After a childhood of hoarding every possible toy, gadget, music box, doll, hairbrush, puzzle, clothing item, and book that I could until things started to fall on me when I opened the doors to my very large closet, I came to the realization that I no longer owned these items. Rather, they owned me and I didn’t like it. The summer after college, I found myself staring with dread all of the things that I had held onto. I felt emotionally drained by having to go over the hundreds, possibly thousands, of individual items that had collected over nearly two decades in that bedroom. I worked on a little bit each day, dreading the task of looking at these items that I had deemed so important at one point. After a few weeks of attempting to de-clutter, I started to fantasize about someone breaking into my parents house and robbing us of everything in my closet that I no longer wanted while considerately leaving behind the items I still wanted. Sadly, that dream never came true and I had to face the mess I had created for myself over the course of that summer.Read More »
My husband and I are about to have our first child, and the looming environmental crises that we face as a society can be overwhelming to think about. The things that we expect to happen in our child’s lifetime are unthinkable and we both think it a moral imperative to act now to ensure the next generation has a chance to see glaciers, polar bears, coral reefs, and you know…breathe clean air. So, we started to think about what we could do to further lessen our carbon footprint. We already are eating a primarily plant-based diet at home, we have solar on our roof, and we try to buy local/used whenever possible and opt-out of fast fashion. Yet, we own a Subaru that gets 23 miles per gallon and we get on planes a lot for both work and pleasure.Read More »
Babies today are surrounded by plastic. Their bottles are plastic, their toys are plastic, their stuffed animals are plastic, even their blankets, lovies and clothes are plastic, made from synthetic materials. Many of these plastics that surround them come in the format of microfibers, small tiny synthetic fibers made from polyester, nylon, rayon, spandex, and Lycra that shed into our oceans. I hate synthetic microfibers with a passion (see my blog on the Plastic Pollution Coalitions website to learn more about why) and I have tried to stop purchasing items that shed synthetic microfibers. It had not occurred to me until recently that all of my own childhood stuffed animals were polyester on the outside and inside. Babies put everything in their mouths and the idea of my kid sucking on and ingesting small pieces of plastic microfibers is unsettling to me.Read More »
Optimizing your everyday carry (EDC), or the essential items that you carry on your person every day, is a hot topic these days especially in the life-hacking world. While all of us have items that we carry daily out of habit or necessity (e.g. a wallet or cell phone), many of us do not focus on optimizing all of the items that we carry on our person to meet our daily needs. I was first introduced to the concept of putting intention around your everyday carry essentials by Tim Ferriss, an author and podcast host best known for trying to optimize one’s daily routine for optimal efficiency. I quickly realized that the concept of everyday carry (EDC) is a really important tool for enabling each of us to live more sustainably. An EDC tailored to the life you lead can easily eliminate the single-use packaging that you most commonly use and reduce how much waste you generate, while simultaneously enabling you to enjoy the things you love more easily.Read More »
Years ago, my friend Tim showed me his grandfather’s safety razor and explained to me that all he had to do was buy a big box of stainless steel blades and swap them out after each shave. I thought it seemed like a neat idea to reduce waste, but did not really think of it as an option because I never saw safety razors for sale in storesRead More »
Last night, I went to a panel on plastic straws hosted by MoneyVoice at West of Pecos, a delicious San Francisco restaurant know for their margaritas that recently changed from automatically including plastic straws in their cocktails to offering paper straws upon request only. At the event, I learned from a panelist who works for the Surfrider Foundation that many of the restaurants in San Francisco that have moved away from plastic straws and implemented a paper-straw upon request policy are actually saving money, both on the cost of straws as well as on their garbage bill as generating less waste has reduced their trash bill by hundreds of dollars per month. Crazy, right? After the panel, attendees broke out in small groups and discussed different ways that restaurants could make simple changes that benefit their pocketbook, the planet and the health of their customers.Read More »
Bulk sections are popping up in grocery stores all over the country, even in places you wouldn’t expect them like in Walmart. This is great news for several reasons:
- Buying in bulk reduces the cost of goods that I like to buy, often significantly. I like to buy organic over conventional foods because I don’t want farm workers or farming communities exposed to toxic chemicals, and I don’t want any residue of those chemicals in my body. Organic goods are usually more expensive than conventional, but buy buying in bulk, I can usually make it cheaper to buy the organic product than it would be to buy the pre-packaged conventional product.
- Buying in bulk reduces packaging waste. When I bring my own container and fill it from the bulk bins, I typically am reducing packaging waste. I say reducing and not eliminating because the goods going into my refillable container typically got delivered to the store in a single-use container of some kind.
- Buying in bulk can reduce food waste. When I only buy as much food as I need, I throw away less food. Food waste is a big environmental issue that we can fix by buying smarter (learn more) and a waste of money.
The theme of Earth Day 2018 is stopping plastic pollution. As Earth Day approaches, I see more and more people posting articles about plastic pollution, helping to raise awareness about the issues. This excites me! Awareness is the first step to solving the problem; without awareness, people do not realize that there is a problem that needs to be solved and they have no reason to take action. However, awareness without action is critical to making changes. For much of my life, I have been guilty of this because change is hard. Making changes takes effort and disrupting existing patterns. Over time, I have learned that if you are willing make something a priority and set aside a few hours to doing something about it, change will occur. Otherwise, the status quo will persist and change will remain an idea.Read More »
Right now, Starbucks is in a lot of hot water for the amount of plastic pollution they generate. Their paper cups are lined with plastic, making them hard to recycle and impossible to compost. This morning on my way to work, I found one squished in the middle of the street. That is the problem with single-use packaging, once it has been used, it has no value and as such, people have no incentive other than their own conscience to take care of it. In 2008, Starbucks put forth a goal of increasing the percentage of reusable cups used to 25% by 2015 (source). By 2011, they had only hit 1.9%, which equated to 34.1 million cups saved….which, for those willing to do some math, means that the other 98.1% would represent 2.8 BILLION single use cups were created and disposed of into landfills, and sadly, our waterways. In 2011, their goal for 2015 was reduced to 5%. It is now 2018 and they are only at 1.4% per Fast Company, which would mean that the number of reusable containers used has gone down since 2011. Yikes.Read More »
I was chatting with two of my housemates the other day about beauty products and they were surprised to hear that I did not use specialized beauty care products like face wash or facial moisturizer. Rather, I rinse my face with warm water (or soap if I put on sunscreen) and then moisturize with pure argan oil. Our conversation reminded me that my minimal beauty routine was not always so minimal. Like most women, I’ve tried hundreds of personal care products over my teenage and adult years. When I was younger, I constantly switched which shampoo and conditioner that I used based upon what was cheapest at the grocery store. I owned multiple bags full of cosmetics, constantly searching for a lipstick that didn’t dry out my lips, mascara that wouldn’t run but would easily wash off or eye make up that wouldn’t crease. I spent way too much time and money trying new products, always looking for something that worked better or was cheaper.Read More »