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Top 10 Healthy Home Tips for 2017

healthy home

Start the New Year by taking steps to create a healthy home. Simple changes can have a huge impact on your health and the health of the planet. Here are our top ten healthy home tips for the new year:

1. Question plastic

Plastics not only pollute our planet, but research has shown that some plastics also harm our health. Avoid cans lined with plastic and eliminate single-use plastics that break down easily. Seek out non-plastic alternatives: use a cloth shower curtain, purchase food and drinks in glass jars/bottles instead of plastic, and pack lunches and leftovers in stainless steel and glass.

2. Avoid fragrance

Fragrance in dryer sheets, fabric softeners, cleaning products, candles and air fresheners often contain rarely disclosed toxic chemicals, including phthalates and formaldehyde. If you like scents, make sure they come from sources you can identify like essential oils, and avoid products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.

3. Clean without toxins

Not only do conventional cleaning products harm our health, the chemicals also go down the drain and pollute our waterways. Vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bronner’s castille soap are remarkably effective, non-toxic, inexpensive cleaning options. Skip the pre-packaged cleaners unless you’re comfortable with their toxicity rating on Skin Deep.

 4. Use non-toxic personal care products

Soaps, skin care and makeup are loaded with questionable chemicals including parabens, phthalates, toluene and triclosan. Because the industry is highly unregulated, and we absorb most of these products through our skin, use EWG’s database to identify safe alternatives and try homemade solutions.

5. Dust

Household dust is not only responsible for allergies, but it’s also made up of toxins from your home including fire retardants, lead and other chemicals. Vacuum often with a HEPA filter, open your windows for ventilation, and clean with a damp cloth.

6. Ditch the non-stick

Since the EPA lists PFOA (one type of PFC used in some non-stick and water-resistant coatings) as a “likely human carcinogen”, it’s best to find alternatives. Use stainless steel or cast iron pans, avoid takeout containers, and don’t purchase clothing with unnecessary stain proofing or water-resistant coatings.

7. Control pests naturally

These days it’s pretty simple to control pests by keeping your home clean, sealing entrances and using natural pest remedies. The NRDC has suggestions and a link for controlling over 30 different pests naturally.

8. Eat FLOSN foods

Thanks to the Conscious Kitchen, we have a new acronym to help us remember what foods to eat: fresh, local, organic, seasonal and non-GMO. This healthy home tip is easy if you shop at the farmers market, cook homemade meals, and pack lunches daily.

9. Drink filtered tap water

Tap water is regulated by the EPA, which requires yearly public reports, but bottled water is regulated by the FDA, which has no such requirement. Drinking filtered water is an important healthy home tip, but which filter should you use? Find out with this updated water filter guide.

10. Choose natural materials

Furniture made of wood with wool or cotton cushions will likely contain fewer toxins than those made of pressboard, plastics or stuffed with treated polyurethane foam. Remember this tip when replacing your mattress and bedding too.

 

Waste-Free Resolutions for the New Year!

resolutions

As a company who’s goal it is to offer reusable solutions to change behavior and help the planet, refusing single-use is one of the most important actions we can take. As we reflect on the past year and look ahead to the new year, we are renewing our commitment to change single-use habits.

With this in mind, we asked our team at U Konserve: What are your waste-free resolutions for 2017? Read on to see what our team had to say.

What are your waste-free resolutions for 2017?

Chance Claxton, Co-Founder
So much to choose from, but one resolution will be to encourage my family to recycle correctly. Even though recycling is not the answer to our waste crisis, reinforcing behavior at home to reduce waste carries over to other actions. In addition, I will always remember my coffee mug to get coffee, and my U Konserve reusable snack bag for my scone.

Lynn Julian, Co-Founder
Living waste-free is always on our minds. In 2017, I will be more mindful of remembering to bring my reusable tea cup back to work after bringing it home to wash.

Courtney Timblin, Operations Manager
I want to take reusable containers with me for leftovers when I go out to eat. 50% of plastic used in the U.S. is used just once then thrown away and I don’t want to be a part of that statistic!

Wendy Murphy, Marketing Director
My resolution is to become more involved in community causes and grassroots organizations that are committed to reducing waste and supporting strong environmental policy. I also plan never use even one plastic straw or plastic cup in 2017. My family is on board too!

Liz Haney, Customer Service Relations
After learning Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day,  I will try to not use even one plastic straw in 2017. I plan to inspire others to do the same!

Debra Paul, Salesperson
Since about 25 billion single-use coffee cups end up in landfills every year, I will do my best to remember my reusable coffee mug and bring it everywhere.

Change a habit and commit to a journey toward zero waste in 2017.  We’d love to hear your waste-free resolutions for 2017. Leave a comment on our Facebook page or Tweet us!

Favorite Holiday Traditions from the U Konserve Team

holiday traditions

In the spirit of the holiday season, the U Konserve team has shared our favorite holiday traditions, including the funny, heartwarming and steal-worthy below—and we’d love to hear about yours on our Facebook page or Twitter!

‘Tis the season…

Chance Claxton, Co-Founder

“Going to the ballet in San Francisco. This year we are mixing it up, foregoing the Nutcracker and going to the Smuin Ballet.”

Lynn Julian, Co-Founder

“Decorating the house with my kids and baking Christmas cookies.”

 

Courtney Timblin, Operations Manager

“Being home in Wisconsin with snow on the ground making Christmas Cookies with my mom while listening to Neil Diamond or Dolly Paton and Kenny Rodgers Christmas albums.”

Wendy Murphy, Marketing Director

“We are transitioning traditions. Grace Cathedral used to be a yearly favorite, but these past few years it has been replaced by Christmas Eve mass in our town. We always go on a big hike on Christmas Eve or Christmas day with friends and family.”

Liz Haney, Customer Service Relations

“Going to my Grandparents house on Christmas morning and spending the day with them and the rest of our family.”

Debra Paul, Salesperson

“Spending time with my dearest friends and children that I met supporting the rainforest. We celebrate and appreciate each other deeply.”

Wishing you a healthy and peaceful holiday and new year. We’re grateful to have supportive customers committed to reducing waste.  From our UKonserve family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Waste-Free Christmas with U Konserve

waste-free christmas

There’s still time to give healthy and waste-free Christmas gifts for everyone on your list. Give the gift of homemade granola, cookies, hot cocoa or other wholesome goodies in our reusable containers, all while giving the gift of reducing waste.

According to the EPA, the volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day—about 1 million extra tons. Take part in decreasing that number by giving one of our favorite holiday recipe ideas!

Waste-Free Gift Ideas

  • Homemade Granola in a Round Container

Homemade granola is a simple gift packed full of flavors. The Very Best Granola recipe from Cookie + Kate combines whole grains, unrefined oil and no refined sugar. Once finished, pack in a Large Round Container and tie with a recycled bow or reusable string. This recipe makes 6 cups, enough to fill 3 large round containers.

  • Hot Cocoa in an Insulated Food Jar

Surprise friends, teachers, and neighbors with this simple, gluten-free and vegan Mason Jar Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix for the holidays. Combine sugar, cocoa powder, and crushed candy canes in a 12 oz or 16 oz insulated food jar, and the double-walled jar is part of the gift!

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons candy cane pieces
Make the Hot Cocoa Mix
  1. Measure the cocoa powder, sugar and candy cane pieces in an 8 oz glass measuring cup.
  2. Shake the jar until the ingredients are combined.
  3. Store in a cool, dark place until all the cocoa mix has been used.

Simply tie the cocoa’s instructions to the food jar with reused ribbon or twine, and this homemade gift is good to go!

  1. Heat 6 oz regular (or non-dairy) milk until warm.
  2. Measure 2 teaspoons of mix.
  3. Stir until the mix dissolves into the milk.
  4. Top with marshmallows, garnish with a candy cane and enjoy immediately.
  • Marzipan Energy Bites in a Square Container

Sweet treats packed in our Large To-Go Containers are ideal for hostess gifts, holiday potlucks or last minute gift ideas. Try nutritionist Lauren O’Connor’s delicious recipe for Marzipan energy bites. They require about 30 minutes total to make and pack up!

And remember, available in any denomination, Gift Certificates are the ultimate green gift.

If you’re short on time before the holidays hit, don’t stress. Instead, consider one of these time-saving ideas. Find our products at these locations or shop online and choose expedited shipping options to get your gifts on time.

Enjoy a Green Christmas this Holiday Season

green christmas

A green Christmas might not be on everyone’s wish list. After all, nothing says Christmas quite like a soft snowfall and blanket of white on the ground and trees. But an environmentally friendly Christmas is something that everyone can embrace. Ensuring that your holiday season is eco-protecting doesn’t have to mean shunning traditions; it just means tweaking them in order to protect the planet.

Deck the Halls

Christmas trees are arguably one of the most important aspects of a traditional Christmas experience. But have you thought about how the cutting of trees or purchasing of their plastic alternatives negatively impacts the environment? To make this custom greener, try decorating your outside trees. Lights, popcorn garlands, and ornaments made out of birdseed and nuts are all easy and eco-friendly. You’ll still get to enjoy the magical sight of a lit tree, and as a bonus, you’ll be feeding the animals who may be needing a bit of help finding food during the colder months.

If your heart is set on having a tree indoors try purchasing a live tree that can be planted outdoors afterward. As well as helping out the planet, you’ll also avoid the never-ending task of sweeping up the shedding pine needles.

Waste Less

Christmas is becoming more and more focused on consumerism, and it’s easy to fall prey to the idea that more is better. Reject the pressure to go over the top in your spending, whether it be gifts, wrapping paper or food. Purchase recycled wrapping paper, use paper saved from previous years, or better yet, wrap gifts in cloth or nothing at all. Buying neutral patterns will allow you to reuse paper for other celebrations as well. When planning your holiday meals and snacks, focus on quality over quantity and use some of these tips for holiday gatherings.

Give Back

If your life is good and you’re blessed, pay it forward. Giving-themed holiday parties are a great way to celebrate with your family and friends. Instead of having your guests bring the typical over-indulgent hostess gifts, like bottles of wine or chocolates, ask them to bring books, warm clothing or small toys, and then donate these to your local shelter. By sharing your resources, you’re minimizing the impact on the environment while maximizing the positive effect on those who receive your donations.

These small changes can start a global change. Switch from a “gimme” mindset to becoming an ambassador for the environment and its inhabitants. ‘Tis the season for goodwill to all. Make it the best possible green Christmas for you, your community and the environment.

Host a Zero-Waste Holiday Party This Year

zero-waste holiday party

Every December is an occasion for celebration. Friends and family enjoy gathering to celebrate the holidays and new year, but you might be concerned about the impact these events could have on the planet.

Fortunately, a zero-waste holiday party is easy to host and fun to attend.  Here are a few of our top zero-waste tips for any holiday gathering!

Invitations

We live in the electronic age which means paper invitations are unnecessary. You can build a beautiful, individual invitation on a site like Paperless Post and send them along via email. In the invitation, you can explain your eco-friendly angle for the party and ask your guests to respect certain guiding principals as they prepare and attend the event.

Gifts

Even if you ask for no hostess gifts, many guests feel obligated to bring one. The best approach is to ask that if people do feel inclined to bring a gift, give it the sustainable way. Suggest that they bring repurposed items, bring items that can be used up, or regift something they already have. Suggest that they leave it unwrapped, or wrap with fabric or recycled paper. Skip the bows and opt for reusable string, twine or no ribbon at all!

Dishes

When it comes time for refreshments, use real plates, silverware and glasses instead of disposable paper or plastic. Avoid paper napkins as well and opt for cloth that can be easily washed. Cloth dinner and cocktail napkins are easy to make with scrap fabric and add a nice touch to a holiday party. If you need to purchase reusable dishes or glasses, check your local thrift store for mix ‘n’ match options.

Decorations

The key to zero-waste decorations is to rely on nature’s beauty during this time of year. Potted plants and flowers brighten up any space. Soy or beeswax votives in reusable glass jars provide a soft, non-toxic light, and accents like river stones add a unique touch. Homemade wreaths, garlands and pinecones are an easy way to bring the outdoors in and add natural fragrance to the room.

Food

When it comes to refreshments, organic, locally produced food is always your best option. This is true not just for your holiday party, but for every day of the week! Many recipes can be made ahead of time. Get healthy recipe ideas here.

As you plan your zero-waste holiday party remember that it can be as complex or simple as you want. The key is to use these guidelines as a foundation and let your guests know what to expect ahead of time.

 

 

Sustainable Stocking Stuffers for the Holidays

sustainable stocking stuffer

The holidays are a joyous season, but unfortunately they can wreak havoc on the environment. If you’re trying to reduce your environmental footprint, then you’ll want to make sure to have an eco-friendly Christmas.

With a little planning, it’s possible to purchase eco-friendly gifts and sustainable stocking stuffers for everyone on your list. Here are our top 8 picks for this holiday season:

1. Reusable Bulk Bags

Eliminate plastic bags once and for all with these reusable bulk bags from Flip & Tumble. Made from 100% cotton with a zip top, these bags are perfect for bulk items, travel or organizing around your home. From the store to the farmer’s market, this is a gift that will be used year-round.

2. Sustainable Bee’s Wrap

This natural food wrap from Bee’s Wrap eliminates the need for plastic wrap and baggies. These beeswax wraps are reusable, biodegradable, compostable, and perfect for covering bowls or wrapping foods. Bring a wrap along as a host/hostess gift to holiday parties.

3. Fair-Trade Lotion

This organic and certified fair trade lotion from Dr. Bronner’s is a perfect addition to any sustainable stocking. Nourish and hydrate skin with organic jojoba oil to heal, organic coconut oil to moisturize, and organic hemp and avocado oils to keep skin smooth. Made from essential oils instead of conventional fragrance, and not tested on animals.

4. Zero-Waste Laundry Detergent

Perfect for the traveler, this zero-waste laundry detergent from The Simply Co. is organic and all natural! Founder Lauren Singer lives a zero-waste lifestyle and hasn’t sent any trash to a landfill since 2012, which she documents in her blog, Trash is for Tossers. The best part of this three-ingredient simple detergent: no packaging heads to the landfill.

5. Handcrafted Beeswax Candles

Enjoy the natural honey fragrance infused straight from the hive to the wax. Place these votive candles from Big Dipper Wax Works into recycled glass jars for the perfect upcycled gift or stocking stuffer.

6. Fair-Trade Chocolate

Chocolate makes the perfect addition to any gift. We love this fair trade, organic chocolate from Alter Eco. Their sustainable practices and eco-friendly packaging are guilt free.

7. Organic Loose-Leaf Tea

Packed in a reusable and recyclable stainless steel tin, this organic tea from Desta fits easily into any stocking. This premium tea line supports sustainable farming and fair trade. Desta believes that providing organic and biodynamic teas are important for their customers’ health and their deep commitment to protect the planet.

8. Reusable Containers

There are many thoughtful gifts to help reduce single-use baggies and containers. Give bento boxessmall containers or reusable snack bags, along with a bamboo utensil and stainless steel straws. And everyone should always carry a reusable water bottle and an insulated coffee tumbler!

Looking for more waste-free holiday tips? Check out our Pinterest page for more of our favorite ideas!

Fancy Fruit Kabobs With A Side Of Cheese & Crackers

fruit kabobs

Fancy Fruit Kabobs With A Side Of Cheese & Crackers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

Fruit Kabobs: Makes 5 kabobs

1 cup of grapes

1 cup pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup cantaloupe, cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup honeydew melon, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup strawberries

Package of wood skewers (like these)

Sweet Greek Yogurt Dip

½ cup plain greek yogurt

1 Tbsp Organic Honey or Agave

Cheese & Crackers

8 whole wheat crackers

1 cup cheese, cut into bite size cubes

Directions

  1. Slice all fruit into bite size pieces. Take a toothpick and alternate spearing fruit until full.  Continue process until all the fruit has been used.  Pack into divided rectangle container.
  2. Mix ½ cup plain greek yogurt and 1 Tbsp of organic honey or agave. Pack into a stainless steel mini container for kabob dipping.
  3. Place crackers into a medium square container. Pack cubed cheese into medium round nesting container.
  4. Pack containers into your insulated lunch tote and add an ice pack and reusable water bottle!

 

 

The Truth About Recycling

recycling

Refusing single-use plastics is one of the most important actions we can take for the health of our planet.  According to Plastic Pollution Coalition, there is proof that recycling and other waste-management processes will not address the plastic problem.

Thanks to our partner 5 Gyres, we’re reminded not to rely on recycling to get us out of the waste mess. Here are a few top facts that uncover the truth about recycling:

  • Plastic products get downcycled every time they are “recycled” (unlike metal or glass) making them less valuable. Eventually these products go to a landfill.
  • Since 1964, plastic production has increased by more than 2,000% and our recycling facilities can’t keep up. As a result, some of the plastic waste that we’ve tossed in the recycling bin gets exported. In 2011, China imported nearly half of America’s plastic waste.
  • Virgin plastic is sometimes less expensive to use than its recycled counterparts. In these cases, manufacturers choose non-recycled materials to save money.
  • In countries like India, much of our exported trash becomes landfilled or gets incinerated. This creates devastating water and air pollution, and serious health problems.
  • Compostables are not the answer.

What’s the Solution?

The only solution is to use less single-use plastic. Reduce disposable plastics and refuse the top five sources of plastic waste: plastic bags, water bottles, to-go containers, to-go cups, and straws. Many reusable solutions are available to kick the single-use habit. Take the 5 Gyres Pledge today and go #plasticfree.

New to U Konserve?  Here’s what customers are saying about their U Konserve products:

“We use the lunch bags and steel containers, cloth napkins and steel straws daily. I remember eating apple slices from a glass jar that my grandmother placed my snacks in as a child. She understood plastics affect our food. Thank you for sharing your vigilance and vision in sustainable, safe food containers!”

For other waste-free solutions check out our Pinterest page full of our favorite ideas!

8 Tips to Enjoy the Holiday Season

holiday

As the holiday season moves into full swing, remember it is easy to overextend yourself. The fun, the family, the celebrations, and the dash to finish things up before the end of the year is exciting. But more often than not, all that energy and excitement can leave you feeling overworked, overwhelmed and overindulged.

What if, instead of getting sucked into the never-ending holiday hype, you approached the season as an opportunity to slow down and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year?

Here are 8 tips to help you experience more peace and enjoyment this holiday season.

1. Move your body

When your schedule starts to get busy and you run out of time, exercise is often the first item to get dropped from the to-do list. Rearrange your busy schedule and get creative with your limited time. Take walks during your lunch break or plan your holiday gathering with friends at a yoga studio instead of a restaurant.

2. Hydrate

Holiday dinners and parties often tempt us with unhealthy foods and drinks. Try to seek out healthy alternatives and be conscious of how you’re feeling. And don’t forget to bring your own reusable water bottle in case you attend a holiday event with single-use plastic cups.

3. Shop Mindfully and Slowly

Slow down and buck the trend of frenzied and mindless holiday shopping. Avoid the temptation of falling into the marketing trap of the holiday season. Resist buying something just because it’s on sale. Think carefully about your purchases, choose more meaningful gifts, and choose products that lessen your overall impact on the environment. Get more ideas here.

4. Take Breaks

Schedule time every week during the holidays just for you. Use this time to do what brings you joy and remember you are a human being not a human doing.

5. Travel Off-Peak

If your schedule allows, travel during off-peak days and hours. This way you’ll avoid the stress of the holiday travel crowds.

6. Don’t Overschedule Your Time

It is ok to say no to holiday parties and get-togethers. If you’ve been invited to multiple events on the same day, say yes to the one you will most enjoy. This way you are more present for the event and people you are with.

7. Get Enough Sleep

Get enough sleep to be the healthiest, happiest and most engaging version of you. Don’t forget that the recommended seven hours of sleep still apply during the holidays.

8. Be Grateful

If you’re reading this post, there’s a likelihood that you have more people, experiences and things in your life to be grateful for than you can possibly count. So start counting, pause, reflect and give thanks for all of the great blessings in your life.