Zero Waste Coffee To-Go

I am absolutely addicted to coffee. I drink multiple cups every single day and while sometimes I make it at home, other times I grab it on the go.

But how do I get to-go coffee without a disposable cup? Easy!

I bring my own . Check out this video to see how I buy coffee single use package free. You can do it with a reusable coffee cup or mason jar.

REMEMBER don’t be afraid of looking weird for asking for something in a reusable cup. You are a BADASS doing something that is amazing for the environment (and your wallet because a lot of coffee shops will give discounts for people who bring their own cups). If someone gives you a look for doing something different,  it is not something to be ashamed of. You could be doing something they have never seen before, so think about it in a way that makes you a teacher, showing someone something new, and be proud. You rock!

Cup in this video is from http://ecoff.ee

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How to Compost Anywhere

One of the best ways that I avoid sending trash to landfill is by composting. If you haven’t heard of composting before, it is essentially taking organic waste (food, yard trimmings, paper) and breaking it down into soil again using heat, time, and sometimes worms (also known as vermicomposting). In the United States, based on the EPA chart below, 14% of our landfill waste is composed of food waste that could be composted. In addition to food waste, we could also compost yard trimmings, wood, and paper, so we have the potential to be composting 61.3 percent of what we are currently sending to landfills, cutting our nation wide landfill waste IN HALF. Composting is easy, fun, and natural and in this video I will show you how I do it in my Brooklyn apartment so you, too, can compost wherever you live.

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How to Shop at the Farmers Market Without Producing Waste

When I first started living a Zero Waste lifestyle I had never really shopped at a farmers market before. It seemed intimidating, scary, and overwhelming. But a few simple shopping hacks made it a lot easier and made buying food go from a super wasteful, time consuming process, to one that is easy and totally waste free! Check out this video to see how I shop at the farmers market.

Step 1: Big Stuff, Big Bag. Any large items don’t need a bag of their own, just throw them in your tote!
Step 2: Small Stuff, Small Bag. Any small loose items can be put into smaller organic cotton reusable bags, or any smaller reusable bag you have (or make!)
Step 3: Reuse containers whenever possible. This works well for berries, eggs, and other items that might have a container. Bring them back to the farmer so they can reuse them.
Step 4: Pay in cash to avoid receipts.
Step 5: Napkins double as a great way to buy bread and pastries package free!

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Documentaries That Changed My Life

I’ve watched basically every environmental documentary out there, and I recommend educating yourself as much as possible, but this shortlist is all of the documentaries that changed my mindset massively and helped to inform my opinion on many things.

Gasland directed by Josh Fox was the documentary that got me to start using my voice as a tool to inspire environmental change. After seeing it I became very involved in anti-fracking activism which helped me to become trash free! A must see.


King Corn follows Ian and Curt as they try to learn where their food comes from. To do this they end up planting a hectare of corn. The process of doing this and what they end up with was one of my main motivators for becoming a vegetarian.


Food Inc.  – must see.


No Impact Man – This documentary follows Colin as he lives without making an impact (this isn’t totally true as he still uses fossil fuels) but it’s a pretty cool doc.


An Inconvenient Truth –  The climate is changing.


Check them out, let me know what you think!!

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My Ultimate Reading List

I am extremely grateful and thankful  to have received a degree in Environmental Studies from NYU. It is where I got a lot of my foundational science education that really helped to shape the way I think about things from a systems perspective. However, most of my knowledge on sustainability came not from school, but from reading.

I am a big believer that school isn’t how we become well versed in something, it is a hunger for learning and a desire to constantly challenge and enrich ourselves. I have included the names of the books that have helped me to grow and expand as well as a link to where you can buy them secondhand on Amazon (I know, they aren’t the best)… so I suggest first getting books at a local library, then purchasing books secondhand or on an e-reader if you have one. If you buy books secondhand online, remember to ask the seller if they can package it plastic free in an envelope as opposed to a plastic mailer. They are typically very accommodating.

The book that started it all for me: 


Silent Spring by Rachel Carson: The book that was published in a series of 3 excerpts in the New Yorker in 1962 that led to the banning of DDT and helped to start the environmental movement.

Animal Agriculture/Food


Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer: After becoming a father, Jonathan Safran Foer looked into why we eat animals and the stories behind them. This book is top 10 for me.


Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan: Through the question of what to have for dinner, Pollan looks at our food system and how America eats.


In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan: This book looks at the American Paradox- the more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. He suggest a “new” diet that looks in the direction of making thoughtful food choices.


Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser: A look into the American fast food industry.


Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé: a look into not only how what we eat affects us, but the world.

Sociology/Business/Economics/Other 


Flammable by Javier Auyero and Debora Alejandra Swistun: The impact of a large oil corporation on an Argentine shantytown.


Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher: A statement against “bigger is better” industrialism.


Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough: Remaking the Way We Make Things.


Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond: Geography shapes the destiny of the world.


Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawkens: how businesses can be both profitable and environmentally responsible.

Collapse by Jared Diamond: How and why societies fail.


The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard: The impact of overconsumption on the environment, economy, and our health.


The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs

Enjoy these books and please let me know if you have any additions that I might have missed!

 

 

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Zero Waste Deodorant

This post has been a very long time coming.

Why? Because of all of the questions I have been asked “how do I make my own deodorant” is by far the most prevalent.

The reason that I waited so long to post this recipe is because we are all different.

If you go into any pharmacy, there are dozens of different types of deodorants. Ones that smell like ocean breeze, or vanilla bean, or man. Ones that make you smell less bad, ones that reduce sweating, ones that eliminate sweating, ones that make your armpits lighter, or softer… the list goes on and on. The point is that there are so many choices because everyone’s body is different which means that different types of deodorant work better or worse for different people.

When I was using conventional (aka store bought chemically deodorant) I was always switching brands. It seemed like after a while one would just stop working, like my body changed, and I had to find something new. I would try brands that worked well for my friends, but they didn’t work for me, and vice-versa.

When I transitioned to a plastic free and zero waste lifestyle I stopped using store bought deodorant. This was for many reasons but the main reasons were the packing, the ingredients, and the fact that the natural version was less expensive and worked really well.

The Packaging: 
Conventional deodorant comes packaged in a plastic container with a plastic or foil (probably lined with plastic) protective thingie, and a plastic lid. Making your own deodorant you can prevent all of that waste from being created because you can buy your ingredients package free and keep reusing the same container over and over. I love to put my deodorant in a small mason jar. I also make a pocket sized version by re-using a glass ounce sized makeup container. It is perfect for when I’m on the go.

The Ingredients: 
The deodorant I make is different from conventional/store bought deodorant because it is free of chemical elements like aluminum which have been linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s, propylene glycol which can damage the central nervous system, and parabens which are carcinogenic and environmentally disruptive. All in all, no fun.

I have played with sooooo many recipes. Ones that were runny, ones that were firm, ones that smelled like lavender… I realized that the best way to make the perfect deodorant was to listen to my body. That means making adjustments here and there, but overall the recipe in this video is the one that has kept my armpits happy over the past few years.

BUT OHMAGOSH IF THIS DEODORANT DOES NOT WORK FOR YOU PUH-LEAZE DO NOT GIVE UP ON NATURAL DEODORANT! TRY AGAIN!

I can not emphasize this enough. There are so many toxins in conventional deodorant and, again, everyone’s body is different. So if this recipe does not work for you, try another recipe. Play with the amount of each ingredient, leave ingredients out, change the essential oil, and most importantly, give your body time to adjust.

I recommend testing each ingredient on your wrist to ensure there are no allergic reactions (for instance, some people do not react well to baking soda). If that is the case, leave it out. Also, if you shave your underarms, like with any deodorant, I’d wait a few minutes before applying.

Switching to natural deodorant has been amazing for so many reasons: I save money, I do not use any single use packaging, I can adjust the scent and ingredients to make it perfect for my body, and I am not exposing myself to any toxic chemicals. Try it out, share your experiences, and post any recipes in the comment section that work well for you. We can all learn from each other!

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