Updated: Dec 7, 2019
Who we are and where we stand with respect to sustainability in our lives.
Hey there, and welcome to our first ever blog post! (Bear with us. We're new to this, and can't guarantee our jokes won't be corny, or that Harry Potter will not be quoted).
We're Alanna and Caitlyn, two adventurous travel buddies but first and foremost, cousins. They say you can't choose family, but I think we would both agree we got pretty lucky. Neither of us grew up with a sister, so in a way, we were each others.
We started travelling the world together when we were basically in diapers. Family vacations to Florida occurred every couple of years. A few days at Disney World was followed by a week in John's Pass, where we would spend our days laying on the beach in our swimsuits sippin' juice boxes in the hot sun (talk about a sweet life).
Every summer we would spend time at Alanna's cottage in Grand Bend. Along with our brothers, we would build forts and bury each other in the sand, catch minno's (and sometimes keep them as pets), and go for boat rides to a secluded 'island' (as we liked to call it). Life was (and is) always good at the beach.
Our love of travel led us to our backpacking trip through Europe this past summer. Beginning in Italy, we made our way through Austria, stopped over in Budapest, travelled through Slovenia, then down to Croatia before parting ways. We ended our trips with negative dollars in the bank, but countless memories tattooed in our brains of the beautiful places we saw, and incredible experiences we had; constant reminders of why we want to (and need to) save our planet.
We would both consider ourselves to be environmentally conscientious. Much like most of you, we recycle when we can, throw away our leftovers in the compost, and refrain from using plastic straws (but occasionally forget to warn our server not to put one in our drink). We bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and when we forget, we challenge ourselves to see how many groceries we can carry in our arms at once. We use our reusable water bottles, but, sometimes it's left at home because it's not convenient, or we just simply forget to bring it. Every now and then, when we're desperate, we give in and buy that plastic water bottle. After all, one won't hurt (will it?).
“Soon we must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy”- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter
What we have realized thus far, is that leading a sustainable lifestyle requires you to live with a mindset that everything around you generates waste. Being mindful of the things you use in your everyday life that ultimately becomes waste, is the first step in learning how to live a sustainable life. Using that mindfulness to drive every action and decision you make is where the change really happens.
Since we've started this venture, we have both found that we are more aware of everything around us that is, for lack of a better word, trash.
I walk into my bathroom and all I see is plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner, body wash, and face creams. I refrain from using my plastic loofah in the shower because every time I do, I think of all the micro plastics I'm releasing into our water system. I walk into a grocery store and all I see is things wrapped in plastic, made of plastic, and wrapped in plastic again. All of which likely ends up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. In fact, of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually, 32 percent ends up in our oceans. That is equivalent to dumping one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute! That's mind boggling!
It is not a secret that Alanna and I both contribute to plastic waste. Whether it's buying things in plastic packaging, using Ziploc bags, forgetting to ask for no plastic straw, or buying a coffee in a non-recyclable coffee cup (yes, coffee cups are NOT recyclable!) Everything comes with some form of plastic attached to it.
It is crazy to think about how much plastic waste one person generates, and even more so, the millions and millions of people on earth who discard plastics every day. Did you know that in one minute, 1 million plastic water bottles are bought by humans worldwide? On top of that, every year, it is estimated that 4 trillion plastic bags are used across the globe? That's only plastic water bottles and plastic grocery bags... think about all the other single use plastics out there!
Take for example, disposable razors. Something we personally have never thought twice about. They are convenient and get the job done (we are all guilty of falling into habits that are most convenient to us). But, if one person throws away one disposable razor a week, over the course of one year, that same person disposes of a total of 52 razors. In a population of 1000 people, that's 52,000 razors a year! Keep in mind, too, that the population of Canada alone is 37 million (give er take). So even if only half of the population of Canada uses disposable razors, that's close to 1 billion disposable razors ending up in landfills every year! Now you would be crazy to think that that's not crazy, am I right????
When you start putting into perspective how much your waste contributes to the overwhelmingly massive scale of waste ending up in our oceans and landfills, destroying habitats, and affecting our planet, your mindset starts to change. All of a sudden that one plastic straw, that one coffee-cup, or that one plastic grocery bag is no longer insignificant, but detrimental. No matter how big or small they may be, they have a huge impact on our environment.
When Alanna and I were about ten, we became obsessed with making bracelets (I have a point here, I swear). We would sit in our bedrooms for hours on end making them using an assortment of coloured string and patterns. We had made so many, that one summer day we decided to try selling them. So we set up a stand at the end of the driveway, and sold bracelets for 25 cents a piece. When no one came around, we decided to bike around the neighbourhood and put up paper signs on the lamp posts, advertising our bracelets to the friendly neighbourhood kids. By the end of the day, we had sold one bracelet. Not much of a profit, I'll admit, but for us it was something.
Although we may not have realized it back then, I like to think this was a sign we were destined to be sidekicks. Proof, that if we set our mind to do something, we could do anything.
So here we are, a couple of sidekicks trying to change the world, one single use plastic at a time.
If you're like us, ready to make a change but not sure where to begin, I hope you decide to join us on this imperfect journey we're about to take. I can't guarantee it will be easy, but I can guarantee you it will be worth it!
"'Go back?' he thought. 'No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do. On we go!'" - Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit