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The Last Straw: How to Eliminate Plastic Straw Waste

plastic straw

It is second nature when handed a drink to grab a plastic straw. From grabbing an iced drink in the morning to going out to eat with friends single-use straws are all around us. Americans use 500 million single-use plastic straws every day, enough to wrap around the Earth’s circumference 2.5 times a day!

 

Why switch to reusable straws?

 

The plastic we throw away every day is polluting our cities, open spaces, oceans, and bodies. Plastic creates toxic pollution at every stage: manufacture, use, and disposal. The solution goes further than avid recycling or refusing to litter because the problem is a society built on disposable, single-use plastic.

  • Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it photodegrades, which means the material breaks into tiny toxic pieces but never breaks down completely.
  • Animals frequently consume plastic thinking it is food: 86% of turtles, 44% of marine birds, and 43% of marine mammals have plastic in their guts, says the Oceans Program at World Wildlife Fund Canada.
  • Recycling is not a sustainable solution to the crisis. Not only do plastic straws have a short lifespan and rarely get reused or recycled, but they usually come with plastic/paper wrap.
  • Plastic straws can be made from questionable plastic with unknown health effects and can poison our food chain and our bodies.

 

One reusable straw can replace thousands of throwaways. With options ranging from our stainless steel version to glass and paper, there are many fun alternatives. So ditch the plastic straw for good this summer and opt to B.Y.O.S (bring your own straw) with you when you leave the house. Interested in taking further action? You can sign the pledge to go strawless with our friends from the Be Straw Free Campaign and learn more ways to get involved!

 

This post was inspired by one of our previous newsletters. You can check out all of our past newsletters here and sign up to receive our monthly newsletter today!

Know Your Plastic: Plastic Numbers Explained

plastic numbers

 

Plastic is a part of our daily lives. From the clothes we wear to the utensils we eat with, plastic has become a staple in the products we buy daily. But what plastics are safe to use and what plastics should we avoid? Follow this guide for an overview of the different types of plastics, the plastic numbers they are classified under, and where you can most commonly find them in everyday products.

 

To start why does plastic follow a coding system? The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) established a classification system to help consumers and recyclers properly recycle and dispose of each different type of plastic based on its chemical makeup. Below we touch upon the most commonly used plastic numbers in the market.

Plastic numbers explained:

 

#1 – PET or PETE—polyethylene terephthalate is used in many water and juice bottles. It’s commonly recycled, and accepted by most curbside programs and recycling centers.

 

#2 – HDPE—high-density polyethylene is common in milk jugs, detergent and shampoo bottles. It’s usually accepted by most curbside programs and recycling centers.

 

#3 – PVC —vinyl or polyvinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen, often contains phthalates and is not recyclable. Phthalates add flexibility and durability to PVC and vinyl. They’re present in products like toys, food packaging, plastic wrap, shower curtains, lotions, perfume, air fresheners and candles. Phthalates are listed as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program, and are considered a probable human carcinogen and endocrine disruptor by the EPA. Even though phthalates have been banned from some baby toys and baby gear, they are still allowed in lunch bags and food containers, so always choose phthalate-free.

 

#4 – LDPE—low-density polyethylene is common in plastic bags, cling wraps, baby bottles and reusable drink and food containers. It’s recyclable at most recycling centers and some curbside programs.

 

#5 – PP—polypropylene can be found in baby bottles, yogurt containers, and many reusable food and drink containers. It’s recyclable in some curbside programs and most recycling centers.

 

#6 – PS—polystyrene is used in takeout food containers, Styrofoam containers and cups, and plastic cutlery. It has been found to leach styrene, a neurotoxin and possible human carcinogen, and has been banned in many U.S. cities. It is not easily recyclable.

 

#7—This catchall category includes polycarbonate which has been found to leach bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen. Bioplastics (plant-based) are also in this category but cannot be recycled and are usually sent to landfill unless directed to a bioplastic-specific composting facility.

 

We use PET #1, LDPE #4 and PP #5 plastics in our products. We advocate for using plastic safely (not microwaving or heating), and getting to know your plastic numbers. There are possible health risks with some types of plastics, so we only use plastics that are safe for food storage. All of our products are tested free of BPA and phthalates. Still have questions? Take a look at our product information page for more facts on our entire product line.

 

Want to learn more? Our strategic partner Healthy Child, Healthy World has created an informative resource called Know Your Plastics that can provide you with more information on the topic as well as more information on how to reduce your use of plastics. As you learn more about what types of plastics you are bringing into your home, the more you can cut down on your plastic consumption and make safe choices for your family and the planet.

Choosing Simplicity in a Modern World

simplicity

 

As parents, we go above and beyond to make sure that our children have everything they need, receive the very finest education, feel safe and taken care of.

 

Yet, it feels at times that the more we try to make them happy, the more challenging it becomes. Today’s society seems to largely promote material accumulation over authentic experiences that can help ourselves and our children achieve happiness. Rather than fall prey to the consumption trap, a growing number of families are embracing a simpler way of life.

1- Turn off the electronic devices!

Teaching your children to embrace simplicity is a lot easier than you think: start by bringing back the basics – trade iPads and smartphones for books and board games, encourage them to go play outside rather than sit in front of a computer or video game, and limit their TV time.

 

Don’t rush into it: your children may feel like it’s a punishment and may not agree with this choice. Lead by example. Start by introducing these healthier activities on the weekend, and progressively reduce their interaction with electronics. Changing old habits takes a little time, but it’s well worth it!

2- Let go of old baggage

Take a fresh start by de-cluttering and really asking yourself what is essential to your lifestyle. Living minimally is life-changing. It will fill your home with a burst of positive energy that is conducive to productivity and new endeavors.

 

For children too, less is more: ask them to regularly put away or, better yet, gift toys that they haven’t played with for over a month, clothes that don’t fit, or books and manuals that they are no longer using.

 

Use this example from The Minimalists as a way to get the whole family involved and see what you really could live without!

3- Promote family time

Carving time for positive human interactions is the root of a happier family lifestyle. During the week set aside a night to have game or movie night. Use weekends to start cooking together, run or bike as a family, learn a new instrument or experiment your arts and crafts skills. Try it and see how it works wonders!

 

Simplicity is a core component of sustainable living. It is the decision to act and consume with intention and mindfulness; choosing items and thoughts that align within your value system. Rise to the challenge and prepare to be happily surprised.

6 Reasons to Get Kozy with Reusable Food Kozies

food kozies

Have you ever looked into the garbage post lunch and noticed all of the disposable plastic baggies thrown away? Every year we generate 200 million tons of trash or 4.3 lbs. per person per day. Most of this trash is from our disposable lifestyle, and this convenience comes at a high cost.  Out of this problem, our Food Kozies were created.

Six reasons why you should try our sustainable solution

Versatile Food Packing—Invented for sandwiches, but our customers love them for cut veggies, cut fruit and cheese.

Many Uses—Not just for lunch packing, they are also ideal for storing leftovers in the refrigerator, picnics and travel.

Easy to Clean—Unlike cloth, the surface is easy to clean, dries quickly,  keeps food from seeping through, and is perfect for messy foods.

Non-Toxic—Made from LDPE #4 plastic and free of BPA, PVC, phthalates, and lead.

Good for the Environment—Every day 20,000,000 sandwich bags from school lunches go into the trash.

Saves Money—A waste-free lunch saves on average $216 per child per year (versus a disposable lunch).

 

Bag the baggie this Summer and try the reusable alternative with our Food Kozies; wraps and bags for sandwiches, snacks and more. Perfect for summer camp, the office, road trips and other travel, you’ll have fun packing lunch and feel good about reducing your plastic footprint. Join the reuse revolution today!

Insulated Food Jar Lunch Ideas!

insulated food jar

Salads and sandwiches are an easy option for lunch, but can become so routine.  Lunch should be something to look forward to, a welcomed break in the middle of the day.  And with the weather warming up, the hunt for new recipes and ideas on what to pack is on.

With the insulated food jar as our muse, we came up with a few new recipes to put into our routine.  They are quick, healthy, and easy for the whole family.  And by packing them in our stainless steel jars, there is no need to worry about them staying hot or cold!

ACAI BOWL

Smoothie bowls are popular right now and for good reason!  Why wouldn’t you want to slow down, grab a spoon and enjoy every sweet bite for lunch?Acai berries, in particular, have many natural health benefits besides tasting delicious and make for a tasty, thicker base.  The following is one of our favorite recipes, but play around! That’s half the fun.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) frozen strawberries
  • 2 frozen sliced bananas
  • 4 tablespoons acai powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice), plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons nut or seed butter (we use almond)
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey, to taste

TOPPINGS (pick 2 to 3)

  • Fresh fruit, sliced (we like bananas, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • Bee pollen (optional)
  • Clear, runny honey (optional)
  • Granola (optional)
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • Dried goji berries (optional)
  • Chia or hemp seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Add the frozen fruits, acai powder, almond milk, nut or seed butter, and honey to a blender.  Blend until creamy and smooth, adding extra almond milk as needed to get the blender running.  Aim for a frozen yogurt consistency (it should be thicker than a smoothie).  Spoon the acai mixture into your insulated food jar and top with sliced fruit and any other optional toppings to enjoy! Note: Use a high power blender to achieve best results.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Super easy for your on-the-go lifestyle and full of flavor, this recipe is a great lunch idea! Full of vitamins and brain food, carrots and ginger pack a powerful punch.  Change it up and opt for a more colorful rainbow variety of carrots from your local farmers market or produce store.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 16-ounce bag baby carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 32-ounce box low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Optional Garnish: Plain yogurt or sour cream

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium saucepan or pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrots, ginger, salt, and broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the carrots are fork-tender.  Puree the soup in a blender or with a hand blender until creamy and smooth. Serve, topped with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream if desired. Enjoy hot or cold.

 

Looking for more ideas of what to pack in your insulated food jar?  Head on over to our pinterest page to see all of our suggestions!

How to Say No to Disposable Cups With Style

disposable cups

We resolve never to purchase disposable cups, plates or utensils again.  We resist buying paper towels, plastic baggies, and plastic wrap. We replace our worn plastic containers with non-toxic glass and stainless steel. It starts becoming easy to live a sustainable lifestyle at home.

But it gets tricky when we leave the house.

The ultimate zero-waste blunder

Recently at an event, I was handed a drink in a disposable plastic cup by a thoughtful acquaintance. I graciously accepted (after all, refusing the drink at this point after it was already poured seemed wasteful in itself). As luck would have it, Lauren Singer, the zero-waste maven behind the blog Trash is for Tossers, looked over and walked up to me (with her reusable cup of course). She didn’t mention the plastic cup in my hand, so I did. We talked about the predicament, and the encounter helped me think through some tips for your next outing.

Tips for refusing disposable cups on the go

Ever get thirsty at an event that only serves water in plastic bottles, without a drinking fountain in sight? Ever kick yourself because the drink you just ordered in a restaurant arrives in a single-use cup (and you’re reminded of the 25 billion coffee cups that end up in landfills every year)? Suddenly going green is not so easy, so keep in mind:

  • Try to remember to carry a reusable cup in your bag (obvious, but easy to forget).
  • When ordering at a restaurant (especially at a counter) always mention that you’d like your drink in a reusable cup just in case.
  • If you’re at an event in someone’s home, seek out a reusable alternative if throw-away cups are the only options set out.
  • Remember to be polite (no shaming) and helpful (if you use a kitchen cup, wash and return it to the cabinet). Your thoughtful intentions to lessen your environmental footprint won’t go unnoticed, especially if you are mindful about how you handle it.
  • If disposable cups are your only option, ask yourself if you really need a drink, and remember that drinking fountains are a good standby.

But if you’re caught with the unavoidable single-use cup in your hand, like I was, Lauren’s advice was to enjoy the drink, be sure to reuse the cup at the event, and of course, recycle it.

8,000 Plastic Cups Saved from Landfill

plastic cups

It all started last year at Natural Products Expo West in Southern California, an inspiring event committed to sustainable living and green products. The event uses disposable plastic cups for drink and snack samples—thousands of them. They’re used for a few seconds then tossed in the trash. Every year we are shocked by the event’s overflowing trash cans and general lack of attention paid to reducing waste.

We always carry our own reusable containers, and last year people loved the idea, especially at booths where sample drinks or snacks were provided in single-use plastic cups. Many of our customers and fellow show attendees expressed their hope for a more sustainable show, and even Alice Waters was shocked by the amount of trash and shared this Instagram post.

Joining the Cause to Reduce Single-Use Waste

Our goal this year was to change behaviors, reduce a lot of waste, and start a movement that we hope will catch on: We gave away hundreds of reusable mini containers to attendees and exhibitors to use for drink and snack samples at the show. Instead of using the thousands of plastic tasting cups, people used our zero-waste stainless steel containers and loved them.

We changed a lot of habits and saved about 8,000 disposable cups from heading to a landfill. We’re looking forward to incorporating more ideas to help the show go green, including offering larger stainless steel to-go containers, waste-free snack bags, and reusable bamboo utensils. Onward to next year’s Expo West and more opportunities to encourage reuse!

Pack a waste-free lunch

ukonserve_waste-free lunch

Refusing single-use items and choosing healthy foods are two of the most important actions you can take for a more sustainable planet. Challenge yourself to create new positive habits this spring. Prepping homemade meals in advance, controlling portion sizes and using waste-free lunch containers can guarantee a healthier meal while on the go.

Refuse single-use plastic bags and containers

Every year Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags and the effects are serious: bio-accumulation of plastic particles is endangering our planet. According to UNESCO, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than <b>one million seabirds and more than 100,000 marine mammals every year.

The first step to packing waste-free lunch is to avoid disposable plastic baggies, plastic wrap, juice boxes, plastic water bottles and other throw-away containers. An easy way to go green is to pack with reusable BPA-free sandwich wraps instead.

Choose durable green products

Conscious consumerism is on the rise as people shop for high-quality products that will stand the test of time and stay out of the landfill. Look for long-lasting food-packing options that are easy to clean, seal securely and withstand the rigors of daily use. And considering their long life and continued reuse, well-made stainless steel containers can be incredibly economical.

Pack your lunch in portion-appropriate containers

Stop throwing food away by packing balanced meals in portion-size lunchbox containers. Bring your healthy lunch in an eco-friendly container that is the right size for your appetite, ensuring a zero-waste, guilt-free meal while on the go. Those with removable dividers are even better—so versatile it’s like having two containers in one.

Pick double-walled containers for hot or cold foods

Pack your healthy lunch in insulated food jars that keep your pasta hot or your smoothies cold for long hours at work or school. And don’t be tempted by low-quality plastic containers that are not appropriate for reuse and might not be safe in a microwave where they could release toxins into your food. For hot foods, always stick with stainless steel and ditch the chemical residue.