Living with Less Plastic

 

 

Living with Less Plastic: 

Single-use plastics are a huge problem causing irreversible damage to our environment. I’ve always made the effort to recycle as much as I can, but I know that just using less period is the best way to cut down on plastic. 

Here are some ways I’ve been trying to curb my own plastic use: 

BYOB always.

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Baggu makes great reusable shopping bags

I keep reusable shopping bags in my purse, in my car, in Rob’s car— I always have them on hand. And if I still forget a bag I just hand carry my items. It can be a tough habit to get into, but now I am really used to it. Reusable bags are also sturdier than their plastic counterpart. It’s much easier to carrying groceries when the bag has a shoulder strap.   

 

 

 

 

No more single-use coffee cups. 

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12 oz Hydroflask

I try to make my coffee at home and bring it in a 12-oz Hydroflask. Honestly I think 12 oz is enough. If I go to a coffee shop and don’t have a reusable cup, I just order for here and savor the drink and the moment I get to myself, instead of just taking the coffee and rushing to the next task in my day.  

 

 

 

 

 

Reusable water bottle 

This is a no-brainer, right? I have a few reusable water bottles and I always keep them filled up and in the fridge. I always take water with me so I’m never tempted to buy single use plastic bottles. If i do need to buy a water on the go I’ll buy a Pellegrino in glass, and then reuse the glass bottle for regular water. 

Bring your own container spices 

I just reuse old jars and fill up at the co-op. It’s honestly way cheaper, too.  I like customizing the sizes of container I use for each spice so I can buy a large quantity of what I use frequently and just a small bit of something I might only need for one recipe. 

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Save every glass jar 

Any good glass container with a nice lid I will save and reuse. I have a whole arsenal of old Bonne Maman jars that I use for packing lunches, storing spices, etc. 

Waste free lunches 

I try to pack my lunches from home with as little to no waste. I bring my own utensils, a cloth napkin, and pack my food in reusable containers.  

Refuse 

I refuse plastic utensils and straws as often as I can. 

Buy bulk and decant around the house: 

In addition to buying in bulk and decanting my spice cabinet, I also do this for cleaning supplies and personal care products. I also try to opt for things packaged without plastic. I opt for wooden cleaning tools and toothbrushes. 

Make food from scratch  

Something I’m working on is making more food from scratch and buying less pre-made food and take out. I’m hoping to try and make my own granola bars and yogurt this year.  

Just Buy Less

It’s so hard to buy things without any plastic.  A t-shirt bought online might be wrapped in a plastic bag, a plastic tag, things in plastic boxes, plastic zip-ties that fix products to a piece of cardboard, plastic used in packaging, shipping, transport before it gets to a consumer, etc.  I ask, do I really need this?  I’ve been living without it for how long?  Can I get by with what I have? 

I’m not perfect but I do the best I can. Every little bit helps. It takes more effort to reuse things and make granola bars from scratch than it does to just buy single-use, but I know it’s worth it for me to try. I have a lot of work to do and still buy and use plastic a lot more than I want to, but I’m not ready to make my own toothpaste and cleaning products. 

Granola Bars

 

Granola Bars

I’m trying to cut back on individually packaged foods, and the two last hold outs for me are yogurt and granola bars.  While I don’t think these are perfect, I do think I’m off to a pretty good start with the granola bars.  I did some research and I think it culminated in something that is definitely a granola bar.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups quick oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon flakey sea salt
Zest of 1 medium orange
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 8 x 8” baking dish with parchment and spray with cooking spray.  I used a 6.5 X 8.5” pyrex refrigerator dish because that was the closest thing I had, just do your best.

Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  Add the honey and maple syrup and stir until mixture is all coated.  Transfer into the prepared baking dish and press firmly into the pan until it is well packed.


Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Let it rest at room temperature for at least an hour before cutting into bars.  If you don’t wait, it will all crumble apart.  If it does all crumble apart, don’t worry, now it’s just regular granola, which is pretty great.

This recipe can be easily adapted to suit different tastes / to use up what you have in the cabinet.  I already had most of the ingredients on hand which is why I went for cranberry-orange.  The nuts, dried fruit, and other flavorings are totally flexible.

If anyone has any great granola bar tips or recipes please send them my way!

January Book Club

I’m still working on some of the books from my December reading list, but here are the next two I’m hoping to read:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – The rise and fall of Stanford drop out Elizabeth Holmes and her start up, Theranos, which promised to revolutionize health with a drop of blood, but couldn’t deliver.

American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment – After his release from imprisonment in Iranian, a Mother Jones reporter takes a job as a prison guard to learn about incarceration in American from the inside.

I’m naturally more drawn to non-fiction than fiction, but I’m hoping to read more fiction this year.  If anyone has any great novels to recommend, please let me know.

January Shopping List

After a stressful holiday season, I’m focusing on pouring a glass of wine and relaxing this month with some comforting classics.  As I look out the window onto a grey, cloudy, rainy landscape, I would love to be wrapped up in this sweater from Madewell.  I ordered a pair of moccasins to pair with it.  If I could only wear one shoe for the rest of my life, it would probably be moccasins.

My dear friend, Liz, sent me a beautiful candle from her company, Arome Candle.  Look for an unboxing video on my Instagram next weekend.  I love the scent profiles and designs of the candle.

When January arrives, my skin and hair start to dry up.  I’m rehydrating this month with Kiehl’s Ultra Moisturizer Cream and Olaplex hair repair treatment.

I recently started experimenting with pour-over coffee.  I do love my Nespresso and French Press, but I have been curious to try one of these for awhile.  I ordered one made by Bee House, a Japanese ceramic company, but I’ve seen these around everywhere.  My favorite coffee is this blend from Commonplace, a Pittsburgh coffee company.

Commonplace Coffee, Ceramic Coffee Pour Over, Madewell Sweater, Moccasins, Olaplex Hair Treatment, Kiehl’s Moisturizer, Location F Wine, Arome Candle.

Balanced Breakfast Smoothie

When I’m working early it’s so hard for me to eat before work.  I’m definitely one of those people who just isn’t hungry at 6:45 in the morning.  However, I know how important it is to start the day with something.  My solution has been a basic yet balanced smoothie.

 

Ingredients

1 sliced, frozen banana
1 cup almond milk
1 tbl almond butter
1 scoop protein powder
2 cups spinach

Method 

Blend it all in a blender! Layer frozen banana pieces and almond milk beneath spinach leaves for best results.

 

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December Book Club

Book Club

I have a ton of books on my list this month:

Candide – What I’m reading right now.  Candide is like a parody of the tale of an aristocrat.  It’s very short and fun to read.

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good – A humorous book about an 88 year old Swedish woman murders anyone who gets in her way.

Faithful Place – A 19-year-old man plans to run away with his girlfriend but she never shows up at the train station, he assumes she left him until 22 years later when her suitcase is discovered in an abandoned house.  Don’t you want to read this book now?

Small Fry – I am eager to read this memoir about Lisa-Brennan Jobs, the daughter of Steve Jobs.
Damnation Island – A history of Riker’s Island and how New York treated the poor, mentally ill, and criminal.

Art Thinking – This book is a practical guide to navigating creative self-employment with advice detailing how the worlds of creativity and commerce collide.

December Shopping List

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What I’m buying this month reflects how inspired I am to get organized.  Label makers, bins and bags, two planners!  I am working on organize my coat closet (and I plan to post about it on my blog once it’s done, stay tuned).  I replaced all my mismatched plastic and wire hangers with these nice wooden ones from IKEA.  They cost $4.50 for a set of 8.  I bought two sets to have enough for our coats and extras for guests.  For less than $10, my coat closet already looks so much more put together.  Next, I want to buy three metal locker bins to hold winter accessories, shoe care items, and reusable grocery bags.  I like these ones from Schoolhouse, but this one from H&M is cheaper and comes in black.

On a recent trip to Chicago I picked up this jacket and a flannel shirt from Uniqlo that I absolutely love.  I ordered a second flannel shirts because they are so comfortable and flattering.  The jacket comes in twelve colors, but I just got basic black.  I order this zip pouch from Everlane on Black Friday, but I’m still waiting for it to get here.  I love organizing my bag or backpack with pouches.  This bag from Muji is great because it opens flat.  I think this would be useful for travel toiletries or electronics.

My new favorite personal care product this month is Cetaphil’s Cleansing Cloths.  They are the first make up remover wipe that does not leave my skin feeling irritated and itchy.  The wipes are also reasonably priced and widely available.  I like keeping a travel sized packet in my purse to touch up any smudged eye make up.  I ordered, but did not love, Glossier’s Milk Jelly Cleanser.  I think it smells unpleasant, like plastic.  I think I’ll stick to Philosophy Purity for face wash, my favorite for the last eight years.  So far the only product from Glossier I really love is boy brow, which I use almost every day.

With a new year around the corner I had to buy a new planner.  Through and since college I’ve been using Moleskine’s Weekly Horizontal Planner, but this year I opted for the pocket-sized with a different lay out, which I like because one side is for appointments and the other is for notes or to-do lists.  The other planner I’me excited to try is this task planner which helps organize goals and projects.

Best Advent Calendars of 2018

Over the weekend we ran into Target for a few basics and were shocked to be greeted with an overwhelming amount Christmas. Peppermint everything!  Artificial Trees!  Stocking-stuffer end caps!  Honestly, it was all too much for me.  I’m not, strictly speaking, much of a holidays person.  I think most holiday decor is clutter.  I don’t feel bad about not being ready for the holidays, it’s only the second week in November.  That being said, I’ve noticed an interesting trend online lately:  Advent calendars for literally everything.  Growing up, we never had an advent calendar, so it isn’t a tradition I feel really strongly about.  Typically I think these calendars have chocolate candies inside, but I found calendars for basically everything but.  I do think that it’s a neat way to try out a new brand because you are essentially paying for 25 samples of their products.  Here’s a round up of some of coolest ones I found: 

Food: 

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Bonne Maman 

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Ginvent Calendar 

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Coffee

Beauty: 

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Net-A-Porter 25 Days of Beauty 

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Jo Malone 

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Kiehl’s 

Miscellaneous: 

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Lego 

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Diptyque 

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H&M Jewelry 

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Socks

Apple Tart

Apple Tart 

Recently I made an apple tart that I really liked.  It wasn’t too sweet and the thin layer of apples made for a great balance of crust and filling.  Another reason why I like the tart format is because it is less indulgent than a piece of pie, because there is a little less crust and filling.  Aside from the time it takes to peel the apples, the tart came together very quickly.  This is a pretty adaptable recipe so if you want it more or less sweet, feel free to adjust the amount of sugar.

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Ingredients 

Crust

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 c butter (1 stick), cubed
1/4 c cold water

Filling

4-5 Granny Smith or other Tart Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbl of brown sugar
1 tbl of butter, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Topping

4 tbl butter, cubbed
3/4 c flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Flakey sea salt
Method 

Start with the crust.  I cube the butter first, then, put it in a bowl and stick it in the freezer while I measure out the other ingredients.  It won’t freeze while it hangs out there for a few minutes, but it will stay nicely chilled.  Next, mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Add the butter and either with your hands, a mixer, a pastry blender, a food processor, etc.  incorporate the butter until the mixture is course, but some pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Add the water and mix until it holds together.  Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and pop it into the fridge for about an hour to chill.

In the same bowl that I use to make the crust, I will start to make the topping.  The topping recipe is pretty… open to interpretation.  The key elements are flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt, but I add to the crumble until it looks, feels, and tastes right. Sometimes I add oatmeal, different spices (maybe some cardamom, or cloves?), nuts, etc. In this case, I think walnuts work really well. The end result is sort of like wet sand.  If it’s too wet, add flour, and if it’s too floury, add butter.  I use a similar method to the pie crust – first add all the dry ingredients and mix well, then incorporate the butter.  Once a good consistency and taste is achieved, cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge.

Peeling and prepping the apples is probably the most time consuming task.  I really think it is worth it to put effort into slicing the apples into reasonably equal pieces and arranging them in the tart, even though it will be covered with topping.  After peeling the apples, I cut 1/4” slices.  I piled all the slices into a bowl and doused them with brown sugar, pieces of butter, cinnamon, and a tiny pinch of salt.  After stirring to incorporate, I let the apples macerate for at least 30 minute, stirring occasionally.

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Finally, it’s time to assemble the pie.  Start by pre-heating the oven to 350F.  Roll out the dough into a disc about two inches larger than the pan.  Then, roll it back onto the rolling pin and slowly unfurl it over the pan.  I gently lift the overhang and use my fingers to make sure the dough is nestled in the fluted edges of the pan, and finish by trimming the excess. Arrange the apples.  I think of the tart like the face of a clock and start by putting a few at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock and then filling in the gaps.  Repeat with the inner circle.  This also makes it really easy to cut and serve.  Drizzle the apples with the juices left from maceration and add crumble topping.  Bakes at 350F for 45-55 minutes.

 

Helpful Tools: 

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Baking Mat, Oven Thermometer, Tart Pan.

November Shopping List

November Shopping List

Cardamom & Black Tea Soap, Wash Cloth, A313, Canon Camera, Make Lip And Cheek Stick, Cashmere Crewneck, Everlane Bag, Trench Coat, Earl Grey Tea

My picks for this month are a little scattered.  I know that phones have really great cameras built in, but I still love using a real camera.  Most of the photos I take for my blog are done with a Canon G16 or Rebel DSLR.  I also like to take a camera with me when I travel.  Anyway, rather than upgrade my phone this year, I’d rather upgrade my camera.  They last longer than a phone and take better pictures.  I love the classic look of the Canon G9X Mark II.  I’m also considering a Fujifilm X100F.

I recently ordered A313, a French retinol product.  I’m still trying it out and plan to write a review soon.  My beauty regime has grown simpler over time.  I like products like this lip and cheek stick by Make.  Anymore, I only wear a little boy brow from Glossier, mascara, a cream blush, and Smith’s Rosebud Salve.  I like products that can be applied without a brush because it makes for easy touch-ups on the go.

This month I’m only looking to add a few things to my closet.  I want to pick up a basic cashmere crew neck in charcoal and upgrade my old trench coat.  I’m curious about this new bag from Everlane.  I like that it holds as much as a tote but is worn as a crossbody.