Tag Archives: Environment & Climate Change

It’s 2018, time to gear up and support a sustainable politician

It’s 2018. We have only 10 months to focus, engage, support and get active in order to flip Congress. Yes, I am putting it out there: I absolutely despise Trump and the GOP. (Don’t waste your time commenting that I am wrong about this, if that is your opinion. There is nothing you can say that’ll change my mind.)

You might not know this about me, but I am not even eligible to vote! I am a green card holder, not a citizen, but since I live in the USA and plan to stay here for the foreseeable future, I am super-duper engaged in the political “game” some people refer to as the democracy of the United States. Power-grandpa Bernie dragged me into it.

Now, my guy for 2018 is Beto O’Rourke.

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 11.12.18 AM

He is running against Ted scumbag Cruz and he is so awesome. Beto spent most of 2017 visiting townhalls around Texas to get to the bottom of what Texans need and think. He is not taking any money from Super PACs either. (His voice reminds me of Obama’s too! He has that presidential flare about him.)

I’m not going to write down all the policies and his stands on them, you can read up on Beto at BetoforTexas.com. (Isn’t seeing Ted squirm and get the boot enough reason to vote Beto though?!) Since I can’t vote, “all” I can do is write, tweet, talk and donate to Beto’s campaign.

The cool thing about donating is you can donate to any politician you’d like to see get a chair, no matter where you live in the country. I love Elizabeth Warren (MA) so I support her, and I gave to Senator Doug Jones’ campaign in Alabama last year. He WON. No one thought he would. (Thank you people of Alabama, especially Black communities, for voting and thanks everyone who donated to his campaign!) Beto could have the same thing happen in this “red” state.  Let’s flip Texas!

So what does this have to do with a Not Made in China Challenge and leading a green life? Great question. It has everything to do with it.

Republicans are just not interested in preserving our earth at all (which is ironic since they call themselves “conservatives”). Quite the opposite in fact; the EPA has lost 700 people, Trump wants to deregulate big oil, drill everywhere and loosen organic farming standards. If he “pulls out of” NAFTA he can do more harm than good to small American made businesses who rely on imported parts (a rework is needed, yes, but not a cancellation) and his expensive “Border Wall” will harm Texas in many ways. I am not even going to mention the so called Tax bill. Basically, the current government is working against everything I believe in. They are working against economic and environmental sustainability.

In next year’s midterm election, Democrats need only 24 seats to flip the House and two to take the Senate. TWO.

Political speech over! Go support your candidates!

PS. If you’re busy and don’t want to research candidates, you can contribute by supporting Our Revolution which is a democratic group rallying for progressives in all types of elections, from school boards to senate.

How to master going Plant Based – when you have a life (Six quick tips!)

Switching to a plant based, whole foods (PBWF) diet from a “regular” one is super easy!

Said no one.


I am a pretty determined lady, yet I will be the first to admit that changing your own and your family’s diet over night is a bit of a struggle. Not so much when it comes to the tasks at hand (find a recipe – make it – taste it) but in the acceptance and adjustment of appetite, taste and lifestyle.

I started my PBWF transformation about three months ago. At the time I was eating a 95% vegetarian diet; I had switched most dairy for plant based alternatives a long time ago and quit beef in 2015. However, I was eating chicken occasionally (when we got Chinese take out), cheese on pizza and eggs. It was a gluten heavy diet with a fair amount of processed foods. I wasn’t by any means a stranger to great vegan food and for a long time I’ve enjoyed cooking and shopping for healthy meals. To me, it was a planet-friendly diet, that didn’t compromise the comfort of my life.

Then came the health issues and I decided to go full on PBWF.

I’ve had ups and downs. Lost weight and cleared my skin. Cheated with cheese.

Either way; I have learned a lot and I want to share with you!! Here are SIX THINGS I’ve learned since going Plant Based, which I hope can help someone else in their transition to the MOST planet-, and health-friendly diet there is :)

1. Go easy on other eco/health/life goals

This is number one because it’s important.

No matter what anyone tells you, cooking from scratch with whole ingredients while reading new recipes takes time. If you are a master chef already, you’ll be good, but if you think making grilled-cheese is cooking, you’re in trouble. (Also, consider how much time you’ll spend figuring out what toppings to put on sandwiches!) Now that I have committed to guiding  my wonderful family through a transition to a PBWF lifestyle, you might be wondering how I make time. Well, I go easy on other things. Hell no there’ll be no cleaning. Do I ever work out? NO. I am not zero-wasting this thing either. This mama can’t be making her own waste-free hummus and bake crackers in order to have an after work snack. I am also not exactly the social butterfly, I like being home. (My situation is I work full time as a project manager, I have a 10 month old, a husband, a house and a blog.) No matter your lifestyle, with a new diet, there is no time for shitty commitments. Or Facebook. Let them slide.

A balanced, vegan diet. Fancy.

2. Soups are your new (best) friends

I am the kind of cook who freaks out if there are too many steps to a recipe, that’s why I love making soup. Measure, wash, chop and in the pot it goes. Try this awesome Moroccan Lentil Soup, this Minestrone, this Peanut Soup or search for a simple vegan curry. (I know many of my friends love their croc-pot which, I am sure, also makes great PBWF soups.) On a side note, why do carrots taste out-of-this-world amazing when they’ve simmered in a soup for an hour?

3. Broth, broth, broth

This tip is somewhat related to above soup tip, since vegetable broth is included in pretty much every soup. However, you can also use it to add flavor to stews, mashed potatoes, rice, lentils, cooked veggies – anything! You can make your own broth from scratch or like me (in accordance with tip number one) buy meal saving, ready-made, packaged bullion tablets from Knorr.

4. Exploring recipes is your new hobby

Forget Instyle, your new leisure reading materials are vegan cookbooks and PlantBased magazine. The Forks over Knives’ recipe app will become a dear friend as well. Downtime at work should be spent reading amazing health stories on how people survived [insert illness here] by going plant based. Anything to keep you motivated and inspired on this journey. Please note you may develop “militant vegan” type traits. (“My foot hurts” says random person, so you say “maybe you should go vegan!”)

5. Junk food is the hardest thing to quit

I had no problems quitting junk shopping a few years ago (Yay, go not made in China challenge!) but quitting junk food is not as easy. I have no magic trick that makes cheese all of a sudden taste gross. (Sorry animal activists, vegan cheese is not cheese.) I eat too many chips probably. The only tip I have when it comes to this part of it, is to create a directory of local, plant-based friendly take-out restaurants (like Chipotle, salad bars, Indian places) for when you need something quick. Then just do your best and pick something vegan. It may not be all “whole foods” but at least it’s plant based.

6. Find your signature meal

Last but not least, find your signature meal! Our go to is wholegrain spaghetti with vegan Bolognese: marinara sauce, onions, tomato, pea-protein and whatever veggies I feel like throwing in. We love it and baby eats it too. Dinner shouldn’t be difficult or fancy all the time, just nutrient packed.

peanut soup
Meet Peanut Soup with brown rice (cooked in broth!). Yum.

That’s my whole list of wisdom! (So far.)

As for the future, I think Carrie Underwood put it best; “I am vegan but I don’t freak out if there is some cheese on my pasta.” (Cheating with cheese, also referred to as “cheesing”. LOL.)

Even PETA agrees; don’t be the vegan who makes a plant based diet look difficult by asking the waiter to check if there’s dairy in the burger bun. Instead be the person who makes a vegan, or vegetarian, diet seem tasty, easy and inclusive. That’s how you encourage others to cut their meat, become healthier and more planet minded.


Let me know if anyone is or have been going through the same transformation!

Conscious consumers, sure, but where the F is the industry?

I once got into a fight with the CEO of the company where I work over the question if the industry or the consumers are responsible for the current environmental destruction in this world. He said consumers like me (and I quote) are and I told him he was dead wrong; industry leaders like him are. (No, didn’t get fired, though some colleagues feared for my survival, and I’m pretty sure I’m on the black list.)

If I had to put a number on it I’d say the industry carries 75% of the responsibility and we only 25. At best, I’d accept a 50/50. Here’s why.


Heading home from work, super late and hungry, I might stop at a coffee shop or gas station for human fuel. Pretty fast, I will discover that there is 1. No tasty vegan food (and no, kale chips don’t count) and 2. Everything is wrapped in or packed in plastic. Not minimalistic style plastic either – huge boxes, double wrap. Should conscious consumers skip the snack because the industry only provides us with bad eco-choices?

There are countless situations like this, where consumers “have no choice” but to swallow the plastic wrap. Like, for example, when

  1. The grocery store automatically prints a BPA-coated receipt and hands it to you like you want it.
  2. The airline serves you and millions of other travelers factory farmed beef on a one-time-use plastic plate. (I’m pretty sure  that what isn’t consumed on the flight is thrown out, so there’s no point in “zero wasting” this one, unless you emailed before and told them not to make a meal for you.)
  3. The municipality where you live decide not to invest in safe bike lanes, side walks and public transport so you can safely skip the car.
  4. The oil companies work full time to make legislation that prevents solar power and electrical vehicles from taking off.
  5. There are no organic strawberries at the store, but you promised to make strawberry cake so you have to buy conventional ones (in a plastic container).

Tell me CEO,  how are these eco-disasters my responsibility?

A few years ago we didn’t know we wanted tablets. Apple invented the I-pad, and suddenly consumers decided they needed one. Industry took the lead, consumers blindly followed suddenly not even remembering how life was before there were I-pads.

If only the industry would be as inventive when it comes to environmentally sustainable practices as it is when it comes to launching new products, the world would look quite different (excluding you Elon Musk!). Consumers all over would automatically buy the eco-friendly choice that was presented to them.


Since I doubt that the industry will start acting all “eco” on their own (I just saw that Snapple now comes in a plastic bottle instead of glass! Snapple!!!) we, the conscious consumers, must again act and invest our enthusiasm and energy. This time into generating emails, tweets, posts and making calls. We must

  1. Urge our favorite brands to manufacture HERE.
  2. Tell our local grocer that we need more bulk bins.
  3. Convince clothing stores that receipts and printed coupons are so 1990.
  4. Ask our local eateries to ditch the straws and disposable kids’ cups.
  5. Go to the town hall meeting, demand better infrastructure.

Etcetera, etcetera. AND, of course, we must continue to vote with our dollars, by buying everything made right (here). Our 25% (or 50, whatever) does make a difference – I’ve blogged about us taking charge and changing the market, the industry (and the world) for three years.

It’s time for the industry to wake up, take responsibility and act.

We need to help them get started.

Who are you emailing today?

Six reasons why I’m on a Not Made in China Challenge

Things have changed in this world of ours since I started the Not Made in China Challenge in 2014. Most of these changes are good.

For starters, India and China are investing billions in renewable energy – wind, solar, hydro – more than any other nations. In addition to this, China is shutting down its last coal plant in Beijing in an effort to clear the air (switching to natural gas) for millions of Chinese living in the region. Developing countries all over the world are going from no electricity to solar powered life – skipping the burning of fuels all together. Good news.

Meanwhile Donald (aka the worst president ever) is leaving the Paris Climate Agreement and talking about bringing jobs back in the coal industry as part of his plan to “put America first”. Although coal is never going to happen (sorry Donny boy!), the fact that he’s pro the most polluting technology we have and doesn’t believe in climate change, is bad news.

So, does it still make sense, as a sustainable shopper, to be on a Not Made in China Challenge?


Of course I would say that – hello blog – but there are great reasons for it too. Here’s why I am on this challenge, and keeping at it in 2017 and beyond.

The President is all talk

We know by now that all the campaign promises made by the Republican candidate were just false. He is not doing anything to bring jobs back here, he is not even ensuring that his beloved pipelines are to be made with American steel. He may have come up with the “Made in America Week” which is a great initiative, but so far, NOTHING has been done to ensure more items are, or remain “made right here”. (Also leaving the Paris Climate Agreement and not investing in renewables would most likely create fewer jobs for Americans down the line.) He talked the talk, but as usual, it’s still up to us consumers to walk the walk. And as far as that goes, no policies have been put in place that would make it easier or more affordable for Americans to choose “Made in USA”.

The core of my Not Made in China Challenge is to support small businesses that use sustainable production practices and eco-friendly materials. That effort supports our local communities; the tax-paying entrepreneurs, makers, builders and artisans living here. (Supporting a small business might mean a family can afford health insurance when/if GOP takes it away!) Basically this challenge is about “Main Street not Wall Street”.

Environmental questions remain

Even though China is switching things up in the energy market, honoring the Paris Climate Agreement and talking about implementing a carbon tax (YES!), small rural factories are still powered by burning coal. Not only by pulling electricity from the coal fired grid, but many actually run their own, tiny furnaces which have no filters, no air cleaning catalyst (NOx being an issue) and low efficiency.

There’s also more to a healthy planet than a low carbon air. China, India and several other countries are still polluting their groundwater and surrounding oceans by uncontrolled wastewater from manufacturing. (So is America, I know, I know, but I find it easier to spot the businesses here who do that, like Georgia Pacific.)

The force is not with the workforce

I have yet to see a certified fair-trade item come out of China. What’s going on with decent wages and healthy workplaces? Not much, I’m afraid.

This is of course also true for many other places; India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mexico, neighboring Latin American countries and even, dare I say it, we’ve got some sketchy California sweatshops too. Best to stay away from them all unless we’re talking about certified fair-trade, organic and/or small business/artisan style items we can trust. If it’s too cheap to be true (aka in the West as “A GREAT deal”) – someone suffered to make it.

The trade deficit

Our ginormous trade deficit with China isn’t shrinking. In fact, what we export most to the Chinese is AIR. Yep, empty containers are constantly heading across the ocean to pick up more “stuff” for bored Americans. How much are we talking? The trade deficit with China was almost FOUR BILLION DOLLARS in 2015, and it grows every year.

The issue here is that Chinese business men (and women!) are investing more than ever in the USA, buying land, real estate and factories as we speak. Basically China could soon “own the USA” thanks to you shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Transport hasn’t gone “clean”

There has not been any breakthroughs when it comes to shipping transport. Large container ships are still burning through barrel after barrel of fossil fuel shipping the above mentioned “stuff” and empty containers back and forth. Container ships remain a threat to marine mammals by interruption of sound waves and migration paths as well.

Honestly, it’s the easy way to shop less

Since most everything is imported, reading labels and tags so I can avoid “Made in China” means I can’t buy anything. I feel like this issue is so often forgotten when we talk about Climate Change and the environment. We can elect all the climate friendly politicians for Congress we want, but it won’t matter if we continue down this path of OVER-CONSUMPTION.

I’m not saying that a Not Made in China Challenge fits all, different rules work for different people. This works for me, and I am sure it would work for most suburban Americans with access to Target. 

So I’m staying on the challenge – I am thriving at it actually. Sure as hell doesn’t mean I don’t respect China and their efforts to act on climate change.

Buy less, buy local.

Main Street, not Wall Street.

PS: To find out more about what this challenge means to me, read my entire blog! (it’s fun I promise!) Or maybe start with reading my “About” page :)


Vacation, vacation, vacation: dealing with the aftermath (+ back to blogging!)

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog lately because 1. Vacation in Europe with baby and 2. Vacation in Europe without wifi. Yes, there are still places without it! (I did manage to publish one blog post about my new eco-friendly bag which I photographed i Denmark. Check it out here if you missed it :) )

Now, when it comes to vacationing, or traveling if you will, dealing with the guilt of flying is always hard. This activity, which I always try to undertake responsibly (have a great reason to go, travel zero waste) and rarely, is certainly the most unsustainable thing I do. One return trip to Sweden in economy class adds 1.28 metric tons of carbon to my yearly carbon footprint which is a lot. So what to do?

The easy and obvious thing to do is to carbon compensate, which I can do directly thru KLM’s website when buying the ticket (more on that in this post from last year) and/or by planting trees at Stand for Trees. This trip I realized that I could actually “compensate more” by collecting items abroad for baby August to bring home with me. That’s only previously used items – otherwise no point!

You’d be amazed what friends and family are hiding away in closets and are dying to get rid of. Because the people “donating” to me are my closest friends, not only do they have things I want, like and need, but also aren’t offended when I say no (aka “why’d you buy that?”). Most importantly they feel great about giving, they don’t have to spend money to spoil our baby, and together we prevent waste and reduce new material being purchased.

In addition to friends’ used (perfectly awesome) stuff, I also got my hands on a few of my own childhood items (sorting boxes at dad’s) which thrills me so.

The CO footprint of each and every thing I collected probably can’t be found on google, however I know it takes lots of energy, oil, resources and chemicals to produce just one new plastic cup. 

I like lists, so here is one of everything we brought home with us for baby August’s current and future endeavors!

  1. Lots of clothes 
  2. A pair of shoes
  3. A teether that goes in the freezer
  4. Three reusable squeeze pouches for baby food
  5. 10+ Spoons
  6. Four Plates
  7. Eight Bowls
  8. Three Cups
  9. Two baby bottles (not pictured – in the sink!)
  10. Two cans of baby food (my friend’s baby never got to!)
  11. A reflector
  12. Mini flounder for bath time (mine from 1989!)
  13. 20+ Children’s books in Swedish and Danish
  14. Eight baby books
  15. 13 Mini (pixi) books
  16. Five puzzles (one not pictured)
  17. Bib that catches food
  18. Pear-shaped mold for playing in sand
  19. Soft toy reindeer (which baby loves!)  


Long list right? All of these things aren’t need-to-haves perhaps, but most are! How much carbon would I emit if I were to buy all of these items new?

I’m not sure, but not having to do so makes me feel better about those long fossil fuel burning flights we took. And, it IS more fun to have previously loved things :)

Now, vacation is over, I’m back to blogging (some fun posts coming up!), enjoying my last few weeks of maternity leave and, of course, living it green in Texas.

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.

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.

When it comes to leather – does it really matter if it’s “American-made”?

Some readers will see this gorgeous bag and think “Oh, look at that FABULOUS, made in USA leather bag!” while, others will say, or more like grunt, “Why is a self-proclaimed environmentalist showing a leather bag on an eco-blog? Yuck!!”

Hear, hear.

Leather is not exactly an eco-friendly material (more on that later), so why am I blogging about a bag made of just that?

Satchel Savannah grey leather bag
Satchel: Handcrafted in Georgia. Worn well in Texas.

Easy. Because I hate seeing individual and stylish women go to Coach, Michael Kors, Fossil or Cole Haan and end up with the same Chinese-made bag everyone else has. This blog is a space of options, and when I say that I mean a space where I am trying to help consumers make better choices. Is an American-made, small business, handcrafted, locally grown leather bag a better choice than an imported Coach bag is? Absolutely!

This one is my friend Mary Beth’s and made by Satchel: three female artisans in a small Savannah, Georgia design studio, handcrafting leather goods and custom handbags. If you’re interested, you’ll have to call and place an order. Though there are some styles in their studio for sale, nothing is “ready to buy” online.

It’s always good to have an excuse to talk about leather too, isn’t it? Ever thought about what the word actually means? Us humans are good at coming up with words that distance us from what we’re actually dealing with. Kind of like how we eat “beef” not cows and “pork” not pigs. Current generations are farther removed from nature than ever before, so it makes sense that when we talk about animal skins or hides, we just call it “leather”.

Leather is the processed and polished version of the skin of the animal, the end result if you will. It’s important to remember that as a conscious consumer.

You may have run into companies that handcraft their goods in USA of Italian leather? Italian leather is known to be good quality and it has a nice ring to it, so businesses like to flaunt it, however the animal that became that “Italian leather” may have emigrated after death; it could have come from any other country, but it was processed in Italy. So, in other words, we have no idea where the hide came from (China? India?).

What we are looking for as conscious consumers in the USA, are key words like “native” or “domestic” hides. Some small businesses will be open about their sources and proudly promise to only use domestics. Cattle is not slaughtered for hides in USA but for cow-meat (see what I did there?), so essentially with current demand, domestic hides are a byproduct of the beef and dairy industry.

It’s hard to argue about or measure a byproduct’s impact on the environment. “Since beef is bad for the environment and its production contributes excessively to climate change, then cow skin must be also” sounds like too easy of a conclusion. Do the fashionistas consume more skin than the steak eaters left behind? No way! But, in many cases the livestock owner gets paid more for the skin than any other part of the animal. What does that mean for the argument? And, what about when animals (other than cows or cows in other countries) are raised for their skin or fur alone? Well, then we have a whole new set of ethics and environmental impact to consider, don’t we?

The processing or “tanning” (what turns “skin” into “leather”) on the other hand is extremely toxic and for that reason alone; leather is indeed a bad eco-choice. No matter where it’s from.

Vegetable tanning is probably the least environmentally damaging process and you’ll see some brands promise that their leather has been tanned that way (it’s expensive though, not stable in water and can discolor over time), however 90% of hides are tanned using chrome (think Erin Brockovich!). That’s what leads to toxic rivers and polluted lands, as well as serious birth defects and cancers in countries with lax regulations, like India and China. (Make no mistake, chrome tanning is used everywhere, here too, it just pollutes a little bit less where laws are stricter!) Processing one ton of skin produces up to 80 cubic meters of waste water, with high levels of chromium, sulfides, fat and other solid wastes, and notable pathogen contamination. Producers often add pesticides to protect hides during transport as well.

Satchel grey leather handbag

Leather bags and shoes last a long time, and despite the fact that leather biodegrades faster than plastic, which is good, I don’t see either product group disappearing anytime soon. That’s why I love to take the opportunity to talk about this, present some facts that might help a reader out who is looking for a new leather bag. There are small businesses out there offering small batch, American-made styles. A bag like this one from Satchel can be yours for around $250 to $300, pretty much the same price as the imported bags sell for. (I’ll have to blog about vegan handbags soon!)

Personally my leather bag shopping days are over. I have a black one (bought in ’07), a brown one (’09) and a blue one (’13) that I am sure will last forever. New boots or leather seats in a new car? Very likely to happen in my life still. It’s a journey. We’re on our way to having mainstream plant-based, “just-as-nice” alternatives to animal leather, but the market is not quite there yet. In the meantime, I will shop locally grown, well-chosen and only when absolutely necessary.

The sweater Mary Beth is wearing, if you are wondering, is by Tea N’ Rose, from its boho-chic Orange Creek premium line. (I LOVE the elbow patches!) Tea N’ Rose is not committed to American-made clothing, though the style we are showing off is, of course, made in USA.


This is the second post in a four post series focusing on American-made style featuring the beautiful Mary Beth in her own locally made clothes, photographed in some neat Houston locations by our friend Ashley. Check out last week’s post on a cool t-shirt HERE.

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.


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.

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.

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) :)

Go GREEN in 2017 and save lots of dough (How eco-friendly habits can make a difference in your budget!)

Ever heard someone say “green living is expensive” or “not everyone can afford to be eco-friendly”?

Yeah, me too! But let’s face it – it’s just another excuse.

I can’t think of a better time than now, as Christmas is finally over and many credit cards are exhausted from holiday spending, to talk about all the ways one can actually SAVE money by going green.

First, let me get the expensive, green habits out of the way and out of our minds so we can focus on where we can save. I won’t argue that A. A locally made product costs more than an imported one, B. Organic food cost more than generic food, and C. An electric long-range car costs more to buy than a gasoline driven one*.

Phew, that’s done. Now, let those go and dig into these ten tips for how YOU can save money while doing good for the planet!


  1. Start a Not Made in China Challenge.

Ask me – I know all about it! Start reading labels, say no to made in China and watch your spending go down. Significantly. No more impulse buying. No more gimmicks. THIS measure alone will save you so much money. Let’s be honest, the reason you have credit card debt is that you buy too much crap. Oops. I meant to write “unnecessary things”.

  1. Buy second hand.

A previously owned item will save you 50% to 80%. Take a baby-onesie from Carters for example; $15 at the store, $2 from the second hand shop. I find that nicely organized consignment stores work best for me, while the thrill of amazing deals at the thrift store excites others. Many of my friends in the eco-community use and swear by online stores like Threadup.com.

  1. Invest in a smart thermostat.

Reducing your electricity use by heating and cooling only when you’re home and it’s needed will save most households $130-$145 per year.

  1. Stop buying bottled water.

This eco-habit does not apply to Flint residents (May 2017 be the year your water crisis is finally solved!) and other communities with questionable water supply, but to the rest of us, with access to fine tap water. Just because you’re going on an outing doesn’t mean you need bottled water either. Just fill up containers you have at home! My husband and I took a nine-day road trip this fall and did not buy a single bottle of water. Bring, refill, reuse. Americans spend 13 billion dollars per year on bottled water.**

  1. Go for salad, not steak.

The filet mignon or bone-in-ribeye will be among the most expensive choices on any menu. At a steakhouse, you might be paying $35 for steak and only $15 for the chicken salad. Depending on your restaurant habits, you can save more or less money per outing by going green.

  1. Buy groceries in bulk, but know when not to.

The larger the packaging, the lower the cost per pound. You know you’ll finish that peanut butter, that mayo and that ketchup anyway, so buy the huge jars. This applies to pretty much all dry goods and body lotion too. Veggies, fruits, baked goods and meats on the other hand (foods that go bad!), should be bought with the utmost of care. You want to limit food waste as much as possible. The Natural Resources Defense Council has reported that Americans discard 40 percent of their purchased food every year, with the average family of four throwing away an equivalent of $2,275 annually. Yikes!

  1. Drive less.

If you happen to live close to a friend or colleague, i.e. if the opportunity is there, ride together! Of course if you live close to your work, and it’s safe to do so, biking would save you lots of money as well. (This one is tricky for me because Houston is dangerous for biking, and public transport is pretty much nonexistent, hence why we got an EV to reduce our impact from driving, but I still want to mention it.)

  1. Become a library member.

Read lots of books for free! It’s a pretty amazing service if you think about it. You can also get in the habit of borrowing books from friends, maybe start a book club where the only membership term is letting each other borrow books.

  1. Invest in a set of cloth towels and linen napkins.

Use every day, wash, repeat. You’ll save on paper towels and these items will add no extra laundry loads at all, just wash them along with the weekly wash. (Guests find linen napkins so festive too! They’re always impressed and the table setting looks much nicer than with paper napkins.) I’ve blogged before about how reusable make-up wipes save you money as well.

  1. Explore local areas.

Instead of hopping on a plane to see another city, stay close to home and explore your own area. Travel does wonders for our souls, I agree, but a three-day-weekend getaway to Hawaii will be more stressful than rewarding. Fly with purpose and explore locally if your weekends are open. Camping will save you money too, versus checking in at a hotel.

That’s my list! How do you save money by being eco-friendly? Or how do you plan to do it in 2017? Let me know!

With that, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Let’s make it a green one.

* Since the market is still limited, there are way more “cheap” gasoline cars available to buy than electric ones. An EV will however, save you “gas money” over time.

** The average water pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day. Put in perspective, to get the same amount of water from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles a year – at an average cost of a dollar a bottle, that’s $4.98 a day. https://www.banthebottle.net/bottled-water-facts/