Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cars are Coffins

Day 3 of No Impact Week: Transportation

(I must say I am being very hypocritical today, as I am driving back and forth from the city to the boyfriends house to help today to help him move...but using a car is unavoidable in our modern life at times. As always it's not about perfection, it's about reduction! Besides yesterday the boyfriend and I biked 40 miles and hiked up a bluff- low impact entertainment all day.)

All right, the last two days were fact heavy so today is your break! Cut out the car today and get outside and have some fun, instead of mindless driving.

Up your calorie burn and walk, run, rollerblade, scoot, or tricycle to your destinations today :) or take the bus and read, people watch or dance to your music during your commute instead of driving.

Feeling overwhelmed by the facts and statistics from the week so far? Don’t lose hope! The world is not coming to an end, be a part of the 2% solution. Sign the petition to help reduce carbon emissions by 2% each year the next 40 years.

Do you drive a car daily? Could you replace some car trips with walking or biking?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trash Talk

Welcome to Day 2 of the No Impact Week. Let's talk some trash.

“In 2006, the U.S. produced more than 251 million tons of trash – 4.6 pounds per PERSON per DAY.” –EPA Municipal Solid Waste Data for 2006

On a daily basis think of what you consume. Most of it is packaging or a plastic bag. When you go to the bakery wanting a doughnut why do you also have to receive a piece of parchment paper used to pick up the doughnut and a paper bag to carry the doughnut around? All you need is the doughnut.

Recently I went to my student bookstore to purchase my books and was appalled. Not only because 2 books cost me $270 but I was forced to use packaging. My book for Spanish class could not be bought used, because it came with some electronic device I will use in the class. I had to buy this shiny saran-wrapped book. Then upon leaving the store I told the cashier I didn’t need a bag. From the look on her face you would have thought I’d asked her to carry my books for me. After giving me the crazy eye she told me I had to use a bag for “security reasons” so the store would know I paid for my books. Umm last I checked that’s what a receipt is for.

All in all by reducing your packaging consumption you are sacrificing nothing, you still get the products you originally wanted you just cut out the saran wrap. And when you do use a package, if possible, RECYCLE it. If that’s all you are able/willing to give up for the environment at the moment you are still making a huge difference since:

-Paper waste accounts for about 35% of the total material filling up landfills. Paper is probably the easiest material to recycle.

-Americans alone throw away enough aluminum to duplicate the full commercial air fleet of the US. Again, aluminum is a recyclable material.

- In 2008, the United States generated about 13 million tons of plastics in the Municipal Solid Waste stream as containers and packaging, almost 7 million tons as nondurable goods, and almost 11 million tons as durable goods.

Here are some easy everyday practices to incorporate into your daily life that will help you start to reduce your use:

-Reusable grocery and produce bags. Buy bulk whenever possible.

-Reusable travel coffee cup. Never leave home without it, and many coffee places give you a discount!

-Stainless Steel Straws

-Bring your own water bottle. It’s estimated we use 1.6 million barrels of oil every year, just making plastic bottled water.

-Eat out a lot? Bring a Tupperware for your leftovers.

-Pack yourself a lunch in reusable Tupperware containers instead of buying a lunch all wrapped in packaging. Or instead of packing a lunch in plastic baggies a brown paper bag.

-Bring your own bags when out shopping.

-Paper has two sides, use both.

-Read documents on the computer, you don’t need to print everything out (especially that 23 page class syllabus, it’ll always be online).

-Learn about alternatives for personal care.

Remember just because it says “disposable” does not mean it disposes of itself when you throw it away:
- It’s estimated that plastic won’t begin to decompose in a landfill for at least 1,000 years.
- Plastic bags that are exposed to air and sunshine will decompose in 10-20 years. The sun shines real bright in that landfill huh?
- It takes millions of years for glass to decompose, recycle it!
- Aluminum cans that are buried in a landfill take around 80-200 years to decompose. But when they’re recycled, it takes as much energy to make 20 cans as it does to make one brand new one.
- Every cigarette butt that’s thrown out the window takes one to five years to decompose.
- Newspaper takes about 2-4 weeks to decompose. Recycle it though!
- In 2007, over 12% of our garbage was made of food scraps, which could easily be composted. When food decomposes without oxygen it produces methane, which is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
- In the US over 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown away every year and they will remain in that landfill for over 550 years. Solution? Cloth + pins.
- Finally Styrofoam will probably be around for about 1 million years, and its hard to recycle. Avoid it!

Sorry about all the fact heavy post, again. Tomorrow I will not try to scare you into going green with more "fun" facts- I promise :) Happy composting and recycling(I hope)!

Did you try noticing how much trash you used today?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Secret to Happiness

Consume LESS.
Welcome to Day 1 of the No Impact Week! Today is all about consumption. I used to be advertisers ideal human being. I saw the glitzy ads, fancy packaging, and I was all theirs. I never thought twice about if I really needed these products- I WANTED them! Well needless to say I have been spending a little more time thinking about my needs vs. my wants. To really understand why we should be consuming less watch The Story of Stuff. No time? No worries I summarized the videos main points below- give it a quick skim, there’s some pretty scary stats. Especially about happiness!

The Story of Stuff
Stuff is made in a cycle that goes a little something like this:

1. Extraction
-The US is only 5% of the worlds population but we use 30% of the worlds resources…since we do not have all the resources in our country to produce all that we consume we take resources from 3rd world countries.

2. Production
-100,000 synthetic chemicals are used to make our products- we don’t know the full impact of these chemicals, or what they do when all mixed together in our households. But toxic in = toxic out. To prove that point, what is the most toxic food? Breast Milk. That goes to show how many toxins we are absorbing without even knowing it. There are 4 billion lbs of toxic pollution created a year, think of how much of that is in the products we use daily.

3. Distribution

-Externalized Costs is the real cost of products, these costs are not usually reflected in the price. The price of a product does not include the environmental impact it had in production. Who is paying for our products if we aren’t? Our Earth and the underpaid workers who make these products.

4. Consumption
-We are a nation of consumers, our value is measured by how much we consume. 99% of the stuff we consume is trashed within 6 months because it is designed for the DUMP. We see more ads in one year than people in the 1950’s saw in their entire LIFE. And what is the point of advertising? To tell you that what you have isn’t good enough and you need to BUY. Guess what? Our happiness peaked in the 1950’s. Now we no longer have time to spend on family and friends because we are too busy working to pay for our stuff. And what do we do with our free time? Watch t.v. Where we see more ads that makes us go out and shop more. Thus restarting the vicious cycle.

5. Disposal

-Recycling is GREAT but NOT ENOUGH. 1 garbage can of waste put out by you equals 70 cans of garbage that were produced to make the stuff in your garbage can.

Not scared enough about our consumption cycle yet? There's more! Read below(or click the links to watch the video) for some specific stories of how stuff is made.

The Story of Cosmetics
-Only 20% of the chemicals that are put into cosmetics are tested.
-Babies are being born toxic because of all the toxins their moms absorb during pregnancy.
-The FDA doesn’t regulate what is put in cosmetics; they don’t even require cosmetic companies to list all ingredients on the label.

The Story of Bottled Water
-A study conducted by the city of Cleveland found that Fiji water tastes worse and is dirtier than Cleveland tap water. Many other tap vs. bottled water tests have turned out the same.
-Bottled water is less regulated than tap water. Water from your tap is free. So how did the Soda Companies convince you to buy water? They created an ad campaign that scared us away from tap water and convinced us we needed clean water from “springs”. Many bottled waters come from the tap, Dasani being one of them. Don’t be a victim, save money save the environment.

The Story of Cap and Trade
Economics and math isn’t my strongest subject so I’m not even going to try to summarize…well ok I’ll try. Basically “you can’t fix a problem with the same thing that started it” Stock market + big business started over/mass production so giving them pollution permits to buy and sell won’t fix the pollution problem.

Stay tuned- tomorrow is all about TRASH and how to consume less! If you haven't already sign up for No Impact Week!

How much do you consume in one day/week/month/year? Try writing down all the appliances, products, and packaging you use today. We're they all necessary? If not what can be cut out? Or are there disposable products you use that can be replaced with reusable longer lasting products?

A 21st Birthday

Last night we celebrated my friend Kate's 21st birthday. We all went to Pancho Villa because when you bring 6 friends on your 21st you drink for free!

Jenna: "Do you have lemons?"
Waitress: "We have the green kind"

Devoured about 3 baskets of these...yummm.

I got the Chile Relleno con Queso. Sooo good it was a portabello mushroom filled with cheese, with rice and beans on the side. Not quite vegan...but vegetarian, I'm working on it!

Flaming shot + sparkler cake.

Jello cake failure.

Brownie success!

Happy 21st again Kate!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cabinet Dinner and #2 Breakfast

My first breakfast this morning with the boyfriend of oats mixed with 1/2 of an apple, blob of PB and sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg and honey just didn't hit the spot. I really missed the banana, nuts, flaxseeds, and raisin toppings I usually have to choose from!

And the internet was being exceptionally slow at my apartment this morning...

So I decided to treat myself to some Caribou Coffee. After I bought my medium roast coffee I forgot I wanted to try their new iced teas- they look delicious! And better yet they have no added sweeteners yumm just how I like it...maybe I'll have to buy a 3rd breakfast treat today. Anyways I got a peach raspberry muffin as well, its good but nothing special. Too sugary, light and fluffy. I really do like dense heavy whole wheat/bran style muffins best! Oh and with added nuts too, this one is missing that nice crunch. I ate about half and am saving the rest for tomorrows breakfast- when I treat myself I try to make it laaaaast(who am I kidding usually I scarf my treats down in about 5 minutes, I somehow inherited some super human self-will this morning...).

Dinner last night turned out to be a cabinet dinner. The boyfriend and I were planning on testing out some new vegan recipes...but laziness + cheapness got the better of me!

I still had lots of zucchini from the farmers market last week so I started with that and found canned tomatoes and spaghetti.

(I saved all these cans for a future craft project...or maybe to use as pots for plants?)

Easy Spaghetti Sauce

-1 zucchini sliced thinly
-28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
-2 cans tomato sauce
-2 cans tomato paste
-1 tbsp Garlic Powder
-1 tsp each of oregano, basil, and thyme
-Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the indredients together while heating on the stove. Stir and let it simmer for awhile for the spices to mix in. Then pour over pasta! Pretty simple, easy and cheap! usually I saute onion and mushrooms in my spaghetti sauce but I was all out :(

But it was still delicious! Very tomatoey and I <3 tomatoes and was craving marinara, so it worked out perfect.

Then we had a little bit of green tea with baked apples!

Sooo easy to make.

Baked Apples

-2 apples
-2 TBSP Brown Sugar
-Sprinkle Cinnamon
-Sprinkle Nutmeg

Core apples, not all the way through though, make a little bowl basically. Then sprinkle in 1 TBSP of brown sugar in each apple, the cinnamon and nutmeg. Let them bake in the oven at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until they are to your preferred mushiness. Poke them with a knife to see if their done.

Voila! Instant dessert, I really wish some vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream would have been hiding in my cabinet to go with these!

Dinner doesn't always have to be a chore, or even well planned out. I decided to make peas and the baked apples about halfway through the cooking.

Well I'm off to celebrate a 21st birthday! One of my besties Kate's to be exact :)

What is your go-to leftover/cabinet dinner?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dead Flowers

Morbid Much? I had a little photo shoot with the dried up flowers from one of my plants...it was a nice lazy day for me in the apartment. Like my new pink sparkly nail polish?

I was afraid I had killed the plant when I saw these flowers drying up earlier but it's still alive and thriving!

After my mini photo shoot I got a little too attatched to the dried flowers. Instead of throwing them away I left them to decompose at the bottom of the plant. Flower compost right?

I'm off to cook some new vegan recipes with the boyfriend...hopefully pictures and recipes will be posted on here sometime in the near future. Happy Friday night!

What's your favorite thing to do on a lazy day?

Truth about Antioxidants

antioxidant foods infographic, showing antioxidant benefits
Via: Term Life Insurance Blog

I thought this diagram was cute and informative so of course I decided to share it. Check out the The Daily Green, a website I just discovered today, for lots of other fun accurate food info.

Baaaack to antioxidants, as the diagram shows, food that comes from the ground(or tree/plant/etc.) and goes directly into your mouth with no processing will always be the best source of vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients.

The latest trend in the grocery store is to take junk food and market it as health food. Don't buy that overpriced junk in the grocery store that touts "added" vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and the works. Most times your body can only absorb small amounts of these add-ins because they are not in their natural state. Remember the 7th grade iron in cereal experiment? No? Take a magnet to a cereal that claims to have "added iron!". The cereal will follow the magnet. Sick. Yes, the cereal company did add more "iron" to their cereal, but they added it in the form of tiny iron shavings. If your feeling weak and think you need more iron go eat some red meat don't go chomp on the side of a railroad track.

Also most of these products that claim to have added wonder ingredients are highly processed and packaged. Which not only negatively affects you but the environment as wall. I know it is so easy to buy that box of high-fructose corn syrup ridden granola bars(i.e. glorified rice krispie bar) and throw them in your purse for an easy on the go snack. But it is just as easy to pack some trail mix, veggies and hummus, or a piece of fresh fruit in a reusable container. A much healthier, cheaper, more environmentally sound practice.

While this lovely weather lasts skip the supermarket and take an adventure(by foot or bike) to your local farmers market. You'll be getting vitamin D + exercise + a new experience, three things that are proven to make you happier! Oh and I guess the fresh, organic, locally grown, cheap, food is a benefit as well :)

What is your favorite go-to snack?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Minnehahahahaha Falls

All work and no play is no good at all. How about all play and no work?

The bright colors and flowers were nice...

but the falls were calling(maybe whispering?) my name...

There's no way I wasn't getting up close...

One of these got stuck to my butt along the way...

But it was all well worth it!

I said goodbye to the falls and went on an adventure along the creek...

Then I said goodbye to the creek and hello to the beach/river!

Even though I suffered some flesh wounds...

It was well worth the final reward- peace, quiet and SUN!

Happy summer- soak up the last bits of it while it's still here :)