Although we have taken a brief break from blogging updates, we have been active as ever in our No-Plastic-April campaign! As mentioned last month, we challenged a group of over 30 ambassadors from different places around the world to cut out/minimize their plastic consumption for the month of April, and share what they are learning along the way. This post includes some of those very useful tips and tricks shared by our ambassadors!
To see the different ways in which you can reduce the use of plastic, repurpose and reuse plastic already in your life and unexpected challenges that will be faced through saying no to plastic--check out our Instagram.
Here is a round-up of some handy tips/tricks shared over the course of April:
Thanks so much to everyone who participated with the campaign throughout April, and remember that all of these tips and tricks can be applied to daily, everyday life in order to keep our oceans clean and our planet healthy!
Additional resources for reducing plastic consumption are bountiful! Check out this list from By the Ocean We Unite for a list of individual actions that make a huge difference to marine life and the overall health of the oceans. Watch this space for a more comprehensive list of resources to read, tricks to implement and videos to watch regarding WHY it matters to cut out plastic and WHAT we can do about it.
Stay aware, live by your values and remember that together we can do something big.
Mariama lives in the UK whilst studying ice and other earthy things. She enjoys running through wild places, going on adventures and learning stuff.
ANNOUNCEMENT: We here at LDSB are excited to announce the 'No-Plastic-April Challenge'! In honor of Earth Day, we are challenging our readers to say no to plastic this April. During the month we will share tips, updates and photos related to how to cut down plastic from the people who pledge to do so, as well as blog posts from these people too!
If you want to get involved with this exciting project, please comment below or contact us through our online contact form for more information. Additionally, get involved with sharing your tips through tagging any photos on social media with #NoPlasticApril. This project will be an eye-opening experience for everyone involved, and will help us to see just how much plastic is unnecessarily integrated into our everyday lives.
We hope you are as excited about this project as we are. Please join us in taking up the No-Plastic-April Challenge, and always remember that together we can do something BIG!
Watch these if you need a little bit more incentive:
“Eat local” is a phrase commonly thrown around in our generation, but what does it actually mean and why should you do it? There are many benefits to eating locally, and here are just a few:
1. Supporting local farmers
The consumer has so much power. By deciding how you spend your money, you are indirectly voting for what you think is right and what is wrong. By buying locally, you are supporting local farmers and food producers, as well as their families. You can rest assured that the money will not be kept by a ‘middle man’ with the actual producer receiving very little. Additionally, local and small farms are already struggling to compete with big farms who mass produce their goods and can afford to keep their costs low. Therefore, local farms need as much support as they can get to stay in business.
2. Reduced carbon emissions
In a world faced with climate change, primarily caused by increased carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere as a result of man's activities, the transport of goods is a significant contributor to rising CO2 levels. Globalization has meant that we can buy any vegetable/fruit in stores, regardless of season. However, this is only possible by having food produced in other countries where climate is suitable for growing a given crop. The produce then needs to be transported via plane, ship, rail or trucks, all of which emit CO2 either directly or indirectly. Perishable produce needs to be shipped quickly. By buying locally, carbon emissions are reduced, as the produce is no longer shipped over long distances, and therefore you are reducing your impact on climate change!
3. Less plastic
In big supermarkets, fresh produce is often sold in pre-packed plastic bags to facilitate transport and selling in stores. However, plastic is a major issue in our world. Plastics are produced by fossil fuels and they take thousands of years to decompose, with most plastic living indefinitely. This means more waste in landfills or more carbon emissions from burning of waste (incineration). When buying locally, produce is not wrapped or packaged in plastic – a win-win!
4. Greater variety
Large supermarkets often offer a limited variety of local fruits and vegetables, depending on consumer demand and availability in large quantities. In contrast, local farmers produce a greater variety of seasonal vegetables and fruits, providing you with a larger range of nutrients and vitamins.
5. Better tasting
Fruit and vegetables that are grown elsewhere and transported over large distances have to be harvested before they are fully ripe to prevent them from going bad. Locally produced fresh food can be harvested when ripe, as it is sold in close proximity to where it was grown. Fruits and vegetables that have had the time to ripen naturally taste better and will also have more nutrients and vitamins!
So how do you go about eating locally? Let me share with you my story pertaining to doing so while living in the UK. I used to buy fruits and vegetables at Tesco, but soon realised they only sold British onions, potatoes, carrots and parsnips, with the majority of their vegetables sourced from elsewhere. I got bored very quickly of the limited choice of relatively ‘local’ produce. Also, it was all wrapped in plastic. It was then that I decided I needed to find a better alternative. I started looking at the local market halls but even the greengrocers there sold vegetables and fruit bought from large suppliers, with foods coming from all parts of the world. I was getting frustrated with the situation and was beginning to feel hopeless, so I decided to search for local farms on Google. Many results came up, and after having a look at the websites, I emailed one of the farms. Soon after, I ordered my first fruit+veg box from 'The Paddock' and since then have been receiving them weekly at my doorstep! I always look forward to receiving the fruit+veg box every week, as it makes me happy knowing that I am contributing to the five benefits listed above.
If you would like to make a positive change in the world, why not try eating locally? Based on my experience, here are some tips for facilitating your journey to doing so:
Good luck with eating locally, and hopefully you will quickly see the benefits! If you have any other tips or advice on how/where to get started, please feel free to comment below. I look forward to hearing about your experiences!
Leona grew up in eight countries on three continents, making the world her home. This has given her the chance to see so many amazing places, which she is passionate to protect. Apart from being a student at Durham University, she loves playing basketball and hiking.
Being conscious of your waste is completely possible whilst you’re in school y’all, and I am living proof! Here are a few of the things that I try very hard to do whenever the opportunity presents itself, and are things you can implement into your lifestyle as well.
Get some at a thrift store for $1-2 or reuse some old sauce/peanut butter/salsa jars and let them change your life. Take them with you when you bulk grocery shop, pack food to go in them, use them for water and smoothies and coffee (the handled ones with a cuppow lid do wonderfully for this!). Seriously, go find/buy some jars. Wash them. Use them. Again and again and again.
I bring my mason jar (outfitted for coffee), water bottle, cloth bags, and utensil kit with me everywhere. During the week I carry them in my backpack and if I go out exploring off campus I make sure to transfer it to whatever bag I am using. I accumulated my set by the way of gifts and thrifty finds, but if you want a brand new everything this is a good place to start.
Find your nearest thrift store and always check it first before buying something brand new. For me, this is a Goodwill that is about a mile up the road. It is where I bought pots and pans, some room furnishings, mason jars, and where I went when I splurged on a new dress for the holidays. Speaking of clothes (also outdoor gear, if you’re outdoorsy by nature like me), buy second hand! If you can’t get yourself to do that, then do some research into the clothes/gear you buy and make sure they are ethical and sustainable brands.
College Dining Halls
One good thing (look at me, finding a silver lining and all) about dining halls is that the food is sold to you without packaging (I try not to think about all of the plastic waste that results from the kitchens) for the main courses. I try really hard to not buy any of the ‘grab-n-go’ items that are packaged in plastic. Sometimes I will grab a drink in a glass bottle or a Clif bar (see below) and I’ve yet to rid my usage of paper napkins.
So as much as I hate to admit this, books do have quite an eco impact and they can add to the general clutter of your living space (although, do they really count as clutter if you love them like children?). This semester, I have been using the local library to borrow books--for leisure and school. It has saved me tons of money on school books and for my leisure books it allows me to know if I like a book enough to purchase it to have and to hold. Plus, the fleeting time you have with a book makes you appreciate all the more with the time you have. Ignore that sentence, I am just rambling and don’t even really know what is going on.
One of the reasons that I call my lifestyle low waste and not zero waste is because Clif bars are my weakness. They are DELICIOUS and VEGAN and CONVENIENT and just overall add to Things That Are Good In LifeTM. It is actually a bit ridiculous how many clif bars I consume now that I am reflecting upon this... ANYHOW, the point IS is that you can actually recycle the wrappers over at Terracycle, as well as a myriad of other packaging that no one really knows what to do with, besides contributing it to the massive piles of garbage from this consumerism-driven-society-that-ruins-every-green-place-in-this-world.
I am lucky to live in a place that has city-wide composting (go you, Portland!), but if you don’t have this privilege, then make your own compost bins and smile because you are making a difference for this wonderful planet!
Bulk Grocery Shopping
Bring your containers/bags/jars and get to your nearest store with a bulk section. Even more and more ‘regular’ grocery stores are starting to have bulk sections. Bonus: going into a grocery store and refusing to buy anything with packaging forces you to be healthy. Although, I’ve still managed to find bulk chocolate chips…and we all know how that goes.
As I am a first-year student, I live in a dorm. Among many other things (kitchen cleanliness anyone?) the paper towel waste in the bathroom is something that really bothers me. My environmental club, Greenboard, is trying to get campus-wide paper towel composting and/or switch to real towels, but in the meantime I either use my clothes as a towel or make sure I take the paper towels I use to the compost bin nearby in the kitchen. Portland allows for paper towels to be composted, but definitely check with whatever system you are using to be sure that this is okay. Or just use a regular towel--bonus points: this might help with making your dorm seem less like a prison and more like a home as well.
That’s all I have for now folks. Sometimes it’s hard to live a low waste life and you have to make some compromises, but let’s just remember that by implementing earth-friendly habits we do make a difference, no matter how small it may outwardly seem! We are keeping plastic out of the oceans and coffee cups out of the landfills and helping the animals and the wild places and I suppose the human race by default. If we stick together, together we can do something big!
Mahalia is a college student living in Portland, OR and enjoys eating vegan food, wandering the wild and petting ALL the animals. She is going to save the oceans.
My first experience of the tragic amount of food that supermarkets waste was a couple of years ago on an adventure to the Co-op with my Mum (exciting I know) to buy food for my Grannie. But it’s not every day that you go to the shops and come back wanting to change the world just a little bit. It was all because I attempted to buy some Love Hearts from the reduced price section. I was actually pretty excited by the prospect of getting a bag of Love Hearts for 29p as I always love a good bargain. However when I got to the till the cashier told me she couldn’t sell them to me because they were 2 days out of date. She said they’d have to be binned. My mum asked whether they could go “in her bin” but the cashier refused. It probably wouldn’t have bothered most people but I came out of the shop annoyed. I would have understood if they had been 5 or 6 years out of date, but 2 days past an over-cautious best before date was just ridiculous. I know that one packet of love hearts wouldn’t solve the world’s hunger crisis if it was given away instead of binned, but it made me stop and think about how much food is being wasted and about how many people go without food every single day.
So here are a couple of positive things we can to do to combat the problem of food waste:
FoodCycle – I signed up to help out with Food Cycle in Durham, a charity that cooks meals for people at risk of food poverty, and am so glad I did. Here are a couple reasons pertaining to why it's a great thing with which to get involved:
The reduced section – If you are a student reading this, I doubt you need any help at understanding the concept of the reduced section! Look for the yellow labels and buy them up (otherwise they’ll be binned by the end of the day!).
Be creative with your meals – If you see something in the reduced section that you wouldn’t normally cook with, buy it and make something different. 'BBC GoodFood' is a life saver for figuring out what you can make with what you have. Just type in the rogue ingredient, sift through a couple recipe options and try to make something different! If you don’t have something from the recipe, Google alternatives for it and you may find that you already have what you need! For example, you can use 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or a banana to replace 1 egg. Multiple other substitutes exist for things you might not have in your refrigerator/pantry; don't be afraid to pop the ingredient in a search, you may be amazed with what you find!
The freezer – The freezer is a fantastic way to reduce our own personal food waste. You can freeze almost anything! Cook or roast vegetables that are beginning to turn and then save for another day.
These are only a couple of ideas of how we can promote a culture of food use not food waste, although there are many more out there (feel free to share your tips in the comments below)! So why not take up the challenge of implementing some of these habits into your lifestyle? Have fun whilst cooking, eating with friends and feasting on great conversations!
Roseanna has lived near the sea in the UK for most of her life, which has grown her love for walking along the coast and swimming in the sea. Exploring and finding beautiful places in both the countryside and in towns makes her super happy too!
“I change myself, I change my world”
- M. K. Ghandi.
These words by Ghandi embody the theme of my article. I want to argue that looking after yourself should come before looking after our beautiful world. When I say 'looking after the world’, I mean helping the environment through our lifestyle choices, although the point I want to make can be applied to other world issues too.
At face value, looking after yourself sounds like common knowledge, right? However, I think we easily forget this--as we are “too busy” trying to solve monumental world issues to focus on our own happiness. Therefore, I want to remind you of a crucial concept: we need to look after ourselves in order to help anyone, or anything, else to the best of our ability. And a great way to 'look after yourself’, from my own recent experience, is to say hello to mindfulness! You may sigh and think ‘oh gosh, not another one talking about mindfulness!’, but hear me out. I think the current craze for practicing mindfulness is partly the result of it being so simple, but also effective and genius. So don’t give up on me just yet.
I have the most amazing opportunity right now to dedicate time to really thinking about how I perceive myself and the outside world. I am very lucky to have this valuable time. That being said, a lack of time is no excuse not to consider the following ideas. Even if you take just 5-10minutes a day to incorporate mindfulness into your hectic life, you will reap many benefits of the practice. Plus, as I was told by a friend, 'if you don’t think you have 10 minutes to set aside for yourself in the day, then you need to set aside an HOUR for it'.
Another way of putting it can be found in a book called 'Follow Your Heart' by Andrew Mathews. He explains that not looking after your mind is like being lost and not bothering to look at a map you have, whilst continuing to run in the same direction. See my point?
What is mindfulness?
If you are unaware of the current craze I spoke of, here is a quick definition to get you up to speed: mindfulness is learning to live in the present. It really is just being more mindful.
Simple, right? But think about how often in your day you multi-task to save time: texting whilst walking, being on social media in lectures, or eating whilst reading an academic paper--I could go on. Our society encourages saving time in any way possible. I want to show you that by taking a few minutes out of your day to slow down and focus on your breathing, you will enhance your ability to multitask when necessary (at work, for example). And I hope it will show you that life is so much better when you are being mindful and "in the moment" rather than doing two things half heartedly.
What mindfulness has also taught me is that there is no reality, only the reality that we create for ourselves. Mindfulness has made me realise how much power we have of our own minds and thoughts. You control how you perceive things--and that is such a powerful piece of knowledge. When I realised I have the power to alter my thoughts and think positively about the myself and my choices, my whole perspective on life changed - and the victim mentality was flushed down the toilet. I wouldn't class myself as someone who blamed circumstance for negative outcomes; however, I would say I have shied away from some opportunities because of certain barriers that kept my rooted in my routine--like my training, money, and other 'ties'. However I have realised that if you want to do something, anything, there is always a way to make it happen. Learning to be adaptable is an amazing life skill.
With this being said, I didn't alter my perspective with the wave of a magic wand, and I realise that altering your perception of yourself and the world is not a quick-fix. Think of it always as a work-in-progress; in a similar way to if you don't exercise your muscles for a while they will become weak, the same applies to our brains and our thoughts. But, if introducing mindfulness daily to your life is going to make you happier in the long run, then isn't it worth it?
What isn’t mindfulness?
I want to quickly diffuse some myths about mindfulness:
Why am I talking to you about mindfulness?
No, I am not a qualified mindfulness teacher - and this I openly admit - but I want to share with you the positive experience I have gone through in hopes that others can benefit from it too. I have read a fair few books on mindfulness, have recently been on a day course on how to introduce mindfulness into your life, and have been speaking to a close friend who has also discovered the benefits of mindfulness. And thus would like to share my findings with you.
So, how do you practise mindfulness?
A mindfulness teacher told me that you need to work your brain like you work your body with exercise and these breathing exercises are like the bicep curls in the gym, but for your brain. View mindfulness as a fun gym-brain-workout! An added plus is that mindfulness is accessible to everyone, because all we need to exercise it is the power of our minds!!
I was taught a number of different techniques including breathing exercises, meditation, and attention exercises. I am going to outline two breathing exercises here. They are both simple and easy to incorporate into your day:
Mindfulness can be be incorporated into daily life too. For example, you can practise mindful walking: focus on the steps you take, your feet hitting the ground, your posture as you walk, and have your head up whilst taking in the surroundings (rather then having your head in your phone, which many of us are guilty of).
You can even include mindfulness into sport! I was taught how to be mindful in swimming, doing so by focusing your attention to the feel of your water on your head, or on your fingers entering the water.
I will admit, initially I struggled to figure out ‘how to do mindfulness right’ before I went on the day mindfulness course, but I then learned that there is no ‘right' way to do it. It is literally just you breathing-- you can’t fail! Try it and see the benefits. I have done at least 10 minutes of mindfulness every day since I went on the course, and it has had such a positive impact on my life so far! There are great apps like 'headspace' which can help talk you through some exercises, if you want some more guidance on where to start.
So how, again, does mindfulness help the environment?
How can I argue this, you may ask? Here is my experience of it…
I have been on and off vegetarian for a few years, because I felt that being a vegetarian could be one way to reduce my carbon footprint on the world. But each time I cut out meat, I became more miserable and tired and felt drained of energy. For some reason being veggie didn't fit with me - even when I tried combatting certain deficiencies that came with it as best I could (taking liquid iron, for example). I had created an internal dilemma in my head that I either have to help the environment and be miserable, or not help the environment but then still be miserable because I wasn't living according to my values!
Mindfulness allowed me to diffuse this internal dilemma that I had created. It taught me that I can change my perception on the situation, still contribute to helping the environment and be happy at the same time!
So, with more research and discussion with close friends on he topic, I am currently not labelling myself as a vegetarian. Instead, I limit the meat I do eat to locally produced organic meats. This means I don't have the tiredness effects, but I am still doing my part to limit my carbon footprint on the environment. So I can be happy AND do my bit for the environment.
Mindfulness allowed me to have a much healthier approach to myself and my choices in life. It made me realise I couldn't go and solve world issues if my head wasn't in the right place, first. Positivity and happiness comes first. Although this may sound obvious to you, it took me 21 years and a mindfulness course to figure it out!
You can’t help the world until you have helped yourself. Being kinder to yourself comes first and focusing on being mindful in life will make you a happier person. From there you have the power to take baby steps to help the environment and save the beautiful world we live in from thoughtless consumerism. Neglecting one's self to put more time into solving world issues may work okay in the short term, but in the long run by approaching lifestyle with a mindful attitude you will create a happiness that is sustainable in more than one way. At the end of the day, we are here to be happy - not to punish ourselves! Most importantly, it is not selfish to set aside time for working on yourself, because it helps you, helps the world and helps others.
So, why not see what this mindfulness malarky is all about?
A positive and bubbly gal from the Lake District, UK, with a love for running in the mountains and doing triathlons. Lauren is currently traveling along the east coast of Australia whilst helping out on farms participating in the WWOOF program.
When I first started to practice yoga I went because I needed to get in shape. I was studying abroad in Galway, Ireland during the coldest and wettest spring in 70 years, according the locals. I saw that there was a hot yoga studio a couple blocks from my house and decided to give it a try. Although, I have to admit that when I saw the sign that said 105 degrees, I was intimidated! I was a college student on a budget, and I knew I should probably be using that money for chiropractic, but I decided to sign up for the 30 days of yoga for $30.
Little did I know how much that those 30 days would change my life.
It didn't immediately; at first I hated it. It was hard to breathe in the heat, I was really wobbly, and embarrassed at my experience-level. But I stuck at it and got stronger every day. It wasn't just my body that got stronger, it was my mind and my soul. When I left yoga each day I was so happy walking home, it warmed me up (difficult to do in the wet Irish cold) and made my soul entirely happy.
It's one of the most challenging things I've done, and I still struggle every time I put into practice keeping my mind in the present. I try to carry what I have learned in yoga into everyday life and staying present, which has made me a better person inside and out. I have also found that with yoga I don't need to see a chiropractor nearly as much as I used to, as I align my body through my daily practice.
It is never ever too late to start yoga and it will change your life, if you give it the opportunity.
Genevieve currently lives in the driftless region of Minnesota, but since university has lived everywhere from Alaska to Ireland. In her spare time she loves practicing yoga, going for hikes with her dogs and exploring in the great outdoors.
Sometimes it’s hard.
Sometimes it’s hard to care so much and feel so connected to the environment. Sometimes convenience almost wins over doing the 'right' thing. Sometimes, it sadly does win over. But ultimately, it is worth it to be a mostly-plastic-free, minimalist, vegan. It’s worth it for the EARTH, for the animals, for the future human generations (if you’re into that sort of thing), it’s worth not generating new trash that sits around for eons.
But I have to admit, sometimes I just really want a cup of coffee, or a scoop of ice cream and the shop may not have reusable dishware and utensils, and I may have forgotten my cup or my bamboo utensils and I may may get bummed that I cannot (or rather choose not) to get the food. Sometimes I crack and I get a plastic-wrapped sandwich. But at these times I have to remember:
It. Is. Worth. It.
For the sea turtles that eat plastic bags thinking they are jellyfish.
For the piglet who has a canine best friend.
For the oceans. The oceans that are choking with plastic.
It’s worth it to choose love and compassion.
Sometimes I get annoyed that people leave trash literally everywhere, and I get annoyed that I feel obligated to clean up after them.
But it’s worth it.
Worth it to have clean natural spaces.
Worth it to remove plastic so that wildlife won’t eat it mistakenly.
It’s worth it to choose love and compassion. Because Love Trumps Hate.
Mahalia is a college student living in Portland, OR and enjoys eating vegan food, wandering the wild and petting ALL the animals. She is going to save the oceans.
For the past year I have been learning more and more about the negative impacts plastic has on the environment and our oceans, about 'zero waste' lifestyles and people who put their values into action. Following this gradual process of environmental education I decided that I wanted to live according to my values.
In order to do this, I resolved to live for a month with limited plastic consumption, especially reducing my intake of single-use plastics. As I began I was met with a challenge much more difficult than I had expected, and started to notice plastic everywhere.
There is plastic on our food (milk, pasta, grains, pre-packaged foods, lots of vegetables, produce stickers).
There is plastic on our parcels.
We put our trash in plastic bags.
We put our groceries in plastic bags.
We eat our food with plastic utensils.
We get our plastic utensils wrapped in plastic.
We chew plastic in chewing gum.
And we love to throw plastic away.
As I plod along on my daily runs I see it in the river, on the river banks and in the streets. I see recyclable bottles tossed aside and I see a large majority of people who don't care. Many of us don't think twice about it, this normalized part of our society.
But would we think twice if we knew that birds and fish eat our plastic--filling their stomachs and leading them to starve? Would we think twice if we knew that the plastic we consume breaks down into tiny, tiny pieces in the ocean, making it nearly impossible to clean up? Would we think twice if we knew it was created from fossil fuels, feeding even further into the problem of out-of-hand CO2 emissions?
There are sources of plastic I didn't consider the difficulty of avoiding: gifts of plastic-wrapped chocolate from friends, plastic linings inside milk cartons and the packaging of online orders. I didn't expect that asking for the things you buy to be put in alternative packagings (i.e. bringing your own mug for coffee, your own cloth bags to put bread into, your own jars in which to put coffee beans), would be met with skepticism and sometimes outright refusal. But I also didn't expect the moments of recognition by others of an issue, and interactions with people that left me glowing with hope for the future.
Change will only come when we stand for what we believe in, and I believe in the benefits to our planet of adopting a plastic-free lifestyle.
If we believe in reducing our plastic intake, we need to approach skeptics with confidence and explain why adopting this lifestyle matters. After all, why feel embarrassed to be saving the oceans and reducing our environmental impact? That's right, we shouldn't.
Over the course of the past month I wasn't entirely successful in my attempt at a plastic-free me, but I have learned a lot and plan to implement plastic-free habits into my everyday lifestyle. Some simple things I've found that each of us can do to reduce our plastic intake are:
In conclusion, plastic has many negative effects on our oceans and the wider the environment, and it will only be when we collectively stop using it that positive change will begin to occur. Sometimes it is difficult to remain positive about the state of the environment, especially as we find ourselves living in a world seemingly so oblivious to the negative impacts we are inflicting upon our natural resources. However, there are people out there that care, and positive changes actions are being implemented every day.
For example, very recently France banned plastic cups, plates and cutlery. In order to work towards similar positive actions, get involved and write to your local government representative about why banning single use-plastics is important to you, your country and the planet.
Stay positive and determined, and remember that together we can do something BIG.
Mariama lives in the UK whilst studying ice and other earthy things. She enjoys running through wild places, going on adventures and learning stuff.