By Emily King, Where’s My Office Now?
This crazy van life journey was born in part from our desire to live simply. To minimize our belongings and maximize our experiences. One of our driving reasons for simplicity is our need as human beings to leave as little of an impact as possible on this planet. To tread lightly so future generations can enjoy the beauty that we are so blessed to witness.
A recent trip to the Ocean Minded headquarters in San Clemente, California reminded us of the interconnectedness between all of Earth’s systems. Each wave like our breath, to us the ocean is our home just as much as the land below our feet. While the land grounds us and provides us security, the ocean inspires, invigorates and reminds us that everything is connected.
We obviously can’t put the ocean in our van and we cannot clean up beaches via Skype. So… how can we be ocean minded as we explore the landlocked states? We put our brains together and came up with this list of Five Steps to Be Ocean Minded Anywhere:
1. UNDERSTAND the interconnectedness of all earth systems and the issues at hand
- The majority of oceanic litter and pollutants enters the sea indirectly
- 4.7 million tons of garbage reaches the oceans each year through storm drains, rivers, intentional dumping of garbage into waterways, and trash left along the coast
- 80 percent of marine debris comes from land-based sources
- In the North Pacific there’s a spinning Trash Vortex the size of Texas
- It’s not just plastic! Atmospheric Co2 emissions causing climate change also affects the chemistry of ocean water, making it more acidic and threatening coral reefs (reports predict complete coral extinction by 2050!)
2. IDENTIFY needs versus wants to simplify and reduce
Making a good look at our purchasing habits, we realized we were spending an exorbitant amount of money on unnecessary products. Not only packaged in plastic, these items also contained chemicals that pollute our water system and end up in the oceans. Do I really need body moisturizer, feet moisturizer, face moisturizer and the ever-growing collection of makeup?
3. REPLACE essentials with more environmentally-friendly items
Once we reduced our purchasing, we set out to replace our essentials with more environmentally-friendly versions. For example, what plastics could be replaced with a more eco-friendly product like glass, sustainably harvested wood or stainless steel? Here are the replacing decisions we have made:
- Stainless-steel food storage containers instead of plastic containers
- Re-usable produce bags instead of plastic disposable produce bags
- Purchase food in bulk to cut back on packaging (and save us money!). Foods like nuts, seeds, grains are easy to buy in bulk.
- Stainless steel water bottles instead of bottled water
- All-natural cleaning products (we recommend tea tree oil cleaning spray!) instead of harsh chemicals that end up in our water system
- All-natural health and beauty products that have better packaging (Dr. Bronner’s Castille soap and coconut oil!)
- Completely paperless by leveraging the technology of today
4. RECYCLE and reuse
Van life recycling is HARD. Many places we stop at (campgrounds, cafes, restaurants, hotels) surprisingly DON’T recycle, so it takes a lot of effort to hang on to recyclables until we are able to toss them in a recycling bin. We aren’t perfect and find ourselves with plastic shopping bags and disposable coffee cups occasionally. When this happens, we reuse it then recycle it.
5. PURCHASE from companies who leave the least impact
Of course, life is meant to be enjoyed and if certain purchases are necessary or bring us much joy, we go for it. However, as often as possible, we choose companies that are in alignment with our beliefs. Companies that stand for something positive in this world. Every dollar spent is a vote. Who are you voting for? How are you ocean minded?
Learn More! SOURCES:
The Peril of Plastic, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/business/energy-environment/23green.html
Debris Delimma, http://www.pbs.org/kqed/oceanadventures/educators/kure/debris.html
World Ocean Review, http://worldoceanreview.com/en/ocean-chemistry/
Ocean Acidification, http://oceanacidification.net/
Trash Vortex, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/pollution/trash-vortex/
Read more about Where’s My Office Now? in the blog, “Redefining the American Dream” or visit their website at www.wheresmyofficenow.com. Follow along on their adventures on Instagram @wheresmyofficenow or on Facebook!