Day 2: Reusable Shopping Bags

•  Experience with this product: I love not having a ton of excess paper/plastic bags around! It totally makes sense to have reusable grocery bags considering how many times people go to the market and will continue going to the market. It can be inconvenient to keep track of the bags and make sure they go back into your vehicle after each use, and then actually remember them when you go into the market. We have forgotten them in the car quite a few times, so we just park the cart near customer service and run back out to get them! You must be stubborn and determined for the Earth and it’s future. This is a habit change that takes time but it is totally doable. One step at a time! I have found that having one dedicated spot in the car for the reusable shopping bags greatly reduces the amount of times you will forget them. All about the muscle memory!


What we were using before: Paper bags from the market, and then reuse/repurpose them, compost them when they break, or return them to the market we got them from.


The impact of this change:

Health & Safety: I have not found any immediate/long term health effects for humans using plastic grocery bags, other than they are a dangerous choking hazard for infants and children. 

Earth: Plastic grocery bags that end up in the ocean look like jellyfish. Waste Management estimates that 100,000 marine animals are killed every year by single use plastic bags.  Here are some more estimates from Waste Management:

       Plastic Bag Consumption

  • Year that plastic grocery bags were introduced at supermarkets: 1977
  • Estimated number of plastic bags used each year, world-wide: 4,000,000,000,000
  • Number of plastic shopping bags used each year, in the US alone: 14,000,000,000
  • Percentage of plastic bags returned for recycling: 1
  • Annual cost to US retailers for giving away "free" bags: $4,000,000,000
  • Barrels of oil required for US annual plastic bag consumption: 12,000,000
  • Number of marine animals killed each year due to plastic bags: 100,000
  • Average number of pieces of plastic in each square mile of ocean: 46,000

       Paper Bag Consumption

  • Number of paper bags consumed each year, in the US alone: 10,000,000,000
  • Number of trees cut down for paper bag consumption, in the US: 14,000,000

Economic: California was the first state to ban plastic bags. According to the LA Times, 'plastic bags (both the banned and the legal variety) accounted for 3.1% of the litter collected from the state’s beaches during the 2017 Coastal Cleanup Day, down from to 7.4% in 2010. As of 2015, Hawaii has also banned non-biodegradable plastic bags at checkout, as well as paper bags containing less than 40 percent recycled material. In 2009, the District of Colombia also enacted a law banning distribution of disposable, non-recyclable plastic carry-out bags and set a fee of five cents for distribution of all other disposable bags.'

This is an awesome start, and for the people reading this who live in states where you still have plastic bags at the market, bringing your own shopping bags isn't as daunting as it seems. Give it a try! :)  Buying 4-5 reusable bags pays for itself within a few trips to the market!


Where to get it: These are EVERYWHERE. Some companies even give them away at local events (the Acacia bag was a free bag from a wine tasting in the market!). They’re available at the market around the checkout section, or at Dollar Tree too! You can make custom ones on Shutterfly or Walgreens photo area. Always check for coupons! 😁

**Shutterfly has a 50% off sale right now on Reusable bags, and use coupon code GREATYEAR for another 20% off your order! That expires Wednesday January 17th! I also found two coupon codes for shipping!
*Free economy shipping on orders of $39 or more. Promo code: SHIP39
*Free upgrade to expedited shipping on merchandise orders of $49 or more.  Promo code: UPGRADE at checkout and select expedited shipping


 The left is a plastic bag, the right is a jellyfish. 

The left is a plastic bag, the right is a jellyfish. 


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Megan Baumgarten
Day 1: Stainless Water Bottle

•  Experience with this product: We originally bought the 24oz Takeya bottles because it seemed more convenient to carry around than the 40oz bottle. However... after having to stop what I’m doing and refill it 5 times a day during summer, I realized that the 40oz bottle would be far more efficient for my lifestyle! These are double-walled so they keep ice water for 24 hours, even when it was over 100 degrees F!  Something I also love about stainless steel bottles is they’re virtually indestructible with our rough lifestyle! I’ve dropped it many times, traveled and flown with it attached to my backpack with a carabiner, and left it out in the garden overnight. It’s got a couple small dents that I love :)


What we were using before: Reusing a plastic Fiji Water bottle or a mason jar. The mason jar is very inconvenient for my line of work as I have to be constantly aware of glass around and not to break it. Water did not stay cold for very long, and I was discouraged from drinking as much water as I should be because of its small size.


The impact of this change:

Health & Safety: No more leaching of toxic chemicals from the plastic Into our drinking water. BPA is a hormone disruptor that affects all humans at all ages. That is just one of many dangerous chemicals inside of plastic that had been shown to leach out into your drinking water.

Earth: Less petroleum (non-renewable) use to make plastic water bottles and then be transported thousands of miles to our local market, less production/use of toxic chemicals. According to Sierra Club, consumers trash 24 billion plastic bottles each year in the U.S. alone. Have you seen the garbage islands in every ocean? If not, see for yourself.

Economic: It costs far more to consistently buy single-use plastic water bottles than it does to refill your reusable water bottle. Check out the documentary “Tapped” on Netflix to understand the insane profit markup that companies like Nestle have on their products.


Where to get it: We purchased Takeya stainless water bottles at Costco. The 40oz was $24.99 for 2 40oz bottles. That is AWESOME considering the large Thermoflask water bottles are around $50 for one. Thermoflasks are also an awesome product, we didn’t choose those because they’re more expensive than we budgeted for. Since Costco is always rotating their inventory and may not be available at your local Costco, I’ve found the links on Amazon for the equivalent product. :)

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2018 New Years Resolution: Zero Waste Challenge

This is one of those things that I believe a lot of people think about doing, and totally want to do... but either don’t know where to start, are entirely overworked and relies on disposable convenience, have financial restrictions, or just doesn’t have the energy/motivation. But... it’s time for a change love. The Earth and humanity deserve a little extra effort from us to ensure all life is healthy and there is a future for us here on Earth. 

My goal in starting this endeavor is to push our household into a more carbon neutral, if not carbon negative, footprint. We also aim to inspire and motivate people along the way to help see themselves making similar eco-friendly choices. If there are options available to us that work for our needs AND do not harm the earth at the same time- that is a win-win in our book. So far in doing research we have found PLENTY of options, and some products you can make yourself if cost is an issue. We are certainly not rich by any means, but I have made a conscious effort to divert money away from needless things and instead choose to support companies that provide eco-friendly, fair trade, and compostable products for our every day life! 

With every change we make, or product we swap out, I will be telling the honest and whole story of our experience with it so that you may be properly informed and prepared to also make some changes in your life if you so desire to! We support you and would like to hear your story/experience with the products we are trying! 

Thank you for everyone who joins us along the way, we appreciate the community effort put forth by everyone. :) 

Whooo hoooo! I am excited!!

 <3 Megan & River