Just Around the River Bend…

While most nerds recognize March 14th as Pi Day, us environmentalists like to celebrate International Day of Action for Rivers.

This past week I had the incredible opportunity to hike part of the Smokey Mountains. I took part in a group service trip to Knoxville, TN, a great area that is home to many people in need. Because I’ve only lived in Florida and Cape Cod, I get wicked excited when I see mountains because they’re such a rare sight. It was so amazing to be in such a clean and natural expanse of land, and the vastness of it really makes you aware of how small you are compared to the rest of the world.

I posted a few pictures here to share my experience with you all and to show what the Earth looks like when it goes untouched by man. I’ve never been in such a vast natural environment, and it’s easy to forget what the world looked like before humans took over.

Anyway, this experience gave me a great appreciation for the power of nature. The rivers and waterfalls along the trails are known as some of the most dangerous in the U.S. And honestly, they were absolutely beautiful. Standing next to them, I could feel how powerful they were and I’ve never smelled air that was so clean and fresh that it was sweet.

So just remember to take a little bit of time every day to appreciate nature, because the world is truly beautiful when it goes untouched by man. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footsteps!

Meatless Mondays

Okay, I’m going to start off by saying that I’m not here to preach about veganism. I like bacon. I like corndogs. I like a big fat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. I doubt that I’ll ever become a full vegetarian- nevermind a vegan. But it’s tough to deny the benefits vegetarianism and veganism pose for the environment. I like my meat, but it’s incredibly important to limit your meat consumption, and surprisingly, it’s pretty easy. Consuming protein alternatives such as beans, chickpeas, and nut butters can significantly reduce your footprint. Here are a few tidbits of information regarding meat consumption and the environment.

  • Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and other modes of transportation combined.
  • The average American consumes 270 pounds of meat each year.
  • 70% of the grain produced in the United States is used to feed farm animals.
  • Animal waste contains tons of pathogens that can transfer to humans through water run-off.
  • The excess of antibiotics given to animals to speed up the growth process leads to a rise in resistant bacteria, which makes it harder to treat human illnesses.

 

Check out chooseveg.com/environment for more information about eating green for the environment.

Also, remember to check out and follow my Instagram account at bee_green_project!

 

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Zero Waste Steps For Beginners

Transitioning to a zero-waste lifestyle can be extremely intimidating. It may feel like a lot of sacrifices need to be made in order to reduce your impact. But the truth is we’ve gotten into the habit of not realizing how much we are consuming. The average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash per day, which equates to over 1,600 pounds a year. So it’s time for us to make a change, and the best way to do it is to take the journey one step at a time. Here are a few easy ways to cut down on your waste:

  • Use reusable bags at the grocery store. The average person uses 500 plastic bags per year, and they all end up in the trash. More stores have begun to sell reusable bags for just a couple of dollars so you can pick some up next time you go to the store!
  • Shorten those showers. Most Americans like to shower every day, but many people use more water than they would while taking a bath. Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource in the world, so try limiting your showers to five minutes.
  • Cut back on disposable cutlery! Disposable plastics are a huge waste contributor. Instead of using plastic forks and knives for lunch, keep a reusable set in your desk, bag, or car that can be rinsed off after use. I keep a fork from my kitchen in my office, and bamboo sets are great because they’re light enough to be thrown in any bag.
  • Be aware of what products your buying. Nowadays, cleaning products and packaged food can come with a long list of artificial preservatives and who knows what else! Try to select all-natural and organic products to keep your life as clean and green as possible.
  • Buy in Bulk! Buying food at bulk stores will save you a lot of money while significantly reducing your packaging waste. Products such as oatmeal, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and many others are typically sold in bulk stores. Bring your own container and fill her up!

For more information on how to transition to a waste-free lifestyle, check out the “Create Less Waste” tab in the menu. Remember, we all have a role to play in keeping the earth clean, and less is always more!

 

Litter Bug

We can all agree on something: litter is bad. And people who litter are even worse. These people are often referred to as “litter bugs” and nobody wants to be a litter bug! However, the origin of the term is actually quite interesting.

Littering wasn’t too much of a problem until businesses started using disposable plastics, specifically plastic bottles. Before their creation, most soda, milk, and other liquids were sold in glass bottles, which the customer would return to the distributor to be used again. But when disposable bottles were invented, this method was thrown out the window.

The increase in use of disposable products caused a huge increase in the presence of litter, and corporate businesses didn’t want that bad reputation getting back to them. In order to divert this blame, they accused customers of causing the litter problem, labeling them as “litter bugs”, and thus the term was born.

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Despite recycling campaigns and return deposits offered in America, plastic bottles are still a huge problem. Millions of plastic bottles are thrown into landfills every year, and sit there for decades while they slowly decompose.

One great way of incentivizing people to recycle is increasing the return deposits on plastic bottles. In the U.S. consumers only get 5 cents back per bottle, which offers little motivation. On top of that, only 11 states even participate in bottle return: California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Vermont, New York, Delaware, Oregon, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, and Hawaii. However, Europe does a great job at incentivizing bottle returns, and offer up to 25 cents for every bottle returned. Because of this, recycling rates are much higher, and countries such as Austria and Germany recycle up to 62% of ALL waste.

Another way to reduce plastic bottle waste? DON’T USE THEM! plastic bottles can be avoided almost all the time if you plan ahead and stick to what your body needs.

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To learn more about Keeping American Beautiful and the litter problem in the U.S, watch this video from Adam Ruins Everything!

Thanks for reading!

-Molly Bee

TRASH.

Happy Monday! Here’s to an awesome first week of October.

America produces more trash per person than almost any other place in the world. As a society, we have become dependent on the invention of disposable products and packaging that came about in the 20th century.

Here are a couple tidbits of information about waste to get you thinking:

  • Americans throw away about 28 billion pounds of food waste each year.
  • The average American uses approximately 500 plastic bags per year, and each bag is used on average for only 25 minutes
  • Most communities spend more money to deal with trash than they do on schoolbooks and fire protection

It is time for us to reduce our waste production!

While humans still produce a lot of trash, there is still hope! Over the years I have been seeing more and more divided waste bins in public. Usually they are divided into two or three sections: waste, recycle, and sometimes, compost. These can make a huge difference in how much waste gets sent to landfills, because people have the options right in front of them.

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Three-part waste disposable in San Francisco, CA

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Waste and recycle options in  Walt Disney World

So, how can you make a difference? Start dividing up your waste. Most communities have recycling services alongside trash collection. Usually all you have to do is contact your local government to get a recycling bin or a recycling sticker to put on a bin of your own. Composting can be a little more difficult, as usually there aren’t collection services for it, but there are private organizations who collect compost material in order to turn it into soil. Or, start composting in your own back yard! I will have more information about composting in blog posts to come.

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If you are interested in starting your own compost, there are even businesses that will offer some of their composting material to customers. Some McDonald’s locations have begun to offer their coffee grounds for customers to put in their garden. This is such a positive step in the right direction, as big fast food companies are some of the biggest culprits of filling landfills with disposable plastics. Let’s make progress one step at a time!

 

A Change in the Air

‘Tis the season for pumpkins, spice, and everything nice. The transition from summer to autumn is truly bittersweet, for summer is my favorite time of the year to eat in season fruits and vegetables. But who doesn’t love the smell of fall spices in the air? I’m personally a huge fan of the boots and sweater combo, although Floridians don’t get to experience the crispness of fall quite like New Englanders do.

As always, the change in seasons comes with a change of sustainable in season produce choices. Say goodbye to watermelon and hello to cranberries! Here are a list of the fruits and vegetables that are sustainable choices for the fall season.

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In addition, it’s always a good idea to shop for your produce locally, as typically these products will be in season and are responsible for less transportation emissions!

This is my first autumn practicing an eco-friendly lifestyle, so I’m excited to see the challenges and surprises the season brings. A great way to make your eating habits more sustainable is to cook your own food! Take out and quick service food tends to come with a lot of packaging and disposable plastics, plus big corporate companies don’t usually get their food from local suppliers.

And remember, if you’re one of those people who is obsessed with pumpkin spice lattes, PLEASE use a reusable cup!

Happy Fall!

-Molly Bee

Make the Most Out of Your Produce

As someone who loves fruits and vegetables, I do my best to keep my produce fresh and well stocked. Produce is one of the most eco-friendly food options, and I try to incorporate them into all of my meals. However, a tricky part of stocking your produce drawers is dealing with fruits and vegetables getting to be too ripe. You’re supposed to buy in bulk to reduce on packaging and transportation emissions, but what if you can’t eat it all in time? In the past, I’ve ended up throwing them away and wasting perfectly good food.

I found my answer to reducing food waste on Instagram from a fellow member of the sustainable community. The secret? A blender! if your produce is starting to get too ripe, throw them in a blender and pour them into ice cube trays. Then, put the trays in the freezer for a few hours, and… ta-da! Your frozen fruits and veggies will be good for another few months.

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I’ve found that this method works for most fruits and vegetables. Some fruits, such as grapes, are pretty juicy and can be added to a blender no problem. With some produce it is best to add in a liquid to help the blender out a little bit. Almost any liquid, including water, can be used. My go-to mixer is usually almond milk or juice, Just a little bit can go a long way!

When it comes to actually using these produce cubes, I prefer to use them in smoothies. It’s perfect because everything is already frozen, plus you don’t have to waste your time cutting your produce into smaller pieces. I just throw in a splash of almond milk and my smoothie is good to go!

This method came in clutch a few weeks ago when Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma. I left my apartment in Tampa for a few days while the storm passed, and when I got back a lot of my produce was extremely ripe. My boyfriend’s immediate instinct was to throw away the brown bananas, but I blended up all of the produce into frozen cubes and now I’m still getting to use them.

Though I haven’t tried it, I would think that frozen produce cubes could work pretty well in cooked dishes, sauces, etc. Has anyone ever tried this? I would love to hear some feedback. If not, this experiment is the next on my list!

 

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Converse Cleaning

For my birthday last January, my little sister gave me a new pair of white converse that I fell in love with. I wear them a lot; probably 3-4 days a week, so they get pretty dirty. They go through so much wear and tear! Because I'm such a clean freak, it probably wasn't the best idea to get white shoes, because the paint splatters and dirt on them drive me crazy. But there's nothing like a good clean to keep your stuff nice and new!

In the past, I've cleaned my white shoes with bleach, but this time I wanted to try and clean them without chemicals. I did a but of research to get some different ideas, and most suggested using baking soda as the main ingredient, as it had some natural bleaching properties. I also added just a bit Castile soap to the mixture to get rid of germs, bacteria, and whatever grossness my shoes had picked up along the way. Here's the recipe of the mixture I used:
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon baking soda
3 drops of Castile soap

First, I combined the baking soda and water and mixed it vigorously. The baking soda didn't totally dissolve like I expected it to, but it worked perfectly fine after adding the soap.

I'm not going to lie- I spent a lot of time cleaning my shoes. I scrubbed the heck out of the soles, the fabric part of the shoe, and I even removed the laces and soaked them in the mixture of water, baking soda, and soap. I probably went a little over the top, but what's wrong with being a little extra when it comes to cleaning?

After scrubbing them for awhile, I rinsed my shoes thoroughly and left them by a fan to dry. I did read online of some people leaving the baking soda on their shoes and letting it sit in the sun, but it was a rainy day and I was pretty satisfied with the way they looked. It took some time for them to dry completely, but in the end, they looked great!

I will say that cleaning my shoes with bleach in the past did make them whiter. The baking soda solution still left some stray marks on the fabric part of the shoe. But overall, I was pretty satisfied with the results of the baking soda mixture, and I was able to cut chemicals out of the process. Maybe I'll allow myself to use bleach on rare occasions in order to keep my shoes looking new instead of having to buy a new pair.

Moral of the story: don't be so quick to throw away what you have and buy more. Take care of what you own, and embrace simple living!

-Molly

Bottled Isn’t Better

For as long as I can remember, my mother has always bought bottled water. All of our drinking water came out of gallon jugs, and my sister and I would bring a new plastic bottle of water to school with us every single day. Her reasoning behind this was that the tap water in our town wasn’t safe to drink. Every few years, we would get a notice in the mail warning pregnant women not to drink the tap water due to lead in it. And if pregnant women shouldn’t drink it, then why would my mother give it to her children?

All in all, bottled water isn’t any better for you than tap water. Studies have found that nearly a third of all bottled water has trace amounts of chemical contaminants and carcinogens that exceed tap water drinking standards. The government is required to tell people what is in the tap water, while bottled water companies don’t have to disclose this information to their customers. While there are arguments both for and against both tap and bottled water, the two are being assessed on two totally different scales. The EPA is responsible for the regulation of tap water, while the FDA oversees bottled water.

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From a sustainability stand point, I highly encourage people to drink filtered tap water over bottled. Even if you recycle plastic bottles, drinking filtered tap water is a much more sustainable solution because it can cut out the plastic packaging entirely. Instead, I use a high-quality lead filtering pitcher. Not to mention that it saves me a lot of money, too! Although the packaging for these filters can be a little excessive and make me cringe,    they can be recycled.

After years of nagging my mom about the bottled water, I finally convinced her to get a Brita. I am so proud of her for making the switch over because it makes her life easier and is a much greener alternative. Go, Mom!

As always, don’t forget to pair your filtered water with that reusable bottle. Who needs plastic anyways?;)

-Molly B

 

 

Back Home

My blog posts have been pretty sporadic for the past few weeks, mostly because I have been dealing with finals week in school and then moving back to the Cape. But my life is finally (somewhat) under control, so I have all the time in the world to write and bee green.

I am so incredibly grateful to have been raised on Cape Cod. For those of you who don’t know, the Cape is technically a man-made island off the coast of Massachusetts. We’re a popular tourism spot in the summer time due to our many beaches and coastlines, and I’m so excited to be back here for my last summer as a college student.

Most people on the Cape are pretty environmentally-conscious due to the fact that there’s so much wildlife around us. In school, we were taught the importance of conservation and the damage pollution does to the environment. It is an integral part of our community, so moving to Tampa for college was a big shock for a small town girl like me. And this transition is what mostly lead me to pursuing a sustainable lifestyle. 

I can’t wait to share the rest of my journey with you all, and hopefully I can encourage a few readers to “bee green!”

-Molly B

Bye Bye Bounce

In today’s world, we are exposed to man-made chemicals and other synthetics constantly. They’re in the food we eat, the soaps we clean with, and everything in between. Part of living a zero waste lifestyle means removing these toxicities from your life and replacing them with all natural methods.

Dryer sheets are neither compostable or recyclable, making them just another piece of unnecessary waste. While they may help with drying your clothes and making them smell nice and clean, there are several more sustainable alternatives you can use.

First off, it’s important to remember that not all clothes have to be put in the dryer. Any sort of delicate clothing, jeans, or high quality clothing will do just fine if they’re left out to air dry. Not only does this put less wear and tear on your clothes, but it will also reduce your electricity consumption.

For clothes that need to be dried, a great alternative is to use dryer balls. Dryer balls are eco friendly because they are reusable. I got a four pack of them from TJ Maxx for $6 and they’re still working perfectly six months later. Looking back, I wish I had tried wool dryer balls, which are even more sustainable because they are made out of natural products instead of plastic. Both work just as well as dryer sheets when it comes to collecting lint.

I’d love to hear from someone who has tried using drying products made from wool if anyone has some input! I’m always looking to reduce my footprint if I can.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to post more regularly from now on, and hopefully get some more readers!

-Molly B