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 »
The 48th Annual Earth Day 2018 is fast approaching on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Lately, it feels the earth is screaming at us to wake up; massive earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires ravaged North America last year. Scientists report that our drinking water supplies are being contaminated by microplastics, YouTube videos show us the damage that our plastic habit has on our ocean life and we hear the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is larger than previously thought (specifically, 3x the size of France).Read More »
My husband and I left the country last August for five months of travel around Australia and Asia. Before we left, we downsized our life to fit into a 9×9 foot storage unit; it was a painful process to make thousands of decisions on what to keep and what to let go of. We spent weeks making these decisions and then went about selling and donating the hundreds of items that we let go of. Read More »
I recently watched a very interesting documentary called Life Off Grid that looked at all aspects of living off of the grid: what drives people to live without the convenience of utilities that the vast majority of us take for granted such as power, water and sewers, and what does life look like for these families? Read More »
I lived in the Presidio in San Francisco for six years, a former military base turned national recreation area right next to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. It was a beautiful place to live, full of meandering trails, dense eucalyptus groves, and more often than not, small pieces of litter that had either been dropped or escaped people’s trash cans, blown by Read More »
Hello, my name is Kara and I’m a recovering shopping addict. Growing up in an affluent California suburb during the ’90s, it is no great surprise that I spent a lot of time in shopping malls. Read More »