Fresh-Pressed Madness

“What can we do?”

This was matter-of-factly stated to me by a conscious human, at a health-foods store (Lower Mainland, BC) in regards to the scourge of plastic plaguing the aisles of our grocery stores, the coffee cups we sip from, and the bottles we house our water, juice, and sodas in.

*face-palm*

In the moment, I was so flabbergasted that a fully aware person would adopt such a defeatist attitude, that I could find nothing to respond with except a sarcastic, “Ha! Yeah…what can we do?” πŸ™„

Of course, after mulling this over for the next 45 minutes in the car, I thought of a number of smarter, more edgy retorts and it made me realize something: I need to get better at speaking my mind, in the moment, as it happens. Regardless of what the other party will think of me, regardless of what I’ll sound like and regardless of how it comes out of my mouth. What I wanted to and should have said, to this person toting a single-use coffee cup and a plastic bottle of cold-pressed juice:

  • What can we do? Well for starters, we can bring our own coffee mugs?!
  • What can we do? Hm!! Maybe since you’re sitting here anyway, just hanging out, why not ask for your juice to stay in and make them use a reusable cup, just like I did! See?!”
  • What can we do? Ask the manager why there are no bulk food options and advocate for more of that!
  • What can we do? Well…we can stop shopping at this place and start DIYing the sh*t out of our kitchen.

But what can we do if all we really want is convenience and to sort of care but not really, because we’d rather have the thing than not? Well…then there’s really nothing we can do with that mindset.

Ask, and you shall receive: it took a few questions and maybe a minute more of my time, but by asking and questioning and generally not going with the flow, I had my juice, single-use-plastic-free…and it was delicious. We have to stop being so complacent, people!! Stir the pot!!

And PS – Nature’s Fare, will you please give your customers options for sit-in dining?! Don’t assume we all want it to-go. Ask us (your customers) questions! πŸ˜‘

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Bottled Water Twofer

It’s been a while since I actually ranted about plastic, so how ’bout a twofer? The subject matter? Bottled water…my favorite! Companies profiting off of suckers thinking they’re getting a product that’s something other than plain, ‘ole tap water. *sigh* Let’s go in chronological order, beginning with an unexpected post-Halloween find…

On a recent walk down my street here in beautiful BC, I unearthed what I assumed was a horrible prank, then quickly realized that no, in all seriousness, a bottled water company actually found a way to profit off a holiday explicitly known for candy consumption. It would appear that Nestle has figured out how scare the hell out of us environmentalists…good one, Nestle! Ya really gave me a scare there! >.<

Somehow, I’ve found a way to accept the fact that we have turned Halloween into an individually-packaged nightmare, but this is taking it a beeeeet too far. Nestle, WTF are you thinking? Why? Seriously, why?! Cut. It. Out. You’re making our job as plastic-pollution fighters unnecessarily difficult. And to be frank, are kids actually going bananas for bottled water in their Halloween haul? Somehow, I doubt it. Cue the eye roll.

I suppose one could argue that at least I was outside, getting some fresh air, and stretching my legs when I ran into this spooky bottle…so OK, silver lining. NEXT.

Fast-forward a few days to today, and we find ourselves in Harrison Hot Springs, BC. Also a beautiful place here in oh-Canada; stunning, in fact. Google Map it!

As an aside, can someone remind me what year it is? It’s actually 2017, right? …

…so why, why, why are hotels still offering up bottled water like it ain’t no thang? Come ON?!

There are many hilarious ironies about this water, most notably:

  • The price. HA!! For real? This coupled with the fact that about 10 steps away resides a sink with perfectly clean tap water flowing freely out of it is basically a recipe for please-excuse-me-while-I go-bang-my-head-against-something.
  • The fact that to the right and to the left of this display (not totally pictured) are durable, reusable options in the form of glassware and ceramic coffee mugs. Your ability to drink water does not rest on cracking the plastic seal on a plastic bottle, people! Just lift the dang glass to the spout and turn the tap on!

Ugh. Ugh, I say! This should not be happening anymore. We know better. The companies that make this water (Nestle and Great Canadian Water Company, I am so staring daggers at you!) know better. The hotels and parents that buy this water should know better (more daggers, Harrison Hot Springs…). Can we all just stop pretending like we have no idea that plastic is ruining the planet, admit plastic is actually ruining the planet, and evolve beyond the stupid plastic water bottle? Nathaniel Wyeth, I’m sure you were a great guy and all and you probably had no idea your invention of PET plastic would bite us so hard in the ass…but well, it did. Sigh.

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Full Circle Muffins

Today in Kelowna, the sun decided to hide. Rather than also hide (under the covers) I decided to seize the day and make something bright, colorful, and delicious. Or rather, two something’s…both fitting all those criteria.

Having spent just about my entire life living in places that experience a dramatic drop in sunshine as the winter months progress, you’d think I’d be used to the shorter days and endless snow. I’m not. One of the ways I cope πŸ˜‰ is by bringing the sunshine into my “office,” aka kitchen, via vibrant, refreshing juices. The beauty you see below was a combo of beet, carrot, apple, lemon, and ginger. Mm mm!

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has been consumed and our thirst quenched, there's always this question about what to do with the leftover pulp. We compost in our house so that's the easy answer…but looking at the pile of fluffy carrot pulp, and the deep, rich red that only a beet can leave behind, it seems almost a waste even to put this vibrant content in the compost! How do we squeeze more goodness out of this stuff?

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t! After some Googling, I came across a recipe that not only exceeded expectations, but was simple and all the stuff that went into the muffins was 100% good-for-ya. πŸ‘ŠπŸΌ

OK, so let’s recap: we’ve already made pure, unadulterated juice…and now we get to make no-nonsense, healthy muffins that also taste uhhhhmazing. Can you say…winning?!

The clincher? I did have a little extra pulp after all, that didn’t go into muffins. Instead of throwing it in the compost, I gave it to my backyard hens, who promptly inhaled most of it, and stomped the rest into the dirt, effectively becoming mini composters. They are the best. Why don’t we all have chickens?

This is what I mean by full-circle: I make juice from fresh, from-the-earth produce. I bake the pulp into muffins, using eggs that my chickens provide me, along with a medley of other ingredients. I feed the leftover pulp to those same chickens, who eat it, producing more delicious, healthy eggs, and who also dig it into the earth, producing rich, composted soil for me to grow fresh, from-the-earth produce. Don’t you see?! It’s the ciiirrrrcle of life! πŸ˜†

Imagine if we all lived like this most of the time…a world full of juice, muffins, chickens, eggs, and lush, vibrant soil. It would be bliss, I tell ya!

Conquer the Cloud

Do you ever wake up on the absolute wrong side of the bed? Like, you’re so far over that you might as well just go back, curl up, and wait for tomorrow? Everything sucks, the world sucks, why am I even bothering, I’m tired, achy, and grumpy…and it’s raining. Ugh! Life!

And then…and then. It’s like the universe at large sees your plight and hands you a little ray of sunshine as if to remind you that the world is not a giant, dark cloud of doom and gloom…and that there’s actually quite a lot to be happy about. Goodness is out there, and we can shake ourselves out of our funk. I feel like I’m writing about this concept a lot these days: this idea of getting ourselves out of our collective funks and doing something, anything, to move forward instead of taking 10 steps backward. Not staying in the doom and gloom. This journey through the world of plastic pollution and the general life journey, is teaching me that it’s a constant practice/battle/struggle/opportunity for improvement. And that some of the best lessons and best practices are ones we didn’t even consciously learn.

Cue Robert Fulghum.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Snappy, irritable, and cold…three of my least favorite adjectives. Then, I opened my email up and there was a note from my Dad, with a reminder of an old book we’ve read many times and one I had totally forgotten about. It was the ray of sunshine I needed. Consider this ray of sunshine passed on to you, dear reader!

The synopsis, from my Dad: “…basically a series of statements about how the practical stuff you learn when you are very young (i.e., sharing, caring, sticking together, etc.) carries over through the rest of your life.

Enjoy. πŸ™‚

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
by Robert Fulghum

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

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We Can Do This!

I can’t think of an appropriate title for this post, mostly because my brain is doing that spinny thing where too many thoughts and feelings are swirling around at once and nothing is sticking. Well, some things are, and they include:

  • Belief
  • Mindset
  • Attitude
  • Get-over-yourself
  • Just go do the thing (which I’ve previously written about)

The reason my brain is spinning out on these concepts is because of the documentary I just watched, and because prior to watching this doc, I’d been doing quite a bit of reading about how important having a positive mindset is. Then this documentary brought up mindset…cue “Twilight Zone” music. Mindset: it’s like, the most important thing, you guys! πŸ˜‰

But first, the documentary. I know what you’re thinking…another f*cking documentary?! What’s new?! What concept can we possibly keep beating into the ground? Sit tight, hang with me! The flick is called “Prosperity“* and it covers all the topics: food, climate change, deforestation, human psychology, etc etc etc. The thing I love about it is that it focuses specifically on positive actions businesses are taking to not only make better products, but also to redefine what it means to even do business in this day and age. The other thing I love is that this movie takes a comprehensive look at what we as individuals can do (re: solutions), that’s more tangible and will actually make a difference nowΒ than say, recycling all your plastic bags. Which is still great and all, but this movie promotes stuff like conscious spending and finding better banks, which don’t typically get talked about in the sustainability sphere.

And back to that mindset thing…here’s something to chew on:

β€œA lot of people ask the question: ‘So if we can make such a big difference, why aren’t more people doing it?’ and I think the most fundamental barrier we face is really a belief that we can’t make a difference. That belief is the most dangerous belief that we confront because if we give away our power and our influence because we don’t think we matter, then we make that the reality.” – Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation

I’ve oscillated between feeling super jazzed about our species getting over ourselves and coming to our senses, and feeling super down-in-the-dumps, woe-is-me about the whole thing. What I’ve realized, after doing all this reading and now watching this doc, is that mindset is E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Literally. I create a more positive mindset and outlook on life, and I in turn, start to radiate happiness and rainbows out into the world. Once I start stepping into my power, instead of GIVING IT AWAY, people take notice, and walk with me, side-by-side. Then there’s strength in numbers, and badda bing, badda boom: a movement is born.

I speak as if this isn’t already happening, which is totally unfair because it is, all over the place. But I think it’s worth mentioning anyway, for those times when it seems like the mountain is too tall, or the big guys have it all and life isn’t fair. We can do this! What ever “this” is. It is all possible, and it is all available. We just have to choose.

We. Can. Do. This.

*(Oh, and did I mention that documentary is free all week long? Yeah. Go watch it right meow!)

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Mushroom Pasta & A Story

Once upon a time, I started this blog with the intention of sharing my progress towards completing my senior thesis while an undergrad at The University of Maine. It has now been 7 years since us Class of 2010-ers were released into the real world. Since then, I’ve learned a few things:

  1. The real world is really nuts. It’s still amazing to me that we spend 10+ years of our lives in a school system and then are expected to function in society as a normal human…when we’ve been in school for so long and nobody taught us how to actually LIVE in said real world. Does that make any kind of sense?
  2. I really love to cook. Thanks, Mom! πŸ˜„
  3. Holy f*ck, this plastic pollution problem is a lot more complicated than I originally thought.

Where am I going with this?

Simply put: over the last 7 years, my interest in the issue I had written my final paper on (plastic pollution) has shifted and thank goodness for the chaos of the real world or I wouldn’t have made the connections between our waste and food problems!

So what did I do about all this? I started another blog, of course. 😝 This one was all about my Instagrammed-meals and it eventually morphed into an attempt at vegan, plastic-free food creation. But for some reason, I kept these two blogs separate from each other until…

…I realized that my these two areas (food and plastic) are so intertwined, to not talk about them on the same platform would be absurd. My present goal is to bring more awareness to the issue of plastic pollution by talking about food.here’s the deal: moving forward, this blog, my dear 7 In the Ocean, is going to morph, once again! It will still be my place to rant about all things plastic, but I will also share recipes, and ideas on how to make said recipes plastic-free experiences.

Oh yeah, and about that mushroom pasta…I made it for dinner tonight (Thanks, The Kitchn!) and it’s what inspired this post. The whole thing was simple, fast, and totally delicious which is what I love about cooking. It doesn’t have to be complicated and in most cases, it can be waste-less without really trying hard!

Hints: The mushrooms can be purchased in a paper bag (or in your own bag) and the pasta can be purchased in bulk. The butter is butter (I sometimes freeze the paper wrapping for use later greasing pans) and that’s IT people!

Dig IN and stay tuned for more food ramblings… 😊❀️

Plastic-Free Shaving Saga

Who knew it was so complicated? All my life, or at least from puberty onwards, I’ve grabbed my razor with conviction and confidence. One day I finally decide to take the plunge into the world of safety razors (aka those badass metal contraptions people were using long before plastic came around) and a) it takes me almost a week to work up the courage to take it out of the box, plus b) when I finally sit myself down to figure it out, it scares the crap or of me. The f*ck?!

My panic at all of a sudden being confronted with something kind of deadly sent my brain spinning. All of a sudden the relatively mundane act of shaving was not mundane at all. It required me to pay attention, like really pay attention. It made me realize, again, that we’ve made yet another thing “convenient.” There is almost no thought to it, we simply pick up our handle and zip zip, done.

With this safety razor, it’s basically the same process, but slower. Literally if you rush the process, you’ll severely injure yourself. Not to mention, the whole thing is physically heavier than a disposable razor and a bit slippery given that it’s entirely metal, so getting a grip while showering requires patience. Get a grip, Ryan! 😜

But as we learn when we de-clutter and cut back on the plastic crap, we have to slow down. Just as we can’t just throw around a bunch of jars in our cars on the way to the store or else they’ll shatter, we also can’t rush through shaving anymore. And ya know what? I kind of like that.

To add to that, I’ve found that once we eliminate wasteful plastic from our lives, things get prettier. This razor is gorgeous, which is not something I ever would have said about my plastic razors. My Preserve handle was funky and pretty dang cool, to be sure, but this thing…wow. You’d think I’d have been bouncing off the walls with glee to have this hunky hunk of metal in my own bathroom, and I was! That is, until I realized that I had to deal with it and it wasn’t going to be as brainless as a disposable blade.

It took me 10 minutes of gingerly manipulating my new tool to finally load the blade and ensure it was nice and snug. Then another 10 minutes of attempting to actually do the thing. I know, “oh brother” right? I’m laughing at myself because it’s a bit ridiculous to write a whole blog post about shaving for Pete’s sake, but hey, I’m kind of proud, because this little thing forced me to take a pause, observe, and appreciate.

That is what I love about eliminating the crap from my life. I learn something new every time and it makes my brain feel good. I feel less robotic and really, shouldn’t we all be doing things we’re a bit uncomfortable with anyway?