30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 6

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 6

Welcome back! Yesterday’s challenge called for us to refuse one-use products throughout our day. I spend most of my weekdays at home, but for the sake of a challenge, I went to my local Starbucks to practice this in a public setting. I brought my reusable tumbler and kindly asked the barista for a soy latte “in here please” as I slid it across the counter. She handed me back the lid (pro tip: hold on to your lid so you don’t look like a novice), complimented my tumbler, and passed it on to the barista in charge of the coffee! Totally normal request.

Bonus: If you bring your own cup to Starbucks, they give you 10 cents off of your order!

starbuckschallenge

At home, I was conscious of what one-use products I kept reaching for: cotton rounds, paper towels, tissues. To eliminate these, I ordered some hankies and reusable cotton rounds on Etsy and will be replacing the paper towels in my kitchen with reusable cloth napkins (you can find these on Etsy as well, but I’m going to make some of my own to start).

30 Day Challenge- Day 6

CHALLENGE: Buy Recycled

Buying recycled products is important for several reasons. First, it is an incentive for waste disposal programs to continue and expand recycling programs. If there isn’t a demand for recycled products, recycling companies won’t make enough money to continue offering recycling options. In addition, it creates jobs, reduces pollution and landfill waste, and conserves natural resources.

I currently buy recycled tinfoil and toilet paper but am looking into other places where I can buy recycled as well. The main place where I can implement recycled products is in my Etsy business, where I need to purchase a lot of mailing supplies and office paper.

I’ll check back in tomorrow with my progress and another challenge!

All for now,

Angela

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 5

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 5

Good morning and welcome back to the Green Living Challenge! I hope you were able to enjoy yesterday’s Meatless Monday challenge by trying out a new tasty recipe.

I was feeling ill most of the day (any other migraine sufferers out there?), so for dinner my husband cooked up his “ramen special”–Thai rice noodles, vegetables, peanut butter, and ALL the vegan sauces. It may sound gross, but it’s actually tastes pretty good, has a large amount of vegetables and is great comfort food. (It also contains a HUGE amount of sodium from all the sauces soo.. yeah).

30 Day Challenge- Day 5

CHALLENGE: Reduce Waste

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency Archives, Americans generated 254 million tons of garbage in 2013 alone (this is roughly 1600 pounds per person in a single year). With more than 66% of this waste going to landfill, it’s easy to see how unsustainable our garbage habits are. The EPA agency advocates for three ways for Americans to reduce their waste generation: source reduction, recycling, and composting. While I am a heavy advocate for both recycling and composting, today’s challenge focuses on not accumulating waste in the first place (source reduction). Especially plastic.

Did you know most plastics cannot be recycled into the same quality plastic (a milk jug into a milk jug for example)? Instead, plastics get downgraded in the recycling process until they can no longer be recycled. The end-stage for this plastic is the landfill. That’s just the plastic that’s actually recycled. Much of the plastic that we believe we “recycle” in the US actually gets shipped overseas, ending up in a landfill or in the ocean. If you’re interested in this topic, the documentary A Plastic Ocean is a great (and sad) place to start. (I was in tears just watching the promo.)

When we started this challenge, I encouraged us to examine the wasteful areas in our lifestyles. Today, I ask us to begin implementing change and start practicing the 5-“R’s” beginning with the first: Refuse. Refuse plastic bags at the grocery store, refuse one-use cups at your local coffee shop, refuse straws at restaurants, refuse to use paper towels, cotton pads, disposable razors. For each item you throw away today, see if there is a reusable option and take action! Start thinking of the landfill as a LAST RESORT, not the default option. Go forth and reduce waste!

All for now,

Angela

 

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 4

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 4

Happy Monday and welcome back to the Green Living Challenge! Yesterday, we were encouraged to look at our appliance use and eliminate phantom energy consumption. It was an interesting day for me because we lost power for most of the day. I discovered first-hand just how energy-dependent I am.

I took some time to look at my appliances, and since we live in such a small space, it was a relatively easy task for me. I unplugged my coffee maker, and printer, and moved the rest of my office appliances to a power strip with an on/off switch. In the bedroom, we have one spot where we plug everything in and I was able to switch those to an on/off power strip as well.

I realize the average household has a lot more appliances to worry about, but I hope you were able to make some progress in reducing your phantom energy use.

30 Day Challenge- Day 4

CHALLENGE: Meatless Monday

According to the Meatless Monday website, around 1,800 gallons of water are required to produce ONE pound of ground beef. Conversely, only 40 gallons are needed to produce one pound of vegetables. Additionally, meat production uses a crazy amount of power. According to Meatless Monday, “the meat industry uses so much energy to produce grain for livestock that if instead we used the grain to feed people following a vegetarian diet, it would be enough to feed about 840 million people.” To put this in perspective, the entire population of North America is 579 million people.

If you’re already a vegetarian–or if you’re looking for a better challenge, why not try going vegan for a day? It might not be as difficult as you think.

If you’re going meatless, you can find some great recipes on the Meatless Monday website (linked here).

If you’re looking to go vegan for the day, here are some of my favorite places to find recipe inspiration:

Cheap Lazy Vegan | Caitlin Shoemaker | Hot For Food

If you’re looking for something more low-key, try this:

EASY VEGAN SPAGHETTI

Spaghetti Noodles (bonus points for whole wheat noodles)

1 Can Marinara or other Vegan Pasta Sauce

1 Can Black Beans, Rinsed

Spinach (go crazy here)

~1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic

Make the noodles following box directions. Mix the sauce, black beans, and minced garlic in a sauce pan and then add in a few handfuls of spinach. Cover the pot (this helps the spinach wilt faster), and cook over medium heat until the spinach is nice and wilted. Serve over the noodles and enjoy!

Are you going meatless today? Share your recipes in the comments below! I’m always looking for more meal inspiration.

All for now,

Angela

 

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 3

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 3

Welcome back! I hope you took some time yesterday to complete the junk mail challenge. For $2.00 and 5-10 minutes of your time, you can put a huge dent in your junk mail. Looking at the pile of junk mail we’ve amassed in the last week, I’m glad I took the time to opt out at both DMA Choice, and OptOutPreScreen.

mail

I will tackle the rest of our junk mail as time progresses and will switch our remaining bills over to paperless billing. We’re going to be moving twice in the upcoming year (perks of military life!), so I’ll need to do this again a few more times.

30 Day Challenge- Day 3

Did you know that “the average U.S. household spends more than $100 each year to power devices that are turned off”? (Source) Phantom power can be a huge problem when it comes to energy consumption because it’s SO EASY to ignore.

Our challenge for today is to walk around our homes (and offices!) and tally up all of the appliances that are currently plugged in. Then, unplug all the appliances that aren’t in use. If there are appliances in your house that get used on a daily basis, plug them into power strips with a power switch, and/or one that has a timer that cuts power when you’re asleep.

I’m guilty of leaving my chargers plugged in, my printers plugged in and turned on, and leaving my laptop plugged in for days at a time. It’s a lazy habit and one I’m ready to face head-on today. I’ll check back in tomorrow with my progress.

All for now,

Angela

Are YOU participating in the 30 Day Green Living Challenge? What have you done so far to reduce your environmental impact? Leave a comment with your progress or leave me a “green” tip!

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 2

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 2

Welcome back to the Green Living Challenge! Feel free to jump in at any time and take your own pace with any of the suggestions in this challenge. If you’re new to my blog, take a minute to learn about what moved me to start the 30 Day Green Living Challenge here.

Yesterday’s challenge encouraged us to look at wasteful areas of our life. Since July of this year, I’ve been making active efforts to reduce waste in my life–and let me tell you, it’s been a SLOW process. Yesterday’s exercise proved that I still have lots of room for improvement.

Yesterday, I identified some problem areas that I hope to address over the next 30 days. Here they are:

KITCHEN

I use paper towels like a maniac, especially when I clean. I use Wet Jet pads like a maniac. I use toxic cleaners that are labeled “Green” even though they may not be. I basically throw out all practice of sustainability when I clean. I. NEED. HELP.

BATHROOM

Apply everything I said about cleaning in the kitchen to the bathroom as well. Add on single-use flossers, cotton rounds, cotton swabs, tampons, and toilet paper and I’ve created another pile of unnecessary trash.

CONSUMPTION

Despite my honest efforts, I’m still working on curbing my consumerism. I buy cereal in boxes with plastic bags. I buy soy milk in plastic-lined cartons. And worst of all, since our move into our Tiny House, I haven’t been composting.

This being said, I’m glad these areas are identified, and I am confident I will be able to tackle them over the next 30 Days.

30 Day Challenge- Day 2

GREEN CHALLENGE: Junk Mail

In her book Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson introduces the Zero Waste Pyramid and shows the first way to eliminate trash, is to not allow it into your home in the first place through “refusal.”

ZeroWasteTriangle

Let’s practice that today! I found a great resource from EcoCycle outlining the different steps we can take to refuse junk mail before it even shows up in our mailboxes. Let’s start the weekend off by taking a few minutes to reduce our impact on the Earth. I’ll see you back here tomorrow with another actionable tip.

All for now,

Angela

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 1

30 Day Green Living Challenge: Day 1

Welcome to the first Green Living post of The Mindset Series! I had originally planned to begin The Mindset Series with finance, but felt the need to address green living due to this week’s events. Earlier this week, more than fifteen thousand scientists from across the globe signed a second warning to humanity. In this notice, scientists make sobering claims about the future of the Earth and the role that humans play in her demise. They warn us to “recognize, in our day-to-day lives… that Earth with all its life is our only home.”

As a citizen of the Earth, I feel a deep sadness and a responsibility to reduce my impact on the environment. We can not pass this problem on any longer. The needless consumption of our generation and of those past will directly impact the lives of our children.

I have spent the past few days mulling over my feelings about this letter and what we can each do as individuals to decrease our impact on the environment. Over the next 30 days, I am going to research simple improvements that will reduce my impact on the environment. As with other big changes, little changes in mindset are the most sustainable approach. I hope that you will follow along my journey and reflect with me so we can cultivate a happy, healthy Earth to pass along to our children and grandchildren.

30 Day Challenge- Day 1

GREEN CHALLENGE: Examine

As you prepare to follow along on this 30-Day journey, your first challenge is this: examine! Examine every piece of trash that leaves your hands today and if it was truly necessary. Identify the areas of your life that generate a lot of trash. Do you use one-use products while cleaning? Do you use plastic bags at the grocery store because you forgot your reusable bags in the car? If you can’t think of simple solutions, that’s okay! With this challenge, I hope to find and provide valuable resources for us to reduce our impact on the Earth, together.

I’ll check back in tomorrow with my wasteful areas and with another challenge.

All for now,

Angela

The Mindset Series: Intro Post

The Mindset Series: Intro Post

This past year has been insane for personal growth. My husband and I have been working to create a clear vision for our life and we’ve been making many changes to work towards this vision. When we explain some of the changes we’ve made to others, many do not understand how we are able to create such dramatic change in our lives. They view our goals as lofty and un-achievable in their own lives even though the opposite is often true. The main barrier these doubters–and anyone unable to make a change in their life–is their mindset.

I created The Mindset Series to discuss the areas of life that my husband and I are actively focusing on changing. I hope to show you that simple changes in mindset yield huge results. This series will begin by discussing three main topics, though more may be added over time. Currently, our three main focus areas are:

  1. Achieving Financial Freedom

We are currently using our own adapted version of the Dave Ramsey Method to achieve financial freedom. Our goal is to pay down $40k in student loan debt and be financially free by 30. This is an aggressive goal and it is currently our main focus. If you’re confused about what it means to be “financially free” and question how we plan to do this, I will explain it all in the first Mindset Series post about this topic.

  1. Reducing Environmental Impact

I am an environmentalist by nature. As someone who grew up cultivating a love for the Earth while camping in the Minnesota Wilderness, I feel a deep responsibility to preserve the Earth for future generations. Current consumer habits (including many of my own) are wasteful and need to be re-examined. The “Green Living” part of this series will illustrate how you can make small and painless changes to reduce your environmental impact.

  1. Eating and Living Healthfully

As newly-minted vegans (whaaat??), my husband and I are working to live a natural, healthy lifestyle. These posts from The Mindset Series will examine how you can integrate healthy habits into your lifestyle to live a happy, healthy, life. Because truly, if I can, you can.

Some of these goals may not be for you (and that’s totally fine!), but I hope that you will join me for the journey anyway. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something unexpected along the way.

 

All for now,

Angela