What to Do When You Can’t Avoid Trash

And, no, I’m not talking about a rude co-worker or classmate!

I go to college in Iowa. Our grocery store is the size of a large shoebox, and our food options are pretty limited. My meal plan, which cots an arm and a leg, gives me the option to eat in the commons (when I have time), and buy some supplementary snacks from a few other places on campus: ie, food in plastic packaging.

Of course, I am doing what I can to make my school more sustainable, but that means I’m busy juggling everything, and sometimes I fall into the trap of a bottle of juice and a Clif bar in the library. So, what do we do to keep our bad habits as low impact as possible?

Choose glass or metal containers that are easily recyclable or reusable

This is kind of an obvious one, but if you have the possibility of buying a plastic bottle or a can, go for the can– aluminum can be recycled much more easily and more times than plastic can.

Choose recycled plastic

Some companies use only recycled plastic, or at least a large proportion. For example, Naked uses 100 percent recycled and recyclable plastic. If you’re going for a sugary drink in a plastic bottle, opt for a boosted juice instead of a Coke.

Look into recycling options

Did you know that TerraCycle actually has a free program for recycling foil-lined energy bar wrappers and snack bags? Those are two major waste streams for convenience food. Take the extra few minutes to collect the trash and send it to be recycled.

Think ahead

Alright, this isn’t really how to take care of trash that’s already been produced. If you know that you’ll be in a situation where you’ll be tempted by food, try to pack some snacks and a water bottle. The goal isn’t to be perfect all the time, but to improve whenever possible.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

If you use a plastic water bottle, you’re not a demon. The point is to try to reduce waste as much as possible, not to punish yourself for eating a candy bar in a plastic wrapper.

We don’t need a few people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions doing it imperfectly.

Have questions, tips, or personal thoughts? Leave a comment, and don’t forget to subscribe! And check out my giveaway on Instagram!

(header image by Steve Johnson from Pexels)

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Easy Kale and Basil Pesto

I love pesto. When I was in high school, swimming competitively, I survived off of pasta and bread, all smothered with whole tubs of pesto. It’s delicious and beautiful and the answer to “how can I eat straight olive oil but make it seem healthy?”

Now, however, a few things stand between me and my love. The first is that I’m not exercising vigorously in cold water for 10+ hours every week. I don’t want to or need to eat white carbs and plain fat every day. Is this what growing up feels like? Yuck.

Most store bought pesto has Parmesan in it anyway, which is obviously a no for me. So if I want it, I have to make it.

Part three: basil and olive oil are expensive, and even if I were to buy $15 of fresh basil leaves, it would blend down to a few sad tablespoons. My solution? This healthier, definitely cheaper alternative to traditional pesto (with all the flavor, of course!). By adding in kale (which is about $1-$2 a bunch, depending on the season) and water (practically free), it cuts the calories and cost, and boosts your greens intake for the day. What’s not to love?

Easy Kale and Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 bunch raw kale leaves (about 3-4 cups)

2 tbs basil paste (the kind in the tubes- or use a handful of fresh leaves)

1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp nutritional yeast

3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)

1 tbs raw cashews (or almonds, sunflower seeds– whatever you have on hand)

Water (see instructions)

Directions:

Add all ingredients EXCEPT WATER to a blender or food processor– if not all the kale fits, slowly add it as the mixture is blended. Starting with about a tablespoon, slowly add the water until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Pour over pasta (I love chickpea pasta, like Banza or Thrive Market brand) or top garlic bread, use as a salad dressing.

Notes: feel free to use spinach or any other dark leafy green you like! This keeps well on the fridge for a few days, but I haven’t tried freezing it yet.

Happy baking!

Super Easy Superfood Latte Mix

I’m a huge coffee drinker. I actually drink about 6 cups a day (or more) while I’m at school, just because I wake up early for class and it’s kind of go-go-go until 10 or 11 pm. A girl needs energy. Plus, there’s unlimited coffee in the dining hall, so while my darling boyfriend is eating his 9th plate of food, I can load up on caffeine.

I could probably talk for hours (or pages, I suppose) about why coffee is the best thing in the world. For example, the global switch from drinking beer or water mixed with wine (using the alcohol to kill off bacteria) to drinking mainly tea and coffee (using boiling to kill off bacteria) essentially took the world off of depressants and gave it a swift kick. No wonder we love so quickly these days!

Anyway! I love coffee. So do a lot of people. Let’s make coffee work for us.

While I was in Hawaii last year, I fell in love with a superfood chai at a local cafe. I can’t remember the exact blend, but I distinctly remember it having turmeric, and thinking “wow, I thought I hated turmeric! This is amazing!”

I also drank many, many expensive protein shakes at the Kauai Juice Company, and I because enchanted with a certain Island Protein shake, that tasted like vanilla cake batter. All of the ingredients were familiar- in fact, things I used in my own protein shakes- except maca. Its a wonderful, butterscotch flavored root with lots of fiber. And it’s delicious.

So here is my accidental ode to last year’s vacation, a simple mix to add to your coffee for a little boost of taste and energy. It’s really great for those of us who realize that breakfast isn’t always a good idea (if I eat a full breakfast, I either feel nauseous or incredibly hungry for the rest of the day. It’s a bit of a lose-lose).

Superfood Latte Mix

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1/4 cup stevia in the raw

1/4 cup raw cacao powder (I love this)

2 tbs maca powder

2 tsp organic turmeric

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together and transfer to a clean jar. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons to a cup of coffee, along with a splash of almond milk or cashew milk.

May this grant you delicious coffee and lots of energy. Happy baking!

30 New Years Resolutions That Aren’t “Lose Weight”

Almost everyone above the age of twelve has probably said that “this is the year I lose weight!” And then repeated it the next year, the next year, the next year. It’s a little passé. Even if you start with the best intentions, little things sneak up and it’s suddenly April, with no progress made– or even a few extra pounds.

The definition of insanity is supposed to be doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So why would you have the same resolution, every year, and expect to suddenly achieve it without changing a thing.

I challenge you to leave weight loss off your list this year. Here are a few suggestions, in all different categories:

This year, I will:

HEALTH

1. Start doing yoga every day.

2. Start running every week.

3. Go vegan!

4. Drink a gallon of water every day.

5. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.

6. Eat 5 servings of veggies and fruits every day.

7. Stop eating processed foods.

8. Start eating mindfully.

9. Let go of “food guilt”.

10. Listen to my body.

SPIRIT

11. Go to religious services every week.

12. Pray every morning.

13. Do one extra kind act every day.

14. Meditate every day.

15. See a therapist.

HOME

16. Stop buying things I don’t need.

17. Stop buying things with plastic packaging.

18. Get rid of unworn clothing.

19. Get rid of unused items.

20. Clean up every day.

21. Organize my closet.

22. Organize my pantry.

23. Clean the garage.

24. Put money away into savings.

SELF

25. Play an instrument every week.

26. Start studying a foreign language.

27. Take new classes.

28. Read 12 books.

29. Write a book.

30. Love myself.

Let’s make 2019 a little brighter for everyone. Happy Holidays!

Header image by rawpixel on Unsplash

The 5 Biggest Greenwashing Tactics (And How to Avoid Them)

Greenwashing. It sounds nice, right, like using all natural soap to clean your baby’s hair, or making the house sparkly clean with only baking soda and lemon. I suppose that would be green-washing. But, tragically, the reality isn’t nearly as idyllic.

Greenwashing is essentially what happens when a company tries to make their products, services, or whole organization appear eco-friendly, even when it’s not. It’s similar to the food claims that something is “all natural” and “fat free” or even “vegan”. These may sounds fancy and healthy, but really carry little meaning in regards to overall health. Similarly, products that are greenwashed may make you feel like you’re making a good choice, but in reality they can be just as harmful as their conventional alternatives. I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the most common forms of greenwashing that I see nearly every day.

1. “All natural” 

So, just like in food labels, this doesn’t really mean anything because there are essentially no governing bodies to determine what gets this label and what doesn’t. Just because something is in a green or brown packaging and boasts that it’s natural, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is– or that you want it near your body. Verify the ingredients list, and check for certifications, such as being organic or a biobased product. usda_organic-logo

Speaking of that green and brown packaging– that counts too! Companies will try to market their products in subtle ways that make us reach for them without thinking.

2. “vegan”

This one should be cool, right? But a certain company, whom we shall call “Farnier Gructis” has started proudly marketing certain products as “vegan formula”. But the products are still tested on animals, which isn’t very cool. Or, by my morals and definitions, vegan. Which brings me to the next topic:

3. This Product Not Tested On Animals

Oof. This carries a lot of questions. Were the ingredients tested on animals? Are other products by the company tested on animals? Always look for a certification, such as Leaping Bunny or PETA’s cruelty free logo– they will show which products are cruelty free and vegan!

 

4. Recyclable container/packaging

Ugh. This one is super hard, because obviously recycling is good, but not the best option. Opt for products that are packaged in recycled and recyclable packaging– or, better yet, little to no packaging. Paper and glass are much more easily and cleanly recycled than plastic.

5. Made with “xxx”

No, not moonshine. Saying a product is made with something doesn’t really even mean it’s a major part. If your fruity tooty mango shampoo has more chemicals than mango, it’s really time to let that go, man. Ha.

Spend a little time researching the brands and products you buy. Find if they test on animals, if they have certifications, where you can buy them for the cheapest. Knowing which makeup brands and cleaning supplies have a good reputation can make greener shopping easy. I like Mrs. Meyers’ cleaning supplies, and I sometimes use Seventh Generation as well, or brandless.com. If you can’t find products that suit you, just remember that nearly everything (including you!) can be cleaned with baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils– there are tons of recipes on Pinterest, from shampoo to dish detergents.

I challenge you to open your eyes a little more while doing your shopping, and maybe make your home a little greener, a little brighter, and a little cleaner!

xoxo Emma

Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake

PUMPKIN SEASON IS HERE!

There is nothing better than a pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin! Am I #relatable enough?

Real talk, my gorgeous boyfriend ordered about 8 cans of pumpkin purée from Thrive Market, so I have a lot of materials to experiment with! Isn’t that fabulous? My gorgeous boyfriend has also convinced me to start lifting…. less fabulous. So protein shakes are my best friends more than ever right now.

This pumpkin spice protein shake uses vanilla protein powder (as opposed to my usual chocolate) and has a whole serving of pumpkin purée. And it is aaaaaaaamazing.

Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy mylk
  • 1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder of choice
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • (optional) 1 tbs maple syrup or almond butter

Directions: Blend everything together for the perfect breakfast or post workout snack!

 

 

Vegan With a Vengeance: Why I Eat (and Don’t Eat) What I Eat

This is a catchall research post. That’s right, hardcore research, with links to actual sites and everything. Because I am so tired of arguing with people about my choices. You want the short answer, the one I give to little kids? I’m vegan because thinking about cows makes me cry. That’s really what it boils down to. But big picture, the real thinking behind it, gets kind of disgusting. Not appropriate dinner conversation. But here we go.

Ethics

This one is kind of obvious. In 2015, 9.2 billion farm animals were slaughtered for food, according to the USDA. Of these animals, almost 29 million were cattle, 115 million were hogs, and a staggering 8.8 BILLION were chickens. These figures don’t even include rabbits, fish, or crustaceans (source).

This one seems kind of obvious, but apparently “bacon is sooooo good” is an equivalent argument, according to many people. Anyway…

Dairy can be just as deadly. Cows are naturally social creatures, much like humans. But when a cow gives birth (after being forcibly artificially inseminated), the calf is taken away within hours. The mother is then milked and eventually inseminated again for the process to begin again. Female calves are raised to be the next generation to undergo a life of pain, while male calves are sold for beef or, more often, killed for veal (source). So much for the “it hurts the cow if she isn’t milked” thing, right?

Finally, we come to chickens. Eggs are okay, right? Sorry. Even the happiest, free range-est chickens have still been bred to lay over three times the amount of eggs their ancestors did a century ago. Beaks are often culled (cut or trimmed) on baby chicks; the unlucky males are gassed or ground up (source, source).

 

Environment

This is one that I started learning about AFTER I had already stopped eating animal products, but it’s incredibly simple if you think about it. Crops are sown, grown, and harvested only to be fed to animals, which are then fed to people. The process is inefficient. 80% of the deforestation in the Amazon is due to cattle raising. Sure, you’re recycled paper and reusable cups are helping, but you know what isn’t? Your Big Mac. (source).

Health

To be honest, this isn’t as much of a factor for me. I mean, does the thought of putting pus-filled cheese and heavily antibiotic-treated chicken into my body disgust me now? Yes. Was it a factor when I first stopped eating animal products? Nah. But this may help convince some people. Vegans tend to be thinner (which, obviously, does not mean healthier, but is still appealing to the general population), have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of high blood pressure, as well as the higher availability of important nutrients such as folic acid and fiber (source).

Disclaimer

I’m not a professional. Obviously. I’m just showing my reasoning. And I know that not everyone has the resources and the drive to plan food and be so careful, and that’s okay. But attacking people for a choice that they are making, whether it is for their health or the environment or because of personal convictions. is not okay. If you want to ask questions because you are curious, then ask! If you want to ask questions to ridicule… what are you even doing? Seriously, dude.

A final anecdote, to finish off a kind of heavy little post:

My brother in law was talking to me, and pointing out that I had all these enzymes in my body that I wasn’t using because I don’t eat meat; why would I have them if I wasn’t supposed to use them, that kind of thing.  I became frustrated and finally yelled “YOU HAVE NIPPLES!” which ended the conversation abruptly.

I hope this has been helpful, if anyone has any questions or helpful links, please comment. Thanks!

 

 

 

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