Activism

Free Zero Waste Staples!!!

According to Instagram- Zero Wasters have to have a ton of mason jars, bamboo bowls and utensils, glass containers, cotton handkerchiefs and napkins, and a bunch of other zero waste products that are really expensive. You don’t have to own anything of these things to actually be zero waste. Zero waste is a mindset and a lifestyle. If all you do is carry around a reusable water bottle or pick up plastic at the beach, you are still just as zero waste as the person who has the perfect instagram zero waste feed. So, why spend money on items that you already own?

When many find the zero waste lifestyle, they want to live the perfect instagram worthy lifestyle. But, they already own a ton of plastic containers, old rags, old produce bags, bowls, plates, utensils, old rags, cloth napkins, and towels. Not to mention that you can reuse many of the old tomato sauce and spice jars. Why get rid of these items just because they don’t fit the “perfect mold”? Even if these items may not be the most Instagram worthy, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful. The first rule of the zero waste lifestyle is not to throw anything away that you can use!

These items are all free and things that you probably have around the house that will help you take the first steps to your zero waste journey!

Old Sauce and Spice Jars

Whenever we go shopping and grab some tomato sauce or spices we usually will chuck the glass jar into the recycling- or worse the garbage. I have decided to clean them up and start storing my bulk items, granola, plant based milks, and even leftovers from restaurants into them. Why toss something away when you technically paid for it to just to end up purchasing mason jars from the store. Save your time, money, and resources and just reuse what you already have! I also give these to other people who are looking for more glass jars but don’t purchase tomato sauce and other items that come in glass jars that often.

Use the Bags that You Are Given at Parties and Events

So many zero waste bloggers talk about these amazing white organic cotton produce bags. Guess what, I don’t own any white organic cotton produce bags. They are expensive and I already own bags that I use on a regular basis. Yes, some of them are plastic, but hey I helping them from ending up in our oceans and the landfill. I may end up purchasing some of those organic cotton bags when my current ones ripe, tear, or just can’t hold anything anymore. For now, I have continued to use what I already own and save my money on more important things!

Plastic Containers

Unless you are just moving out of your parents house and don’t have any plastic containers, I find it hard to believe that people don’t have perfectly good plastic containers that they can hold take out food and leftovers in. Many zero wasters tell their followers to donate their old containers and then replace them with more sustainable options like glass and rubber. The majority of those containers will probably never get purchased from Goodwill, so unless you're dropping them off at a homeless shelter- which many don’t accept plastic containers. I think it’s better to just use those containers until they break and then begin replacing them with more natural alternatives! If you are worried about the plastic chemicals leaching into your food, just heat it up on the stove or oven before eating it.

Old Rags and Towels Make Perfect Natural Alternatives to Paper Towels!

Forget about purchasing organic cotton napkins and handkerchiefs- use what you already own! I have a bunch of old towels and rags that I have specially for cleaning up messes. They work just as well as paper towels and I just chuck them into the laundry to be washed and used again! I am not sure what nutshell invented paper towels and why they are such a large part of our society today. When you stop using them, you release that they aren’t necessary at all. Our grandparents and our parents all grew up using old rags to clean the counter and floor with. If it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me! I have also turned a few of my old tee shirts into rags to clean messes with so I can give them a new life!

Bring Your Metal Utensils With You Wherever You Go

Many zero waste bloggers, like myself, constantly carry around bamboo utensils that are lightweight and great for travel- especially when you are going on a plane. As your metal utensils may send off a red flag at TSA. If you are going to the office, out to eat, a friends house, or anywhere else where the TSA won't be, take your metal utensils wrapped around a cloth napkin! This will help you reduce your waste whilst on the go, stop you from having to use single use plastic utensils, and better yet, will make you feel better about investing a little extra money on a special meal for yourself. You already own a bunch of metal utensils in your house- so why not take a few with you on the go!

The Ever Evolving Debate Around Climate Change!

We hear a bunch about climate change, global warming, and rising sea levels; but do we know what these terms actually mean?

Do you know where these terms originated? Do you know the different opinions and sides of this particular conversation?

I certainly didn’t until a couple of months ago. After talking with a friend of mine and visiting a class on biodiversity, I realized that there was a ton of information about climate change that I didn’t know about.

Now, I do believe that this is an important issue; but it’s important to note that many don’t believe this is an actual issue at all.

To many, including myself, climate change is a problem that will set back our ability to help restore the natural balance in our planet. This will lead to an increase in natural disasters, rising sea levels, and other issues concerning our planet.

Climate change is a change in global or regional climate patterns. More specifically, it has been a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. The popular belief is that these fossil fuels are man made and a big reason for the increase in hurricanes, wind storms, snow storms and more.

However, many believe that climate change is natural, and there is nothing we should do to help stabilize the global and regional climate patterns because doesn't need to be stabilized. When someone says that Climate Change isn’t real, they are explaining that they don’t believe that these changes in climate patterns are an issue. (Check out more information on both sides at ProandCon.com.) This may be the less popular side of the debate, but many still believe in it.

So, why is it important to show both sides? It’s important because you will probably encounter people who don’t believe that climate change is a result of human activity - namely, the use of fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases. No matter how many times you want to yell and scream at them, it’s important to understand that change doesn't come from anger.

Will all of that yelling and screaming actually make anyone change their mind, or just stress you out? This is especially important if you have a friend, family member, or someone else in your life that you have to be around on a daily basis. Very similar to when talking with people about Zero Waste, take a deep breath and do your research!

Did you know that the term Climate Change goes all the way back to the 1800’s. In 1896 to be specific, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius was the first to suggest that fossil fuel combustion may eventually result in enhanced global warming. Before plastic, factory farms, and oil spills had become daily news, Arrhenius had already known that the use of fossil fuels would cause severe issues for our planet. He and Thomas Chamberlin calculated that human activities could warm the earth by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This research was a by-product of research that was being conducted on whether carbon dioxide would explain the causes of the great Ice Ages. However, it has been said that this wasn't verified until 1987.

Unfortunately, after these discoveries, the topic of climate change wasn’t talked about for a long time. It was during this time that many thought that human influences were insignificant compared to natural forces, something that many still believe today.

It was also believed that the oceans were great carbon sinks that they would automatically cancel out our pollution. I don’t believe that many feel like this is true anymore, however, people do deny climate change as it is seen as a natural force that we can’t do anything to prevent from occurring. Despite all of our fossil fuels imitation, it was going to occur because that’s what mother nature has planned for us.

In the 1940’s, there were developments in infrared spectroscopy that measured long-wave radiation. At the time, it was proven that increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulted in more absorption and warm up the planet. It was also discovered that water vapor adsorbed totally different types of radiation than carbon dioxide.

In 1955, Gilbert Plass concluded that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would actually trap the infrared radiation that was getting reflected off the earth’s surface and back out into space. In the 1950’s and early 60’s, Charles Keeling used the most modern technologies to produce concentration curves for atmospheric CO2 in Antarctica and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. These curves have become one of the major icons of global warming. They showed a downward trend of global annual temperature from the 1940’s to the 70’s. At the same time ocean sediment research revealed that there has been no less than 32 cold-warm cycles in the last 2.5 million years. As a result, many began to fear that the development of a new ice age might be near. Many believed that the media and scientists ignored the date of the 50’s and 60’s in favor of global cooling.



keeling_curve200-dcfcf0795da7688b757ef6224b24476134b8186f-s6-c30 (1).jpg

In the 1980’s, it was acknowledged that the climate was warmer than any period since 1880. The greenhouse effect theory was named and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded by the United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. People began to question the theory of an upcoming ice age, especially in the late 80’s when the curves began to increase so steeply that the global warming theory became headline news. Environmental NGO’s started to advocate global environmental protection to prevent further warming. This press gained an interest in the topic of global warming. However, it seems like nothing has really changed.

In the 90’s, many scientists started to question the greenhouse effect theory, because of some uncertainties in the data and model outcomes. Cooling trends were not explained by the global warming data and satellites showed completely different temperatures recorded from the initial ones. The idea began to grow that global warming models had overestimated the warming trend of the past 100 years. Currently, this idea is being widely debated by scientists, politicians, and people all around the world. That is why many don’t believe that Climate Change is an issue. What if you ask them about their thoughts on the amount of trash the produce. Would they like to limit their trash as much as they possibly can? The majority of people would think that this a good idea. Especially since many cities and towns around the United States don’t have curbside garbage or recycling.

By limiting your and others’ trash/consumption, you are not buying into capitalism, which part of what perpetuates the consumption of fossil fuels that negatively impact our planet. If you encounter someone who doesn’t know a ton about Climate Change and are wondering why people don’t believe that this is an issue, you have the research to explain the other side of the debate. You are also able to have a very well-researched debate on this issue that is more than just trying to tell them that we have to save our planet. I am not telling you to agree or believe in their point of view, or to even support it. I believe that by exploring the other side, we are more likely to have constructive conversations with people about these issues and show others that we have explored the two main sides to the argument/debate. In layman's terms, if you listen to the climate deniers/ skeptics, in return they are most likely to listen to you.

I also want to add that this will allow you to become more passionate about the topic of Climate Change. I had no idea that this term began in the 1800’s. As a result, I have continued to do more research on the scientific papers and research that had come out during that time and compare it to the type of research that is coming out today. This has allowed me to continue finding research that supports and possibly contradicts the point of view- which is that Climate Change is an artificial man made issue that has increased the amount of hurricanes, storms, and other natural disasters. This will help me strengthen my argument when it comes to discussing this particular topics with people who don’t have the same opinions and point of view.

Here are a list of websites that will be more helpful in your research on Climate Change and the ever evolving debate.

http://www.climatedebatedaily.com/

https://www.livescience.com/16388-climate-change-debate-man-nature.html


My Personal Trash Story- Zero Waste or Low Impact

About a year ago when I joined the Zero Waste movement, I focused all of my energy on creating zero trash because that’s what I thought you had to do. As I have talked about before, this made me stressed, aggravated, and full of anxiety. However, over time my family has made me realize that I can’t create Zero Trash. WHAT?! This was soul crushing to me, but also a big wake up call. If I wanted to embark on this lifestyle and movement, then I should do my research and explore ALL aspects of what it means to be an environmental activist.

Recently, Emmi from Sustainably Vegan released a video talking about how discouraging and limiting the term “Zero Waste” can be for many who are trying to reduce their waste. She also explored how a person shouldn’t concentrate on just their trash, but rather EVERYTHING that has to deal with the environment. This includes limiting your water and energy waste, carbon footprint, volunteering, and various other areas that will continue to help us make our planet a better place.

I polled my followers on Instagram and I was excited and shocked to see the amount of people who have decided to label themselves as low waste! However, I was also saddened by the amount of people who felt discouraged by the zero waste movement. I had a talk with Kaycee from @holistichue, once known as TheZeroWasteGirl. She explained how she was constantly receiving negative comments for not being zero waste enough to call her the zero waste girl. This made her feel discouraged and ultimately change her name. During this time she lost a ton of followers. However, she also felt more true to herself. She explained that the followers who did stick around were their because they loved her, not because they were looking for the someone who doesn’t produce any trash. 

This helped me realize that we need to step away from looking at the zero waste lifestyle as perfection and zero trash. The reason being that no one can actually produce zero trash. Better yet, many people who don’t have access to bulk stores, live with non-zero wasters, or who don’t have the financial capabilities to purchase a ton of the “zero waste” items, shouldn’t be pressured to do more than they feel comfortable with. We should also be concentrating on volunteering and advocating more for the environment. 

It’s important to note that if you have been following me for a while, you will know that the first 5 months of my transition I did try the trash jar. At first I got frustrated that I couldn’t start a jar right away. But a few months later, I had decided to try it again to see how much of a impact I was making in the amount of trash I was producing.  FYI I wasn’t able to fit more than a month’s worth of trash into a mason jar. The mason jar didn’t include any of the trash that I accidentally threw into my families trash can. It also didn’t include any of the waste that was created at the grocery store and restaurants I visited, and the amount of gas, water, and pollution I admitted into the air with having 2 part time jobs that forced me to drive everywhere. I am not sure many people take those into consideration when they hold up their fancy trash jar. Take a look at Sabrina from @sustainablesabs and her article on the trash jar! It will allow you to understand that despite how interesting the jar may be, it isn’t the “goal” of the zero waste/ low impact movements. 

Yes, even though I will be labeling myself as a zero waster, I am part of both movements. The zero waste movement is amazing to help encourage more companies to reduce the amount of waste that goes into the production of an item. However, it isn’t exactly ideal for many who want to reduce their waste at home. The low impact movement/ lifestyle allows and encourages people to do the best they can. The word itself is more inclusive for it’s members, and encapsulates many areas that the zero waste movement doesn’t. The zero waste movement has mainly focused on reducing trash; whereas the low impact movement focuses on how to reduce your water and energy consumption/waste, carbon footprint, and helps people want to get more involved in their local community! 

This zero waste/ low impact community has forced me to want to do more. I have a dream to create my own programs, co-ops, campaigns, and so many other big projects that will help make others become environmental activists and do everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint, waste, and help save our planet! Please check out my video below that talks more in-depth about the two movements and the type of content that will be featured on this blog and Youtube channel! 

StrawSleeves Review

Side Note: I have written a blog post about the Plastic Straws and the Ocean, which was featured on Straw Sleeve website HERE!!!

When I started my transition to a zero waste lifestyle, one of my first reusable options that I fell in love with was a metal straw! There is nothing better than drinking your morning smoothie or juice out of a plastic free straw. Currently, I have 5 metal straws and one bamboo one that come with me everywhere. So, why do people use billions and billions of straws everyday? 

Drinking straws is one of the oldest food utensils in the world. It gained popularity in the 1800's, being made out of rye grass. But, the original straw came out over 500 years ago! "In the ruins of the Sumerian cities and tombs, archeologist managed to find straws made from gold and the precious stone lapis lazuli. These expensive 3000 BC artifacts can give us the proof that the more simple designs were used far earlier than that, most probably created from carved wood or natural hollow plants." It is said that they use to drink beer out of their straws. 

 In 1888, American inventor Marvin C. Stone created first model of modern drinking straw. The straw was made out of paper that was wrapped around a pencil and then glued to stay closed. Around the 1950's, when plastic items came into popularity, the plastic straw was born. Now plastic straws are made out of Plastic #7. This plastic isn't usually recyclable. When it is recycled, it can only be turned into plastic furniture, or semi-recycled bags. As a result, plastic straws are usually thrown into the garbage and many times end up in the oceans. Once in the oceans, they can be eaten, stuck in turtles noses, and even stuck in octopuses tentacles. How can we continue to use this item, when it is so dangerous to the rest of our world? 

Many cities and towns have begun to ban plastic straws, bags, and other plastic items that aren’t usually considered recyclable. Guess what?! People didn't even notice that the ban had been put into place. They also didn’t mind the more environmental friendly alternatives, like paper bags, paper straws, reusable cloth bags, and even reusable metal and bamboo straws. In time, I hope that this will help inspire more cities and towns to ban more unnecessary plastic items. Until then, it's important to find companies that are working hard to provide more sustainable options to the masses. 

StrawSleeves, is a small online shop that has started to make big changes in the way of reusable straws, reusable utensil sets, and even reusable bags. All made of out reclaimed cotton, hemp, and denim. I own a reusable utensil set and one of StrawSleeves straws in the carrier case. The carrier case may not seem like a necessity, but it is definitely a nice thing to help keep your utensils and straws organized and clean while in your bag. I keep mine in my bag with me at all times, just in case.

The company is owned by Cheri Newcomb, a women who has dedicated her life to making reusable items more readily available to people who want to reduce the amount of plastic in their life. Their Instagram and Facebook pages are filled with information on their products, healthy recipes, and other resources that help you understand how beneficial living a plastic free life can be to our oceans and the environment.

I personally find these items to also make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for friends and family members who are travel a lot or are looking to help reduce their waste!!!

For more information visit the links below: 

http://www.eatingutensils.net/history-of-other-eating-utensils/drinking-straws-history/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/14/world/plastic-straws-ban-campaigns/index.html

https://www.tv3.ie/xpose/article/lifestyle/260549/The-end-of-singleuse-straws-is-nigh-here-are-6-ecofriendly-alternatives

https://earth911.com/home/food-beverage/recycling-mystery-plastic-straws/

 

 

 

 

The Plastic Straw Ban

During the beginning of my transition to a more sustainable and zero waste lifestyle, I tried my hardest to refuse as many straws as possible. Unfortunately, it looks like waiters and waitresses will continue to put straws in people’s drinks, despite how much you try to refuse them. But, what’s the big deal?

Plastic straws have been around since the 1960’s when TV dinners, plastic dolls, and other items entered into mainstream consumerism.

According to This country is on a mission to stop straws sucking the life out of our oceans “it is estimated that by 2050, the weight of all of the plastic in the ocean will be more than the weight of all the fish”. These numbers aren’t widely discussed in mainstream media, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. The lack of coverage has resulted in people not thinking twice about accepting plastic straws and other useless disposable plastic items. Is there a way that we can get the actual employees and places themselves to stop offering these useless items?

Banning different plastic items is nothing new. In 2014, California became the first state to enact a legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at retail stores. The bill also required a 10-cent minimum charge for recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags at certain locations. The law as set to come into effect in July of 2015 and has lead to many other states, cities, and towns around the United States doing the same. The plastic bag ban has allowed for less plastic bags to end up in the landfill and opened people’s eyes to the possibility of reducing their personal plastic waste.

In 2017, restaurant, diner, and cafe owners in Seattle Washington, conducted a little experiment. They got rid of all of the straws in their drinks to see if people noticed that something was missing. Guess what? Only a few people asked for the straws. As a result, the city of Seattle has decided to go through with a ban on plastic straws, with the possibility for more plastic items being banned in the future. This hasn’t officially happened as of yet, but it’s exciting to see more and more places deciding to ban or put a tax on these unnecessary plastic items. Many places are supplying a biodegradable paper straw alternative, but it’s also important to note the amount of money that these restaurants, diners, and cafes will save by not constantly purchasing plastic straws.

This has helped inspired more cities to start banning plastic straws. In 2018 many cities and towns in Rhode Island banned plastic straws and bags. This has forced more to start bringing their own bags at the grocery store and use paper or metal straws. At restaurants, hospitals, schools, diners, and fast food establishments they do allow for plastic straws upon request. They have been taken out of stores, parties, events, and other areas of the community. In 2019, Washington DC banned plastic straws and stirrers as well- allowing for restaurant owners, schools, hospitals, convenient stores, and other places to use up what they have by the July 2019. They will have a “biodegradable” option for those who request a plastic straw.

This ban seems like a small change, but it will result in more people learning to live without these useless plastic items. Hopefully, by 2050, the numbers will explain how much mainstream consumers and business owners are trying to help save our oceans. Many may ask, why don’t we try and stop the companies who are actually manufacturing and selling these items to the restaurants, stores, diners, and cafes? By refusing these items, we as customers are creating less of a demand for them. In a world dependent on supply-and-demand markets, this will result in more manufactures trying producing these paper straws that can biodegrade in the compost.

If you live in a city or town that hasn’t banned plastic straws yet, you can still make a difference by refusing plastic straws in your drink. I also highly recommend talking with your local diners, restaurants, and cafes about the dangers that plastic straws have on our oceans and planet. Want to do more? You can sign the Last Straw Petition to help encourage more and more places to see the dangers that these useless plastic items have on our planet!

For more information on the plastic ban please visit these websites:

http://blueplanetsociety.org/2017/12/turning-tide-ocean-plastics/

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/movement-under-way-to-rid-outer-banks-of-plastic-straws/

https://pebblemag.com/news/plastic-straws-communities-getting-rid-of-waste