Week 2: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea - Speak Up About Single-Use Plastics

Week number 2 brings a bit of a different challenge, and one that became more and more relevant for me after I became hyper-aware of plastic waste and poor environmental practices in restaurants and other businesses.  The challenge: speak up about a possible improvement that you think one of your favorite restaurants can make in terms of its plastic use. You know those places you go to eat, the ones you adore with delicious food that you can’t get anywhere else and that give you the warm fuzzies because it’s familiar and it’s the bestest…but that also produce horrendous amounts of waste? I experienced that in Coeur d’Alene this past week at the Fish Market. My family loves this place. AMAZING fish tacos. But EVERYTHING served with single-use plastic sauce tubs, plastic cutlery, and beers on tap are even served in plastic pint cups. WHAT. WHY. GET A DISHWASHER. Give someone a job in the community and stop producing so much waste!

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Week 1: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea - 5 Reasons to shop at your local Farmer's Market

So a little while ago I made a promise to start posting some simple, easy steps you can take to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I'm calling this blog series 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea, and I'm excited to kick it off with one of my favorite summertime activities: farmer's market shopping! I'm going to keep these posts brief, so you can read them over your morning coffee, absorb what you want from them, and hopefully feel inspired to get out and implement these strategies in your own life.

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Company Crush: Clam & Clasp

One of the most powerful driving forces in nurturing my zest for ocean conservation is connecting with like-minded, creative individuals who are working towards the same mission - but usually from a slightly different angle! I had the pleasure of connecting with Janell, the founder and creator of Clam & Clasp, and instantly fell in love with her beautiful pieces of jewelry. Each features a sustainably collected seashell and a promise to speak for the sea.

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Green Mind: The Challenging Shift from a Cheapest-is-Best Mentality to a Do-It-for-the-Earth Mentality

To the millennials out there: we were raised in a different time with different priorities, and we don’t exactly have a blueprint to look to as we navigate these new and constant environmental challenges. It's a huge task, managing and instigating all of this change. But for those of us who care about the environment to any degree at all, which I truly do believe is most of us, we can start shifting our habits to live a greener lifestyle. We might have to start small; everyone's personal and financial situation is different. But when we continue to demand green alternatives and use our purchasing power to support what we believe in, we are going to keep seeing changes. So start where you can. Do what you can. And at the very least, keep up-to-date on environmental issues and talk about them with your family and friends.

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Be Like the Buddha of Environmentalism - A Movement Towards Enlightenment in Conservation

I wrote a post not too long ago about the challenges of being an optimistic environmentalist. The struggle is real. Very, very real. I’m sure many of you have seen National Geographic’s latest magazine cover depicting a plastic bag looming up from the ocean like an iceberg with the title “Planet or Plastic?” This particular issue is just the start of the magazine’s multiyear plan to bring awareness to our planet’s plastic overload crisis. At first glance, it’s heart wrenching - another reminder of the doom and gloom and challenges ahead of us. But once I read the article and absorbed the painful facts, the scary stats, and the troubling photographs, I felt a little rush of excitement. Do we even know how many people are going to be exposed to this crisis as a result of this publication, people that may never even have thought about it seriously and now would? National Geographic has always been a magazine that has sparked controversial conversations, and this particular cover has been dubbed “one for the ages.” People are going to be talking. People are going to be freaked out. And that’s good.

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Milford Track - Tramping in May 2018

A couple of crazy (amazing) ladies and I tackled the Milford Track in early May - a few weeks ago. It was one of the most incredible things I've ever done. We had some wet, wild, windy weather, and I wouldn't have traded it for the world. There were waterfalls cascading in every direction you looked - best not to hike with a full bladder here or you'll wee yourself. Thinking of hiking the Milford? The Great Walks season runs October 24th - April 30th and the track requires bookings. It books out MONTHS in advance, as it's crazy popular. But it DOES live up to the hype, even in the rain. In fact, I reckon the rain makes it better! The hike is about 54 km long and takes four days. There are three huts along the way that will give you the shelter you need and the amazing views you crave.

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My Struggles with Minimalistic Travel - Suitcase Packing & Roadtrip Rubbish

We've most likely all been acquainted with the concept of minimalism at some point in the last decade. In a society where anything we could possibly want is available with the scroll of a finger on a trackpad, minimalism provides us with a way of combating this mine mine mine mentality and instead reducing the things in our life. It's a way for us to trim down our excess baggage and critically think about what we own. It might just start as a physical reduction of excess things, but in a very real way, downsizing can also positively impact our mental health. There are so many benefits of minimalism, and a large spectrum of extremes we can take it to, but as a self-proclaimed conservationist and travel-lover, it's a concept that I've been struggling heartily with over the past three years. In this post, I'll be focusing on how I keep a minimalistic mindset while packing for trips, and also how I try to minimize the waste I create with the food I purchase, particularly while traveling.


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5 Ways to Eliminate Single-Use Plastics from Your Life

I've been really struggling and trying to be extra mindful of these plastic "conveniences" in my day-to-day life. Plastic has fundamentally changed the way we eat, travel, and live our day-to-day lives. But we lived without it not so long ago - can we reach that stage again? We don't want a plastic ocean.

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Mermaid Muse of the Month: Fiona Wardle, Wildlife Photographer

Fi came to Kaikoura about four years ago. She's originally from the U.K. but moved to Oceania to research common dolphins in Auckland and humpbacks in Australia after completing her undergraduate degree in wildlife photography. As fate would have it, a friend connected Fi with Dolphin Encounter and she found herself in Kaikoura working as a dolphin swim guide and photographer. 

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Life as a Seasonal Guide - What Do We Do? The Top 5 Perks/Challenges of a Seasonal Lifestyle

"Your life looks so cool, do you just travel all the time? How do you fund this? I'm so jealous!"

My life might look glamorous to those from the outside. Many people use social media to paint the best and most exciting version of themselves. I try and use it to highlight beautiful things I've seen, the positive feelings I'm having, or the people I'm meeting, and naturally skim over the lows and challenges I face internally. It's easy to overlook the day-to-day struggles when you're living in some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

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2017 Wrap Up - Three Island Homes and One Big Adventure

Dear 2017,

Everyone loves a little bit of reflection at the start of a new year - it gives us time to feel good about the places we've been, cringe a bit at the mistakes we've made, and laugh because of all the lessons we've learned from them. It's been good for me to ponder over you and all of the adventures you've provided for me.

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A South Island Christmas

What does the holiday season in New Zealand look like? Summer breezes blowing along the peninsula. Long evenings under pastel skies. Lingering sunsets painting the skies past 9 p.m. Skin bare and basking in the warmth of the sun. Rosé taking the place of my favorite pinot noir. And for me, the busiest time at work. Ah, tourism.

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Is It Even Possible to Be an Optimistic Environmentalist Anymore?

It seems like you hear all sorts of negative, terrifying, inside-squeezing statistics and study results about the dying marine ecosystems around the world these days and how humans are just destroying all things beautiful in the natural world. It's like someone has gone and painted black streaks over the vibrant blues and greens of the sea of my mind. Sometimes it gets to be too much. There are days when it causes me to panic, and fret, and feel depressed about why I am living in this time period and not one hundred, or even fifty, years ago, when the marine world might have been a lot more pristine. Or at the very least, why couldn't I have paid more attention when I was snorkeling in Cabo and Hawai'i fifteen years ago, or the Great Barrier Reef five years ago, before the bleaching epidemics stripped so many of the reefs of their vitality? Why did I have to start falling in love with the underwater world right as we realize how badly it's hurting? 

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The Wild and Rugged Catlins Coast - New Zealand South Island, Take 2

It's no secret that this country is a wonderland for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Every turn in the road reveals jaw-dropping coastal or alpine vistas (sometimes both!), a chance to hike up to a summit or jump in a frigid glacially-fed waterfall, or a cute little country town with little roadside cafes and plenty of charm. The Southern Scenic Route is an absolute must-do if you have three or four days in your itinerary to fill time on your way from the Te Anau/Queenstown area to Dunedin (or vice versa). It's a bit off of the beaten path, which in my opinion simply adds to the magic. The Catlins Coast was honestly one of my favorite detours on my three-week South Island expedition. It's rugged and wild and unexpected, and somehow managed to be relaxing while simultaneously stimulating my adventurous side.

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Christchurch Farmer's Market - A Saturday Morning Well Spent

Located in Riccarton, a leafy green district in west Christchurch, this Saturday market is a hub for foodies, music lovers, caffeine addicts, organic produce enthusiasts, families, young couples, and wanderlusting travelers alike. You'll be able to chat with producers of artisan cheeses, breads, and nut butters, as well as the farmers who grow the most incredible array of fresh fruits and vegetables. You'll see happy market goers sprawled out under leafy trees nomming on their gourmet local burgers or posh breakfast porridge, listening to talented musical acts from around the city. You'll hear a stream babble alongside the market path, adding to the pleasant hum of noise that resonates throughout the air. And the smells! My nose couldn't stop investigating each and every one. Fresh Irish soda bread. Bacon being fried. Crepes getting stuffed full of fruits and savory delights. 

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Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula - New Zealand South Island, Take 1

Since I was driving south from Kaikoura, there was no better place to start the adventure than the small town of Akaroa on the beautiful Banks Peninsula. Just 75 km's from Christchurch, this historic French and British settlement is nestled right in the heart of a beautiful volcano. With only a day to spend exploring here, I made sure to get out on the water with Black Cat Cruises to see as much of the peninsula as I could - and I really can't recommend them highly enough! I did a harbor tour with them and could barely control my excitement over the stunning vistas we were able to see. The geological history of the Banks Peninsula and the Akaroa Harbour truly shows itself in the dramatic coastlines and beautiful cliff and rock formations. There was something new to ogle at around every turn. 

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Working with "Charismatic Megafauna" to Raise Awareness for Conservation Goals — Can a Naturalist Make a Difference?

The ocean is full of incredible creatures, many of which the average person will never lay eyes on in their lifetime. Although about 40% of humans live within 100 km of the coast, there's still plenty of us who spend our days without seeing, or thinking about, the big blue. It's easy to feel disconnected from something that we simply don't see every day. Is this why the ocean's health often slips from the list of factors that affect our day-to-day lifestyle choices? In my perfect world, the health of the sea would be at the forefront of everyone's mind when they make any decision that involves sustainability and conservation. But it's not always so. Not everyone can live by the ocean. Not everyone wants to live by the ocean. Not everyone realizes that our health and wellbeing is intimately tied to the wellbeing of the sea. This is why it is important to give reminders of why the ocean is an incredible gift — not to mention essential for our survival as a species — and why it deserves respect and protection.

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Seabirds and Pinnipeds - A Taste of NZ

Familiarity is such a relative concept. I love, love, LOVE that you can move across an ocean and encounter an entirely new, mind-blowingly beautiful country and still completely engage and connect with people who are familiar with the place. Ever since arriving in Kaikoura, my jaw has been getting a regular workout from dropping in awe daily. The beauty that surrounds me is incredible. The wonderful people I work with and live with have been here much longer than me, and it's wild to think that they are so used to all of this wildlife and scenery. Albatross on the reg? No big deal. Adorable fur seal pups snuggling up high on rocks and blinking their big baby eyes at you? The norm. Dusky dolphins doing backflips and cartwheels right next to the boat? Got a million photos already.

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