Wednesday, July 6, 2016

48 Days of Blue - What I Learned

Back in April I wrote about how I'd be participating in 48 Days of Blue, a challenge that took place from April 22 (Earth Day) to June 8th (World Oceans Day). The challenge is about increasing awareness of the role the oceans play on our planet + ways we can all help. There are alot of ways that anyone can help save our oceans, with hardly any (if any at all) sacrifice. I was really excited to learn some new things, and hopefully share the information with others that needed it as well. I tried to document some of the daily prompts as I did them, but I only managed to do it a handful of times (I still did the challenges most days, I just didn't always take pics and things). Now that the challenge has wrapped up I wanted to share some of what I learned!

48 Days of Blue

Skip the Straw - In America we use and throw away an estimated 500 million plastic straws every day, and many of them just end up on the ground or in the water (you know, where they can't be recycled and don't decompose). So this challenge was to not use any straws that day. If you're eating at a restaurant this is easy, just don't unwrap the straw. But if you, like most of us, go to Starbucks (or any other coffee joint of choice) a little too often then you know that makes things a little trickier. Look into getting a reusable straw to bring with you (like this set, also Starbucks sells sets that are really cute!). Better yet, just bring your own cup. The plastic cups they sell at Starbucks are sized to fit their drinks, so just hand them your cup when you order. Dutch Bros (my fav) does this too. I'm sure MOST coffee places do, but tbh I don't branch out much hahah.

48 Days of Blue

Skip the Stream - This challenge was to pay more attention to your water usage. Not letting the water continuously run while you brush your teeth and wash the dishes can save up to 20 gallons of water a day. The average American household uses 400! I'm good at turning it off when I brush my teeth, but sometimes I leave it running a little more than I should when I'm washing the dishes. Doing all your dishes by hand really sucks!

48 Days of Blue

Waste is Whack - This challenge was to keep a list of everything you threw away that day, and at the end of the day note which items (and how) you could have kept them out of the waste stream. My list was a cough drop wrapper, coffee filter, TP roll, and some post-its (this was a slow day for me, so tbh a "normal" day probably has a lot more trash than this). Unfortunately I still have to throw away wrappers and TP rolls, BUT this exercise got me looking at reusable coffee filters. I use paper coffee filters every day, so a reusable one will definitely cut back on waste + save money in the long run! Also, I don't have one, but if you own a Keurig you should SERIOUSLY get a reusable K-Cup coffee filter! Yes, it's a little more work, but plastic K-Cups are SO BAD for the environment - so bad that the creator regrets even making it.

48 Days of Blue

Detox Your Mailbox - On average, we receive 41 pounds of junk mail every year. Almost half of that goes to the landfill unopened. I try to get on "do not mail" lists but a lot of it still comes through anyway?? Any tips on this would be appreciated. Anyway, I do the next best thing and recycle the rest. My apartment doesn't have recycling bins which is SUPER FRUSTRATING to me. But our complex is right next door to a house and they let me use their bin, as long as I don't have too much! Recycling 1 ton of paper can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, two barrels of oil and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of energy!

48 Days of Blue

Meatless Monday - A vegetarian diet could reduce water consumption by about 58% in the US. You don't have to go full on vegetarian (I need meat, sorry!), but just going meatless one day a week can make a big difference. Since I mostly live off of breads and cheese this is actually pretty easy for me :P On this day I tried a recipe from my Vegetarian friend...which didn't actually work out because I added too much cheese >_>

48 Days of Blue

Unplug for an Hour - According to a Nielsen report, Americans spend 11 hours a day with electronic media. I'm certain I don't spend THAT much time staring at a screen, but I easily spend more time than I should. This challenge was to turn off your phone and "unplug" for an hour (I promise I turned it off right after I took this photo, hahah). At the time I had just gotten Archie, Volume One (I reviewed it here!), so spending an hour without electronics was way too easy.

48 Days of Blue

Ready Set Shower - Did you know that shortening your shower by just two minutes can save about 5 gallons on water??  So obviously this challenge was about shortening your showers. Pictured is a five minute timer I keep in the shower; sometimes it's fun to see if I can beat the clock :P Sometimes I fail, but at least I'm trying? The timer was given to me by some PG&E dudes that came to do some water/energy check on our apartment, but I found the same one online for $3.50.

48 Days of Blue

Ban the Bead -  This was the most eye opening challenge for me. Hundreds of personal care products are filled with tiny plastic (non-recycleable) particles called MICROBEADS. Microbeads are too small to be filtered out of water, so they end up in the ocean, where they get into our sea life, and maybe even end up in your food (this short video explains it really well). There wasn't a super specific "do this" challenge that day, it was more about sharing the information since many people (like me) just don't realize the negative impact these type of products make. That night I did a scan of my bathroom to find how many of my products contained microbeads...which was difficult because most products don't clearly label them as"microbeads." I found 4 items, mostly body scrubs. The only scrub I have that does NOT contain microbeads is St. Ives Oatmeal Body Scrub. I was really surprised to find out toothpaste has microbeads??! So that sucks, hahah. If you want to do the same, check your product labels and look for polyethylene, polypropylene and polymethyl methacrylate.

48 Days of Blue

Bring Your Own Bag - Americans throw away an estimated 100 billion plastic bags each year, and on average bags are only used for 12 minutes before being thrown out. Reduce waste and recycle your plastic bags; a lot of stores have special bins for this exact reason! Or take it a step further and bring your own bags to the store. If you live in the city chances are most places already make you do this! Where I live I think they're trying to ban plastic bags? But currently we still have them so I don't know what's going on with that. Either way, I'm trying to get into the habit or keeping a reusable bag tucked in my purse so I don't have to use plastic ones anymore. I like to collect bags from events I've been to, or of things that I like, that way I'm excited to use them and don't forget them at home :P Some stores even give you discounts for using your own bag!

Even though the challenge is technically over, I highly suggest checking out the 48 Days of Blue website if this interests you. All the challenges and information are still listed there, so you can start your own challenge and maybe even rope a few friends into joining you?!

P.S. - The most popular question/comment I had on all my photos when I posted them on Instagram were about my jellyfish! I named her Jubilee the Jellyfish, and she hails from the Etsy shop, Nothing but a Pigeon :)

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