Got dirt?

Have you ever thought about composting? I hadn’t either until a few years ago when I realized how easy it was and how much waste I could save from the landfills. Why should you give a fuck? Because our food scraps make up around a third of what we throw away, and keeping that waste out of landfills frees up space and lowers the release of methane (a greenhouse gas). Add to that the fact that food scraps really aren’t waste at all! They are awesome, nutrient rich material that can be used to help your plants grow. Compost will lock moisture in the soil, keep away diseases and pests, reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and encourage beneficial bacteria. In a nutshell, it’s food for your garden.

Since we are mostly plant-based over here, we go through an enormous amount of compostable food scraps. When we re-did our kitchen I insisted on building out a compartment under our sink where we could house a great little compost bin like this. There I would collect food scraps. 

Then, we bought the mother of all outdoor compost bins (sort of like this one) which took no less than 2386 hours for my husband to put together. He was really loving me during this time (see exhibit A). When he finally finished, we stood in awe of the greatness. Even if our compost was shit, our process was on point.

Exhibit A

About a year and a half has gone by. I have saved hundreds of pounds of waste from our landfills. My biceps have grown bigger and stronger from turning our compost bin. And nothing makes me feel more green than when I march from my indoor bin to my outdoor bin with my little bag of waste. But guess what… my compost is shit.

Until a few weeks ago I honestly didn’t care. I figured my garden was growing so amazingly well (wink, wink) that I really didn’t need to add anything to it. So what if my compost sucks, I am saving the world and the world is more important than my compost being perfectly perfect. One day once I figured out the right ratio of green to brown I would open the bin and my perfect mixture would appear. That was my story and I was sticking to it.

But the following text from a friend change it all. For sake of anonymity, let’s just call my friend “Betty.”

Here’s how it went down:

 

 

I spent a few minutes looking at the web site and price tag and quickly decided my gloppy sub-par compost was just fine. I wasn’t going to spend $350 on something I didn’t need.

A little while later that little person on my shoulder showed up and said “don’t you want to just try it?” “Wouldn’t it be kinda cool if it worked?” “Don’t you want to share this information with your friends?”  And just like that, guess what just showed up on my doorstep a few days ago? My husband was once again pumped…or something.

At first inspection I was intimidated. For someone who wants nothing more than a kitchen without clutter I wasn’t quite sure where this thing would go. I hadn’t planned for this to be a part of our space…and this life changer isn’t exactly small. But, I needed to take one for the team (that’s you guys – you’re my team) so I unboxed the thing and got rockin’.

The FoodCyler promised to deliver odorless, ready to use fertilizer in an energy-efficient way in less than three hours… and I was counting on it. It seemed too good to be true when traditional compost can take weeks or months to create. But, I am here to tell you this thing actually works. The process is really simple. You fill the container with food waste, lock the top into place, and press the start button. The machine is quiet, it’s easy, it shuts itself off… and the end result is a soil amendment I can take right outside and shake onto my garden. Oh, and there is NO ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. If you factor in what you might spend for a nice indoor and outdoor compost bin and compostable bags – the cost difference isn’t far off.

I played around with places to put this thing and determined that it really didn’t have to go in the kitchen. As luck would have it, we just recently moved our upright vacuum out of our laundry room closet because we got a smaller, sleeker Dyson (which I am also in love with). That move freed up just the right amount of floor space for the FoodCycler.  Just goes to show – where there’s a will there’s a way.

Do you want to make some usable dirt too? Shop here and use the following codes for 25% your order:

foodcycler25usd – save 25% off FoodCycler (USD)

foodcycler25cad – save 25% off FoodCycler (CAD)

Something’s in the water…

It doesn’t take an environmental health guru to know that the state of our nation’s drinking water is far from ideal. While the situation in Flint is alarming, it isn’t isolated. The EPA has stated that only nine U.S. states report safe levels of lead in their water supply. Water treatment facilities do not eliminate drugs from our drinking water and most supplies also contain contaminants from fluoride to disinfection byproducts and more. My own research on our local water revealed levels of chlorimines, fluoride, arsenic and testosterone that I wasn’t confortable with. The water supply isn’t the only problem. Outdated infustrcture and pipes adds to the issue by leaching contaminants into our water. Our schools and other places where we routinely access drinking water don’t have standard protocol for routinely testing water to be sure it is safe.

Knowing all of this, I knew I had to do something about the water my family was drinking on a daily basis. But buying a water filter felt a little like buying a diamond to me. I didn’t really know whether what I was looking at was legit or whether I was being sold a cubic zirconia. As a result of my confusion, I spent the past 4 years considering what kind of water filter to get. Was it a good value? Should I consider reverse osmosis? Maybe carbon? UV lights? What about remineralization? Where was it made?  Were the parts going to kill me even if the water wasn’t? Would it be better to get a whole house system or one for under the sink? What if I didn’t want the cheesy fixtures most come with to clash with my brand new kitchen faucet? How would I have them installed? Would they filter for everything I wanted them to? What did I even want to filter for?

The questions were endless and they left me exhausted. And the systems aren’t cheap. So, for 4 years I did nothing.

Well, I can’t lie. There was the notorious “Wu Wei” I bought that supposedly “structured” our water. None of us really knew what that meant and many a friend and family member mocked me for buying this thing… yet all of them would use it when they came to my house. I mean, when in Rome, right?

Then there was about a 12 month period mixed in there when I drove to buy glass bottled spring water from a local supplier. I would haul the jugs from my house to the vendor and back again . One fine winter day I accidentally left one of those things in my car overnight and came to find it had exploded all over the place. All 2.5 gallons of it. Glass everywhere, water everywhere. My husband misunderstood me when I called to tell him that my water bottle broke in the car. I was impressed with how calm he was. Come to find out he thought I meant the 24 ounce kind of water bottle I take to the gym. Needless to say, this schlepping situation couldn’t go on forever.

When a report came out about high levels of lead being found in a local school bearing the same name as the one my children attend, I knew I had to do something. I decided to put on my big girl panties and do what any modern day woman would do with her hard earned paycheck. I hopped online and bought me the best water filtration system I could come up with. Actually, I bought two. One would filter water as it comes into our house and the other would filter it again at the kitchen sink. The whole house unit would help with water quality we used for bathing, clothes washing, watering our plants, etc. and the undercounter system would filter again after the water had gone through our plumbing system, potentially picking up contaminants from the pipes, etc.

This is the one I got for my whole house:

This is the one I got for under my kitchen sink:

I feel better knowing that when we are home we are drinking water that is non-toxic. And I believe a water filter is an important investment.
Find out what’s in the water you drink every day by finding your local water report. Water is essential to life. Safe drinking water is essential to human health. We all deserve BETTER.

*For the record… I still use the Wu Wei. Can’t hurt, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Naughty to Nice… a BETTER Holiday Shopping Guide

Black Friday is over, Cyber Monday is a thing of the past, and just like that our impulse buys have subsided for the moment. So now that we are being deliberate and thoughtful holiday shoppers, let’s talk about some BETTER gifts for the season.

FOR THE HEALTH NUT…

…Or the one whose health could use an overhaul.  There’s a new place in STL that’s got it going on. Memberships aren’t cheap but they sure are mighty at this one-stop-shop for healthcare. During the month of December PALM is offering a gift card when you gift a membership or day package.

palm

If the price tag for the above will have you working overtime, try something like Class Pass where the recipient can pick from their choice of studios and fitness classes all over their city.

classpass

Give me a massage and I will give you my heart. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement but seriously… who among us wouldn’t love to get a massage for the holidays? My most favorite person to have one with is AnnFor the times I am shorter on time or planning, a good reflexology session always feels amazing. My neighborhood pick is this spot.

reflexology

FOR THE COOK THAT GOT AWAY

How about sending a week or two of meals from Green Chef? Vegan, vegetarian or gluten free? They have you covered. Click here for $50 off your first order.

green-chef

These knives from NHB Knifeworks will have you or someone you love looking like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen. Even if you’re food tastes bad, at least you’ll look good making it. Handmade and one-of-a-kind, your guests will be so amazed they will hardly have time to notice you slipping the carry-out from the fridge.

knives

FOR THE PHILANTHROPIST AT HEART

Sometimes giving to others in honor of someone you love is the most precious gift. My pick this holiday season are these “Faim No More” bracelets where the proceeds go back to Africa to help a man we love and a community in need. Message me and I will get some to you.

bracelets

FOR THE SPIRITUAL BEING

A gift to a place like The Center for Mind, Body and Spirit would be the perfect thing. Here they can choose from a menu of services like readings, bodywork, nutrition or life coaching.

FOR THE ADVENTURE SEEKING FOODIE

Give a gift card to one of my favorite spots in town. Bowood Farms/Cafe OsageClaverach Farm or Winslows Home have it going on. All farm-to-table spots offer more than just your average meal and come with a side of shopping or exploring.bowood

farm

winslows

FOR THE PRODUCT JUNKIES IN YOUR LIFE

Give the gift of BETTER beautyBeautycounter’s products are formulated for safety but … they actually work. There’s a whole line of holiday gifts for sale and they come wrapped in beautiful boxes so you have nothing left to do.

holiday-gifts-beautycounter

FOR THE KIDS AMONG US

Bumby Boxes are amazing. Each comes stuffed with developmentally appropriate, eco-friendly toys for little ones. You can give a one-time gift or a subscription. We tried one out and loved it. Use code: BETTER10 for 10% off your purchase.

img_7553
img_7534
box

img_7542

For those winter days when it’s cold outside and the kids are going a little bat shit crazy, Kidzxplr has you covered. Like Class Pass for kids, a membership allows kiddos to drop-in on tons of different classes in the area for one monthly price. Use code Betterhavekidz for 50% off the first month.

kidzxplor

FOR THE BABES

News Flash!! Your baby doesn’t really know or comprehend gift-giving. So for now, you can stand to go easy on the toys and concentrate on the big things that matter. What’s on your naughty list that you could make nice this season? A healthy mattress? Better diapers? Small changes add up. Some of my lower budget picks that make great holiday gifts include:

These “zooties” from Silk Road Bazaar. Starting with eco-friendly resources and natural fibers, this company works with artisan groups in marginalized regions to build sustainable livelihoods.

zooties2 zootiesAnd lest you think that kids are the only ones that can have some fun… fear not! These come in adult sizes too. Not that I know anything about those.

slippers

Plan Toys is everything you want in a kids toy company. Sustainable through every stage of the process…and their designs are adorable. plan-toys-2plan-toys plan-toys

FOR THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS

Send a bouquet of gorgeous flowers from Bouqs. Freshly cut from farms that practice sustainable, eco-friendly farming. You can have them delivered once or customize them to ship as you wish.

bouqs

A jar of fresh local honey for a sweet new year is always appreciated, and delicious. 

honey

FOR THE ONES WHO HAVE IT ALL

Since when did gifts have to be something you could see & hold? Sometimes the best gift you can give is your time. How about planning a special day with someone you love? A day-trip? Staycation? Even just a lunch.

time

I will be highlighting these and other cool finds on my instagram feed over the next few weeks…so stay tuned.

I might even throw in a few holiday giveaways.

Cheers!