Can I Have a Doggy Bag, Please?

There was a big article in the Danish news today about the topic of doggie bags. In Denmark, it’s (still) not normal to ask for a doggy bag at restaurants, even though some have already started offering it.

And why not?

Having lived for the past 12+ years in a country where doggy bags are as common as ordering food at the restaurant, I now think it’s such a shame that countries like my native Denmark are still not on board with this.

It’s obviously a way to avoid wasting food. But apparently the issue of asking for a doggy bag (in Denmark) is a bit taboo. People aren’t accustomed to it, so they feel almost ashamed to ask or to even consider bringing their restaurant leftovers home and eating them for lunch or dinner the next day.

The concept isn’t far away from, say, going to a restaurant and picking up take out (or “take away” as I believe it’s called in Denmark). Okay, maybe it’s not exactly the “same”…but still.

My train of thought is this: I’m paying for the food, so I should be able to bring it home if I can’t finish it at the restaurant, instead of them just throwing it out.

It’s food! And unless it was bad or you didn’t like it, why on earth wouldn’t you take it home?

Resources are not infinite. I think we’re pretty much aware of that by now. And we have to consider that fact and try to adapt our lifestyle in order to minimize waste, not just food waste but all sorts of waste.

According to the article in the Danish news, Denmark and Danes waste 700,000 tons of food every year! Restaurants, hotels and cafeterias waste 29,000 tons of food every year in Denmark.

I’m personally stunned by this number, especially because Denmark is such a small country with just over 5 million people. But things are apparently changing…

The government is talking about making doggy bags mandatory in all restaurants. It’s a wonderful idea. I just hope that in doing so, they won’t create another kind of “waste problem” with the type of packaging used to make these doggy bags…

Please, for the love of the planet…please don’t use Styrofoam, plastic or any other type of box or bag that is harmful for the environment…like they do where I live!

I’m way past having any issues with asking for a doggy bag at restaurants. My next hurdle would be to get into the habit of bringing my own, reusable and collapsible container and just wrap my leftovers before the waiter can bring me a Styrofoam container.

Baby steps!

Queen Elizabeth II Bans Plastic Straws

The other day, I wrote a post about how I think we (especially women) should celebrate women for their greatness…when deserved, of course.

Not all women do great things and not all women are great just because they’re women… But there are a lot of great women in the world – young and old alike.

I want to start this theme by celebrating a grand old lady – a queen, nonetheless. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II recently became my personal heroine and role model.

Why?

Because she decided to ban the use of plastic straws and plastic bottles in the royal “household”.

(…) the Queen will end the use of single-use plastic straws and bottles in ALL royal estates, public cafes in royal residencies, as well as staff dining rooms. Royal caterers will now be required to use china plates and glasses.

At 91 years old, she is a beautiful example of how it’s never too old to make a change for the better, for the good of the planet and future generations.

It is thought that the Queen became personally interested in the problem of plastic after working with Sir David Attenborough on a conservation documentary dealing with wildlife in the Commonwealth.

She is the perfect example of how you can still contribute to making the world a better place even if you’re in the twilight of your life.

❤️

Quotes from:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/queen-elizabeth-bans-plastic-straws-bottles/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/11/queen-declares-war-plastic-david-attenborough-documentary/

Styrofoam to Go

We went out with some friends for a wonderful dinner at a local lobster restaurant where we live. I really like this place and as always…it didn’t disappoint us.

We had a really nice time and delicious food. In fact, we had too much food, so I asked for the rest “to go” as is customary here.

The waiter promptly came with a styrofoam container, a white plastic bag and the restaurant’s logo bag. I stopped him immediately and asked if he could just wrap the food in aluminum foil or something other that the styrofoam, but unfortunately that wasn’t possible.

He said that the restaurant’s policy (!) was to wrap food to go in exactly these 3 things: Styrofoam, plastic bag and their logo bag.

I was floored. Really? That’s your POLICY? But, realizing that this was going to happen, I let the waiter proceed.

As soon as we got home, I moved the food to one of my own containers and threw the styrofoam out. I’ll use the plastic bag for trash and the logo bag for something.

…and I’ll contact the restaurant (probably on social media), send them some articles about styrofoam and urge them to please stop using styrofoam, which may cause cancer, and plastic for the sake of the environment and their customers.

Document Your Life #112 – Save the Waves

It’s day 4 of our 9-night South Caribbean Cruise and we’re at sea. We left Labadee, Haiti and are sailing further south towards the ABC Islands – Aruba, Bonaire & Curaçao. We were actually surprised to discover that we sailed all the way around the Dominican Republic, so when we got up in the morning…we were passing right in front of Punta Cana!

I was thinking a lot about cruise ships and the environment today. I read somewhere that the air quality on a cruise ship is worse than in the center of London and that a cruise ship pollutes as much as 1 million cars do a day!!!

So, of course, this creates a huge dilemma – for me.

Cruising has become a very popular way of traveling and each year, more and more people go on cruises. In my particular case, this is my 3rd cruise vacation – this year! So it’s definitely also becoming more popular for my husband and I.

So, how exactly do I align my concern for the environment with my wish to do what I can in order to help clean up the environment and lower my carbon foot print with all the traveling that I do?

I think the answer to that is – I don’t.

The two things just don’t align. They don’t match. All the things that I try to do in my day-to-day life when I’m at home are basically (more than) wiped away by every trip I take, every time I travel on an airplane or go on a cruise.

Even though I try not to generate waste, use plastic, or waste food when I’m traveling. Even though I bring my reusable water bottle and coffee mug when I’m traveling and try to avoid using plastic straws or getting plastic bags.

Cruise ships are, however, getting more and more high-tech and better at lowering CO2 emissions, handling waste & waste water, and becoming more energy efficient.

I’m happy to know that our preferred cruise line, Royal Caribbean (which also owns Celebrity cruises) is focused on protecting the environment through their program Save the Waves – or so they write/say.

We have a responsibility to the guests who sail with us, the people who work for us, and the communities we visit, but most critically we have a responsibility to the oceans, which are at the very essence of our business.

Of course, one could argue that operating cruise ships and sailing them across the globe in itself isn’t doing anything to protect the oceans. That no matter how many initiatives are taken to Save the Waves, the results will never be anywhere near as good as if these cruise ships didn’t exist at all. So, the dilemma between operating a business and making money or not existing at all – for the sake of the environment and the ocean – is indeed very real.

This will, of course, never happen. As long as people are happy and willing to cruise the world, companies like Royal Caribbean will exist…and thrive. And, let’s face it, most people aren’t willing to give up traveling and instead stay at home in order to protect the environment.

I certainly am not. I want to travel the world and have these amazing experiences, help support local economies where I go by purchasing locally made souvenirs and spending money on the destinations that I visit…and then live a more minimalist lifestyle when I’m at home.

Traveling is not the only thing that creates a large amount of pollution in this world…what we eat and buy, e.g. online that are “made in China” and shipped on a container ship or a cargo plane across the world, also creates a large amount of pollution – maybe even more, I don’t know.

There is, however, a genuine dilemma here, which I and many other people have to live with. I can just hope that these companies are indeed sincere and doing everything they possibly can to make sure their ships, etc., are keeping their pollution as low as possible in all areas and aspects.

This video is also really interesting: http://www.takepart.com/video/2015/04/23/cruise-info-graphic

On the other hand, I’m also thinking that YES passengers on a cruise ship create a lot of waste, sewage, pollution, etc., but the same passengers would create all of these things AT HOME too. So, maybe we’re just moving everything from one location to another? Maybe the total amount of waste and pollution is the same regardless of whether all these passengers spend a week on a cruise or a week at home – eating, drinking, shopping, driving in cars, etc., etc.

Or what?

Document Your Life #110 – What I Pack for a Cruise

This is my 3rd cruise this year and every time I go, I end up packing a little lighter as I become better at figuring out what I really need (and don’t need).

I try to remember to pack light as closet space and space in general is limited in a normal cruise ship stateroom (cabin). I always count on wearing clothes at least twice, I.e if I’m going for a 10-day cruise, I’ll bring maximum 5 outfits for daytime and 5 dresses to wear for dinner.

How many pairs of shoes do you really need? I personally prefer to wear flats over heels, so I’ll just bring:

• 1 pair of fancy flats that goes with all of my evening dresses

• 1 pair of flip-flops

• 1 pair of training shoes

• 1 pair of sneakers or walking shoes (I’ll usually travel in these shoes)

Bring a travel coffee mug to avoid using single-use coffee cups & plastic lids. This is a must for me. I usually do an early morning, post-gym coffee run and the travel mug is perfect for brining a large cup of coffee back to the room.

Buy bottled water before you board the ship to keep in your room (preferably big bottles) or (even better) pack a big travel water bottle to refill at the water stations around the ship. There is usually always water available at the buffet or some café where you can get a refill. I always bring my little Hydro Flask with me, which keeps the water cold for hours.

Bring a reusable drink cup and ask the waiters to pour your drink (cocktail or beer) in it to keep it cold when you’re by the pool…and don’t get the plastic straw.

You’ll be eating and drinking a lot (!), so bring your workout clothes & shoes and make plans to exercise daily at the gym or participate in a class ($). The gym is usually open from 6 am to 10/11 pm, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get a workout in during the day. I’m an early riser, so I prefer to go first thing in the morning. On some cruise ships, the gym is very crowded in the morning so you might be better off working out late in the afternoon before you go to dinner. I also always bring my yoga mat to work out in the room.

Bring your own (full size) bottles of shampoo & conditioner. Some cruise ships like e.g Celebrity Reflection give you those small bottles of body wash, shampoo and conditioner, which I find so annoying (so much plastic waste). Other ships like Royal Caribbean have wall-mounted shampoo dispensers, but still give you small soap bars wrapped in plastic…so you might even consider bringing your own (large) soap bar to use.

That’s it…apart from all the other obvious things that you need to bring when traveling, these are just some of the items that I never really used to think about before but that I’ve found to be very useful.

On one last note I’ll say again: You’ll be eating and drinking a lot (!), so try to eat mostly plants and natural foods. This is something that I’m focusing on during this trip as I tend to eat too much when I’m traveling. So, this time I’m doing my best to eat fruits, salads, vegetables, fish and chicken…and trying to stay away from fried foods and desserts (as much as possible).

Document Your Life #106 – Drowning in Garbage

I came across an article in the Washington Post with the title Drowning in Garbage a subject that is right up my alley these days.

It’s a dirty subject that we may not really consider in our daily lives where we’re busy with work, school, kids, etc., etc., and maybe don’t really have time to think about the amount of garbage that we produce. But I’m becoming more and more convinced that we should and must think about this.

Why? Because we are quite literally drowning in garbage. I see it more and more where I live and also when I travel.

The world produces more than 3.5 million tons of garbage a day — and that figure is growing.

Of course, we should recycle (if we can). But more importantly, we should reduce, reuse and not be so quick to throw things away. I think, however, that reducing is key in this scenario. Living a minimalist lifestyle and adopting a zero waste lifestyle is the way to go…

The world produces over 300 million tons of plastic each year, of which only a small fraction is recycled.

By 2050, there will be so much plastic floating in the ocean it will outweigh the fish, according to a study issued by the World Economic Forum. Scientists estimate that there are at least 5.25 trillion plastic particles — weighing nearly 270,000 tons — floating in the oceans right now.

I am constantly amazed and fascinated by people who live a “hardcore” zero waste lifestyle like Bea Johnson, Lauren Singer, and many more. There are actually people living in this world who can fit all of their trash from an entire year in a mason jar! I personally don’t know how they do it, but I am in complete awe of these women. Especially when knowing that..

On average, a person in the United States or Western Europe uses about 220 pounds of plastic per year, according to the Worldwatch Institute, a research organization.

Lauren Singer lives in New York City, a city which produced 33 million TONS of garbage a year:

The New York metropolitan area produces 33 million tons of garbage per year, according to a group of global scientists that calculated all the trash being tossed out by the city and its sprawling suburbs and exurbs. That puts it well ahead of the rest of the world’s major mega-cities, according to the researchers.

The United States is one of the planet’s biggest generators of waste, and New York presents a particular challenge because it is so densely populated. In most parts of the world, growing wealth is associated with an increased output of trash. But in the United States, the poorer population also contributes a considerable amount of garbage, much of it fast-food packaging. Food waste is also a huge issue, in New York and the rest of the country.

There are many ways to fight waste, which I think we have to start considering seriously – sooner rather than later. The whole subject is just amazing and I feel more and more motivated to follow other people (mostly on social media) who are committing to a zero waste lifestyle in order to live like this myself.

Well, as much as I can because some places are not set up for this way of living.

Read the article from The Washington Post HERE.

Document Your Life #103 – All the Things You Don’t See

All the things you don’t see on a photo like this and many others…like the garbage in the streets.

As Mark Zuckerberg said, “ we may not have the power to create the world we want immediately, but we can all start working on the long term today”.

I want to live in a place where there’s no garbage in the streets, so I’m picking up what I can…it’s really not that hard.

There are many ways to fight climate change and to clean up the world. I think the first and very important thing you must realize is that you can’t do everything.

You alone cannot save the planet…but you can help. We can all help just a little. It’s like the saying goes: A little goes a long way.

Some of the thing that you can easily do is start with yourself. Look at your lifestyle and what you use at home, at work, etc. Can you switch out single-use plastics (bags, cups, straws, etc.) for re-usable items?

Can you pick up garbage in the streets when you go for a walk/run or walk your dog? Can you bring your kids and make a game of it and teach them that littering is bad?

Can you buy organic food and clothes?

Can you cut down your overall consumption?

There are so many things you can do… but first, you have to tell yourself that you can’t do everything, that it’s okay if you forget or slip up, and that there will always be (much) room for improvement.

Always.

Document Your Life #99 – Why Do You Care?

Today, as I was leaving my office and driving home through the garbage-filled streets I thought: Why do you care?

Why do you care that there’s garbage everywhere?

Why do you care about avoiding single-use plastic?

Why do you care about food waste?

Why do you care about recycling and wish you could do it?

Why do you care about reducing your consumption?

Why do you care when it all makes you so sad, so angry, so upset, so depressed…???

I care, because I feel like we can all do better than this. Because I refuse to believe that this is our fate.

I care, because I want the world to be beautiful and clean… not because I have children and I want them to live in a clean world. I don’t have children, but I care for everyone’s sake – now and for the future.

I care, because I want to be able to go for a walk along the beach, the golf course where I live or drive home from work without seeing any garbage in the streets.

I care, because I have a need to care about something bigger than myself and my life.

I care, because I just do…

What about you? Do you care or why don’t you care?

Document Your Life #98 – The Uphill Battle Of Recycling

Where I live, recycling is just an uphill battle. Not even the one recycling company that I managed to find is capable of making recycling easy.

After asking several people (who told me it didn’t exist and that it was impossible), refusing to believe it and then searching online, I finally found a recycling company in my town. Today, Anders and I had a meeting with them to see if it would be possible to work together and have them take the recyclable garbage from all of the vacation homes we mange around town plus (of course) our own home.

See, in my mind I’d imagined that they would jump all over it. That they’d welcome us with open arms and tell us that everything would work and that it would be easy and just a matter of setting it up.

Voila!

Ehh, no.

Not that easy.

Nope.

We met with a lovely and nice lady who explained to us how they worked and how we had to pay $1500 a year to acquire their services…which isn’t set up to even come to us to collect our garbage. So, apart from paying them a fee, investing in buying 2-4 new garbage cans and doing all of the sorting, we’d basically also have to bring them our garbage.

The problem is just that we have 20++ vacation homes and that bringing them ALL of our garbage is just not possible. Alternative, the lady said, we could build our own garbage collection hub for our vacation homes, which they’d pick up from once a week or twice a month. Great! But how do we do that and where? We can’t have a garbage collection facility in our back yard!?!

We needed them to come to us. Paying the fee is fine. Investing in new garbage cans is doable. Sorting our own garbage is just a matter of changing our habits…but we can’t build our own collection hub (in a residential area) or go around to each of our villas to collect and then bring our garbage to them.

It’s an uphill battle…for now. I guess, baby steps must be taken. I am working on trying to figure out how I can recycle my own household garbage …just from my own home.

If and when I do manage to climb this particular hill, which feels more like a mountain, I’ll let you know.

Document Your Life #97 – The True Cost

Have you ever seen the documentary The True Cost about how cheap clothes are made in countries like Bangladesh, India, The Philippines and what kind of impact the fashion industry has on these countries, their people and the environment?

It’s shocking. Hard to watch, really. I must admit that I’ve never thought much about it myself or maybe I didn’t want to because I am a consumer of these cheap clothes myself and therefore part of the problem.

If you ask me what my favorite clothing store and brand is, I’ll instantly say H&M. It’s always been my favorite and even to this day, despite the fact that I can afford better. I can afford to pay, say, $100 or $200 on a piece of clothing, but I choose not to because I’d rather spend my money of something else… like traveling or experiences. So, I buy clothes that are cheap.

But the actual, true cost of my $20 summer dress from H&M that I bought 3-4 years ago (and still use) is…well, who really knows?

Factor in the costs of pollution, the human costs that the garment workers have to endure to work for many hours a day in a bad working environment, the health costs and sometimes even the cost of lives (remember when that garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh and more than 1000 workers died?)…then that $20 dress might all of a sudden not be so cheap.

If you haven’t seen the documentary, you should. You’ll learn a lot, like the fact that the fashion industry is the world’s 2nd largest environmental polluter, next to the oil industry!

I was shocked when they interviewed the woman from Bangladesh and she was telling her story of suffering and how all these people wanted, was to make a decent minimum wage of $160 a month. She even organized a union at her factory, which was shut down when one day, the management decided to lock up the factory (with the female union workers still inside), gain up on them and beat the living daylight out of them for unionizing.

All of a sudden, my $20 dress from H&M looks, smells and feels really bad.

It’s not just H&M. It’s ZARA, Forever 21 and many more clothing brands that sell cheap clothes that are all made with the blood, sweat and tears of underpaid, overworked people…who seem to have no other choice in life than to go on. No matter how much it hurts.

So, now there’s this whole new monster to take into consideration – the Fair Trade monster that promotes sustainable, organic clothing made by workers who are treated fairly and make at least minimum wage in their country.

I still think that step 1 should be to buy less clothes. In the documentary, they were talking about how fashion has changed and become “fast fashion” (like fast food) with a new “collection” or new pieces coming into stores every week. When I was a kid living in Denmark, we had 4 seasons in fashion that followed the 4 seasons in weather. Today, there are apparently 52 seasons in fashion and an incredible amount of over-production (at low costs) and over-consumption (at high, true costs).

There’s even so much production that a power plant in Sweden is actually burning (H&M) clothes instead of coal to provide electricity for homes:

The combined heat and power station in Vasteras, northwest of Stockholm, is converting from oil- and coal-fired generation to become a fossil fuel-free facility by 2020. That means burning recycled wood and trash, including clothes H&M can’t sell.

Perhaps the next step should be to only buy new clothes that are Fairtrade, organic and sustainable or start shopping 2nd hand once in a while?

I wonder if Fairtrade clothing companies actually label their products as such, like they do on e.g. coffee and bananas? That would really be so helpful.

If you want to watch The True Cost, find our more on their website www.truecostmovie.com

Document Your Life #95 – The Problem With Trash Part 2

I drove a different way home from the office yesterday and went through the town instead of taking the highway and was positively horrified at the amount of trash that I saw on practically every street – everywhere.

It was only about a 10-minute drive, but before it was over, I felt like screaming or crying…or both.

I just don’t understand why there’s so much trash everywhere in what is supposed to be one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world…! I know, however, that it’s not just here. I’ve just been around the Caribbean and the situation is similar in other Caribbean & Mexican destinations.

But oh my f* God! Excuse my language! I’m not one to swear, I swear, but this just gets me SO angry.

We are all to blame, really. Every single one of us is guilty. From the person who throws the trash on the street, to the person who walks or drives right by it and doesn’t pick it up.

But for God’s sake…there’s just SO much trash everywhere.

I came home, sat down on my couch and started writing. I started messaging the government ministries that are responsible for keeping the country and its important tourist areas clean and promoting them to the world.

I really hate to write this, because I work in tourism and depend on the tourists who come here for the beaches, the golf, the tours, the sunshine and the paradise… and I certainly don’t want to do anything (!) to damage that image. Believe me.

But I also feel like if we don’t ever say anything, if we don’t speak up or call out the responsible people in government, then the problem is just going to get worse and soon it won’t matter what I or any other person writes/says/posts, because by then it’ll be crystal clear that there IS a big problem with trash. Not just where I live, but everywhere.

It’s my problem and my fault just as much as my neighbor’s, my employees’, my customers’ and all the other tourists who come here – or anywhere else in this world.

We all live on the same planet and trash and pollution is everyone’s problem, regardless of where exactly on this planet you happen to have your home.

This morning I went for a walk around the golf course where I live. I already knew that I was going to find trash on my way, so I decided to photograph every piece that I saw. By the time I came home 45 minutes later, I’d taken 50 photos.

50.

I picked up some of the trash I found along the way and just threw it in the nearest house’s trash can.

It’s so simple. If we all did this, it would really help. Oh, but let me rewind…if we all just didn’t throw trash in the street to begin with, it would really help.

When I came home, I decided to walk around my house and clean up. I did find a few things to pick up, and when my gardener saw me and what I was doing, he quickly said “don’t worry, I clean it. I’ll sweep the whole area because I’m working here.”

Here. As in here within the boundaries of my property but not e.g. on the other side of the street where there were at least 3 pieces of trash in the grass.

But I guess we can’t be everywhere. And somewhere is better than nowhere.

Document Your Life #93 – The Problem With Trash

Part of the problem with trash is that nobody wants to take responsibility for it nor do much about it.

Seems like we’ve practically become immune to it and that’s it’s so much easier to just turn a blind eye.

Why?

I went to the office supply store on my way to work this morning and got there around 8:45 am. The parking lot was empty when I pulled up, and when I got out of my car, the first thing I noticed was all the trash.

Ever since I started noticing it, I’ve been really noticing it and I just can’t un-notice it anymore. It’s like a monster has been awoken or something.

I go in and ask for the things I need (no need to go looking for stuff yourself because this store is a MESS and you won’t find anything on your own!) and as I’m waiting for the guy to find them, I tell the store owner/manager that he really should get a trash can for his parking lot because there’s a lot of trash just laying out there.

He just shrugs and says “that’s how it is”. A minute or so later he says, “you know, the trash that’s there comes from all over the place. It’s not that it’s from here.”

“I know,” I reply. And that’s sort of the end of the conversation because then it’s time to pay and I leave…and I clearly sense that there’s no point in arguing with him because he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t even care enough to send one of his 3 or 4 employees to go clean the parking lot, which would maybe take 10 minutes, when there are no customers and there are at least two of them aren’t doing anything but just standing around…waiting for customers.

But this short conversation shows exactly what part of the problem with trash is…the lack of responsibility from people. And the mentality that if I didn’t throw it there, I don’t have to pick it up…I shouldn’t have to.

Well, that’s too bad because if the person who did throw the trash there doesn’t care and isn’t going to pick it up, and if the owner of the place doesn’t care either and isn’t going to pick it up (to keep his property, storefront and image clean)…then who will? Nobody comes around from the municipality or from some government agency to pick it up either.

I guess, when the weather is bad and there’s a lot of wind, the trash might get blown further down the street and then someone else will have to deal with it.

Or not.

Document Your Life #92 – Styrofoam & Sunshine

Which one would you pick? Oh, gush…that’s too easy, I guess.

I’d pick sunshine every time (surprise!), but when I go to the supermarket to buy (e.g.) lettuce, I have to pick Styrofoam.

Every. Damn. Time.

Believe me, I don’t want to. But I live in a place where Styrofoam is everywhere and where supermarkets use them frequently to pack lettuce and other vegetables, meats, etc., etc.

I am sick of it, really. Besides the Styrofoam, there’s also the plastic – none of which I can reuse or recycle. So, it’s single-use and gets thrown out as soon as I come home and unpack my groceries.

I could just avoid buying groceries that come with Styrofoam and plastic, and I do mainly go for the loose veggies that I can just grab and put in my reusable shopping bag. But I love lettuce and unfortunately lettuce isn’t sold where I live without the packaging. Ever.

What’s a poor woman like me to do, then? What can I do about it? My sick-and-tired-of-it-all brain tells me to post a picture of the Styrofoam on my Instagram and tag the supermarket that sold it and call them out.

So, that’s what I do.

I’m gonna call them out and I’m gonna keep calling them out until hopefully some day I can go to the supermarket and not have to bring home Styrofoam.

Document Your Life #91 – Everything

I’ve only been back for a few days and already everything hits me again – the things that usually occupy my thoughts when I’m living in this particular part of the world and in this bubble…

  1. Work (it’s a constant)
  2. Garbage (it’s a constant problem)
  3. Trash in the streets (is it just me or is it worse than before?)
  4. Recycling (is it even possible here?)
  5. Avoiding single-use plastics
  6. Climate change
  7. Food waste
  8. Etc.

We got our electricity bill at the office today by messenger. So, a guy goes around and hand-delivers the bill, which is printed in full color on both sides of a letter-sized piece of paper and comes in a plastic envelope with another piece of paper (advertising) inside.

I’m about 100% sure that I’ve signed up for the electronic service and have asked to receive my monthly bill by email… but I’m not surprised if that doesn’t work (here).

The bill comes in a plastic envelope, which is bio-degradable, and has an explanation on it of how it will eventually be broken down by water and sunlight and once again become one with nature – in 24 months (unless it gets buried deep in a landfill where conditions aren’t right for this process to take place…I guess). The electricity company uses these kinds of envelopes because “it cares about the environment”.

That’s all fine and good, but my question is just: If they care so much about the environment, why do they still send out these paper bills by messenger? Why do I physically get my bill when I’ve signed up to receive it by email? They could’ve saved money, paper, ink, plastic, time, the gas spent by the messenger to drive to my office…and just sent it to me by email (if they cared so much about the environment).

That’s my question of the day!

Document Your Life #69 – Meatless Monday

I don’t really do “Meatless Mondays” – I do meatless meals. Some time ago, I started eating a meatless meal a day for lunch.

Why?

Well, for health reasons and also to do my part to help out the planet and reduce my carbon footprint. I don’t know how much good it really does, but I’m hoping it helps in the long run. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the benefits of a plant based diet when it comes to losing weight and improving your overall health. Well, even if I do eat a lot of plants…it’s not really helping me lose weight. But that’s okay. I actually prefer to eat plants, so it’s not hard for me to do.

I rarely eat red meat, so avoiding it whether for health or environmental reasons, it’s not a stretch for me at all. They say that red meat is the worse thing you can eat when it comes to pollution and use of resources. It takes a lot of e.g. water to produce a pound of beef and cow farts are apparently one of the worst polluters on the planet. Cow farts.

A new estimate of the global methane emissions from cow mouths and butts is 11 percent higher than previous stats suggested. (…) This updated estimate says that livestock pushed about 119.1 million tons of methane into the air in 2011 alone. Carbon dioxide emissions are far greater in terms of volume, but because methane captures more of the sun’s energy, it’s actually a more potent greenhouse gas.

https://www.popsci.com/cow-farts-are-an-even-bigger-problem-than-we-thought

For me it’s not hard to eliminate red meat from my diet. If you gave me a choice of meats or veggies, I’d probably choose chicken, fish and vegetables every single time over a steak. A nice, juicy, tender steak just doesn’t do it for me. And if it’s red and bloody…forget about it. I’d never touch it. I can do a nice burger with ground beef, but a whole steak isn’t my favorite thing to eat.

My meatless lunches are usually a stir fry with different veggies and beans, chick peas, farro or quinoa for protein. It’s a lighter way to eat, one that sits really well with me and doesn’t make me feel tired, bloated or gives me stomach acid.

So, meatless it is…

Document Your Life #68 – Plastic Fantastic

Have you ever noticed when you go to the supermarket just how many items are wrapped in plastic?

I never really used to notice before, but once you get into trying to avoid plastic – you’ll notice that it’s everywhere! Even things that don’t necessarily need to be wrapped in plastic…are.

When I go through the produce section at one of my local supermarkets, I’ll find fruits & veggies that are and aren’t wrapped in plastic. Sometimes, they’ll sell the same thing with and without wrapping. Like apples, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, etc.

I’m trying to do my best to avoid buying produce that’s wrapped in plastic (and Styrofoam) if at all possible. And come to think about it, I don’t even know why many produce items are wrapped. Is it because it’s easier to handle? Is it to prevent them from getting dirty? Is it just because?

I usually pick items that aren’t wrapped and just place them loose in the shopping cart…no plastic produce bag either. Sometimes, though,  it’s just not possible. Like when I want to buy broccoli. They usually come wrapped in plastic that’ll break when I unwrap them, making it impossible to re-use.

When I get to the cash register, I place them directly on the register and then straight into the bag. At my supermarket, I haven’t seen anyone else doing that. Everyone else that I’ve seen put their produce in a plastic bag, which is then placed in another plastic bag at the cash register. Both, I assume, will just get discarded in the trash immediately after returning home.

When I come home with my groceries, I fill up the kitchen sink with water and a produce wash that I use to disinfect the water and get rid of all the germs. I wash everything thoroughly so that all my fruits and veggies are clean when they go in the fridge.

And voila! No plastic bags were necessary for this whole process.

Document Your Life #65 – A Step in the Right Direction

STOP swimming with dolphins

Today, we took a step in the right direction. In the past couple of years, I’ve become increasingly concerned with welfare – i.e. the welfare of the planet & the environment as well as the welfare of animals and humans.

I really don’t like or support the destruction and exploitation of the planet, of humans and animals for the sole purpose of making money. Take animals, for example. I’m not a fan of animals being held in captivity so that they can be exploited for “fun” and for profits. This goes for animals in zoos, in marine parks…and even wild animals being kept as pets.

I understand that some animals like cats & dogs have been domesticated and kept as pets for hundreds of years, but I honestly don’t understand that either.

We humans have this weird and sick necessity to control everything – for money, power, fame, and just because we can. Why do we even keep dogs as pets, only to be kept inside our homes and walked on a leash to the rules that we force upon them. I don’t have any pets and I really don’t get it.

It’s no secret that my company has (for many years) been part of an industry that supports animal abuse. But today, we took a step in the right direction. Today, we stopped selling the so-called “swimming with dolphins” excursions (yeah!). It’s been a long time coming, ever since I watched the horrible documentary THE COVE a few years ago. I honestly don’t remember when I watched it, but I do remember that it was awful – and awfully eye opening.

To tell you the truth…I’ve done it. I’ve tried swimming with dolphins once about 3-4 years ago and (at the time) it was an incredible experience.

I loved it. I’d never tried anything like it. The dolphins are so soft and incredibly powerful. On the excursion, I kissed the dolphin, I danced with it and I touched its belly. The dolphin jumped over me and pulled me across a very short distance in the water – twice. I felt its incredible power, strength and ability to accelerate. Just me and the 11 other people who were there in the same pool with the 2 dolphins. This was in a dolphin park, which has pools in the ocean. I used to tell (kid) myself and others that it was okay, because they were in the ocean (in their natural habitat) as opposed to in an inland swimming pool.

Boy, was I stupid.

Boy, was I naive and clueless.

And that’s the thing, really…most people are like that because they just don’t know or they just don’t think about it.

But please do think about it. Think about the fact that dolphins are wild animals that are supposed to roam the entire ocean. They’re not supposed to live, to perform tricks and have people touch them in small, closed pools. It’s just not natural. It’s humans controlling animals for pure profit. And what a profit!

The excursion, that I did, sells for US$ 149 per person and if you want to buy photos it’s another (minimum) US$ 80! I don’t know exactly how many people they run through the park daily (it also depends on the season), but I’d guess they can take maybe 200+ people daily – at maximum capacity.

One thing is what we did in the past. Another thing is what we’ve learned and will be doing in the future. Swimming with dolphins, selling the excursion or recommending it will not be one of them. I’ve learned my lesson, for sure, and I’m just happy that the response has been positive from my team.

Money isn’t everything in this life…not if it comes at the expense and welfare of others.

Document Your Life #57 – Zero Waste Lifestyle

Zero Waste - Less Plastic | To Live and Travel Blog

Zero waste.

Food waste.

Less plastic.

I started thinking about these issues again. I started getting really into these things a year or two ago when I read some articles and felt like I needed something in my life that was bigger than me, my job, my business… you know, what I mean?

I never really cared much before, when I was younger, but I figured out that maybe it was because I was already living this way (more or less). I just wasn’t realizing it until “now” (1-2 years ago) and suddenly it became this huge deal.

When I grew up in Denmark and for as long as I can remember, my parents and I had always recycled. I think it really began after 1988 when we moved to a new house, which had a big garden in the back.

My parents made a large, organic vegetable garden, which pretty much made us self-sustainable through the winter months with carrots, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, leek, onions, etc.

Sorting our trash became an ingrained habit. Our food scraps would go in a bin for the compost pile and everything else in the regular trash. Plastic bottles were returned to the store in exchange for money. Glass and paper were separated and recycled. Old (but still usable) clothes and shoes were donated. And we brought our own canvas shopping bags to the supermarket instead of paying for single-use plastic bags.

That’s just the way we did things every day, like breathing air.

For the past 13 years I’ve lived in a place where none of that is part of my life. I forgot about all these things in my daily life, except for when I went back to visit my parents.

I live in a place where recycling is a foreign concept. A place where they practically throw single-use plastic bags at you when you go to the supermarket (see photo from one trip to the supermarket where I got about 20 plastic bags). A place where Styrofoam is practically everywhere you look. A place where I can’t separate my food scraps and compost, because it’s not allowed in the golf course community where I live…and I also don’t have a garden.

A few years ago, I started bringing my own canvas shopping bags to the supermarket and every time I do, they look at me like I’m some kind of alien. The “baggers” at the supermarket (they’re mostly guys) just can’t figure it out. They’re so trained in how to bag groceries in plastic bags that they become so flustered and insecure when I hand them my bags and tell them to bag my groceries in them.

I can see it in their faces…their movements become slightly slower, less flowing. Because now they have to think about how to bag everything in one or two big bags instead of in 8-10 small plastic bags. Now they actually have to use their brain for a change. And when you add the fruits and vegetables that I don’t put in plastic produce bags either, then it’s almost too much for them to handle. I usually have to instruct them on how to bag everything…and tell them NO when they try to sneak some groceries into a plastic bag (like I’m not looking and like I wouldn’t notice).

Recycling here is another issue. I don’t even know if it exists other than in the capitol. So, if recycling isn’t an option then I’m thinking that my main focus should be on reducing in order to produce less trash and waste and in the end do my part to help save the environment.

I am trying, but it’s not easy. It’s not easy to live a zero waste lifestyle when everything around you isn’t set up to help you.

I got so into it at one point that I almost gave up because it was just too hard to do 100%. So I realized that maybe it’s not about, say, eliminating waste completely and avoiding plastic completely. I mean, if I reduce just 50% or 75% or even just 25%…then it’s still a victory, because I’ll still be down from 100%. I know it may not be as good as going all the way, but realizing that I can’t live a total zero waste life makes things more manageable and doable for me while still helping me reduce the amount of trash I produce in the long run.

Maybe you can’t do it all at once and sometimes you can’t even do it all. But you can do a little. You can do one thing every day and take one step…and that’s still something. That’s still a victory and a step in the right direction.

Document Your Life #55 – Plastic Waste

David Attenborough urges action on plastics after filming Blue Planet II

I was reading this really interesting article in The Guardian entitled “David Attenborough urges action on plastics after filming Blue Planet II” and there were so many thoughts that jumped into my mind again.

It’s been a while since I’ve really thought about plastic and the spinoffs (e.g. pollution, waste, trash, etc.), and this article brought it all back. It’s definitely a concern of mine and an interest that began maybe a year ago when I first started reading about these subjects, about zero waste, minimalism, etc.

I think it’s important. You may not believe that climate change is real, but you certainly can’t deny that trash is real…and that it’s becoming an increasingly demanding problem. People like David Attenborough have seen some of the worst effects of plastic and how it can kill animals:

We’ve seen albatrosses come back with their belly full of food for their young and nothing in it. The albatross parent has been away for three weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it’s going to be squid, but it’s plastic. The chick is going to starve and die.

It doesn’t take much to notice how plastic and plastic trash is literally everywhere and once you do, you can’t un-notice it.

When I started paying attention to it, I started noticing it all around me in my immediate surroundings. It’s still there. If I go for a walk around my neighborhood, there’s plastic (and just trash in general) on every street.

If I go for a walk along the beach, there’s plastic trash everywhere. Most of what I’ve seen is plastic straws, cups and bottles. I’ve also seen plastic forks and spoons. The beach where I usually go is lined with all-inclusive resorts and the trash is obviously from beach restaurants & bars that use plastic, because it’s “safe” to use on the beach as opposed to glass and metal, I guess. Plus, it’s easy and disposable.

However, the problem begins before the plastic ends up on the street, on the beach, in the ocean or in the stomach of some poor bird. The problem begins with us consumers and our (often excessive) consumption and with the companies supplying the plastic…often forcing it upon us. A lot of the time, there’s no alternative. The tourists eating and drinking on the beach where I live, don’t have any alternative to using the plastic plate, forks & knives, cups & straws because the resorts don’t give them another option. So, consumption is forced upon them. But I still think more should complain to management – if they care and if they want to.

But then again, most people may not really care. Most people may not care where plastic ends up – on the street or in the ocean even though we all have an impact on nature and we’re all to blame for its demise.

We have a responsibility, every one of us,” he said. “We may think we live a long way from the oceans, but we don’t. What we actually do here, and in the middle of Asia and wherever, has a direct effect on the oceans – and what the oceans do then reflects back on us.

Document Your Life #36 – Climate Change

I’ve been thinking about climate change – again. I wonder how much difference the little things you do in your every day life matter.

Like going meatless.

Turning off the water when you shampoo your hair in the shower.

Using bio-degradable plastic bags for your trash.

Washing your clothes in cold water.

Consuming less of everything.

Recycling.

Etc.

I just read a few good articles, which got me thinking again that WE CAN DO MORE. All of us. Everyone of us.

It’s a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly

The Climate Catastrophe We’re All Ignoring

Richard Branson to Donald Trump: The Whole World Knows Climate Change is Real

“Eden Is Broken”: A Caribbean Leader Calls for Action on Climate Change

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On another and more delightful note…we had another TEAM dinner tonight at Noah Restaurant to celebrate the fact that we all survived Hurricane Maria. I really enjoy these company dinners and I hope we can have many more – but without the hurricanes, please!