Thursday, May 22, 2014

Earth Day Straw Feedback

Can Earth Day Straws be a "Trigger" for Sippers?

by Cheryl Newcomb
and Yovana Mendoza
GlassDharma straws are designed with a specific purpose in mind. Over the years, the inventory has expanded slightly to include straws for different purposes. Different straw lengths and diameters with particular measurements meet requirements for certain beverages and glassware. There are even straws to replace those made of plastic that come in some reusable water bottles on our "underground" menu.

The goal at GlassDharma is to provide options for reusable, non-toxic drinking straws that are durable and elegant as an alternative to single-use plastic straws. Company policies include reducing the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping footprint as much as possible.

The majority of GlassDharma's fans and customer base consists of a community of health advocates: raw food chefs, vegans, vegetarians, juicing and cleanse advocates, and smoothie drinkers who love to use GlassDharma straws in their daily beverages. The creativity of this community is amazing as they show the many ways to use food as proper nutrition while their artful displays tempt the eye of the taster.

EarthDayStraw, Earth Day, glass straw, small straw, straw, straws
photo by Cheryl Newcomb
Every year, GlassDharma gives away free  glass straws for Earth Day!  The number one purpose of this campaign is to get these straws into the hands of those who have not yet tried them. In past years, GlassDharma gave away the standard 9.5mm by 8 inch straw to participants in the Earth Day Event. This year, the Earth Day Straw is a new length which designed for a 2 fold purpose; to use as much of our glass materials as possible, to reduce materials waste in our facility, and to provide a new length straw that properly fits certain cups, stemware, and glassware that our former designs are just too long for. 

Over the years since GlassDharma started production, a bit of online chatter was discovered making reference to how the glass straws are reminiscent of certain drug paraphernalia.
These comments have been few and far between as the momentum keeps building from those excited about GlassDharma products and the simple solution they provide towards a sustainable lifestyle.

Many letters and comments appear with thanks for the "Earth Day Straw" declaring how much participants from the GlassDharma Earth Day Trivia project love this straw for drinking beverages. As time went on, it was discovered that not everyone was happy with their Earth Day Straw.

One participant posted a comment on the GlassDharma Facebook wall regarding her surprise at receiving something from us similar to what she had used in her past as drug paraphernalia.  In response, we stated that we were not familiar with this type of use for our glass straws. Shorter glasses and stemware require a shorter straw so the function is in the design of the Earth Day Straw. We Congratulated her on her recovery and suggested that she might like to sip a smoothie or fresh juice in a fancy stemware glass like a martini glass to have a new association to healthy habits using our straws! Most of our thanks for these straws come from a huge community of health advocates and eco conscious consumers, so we also expressed hope that she might include herself in this kind of a community that has great love for herself, her health and our planet, where we all live together. We then wished her a Happy Earth Day!

The comment brought up a sensitive topic, but one that is important to address; the subject of "triggers" and how an object might be associated with a former lifestyle.  Triggers can be different for anyone affected by them.  Items that might be identified as "triggers" can be something like a shot glass for a recovering alcoholic, or an ashtray for a former smoker. The association of a "prop" from a former activity may bring certain feelings about a previous era for those who have since entered a new lifestyle.  Early stages of recovery from addiction include avoiding "triggers" that may become problematic for the success of an addiction recovery program.

With these ideas in mind, GlassDharma advocates that all of our straws to be used as drinking straws! Just as a good knife can be used to make wonderful and healthy food, it can also be used to cause damage; knives are still sold with the expectation that they be used safely. We are happy to see so many photos of our Earth Day Straws in drinkware that finally have the perfect glass straw to fit. The many notes expressing delight and thanks for a product that is functional and sustainable are still coming into our inboxes.  We have included this straw as a main menu item on our shopping cart.

GlassDharma advocates positive health practices and encourages straw users everywhere to consider real glassware and reusable straws as best choices for our environment and as chemical free, non-toxic options. A lifestyle change such as recovery from an addiction might eventually invite a former binge drinker to purposely choose the glassware that they once used for alcoholic beverages as a fancy new way to sip healthy juices and smoothies. This modification in their pattern of thought can create new and improved associations with objects once symbolizing an unhealthy lifestyle, and transforms them into feelings of self control and freedom.

We asked Yovana Mendoza from Rawvana on You Tube about triggers and how they play a part in a changed lifestyle toward healthy choices and healthy living.

rawvana, yovana mendoza, healthy lifestyle, smoothie, straw, glass straw
Yovana Mendoza - "Rawvana"
Here is what Yovana shares -

Over a year ago, I completely changed my lifestyle and left a very unhealthy habit of binge drinking. I turned to raw foods and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle filled with love, physical activity, productiveness, and connection with God. Living my previous lifestyle, I had completely forgotten about those missing aspects in my life, I tried to fill those voids with partying, and addictions like drinking and smoking cigarettes, even smoking marijuana. It was normal for me at the time, I was so caught up in that destructive world that it was impossible for me to see the light.

In one of those horrible hangovers I had, I decided I needed a DETOX from the partying and drinking. My mind was foggy; the moral hangovers were making me depressed, anxious, just being alone with myself brought up many negative feelings. I knew it was not normal for me to feel this way and I also knew that turning to anti depressants and anti anxiety pills was not going to fix it. I had tried that before and it did not work. After that, detox was when I turned to raw foods and made the decision to change and make the action steps needed in order to do it.

After more than a year without a sip of alcohol, I can now call myself a recovered addict. Was it easy? No. It took a lot of healing to get me where I am no, and I am still healing. Have I had triggers? YES! Many! I am now a health advocate and inspire others to lead a healthier lifestyle and leave behind addictions because they rob us from the purpose we were designed to have in this world.

I used to post pictures on my Instagram page of my champagne and wine glasses, now I post pictures of my healthy smoothies in champagne glasses, wine glasses, mason jars, and I often use Glass Dharma glass straws because they really add a lovely feel to drinking a smoothie or juice, it makes the experience much more enjoyable. I think they are unique and make people want to drink healthy beverages.

I am grateful for triggers because they are an indication I needed to do some inner work. I have learned that we cannot blame anyone for every negative feeling we have, we have to turn the camera around and point it to ourselves. When triggers come up for me, I take some time to relax, lay down, meditate, be in a calm space, maybe turn on some soothing music and just breathe deeply, slow down my mind and ask myself "what is really going on?". It also helps to talk to someone; I talk to my parents all the time about my anxious feelings. Letting it out helps because when you speak it aloud instead of just thinking it in your head, it becomes more powerful.

I am on a constant road of self-development, self-healing, and nourishment. The important thing is knowing how to cope with triggers and issues and work on them so we can become a better version of ourselves!

Yes, let us all be "a better version of ourselves"! Thank you, Yovana for sharing your experiences and insight.  Please visit Rawvana on YouTube where she demonstrates fabulous recipes. There is even a new Ravana's Raw Recipes App for recipes and shopping lists to make this healthy way of eating and drinking as easy as ever!  Watch for a new Rawvana revamped website - coming soon!

We invite your comments and opinions on this topic, and for general feedback on the Earth Day Straw.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Outdoor Cookouts and Entertaining

Outdoor Grilling and Summertime Meals

by Angela Yannessa
GlassDharma wants to help you Green your Barbecues this Spring and Summer! It is easy to do once you take notice of reusable options over their "disposable" counterparts.

dishes, napkins, reusable, reuse, BBQ, entertaining
photo by Didriks on Flickr
If you are hosting an event, use real stuff! Don't waste money on paper or plastic cups, utensils, and plates that will leave you with a large amount of waste, use plates and utensils you already have! A run of the dishwasher or a load of dishes in the sink is minimal to the amount of time and money you will save not buying plastic ware. In addition, it is  much better for the environment and health of you and your guests.

Have you invited more people than you have plates for? How can you cut out the need for "disposable" products in such a large party setting? Consider the number of people attending the event, and if you will not have enough plates/utensils/glasses on hand, ask someone who is helping coordinate or bringing a side dish to bring a set of plates. You can also borrow from a neighbor, or just ask everyone to bring their own plates and utensils. Cloth napkins can be used, and instead of plastic tablecloths that get thrown away, you can use cloth, towels, or sheets.  The main goal is to reduce waste, so get creative. Use leftover jars from pickles or jam for drinking glasses. For kebabs, use  a rosemary stem or metal skewers instead of single use wooden ones. Once you start coming up with new ideas, the rest will easily come to you.

In addition to lessening your footprint, food served from ceramic plates and glass dishes over plastic or aluminum simply looks more appealing. Let the foods do the decorating for you! Fruit plates, vegetables, and your grilled meals served in glass or ceramic show off the true beauty of the food itself, and you won't feel the need for space filler decorations. Beverages taste better from glasses over plastic, and we all know plastic knives have never been useful for cutting. What better way to impress guests than with real serve-ware, delicious food, all the while being conscious of the environment? This doesn't stop with forks, knives, and plates either; putting your GlassDharma straws in a vase for use in beverages will serve as a centerpiece, and will be sure to start some conversations.

grill, veggies, vegetables, BBQ, outdoor cooking
Photo by Jeremy Keith
Besides serve ware, the next place to cut the most waste is the grocery store. For food purchasing, bring your own shopping bags, and as much as possible, containers to carry your meat and vegetables out plastic free. Jars, Pyrex, and other glass options are best for meat, while light netted bags are great for vegetables and fruits. Try to buy local products as much as possible, which also reduces your footprint. As soon as you get home and unpack your bags, you will see the amount of waste reduced from bringing your own containers and bags.

When it comes time for food preparation, the grill is the perfect outdoor choice in the warm weather. It allows you to enjoy the warm, fresh air, and keeps the house cool in the midst of late Spring and Summer heat! In addition, it allows extra fats to be removed from meat in the cooking process, and retains more beneficial vitamins. Fruits and vegetables are also really great when grilled- and many maintain more nutrients when grilled, and overall grilled food comes out tender and delicious, retaining its best natural flavors.
Another consideration for the environment is the type of grill you use. Gas and propane grills have been found to be best, causing the least amount of pollution when compared with coal fired grills.

Below are some ideas for different types of food to grill to change it up for your barbecue. If grilling meat, be sure not to let it burn.** This can be done by first choosing small cuts of lean meat, and turning them often while cooking. Thicker cuts take longer to cook on the inside, so the outer portion is more likely to burn. Besides not tasting good, from a health standpoint this charring can expose the meat to carcinogens that are not good to ingest. These substances can also arise when fat drips from the meat hitting the flames and traveling back up in the smoke. For the best, healthiest results, make sure to start with a clean grill, and focus more of the meal on vegetables and fruits which do not produce these substances.

As a staple in many kitchens, chicken can become a boring meal throughout the year. When the warm weather arrives and the grill can be used,  it allows many different recipes and flavors to be used to enhance the dish and make it more interesting. Barbecue sauce, teriyaki, and peanut sauces pair perfectly with chicken and provide a great range of flavor.

Do you have a flat grill plate? While open grates work fine for many vegetables and fruits, the flat plate will give you more control from fallen pieces, as well as seasoning. This is a great way to make "fries" at home without the grease! Sweet potato OR regular, slice into centimeter thick strips, oil your grill plate and grill until tender. Close the lid of the grill to allow them to get crispy on the outside. Season with salt and pepper to taste, in addition to any other favorite flavor. Garlic and parmesan are a great pair for fries. "Baked" potatoes are easy on the grill, too!

Veggie burgers are easy to make at home with bread crumbs, quinoa, and sweet potato, or black beans, mushrooms, and corn. See the recipe here.

Heads of romaine can be grilled for a twist on your traditional salad, as well as homemade pizza!
For side dishes like potato, chicken, or egg salad, avocado can replace mayo; just peel, remove the pit, and toss it in the food processor with some lime juice and black pepper!

jars, drinks, ice, bowl
Individual Drinks in Jars
For keeping drinks cool, use a wheelbarrow or borrow a friends cooler so you don't have to buy one you might only use this once. Have an open flower box or two? Fill them with ice and beverages for cold drinks! Many pint sized jars are freezer proof- fill those with your drink of choice and put them in your cooler.

Any grilled meal pairs perfectly with a lavender lemonade complete with GlassDharma straw! Lemonade is great for any hot day, and the addition of lavender spices it up a little and provides an enjoyable and unique flavor. Lavender also contains many health benefits, is anti-inflammatory, and will help you digest your grilled meal. Try this recipe for your next barbecue. A splash of gin works wonderfully in addition, if desired.

All in all, keeping it simple will allow you to cut out waste from plastic and paper items, and have a beautiful party with delicious food.

** See how using a beer based marinade can reduce possible carcinogens in the INH Health Watch Newsletter

What are your favorite summer recipes? Please share your favorite recipes with GlassDharma in the comments.