Healthy Monday Tip #2: 8 Steps to Reduce Packaging Waste

Healthy Monday is a public health initiative founded in 2005 in association with Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Syracuse University. HM’s goal is to end chronic preventable disease in the U.S. by offering people and organizations a weekly prompt to start and sustain healthy behaviors, intentions, actions and initiatives. For most Americans, the week begins on Monday. Studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health and the health of our planet.

Gaby’s comment from last week’s Healthy Monday gave me the idea for today’s post. I’m going to be running Healthy Monday indefinitely so if you ever have ideas for a Monday Tip just send them along.

Reduce Packaging Waste (food packaging or otherwise)

I buy a lot of things online, but sometimes I skip Amazon’s packaging in favor of something more eco-friendly. I’ve noticed more and more that I will order something and it comes with (unnecessary) bags of packing peanuts, or arrives in a gigantic box, or is contained within obscene amounts of plastic.

I’m a big fan of moderation, so I am not going to suggest anything that is difficult to implement or easy to forget for reducing packaging waste. Sustainability is all about just that – making changes that are sustainable.

Here are 8 quick and easy tips to reduce your packaging waste immediately:

  1. Buy food from bulk bins rather than individually packaged, if possible. (However, don’t buy in bulk if you have to buy more than you will need.)
  2. Avoid buying “single serving” packets of food (for example: buy 6 fresh cookies from the bakery that come in one paper bag instead of 6 individually wrapped cookies that come inside another wrapper).
  3. Don’t let cashiers double-bag your purchases unless absolutely necessary. (Or don’t let them bag them at all.)
  4. Bring your own grocery bags (re-use them).
  5. Try re-usable (travel) coffee mugs instead of new paper or plastic mugs each time you buy or make a cup of coffee or tea.
  6. Buy a loose piece of fruit instead of a bag of candy for your snack.
  7. Try eating less meat (it’s Meatless Monday today). Not *no* meat, just less. Meat is high up on the food chain so it takes more energy (and more waste) to produce than, say, a vegetable.
  8. *Buy Less Stuff In General*. Ohhh, snap. Yes I did just say that. Maybe we should all just cut back on how much we purchase. Is all of it necessary? Nope. Try going a week without buying anything non-essential. It’s hard. But it makes you realize how much you buy that you don’t really need.

Why Reduce Packaging Waste?

Because the earth will thank you. Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s a massive area in the Pacific ocean filled with bits of plastic and crap that humans have tossed out irresponsibly.

Maybe if we just took a few of the steps outlined above the whirling gire of crap wouldn’t be quite so titanic.

What are your tips to reduce our trash production?

There are a lot I didn’t mention because they are (unfortunately) not that reasonable. People will balk at you if you ask them to stop eating out, make everything from scratch, and save their greywater to wash dishes in. To affect change you have to introduce change gradually. (Humans are bad at change.) That’s why I hope my 8 tips are not too crazy 🙂

Sisterly Love – A Sweet Night

My sister came into town last night. She has off today, so we are headed up to Providence to visit Brown (she is a senior in high school). We’re taking the Peter Pan bus (just $29.95 RT from NYC to Providence). I miss Julia! She was my maid of honor. She is also a vegetarian (going on 10 years probably – she hasn’t eaten meat since she was about 7).

I still love looking at my wedding photos. (Tarantino Photo -> Featured Events -> Maggie & Robert. If you want the password to my gallery just email me.)

Last night when she arrived it was pouring rain. We decided to have a simple dinner at the Whole Foods hot/cold bar and we followed it up with The Lite Choice. Always a favorite. When we got home we enjoyed some digestive tea (from Coco!) sweetened with NuNaturals stevia (Julia loved it – she will probably be buying it herself).

We got girly and painted our nails. I got a new Essie color: silver. I almost always paint my nails a dark shimmery brown/red so this was a big change.

There were grapes.

And we watched an episode of Taboo, a show on National Geographic about weird things in different cultures (on Netflix streaming).

And then Julia conked out. She’s been working like crazy – the (amazingly smart) girl is taking 5 AP classes, she works at an organic farm, she volunteers, she’s in clubs, and she has a very busy social life.

Do you have siblings? What do you do together?

7 Instant Diet Boosters

7 Instant Diet Boosters

(I wrote this title using HBH’s tips)

  1. Eat in color. Your food should be as diverse in color as a rainbow – seriously. Colorful foods are appealing to the eye because they are good for us (not talking about food dye color here!). Brightly colored foods generally have more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Take the grapefruit for example – pink and red grapefruit both have lycopene (a heart-healthy antioxidant) while white grapefruit does not (lycopene is what gives the pink and red ones their color).

    (This picture is a colorful Italian open air market (in Venice).)

  2. Choose brown rice over white. Brown rice is not only more flavorful and satisfying, but it has 6 times the fiber of white rice, exponentially more nutrients, and it’s great for digestion.
  3. Choose rich leafy greens over watery lettuce. Lettuce is a healthy start, but leafy greens pack a powerful punch of calcium, iron, folate, and vitamins A, K, D, and E.
  4. (My favorite leafy green = KALE (click for recipe).)

  5. Choose whole grain bread and grains over white. Same logic as the brown rice – whole grain breads have more fiber, iron, and potassium than their white counterparts. (Beware of brown breads like pumpernickel – they’re not actually whole grain. I love pumpernickel, but I don’t kid myself by saying it’s whole grain. I just eat it cuz it’s good.)
  6. (This is one of my first recipes: Spiced Holiday Braid from 12/07.)

  7. Drink iced (or hot) tea instead of soda. Soda is very bad. Sweeten your iced tea a little (sugar, honey, etc…) and drink up. Green tea is supposedly very healthy (I think all tea is healthy).
  8. (This iced tea is from Slanted Door in San Francisco.)

  9. Pick nut milk over dairy. Nut milk has no cholesterol and no added hormones. Plus, a lot of people are sensitive to dairy and they don’t even know it.
  10. (Chocolate Almond Breeze is my favorite.)

  11. Try fruit sorbet for dessert. Fruit has lots of vitamin C and phytochemicals (color, remember!).
  12. (This is from San Fran too.)

You have any more diet boosting tips?

Exercise of the day: walking home from work (1.4 miles) + the first 25 minutes of Crunch: Fat Burning Pilates.

Here is a cool deal from FreshDirect (a very affordable grocery delivery service that I use a lot) for you – 20% off all local products with this code:

Go local!

Vietnamese Food Favorites

Two huge things happened this week.

One: I finally got over the flu.

Two: I have more time to blog again. Maybe daily. And maybe even comment on all of your beautiful blogs.

Anyway, I’ll explain more later. Here are my eats for the day (this first picture is from last summer’s juice days):

Breakfast was a green juice with lemon and ginger from The Health Nuts. Yes, this juice is $5.99 (a large), but that’s actually cheap when you consider the fact that The Blueprint Cleanse is about $75 per day (6 juices – one of which is simply water, lemon juice, agave, and cayenne pepper).

After breakfast I did a killer kickbox workout from Netflix (you can work out when you’re sick as long as the cold is just in your head – this made me feel better). It’s called 10 Minute Solution – Kickbox Bootcamp. The workout was good, but I didn’t like the instructor that much.

After I did this one I did a few minutes of Crunch: Super Slimdown which I really liked. I’ll definitely finish it tomorrow. It’s a combination of yoga and pilates (so far). This instructor, Ellen Barret, had a gorgeous figure.

Both of these videos are free with Netflix streaming. We have an XBox hooked up to the television so I can stream them right to the tv. We don’t even get cable anymore because Netflix is easier and cheaper. (And cheaper than a gym membership.)

Lunch was a salad ordered out from Cafe Metro: romaine base, smoked tofu, egg whites, avocado, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, mandarin orange, mushrooms, onions, roasted peppers, sliced beets, and sprouts. I got it chopped with dressing on the side – Chipotle Ranch. It also came with a whole wheat bun, which I had a little later.

Lunch dessert – these chocolate powerberry things from Trader Joe’s. Just a handful. Or two.

For dinner we went out to Thai Son in Chinatown, which is actually Vietnamese. I got the papaya salad – green papaya, shrimp, peanuts, and the Vietnamese dressing with fish sauce. I had some of Bobby’s beef pho as well. This is my ultimate favorite meal.

Dessert – Chinatown cherries. Two pounds for $3. Now they are gone.

My brother is coming into the city tomorrow to get lunch so that should be fun. I also scheduled a facial now that I’m over the flu.

If you had to eat one meal forever, what would it be? Mine would be papaya salad. I don’t even think this would be a hardship for me.

Healthy Eating In Miami

We are on day 2 of our Miami trip (we got here Tuesday night; we are in town for Bobby’s sister’s high school graduation). So far eats have been fantastic, but unfortunately I have a cold. I’m recovering, I think!

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: blueberry yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, and wheat germ
  • Snack: fresh papaya
  • Lunch: Japanese bento box from Matsuri – this was ordered off the special Japanese menu, thanks to my future MIL. She knows I love hijiki so she suggested it. It came with grilled saba (mackerel), hijiki salad, salad, miso soup, sukimono (pickled vegetables – in this case cucumber). (Picture source.)
  • Dinner: papaya salad (papaya, tomato, shrimp, calamari, mussels) and Thai basil chicken from Lan (with friends). (old pictures)
  • Dessert: a cookie that I made with my friend (chocolate chip and pecan! recipe coming soon maybe…) + a bite of the bagels we made (cinnamon raisin)
  • Late night snack: fresh fruit (grapes, cherries, papaya)

Today has been great so far too. We are headed off now, but I had oatmeal with blueberries, wheat germ, and honey for breakfast (Bobby’s mom had oatmeal too) and then we snacked on papaya.

We are having such an amazing time here. It’s so good to be with Bobby’s family (my family now too), who we don’t get to see very often.

How often do you see your family?