{2016 in review} 16 reasons i loved 2016

here for you on the first monday of the new year, 16 reasons why i liked 2016. life is about perspective, so when news outlets announced to the world that beloved artists, musicians + poets had passed away over the course of the year, i chose to focus on the fact that they had lived. they lived good lives, full lives, lives in which they shared their work + their wisdom, their light + their love. when leonard cohen was asked during an interview about his positive attitude after experiencing a tragic life event, he reflected, "a lot of very important information is delivered to your heart [during moments of hardship]." i believe each life experience of love or loss brings with it learning. read on for musings from an enthusiastic optimist. 

1 // rock god / david bowie has long been one of my favorite musical artists. i'd watched the charming + beautifully androgynous english singer + songwriter in interviews over the years, riveted by his quick wit + sage insight {and those eyes}. he was clever, gracious, evolved. laughter seemed to spill easily from him. comedian ricky gervais recounted that he once asked bowie during an email exchange, "isn't it time you got a proper job?" bowie's answer, "i have a proper job: rock god." we grieved when david bowie passed on january 10, but i feel fortunate to have lived in the same lifetime as one of the world's most prolific + talented artists. here's a little modern love from the god of music.

2 // prince of musicology / the maverick artist who said, "i am music" while being interviewed by rolling stone magazine held many under his spell as a sensual performer +  nonconformist singer, songwriter + music producer. described by the new york times as "an artist who defied genre," prince's flamboyance, his black-rimmed eyes + glossy lips, seemed to come from a place of truth, in which he expressed himself exactly as he saw himself and not as the world imagined him. prince's music created the backdrop to my university days, and dancing to little red corvette late at night with friends at smoky + dimly-lit parties or in dorm rooms is still one of my most evocative memories. i'm thankful that prince rogers nelson, a young american musician from minnesota, fulfilled his dream of serving: of making music that moved the world, and he continued to do so until his death on april 21. read his last interview with rolling stone here.

3 // sublime storm / muhammad ali, the lugubrious heavyweight boxing champion with strong political, social + religious viewpoints, was celebrated for his boxing prowess in the ring. but he was "more than the sum of his athletic gifts. an agile mind, a buoyant personality, a brash self confidence and an evolving set of personal convictions fostered a magnetism that the ring could not contain." ali was an inspiration to many with his anti-war principles, his relentless optimism + his unpliable poise. my father used to quote ali with a giant grin across his face,"float like a butterfly!" he'd chant while working out. i'm grateful to have seen the influence of this gregarious + graceful man on so many people from all walks of life. ali's biographer, dave kindred, said of ali, "rainbows are born of thunderstorms, and ali is both." i'm glad the world gave us such a glorious storm. read about the man + the myth here.

4 // love incarnate / years ago i watched a movie in which the young protagonist quotes leonard cohen. the sanguine words stayed with me, and i thought of them often during moments of solitude or difficulty. i didn't know who cohen was at the time. i didn't know of his career as a poet + novelist, of his unsteady transition into the world of music, of his battle with depression, of his brilliance. later, i learned that a song i'd heard throughout my life, hallelujah, whose lyrics touched me, was written by cohen as well. eventually i mined the work of this esteemed + introspective canadian singer + composer. reading his poetry, watching interviews, taking in his wisdom, i understood more. via his music he explored the religious, spiritual, transcendental, political + sexual. he spoke of life, and he he allowed the world to better understand, to better cope with life through his deeply felt lyrics. the world is brighter because of cohen's light.

5 // princess warrior / in 1977 carrie fisher was cast at the age of 19 as princess leia of planet alderaan in the star wars trilogy. fisher went on to become a discerning author + candid mental-health advocate. as a child, watching these movies, i was whisked away to a world i'd never seen the likes of. and at the center of this world was a fearless, futuristic heroine, a female diplomat + spy. there's a picture of me as a little girl in a blue tee with the words "girl power" scrawled across the front; in it, i'm wearing my hair just like princess leia. who wouldn't have wanted to be a character that embodied strength + courage {in space, no less}? i'm grateful that carrie fisher experienced this role as an actor, and despite battling drug addiction + managing bipolar disorder, she went on to live a full + rich life, infused with humor + personal triumph.

6 // dancing queen / debbie reynolds tapped her way into the hearts of moviegoers in 1952 in the american musical singin' in the rain. an actress who hadn't any dance experience was now dancing alongside two of hollywood's maestros, gene kelly + donald o'connor. at first she struggled, she broke down, but she gathered herself up and with a little help from the great fred astaire, eventually she was able to keep up + really shine. i love physical comedy, and truth be told, i listen + watch videos almost weekly of moses supposes + make 'em laugh. i'm intrigued by the physical prowess of these deft dancers, and it stirs me to think that when you keep at it, dedicate yourself to something + work really hard, you can absolutely accomplish whatever you set your mind to. like her daughter, carrie fishser, reynolds lived a full life in which she touched + inspired many. for this i'm grateful.

7 // cubs win / someone wake me. i must be dreaming. my favorite sports team {i only have one, truth be told}, the chicago cubs won the world series. for years, when i declared my allegiance to the cubs, i was met by confusion + bewilderment. "why would you like a team that never wins?" was always the question. my short answer, "they're the lovable losers." see, chicago is a city with two baseball teams: the white sox + the cubs. at no point did it occur to anyone to dismantle the cubs, with their streak of infinite losses. there's something endearing about a team that keeps trying, despite the odds. and here it is. it finally happened. i lived to hear those beautiful words, "cubs win!"

8 // china bans ivory / dame daphne sheldrick of the david sheldrick wildlife trust informs us that elephants have a rich emotional life + share many human traits, "they grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering depression. they have a sense of compassion that projects beyond their own kind and sometimes extends to others in distress. they help one another in adversity, miss an absent loved one." conservation groups + animal rights activists have worked for years to end elephant poaching + curb wildlife trafficking which has whittled down africa's elephant populations. the obama administration banned commercial elephant ivory trade in early 2016, and now china, with the world's largest market for ivory trade, has followed suit, announcing a ban on all ivory trade + processing activities by the end of 2017. learn more about poaching here and find out how you can help these majestic creatures here. we're moving in the right direction, my friends.

9 // pizza pie in paris / this is pierre doleans. this is pierre serving up a slice of vegan pizza pie. j'adore both pierre + pierre's pizza pies. doleans is the affable entrepreneur behind hank, the first all-vegan hamburger cafe in paris, and now he's bringing us plant-based pizza. i happily attended the opening of the quaint pizzeria this fall, and feel très content that the number of healthy, sustainable + animal-friendly options is ever expanding. grab yourself a slice of delicious {miam miam!*}. and if you're skipping through paris, here's a list of my fave veg cafes in paris that i put together. {*yum yum}

10 // the power of plants / it rained down plant-strong cookbooks this holiday season, mon amis! i felt like oprah winfrey. only, instead of everyone getting a car, everyone got a fab recipe book. each week i get lovely pics via text from friends + family showing off the fruits of their labors. i spy beautiful green smoothies + tasty grilled portobella mushroom tacos + tantalizing veggie pasta! and that's just from my mom! because food is medicine + sharing is caring. not sure where to start? try one of the books pictured above or check out this rad list of recommendations on healthy + sustanainble living from fellow eco blogger renee peters.

11 // france bans plastic tableware / france has become the first country in the world to ban plastic cups, plates + cutlery. by 2020, all disposable tableware must be made from 50% biologically-sourced materials that can be composted. * in july, france imposed a ban on the distribution of single-use, disposable plastic bags. this is all a part of the french environmental initiative called the energy transition for green growth. plastic isn't biodegradable; it only breaks down into smaller pieces which end up in our landfills + oceans {where wildlife cannot distinguish it from food}. bans on plastic: better for humans + better for our ecosystems. we're on our way.

12 // vegan concept shop

/ say what? a boutique filled with only handmade, fairtrade, cruelty-free + vegan products? yessss! all in one place. right in the heart of paris. a successful crowdfunding campaign on kiss kiss bank bank is bringing this dream to reality for you, for me + for the young duo behind aujourd'hui demain. there will be bath + beauty products, apparel + footwear, accessories, and healthy snacks too! everything your sustainable heart could ever desire. coming up.

13 // mots doux / you all know how i feel about street art. but this is something really special. fantine + simon are the couple bringing us words of joy, words of hope, words of love. they do so by delivering positive messages all over the city of paris, on sidewalks, bridges + public spaces. each message, short + sweet, is administered in a neat, clean + white font. these words pull us out of our everyday worlds, and bring us face to face with positivism + geniality. i love finding the messages in unexpected places throughout the city. bright ideas born of the minds of thoughtful artists. fantastique!

14 // head in the clouds / my nomadic heart loves to be in the air + on the go. this year i've had the pleasure to head into the skies often, so often that i now know the staff on certain airlines. i know which flight attendants are extra helpful, which always have a smile to share, which are a little cantankerous. but best of all, i love meeting those lovely souls that end up seated next to me for an eight-hour flight {is it wrong to have a favorite? here's looking at you miss opal. kindness + strength always inspire me}. remember the cracker jacks boxes with the prizes inside? meeting someone rad on a long plane ride gives you the same feeling as opening a box of cracker jacks and finding the best prize ever inside. i'm blessed to have the opportunity to travel + to continue to see the world and meet new, incredible people from diverse cultures. for this i'm thankful. oh, and i always carry this little weekender vegan bag with me when skipping from one continent to another.

15 // life unscripted / "i'm here right now, doing what i'm doing right now, and all of the things i did led up to this. and there is no place else i'd rather be right now." prince 

this is me right after i got my cast off over the summer {a few broken bones in my foot couldn't hold me down for long}. healing means slowing down + this gave me the opportunity to spend more time doing things i love like reading + writing. this year i joined two incredible communities of creatives, including the ethical writers coalition + the ethical bloggers network. i also became a contributor at vilda magazine, a vegan fashion + lifestyle publication with some superb city guides for travelers + explorers {i composed a chicago city guide for all the happy plant eaters heading to the windy city}. what a joy to be part of such a wonderful network of sustainable living enthusiasts. 

i feel that there is no place i'd rather be, and nothing else i'd rather be doing than experiencing what is before me now.

{image by kerry picket for honor the earth}

"power is in the earth. it is in your relationship to the earth." winona laduke

16 // water defenders / members of the sioux tribe + protesters at standing rock celebrated as news of the dakota pipeline being re-routed came. from our friends at honor the earth: "once we defeat the dakota access pipeline, it is essential that we carry the energy from this fight forward, to the many other places where indigenous people are resisting fossil fuel infrastructure projects that threaten our lands and water.  we are not fighting a pipeline, we are building a movement.  the black snake has many heads. we ask you to continue standing with us. on november 29, 2016, canada's federal government approved two major pipeline projects: kinder morgan's trans mountain expansion and enbridge's line 3 pipeline. they also rejected enbridge's northern gateway pipeline, after years of opposition from west coast first nations and their allies. 

once the last piece of dakota access pipe is removed from the ground, we at honor the earth will turn our focus back to line 3. similar in size and purpose to the recently defeated keystone xl pipeline, enbridge’s line 3 is proposed to transport tar sands oil over 1000 miles, from hardisty, alberta to superior, wisconsin, right through the heart of anishinaabe territory and some of the best lakes and wild rice beds in the world. the proposed route endangers three of the continent’s major watersheds including the great lakes, home to one fifth of the world’s fresh water." learn more about how you can help at honor the earth.

as we move into this new year, i share with you the wisdom of winona laduke, native american environmentalist, economist, writer + the first native american woman to receive an electoral vote for vice president of the united states. laduke gently reminds us, "let us keep moving forward."

until next time, stay green, dear hearts!

{images c/o google // images 9. 10. 13. 14. 15. by ev}

{eco hiking} into the wild: a sustainable guide to hiking gear

traveling solo is an enriching + expanding experience for me, but this month my best friend, lauren, her husband matt, + i journeyed into the woods of mount hood in oregon as a trio. the three of us made a mighty fine team of wilderness explorers, each of us equally bewitched + bewildered by nature's beauty.

together we trekked through densely wooded trails, an abyss of strapping roots, golden-green leaves + velvety soft moss. a canopy of trees above us + a panoply of mushrooms sprouting below us, we were spellbound. at the forefront of my thoughts was how to protect so much splendor. so how exactly does one prepare + what does one pack for a cruelty-free + eco hike in the mountains?

at one point we debated whether hiking gear was really necessary at all. honestly, as a minimalist, i actually don't own athletic gear. my work blazers don't translate organically to outdoor gear, but this never stopped me from hiking before. i put on my usual uniform of jeans, a tee with a flannel button-down layered over it for warmth + a cargo jacket with pockets for carrying my necessities, along with a pair of trainers. but there were moments that i wished i had a lightweight backpack or shoes with traction {and jeans don't perform so well when wet}.

certain outdoor gear is preventative + offers necessary protection from the elements, so if you're interested in investing in well-made, fair trade hiking kicks or the perfect parka, there are many ways to build a sustainable collection. here's a little starter kit for you. carry on, fellow explorers:

1/ the beanie: keep your noggin warm with a little knit number. i love a pom pom, i really do. but non-pom versions are also available. check out these fab organic cotton + hemp options here.

2/ the hiking boots: wrap your feet in pineapple leaves. yep, you read that right. i'm so excited that cruelty-free brand, nae, has teamed up with piñatex to create a pair of comfy hiking boots made of pineapple waste fibers. this is an exciting new alternative to leather that re-imagines waste as a durable, flexible + waterproof textile. sweet, sustainable pineapples!

3/ the parka: a sturdy + long-lasting investment piece with a water resistant hemp + organic cotton twill outer shell; this parka is lined with recycled PET faux fur, features handwarmer pockets + windcatchers with thumbnails. it comes fully equipped with pockets for carrying all of your hiking essentials. who designed this beauty? somebody deserves some serious recognition for a stellar product.

4/ the backpack made with recycled PET bottles, this lightly padded backpack is just the right size, with lots of pockets for storing your reusable water canteen. pack your trail mix, your fruits + veggies, and some yummyvegan chocolate-covered peanuts. fully fueled? you're on your way.

5/ the reusable canteen: if you have a reusable stainless steel bottle, dig it out + put it to good use. if not, there are a plethora of eco choices for all boys + girls. because single-use plastic bottles don't belong in the oceans or in our landfills. but sadly, that's where most end up. learn more by watching the story of bottled water.

6/ the flannel: warm layers are a wise choice; depending on the weather, you can peel off layers or add on. i own exactly one flannel. and it gets good use. i actually purchased mine secondhand, at crossroads trading co. you can find more pre-loved options at buffalo exchange {if you're in chicago} or find a rad vintage shop{if you're in paris}. investing in a cozy, new one is also a choice, but be sure to care for it so it lasts for many a long hike.

7/ the socks: keep your feet + ankles toasty warm with a pair of ethically-produced, organic cotton socks. layer them up or keep an extra pair in your backpack in case you step into a lovely, gurgling stream, as i did. it's all part of the fun.

8/ the essentials: i mean business when i hike, so i ended up with a few nicks + cuts, which got me thinking. i wondered if there was a green option for adhesive bandages, and then i learned of everyday good co, offering latex-free + biodegradable bandages, made with 15% recycled materials. don't forget to pack cruelty-free bug spray. ready? set? into the wild we go.

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{green your home} la cuisine: the eco kitchen

i'm going to admit something. i love to plunder my friends' unique life experiences for wisdom. i'm also a reading machine, and i love to supplement knowledge gathered via books and films with sage advice from my support network.

there's something i love to ask family + new friends: what is one small action you might suggest to lead a more sustainable life? here are some of the best tips i've garnered to reduce waste + create a green kitchen in the home:

cloth napkins

1/ utilize cloth napkins + towels: it's time to say au revoir to paper towels + paper napkins, my friends. disposable paper products come from newly felled trees, are treated with chlorine, and end up in landfills since their low fiber content does not allow for recycling. cloth towels are reusable + available in abundance; they're cute, they're handmade, they can be found in organic textiles, and most of all, they can be used again + again. here are a few faves to make the switch in your kitchen: 1. alabama chanin's made in the usa towels; 2. coyuchi's organic cotton napkins; 3. raven + lily's artisan-made napkins; 4. yao cheng's original watercolor napkins + towels, all handcrafted with love.

reusable produce bags

2/ invest in reusable produce bags: while carrying a reusable bag to shops + the grocery store seems like an easy peasy thing to do, many consumers still use single-use plastic bags for produce. this petroleum based product creates greenhouse gases that are pumped into the atmosphere and are harmful to the physical environmental. plastic is a great source of pollution with more than 500 billion plastic bags being produced each year and only 1-3% being recycled according to the epa. try one of these reusable cotton eco bags that are easy to toss into your purse or coat pocket + can be washed by hand or in your washing machine.

stainless steel to-go containers

3/ carry reusable to-go containers + water bottles: this is an easy one. if like me, you enjoy discovering new cuisine outside of your own kitchen {ok, i love to eat out, because well, i'm better at eating than cooking, truth be told}, you've probably taken a to-go box home with you. sometimes they're styrofoam, sometimes they're plastic or tin, but they're not earth friendly as many end up on a landfill and our oceans. most of us already have food storage containers in our cupboards; it's a matter of remembering to bring them with. i almost always end up taking food home with me, so now i carry a lightweight, steel to-go container with me. and ditch single-use plastic water bottles; pop a sleek steel water bottle into your bag to use again + again. this is such a simple tip, but definitely one of my favorites to consistently reduce our carbon footprint.

multipurpose sandwich bags

4/ use reusable sandwich bags: if you pack a lunch for work or if you're a grazer like me who likes to snack all the livelong day, then you may have used {or are currently using} throwaway sandwich bags that most of the world uses. you'd be surprised at how hardworking + long-lasting these handy reusable sandwich bags are. if you dig tupperware, welcome to a new age of eco containers made from recycled plastic. an inexpensive, but worthwhile investment.

the little broom that could

5/ swiff away, eco style: now, if you use a swiffer to mop and sweep your floors, you can replace the disposable sweeping pads with a handmade cloth pad {or use a washcloth which can then be washed + stored with other household cleaning supplies}. distilled vinegar mixed with a splash of lemon {for a fresh scent} is just as effective as store-bought cleansers for cleaning mold, bacteria + germs, only minus the harsh chemicals. i love this tip. want an alternative to the swiffer? use a tried + true broom {remember those? i still use them!} or this little mop that looks like a swiffer, but has a reusable, washable cloth. spending less on disposable items means saving more for travel + adventures!

eco straws

bonus/ time to kick that straw habit, eco boys + girls! here are some reusable straw options for those of you that love to see your drink slide through a tubular utensil before it reaches your lips! 

{don't forget the tip} eat more plants and less dairy + meat: you've probably read the stats. animal agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction + environmental degradation, and is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions {more than the combined cost of all transportation}.* increasingly, researchers + experts are pointing to a change from an animal-based diet to a plant-based diet to control or eliminate diseases like cancer or diabetes {i'm living proof} to protect the environment, and to eliminate animal exploitation in factory farming. not sure where to start to make more sustainable + more compassionate food choices? you can start out with meatless monday, or skip on over here if you're thinking of adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet. there are so many delicious foods + great resources to get you started. if you'd like to talk to someone about it, feel free to reach out to me! i promise, it's easy. i'd be honored to share my story, my fave veg foods + all the good that's come of my personal journey. i'd love to connect with you!

until next time, stay green dear hearts!