The Nitty Gritty on Energy Waste

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘waste’? Odds are that you pictured trash, surplus food, or some form of a landfill. Did you picture coal fires and your electric bill? Probably not. The truth is that energy waste is ever-present and just as threatening to the environment as solid wastes are.

This article is going to be broken down into three parts:

  1. Where does energy come from
  2. What are the repercussions of using non-renewable energy
  3. What can we do to help conserve energy daily

Where Does Energy Come From?

For the purpose of this article, we are speaking solely about electricity. 

There are numerous sources of energy and (thankfully) sources of renewable energy are increasing due to research. The main sources of electrical energy are chemical energy, thermal energy, kinetic energy, nuclear energy, solar energy, and rotational energy.

Chemical energy is energy that is stored and needs to be released. The most common way to release this energy is through combustion. Chemical energy is what we speak of when we talk about fossil fuel usage. It can include burning coal, oil, natural gas, or biomass (wood, solid wastes etc).

Thermal energy is energy created from heat. This can include the same things as chemical energy, but adds on heat from underground springs and more.

Kinetic energy is probably the one we are most familiar with from childhood classes. Kinetic energy is produced through movement. Where electricity is concerned, however, kinetic energy comes into play with wind turbines or water movement.

Nuclear energy is becoming more popular as well. This energy is one that is stored inside atoms and molecules. When you release nuclear energy, it can also release radioactivity and thermal energy.

Solar energy is energy that is captured from the sun through the light rays. The heat from the sun’s rays is also a form of thermal energy.

Rotational energy is created using spinning such as a windmill.

With all these types of energy sources, which ones are most popular? Currently, chemical energy is what most electrical grids are using as their main source for providing electricity. Solar energy and rotational energy are also starting to gain ground as forms of renewable energy.

Renewable energy is just that- energy that can be recreated and infinite. Unfortunately, non-renewable energy is exactly opposite, with limited amounts of fossil fuels left to provide for the demand in energy.

So, whats all the fuss about non-renewable energy, anyway?

Repercussions of Non-Renewable Energy Sources

The first thing to be noted about non-renewable energy sources is that we as a world are running low on them. Remember that these sources include coal, oil, and natural gas – to name a few.

The processing of fossil fuels creates quite a few problems for the world and the creatures and plants that live on it. One of these problems is atmospheric destruction.

Atmospheric pollution is created when fossil fuels are processed for electricity. During the processing, the fuels emit greenhouse gases – namely carbon dioxide- which damage the ozone layer of the atmosphere. Not only is this bad for future of the planet, but within our own lives it affects respiratory health drastically. With more greenhouse gases in the air, the worse off your respiratory health will be since you are not designed to process harmful chemicals. When we source fossil fuels from below the ground and release it into the air, we are also disrupting the amount of carbon on earth. Fossil fuels store carbon within them and the only way to release that carbon (as noted above) is through combustion- which produces heat. This heat throws the balance of the earth’s temperature out of wack much faster than would have naturally occurred- making it harder for animals and plants to adapt to.

With crude oil there is not only the atmosphere and human health to consider, but the threat of an oil spill can (and has) contaminated large bodies of water which take out wildlife and harm human health.

Natural gas is another popular fuel used and is made up of methane. To get natural gas, companies use a process called hydraulic fracturing / fracking. This uses high pressure from water to break up rocks below the earths surface which releases the natural gas stored within them. If a rock is too tough to split open, acid can be poured to dissolve it or small pieces of sand and/ or glass can be used as alternative methods of opening the rocks. Natural gas is what we typically use for heat and cooking, however it can also be used for electrical energy, a/c units, and more. One of the most horrible effects of sourcing natural gas is that it has the ability to cause small-scale earthquakes from breaking up the ground with the high pressure water. Also, the water that is mixed with the chemicals below ground has the potential to run into clean water sources which makes daily tasks such as bathing and drinking unsafe.

All in all, natural gas is still a cleaner source of energy when looking at its other non-renewable counterparts.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid non-renewable sources of energy, but while renewable energy starts to take hold there are a few things you can do to cut down on your personal energy consumption; therefore cutting down on the pollution and destruction created from the power plants and grids that supply your electricity.

Conserving Energy

On to the fun stuff! Fun because conserving energy not only promotes human health, clean energy, and a safe planet, but it save you money! Rad, right?

Before you can save energy, you should look at how much you’re currently consuming. This can be found on your utility bills or online in your account summary. Once you access your summary, you should be able to click and see a day-by-day view on energy consumption and track rises and falls with what you were doing that day. On a day where your energy consumption was really high, did you host a party and have all the televisions, speakers, stove tops, and lights on for most of the day?

If you aren’t aware of what you did each day, you could also start an energy-journal where you list out appliances used and lights left on in a normal day. Then, start implementing the tips below and record what you’ve done for energy conservation each day and then on your billing cycle you should be able to match up the days in your journal with your statement and see a gradual decline in energy use!

Tips & Tricks
- Turn off lights when you leave the room
-Unblock vents: upwards of 25% more energy is used to distribute air 
 when you have furniture blocking a vent
-In the winter, maximize use of southern windows by opening blinds and 
 curtains to increase heat gain which will lessen the amount of energy
 needed to heat your space
-In the summer, use solar screen, films, awnings, trees/vegetation to 
 block direct heat on the east & west facing windows of your building. 
-Inspect your insulation and fix any gaps between doors and windows where 
 drafts may exist. 
-Do regular maintenance on your heating/cooling equipment to keep them 
 running as efficiently as possible
-Remove unnecessary lamps and appliances
-Turn off and unplug your electronic items when not in use 
-If you have the ability to, look into replacing your light bulbs and 
 large appliance (fridge, washer/dryer, tvs) with more energy efficient 
 options
-If possible, install solar panels onto your building

*If you are looking into new light bulbs, check out Energy Star's site on 
 finding the perfect one HERE
*Create an Energy Star Home Profile which will assess your home over all 
 metrics and will also give you personalized recommendations for your
 building HERE
*Tell your friends about what you're doing and get them on board! 
*Reward yourself with the extra money you'll have shaved off your 
 electric bills!

P.S. For my Missouri friends, here are some facts for you: 
     1. Only 4% of Missouri's energy comes from renewable sources 
     2. Coal fuels 3/4 of electricity in Missouri is coal-fired 
     3. 8/10 power plants run on coal
     * These facts are updated as of August 2017 from the
       U.S. Energy Information Administration
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Vegan Pantry Staples

“Hey Siri, what is the best vegan substitute for milk in chocolate cake?”

Sound familiar? Same.

When I made the switch to becoming Vegan I had literally no idea what I should be buying weekly as staples or even what substitutes would be best for what recipe.

Here’s what I found out: being vegan is about an entirely new lifestyle. If you’re planning on being a vegan, I highly recommend giving up on the notion that you will eat the same things… but with non-dairy or meat substitutes. Life will get complicated with all the time spent measuring and Googling replacements. You may not realize it now, but those two minutes spent asking Siri what a good replacement is will get frustrating. Instead, be open to trying new tastes and textures! You’ll be shocked at how delicious the alternatives are!

Completely changing your diet without the right tools is like working on a car without any spare parts. Sure, you could just use what you have already, but what happens when you need a new engine and can’t build it out of your old car seats?

You go get yourself a new engine. That’s what happens.

When you go Vegan, get yourself a new engine and let go of any preconceived ideas about what you think you will be eating and embrace foods from all cultures and places. Becoming Vegan is less like limiting your options and more like expanding your perspective on what you can enjoy meal-wise.

This is what you need to have at all times in order to survive in a plant-based diet:

*note that in the key, any items listed as having packaging can be made from a bulk item to create a zero Waste option

Key: BLK = Found in bulk section, R= packaging is recyclable, C= packaging or skin is Compostable

*Note: recycled and compostable packaging does depend on brands, however the ones I denote do come in brands that allow for this

*Note: for bulk items, bring your own container into the store and write the tare ( weight of the container without anything in it) on the container so that you know how much to pay for at the check-out.

  • Flour ( about 2.5 lbs per week)  BLK
  • Sugar ( 2 lbs will go a long way) BLK
  • Salt (Sea Salt) BLK
  • Pepper BLK
  • Non-Dairy Milk : Soy, Coconut, Almond, and other… Almond Milk is heavier and sweeter than soy, but soy has better potential to be used in cooking because of it’s lack of flavor. Coconut is great in Asian cooking and in desserts. Any of them unsweetened will work perfectly fine in cooking, however they do come in flavors for general drinking. You could also buy raw almonds, soybeans, oats etc to make this zero Waste R
  • Cashews ( 3 lbs per week) You can use this to create sauces and “cheeses” for creamier recipe. *Buy raw and unseasoned BLK
  • Nutritional Yeast: ( .5 lb) This will give “cheese” sauces their flavor BLK
  • Baking Powder: non- aluminum BLK R
  • Baking Soda (used for everything from cleaning to cooking) BLK R
  • Rice ( choose your favorite! Mine is jasmine or brown) BLK
  • Quinoa ( I alternate weeks that I buy quinoa with weeks that I buy rice) BLK
  • Pasta (If you want quick and easy meals, pasta is a must! Penne proves to be very versatile) R
  • Coconut Oil: There are two main types of organic coconut oil- refined and unrefined.
    • Refined: Not much flavor, made from dried coconuts, heats to 400 degrees F
    • Unrefined: Coconut flavor, made from fresh coconuts, heats to 350 degrees F
    • I go back and forth between them, but have found I prefer refined for cooking, so long as it is organic. R
  •  White Miso Paste! If you want delicious Japanese soups in ten minutes and creamy flavorful sauces, this is your jam. *Make sure that this says it is vegan on the label. Traditional Miso Paste is made with Dashi which contains flakes from fish. R
  • Vegannaise: This guy is so/so. If enjoyed mayonnaise previously, then go ahead and pick up a bottle to make the transition easier, but I don’t find I need it anymore. R
  • Bananas: These bad boys are going to be your best friend. From overnight oats and quick smoothies to decadent desserts and ice-creams, bananas are a must. *Wash organic bananas lightly after purchase because flies tend to lay eggs in the peel and then you’ll have annoying fruit flies for days on end. C
  • Earthbalance Vegan Butter sticks: Perfect in pies or on bread, I pick up one pack each week. C R
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: You probably already have this, but believe it or not, it is offered in the bulk section of some markets! Bring that bottle and reuse! BLK
  • Vinegar: White and Apple Cider. Also found in the bulk section, these goodies are great for fast flavor or for household cleaning and beauty hacks!
  • Oats! I prefer using regular rolled oats over the quick rolled, but that is personal preference BLK
  • Herbs: * All are in bulk sections and compostable. If fresh, buy in season at Farmer’s markets.
    • Basil: fresh and dried
    • Oregano: dried
    • Thyme: dried
    • Rosemary: dried
    • Allspice: comes powdered
    • Cinnamon: Powdered for cooking and baking, but sticks for infusing
    • Nutmeg: Powdered is much easier, unless you prefer the struggle of grating a tiny nut
    • Paprika: comes powdered
    • Parsley: Dried, but fresh parsley is also lovely on pastas and in soups
    • Chili: Comes powdered
    • Red Peppers: Comes crushed
    • Cumin: Whole AND powdered
    • Ginger: I buy my ginger whole and use a mortar and pestle to grind it as I use it medicinally, but many prefer the powdered version
    • Curry: Comes powdered in many flavors depending on the cuisine
    • Onion and Garlic: Both come powdered
    • Vegetable Broth: Comes powdered to reduce packaging! (Crazy, right?!)
    • Turmeric: if you are used to Indian cooking, like I am, this is a staple
  • Fruits and Veggies: Eat in season! There’s a great list of what is in season when on  http://www.cuesa.org/eat-seasonally/charts/vegetables You can search by season, or by recipe! C
  • Odds and Ends:
    • Onions:2 large yellows a week are fine for cooking, but red onions are delicious on sandwiches and in salads
    • Shallots: These sweeties are a chef’s secret weapon. Spicy and tangy, you can create masterful recipes with one or two a week
    • Garlic! Buy it fresh! Store in open air and you have meals for weeks
    • Bread: There are plenty Vegan options available, but look for my post on some favorites coming soon!
    • Condiments: Mustard, Ketchup, Soy Sauce, Worchestichire Sauce, Soy Ginger Sauce…. the list is endless, but many of these can be made at home, so check back here for some recipes coming shortly!

There are so many others I could add on, but this is the list I wish I had when I did grocery shopping for the first time on my own. Disregarding being Vegan for a moment, most people that I have met don’t even know what herbs are which and how you should use them! Tagging along with that, there are so many other people that count on meat as the center of the meal that when that is taken away they are uncertain of what else there could possibly be to eat. If this is you, have no fear! I promise that together we will have you licking your fingers and begging for more “rabbit-food”.

Here’s a quick chart of what flavors you can achieve with certain herbal blends from Visual.ly.com

Happy eating! Check back soon for some scrumptious meals and tips on buying bulk!

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The Inconvenience of a Green Lifestyle

It has come to my attention that many people are scared to “go green” because they don’t want to inconvenience themselves.

At first, I was going to write a beautiful article on how to still enjoy all of what you are used to and then some! (It is possible) Then, I had the thought that this isn’t what truly being green is about. So instead, here is a bit of advice: 

Inconvenience yourself.

When it comes to the environment, or anything we believe in for that matter, it is worth the little bit of trouble we may run into trying to do what we know is right and honest. The way the world is right now is downright scary. Everything is built for convenience and ease of access. Material goods are tossed out by the MILLIONS. We would rather create toxic gases than have to remember to bring a straw. You can’t save the world without a bit of change on your part. This lifestyle will bring to you many many obstacles and oftentimes, you’ll want to give in because it would be that much easier. 

Stand tall. 

You have to power to tell yourself, “No. This does not sit well with my soul and I will not partake in anything less than who I say I am.” 

This could be something as simple as not stealing a bite of your friend’s cheesy fries that “were already bought for” and the “damage is done” or something as hard as switching banks because they are back a multi billion dollar plan that does NOT sit well with your soul. The first challenge is easier by comparison, but for the second you will need to understand yourself a little bit deeper. 

Ask yourself who you are and define why you believe what you believe, then go out in the world and passionately choose to inconvenience yourself every time something does not align fully with your standards of living.

It’s going to be hard, but good grace it’s worth it.

Zero Waste Oranges

I hadn’t planned on writing this till I was mid-chop through my last orange for orange juice this morning! Then, it dawned on me just how MANY uses there are for oranges!

Of course, the first use is very simple: ORANGE JUICE! 

Go on and squeeze yourself a pitcher full, and yes- save the pulp. 

The first tip I have is for you smoothie lovers out there! 

Orange pulp holds a ton of fibers, so instead of straining it then tossing it out, scoop it into an ice tray and freeze it! You’ll have them ready to add into your smoothie tomorrow morning and you won’t even be able to taste the texture of it since it will be ground up! 

Now, lets go back over to those discarded peels. 

My favorite recipe calls for distilled white vinegar and fresh orange peels. With these two ingredients, you can make your very own all-purpose cleaner! 

Just chop those peels up small, stuff them into a jar, and fill it the rest of the way up with vinegar! 


Now, place the lid back on, and submerge your jar into a pot of water kept at 150degrees F for 20 minutes. 

Cool him off and set aside 2-3 days. When you come back to it, go ahead and strain your vinegar into a spray bottle (if you want to) and compost those peels! Voila! Your very own all-purpose cleaner! 

I still had orange peel leftover, however, so I set my oven at 170degrees F and popped them into there to dry out for use as fruit tea “leaves” later on. Keep them in for 1hr or until dry and brittle! 

These are the peels before going into the oven! be sure to spread them out!


Another short recipe is to fill a large pot with water and boil your peels in it. Add in 2 sticks OF cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, and bit of cloves and keep it boiling! The result is a holiday-scented home for the next few days!! 

Hopefully you found these tips useful! Let me know what you do!