Coming Home

Since I’ve gotten older and started traveling on more global adventures of my own, I am always trying to see how I can prolong the transformative effects of travel by making mini changes in my life when I get back home. As you can see, I’ve already started attempting to recreate the Covana Kitchen menu from our hotel. I did a pretty good job of replicating the fruit and chia pudding that was my favorite breakfast each morning.

Chia pudding

But beyond copying the hotel breakfasts, the event that had the biggest impact for me during the trip was definitely our beach cleanup. Perhaps it was being in an a country that is so untouched and underdeveloped, but I felt that you could really see the impact that our American consumerism and wastefulness has on other places. I’ve started making lists (and following them) of how I can make my own small changes.

El Salvador beach cleanup

Some things I do to be kinder to the Earth:

  • Carry reusable bags in the car- this one’s easy for me, since I’ve now lived in two cities that don’t offer plastic bags unless you pay for them. I wish all cities could be like this.

  • Bring a reusable cup- I use this one, but you can find them everywhere. I keep one in my car and one in my backpack so I’m never without. Living in LA, I often find myself grabbing coffee on the run, which usually comes in a paper cup with a plastic lid, and don’t forget the sleeve, which is sometimes also made of non-recyclable materials.

  • Ditch the plastic water bottles- This one is so simple in 2019. There are so many choices of cute bottles to choose from—even ones that keep your drink cold all day. No more buying plastic bottles that don’t last long and create a whole bunch of waste.

New habits I plan to change to make a difference:

  • 5-minute beach cleanups- I am going to start doing this during every beach visit. When we looked around during surf lessons in El Salvador, you could see a lot of trash lining the shores. And a beach day in the US usually holds the same views. Picking up trash while we’re enjoying the ocean will help keep plastic out of the sea and instill the message in our minds that we need to make sure it doesn’t come close in the first place.

  • Ditch all plastic- So, I’m good at brining my reusable mug and bag everywhere I go, but when I order a cold drink or I need silverware for my takeout and need a container, I’m pretty quick to forget my concerns about the environment. I don’t know why it happens so easily, but convenience often trumps what we know is right. The only solution, for me, is to make it more convenient to use my own reusable products. I’ve started putting hard limits on myself— I will not order something if it comes wrapped in plastic (sorry, favorite madeleine cookies from Starbucks) and skip silverware if I haven’t brought my own.

  • No new clothes!- I’ve learned a ton about sustainable fashion this year, thanks to the owners of GFCLA, the jiu-jitsu studio I taught at in Chinatown. Erin and Dennys also run an awesome vintage clothing store, where they salvage clothing that would normally be thrown into a landfill and create cool new designs. Fast fashion is NOT good for the environment, and I’m certainly guilty of wanting more clothes for cheap (Hi, Target and H&M) than quality clothing for expensive. I did the no new clothes rule once for a year, but I cheated by letting my mom buy me things and restock my wardrobe. This year, I want to do it for real. It’s totally possible, thanks to the array of consignment stores, vintage shops, or even hosting your own clothing swap like my friend Suzie did a few weeks ago. Some of my favorite pieces have been hand me downs from old roommates or similar swaps in Austin!

Clothing swap

I’m curious, are there any other changes you’ve made to your lifestyle to be more environmentally-friendly?