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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!

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.

Black Friday Purchases that Change Habits

black friday

This is a tough one…we want to get our products in the hands of as many people as possible to help eliminate single-use waste, but we also want to balance that with a message of slowing down the mindless shopping frenzy that starts on Black Friday and continues through the holiday season.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you care deeply about the environment and make thoughtful decisions every day that align with these values…so keep it up. While planning and completing your holiday shopping this year, continue to be mindful of the following:

Resist buying something just because it’s on sale

Black Friday is the biggest day of the year for discount shopping. Shoppers expect great deals at deep discounts. But we often neglect to think about the true cost of our purchases, especially when they are irresistibly cheap. The average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste every year which usually ends up in landfills.

Choose more meaningful gifts

Some of the best gifts come with the most thought behind them. Experiences, hand drawn pictures, and thoughtful handwritten cards have been some of our favorite gifts over the years. Remember the theme of the season is to spend quality time with loved ones, so slow down and give them the gift of your presence. Give to non-profits in the name of your friend or family member. Make thoughtful homemade gifts that have a much lower impact on the planet. Sew, bake, get creative. See our ideas here.

Honor the cause

Choose products that lessen your overall impact on the environment. Shop from Certified B Corporations that work hard to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. And of course give the gift of reuse! Make cookies, breads, candied nuts, loose teas, herbs, olives or other holiday treats and package them in reusable containers.

To purchase with a purpose this holiday weekend, enjoy 20% off all U Konserve products, including sale items, with coupon: PURPOSE20. Starts Friday, 11/25.  Ends Monday, 11/28. Online only.

Wellness Tips for Fall as the Seasons Change

wellness

Fall can be a challenging adjustment on your health and wellness after the long, warm days of Summer sunshine. With shorter hours of daylight and cooler weather, Fall can take a toll on your physical and mental health.

However, by following a few of these wellness tips you can keep your health in check and enjoy the change in season.

Enjoy Time Outside

This is the time of year where our daylight hours seem to fly by. Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D via sunshine by taking a quick walk at lunch and spending your weekends outside. Planning a day trip or weekend getaway to go hiking or exploring with friends and family is a great way to enjoy autumn and all that it has to offer.

Avoid the “Office Germs”

Is everyone around you sick? Avoid catching the sickness that seems to be going around by making sure you:

  • Get enough sleep. As the time changes and daylight become shorter, try and get your body on a regular sleep cycle that provides you 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, hot herbal teas, natural juices and smoothies.
  • Don’t over commit yourself and your family. Use this time before the holidays to slow down and spend quality time with loved ones. Instead of a night out, opt for a night in. Invite friends and family over for a potluck or game night!

Shop the Farmers Market for In-Season Veggies

Keep your health up by eating seasonal veggies like beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, kale and squash. Pumpkin is another seasonal superfood that packs a punch!

Autumn is an ideal season to spend some time in the kitchen preparing your favorite nourishing foods. Hot foods such as soups and casseroles are easy to prepare and are seasonal comfort foods. Enjoy our favorite hot dishes with ideas from our Pinterest board!

 

Cast a Vote for the Environment this Election Day

environment

Every election season usually brings plenty of discussion about the environment (we hope), and usually a few environmental ballot measures as well. This election highlights some new proposals that, if passed, we hope could become common practices throughout the nation.

California’s Prop 67: Plastic Bag Ban

In 2014, California passed a law to phase out single-use plastic bags, but plastic bag companies are trying to overturn this law. Every year Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags. These bags are difficult to recycle and often pollute waterways, fill up landfills and harm wildlife. Plastic bags are also harmful to humans since the chemicals found in plastic leach into our soil and water. Spread the word with hashtag #YesOn67 and vote YES on Prop 67 to protect California’s plastic bag ban.

Oregon’s Measure 99: Outdoor School

The proposed outdoor school lottery fund initiative creates a pathway for all Oregon students to attend a week-long outdoor education program by separating out specific funds from the Oregon State lottery system. A yes vote on Measure 99 would help students develop critical skills in leadership, scientific study and environmental policy.

Outside California or Oregon?

You can still vote for the environment! Support candidates whose platforms:

  • Vote for renewable, clean energy sources, policies and incentives.
  • Stand up to oil companies who put local communities and waterways at risk.
  • Dismiss the fossil fuel industry and enforce policies that defend the public’s right to clean air.
  • Support public land and stand against the transfer of public land to state-owned or private entities.

For more information and a comprehensive guide to the issues in the upcoming election, visit Patagonia’s #voteourplanet page.  Here you’ll find guides and resources by issue and state. Their mission is to keep voters informed on the current issues impacting our environment and country.

The Benefits of a Plastic-Free Kitchen

plastic-free

From storing last night’s leftovers to shopping at the grocery store, plastic is everywhere, especially in your kitchen. It is important to understand that some plastics contain a hazardous mix of chemicals, such as:

  • Phthalates, which affect the reproductive system
  • BPA (bisphenol-A), which disrupts the endocrine system by mimicking the female hormone estrogen

As you may be aware, these chemicals can leach into whatever food or beverage you put in them, in amounts that vary depending on your use. For instance, if you microwave plastic containers or bottles, or put hot liquids or foods into them, BPA leaches into your food or drink 55 times faster than when used cold. There is also evidence that chemicals leach from plastic faster when the container is:

  • Old or scratched
  • Frequently put in a dishwasher
  • Washed with harsh detergents

Knowing those facts, you’re probably wondering what steps you can take to transition out of using plastic in your kitchen. Here are a few tips:

Skip Plastic Wrap and Baggies

Plastic wrap and baggies are usually a go-to when saving leftovers. But plastic wrap can leech into your food, and every year 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away in America. Make a transition to reusable food wraps made of beeswax or LDPE #4, a low-density, recyclable plastic. Our food kozies and snack bags are a perfect option, or you can try to DIY with this step-by-step guide.

Save Leftovers in Glass or Stainless Steel

At first, it may seem hard not to use plastic for food storage, but switching to glass or stainless steel is a much healthier option for you and your family. Some helpful tips include:

  • Save glass jars and searching second-hand stores for glass containers in good condition.
  • Purchase stainless steel reusable food containers for takeout and leftovers.
  • Buy glass containers to cook, bake and for storing leftovers.

Skip Plastic When Food Shopping

From produce bags to check out, plastic is everywhere when grocery shopping. Do your best to skip the plastic by purchasing food in bulk in reusable bags, skipping fruits and veggies wrapped in plastic, and bringing reusable jars and containers for other loose items.

Cutting the plastic out of your kitchen may seem overwhelming, but by following these 3 small steps you’ll be able to easily transition to a plastic-free kitchen!

Looking for more ideas on how to live plastic free? Check out our infographics: Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Kitchen and Safer Kitchen Guide, created in partnership with EWG’s Healthy Child Healthy World.

How To Pack A Waste-Free Lunch With Your Kids

waste-free lunch

School is back in session, and the kids are transitioning from summer break to classrooms and after-school activities. It’s not always easy to get back into the swing of things, but one of our favorite activities is packing a waste-free lunch with our kids.

Preparing and packing lunches the night before saves time during busy mornings and gives kids an opportunity to pick what they would like to eat. Here is our favorite recipe to follow when packing back-to-school lunches with your kids:

Step 1: Pick out fun reusable containers

The right containers provide a solid foundation for a nutritious lunch. Our kids love packing food in their stainless steel bento boxes. These durable, colorful containers make it easy to balance food groups and healthy portions.

Step 2: Make the main meal

With so many different combinations, sandwiches and wraps are an easy way to pack a healthy lunch. We are always experimenting, but here are a few of our favorite combinations. Help your kids cut them in half or quarters to fit into their containers. Fill in the other sections with cut fruits, veggies, nuts and more.

Step 3: Add snacks

Sundays are perfect for making a batch of snacks for the week. Energy bites are easy to make with your kids and pack along with lunch or for a quick after-school snack before activities begin.

Skip the plastic baggie and instead fill reusable snack bags with a handful of whole wheat pretzels or crackers.

Step 4: Hydrate properly

Water can be easily packed in reusable bottles. Remind your kids to BYOB (bring your own bottle) for the school day to reduce waste associated with throwaway plastic bottles and juice boxes. Cold smoothies, juices or milk can be packed in insulated jars. Remember to pre-chill by putting in the freezer for a few minutes (lid off) before filling with your cold drink.

Step 5: Don’t forget waste-free accessories

Bamboo sporks, stainless steel straws, a cloth napkin (and a note from mom and dad) make the perfect finishing touches for a waste-free lunch. Help your kids pack everything in their lunchbox and don’t forget to grab it out of the fridge in the morning!

Worried that your kids may not remember to bring all of their containers home? Our co-founder Lynn reassures you that they WILL remember!

 

Try this Eco-Friendly Challenge with our Partner Turning Green

eco-friendly

At UKonserve, we are so grateful to partner with some of the best eco-friendly organizations who’s values are aligned with our vision to protect the environment and foster healthy communities.

Turning Green is devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally sustainable and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools and communities. Through many community programs and challenges targeted at high school and college students (but open to all ages), they make being eco-friendly fun, especially through their upcoming campaign:

Project Green Challenge

Project Green Challenge (PGC) is a powerful and diverse call to action for high school and college students around the world. During the month of October, PGC features thirty days of environmentally themed challenges that provide students with mentorship, advocacy and leadership skills. Participants are challenged to contribute through living consciously, mindful consumption and collective action. These individual and collective steps contribute to a healthy, just and thriving planet.

Since launching in 2011, this initiative has engaged over 25,000 students directly and tens of millions indirectly. More than 1,000 campuses in all 50 states and 45 countries have participated. This year’s challenge begins October 1st, and students have the potential to win $12k and a trip to San Fransisco. For more information or to sign up click here.

What are your favorite eco-friendly activities in your community? Share how you are involved! Post on social media and tag us.

Looking for more of our favorite resources and guides?  Check out our Pinterest board for the latest facts from our partners!

3 Recipes for our Round Stainless Steel Lunch Containers

stainless steel lunch containers

Today we tackle easy ideas for our round stainless steel lunch containers.  With different size options and leak-proof lids, these containers are our go to for packing daily snacks, salads, fresh fruits and veggies. Here are a few recipes we love for back-to-school:

Tomato Basil Quinoa with Turkey

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 7 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • fresh basil

Directions

  1. In a saucepan bring 1 cup dry quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil.
    Once the water begins to boil turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add olive oil to a saucepan and cook the turkey.
  3. Once the turkey has cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and spinach, and simmer over low heat until the spinach has wilted.
  4. Add the quinoa into the turkey mixture, adding fresh basil and crushed red pepper flakes to your liking.
  5. Saute over low heat 1-2 minutes longer and serve or pack in your round stainless steel lunch containers. Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: Crushed red pepper is a spicy addition to this dish! If you’re looking to add a more subtle flavor, saute a clove of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add instead of red pepper.

Easy Edamame, Carrot & Kale Salad

Ingredients
Salad

  • 1 bunch kale (dinosaur/lacinato/tuscan kale or curly kale)
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped snow peas (slice off tough ends first)
  • Large carrot, peeled and ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • A heaping cup of organic edamame (if using frozen edamame, defrost by tossing into a pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes)
  • An avocado, sliced into small chunks
  • A large shallot, finely sliced
  • handful cilantro, chopped
  • handful basil, chopped

Tamari-Ginger Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (or other low-sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

Directions

  1. Remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard them.
  2. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the kale with a dash of sea salt and use your hands to massage the kale by scrunching up the leaves until the kale is darker and fragrant.
  4. Toss the remaining salad dressing ingredients with the kale.
  5. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together all the ingredients until emulsified. Toss the dressing with the salad and pack into your reusable containers.

Fast 5-Minute Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, NOT drained
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (depending on how garlicky you prefer it)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Microwave undrained chickpeas and whole garlic cloves in a mixing bowl for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add to blender or food processor and process with lemon juice, salt and tahini. Stream in olive oil while mixing.
  3. Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as you prefer.
  4. Garnish with a little more olive oil and paprika, and serve with veggies, crackers and pita. Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It tastes even better refrigerated, as it has time to thicken up and develop in flavor.

Note: This recipe has so many options! To make your favorite flavored hummus add ingredients like red pepper. For a delicious snack cut up fresh veggies and pack along with the hummus in your round stainless steel lunch containers.

Looking for more inspiration? Head over to our Pinterest Page to see many more of our favorite recipes and ideas for our round stainless steel lunch containers!