Month: November 2016

Beaches Need Love Even When It’s Like 20 Degrees

Last week, Chicago finally got a real taste of winter.

While most people huddled  up inside

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Suffering without my gloves for this picture!

and snuggled in blankets (which is what I wanted to do, to be honest), I snuggled up in a bunch of warm layers and rode my bike to North Avenue beach.

 

A while back, I had registered for an Adopt-a-Beach event and once I realized it was going to be on what could have been the first day of snow, I was hesitant.

I  knew I had to go despite the wind and the cold. When I lead an Adopt-a-Beach event in August it was hard enough to get people to come. I didn’t want everyone to back out on a clean up in November!

Luckily we had a pretty good group who braved the elements and the flying sand to pick up cigarettes and bottle caps and endless other weird items.

All in all, we ended up removing 141 pounds of trash! 

 

 

 

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Black Friday, I’ll Pass

I used to like Black Friday.

That was back when the deals were only available at early hours on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That is when you marveled at hearing about someone go to the mall at 4:30 AM. My mom and I would go sometimes, but never for those obnoxiously early doorbusters.

As the years have gone by, Black Friday and the idea of turning Thanksgiving and the surrounding days into a mass over-consumption mess has snowballed out of control. Who needs Black Friday when you can get Black Friday all week or even all month long!? Don’t forget Cyber Monday! And the fact that stores are open on Thanksgiving just so people can continue to consume products they most likely don’t even need!

Of course, that <insert literally any type of purchase here> sounds enticing because it is advertised as 50% off, or buy one and get one free, but do you really need those things, though?

Now that Black Friday has escalated into this “crazy-must-buy-all-of-the-things” extended period of time, I am no longer interested.

So I won’t be doing any shopping come Friday.

I do plan on joining REI in their effort to #OptOutside, then I will come inside and warm up with family and Thanksgiving leftovers. Sounds perfect (and free) to me.

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Needed Jeans, Headed to Goodwill

So I have a new job. I am really excited to be the Nature Communications Coordinator for Conserve Lake County. On my very first day on the job, I planted this little Oak tree pictured below.

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When I got the email that morning to dress for outside, I had to completely change what I had planned to wear that day. Having previously worked in the Federal Government, pretty much all of my work clothes were business casual to business formal.

Pencil skirts do not fall into the category of clothes you should wear while planting a tree. So after my first week of work was over, I figured I would need to acquire some work jeans. These would be jeans meant for getting dirty and ones I could easily bend and move around in. Skinny jeans do not fall into this category either.

Since I can’t buy any new clothes for the rest of the year, and I really wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money on such a pair of pants anyway, I headed to Goodwill.

Finding jeans that fit is hard enough, so I was skeptical that I would find something that day. I tried on a handful of pairs, hoping for a miracle. Lo and behold, I found a pair of Levi’s that I could bend and squat in.

And they were $7.99. 🙂

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How to: Get Excited Again Post-Election

Many of the people I follow on WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter expected last Tuesday to come out a little different than we thought. I woke up that morning at 4:40 AM to head to my polling place to serve as an election judge. I was excited. I was ready to contribute to and witness history. I had planned on saving my “I Voted” wristband, writing “11/8/16 Election of First Female President” on it and saving it forever.

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So much excitement the morning of. 

 

Unfortunately, when I woke up Wednesday morning my world was a completely different place. I was in denial and not really sure how to accept the next four years of my life. For myself and my colleagues in the environmental field, this was a huge blow. I took Wednesday to sulk,  be sad and eat a bowl of cereal in bed. I avoided watching the news or looking at articles on the internet.

By the time Monday rolled around, I had come to a different place of acceptance. For those of us who care about our planet and climate change, we have to remember that this election was not a vote on climate. It wasn’t a hot topic and wasn’t talked about as much as it should have been. As much as we tweeted and emailed, it was never asked about in any of the 3 presidential debates.

Monday night, I attended a meeting with my fellow Environmental Defense Fund Chicago Ambassadors and others interested in talking about how EDF planned to move forward post-election. This meeting was already planned well before the results of the election were known and our gathering had a much more somber feeling than originally intended.

Everything is a little blurry still, but this is what we know so far:

  • The President-Elect wants to end the “War on Coal”
  • The President-Elect wants to eliminate the Clean Power Plan
  • The President- Elect wants to abandon the Paris Agreement
  • Myron Ebell will be leading the EPA transition

Unfortunately, we are fortunate that the battle for clean air and water has always been a battle. It was never easy in the first place to get the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the EPA established. So this time, it is no different. Fighting for the environment is all we know how to do. Protests, petitions, writing to support legislation, and sharing sound science are actions we are all very familiar with.

Richard Nixon despised environmentalists, yet he was the most pro-environment president the US has ever seen. His administration created the EPA and charged it with protecting human health and the environment. Our outcry was enough for Nixon to give in.

So what we have to do now is stand and fight. EDF will be working hard to defend the work they have already accomplished. This is going to go down to the states. In Illinois, our legislators will be voting on the Clean Jobs Bill after Thanksgiving. SO WRITE TO YOUR LEGISLATORS!

We need the public to tell this new administration we won’t stand for a rollback on environmental rules and regulations. We won’t stand for a president that does not believe in climate change despite the overall consensus from scientists AROUND THE WORLD.

It was a battle from the very beginning and that battle is not going to end in the next four years. Because it is a battle, the wins are that much more worth it. We will keep moving forward and hopefully, our destruction won’t catch up to us.

 

 

 

Learn Something New Every Day: Removing Toothbrush Bristles

Last night I turned to K and said, “Where are the pliers?” Giving me a weird look, he asked why. I nonchalantly stated I needed them to remove the bristles from my bamboo toothbrush.

A totally normal response, right?

Either way, my first bamboo toothbrush’s life span as a toothbrush came to an end. After removing the bristles, the handle can be composted in a commercial facility.

So I took a seat and started to pull on the bristles. At first, nothing happened. I yanked and yanked until bristles burst from my toothbrush. So the real lesson here is, do this over an easy to clean surface because bristles WILL BE EVERYWHERE.

After the first chunk of bristles, it became easier and easier to remove them.

 

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Halfway through

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All gone! 

I did my best to keep the bristles and the toothpaste dust contained. When I was finished, I marveled at the fact that I just took 10 minutes to pull bristles out of my toothbrush just so it could be composted. I think it is definitely worth it over the way millions just simply toss conventional toothbrushes in the landfill without a second thought.

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The aftermath

 

Packing In A Long Weekend in CA

My cousin got married in California over the weekend, so the majority of our family packed up our things and flew to San Francisco for the nuptials.

 

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The view from the wedding venue

 

Carry On = Minimal Clothing

While packing for a wedding is hard, packing for one in a climate you aren’t familiar with (and in a carry on bag) is even harder.

So this was my attempt at packing light! The most obvious clothing I needed to pack was something for the wedding and family dinner the night before. Otherwise, we would just be doing some exploring and going to see Alcatraz!

To avoid any crazy overpacking, I started with making a list of items I knew I would need, and then items that crossed over and could be used for different purposes.

  • 1 pair of boots
  • 1 pair of moccasins
  • 1 pair of heels for the wedding
  • 2 dresses for rehearsal and wedding
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 4 shirts/sweaters
  • 2 vests
  • 2 scarves
  • 1 regular jacket and 1 rain coat
  • obviously the other essentials

All made it into my carry on without a hitch! Pairing different vests and scarves with different shirts, pants, and shoes, really helped vary my outfit choices over the 5 days. So at least in most pictures, it does not look like I am wearing the same thing every day!

Being Conscious of Waste While Traveling

 

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Taken at the Cliff House, San Francisco, CA

 

Every single restaurant we went to had a sign that stated water would not automatically be served  due to California’s severe drought.  Living in a part of the country that is not under such water restrictions, it was a bit shocking at first, but it makes complete sense. How much water is wasted being brought to customers who don’t even want it?

In other news, my foldable reusable bag came quite in handy throughout the trip. It carried leftovers, souvenirs, jackets, and umbrellas. I refused straws at restaurants and refilled my water bottle where ever I was.

I definitely was not zero-waste perfect on this trip, but I made conscious efforts and shared them with my family.

Many other bloggers do a fantastic job covering how they travel zero-waste. Check them out:

Most importantly, check out the Zero Waster’s Travel Companion! Put together by the Zero Waste Bloggers Network, this guide can help you travel more consciously to 32 different cities around the world!