I just wanted to share that this blog was written before COVID-19. I was planning to post it end of March & then many things became overwhelming so I put it on pause.
I am sharing it now in time for Earth day! It's the 50th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day, April 22nd.
Our Earth needs our attention now more than ever! I understand that it is also hard now because of social distancing & health precautions in high effect. We have to follow the rules of the CDC to help flatten the curve so we can keep people safe & put this pandemic to an end.
Now that we want to limit the amount of people in groceries by getting stuff delivered & bulk sections have been temperately closed, we do see in increase in single use packaging. We have to remind ourselves we are doing the best we can in these hard times!
The few product examples & hopefully some tips that I share, can still inspire you to take action toward keeping our OUR planet clean! I want to spread awareness so we can live in a healthy toxic free environment. This pandemic should help us make inner changes to create big change. We should start to focus on what we can do to build a brighter future. We don't want to go back to the blurred "norm", we should want to stand up to protect Mother Earth & the beauty we are blessed to experiences once this pandemic is over.
Please be safe & please follow the health safety guidelines!
Reducing plastic waste.
Recently I read the definition of sustainable development because in my mind I understood the concept but had a hard time relaying it over to others. To me, sustainability is lessening our carbon footprint by learning to have a reducing, reuse, & re-purposing mentality but it’s so much more than just that!
“Sustainable Development is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
Sustainability is the foundation that includes three things, Economy, Social, & Environment. These three structures help create more positive productions by adding value to better our planet. The term eco-friendly describes how important it is to do no harm to the environment! It is a false assumption to think we as humans are separate from our eco-system. Through making sure nature, mankind, & economic growth are protected than can we reassure a safe place for future generations & other species.
It is beneficial for big companies to become more eco-friendly. By reducing electricity or using less unnecessary packaging can help save money & resources. These sustainable strategies bring more money to the company. This then results in higher-paying jobs & make more happy appreciated employees, which than result in better production! It’s a beautiful cycle! Since big companies also influence the majority of people, they can make a drastic change! Listen, I am all about buying local & shopping at thrifts shops but as these big companies exist we as people have to speak up about what we want! We want a sustainable planet! We want to reduce fossil fuel; we want clean air! We want better pay! We want a life with value! Therefore we can also influence companies by showing them what we the people want! If we express our voice, if we buy the products that produce less waste, we are doing our part.
Many new companies are popping up that specialize in eco-friendly products. Its good to start looking for changes in things we use every day. I would like to share just a few of the products I love using along with some tips. I also will share a few people I follow who teach me what it truly means to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. I hope it will inspire you to make conscious changes in your life so we can build a stronger & better future.
It isn’t about breaking old habits; it’s about creating healthy new ones!
Most of us have been doing things the same way for many years. It can be we don’t know how to switch or we don’t want to because it seems hard. But it is only as hard as you think it is. We can figure out ways to still have what we want & need as conveniently as we would like. Changing to reusable bags and reusable water bottles is so simple. Honestly, in the beginning, I forgot to take bags to the supermarket but I figured out ways to remember. I left the bags by the front door. I would put all the cloth vegetable & bulk bags into the grocery bag so that they are all together or have the bags in a visible place to see them throughout the day. I also keep a small one in my purse. Don’t even get me started on plastic bags & how they end up floating around NYC! It drives me crazy!
Since plastic is such a lightweight material it ends up traveling long distances & pollutes our parks, lakes, & our oceans!
A huge misconception I’ve noticed people say about a reusable water bottle is “I always leave my plastic water bottle places so that’s why I can’t ever have a reusable one”. FALSE, if you didn’t use a disposable water bottle then maybe you wouldn’t leave it anywhere! If you used a reusable one you build an attachment & see value in your reusable bottle. I used to think that way too until I made the switch! My purple ThermoFlask has become a part of me!
This is such a strong point! When we use disposable things we don’t see its value! We easily forget it or replace them. We end up consuming so much of it that we waste our precious money that can be invested into something so much more meaningful!
The beauty of making changes to a more sustainable lifestyle is it adds value to our lives! It gives a purpose that can help strengthen a person’s characteristics. It also helps elevate our creativity. We have to be forgiving to ourselves of course because it is challenging to become completely zero-waste. But, at the same time, we need to hold ourselves accountable. It is a learning process so research; notice your waste! Every choice we make can be a positive action toward training ourselves to shift our old habits to rewarding new ones!
Another part of being environmentally conscious is noticing our food waste. I have to save this for a whole other blog post because this topic needs a lot of attention! But I just want to say that we should be paying attention to the amount we buy vs. the amount we consume & waste!
Our waste doesn’t just disappear; it forms consequences that need productive treatment.
Starting with ourselves & the actions we take can impact the rest of the world. We can’t wait for someone else to fix these issues. We have to start by making changes for ourselves so we can lead people to make the same adjustments in their own lives.
Here are some everyday things you can do in your own life to become more sustainable…
Turn off lights in an empty room or if you have open windows enjoy the natural light coming in.
Up plug electronics that are not being used.
Walk more or ride a bike.
Don’t use plastic plates or cutlery! Wash your dishes! If you are hosting then buy the biodegradable dining ware & use regular silverware.
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
Invest in a reusable bottle & a sink water filter if you are a filtered water snob.
Buy vegetable cloth bags to bring with you to the supermarket. The cloth bags are great to use for traveling too! I use my extra ones for a traveling underwear & sock bag!
Buy washable silicone bags instead of using Ziplocs!
Save glass jars & use them to buy/store things in bulk like rice, beans, nuts & seeds.
Eat at home more often!
Add a meatless day to your week! Cutting back on meat & adding more plant-based foods to your diet helps lessen the amount of greenhouse gases causing air pollution. Tons of water gets drained & rain forests get cut down just for meat agriculture. Also just because eating less meat saves animals lives! Meat places have to overfeed their stock to make them beefier & the worst part is so much meat gets thrown in the trash!
Shop consciously. Don’t buy just to have more. Buy things because you truly need them.
Buy products that have a multipurpose.
Reduce food waste. Use up what is already in the fridge & cupboards. Get creative with leftovers!
Find out where you can compost your food scraps! Composting our scraps helps keep it out of landfills! When food that can be composted gets mixed in with landfills it actually releases toxic chemicals & does not turn into health soil or clean air!!
Throw your trash in the garbage! Don’t you dare litter! (Speak up to those who do litter!)
Find people who motivate you to stay devoted to taking care of our planet! There are many people out there with the same passion! Connect with them!
Having people who inspire & help bring enlightenment to your life is important to help the world to positively evolve. WE! have to constantly be reminded that the power of change starts from within! Below are my top three people I follow who teach me about taking action & inspire me to do my part in creating a more environmentally conscious planet.
Kathryn Kellogg is the author of a book called Go Zero Waste. She is a zero-waste influencer who raises awareness about all things world related. Her posts are so honest & she is so genuine about her love to help enlighten people about going zero waste. She has taught me so much about composting, where our plastic goes, & how to be aware of our consumption.
James Richard Kao is a photographer I found recently on social media & was instantly inspired by his passion for spreading eco-mindfulness. He uses his photos & adventures to spread awareness of plastic overload, beach clean-ups, & products he uses to live more eco-friendly. I love reading his post & have been influenced by his actions.
Christine’s handle says it all about her! The moment I found her page I was in love with how she uses wholesome ingredients & spreads food awareness through her cooking. She is the creator of an Emagazine called @plasticfreefoodie that encourages people to grocery shop plastic-free. It’s all a conscious choice before the cooking process even begins. She is truly a health food & conscious cooking guru.
There are many people out there passionate about protecting & keeps our environment healthy & livable! GO follow them & let them help you to take action!
One more thing I want to say before going through a list of products I use is that I am not perfect. I have many areas to improve in! This process doesn't just all change overnight & I am finding new ways & new areas to become more eco-friendly. I am preaching to show that small acts can make a big difference! This post is mostly directed to single-use plastics because this problem is something that is ignored. To change we first must be aware of the problem.
I hope that companies fix their pollution problems as well but we can fix a lot by just changing what we purchase & what we use. I have a list of sustainable products that I use but I also have a list of things that I plan to change out in the future. I don't mean throw all your plastic ware in the trash but we should pay attention to what we purchase & to say no to single-use plastics. There are amazing alternatives out there & slowly but surely we will eliminate waste together!
Here are some products I use in my everyday life to put my words into action.
I already stated my opinion on how having a reusable bottle creates value. Once you make the switch it is life-changing but to be committed we got to take a look at the damage plastic bottles have overall. The process alone just to make plastic bottles is very detrimental to the environment. They extract a lot of oils to produce & they drain billions of natural water too. Switching to a reusable water bottle stops the constant demand for production. This also prevents millions of bottles from ending up in the landfills & being littered around the world. Sadly, plastic bottles also release harmful chemicals into the air & our bodies. A chemical called Polyethylene Terephthalate (Polyester) which is a synthetic man-made chemical used to make plastic. It is bad for us to inhale as well as it is hard to fully recycle. Another common chemical in plastic bottles is BPA which stands for bisphenol A. BPA. BPA is known to seek into our food, drinks & causes harm to our health. This being said it is best to limit the amount of plastic we use; from plastic bottles to even plates & utensils. Also, because of the dangerous release in chemicals plastic should not be heated ever!
Below I include both my favorite bottle with an extra link to a website with other bottles that you might prefer. Another link I included is a website to read more about why plastic bottles are bad for the environment.
More BPA Free Reusable Water Bottles: Here
Link to read more about why plastic bottles are bad: Here
Here is the link for The Thermoflask
This is the water bottle I use! It is a BPA free stainless bottle that keeps iced water cold up to 24 hours & hot water for 12 hours. This water bottle comes with two lids that are completely leak proof. Trust me when I say, using a reusable water bottle will change your life!!
It also helps remind me to drink more water! Which is always a positive thing!
The idea of becoming waste-free encourages me to take action.
It is our job to protect wildlife as well from harmful chemicals.
Recently, while I was on vacation in Florida I did a small beach cleanup. I used an empty snack bag to fill up trash found on the beach. While I walked around picking up trash, I notice the top found things on the beach were plastic straws, bottle caps, broken kids toys, & eating utensils. Don’t get me wrong I found many other things you wish to not find on a beach or anywhere.
Anyways, you know it! Plastic straws can’t be recycled & do not biodegrade. So, say a loud NO to plastic straws! If you are looking to make a change somewhere, here’s a great place to start! Skip the plastic straws while you dine in at restaurants or better yet, carry a reusable straw with you wherever you go!
I recently came across a compact straw from a company called Final Straw! It is the perfect straw for everyday use & travel. The final straw silicone BPA free straw is bendable & comes in a small case that fits on a key-chain. It also includes an extendable cleaning brush! How cool is that!
I love companies that have a mission! Their mission is to keep single-use plastic straws out of the ocean to save the adorable sea creatures & of course the mermaids! 1 % of their proceeds go to helping the planet!
Here is the link to the final straw. I know you will love it!
Another top priority is to say goodbye to is ziplock, sandwich, freezer bags or whatever you call them! Saying bye isn't going to be hard because a new incredible product is seriously taking over! Say hello to The Stasher bags! These silicone BPA free REUSABLE bags are the bomb! These bags are toxic-free, they come in all different sizes, & are easy to clean!
They make great freezer bags, snack bags, or even as a toiletry bag. They also are heat resistant to high temperatures of 230c / 400f. Pretty freaking awesome! Once you start using Stasher bags I am sure you will never go back to those crappy disposable plastic bags! Since I got married I haven't bought any ziplock bags! #moneysaver
Here is the link to say peace out to single-use plastic bags
My latest sustainable product switch was the bamboo toothbrush. Dentists say toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 to 4 months. Okay, you know where I'm going with this! Plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable in regular recycling bins. But, I did read that you can ship plastic toothbrushes to a special recycling program made by Colgate. By all means, if you will take the time to go send your toothbrush to these special recycling facilities you are helping the environment. The thing is most people are not shipping out their used toothbrushes. I left my toothbrush when I went away for a weekend & decided I'm done with the plastic ones. I bought myself a bamboo one & couldn't be anymore happier. I love the feeling of the brush itself. Bamboo is a very fast-growing plant that can be fully grown in 3 to 4 months. Since bamboo grows extremely fast there is no need to use pesticides or other harsh chemicals.
Here is the link for Mable Bamboo Toothbrush
One more product I truly believe in especially as a chef & a person who loves to host is Palm Naki palm leaf dinnerware & bamboo cutlery. At a young age, I would get upset at my parents for buying plastic plates & cutlery. Every weekend my big family would have a Friday night meal so for my parents using disposable dinnerware seemed much easier than doing dishes. I was the plastic police at home because I hated seeing plastic thrown away when we had other alternatives.
As I became a chef I still stuck to these rules of my own. I don't host with plastic! I would refuse to buy plastic dinnerware. But since I love bringing food to the park in the warm weather as much as I also enjoy hosting, I needed something that wouldn't be causing waste to the environment. These biodegradable plates are made from fallen palm leaves, so no trees were cut down to make these plates & bowls. The cutlery is made from bamboo & we know how amazing bamboo is! It grows so fast that it is such a sustainable resource. The people at Palm Naki saw a plastic problem & looked into a business that can help make a difference.
Here is the link for Palm Naki dinnerware
I am so happy to be supportive of companies who believe that many small acts can make a big difference. We have to look at our daily consumption & hold ourselves liable for making this world a livable place for present & future generations of all species. Remember YOU can make a diffidence! I believe in our individual power & we can make these changes!