How To: Go on a Zero Waste Ski Trip

 

It’s that time of year again! Ski season has really kicked off!

I have been skiing since I was 3, it is one of my favorite activities to do.  I love that each day can be different – I can ski with different people, different places, I can ski for an hour or two, or a solid 8 hours. I can ski on the easy trails and have a relaxing day, or I can ski the hardest terrain I can find and really push myself.  It makes me happy, relaxed, challenged, and scared all at the same time, and as a bonus it’s a super good workout!

However, since I have spent a lot of time at ski resorts, I have noticed how much trash can be generated from a day on the trails (it’s a lot).

Unfortunately, some of it is unavoidable like the ski passes – a definitely unrecyclable sticker and metal piece that I’m sure ends up in the trash. I don’t have many of these because I usually get a season pass which is just one credit card piece of plastic a year, but I always keep them as mementos so I’ve never thought about their proper disposal. It would be awesome if resorts could figure out a more sustainable way! However, for day passes, I would say try to make things out of them like ornaments to remember your ski days that year, or put them in scrapbooks, or memory boxes. And if not, recycle the metal piece at least!

The rest though can be eliminated!

Lets start with the easiest…

FOOD:

I always bring my own lunch, which I will get to in a second, but if you’re staying at a resort and have no place to store food or no refrigerator and must buy food, then at least bring your own container! I like lightweight stainless steel containers.  Just ask them to put your food in the container, I’m sure they would be willing. At the very least, bring your own reusable water bottle and utensils/reusable napkin to avoid excess waste, and look for compostable materials and a compost trash can for the rest.

However, food available at ski resorts is always super expensive, so I bring my own!  I usually pack a sandwich in my life without plastic square tin:

 

some trail mix and dried mango that I buy in bulk in a reusable cotton bag, or a reusable plastic bag (i have these:  http://www.reuseit.com/reusable-snack-bags-and-reusable-sandwich-bags/planet-wise-planet-wise-reusable-sandwich-bag-with-zipper.htm)
 

Granola bars: the lifeblood of skiiers, can pack in your jacket for chair lift snacks. However, super wasteful! I make my own granola bars (very infrequently, since you get so many out of one batch!), keep them in a big tupperware, and then take them out one by one as I need them and wrap each in a small beeswax wrap. Just as small as a regular granola bar, and just as convenient! When I’m finished I just wrap up the little wrap and put it back in my pocket and wash it when I get home.  If unavoidable, at least choose granola bars whose wrappers can be sent to terracycle, like clif bars! The ski resorts near me have terracycle boxes in the lodges for wrappers like this.  

Water/drinks: I have a reusable water bottle I bring with me, and if I’m getting a midday beer, I am sure to ask for it in glass. Easy switches.

And now for the harder switches.

HAND/TOE WARMERS:

Disposable hand and toe warmers are, unfortunately, the greatest things ever. However, even though they are made with fairly environmental ingredients, it’s still better to opt for reusables. There are a couple options:

Rechargeable hand warmers. I wish I had personal reviews for these, but Colorado doesn’t really get cold enough for me to have needed any yet.  Here is the highest rated one, which I want to buy if I ever find I need these. They last for 5-6 hours, which is plenty long for a day of skiing

http://www.amazon.com/EnergyFlux-4400mAh-Rechargeable-Double-Sided-External/dp/B006Q5ACKG?psc=1&SubscriptionId=AKIAJM4NKIQGABP2PIRA&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B006Q5ACKG&tag=thewire06-20&ascsubtag=WC14825

Then there are ones that you fill with lighter fluid (a zippo) that can last for over 19 hours, which are excellent for things like backpacking and backcountry skiing trips that are a lot longer.

http://www.amazon.com/Zippo-40306-Hand-Warmer/dp/B00ABA08F6?psc=1&SubscriptionId=AKIAJM4NKIQGABP2PIRA&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B00ABA08F6&tag=thewire06-20&ascsubtag=WC14825

For toe warmers, there are these, I don’t know how well they work…

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/cozy-feet-foot-warmers/1040004044?skuId=40004044&mcid=PS_googlepla_nonbrand_homedecor_&adpos=1o6&creative=43742653069&device=t&matchtype=&network=g

or if you have lots of money you can get these!:

http://heat.thermacell.com/heated-insoles/original-heated-insoles

I’ve seen some at ski shops that cost around 125 for rechargeable toe warmers. If you ski a ton each season and always use disposable toe warmers, this might be a good investment!

CLOTHING:

Lastly, I want to discuss clothing.  By now we all know that synthetic clothing is made of plastic fibers, and plastic fibers getting into our oceans and waterways from washing them is a huge issue.  I suggest sticking with natural fibers.  I cannot say I do this, but this is entirely because since I’ve been skiing for about 20 years I have a big stash of ski clothes from before I was aware of this issue and since I rarely wash them and only use them half the year, haven’t found a good enough reason to replace them.

HOWEVER, when I say natural fibers. I do NOT mean cotton. Cotton does not dry easily, and when you sweat from physical activity in the cold, your clothes will stay damp, and then when you cool back down, that wetness will suck all the heat from your body.  This is dangerous, never wear cotton into the woods.

By natural fibers, I mean wool and silk. I will write a whole blog post on natural fibers in outdoor clothing, but for now look for base layers made of silk or wool, and mid layers made of wool. You’ll be just as warm!

If, like me, you have a ton of old clothes that you are still getting a lot of use out of, then just try to wash them as little as possible. I don’t think I’ve ever, or ever will, wash my ski jacket (it’s just a shell). I wash my base layers minimally because I’m usually just cold when I ski so I don’t sweat and they don’t get very dirty, and my ski pants are black, so they’ll look clean forever!

But aren’t ski resorts bad for the environment?

Yep! and this is an issue. 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/mar/07/conservation.travelnews

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/science/12slopes.html?_r=0

They are making strides, though!

http://www.summitdaily.com/exploresummit/9498773-113/climate-ski-resorts-area

http://www.nsaa.org/environment/climate-change/

My advice if you love to ski and care about the environment? Choose to only go to ski resorts that are actively trying to reduce their environmental impact. Vote with your dollar! And try as best you can to reduce YOUR overall impact. Eliminate your waste, carpool to the mountain, don’t take private jets to Aspen…

Keep enjoying the activities you love, and just try to find ways to make them a little less wasteful!

Happy Skiing!

Homemade Burts Bees Style Lip Balm

 

I have done something awesome.

I ran out of my last tube of Burts bees and in consequence my lips died a sad slow death in super dry Colorado.

 So I made some of my own!
The ingredients I used are:

  
Beeswax: I found unpackaged small 1 oz blocks of beeswax at Natural Grocers in Denver. They run for $1.19 each, and idk how much it normally runs for but for me that’s a steal

 

Shea butter:  I get this in bulk at Zero Market in Denver. I’m pretty sure it’s the unrefined kind.

 Coconut oil:  I buy this in a glass jar, organic and unrefined, from Sprouts
Vitamin E oil:  I bought this from Whole foods, it’s in a little glass jar

Peppermint oil:  I bought this from Zero Market in bulk as well

Chapstick tubes: the yellow one was my last Burts bees tube, the blue one was a really old blistex tube I found in my hiking backpack (both of which I cleaned out with the little brush I have to clean my stainless steel straws!), the little tin was a lip balm I bought from Zero Market that didn’t work for me (so I emptied it and reused the container), and for the leftovers I used a small Mason jar.

RECIPE: I adjusted this from multiple recipes I found online

3 tbsp Shea butter 

3 tbsp beeswax

3 tbsp coconut oil

20 drops vitamin E oil

40ish drops peppermint essential oil (you can definitely use more if you want)

STEPS:

1.  I grated one of the little bars of beeswax, I needed about 5/6 of the bar

 

I compressed the beeswax in the spoon like you would with brown sugar, to make sure I had enough in there

2. Added the beeswax, Shea butter, coconut oil to a glass bowl

3. Placed glass bowl over a pot with hot water (I tried to keep the temp lower so I wouldn’t melt the Shea butter too quickly, I heard that’s bad?)

  
4. Stirred it with a wooden spoon until it melted, this took a couple minutes, especially to melt the beeswax

5.  Took the bowl off the pot, let it sit for a minute to slightly cool, then added the vitamin E and the peppermint essential oils and mixed it with the wooden spoon (wooden spoon is important here because I’ve heard metal doesn’t react well with essential oils)

6. Poured the mixture into a liquid measuring cup (made pouring a lot easier!)

7. Poured the mixture into the two tubes, the little tin, and a small mason jar (which is my extra to remelt and refill the tubes when they run out again), and microwaved the bowl and measuring cup to get the dried Chapstick off the sides and into the Mason jar.

8.  Put the 4 items in the fridge, I read somewhere that if you let Shea butter harden fast it doesn’t become grainy, and mine didn’t! I have no idea whether this was due to the fridge, but it also sped up the time it took to harden.

9. Take the old labels off the tubes to make them look nice

And it actually turned out amazing! The texture is great, it’s hard enough (this is a harder Chapstick I don’t like the soft ones and I assumed homemade lip balms with coconut oil would be soft- this one feels like a true Burts bees). It is pepperminty when you put it on, though not as pepperminty as the original, I think next time I’ll add more peppermint oil! My lips already feel so much better and I am so excited at how well it turned out. So far a lot of my zero waste recipes I’ve found have been disappointing (still working on the toothpaste…I struggle with weird tastes) but I am happy to report that this one worked out great and I am very pleased! And it was super easy. It took me probably 15 minutes to make and pour everything. However, cleanup sucked. Sorry to say it but that was the part that took the most time! Pro tip: Heat everything to super hot again to get the beeswax off. Once I did that it was easy to clean!

I hope you enjoy it! Please let me know your thoughts, especially if you try it!

  
P.s. Sorry my pictures are not very nice. iPhone in low light = sad
  

Plastic vs. Glass/Aluminum/Paper – Clearing up some myths

This past plastic free july I decided to annoy all of my facebook friends by posting one plastic fact every day of the month to try and get more people aware of their excessive plastic use.  One of my posts ended up getting a lot of positive response, and it was a post I wrote about why I believe using other materials other than plastic is more environmentally friendly (mainly, the argument for reusables).  So I decided to post it again here (and make it a bit more in depth) so that if a new zero waster found it they would be informed!

There is a lot of misinformation about recycling out there.  Let’s start with a little history: According to the book I just reviewed, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, plastic recycling was invented by the plastic industry due to the big environmental movement of the 70’s, which was the beginning of the outcry against plastic use.  They spent billions of dollars developing the technology to recycle it, so that they could keep producing it and convince everyone it’s okay to buy it.  Except, in the process, a lot of misconceptions developed: the first, is that those little symbols on the bottom of your plastic items, the numbers surrounded by the recycling symbol, doesn’t mean it can be recycled.  It is just a labeling system to label what type of plastic it is.

#1 means PET (or PETE) or Polyethylene Terephthalate (water bottles, soda bottles etc). This is considered a safe plastic (by the FDA which means no I don’t trust that it’s really safe).  These are not supposed to be reused, because they easily leach toxins. Which is why they are used for single use items.  These are most commonly recyled into more bottles, carpet, fibers (for fleece and other plastic fabrics)

#2 is HDPE, high density polyethylene (detergent bottles, cleaning product bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles, plastic bags, etc).  These are usually recyled into more detergent bottles (but the color in the bottles is tough to deal with because you can’t get the color out), lumber, pens.

#3 is PVC, or polyvinyl chloride (pvc pipes, shower curtains, juice bottles, plastic wrap). These are not commonly picked up by recycling facilities in the US. Has lots of nasty chemicals in it. Recycled into flooring, speed bumps etc.

#4 is LDPE, or low density polyethylene (cothing, plastic bags, food packaging like bread bags and frozen food bags).  Considered safe, but do with that what you will.  Not often picked up by recyling facilities. Recycled into compost bins, trash cans, shipping envelopes, etc.

#5 is PP, or polypropylene (ketchup bottles, syrup bottles, yogurt containers, medicine bottles etc). Considered safer (meh).  Recyled into brooms, bike racks, ice scrapers, etc.

#6 is PS or polystyrene, or styrofoam. Terrible. Leaches toxins when heated, rarely accepted by recycling facilities.  Recycled into egg cartons, foam peanuts, insulation.

#7 is everything else that isn’t 1-6.  Notorious for containing BPA. Rarely accepted by recycling facilities.  If it is, usually recycled into plastic lumber.

(Examples of objects come from: http://www.nationofchange.org/numbers-plastic-bottles-what-do-plastic-recycling-symbols-mean-1360168347)

So now that you know your plastics, we can discuss the issues with recycling.  As you can see from above, not all plastics with a label are guaraneed to be able to be recycled.  It’s a labeling system so that if they do end up in the recycling facility, the workers can figure out what it is.  If the recycling facilities can’t easily and very quickly classify a piece of plastic, it will either be sent to landfill, or baled up with other “mixed plastics” and shipped somewhere else for someone else to sort and use. If you are on the west coast, it will usually be sent to China to be sorted in a facility with child workers (probably). If you are in the middle of the country it is probably landfilled because it’s too expensive to ship anywhere, and if you are on the easy coast it’s probably sent to a domestic recycling facility. Plastic is not often recycled back into plastic that you can use.  Only certain PET bottles (soda bottles) can be recycled back into bottles.  And it’s not a 1:1 ratio.  The PET is melted down and made into pellets with virgin plastic and that is used to make new bottles.  Most plastic is downcycled into plastic wood and other building materials.  This is what plastic bags are mainly used for.  However, the rate of plastic bag recycling is anywhere from 5 to 14%, so many of them are ending up in places they shouldn’t be.

The other main issue is that most single use plastics are bought and disposed of on the go, and not every public space and street is equipped with recycling bins.  Walk by any park or beach and the trash cans will undoubtedly be filled to the brim with coffee cups (paper and plastic), straws, water bottes, plastic bags, and to go containers.  These will be sent straight to landfill, or blown into the ocean or rivers or forests.  Some estimates claim that only 5% of plastic water bottles will be put into a recycling facility.  And americans alone used about 50 BILLION just LAST YEAR.  That is an absurd amount of plastic water bottles (not even including the other types of plastic) that is now in the environment somewhere, whether that’s a landfill or the ocean.  That’s NOT okay with me.

So, here’s the thing. Yes, recycling facilities don’t take all the plastic, and most of it gets thrown out when you’re not at home. But what about the statistics for when you ARE recycling at home? Well, let’s start out with the national average. In America today, only 34% of items that can technically be recycled are actually being recycled.  In Boston, our recycling rate was 30% last year. But Denver has an appalling 16% recycling rate.  This is terrible.  Especially considering how environmental everyone around here appears to be.  (Will do another post on neighboring Boulder, CO’s amazing Zero Waste Initiative).

In Boston and in Denver (and in most places in the US) we have single stream recycling.  Which across the board has increased recycling rates due to convenience.  This has increased the amount of plastic that gets recycled, but actually ends up decreasing the amount of material that can be converted to new materials.  This is because glass, paper, and leftover food stuck to your recycling are all mixed.  Broken glass loses value the smaller the pieces get.  The pieces of glass that are too small for anyone to try to recycle into new glass products are downcycled, usually into fiberglass, insulation bits, or sand.  Glass gets broken up a lot easier in a single stream recycling system than if you recycled glass through a bottle return (please always vote for local bottle bills, they always get overturned because of successful lobbying from non-environmentalists. Don’t listen to them!).  The issue with paper is that it gets dirty with food spillage from the recyclables you didn’t wash, which lowers the quality of the paper to be sold to people who will recycle it.  Little bits of plastic and metal (bottle caps, can tabs, etc) get lost in the paper and baled with it, which also lowers the value of the paper to be sold. Most places will only buy paper bales with less than 3% contamination.  Paper and glass are normally very efficiently recycled, so this is a bummer.  Aluminum is still very efficient and has a high recycling rate in single stream recycling so continue to go for it with the cans.

The recycling system is not the gold star solution to alleviate all of your environmental guilt unfortunately.  Only about 9% of plastics produced every year are being recycled.  Even glass and paper recycling is lower than you would imagine.  The answer is not to recycle more, or switch to only glass, paper or aluminum.  If you went to the store and had to choose between paper and plastic bags, the paper would actually be worse for the environment in the short run. The answer is to switch from DISPOSABLES to REUSABLES, so that all trash and recycling is REDUCED, not replaced with alternatives.  Every product has a negative environmental impact, but reusables can negate this impact due to it’s long useful life.

So there it is! Why I choose a lifestyle of reusables (and paper/glass/aluminum alternatives when necessary). It’s pretty fulfilling and I suggest it of everyone!

Book review – Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

I read a great book and I wanted to let you all know the details!

I wanted to find a book that explained the history of plastic, explain how the plastics industry got so out of control, etc.  If I was going to be starting a plastic-banning adventure I wanted to fully understand why, and sound like I know what I’m talking about when I explain it to other people!

It’s called Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel


This was the book about plastic that was the highest rated on amazon, so I got it from my local library (for a zero waste read). And it was surprisingly amazing.  The author is a great writer, I flew through this book, she really makes it easy to stay interested and easy to understand.  This book provides a great history of plastic by focusing on a few ubiquitous pieces of plastic – frisbees, chairs, combs, lighters, plastic bags, water bottles, medical supplies, mainly IV bags.  She doesn’t completely focus on these, in each chapter she branches out to discuss other facts and history, but always nicely ties it back to the object she started with.

I learned a TON. My favorite piece of new info is that most things made out of plastic these days were never created because they were necessary.  The plastic people just went out into the world and were like “what could we capitalize on.” Plastic bags? Literally nobody asked for them. They just decided they would make them really cheap and basically force their way into stores.  When they first came out, people didn’t like them because they tore easily and didn’t fit as much stuff, but then they were just forced to like it because they were cheaper to buy than paper bags. And as they became more and more prevalent people stopped bringing their own bags. Weird, right?

I highly suggest you read it if you want a good background on plastic, specifically learning about the different industries (because interestingly the different industries (toys, water bottles, packaging, etc) are all completely unrelated and don’t really associate with each other), the chemical backgrounds of different types of plastic, law suits that have been filed, history of plastic recycling, etc.  It was super interesting if you’re as obsessed with plastic as I am 🙂

Check it out!

Zero Waste Takeout – Indian Food!

Take out is a HUGE source of waste. It’s always in styrofoam or plasic clamshells and usually that piece of trash is also wrapped in a plastic bag. It’s pretty heinous.  However, this is probably one of the hardest things to get people to stop doing, because take out = laziness.  I’ll be the first to admit that chinese delivery is literally the greatest thing on a snowy night but I’ve changed my ways!

The only things I ever get for takeout anymore is indian food and pizza. Pizza always comes in just the box so I tear it up into pieces and compost it. But indian food generally comes in so much plastic! So NOW, (and I’ve done this at countless places and they’re always okay with it) I just bring my own containers! Which rules out delivery but it’s honestly not that much of a hassle to just go to the restaurant and order at the counter and wait. It rarely takes more than 10 minutes. Usually only 5.  BUT, before I took my regular sized weck jars to get indian because they were about the size of the containers they usually give you for takeout, and I would bring one for rice and one for the vegetarian meal I was getting, and they wrap the naan in foil.

Breakthrough: last night I didn’t have any clean weck jars so we just brought our empty glass tupperware containers, two of our large size tupperwares, like basically 7 x 5 ish size ones. And they were big but I just assumed they measured out how much they gave each person so it was fine. WRONG. THEY LITERALLY FILL UP THE ENTIRE CONTAINER.


AMAZING REVELATION. I HAVE SO MUCH INDIAN FOOD NOW. I actually have enough for most of this week’s dinners.

P.s. when you get indian take out they always give you those spicy cracker things and the plastic containers of chutney. I always ask that they don’t give those to me, because I usually don’t eat it anyways!

I feel like I should feel like I’m stealing from them but they didn’t seem to care, soooooo pro-tip you get absurd amounts of indian food if you bring your own large containers. You didn’t hear it from me…

I’ve used my own containers to get takeout almost everywhere – burrito places, etc, and people are always very willing so don’t be afraid to ask! It helps if you sound confident and explain that you’re trying to eliminate your plastic use.

Happy eating!

I’M BACK

I have not blogged in months and I am the worst!!!

I had a very busy summer working doing neat research on salt marshes, and I was trying to see my friends a lot and go on adventures, becauuuuuuse I just moved to Colorado!

I now live in Denver, which is what has been occupying me since mid-august. IT’S AMAZING HERE. I’m so happy I moved here it’s so incredible and beautiful.  The city is really awesome with a ton of sweet restaurants and bars and the mountains are so close! I’ve been here for a little over a month and I’ve already done more incredible hikes than I usually do all season.  I’m in love!  I do miss my friends, family and the ocean though. Also it’s sunny and beautiful here every single day and I love it. Also no humidity.

The best thing about Colorado is that this area (mostly Boulder but in Denver too) is super into being environmental.  Boulder has mandatory curbside composting, the city has a whole zero waste initiative which is super successful! It’s awesome to see places taking such initiative!  Denver is not to that level but it’s also a much larger city.  There is a composting pilot program but it is only in certain areas and only for single family homes, so it doesn’t apply to me :(.

However, strange fact.  I was told that there is a law in colorado that you are not allowed to bring your own containers to get food at the grocery store (and maybe also out at restaurants).  I can’t find anywhere online the actual written law which I would really like to read to figure out how I can get around it.  But apparently it was passed because a bunch of people got sick from using their own containers.  This is all what I’ve been told so I’m not sure about all the details but it sucks!!! (p.s. doesn’t apply to cloth bags at bulk stores yay).  I wanted to try it out and the grocery stores I’ve been to have no problem with me using them for honey or peanut butter but I havent tried getting meat or cheese in my own container yet.  This is a crappy law! I feel bad for the people who got sick but they probably should have washed their containers better! I shouldn’t be forced by law to pollute! Still on the search for the information about the law, will update you if I find it? Does anyone have any ideas where I can find such information??

This is the worlds most random post with a whole bunch of random information, I will be posting MUCH more in the next few weeks with real blog posts with real content. Just felt like I needed to bridge the gap!! Excited to get started again! I’ve made lots of sweet zero waste strides I’m excited to share!

I’m also thinking of starting an instagram for the blog. Yas?

  

Homemade Jam!

HOMEMADE MULBERRY JAM (2).png

In my backyard there is a mulberry tree and for some reason this year it has decided to fruit more than it EVER HAS and drop millions of delicious berries all over the lawn.  Aside from it being a Snow White -esqe wildlife paradise back there with all the animals coming to eat the berries, it was a sweet opportunity to actually use the berries that we get!

Here’s how I made jam!

I collected the berries by putting tarps and sheets down below the tree and then shaking the tree until enough had dropped down

  
 The ripe berries are the ones that look like blackberries and when they are ripe they fall off the branch easily

Then I collected them into bowls:

After this we sorted through them to get the best ripest biggest berries and got about 8 cups

Then we washed and de stemmed all of them (pinched the stems off with our nails aka I will have red fingers forever)


Then we put all of them in a big pot with a cup of water and boiled for 10 ish minutes (I didn’t measure) while smooshing them with a potato masher

After they look cooked and broken up, I added 1.5 cups of sugar and a half packet of pectin and let that boil for what I wanted to be a minute but was probably another 5-8 minutes, and then left the pot to cool

Then we spooned the jam into 4oz Mason jars and put the ones we wanted to eat soon in the fridge and the rest in the freezer! It set really well! It’s definitely not a jelly type of jam but it’s not runny at all.  And it’s SUPER DELICIOUS! I’ll post a pic of a finished jar I forgot to take pictures throughout the cooking process.  These are supposed to last up to two weeks but I’m sure it’ll last longer than that. And I’m assuming about a year in the freezer is the most you would want to keep it.

This is a totally zero waste recipe (except for the paper pectin packet) and as local as is humanly possible and it’s so delicious and yummy! I’ve impressed my family they were really skeptical they didn’t even think you could eat mulberries until this year.  There are still so many berries yet to ripen and I’ve already made 2 batches of 10 jars each so if you’re in the Boston area and want homemade mulberry jam please come take it!!

Yay backyard foraging!

Happy jam making!!

Zero Waste Abroad

I haven’t posted anything in a while – I just started a new job and I’m SO busy.

So in lieu of a full post for the last couple weeks (other than the zero waste blogger giveaway!) I decided to reflect upon all the zero waste shopping I’ve found while traveling and post the pictures. The biggest hurdle to going zero waste in Boston (and most other places in America!) is the lack of options for package free food.  And so many blog posts I’ve read lately written by other bloggers talk about their frustrations with the same thing.  But in some of the places I’ve travelled to there are options galore! So here’s a little picture diary of what I’ve found abroad, aka can I move back to Europe ASAP:

Most recently, Toronto (so many bulk stores!)  


Italy (so many markets EVERYWHERE in Italy. Lots of food markets year round in almost every city I went to, which was a lot of them) this is in Palermo



Paris, lots of food markets, but of course looking back I only took pictures of the baked goods 

  

Munich, lots of outdoor markets with a big variety of things

  
  

And my personal favorite for year round markets, Budapest! I was there in the middle of January and I’ve never seen so many food markets in my life.   

      Ugly kiwis!        I still dream about the dried strawberries and the best table of all. Ignore the styrofoam cups.

I’ve never been anywhere in the UK other than Cork, but so many zero waste bloggers are from there so it’s probably easier there as well!

Searching for food markets is one of my favorite things when I travel, and it will be even more fun now that I’ve switched into a zero waste lifestyle and seeing how it can be done in other places!

Look around next time you’re traveling to a new place!

Zero Waste Giveaway!!!

Truth time: getting started with a zero waste lifestyle isn’t a quick and easy switch. You need to swap a lot of the products you use (hopefully at the end of their life though) to ones that are durable and made of natural products so that they can be sustainably disposed of if you end up needing to replace them. Some of the things that are easily replaced are two things we have to give away to SEVEN lucky readers!!

What is there to win?

One of four BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH 4-PACKs (Value $19.99 each, Product details)

StarterPack1

These get rave reviews from all the zero wasters I know. I’m still waiting for my last plastic toothbrush to die before I buy my own one of these! And when youre done all you have to do is pluck the bristles out and compost the handle! Or reuse it (preferable)

Or one of 3 Bee’s Sandwich Wraps (Value $10.00 each, Product details)

Sandwich1

These are amazing! Made of all natural products, easy to clean, and folds out as a placemat for your sandwich when youre eating! What more could you want?

 

How to enter?

  • Click the logo below
  • Tweet about the give away
  • Follow up to 5 Zero Waste Blogs

The more blogs you follow, the higher the chance to win.

zwb_giveaway

Take the time to read all these blogs! Some pretty awesome people listed here and some AMAZING info hidden in them! Follow them on twitter and instagram too! (links on their blogs)

Happy following! Good luck!

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Zero Waste Travelling Pt. 1

I LOVE to travel. Even though planes are the least environmentally friendly way to get around, the deep need I feel to constantly be planning trips and traveling far outweighs my desire to be greener.  Traveling renews my excitement about life and opens my eyes to the different ways people live and the different natural landscapes.  I have the travel bug and I don’t think it will ever go away! Much to the disappointment of my family and my wallet and sometimes my boyfriend when I talk about my desire to move to other countries.

Since I will never give up traveling and I will mostly have to use planes to get to the places I want to go, I’ve been thinking of other ways to reduce my environmental impact while traveling. I recently was put to the challenge with my recent trip to Jamaica.

This past winter (but really it’s still winter) in Boston was pretty heinous.  It snowed 110.6 inches breaking the all time snow record (haha climate change I see you). I needed to go somewhere warm.

On the plane ride in I brought all my own food onto the plane and brought myself and my mom a mason jar each to use for drinks on the plane.  

I love these planet wise sandwich bags. They’re lined with plastic (bpa free though) but I’ll use them for years and they’re a better seal than cloth bags so food stays fresh longer, more like a regular plastic ziploc.

I brought my own earphones so I didn’t have to take the earphones they gave me.  I refused cups, napkins and snacks.  Successful zero waste plane trip!

Something else to consider when flying is the impact of the weight you’re bringing.  Packing light is convenient because you won’t have a lot of stuff to lug around, but also for reducing fuel needed by the plane. I never check a bag if I don’t absolutely have to and try to pack only what I need into my travel pack.  I would post what pack I use but I forget what it’s called and REI doesn’t seem to carry it anymore which is a bummer because it’s amazing.

Due to my plane being delayed we actually missed our flight to Jamaica and had to spent 24 hours in Toronto. Which would be okay if the only things I had weren’t flip flops and Jean jacket and it wasn’t 45 degrees outside.  Nevertheless we decided to make the most of it.  I did a little research on zero waste shopping in Toronto while I was there and holy crap! There’s like 25 bulk shops in the city.  It’s a zero waster dream! In the St. Lawrence market I found two alone! One of them was a tea and coffee shop and another was a small shop with nuts, grains, dried fruit, and candy. Pretty standard, and I bought some pistachios in my cloth bag! I did buy tea in a plastic bag because I only had cloth bags and the tea would go bad since I wasn’t going to be home for a week and it’s humid in Jamaica.  I bought cheese in paper and bread in another cloth bag.  It was the best market and the best city for going zero waste!

Once we got to Jamaica there was only a couple of things that I could do to be green at the resort that were in my control.

  • Reduce food waste! Most of the food was buffet style and everyone was PILING their plates with food that they just ended up throwing away at the end.  I tried to get only food I thought I would eat and went back for seconds if I wanted more.  The overweight Americans there tended to go for a i-might-never-eat-again attitude.
  • Keeping the same towels for the whole week. There was a sign in the bathroom that suggested reusing your towels to help reduce energy use by the resort, and I appreciated that sign.  We used the same 4 towels for the whole week and I felt better about that.
  • Using a reusable cup and straw.  The joy of an all inclusive resort is that there are drinks available all the time.  A surprisingly large number of people bought the resorts mugs (they were like big coffee canteens) and used that all week instead of getting a new cup each time (though luckily the cups were washable plastic and not disposable cups). However they did give you a straw every time, so bringing a mason jar or reusable mug and a reusable straw is key at these places! I had my two stainless steel straws and brought along the brush to clean them.
  • Reusable cloth bags/planet wise bags for sneaking snacks out of the buffet. Essential.

And that’s pretty much all that was in my control.  Not my normal travel experience but excellent none the less, Jamaica is incredibly beautiful!

I also wanted to add my experience with the coral reefs there. Which weren’t coral reefs because there was about 5 healthy patches of coral along the whole section I saw.  There was sea glass and trash that washed up and it was another reminder of the impact that humans have on the oceans – dead coral! Though I did see an octopus and I’ll never be happier.

Any more suggestions for how to travel green are always welcome!!


Happy traveling!