HOW ONE SMALL TREE FARM AND A LEADING CORPORATION HELPED FUEL MY HOPE FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

HOW ONE SMALL TREE FARM AND A LEADING CORPORATION HELPED FUEL MY HOPE FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

Humans and wildlife need healthy forests to survive, and anyone who’s spent time in them knows how wonderful they can make us feel. Camping in the woods as a child instilled an awe for nature in me that I have never lost. And because of this, I know all-too-well how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by the rate at which we our losing the world’s forests. From clear-cutting for agriculture, ranching, and urban development, we have already lost nearly half of the Earth's original forest cover. Seeing trees cut down, in a once-wooded-area where I am from in Tennessee, making way for some fast-food restaurant, strip-mall, or parking lot, brings tears to my eyes on the regular. Is there no way around this feeling of despair and hopelessness for our forests, and our planet as a whole? Well, by visiting one, small FSC-certified tree farm in Arkansas, my hope for the future was fueled in a much-needed way.

Read More

THE BEST PODCASTS ON HEALTH, SUSTAINABILITY, AND MINDFULNESS.

THE BEST PODCASTS ON HEALTH, SUSTAINABILITY, AND MINDFULNESS.

I have curated the best podcasts on health, sustainability, and expanding your mind in the list below. I also included MY first two podcast interviews at the bottom for you to learn more about me. Whether you're interested in sustainability, the human body and mind, the environment, vegan health, social justice, or just want to be inspired; there's bound to be a podcast for you to discover. I hope you enjoy!

Read More

THE TRUTH BEHIND ZERO WASTE: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE PRIVILEGE.

THE TRUTH BEHIND ZERO WASTE: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE PRIVILEGE.

This year, for Earth Month, I decided to experiment with going zero-waste. I began with the simple idea that anyone can do it and, by doing so myself, that I would make the world a "greener" place. Some prominent zero-waste influencers suggest that this is a possibility for all of us, so we should all try. And to some extent, I agreed. I quickly discovered, however, that a complicated set of corporate and institutional structures prevent most people from ever coming close. 

I saw first-hand that waste-free living is nearly impossible if you aren't extremely diligent and privileged with free time to do so in the first place. Is striving for zero-waste on an individual level the best way to use that privilege for the betterment of our planet and society as a whole? Or should we also be demanding governments finally get involved with us? 

Read More

WHAT I EAT IN A DAY, AS A PALEO-VEGAN

WHAT I EAT IN A DAY, AS A PALEO-VEGAN

My journey from eating disorder, to high-carb-low-fat, to paleo vegan below unfolds for you below:

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.

Read More

5 SUSTAINABLE GIFTS FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST

5 SUSTAINABLE GIFTS FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST

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.

Read More

STOP SUCKING!

STOP SUCKING!

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.

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.

Read More

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

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?

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.

model4greenliving_sustainable-shelving.JPG

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.