What to Do When You Can’t Avoid Trash

And, no, I’m not talking about a rude co-worker or classmate!

I go to college in Iowa. Our grocery store is the size of a large shoebox, and our food options are pretty limited. My meal plan, which cots an arm and a leg, gives me the option to eat in the commons (when I have time), and buy some supplementary snacks from a few other places on campus: ie, food in plastic packaging.

Of course, I am doing what I can to make my school more sustainable, but that means I’m busy juggling everything, and sometimes I fall into the trap of a bottle of juice and a Clif bar in the library. So, what do we do to keep our bad habits as low impact as possible?

Choose glass or metal containers that are easily recyclable or reusable

This is kind of an obvious one, but if you have the possibility of buying a plastic bottle or a can, go for the can– aluminum can be recycled much more easily and more times than plastic can.

Choose recycled plastic

Some companies use only recycled plastic, or at least a large proportion. For example, Naked uses 100 percent recycled and recyclable plastic. If you’re going for a sugary drink in a plastic bottle, opt for a boosted juice instead of a Coke.

Look into recycling options

Did you know that TerraCycle actually has a free program for recycling foil-lined energy bar wrappers and snack bags? Those are two major waste streams for convenience food. Take the extra few minutes to collect the trash and send it to be recycled.

Think ahead

Alright, this isn’t really how to take care of trash that’s already been produced. If you know that you’ll be in a situation where you’ll be tempted by food, try to pack some snacks and a water bottle. The goal isn’t to be perfect all the time, but to improve whenever possible.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

If you use a plastic water bottle, you’re not a demon. The point is to try to reduce waste as much as possible, not to punish yourself for eating a candy bar in a plastic wrapper.

We don’t need a few people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions doing it imperfectly.

Have questions, tips, or personal thoughts? Leave a comment, and don’t forget to subscribe! And check out my giveaway on Instagram!

(header image by Steve Johnson from Pexels)

Easy Kale and Basil Pesto

I love pesto. When I was in high school, swimming competitively, I survived off of pasta and bread, all smothered with whole tubs of pesto. It’s delicious and beautiful and the answer to “how can I eat straight olive oil but make it seem healthy?”

Now, however, a few things stand between me and my love. The first is that I’m not exercising vigorously in cold water for 10+ hours every week. I don’t want to or need to eat white carbs and plain fat every day. Is this what growing up feels like? Yuck.

Most store bought pesto has Parmesan in it anyway, which is obviously a no for me. So if I want it, I have to make it.

Part three: basil and olive oil are expensive, and even if I were to buy $15 of fresh basil leaves, it would blend down to a few sad tablespoons. My solution? This healthier, definitely cheaper alternative to traditional pesto (with all the flavor, of course!). By adding in kale (which is about $1-$2 a bunch, depending on the season) and water (practically free), it cuts the calories and cost, and boosts your greens intake for the day. What’s not to love?

Easy Kale and Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 bunch raw kale leaves (about 3-4 cups)

2 tbs basil paste (the kind in the tubes- or use a handful of fresh leaves)

1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp nutritional yeast

3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)

1 tbs raw cashews (or almonds, sunflower seeds– whatever you have on hand)

Water (see instructions)

Directions:

Add all ingredients EXCEPT WATER to a blender or food processor– if not all the kale fits, slowly add it as the mixture is blended. Starting with about a tablespoon, slowly add the water until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Pour over pasta (I love chickpea pasta, like Banza or Thrive Market brand) or top garlic bread, use as a salad dressing.

Notes: feel free to use spinach or any other dark leafy green you like! This keeps well on the fridge for a few days, but I haven’t tried freezing it yet.

Happy baking!

30 New Years Resolutions That Aren’t “Lose Weight”

Almost everyone above the age of twelve has probably said that “this is the year I lose weight!” And then repeated it the next year, the next year, the next year. It’s a little passé. Even if you start with the best intentions, little things sneak up and it’s suddenly April, with no progress made– or even a few extra pounds.

The definition of insanity is supposed to be doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So why would you have the same resolution, every year, and expect to suddenly achieve it without changing a thing.

I challenge you to leave weight loss off your list this year. Here are a few suggestions, in all different categories:

This year, I will:

HEALTH

1. Start doing yoga every day.

2. Start running every week.

3. Go vegan!

4. Drink a gallon of water every day.

5. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.

6. Eat 5 servings of veggies and fruits every day.

7. Stop eating processed foods.

8. Start eating mindfully.

9. Let go of “food guilt”.

10. Listen to my body.

SPIRIT

11. Go to religious services every week.

12. Pray every morning.

13. Do one extra kind act every day.

14. Meditate every day.

15. See a therapist.

HOME

16. Stop buying things I don’t need.

17. Stop buying things with plastic packaging.

18. Get rid of unworn clothing.

19. Get rid of unused items.

20. Clean up every day.

21. Organize my closet.

22. Organize my pantry.

23. Clean the garage.

24. Put money away into savings.

SELF

25. Play an instrument every week.

26. Start studying a foreign language.

27. Take new classes.

28. Read 12 books.

29. Write a book.

30. Love myself.

Let’s make 2019 a little brighter for everyone. Happy Holidays!

Header image by rawpixel on Unsplash

Lazy Berry Smoothie

This is super simple to make (kind of a cheat recipe, if we’re being honest) and has tons of vitamins; this is a great way to start the day or as a sweet dessert. 

I have just finished my first semester of college, and I’m exhausted. Exhausted and a little chubby. Not chubby, honestly, but I put on a few pounds during finals week and on my recent trip to New York. Side note: I tried two new vegan flavors of Ben and Jerry’s and they were FANTASTIC. So no regrets. But I feel a little sluggish and bloated, so I’m trying to feel better, no matter what the scale says.

This was actually one of my favorite cheats at school because you can make a really pretty smoothie with just two ingredients: Naked juice and Vitamin Water. I told you, it’s a cheat. But those were two things I could buy with my meal plan, and you have to get creative sometimes.

DSC08993.JPGPersonally, I prefer XXX Zero + Blue Machine. The flavors compliment well and they’re both packed with vitamins B6 and B12, which are really difficult for vegans to get sometimes. Plus, the taste is amazing.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz vitamin water, vitamin water zero, or other liquid of choice
  • 8 oz Naked juice, or other similar juice

Freeze the juice overnight, pop both into a blender, and enjoy! That’s it! I add chia seeds for a little extra umph.

DSC09001

Peanut Butter Protein Oatmeal

DSC08916This peanut butter oatmeal is loaded with 15 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber, and only 4 grams of sugar and is vegan, gluten-free, and easy to throw together.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, gluten-free if needed
  • 1 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbs PB2 powder
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs flax seeds, ground
  • stevia to taste

Prepare oatmeal as usual, using 1 cup of almond milk instead of water. Mix in additional almond milk and other ingredients after cooking, and enjoy!

Nutrition: 340 calories, 13 g fat, 30 g carbs (14 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 15 g protein.

Simple Chocolate Nicecream

DSC08909Sometimes, you need ice cream. Or, really, you want ice cream, something cold and sweet and indulgent and full of chocolate. You probably never need ice cream (but I’m not a nutritionist or God, so I really couldn’t say for sure…)

In my tiny college town, there’s one place to buy vegan ice cream. The selection is slim and full of sugar, and the store closes at 8 pm, which doesn’t help when those 10 pm cravings hit. I am also much more mindful of what I eat now, so a pint of sugar-laden, fatty coconut milk ice cream just isn’t very appealing. Enter nicecream.

You’ve all heard of it. Frozen bananas, blended up. I used to shudder at the thought. My aunt an cousin did a Whole30 cleanse and swore up and down that frozen bananas and cocoa powder tasted just like ice cream.  They’re wrong. This won’t taste like a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. But it’s still good, and good for you.

Ingredients:

1/2 banana, chopped and frozen

1 tbs cacao powder

1 tbs almond milk

1 tsp maple syrup or other sweetener

add ins: cacao nibs, cinnamon, almonds, pecans, chocolate chips, flaked coconut

Mix all ingredients (except add ins!) in the blender, stir in your toppings, and enjoy!

Easy Mason Jar Cozy

 

There’s nothing more irritating than lugging around your bag of groceries and bulk food, or your lunch bag, and hearing the clank of mason jars against each other. I’ve frankly gotten tired of being a tuneless one-woman band, so I decided to make so travel bags/cozies for my mason jars.

What you need: 

  • an old men’s flannel shirt
  • fabric scissors
  • needle
  • thread

What to do: 

  1. Check that the jar fits in the sleeve when buttoned up. You should still be able to unscrew the lid with the cozy on.
  2. Measure where you want to cut, about one to two inches below where the jar sits when it’s in the sleeve. It’s better to cut a little extra than to be short.
  3. Cut the sleeve, trying to keep a straight line. It’s okay for this to be a little uneven and messy, though.
  4. Keeping the sleeve-let right side out, sew along the bottom. It doesn’t matter how neat this is, as long as it will stay.
  5. Turn the sleeve right side out.
  6. Place mason jar inside, button up, and turn down “collar”. Enjoy your noiseless, well-dressed snack or drink!

You can use the rest of the flannel to make rags, unpaper towels, dryer sheets, etc. I buy mine for about $3 each from my local thrift shop.