Persistence is what we need

I get many questions about whether I think what I do is enough to make a difference in the world. My clear answer to that is NO. Obviously, just my reusable bags, mugs, cups, utensils and everything else is not going to change the world. And I genuinely believe it is the right direction. The more people live this way, the more it will make a difference and cause the change we and our planet needs. It will not happen overnight, though it will happen.
The problem
Recycling isn’t the answer. That might sound interesting coming from me, who’s trying to get everybody to recycle anything and everything that touches their hands, especially if it has plastics in it.
There are plenty of articles out there, and experienced conservationists worried about people “feeling good about themselves” because they recycle and choose to buy from more eco-conscious companies. Sometimes awareness of recycling causes people to justify higher consumption. (I recycle anyway). Still, recycling isn’t the best solution.
This does NOT mean do NOT recycle. Recycling is necessary. It is not the answer.
It also does NOT mean go on and buy Coca-Cola, DuPont, 3M, Nestle, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, etc. products.
And most importantly, it also does NOT mean go ahead and use everything freely and abundantly since you’re able to recycle and buy from eco-conscious companies. Buying a plastic item that is made of recycled ocean plastics is still buying a plastic item. The key question to ask is what do you do with it after it’s been used?
Breakaway from Consumerism
The point is we are a consumerist society. The actual problem is not going to be resolved until people stop with the idea that every single person in their household “needs” a certain gadget – instead of first looking at ways to share (i.e TVs for instance). It’s not going to change as long as people think that it is their “right” to get bottled water from the corner store, since they are thirsty and didn’t bring a reusable bottle. Or that they can request a plastic fork and spoon to use for less than 10mins. It doesn’t mean that businesses can get away with “we have to be profitable to stay in business” without thinking about what the true cost of that profit really is.
We all need to act intelligently. Truly, intelligent. Humanely intelligent.
Fast fashion? It’s the most harmful and expensive thing that has probably hit humanity since single use items like straws, lids, cups etc. And also, perhaps especially, coffee pods.
We’ve seen how harmful single use straws, bottles and cups are why do we keep using the single use coffee pods?
The power of change and the magnitude comes when we are relentless, when we actually “make” the change visible. When we actually decline a ’way of living” from it’s roots.
What can you do?
Keep doing what you’re doing with recycling and avoiding single use plastics. It really DOES make a difference. It’s not as big a difference as we need at the moment, but it is a difference.
Meanwhile, keep writing to your governors and senators, keep bringing this up to your shop owners. Strive to grow your action and pledge not to get comfortable with “just” what you have accomplished so far. We need to strive for more in this one, the one where less is more. Our call is for persistence, relentless persistence in this road less traveled.
It is a big undertaking, it’s the type of change that truly needs to start from the people. Us awaiting that the businesses, corporations and governments are finally going to do the right thing is not happening. It hasn’t happened. It will NOT happen. The industry feeds and incentivizes them too seriously for them to turn around and say it makes ‘business sense’. It’s a concept I believe has brought a lot of good things to our Earth, enabled much for our kind and at the same time harmed each of us and our planet to the core. The fastest way for this type of change will make true business sense is if it’s driven by the consumers. You stop buying what you’re buying TODAY and see how quickly they get removed from the shelves and replaced with what YOU do buy. Things that are readily and easily recyclable, things that you truly need not impulse buys and things that are made sustainably.
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Snapple

The times are changing. Daily we see news about some plastic ban, environmental decision, beach clean-ups, switches to more sustainable products, etc. We’re working to transform the way humanity approaches business and consumer decisions.
Transform how consumers act and freely choose the products they want to buy. We’re calling for big companies like Coca-Cola to stop providing plastic bottles – since for the majority of the communities who buy the products there are no recycling, and even waste management solutions. The bottles end up in our waterways and in our oceans. Through poisoning the very thing that gives us life — water, we poison ourselves and our future generations.
As many communities start announcing they will be switching to glass bottle return services, banning plastic cups and packaging, some businesses seem to be going the opposite direction.
Snapple. A company that has been doing a lot of good on the planet and in NYC via funding school programs and scholarships. They invest in the Closed Loop Fund. They recycle about 85% of their manufacturing waste – a huge feat in the industry known to produce waste in the thousands of tons. They provide healthier options to students, and adults, promoting low sugar and more natural choices in glass bottles with aluminum caps. 100% recyclable. 2017 – Snapple decides to go in an archaic direction – use plastic bottles rather than glass. Plastic has been proven to leach toxins into juices and drinks that it holds. How much of an economic benefit do plastic bottles pose for the company? And, why did the company decide to make the change now?
One of the major things that Snapple recently started investing in is the Closed Loop Fund – dedicated $5 million over a 10 year contribution to it starting in 2017. Snapple Dr.Pepper is already a producer of millions of bottles a year through their brands like Dr. Pepper, 7Up, A&W RootBeer etc. Investing into a closed loop system in plastics should not mean to wash away from an already in practice better alternative: glass bottles.
Aside from $$ savings of a few cents per bottle – a SpecialChem article indicates only marginal additional benefits for the company to switch to plastics:
– Plastic weighs a pound less than a case of glass bottles (yes 1 pound)
– Plastic bottles can be made in house at Snapple from a pellet rather than the glass bottles that are manufactured elsewhere and shipped to Snapple, saving them some more $$ on operational costs.
One argument I saw FOR the plastic bottles was around the “ease” of recycling plastic vs. glass? If we look at the processes end to end there is no ease in recycling plastic. Plastic is never recycled back to it’s original quality and plastic NEVER biodegrades. Plastic is toxic to everything it touches and to every creature that eats it. Glass on the other hand is never “lost” – it never loses it’s quality through the recycling process. If glass makes it’s way into the ocean, it disintegrates until it turns back into sand. It has no toxic effects to the environment. If the point is about saving on weight and making sure that the recycling is easier then the obvious choice should be aluminum rather than glass – it has the highest recycling rate, the lowest recycling cost and the lowest weight.
Every plastic that has ever been produced still exists on the planet. In our oceans. In our food. In our drinking water. How can saving a pound from the shipping weight actually outweigh the amount of harm done? Does their “business sense” really overpower your kids’ health and the future of our only Earth?
Your voice matters. Our voice matters – it’s time for us to make sure that the manufacturers understand that we get it too. It’s not all about their profits, it’s about the future of our children and the planet.
Sign this petition here to urge Snapple to go back to Glass bottles. And MOST importantly, do not buy single use plastic bottles for any of the manufacturers. They are bad for YOU and the environment. And still more important if you do for some reason buy them, please PLEASE be sure to recycle and recycle properly.
#wereallinthistogether #bethechange

It’s us

So many people are talking about the hurricanes, earthquakes and human threats that are flooding our news again these last couple of weeks. Irma, Jose, Maria and others forming in the Atlantic already and it’s not even October yet, we say. Two earthquakes to hit Mexico City in less than 2 months – a place we hadn’t heard about earthquakes in decades!

"Recyclable"

What do you think when you see this word on a product?
Most of us who are not involved in the manufacturing process, hold a PhD. in Plastics or work in recycling can find this term confusing or just plain misleading.
We are naive when we think “recyclable” means that the item can be recycled when you place it into a common recycling bin. Sometimes it might mean that, but in reality it’s unlikely.

The simple 101 of Plastics Recycling

Is everything plastic recyclable?
That magical thing that happens once you throw that plastic bottle, cup, cap, lid, spoon, etc isn’t as magical as you might think. I’ve been researching this for the last year, and at every turn I’ve found so many things that we’ve been misinformed about.
The recycling facilities do not accept everything for recycling.
Compared to all that we consume, what the recycling facilities accept are too limited.
The challenges are in educating people about types of plastics out there, what can be recycled and how, and what can’t be recycled at all. And this changes from one municipality to another since recycling is tied to Cities.

Alternatives to Coffee Pods

We can work to be as gracious to Mother Nature as she is to us
I’ve had an issue with the single use coffee pods for a long time now. Whether it’s Keurig or Nespresso or some other brand, these coffee cups are just not healthy for us or the environment.
This is as simple an issue for me – it’s harmful to everything around, so much so that even the inventor is sorry he ever gave his idea to the companies. If you still want to continue doing so, that’s fine, but the harmful and expensive habit should be heavily taxed and it’s use banned in public places, just as in Hamburg, to protect people and our earth from the harm.

Keeping your Teeth and the Environment Healthy at the same time

Well yes, a single toothbrush isn’t going to save the earth. But a single one is going to kill multiple seabirds and marine mammals. And a million of them is going to harm the oceans as a whole.
Imagine that dentists tell everybody to change their toothbrushes every 3 months – that’s 4 toothbrushes a year per person! Where this claim of having to change your toothbrush every 3 months comes from, is an entire other discussion for me. (Industry!) Say that only half the people in the US alone brush their teeth every day and do this. That’s 150million x 4 = 600 million toothbrushes a year from the US alone. Then you can stretch this to other Western countries, developed Asian countries and populations etc.

Earth and Us

Here’s a different type of post. Something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time…
Reflecting on us vs. our planet.  We watch what we eat, we take breaks and go to vacations, we give ourselves breaks and attend shows and concerts. We do what we can to keep our heads clear, to keep our bodies clean and clear.

Alternatives to Other Single Use Items in Our Daily Lives

Plastics washed up on on Vava’u Tonga 2016
When we were on Clipperton – looking at all the plastic bottles, spoons etc. we were also kept in wonder about how much of the stuff we use actually don’t make it all the way out there. Either because they end up as unidentifiable microplastics or in the stomach of some unsuspecting magical sea creature we’ve never seen. 
According to statistics and research – the average time that a single use plastic item is useful to us is 11 minutes. Surely, some are longer, maybe it takes you a few hours to sip through your cold coffee. But then when you buy a to go sandwich from the local deli or from Subway that plastic bag is only used until you get to your desk. Then it’s trash – mind as well never existed. Purpose served. Just to continue to exist for the rest of time somewhere on earth. 
In my previous blog posts I already covered a few of the more common single use plastics – Plastics at the Grocery Store and Alternatives to Single Use Plastics in Our Day to Day. Now I’m moving to other types that we use around the house that we don’t really think about. 
So here are some alternatives to continue our convenient life styles without harming the environment and unsuspecting creatures. 
Ziploc Bags
Lunchskins – these are really awesome! 100% recyclable and washable. Very versatile too, because they have fabric exteriors. 
If for whatever reason you must have “single use” options they also have the ones that are recyclable paper. 
Saran Wrap
Personally – I almost always favored foil over plastic on this one, and still reusable is best. 
Abeego Bee’s Wax food storage flats. Just my absolute favorite thing. CAuse you can wash them over and over and over and over… and keep using the same. Get a few of them for sure, I find myself using the medium size constantly. It is very convenient to use to cover any of my dishes etc. For larger dishes they also have a Large and XL size as well as a bread size. 
What other products do you find yourself using plastics of that you’d look to find alternatives?

Thank you for reading, please leave a comment if you have any specific questions and suggestions. Stay with love with mother nature and our beautiful blue and wishing you a plastic free day! 💙🐬💙

#noexcuseforsingleuse
#awaveofchange
#beinconvenient

Next: Alternatives to Plastic Toothbrushes

Alternatives to Using Plastics at the Grocery Store

Dare you to buy something without plastics! 
This will be worth the wait. 🙂 
Every day we are seeing more and more products that are wrapped and packaged in plastics for no reason. There is not one good reason to wrap a banana, lemon, watermelon, etc in plastic. Not a single one. Don’t even try. Please. 
Ok. So how do we avoid buying things in plastics and what can we do about it? 
If you don’t want to read anything here’s an entire set available by Simple Ecology: 
First – I wish I had somebody following me around with a camera when I go grocery shopping. 😃 To me it’s a time of purpose and spreading the information, especially since I mostly do my grocery shopping in NYC. I am one of those believers that a big reason for why we ended up in this situation is because shopping became a “convenient” and “impulse buy” thing knocking out the mindful experience our grandparents used to have. But anyway, I digress. 
During the winter I get much of my fruits and veggies from Door to Door Organics. They provide local produce and take back all packaging material the following week – eliminating waste! Just be careful when shopping to select the items that are in season and local. Don’t look for red seedless grapes in December – then they come in bags. 😔 
Below is a list of products that are always with me. Let me know if you need any other type of products that you find yourself using plastic versions of all the time. I will gladly help! 😃 
Reusable Produce Bags
For all of the produce that I buy I use the reusable produce bags – Simple Ecology – they are netted 100% cotton, washable and very sturdy. They also come in handy for picking up “to go” stuff from shops like bagels, croissants, sandwiches etc. 
If there are any special codes to take to the register, a photo on the phone is perfect. 
Since watching the film A Plastic Ocean, I do what the Director Craig does and leave all the plastic bags produce are wrapped in at the store. Sometimes I give it back to the cashier, sometimes take it to the manager and sometimes just leave it there for them to ponder. Cucumbers on a foam plate wrapped in plastic is my specialty. Not only is it not necessary but they are also “suffocating” the cucumbers. It does definitely get the attention and turn into an informing session. 
Simple Ecology Cotton Mesh Produce Bags – I love these because they are breathable, easy to clean/wash and made up of 100% organic cotton! Your food doesnt smell, they dont get wet and icky. 
Reusable Canvas Bags
For many items I find myself buying bulk – quinoa that normally comes in plastic packaging, nuts, grains, legumes, rice, etc. 
For these finer items – I use canvas bags – again, taking a photo of their code and having them weighed at the register rather than printing out non-recyclable stickers is the next level up. I have also used stickers where all stickers are stuck to each other rather than on the bags. 
Reusable Shopping Bags
I personally use my shopping bag that I had bought from Guam in 2015 and a collapsible one from Strand practically everywhere I go – I dont think we need to have too many of them. Though I realize when you’re shopping for a bigger family you need to have multiples and fit them in your trunk, and make sure it’s easy to carry. See below for suggestions!
You can find some of your favorite non-profits who provide reusable bags – OR all of the grocery stores also provide them for at most $2. 
The point of reusable bags is to only have a couple of them that you use and re-use (duh) until the end of its time, then recycle them into something else. IF you have no other option, then they should be disposed of as organic material – hopefully they are 100% bamboo or 100% cotton. 
The ones I use most are from The Strand – well that was the one place I used to “impulse” buy and not have a bag with me to carry the books out. And that’s my nerd confession. You’ll now never see me without it. It’s traveled the entire world with me in the last 15 months. 
For liquids: 
Liquids, admittedly, have been my biggest challenge to go plastic free. Especially living in the city without a car, finding places that sell liquid detergent, shampoo etc. in bulk that I can use is difficult. So I’m breaking this into just two levels. 
This is totally made-up, so break it down into smaller steps or further levels if you wish – anything you can do to be aware of the waste and reduce the amount of plastics that you use is a step in the right direction.
Level 1:
Products that are in recycled ocean plastic containers. 
Seventh Generation – one of my favorite companies, just after my own heart – just because the government doesn’t demand something that is ethical doesn’t mean companies can’t do it! ❤️ 
Mrs. Meyers – another wonderful company – using only naturally derived ingredients and essential oils in their products. My preferred scents! But their winning side is that the majority of their bottles (read the bottom) are made of recycled ocean plastics! ❤️ Just be sure to recycle properly if you choose to go this convenient way. 
Choose products in cans and glass over plastic. 
Especially for oils – I reach for anything that is in a glass bottle/container with an aluminum cap rather than plastics. 
A level up:
Go bulk online. Use the Refill Shoppe website! 
This is genius. A breath of fresh air – a first of it’s kind creating a much needed way of shopping to reduce waste. Though it is online, hence still will include shipping etc. – all of their items are sent in eco-friendly and refillable pouches/containers. Once your pouch is empty you send it back in their prepaid envelope, they sanitize it and reuse it. 0 waste. ❤️ 
Amazing the things we can achieve when we all come together! 
Two Levels Up:
Mason Jars
For majority of liquids I use mason jars. Obviously this requires more planning and I make a point of buying these items on a day where I set to do so, so I have the mason jars with me. It’s quite easy but at first requires some planning.  Will get into the details of this type of shopping for NYC only – in the next post. 
Thank you for reading, please leave a comment if you have any specific questions and suggestions. Stay with love with mother nature and our beautiful blue and wishing you a plastic free day! 💙🐬💙

#noexcuseforsingleuse
#awaveofchange
#beinconvenient

Next: Alternatives to Other Single Use Items in Our Lives