Make a commitment to Mother Earth to throw out your plastic this year and start 2020 plastic-free. Recycle bins for plastic bags can be found in your local grocery stores and many communities are still recycling most plastics. If you do not find a place to recycle the plastic you have stored, it is time to ditch all your plastic into the trash where your local sanitation department will do their best to not let the plastics migrate to our rivers and on out to the ocean.
I have cloth bags of every size from stores switching away from plastic and looking for a way to get their logo in the eye of consumers. Stash a bunch in your car to transport your groceries, for the trip to the pharmacy, the hardware store, for dog food, etc. If you want to be more stylish, buy Baggu bags in a variety of sizes.
A couple of ways to reduce plastic in your life:
- Request no plastic wrap for your newspapers
- Use brown paper bags when buying from bulk bins or bring our own reusable bags
- Store food in glass containers
- Avoid plastic utensils and straws (Check out Tare’s To-Go Kits that contain Bamboo Straw Set, Compactable Tote Bag, Adult Bamboo Travel Utensil Set, Small Stainless Steel Storage Container, Medium Tare Market Produce Bag – all items are also sold separately)
- Opt for non-disposable razors, washable feminine hygiene products for women, cloth diapers, handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues, rags in lieu of paper towels and infant toys made of wood rather than plastic (All can be found at Tare Market and Package Free, two stores listed below.)
- Avoid processed foods which are stored in plastic bags with chemicals
- Vow never to buy another box of plastic bags for food storage or ANY kind of storage
Plastic items can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. Even plastic bags we use in our everyday life take anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years to decompose, and plastic bottles can take 450 years or more.
To help you with this gift to the environment, here are a couple of stores you can visit either online or in person.
Tare Market in Minneapolis. Package Free in Brooklyn. Both stores are committed to a zero-waste lifestyle. You will find all that you need to clean out your medicine cabinet and pantry for a clean, plastic-free, start to the New Year.
According to estimates, by 2050 our oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. Tap water, bottled water and sea salt are full of microplastics. The chemicals used to make plastics disrupt hormones, embryonic development and gene expression, and are linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer.
Marine animals are also gravely affected. Microbeads, tiny plastic pellets that consumer product industries put in body washes, facial scrubs and toothpaste, now fill the bellies of sea animals and act as a sponge for other toxins. It is killing them.
But, there is good news.
Boyan Slat, a young Dutch entrepreneur and his group, The Ocean Cleanup, have invented an ingenious collection barge to clean plastic debris from our oceans. During its test run, the collection barge collected macro and micro plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The “patch” consists primarily of suspended “fingernail-sized or smaller bits of plastic”, often microscopic, particles in the upper water column. Researchers from The Ocean Cleanup project claimed that the patch covers 1.6 million square kilometers.
In October of 2019, The Ocean Cleanup unveiled a solar powered device called the Interceptor to remove plastic waste from rivers. Of the world’s 100,000 rivers, 1,000 are responsible for most plastic that reaches the oceans. Interceptors have already been deployed in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Klang, Malaysia. The Interceptor may be the lowest cost way to remove plastic pollution and is especially cost effective in coastal countries where tourism and fisheries industries are prevalent.
Slat’s barge works like an artificial coastline catching plastic waste with long floating arms. The collection barge relies entirely on ocean currents for energy and does not need an external energy source. The barge is beginning its cleanup with the Great Pacific garbage patch, a 618,000-square-mile area between Hawaii and California.
We all can help! Less (NO) plastic in your kitchen and bathroom is key but also check your wardrobe.
Microfibers are tiny strands of plastic less than 5 millimeters long that are shed from clothing made of synthetic materials like polyester, nylon and acrylic and include fabrics made from recycled water bottles and fishing nets. Our washing machines loosen these fibers and send them into the water system. Though nearly invisible, half a million tons of these small fibers make their way into our oceans and waterways a year.
While there’s been a push to ban plastic microbeads in cosmetics, the amount of microfiber pollution in the ocean is 16 times that of microbeads. During each wash, clothing releases thousands of microfibers which then go to a wastewater treatment plant where they pass through fine screens into the ocean and other waterways. A recent study by the Environment Agency Austria found microplastics in human stool samples around the world.
Consumption of these plastics is particularly alarming because microfibers act like sponges and can absorb toxins in their journey from our clothing to our mouths. While switching to clothing made only of natural fibers would eliminate the shedding of plastic, this isn’t always practical.
Wash your clothing less, only when you really need to. Wear clothes a couple of times before throwing them in your laundry pile, especially fleece and poly blends.
Lower The Temp
Set your washing machine to a lower temperature and chose shorter gentler cycles. If the wash cycle is gentler, less microfibers will be released.
Pack It In
Pack the washing machine with more clothing. This reduces the amount of friction between clothes which rubs microfibers loose.
Air dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. The dryer puts wear on your clothes, making them more likely to shed fibers.
Make it count
Buy fewer better clothes. Synthetic fabrics shed the most when they are first washed, so avoid buying new clothing unless it’s something you need or really want and buy higher quality more durable clothes.
Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruit throughout the world. They are convenient to eat, come in a perfect portion size and are loaded with health benefits.
Over centuries, bananas have been used to help stimulate brainpower and relieve a variety of health issues, including upset stomach, stress, acidity, constipation and premenstrual symptoms.
Bananas contain health-promoting flavonoids and phenolics such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, all of which act as free radical-fighting antioxidants. They’re also high in vitamin C, which is known for its infection-fighting properties, and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), which may help prevent anemia and coronary artery disease.
A medium banana contains 358 milligrams of potassium, a mineral that may help regulate your heart rate and blood pressure. Bananas are excellent source of dietary fiber as well, which may help maintain optimal gut health. Some of the other nutrients that bananas provide include:
- Magnesium – Helps support healthy function of your heart, kidneys and muscles. It also aids in the production of energy in your body, helps improve mitochondrial health, and promotes mental and physical relaxation. One medium banana provides 8% of your daily requirement of magnesium
- Manganese – Plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids and cholesterol. It also helps activate the antioxidant enzyme and support bone development. One serving of a medium banana provides 14% of the recommended daily intake of manganese.
- Folate – Necessary for the creation of DNA and other genetic materials, folate also helps lower the risk for cancer and birth defects. A medium banana can supply 23.6 mcg of folate, or 6% of the RDI
One medium banana also provides
- Potassium: 9% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI
- Copper: 10% of the RDI
- Net carbs: 24 grams
- Fiber: 3.1 grams
- Protein: 1.3 grams
- Fat: 0.4 gram
Each banana has only about 105 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas hold very little protein and almost no fat.
The carbs in green, unripe bananas consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as the banana ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose and sucrose).
Heart health: Bananas contain potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber – all of which might help reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fight against oxidative stress: Bananas contain powerful antioxidants, including phenolics and carotenoids, which can protect you against free radicals.
Promotes digestive health: Bananas are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers – great for digestion!
Lower the risk for Type 2 diabetes: Consuming 250 grams of bananas a day can help lower blood glucose levels.
Boosts mood and memory: Bananas contain tryptophan, which plays a role in the synthesis of serotonin in the brain, a compound responsible for promoting mood, behavior and cognition.
Lower the risk for asthma: A study study showed that children who ate a banana at least once a day were less susceptible to asthma attacks.
Improve athletic performance: Because of their potassium content, bananas help maintain energy levels and lower the risk for muscle cramps.
How to Buy
Bananas come in different sizes, colors and shapes, depending on how ripe they are, so choosing the best ones can be tricky. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure that you pick out the right banana that suits your taste:
- Pay attention to the color – Bananas that are bright yellow with brown spots have the fullest flavor, while those that have a greenish color are not yet fully ripe and may not be as sweet and soft as fully ripened ones.
- Take note of when you’ll eat them – If you are going eat them right away, choose bright-yellow bananas with brown specks. For eating in a couple of days, pick bananas that still have green color at the ends, as they will ripen over time.
- Check their texture – Choose bananas that are full and plump, but still feel soft and firm.
- Look out for bruises and dull gray coloring – Although bananas that have light brown speckles are OK to eat, you should avoid those that have depressed, moist and dark spots on the peel since they usually indicate that the flesh is bruised.
Bananas that have a dull gray undertone may have been frozen or overheated right before they ripened properly and this could affect their overall taste.
How to Store
Remove any plastic wrapping. Store on the counter at room temperature, away from other fruit (unless you’re trying to ripen those fruit). Once ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator. The skin may darken, but the banana will be just right for several days
If you bought a bunch of bananas and want to eat them over the course of a week, you can store them in the freezer to keep them from becoming overripe and to maintain the color of their skin. Bananas can be frozen with or without the peel, but the peel can be difficult to remove when frozen. It’s best to peel them and store in an airtight container. If leaving the peel on, place loose in the freezer and, when ready to use, cut off both ends and slide a knife under the peel to loosen.
If you simply refrigerate them, their skin will turn brown. You should also keep them away from other fruits, as they will ripen quickly with other fruits around.
Browning or spotted bananas are perfectly fine to eat. Bruised parts of bananas may be easily cut away or used. Very brown or nearly black bananas and frozen bananas are great for baking quick breads, muffins, or cakes.
How to Cook
There are many ways to incorporate bananas into your diet – you can eat it as is, bake it into a dessert or even dehydrate it and add to a trail mix.
The Best Ever Banana Bread (Gluten-Free and Vegan)
The Healthy Maven
3/4 cup brown rice flour*
- 1/2 cup + 2 T gluten-free oat flour (ground rolled oats)*
- 3/4 cup potato starch*
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch*
- 1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax in 3 tbs water – let sit for 4 minutes)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup applesauce, warmed up and then mixed with ½ tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Optional: 1 cup chocolate chips or nuts (or a combination)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with coconut oil or non-stick spray (bread is big so don’t use a smaller sized pan)
- Combine all dry ingredients and set aside.
- In a separate bowl mash up bananas. Add in warm applesauce (premixed with baking powder), melted coconut oil, maple syrup, almond milk, flax egg, and vanilla and stir to combine.
- Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined.
- Add in chocolate chips or nuts if desired.
- Scoop batter into pan and bake for 55-60 mins.
- Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 mins before removing from pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Will keep in a sealed container on counter for up to 5 days.
- You can replace brown rice flour, oat flour, tapioca flour and potato starch with 2 1/4 cups + 2 T of regular all-purpose or whole wheat flour.
- If using regular all-purpose or whole wheat omit flax egg
- Can also be made into 12 large muffins (bake for 25-30 mins or until top is brown and springs back)