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! 😉

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 now 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:

“A 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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Get Involved: The Science of Marine Debris

Readers! I have exciting news. The organization I work for, COSEE-OS (or, Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence – Ocean Systems) is hosting a webinar series at the end of this month. Guess what we’re talking about?

Yes, that’s right: marine debris!! Here are two reasons why you might consider signing up:

  • This webinar will feature three prominent research scientists doing work in this field right now – they’re looking at the microscopic life making a home on marine microplastics. They’re using computer models to predict trajectories of debris in the ocean and they’re telling stories about debris jettisoned out to see after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake (and subsequent tsunami) in Japan.
  • Marine debris vs. plastic pollution: this is the constant debate. Which term is “right”? As it turns out, both are…but don’t let me try to convince you. Join in the webinar fun and find out for yourselves.

In short, this is your chance to hear from the scientists themselves about this issue and what marine debris is doing to our oceans.

Click here to read all about it and sign up! Hope to “see” you there. 🙂

Marine Debris Webinar Announcement

Midway Street View!

See that cute little duplex? That’s where I lived on Midway. Say whaaaaat?! Yeah! I kid you not. The side with the random blue boogie board was home to all of Midway’s eager volunteers and we loved that place oh-so-much.

Thanks to the power of Google, now you guys can see the island from my point of view (virtual biking, if you will) all without ever leaving your house! This is really great news because it means that a place that has been quite inaccessible to most in the past is now a little easier to “get to.” I was fortunate enough to be on-island when the Google guy and his awesome, totally rockin’ trike came out to map out the entirety of Sand Island and man, was it cool. I mean, it’s all there. Everything! We volunteers even make an appearance, photobombing bits of the island at random. When all was said and done, our trike-rider had clocked 80+ miles, just from circling the island. I know; crazy, right?

So have a seat, relax and start wasting time at work hopping around the island. Enjoy the views! And if you see someone wearing a black-and-white striped hat randomly in your street-view wanderings, well…just think of it as a “Where’s Waldo?” game, 7 In the Ocean-style . 😉

Garbage with Bill Nye

The date: December 3, 1993 (incidentally, this was a Friday. I was probably in kindergarten?)

The show: Bill Nye the Science Guy

The episode? Garbage (watch below)

Bill Nye Episode 13: Garbage

Bill Nye, along with a cohort of awesome elementary-age students, explain to us that garbage can be natural and a lot of the time, unnatural. He shows that nature produces waste but that humans produce a lot MORE waste that doesn’t go away. He talks about all forms of garbage and he mentions plastic quite a bit.

Perhaps my favorite part of this episode, by FAR is when the kids talk about the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I like this for a couple of reasons. One, because they give each R time – they don’t rush through reducing and reusing and then emphasize recycling. I find that a lot of organizations touting the “3 Rs” really only want you to focus on recycling. Well, recycling would be all well and good if it actually worked. Since it’s not working that well at the moment, consideration needs to be given to the other 2 “Rs” because it really isn’t that hard at all.

Gettin' down & dirty with waste - natural and non.

So after they go through all that, you’re left thinking, “OK, well I know about the 3 R’s…but I already knew that, so what now?” This is where the show got me. First, Bill Nye goes on a tirade around 18:56, which is something I find myself doing when I get frustrated with plastic waste. But then the kids, once again, save the day. They proceed to debut “RETHINKING” as a 4th R (around 19:46). It’s funny, really, because once-upon-a-time, people didn’t even need the 3 Rs. It’s hard to imagine, but here WAS a time when plastics weren’t convenient and when re-purposing an item was just something people did…without thinking about it. They had to make do with what they had. Somehow in the last 50+ years, this message of rethinking and re-purposing has gotten lost as the age of convenience settled in and never left. So for a show like Bill Nye the Science Guy to bring back the “rethink” option in 1993 – is just crazy, and awesome.

Here were are in 2011 and when you ask someone if they could refuse a plastic bag, they look at you with a strange expression – except this is exactly what Bill Nye and those awesome kids were trying to teach us in the 90s! It’s not a new concept. Garbage is not a new concept. We just have to think of new ways to use it and cut it out of our lives. Bill’s right:

“We need to think about what happens to something after we throw it away!”

As a side note, did everybody love Bill Conrad’s bit about turning plastic into fuel? Talk about ahead of his time – this article from the NYTimes makes it seem as though the concept is something new! How funny.

Bill Nye, befuddled at our waste epidemic.

Toyota Ideas for Good

I know I said my next post would be about my message for the 5IMDC, but I wanted to first examine a commercial I recently viewed. It relates to plastic, I promise!

Here’s the gist: Toyota asked us, keepers of the earth, to come up with ideas, using Toyota technology (Solar-Powered Ventilation System, Hybrid Synergy Drive, etc.) that would make our lives and world better. The concept is really quite fantastic and you’ve probably seen a few of these ideas on TV, in commercial form. This one has to do with solar panel technology:

Maybe you’re wondering why exactly I’m singling out this particular idea…solar power is fantastic, the Prius is a really cool car, and anything that helps victims of disasters is great, right?

First and foremost, I have no issue with this ad. I think this idea is fantastic, as are most things that involve Prius technology. What I have a problem with in this commercial is the last bit: the girl drives this Prius to the site of a disaster, with this solar-powered ventilated tent in the background…and starts pulling stacks of bottled water out of the car. I watched this with my roommate and she wondered, out loud, what other solutions exist to deliver fresh water to natural disaster victims.

This really made me think: people have come up with this great idea using Toyota technology, but they’ve focused on one big problem: natural disasters. All that bottled water in the trunk is adding to many other problems: pollution, waste of resources, social injustice, just to name a few. So what do we do about this? Disasters happen all the time and in most cases, people will need access to clean, safe drinking water. Is bottled water really the easiest and most efficient way to do this? Do we truck in large containers of water or start distributing Klean Kanteens to all victims?

To be completely honest, I’m a little baffled myself. Which is why I thought I’d poll you, the audience and generate some discussion. What do we do about issues such as this one? Are we supposed to take the good with the bad when it comes to things like natural disasters? Or could there be a way to cover all problems…how about solar-powered medical tents and access to clean water that doesn’t come from a plastic bottle!

Discuss. Share. Think! 🙂

Chris Jordan – “Running the Numbers”

Update!

After the chaos of graduation and moving, I finally have some time to play catch up! May was a crazy month but June is turning out to be pretty relaxing, all things considered.

Let’s start off with the most important: I graduated! After four incredibly fast years at UMaine, I now hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science. I’m very proud of my accomplishment and am incredibly excited to be out of school and in “the real world.”

I’ve since moved to Burlington, VT and am quite enjoying the Green Mountain State! Still on the hunt for a job, but that will come in time. (Anybody have any helpful hints on that front?)

Also exciting is that I will be teaming up with Glass Dharma to guest-blog on their blog, Sip the World! For those that haven’t heard of this amazing company, they are the creators of the original glass straw. Not only does a glass straw reduce unnecessary plastic usage, but it also makes a statement about being environmentally conscious.

They’re also gorgeous and really, really cool.

Look for my post at Glass Dharma, coming this month!

Recycle…Get Paid?

If any of you don’t know about the Surfrider Foundation yet, check out the link. They’re a group dedicated solely to protecting our beaches and oceans and they have awesome newsletters. They literally cover every topic, from fishing bans to the various types of pollution we’re dumping into the water.

I got this gem from this week’s newsletter:

Imagine…getting paid to recycle. No, not for returning your 5 cent bottles. For simply taking your recycling out on garbage day. The city of Los Angeles will be partnering with RecycleBank to start up a pilot program where residents will get paid to recycle.

Check it out: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Get Paid (note, I did not come up with that catchy phrase, that’s all Surfrider!)

I think this is awesome. Incentives are a fantastic way to get people aware and involved!