Sustainable Holiday Hacks

It’s December and that means the winter holidays are upon us. With it comes a flurry of shopping, consumption, and giving. For many of us, that means receiving gifts that we don’t need, opening tons of packaging that gets thrown away, and spending lots of money of things that we aren’t sure will get much use.

This is not to say that gift giving, shopping, and enjoying the holidays is inherently bad, but for those who are concerned with reducing waste it can present a bit of a challenge. There are simple things we can do to maximize our seasonal enjoyment and minimize our environmental impact.

Shopping

  • Shop local as much as possible, in particular from small busineses.
  • Consider shopping second hand at thrift stores, consignment shops, or online marketplaces like Mercari. You can often find items that are new with tags or in like-new condition.
  • Give gifts that encourage less waste, like reusable shopping bags or glass storage containers.
  • Make your own gifts using recycled or upcycled materials, such as bath salts and hand scrubs in old jars. Anything handmaid is a more sustainable option.
  • Give experiences instead of things with gift cards or vouchers to local attractions or nearby destinations.

Gifting

  • Save and reuse boxes and gift bags year after year if you must have seasonal gift wrapping.
  • Use postcards instead of traditional holiday cards, eliminating the need for envelopes and therefore reducing waste.
  • Give gifts in baskets or reusable cloth bags, which will come in handy at the grocery store.
  • Wrap gifts in reusable cloth. The cloth can even double as a scarf or tapestry.
  • Reuse materials for gift wrap, like newspaper or paper grocery bags.

Decorating

  • Use solar-powered lights for decorating outside, which can even be connected to a timer.
  • Decorate with items found in nature, such as pine cones, evergreen branches, twigs, berries, flowers, etc.
  • Cut Christmas trees are a more sustainable option that artificial trees, but potted trees can be planted outside after the holidays.
  • Use second-hand or vintage decorations. Some of the best holiday decorations are the ones that conjure fond childhood memories.

Celebrating

  • Serve and enjoy locally-grown food as much as possible. Nothing tastes better than food that is fresh, in-season, and grown locally.
  • Send electronic invitations instead of paper ones for holiday events and gatherings.
  • Walk your neighborhood to view light displays instead of driving around to other areas. If your neighbors don’t decorate much, drive somewhere close, park, and walk around instead of staying in the car.
  • Donate leftover food to food banks and compost what can’t be donated.

What are your favorite holiday traditions, and how can you make them more sustainable? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Holidays!

Be well,

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Here are some of my favorite wellness gift ideas for everyone in the family. Many holiday catalog items are here for a limited time only, so feel free to check with me on availability. 

Young Living members get wholesale pricing on all purchases. Use my link to create your account and sign up as a retail customer or purchase a starter kit for $35 or more and add these items at wholesale pricing! 

For Dads

Car Vent Diffuser – $14.75 wholesale | $19.41 retail
Season’s Greetings Air Freshener Set – $12.00 wholesale | $15.79 retail

For Moms:

Christmas Spirit Hand Soap Gift Set – $18.50 wholesale | $24.34 retail
Joy to the World Bath Bomb – $12.00 wholesale | $15.79 retail

For Spouses:

Sweet Aroma Diffuser – $39.75 wholesale | $52.30 retail
NingXia Zyng – $35.75 wholesale | $47.04 retail

For Kids:

Feather the Owl Diffuser – $49.75 wholesale | $65.46 retail
Kidscents MightyPro – $32.75 wholesale | $43.09 retail

For Babies:

Seedlings Calm Essential Oil Blend – $12.75 wholesale | $16.78 retail
Seedlings Calm Linen Spray – $12.50 wholesale | $16.45 retail

For siblings:

Chocolessence Bundle – $36.00 wholesale | $47.37 retail 
O’ Christmas Tree Bath Bomb – $12.00 wholesale | $15.79 retail

What gifts are you most excited to give or receive this year? Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Be well,

5 reasons I would NEVER join an MLM

You read that correctly. And I’m guessing many of you share the sentiment. Here are the main reasons I promised myself years ago that I would never join an MLM (multi-level marketing company), also known as network marketing or direct sales.

  1. Misinformation and false claims
    This was a huge reason for me. Years ago I saw a seemingly endless stream of posts on social media making pretty outrageous claims about diet shakes, drink mixes, supplements, and yes – essential oils. It was so prevalent that it actually became difficult to weed through the overblown claims and figure out if any of it was actually true. It was easier write all of it off as misinformation spread by snake oil salespeople.
  2. Cold messaging on social media
    This one… just ICK. Raise your hand if you have ever received a friend request on social media almost immediately followed by a message that went something like this: “Hey girl! How have you been? We haven’t talked since high school, crazy how time flies! I saw you just had a baby, cute!! If you’re looking to lose some of that baby weight, I have an AMAZING exercise program with proven results! Are you interested in joining my challenge group?” Ugh… this is just plain wrong on so many levels.
  3. Predatory recruiting
    The statistics about direct sales companies and their distributors can actually be pretty alarming. It’s well known that very few people in MLM companies make it to the top ranks, and the vast majority never make any money at all. It’s hard to see that data and then believe someone when they say “earn full-time income doing part-time work!” or “become a millionaire right from your smartphone!”. These tactics often target low-income people who need the money most, and also have the most to lose.
  4. Overpriced products of low quality
    This one is obviously quite subjective. Everyone has a different idea of what affordability means, and quality can also be viewed subjectively. But there are myriad honest product reviews out there from customers and even former distributors who speak to the poor quality of the products. It’s often believed that the prices are high in order to pay out commissions to distributors and “uplines”.
  5. Scams
    Of course MLM scams do exist. The number one sign that an MLM opportunity is a scam is an obvious lack of product or a focus on recruiting over selling. While not necessarily scams, it’s also true that direct sales companies pop up (the industry is growing quickly) and then shut down abruptly, leaving distributors out of luck after sometimes investing significant funds into the opportunity (or perhaps worse – purchasing a massive amount of inventory they won’t be able to sell).

I can imagine that this might resonate with you, you might be nodding your head in agreement, but also thinking “Ok Allison… but aren’t you a Young Living distributor? That’s an MLM too!” And you’d be correct. But I wouldn’t be giving you the full story of how I got here without being transparent about my thoughts, beliefs, and background.

So this is the part where I tell you that not all direct sales companies are created equal. The five reasons listed above STILL get my blood boiling, and I have a hard time supporting distributors that engage in those practices and companies that encourage them. So I’ll address what changed my mind about Young Living in those same five categories.

  1. They take a stand against misinformation and false claims
    While I didn’t see anyone I know personally do this, I saw other Young Living reps doing it years ago. And it was problematic. Since then, the company has cracked down on reps making exaggerated or unverified product claims through their conduct success training. They strive to make sure all distributors are educated on FDA compliance and ensuring proper labeling. This means a lot to someone like me, who values evidence-based practice. It also means that noncompliant distributors can have their accounts terminated, which I am not opposed to.
  2. No cold messaging on social media
    Of all the cold messages I have received, interestingly none of them have been from my MANY friends involved with Young Living. I finally signed up with my membership in July 2019, but folks in my social circles have been members since as far back as 2014 (that I know of). There still may be leaders telling people to use this strategy, and the truth is that cold messaging can be effective when done correctly. It’s just a method I chose not to employ. I have a professional background in B2B marketing and am comfortable contacting people in a courteous manner who give me their contact information. I won’t target anyone directly on social media, especially if we haven’t spoken in years.
  3. No predatory recruiting
    All of the leaders I hear from in Young Living make the same claim about the income opportunity: that it takes hard work to succeed (just like anything else in life!). No rank or salary is ever promised, and it is company policy to share the income disclosure statement any time the business opportunity is discussed. You can read that statement here: https://static.youngliving.com/en-US/PDFS/IDSOnlineVersion_PDF_US.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1O7oLpBkTUq-xTRxTlheesnJBoWEFO_54GJW5bWtNwEItHDlIQMnphDjs
  4. High-quality products that are responsibly sourced
    This one is SO important to me and a big part of my story. I was introduced to Young Living essential oils in early 2017 when my mother-in-law was in hospice care. Her longtime friend gifted us several oils and products to help her feel more comfortable. After she passed, they sat in our house untouched for months (which was unfortunate because we needed the emotional support). I finally began to explore the oils and what they could do, and I was honestly blown away. However, what I didn’t understand then was that you really do get what you pay for sometimes. So when those oils ran out or ran low, I started purchasing and using other brands (in part because of my frugal nature, and in part because of my anti-MLM stance). Here’s the thing: the results were not the same. I had to use TWICE as much product to get the same effect. I was using the product more quickly. I was experiencing respiratory issues when diffusing oils that were supposedly the same as the Young Living ones I loved before. Skin irritations occurred. They are not the same, friends. Not even close. My personal experience was that store bought essential oils pale in comparison to the quality of a 25-year old company with the highest standards in the industry.
  5. It’s not a scam
    This one is pretty obvious. Young Living has been in business for 25 years. They are the industry leader in essential oils. They are transparent about the business opportunity and have real, quality products for sale. There is no “scheme.” The company is pretty transparent and there is a wealth of resources available for product users and business builders alike.

If you’re on the fence about joining a direct sales company, know that there certainly is a legitimate business side and that some have phenomenal products that stand the test of time. Think about how many direct sales companies have been around for decades and are household names because their products are well-liked (Tupperware, Mary Kay, Avon, Young Living, etc.). It’s important to do your research, separate fact from fiction, and get to know the distributors you are purchasing from. Trust is crucial.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Be well,

Toddler Travel: 5 Lessons From Our First Family Flight

Some families travel frequently and their Instagram feeds are filled with beautiful photos from incredible destinations. This blog is not for them.

This blog is for the family that has to prepare, save up, and plan every detail of their vacation in order to make the most of their limited funds or time off from work. It’s for the families who only dream of maybe finally taking that family vacation next year. You know, the trip that didn’t work out this year.

Listen up, fam – you can make it happen! If you’re not sure where to start, I’m here to share some tips to help you see the world with your little one(s). Here are a few things I learned from our first cross-country family vacation:

1. Children under 2 fly free on a parent’s lap.

For many jet-setters, this is common knowledge. For families looking to afford their first trip together, this information might be a game-changer. For us, this information was used as motivation to finally book our trip from New York to California before our son’s 2nd birthday. For our family of three, purchasing one less plane ticket meant making a cross-country trip much more affordable.

There’s a lot to consider when flying with your baby or toddler, and flying with a lap child might not be the best solution for everyone. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges travelers to secure children in a child safety restraint system in flight, which does require the purchase of an additional ticket per child. More information about the FAA’s recommendations can be found by visiting their website.

2. Car seats and strollers can be checked for free.

Airlines allow travelers to check a car seat and stroller free of charge. We opted to gate check our stroller so that we had it available for navigating busy airports. We did check our car seat at the counter with our other baggage since we opted to fly with our son in our laps.

If you do plan to check a car seat, as we did, there are some things to be aware of. Car Seats for the Littles, Inc is a 501(c)(3) organization, staffed by Child Passenger Safety Technicians who advocate for car seat safety.

They recommend placing the car seat in a box (its original packaging is preferred) with padding, and gate checking if possible. The concern is that car seats may arrive at your destination with damage that cannot be seen. You can read more about their suggestions for air travel with children at csftl.org.

3. Flying at night worked better for us.

This one will obviously depend on your child’s temperament, schedule and sleep patterns. Our son hasn’t always been the most reliable napper, but sleeps deeply and consistently overnight. I’ve also found that overnight flights, for the most part, are darker and more quiet, creating a better environment for toddler sleep.

We had a more difficult time finding an overnight flight for our trip home, so we ended up flying during our son’s normal nap time. Predictably, our son did not nap during the flight and the result was a restless, over-tired toddler during our long journey home.

4. Expect some sleep schedule adjustment and plan accordingly.

We intentionally left our schedule open for our first full day in California. This was such a good idea, as we all were adjusting the time different and lack of sleep from our long trip. Toddlers, in particular, require some leeway and grace in this department. A regular sleep schedule is essential to most children at this age, so a major deviation can (and probably will) cause some crankiness. Be prepared for an adjustment period!

5. Accept that screen time can be a big help.

Our family is generally not in favor of excessive screen time. While we haven’t exactly followed the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines to a T, we usually try to focus on daily activities that include outdoor time, physical activities, and imaginative play. A lot of online resources suggest bringing along your child’s favorite toys and books. However, we found in packing for our trip that the items we could carry only provided about 15 minutes of entertainment at a time.

I had a strong feeling that this would not suffice for a 5+ hour flight, so I purchased several episodes of our son’s favorite age-appropriate show (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!) and some over-the-ear headphones for him to enjoy during the flight. I didn’t want to be that mom who lets her toddler run up and down the aisle of the cabin, so I opted for a bit of screen time to keep him quiet, happy and in his seat for much of the flight.

img_6042

Are you ready to book a flight with your toddler? Where are you heading? I’d love to hear about your family adventures in the comments below!

Keep exploring,

Alli Signature

The Greatest Adventure of All

IMG_0674Experts suggest that when returning to blogging after a hiatus, it’s best to not even mention your absence. Just jump right back into it as if nothing happened. That’s great in theory, however my absence from blogging is pretty hard to ignore for a couple of reasons.

For starters, the length of my blogging hiatus is pretty significant. My last published post was in February of 2016 – a year and a half ago! That’s a long time – practically a lifetime in the digital realm. I probably lost a lot of followers who I worked hard to connect with.

More important than the length of my absence, however, is what happened during it. A lot of big, life-changing things happened since February 2016, and I can’t wait to share them with my readers, old and new.

19400593_10101185629695811_3872076164042075042_o

As you may have guessed from the new name and URL of this blog, I had a baby! Becoming a mom has changed my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined, so naturally, it will change my blog as well! As Trekking on Two Feet transforms into Trekking Mom, you can expect the same type of posts, but from the perspective of a first-time mom trying to raise her own little adventurer.

I’ll be sharing some of the amazing experiences from pregnancy and life as a new mom, and of course, our family adventures to come.

If you’re still following, hey there! I’ve missed you! What have you been up to for the past year and a half?! Tell me about your adventures, big and small, in the comments below!

Keep exploring,Alli Signature