Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekend Update

 Friday my friends and I went to a one-time 11 pm showing of Purple Rain at the Art Theater in downtown Long Beach.
I looooove this little independent theatre. It's that one neighborhood playhouse that shows indie films and Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday at midnight. Plus I'm partial to this neighborhood since I lived here for 10+ years in my 20's & early 30's.

Wearing purple (me) and a raspberry beanie (S).
 It was a fantastic way to grieve Prince's passing, with 300 other people, all of us singing our hearts out to Purple Rain.
RIP, Prince.

After about 3 1/2 hours of sleep, I actually got my butt out of bed to keep my run date.
 I was soooooooo sleepy and dehydrated heading out the the trail. I promised myself I wouldn't be mad if I had to quit after only 1 mile.
I ended up doing 4 miles at 12:34 pace and was pretty dang impressed with myself!

I didn't recoup much sleep on Saturday after my run. Getting up on Sunday for an 8am church start was brutal. 

After Church we headed to downtown Long Beach again to volunteer at the Urban Community Outreach. The UCO serves a hot meal to the homeless in Long Beach every Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. 
 We chopped vegetables for salad and sliced countless loaves of bread for garlic bread.
After the prep work we were put in charge of serving drinks (fruit punch, ice tea and water) and more importantly sharing love. 
The Puff was really into it! I thought she'd be timid & shy, especially with the people who suffered mental illnesses. But she surprised me and was a trooper!

It's a bit challenging to find volunteer opportunities that allow kids under 12 to fully participate and that a kid would actually look forward to doing. We had so much fun today, we might make this our regular volunteer effort each month! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Earth Day!

It's been a lot of fun posting about some of my own green practices this week. I will make it a point to share more about how I'm reducing my carbon foot print, while I continue to blog about running!  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Earth Day Every Day 4-Zero Waste Travel

In observance of Earth Day this week, I wanted to write a daily post about habits I've adapted to be kinder to the Earth.
This past Spring Break we took a family trip to Mt. Rushmore and I made it a goal to go the entire trip without creating trash. Here's how I did it:

Our first day I packed my breakfast in my carry-on bag. I filled up my travel mug with Diet Coke from the Burger King counter after passing through TSA and sat down at our gate to eat breakfast.
The Puff needed a bag of chips to go with her breakfast. And again, good ol' Terracycle to our rescue. While I did not get a spot on their Potato Chip Bag Brigade, I did reach out to Terracycle who sent me a UPS mailing label for free.

I carried that empty Doritos bag back home with me & added it to my collection. I've been collecting empty chip bags for about a year now and when my box is full, I'll send it on to Terracycle. The only difference is because I'm not a part of the official Brigade for chip bags, I won't earn any credit from Terracycle like I will with my Toiletries box.
When I first heard of Terracycle I thought it was THE answer; that I wouldn't have to change any part of my lifestyle because all my garbage could just be sent in to Terracycle for repurposing. Now that I know a little more about the lifecycle of plastic, I know Terracycle isn't the perfect solution. It is something though.

OH, and one funny thing about Terracycle, is that they are featured on a show called Human Resources which my sister looooves. It's on Pivot if you haven't seen it.

Next up had lunch at a pizza place where I was tempted to order a salad. But since the salads were all boxed in plastic I opted for a slice, making sure to ask them not to use any plastic in serving it.
I know I annoy the people I'm with when I ask a million questions and make weird demands in order to avoid plastic, but in my eyes it's the same as people with food allergies or food preferences (no tomato, is that gluten-free?).

Boulder had these super convenient public recycling bins! I puffy heart Boulder.

The biggest help for me to stay on track with my zero waste goal was that there was a Whole Foods market with bulk bins near our hotel. Our trip required a lot of driving and I brought a couple cloth bags with me to the store to shop for road trip snacks. Chocolate malt balls, peanut butter pretzels, fruits & veggies, some cookies & other baked goods and we were set!
In the morning we stopped to pick up some breakfast before our long drive to Devil's Tower. We stopped at Breadworks in Boulder and I ordered a sandwich to eat In house instead of asking for it To Go. 
We didn't have any intention of sitting down to eat, but the sandwich was served on a real plate. Once I got the plate I put the sandwich in my tin and we were on our way. It required a bit of juggling while being stared at quizzically so I didn't snap a picture. I always feel like I'm acting suspicious or something, which I guess I need to just get over. 
road trip snacks, zero waste
 We also stopped for gas once or twice and filled up our travel mugs with soda or hot chocolate from the self-serve machines at the gas station mini-marts.

Later in the day we stopped again to eat, this time I chose Subway for their paper wrappers. Otherwise, we still had plenty to snack on from the Whole Foods run I'd made in Boulder.
The next day, our hotel in South Dakota served a free continental breakfast. 
After filling up on hot food in my own container, I also grabbed some bread, cinnamon rolls and hard boiled eggs to save for later, just in case. Grab it when you can find it. The last thing I wanted was to be caught hungry without any options. 
I think the biggest hassle on this zero waste trip (which was hardly a hassle) was having to say No Thank You to every brochure we were handed. I didn't count how many times we paid entrance fees to the places we went to but every time we were handed a receipt the attendant included with it a map(s) or brochure(s) of the place we were entering.
I always handed the brochures back but it felt weird, like I was ungrateful for the free gift. Seriously, in this era of information, everything you need to know you can find online. Save the trees! 

And for the next two days, it was more of the same. We purchased souvenirs (I collect refrigerator magnets from my travels) everywhere we went and refused the plastic bags. Ate at restaurants where I usually had to refuse just the plastic straw that gets put in my glass automatically.

At Barlee's diner, I had to eat a plain baked potato because their butter and sour cream were served in plastic cups (always ask!). It was totally fine.
And anywhere I went that I found package-free goodies, I snatched them up. It helped me to not feel so deprived because of all the other times I'd have to refuse something. 
For my last meal at the Denver airport, I opted for a food option again that would be served all wrapped in paper, McDonald's. 
When I got back to work after our trip, I added all the receipts I'd collected to my stash of note paper. I use the backs of my receipts to jot down notes/messages before they head to the recycle bin. I put our boarding passes in my printer at work so the paper could also be used on both sides before being recycled. 
And the biggest reward was that our suitcases were free of clutter and other junk that we'd normally end up tossing out at home. It was great! 

Besides my own self discipline in refusing freebies and at times doing without, these reusables were essential in helping me avoid making waste on this trip. 

The Puff and I have a trip to Tulum coming up in July. I know that traveling to another country, especially one where the tap water is not potable, will be a whole different kind of challenge but I think we'll do alright. Does anyone have experience with the water situation in Mexico?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earth Day Every Day 3--Green hygeine

In observance of Earth Day this week I wanted to write a daily post on habits I've adapted to be kinder to the Earth. 

Today I'm sharing some changes I've made in the personal hygiene category and hope I end up on the right side of the TMI line. 

I'm not quite sure where to start, so we'll start with the morning shower.  I remember as a kid everybody washed with bar soap. I'm not sure when we all got together and decided that we had to convert to using body soap and liquid soap in plastic soap dispensers, but both are everywhere now. The Puff and I have gone back to using bar soap and our brand comes wrapped in paper. As a bonus it's made with pretty good ingredients and I'm more than comfortable using it on my face too. 

I used to purchase shampoo and conditioner from a start-up called Refyll in Venice Beach. I'd take my glass jars and fill up at their booth at the farmer's market. Unfortunately, they no longer set up at the farmer's market and I've been in search of a similar substitute. Now we're buying the biggest sizes of shampoo & conditioner that we can find at the store and refilling our smaller bottles that we keep in the shower. 
I use a safety razor in the shower and double edge razor refills instead of disposable (expensive!) razors. I know I don't have sensitive skin because I can use regular castille bar soap instead of shaving foam to shave with. 

After showering, I use a homemade sunscreen on my face & chest. The sunscreen is made from carrot seed and red raspberry seed essential oils, both of which are 35-40 spf. (Isn't that cool?)  I use a crystal body deodorant stone under my arms and on an extra humid day, a shaker full of baking soda. I spritz perfume every day too. 
I make my own lotion and apply as needed to my usual trouble spots. Hydrating from the inside out is the real key though. Must remember to drink more water. 

My hair is crazy curly and I never even take a brush to it most days. While it's still wet, I used to use something like this to keep it from frizzing. 
Now I make my own hair serum from a few basic oils. After I shower, I apply a few drops of the oil throughout my hair and just let it air dry. Since my hair is curly, there's really only 1 way it will turn out: curly. 

I made some hair serum just the other day. Took me about 40 seconds. 
As I'm typing this it does sound like I make a lot of stuff myself, but with the lotion and hair serum a little goes a long way and I really don't have to make them very often--maybe once every few months or so.

Next, we brush our teeth. It's a total mystery how toothbrushes made their way from our bathrooms
to the ocean, but they did! Crazy!!
We now only use wooden toothbrushes. Our current brand uses nylon bristles, but when we're ready to replace them we'll go with boar bristles. 
Yeah, we use store-bought toothpaste. I've tried making my own toothpaste but the Puff hates it. I've used straight baking soda myself but the Puff is harder to convince. And since I need her to not hate brushing her teeth, store-bought it is. 

And this is where the company Terracycle comes into play for us. Once deciding to go green, it took us a loooong time to use up all the q-tips, soft soap containers, deodorant sticks, shaving cream containers, cotton balls, etc that we had stored. As they were used up, I tossed the empties into my Terracycle brigade box. 

 Without getting too much into the weeds about Terracycle, they basically collect specific categories of your garbage and will up or down cycle it (I guess the up or down  part depends on your personal view). I was able to get a spot in their Toiletries brigade and now I collect empty toiletries containers from family, friends, coworkers, and will send in my box once it's full. 
The problem with Terracycle is that it is kind of a crutch, at least for me, and provides me with an easy "out" to continue to use products that come in plastic. Plastic can not be recycled. A plastic bottle can't be melted down and reformed into the same plastic bottle, like with aluminum. Plastic degrades each time it is recycled. So after Terracycle gets hold of my bottles, they will turn them into a park bench or something else useful (I bought a juice box binder for the Puff), which is nice. But eventually that bench will break and crack and IT will end up in the landfill. Sooner or later, plastic will always end up in the landfill. And sit there until long after we're gone. 

I don't want to make this post too long, so one final thing I'll mention is that time of the month. I've replaced pads and tampons with a Diva cup and home made cloth pads (literally on the rag, ha).I bought 1 Luna Pad and then my mom used it as  pattern to sew me a dozen more from one of the Puff's old nursing blankets. She sewed another dozen for my sister too. I added the metal fasteners with a needle and thread. I rinse them out as I use them and toss them into the washing machine.
If you've used a diaphragm birth control, the Diva cup fits pretty much the same way. It collects your flow and then you empty it into a toilet and reinsert. During the heavy days you're emptying it like once an hour. On the rest of the days, I'll only need to empty it once a day. It took me a few cycles to figure it all out, but now it's easy peasy! 

The Diva cup is for real the BEST part about that time of the month. I don't ever see myself going back to stinky pads or TSS tampons. 

I've also become a pro at finding which public places have the nice bathrooms. Starbucks bathrooms are usually private (at least around here) and that works out nicely if I'm out and about. At work, we have stalls, which means I have to be creative with keeping things from getting messy. And of course, I've had to do it all in a porta potty as well! 

There's still other areas I'm figuring out, namely my make up and hair dye. It's definitely a process but seriously, the satisfaction of finding alternatives really is awesome.