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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.

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.

The Sustainable Thanksgiving Table

thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Whether you are hosting or visiting with friends or family, we love having personal touches on our table. Involve your children by working on homemade crafts to add to the meaning of the holiday.

Homemade Place Cards

Thanksgiving is not a meal you have every day. You may only see these friends or family members on special occasions. So make it personal and special by setting the table with thoughtful, homemade place cards.

Give your kids a list of all the guests who will be in attendance or offer to bring the place cards to whoever is hosting. Start with some recycled card stock, cut into 7” x 5” rectangles and let the creativity flow. Get ideas from these homemade place cards.

Thankful Placemats

Share why you’re thankful at your dinner table by making placemats out of recycled butcher paper. Ask your kids to write the statement, “I am thankful for” on the top of each with 3-5 lines or bullet points. Maybe they include a word of gratitude at each place setting. See a Thanksgiving placemat example here.

As your meal is getting started or wrapping up ask guests to fill in the blanks and then share around the table. This is an easy way to incorporate the meaning of the holiday into your meal.

Natural Table Decorations

Traditional Fall colors are beautiful on a Thanksgiving table. Hunt around your garden for eucalyptus, rosemary, olive or other holiday leaves. Add branches, lavender, gourds, berries or other natural decorations. No need to purchase anything that gets tossed into landfill, use your natural decorations all season, then add to the compost bin after the holidays. See some beautiful, natural Thanksgiving table decorations here.

Looking for more Thanksgiving inspiration? Visit our Pinterest Board full of ideas for the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving!

Waste-Free Thanksgiving Tips for the Holiday Season

waste-free thanksgiving

The holiday season is beginning! Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this year we want to make sure you enjoy a waste-free Thanksgiving while treading lightly on the environment.

The USDA estimates that on average, American consumers waste about one-fifth of the food that is available to them. By following the few steps we’ve listed below, you can easily enjoy a waste-free Thanksgiving.

Plan Ahead

Planning is key to hosting a successful waste-free Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t let the holiday overwhelm, instead plan ahead by making sure you:

  1. If you’re having a large gathering try to get a firm headcount of who will be attending so you can better prepare while shopping and cooking.
  2. Get organized by going through your cabinets for any ingredients, especially canned foods, that can be donated to your nearest food pantry.
  3. Make sure you have a list of food your guests are bringing so there are no duplicate dishes, and consider options for guests with food sensitivities.

Use Scraps

When cooking many different dishes there are bound to be food scraps that go to waste. Make a difference this year! There are ways to use (almost) your entire turkey and set aside a compost pile for your vegetable and other compost-friendly scraps.

BYO Reusable Container

As you are inviting guests, remind them to bring their own leftover containers with them. This cuts down on leftovers going to waste and single-use plastic container waste. Enjoy 20% off glass and stainless steel nesting trios, the perfect BYO reusable containers for the holidays!

Host a Leftover Party

If you have leftovers you don’t want to eat but don’t want to waste, we have a solution. Make a day out of it and host a leftover party. Turn leftovers into pizza, soups or a potluck of leftovers from other Thanksgiving dinners.

For more waste-free Thanksgiving ideas, including DIY decorations, head over to our Pinterest Board.

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!

 

5 Reasons We Love the Tiny House Movement

tiny house

Tiny Houses have taken over home TV shows, the internet, and many home and garden magazines. But what exactly is the tiny house movement? Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is about 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny is between 100 and 400 square feet.

You may be shaking your head asking why would people want to downsize to such small quarters. So we’ve compiled a list of 5 reasons we love the tiny house movement.

Smaller Environmental Impact

Due to the size of micro homes, they can generally be completely powered by solar panels at a fraction of the cost of a traditional home. Through the proper application of green technology, it would be possible to live net-zero and completely off the grid in a tiny home. This infographic does a great job highlighting all the ways tiny houses reduce energy costs and allow your house to be self-sufficient.

Less Expensive

Tiny houses cost less in general. Since the houses are smaller, so are the mortgages and utility bills that go along with it. Young adults buying their first property are better able to afford these houses as well as people looking to downsize and save. 68% of tiny house people have no mortgage compared to 29.3% of all U.S. homeowners!

More Time & Freedom

Simply put, when you have a smaller living space there is less to clean and less time put into maintenance. This leaves more time for activities you enjoy and more time with friends and family.

Less Clutter and Less Waste

Living in a smaller space leaves less storage room in general. With the success of books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, people have been decluttering items that don’t bring them joy. A tiny house means keeping what you really use and getting rid of excess “stuff” that doesn’t serve a purpose. Less space also forces us to purchase with intention and seek out durable, long-lasting items that take the place of other wasteful alternatives.

More Connection and Communication

Smaller living spaces mean fewer places to go when a disagreement arises.  Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell of Living Large in Our Little House puts it best when she says, “Not having room to spread out anymore took some getting used to, but now I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t want to go back to us living in separate rooms, and not really communicating or spending time together.”

So how do you know if tiny is for you? Rent or stay overnight in a tiny house or stay at a tiny hotel like this one and see how you like it! Also check out our Pinterest board full of our favorite tiny houses and inspiration for going smaller.

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.