Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Vacation

It's been three weeks now since we packed our bags and then headed out the door for our California vacation. No doubt, traveling is hard on the environment... all the fuel needed to get our family of 5 across the country makes me feel all guilty.   And believe much as I would love to take a different route--like drive in lieu of flying--quite frankly, driving 1000 miles is my maximum right now ;))

Just like I am always thinking and acting on how we can minimize our impact on the environment everyday...  it only makes sense that we do the same while traveling

SO... we started off our trip with our 6 (empty) water bottles, two coffee (in my case, tea) mugs and some homemade granola bars for the LONG flight to Los Angeles.

Our water bottles are well traveled and our pockets are well lined because of it. As we visited so many different places along the SoCal coast... we could only imagine the money that we would've spent on bottled water (or flavored drinks) if we hadn't brought our own.  They've been everywhere we've been...

3 different airports, on a ride down the coast from LA to San Diego (and back again), Oceanside, El Cajon, San Diego Wild Animal Park, The Midway, San Diego Maritime Museum, Balboa Park (San Diego), a Bushwalla and Dawn Mitschele show, Legoland (2x!), strawberry picking in Carlsbad, Corona del Mar, Santa Monica (2x!), Disneyland, a couple of beaches and everywhere in between! 

Seriously, anyone who ever says that they can't afford to buy a reusable water bottle hasn't done the math... I'd venture to say that had we not brought our own reusable water bottles that we would have easily spent hundreds of dollars on bottled water. How do I figure? Well, between a family of 5 we easily drink at least 6 (big) bottles of water a day-- if not more-- while we're out and about.  Airports and places of interest charge out the wazoo for bottled water... most I saw were $2.75 each. We were traveling for 11 days...

Really though, we don't choose not to buy bottled water because we're frugal... we don't buy it because it's more than just a waste of money.... bottled water is a waste of resources.  The companies that produce bottled water do so at an environmental cost to the communities that they extract the water from... and as I learned from Sara of The Daily Ocean... "if you fill a plastic bottle about 1/4th of the way up with petroleum... that is approximately how much petroleum needed to make that one plastic bottle."  With the man-made disaster in the Gulf of Mexico... that's a visual that we all need to start thinking about when we see plastic bottles.

Speaking of Sara, we met up with her in Santa Monica to participate in doing a 20 minute beach clean-up.  For 20 minutes, we talked and walked... and as we walked we picked up litter off the beach.  Read about the time we spent with Sara and how much trash we picked up in a very leisurely 20 minutes:

Of course, our litter picking up didn't start or end in Santa Monica with Sara.  (Sure, I know that we were on vacation... but it doesn't take much time to bend over, pick up and put the trash where it belongs.) We picked up litter everywhere we went... Oceanside, Corona del Mar beaches, and ALL of the places we walked.   Unfortunately, we could never get it all... but picking up one piece of litter is better than doing nothing at all.  (Please take that phrase and insert any impact that you have doubt about... like this: " ___________ is better than doing nothing at all."

 Which as I'm typing I realize that I've gone on an unexpected tangent... but here were are.  And now I'm thinking about starfish...

"A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t possibly save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,
“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined...."
Just imagine the possibilities :)
Doing SOMETHING is still SOMETHING... 
and it ALL matters.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Skin Deep

NOW...I'm not a girl that has a major "beauty routine". Most days I don't even wear make-up, but when I do all I put on is mascara and maybe some lip gloss.

When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I started visiting the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Database to learn about the products I was putting onto my body. It was there that I learned this:

After I learned about the products that I was washing with and putting on my body... (that no doubt eventually made it into my body through my skin). I quickly started the process of making the switch to products that were free from nasty chemicals.

Healthy me= Healthy planet
(you can reverse that too ;) )

Inside a Baby Albatross

Years ago, I stopped drinking bottled water, juices, sodas.... you name it... and this is one reason why:

When we stop buying products that have a negative effect on our environment, we stop supporting the production of those products and decrease the demand for them to be made.

Every time we buy something we VOTE.

(I vote that there is never another albatross-- or any other bird or animal-- filled with plastics.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Get Well"

Between field trips and visiting guests, we visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher A LOT.  Two weeks ago-- on our most recent visit-- as we walked to our car... we noticed something new.

A work of art made completely from recycled and repurposed materials by local artist Raffaele Paglia.

"A New Moon Rising-- Carolina Moon"

and on the plaque next to the sculpture it reads:

"Get Well"

When I started the sculpture "A New Moon Rising-- Carolina Moon" I never thought that a simple discarded balloon that I found on the beach would define this project.  With recent developments in the Gulf of Mexico, this balloon has added meaning.  It simply states "a get well hug for you".  For a project that was to show, on a local level, the effects of our disregard and negligence, it now has a much more global impact now.

The "Carolina Moon" was designed to celebrate the history of Carolina Beach, which was once the symbol of our town and island.  This was never meant to be a "beautiful" piece of work, since it is primarily composed of recycled and repurposed materials once destined for a landfill.  The cloud formation at the bottom is composed of "beach debris" and other materials washed up and left on our beaches.

Please join us in an effort to keep our beaches and waters clean.

Raffaele (Raffa) Paglia

A Recipe for Laundry

It's been 5 months since my laundry went detergent-free. YAY!! Before switching to the chemical-free laundry ball, I used to wash my laundry with liquid detergent that was free of perfumes and dyes. BUT, not free from a plastic bottle. :(

One of the main reasons that I made the switch in how I do my laundry is the packaging... especially with liquid detergent. So if you're wanting to make a change in what you use to wash your laundry and are a little hesitant about doing your laundry sans detergent...

Then you definitely need to say "Hello!" to my friend Joey... this is her fairytale ;)

"Once upon a time ago, I married the cheapest man in the world. No complaints! His cheapness allows me to be a Domestic Engineer staying home with our three children. It also has me constantly looking for ways to spend less money on the items we all need daily. Cleaning products and laundry soaps are something we all must use and when you purchase them you end up with their containers. The city in which we live has a recycling program, however, it's very limited. Before I began making my own cleaning products, I had numerous containers collected waiting to be driven to another city for recycling. After a while it became overwhelming. So many plastic bottles, so much waste! Finally, I had enough.

Enough of the spending, enough of the waste!

I asked my dad to bring me a bucket as he is the "King of Used Buckets." (I'm not sure what ours was previously used for, but we're using it now!!) When the bucket isn't being used for mopping floors, I make this:

Laundry Soap:
This recipe makes 5 gallons


Hot Water (will total 5 gallons)
1/2 cup Washing Soda (can be found in the laundry aisle of any grocery store)
1/4 cup Borax
bar soap (if you buy bar soap in bulk--to keep it from drying out-- be sure to store in air tight container)
1 to 2 cup(s) Baking Soda (acts as a softener)
Fragrance oil, such as: lavender, linen, rosemary, tea tree, or any fragrance oil you desire! (optional)

  • Grate bar of soap into a large sauce pan with hot water. Stir over medium heat until soap dissolves and melts completely.
  • Fill 5 gallon pail half full of HOT water. Add melted soap, Borax & washing soda. Stir until all powder is dissolved.
  • Top pail off with more hot water to a total of 5 gallons.
  • Add 10-15 drops fragrance oil if you'd like!

To use:
  • One cup* per load, stirring/shaking before each use. (*for standard washing machine)

For storing the laundry soap and homemade cleaners, we reuse gallon milk jugs** with "Mr. Yuck" stickers that the doctor's office gives out. Safety first!!

This is one of the websites I refer to when making homemade cleaners:

Remember just like any other recipe, you can adjust the ingredients to your liking!"

**If you're finishing up a bottle of liquid laundry detergent... save it and reuse it for homemade laundry detergent!

Oh yes, and if you haven't already... check out: Hangin' Out

What Do We Fuel??

Have you seen Fuel??? Over the past week, I kept having it put in front of me... only for me to say, "I'll watch it later." Last night, it was put in front of me again... and I thought to myself... "what am I waiting for??"

SO... Late last night, was my "later".... I have so many reactions to this film... and one question I keep asking myself is:
"What do *I* fuel???"

Don't wait to watch "Fuel".... watch it NOW....

Our WORLD as we know it needs to change....

We need to create a sustainable planet and....

We need to change it TOGETHER.

(let them know that you want clean, green, sustainable energy)

Step 3: Make personal changes and strong commitments in how you use energy.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."-- Margaret Mead

Friday, July 2, 2010

An Evolution

I used to have a vision for how I wanted my life to be....
(this was about more than getting married and having children--which I happily have)
...this is about where I saw myself and how I saw myself living.

It went a bit like this:

A big house mansion set atop a hill with gates to keep everyone out....
with an overpriced, but beautiful convertible sitting in the garage.

Over the past couple of years, I've been saying that I just want to simplify life... and I've been doing just that... by having my own garden, riding my bike to the farmers' market,  realizing that shopping is not really a sportgiving  (I give what I could've spent shopping to things that really matter) and so many more reasons that go beyond a list...

SO...what I used to want... I don't want any of it anymore... somewhere along the way something in me changed.

Now I envision my life a bit like this:

A small house walking distance (or a bike ride) to the beach and a farmers' market... with the chillest neighbors that hang out on their front porch and take the time to talk to their neighbors and wave to passer-bys...

and next to my two feet.... the coolest convertible around-- a beach cruiser-- to get me everywhere I need to go.

...and a whole lot more than I know how to write in a list.

Something is pulling me... I just haven't figured out what or where it is...