“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”
— Baba Dioum
ARE YOU READY TO FOLLOW MY ADVENTURE WITH THE BIGGEST PLASTICS POLLUTION RESEARCH MISSION IN THE WORLD?
If you’re still wondering what this “adventure” is all about, take a minute and visit the project website here: https://exxpedition.com
Two things I never thought I would do: design a website on my own or sail to The Galapagos collecting ocean plastics. But here I am. And I am so excited! On January 28th, 2020 in Panama City, I will board a 70-ft research ketch [ https://exxpedition.com/about/the-boat/ ]with 7 other women who were selected to round out this all-women crew of scientists, doctors, engineers, educators, and artists. We will be led by a few sailing and research experts (also women) on a 10 day sailing trip to San Cristobal, Galapagos. While at sea, we will use a manta trawl to collect ocean plastics and have a lab station on board to analyze its components. The crew will also be having round table discussions on the findings, brainstorming ideas, and sharing our knowledge to form a unified approach to solutions. At our starting and ending ports, we will collaborate with other experts and members of the local community to address their concerns and help develop solutions. There are 30 legs total, spanning around the world in 2 years. The organization interviewed many, and then hand-picked 300 women from a huge pool of applicants. I still can’t believe I made the cut! The outreach will be ongoing following each crew member’s journey. Coming from so many different corners of the globe, as well as different professions, our reach will be far and wide. I can’t wait to be a part of this incredible mission!
Check out an excerpt below and the full article here.
HOW HAS THE VOYAGE INFLUENCED YOUR WORK SINCE YOU RETURNED HOME?
In my current role I talk about pollution and litter in Galveston Bay. Last year I started overseeing a marine debris programme. We work with volunteers every month to survey different shorelines and clean up a section of litter. We document what we find using data sheets and teach people how to use the Marine Debris Tracker and Texas Litter Database. We contribute data to important NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) research and local evaluations of pollution. You can read more about our marine debris survey work around Galveston Bay here.
“The voyage reminded me that your profession doesn’t really matter, there are folks in all roles that care – you just have to find them, work with them and let them know that they’re valuable to your mission.”
I live near Houston which is famous for petrol, oil and gas refineries. Many people in our community work in those industries, or have family and friends who do. It’s really important as a conservation organization that we don’t shy away from working with them because we are all connected. Galveston Bay Foundation has been working with different industries on community outreach and marine debris projects in the cities where the refineries are. We’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how much some of the staff members care and want to be involved.
To be honest, I have been disappointed by most of the “sustainable makeup” lists and blog posts I’ve seen. They always seem to actually be about organic or cruelty-free options, which are also great, but I am looking for plastic-free and reusable packaging. Too many of the companies on these lists use lots of plastic.
I’ve probably talked about my goals of reducing makeup waste before but I haven’t bought new makeup in a while so I haven’t thought about it recently. I don’t know about you but I’m not wasting time and mascara primping for Zoom meetings these days… Hahaha.
When I decided to really work on my sustainability a few years ago, I knew it would mean more than saying “no” to straws and plastic bags. I wanted to really reduce my single-use consumption as often as possible, especially when making new purchases.
MAKING MOVES TO REDUCE MAKEUP WASTE
Step 1: I canceled my Ipsy subscription. I already had enough makeup to work through. I put up a small shelf in my bathroom for it and it was full, so I cut myself off. Now I had to decide how to not let this happen again, and be more conscious of new purchases and their packaging.
Step 2: Don’t buy something similar to what I already have and pass on stuff I don’t use (for hygiene reasons, I wouldn’t give used mascara to friends but pretty much everything else is probably safe. My bestie can pull off the coral lip shade that I learned did not work on me…)
Step 3: Seek out environmentally- responsible makeup companies that offer refillable packaging in glass, tin, wood, or cardboard. Bonus if they’re local or a U.S. small business, to save carbon emissions and support real people too!
Step 4: Be aware of “Green-washing”. This term refers to companies and advertising using colors, symbols, and phrases to appear sustainable when their practices don’t back it up. It’s all fine and well to offer “recyclable packaging” and “eco-friendly ingredients” but companies can do better than that, especially when it comes to packaging. Support ones who really try (see list below!)
I am not sponsored by any of the companies I mention on this blog, I just honestly love their options and efforts to help protect the planet 🙂
SUSTAINABLE MAKEUP COMPANIES THAT ACTUALLY PUT IN THE EFFORT:
Zerra & Co. – I just came across this Maryland small business on Instagram and it inspired me to write this post. Hailey, the founder, aims to check all the sustainability boxes – from product production to plastic-free packaging. They are cruelty-free, have vegan options, work with local beekeepers for their beeswax, ship carbon neutral and more. They even offer $1 shop credit when you return containers in good condition. They have lots of options – like a gorgeous eye shadow pallette, make-up remover, and mascara – yes, even the wand is plastic-free! I can’t wait to try their tinted lip balm too. It’s so affordable and has amazing reviews. Insta: @ zerra.and.co
Clean-Faced Cosmetics – This Michigan company is another great option that’s not greenwashing us. Laura uses sustainable packaging and has vegan options too. This is a good shop to try some foundation and lipstick in reusable packaging.
Dab Herb Makeup – If you’re looking for a wide variety of concealer shades or other prep items, like color corrector, tinted moisturizers, or primers, check out this California shop. They have a few plastic components like pumps and some samplers so look out for those and request samples in tin instead (they offer that option.) But they have wonderful packaging otherwise and a huge selection.
Don’t forget, visit farmer’s and craft markets near you to find local, sustainable items!
I created this video for the non-profit I work for, Galveston Bay Foundation. We protect, restore, and advocate for our Bay and educate the community about how they can help protect the local environment too. The many sustainable swap suggestions are applicable to people everywhere though! Plus I share some common recycling questions. Always check with your local recycling center for the what, where, and how of recycling near you 🙂
Hi friends, I hope you are all enjoying some holiday fun and great times with friends and family!
As you get into the final days of holiday-prep chaos, remember that at the end of the day, it’s all about spending time together not money on things.
So, with that being said, here are a few ways you can cut down on waste this week:
BUY EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS – Hello, Groupon, restaurant gift certificates, or concert tickets! More memories and less waste.
SHOP LOCAL – Local jewelry, decor, food, or gift certificates are a hit!
WRAP GIFTS WITH NEWSPAPER, FUN MAGAZINE/CATALOGUE PAGES, SCARVES, OR FABRIC PIECES.
AVOID NON-FABRIC RIBBON AND BOWS – TIE PACKAGES WITH REUSABLE RIBBON, HEMP OR COTTON ROPE
LOOK FOR ECO TAPE AT YOUR LOCAL OFFICE SUPPLY STORE (Scotch/3M make one!)
TRY BROWN PAPER TAPE OR A GLUE STICK (If you already have one)
RE-USE GIFT BAGS AND TISSUE PAPER YEAR AFTER YEAR – this is my go-to.
MAKE USEABLE GIFTS – See next list below.
SUSTAINABLE LAST MINUTE GIFTS YOU CAN MAKE/GET RIGHT NOW:
1. Make candied pecans and place them in a Mason jar with a fabric bow around the neck. You can get Mason jars at most grocery stores these days. Remember your reusable bag or tupperware to get bulk pecans!
Try this recipe for sweet and crunchy results:
2. Make reusable napkins from cute, cotton fabric (avoid polyester or synthetic blends because those = plastic!)
Cotton “fat quarters” are the perfect size (or fabric yards can be cut to size) and are easy to find at any craft store or Wal-Mart if you’re desperate. This tutorial is NO SEW! Just fabric tape and an iron. Get your craft on.
3. Make a Sustainable Starter Pack from local shops or Marshalls finds! Here’s a list of easy to find goodies to spark sustainable behavior:
GLASS, METAL, OR SILICONE STRAWS (Find at a local culinary store, Tuesday Morning, or Marshalls – they have tons!)
BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH (Local health food store, HEB, or Whole Foods)
SMALL REUSABLE TOTE OR PRODUCE BAGS – Aim for cotton, hemp, burlap, linen, or muslin to avoid plastic fibers (check out local gift shops, thrift stores, businesses, or craft stores for “reusable gift bags”)
BEESWAX WRAPS (Local kitchen supply store, Whole Foods, farmer’s market, or make your own!)
LOCAL COFFEE, TEA, BEER, WINE, HONEY, OR BEAUTY SUPPLIES (IN PAPER, TIN OR GLASS) – Or gift certificate for these
MASON JARS FULL OF BULK SNACKS! (Local grocery store)
INSULATED TRAVEL MUG, TUMBLER, OR WATER BOTTLE
A POUCH WITH A SET OF SILVERWARE AND A STRAW TO CARRY WITH THEM EVERYWHERE (Try a colorful pencil bag from school/art supply section for straw/silverware pouch!)
WOOL DRYER BALLS (I’ve seen these as major stores like Target and Wal-Mart but try local if you have time/access)
TIN of REEF-SAFE SUNBLOCK: Zinc or Titanium Dioxide are reef safe sunblock ingredients (Definitely available at Target!)
4. Make a luxurious salt scrub in a mason jar. Grab an essential oil from a local seller, CVS, or Marshall’s. Tea tree, citrus, or lavender.
The Leg before mine just set sail. I have to let this sink in for a minute…
On January 26th, I will be getting on a plane to Panama City, Panama. I will be staying with an eXXpedition crew mate there and meeting more of our crew. On January 28th, we will board the 70 ft ketch, S/V TravelEdge and set sail for the island of San Cristobal, Galapagos.
To be honest, I had to Google what a ketch is. Luckily, we don’t need any sailing experience and we will have plenty of opportunities to learn while on the open ocean for 10 straight days! The captain, skipper and deck hand are all very experienced sailors. And these women have navigated through very rough seas on earlier legs of this mission, so I have full confidence in them getting us to our destination safely.
So, in case you were wondering, a “ketch” is one of the many rig options for sailing vessels. They have 2 masts, with a main mast and a (smaller) mizzenmast. With all sails up, there are 3. The headsail is the one curved at the front of the boat, or the “bow”. I’ve been trying to brush up…
“Ketch advocates sing praises for its characteristics in heavier winds” says the American Sailing Association.
^^^ CHECK OUT THE LINK ABOVE TO FIND OUT WHERE TO RECYCLE ANYTHING! ^^^
Scroll down to this section and click on ‘disposal locations’
Recycling is important. I’ll say it again for the people in the back- “RECYCLING IS IMPORTANT!” Truly, recycling should be our last resort at this point, as we are running out of space to store it here in the U.S. as the industry stands today. We used to send most of our recycling to China, but they cut us off last year. Now, in order to create own circular economy, we MUST recycle what is produced here. By putting what we’ve already made back into production (recycling), we reduce the need to produce and use brand new materials! This significantly reduces the carbon footprint of that single-use item from both angles!
Refuse, reduce, reuse… then recycle what you can’t.
The more we recycle what single-use plastic we do use = the more recycled plastic products will be able to buy in the future.
SOME WATER FOR THOUGHT…
See what I did there 😉 Anyway… In America, we use 2.5 million plastic bottles each hour. That’s insane. And almost always avoidable. Get a stainless steel water bottle and take it everywhere with you. To work. To school. To parties. To bars. Even the movies. I’ve never been stopped. Haha.
Let’s face it, we can all do better. But we also need plastic for certain things. No one is perfect so don’t beat yourself up. For example, I wear contact lenses. I can’t see as well in my glasses, and my active lifestyle makes glasses impractical a lot of the time. There is no single-use plastic free alternative to my contact lens and cleaning solution packaging, for sterile reasons.
THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS
PRETTY FACE = UNSIGHTLY AND FORGOTTEN TRASH SOURCE
Make-up is something I have been thinking about lately. No, it’s not something we need, but it’s something a lot of people enjoy and use regularly. I look at my collection at home and think “Am I just going to pretend that’s not part of the problem?” The options for easily accessible, sustainable make-up products are limited. And can I recycle my make-up containers somewhere, somehow??? FIND OUT HERE!
When possible, shop local! Google “handmade cosmetics _______” and insert your city name. Or check out sustainable, small-business cosmetic options at this link – www.etsy.com.
For those that aren’t ready to make the switch to homemade items, I just learned about these options today and I’M STOKED!
IN ADDITION TO MAKE-UP, OUR OTHER FAVORITE HACK TO AVOID LOOKING LIKE ZOMBIES EVERYDAY IS ALSO A TOUGH PROBLEM…
MORNING PICK-ME-UP = MOUNTAINS OF TRASH
Seriously. TerraCycle takes almost everything. Those K-Cups you love but your hippie, tree-hugging niece* hates and won’t stop guilt-tripping you about? YOU CAN RECYCLE THEM!
If they have a recycle symbol, clean pods can be recycled anywhere that accepts #5 plastics. If they don’t check out TerraCycle to send them in.
*P.S.- That hippie niece is me. Two of my aunts love these damn things, and one of them is an environmental engineer for Keurig. They’re both lovely human beings who love their coffee almost as much as they love me…
TerraCycle can be pricey to do alone, but check out your local Staples for boxes, ask your company to get some in the office, or work on a neighborhood/school initiative to share the costs.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
In the Houston area, and many major cities, general recycling has gotten sooooo much easier. You just throw all recyclables into the same container, right? Well, yes and no. The link at the top of this blog post is an amazing resource to find out where and what to recycle in your area. It’s also a great resource for ALL the ways we can protect our watersheds all over the nation. I’ll give you some quick tips right here though.
EXAMPLE OF MAJOR CITY RECYCLABLES
1. CLEAN OUT YOUR CONTAINERS!
2. CHECK LOCAL CENTER PREFERENCES FOR BOTTLE CAPS/LIDS (SEPARATE OR ATTACHED)
Utilize the embedded link in this post to find the Earth911 search. Type in “bottle caps” and your zip code.
In Galveston, you can re-attach them after you rinse the bottle
In Houston, remove them and leave them in the bin on their own
3. DO NOT RECYCLE PLASTIC BAGS/WRAPPERS/FILM WITH OTHER PLASTICS
Collect plastic grocery bags, produce bags, wrappers, film, etc together and bring them in a plastic grocery bag to your local grocery store, Target, or Wal-Mart and look for the bag recycling receptacle. These items jam up recycling center conveyor belts when mixed in with hard plastics.
When in doubt, e-mail or call your local recycling center!
I’ve done it and received responses every time. And now I have info to share with people in my community. Make yourself a resource to friends and family. Let them think of you as the Eco Warrior you are!
This is incredible, and harrowing. The data from previous eXXpedition journeys contributed to this simulation. And now we will be able to provide updated info for 4 out of 5 of the plastic gyres around the world. Click the Instagram link at the bottom of this post if the video isn’t visible immediately 🙂
During the 2 year Around-the-World eXXpedition, our ship and crews will pass through 4/5 of them. We are currently on Leg 2. Follow along with the crew through photos, videos, and updates at http://www.exxpedition.com/blog
This morning I presented at the Texas Plastic Pollution Symposium about my upcoming eXXpedition. It was well-received and I’ve already made some great new connections in the community for future collaborations! There are so many passionate and knowledgeable folks here that are contributing to pollution research, improved policies, and outreach.
If you’d like to learn more about how to get involved in your community, message me or comment. I can help you find opportunities in your area 🙂
I created this Conservation Calendar for staff at work but I figured I’d share it with you guys too! Perhaps I’ll post one each month. Before the month, not halfway through it 😛
If you don’t like in the Houston/Galveston area, do a google search for conservation organizations close to you! Many areas have a local Audubon Society. That’s a great place to start, and usually a lovely property to visit. If you need help, comment or send me a message/e-mail. I’d be happy to try to help you find some cool stuff near you to get your closer to nature and be a part of conservation efforts 🙂
P.S.- This week is Slow Loris Outreach Week. I’ll post about some really cool work my boyfriend is doing to help those little guys out in the wild. He cares for them at Moody Gardens. Great pics coming soon!