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Be Environmentally Friendly: Plastic Free July

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Summer is here and it’s time for travel, beach days, picnics and camping. But with all of these fun activities comes the inevitable piles of trash—and all of this single-use waste ends up polluting our environment.  The solution is to not only pick up trash, but to plan ahead and be environmentally friendly by packing with reusable containers, wraps, bags, bottles, straws and utensils.

One of our favorite environmental campaigns is Plastic Free July.  This challenge encourages everyone to refuse single-use plastic for the entire month.  The top four items to avoid during Plastic-Free July are plastic bags, water bottles, straws and to-go coffee cups.

Why Should We Avoid These Items?

  • Plastic never goes away
  • 50% of plastic is used just once, then thrown away
  • Americans discard 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour
  • There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing more than 250,000 tons floating in our oceans. That’s more than 700 pieces of plastic per person

Not using disposables takes a little work. The first step is to remember reusable items when leaving the house and to not fall back on the convenience of single-use.  Throughout the month of July, we will be providing tips and advice to go plastic free!  So take a moment to be environmentally friendly and sign the pledge for a day, a week, or the entire month.

The video Rise Above Plastics was made by the Surfrider Foundation to show the harm plastics have on not only the environment but marine life as well.

 

Refreshing Recipes For Your Glass Water Bottle

glass water bottle

Summer is the best time of year for vacations, relaxation and fun.  While enjoying the sun you have to be careful of the heat and keeping yourself properly hydrated.  We’ve come up with three of our favorite recipes for refreshing summer sips that are easily enjoyed in your reusable glass water bottle.

Piña Colada Smoothie (non-alcoholic)

Ingredients
2 cups spinach, fresh
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut flakes, unsweetened (optional)
3 cups pineapple, fresh

Directions
1. Blend spinach, coconut milk, water and coconut flakes, if using, until smooth.
2. Add the pineapple and blend again.
3. Pour in your insulated food jar or glass water bottle with an ice pack and enjoy on the go!
* Use at least one frozen fruit to make the green smoothie cold.

See more of our favorite recipes here.

Blackberry, Lemon and Mint Infused Water

Ingredients
1 container or bunch of fresh blackberries
1 bunch of mint
1 lemon sliced

Directions
1. Add all ingredients into a gallon glass jar with spigot (like this one)
2. Fill with water and ice
3. Let water sit for at least 30 minutes to really infuse the flavors in water.
4. Pour into a reusable glass water bottle and take it to go!

To make other flavors of infused water, add your favorite fruit, herbs or even veggies (like cucumber) to your water!

Cold-Brew Coffee

Ingredients
⅓ cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
Milk (optional)

Directions
1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1-1/2 cups cold water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours
2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In your reusable insulated cup or glass bottle filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

Like to grab your coffee on the go?  Bring your mug with you and many coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own mug!

 

 

Top 10 Healthy Kitchen Tips

Your kitchen is the center of your home. Keeping it germ-free and using natural, safe products for you and your family is a top priority. With this in mind, we partnered with Healthy Child Healthy World to create this Do and Don’t infographic on our top 10 healthy kitchen tips that you can use as a guideline for your kitchen:

Healthy Kitchen DOs:

Cook with safe material

Rethink your dishware

Ventilate your kitchen

Clean with safer chemicals

Wash all produce, even organic

DON’Ts :

Clean with antibacterial and disinfecting products

Use paper napkins

Store and heat your food in plastic

Ignore your sponge

Cross-contaminate

Top-10-Tips-for-a-Healthy-Kitchen

Looking for more resources?  Take a look at our friends at Mighty Nest for their take on avoiding toxins in your kitchen.  Also, get more information on why you should skip the non-stick and other safe cookware for your family by clicking the links!

Clean Living: DIY Household Cleaners

clean living

Clean living starts at home with the products you use to keep the house tidy.  There are a host of products that you use every day around the house that can be more harmful than you realize. Whether the product contains ingredients that are damaging to your health or were packaged in unsustainable materials, these are items that you should ditch and replace with safe, natural alternatives.

Taking a DIY approach to these everyday items means you’ll be in control over what’s used throughout your home, as well as what goes on and into your body. You’ll know exactly what’s in these products so you can rest assured they’re safe. And once you do a bit of research, you’ll find that there are several natural ways to get the results you’re used to. Here are three of our favorite clean living at home recipes:

All Purpose Cleaner

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle
-2 to 4 tablespoons of Castile soap
-10 drops or so of tea tree oil
-water to top it off

Check out the inspiration here

Grease Cleaner

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle
– 2 Cups water
– 1/4 Cup castile soap
– 10 drops lavender oil

Check out the inspiration here

Bath, Sink & Tile Cleaner

Mix all ingredients into a squirt bottle or glass jar
– 2/3 Cup baking soda
– 1/2 Cup castile soap
– 2 Tablespoons vinegar
– 1/2 Cup water
– A few drops of Tea Tree oil

Check out the inspiration here

Once you get into the habit of making your own clean living household products you’ll find that you’re saving money while using higher quality products to clean your home.  Interested in other DIY cleaning products?  Check out our Pinterest Page for all of our recommendations for around the house and beyond!

Why Buy Organic Cotton?

organic cotton

“Organic” is a popular buzzword, and while we may think of organics primarily in relation to food, the impact of organic farming stretches far beyond edibles.  Cotton is a major crop and the impact of organic cotton on the environment, farm workers, and public health shouldn’t be underestimated.

Unfortunately, 91% of cotton on the market is produced conventionally, in part because many consumers don’t understand why choosing organic is so important.

While it’s true that farmers grow organic cotton without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, there is a lot more to organic cotton than how it’s grown. In fact, high standards impact every stage of the manufacture of goods from organic cotton.

Here’s how the organic cotton timeline works:

  • Non-GMO Seeds:  Organic cotton starts with non-GMO seeds. GMO seeds have been modified to handle heavy pesticides, which encourages their use. Pesticides can wreak havoc not only on the environment but on both farmworkers and people who live in family communities. The World Health Organization estimates that 20,000 people in the developing world die each year from pesticide poisoning.
  • Organic Farming Standards: Farming with non-GMO seeds and without conventional pesticides and fertilizers means that growers need to use techniques that protect and preserve the soil and the larger ecosystem. Organic farmers rotate crops, a time-honored strategy for preserving soil nutrients. The refusal to use toxic chemicals on the crops also protects farm workers and local communities from accidental poisoning as a result of pesticide handling or run-off into the water supply.
  • Ethical Milling: After harvest, the cotton arrives at a textile mill. Labor standards for the milling of organic fabrics are high: Workers are paid fairly, work reasonable hours, and there is no child labor.
  • Safe, Comfortable Sheets, and Clothing: After milling, this high-quality, organic cotton fabric is made into bedding and clothing. Unlike conventionally grown cotton, organic cotton doesn’t have chemical residues that can irritate your skin. You’ll also find that organic cotton’s manufacturing standards result in a more comfortable, longer-lasting fabric.

The decision to go organic has a huge impact on people around the world, including yourself! Make a promise to yourself to pay attention to where you’re getting your cotton products. Ask questions and look for the organic label on websites and individual items. Start by checking out this list of eco-friendly clothing companies.  You’ll rest easier (in your amazing organic sheets!) knowing that you’ve done the right thing.

 

Summer Salads: Pack in a Glass Food Storage Container

glass food storage container

Summers are made for salads. With so many fresh fruits and veggies available at your local farmers market, it’s fun to experiment and play with different recipes and flavors. Pick a glass food storage container to pair with the following ideas to keep all ingredients fresh for lunch and beyond.

Superfood Strawberry Salad

3 cups raw kale
1/2 cup cabbage
1/2 large cucumber
1/4 red onion
5 strawberries

Dressing
1/4 avocado
1 Tbs. olive or grapeseed oil
1 Tbs. white rice vinegar
1 tsp. honey
pinch sea salt
(optional 3 Tbs. Greek yogurt)

Directions
Chop kale, cabbage, and onions and pack in your glass container. Top with cucumbers and strawberries.  To make dressing blend all ingredients in a food processor. Pack dressing on the side in a stainless steel mini container or pour on top of salad.

Garbanzo Citrus Salad

1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbs. onion, diced
1 Tbs. grapefruit juice
Juice from 1 tangerine
1 tsp. tangerine zest
1 tsp. red wine vinegar

Directions
Toss beans and veggies together in a glass container. Combine liquids in a separate bowl. Drizzle the juice mixture over the veggies and mix until equally covered.  Store in the glass food storage container until ready to enjoy.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

6 red grapes, halved
1/2 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
3-1/2 oz boneless, skinless lean chicken breast
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. sunflower seeds, unsalted and shelled
2 tsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Directions
Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Season chicken with basil, pepper and any other seasoning you desire. Cook seasoned chicken on medium heat for about 6 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Cut cooked chicken into small pieces and toss with other ingredients together in a bowl. Enjoy on a wrap or on a bed of lettuce.

Salads are something the whole family can enjoy. Take a look at more of our favorite salad recipes on our Pinterest page and enjoy packing in our glass containers. Happy cooking!

Home Composting: Go Green in your Garden

go green

Are you ready to go green in your garden?  If you’ve been buying ready-made organic compost, it’s not too late to learn how to make your own nutrient-rich soil. Not only is it inexpensive, but when you feed your soil properly you’ll see all your plants truly blossom before your eyes!

Home composting is nature’s recycling service, allowing households to recycle a substantial amount of their waste – including vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags, grass cuttings, cut flowers, paper kitchen towels, egg shells and cereal boxes – without it ever leaving your home.  Start with the following 4 steps to begin your home composting journey today:

Step 1: Start with a container

Nothing fancy here. Use a compost bin or wooden crate to make sure that your ingredients will hold together and that your pile will retain moisture and heat.

Step 2: Use a mix of brown and green products

Composting is rather low-maintenance. Make sure that your pile has a combination of brown and green plant matter, and enough moisture to keep the good bacteria happy. Newspaper, wood chips, and dry leaves make for excellent brown add-ins while kitchen waste and grass are great green additions.

Step 3: Activate your compost

Taking care of a compost pile is very basic, but requires a little effort on your end. Feeding and watering your compost every week or two by adding material and regular moisture is a great way to provide your garden compost the happy bacteria to consume and keep the process warm.

Step 4: Don’t forget to turn!

Turn your compost with a pitchfork to make sure that all of the elements are working together. After you’ve mixed your pile, check that it’s slightly damp. Too little moisture will slow the decomposition process. Too much will result in a slimy mess.

In a few months, your compost should be dark, crumbly and smell like fresh earth. Want to learn more about what to compost in your garden? Earth Easy provide excellent content with tips on what to add to your pile for the best results.  Happy go green gardening!

Stainless Steel Bento Lunch Box Ideas for Summer

stainless steel bento lunch box

With the temperatures rising outside it’s time to lighten up your lunch! Salads, fresh fruits, veggies, sandwiches, and wraps fit perfectly in our stainless steel bento lunch box. If you’ve got kids heading to summer camp filled with a full day of activities, try these new ideas to keep their lunch box full all day long.

Vegetable Rainbow Rolls

Ingredients:
Rolls
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup quinoa
8 sheets of rice paper

Peanut Sauce
2 1/2 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon German mustard
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

Directions:
Rolls
1. Cook quinoa set aside and let cool
2. Slice all vegetables for the inside of rolls, then set aside.
3. Soak the rice paper once piece at a time in room temperature water for around 20 seconds until soft, place the rice paper on a dry wooden board
4. Place a small handful of cabbage, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, carrot, avocado and quinoa in the middle of the rice paper.
5. Fold the paper from the bottom and top, then fold in the sides, and finish rolling tightly.
6. Repeat with the rest of the rice paper and vegetables until finished.
7. Slice each vegetable roll diagonally into two pieces and pack with peanut sauce in a mini container.

Peanut Sauce
For peanut sauce, combine tamari, oil, peanut butter, mustard, vinegar, ginger, honey, chile flakes and 3 tablespoons water; set aside.

Note: There are endless options for this recipe! Mix and match veggies, add lunch meat, dip into your favorite dressing… Get creative and have fun with it!

9 Ideas For PB&J

  1. Almond butter, strawberry jelly, and apples on cinnamon raisin bread
  2.  Crunchy peanut butter, grape jelly, and coconut shavings on whole wheat bread
  3. Sunflower seed butter, strawberry jelly, Nutella and banana on gluten-free bread
  4. Crunchy peanut butter, strawberry jelly, and fresh strawberries on gluten-free bread
  5. Almond butter, grape jelly, honey and pretzels on cinnamon raisin bread
  6. Peanut butter, strawberry jelly, coconut shavings, and strawberries on  gluten-free bread
  7. Sunflower seed butter, Nutella, apricot jelly, apples, and pretzels on gluten-free bread
  8. Crunchy peanut butter, strawberry jelly, and banana on cinnamon raisin bread
  9. Peanut butter, strawberry jelly, coconut, and pretzels on whole wheat bread

View the inspiration for the recipe here

 

When you’ve filled your stainless steel bento lunch box, pack it in our insulated lunch tote to keep it cold for hours! BPA-free and made from recycled water bottles it is the perfect compliment for all of your stainless steel lunch containers. Interested in more lunch ideas? Head on over to our Pinterest Page for some of our favorites!

Make At Home Doughnut Recipes

doughnunt

It’s here! Each year on the first Friday of June is National Doughnut or Donut Day! This day celebrates the doughnut and honors the Salvation Army Lassies, the women that served doughnuts to soldiers during WWI. In preparation, we have compiled two of our favorite recipes that are baked versions of the classic treat.

Lemon Glazed Baked Doughnut

Makes about 14 doughnuts

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (1%)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly coat a doughnut pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine flours and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
3. Combine buttermilk, eggs, honey, butter, and vanilla, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; whisk just until combined.
4. Spoon batter into doughnut pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake in the middle of oven until doughnuts spring back when touched and are golden on bottom (about 8 minutes). Let cool in pan slightly (about 4 minutes); turn out.

Lemon Glaze
Combine 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, stirring well with a whisk. Dip 1 side of the cooled doughnuts into glaze; let cool on a rack, glazed side up.

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Bites

Makes about 24 bites

Ingredients
1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
3/4 cup (2 percent) Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 – 4 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon melted butter

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the egg, oil, Greek yogurt, vanilla and brown sugar until the mixture is fully combined. It will be a little thicker than a muffin batter. If it’s too thick, add in a bit of milk.
3. Using your hands, roll the dough into little balls and place them in the greased muffin pan.
Bake donuts for about 10 – 11 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let them cool for about 1 minute.
4. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Using a pastry brush, brush each donut with melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Repeat until all of the donuts have been covered and enjoy!

 

Store all leftovers in our stainless steel food containers to keep the freshness of the doughnuts for the next few days! Enjoy making these recipes with the whole family as a way to celebrate.