STOP SUCKING!

Photo by Renee Peters. Illustration by Philip Attar.

Photo by Renee Peters. Illustration by Philip Attar.

This article covers a topic that I have wanted to write about for a while, and when @LonelyWhale reached out to me to participate in their newest campaign, I knew I'd been waiting to publish it for the right reason. Lonely Whale is doing excellent work raising awareness and challenging us all to rethink our plastic consumption for the sake of our oceans. I've teamed up with Lonely Whale for their #stopsucking campaign because drinking through a straw when you have a perfectly good mouth seems pointless. It's even more absurd when you learn that 500 million straws are used in the U.S. each day and that an estimated 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs. I don't want to suck anymore, and neither should you. Join me in the challenge, and help mitigate your effects on ocean environments, by saying NO to straws.

Make your pledge by visiting My custom Model4greenliving link: [ stopsucking/model4green ] and clicking the "Create Challenge URL".



STOP MINDLESSLY USING PLASTICS!

Stop mindlessly using single-use plastics already! Seriously, it's driving me insane. According to a report by the WEF and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, "There could be more plastics than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050." This is a worldwide problem. With serious consequences being felt now, lasting last far into the future, we can no longer afford to let our society's plastic-use go unchecked.

"There could be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050."

We're in 2017 with great affordable alternatives, yet plastic consumption continues to grow. And it's growing fast. “Global plastic production has increased from 2 to 380 metric tons (Mt) annually from 1950 to 2015.” This according to a recent global study by Roland Geyer published in Science Advances. And "half of the total plastics manufactured during this period (3900 Mt), was produced in just the past 13 years.” Our ever-growing addiction to plastic is causing a massive shift in our ocean and terrestrial ecologies but is being widely ignored for convenience and societal norms. Not only is it being ignored, but oftentimes being sold to us as the best way to consume.

Throwaway-plastic use is even being glorified and promoted in modern, celebrity/influencer culture. Many Instagram stars and celebrities take food photos and post shots of themselves with plastic coffee cups, straws, and other forms of single-use plastics on a regular basis. When I see a picture like this, not only am I completely baffled, but I want to cry. These images are the most lucrative form of advertisement in our social-media driven world. People of all ages look to them for inspiration for how to live and behave. So why are there so many plastics being promoted in these shots? Mindless plastic consumption isn't glamorous. On the contrary, it's burying our planet alive and suffocating the Earth's creatures. Big and small.

"Mindless plastic consumption isn't glamorous...

... on the contrary, it's burying our planet alive."

I know the problem exists far beyond the consumer. If our governments would step up and call for a single-use-plastic-ban, the burden would be more fairly placed on companies to innovate alternatives. I also know first hand that celebrities are not the only ones mindlessly consuming. Even I am forced to use single use plastics anytime I want to shop in a grocery store for anything packaged, or at a restaurant and forget to repeatedly ask for NO STRAW with my drink. I get frustrated with myself that even I, someone who makes a conscious effort and plans ahead in many ways, end up with some sort of single-use plastic use every day. 

"Maybe you've been taken out of your mid-vacation-bliss when you've seen more plastics on the beach than sea shells."

You've probably experienced frustration with plastic-use at some point too. Maybe you've been taken out of your mid-vacation-bliss when you've seen more plastics on the beach than sea shells. Or possibly wondered why your grocery store insists on bagging your ONE item in double plastic bags. We all have a problem. The reason I am using influencers and celebrities as an example is to show how widely we all are collectively ignoring and promoting our bad habit together... ignoring it for convenience and comfort. And the sad truth is that plastic's use is more likely to continue if it's glamorized by those who can most easily avoid it.

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Although many plastics aren't easily avoided in our daily lives, some of the most common ones can be. Celebrities or anyone else that isn’t struggling to make ends meet, myself included, have the financial means to avoid many single-use plastics by simply planning ahead. If you (read celebrities) have enough wealth that you have someone planning your outfit for you every day, you can have someone plan for you to use a reusable coffee cup or metal straw. If you make enough money and have enough free time that you’re reading this blog post, you can do the same. If you make minimum wage, saying no to plastic straws doesn't cost a thing and eliminates the waste they would create from their 10 minutes of use.

"Make it a trend to avoid single-use plastics."

We all can say no to many of the main culprits that are filling our oceans and sea life with waste. Buy a reusable cup, straw, grocery bag, and utensil set and take it with you when you leave the house. Ask influencers to stop glorifying its consumption when you see them. Make it a trend to avoid these single-use items, and join me in the #stopsucking challenge. We all need to be more accountable with our own waste for one another, and stop thoughtlessly participating in our planets' pollution.

"We all can say NO..."

Stop mindlessly using plastics, and together and let's help clean up the Earth. It's the least we can do, it benefits us all, and it's the only place we have to call home.


Stay tuned for my next post with practical solutions and product suggestions to help you reduce your plastic footprint. 

It's not as hard to avoid plastics if you prepare yourself when you go out.

Photo by Renee Peters. Illustration by Philip Attar.

Photo by Renee Peters. Illustration by Philip Attar.

Don't forget to make your pledge by visiting my custom @Model4greenliving link: [ stopsucking/model4green ] and clicking the "Create Challenge URL".

7 SUSTAINABLE HEALTH TIPS I SWEAR BY

A whole food, plant-based diet is my gold standard for longevity.

My diet is plant-based and made up of primarily whole foods. Not only is a plant-based diet better for the environment and animals, but it is also better for human health and longevity. My standard daily meal looks something like this: Açaí smoothie bowl with granola, lots of fresh fruit, or steel-cut oatmeal in the winter, for breakfast. A veggie-heavy salad, including kale or mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, alfalfa sprouts, legumes (peas, lentils, beans, etc.), a quarter of an avocado, and freshly squeezed lemon, for my lunch. For dinner, my favorite meal is a macrobiotic bowl. Check out my post about the macrobiotic diet here, and see photo below for an example of a typical dinner of mine.

I try to vary these ingredients by what's in season and listen to my body when I shop. If I look at fresh corn or green beans, for example, and my mouth starts to water than I know my body wants it. Listen to your body too! The healthier you eat, the more in tune you begin to be with what your body really needs. I've tried lots of different diets, and have found that during the summer a combination of raw fruits and veggies during the day and cooked starches and veggies at night works best. During the winter I eat more hot oatmeal and soups during the day and cooked vegan dishes at night. Whole-food, plant-based is the key, no matter how you tweak it for your own personal best. One of my favorite free resources on health and nutrition is here. Check out my plant-based restaurant guide here.

A typical, macrobiotic inspired dinner that I enjoy most nights. 

A typical, macrobiotic inspired dinner that I enjoy most nights. 

If you aren't buying eco clothing, you could be risking your health.

Your skin is the biggest organ of your body and what you put on it matters just as what you put in it. If you wear clothing that isn't certified eco-friendly, sustainable, or made with organic fabrics, they are likely to be contaminated with high levels of toxic phthalates. According to Greenpeace's Detox campaign, AZO dyes, PFCs, PCP, and Phthalates are all harmful to human health but can still be found in clothing manufacturing practices outside of the EU where they have been banned. Not only are these materials harmful when worn, but also can lead to health issues later down the line due to their pollution of our waterways. Read more here. Some of my favorite sustainable apparel brands are Amour Vert, Apiece Apart, Arkins, Bassike, Cossac, Elizabeth Suzanne, kowtow, Mara Hoffman, Older Brother, People Tree, Rachel Comey, Reve en Vert, Siizu, Susana Colina, and Where Mountains Meet. 

Photo of me modeling for one of my favorite brands, Elizabeth Suzann.  

Photo of me modeling for one of my favorite brands, Elizabeth Suzann.  

Self-care is necessary but needs to be safe.

Caring for ourselves is necessary to care for the planet and one another sustainably. If we are depleted and unhappy, we cannot give our all to any cause. Nurturing our bodies and taking the time to recharge are increasingly important in our modern societies. Not only are we living in high-stress work and political environments, but we are also surrounded by pollution of all forms (noise, air, water, and light).  Many of us think we don't have the time for self-care, but if you have the time to read this blog post, you have the time do something for your body. When we go to take a bath, use a body brush, oil pull, or whatever other self-care practice you can easily do at home, the products you use need to be safe. They shouldn't add to the pollution and stress that our bodies regularly encounter, but should be free of harmful chemicals. According to the Ethical Working Group, "Personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens... like coal tar and formaldehyde (both human carcinogens), and lead acetate (a developmental toxin)."  If we are fortunate enough to be able to invest in a luxury such as a massage, have our nails done, or any other kind of self-care treatment, it is important that those services are also done with non-toxic products. The EWG also points out that the government doesn't oversee personal-care products' safety. "No health studies or pre-market testing are required for these products." Always check the ingredient list on the back of products to see if they are safe. An excellent guide for toxic versus non-toxic ingredients can be found on the EWG website. Check them out here for more information. 

Nature improves your wellbeing.

Spending time outside, breathing in the fresh air, and being surrounded by nature have all been said to improve one's mood. I have experienced this firsthand during my lifetime. I truly feel happiest when the sun is shining and can roam among the trees. Only now, however, is science beginning to catch up with what people like myself have intuited for centuries; Nature makes us happy. According to a recent article published by National Geographic. "Neuroscientists, are starting to look at how people’s brains respond to different environments. What they’re seeing is that if their volunteers are walking through a city or noisy area, their brains are doing different things than if they are walking in a park. The frontal lobe, the part of our brain that’s hyper-engaged in modern life, deactivates a little when you are outside. Alpha waves, which indicate a calm but alert state, grow stronger." The positive effects that nature has on our health are proven to help regardless of who you are.

According to researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School in another National Geographic article, "People living near more green space reported less mental distress, even after adjusting for income, education, and employment (all of which are also correlated with health)."  Whether your camping in a National Park, strolling along the beach, having a picnic in a local park, or hiking a State Forrest trail, the very act of being in nature can increase your wellbeing and mental cognition by lowering your stress. It's "therapy that has no known side effects, is readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost.” It exists, and it’s called “interacting with nature,” Stephen Kaplan

Photo by Me at the Brooklyn BOtanical GArdens

Photo by Me at the Brooklyn BOtanical GArdens

Skimping on sleep doesn't make you more productive.

If you regularly skimp on sleep to work through the night and think that you will get more done, you are wrong. Sleep is crucial for productivity because memory, creativity, and mental cognition all require adequate recovery time from our daily lives. A 2016 study by RAND shows that "sleeping less than the recommended hours of sleep has a detrimental effect on workplace productivity."  Every year in the US alone, "an equivalent of about 1.23 million working days are lost due to insufficient sleep." Not only does mental function rely on your quality and duration of sleep, but so does staying healthy. You are more susceptible to illness and injury if you are sleep deprived than if you get a full 8 hours. In Australia, according to David R. Hillman; et al., "Sleep disorders contribute to a range of other health and social problems, including 9.1% of work-related injuries, 8.3% of depression, 7.6% of motor-vehicle accidents, 2.9% of diabetes, and 2.1% of hypertension. Sleep disorders rank in the top 10 risk factors for other health conditions in Australia."

I always try to be in bed around 10 pm so that I can wake up fully rested. I have noticed that my body and mind function best after 9 hours of sleep, but the amount required for everyone varies slightly.   Installing yellow filters on my electronic devices and using yellow tinted LED lights in my home on a dimmer switch have helped my internal clock sync with the natural cycle of the day. When the sun goes down, my brain gets the signal that it's time for bed, and when the sun comes up, it knows it's time to rise. Try to get in touch with your biological clock to feel what works best for you.  Check out the computer app I use to adjust my screen light depending on the time of day here, and if you have an iPhone get instructions for your phone here. Installing a dimmer on your light switch is pretty easy. Just make sure you buy a LED light that says "dimmable" on the box. Check out how to install one here.

Think before you click and consume media; it can change your entire day.

Because we have almost constant access to media with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and televisions, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid the news. Sensational, negative stories are the easiest at getting attention and most likely to go viral because human psychology favors them. In an article for Recode, Mary E. McNaughton-Cassill states, "...that the brain is predisposed to attend to negative information. When media content makes us feel angry, scared, or sad, we orient toward the disturbing story to make sure we know how to protect ourselves." Consuming pessimistic news takes a toll on our mental outlook as well, and adds to the amount of stress that we perceive in our everyday lives. British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey told Vice that his research suggests "negatively emotive news can increase the likelihood of catastrophizing your own anxieties and worries, by making your overall mood significantly more negative." It is important therefore to carefully choose what media you consume. I have a strict policy of only watching one recap of the headlines per day. I trust Democracy Now's reporting and fact checking wholeheartedly, and they have an excellent 15-minute daily headline report available for free online. After I know what's going on for the day, I choose to limit my further consumption to things that bring me joy or knowledge. No Facebook clickbait allowed. Check out Democracy Now here, but beware of reading for too much time!

Exercise smart, or you could be doing more damage than good.

Did you know that working out too hard too soon can be bad for your health? That doesn't mean exercise is bad, just that you don't want to overdo it when beginning something new. Staying trim and healthy is 80% diet and only 20% exercise and genetics. You can't exercise your way to health if. If you are trying to compensate for years of eating poorly by going hard at the gym, and not addressing all aspects of your well-being, you're likely to cause serious permanent damage to your muscles and joints instead of gaining your desired results. Physical activity is great when done properly, so I advise taking a class or working with a personal trainer if you want to push yourself. If you are beginning a new routine, do exercises on your own that are less strenuous and gradually increase your exertion over time. Some of the workouts I love are long distance walking (on a treadmill or elliptical if I can't outside), biking, pilates, yoga, light weightlifting, targeted mat exercises, and indoor rock climbing. When I want to push myself to tone up for my modeling work, I always have a trainer. These all keep me physically fit, but don't threaten to cause serious injury to my body.

7 TIPS TO SUSTAINABLY FURNISH YOUR SPACE

When I moved into my new apartment two years ago, I was determined to fill it with sustainable furniture and decorations. I had sublet my three previous NYC apartments so that I could travel, and they all came pre-furnished. I didn't own anything other than a couple of suitcases, lots of books, and lots of clothes. I needed a bed, bookshelves, and a desk for my room. I also needed bedding, a mattress, curtains, and lighting. I share my apartment with a roommate, so my priority was my bedroom. In my next apartment, however, I look forward to furnishing every room sustainably. Check out my tips below for furnishing your small space sustainably, and see my bedroom too!

Model4greenliving_Sustainable-Bedroom

1. MEASURE YOUR ROOM'S DIMENSIONS

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Measuring may not seem like a tip for sustainability, but it's actually quite important. If you buy things without knowing how they will fit in the space, you are more likely to be disappointed by how your room looks and feels, and therefore create more waste if you have to replace them. Measure each wall's length, to determine where furniture can be placed. Also measure the height of your ceilings, doorways, and any windows your room may have. Make a simple drawing of your room's floor plan, and write down each measurement as you go.

You can use this to reference when you're searching for each piece of furniture. What piece do you want where? How much room will they have on each wall? How much free space to walk will be left around each piece after you bring them in?

2. MAKE A FURNITURE LIST & PLAN LAYOUT

mock room setup

List your must-have pieces first. What do you have to have right away and what can wait? My must-haves were my bed frame and mattress, bedding, hangers, and curtains. My next priorities were a bookshelf, desk, and a mirror. The least pressing items were decorations such as paintings, plants, rugs, and lamps. Knowing exactly what you need allows you to avoid impulse buys that often end up in a landfill later. 

Leave room next to each item on your list. You will want to right down the measurements of each possible furniture purchase you find and reference that with the floor plan you measured earlier before you buy them. Does the bed you love have enough room? How much room does that leave for the dresser you found to go with it? 

 

4. MIX OLD AND NEW MATERIALS

Vintage Table Legs for Desk Top

My room has a mix of newly made pieces along with used ones, as I couldn't find everything new that I needed sustainably made, at a price point I wanted to spend. What does your budget allow? Invest in sustainably made, new pieces that you want to keep for decades if you have the money and desire to do so. You can also find amazing refurbished and used furniture in vintage stores or on websites like Craigslist and Ebay.

I decided to invest in my bed and bedding, and be more creative with the rest of my budget by searching for a secondhand desk and shelving. I found amazing steel table-legs for the base of a desk, similar to the one shown here, at a flea market in Williamsburg. Later I was able to find a wooden desktop at Big Reuse Brooklyn that fits perfectly on top. Mixing old and new things is fun and a wonderful opportunity to be creative.

5. LOOK FOR MULTI PURPOSE PIECES

Urban green furniture_urban basics bed maple .jpg

If you want to make the most of your small space, invest in furniture that has more than one function. Choose pieces with unexpected storage compartments and space-saving extensions. I got my sustainable bed frame from Urban Green Furniture. They are based in Brooklyn and build beautiful, modern furniture that is sustainable and built to last. I was able to save valuable space, that would have been taken up by a dresser, with its built-in drawers underneath. 

 

6. THINK ABOUT YOUR NEXT MOVE

Pieces need to last a long time in order be categorized as sustainable, and not just made from organic materials. Because of this, I made my furniture choices based on their versatility and ability to transition with me into new spaces. I purchased Elfa shelving brackets, so that I could move them and change the layout of my shelves depending upon the spaces I may occupy in the future.  I also loved the Elfa system because you can choose your own shelves for them. Mine are made from reclaimed wood also from Big Reuse Brooklyn! Versatility is essential to sustainability, and in a small space transformable systems are key.

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7. DECORATE WITH ORGANIC FABRICS AND LOW-WATER PLANTS

organic fabric pillows

Shop for plants at your local farmers market, and ask for plants that require less water if possible. I have chosen a variety of succulents for my room, including 3 cacti species and a Yucca tree, because they require very little water and a hardy. The less resources required to keep a plant alive, the better!

I purchased my organic cotton duvet from West Elm, my sheets from Ettitude, my natural hemp curtains from Rawganique, and my mattress from Keetsa. There are so many fantastic sustainable bedding options, so I encourage you to shop around and go with whatever your budget and location will allow for.

MY CLEAN BEAUTY ROUTINE

Renee Peters_crop_Brett Warren Photo

       I have been getting lots of inquiries lately about my skin care routine, and what clean beauty products I use. As flattering as it is to hear, "You have beautiful skin.", I can't stress enough that, I too, have had more than a few years of trial-and-error perfecting my skincare practice. Every skin type is different. Every person's skin is different. I have combination, dry and oily skin that is sensitive to harsh chemicals, and dark circles under my eyes that never go away. I firmly believe that plant-based nutrition, staying hydrated, exercise, and adequate sleep are far more important than any topical treatment will ever be at giving someone good skin. Products are often expensive, and it's wasteful to buy something that doesn't work only to throw it away. But I also really love enhancing my natural beauty with a little bit of makeup and know that cleaning and moisturizing are also essential to maintaining radiant, healthy skin.  

       I have tested and used all of these products for the past year, and know they are good investments. They all last for at least a few months if not longer, are cruelty-free, non-toxic, and are easy to purchase online or in a local store. I hope this list is useful to you, and that you can find some items that also work for you. Let me know, in the comments below, if you want to learn more or if you have any other thoughts on clean beauty routines! Here is my daily skincare routine, and the best products I've found for my skin type:


Face Wash Powder

Day and night. Apply a quarter-sized amount of powder into the palm of your hand. With your other hand, run water over your fingers, and allow a few drops of water drop onto the powder. I only use enough water to make a paste. Too much water added can make this difficult to apply. Massage gently on your face and neck, then rinse. Avoid rubbing vigorously and be very gentle around your eyes. Optionally, you can leave this on your face for 10 minutes as a mask. 


Facial Moisturizer

Day and night. In the mornings I combine a quarter-sized dollop of this with my bronzing tint shown below. Rub between the palms of your hands, and gently apply in small, circular motions on your face and neck. At night time I do the same application, minus the bronzing tint. This lotion is not oily, but still wonderfully moisturizing. Ideal for sensitive skin.


Renewing Night Conditioner

Night time only. One month treatment, 3 times a year. Applied before moisturizer after washed face. Open dropper and squeeze just enough drops as one hand can hold in its palm, without dripping out. For me it's usually about a nickel's size. This has the same consistency as water, so be careful not to waste it. Use your other hand's ring finger to dip in the conditioner, and apply it on the face... then neck. Repeat until dropper is empty. Follow with moisturizer above. I really love this product as it makes my face look healthier, my pores smaller, and my skin more supple.


Bronzing Tint

Used daily with morning moisturizer. Apply 1-3 squirts with lotion listed above, depending on how dark you want the tint to be. Blend thoroughly with a dollop of moisturizer, and then apply all over face and neck. Play around with how much you add of this to your moisturizer. Start with less, blend with lotion, and if the color is still really white, add more. If the lotion looks too dark, you probably added too much. A little goes a long way! 


Under-eye Concealer

Used when makeup worn. For covering dark, under-eye circles and other blemishes that may occur. Squeeze a pinhead-sized drop onto index finger and hold on under-eye area for a couple of seconds to help it warm. Then lightly blot with same finger to cover purple under-eye circles. Use lightest pressure possible to blot and blend. Use same technique for blemishes. I use the "light" shade.


Brow Pencil

Used when makeup worn.  sharpen pencil every week, to get best application. Start by nose and work your way out, using light upward strokes that match the grain on your eyebrow hair. This stuff lasts all day, but is easily wiped off with your finger if you color our side of the lines. Use opposite brush end to comb brows and blend. I use the "flax" shade.


Bronzing Stick

Used when makeup worn. Suck in cheeks to make cheekbones more visible. Apply a line of bronzing stick, starting in line with the center of your eye, and draw to hairline. Blend with ring finger down and evenly. This makes cheeks look naturally bronzed. Apply elsewhere on face depending on your face shape. I love my jawline, so also use same technique along jawline close to ears. I don't use under my chin. In the winter, I also use alone hairline to give a sunkissed look. Always blend thoroughly. More is easily added on top of the old.


Contour/ Highlight Duo

Used when makeup worn.  I like this as a more natural-looking eye pallet, to contour eye crease and highlight eye lids. Use small makeup brush, or finger tip, to apply darker shade in creases of the eyes. Blend outward and don't apply close to eyebrow. Use same brush, or fingertip, to apply highlighter on eyelid. These can also be used as a highlighter on cheekbones, and a contour along cheekbones/ jawline/ hairline as described with bronzing stick above. I use a finger and not a brush for this. Blending again is key for a subtle enhancement.


Mascara

Used when makeup worn. Do NOT repeatedly dip wand in and out of the mascara, as this makes your product dry out faster and your money go quicker. This will last you for at least 3 months if you don't allow it to dry out. Simply shake the tube when closed to get more mascara on wand, then open. Apply with wand in light, upward strokes. I only apply it to my upper lashes, but it may also be applied on lower lashes as well. Use light, downward strokes when applying on lower lashes. If one coat isn't enough, repeat until satisfied.  This mascara isn't waterproof, so it can be easily removed and doesn't cause lashes to break. It also doesn't smear throughout the day unless you cry or go underwater. I use the "pro black" color.


This look achieved using products and techniques above.

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     I hope you enjoyed this look into my clean beauty routine, and that I've demonstrated how simple making a mindful makeup switch can be. What does your clean beauty routine consists of? What are your favorite products? Let me know, in the comments below, if you have any questions or thoughts about this post. 


THE BEST DOCUMENTARIES TO WATCH NOW (2017)

     Ranging from climate change and environmental issues; diets and health; social justice and inequality; and spirituality; I hope you enjoy my selection of the top documentaries to watch in 2017.


13TH

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"An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality."

"The film begins with the idea that 25 percent of the people in the world who are incarcerated are incarcerated in the U.S. Although the U.S. has just 5% of the world's population. "13th" charts the explosive growth in America's prison population; in 1970, there were about 200,000 prisoners; today, the prison population is more than 2 million. The documentary touches on chattel slavery; D. W. Griffith's film "The Birth of a Nation"; Emmett Till; the civil rights movement; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Richard M. Nixon; and Ronald Reagan's declaration of the war on drugs and much more." - Ulf Kjell Gür

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BEFORE THE FLOOD

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"If you could know the truth about the threat of climate change — would you want to know? Before the Flood, features Leonardo DiCaprio on a journey as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, traveling to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand.

Before the Flood presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change, as well as the actions we as individuals and as a society can take to prevent the disruption of life on our planet. Beyond the steps we can take as individuals, the film urges viewers to push their elected officials in supporting the use of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power." -Before the Flood

“This documentary shows how interconnected the fate of all humanity is — but also the power we all possess as individuals to build a better future for our planet.” -Leonardo DiCaprio

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CHASING CORAL

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 An eyeopening look at the devastation that climate change is having on our oceans due to ocean acidification. "Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world."- Chasing Coral.com

"Whether you have spent vacation time snorkeling, watched the National Geographic channel, or even paid a bit of attention during high school science class, you likely have some level of understanding of what a vital ecosystem coral reefs are to Ocean life. Director Jeff Orlowski has a track record of important environmental documentaries with his 2012 Chasing Ice. The film does an excellent job of defining and explaining the importance of coral, and once Zach Rago is introduced, the energy and passion jump significantly. " -Imbd.com

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A PLASTIC OCEAN

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"A Plastic Ocean begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be a pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect." -Imbd.com

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REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM

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"Requiem For The American Dream is the definitive discourse with Noam Chomsky, on the defining characteristic of our time - the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few. Through interviews filmed over four years, Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality - tracing a half century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy at the expense of the majority - while also looking back on his own life of activism and political participation.

Profoundly personal and thought provoking, Chomsky provides penetrating insight into what may well be the lasting legacy of our time - the death of the middle class, and swan song of functioning democracy. A potent reminder that power ultimately rests in the hands of the governed, REQUIEM is required viewing for all who maintain hope in a shared stake in the future." -Imbd.com

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RIVER BLUE

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"Following international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, River Blue spans the globe to infiltrate one of the world’s most pollutive industries, fashion. Narrated by clean water supporter Jason Priestley, this groundbreaking documentary examines the destruction of our rivers, its effect on humanity, and the solutions that inspire hope for a sustainable future.

Through harsh chemical manufacturing processes and the irresponsible disposal of toxic chemical waste, one of our favorite iconic products has destroyed rivers and impacted the lives of people who count on these waterways for their survival. River Blue brings awareness to the destruction of a some of the world’s most vital rivers through the manufacturing of our clothing, but will also act as a demand for significant change in the textile industry from the top fashion brands that can make a difference. " - RiverBlue.com

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THE SPACE IN BETWEEN

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"Marina Abramovic travels through Brazil, in search of personal healing and artistic inspiration, experiencing sacred rituals and revealing, for the first time, her creative process. The route is comprised of poignant encounters with healers and sages from the Brazilian countryside, exploring the limits between art, immateriality and consciousness.

This external trip triggers in Marina a profound introspective journey through memories, pains and past experiences. A mixture between road movie, direct cinema, recorded performances and spiritual thriller, the documentary brings an unprecedented approach of the intimate creative process of one of the most important artists of our time." - Casa Redonda

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TERRA

 Terra is a thought provoking and visually stunning documentary about Earth. It is "an ode to humanity" and a spectacular portrayal of the beauty of life. It also brings to light the struggles that we face as we stray further and further from the natural. Watching it evokes a visceral sense awe and gives pause for reflection on the interconnectedness of us all.

"Over barely 10,000 years, life on Earth has been profoundly affected by the incredible development of humanity. But mankind is now increasingly isolated. How have our relations with other living beings changed so much? What do we still see, or notice, of the living world around us? Terra is a journey through the history of life forms, a quest for true humanity. By proposing that we once again treat wildlife with the respect it deserves, Terra shows its credentials as a humanist and deliberately positive film, openly advocating that humanity is still capable of 'getting back to basics'.” -Terra.com

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UNLOCKING THE CAGE

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"Unlocking the Cage follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. After thirty years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, Steve and his legal team are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a thing with no rights to a person with legal protections.

Supported by affidavits from primatologists around the world, Steve maintains that, based on scientific evidence, cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins, and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights (such as bodily liberty) that would protect them from physical abuse.  Using writs of habeas corpus (historically used to free humans from unlawful imprisonment), Wise argues on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

Unlocking the Cage captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Steve’s impassioned arguments. It is an intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man’s lifelong quest to protect 'nonhuman' animals."
-UnlockingTheCage.com

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WHAT THE HEALTH

"What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time. With the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.

What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it." -WTHFILM.com

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      I hope you are as moved by these documentaries as I have been. Do you have a recent documentary favorite that you think should be added to the list? Let me know in the comments below, and as always thanks for reading.

A SUSTAINABLE CLEANING ROUTINE JUST IN TIME FOR SPRING

     The first months of the year are usually slower than the rest, and winter hibernation can encourage an accumulation of stagnant energy. Spring is the season of renewal and manifestation, so having a clean living space allows fresh energy to come into your life. This month's coming of Spring provides a perfect opportunity to clear the clutter from the past year and open your life to the new. With the help of Conscious by Chloé, you can do your cleaning without the use harsh chemicals or expensive cleaners.

See below for Chloé's DIY and natural cleaning solutions:

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Chloé Lepeltier is a French globetrotter now based in Portland, Oregon. Her passions span multiple disciplines — from feminist literature to sustainable fashion to backcountry snowboarding — with curiosity & creativity as the common thread. On her blog, Conscious by Chloé, she chronicles her daily style, travels and life and aims to inspire and motivate her readers to live a simpler, greener and happier life. Check out the original article here.

 

Set reasonable goals

A deep cleaning is a very big task, so instead of diving into it and spending a whole week-end scrubbing and vacuuming, try to spread it over a whole week, focusing on only one area a day.

Whether it's scrubbing an oven or writing a school paper, setting an attainable goal is a good motivation, and an encouragement to keep going. One good example, is cleaning a very dirty stove. Decide from the beginning that you'll allow yourself to stop after you've scrubbed the first burner. Once you've finished this task, your mission will be accomplished. If you feel like to can do more than one, good for you. Otherwise, pick up where you've left off the next day. What's important is for you to know that if you stopped at the first one, you've reached your goal. Motivation is key and you'll quickly get to a spotless stove, one burner at a time.

Gather your supplies

Another important factor is to make sure that you have everything you need for when you'll decide to tackle this major project. To me, there's nothing more frustrating than realizing that I'm missing one key ingredient for a recipe or, like it happened for this photoshoot, realizing that 2 of my measuring spoons were missing (I should have left them hooked to that ring!).

I like to keep a shopping list on Wunderlist, adding tools, ingredients and other supplies for DIYs so that when I'm at the co-op, the home improvement store or second-hand shop, I can grab what I need without having to go back to the recipe or Youtube video.

Once you've prepared your cleaning mixtures, put them all in one location, so you can conveniently grab them in the room you're gonna be cleaning (use a tote bag, a bucket or a basket, whatever is convenient/eye-pleasing to you).

Schedule your cleaning time

And last but not least, schedule your cleaning time. Whether it's a deep-cleaning session or routine cleaning and, more importantly, if you share this task with a partner or housemates, knowing that a special date or time in the week or month is dedicated to this task makes the decision-making way easier. No arguing, no convincing, no debating, it's in the calendar so that's when it should be done!

Chloe's personal schedule:

  • Monday - Bedroom
  • Tuesday - Bathroom
  • Wednesday - Mudroom/Pantry
  • Thursday - Kitchen
  • Friday - Living Room
  • Saturday - Office

I try to keep the same schedule for weekly maintenance cleaning but mostly rely on our common bimonthly cleaning session, scheduled on Wednesdays, every other week (I'll talk about conscious cohabitation in an upcoming article).

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Supplies

  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Cheap vodka
  • Distilled water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Essential oils (sweet orange, lemon or lemongrass, grapefruit, peppermint)
  • Kosher salt
  • Liquid castile soap
  • Powdered oxygen bleach
  • Washing soda

I had most of these ingredients at home, except for the powdered oxygen bleach and granulated citric acid which I easily found in bulk at the coop.

Tools

  • 16oz spray bottles
  • Funnel
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Parmesan shakers

You can use bottles that you already have at home and just get trigger sprayers that will fit and drill holes in the lid of Mason jars to turn them into shakers.

Tips

Work top to bottom, don't backtrack, and clean by circling the room:

  • 1st loop: Tidy the room and pick up what goes in the trash and items that belong in another room
  • 2nd loop: Dust
  • 3rd loop: Clean and wipe surfaces and glass with the relevant cleaners

Lastly: vacuum, sweep and mop toward the door. Finally, put away the misplaced items and your cleaning supplies