It’s the Little Things…

I spend a lot of time mulling over blog posts, that eventually get forgotten, stuck in the “draft posts” folder, accumulating dust and never seeing the light of day. But the beauty of a blog is that it can be anything: off-the-cuff musings and/or fully researched articles. I like a healthy combination of both and so, I have a new tactic: just write and publish the darned post, as it happens, even if the finished product isn’t perfect and beautiful.

That brings us to the point of this post. I find inspiration for this blog in the things others may find mundane or may typically overlook as something of a non-issue. Examples include:

  •  Food retail outlets using way too much plastic packaging (drives me absolutely mental while some may not even see the plastic as a problematic);
  • Coffee shops serving beverages in takeaway cups despite customers then sitting in the shop (what an absolute waste of resources!); and
  •  Recently, hotels and the way they accessorize their rooms.

It’s this last bullet I’d like to highlight. This past week, I’ve been traveling around BC with my better half, and we’ve stayed in a myriad of hotels, motels, and something called a “boutique hotel” (is “boutique” the new “in” word?). Given that we are both into the whole #plasticsux thing, we usually base our opinion of a place in part on what products the hotel leaves for guests. “What are they equipping the in-room coffee tray with?” and “What toiletries are provided in the bathroom?” are usually the first things we’re wondering as we step into the room.

Context: lately, I’ve become totally jaded by hotels that appear lovely on the surface, but then litter their rooms with plastic crap. I imagine a place that has nice beds, towels, and an excellent shower to also follow through on the little things but as it turns out, this is not always the case! Last summer, we checked in at The Best Western in Fernie, and were impressed with its outward appearance, but totally let down by the sheer amount of packaged stuff in the rooms. It made me want to vomit. 😡


So when you land in a space, do a walk around the room and find no plastic, it’s like the stars have aligned. This week, that happened at every single hotel (and so far, we’re up to 5, so that’s saying something!). The coolest part about this is that 4 out of the 5 places have been little motels, no chain affiliation, in the middle of nowhere.

Funky accommodations in Revelstoke!
Which begs the question: if a small, one-off place is able to provide ceramic coffee mugs and actual glass water glasses, and paper-wrapped soap without any of the other unnecessary plastic tubes of bad shampoo, why is it that a mammoth corporation like Best Western, is offering lame styrofoam cups and plastic-wrapped plastic cups (I still haven’t figured out what the f*ck is up with that) and passing it off as cost-saving measures?! Surely they don’t need to cut costs, what with the amount of traffic they see and their clientele.

Authenticity is ceramic and glass. ❤️
So to the small-town motels, still offering these little reminders that we are capable of drinking coffee out of a real mug without breaking it, I thank you. It is these little things that give me hope, and that make me want to come back, if only for the chance at holding on to a piece of something authentic.

And, if you find yourself in BC looking for a quiet, authentic place to rest your weary, adventure-filled body, here are some recommendations! 😉

My Kind of Politics

Happy 2017 blogosphere! I’m back, I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things, but in the interest of staying more committed to regularly updating this blog, I’ll keep this post sweet and simple.

I am not going to talk about the politics currently engulfing everyone’s news feeds and social media channels right now. We don’t need more of that and in fact I’d argue that we probably need less. Which is why, immediately following the posting of this little shpeal, I am putting on my hiking boots and going outside. It may be winter here in BC (oh right, small update readers: I moved to Canada and funnily enough, it had nothing to do with politics!) but the sun is shining and the bad news takes a backseat to Vitamin D absorption. 🙂

The politics I will discuss here are the kind I can’t get enough of: plastic pollution legislation. It makes me so happy to witness communities transform to protect their surroundings, to become more innovative, and to make positive changes even if the logistical challenges are very real and seemingly insurmountable. A few years ago while still living in Maine, I was involved with a local effort to place a fee on plastic bags and ban expanded polystyrene foam food packaging (read: dreaded styrofoam) and after a lot of hard work and testimonial, we won. Portland, Maine now charges 5-cents for each plastic bag used at retail locations and the first time I saw a sign alerting customers to that change, I almost started cheering in the supermarket.

So to read this morning that there is legislation being brought forward to BAN OUTRIGHT all polystyrene food packaging for the entire state of Maine gave me hope. It was a nice realization that while there is a lot of crazy sh*t going on in the world right now, there’s also a lot of really awesome sh*t and now more than ever, we need to be talking about all that awesomeness. Kudos to Maine for taking this on, I am so excited to see it progress!!

The Culture of Disposable

The problem with creating a culture around disposable products is that it creates a habit that is really freaking hard to break. We aren’t addicted to the packaging per se, but we also can’t shake it either. In this day and age, it takes work to eliminate plastic crap from our daily lives…like, physical and mental work that makes dieting and exercise look like a cake walk. (Is that a pun or just a bad joke? Neither? Hm…)

So when an entire country votes to ban a major source of this disposable lifestyle; of COURSE we get psyched! More awareness about the problem, less use of stupid, single-use plastic crap, and less stress over eating out and grocery shopping (plus win win for the planet!) Victory at last?

But then I read this and sort of lose it:

The Associated Press reports that France has enacted a ban on all plastic dishes, cups, and utensils. The ban goes into effect in 2020, after which all disposable utensils and dishes must be made of biological, rather than petroleum-based, material.

Let me preface this rant by saying that I think it’s amazing, truly, that France has declared this kind of ban (even if it doesn’t go into effect for 4 more years. Sigh.) The fact that an issue like this is gaining political traction is amazing and only speaks to how much more aware we are as humans that we are finally realizing our impact on this planet and want to take action to fix our mistakes.

So why create bandaid legislation? Why not attack the issue of waste and our culture of disposables head-on, instead of saying “no” to plastics but “yes” to something that walks, talks, and perpetuate the idea of plastic? Have we really ventured too far down the rabbit hole of single-use that this is the best solution?

Having no idea what went into this decision or how many plastic industry reps are fighting this, I can’t speculate on the whys or how’s and I realize that in me crying out for stronger legislation, I’m labeling myself some kind of idealist. Fine, I’ll take that on but man-oh-man, am I ever tired of this consumer culture. We need to evolve beyond using something for 5 minutes just to throw it away and never see it again. Plastic forks are seriously getting old. This is 2016, people!!

Where’s the plastic? Oh right…its’s 2016!

So we switch to compostable forks and cups. Great! At this point are there actually viable products on the market that can be mass-produced at low costs that will actually break down in a compost heap? Like a regular Joe-shmo pile? If not, then are we creating more problems for ourselves?

This ban leaves me with some hope and optimism but in the end, more questions (clearly). I want to live in a world that relies less on the concept of single-use…France, can ya help me out?

Inspired by Plastic

It’s a bit funny that as I try to eliminate single-use plastics from my life, I hoard 2 bins full of bottle caps, cigarette lighters, and toothbrushes. Why do I do that?

Exhibit A

Easy: it’s a constant reminder to myself that not only did I actually go to Midway Atoll (sometimes I think it was a dream) but that our trash DOES have an impact on living things, somewhere in the world. 
Exhibit B

This year marks 4 years since my Midway journey began and in a way, it hasn’t ever ended. The physical presence of the albatross is long gone and I’m no longer within walking distance of the nearest tern chick, but the memories linger and the plastic is obviously not going away any time soon. Every time I look at that bin, I am instantly transported back to that atoll and then start thinking about how in the hell all that crap ended up here. Then, Take those bottle caps in the bin, for instance…
Sometimes I forget that the whole concept of recycling is a bit of a leap of faith. We trust that what we throw into the bin will be processed in some way, turned into some new plastic item but it’s made out of recycled plastic and we did our due diligence so check, check. Out of sight, out of mind. BUT! (There’s so many buts [har har har])!
The bottle you recycle MAY be melted down and turned into something and the bottle cap that was attached MAY get caught by the recycling center and sorted with the other #5 plastics, but it’s not necessarily a guarantee. See exhibit A and B, above. That stuff is sneaky and it gets out. So it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that the only way to be sure that your consumption is really having minimal impact on the planet is to tread lightly in the first place. Skip the plastic bottle, people.

Tomorrow is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate the salty seas that provide us with so many benefits. For me, that benefit is being able to witness abundant life thriving in, on, and around a water world. I want to protect and sustain it that so others can witness the same thing.


On World Oceans Day,and tomorrow and the next day, I’ll be thinking about Midway and the albatross (who doesn’t get a vote in any of this) and the easy things I can do to help make their lives easier: drinking my morning smoothie out of a jar with a reusable lid, not a plastic bottle with a colorful cap; sipping water through a badass glass straw, not a flimsy plastic one.

But beyond that, the biggest act we can take to do something, beyond the products and the refusing? We can talk, discuss, and argue with each other about this issue. Look how much attention the world of politics is getting right now, all because people are yapping. The more we bring this plastic crap up, the more we look into that bin of plastic, and the more momentum we build.

At the end of the day (regardless of what celebratory “day” it is), it’s our combined efforts and chatter that will magnify this dilemma and make the biggest difference in helping eradicate it. So I’ll keep the bins of plastic and they will keep reminding me to keep building that  momentum toward cleaner seas. Here’s to getting inspired by plastic!

For more about my Midway journey including photos that may inspire you to purge the plastic out of your life, check out my guest post over at Plastic-Free Tuesday! And stay tuned as I continue to wax poetic about the Midway Months on here over the course of this summer. 😊

Bulkin’ Up

Let’s talk about how amazing the bulk section of a grocery store is. Remember when we would go to stores as kids and the idea of bulk candy was both overwhelming and so freaking exciting? I think the bulk foods section is the adult version. Think about it: you get to choose whatever you want and however much you want! Kid in a candy shop, 2.0. 😊

Candyland

And as someone who disdains frivolous plastic packaging, these bins are the perfect solution because you have the powah to choose what to put your sweet, sweet cinnamon powder in. Did I mention that this amazing wonderland happens to be within biking distance of my house? No? Well, welcome to Rising Tide. Come visit, sometime!

My happy place!

Once you’re presented with this spread though…you can’t just take a plastic bag and start fillin’. I mean, you definitely can but should you? Think about all the stuff you likely have laying around your kitchen right now: reused bread bags and ziplock; old pasta sauce jars, leftover takeout containers…turns out all these vessels are just waiting to be filled with rice, nuts, and snacks!The great news? Most stores usually have a scale near the bulk goods which allows you to tare containers and weigh product without confusing the cashiers. So really, the only things really stopping you at this point are organizing and the worry that you’ll piss off the impatient guy in line behind you. But come on! You’re saving the planet and shouldn’t we all slow down over food anyway?

Well? What are you waiting for?! Go getcha bulk on!

Plastic-free goodness!

Freaking Out Over Mason Jar Coffee

You wouldn’t know it from this blog, but I’ve been living in Maine for almost three years now and have done a surprisingly poor job at publicizing my exploits across the state. I wait to post something, then forget, then think it’s too late to do anything about it and a year goes by. Oy!

So here’s something: almost every morning, I drive through the odd little village of Wiscasset and stop at my favorite, favorite place to get coffee: Treats. It is truly heaven on earth. Croissants, coffee, and a killer view to boot!! How can you lose, really? Go if you haven’t been, return if it’s been a while. 😊 

Wiscasset, ME
 Up until very recently, I carted my trusty Klean Kanteen around with me for coffee pit stops but that’s taken a backseat while I reacquaint myself with my freaking Mason Jar set up. By “freaking” I mean “Freaker” and by “Freaker” I mean “modified awesome sock.” (Or #awesomesock for all you #hashtaggers out there). Because I have a tendency to mutter “Good Grief” one too many times, it seems only fitting that my coffee stay snuggled in Charlie Brown attire. 
Good grief! Is that enough coffee?!
 Why am I telling you this? As I get back into my favorite topic, railing against single-use plastics (looking at you, #6 plastic coffee cup lid!), I also want to talk about funky alternatives! A jar and a sock are a pretty weird combination (let’s just admit it) but a) they work and b) all the people in whatever coffee shop you visit will remark upon how fun your #awesomesock is. 

Revamp In Progress

Well, it’s official. I’ve officially gone over a year without posting a single new thing here. Not that nothing has happened in the last year, I simply have not prioritized this space. That can only mean one thing: it’s time for a blog face lift! I want to be inspired by 7 In the Ocean and excited to write about all the things currently hung up in my queue of draft posts, SO here we go…revamp time!

First up: this awful layout – it will be parting ways with 7 In the Ocean and I’m not sorry about it. Stay tuned for some updated content!