1. No straws. For me, this is less about saving the planet and more about creating habits in your brain.
2. Bamboo toothbrush. We find so many of these during clean ups. And while you’re at it… maybe start replacing other things in your bathroom too :) If you’re in a big city search out bulk options at a zero waste store, if you’re feeling fancy LUSH cosmetics does an amazing job at this.
3. Choose eco materials and thoughtfully made products. I’m happy to see this become more common in the swim industry and fashion industry as a whole. Vitamin A, Patagonia, Athleta, MATE the label, Reformation, TenTree are a just a few that I like. What we wear goes directly into the ocean via our washing machines and fashion as an industry is one of the largest polluters in terms of Microplastic particles in the oceans. Here is an awesome VOX article that explains it.
4. Read and research. These are complex issues. Hard to know what to change if we don’t understand what our impact is.
5. Less packaged food. Buy local, eat local. I’ve had a lot of fun going to farmers markets which are readily available here in Hawaii.
This video actually changed my mind a lot as it showed that ‘organic’ isn’t always the best option and that eating locally and seasonally is the best for the planet and for you health. Reconnect with where food comes from. There is no shortcut for understanding what is going on and regionally what is “sustainable” can change. For example living on an island in French Polynesia I ate fish, breadfruit and coconut two meals a day for the entire trip. A diet that would be highly unsustainable elsewhere made since due to their abundance of sea life and the immense environmental cost of shipping things in.
6. Beware of fish and shellfish. The fishing industry is a major polluter when it comes to marine debris. We also tend to eat only certain “prized” pelagic (deep sea) fish creating imbalanced ecosystems. Support small local fishermen, spearfisher men + women as these have low impact and no bycatch.
7. Don’t be wastey. Respect your resources (For example if you do forget something or need something shampoo bottles, bottle of water etc. if you take it use it completely.) Shut off lights or AC when you aren’t in a room, create a mindfulness around consumption.
8. Reef safe sunscreen. Look for non-nano zinc as the primary ingredient. Raw Elements, Love Avasol, All Good, Amavara Skincare are some I use that I like. The first two get bonus points for having plastic free packaging options.
9. Carbon offset. Not a perfect solution, but something I think wayyy more of us should be doing. A. It’s not very expensive B. Beyond carbon sequestering through the planting of trees or investing in sustainable alternatives, this shows that we as consumers are willing to put our money where our mouth is. It shows companies that creating products that reflect these values are worthy of investment.
10. Travel slow. Also as influencers, photographers, and travel bloggers are we creating a culture that glamourizes fast travel, fast fashion and constant jet setting? Let’s slow down - both for ourselves and for our audiences and celebrate more mindful travel. 11. Lead with empathy. In all conversations. In all things. Meet people where they are, encourage the good they are doing rather than nitpicking ways to do better. 12. Invent your own ways. It is vitally important that we move the needle on this in our lifetime and we NEED all the creative thinking out there. 13. Eat less meat. Specifically red meat. 14. Plant a tree. Heck plant like a thousand trees. Good for the planet, good for you. 15. Carpool, use a bike, skateboard, run etc for alternate forms of transit :) 16. Volunteer. Think globally, act locally. You know what your community needs most. This also connects you to a network of invested humans and it is so much easier to be inspired and maintain momentum TOGETHER. 17. Support companies doing good. B Corp certified is a great place to start. 18. One adventure, one bag. I LOVE that I’m seeing more of this in the outdoor community. It both a good exercise in noticing and investing ourselves in the places we play. 19. Upcycle, recycle, break the cycle. Don’t buy new just because it’s “eco” or trendy. Use what you already have. Break the cycle means supporting stronger legislation and refusing to use single use plastics. We have to stop it at the source, by the time it’s in stores we’ve already sort of lost the battle.
When I was growing up no one talked about plastic pollution. Fringe people talked about climate change. There were no jackets and bikinis and backpacks made from recycled fishnets or scraps of nylon. No one I knew of worried about what was in their sunscreen or how the reefs were doing. I grew up knowing very little about these things. In many ways I feel like I still don’t know nearly enough. However it HAS been massively inspiring lately to realize what a profound difference two decades has made in all these areas of conversation. Now we live in a time where a 16 year old girl is leading millions of people in international weekly climate strikes. What a change.
How to live mindfully is something I’m constantly trying to assess for myself. A big part of this is how do I reconcile the fact that just being alive as a human comes with an environmental cost. How do I navigate the murkiness of wanting to do good and yet as I write this I’m literally hurling across the atmosphere in a plane spewing carbon emissions.
Let me be clear I am not trying to be some sustainability queen or zero waste something or other - although I 100% think that’s amazing. I hold immense value in the power of the outdoors and the power of travel and the power of self expression through clothes and art and the power of technology to radically change the world. These things have value and they also extract value from our planet. There isn’t really a way around it. So I accept that footprint and what I’m really here to do is figure out how to do better. I’ve always been a practical kind of human which isn’t great for “branding”; being moderate - on the internet at least - usually means most people think you’re either not doing enough or you’re a hypocrite or annoyingly preachy.
So here it is. Little ways to save the world. They’re easy and reasonable and require an ever so slight amount of forethought and commitment. Basically, anything less than this is lazy - at least according to my attempting-to-be-mindful middle-roader :)