shape up; I’ve been thinking a lot about my own journey and if I can be “fossil fuel free” in twelve years – or sooner.

So, I actually think I (plus family) can come very close to a green life, if infrastructure keeps moving in the right direction (which to me it seems like it does). I know I work better, faster and harder when I have a set deadline. It will take some effort, but here’s what I have come up with:

  • It requires us to stop flying. That means we need to move closer to family so we can travel by car (EV of course!) or train to see them. It also means we need to visit the places we dream about on this continent in the near future, so we don’t feel like we missed out. In the long run I think there will be hyper-loops, electric high-speed planes and other cool connections between Europe and the East Coast of USA but until then we’ll be putting effort into creating a more sustainable living and travel plan.
  • It requires us to only consume renewable energy. I am not concerned about this at all. We know we’ll need a bigger house with two growing boys eventually and at that point we will install solar panels and batteries to run off the grid 24/7.
  • It requires a low carbon food supply. I plan on maintaining a plant based diet and I do believe that within the next 3-5 years, there will be so much plant based (vegan) food in our stores, schools and restaurants that most animal products will begin to phase out. I believe that scientists and farmers will work together to improve practices and more organic food will be available.
  • It requires container ships (currently running on heavy oil products) to clean up their act. Even though I buy lots of local stuff, there are items – and I believe there’ll always be – we must get from certain far-away countries (assuming we continue this lifestyle with owning electronics and bamboo toothbrushes). I am not sure how this will play out. I am hoping to see some initiatives from the shipping industry but I am not sure they’ll work hard enough to get there in time. Thoughts?
  • It requires a society way less dependent on fossil-fuel-based plastics. Aiyoooo. Will they shape up? Will I be able to buy my fave potato salad in bulk? Will giants like LEGO and Disney move towards bio-based materials in time? Remains to be seen.
  • It requires policy, incentives, infrastructure and opportunities created by fair, decent, hard working governments. Will THEY wake up and do something? If there are more “AOC’s” in the global politics-pipeline, odds are we might start seeing things shift. I am hopeful.

Have you been having similar thoughts?

I think knowing I only have until 2030 has had a positive impact on my long term planning – setting goals way larger and way beyond just “pick the vegan lunch option today”. Maybe this new way of thinking is part of why I haven’t blogged much about my day to day green living style!?

Anyway, as always, thanks for being part of “Sustainable Anna” in 2018! I am not sure what 2019 holds but I will be here and I love hearing from you all.

Much love!

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

Hi all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which ones of these do you do?

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

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

Doesn’t sound so bad… right?

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

Much love and ramblings, my friends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How “good” does one woman have to be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Caitlin of Eco Cajun

Caitlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

reusable stainless steel straw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instagram @ecocajun || Ecocajun.com

 

Time to completely DESTROY my reputation as a sustainable shopper!

Have you ever thought to yourself “Man, these eco bloggers sure are missing out”?

I have. Sometimes I wonder if zero waste warriors miss devouring the contents of an unrecyclable bag of chips or drinking a coffee they hadn’t planned for. I wonder if sustainable fashion bloggers secretly want that new coat from Banana Republic. I think some of them do, while others are so addicted to their green lifestyle that they’re all good just being green.

Me, I still get mad and sad when I am out browsing at Marshalls and all the nice cardigans are made by underpaid workers in China and Bangladesh; something I have decided not to support. Basically, I sometimes feel like I am missing out on wearing what I really want to wear.

“Go buy clothes second hand!” greenies will say. Sure, but, it’s just not the same. The stores aren’t as nice and the size options and variety isn’t there. It’s great for browsing and being spontaneous but harder for when you want specific things.

Here’s the deal. I am SUPER tired of my wardrobe. I have two shirts I love at the moment, one cardigan and maybe five tops that are “ok” with a scarf. I know I sound like a western brat, but do you feel me?

I am not 100% sure why this happened all of a sudden. It could be the pregnancy that changed my body a bit so clothes don’t fit right. Or it could be the blonder hair and the bangs (yay bangs!). Or that I am a mom now and my style has changed. Or that I changed jobs. Or that I watched American Horror Story Roanoke and now want to look like Sarah Paulson’s character. Or that during pregnancy I inherited a bunch on new-to-me clothes from my sister (which made me feel brand new and gorge) and then after baby I went back to all the same old stuff I’ve been wearing since 1863.

Let’s just say, I am on the lookout for new clothes! I cleaned out my closet AND I did something completely illegal. I bought the most unethical freaking awesome shoes ever.

Yes, I did.

Everyone knows the shoes change the outfit! I was so tired of only having winter boots, work-out sneakers (and by “work-out” this mama means weekend outings and walks with the stroller) and two pairs of ballerina shoes. I do have heels in my closet (pre 2013) and hiking shoes but I don’t wear those very often.

I did my research online; I looked at the websites of Amour Vert and dozens of other ethical, vegan, made in USA shoe stores. I didn’t find anything I liked, so I dragged my boys to the Ecco store, also known as Euro style heaven, instead.

Sneakers. Made in Indonesia. Leather. Plastic sole. [Insert panic emoji.]

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THEM.

Black Ecco sneakers leather
My dad took this photo! So good!

I thought about naming this blog post “Sorry, not sorry” because that song kept playing in my head while I was thinking about what to write about these shoes. “Baby, I am sorry, I’m not sorry, being so bad got me feelin’ so good” most definitely describes this event. I haven’t regretted this buy for one second. I am not apologizing for not compromising and buying something ethical that wasn’t right for me either – that’s not really sustainable. I got what I wanted, and it wasn’t even made in China! Ha!

“Your shoes are so stylish” said my coworker. “Yeah, they are.”

(And comfortable I might add.)

I do think getting good quality things, that we love, has to be part of being sustainable too. It’s not like I’ll wear these to just one party (who has time for parties!?) and then toss.

So know this, friends. Living perfectly green is my goal, zero waste is a great thought, vegan, sustainable fashion is preferred, always doing my best is a must, yet I think I have the right (ooh, entitlement!) to feel like I am not always missing out.

What do you think?

Can I get a “yay” for new shoes?

PS. Not that I am trying to sell you these shoes, but Ecco isn’t the worst of companies when it comes to employee rights and environmental policies. You can read more here. Hopefully they’ll move towards using vegan leather soon!

Gluten-free, vegan, full-of-seeds Swedish crispy bread (my first ever blog recipe!)

Last week was crazy busy and I didn’t have time to compose anything fantastic for the blog, hence no posting. Busyness is still going strong, mainly at work (not that I would ever blog during work hours!) so let me just share a quick post of my very favorite recipe for vegan, gluten-free, crunchy, fantastic crispbread – which I keep making over and over again.

First, what is crispbread? It’s what you get when you translate “Knäckebröd” say the Swedes. Actually, it is a sort of large cracker which is served as a bread; it can take any toppings you like and is packed with fiber. This crispbread is made up of mostly seeds, instead of wheat flour, which makes it super nutrient packed! Let’s just mention pumpkin seeds with their 32% protein (by weight) and flax seeds which has vital Omega 3 fatty acids for veganistas.

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This recipe is low waste as well; I can get all the seeds and the almond meal in bulk. I do get the arrowroot in plastic and the oil in a glass bottle which I can recycle.

What you need:

  • 4 parts pumpkin seeds (I use a mix of raw and roasted-salted)
  • 2 parts sunflower seeds (raw)
  • 1 part flax seeds or chia/flax 50/50 (raw)
  • 2 parts flour (I use 50/50 gluten free mix flour and almond meal)
  • 0.5 part canola oil*
  • 4 parts boiling water
  • A sprinkle of sea salt as you see fit (needed if you’re using only raw seeds)

1 part is defined as 1 deciliter (dl), 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup. It’s not so much the amount, but the ratio. I use a total of 7 dl of seeds and it makes two 14.5″ x 11″ (37 x 27 cm) pan’s worth. This batch size (in dl) lasts me about two days; I love snacking on this bread and hubby always offers to help finish it.

If you happen to have other seeds at home (sesame, poppy, etc.) feel free to substitute as you like!

What you do:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  2. Pour in the oil and boiling water
  3. Set the oven to 305F (150C)
  4. Stir, and let batter sit for 15 minutes (it will go from watery to sticky!)
  5. Spread out on parchment paper** on the pan as thin as you like (the thinner the better and crunchier!)
  6. Bake for around 1 hour and 25 minutes
  7. Let cool on a rack (it cools super fast)
  8. Break apart and enjoy!

That’s it!

If anyone tries to make this seedy crispbread please let me know how it turned out! And since this is my first recipe ever I’d love to hear if my instructions and information is sufficient. Stepping into unknown territory here.

Now, go make yourself some crispbread :)

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This bread was a bit too thick but a nice picture nonetheless :)

* You can play around with the ratio of water to oil to reduce or increase oil consumption. I’ve made it before using 1 part oil. Try it and see how you like it.

** A waste reduction tip is to save the paper for next time. I use mine over and over. No problems what so ever. I have also used the same sheets for other oven-baked breads.

How quitting Facebook made me a better and more successful blogger

As part of my efforts to detox my life, I quit Facebook last year.

I didn’t have a blog account, just a regular, personal Facebook page, where I would share my blog posts and a select few other updates. I was worried about leaving it behind, as it did drive some traffic to the blog. (And by “some” I mean like 15 views per post, not 200.) Still, I decided that a few blog views wasn’t enough to justify me “being on Facebook”.

What I have found since I left, is that it has made me a better blogger. Maybe you haven’t noticed, maybe you have; it has made it easier to write honest, more personal posts with my own thoughts and, sometimes, strong opinions. Turns out, I was experiencing negativity and judgment from Facebook “friends”!

Who here can say that your friends from high school actually LIKE you and want you to succeed? Aha. That’s what I thought; two friends do. The rest of them remember how [insert personality trait here] you were, and kind of resent how confident you are now. Also, how keen would you be to show them pictures of yourself with a skin rash all over your face? Right.

Another part that I realized had even more of a negative effect on me was that good friends didn’t support me. They knew I wanted to build a successful blog (most bloggers do!) yet they rarely (or never) shared a single post or even took the time to give me a thumbs up.

Many of my posts dealt/deal with climate change, protecting our environment and being more aware of our actions here in the rich part of the world, which I would think are posts worthy of liking, thus it must be they either 1. Found me so annoying that even spreading good messages was appalling or 2. They were afraid of being judged by their “friends” for being stewards of the environment or 3. Just thought it was too much work to help a friend out (which kind of implies that we are not friends) or 4. Never actually had time to read or even push like (or sad emoji or whatever) 5. Had no idea I was blogging.

Whatever their reasons were, I realized that constantly sharing blog posts and not getting much of a response from people I hold dear had been affecting me negatively. (That might sound silly, to base your value on other’s opinions/engagement, but I think we need to admit that this is what social media does to (most of) us.)

I can also share that quitting Facebook has made me a more successful blogger! I define success as being proud of what I write, getting a text or two about the content I just published, increasing traffic (compared to previous month) and gaining a few followers. I run a very small blog and I don’t have hopes of becoming the next “big thing” but I want to spread the good word, help earth and help people feel better – obviously I need somebody to read ;) Happiness is success!

The few (spectacular) friends that used to follow and support my blog on Facebook have signed up to follow the blog via email and/or we follow each other on Instagram – which works so much better and is a much more positive space.

Ultimately, leaving Facebook behind allowed me to become “Sustainable Anna” which in turn has made me super excited about blogging again! (Pretty darn fantastic, if you ask me, that I feel that way about blogging almost four years, a pregnancy and a baby later.) In order to live a balanced life in which I can be good to earth and people, I need to be good to me.

To all of you who read, follow and keep this a positive space – thank you! I always welcome your comments, opinions and questions – stirring up conversation is why bloggers blog! We don’t always have all the answers, but we like to think that we do ;)

I would love to know if anyone else has cut the chords with social media in any way, shape or form and what happened after. Or maybe you just need a push to push that “delete” button? Also, do you think a blogger should stay on a social media platform that impacts their personal life negatively just for the potential to, maybe, “reach” people that wouldn’t normally read a green living blog? Let me know.

Xoxo Anna

Bye Bye made right (here) – HELLO Sustainable Anna (that’s me!)

New year, new ideas. The time has come to change the name of this blog.

When I started blogging in 2014, I had just embarked on a journey to change my life by reducing my consumption. So, naturally, I wrote about what I bought, what I didn’t (made in China!) and how everyone could join in to shop local and fair.

Four years later, it seems all I talk about is vegan food, my eco-baby and how much I hate plastic. Sure, there are local products at display but “Made right (here)” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

I’m sustainable. My name is Anna. And here I am; trying a new blog name that allows a broader index of subjects.

Sustainable Anna

I want to share more recipes (I have to write a post about all the wonderful things lentils can do ASAP!) and I want to be more me. When I say that I mean a bit more ramblings, fewer perfectly written articles. Though that may sound like a step in the wrong direction for someone who dreams about writing full time, I simply have less time to edit and research my blog posts with a baby/toddler in my life than I did a year ago!

I’ve also updated my About page and deleted/changed the Look Book. Who cares where I bought my clothes – right? Sustainable style is about finding YOUR STYLE and doing it ethically. Plus the Look Book had so many garments that I had bought several years ago, available then but no longer. Pointless. Of course, I’ll still write posts about clothes and brands when I buy something new :)

Welcome to “Sustainable Anna”. The Blog. The Woman. The Legend.

(Ok, that’s a joke.)

Let me know what you all think!

PS. Thank you Sandra for helping me decide on where to take the blog! Love you!

My new (Swedish) scarf is the beauty of small (American) business

As a Swede in USA, it’s nice to sometimes show off my Swedishness with fashion. Not just with stripes and Euro stylishness (ha!) but with fabrics from Sweden.

Presenting this scarf; made by small business owner and Dallas-based designer Louise, whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging. It’s an infinity scarf, half Dala horses, a classic symbol of Sweden, and half stripes, my favorite thing. Both fabrics are organic and GOTS certified.

Swedish scarf wire dalahorses GOTS

Louise normally spends her days sewing and designing children’s clothes, but it wasn’t hard to convince her to make a scarf for me.

The idea came to me when she gave us the cutest onesie for baby August, and I realized I wanted, no needed, Dala horses too. (Ok, that’s a lie. My inner consumer wanted it!) At least I won’t grow out of my scarf anytime soon, like baby will with his outfit :)

If you’re looking for well made, locally made and handmade kids’ (or maybe adult!) fashion, check out Louise on Instagram @MammaLouiseSyr or on her Facebook page (she’s got a sale going on the month of June!).

Prices vary depending on fabrics and styles. Find out more by reading my wonderful interview with Louise (from 2015) about her business here.

PS. If you’re not looking for a Swedish scarf or baby clothes, I encourage you to contact your local makers – maybe they can make you exactly what you need, or let’s say it, want. Not only working for, but also with customers, that’s the beauty of small business.

 

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?

Is green living even possible with a baby in the house?

It’s a good question. Right?

One I asked myself before we had our baby and one I am still thinking about. Hardcore environmentalists actually argue that having a baby is so bad for the environment that none of us should have any. Articles promoting not having kids have circulated the green community for a while, been enthusiastically shared and, of course, I see their point; an average American’s carbon footprint exceeds 20 tonnes each year so don’t add another one. That number is calculated with today’s consumption behavior and technology – it can most certainly decrease as these improve.

So, a baby is bad for the environment. But what if he’s the new Elon Musk or Bernie Sanders? What if he invents the best carbon trapping technology ever, one that solves our climate issues forever? Yes, this is how we (and other green parents) are justifying our actions.

On that note meet baby August, our little love bug, who turns two months today.

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One month old August!

Now, despite the carbon footprint of a new (western) life – Is it possible to make mindful, eco-friendly, low carbon choices to soften the blow? All amidst intense emotions, new routines and a strange little person to keep alive?

For us, yes and no. We’re trying our best. Let me start by confessing some of our less successful undertakings.

Failure # 1: Trash, trash, trash

I will admit that there was not much cooking going on during the first month of baby’s life. Yes, we ate pre-made food, ordered take out (some of it packaged in Styrofoam!) and lived off of Cliff energy bars. We even had Starbucks (twice!) in their disposable cups. Honestly, I think we created more waste in that first month than we had in the previous six! I felt bad about it, but at the same time I knew it wasn’t a big deal to live like most Americans do all year, since it would be for a very short time. Either way, a green living fail.

Failure # 2: Baby gifts

Baby August has been spoiled with gifts from neighbors and colleagues, people we know but aren’t aware of our lifestyle, thus these gifts have included quite a few sweatshop-made, Asian imports. We took a few things back but kept many of them as they were usable (and we didn’t have gift receipts). Our close friends and family have been super thoughtful and only given us baby gear made in USA, second hand items, handmade crafts or brought us food. I’d say we’ve managed to stay as minimalist as one can hope, having a new baby and being surrounded by kind, generous people who want to congratulate us (and how lucky are we that people feel that way!). All in all, I wouldn’t call it a complete failure, despite some “Made in China” tags sneaking into our home.

Now on to the greener side if things.

Success story # 1: Baby’s food

Going back to the topic of food; we have continued to shop local, vegan, bulk and organic to the same extent we were before, and we have kept up with the compost. August is eating (or should I say “drinking”?) the most eco-friendly, zero waste and natural food possible: mama’s milk! I am thankful that after some practice, baby and I got the hang of breastfeeding. Green living win (and all around nutritiously awesome!)

Success story # 2: Cloth diapers

Though trash was initially piling up in the kitchen, we were (and are) mastering almost zero waste in the bathroom! I was determined to cloth diaper the baby from the very beginning and I am happy to say we started doing so after only one week. We were sent home from the hospital with a packet of Huggies newborn diapers, but about five days in, both my husband and I were ready to switch to cloth – Huggies don’t hold shit (literally) and that gets tired very fast. I definitely have to do a blog post on cloth diapers, the environment and our routine when I have more experience with it! I will tell you now that it is not hard to do if you own a washer and dryer. Cloth diapers and wipes: another green living win.

Now that we’ve settled in and things are becoming less chaotic, we’re back to old habits of me cooking (from scratch) and the gifts have stopped coming (phew!).

My conclusion is that living green with a brand new baby can certainly be done with a little help and superman/woman type motivation. We needed about five weeks before we could get back to being “green” and each week it gets easier to maintain healthy, eco-friendly, low carbon habits. That said, no matter how much we try, August cannot produce zero carbon, just like we, you and I, are contributing to climate change every day.

I am sure there’ll be more eco-compromises as we go along, finding ourselves in new and unexpected “we have a kid” situations! But, I am ok with that, as long as I feel we are doing our very best – for us, the baby and the environment.

The blog is officially running on autopilot!

It’s finally time for our eco-baby to join the environmentalist community.

Hopefully he’ll be healthy, super cute and ready to take on the world; one diaper, one cry and one boob at a time. 

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In order to keep the blog going strong and stay inspiring while we figure out this whole “keeping the baby alive” thing, I’ve written and scheduled a few posts in advance. Hopefully you will enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them (in the middle of the night sleepless in Houston – thanks pregnancy hormones!).

I plan on getting back to blogging as soon as time allows and inspiration hits me. Also, I am sooo ready to be back in my black skinny jeans again and to model something locally made and new for the blog without a baby bump to maneuver ;)

If you want to follow along with more real time updates, I am on twitter and Instagram @sustainableanna. I’d love to see you there. 

Wish us luck! And keep reading :)

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)

3 YEARS on the Not Made in China Challenge, and the reviews are in!

Today is my three-year anniversary of the Not Made in China Challenge!

For three years I’ve been shopping less, shopping better, reading tags and investigating brands and products to a T. I was hoping that 2016 would be the year I bought zero made in China items, and it was looking promising, but in the end, I did buy ONE thing made in China.

See, while I was in Sweden this fall to meet my nephew, I saw, and fell in love with a Swedish-made stroller. Think all recyclable materials sourced from sustainable European companies, linen fabric, Oeko-Tex certified mattress, great quality and beyond stylish. (Maybe eco-baby and I can model it for the blog this spring!)

When I bought it, I asked in the store how people transport strollers on airplanes (I had no idea) and I was told they either ship it in the box, buy a stroller bag or rent a case at the airport. I LOVE renting since it’s a great way to reuse and reduce, however I soon found out that the airport rental company doesn’t allow their cases on cross-Atlantic flights.

Buying a stroller bag became my only option, and yes, the top rated one (from Stokke) is made of polyester and plastic in China. I wanted to protect my eco-stroller so I ended up getting that bag. (Hoping that it wasn’t made in a sweat-shop factory fueled by a coal plant!)

As I was drafting my blog post about this “felony” of mine and coming up with all sorts of excuses, Trump was elected president of the United States of America. It was a rough week for me, and I figured y’all probably didn’t need more bad news, so I decided to keep it to myself at the time. Trump won and Anna went China-shopping?

Anyway, I decided way back when I started the challenge that for every China purchase made, I’d donate the same amount to charity and with that, I got to give a nice chunk of cash to the Sierra Club.

Other than that ONE felony and Donald winning the election, it’s been a good eco-year. Is it just me, or are people talking more than ever about climate change, solar power (it’s now the cheapest form of energy!), trash in the ocean and reduced meat consumption?! Are people finally waking up?!

Personally, I’ve managed to reduce my foot-print further in 2016 by shopping less (thanks to the 12 months 12 pieces challenge), eating mostly vegan food, starting a compost, leasing an electric vehicle and buying the things I needed second hand.

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YAY! For rocking the Not Made in China Challenge and sustainable pregnancy style!

On another three-year anniversary note; I love blogging! How lucky am I that people are reading?

Nothing is more awesome than when you tell me that I’ve inspired you to bring bags to the store, shop all your fashion made in USA or that I helped you discover the awesomeness of Bernie Sanders.

Hearing things like that makes me feel like I am doing something to help combat climate change, spread awareness and help the environment. Hubby has been spreading his own eco-message this year by giving rides in the Tesla (while he talks about solar power and Elon Musk) and we’ve actually noticed that colleagues and friends are opening up to the idea of an electric vehicle because of it. This is oil-fueled Texas so it takes time, but we’re in it for the long-haul. After all, we can make all the sustainable changes in the world in our own life, but if we don’t inspire others to do the same, our impact is very small.

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The mean machine. It runs on green energy and it’s FANTASTIC.

So, thank you all for following along and reading made right (here) this year! I’m hoping you will stick around for 2017, where I’ll continue blogging, fighting climate change, reducing my waste and shopping eco-friendly and MADE IN USA for our home, for our new tiny addition (coming soon), and most importantly, for myself.

Remember, The Not Made in China Challenge is not only about China. It’s about knowing where your possessions come from, how they were produced and how they affect our planet. We all need to process that knowledge and take it seriously.

What you choose to buy or not to buy is your vote and your impact on the world market.

Vote made right (here) :)