How to Be Eco-Friendly in the Kitchen with Shannon Kenny of Mama Eco
Shannon Kenny of Mama Eco helps eco-conscious women and businesses make better decisions when it comes to the environment. Her blog and Instagram feed both focus on simple ways that consumers can live more sustainably and provide curated sustainable alternatives to the products people use every day.
I love Shannon’s down-to-earth approach to inspiring women to live more sustainably by taking small, actionable steps that seriously add up over time ✌🏼. Read on for all her simple tips to get started!
Photo / Mama Eco
How did start Mama Eco? What’s your story?
I was in a completely unfulfilled job, trying to figure out a way to incorporate the things I was passionate about with my career. The two things I was really passionate about were: art and the environment. So I started a business, making wooden planters out of the reclaimed wood that was sourced locally in New York City. But that's a tough business model to sustain, and so I started thinking about other ways of increasing my environmental impact, while fueling my creativity and being able to support myself.
This lead to the creation of my blog, which opened up a whole new way for me to inspire people to take control of their personal footprint and to tread a little lighter on the planet. That journey eventually lead to my realization that businesses also needed guidance and support when it came to evaluating and reducing their own footprint. And so, here I am…
Photo / @yamazakihome
Describe a typical day.
I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7:30. I meditate, using an app called Insight Timer, and then I make breakfast for my husband and myself while listening to a podcast. Sometimes, I listen to news podcasts like The Daily, sometimes they are spiritual podcasts like Oprah's Super Soul Conversations, and sometimes, I listen to podcasts that focus on female entrepreneurship, like The Influencer Podcast or the She Did It Her Way podcast.
Then I’ll work for a few hours, usually taking a break around lunch time to either eat, take a walk, or do yoga. Then, I'll go back to work for a few more hours, make dinner and go to yoga if I didn’t do it earlier in the day. Sometimes I watch a movie or a documentary with my husband, and I'm usually in bed by 10:00 or 10:30.
What is something you do every day to feel your best?
I always try to get a good night’s sleep. I'm not someone who functions very well without it, so I usually try to get 8 hours. Sometimes it’s 7, sometimes it's 9, but it's something that I’ve never been willing to skimp on.
Photo / @simplyzero_
What’s your biggest tip for self-care?
I love taking walks. I use walks to take a break from work or to get some fresh air or to clear my head if I’m processing something heavy or something that’s overwhelming me. It allows me to hit the reset button and regroup.
What’s your favorite quote or mantra?
This is something that my grandmother used to say, and it's really stuck with me.
Where do you look for inspiration to live more sustainably?
I watch documentaries, I read environmental books, and I also pay attention to friends and acquaintances who I've connected with thorough social media. What's really helpful about social media is you can see how other people are living sustainably, and how that can look very different from how you do it. It's a great place to get inspiration, share tips and be part of a community of like-minded people.
A few books that have really resonated with me are: Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia; Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer; and Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart. They all present information without being super overwhelming and without any environmental shaming or judgment.
Photo / @thepalebluedotshop
What is ONE simple shift someone could make today to start living a more sustainable lifestyle?
Avoid packaging like the plague. If you have the choice between 2 options, but one has packaging and the other doesn’t, opt for the one that is package free. It’s a simple mindset shift that can reduce a ton of waste.
What are your top tips for eating healthfully (for both yourself and the planet)?
Eating less animal proteins is a much healthier diet than a meat-heavy one. It can also have a huge impact on the planet. Animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and by eating less meat, you decrease the demand for cattle, which reduces the amount of greenhouse gases coming out of factory farms.
Keep in mind, sustainable eating doesn’t have to be an extreme thing. Someone doesn’t have to go vegan or vegetarian to eat more sustainably. But by simply taking a look at what you currently eat, and making a decision to do it even one less time a week is a step in the right direction.
Photo / @wastelessmarket
Favorite go-to recipe?
I make my own cashew yogurt several times a week. The recipe is pretty simple: you soak raw cashews overnight. You drain and rinse the them. Then you blend them up with water and fruit. The ratio is: 4 cups of cashews to 2 cups of water to 1 cup of fruit (4:2:1). You can use any kind of fruit, but I like to use blueberries or peaches. Store in a jar, and it keeps for about 5 days (since there are no preservatives in it). Aside from soaking the cashews, the recipe literally takes five minutes to make. It's a super simple, dairy-free, minimally-packaged breakfast.
What are five eco-friendly kitchen products you cannot live without?
Vejibags. For keeping produce fresh in the fridge.
Vitamix. For making nut milk/yogurt/butter/alfredo.
Glass Tupperware. For storing food and leftovers without plastic.
Silicone Spatula. For making sure I get every last drop of food out of my bowl!
Wooden Dish Brush. Traditional sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria...and not the good kind!
Photo / @beeorganic.no
What are your top tips for buying and storing food without plastic?
When you're shopping, try to stay away from pre-packaged produce. And opt for produce that comes in its natural packaging (a.k.a. its skin).
Bring your own reusable produce bags so you can avoid the plastic produce bags they provide at the grocery.
Try to find a bulk section where you can get grains, beans, granola, pasta and all kinds of stuff completely package free. You can bring your own bags or containers to put them in.
Photo / @consciouslivingwithgeorgi
What would you say to someone who’s looking to live more environmentally consciously, but doesn’t know where to start?
Don't try to do it all at once. You’ll get overwhelmed and likely give up before you even get started. This is a marathon, not a race. So pick one thing that you’d like to find a sustainable alternative for, and focus on that until you find a solution. Then, you can move onto another item that you’d like to swap out, and slowly but surely you’ll incorporate sustainability into most of the products you use.
Photo / @thepalebluedotshop
Do you have any recommendations or resources you’d like to share about living a more sustainable lifestyle?
FAVORITE BLOG POSTS
The EWG Healthy Living App. For learning more about what’s in the products you use and what you should be avoiding.