Eating zero waste is definitely not easy, especially at first. Right now I am working on slowly building up a portfolio of meals that I love and that I know I can easily make zero waste. So I wanted to share with you what that might look like when putting together an entire day of zero waste meals!
Having to part with my beloved ham and scrambled egg english muffin sandwich was pretty hard I won't lie. But I really wanted to find a better (and healthier) breakfast for myself. I need something fast and easy because I don't want to spend a ton of time making breakfast in the morning. I landed on oatmeal, I especially love this idea because I can change out the toppings based on the season and what fruits are available to me. Right now I've just been using quaker oats because the package can be recycled but I do plan on filling up a jar the next time I go to the nearest bulk bins.
With my oats I've been adding in walnuts that I got from a bulk bin store, cranberries which I got canned in aluminum, and half a pear which I got package free in the produce section. I also like to add in a splash of coconut milk to help sweeten it up.
If I get hungry while it's still morning I go for a green smoothie as my second breakfast. I've still been loving this one from a recent blog post but will definitely be changing this up soon now that Spring is here!
Now that the weather is warming up I'm wanting to make more salads for lunch! As a kid every time we we went to Red Robin for about a year I ordered their Chicken Fiesta Salad and I loved it. I decided I wanted to try to re-create that sans chicken. For this I used black beans from a can, red peppers from the wholesale produce market, a red onion package free, tomatoes package free and some lettuce.
Now at our local Walmart we weren't able to get lettuce plastic free, however I know that some stores do have lettuce without packaging which is why I am still sharing this as a zero waste meal. You could also add corn to this either from a can or buy the ears package free and husk them at home. I just personally didn't want to add corn to mine. The recipe I went off of also said to add a jalapeño, however the one we brought home was rotted on the inside so I ended up using some chilis in adobo that we had left to substitute.
For this recipe I combined the onion, red bell pepper and chilis in adobo into a bowl and covered with a tablespoon of lime juice, chili powder, salt, pepper and some canola oil in a bowl mixing it together. Then I put on a pan over medium high heat and cooked until the onions became translucent. From there I added the black beans- drained and rinsed from their can, and cooked for another few minutes after that.
While that was cooking I diced up a tomato and sliced my lettuce so I could combine it all in one bowl.
I also made an avocado dressing in the food processor which is a great zero waste dressing! I combined an avocado, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp cilantro, salt, pepper to taste. I also ended up adding in a few tablespoons of water to get it to the consistency I wanted. Whip this all together in a food processor and you've got a great salad dressing to last you all week. Use the leftover avocado and cilantro on your salad too!
I just made a blog post about my favorite zero waste snacks so be sure to go check that out but my go-to is always apples and peanut butter!
Dinner: Medeterranean Bowls
I just made these last week and I am *obsessed*. Honestly this is one of the best meals I've ever made.
For my mediterranean bowl I use a lot of produce that I can get package free at the grocery store like tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted red peppers (from the Philadelphia Wholesale Market and roasted at home), and carrots. I used quinoa for a grain which I've seen can be bought plastic free in a cardboard box or at a bulk bin (I was finishing off an old bag I had still).
For protein I made some chickpeas from a can. (IMPORTANT: save the chickpea water from the can because that's what we're going to use to make a zero waste dessert!) I covered them with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley and cooked them on a pan with some oil. You could also bake them in the oven for 20-25 min on 350F too.
Lastly I topped it all off with homemade romesco sauce and some vegan feta cheese (unfortunately this came in plastic). For the romesco sauce I had the tomatoes and red peppers package free and I got the almonds in bulk. Everything else I had on hand at home.
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse
Okay now for the fun part- dessert! I found this recipe from one of my favorite blogs Pick Up Limes. This dessert is something you need to prepare at least an hour in advance so you can make it right after you eat your lunch or leave it overnight.
Measure the chickpea water (also known as "aquafaba") that you saved from the can earlier and then put it into a pot on the stove over medium low heat with a tea bag of your choice (I chose raspberry to make it chocolate raspberry flavored but you can do any flavor you like). I found that you should use one tea bag per half cup of aquafaba. Let the aquafaba with tea bag simmer for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up the same amount of chocolate that you had in acquafaba in the microwave. Run it for 20 seconds at a time and mix until entirely melted.
After the acquafaba is done simmering, take out the tea bag and move the liquid into a mixing bowl. With a hand mixer, mix the liquid for 6-8 minutes. This step is very important, I even set a timer for 8 minutes because hand mixing can be very boring. You should keep mixing until stiff peaks form like in the photo below. I also found turning up the speed on my hand mixer helped speed the process along.
Slowly stir in the melted chocolate into the aquafaba being careful to not over mix it either. Scoop into jars or bowls and let refrigerate for one hour or overnight, then enjoy! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the end result but check out the post from Pick-Up Limes to see what theirs looked like!
Let me know your favorite zero waste meals too! And if you try any of these let me know what you think.
I've been following the curly girl method for the past seven months, and one of the biggest tenants of following this method is striking the perfect balance between moisture and protein in your hair. Finding this balance causes people to do crazy things, like rinse their hair in beer.
Since I have fine hair I tend to need more protein than moisture and tend to do protein treatments a few times a month. However, my current bottle comes in plastic so when I finish using it up I want to find zero waste solutions to getting my hair it's protein fix. I had read that doing beer rinses could be a great protein treatment for your curls, but I haven't yet been brave enough to try it out.
Sunday night Kyle and I made an Irish dinner for Saint Patrick's Day, which also included a few gigantic beers. I couldn't finish my whole beer, but rather than letting the rest of it go to waste I left it out on the counter overnight so I could finally try a beer rinse in the morning.
Here's what I did:
In the morning I transferred my beer into a plastic dispenser bottle to make life a little easier on myself and I grabbed a bowl and took them up to the bathroom with me. I usually wash my hair in the morning just leaning over my tub. Following the instructions from this blog post I wet my hair down completely and shampooed it. Then I started rinsing it with the beer, letting it collect in the bowl so I could continue to use it.
After pouring it all over my hair I lifted the bowl to my hair to left it soak in the beer. I kept switching between that and finger combing my hair. It seriously felt like I had just deep conditioned it, my hair was so silky and smooth and moisturized feeling I could hardly believe it was beer (however, the smell did remind me).
A few minutes of doing this and then I rinsed out my hair completely and conditioned it, and then styled as normal. Here are the results:
Honestly it came out pretty good! This is a pretty normal wash day for me so I was happy with it overall. The only issue is I think next time I should shampoo after because you could still smell the beer on my scalp closer to where it was more difficult to rinse out and where I wasn't conditioning. I smelled the bottom of my hair where I could and I couldn't smell any beer on it so I think that's definitely the way to go.
I would definitely do this again. I love that beer is super cheap and you can always recycle glass or aluminum, making this a perfect zero waste technique for getting protein into your hair.
I think that one of the best things we can do when we start to live more sustainably and consciously is to look at one aspect of our lives and work on making that thing sustainable. Food overall personally I find is the hardest area to be "zero waste" in, but I actually think snacks are quite easy. So if you're looking for your one thing to tackle when it comes to living sustainably why not start here? These are my zero-waste and healthy snack ideas.
Fruit is a great zero waste snack! I personally love eating an apple with peanut butter every afternoon because it gives me a little protein boost to feel full until dinner. But other zero-waste fruits you can enjoy are things like oranges, pears, and bananas (always try to buy them in single vs. in bunches since those get thrown away most at stores - therefore saving perfectly good food from the landfill!)
2. Veggies and Dip
Another great snack is making a little veggie tray with whatever you have on hand and adding a dip to go with it. I recently made Romesco Sauce entirely zero waste and it was so good.
Outside of eating fresh produce which is relatively easy to find package-free, think about what you might be able to buy in either cardboard packaging or at a bulk re-fill store. Here's what I came up with that you could find.
Cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts etc. can all be found in bulk bins at grocery stores and are a great, easy to pack, filling snack! I also love that unlike fruit and vegetables they don't go bad as quickly and they're great to have on the go.
Another bulk bin find or really easy to make on your own is granola! You can eat it as is or pair it with yogurt and fruit and it's a totally satisfying snack.
Everywhere I look I see zero-waste people making popcorn as a zero-waste snack. Personally, I haven't been able to find any popcorn kernels in bulk but if you can find them in bulk you can pop them on the stove and have a great zero-waste snack.
What other zero-waste snacks do you love? Comment them below
Okay hear me out, I thought I hated tofu. It never looked appetizing to me and it just felt too spongey to get past. That was until I started cooking tofu myself and experimenting with different ways of cooking, marinating, and making tofu! Now I'm obsessed with tofu it's cheap, filling, and healthy - not to mention it can be delicious! So even if you think you hate tofu too give some of the recipes a try before you ignore it on the shelf!
1. Marinated tofu bowls:
This recipe was the first recipe where I truly realized how delicious tofu could be. I found this recipe for marinated tofu and we figured we would make bowls out of them with some rice, vegetables, and top it all off with peanut sauce.
To make the tofu marinade, first take the extra firm tofu and wrap it in either a linen towel or some paper towels and press it with a heavy pan or cookbook etc. for 20-30 minutes. While that's pressing mix together the marinade.
To cook the tofu I put a few tablespoons of oil on a pan and let it warm up, I added the tofu to the pan on medium-high heat and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. After that with a spatula I would shift the tofu around to different sides and let sit for another 3-4 minutes without touching it. I kept doing this until all the sides were cooked and crispy! It's especially important to not stir the tofu in between because you want the sides to all crisp up.
While that was happening I had rice on the stove and to top off my bowl I added steamed broccoli, roasted red peppers, carrots, red cabbage and peanut sauce!
For peanut sauce I don't have a true recipe, usually I find a quick recipe online to get me started and then I continue to adjust to taste preferences. This is the recipe I went off this time:
2. Thai Red Curry Noodle Soup with Crispy Tofu:
I found this recipe from a blog I love called Pick Up Limes. I will say, I messed it up a little and it still turned out amazing, but the photo wasn't as appetizing so please enjoy the photo from their blog post instead to entice you to make this! I made this for lunches for a week and found it to be very filling as well and it reheated great throughout the week.
For the tofu: add coconut oil and one block of pressed and cubed tofu to a pan on medium high heat and let sit for 3-4 minutes before stirring.
Then in a large pot on high heat add:
Let it cook for 2 minutes adding in a splash or two of water if needed. Then add in 3 tbsp of Thai red curry paste and let cook for one minute before adding:
Then add in noodles that can cook in 3 minutes or less and let simmer for 3 more minutes.
Once done, add in the tofu and enjoy!
3. Sesame Tofu and Brocolli
This recipe made me feel like I was ordering Chinese food for lunches, while also being very healthy. In the recipe (linked above) she made her own sesame sauce. That seemed a little difficult for me given the ingredient list was a lot of things I didn't have on hand or know where to buy, so I ended up buying one at the store that was in an all glass container with an aluminum lid so I feel okay about "cheating" a little bit on the recipe here.
For the tofu however it couldn't have been more simple. After pressing the tofu rip it apart into bite sized pieces. Then with 2 tbsp of corn starch, sprinkle it over the bowl and then with your hands mix it all together helping to coat to tofu on all sides.
She also says to add in 1 tbsp of sesame oil and 1/2 cup of soy sauce here - I didn't but only because I totally missed it! I'm sure it would have tasted even better had I done this extra step.
Then lay the tofu out on a pan and bake in the oven for 25 min at 400F. After baking, I put mine in a bowl with some broccoli and covered in sesame sauce! It was delicious. You could put it over rice too but I just didn't because I was eating rice a lot the week before and just wasn't in the mood for it.
I hope that these recipes help convince you to give trying tofu a try! Honestly, you can buy a block of tofu for ~$1 at any grocery store and one block typically makes about 2-3 meals worth for me, so it's a rather cheap thing to try once! Plus it's a huge amount of protein (36 grams per block) and no cholesterol so it's great for you too. Happy eating!
Pela is a company you will hear a lot about in the zero waste community. The first product I heard about from them is their biodegradable phone cases! (I don't have one yet, but I'll upgrade when my current case breaks.) Pela also owns the company Habitat, which makes and sells natural and plastic free deodorants, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and lip balm (review coming soon).
But recently I learned they also made sunglasses and blue light glasses, which happened to be the two things I was in the market for! My old pair of sunglasses had one screw completely fall out and the other one was getting looser by the day, I was not far from off from needing to replace these. I didn't even think I would be able to replace them with a sustainable option either. I just assumed I would need to go get a nicer pair of *sigh* plastic sunglasses.
But then I learned that Pela makes and sells sunglasses too. And they're also biodegradable! Also, if you need to upgrade your sunglasses/they break etc. you can mail them back to Pela to be recycled. I love a good closed loop system!
I ended up buying two pairs of the sunglasses and one pair of the blue light glasses because they were having a buy 2 get one free sale, and I always like an extra pair of sunglasses. One for my car and one for the house! I got these a few weeks ago and I have to say I love them. While I'm still undecided on the blue light glasses (I'm not quite sure they work for me personally), I would 100% recommend sunglasses to anyone interested in getting a new pair!
Let me know, have you bought anything from Pela before?
Judging from the title of this blog post you might be a little confused, and I was too when I first heard of these Amborella Organics lollipops! My aunt and uncle sent me a care package that included two of these lollipops that can be both enjoyed and then the sticks can be planted to grow various plants. They gave me two, one that will grow basil and one that will grow elderflower! *ps. be sure to eat the lollipops before planting!
When we first moved into the house we currently live in I was so excited to have plants and grow herbs especially. Turns out it was a little more difficult than I expected given that we don't get a lot of sunlight in our house. I actually spent the winter thinking about our tiny backyard and where to best put plants to get the most sunlight and found a spot that had good sunlight throughout the day. So I'm going to try growing these plants there, but for now they're staying inside until the weather gets a little warmer.
To be even *more* sustainable, my compost company actually offers to give customers bags of soil for free in the springtime. I signed up for my free bag and they actually brought me two bags. Since I only really needed one to plant these I just posted on my local Buy Nothing Facebook Group to see if anyone wanted a free bag of soil, within an hour someone had come by and picked it up!
For planters I actually had two still from my failed attempts over the summer which was perfect for planting these lollipop sticks. I did as instructed on the website which was to fill the planters mostly with soil, place the sticks down horizontally and then cover with soil and water. Hopefully in a month or two I can come back and post an update on these, otherwise I did my best :)
I've talked a lot about how shopping secondhand is one of the biggest ways we can reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. However, there are certain items that I prefer to buy items firsthand. I want to start this as a recurring series where I highlight any companies that are truly ethical and sustainable companies where I feel good about buying first hand and what I look for in a company before purchasing. So let's talk about the Girlfriend Collective!
During this pandemic I haven't really shopped for clothes. But the one item of clothing I find myself wearing day in and day out are leggings. And most of my leggings have been around for quite some time. After finding the third hole in my most worn pair of leggings I decided I needed to buy a new pair for myself. The reason I didn't want to thrift leggings is because so often they are made cheaply and don't hold up for a long period of time. I assume that most of the legging donated to thrift stores are not going to be in great quality either. And I want something I can wear all the time.
That's when I found Girlfriend Collective. They have sustainability as a priority and all of their leggings are made from post-consumer recycled water bottles (25 bottles go into one pair of leggings.) In addition their packaging is sustainable and recyclable as well. Not to mention they have pockets!
I also bought a sports bra from them which is made from 11 recycled plastic water bottles and was just as comfortable as the leggings!
As a side note: the leggings I originally purchased were too small and their exchange process was so easy. All I had to do was enter my order number, select which item I wanted to exchange and which new size I wanted and then print my shipping label and bring it to a FedEx near me. And I got free shipping both ways too even though I was the one exchanging something!
One potential con is that their factories are located in Vietnam, however they have a certification that states they pay their employees fairly and their factory adheres to strict guidelines making it a safe place for their workers.
Lastly, I love the fact that at the end of their life you can send your clothes back to Girlfriend Collective and they will recycle them at their facility. This system is called a circular economy and is what is truly necessary for us to move to in order to solve our climate crisis!
While the leggings were a little pricey at the end of the day I felt that it was worth it to know I was supporting a sustainable mission and that the workers who are making my clothes are being treated fairly and paid a living wage. Plus I've heard from others who have bought from Girlfriend before and they say that their clothes last years, making it truly "slow-fashion".
Overall I'm so happy with my purchases from Girlfriend and my experience with their exchange process. I will definitely be purchasing from them again in the future as I need more items.
Are there other sustainable companies you shop at that I should know about? Comment them below and I will check them out :)
Join me as I document my journey to becoming zero-waste through this blog as a resource to others.