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5 Reasons to Step Up Your Food Storage with Stainless Steel

stainless steel food storage

Plastic food storage is certainly affordable and lightweight, but research shows that plastic can often leach chemicals into our food and drinks, which can harm our health. In addition to the adverse health effects, plastics are polluting our planet at an alarming rate. Take steps to swap out old plastic containers that degrade after prolonged use, and replace them with safer stainless steel. The benefits of stainless steel will help you justify the switch:

Durable, long lasting and less wasteful

Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. As the desire to reduce waste is becoming more common, people are increasingly choosing more dependable and durable materials that do not degrade or leach after years of use and dishwashing. The longer containers last, the happier you are, and the fewer resources are used to reach the goal of working toward a zero-waste lifestyle.

Non-toxic and non-leaching

As news about toxins in plastic food storage becomes more mainstream, people are seeking safer food-storage solutions by ditching their plastic and turing to safer alternatives like stainless steel. “As scientists become more aware of the chemicals that leech out of plastics and make their way into our bodies, they are uncovering a variety of health issues that result. This includes cancer, reproductive issues, immune system suppression and problems with childhood development just to name a few.” – One Green Planet

More hygienic

Because plastic degrades over time from use, hot water and cleaning products, the surfaces become scratched and difficult to clean effectively. Smooth, non-porous stainless steel is the ideal surface for food, with fewer opportunities for bacteria to accumulate and less risk of contamination.

Less expensive over time

Saving money is an important benefit of swapping your plastic containers for long-lasting stainless steel. There is an upfront cost, but it pays to invest in quality products that stand the test of time to save money otherwise spent replacing lower-quality items.

Completely recyclable

Stainless steel is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity. Alternatively, plastic is “downcycled” into another lower-quality plastic product that becomes one step closer to a landfill. Plastic Pollution Coalition reminds us: “Indeed, collecting plastics at curbside fosters the belief that, like paper, aluminum and glass, these will be converted into new similar objects. But this is not the case with most plastic. These products will still end up in a landfill, and therefore, they do not stem the need for more virgin petroleum product.”

Switching out your plastic food storage can take time, and if you’re still using plastic during your transition, check your plastic numbers to minimize your exposure toxins. Check out our full-range of stainless steel containers, including divided containers, insulated containers for hot and cold, and nesting sets to save storage space.

Reuse and Repair: Worn Wear College Tour

worn wear college tour

Reuse and Repair on the Road

As a mission-driven company our decisions are guided by our desire to offer products that will help change our throw-away culture. We get our inspiration from companies we admire, including the outdoor retailer Patagonia. This month, they are teaming up with our partner, PLAN (Post-Landfill Action Network), to lead an impressive Worn Wear college tour to mend clothing for free and teach people how to reuse and repair, with the goal of promoting a world with less waste. And they’ll be using U Konserve along the way to help reduce their food-packing trash!

The team leaves February 16th on the 21-campus tour in their cute rolling Worn Wear repair truck, Delia. Visit one of the colleges on the tour to get your clothes (any brand is ok) repaired by the team, and participate in zero-waste activities, attend workshops, film screenings, and speaker presentations focused on reuse and repair. You can also have your Patagonia clothing repaired by one of their 45 full-time repair technicians in their garment repair facility, the largest of its kind in North America.

PLAN

We’re very excited to be partnering with PLAN this year. Reducing waste directly through innovative student-led activities on college campuses, the folks at PLAN are serious about protecting our planet. They cultivate, educate, and inspire the zero waste movement through tours, workshops, conferences, art, manuals and infographics (like this one we worked on together). They inform students and then equip them with the necessary skills and resources to implement solutions to eliminate waste on their campuses and in their communities.

U Konserve Helping Out

In the spirit of reuse and repair, while on the road, members of the Worn Wear college tour team will be avoiding packaged foods and packing waste-free meals. They’re all set with stainless steel containers, reusable sandwich wraps and stainless steel straws. We’re looking forward to seeing our trusted products put to good use!

“As individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer. This simple act of extending the life of our garments through proper care and repair reduces the need to buy more over time—thereby avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage required to build it.”  – Rose Marcario, Patagonia CEO

Reaffirm your Commitment to Protect the Planet

protect the planet

It is at the core of our mission to give back to organizations that are aligned with our vision to protect the planet and foster healthy communities. Our planet needs us now more than ever. Will you make a pledge with us for the environment? Volunteer, donate, advocate, vote and support products that inherently help our fragile planet. If you’re looking for organizations to support, here are a few of our favorites.

1% for the Planet

1% for the Planet is a global network of businesses that donates one percent of annual sales to environmental organizations. Started by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, 1% for the Planet has given over $100 million to restore and protect the environment. The network is made up of 1,200 environmentally conscious companies and brands representing industries that share the same common belief: environmental protection and good corporate citizenship are core business principles, and our joint responsibility. In 2015 we became a member of 1% for the Planet.

5 Gyres

5 Gyres is working tirelessly to eliminate plastic pollution through science and education. Every single piece of plastic that has been produced is still on the planet in some shape or form. With 300 million tons produced every year, the plastic pollution crisis is one of he most important issues we face. What can you do to help protect the planet? Refuse styrofoam, microbeads, plastic bags, plastic straws, takeout containers and plastic bottles. Pledge to eliminate single-use plastic and donate to their organization to fund research and educational programs.

Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit with a mission to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through breakthrough research and education, they drive consumer choice and civic action. By releasing consumer guides on key issues like pesticides in produce and healthy home cleaning, EWG is an invaluable resource for people trying to live a healthy lifestyle and protect the planet. Get involved by supporting their work. You can do this by donating online, signing up to receive their newsletter, using their Skin Deep product database and shopping through their affiliate link.

Turning Green

By equipping students with knowledge, resources and tools, Turning Green works to transition students’ mindsets, habits and practices from conventional to conscious. Turning Green knows that when empowered, students create a ripple effect that impacts change on campuses and communities globally. They’ve reached students at over 2,000 campuses in 50 states and 48 countries through on-campus programs and campus leadership opportunities. If you know you’d like to get involved but are unsure of where to start you can contact them to determine the program that fits you best.

How will you protect the planet in 2017? We’d love to know how you’re giving back this year to important environmental issues. Leave a comment on our facebook page or send us a tweet to let us know!

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!