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Meet Burning Man’s Cooler, Healthier, and Wiser Cousin

I just discovered Burning Man’s cooler, younger, healthier and wiser cousin who’s offically on the scene, and wants to meet you. Actually, she wants to meet your future self, because your current self has some exciting work to do. I’m talking about Restival Global, a Wall Street Journal Top Eco-Luxe Retreat of 2017, that’s ready to take you into your future with a transformative experience that’s a game changer.

Restival is an innovative fusion of retreat and festival, an evolutionary movement sparked by the desire to switch off, unwind and re-create in nature. When I first heard about this, I thought WOW. I want in. Snugly tucked away in a Californian secret vortex close to the infamous Joshua Tree National Park, this Restival experience titled Your Future Self, is taking place over three nights and four days (May 3-6, 2018).  Your Future Self is an extended weekend of wonder to recalibrate, transform and assist you to love the life you live. The unique gathering offers guests the opportunity to immerse and enjoy the enchantment of the present environment, while providing a unique element of utility, ensuring that attendees reap a multitude of benefits for their personal growth. With incredible views of the desert and expert collaborators in the fields of meditation, hiking and geology, sound bath, 1-2-1 coaching, yoga, bodywork and spa treatments, special talent will help you fully accept the person you are today, close the gap on where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.

As a New Yorker, my lifestyle can be absolute madness. As urban dwellers, we are far from nature, which is one of the largest enablers helping us reconnect to ourselves, and intuition to truly feel and experience the world around us. That’s one reason why Restival was born; to allow for people to take a step back while enjoying nature in an eco-chic setting, amongst incredible healing talent, and like-minded individuals all there for the same reason: to connect with the self, and inevitably become wiser and more connected to the earth.

And, I’ve got you a sweet 20% off a ticket if you wish to join!

Just use code TCC20 at the checkout and violà! 

The grounds of the event set for this May raise the positive vibrations, as an ancient geological ecosystem produces a strong magnetic energy (witnessed in the shards of magnetite that rise to the surface of the soil). UM, OK! Guests can also discover hidden caverns, petroglyphs, a sauna carved into a rock, enjoy evening performances and even a pop up cinema held in the natural amphitheater. The range of activities available to attendees offers the full spectrum of intellectual engagement to playful, spiritual escape.  Not to mention the indigenous population who will be bringing their wisdom, ceremonies and a traditional Native American Sweat Lodge to purify the spirit. This to me is the ultimate escape and blend of celebrating the indigenous culture where we will be visiting, a bit of therapeutic fun,  while wrapped up in gorgeous nature.

Caroline Jones, Founder of Restival Global, remarks: “From all our travels around the world, this is one of the most unique locations we’ve ever encountered. I am thrilled to welcome guests to this incredible experience, helping to open the door to better health, happy spirits, clarity and confidence to unlock the potential each of us carries inside”.

COLLABORATORS, PRACTITIONERS, AND HEALERS:

  • PETER OPPERMANN – Creator of the Future Self Method
  • BARBARA MARX HUBBARD – Foundation for Conscious Evolution
  • MAS SAJADY –  Healer & Founder, Exponential Intelligence
  • ARIEL DAUNAY & GIGI MADL – Somatic Bodywork Healers
  • EWA DA CRUZ – Sacred Totem Sculptor and Artist
  • MURRAY HIDARY  – Piano Meditations and Immersive Musical Experiences
  • ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE: AVIVA STANOFF & JOHNNY BLUE EYES – Multimedia artists
  • RACHAEL JOHNSON – Sound Healer and Bodyworker
  • DEBBIE LASH – Vinyasa Flow & Restorative Yoga
  • CHIARA SHANNON – Sommelier, Mindful Wine Tasting
  • LAURA AUSTIN – Photographer, Workshops on Nature Photography
  • REHMANNIA DEAN THOMAS – Taoist Herbalist
  • JENEDA & CLAYSON BENALLY – Navajo Bodyworkers

GRAB YOUR TICKET WITH MY UNIQUE DISCOUNT: TCC20 AT CHECKOUT!

ABOUT RESTIVAL GLOBAL LTD, LLC

Restival is an innovative fusion of retreat and festival, and an evolutionary movement sparked by the desire to switch off, unwind and re-create. A Wall Street Journal Top Eco-Luxe Retreat of 2017, Restival has received global acclaim through in-depth features gracing the pages of VOGUE, Bloomberg, The Daily Mail, SoHo House Magazine, Suitcase Travels, Sunset Magazine and more. Sustainably-minded, Restival is an eco-conscious operation, which also values and incorporates indigenous cultural aspects into their experiences. Utilizing purpose-driven methodologies designed to improve the overall wellbeing of the self, the Restival program has been held worldwide in Africa, Europe, and throughout America, helping to unlock the potential inherent in all attendees for the greater good of humanity.

Main image photo cred: @noah_lucas

The Ultimate Organic and Vegan Wine: Sustainable and Responsible by Nature

If you’re like me and most humans, you probably like to sip or cook with wine every so often – ok frequently 😉 BUT have you ever considered what happens after you finish the bottle? Your wine has the potential to do much more than you think.

Meet Proud Pour. I first met Brian and his team at Edible’s Food Loves Tech event this past November.  Amongst many very cool vendors, Proud Pour was one of the businesses I found most interesting. They are all about the triple bottom line, meaning their business and products focus around people, planet, and profit – an admirable operational model especially because it is so focused on two very important elements of our ecosystem: oysters and bees (and grapes, of course)!

When you buy a bottle of Proud Pour Pinot Noir, every bottle replants bee habitat and wildflowers on local farms, which benefits both native bees and honeybees, the local ecosystem, and farmers. Similarly, when you purchase a bottle of their  Sauvignon Blanc, every bottle restores 100 oysters back to the wild!

So why are oysters and bees the focal point of the business?  Oysters and bees are super important for our ecosystem for a variety of reasons:

  • The New York Harbor has lost over 99% of its wild oyster reefs, which are the foundation of the ecosystem. Most estuaries in the U.S. have lost 90%+ of their wild oyster reefs. This is bad news, because just one live oyster is capable of filtering 50 gallons of water in one day! The filter feeding behavior of oysters can buffer against environmental degradation caused by human induced activities, but disruption of the filter feeding by oysters can lead to a decrease in the elimination of organic matter, which could increase mortality for other estuary animals such as fish.  Plus, Oyster reefs can play a crucial role in carbon sequestration because CO2 is one of the ingredients that shellfish extract from the ocean to manufacture their shells!
  • Bees provide us with invaluable pollinating services they provide us with helped produce over $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the U.S. alone; that’s estimated to be one-third of everything we eat! The honeybee is an important domesticated species from Europe – but also critical to our 3,600 species of bees that are native to North America. Our native bees don’t make honey, often live along (no hives or queens!), and usually burrow in the ground to make their nests. They pollinate our ecosystems and are critical for pollinating New World crops, like squash, watermelon, and blueberries. And like the honeybee, they’re in serious trouble. The restoration efforts Proud Pour supports helps farmers have a healthier pollinator population.
So, about the wine…
  • The Mendocino County (CA) Sauvignon Blanc restores 100 wild oysters per bottle. These wild oyster reef ecosystems are critical – they’re a habitat like coral reefs, they filter water (30 gallons of water per oyster per day), and they help prevent erosion from storms.
  • The Oregon Pinot Noir restores 875 wildflowers per bottle around local farms, which makes 90 sq ft of bee habitat.
  • Read more about the wine profiles 
How Proud Pour is a sustainable business: 
  • Wherever you buy their wine, they support local work. Their Projects page always features the latest news.
  • To date Proud Pour has restored almost 7 million oysters and over 800,000 sq ft of bee habitat!
  • Great news for the beer drinkers: up next is a Pilsner for sea turtle rehabilitation! And as Brian told me, then lots more fun stuff to come, which I can not WAIT to see!

Visit the shop to buy Proud Pour online. 

How to Be a Better Sustainable Travel Marketer

On December 21, 2017,  I co-presented the below with Mandala Research and Destination Better all about how hotels, attractions, destination marketing organizations, tourism industry associations and more can build stronger connections with sustainable travelers in their creative communications plans.

I tend to do a lot of talking over slides, so if you have any questions from my section please feel free to reach out. I hope you find it useful and insightful 🙂

Here’s the transcript & main takeaways from my portion:

I’ve worked in media and advertising the past decade, where creativity is a KEY enabler of business success. Creativity really helps you stand out and differentiate yourself, surprise, & delight consumers, and can lead to very positive sales results.

Im going to show you 3 examples of brands that have used creativity to drive unique, emotional, and results-driven campaigns to hopefully inspire you to think a little differently about your brand potential.

Until We All Belong, Airbnb, Australia

Here’s an example of a travel brand that was looking to connect with a cultural conscious consumer. They realized what was happening in their country, and found a need in their community to rally for an issue totally unrelated to their actual product, but very much aligned with what the essence of their brand represented, and because they chose to advocate for such a wide-reaching cultural issue with social power,  their message was received with tremendous success.

APPLICATION FOR YOU: what major issues and cultural tensions can you tap into to create relevancy for your brand and business?

This work was done by Airbnb and agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne.

The Swedish Number, Swedish Tourist Association, Sweden 

250 years ago, in 1766, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a constitutional law to abolish censorship. To honour this anniversary, Sweden is now the first country in the world to introduce its own phone number. Call +46 771 793 336 and get connected to a random Swede, anywhere in Sweden and talk about anything you want.

The goal for the STA was to increase both domestic and international tourism. Through research they uncovered a consumer insight that Swedes love to speak with pride about the many amazing destinations in their country to foreigners. So, what better way to leverage an asset the Swedish Tourist Association already had in their people, by enabling authentic and local connections to unfold. So here’s what happened…

Through the campaign, STA saw increased memberships in the coveted millennial demo and also generated 9+ billion media impressions.

APPLICATION FOR YOU: what insights about your local destination can you leverage to give you a sharper edge against your competitors? How can you use what you already have to your advantage? Regarding PR – The Swedish Number also used media and publications in a clever way –  by generating press in foreign papers which was in turn covered by Swedish papers.

This work was done by Visit Sweden and agency Ingo Stockholm. 

Moxy at Coachella, Marriott International 

Marriott needed to promote the opening of Moxy, a new brand in their portfolio, which was very hip and skewing on the younger side.So they looked to a pop-culture occasion whereby accommodation would be in high-demand, at one of the largest international festivals called Coachella in California. They levered their brand portfolio and assets in design to create  8 fully decked out and furnished luxury tents, also capitalizing on the glamping trend.

Then invited influencers and Marriott Rewards members to camp over in them during the festival, which enabled them to incorporate and element of CRM to appease existing customers but also leverage the power of influencers & social media to earn a significant amount of attention: earning over one billion media impressions, exposure on major media outlets, and a 63% week-on-week boost in Instagram reach. I should add – this was likely a relatively affordable execution as well.

APPLICATION FOR YOU: high-volume pop-culture events are great opportunities for activations – what local happenings in your market can you popularize, how can you marry offline activation to online content? How can you activate offline and amplify online?

This work was done by Marriott International. 

FIND YOUR SUPERPOWER 

Great creative work doesn’t come out of thin air – it begins with communications planning, a distinct discipline that many (but not all) media & creative agencies employ to  service their clients. So I’m going to share with you a framework I’ve used in agencies over the years, that has enabled us to do creative and media campaigns for clients such as Carnival cruise lines, Google, Elizabeth Arden, Converse and more.

The goal of this exercise is to inspire and guide you towards the development of more creative and strategic communications planning, and help you think about how your brand should behave in media you chose to employ.

  • AMBITION: What are you trying to make happen for your product/brand? How do you see success? Airbnb case, very bold – to make humans feel like they belong in the world, Sweden – to popularize.
  • IDENTIFY THE CHANGE TASK: What is the shift you want to make in the minds of consumers and in culture? KPI’s? Marriot wanted to be cool. KPIs selfies on IG in the tent, to drive more online bookings, etc.
  • RESEARCH: Leverage data to find your consumer & business insight. Who are the people you need engage and what do they think of you today? What specific business insights can you identify? STA realized an asset in their people via consumer insight.
  • EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT: What market place forces must you address? What forces can you exploit? This is typically a blend of outcomes, where you find the synergies of the strongest insights that will help guide you to rounding out your communications plan.
    • Airbnb’s case: Brand + Culture + Media … what their brand ambition was (belong) + tied to a MAJOR cultural movement + creation of a new media channel with the ring

SHAPING YOUR COMMUNICATIONS PLATFORM (EXAMPLES):

  • Airbnb’s Comms platform = Belong anywhere
  • Sweden’s Comms platform = Swedes know Sweden
  • Marriot’s Comms platform = Rock Coachella (and give the cool kids something to talk about)

REFINE YOUR ECOSYSTEM 

Media Behaviors: what must media do to deliver on your idea? > Inform the curious

Moments: what contexts do you tap into to unify how/when/where you engage with your consumer?  > Create moments to remember

Aspirational adjectives: 5 word to describe the kind of experiences you want to create > Free, fun, emotional

Conventions to challenge: what rules can you “break”?  > “we don’t celebrate our heritage” – consider what happens if you flip that, just like the Swedish Tourist Association

Attracting the Socially, Environmentally and Culturally Conscious Traveler — They Spend More and Stay Longer!

Calling all brand marketers in the tourism industry! I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be co-hosting a webinar this Thursday, December 21st at 2pm EST in partnership with Mandala Research and Destination Better all about how you can better your marketing efforts in the Sustainable Tourism sector!

Who is this for? Hotels, attractions, convention and visitors bureaus, destination marketing organizations, state/provincial tourism departments and tourism industry associations.

Why you should attend: More than ever travelers are expressing their interest — with their wallets — for how companies and destinations treat their employees, the local environment, culture and economy. Learn practical techniques to appeal to these travelers — who are 60% of the leisure travel market — who want to spend their travel dollars with destinations and companies who are doing good.

About the presenters: 

  • Laura Mandala has been helping the tourism industry unlock, decode and harness the power of travel data and trends for nearly two decades. As the head of Mandala Research, one of the leading travel and tourism research firms in the world, she spends considerable time evaluating important emerging developments to help destinations and travel companies make the right decisions.
  • Barbra Anderson is a Founding Partner for Destination Better. She has 30 years of corporate operations and marketing experience with American Airlines, Hertz and Budget Rent a Car, most recently as Director of Global Corporate Responsibility for Sabre. She is now a Founding Partner with Destination Better, in Florida.
  • Tara Nolan, aka yours truly 😉 is a New York City based business development executive and entrepreneur with over 10 years in senior positions in media and advertising. She holds an MBA in International Business from St. John’s University Rome where she lived for several years, learning how to cook, sail, and drink wine. Tara is an advocate of sustainable travel, and owner of The Conscious Connoisseur.

TICKETS HERE – Use code TaraSentMe and attend FREE

About Destination Better

Destination Better helps organizations enhance their brand and profitability by identifying their social, environmental and innovation opportunities. If your company is like most, you are being asked questions about its social and environmental impacts. How you answer could determine who will do business with you, who will work for you, and who will invest in your business – Destination Better helps you find your answers. They are a Certified Women-owned Company who will develop a custom strategic plan—from responding to RFP’s, supply chain and investment surveys, to requests for disclosure through CDP and Ecovadis—resulting in enhanced brand and profitability.

About Mandala Research 

Mandala Research offers reliable, cost-effective options for syndicated and customized industry market research. They use traditional and innovative research methods to seek connections, uncover truths, discover the surprising, even confirm the suspected. But how they do it is what matters. Mandala Research offer expert resources in developing the most reliable methodology and carrying out the tasks with accuracy, and then they help you use that information to better connect with your world.

Sustainable Travel Conference in New York City with the Impact Travel Alliance

In case you’ve never been to the United Nations in New York city, it’s basically like entering another dimension. The stunning, monumental structure opens up to a security situation akin to an airport TSA operation, but once you clear you are in the zone. There’s fantastic art everywhere, and massive meeting rooms where the Excellencies of our world’s nations congregate to discuss all sorts of very important matters. But I was there for a travel summit that focused on the promotion of sustainable travel, and it was our first day meeting one another. We all had seats with microphones, and little screens where the words: SUSTAINABLE TOURISM popped up. Immediately I ran into Jessica Blotter of Kind Traveler, an online booking platform I’ve recently used which donates a portion of your hotel funds to the charity of your choice. Then Norie Quintos, Editor at Large from National Geographic Travel, took the stage to welcome us. The room was buzzing and everyone was psyched to hear what was in store for us over the course of the next two days.

Travel+SocialGood (who have rebranded to Impact Travel Alliance), is in the business of making sustainable tourism more accessible to all travelers. They organized this summit with partners including the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Sustainable Travel International, the Center for Responsible Travel and Tourism Cares.  But before I dig into the details…

Sustainable travel is composed of a few distinct yet related factors:

  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Economic

Fun fact: the United Nations has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism in conjunction with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious set of targets set to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues by 2030. The SDGs are an inspiring set of long term goals, and the ITA Summit aimed to inspire radical change throughout the tourism sector to help achieve these goals through both innovative business practices and consumer behavior.

The theme of the summit was how to mainstream sustainable tourism by affecting the choices an average leisure or business traveler makes and the importance travel businesses put on a triple-bottom line.  Myself and the other 150+ attendees were also challenged to think about increasing transparency in the industry. There is an immense amount of potential to harness the power of the travel industry and transform it into a force for good, and we all share the belief that we can change our world through travel. Furthermore, travel can also galvanize consumer demand for sustainable products. Five back-to-back talks designed around the core challenge and theme of  transparency came on day 2. Speakers representing the best of class and innovative solutions to making sustainable options easily-accessible to consumers included:

Here are the main takeaways from the speakers: 

  • Kiva is a microfinance platform and is very transparent in order to build trust. Through Kiva you can essentially help alleviate poverty by lending to all sorts of people, giving them a chance. Their 96.9% repayment rate is proof that these investments are no joke.
  • Kind Traveler taught us what $10 can do: plant 10 trees, provide 20 nutritious meals, or feed a rescued animal for 30 days. Isn’t it incredible to visualize how much of something someone in need can recieve with the money you probably spend on coffee everyday?! Kind hotel factors that Kind Traveler evaluates when collaborating with a venue include: wellness, green, and community. Kind Traveler promotes a give and get platform whereby local impact is key; 75% of travelers think its important travel dollars benefit communities they visit. Plus, the focus on the tripple win – where the charity, traveler, and the hotel all benefit is VERY cool. When your passion aligns with purpose, this can lead to economic impact. So, think about this: what’s your cause? How can this lead design and change?
  • Hosteling International spoke about fusing sustainability & travel. From the environmental, economic, cultural and social aspects, all of these elements can be leveraged in new ways; spaces and places shape the cultural experience. Hosteling International uses their physical environment to raise awareness of zero waste efforts, and educate travelers on sustainable tourism!
  • Booking.com spoke about their incubator program designed to support sustainably driven startups. Amsterdam  based, they aim to inspire customers to drive social entrepreneurship, and collaborate with 10 companies out of 700  applicants, and grant them $500K to create their business.  If you’re a startup ready to scale you should apply  🙂
  • Atlas Obscura taught us how you can popularize a hidden gem through storytelling. Each day 60K people tour Venice (GROSS!) and walking through the Drubrovnik pedersatian area can take 40 mins in peak season. I hate to say that I am guilty of contributing to both of these horrific stats, though it was years ago. It’s time to rethink what  the unsung wonders of the world are. For example, the Gocha falls in Peru – it’s the 3rd tallest waterfall in the world, but have you heard of it? What about the Root Bridges of Cherrapunji (which is in danger of vanishing) or the Clown Motel in Nevada that’s next to a miners graveyard? Media has power to communicate these stories to consumers at large. It’s up to us to tell the stories of incredible places and make sure they get the attention the deserve which will ultimately spread the wealth of tourist traffic on to the local economies.

All of the panels and talks were geared to address some of the 5 practices below, which serve as a framework and guide for both travelers and those in the travel business. I was surprised to learn that the Ritz Carlton has a program called ‘ambassadors of the environment’ whereby they educate guests and consumers about the ocean; I think it’s a great effort from an unexpected brand.

5 practices to help build a more transparent travel industry:

  1. Storytelling and resifting the narrative to build empathy and impact (finding the beauty and value in anything, as evidence by Atlas Obsucra’s wealth of content)
  2. Collaboration for the better  (i.e. – Shiva Foundation tackling and preventing human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK, by facilitating a more collaborative and systemic approach to making change)
  3. Fuse sustainability and travel by educating and empowering community (Hostelling International’s model)
  4. Inspire and motivate travers to be embrace sustainable travel as a normal choice (one of ITA’s goals)
  5. Make the right choices as a consumer and traveler – it’s up to all of us to ACT in order to create a better world

One of the excepted outputs of the summit is a whitepaper that will compile all of the ideas developed during the Design Thinking portion of day 2, whereby groups were tasked with 1 brief: make sustainable travel mainstream. Armed with our unique backgrounds and passions to create change, we came up with questions before interviewing a random traveler in our quest to nail the brief.

Here’s a design thinking concept: 

My team took a technological and platform-first approach to enable mainstream sustainable travel by leveraging consumer connectivity and digital behaviors. We plan to devise a scale that will rate the green efforts of all travel stakeholder entities, underpinned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. From large scale hotels groups, boutique operations, airlines, cruise lines, and more, every organization will be assigned an icon that communicates the entitie’s sustainability efforts, shown across all relevant web properties and social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter verification, a dedicated section in the TOC of the entities’ Wikipedia page, integration with Google, and so on. The entities will be accountable to provide a transparent review of their operational activities to the United Nations, and once approved will be granted a green verification by the designated web platforms. This simple consumer indicator will allow for complete transparency across the industry irrespective of sector, and elevate consumer awareness of distinct practices, and overall contribution to a more sustainable world.

I’m working with Mandala Research on a pro-bono basis to help assemble the whitepaper, and I’m so excited to share it with you hopefully in early 2018!

What the future looks like for sustainable travel: 

In 2018, ITA will begin building a comprehensive platform of vetted travel resources to help professionals gain a holistic understanding of sustainability, and implement it into their business models or own travel experiences. ITA’s goal is to provide a resource of trusted materials to those looking to learn more about sustainable tourism. ITA will first look to its current industry partners, such as Ritz-Carlton, Hostelling International USA, Lokal Travel, Kind Traveler and Myght, Inc., but will be expanding its network rapidly.

  “Our goal is to reshape the narrative around sustainable tourism, and help average consumers understand that sustainability can be applied to any type of travel,” said Kelley Louise, Impact Travel Alliance’s executive director. “We believe business and leisure travel can help to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, and hope that through collaboration, we can continue to push the industry toward a more impactful future, ” said Kelley Louise.

Facts about sustainable travel: 

  • The travel industry represents 10% of global GDP and employs 1 in 11 around the world. Yet on average, only $5 out of every $100 spent by travelers remains in the countries visited (according to the United Nations World Trade Organization)
  • 87% of Americans purchase because they support the brand for taking a position around an issue – we expect businesses to step up for causes (source: Cone) 
  • 9,727 companies in over 162 counties committed to the UN global compact & SDG goals
  • 73% of millennials will spend more if the product comes from a sustainable brand (Source: Nielsen)
  • 9.8% of the worlds GDP came from tourism in 2015 (center for responsible travel)  and 1/11 jobs worldwide
  • 76% of baby boomers rate authenticity of local culture as the most important factor, and 57% on tourism in 2030 will be in emerging economies (Source: Expedia)

About Impact Travel Alliance

Impact Travel Alliance is the world’s largest community for impact-focused travel professionals. Through education and advocacy around sustainable tourism, the organization aims to transform the travel industry into a force for good, and to help solve issues like poverty and inequality through business and leisure travel. ITA is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit with a highly engaged and active global community with 20 Hubs (local chapters) in cities around the world. ITA is run entirely by volunteers and the passion of more than 200 active Hub leaders and Media Network members. For more information, visit impacttravelalliance.org.

How to Compost with a Vitamix and Recycle Your Waste

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Vitamix.

The 15th of November is America Recycles Day; the only nationally recognized day and awareness effort dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.

Globally, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of all food grown is lost or wasted, which amounts to about 130 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food annually. In America, food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply, also representing a waste in food production resources from land, water, energy and inputs. In other words, for an American family of four, the average value of discarded produce is nearly $1,600 a year.

What’s also shocking, is that food waste is the single largest component going into municipal landfills; as landfill waste decomposes, it produces a number of pollutants, (air toxins, volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, and methane). Landfills are the second-largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States, accounting for 20% of methane emissions (2014 statistic). If methane is allowed to leak into the air before being used (aka seeping out from a landfill), it absorbs the sun’s heat, warming the atmosphere. For this reason, it’s considered a greenhouse gas (like carbon dioxide), but its far more devastating to the climate because of how effectively it absorbs heat. This is obviously a massive problem regarding climate change. These unfortunate realities are seamlessly connected, and it’s a cycle that’s very broken and staggering to believe.

THE GOOD NEWS – there’s a really easy way to avoid further contributing to this issue: COMPOSTING.

It’s amazing how blending up ‘garbage’ can bring one joy

Composting is a great way to not be wasteful, and support a greener and healthier world. My favorite and easiest way to compost regularly is by using a Vitamix to help break down all my food scraps. If you’re not familiar with a Vitamix, it’s one of the best kitchen and home appliances I’ve ever invested in for culinary reasons, and now I’ve just found another 🙂

How to compost with a Vitamix:

  1. Put your scraps into the Vitamix (avoid dairy, meat, or other cooked items).
  2. Add a cup or two of water – this will help the scraps liquefy.
  3. Pour your liquid compost on top of already watered soil, let it sit for 24 hours and then turn the soil. If you have a larger garden, pour the mixture into large bucket and fill with water to cover more surface area.
  4. Add 2 cups of soapy water back into the Vitamix blender to clean, then rinse.
  5. Maintain your pile: every couple of weeks, use a garden shovel to mix the pile around. Make sure the center stuff goes to the outside and the surrounding stuff moves to the inside. If you see steam rising, that’s a good sign – your pile is literally heating up as a result of the materials in it decomposing.
  6. Feel like a better human by knowing you’re doing your part to make the world a healthier place.

A few helpful composting tips:

  1. Keeping your pile fresh may yield earthworms, and the center of the pile will turn into black, crumbly, sweet-smelling “black gold.”  If that happens then you are on the money!
  2. Brown scraps help remove smell (the pile should smell like good soil), so you can always throw in some leaves that have fallen if necessary.
  3. Involve your kids or little ones – when was the last time you were permitted to play with your food?

As an active New Yorker my groceries sometimes will go unused which is a real shame, but composting with a Vitamix is one way to remedy that issue and turn potential food waste into a useful regenerating compound.  Plus, this habit will significantly lessen your environmental impact, allow you to grow plants more sustainably (hello, fresh, awesome basil and rosemary), and save thousands of dollars in resource use for our world.