The 13 Stages of Zero Waste Living

If you’ve read my blog you know that I like to make Earth-friendly choices whenever possible. As it turns out, there’s a name for this trend called Zero Waste. It’s where people like me aim to reduce the amount of trash they create while making more sustainable choices overall. Looking at how my own habits keep changing, I made a list of the stages a person might go through on a Zero Waste Journey. Which stage are you in?

Stage 1

What’s zero waste?

Stage 2

You learn it’s about sustainable living and think, oh, I already do a lot of that stuff. Like recycle and shop at Whole Foods. So I’m good.

Stage 3

After watching your zero waste friends bring their own utensils to restaurants, you get inspired by them and want to adopt their crunchy, hippie chic ways.

Stage 4

Now once you start, you can’t stop. You’re shopping in the bulk section, composting, and bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. You are conquering this zero waste thing! Oh honey. Little do you know, you’re just getting started.

Stage 5

When you forget your reusable bags, you pack groceries in your purse and then take five trips to hand carry the rest to the car.

Stage 6

You shudder when you see plastic straws at restaurants. Upon seeing styrofoam takeout containers, you consider leaving a scathing Yelp review.

Stage 7

You put on a disguise when you go into a fast fashion retailer, hoping no one you know will recognize you.

Stage 8

You start buying clothes by looking at the fiber content and thinking, could I compost it when it wears out? Which fabric will eventually mulch my strawberries better–strips of organic cotton or wool?

Stage 9

You notice when your friends don’t compost and offer to help them learn how. Those banana peels aren’t going to turn into soil by themselves, Karla.

Stage 10

You start picking through the trash after your housemates throw away things that don’t belong in the landfill. Congratulations, you’re a basic zero waste bum now.

Stage 11

You break the ice at parties by starting conversations about composting toilets.

Stage 12

Coincidentally you don’t have as many invitations as you used to, but you don’t notice because you’re so busy making your own body lotion, toothpaste, lip gloss and non-toxic household cleaner, perfecting your sourdough bread recipe, weeding your organic vegetable patch, installing solar panels and tending to the family of goats you just bought.

Stage 13

While on vacation, instead of souvenirs you collect filthy plastic bags blowing around the streets of San Francisco to take home and recycle. Your family might refuse to be seen with you, but at least the ocean fish will respect you and be your friend.

A Day in SoMa with Good2Go App

This post is sponsored by Good2Go but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Exploring SoMa, SF

I spent an afternoon getting to know the SoMa neighborhood in San Francisco. I’ve spent some time in San Francisco for work and fun–I love the Palace of Fine Arts and all the shopping. But SoMa was pretty new for me, and as it turns out it’s pretty fun to discover. I also tried out a new app that you have to hear about! Spoiler alert–it’s a totally new, high tech approach to public restrooms and I’ll review it at the end of this post–but you can get skip ahead and peek at the app first.

SoMa gets its name from its location South of Market Street. It’s easy to get to because it’s close to 4th and King where the CALtrain station is. It’s probably best known for AT&T Park where the Giants play, but there is so much more to see and do than most people know. And it’s super colorful!

Things to do in SoMa

I started out by heading to Yerba Buena Gardens by way of the Metreon, which houses a movie theatre and an extensive food court. It reminded me of train stations in Europe, where people could congregate for shopping or a bite to eat. Walk right out the doors of the Metreon and find yourself in the center of Yerba Buena Gardens, a green oasis in the city. The Martin Luther King, Jr. waterfall, tall sequoia trees and flowering gardens create a respite from the city construction and traffic. The park is surrounded by museums–literally. Its neighbors are the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the African Diaspora Museum, the soon-to-be Mexican Museum and a historic church.

The Children’s Creativity Museum has a carousel out front and a lovely courtyard garden and playground. You could spend all day in SoMa, easily, but it’s also a quick walk to the tourist stop of Union Square which I walked to the edge of to do some shopping.

One tricky thing about day trips to metro areas is finding convenient, clean restrooms while out and about. I used the Good2Go App to see how it is solving this problem for travelers in San Francisco–and soon other cities too. So I headed to the CALtrain station on foot with the plan to use the app along the way.

Good2Go App Review

When I first heard about Good2Go I thought it was just for finding public restrooms, but it’s so much more than that. Each restroom is located in a popular business such as a restaurant or cafe, and is clean, functional and high-tech. So what was the actual experience using the app? It was cool and unexpected. I’d already downloaded it and signed up for a trial-it’s free, all you do is enter your phone number. I went to the location I’d selected, a hip little urban cafe called The Creamery, and I used the app to join the queue. The door had a scanner and when I placed the QR code the app gave me on the scanner, the door popped open to admit me. No asking the waitstaff for a grubby key on an oversized keyring that I would awkwardly hand over afterward! Revolutionary. The whole process was very techy and made me feel like I’d had a real Bay Area experience.

Inside was a single-stall bathroom that was clean. It was definitely nicer than the train station bathroom across the street. And now I learned about a new cafe I can try when I need a quick bite before hopping on a train.

Download it on the app store and Google play. 

So after you’ve navigated to your clean, high-tech bathroom, you’re good to go on to the rest of your day sightseeing more museums or riding cable cars around the city. What is your favorite area of the city?

Healthy and Fun Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Banana Chia Green Smoothie Bowl

Want to make art with your food? Smoothie bowls let you do just that. I first discovered the fun of creating smoothie bowls last year when my roommate at the time brought home a book about them. It’s creative because you can use any toppings you like to create designs and patterns on the flat surface. Then you can eat your healthy snack!

Above is a green smoothie bowl I created for Midwest Living. The smoothie is two cups of spinach blended with water and banana. The toppings include banana chips, chia seeds and coconut chips. As you can tell from the ingredients, smoothie bowls are a nourishing, healthy snack.

Blueberry Banana Chia Smoothie Bowl

This is the first smoothie bowl I ever made. The base is plain, whole milk yogurt and blueberries. Toppings are banana slices, chia seeds, blueberries and fresh peaches. As you can see in the picture, the ingredients have a tendency to sink if the smoothie is too watery. For a picture perfect smoothie bowl, don’t try to use a thin smoothie recipe!

How to create the perfect smoothie bowl

So now you know the first rule of smoothie bowls: blending thick ingredients such as banana, yogurt and avocado. Next you’ll need the perfect size bowl. Think low and wide. A tall, deep bowl will fit way more smoothie than you can really enjoy. But you do want a fairly wide bowl that maximizes surface area for decoration. I found my perfect smoothie bowl bowls at a farmers market booth. They were created by a pottery artist and they are the perfect dimensions. I just measured them for the sake of this post and they are 5 and half inches in diameter and 2 inches tall. 

I did a little digging and found one at blog affiliate Macy’s that’s quite close to the one I use. It’s a durable design based on 1930s fiestaware.

The final step to creating the perfect smoothie bowl is the fun part: arranging the toppings. Creating stripes or half-moon patterns is an easy way to create an aesthetic appeal, as I’ve done in the examples pictured in this post.

Now you know how to create the perfect smoothie bowl! If you make one, be sure to let me know how it went! You can find me on Instagram, occasionally sharing pictures of smoothie bowls and other tips for living a conscious, beautiful life.

Pamper Your Skin for Spring

Thanks to Biore for sponsoring this post. All views are mine.

Spring skincare

Spring is coming which means we can finally get away from that dull, dry skin. What a relief! When temps get a touch nicer, I always feel like revamping my life including my beauty routine. Here are some ways to get your skin feeling fresh as a flower.

These are some of the pretty spring flowers I see on my daily walks. Take a walk with me through this post and we’ll visit some new skincare products along the way!

Hydrate!

I notice that while I’m at home I sometimes get so busy working on projects that I forget to drink water. This can leave skin dry and lifeless, so figure out ways to fit in an extra 8 oz. during the day.

Use charcoal in your routine

Charcoal has been creeping into beauty products lately, and with good reason. Its clarifying properties are fabulous for drawing impurities from the skin. Both products in this post include charcoal.

Try a mask

Once or twice a week you can pamper your skin with a mask to combat blackheads and blocked pores! Bioré Self Heating One Minute Mask comes in a box with individual packets for easy use. It heats up gently to purify pores better than a basic cleanser in just one HOT minute! It really only takes one minute–leaving more time to go smell the flowers (with a nose full of clean pores, of course).

Bioré Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strips  work in a similar fashion, with individually wrapped strips that you place on wet skin and leave on for 10 minutes. Follow me on Instagram and check out my Instagram stories to see them in action.

Get ’em at Target and Amazon. 

Dog Breed Reveal Party

If you have a dog, you’re probably VERY familiar with the question, “Oh, what kind of dog is that?” If you know what breed or mix your pup is, it’s a pretty straightforward answer. If you don’t know for sure, it can be tricky. I’ve tried saying everything from, “Well, we think maybe he’s a…” to “He’s a brown dog.” At one point it was a joke that he was a Miniature Direwolf.

For Christmas, I received the Wisdom Panel DNA kit, so the question was finally going to be answered!

Dog Breed Reveal Party

When the results came back, a little party was in order. (Yes, I am that person.) I created a board with dog breed stickers, and everyone submitted their breed guesses. The Best in Show award went to the person who had the closest guess.

We didn’t go overboard with dog-themed food, though I briefly thought about making Chex Mix Puppy Chow before I ran out of time making two flavors of cupcakes.

We decorated with dog-themed items. These dog-in-sweater pillows came from Sierra Trading Post, one of the stores on my dog-friendly shopping list.

Find similar throw pillows at the retailers affiliate linked here:

Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Kit Results

For a little background, Perry came from the St. Paul Animal Humane Society at the end of 2009. He was in an unwanted litter surrendered by the owner, and thought to be a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix. He was the last of his litter to go home, and I’ve often wondered how similar his littermates look to him, and what breeds their mom and dad really were.

The results are in! And…the Animal Humane Society wasn’t wrong!

50% Mixed Breed – including evidence of Terrier, Herding and Middle East/African groups

25% Chihuahua

12.5% Pug

12.5% French Bulldog

Those last two I never saw coming! Do you think he resembles those breeds? Here’s what he looks like, from one of the many times he has starred in my Instagram feed.

I still have questions–the DNA results don’t explain how incredibly fast he is on his long legs. Everyone always thought he was part Italian Greyhound.

Overall, I am happy I chose to do the test. Now we have a little better idea, but I’m still not really any closer to knowing how to answer people who ask what kind of dog he is! Maybe “He’s a brown dog,” isn’t such a bad response after all.

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