Exxpedition: The all-women voyage exploring the impact of plastics and toxics in our ocean

β€œIn 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.”

β€” Baba Dioum
Photo credit: (c) eXXpedition / Jen Russell – North Pacific 2018 Hawaii to Vancouver

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!

Sustainable Swaps at Home Tutorial!

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 πŸ™‚

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO HERE: https://youtu.be/pTfE70iMzJ8

Some of my favorite reusable items!
Throwback to the March For Science last year!

Here’s a link to the blog summary of my sustainability video, including some of my favorite sustainable product companies! https://galvbay.org/recycling-tips-from-sustainable-sasha/

HOW TO HOLIDAY, SUSTAINABLY :)

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:

Recipe from: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/candied-pecans/

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.

https://www.momadvice.com/post/diy-no-sew-reversible-cloth-napkins

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.

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-an-exfoliating-sea-salt-hand-scrub-projects-from-the-kitchen-213554

DIY Tutorial from: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-an-exfoliating-sea-salt-hand-scrub-projects-from-the-kitchen-213554

Remember, holidays are supposed to be fun. Enjoy time with friends and family. And try not to stress.

Share good food, drinks, and laughs.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ❀

Leg 5 of Exxpedition has set sail!

After these women complete their journey, I’m next! Woah.

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…

There she is. The S/V TravelEdge.

“Ketch advocates sing praises for its characteristics in heavier winds” says the American Sailing Association.

“Oh good!” says our entire guest crew… 🀣

To see more photos and details of our boat, check out https://exxpedition.com/about/the-boat/

It’s National Recycling Week! Can I recycle this? How? Find out here.

^^^ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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!

SEPHORA – The $10 Z-Palette has refillable makeup pans that pair with brands like TarteSmashboxMary Kay, and Sephora!

TERRACYCLE accepts mailed-in cosmetic containers and packaging from hair care, bath/body products, and makeup containers. And you don’t even have to clean them out! Woah.

ORIGINS – Origins stores accept any brand’s cosmetics packaging and containers to recycle. Check out your local store.

M.A.C. – Return six M.A.C. product containers to get a free lipstick!

Information on make-up recycling from: https://www.bustle.com/articles/152113-how-to-recycle-old-makeup-if-you-have-empty-compacts-stacked-up-on-your-vanity

IN ADDITION TO MAKE-UP, OUR OTHER FAVORITE HACK TO AVOID LOOKING LIKE ZOMBIES EVERY DAY 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!

Simulation of Plastic Accumulation in the 5 Gyres in 10 Years

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 πŸ™‚

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

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4XLM2JoF2N/?igshid=pq8d3bug8z50

Chagrin Valley sustainable bath products: $5 off code

For $5 off your order, click this link πŸ™‚ Feel free to share it too! Unlimited people can use it!

http://refs.chagrinvalleysoapandsalve.com/rgivdjV2?smile_ref=eyJzbWlsZV9zb3VyY2UiOiJzbWlsZV91aSIsInNtaWxlX21lZGl1bSI6IiIsInNtaWxlX2NhbXBhaWduIjoicmVmZXJyYWxfcHJvZ3JhbSIsInNtaWxlX2N1c3RvbWVyX2lkIjoyMDU5OTI4OTZ9

Check out my favorite company for sustainable bath and body products!

Shampoo bars, hair oils, deodorant, lotions, bug repellent, dry shampoos, exfoliators, pet care, and more. Organic, all natural, and packaged in cardboard, glass, and tin. And… plastic-free shipping.

Presenting and Learning at the 2nd Annual Texas Plastic Pollution Symposium!

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 πŸ™‚

Local opportunities to take part in Conservation

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 πŸ˜›

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 πŸ™‚

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!

Ocean conservation education at work, and reef safe sunscreen options!

In the Visitor’s Center at Moody Gardens, as guests pass through from place to place, they encounter this new temporary exhibit. It’s an interactive presentation about the state of the world’s reefs and how we can help. Here’s some tips offered on the outside, so even if they don’t want to check out the presentation, guests may pick up some tips. Did you know Moody uses recycled water for its irrigation? And doesn’t give out plastic lids or straws with beverages. I learned that today!

One thing missing was reef safe sunscreen. So I’m going to share my favorite, easy-to-find options in this post!

Remember that article I shared about the reef rescue project at Moody Gardens? Well, I didn’t realize how may different coral species were involved, and how well guests can see them in the rescue lab! So cool!

Speaking of ocean species…

Did you know climate change affects these cuties too?

Ice floes and solid ice formation in the Antarctic are crucial to a bunch of penguin species!

Penguins need safe and solid land to stay away from their large ocean-dwelling predators (like sharks, whales, and seals). They also need that space for breeding, keeping their chicks protected until their waterproof feathers come in, and to stay dry when molting.

Increased global temperatures melts ice, reducing haul out space, and can drastically change the crucial food sources in the waters nearby that penguins and other animals need to survive! Who doesn’t love penguins???

So, I’ll leave you with another product idea to help the planet and your body.

Sunscreen/sunblock made from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are considered “reef safe” as they aren’t harsh chemicals that disrupt corals. They are also safer for your skin!

And guess what! You can find it at your local Target in a reusable TIN, instead of plastic. That means you’re doing a double good deed for the ocean. You go, Glen Coco!

P.S.- When empty, use the tin to store hair ties, bobby pins, or jewelry on the go. That’s what I do πŸ™‚