Tag Archives: going green

My vegetarian timeline

Day 1- This is awesome! I love vegetables! Who needs meat?
Week 2 – Yummmm I love cheese, cheese is my best friend. Mainly eating lots of snacks throughout the day in place of meals (apples with peanut butter, cheese and crackers, smoothies, etc).
Week 3 – Discover some really good vegetarian entrees, but still don’t have a lot of time for sit-down meals.
Week 4 – I REALLY NEED SOME CHICKEN, but I want to stick this out a while longer.
Week 5 – Start feeling kind of yucky. Stomach cramps and other digestive issues.
Week 6 – Eat meat for the first time: a chicken sandwich at Famous Dave’s, where the waiter’s t-shirt said “Vegetarians are free to change their ways.”
Next day – Wind up in the prompt care with abdominal discomfort (fearing a kidney stone or appendicitis), doctor asks me if I’ve made any large changes to my diet in the last month. Tells me to start eating regular meals at regular meal times and stop eating so much cheese.*

So, I tried vegetarianism and I’m very glad I did. I learned a lot of my favorite meals at restaurants (Flat Top, Chipotle, Noodles etc) don’t actually need meat and I prefer the vegetarian version anyway. I am still trying to cut meat out of my diet little by little and eat less of it, decreasing my demand. I’m also trying to make conscious choices. We bought some antibiotic-free, free-range chicken for dinner the other night and it was lovely. More than twice as much as the store-brand chicken full of all the junk ($6/lb instead of $2.50/lb), but we can afford it now and then.

I’m trying to assuage my conscious while also taking care of my belly. It’s about balance – just like everything else, right?

Namaste,
Jamie

*The visit to prompt care was serendipitous, because after going over my current medications, the doctor decided to share her infertility story with me. She couldn’t get pregnant (PCOS and some sort of awful embryo-killing antibody) but ended up conceiving through IVF at the age of 41 and again at the age of 44. What an incredible story!

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Quick review: prAna Natural Yoga Mat

A few weeks ago I received my new prAna Natural Yoga Mat in the mail.

I love this mat. It is sticky enough and just slightly larger than normal mats, without being a complete behemoth. I have been using it exclusively and I’m a huge fan.

My new mat is made out of rubber, which is more sustainable and biodegrades more easily than mats made of PVC or TPE. It is a beautiful shade of purple (my favorite color!), so it’s easy on the eyes and on the earth.

Some of my blog friends had already prepared me that the mat would smell bad when I first got it, and boy were they right! It was overwhelmingly stinky. I let it air out, unrolled, for about three days before I used it, and that made a world of difference. I don’t notice a smell at all anymore.

If I were allowed one complaint about the new mat, it would be that it is very heavy. I know what you’re thinking – “How could a yoga mat be heavy?” It doesn’t look heavy and it’s just a yoga mat, for crying out loud. But when I tell people it’s heavy and then let them hold it they always look at me in shock, like they hadn’t believed me and had been thinking I was just a weakling. It’s heavy. Not a good mat to travel with, and it wears me out (just a little) carrying it up two flights of stars to the room where I teach on Sundays and Thursdays.

But the benefit of the mat being heavy is that once you unroll it, it’s staying put. You’re not likely to wrinkle it up during your practice, and I love that. All in all I give this mat an A+!

Namaste,
Jamie

PS- coming soon, a list of lessons I have learned during my first week of vegetarianism. : )

Buying a new yoga mat

When I first started practicing yoga, it was exclusively in places where mats were provided. I never thought I needed my own mat, but one day I got stuck with a stinky one for a 75-minute class. Yuck.

I got my first mat for Christmas, as a gift from my parents. I was so excited!!

I love this picture - I look thrilled and Izzy looks confused.

When I started YogaFit training (nine months ago), I received a new mat. My treasured pink mat was relegated to “spare”, which I now loan to students in my private classes. I use my YogaFit mat exclusively, and it’s already flaking like crazy. Flaking isn’t a huge deal to me – my dog Rocky sheds a lot anyway, and the mat bits just come off when I lint roll my yoga clothes. But I think I spend enough time on the mat to justify buying one for the first time.

There are two big things to consider when purchasing a new mat.

First: how are you going to reuse your old one? Throwing it away means it will take a bajillion years to degrade in a landfill – if it ever does. Luckily, I have all sorts of yoga plans in my future which means I will be hanging on to both of my old mats for the time being. I know they will come in handy some day.

Second: what is most important to you when it comes to a mat? Stickiness? Attractiveness? Size? Brand? Price? Since this is the first time I get to research my own purchase, I’m taking the task very seriously. I’ve decided my two most important qualities are 1) Eco-Friendliness and 2) Stickiness. I want to make sure new my mat is made in the least harmful way possible, and I want it to actually stick to the floor. Otherwise, I won’t use it and no matter how Eco-Friendly it is, it’s wasteful if it sits in the corner.

Eco Yogini has written a lot about buying an eco-friendly yoga mat: here, here, and this post about ways to re-use your mat. The most important thing I’ve found is that just because a mat says it’s eco-friendly, doesn’t make it so. Some eco-friendly mats still use TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer), which we have reason to be wary of (check my links to EcoYogini for more).

The mat I am currently considering is prAna’s Natural Yoga Mat. It’s made of rubber, which is more sustainable than man-made plastic. prAna is famous for their Revolution Natural Sticky Mat, but it’s so large that I just can’t bring myself to buy it. I teach in relatively tight quarters twice a week and there’s just no room for it! The Natural Yoga Mat seems to be my best choice.

What decisions go into your yoga mat purchases? Do you have a Natural Yoga Mat by prAna? Any mat brands to avoid?

PS- more ways to reuse your mat here, here, here, here, and here. Now you have no excuses! : )

Namaste,
Jamie

It’s easy being green, and it can be cheap, too

The problems our earth is facing can be overwhelming. To make matters worse, there are advertisers beating down our doors trying to convince us that we have to spend more money to help the environment.

Nowhere in the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” mantra does it say “buy something that costs twice as much as it should”.

There are ways to reduce consumption and help planet earth without spending more money and more time. This has become especially important to me in the past year, as I learn more and more how interconnected the world is and how seemingly small actions have unintended consequences.

I thought it would be helpful to post the things Andy and I have started doing recently. They’re easy, affordable tips that don’t even require very much effort. We have carbon footprints just like everyone else, but this is how we’ve been trying to treat the world with a little more kindness.

  1. Stop using disposable things. I used to use a paper towel to eat small snacks, then I realized that it only takes me about 10 seconds to wipe off one of my dinner plates, and costs me only a drop of dish soap and a tiny bit of water. Paper towels cost money and take up space in landfills. As soon as we cut down on our paper towel purchases, I immediately noticed a decrease in the number of bags of garbage we put out every week.

    The worst offender of the disposable lifestyle is bottled water. Drink tap water out of a reusable bottle. Or, if you live in a place where the tap water is sanitary but kind of yucky (like we do), purchase a filter for your kitchen faucet, or a pitcher with a filter that can be re-used.

Next up on the war against disposables: dryer sheets.

  1. Use less plastic. Our poor Mother Earth is aching from our plastic use. Throwing plastic into the recycle bin instead of the trash bin helps significantly, but still doesn’t solve the problem. Check out this old post of EcoYogini’s about Why Recycling Doesn’t Cut It. Every time we recycle a bit of plastic, it is downgraded and less and less of it can be re-used. Not to mention all the energy that goes into creating the stuff.This is a tough one because plastic is everywhere. It’s ubiquitous as far as packaging goes, and it can be very convenient. I don’t have a solution to this, but being aware of the problem is the first step. When I have a choice between purchasing juice in a plastic bottle and a glass bottle, I choose glass. The price difference is negligible, and every little bit counts.
  2. Clean your cleaning products. A big part of being environmentally kind is to put fewer chemicals out there for our neighbors to breathe in. A couple of years ago I was cleaning my apartment bathroom (read: no ventilation) with my old favorite cleaning product: scrubbing bubbles. Halfway through the process I realized my throat and lungs were burning from breathing in those cheery little bubbles. Why should I clean my bathroom with something that makes my eyes water and my throat burn?We have since switched to using warm water and vinegar for cleaning. I have heard you should add essential oil, as well, to disinfect and make it smell a bit better, so I’ll try that soon. We have beautiful 110-year-old hardwood floors in our home and this cleaning solution works just as well as anything else we have tried.I used to love those Clorox wipes, which were even more convenient than paper towels. But they’re disposable, not to mention they come in bulky plastic cylinders. Using old t-shirts and dishtowels for cleaning is less expensive and less wasteful. Using a regular mop instead of a Swiffer means you don’t have to throw out a Swiffer pad every time you clean. These are affordable switches that don’t cause much more hassle, if any.

Here are some great resources if you’re interested in greening your life but need to see it in practice:

Namaste,
Jamie