Featured

If you care… I made some muesli bars!

When I started this page I suppose I didn’t have a clear view of what its purpose was going to be… and to be honest, I am still figuring it out! But I know what my main goal is; to inspire others to care about the ocean and reconnect with the environment.

How would you go about doing that? I’d really love to know what you think!

Anyway, while pondering how I can inspire others to care I made some #plasticfree muesli bars (aka ‘granola bars’). Let me just say, I am in love with this simple, throw it in a bowl and mix it up recipe! Its naturally sweetened with honey and contains a variety of seeds and nuts!

I enjoyed one of these for morning tea at work today!

All the ingredients were purchased at a local bulk buy store in my own jars, except the coconut oil, which comes in a glass jar since it’s something I haven’t found in bulk. Even the peanut butter I can get in my own jar! The lovely gentleman in the Bin Inn Browns Bay uses his cool machine to grind up the peanuts while I wait and viola, zero waste peanut butter! And its delicous! Way better then the processed stuff I grew up on, sorry Skippy! To view the recipe I used for these awesome #plasticfree snacks click here! I am so pleased with them and will definitely be making more, it was so easy!

Did you know most baking paper contains plastic? Well not this one! This particular ‘If You Care’ Parchment Baking Paper is plastic free, in fact it is also unbleached, totally chlorine-free (TCF), greaseproof paper! And its so good I can usually get two or three uses out of it depending on what I am using it for. And when its spent I just put it in my compost bin! The only place I’ve found it so far is Huckleberry, but it would be great to see it in other stores!

To find more ‘If You Care’ products try their webpage.

I am enjoying my waste free cooking, and I have tried so many new things. My phone is filled with photos of food; the ratio of photos of my #plasticfree swaps and new recipes I’ve tried is disproportionate to the usual amount of photos of the ocean and marine life on my device. Very unlike me, but I figure I need to share this with others because these are small steps everyone can be taking to achieve bigger impacts.

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.

Low waste living can be done, and there is a fair amount of people doing it to learn from! The community is growing, as are the options of eco-friendly products on the market! If more consumers were refusing products wrapped in plastic surely they would have to change their ways! I mean, you can also write to companies and brands and plead with them to think about the environment they are poisoning with their barrage of plastic packaging, but I prefer this method of dealing with things.

I am learning about blogging and just starting to develop my website and so this post may contain affiliate links which might earn me some money someday if someone purchases something using that link. Or then there’s the chance that I’ve done it all wrong and I will never make any money off of it if this blog, certainly if it never takes off.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

-Sara

Advertisements

I’m only human.

You can only fail if you try.

Organic bananas are awesome, you can seriously taste the difference!

I tried today, I really did. I went to Huckleberry to get more shampoo and conditioner bars, I got pasta in my own refillable container, I bought organic produce with no stickers, purchased ‘made in NZ’ essential oils to make my own creams and stocked up on ‘tree free tp’!

Then I went to Binn Inn and refilled my jars with other dry goods like nuts, flour, chocolate buttons and coffee.

But there’s a story to tell today: I’ve got this shoulder issue and I’ve been recommended to get resistance bands to do these strength exercises… anyway instead I bought these, no name brand resistance bands off oneday.com… and this is what I got:

Instead of trying to reuse something with enough resistance that was stretchy enough for strengthening my muscles I bought these resistance bands on oneday.com based on a picture that didn’t include all the plastic packaging and my mind just didn’t think it could come wrapped in so much plastic! I mean most of it is totally pointless plastic! It’s not like your latex bands are going to get scratched in transport?!

It made me so angry that each individual band was wrapped in plastic. It was my own fault for not researching into what it comes packaged in. I am not going to try and plead ignorant just because I don’t often order things online and this is not a common mistake I make; I try to live in my own ‘little less-plastic-life-bubble’ sometimes thinking the best of the world, and blocking out/avoiding things that come coated in large quantities of senseless oil based plastic.

Anyway, this was a huge dissapointment to me and I wish I never purchased them but did more looking into an alternative. The voice in my head was screaming ‘how could I have done this!?’ How stupid! I felt like I was doing so well at ‘low waste living’. However, this made me feel a little bit like I failed, but I’ve come forth with a reminder to myself; I’m human, and no one expects you to be perfect.

Once I home after unpacking the shopping I started on some soft tortillas and tried to cheer up. Tonight’s dinner would be ‘no waste’!

I used the leftover meat from the barbecue over the weekend and made my own rendition of steak fajitas.

I did make amazing homemade soft tortillas with ingredients in reusable containers, and all the healthy toppings were chopped up raw ingredients, totally plastic free!

Let me just finish with saying that after this experience I will try better to never be an ignorant buyer online ever again and focus on the positives… what plastic free-accomplishments can you celebrate today?

My love for marine life

Dreams do come true, just follow your heart, and the dolphins.

There’s just something about dolphins, isn’t there?

If you have ever looked into the eye of any marine mammal, you know what I mean when I say its feels like a special moment. Do I even need to write about dolphins? These images of them are inspiring enough.

I’ve had a fascination with dolphins for a long time. For a long time swimming with wild dolphins was just a fantasy. But these days I can admit that I’ve been fortunate enough to be in and on the water with dolphins on several occasions.

During my study abroad in 2014 I saw this dolpin in a river in Australia, it was imprinted, wild, but came regularly to a ‘wild dolphin feeding station’ set up that benefited from the tourists visiting to hand feed them.

At different parts of my life I had different interactions with dolphins. I learned about them and touched one once when visiting the aquarium and Sea World as a child, then later viewed them up close at a rehabilitation centre for marine life.

I saw this one up close in 2015 at a rehab centre in Florida known as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

It was enchanting whether they just swam past quickly, just passing and or riding the bow wake of a boat. Until moving to New Zealand however I had never really interacted with a dolphin.

This was back from when we used to live on Okawa, a steel trawler that cruised at the right speed for dolphins to join us on more than one occasion.

However, the amount of time I spend on or near the ocean has increased tenfold since I moved here.

I have been privileged to observe feeding behavior from the rocks and been lucky enough to be around for a special show of impromptu aerobatics more than once.

Incredible to see these large dolphins get that high in the air from a little boat.

I have had the pleasure of boating, paddling, diving and and snorkeling with them on various occasions.

This was an amazing experience, snorkeling with Spinner Dolphins at sunrise off the west coast of Oahu.

I love dolphins, I mean, who doesn’t? I would also love to learn more about them actually, not just about dolphins but about all of the underwater world. And that’s why I am teaching about it, reading about it, playing in it, and being an advocate for it.

The definition of ‘picture perfect’.

Have you heard that we are amidst earth’s sixth extinction event? Its frightening, so I try and focus my attention on the creatures that are alive and in need of us to wake up and stop trashing the planet so I’ve taken up this personal mission to inspire others to care more about the environment

Just two weeks ago I officially started my masters research as a postgrad at The University of Auckland.

It was my dream for a while to become a ‘marine biologist’ and now I’m actually on my way to becoming one.

Stay tuned for more information on my research as it gets fully underway; this post was all about the dolphins. In the meantime, think about your favourite ocean animal…. do you know how much its impacted by humans? The knowledge I have about human impact on the environment has increased my awareness of my impact as an individual, and changed my life for the better.

Glad I met these dolphins.

New habits, less waste

The month of July is over and I made it through with purchasing hardly any plastic! Yay! I kept any plastic waste that I did create and laid it out the other night to examine where I need to improve. Most of the packaging in the photo was purchased before I ‘quit’ plastic but regardless, it was the waste I created this month, minus some stickers from fruits I discarded at work when I ate them.

I told a story about the night I ‘cracked’ (see old blog post here), and bought chips to make nachos? Well its fair to say that those Sesame Blues chips will never again be in my shopping cart! Avoiding the plastic wrapper from a block of cheese will be a struggle though, I haven’t been able to find any hard cheeses without packaging, although if I bring my own container on days they cut cheese I can get some fancy cheeses from Puhoi Cheese Factory.

I’m not giving up wearing contact lenses or taking birth control so those will be included in my waste for the foreseeable future, but all the other plastic, I can find ways around!

The bottom line is that I think I’ve got some good momentum on plastic free living and this month was great for making some good habits! I think the #plasticfreejuly challenge really helped me solidify why I quit plastic and stick to it. They say it takes three weeks to change a habit, so the way I look at it, for me the month of July was a month of change and I’m keen to keep that going!

I want to be transparent as possible to show that I’m not perfect and you don’t have to be to make a difference! So next I’ll share with you the things I still need to invest in to eliminate more waste:
1. A zero waste razor; one of those stainless steel ‘safety razors’ that have replaceable blades with no plastic cartridges!
2. New kitchen dish brush; I have a ‘Switch’ dish brush with replaceable heads but its still plastic so will use it until its spent then replace it with a bamboo one with natural bristles.
3. Toothpaste alternative; the ‘eco-easy toothpaste tablets I got are my least favourite plastic free swap so I will be trying to make my own toothpaste in the near future!

“Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.”

-Anonymous

What is zero waste?

When I am not at work, paddleboarding or cooking I’ve been doing a bit of research… mostly reading posts done by zero waste bloggers, passionate ocean lovers and environmentalists. And from that I am gathering more information and increasing my own understanding of what it means to live a low-er impact life.

This lifelong journey is more than just my story about how or why I ‘quit plastic’. My ultimate goal is to live a low-waste lifestyle. True “zero” waste is a lofty goal unless you are 100% self sufficient, which I am not. Trash is inevitable in some shape or form… think of your rubbish like the tip of the iceberg, only a fraction of the waste produced is visible to us, the consumer, the rest is lost in manufacturing, hidden below the surface. I am aware that just because I completed a #plasticfree food shopping trip, there was inevitably waste created for those products to be made available to me.

So I have come to think of it as a low waste living! As my first step, I committed to stop buying “stuff” and instead I use what I already have and carefully consider what I want and need rather than compulsively consuming. Then I made the choice to completely refuse plastic and now I only choose foods and other goods that aren’t processed and come without packaging or the option for me to package it in my own containers or bags.

Typical shopping trip to the local fruit and veggie shop for produce.

This low-impact lifestyle means relying on ourselves more to fulfill our needs and relying less on corporations for conveniences they sell to us and try to tell us we need. There is many environmental issues I want to address, choosing to change my lifestyle to lessen my negative impact on the environment is about so much more than just no plastic packaging; I try to take into consideration where my food comes from, how did it get there? What waste was created upstream to have it here? Was it sustainably sourced or farmed? There’s a lot to consider, but don’t get overwhelmed.

Through my research I stumbled upon some information from a paper published in March 2017, “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications and Guidance,” the American Psychological Association defines ecoanxiety as “A chronic fear of environmental doom.”

Anyone else think ecoanxiety is what they’re experiencing?

If you and I are in the same boat then taking some action will help you retain your sanity. Just choose one step you can take now to reduce your carbon footprint— for me I chose to focus on plastic consumption, since this month is #plasticfreejuly, but I also choose to eat foods from lower on the food chain, and consume less meat and dairy.

Look for personal care products without plastic, there is options out there! I love my shampoo and conditioner bars from Ethique, they are even made in NZ! If you’re after baby steps, a bamboo toothbrush and deodorant in a cardboard tube is a good start and this toilet paper is great!

If you live in the city maybe try to take public transport or carpool more often or maybe even bike or walk to work… I’m just a bit to isolated for those options to work for me.
Maybe find an environmental organization you’d like to volunteer for or do advocacy with?

Then you take another step. Form good habits. Repeat and keep going. Don’t give up.

Check out the Zero Waste Chef, Kathryn’s post for the truth about zero waste living, this is worth a read my fellow eco warriors! https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/the-truth-about-zero-waste-living

Remember to take care of yourself. Don’t let your activism—which does not garner results overnight—lead to burnout.

Word from the wise ‘Zero-Waste Chef’

Plastic free isn’t easy

“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.”

― Mae West

Plastic Free July is/was going well, I’m still going strong but I guess I am still upset with how I cracked at the supermarket last night. Ready for a quick story?

Yesterday evening I popped into the supermarket to get a few things because Ben requested beer and I didn’t have anything planned for dinner. So I walked around trying to find things that were not in plastic. I hadn’t a clue what I was going to make for dinner but I wanted it to be something quick because it was already past 6 o’clock. I walked down isles thinking nope, nope, nope can’t buy that then lingered in the organic section of the isle, picked up one can of black beans and decided I’d make vegetarian nachos but then went back to the chips isle and realized – there was ZERO options not in plastic. Damn. I was thinking that we hadn’t had nachos in a long time but it was all for this Sara is buying ‘no plastic’ reason. So I walked away, grabbed a box of beers and with a few veggies and fruit in my cart I jumped on a line to checkout, and the lady in front of me, had every piece of fruit and all vegetables in those pesky plastic produce bags. Even the things like celery and a leek, which aren’t loose so you can’t claim you’re trying to keep them together! Even a single lemon in a bag! That’s when it my frustration started to really make me sour. But then dawned on me… does she not know single use plastic is bad? Or does she not care? I wanted to find out but didn’t know where to start. Sometimes I talk to strangers but to be honest I wasn’t in the mood. I was frustrated, tired and ridiculously hungry. I couldn’t wait to get out of the store so I could have one of the fruits I was purchasing since loose fruit is about the only thing that doesn’t come in plastic. I don’t know what made me do it but I said I’ll be right back, left my cart jogged over to the chips and picked up a packet and went back to the line. I waited my turn and stared down all the plastic packaging around me and thought about how most of it will end up in the landfill but some will inevitably become litter. It was saddening.


I paid for my things and left, not feeling guilty until I got home and looked at my groceries. Usually none or very little bits of plastic (ie. fruit stickers and sometimes sticker seals from glass jars) but this time I would have one large chip packet to add to the bin.

Most people think ‘so what’? But to me I had failed at my plastic free challenge that day. Upon reflection I did remember its not about being perfect, its about making an effort. And that one packet isn’t going to make or break me. I nailed the plastic free dinner last night!

If my individual actions can help plastic from ending up in the ocean, for me, it will certainly be worth it.

I just quit plastic.

I know its a useful material, in fact that is the core of the problem! Plastic is too valuable to eliminate yet too harmful to continue in its current state, so what do we do?

Essentially, we need to close the loop on the supply chain and make sure all the plastic that is used at least is recycled so we don’t need to keep using more and more oil to make more!

I know that it feels like its too big of a problem for an individual’s actions hence why I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and quit plastic. Today.

I have avoided most SUPs (single use plastics) for some time now, but I’m ready to say goodbye to all of them. Armed with my glass jars and containers, I am on a mission to not use ‘disposable plastics’ at all. Some are easier to avoid than others. My re-useable ‘nalgene’ drink bottle has traveled the globe with me and its still going strong. I have a coffee and a tea cup I’m pretty attached to and a set of utensils in my backpack in case I eat somewhere that doesn’t offer cutlery that’s not disposable plastic. And the plastic bag ban isn’t affecting me since I have avoided plastic ‘shopping bags’ of all kinds like the plague for a few years now. I’ve got shampoo and soap bars to combat the bottles in the shower and switched to an organic deodorant that comes in a cardboard tube.

This isn’t about me though, this is about plastic.

There’s lots of ways you can live without it and by sharing with you some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up, maybe it will be a little easier to make decisions with nature in mind.

I want to help you on your journey to quit plastic, whatever stage you’re at. Its better for you and of course better for the planet. I know there is friends and family following me on my journey from all over the world and I suppose different locations will have various challenges to finding bulk options for food or places that will accept you containers to put food in for you, but if everyone tried to reduce their waste rather than not doing anything, this world would be a way better place.

Its time for some action!

“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

– David Attenborough

That has to be one of my favourite quotes, try and think of something you care about that you don’t know about. Pretty hard, isn’t it?

I am all about helping others connect to the ocean like I have, maybe that will inspire care in a bigger way.

The environment is in a state that is so concerning to me, the lack of connection to nature which is all too common.

I know that not everyone gets to spend as much time in the outdoors as I do, but it doesn’t really make an excuse for people to be completely disconnected from their impact on the environment.

It might take some eye opening facts for you to realize that the worse thing you could do for the planet is not do anything and carry on with life as usual.

I went to go see Jane Goodall when she came and talked in Aotea Square; ‘Rewind the Future Auckland’ and I feel like its time to quote her:

“People get depressed and do nothing. If you don’t have hope, it’s all doom and gloom,” she said.

As for the future of the planet, Dr Goodall doesn’t believe it’s all doom and gloom – yet.

“We have the resilience of nature, animals can be brought back from the brink of extinction and we have the indomitable human spirit,” she said.

But she warns nature won’t be able to bounce back if we carry on with business as usual.

“If we carry on as we are, the window of time we have to slow down climate change will be too late,” she said.

So lets do something, lets start now.

Subscribe below to get notified when I post new content, I’ll try to keep it as inspiring as possible!

The best place to start is at the beginning.

Hi! I’m Sara. I am from Long Island, New York, but I now live on the outskirts of Auckland, New Zealand. I have a strong affinity to the ocean and so my whole life revolves around it. I currently work as an Outdoor/Marine Educator and I love my job, I have the opportunity to inspire many young people to care about the environment and engage with nature.

How did I get here? A few months before I finished my bachelor of science in Biology at Adelphi I had decided I would go abroad at the end of the summer to gain more experience in Marine Science before deciding on a masters program. Through a research fellowship studying an invasive parasite which affects crabs, I met an inspiring woman who did her PhD at University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Lab and it sounded like a really cool place, perfect for someone after an adventure. I made contact with some people there and confirmed that I would have a place to stay while I volunteer at the lab and so I booked a flight.

When I arrived at Leigh Marine Laboratory, situated on the edge of the Cape-Rodney to Okakari (Goat Island) Marine Reserve I can recall how elated I was to be at a real lab where marine science is everyone’s passion. I never wanted to leave. That’s how I ended up in New Zealand, you’ll have to wait for another blog post to hear more about why I stayed.

Why am I writing a blog?

Because it allows me to share my journey and my story with others. You can share thoughts with people you know, and ones you don’t.

My goal is to inspire others to care about the ocean by sharing stories and photos of my ocean experiences. I also want to remind these readers that they can have these experiences too, the opportunities don’t fall into your hands, you do have to seek them out.

If I can spark a love for the ocean or even just inspire someone to care for the environment a little more, that means more people will join me on this journey; looking for ways to reduce our impact on the planet whilst living a fulfilling life.

I am bound to write about sustainability and innovative ways to lessen impact on the planet, I have been learning from many others about ways you can reduce your waste. Thinking about what things we send to landfill is actually great place to start if you’re not aware of the impact our ‘disposable culture’ has on the planet.

I promise I am not going to tell anyone what to do, merely share with you what I do to educate and inform. We can make much more of a difference if we do this together.

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started