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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How to Tare a Jar and Shop Waste Free

Zero Waste food shopping is a weekly activity for me. I go to the farmers market for my produce and use reusable organic cotton bags for items like nuts but for wet items like honey, olive oil, flour, and spices, I opt for jars to keep things organized and make cleaning simple.

Learn how I do it using five simple steps!

Step 1: Choose your Jar (I love mason jars because they have a standard weight, but you can also upcycle your own jars)

Step 2: Tare (pre-weigh) your jar. Why? Because when the cashier gets the jar, they can subtract the weight of the jar from the total weight, so you are only paying for what is inside. You can write the tare on your jar in permanent marker to make it easy to remember.

Step 3: Fill your jar and write down the number of the item you are buying. I like to keep a note open on my cellphone that has the item name and number to expedite the checkout process, plus it’s waste free!

Step 4: Tell the cashier the weight of your jar and they can deduct that from the total weight of the jar

Step 5: Say THANK YOU to the awesome store for letting you bring your own packaging!

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Plastic Water Bottles

SINGLE USE PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES SUCKKKKKKKK. They are one of my least favorite things ever. In the US alone we use over 1,500 plastic water bottles per second…..

Let’s move beyond them, shall we? Here is a Simple Swap solution to help reduce the unnecessary, overpriced, toxic water vessel demons from making their way into landfills, oceans, and beyond.

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Days 5-10: Yellowstone National Park


It took 5 days to change the way I think about what I need.

Over the past few days I have been in Yellowstone National Park, which is INSANELY idyllic, think buffalo roaming next to your car.


I have been camping, something that I have only done once before, and it was wonderful. Waking up next to a brook, the cool morning breeze running through the tent, waking up and meditating as the sun rises, it has been truly fantastic.

One of my favorite parts of this experience has been eating organic vegetables from a farmers market in Montana, cooking over an open fire, and foraging for and identifying edible plants. Things like pineapple weed, mint, and sage are everywhere. All of my compost has been contained in an airtight stainless steel container. I have used all stainless steel eating utensils and have  washed them using boiling water over a fire and at a local gas station.
On top of that I have been doing a few things that I have never done before:
I have not showered in a week. This is crazy for me. I shower every day and wash my hair every 2-3 days. It is just something I have adopted from living in a city, I never truly felt clean. But in the fresh air, despite being covered in dirt, I felt clean. I washed myself two times, once in a gas station bathroom where I refreshed mah pits, and once when I took a dip in a river where I also used river mud to exfoliate.

I have worn the same 5 items of clothing over and over. This is also crazy for me. In NYC I walk around so much that sometimes I feel that I have to change my clothes just to feel like I am not caked in exhaust. With the fresh air, my clothes smell clean and have a hint of campfire scent, that’s it.
I have not worn makeup for 2 weeks. Hold. The. Phone. Yes, two weeks. I am a daily makeup wearer. Every day I put on some RMS concealer if I need it on a blemish, and some RMS blush. However, I’ve noticed in two week of not wearing makeup, my skin has changed. I don’t need any concealer and I don’t need any blush. I don’t know if it is the fresh air or being out of the city or not showering as much or a combination of everything plus witchcraft, but my skin has never been so great. All I have done is splash my face with water and moisturized with the same oils I normally use, argan and calendula. I’m going to continue on this makeupless journey and see what happens.

This experience has truly helped me to re-evaluate how I live and what I need. Upon my return to NYC I have a feeling that I will be selling a lot of what I have and downsizing even more than I have in the past.

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