When the Ethical Writers and Creatives, a group that I'm a member of, proposed that we all do a "What we Eat and Why" link up, I was eager to participate. The questions, What is healthy?What is morally right?, and What is sustainable?, all come with answers that are different for everyone. They are also often met with an eye-roll. I know I've asked myself these questions, on my journey to live a better life, with multiple answers that have shape-shifted and evolved over time.

My Dieting Journey (eating disorder included)

      I started off on a standard American diet. Around the age of 21, I became vegetarian, then vegan, and subsequently developed "orthorexia" due to the pressures that I put on myself to be a size zero for the fashion industry. I am more naturally a size 4, so I used my vegan diet as an excuse to under-eat and make myself smaller for my work. Last year, I was able to recover with the help of my family and friends, and got back to my healthy weight. I realized that I was blogging and speaking up for the health of animals and environment, but I wasn’t treating myself with the same compassion. I decided that, in order to be sustainable for myself, something had to change.

     I still wanted to be vegan for ethical reasons, but needed something different that would allow me to gain weight in a “healthy” way. You can read more about the importance of eating less meat for our environment in this post. I listened to a famous vegan YouTuber who touts, "Eat as much as you want, just very low fat and lots of fruits!" so I when I first upped my calories, I went on a high-carb low-fat (HCLF) vegan diet. I should also add that this new diet had a heavy emphasis on sugar being perfectly healthy.  (Is your head spinning yet? I know mine is..)


"High-carb, low-fat vegan was actually making me sick."

     Soon thereafter, although I gained the weight back and was no longer feeling malnourished, my health began to suffer in other ways. At the time, I truly believed that my new diet was the way to recover from years of under-eating, in a healthy way. In hindsight, any diet that celebrates table sugar and eating pounds of fruit probably isn't a smart idea. In November 2017, I tested positive for hormonal imbalances, had extreme fatigue, and developed Perioral Dermatitis on my face. Obviously, something wasn't working.

     Instead of trying to tackle my diet on my own again, I decided to seek the help of an Institute of Functional Medicine Certified Herbalist and Nutritionist. With their guidance, I have been eating a plant-based Paleo type diet, that avoids excess sugars and increases my daily fat intake. (phew!) It appears that high-carb, low-fat vegan was actually making me sick, and the key for me is balance! I truly hope that this new diet helps me achieve sustainable health, and is also sustainable for the planet. Only time will tell.

Whole Food, Plant-Based or Paleo-Vegan?

    My current diet is still plant-based and made up of primarily whole foods. Almost all plant foods, except for grains and white potatoes, are also considered Paleo. What makes my diet more specifically paleo rather than whole food, plant-based, is that I am limiting my fruit and bean intake to only once a day, and rarely eating quinoa with no other grains.  You may have heard of the term "Paleo" lately and associate it with high meat consumption only. I believe that my vegan diet however, fits into that category as well.

     A Paleo diet is loosely defined as a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans (1). Since we only have presumptions to go off of, it's my opinion that a vegan diet, as long as it doesn't include grains, processed junk foods, sugars, and alcohol, is also one that our Paleolithic ancestors may have thrived on. 


What I Eat in a Day:

      My whole food, plant-based, Paleo-type diet (again with the long labels... sorry!) gets the majority of its bulk from non-starchy vegetables. These include leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green beans, zucchini, celery, cucumber, collards, tomatoes, etc. It also more sparingly includes starchy vegetables (legumes and root vegetables), fruits, seeds and nuts, avocados, unsweetened plant “milks,” tofu, tempeh, and oils. All herbs and spices are allowed, and a big part of my treatment is a personalized herbal tea that I drink twice daily. The biggest adjustment has been cooking myself vegetables for breakfast in the winter, instead of having lots of fruit or cold cereals.

     I am also not supposed to have frequent snacks throughout the day, but instead three solid meals. This was difficult the first week, but now my body is used to it. Intermittent fasting (not snacking and having a long break between dinner and breakfast) is said to allow the body to heal faster, because your energy isn't allocated to digesting all day long (3). I feel this has been very beneficial for my health. The saving grace for me, in this diet that makes me abstain from sweets, is that I don't have to give up dark chocolate or coffee. Two of my favorite things. My standard daily meals look something like this:    


Smoothie bowl with paleo granola or fresh fruit in the summer. I try to use low sugar fruits such as berries, and apples, as well as fresh greens in my smoothies as well. Cooked veggies and tofu scrambles for in the winter.

 image and recipe via  Fool Proof Living

image and recipe via Fool Proof Living

 Recipe and Image Via the  Minimalist Baker

Recipe and Image Via the Minimalist Baker


A veggie-heavy salad in the summer, including kale or mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, alfalfa sprouts, overnight-soaked legumes (peas, lentils, beans, etc.), half of an avocado, and freshly squeezed lemon, for my lunch... Or (you guessed it) more cooked veggies or a soup in the winter.

 GoodNess bowl  via Lazy Cat Kitchen

GoodNess bowl via Lazy Cat Kitchen

 my favorite meal out: sides matter from Hu Kitchen

my favorite meal out: sides matter from Hu Kitchen


For dinner, my favorite meal is a macrobiotic bowl (sans grains) in the summer, and roasted veggie power bowl in the winter. Check out my post about the macrobiotic diet here.

 Home Cooked meal from Model4greenliving

Home Cooked meal from Model4greenliving

 Paprika Roasted Macro Bowl via  FLora and Vino

Paprika Roasted Macro Bowl via FLora and Vino

      I try to vary what I eat everyday based upon 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 have found that, during the summer, a combination of raw fruits and veggies during the day and cooked veggies at night works best. During the winter, I eat more hot, cooked veggies and tofu scrambles for breakfast, soups and roasted vegetables during the day, and cooked vegan dishes at night. I also try to combine my fat intake with salads and cruciferous vegetables so my body can process my meal more easily (3).

     I hope this look into a typical day for me has been helpful for you. Everyone is different, so I am by no means prescribing my diet for you, or criticizing anyone who eats differently than me. To say this has been a fun and easy process would be a lie. I do know however, that through this undertaking, I am setting my self up for sustainable health in the long run. Let me know in the questions below if you have any questions, and check out this great book to learn more about a whole food, plant-based diet.



Plastic Free Gift Guide_Model4greenliving_Zero Waste_Holiday.png

     When thinking of all of the possible gift guides I could provide this holiday season, I kept feeling a sense of urgency to not do your average list. Yes, buying sustainable alternatives to the normal stocking stuffers is helpful. Giving sustainable alpaca socks, handcrafted by fairly-paid, South American artisans, instead of those trendy Zara Faux Leather Gloves, made of polyester and coated in polyurethane, is important. But unless our loved ones asked for those things specifically, how do we know they need them? Does your mom or boyfriend, really want another pair of socks or gloves? 

     Thats why I've decided to create a list for the holidays, this year, that I can truly get behind. One that helps us all make a switch for the better, that desperately has to be made for our planet... A PLASTIC-FREE HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE! It's a win-win because you get to give to those you love (something they actually need), and at the same time encourage the helpful habits needed for our planet's sustainable future.

Help your loved ones keep our natural environments clean, by giving gifts that replace single-use plastics and encourage the helpful habits needed for our planet's future.


See below for examples of the things that I never leave my house without, that all easily fit into my purse or day bag. Together we can help our loved ones keep our oceans and natural environments clean, by giving gifts that replace single-use plastics and all that other "one-use" junk that never really goes away. 

1. Reusable Shopping Bag


Check out my talking points below and give the gift of information this holiday as well!

What is a single-use plastic?

Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. Examples of single-use plastics are plastic bags, straws, iced and warm coffee cups, soda and water bottles, eating utensils, and most takeaway food packaging.

Click the picture above to read my campaign to end the mindless consumption of single-use plastics:

How much are we actually using?

Every year, the use of plastics is increasing. According to Project Drawdown, “The total production of plastics is estimated to grow from 311 million tons in 2014 to at least 792 million tons by 2050. This is conservative, with other sources estimating over 1 billion tons if trends continue.” 

Why is it a problem?

Single-use plastic utensils, straws, bags, bottles, and cups are polluting our planet. Recent studies estimate that "by the year 2050 there will be more plastic—by weight—than fish in the ocean," WEF, New Plastics.

Together we can help our loved ones keep our oceans and natural environments clean, by giving gifts that replace "one-use" junk that never goes away. 

      Now I know what you’re thinking... What if my friends and family already made the sustainable switch? They don’t need another reusable bottle or straw... If that’s the case, Woo Hoo!! Might I suggest that you make a donation in their name to charity instead? The Pachamama Alliance is doing amazing work to protect the Amazon Rainforest, it's people, and the Amazon River.

"The rainforest's rivers play a central role in feeding  hydrological cycles (the circulatory system of the planet) and are central to regulating the global climate. In partnership with many other organizations, Pachamama is developing a plan to secure permanent protection for the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon River region of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador and Peru. This area is recognized as containing the highest levels of biodiversity in the entire Amazon basin and perhaps in the whole world. I want to protect that area from any more clear-cutting and oil exploration, and my guess is, so do you and your family. Pachamama is one of the BEST charities to donate to, making a tangible difference for our planet’s future through their efforts. CHECK THEM OUT HERE: Pachamama Alliance


This decadent, vegan pie is the perfect dessert for holidays spent at home.

     It's the holidays, and for me that means spreading compassion however I can. Even with food! If you're at all like me, then you may be the only vegan in your household too, and you want to make dishes that everyone loves. This pie is sure to please everyone who has a sweet tooth... and watch out, because it will disappear fast! It's so good that it may even convert your non-vegan family members... or at least encourage them that plant-based doesn't mean boring.

     Made with chocolate and hazelnuts, it fits just as well with warm holiday dishes as it does with a pile of raw greens and fruits. Thankfully it's a pretty straightforward one to whip up and you probably have the majority of the ingredients hanging out in your pantry already. Even in a blizzard, a skip down to the bodega or corner store for hazelnuts is not out of the question. These measurements can be changed to fit your dietary needs and tastebuds also, so feel free to adjust as you see fit. Bon Appétit!

This post originally appeared on Sustaining.Lifewhere you can find simple vegan recipes, a sustainable shopping guide, and holistic musings about living a sustainable lifestyle. All images are by Faye Lessler.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut TortE

Prep time: 60 minutes. Cook time: 30 minutes.

chocolate hazelnut vegan torte ingredients.jpg


• 1 cup flour

• 1 1/2 cup hazelnuts

• 6 oz dark chocolate (75% - 100%) - you can sub up to half of this with cacao or cocoa powder if you're running short on chocolate chips/baking chocolate

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

•  2 tbsp maple syrup

1 cup sugar

• 3 tbsp coconut oil (cold, slightly solid)

• 2-6 tbsp ice wate

chocolate hazelnut vegan torte crust.jpg


1. Grind 1/2 of the hazelnuts in a blender until powdered. Add flour, hazelnut powder and 1/2 of the sugar to a large mixing bowl and incorporate.

2. Add 2 tbsp coconut oil and iced water, adding one tbsp at a time as you mix with a wooden spoon. Dough should form, smooth but a little crumbly. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Once cooled, roll out as much as possible before pressing dough into the pie dish. Heat oven to 350*F.

4. Prepare a double boiler by placing a smaller pot inside of a larger one, 1/3 full of water. As the water in the bottom pot boils, the smaller pot will float without touching the bottom of the larger pot. Add chocolate, vanilla and 1 tbsp coconut oil to the small pot and let melt.

5. When chocolate is 1/2 melted, add remaining sugar and maple syrup, stirring as you go. Remove from heat just before all of the chocolate is melted and stir vigorously until smooth (or as smooth as you can get).

6. Add remaining hazelnuts, roughly chopped, to the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. 

7. Add chocolate mixture to the crust, even out with a spatula, then top with more chopped hazelnut pieces.

8. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the center of the pie settles and the crust is browned.

9. Let cool for 20 minutes, then slice and serve with a generous helping of vegan ice cream! This torte is even better served cold the next day.

close up finished chocolate hazelnut vegan torte.jpg

Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.


 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 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.

Kylie Jenner_stop sucking_plastic straws_model4greenliving.jpg

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.

 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".


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.


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!



Bedroom plan example.jpg

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?


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? 



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.


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. 



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.



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.