naturally sus finds – May 2018

sus - May finds collageEeek, I’m late with my May sus finds, but I think it kind of works out because some of my topics relate to June? Late is still late – got it.

May’s theme is all about single-use plastic like coffee cups and bags. While I’m always thinking about this subject, this month in particular was quite frequent in news stories about cities (including mine!) making governmental strides to ban single-use plastic. I hope we can continue moving in this direction so that it becomes the norm and we can say bye to non-recyclable disposables forever!

  1. Instagram: @responsiblecafes – A community based in Australia spreading the word disposable coffee cup waste. On their site, you’ll find a growing list of 3,500 cafes that accept reusable mugs. Australia alone throws out 1 billion coffee cups a year. And that’s only one continent. Does something like this exist in the U.S.?! If not, can someone create this with me?
  2. Product: @mybyta – I’ve featured byta on here before, but I’m giving them another shout out this month because they’re starting a 30-day challenge of no disposable cups or bottles. Join this challenge with me! Bring your own cup at the coffee shop, or if you’re not on-the-go, ask them to put it in their own mug. I think NYC coffee shops are so used to people being on to the next place, that they automatically pour all coffee/drinks in disposable cups. If I see mugs stacked on top of the espresso machine, I’m asking them to put it in a mug. It’s not weird! Let’s break the habit.
  3. News: New Jersey Shore Town Bans Plastic Straws, Plastic Bags, and Styrofoam Containers – So many straws end up in the ocean causing harm to the ocean and all who inhabit it. Those who call the beach their home see first-hand the effects of disposable plastic. I hope this one town can set the example for all the other beach towns along the coasts.
  4. Double Dose of News: New Yorkers, Call Governor Cuomo to ban single-use plastic on June 6th! Governor Cuomo did not pass this bill when it was introduced by Mayor de Blasio last year because it also included a small fee for those wanted to get a bag. (Trust that I wrote him emails and called his office then because I was very upset it did not pass.) Now he’s all for banning the single-use bags, but still hasn’t taken a stance on implementing a fee. The fee is important in order to create a culture of making it normal to use reusable bags all the time. If calling is not your thing, please show support in other ways by telling your network, posting on social media, etc.
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naturally sus finds – April 2018

sus - april finds collage

It’s finally starting to feel like spring here in NYC and I made it just in time for my April finds!

  1. Instagram: @stevieyaaaay – I literally found this Instagram last week and I’m already hooked. I love finding other eco-conscious/zero-waste bloggers/influencers based in NYC. People often tell me that no one cares about the environment in NYC and while it does disappoint me to hear that and to see all the garbage on our streets to confirm that, it’s people like Stevie who make a difference and show it’s possible to live eco-consciously here.
  2. Product: HealthAde Upcycled Candles – I love HealthAde kombucha, especially their bottles. I save most of them in case I find other ways to reuse them. They’re upcycling their own bottles and making them into candles, which I think is the cutest thing ever. It just goes to show how you can care about sustainability as a business, no matter what you sell.
  3. Business: Good Home Co. – Your one stop shop for all natural products for your home – laundry detergent, dish soap, candles, etc. My favorite are the candles. I love that they come in an unlabeled amber jar and are made from soy wax.
  4. News: Beauty Brands and Packaging – So many more beauty brands are being conscious about their packaging. Whether it’s setting goals to be completely zero-waste or offering incentives to customers to reuse/recycle their packaging, it’s becoming more popular for beauty brands to consider the planet as a stakeholder.

naturally sus finds – March 2018

sus - march finds collage

Ok so I lied, turns out March was incredibly busy again, but I’m still coming through with my monthly web finds!

  1. Instagram: @greenmatters – this account features images with a headline or one-line fact about news across all topics in sustainability. From wind farms to plastic-free biodegradable pregnancy tests, this account is a testament to how sustainability affects everyone.
  2. Product: o.b. tampons – What applicator? These tampons are applicator free, which means an average of 240 plastic applicators per person every year could be saved from the landfills. Bonus points: they’re giving out a FREE 18-count sample if you sign up here.
  3. Business: RECO BKLYN – I’m obsessed with wood furniture. RECO BKLYN creates custom and live edge slab furniture with reclaimed wood from fallen trees in NYC waste streams. Now, time to save up for a beautiful wood dining table…
  4. News: Meet SoFi, “Sophie” the Fishoid – First we had Sophia, the humanoid, now we have Sophie, a robotic fish that swims in the ocean to better understand marine life and how it’s being threatened by human activity and climate change. I hope it doesn’t get eaten by a shark, but they disagree.

naturally sus finds – February 2018

Sus - Feb Finds Collage

Hey everyone! I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in a while…I was sick for two weeks and I was also working on a separate writing project that ate up a lot of my time. March will be a calmer month for me, so I’m hoping I can catch up then because I have a lot of things to share! I didn’t want to skimp out on my sus finds for February though, so here are a few of my favorites from the month:

  1. Instagram: @alison__wu – Alison Wu’s Instagram is just another dreamy space to get lost in. She is the queen of photogenic layered smoothies and healthy living. Every time I visit her feed or website, it just radiates positive and peaceful energy.
  2. Product: Jenga Ocean – This came out a while ago, but I only just heard about it earlier this month! Jenga’s collaboration with Bureo, a designer and manufacturer of skateboards made of recycled fishing nets, came together to create Jenga Ocean, the classic game made of the same material.
  3. Business: Avani Eco – B2B company based in Bali that creates sustainable food packaging and hospitality products. Think plastic utensils, plastic salad bowls and Styrofoam trays. They instead, use renewable resources to create disposable packaging that can be composted or biodegradable.
  4. News: Household Products Causing Air Pollution – An interesting and eye-opening article about how our common household products can affect our air quality, and thus, our health.

naturally sus finds – January 2018

Each month I’ll share my favorite sustainability-related finds from the internet.

sus - january 2018

  1. Instagram: @urbanjungleblog – for all plant lovers and those who aspire to have a greener thumb, this account will make you want to buy more plants all the time.
  2. Product: Klei Beauty – handmade, 100% natural, small-batch face masks and scrubs made by my friend, Valerie from college. I love supporting friends and their projects, especially if they also care about sustainability ;). Plus, the packaging will make you want to have a photoshoot in your bathroom of your #selfcaresunday.
  3. Pop Culture: Ginny Weasley is an eco-activist too – I don’t keep up with a lot of celebrities, but I love when they use their huge following as a platform to share important topics. Bonnie Wright, the actress who plays Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter, shares her tips for saving the environment. Who else thinks her and Emma Watson should team up for a reunion to make an even greater impact together?!
  4. News: China’s major reforestation project – China is known for being a major polluter, but they’re trying to combat that by planting new forests the size of Ireland this year.

New Year Intentions

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photo by @lisachinny

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holiday and are having a great start to the new year. If you haven’t noticed, naturally sus has an updated look. Ten months ago, I created this blog with the sole intention to share my passion about taking care of the environment as much as I humanly could. That is still my intention and it always will be. I’m excited for all the new content naturally sus will have to offer this year. Thank you to everyone who followed along since the beginning, read a post, took action, or even questioned their habits and lifestyle. If you’re new – hi hello welcome, take a look around, I hope you like it here.

2017 was a year of learning and trying new things (like getting bangs but realizing it was too high maintenance for my low maintenance lifestyle even though I enjoyed them.) But seriously, I think my biggest takeaway from last year was the impact of learning to live with less. I became a more conscious and smarter shopper. I seldom bought meaningless items with little value or purpose. I said no to single-use plastic and plastic bags whenever I could. I actively shopped at the farmer’s market and composted as much as I recycled. I volunteered in my community to encourage others to reduce their waste. Packaging, carbon footprints, and ethical labor took up a bigger space in my brain. Overall, all these changes to my everyday life made me happier. It felt good to live simpler, to live with less clutter, to say no (nicely,) to have an idea of where products come from and how they are made, and to share with others how much I care about all of this.

That being said, I’m not perfect and I’ll never be perfect. I’m simply trying my best and that’s what I’m encouraging others to do through this blog. I still have plastic bags to throw out garbage. I like to try new recipes and sometimes that requires ingredients in non‑recyclable packaging. I like to travel and I intend to travel more this year. I met up with a friend for coffee and forgot to bring my mug L. See – not perfect. But not being too hard on yourself is important too.

My goal for this year’s sustainable journey is to continue everything I did last year, but go even deeper and spread the word more. Whether it’s exploring and engaging with more sustainable communities on social media, doing more research on technical topics like solar energy and carbon credits, or reaching out to members of the local community and businesses to discuss improvements. There’s so much to learn, to understand, and to share.

What are your environmental and sustainable intentions for the new year?

sus Holiday Gift Guide 2017

sus - byta gift guide
photo by @mybyta

There’s nothing like the spam of promotional emails, ads, and social media posts for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday to remind us it is officially the holiday season. While we all like to think the holidays are about spending quality time with friends, family, and loved ones, it is now more emphasized on indulgence, excess, and consumerism. Giving gifts is a beautiful thing, but instead of adding thoughtless tchotchkes to your cart, why not give something sustainable – something that sends an important message about the environment.

Byta Tumbler – a stainless steel tumbler in a variety of beautiful colors. Billions, yes billions of coffee cups are sent to the landfills every year. Help reduce this by bringing your own cup or byta to the coffee shop. Proceeds from each byta also go to the Ocean Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Bkr Bottle – a glass water bottle with decorative and colored silicone sleeves in various sizes. Similar to coffee cups, billions of plastic bottles are also sent to the landfills every year. Carry a cute reusable water bottle that you can’t help show off 24/7 at places that can charge $2-4 for a water, like at your gym or fitness studio, movie theater, airport, park, fast-service restaurant, and the list goes on.

WinterStar-250ml

Apolis Market Bag – a reusable market bag made of natural jute fiber handcrafted in Bangladesh and finished in California. Apolis provides safe and ethical working conditions for mothers in Bangladesh through the sales of these bags. The bag can be used for trips to the farmer’s market, grocery store, flea markets, etc. I have one and I get compliments on it every time I take it out. I love that it’s roomy, sturdy, and timeless.

Baggu Bag – a reusable bag made of nylon that can be folded into a small pouch, so I never leave home without them (hello impromptu shopping trips.) They come in fun colors, designs, and sizes, and are also machine washable. Single use plastic bags often can’t be recycled with other hard plastics and take a lot of energy to manufacture. They can also unfortunately end up in our oceans and disrupt marine life.

Jade Yoga Mat – a yoga mat made from natural rubber tapped from rubber trees. Most yoga mats are made from PVC or other synthetic rubbers, which can’t be recycled or broken down easily in landfills. Jade plants a tree for every yoga mat sold.

Girlfriend Collective Apparel – yoga and workout apparel made ethically from recycled water bottles. They’re very transparent. Look good and feel (sustainably) good at the same time.

Donate to a cause – Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, etc. There’s literally tons of organizations both locally and worldwide that offer gift donations or donations in the name of your gift receiver. Research and choose an organization at your discretion, especially since there’s been a lot of chatter about which organizations are more trustworthy than others.

Intro to: Zero-Waste

sus - intro to zero waste

Recently, I’ve been fascinated with the zero-waste lifestyle. I was introduced to it when I came across Trash is for Tossers and learned that all the trash she produced in two years fit into one mason jar. Then I went down a wormhole and found a whole community of zero-waste bloggers and supporters of this lifestyle. Although this is still a niche community, it was reassuring to see a significant amount of people who cared deeply about minimizing the amount of trash they produce.

Initially the term, “zero-waste,” was kind of intimidating to me. No waste whatsoever? That sounded like a lot of pressure, stress, and frankly impossible. But like most things under the umbrella of environmentalism, it’s better to do something than to do nothing, so I like to think of this as waste-reducing first. From what I gathered, this movement is more of a mental transition than a physical one because it’s derived from your relationship with material objects in general. It’s about living with less and living simply with only the essentials. The planet thanks you for contributing less waste to the landfills, but ultimately you’ll see major changes in your attitude about consumption, which will have a lasting effect for years to come. Once you understand your relationship with “stuff,” it’ll be easier for you to understand and participate in the zero-waste concept. Follow the preliminary tips below to get started on the transition.

1. Evaluate your trash and your spending habits.

Go through your pantry/fridge, closet, medicine cabinet, desk, and any area that stores a lot of stuff. Is it overstuffed or cluttered? Now take a look at your trash can(s). What is it mostly filled with? Do you often chuck out leftover food, beauty products, paper, packaging, etc.? Lastly, take a look at your credit card statement and notice what you mostly spend your money on. Then, start to connect the dots. If you’re mostly spending it on food/groceries, but you end up throwing a lot of it out, you’re wasting both money and food. There’s a correlation between money and waste, which is why many people of the zero-waste community believe you can actually save money through this lifestyle.

2. Reduce where you can.

Now, take a closer look at the type of things you buy frequently and the motivation behind your purchases. Do you order take-out a lot or buy single serve packages like snacks or juice? Maybe you’re a sucker for promotional sales and good deals. Whatever it may be, take note of it first and ask yourself, “why am I really buying this?” and “does this add value or have purpose to my life?” Then from there, you can start to reduce what you have (properly of course! Either by recycling, reusing, or donating whatever you can.) And start to change your habits by buying less and/or less frequently, and thinking about the product’s life cycle.

3. Start saying “no”

This is where the discipline sets in. Once you’ve cut down, start saying no to things that are wasteful. No to plastic bags, impulsive shopping, disposable or single-use items like coffee cups and straws. Unsubscribe from promotional emails (this helped me so much!) Even saying no to free things being passed out can help.

Now, I am nowhere near being completely zero-waste, but I have cut back a lot. My home only produces about 1-2 full bags (the “thank you for shopping” bag with the smiley face, not a trash bag) of garbage per week, as opposed to throwing out garbage every day. The people who are committed and supportive of the zero-waste movement are not lazy people. The actions they take are smart and deliberate, but that doesn’t mean it’s also difficult. Anyone can and should start taking steps to be less wasteful, so before diving into zero-waste, you can approach it as waste-reducing instead.

Join Me in the 2017 Eco Challenge!

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Photo by Tara Rice

I’m so excited to participate in the 2017 Eco Challenge and I want to encourage you all to participate too! The challenge runs from October 11 to October 25, 2017 and there are a bunch of different actions you can take in different categories including food, transportation, nature, energy, and many more. They say it takes about two weeks of consistent action to develop into a habit so this is a perfect time to start making a long lasting positive impact on the world!

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Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Visit Eco Challenge’s website.
  2. Sign up for a team or create your own. I signed up for the Story of Stuff team, which anyone can join. You should also check out their website or social media pages because they’ve got a lot of cool facts and stories about our waste.
  3. Browse through the challenges and choose up to three (or more on your own.)
  4. Tell your friends and family to join in as well!
  5. Share your experience after the challenge. So easy right?!

On the site, it shows the challenge level of each task and whether it’s a one time or daily challenge. You can also mark tasks that you already participate in, to earn more points for your profile (if that matters to you.)

The challenges I chose are all from the simplicity category. Although these challenges don’t necessarily have an immediate and direct effect on the environment, they are very helpful in developing an intentional way of living, which leads to more conscious decisions. When you’re more mindful about your consumption habits, you’re more likely to waste less. These challenges also give you better peace of mind so you can have a mentally sustainable lifestyle.

My three challenges are:

  1. Buy only what I need – I will not buy anything except items required for health and safety. I’m ready for this one, but only if Outdoor Voices doesn’t entice me with a good promotion. I’m also going to make sure I book all my travel plans before this two week challenge ;).
  2. Eat Mindfully – I will eat all of my meals without distractions, e.g., phone, computer, TV, or newspaper. What about podcasts? This is going to be hard for me because 1) I don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day so I try to take advantage of multitasking here and 2) eating dinner and watching TV at the same time is a guilty pleasure. But I think this is important to practice because it’s a great moment to give your brain a break. Hopefully I can use that time to fully enjoy my meal and just let my mind wander creatively.
  3. Limit social media – I will limit my social media use to once a day. The most challenging of all, which is crazy because only in this day and age would limiting social media be harder than only buying basic needs. I actually took a social media detox for a weekend and it was an eye opening experience on how much time I waste checking my phone and refreshing my Facebook feed. I’m hoping this challenge will be a good way to make the habit of limiting my social media usage stick because I’m not cut off from it completely.

Let me know which challenges you’ll be participating in! Good luck and just remember: your actions will make a difference no matter how small they might feel!