Reusable Bottles

One of the first changes that everyone talks about when going zero-waste is to switch to a reusable water bottle and I whole heartily agree. When I did my first beach clean up a few years back, I was pretty surprised to see that one of the most common items on the beach was plastic bottle caps. Often, they are too small to go through recycling machines, if they are recycled at all. About 6 billion pounds of plastic bottles get thrown away every year, and only 30% get recycled. YIKES!

So, where to start when looking for a reusable water bottle?

1. Make sure it’s easy to clean. If you want it to last forever, you are going to want it to be convenient. I find that wide-mouthed bottles and no straws are the easiest to clean.

2. Make sure it fits into your lifestyle. If you are constantly on the go, you want to make sure it’s leak-proof! If you are carrying it everywhere, make sure it’s light weight. Be a thoughtful consumer so you don’t have to go back and purchase another bottle, which creates more waste.

3. After trying out a lot of water bottles, I personally found that stainless steel is the most reliable. I didn’t even realized I preferred stainless steel until sitting down to work on this post and seeing that in my three favorite water bottles.

Speaking of which, here is a breakdown of my three go-to bottles:

Water Bottles: Camelbak Chute

I’ve tried plastic, I’ve tried glass, I’ve tried with straws and without straws and the water bottle that has lasted the longest is this stainless steel Camelbak. I take it with me everywhere. It’s 20 oz and lightweight enough that I can keep it in my purse without it hurting my back. It’s never leaked on me which is so important when, again, it’s banging around in my bag. The chute is easy to open while I’m driving or in a spin class. For those that say they drink more water from a straw, I think the chute is a perfect compromise- it has the ease of drinking from a straw but it’s easier to clean than a straw. It’s also durable! As you can see from the multitude of dents, I’ve dropped it a few times and it’s survived. That’s more than I can say for the 3 glass Life Factory bottles that have met their demise. RIP glass water bottles. The added bonus with this Camelbak, and most stainless steel bottles, is that they will keep your water ice cold. Personally, I am not fussy about water temperature but I know that is important to some.

Obviously, mine is a branded water bottle from my spin studio but here is a very similar version and it’s on sale!

Reusable Coffee Mug: Contigo Snapseal Byron Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug

If there are a lot of choices for reusable water bottles, you probably have just as many options, if not more, for reusable coffee mugs. I’ve broken 2 Starbucks mugs to date- one plastic one, and one ceramic one- but this one is still chugging along.

This has vacuum insulation so it will keep your hot coffee hot for hours or, if you’re like me and drink iced coffee year round, you can make your iced coffee the night before and the ice will still be in there in the morning. That is my absolute favorite feature. Anything that will save me time in the morning!

It also is relatively easy to clean for coffee. I would not recommend this for something like a smoothie, though.

Since I’m always on the go, it’s also leak-proof. This is important to me. Both the Starbucks mugs I had were adorable but neither were leak-proof. I need something I can throw in my bag and that can travel with me around the city. I don’t want to worry about holding it all the time.

You can find Contigo mugs everywhere, including Target. To order it online, you can get it here. It’s also under $20 so yes, please!

Smoothie Reusable Mug: 4ccean x Yeti Rambler

So, I LOVE smoothies. They are one of my go-to breakfasts, especially in the summer. I prefer them ice cold, though, which is a problem when I have limited time in the morning. I had actually purchased my Contigo Snap lid for smoothies thinking if it kept ice cold for hours, it would certainly keep my smoothie cold over night, right? Yes, but it was also really difficult to clean. The snap lid had way too many tiny crevices. For those who drink beverages with protein powder, you know the smell that comes from a container that hasn’t been cleaned well! It’s vile.

This Yeti had the two things I was looking for in a smoothie mug- the vacuum insulation so I can make a smoothie at night and it’s still cold for breakfast; and the very basic design so it’s easy to clean. This has the wide mouth and super simple lid so I can clean it without any fuss.

The bonus is that this bottle supports one of my favorite organizations- 4ocean. They are dedicated to cleaning up the ocean and all their products are part of a closed-loop program. From their website: “Our aim is to eliminate waste at the end of our product lifecycle by taking back 4ocean products that our customers no longer use so they can be properly recycled or transformed into new products.” I LOVE that.

Unfortunately, my exact tumbler isn’t listed on 4ocean’s site anymore, even though I just got it for Christmas. I reached out to them and they quickly got back to me saying it was sold out but they will be restocking. They added me to a list so I will update this page and my IG once they are available again. For now, the regular version is available on Yeti’s website.

What is your go-to reusable bottle brand? What were the things you wish you new when you purchased your first one?

**It should go without saying that none of these products are sponsored. I have two posts on my blog- clearly, these are my own opinions!! 🙂

First Meal Prep of the New Year

Meal prepping is one of my favorite things to do on the weekend to help me prepare for the week ahead. It can help you eat better, it lowers food waste and it’s kinder on your wallet than take out or impulse shopping throughout the week.

This meal prep is a little different from what I normally do as I’m doing a bit of a detox this week. I went to Disney for Halloween and I swear, I’ve eaten nothing but sweets and carbs since then. There’s nothing wrong with a little splurging but I’ve been having a lot of headaches, which I know are due to increased sugar intake, and I’ve just been feeling blah.

So I’m focusing on proteins and veggies this week which lends itself well to a zero-waste life style. Here’s my produce haul. Look at that lack of plastic! I did most of my shopping at Russo’s, which is one of my favorite places in Boston to pick up veggies. I’ll do a little Spotlight on them later. This haul cost me about $35.

What I already had:

  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Bananas
  • Egg
  • Vegetable broth
  • Salsa
  • Almond milk
  • Lemon Juice
  • Olive oil

The beans, lentils, seeds and olive oil were purchased in bulk at Pemberton Farm’s. The vegetable broth I had made earlier from scraps and then froze. The salsa and lemon juice were purchased in a glass containers that I can reuse. For almond milk, I use Modern Mylk, which comes in a glass container and I will write a product review on soon.

What I couldn’t find Zero-Waste:

  • Protein powder- As a vegetarian, I really like adding protein powder to my morning smoothies but I haven’t found a zero-waste option. If you have any recommendations, please let me know! For now, I use the Tone It Up vanilla protein from Target.
  • Coconut water- I had a recipe for a mango smoothie that called for coconut water. I only saw plastic bottles (though, I only looked in one place) so I swapped that out for almond milk that I already had. This won’t drastically impact my smoothie.

Here is most of the finished product:

  • 1 sheet pan recipe with fennel, asparagus and brussel sprouts, tossed with a bunch of spices and chickpeas. This 1 sheet pan recipe made 5 dinners. I may or may not serve this with a vinaigrette, depending on how the flavors come together.
  • 3 taco kale salads. I sauteed onions, mushrooms and peppers with some taco spices, served it over kale with black beans and will use salsa as a dressing.
  • 3 snack salads of beets, carrots, apples and sunflower seeds with lemon juice and olive oil for the dressing.
  • Some lentil vegetable soup
  • Smoothie packets with mango, banana, ginger and chia seeds. I’ll blend this with almond milk and protein power.

This will get me through the week and I won’t have to worry about cooking again until next Sunday, which is how I like it!!

On the weekends, if I’m getting sick of a meal, I’ll revamp what I cooked to make them fresher: I’ll saute vegetables with eggs and have them for breakfast; I’ll put salads in a wrap with some hummus and dressing; or I’ll change up sauces and dressings on stir-frys and salads to make them taste different. Normally, 4 times is my limit for a meal before I get sick of it. The 5 servings in the sheet pan dinner was an accident because I bought too many brussel sprouts! I suspect those veggies will be served with some eggs by the time serving 5 rolls around!

As for the containers, I use what I have! If it’s plastic, I wait until my meal has cooled before putting it in the plastic container and then always reheat it at work on a plate or in a bowl. I keep one of each at my desk, along with utensils.

Meal prepping like this takes me a bit of time on the weekend but being prepared helps prevent me from impulse purchases that lead to unwanted waste. Also, it’s budget friendly for all those looking to spend less in 2020. I ended up with a weeks worth of food and I only spent $35. That would barely get you lunch and a coffee in Boston!

Oh, and last but not least, I prep a large batch of cold brew coffee each week. Having it ready to go at the beginning of the week helps me cut down on unwanted Starbucks runs and from tapping into all those Keurig cups at my work. Seriously! Think about how many of those mini cups a single person can go through! I make my cold brew with a pour over and compostable filters so there isn’t any waste. Plus, it tastes SO much better than Keurigs.

Do you like to meal prep each week? What are your favorite meals to prep?

Hello!

Welcome to Trees & Honeybees. My name is Erin and this is my little corner of the internet where I share my attempts at being a bit more environmentally friendly. You won’t find perfection here- I still use an Oral-B toothbrush, I commute to work in a car, and I can’t fit all my trash into a mason jar (though, you’ll find I pretty much use them for everything else). I am working on slowly making changes to my daily routine that are more thoughtful and hopefully, you’ll be inspired to make small changes here and there as well.

A few things to note about me: I (temporarily) live in CT but commute to Boston for work (See my above note on not being perfect). Location obviously effects the resources that I have available but I am going to make an effort to highlight not only environmentally- friendly, low-waste resources in Boston but also CT as well. Both have their perks and I hope to show that whether you live in the city or in the country, there is always something small you can do.

So, what can you expect here? Well, I’m hoping to focus on a wide-range of tips and tricks to help inspire you to live more eco-friendly. I’ll be doing product reviews, DIYs, and Community Spotlights showcasing local businesses who are working to do better. I’ll also just be living my life as eco-friendly as possible over on my IG trees_and_honeybees so come say hi!