Easy Ways to be Sustainable | Earth Week 2019

Woohoo! Happy Earth Week, friends! I can honestly say that I’ve never been as excited for an Earth Week as I am this year. In the past year or so, I’ve tried to make all aspects of my life more Earth-friendly. Since doing so, I feel like I’ve nailed down a few (super simple) ways to be sustainable along with a few inexpensive products that I’ve been using on a daily basis.


grocery store plastic bags

Nothing—and I mean nothing—irritates me more at a grocery store than when the baggers put one item per plastic bag. What a waste! When I was living downtown Chicago, I was super good about bringing my own reusable bags from home with me whenever I went shopping—they’re easier to carry than plastic bags, the City of Chicago charges a “bag tax”, and it’s more sustainable. However, once I moved back home where “bag tax” is no longer a thing and I have a car to take me to-and-from the store, I suddenly stopped using my reusable bags.

Was I proud of myself. Definitely not. So, I decided that I would put a few reusable canvas bags into my car so that I wouldn’t have an excuse of why I wasn’t using one! Since then, I’ve been bringing my bags with me whenever I go to the store. I can honestly say that I’ve probably saved around 30 bags in that timeframe.

Fun fact: Almost every grocery store nowadays sells reusable bags for purchase for no more than 99 cents a bag—what a steal! Plus, if you ever go to any sort of event chances are you have a few reusable bags laying around your house (my family has TONS!).


grocery store produce bags

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we can blame grocery stores for all of our plastic problems. Just kidding, but like, not really. Another grocery store pet peeve of mine are those ridiculous produce bags. If you’re like most people in the world, then you probably wash the produce before you eat it. Which is why using plastic produce bags makes absolutely no sense to me. If you’re someone who washes your fruits/vegetables before you use them, then there should be no fear of the items being dirty by just tossing them into your shopping cart/basket if you’re going to wash them anyways.

I know that there are companies out there that sell reusable produce bags like Ever Eco, Flip & Tumble, and Purifyou. While I personally have not used these before, they’re a great option if you’re someone who is still fearful of just putting your produce (naked) in the cart.

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STASHER BAGS

Yes, I jumped on the Stasher Bag bandwagon. Ever since @shutthekaleup on Instagram featured Stasher’s on her feed, I had been wanting to purchase some. However, at $12/bag I couldn’t justify spending that much as someone who, in college, rarely packed a lunch (since I had time to fix meals at my apartment). But since graduating and now working a full-time job, I pack my lunch and snacks everyday. I knew that I would be wanting to bring fruit, chopped veggies, trail mix, etc. with me to work and I didn’t want to have to use plastic baggies. So instead of being unsustainable, I decided to take out my wallet and invest in a Stasher Bag. I have to say, it was one of the best sustainable decisions I have ever made! I use my Stasher Bag daily to hold my snacks and other food items. Not only do they minimize my use of plastic, but they’re super easy to clean as they’re machine washable and easy to get inside of with a washcloth or a bottle brush.

Stasher Bag Hack: Stand your bag up inside of your car’s cupholder, stick a fork in it, and you’ve got yourself a super clever—if I do say so myself—snacking opportunity!

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you can buy stasher bag here, here, and here


bee’s wrap

When my sister gifted me with Bee’s Wrap for Christmas 2-years-ago, I truthfully didn’t know when I was going to use it. But a day later, I had used all 4 sheets! Bee’s Wrap is another great way to decrease your plastic usage—cling wrap, cellophane wrap, I’m looking at you! Bee’s Wrap is a waste-free alternative to food storage. I’ve used it to cover half-eaten apples, yogurt containers, leftovers, and even to hold celery sticks for snacks on-the-go.

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you can buy bee’s wrap here, here, and here


What ways do you try to live more sustainably? Any product recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

Books You Need to Read this Summer

My love for reading has fluctuated over the years. When I was younger, I despised the reading log calendars that we were forced to fill out merely to win tickets to see the Kane County Cougars. As I got older, I enjoyed reading quirky romance novels and teen reads like The Clique, the Princess Diaries series, Camp Confidential (if you know of this series, you’re a REAL one), and of course, Twilight. But since being in college the last four years of my life, I rarely had time to sit down and read a novel. Don’t get me wrong—I wanted to. But balancing school, and internship, and somewhat of a social life didn’t leave much room for just-for-fun reading. Since graduating, I have been attempting to make an effort to read at least one novel every two months. Normally, I can fly through a book in a matter of hours, but since my time is limited I have been sticking to reading a chapter of a book each night.

There’s nothing worse than dedicating a half hour or so to reading each night, then finding out a few chapters in that the book you decided to venture into actually sucks. Trust me, I’ve been there. Since summer is slowly (but surely) approaching, I decided to put together this blog post of the FOUR books you need to read as the weather turns warmer and vacation season approaches.

Here are my top three reasons why you need to reach these books:
1) I’ve already read them all and I can vouch that they’re actually good reads.
2) They’re the perfect combination of light-heartedness + good writing.
3) They’re all under 450 pages. Ideal for when you don’t have a lot of time, yet want to finish a whole book!


One Day in December, by Josie Silver

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I’m aware that it’s not December. I’m also aware that if you live anywhere it snows that the last thing you want to do is think about December. However, this book is at the top of my list because it was just that good. While I’m not going to do a whole book review on this post (let me know in the comments below if you’d enjoy reading detailed book reviews), I do have a few things to say about this novel and why you need to pick it up from your local library/book store ASAP.

When I find books to read, I often browse the “popular reads” section of my library because looking through the normal fiction shelves is way too overwhelming for someone as picky as I am when it comes to books. I decided to pick up One Day in December because I really loved the cover art…and I’m a sucker for eye-catching book covers. The front of the book displayed a paint-like winter scenery that couldn’t be ignored. After snatching it off the shelve and reading the back cover, I decided that this would be the book I was going to read.

The plot revolves around two best friends in London, an undercover love triangle, and a storyline about friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness. Sure, this sounds dramatic, but I can assure that you won’t be disappointed.


When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger

If you’re not a fan of The Devil Wears Prada, then who even are you? Just kidding. But no really, it was about time that Lauren Weisberger made a spinoff of her popular fashion industry novel. And it’s safe to say that if Hollywood doesn’t create a movie version of this book that I will be thoroughly disappointed. However, I knew that I had to read this book because I have seen The Devil Wear Prada movie at least 10 times—not exaggerating. I’m always down for a romantic comedy—on-screen, in-print, or otherwise—and after reading the back cover of When Life Gives You Lululemons, I decided that I would give it a try.

Unlike some books that drag the first few chapters, Weisberger wasted no time diving right into the plot and developing the characters. If you remember from The Devil Wear Prada, Miranda Priestly had an assistant before Andy (Anne Hathaway) came into the picture: Emily. Well, well, well, Emily makes her return in When Life Gives You Lululemons, as this book revolves around her and her life after Runway.

This spinoff novel is full of drama, romance, humor, and all of the lighthearted goodness that makes it the perfect summertime weekend read. And just for reference, the book isn’t about Lululemon.

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To All The Boys I've Loved Before Trilogy, by Jenny Han

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Not to toot my own horn, but I’m definitely a trendsetter. I remember reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before a few years ago before it ever became popular. I’ve been a huge fan of Jenny Han ever since reading her The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy (If you haven’t read this series yet, you are missing out!), and as soon as I got wind that she was releasing a new series of YA romance novels, I knew I had to check them out.

If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy young adult reads…then who even are you? Just kidding. But seriously, Jenny Han has a way of writing her novels that makes them sound mature (but not too mature for a romance novel, if you know what I mean), yet still enjoyable and fun to read.

I don’t want to ruin too much of this book for you, but here’s a little rundown of the premise. Girl in high school isn’t super popular, girl in high school writes letters to all of the boys whom she thinks never notices her, said letters get mailed to all of the boys, the boys find out, the rest of the story is a hot mess—to say the least.

As an added treat, Netflix came out with the movie version of the first novel in the series (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) and the second movie is currently in the works. But, do yourself a favor and read the book before you watch the movie, I promise you’ll love every second of it!


What book recommendations do you have? I’m always on the hunt for a captivating read (romance, comedy, murder mystery, or otherwise), so let me know in the comments below!

Three Ways to Stay Happy

Remember when I said I was going to post every Saturday? So much for that! This post is all about finding ways to stay happy, and let me tell you, not following through on my commitments—personal or otherwise—doesn’t make me happy. But nonetheless, everyone deserves a second chance. And seeing as this is my personal blog, I decided to give myself another chance at redemption.

The main cause to my lack of posting wasn’t because I’ve gotten over the whole blogging thing. But rather, I have nothing going on in my life besides working full-time, going to the gym, and going to bed (truthfully). Because of that, it gives me little to no material to write about. However, after talking to several people, I have decided to get a few hobbies other than working out. Don’t get me wrong, I love a killer sweat sesh but working out doesn’t always make me happy. Working out can be stressful, especially if you’re someone like me who likes improving every single time whether it’s by beating my mile time, tacking on another mile or two to my distance runs, or increasing the amount of weight that I lift. Therefore, I wanted to find a hobby that was relaxing and didn’t cause me to feel stressed. Now, this may be easy for some people but I find it a bit more challenging. In the past, I’ve tried coloring books but wasn’t a fan because I not only found it overly tedious to color so precisely between the lines, but I felt the need to color perfectly (seeing as though I’m somewhat of a perfectionist). Another hobby that I took up during my high school years was playing guitar and songwriting. I truthfully thought that I was going to be the next Taylor Swift, and while I love jamming every now-and-then, I’m content with the songs that I know and the chords that I can play and don’t feel the need (or the want) to become a professional guitar player.

You’re probably wondering what I have chosen to take up as a hobby considering the activities mentioned above I don’t want to pursue further. Well, I am happy to say that I have found 3 things that I do on somewhat of a daily basis that help me stay happy.


painting

How “art school” of me is it that I’ve taken up painting? Pretty dang art school-y if you ask me. But there’s just something so relaxing about mixing paint colors together and stroking the paintbrush along the paper. Since I have no professional painting training (but don’t you fret—I’m signed up for a modern paint training course through Joann Fabrics at the end of April), my mom suggested that I get coloring book pages and paint them. At first, I thought this was silly because when am I ever going to hang up a picture of an Easter bunny with some eggs? Probably never. But as my mom expressed to me, it doesn’t really matter if I ever plan on hanging it up or not. What matters is that I enjoyed my time painting the picture.


52 lists for happiness book

Maybe you’re like me and find it really hard to find things in your life to be happy about. Keep in mind, there’s a big difference between finding things to be HAPPY about and finding things to be THANKFUL for. There are so many things that I’m thankful for in my life, but being thankful doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. Someone recommended to me the book 52 Lists for Happiness, which I have been filling out daily. Every week, you’re presented with a new prompt that makes you think about the things in your life that you’re good at, the things in your life that make you happy, and the things in your life that you appreciate, among others. This book has really challenged me to think outside of the box and really take a look at my life and find the things that truly make me smile each and every day.


podcasts

Okay, okay. I totally get that listening to podcasts isn’t a hobby. But, it is something that makes me happy. I commute a little over 2 hours to work (back and forth) each day. For the first week or so of my new full-time job, I was listening to music. Don’t get me wrong, I love singing to Kacey Musgraves in the car and blasting Drake whenever I can. But, I found myself so uninspired and almost drained after spending 2 hours in the car mindlessly listening to music. One of my co-workers told me about the podcast The Morning Toast, and one of the Instagram bloggers that I follow started her own podcast called What We Said.

I love The Morning Toast because it gives me the perfect dose of news, while still being entertaining. The two hosts, Jackie and Claudia Oshry are two of the funniest personalities I’ve ever encountered online. They’re both in their twenties and completely aware of millennial trends and pop culture. Because of their personalities, it makes listening to the news a lot more enjoyable.

What We Said is my second favorite podcast because the two hosts, Jacie Marie Smith and Chelsey Curtis are best friends who complement each other so well. These two ladies talk about everything from embarrassing stories and dating, to interviewing social media influencers and entrepreneurs like Aspyn Ovard and @hairby_chrissy (two of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow). A lot of their episodes also talk about being a #girlboss and how to be successful on social media or whatever your side passions are. I highly recommend both of these podcasts for anyone who wants to listen to something entertaining, informative, and inspiring!


What are your favorite things to do to fuel your happiness? Do you have any favorite podcasts? Let me know in the comments below!