Driving past the playing fields at our local middle school when it’s overrun by hundreds of high energy kids I can’t help but think of the genius, ideas, perspective and hope within that mob. Until you have spent some time with that age group you might not recognize the potential they have for making an enormous difference for our environment, for our oceans. When I bring THE QUEST FOR BLUE PLANET SUPER HEROES book to a school the kids do not immediately sit quietly and absorb my “wisdom.” (Featured Photo Credit: “Gentle Giants”François Baelen / 2018 Ocean Art Contest)
First and foremost, I need to listen. So I begin with questions that draw out their concerns for the environment and the future. I learn what talents they are most proud of. I hear them discuss what a “super hero” is and which one they might like to emulate. THEN, and only then, it is time to read aloud from Kate Buffett and the Deep Blue Sea. That title is the chapter book embedded in THE QUEST FOR BLUE PLANET SUPER HEROES. I read chapter one, “A Whale of a Tale” – and then we talk about it.
Finally, the group is ready to hear that there is a 4-week guided journal writing section at the end of the book. Originally I had created simply The Blue Life Journal for Kids. Hours and hours with young people age 9-12 convinced me that presenting the journal without an engaging story full of compelling characters was not going to connect with the kids.
Journal writing creates a powerful personal story
BUT once they were engaged and felt a connection with the characters in the story they were eager to begin their 4-week practice of journal writing. Each week I meet with a group and we discuss their responses from the week before. This is the beauty of having THE QUEST FOR BLUE PLANET SUPER HEROES at home. Families can come together for that sort of discussion and suddenly the impact of one child’s journal writing and habit change expands.
Through the fiction story within the chapter book a young person can feel a spark of inspiration to do something in their own community. They might explore a place they love and imagine a way they can make a difference. They might join an environmental club or volunteer with a community group. Puzzling a challenge – who knows – they may be the next inventor to innovate a solution for the future.
If you know a young person we should feature on our SUPER HERO page, just let us know on the CONTACT FORM. It is beyond amazing and inspiring to recognize what a young person is capable of – and it all adds up for our future – for the future we all will share.
From a few pretzels plastic topped over a small container of hummus to the shrink wrapped muffin carried from the coffee shop, we like our individualized snacks and meals on the go. Tossing kids a drink box or a squeezable yogurt on the way to sports or dance practice is a common habit. And enjoying produce items from far away all sealed in plastic may be a healthy choice for us – but not for our oceans.
Walk the aisles of any grocery store and the colors, sparkle, logos, messages and subtle advertising compel us to choose this brand over that, to expand the reach (and profits) of an industrialized food system. These strategies can even [persuade us to purchase more than we really need. We wouldn’t purposely create food waste but it is happening more often through marketing persuasion in the grocery aisle. It has given multinational conglomerates with large marketing budgets an advantage over small and local producers. There is hope and change in the air, particularly among younger consumers. A trend is bubbling from demand that can support our choice to shop more locally and to make “blue life” choices. One option is the “zero waste” grocery store.
Zero-packaging stores, also known as zero-waste grocery stores, allow customers to bring and refill their own containers. They offer food products (cereals, pasta, oils) and even household products (soap, dishwashing and cleaning products). You simply bring your own jars and containers and buy as little or as much as you need. As you NEED! Re-assessing actual need is another great habit that springs from this new trend. A new mindset.
These stores can already be found in many countries across the world. They are more than just individual trading businesses making a small difference. They are part of an important and growing trend promoting an environmentally sustainable “reuse” mentality. Their way of doing business shows we can change our take, make, use and throw away mentality. I remember “helping” my mother-in-law clean her house one day in the late 1960’s. She had all sorts of washed and organized jars and boxes in the laundry room. They took up a lot of space in her small hone – so I “organized” by tossing them out and freeing up storage space. Needless to say this frugal and wise 1950’s homemaker was NOT pleased.
She did not go the “Tupperware” route. She used and re-used as a way of life. I learned many important lessons in that experience. Her habits would easily allow her to jump onto the trend for zero packaging stores – and save money in the process.
Zero-packaging stores encourage sourcing locally. Because of that, they can play an important role in enhancing local economy and supporting local producers. They can help break globalized agribusiness monopolies, regenerating the diversity of rural enterprises and communities.
Next steps: Be Blue, Like Zane Schweitzer
Not all of packaging is wasteful. It can stop food spoiling, for example, and enables us to enjoy foods not locally produced. But what is driving the growth of the global food packaging market – expected to be worth $411.3 billion by 2025 – is rising demand for single-serve and portable food packs due to “lifestyle changes”. Most of us recognize these are not lifestyle changes for the better; they are the result of us spending more time working or commuting, and eating more processed and unhealthier food.
Zero-packaging stores show, in their own small way, a viable and healthier alternative to the current system. Both for ourselves, local economies and the planet. The next time you are snacking or enjoying a meal on the go, take a thoughtful assessment of how packaging and plastic are part of that choice.
Very few of us get to live a life that is truly in harmony with the natural world. Imagine conquering a sport that requires working in tandem with the wild and unpredictable ocean, while honoring your family, inspiring your community, and, writing an entertaining and inspiring book, Beneath the Surface. That’s Zane Kekoa Schweitzer.
Besides being a 2x Ultimate Waterman champion, ECO Ambassador, and Instagram star, Zane Kekoa Schweitzer is a world traveler whose experiences living an unconventional, uncompromised life. Zane expalins some habits, “I eat whole food plant based so I like to start my day with a smoothie or oatmeal before heading out to the beach or before starting my day of adventures and exercises. I keep a strict diet that is mostly vegan/whole food plant based and am consistently doing all I can do grow mentally and physically. With a jam packed training schedule and travel calendar it’s hard to keep up with my eating, nutrition and basic health needs. Whenever I can I prepare my own food and pack a lunchbox to keep up with my InZane lifestyle. Whether it’s slamming in my muscle nutrition after a training session because I have to run straight to my next task on my list of things to do for the day, or whether I prefer to skip airplane food for a healthy meal replacement bar like Redd– I never compromise on what I use to fuel my body, my life!” Picture on right: Zane grabbing a Redd bar snack after a water session.
Zane “walks the talk” by constantly cleaning up beaches and inspiring others to do the same. He shares, “My biggest concern is not being able to share the ocean, reef, fish and nature as I know it with my children one day. Knowing that the future generations may very well not have the opportunity to experience nature as I did makes me feel grief.. In my lifetime alone I am seeing the coral reefs change, from places I’ve traveled as a young child to this day and even right in my backyard at home in Maui- The reefs are fading away and its life light dimming, including its inhabitants along with it. This is my biggest concern, losing parts of nature forever because of choices we make for convenience- losing parts of our environment and even ecosystems along with the loss of entire species.
What I can do to fight these problems starts with living a life grateful for nature and being present t- being a surfer and waterman my whole life has helped me to create a bond with the ocean and nature- then finding a way to share that feeling of appreciation and consciousness with others, shedding light upon the issues to enlighten the people I come across and inspire them to find the courage within themselves to make a change, to follow their dreams and accomplish them- not just for the benefit of themselves, but for the benefit of their loved ones and environment around them.. We all have goals and dreams, and we all have the choice to choose what dreams to pursue, what is the right choice, what is the rightful path to pursue? The path and the goals in which benefit not only yourself, but those in which uplift the people and environment around you.
Not that you needed more reasons to refuse the single use plastic water bottle, maybe knowing that there is on average 241 microplastics per liter could change the habit.
Yes, plastic is polluting our environment. Let’s turn our attention to microplastics – tiny pieces ranging from 5 millimetres down to 100 nanometres in diameter. These ocean microplastics are entering the food chain and, ultimately, our bodies.
But fish and shellfish aren’t our only food sources that can contain microplastics. Don’t even think mentally eliminating seafood from your diet. Other sources that don’t come from the sea might be of much more concern.
Not only that – the microplastic doesn’t innocently enter the digestive system and – well, get eliminated. Research has found microplastics in other body parts, like the liver.
Another marine food source of microplastics is sea salt. One kilogram can contain over 600 microplastics. If you eat the maximum daily intake of 5 grams of salt, this would mean you would typically consume three microplastics a day. Land animals also eat microplastics . Scientist have also found microplastics in honey and beer. We might be swallowing tens of microplastics with each bottle of beer.
Okay, back to the microplastics that we consume in bottled water. When researchers examined a variety of types of glass and plastic water bottles, they found microplastics in most of them. Single-use water bottles contained between two and 44 microplastics per litre, while returnable bottles contained between 28 and 241 microplastics per litre. The microplastics came from the packaging, which means we could be exposing ourselves to more of them every time we fill up a plastic bottle in order to reduce waste.
There is also evidence that microplastics in food come from indoor dust. A recent study estimated that we could get an annual dose of almost 70,000 microplastics from the dust that settles on to our dinner – and that is only one of our daily meals.
Sound the Alarm? Maybe Not
There are microplastics in the human food chain. Scientists were intrigued by this possibility and conducted an experiment to check. While they cooked in their kitchens, they left open petri dishes with sticky tape to collect dust fallout in the surrounding air.
They compared the amounts of plastic fibers in this dust with the quantities they found in mussels collected around the Scottish coast. The results suggest that while a regular UK consumer might ingest 100 plastic particles a year from eating mussels, their average exposure to plastic particles during meals from household dust is well over 10,000 per year.
In sum, the evidence about the dangers of plastics and microplastics in the marine environment is far from conclusive. There are important gaps in scientists’ knowledge that need filled, particularly where plastic particles are likely to accumulate in large amounts over long periods and how this potentially affects ecosystems. Or are they readily eliminated and pose little threat to humans. The jury is still out.
But it is important not to speculate while overstating risks, and instead engage with the actual evidence. Otherwise it will detract from our ability to manage plastic pollution in the most effective way and have a clear sense of the right priorities. Stay informed, question alarming statements and for all the other MANY important reasons continue to SAY NO TO SINGLE USE PLASTIC – Recycle is not enough – refuse, reuse.
In a time when funding for so many crucial educational topics is reduced or removed, art, music, and environmental topics are sorely missed. So many students have incredible aptitudes in those areas and do not find the opportunity to perform, create, innovate or make the difference their passion might inspire.
For that reason, we are especially happy to discover an opportunity that teachers (or connected parents) can support. Here’s a way to inspire global citizens – and art! Part art project, part philanthropy, part immersion in global learning, Students Rebuild Challenges connect K-12 students worldwide in a common effort to make a difference, while giving you the tools and flexibility to teach your way.
From their website: In addition to an engaging art project, every Students Rebuild Challenge comes with rich opportunities and free resources for exploring other cultures, geography, and more. Online video conferencing brings students from other countries into your classroom and makes our global community more personal.
When it comes to the environment, the word “green” usually makes us think of a thriving environment. But too much of anything is not good. Just as too much food (nutrients) is not good for us. Too much nutrient is not good for the water either. There are many different causes for too much nutrient getting into water – in ponds, lakes, streams, canals, rivers and even out into the ocean. These nutrients cause algae to grow so much that it begins to kill the life in the water. There have been many more of these “ALGAE BLOOMS” in the past decade.
Almost every community has a golf course. Some golf courses are home and a healthy habitat for many species including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and even microscopic organisms. Other golf courses may not have figured out the best way to accomplish a “healthy green” environment. You might enjoy (with parents’ permission) an interview with a local golf pro or maintenance team. After you read what Steve and Eddie discovered you might want to share that chapter with your teacher or club.learn and discover even more than one person can.
New Year’s is a time when we resolve to eat better, embrace good health and savor life. Personal goals are written and we are filled with positive expectation. Maybe you have considered habits that are harmful to our magnificent planet among your resolution process. Let’s hope so.
No matter how many beach cleanups we all do, until we cleanup some habits, significant change will not happen. Keep on with your practice of loving and respecting the natural environment by picking up litter and refusing straws. Talk about what you do and why – conversations inspire change.
If you are on social media – you can help spread the word by using the hashtag #HabitCleanup. Everyone can join that mission by some positive action each day. Here are a few simple suggestions and tips to create less trash and fewer carbon emissions over the next 12 months.
Preaching to the Choir: You Know the Drill
Over one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute around the world. Nearly 80 per cent of these end up in our landfills and oceans. Once this fact gets beyond your head and into your heart, trust me, you feel a pang of pain seeing cases of plastic bottles stacked in stores and heading home with shoppers.
Convenience has become an expectation and fuels habits negative to our planet. Your diligence – daily – makes a difference. But more than that, when you talk about your choices and why it’s worth the effort – you motivate, inspire and help others make habit changes. #HabitCleanup.
Reduce and reuse, before recycling
People tend to feel good about themselves when they recycle, but often it’s forgotten that recycling should be a last resort. There is no “away” when it comes to plastic. Living a sustainable lifestyle is not an all or nothing approach. And by sharing your efforts you expand your personal carbon-minimal footprint. Take what steps you can in 2019 and share them – in a positive, uplifting way that celebrates sustainability. #HabitCleanup for 2019.