#noexcuses - An Eco-Resolution Guide to Actually Reducing Your Waste in 2019

Two weeks into 2019 and it’s going to keep chugging. Does it feel any different than 2018? Not really. But I do have this sensation, this impatience, this sense of urgency that seemed to ring itself in along with the fireworks and champagne on New Year’s Eve two weeks ago. We all have our challenges that we want to tackle in 2019, our resolutions that we’re hoping to stick to, changes we want to implement in our own lifestyles. For those of you whose resolutions involve tackling the issue of plastic pollution and the impracticality of the “throw-away” culture, please read on. This is a guide on realistic changes you can make this year, and how you can actually keep these habits throughout the coming months instead of getting reabsorbed into the old ways. If you feel like I feel on these topics, you’ll realize that our society is fast running out of excuses to not address these issues on a very personal level.

So, 2019, man! #noexcuses.

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6 Reasons to Pick Maui Snorkel Charters for Your Maui Snorkeling Excursion

I’m sure there are plenty of holiday-makers down in Hawai’i right now soaking up copious amounts of Vitamin D, sipping lilikoi-foam-topped Mai Tais, and perfecting the beautiful art of doing nothing. Is there a better time to immerse yourself in total relaxation than Christmas and New Year’s? Shouldn’t the holidays be about stepping away from the craziness of every day life and just enjoying the beauty of existing? Maui happens to be one of the best places to practice this art form - you’ll get the backdrop of waving palm trees and crystal clear blue water while you’re recharging those batteries of yours.

BUT, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself itching to get into the water after a few minutes on the island. And rightfully so! The water around the Hawaiian islands are warm year round and home to many stunning coral reefs and fascinating marine organisms. Coral reefs are About 25% of the fish, invertebrate, and plant species you’ll find here are endemic, meaning you won’t spot them anywhere else in the world. There are several popular snorkeling spots around Maui that have quite an impressive reputation for good reason - there’s also the allure of the chance of spotting a manta ray, a sea turtle, an octopus, eels, spinner dolphins, or even humpback whales!

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A Vegan Party-Goer's Survival Guide for the Holiday Shindig Season

So, how the heck do we survive the holiday season while being good to ourselves? This is especially challenging if you also consider yourself a vegan, vegetarian, or another classification of plant-based eater. Now, willpower is not everyone’s strong suit. It definitely wasn’t mine for a very long time. I love food. I really love food, in fact. And the idea that someone decided the holidays should be all about eating used to make for a very big internal struggle. It became a lot easier when I decided to start eating vegan for a purpose bigger than myself, a.k.a reducing my carbon footprint. I did it because I wanted to be able to walk the conservation walk if I was going to talk the conservation talk. Going vegan or vegetarian is one of the most straightforward and impactful choices you can make to significantly reduce your carbon footprint and spread some sanity and love to this crazy world. This post isn’t about preaching the vegan word, though (this one is!). This is a survival guide for a vegan party-goer (or anyone trying to eat healthy) as we dive headfirst into holiday party festive season. HERE WE GO.

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3 Environmental Issues to Care About When you Travel to Maui

So I’ve been on an extended stopover in Maui, visiting some very beautiful, kindhearted friends of mine, many of whom I used to live and work with. I am slowly making my way south towards the Southern Hemisphere, but while waiting for some visa paperwork to process, I couldn’t not stop on the most isolated island chain in the world! Maui holds a special place in my heart because it represents a very dynamic time in my young twenties. I moved out here on a whim (and since then, each subsequent move has become easier and easier) to explore what it meant to be a marine naturalist.

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The Best Vegan Dining Options in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

I was hesitant to think too favorably about my luck with vegan dining options in my hometown of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. As much as this dear little mountain/lake town means to me, I will say the plant-based food scene hasn’t exactly caught up quite as much here as the (also important) local farm-to-table, sustainably raised meat and seafood industry. It’s encouraging that people here are starting to ask where their food is coming from instead of just nomming down on whatever is set in front of them, but there is really not much of a demand for the green-growing-things-centric meals. So it’s a move for the better, but as with my ability to pan-fry tofu, there is room for improvement.

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Five Big Reasons Why I Love Coeur d'Alene, Idaho - Hometown Gushing

What’s Up with Idaho?

Most people have never heard of Coeur d’Alene. Idaho is an often forgotten, sometimes scorned state. When people find out I grew up here (well, at least the sarcastic folks), they immediately comment, “Oh, you grew up on a potato farm?” Shut it - the reason those fries on your plate taste so damn good is because those potatoes had Idahoan soil in which to flourish. You should be grateful!

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Mindful Travel, Part 4: 3 Things to Think Critically About Before You Buy a Plane Ticket

The world is essentially a global village now. If you save up the funds and are willing to plan, you can almost go anywhere. Formerly remote and untouched places are changing fast because of our “travel NOW” and escapist mentality that is leading us to escape farther, be more epic, get off the beaten track, snap those wanderlust-worthy social media pics. When I was in college, I was constantly daydreaming over travel Pinterest boards and writing quotes about going out to see the world, experience things, discover myself and learn by immersion instead of just through books and articles.

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Mindful Travel, Part 3: A Day Trip to Lady Elliot Island

This past August, I had the good fortune of flying out to a little island north of Fraser called Lady Elliot. Located off the coast of southern Queensland, it is one of the southernmost cays of the Great Barrier Reef and is known for its abundance of sea turtles, manta rays, reef sharks, and spectacular array of other marine species. The moment I arrived in Hervey Bay, I was surrounded by chatter about Lady Elliot and people who gushed over how amazing it was. Literally, I’d be sitting at the office at work and multiple other crew members from different boats in the harbor would bustle by and stop in for a chat, and inevitably, Lady Elliot would come up. “You have to go. That place is insane.”

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Mindful Travel, Part 2: A Balinese Farm Tour and Cooking Class

Let me whisk you away to Bali - the Balinese Farm Tour and Cooking Class is a half-day tour (morning or afternoon) that picks you up from your accommodation in Ubud and whisks you away to a local market in a neighboring village. A guide meets you there and escorts you around to different stalls, pointing out and explaining the local offerings of fruits, vegetables, and various prepared goods.

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Exploring the Meaning of Mindful Travel, Part 1: Choosing Ethical Tour Operators

So what makes a tourist activity eco-friendly - as in, how do you decide if it’s a responsible choice or not? You want to support locally-owned businesses that are not only reducing their environmental impacts, but are using their tourism platform to help local communities and raise support for conservation. Sustainable tourism has been defined by the World Tourism Organization as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.”

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Five Practical Tips for Being a Responsible, Eco-friendly Traveler

As a traveler, we have an immense responsibility. Jet-setting or road-tripping (or cycling, walking, running, horseback riding, etc.) to see the world is a beautiful gift, and we really shouldn’t take it lightly. Just as we try to “greenify” our lives back home, we can try to spruce up our travel game to be a bit more self-sufficient and leave less of a consumerist trail in our wake.

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A Guide to the Best Vegan Food Spots in Hervey Bay, Australia

This is a straightforward summary of my explorations of plant-based dining options in this beautiful coastal town. Ok, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. I love Hervey Bay. It’s cute, quiet, and the weather is pretty much mint year-round. The ocean’s in your backyard, and the whales come to play from July to October (that’s why I was here!). But, I won’t lie - the food scene leaves something to be desired, especially for the vegans. Since I was living there for three months, I wasn’t about to sit at home and cook the same ole same ole every night - I wanted to eat out, too! I was able to do a fair bit of exploring in my quest to both satiate my stomach and stay committed to my environmental morals. This post is meant to save any vegan or omnivorous veggie-lovers some grief the next time they visit the Fraser Coast!

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Exploring New Depths with Apneista's Level One Freediving Course - Bali

What does the term freediving bring to mind for you? Diving without scuba tanks? Spearfishing? Long breath holds? Insanity? For me, it was mainly just a talent I admired of other people when I saw them diving down to look at an octopus or a moray eel in Molokini Crater for extended periods of time.

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Perk Up, Ocean Lover: You're Making it Better Than It Would've Been Otherwise

A Post To Perk You UP About Fighting for Conservation

I’m sure many of you, like me, have been experiencing the ebb and flow of enthusiasm/motivation and helplessness/anxiety over the conservation of our natural environment. The articles/news/research findings are bombarding us - always - and they should, because we need to be aware of the issues and the science. The emotions we attach to the media, however, are brought about by our own projections. I associate so much doom and gloom with everything I hear about climate change and ecosystem destruction, I can’t help it. But what if I stepped away from that and chose to see things differently? What if this perceived negativity could be transformed into a positive source of motivation?

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From the Sunny Coast to Brisbane to the Gold Coast - Adventures in Eastern Oz

I had some time off! And it was amazing! Whale watching is a beautiful way to spend your days, don’t get me wrong. In the midst of a busy season, though, you can bet I’ll snatch an opportunity to take a few days off and explore amazing Aussie. After taking so many guests on our trips who simply gushed about the Sunshine Coast and Byron Bay, I knew I wanted to go see them for myself.

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The Final Week: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea

Do something today that scares you.

I'm sure you've heard a similar quote before. Eleanor Roosevelt said it: "Do one thing every day that scares you."

So what's the connection between this challenge and environmental activism? Look, going green can be scary. It means changing habits that you've grown up with. It means politely talking to your parents and grandparents about a new way of life you've adopted that doesn't necessarily mesh with their viewpoints. It means going against the grain more often than not. It means being adaptive, open-minded, and vulnerable to change. That's scary. And it's hard. I recognize and respect that, because I muddle through these changes every single day. I stumble a lot. I fall. I get up. 

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Week 7: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea - Using Social Media for Positive Change

A Positive Opportunity for Education & Activism with Instagram

How many "pretty" pictures of food or drinks or cute cafes pop up on your social media feeds throughout the day? It might just be my love of experimental cooking, foodie-based travel, colorful ingredients, and beautifully-designed dining spaces, but my feed is brimming with snaps of smoothie bowls and tofu dishes and perfectly crafted coffees with hearts and bears in the latte art. I love seeking inspiration from photos of food, and I imagine there's a part of my brain that relishes looking at them as well. Like some sort of dopamine hit. 

Although most of the food-based accounts I follow depict eco-friendly practices, I'm finding that there's still a lot of accounts that are including plastic straws and other single-use plastics in their glamorous marketing shots. Now, I'm not trying to call anyone out and shame them. Nor am I encouraging you to bash anyone or any operation on social media. That's bad form. I'm only saying that I found a perfect opportunity to open up a discussion on single-use plastics when I came across a photo from a hip little pop-up business in Portland specializing in gourmet dessert milkshakes...

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Week 6: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea: #justpickitup

I'm back with Week 6's Eco-Challenge! This is a real simple one, going back to the basics. It's about picking up litter (hence the #justpickitup theme). We see trash all the time in places it doesn't belong, and the concern here is how often we refuse to acknowledge it. On the beach, on your morning run, on the side of the road, at the park, in the supermarket car park. Why do we see it and ignore it so much of the time when we know that it's negatively impacting the environment? It all comes down to convenience, doesn't it?

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Week 5: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea - New 'Poo for Your 'Do

This week I want to talk about hair. Specifically, how we wash it, and how we purchase shampoo. There is so much plastic in our bathrooms, it's not even funny. Not even remotely. It's annoying as hell. It tumbles off the shelves and ledge when we bump into it. Once you squeeze ever little last drop out of the bottle, you have to get rid of it and buy another. Where does it go? Rubbish? Recycling? Do you get confused and just chuck it? "Oh well, someone else's problem now." (Please don't think like that.)

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Week 4: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea - The Importance of Delayed Gratification

When we want or need something, it's as easy as opening our browser to Amazon.com or driving to Target and feeling that rush of immediate gratification. No thought required. Just a credit card and a desire. 

This scares me. You know the feeling of emptiness that comes after an impulse buy? It's like a cloud of confusion. It's not satisfying us the way we thought it would. The thing we bought didn't solve our problems. It didn't make us happier (because only you can make you happier). We often choose what is easy instead of what is better in the long run. Maybe our brains are wired that way. Survival, man! But, it's no good.

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