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        Earth Day is coming up on Sunday, April 22nd this year! It’s a great day to celebrate the environment and do what we can to improve the world we live in by living intentionally. What are you doing to make the world a better place? Need ideas? Here are 6 ideas that I’ll be doing!  

        in·ten·tion·al
        inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/
        adjective
        1. done on purpose; deliberate.

        This year, I’ve been trying to live “intentionally”. I’ve been focusing on being more mindful about my life, my choices, and their effects on my environment and the people around me. By taking this time to reflect, I’ve noticed that there are so many opportunities to improve my environment from my day to day activities! So just in time for earth day, I’m sharing the top 6 things I’m doing intentionally this year. Now this doesn’t mean I’m to go all out and stop taking showers and living off the land (although more power to you if that’s what you want to do). It means taking the time to think about what little things I can do to adjust my day to day for good. Every little step counts!

        Make small lifestyle changes to reduce waste.

        There are so many things I do daily without thinking which are so wasteful. Spilled something? Grab a paper towel. Packing a lunch? Use a sandwich ziplock bag. These little conveniences in life are often wasteful and SUPER easy to replace. Do you find yourself reaching for a paper towels to dry some dishes? Try placing a reusable dishrag near the dishwasher of in the kitchen to reduce paper waste. Pack your sandwich in a reusable Tupperware container. Save your old grocery bags and take them to the grocery store to reuse (you can make a handy bag holder out of an old Kleenex box! #reuse!) Remember – reduce, reuse, recycle.  

         

        Start a vegetable garden, no matter where you live.

        We all know that plants are great for purifying the air, reducing pollution, helping reduce the effects of erosion, and much, much more. N and I are so excited to have our very first yard this year to plant lots of veggies, trees, and flowers! (More posts on this to come this summer!!) Growing your own vegetables have a lot of benefits. Homegrown veggies just taste so much better and you don’t need to pay a premium for organic veggies from the store. Plus, you save on gas from driving to the store and you save emissions from veggies needing to be delivered to the grocery store. You’ll also reduce food waste because you can just go outside and pick what you need rather than stocking up and having food spoil in the fridge! Many of us think we need a huge yard or outdoor space to start a vegetable garden. NOT SO, my friends. You can grow almost anything indoors – I even have a lime tree that actually produces a lot of limes that grows in a pot my living room. It’s really easy to start a vegetable garden from leftover scrap vegetables, some containers you probably already have, a little dirt, water, and sunshine.You don’t even need to buy SEEDS!! Check out this video by Goodful to learn some neat tricks to grow your own veggies indoors.

         

        Ride a bike.

        Yeah, yeah, we all need to reduce the amount we drive places alone in our cars, or make unnecessary trips to the store and waste gas. If you live near a city or near work, walking or riding your bike is an easy solution. You can take a bus. Many companies offer EcoPasses, or a public transportation pass to employees. If yours doesn’t – just ask! Sometimes companies will start a program if there are enough people interested. Now these solutions are a little bit tougher if you live out in the middle of nowhere (like we do). But that’s when you have to get creative. If you must drive in to work, bring your bike with you, and ride your bike when you go to lunch rather than driving. Plan your route so you can pick up groceries on the way home rather than making a separate trip. Walk to the coffee shop around the corner rather than go through the drive through. See? Even baby steps matter.

        Reuse a water bottle.

        Ok this one is one of my biggest pet peeves. It’s so easy to grab a plastic water bottle! But plastic water bottles are not biodegradable, meaning they collect in landfills and oceans and just live on in perpetuity, damaging our environment. Swap out your plastic water bottle habit for a reusable one! Not only are they WAY cuter, you can find reusable water bottles that are BPA free (BPA is a know carcinogen) and often help you remember to drink more water! While you can buy a cute reusable water bottle (I’ve included a list of my favorites below), you don’t need to spend money to be earth friendly. Think creatively and use items you may already have. Reuse that old kombucha bottle as a water bottle. Refill an old plastic water or soda bottle. Grab a tumbler or glass and refill it. No need to get fancy. Of course, if you do wish to buy a reusable water bottle, go for it! Here are some of my favorite picks:

        • REI national park water bottles – 5% of the sale on these gets donated to preserving our national parks!
        • Swell bottles – these are so chic you won’t miss plastic! They even have a limited edition Earth Day bottle!
        • Glass bottles

         

        Plan out your groceries.

        Being intentional about grocery shopping is one of the hardest things I’m going to do this year. I was so used to popping in to Sprouts or King Soopers when I needed anything! Now that we live a little farther away from a grocery store, planning our trips is going to be more and more important. Multiple trips to the store means more gas wasted, buying items you don’t need, skipping planned meals because you forgot something, etc. Planning out your trips to the store in advance reduces food waste, helps you stay away from impulse buys and unhealthy foods, and SAVES you MONEY. Many grocery services also have options where you can plan and order your grocery list in advance, they’ll prep your order for you, and you just pick it up on your way home from work (ex. Clicklist, WholeFoods Preorders, Amazon Fresh, etc.) TL;DR MO’ CASH IN YO’ POCKET.  

        Eat less meat.

        This is one I’m most passionate about. The energy, resources, and environmental impact of meat products is significantly higher than that of vegetables. Often the animals producing meat and animal products are treated poorly, have awful living conditions, and are pumped with antibiotics which cause antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria which hurt us all. And on top of that, an animal is giving its life to be on your plate. By reducing the amount of meat and animal products we consume, or avoiding meat and animal products entirely, we can reduce our impact on our environment and the animals that are a part of it. Now, this isn’t intended to be a commentary on why you shouldn’t eat meat. You do you. But, if you can take some time to reflect and be intentional about the meat or animal products that you do consume, there are certain things you can do to reduce your environmental impact:

        • Eat less (or none at all) meat or animal products. This will save you money too!
        • Source your meat/eggs/dairy from ethical sources. Look for Certified Humane grass fed beef or free range / pasture raised chicken. Brands such as Vital Farms does a really great job sourcing it’s butter and eggs from independently verified ethical sources.
        • Know your labels. “Cage free” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be (pun intended).
        • Don’t waste it. If you must eat meat, avoid wasting it. Save the leftovers and use them in another dish or make a special treat for your dog. Let’s be mindful and respectful of all that goes into our food.

         

        R+R is going vegetarian.

        Happy Earth Day! To do my part, I’m proud to announce that all the recipes henceforth posted on R+R will be vegetarian.

        Growing up, my family was always vegetarian – in fact, my mom didn’t even eat eggs (not even in cake) for the longest time! I fell off the bandwagon in school and certainly in college by starting to eat chicken and fish (I’ve never actually had beef, lamb, or pork). After moving out to the farmlands of Colorado, and becoming more aware of my environment and the realities of agribusiness, I’ve decided to get back on the vegetarian train. 99.9% of my commute to work is through farmland so I’ve kind of befriended the cows now. Truth. You’ll notice that very few recipes on R+R have any meat in them to start with. I’ve never been fully comfortable with cooking meat (raw chicken is gross, tbh) so going meatless won’t be a very big change for all you readers. Aside from cutting out meat entirely, I’m committing to be more intentional and mindful about where I source my other animal products (milk, eggs, butter, and yogurt). I’m also venturing into making my own yogurt and butter, so you’ll see recipes for those on the blog soon!

        What does this mean?

        Of course, your favorite older R+R recipes that may include chicken or fish will stay on the site. All posts going forward will be plant based, meat free, and if they must use dairy, eggs, or butter (such as for baking), the animal products will be certified humane and ethically sourced.   Questions? Comments (let’s keep it nice, please) – hit me up in the comments section below.    

        3 COMMENTS

        It’s a creative endeavor just cooking and doing vegetables or fruit dishes alone and finding creatively interesting ways to use them. It’s just all in how creative the person wants to be as well in their use and have fun doing it.

        However as well, it allows you to expand a bit in what you know for vegetables beyond the normal ones you see everyday or seasonally. Because there are far more vegetables than what most people see or ever use. Fennel for example is such an awesome vegetable in its aromatic flavor to use as well its leaves as herbs for flavoring and decorating a dish. But the unadventurous cook barely knows what Fennel is and no clue how to cook or use it.

        Things like Eggplants can make very interesting dishes. Most people barely have any idea how to really use it. You will also have the opportunity to educate people more because most people are not very educated about real food sources, vegetables, obscure vegetables and interesting ways to use them. So if your focusing on vegetables and fruits you have the opportunity to know more and can relay that as well if that appeals to you.

        One the best conversation I ever had in a grocery store was a lady seeing me grabbing a Fennel Bulb and very curiously waking over asking what I’ll do with it, how it taste and how to use it. That was an interesting casual conversation. But you get more informed and can expand what you know for vegetables if it’s your main food focus. You can also learn more how to incorporate Fruits into your dishes as well so that’s another thing there.

        I live in Pittsburgh and I’m in the city and for now just have an apartment so not much space to do much for gardening and such. But I do have lots of potted plant pots in which I plant some things mostly herbs and various peppers that are unique in flavor and spices which can be very difficult to find. I did that last year and replanting soon.

        I grew up on an island, living in the country on an island where we had a lot of space around to farming. Literally Everything! Animals included. So I very much grew up knowing where food came from and what it took to get it. There was also ocean all around, so ate lots of seafood of every kind and very fresh as it was easy to get. You learn to appreciate food more. But I knew a lot about vegetables, spices, herbs, etc which I ate regularly cooked by my parents. In that process you learn far more about a variety of foods, vegetables and other ingredients as a result. Because you ended up using it to cook or made something with it. I got a particular kind of education about food growing up on a farm. A lot of those different vegetables were made into lots of dishes.

        The more you know and the more you know about something particular will make you more knowledgeable than most, thus the more you can possibly teach. As well the more you know and being adventurous the more creative you can be in making vegetable/fruit based recipes too.

        All good points. Can understand also why your choosing to go back to vegetarian as a personal choice. One can be very creative even in just making vegetable based dishes.

        If your living outside the city and close to farm lands, then it also I think ???? should be easier to find some Farmers Market around that has good seasonal grown produce. Cheaper as well usually and can save you some trip to the bigger grocery store. However growing your own garden helps allot being outside of the city too.

        I think allot can be reduced for most people by just reducing allot of food waste and properly using for leftovers or for another meal if it works for that. Sometimes cooking one meal last me the entire work week because I’m mindful I always cook with the intention to have leftovers, so I don’t have to cook tomorrow or day after just utilizing time. I’d luv to cook everyday or change up what I eat everyday and like variety in what I eat. But sometimes it only works out I actually cook twice a week and still eating at home the entire time. I guess in our own way we can do what we can to be recourseful and mindful.

        The flowers ???? pictures I like as well! Quite nice photos.

        Hi Urban,
        Yes working with vegetables really is fun and you can certainly get creative! I personally love making veggie burgers out of sweet potatoes and quinoa and spices! I am really excited to have my little vegetable garden and explore some farmer’s markets this summer! Do you like to garden?
        Food waste is really widespread but it’s an easy thing to reduce. We can all contribute in our own way – every little bit counts!
        Thanks for reading my post!!
        Ana

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