Photo Friday | Bike Adventures

Although busy, this year is really shaping up to be an exciting one, and one of the main reasons is because I've been selected as a Schwinn Ambassador!


Throughout this year, I'll be sharing photos of how bicycles are part of my husband's and my lifestyles. Be sure to follow the Schwinn Red blog, and their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see photos from me and the other ambassadors!

I'm excitedly brainstorming different events and locations where I can showcase my Schwinn bike, so be on the lookout for some great Lafayette, Mardi Gras, Festival International, and UL tailgating shots, among others.

In addition to Schwinn sharing our photos, I'll be submitting guest blog posts to the Schwinn Red blog.

Visit Schwinn Red for great blog posts from all of the 2017 ambassadors.

Where will my two wheels (and my husband's three wheels!) take me this year? Find out through Schwinn!
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Eco-Friendly Style: What to Look for When Shopping Sustainably

This year, as I continue on my own sustainability journey, I'm focusing on improving in a few areas. Working hand-in-hand with my goal of living with more intention, I want to declutter as much as possible, especially in my closet. And when I need to replace staple items, I want to choose eco-friendly alternatives.

Oh, wait...that's not what I mean! Although it IS a dress made of recycled materials, I shan't be stepping out in newspaper clothing. (And, #TBT to Halloween 2010, when I was Tinkerbell's treehugging sister.)

Shopping secondhand helps keeps clothing out of landfills.

This year, I'm working to shop differently and sustainably. With all the ways I've gone greener over the years, I still shopped pretty conventionally. I'd impulse buy a pair of skinny black jeans at Target. I'd stock up on tops from Old Navy. I'd buy shoes from DSW.

But I've learned a lot more over the past year about sustainable style, and all that it encompasses. The qualities I will look for in the purchase of any new clothing, shoes, jewelry or bags are:

  • Made of organic material
  • Made of recycled material
  • Made of sustainable material
  • Fair-trade produced
  • Vintage
  • Secondhand
  • Vegan leather

Here's the thing. Especially if you're frugal or thrifty, it can be an expensive adjustment to switch to organic, sustainable or fair-trade apparel. It is a lot more expensive, yes. But, think about the trade off. Fast fashion is not meant to last. Choosing eco-friendly alternatives, and supporting the brands producing them, means you can invest in better quality items made of better materials - or made of recycled materials, helping divert items from landfills. Your clothing will last a lot longer, simply because it's actually made to!

If you're wondering how clothing can be made of recycled material, I will tell you about a cotton shirt, my favorite pair of yoga pants, and two swimsuits in my closet: made of recycled PET (aka, your soft drink bottles) and recycled nylon (aka, discarded fishing nets). All of them are extremely well-made, and you don't realize that it's not conventional fibers (except of course, if you'd ask me about them, because of course I'll talk about it.)


This top with my 2017 motto, dwell on positive thoughts, is made of organic cotton and is from a Kailua local business. The yoga pants are made of recycled PET and are from Niyama Sol, which I got from Yoga Garden here in Lafayette. (And yes, I wore these on my wedding day as I was getting ready!)

Now, I'm not a huge fashionista, and since this is all about my journey toward sustainable fashion, this is where I say I'm not an expert. But after discovering the blog Sustainably Chic last year, I've become friends with blogger Natalie, who does an amazing job at bringing eco-minded brands to her readers. I've learned about so many new and great brands through her posts and collaborations. In fact, I asked her for recommendations on eco-friendly shoes for my wedding, and she pointed me toward Beyond Skin - the brand I ultimately chose and still love!


I asked Natalie to share a little on her passion for sustainable style, and why it's so important for us, others, and the environment. Do yourself a favor and follow her blog, Facebook and Instagram.

"Why choose the sustainable option when shopping? Well, pretty simply put, our planet depends on it. For most of us ladies, I think fashion is something we easily feel connected to. It's a way to express ourselves, and the choices we make when buying our clothing can add a lot of value into our lives. For me, I love the art of design and supporting the makers. The fashion industry employs millions of people all over the world, from the fibers grown to the finished product. I believe, as a consumer, you have the responsibility to make sure everyone involved in the making of your tee has been treated fairly - even the Earth! There is power in every purchase, and with this power you must have patience. Patience to do research, patience to wait for the right product and patience to keep the conversation alive for those who are new to the concept of sustainability. Always keep in mind, this concept covers so much more than the environment and what is most sustainable for one may not be the case for the other. {like I said - patience and research!}
If you are transitioning into a more conscious lifestyle, fashion is an easy start. Get to know what you have & appreciate your wardrobe. Don't shop at the mall or any shop that can't explain their choice of material or provide worker details. Give up Fast Fashion! We don't need trends or to feel as if our clothes are irrelevant. Conscious lifestyles are more personal, and your individual style will always be special. Follow bloggers or trade publications who only work with sustainably minded companies. You'll be surprised how many options you have!! No excuses, ladies ;)

This new lifestyle of yours may become overwhelming. It will engulf your entire life. From the sheets to your bed to how your travel. Don't beat yourself up, and start with the easier tasks like food and clothing {trust me, it isn't that hard!}. Don't forget to treat yourself every once in a while & remember, we won't clean the fashion industry up unless we support the brands who are working hard to make a difference."


So as I declutter, I'm keeping a paperless list on Google Keep of the items that I will need to replace, like new flats, a new belt, and a few new staple pieces. Instead of running to the store to impulsively purchase something, I'll take the time to research different companies (most of the time, means checking Sustainably Chic) and pick - which will also help curb impulse shopping. It can be harder when many of these companies are based online, but it's fun to see just what's out there. One of the first things on my sustainable list is a new everyday laptop bag.


This Prana sweater actually was an impulse buy earlier this month (after I decided to commit to a sustainable closet), but it was from a locally owned business, and it's made of organic cotton and is fair-trade certified. Score, score and score! Oh, and it's super comfortable too.
 
Another factor that is not on my shopping values list, but that is also a good option, is renting items you need. I use Rent the Runway very rarely (because I am definitely not glamorous enough to always need dresses), but it comes in so handy, especially for formal events. You get the joy of wearing a "new" dress to a wedding or event without having to buy a dress that's going to sit in your closet for the next few years.

I'll be attending my first Mardi Gras ball in a few weeks, and you well know I'm renting a formal gown. Only because it doesn't fit the theme to wear my wedding dress again... which I wouldn't mind an excuse to do!
 

Plus, recently, the company has switched from shipping their dresses in a box, with a bag included for return, and they now ship their dresses in a reusable garment bag. To return, you simply swap out the delivery label for a return label.


This green shirt from Tasc is made of bamboo rayon, and bamboo is highly regarded for being a renewable materials because it grows so quickly. There's still some debate over how green the production process is to turn bamboo into a fiber, but in terms of renewability, bamboo is a better option.

Plus, there's a bonus appearance from my vegan cork leather Mieroglyphs bracelet!


My all-time favorite maxi dress was purchased secondhand at my local Plato's Closet, and is my go-to "let's pretend to look like I put in effort today."


Although not real, this vintage pearl necklace from my great aunt elevates just about any outfit I could wear. The original clasp had worn out, so for $3, I replaced it with a new clasp, good as new.


I found this dress at local consignment shop Clothing Loft the day of a family member's engagement party. Pretty amazing to find a cute dress, that fits you, and on the sale rack, the day of your event!


My Fair Indigo organic cotton staple tank was a conscious choice instead of finding a cream sleeveless top from a conventional fashion brand. This quickly became one of my favorite tops.


Back to my favorite ThredUp purchase, a gold dress for wedding events (which I had tailored). The one thing about shopping secondhand online is that it can be difficult to guess if the sizing will be right. This dress was a little baggy when it came in, but since I was already having my wedding dress fitted, I brought the gold one with me and had the seamstress take it in, and now it feels like a million bucks. (It was 10 bucks, btw.)

And look at my cute bridesmaid and yoga buddy, Hailey! We didn't match our wines to our dresses on purpose, we promise.


So, here's a brief cheat sheet of brands by each value on my shopping list, a combination of ones I have shopped from and ones I follow (aka, drool over) on social media:

Organic Materials

Sustainable Materials/Production

Fair Trade

Recycled Materials

Vegan Materials

Secondhand

Vintage



I think, toward the end of this year, I'll have to do a recap of how well I did at paring down my closet and shopping sustainably!
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Photo Friday | Do Good Work

A couple weeks ago, my friend Gretchen shared this illustration via The Story of Stuff Project, and I love it so much, I plan to print it out for my office's inspiration wall.

I'm certainly ambitious, but I plan to plant a lot of flowers in 2017 - to make it a great year, to do good for the environment, to inspire more people to live consciously.

You've got the power to make 2017 as full of flowers as you want. There will always be bad days and dark times, but it's all in how you respond (this is where I hear my yoga teacher cheering, because she says something to this effect pretty often). Instead of being pessimistic, it's much more productive to do something. I know what my strengths are, and I want to use them to help my community and my state, and in turn, the environment.



Illustration: The Story of Stuff Project

My friend Katherine recently shared this post with a similar message on Facebook, and it goes along with what I like to say about making the transition into a greener life. Start with small actions or changes of habit (like a reusable water bottle). It might seem insignificant to you at first, but as you start to make more small changes (like cloth shopping bags, a rain barrel, and getting a bicycle), those actions are compounded by the actions of others, and you start to see the larger impact.

https://red.org/
Photo: (RED)

What flowers will you plant this year?


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New Year Organization: Decluttering

Decluttering is always a popular topic around the beginning of the year, and as we move into spring cleaning season. In my Times of Acadiana column last week, I shared a few ways to donate or recycle items you don't need so that you don't just throw everything on the curb for the trash guys to pick up.

There are so many options that it can be overwhelming to send everything to its proper destination, but I'm aiming to make it easier for you with a list of common items and the places they can go, so you don't have to do the research. However, I won't be coming to your house to do your cleaning out, so you're on your own there.

From clothing to housewares to books to home renovation materials, there’s a place to donate and recycle just about anything in your home. Sort and group your items that can be reused so you can donate them to different organizations.

Clothing/Shoes/Accessories

Fairly new clothing (especially children’s and infant clothing), shoes and accessories can be brought to consignment shops, where you can make a small amount of money back. Some stores in the Acadiana area are Clothing Loft, Clothes Mentor, Plato's Closet, and Once Upon a Child.

Older clothing can be donated to organizations like Arc of Acadiana, The Extra Mile, Salvation Army or Goodwill.

There are also tons of online consignment shops, like ThredUp or Tradesy, although the process may take a bit longer than doing it locally.

Garage Sales

If you’ve got a large collection of a variety of items, consider holding a garage sale. You’ll get rid of a lot of stuff that can be reused, and you’ll make a little cash in the process. Garage sales can be kind of a pain in the butt to prepare for, from sorting through all your stuff, pricing everything, getting the word out, and then waking up before the sun on a Saturday, but the payoff is usually worth it.

Visit my blog post from last January that details how to host your own garage sale.


Online Exchanges

If a garage sale isn’t your thing, try selling items individually online through Facebook marketplace groups (my husband's site of choice!) or other exchange apps/websites like Ebay, Letgo, or Craigslist.

And if you exchange goods within Lafayette, take advantage of the new safe exchange location in the Lafayette Police Department parking lot, thanks to Councilwoman Liz Webb Hebert! The spaces are surrounded by cameras that capture images of the transaction, along with vehicle license plates. The goal of the safe exchange location is to make buyers and sellers feel more at ease while making sale transactions.

Household Items

Donate household items to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. They accept furniture, appliances, working light fixtures, home decor, hardware, and even some construction material. They’ll also pick up larger items if you call and schedule a time with them. If you're remodeling at home, donate old fixtures still in working condition - including fans, sinks, cabinets, or lighting. (The ReStore is also a great place to purchase items!)


If you’re decluttering later in the year, donate your stuff to Hospice of Acadiana for their annual thrift sale. Check out my blog post from last fall on the annual thrift sale. Last year, they accepted:
  • Baby and toy items 
  • China/crystal/collectibles
  • Christmas and Mardi Gras decor
  • Garden/outdoor items
  • Home decor
  • Jewelry/boutique items
  • Kitchen items
  • Small appliances
  • Linens
  • Bath items
  • Small furniture pieces
  • Wall art

Random, Miscellaneous Items

Freecycle! Offer good items to friends, family or neighbors. You never know who may be in need of something, and on the flip side, you never know when they might have something you need.


A few months back, I cleaned out in my office's copy room, and realized just how many notepads we had stored up that no one used. I simply posted a photo on my Facebook profile asking if anyone needed some spares, and the stack was spoken for within a day! Although the paper is all recyclable, I didn't want to dispose of perfectly usable items, and I knew that there would be places who would gladly accept free notepads.
 

Books, CDs, DVDs

The Friends of the Lafayette Public Library is a nonprofit organization that manages donations and runs a semiannual book sale to raise funds for the Lafayette Public Library.

Located next to United Way of Acadiana on Pinhook, and equipped with a handy dropbox, the Friends take books, CDs and DVDs, but not encyclopedias, textbooks or magazines.

Textbooks

Last year, I researched where to recycle textbooks, because it can be difficult to find somewhere to send them. While I believe many college textbooks these days are digital, there's still a good chance you've got paper textbooks taking up space at home.

Household Cleaners, Paint, Pesticides, and Chemicals

Collect any household cleaners, pesticides, paint or chemicals for Lafayette’s semiannual Household Chemical Day. Typically held in spring and fall, the event is open to residents of Lafayette and unincorporate areas of the parish. The collected materials are recycled or properly disposed.
  • Chemical cleaners
  • Gasoline
  • Herbicides
  • Mercury thermometers
  • Paint and paint products
  • Paint thinner and stripper
  • Pesticides
  • Photographic chemicals
  • Pool chemicals
  • Stains
  • Turpentine
 

Electronics

Bring your electronic waste to Household Chemical Day as well, or bring items (like old computer monitors, keyboards, cords, cell phones or phone chargers) to Best Buy or Office Depot.

Electronic items that are accepted at Household Chemical Day:
  • Laptops
  • Computer hardware
  • Computer accessories
  • Telephones and telephone systems
  • Cell phones/bag phones
  • Security systems
  • DVD movies and video games
  • MP3 and DVD players
  • XBoxes, Playstations, Wii
  • Digital cameras and DVRs
  • Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)
  • Circuit boards (any type)
  • Networking equipment
  • Fax machines
  • Processors
  • Telephone and computer cables
  • Printers
  • Toner and ink jet cartridges
  • Stereos
  • Portable GPS devices
  • Flat screen monitors

Recycling information for these items (through medication) is courtesy of Lafayette Consolidated Government.

Televisions and computer monitors smaller than 32"

Best Buy
Office Depot (fees may apply)

Rechargeable Batteries

Best Buy takes lithium ion only
Batteries Plus


Automotive Batteries

Louisiana Scrap Metal
Most Automotive Stores (AutoZone, Firestone, Advance Auto Parts, Pep Boys)

Motor Oil or Antifreeze

Most automotive stores
Wal-Mart

Compressed Gas Cylinders

Ameri-Gas: 2317 N. University Ave.

Tires

Public Works South District Yard, 1017 Fortune Road (ph: 291-7072) (page 11 of the LCG Pride Guide)
Colt Inc. Scrap Tire Center

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

Home Depot
Lowe's


Appliances

Louisiana Scrap Metal
Once a month curbside collection (check LCG's Bulky Waste map for your designated week)

Fire Extinguishers

Gulf Land Fire Safety Inc., Carencro, La.

Medication

Most local pharmacies (call ahead)

Mardi Gras Beads

Donate them to LARC or Arc of Acadiana. Both organizations repair and resell beads, providing employment and proceeds for people with developmental disabilities. This is one of my favorite things to do every year after Mardi Gras, so that beads can be reused and not trashed. (And if you're riding on a Mardi Gras float - purchase your beads from one of the two retailers!)

In Lafayette, if you're going to be at Le Festival de Mardi Gras at Cajun Field, drop your beads in the truck near the stage - all collected beads go to LARC for sorting, repairing and reselling.



Plastic Bags

As I wrote more about in last week's Photo Friday post, recycle your plastic bags at:



As always, be sure to check with any organization to confirm they can accept your donations or items for recycling - before you load up the car.

Is there an item you want to get rid of that isn't in the list above? Leave a comment here, or email me, and I'll do some research for you, and add it to the list!
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Photo Friday | Recycling Plastic Bags

In the spirit of the new year, I wrote a column this week for the local newspaper Times of Acadiana on how to recycle and donate when decluttering your home. (Read the column here!)

Next week here on the blog, I'll expand on the column and have a more comprehensive list of where you can donate just about any item in your home.

And for today's Photo Friday, we're tackling one of the most annoying items: the mountain of plastic bags that never seems to go away!

Many grocery and department stores have bins near the front door that are dedicated to collecting plastic bags for recycling. Simply bring your bags to the store, and drop them inside the bin before doing your shopping.


Offhand, in Lafayette, I know that Rouses, Albertson's and Target have bag recycling bins near their front entrances. In Abbeville, head to Robie's to drop off your bags.

My nearby grocery store participates in the Bag-2-Bag closed loop recycling program. The bags are processed and made into new plastic bags.

http://novolex.com/sustainability/bag-2-bag
Graphic: Novolex

While I always stress the importance of reusing plastic bags if you have them in the first place, these recycling programs are the best way to do something responsible with ripped plastic bags.

Right around the beginning of the year, I sorted the plastic bags in our house and kept the intact bags for cat litter scooping and bathroom trashcan liners. Any torn or holey plastic bags went in my car to be dropped off at the grocery store, shown above.

So, with 30 minutes of effort (not counting the time it took me to drive to the store), I was able to declutter a bunch of torn plastic bags and send them off to be recycled!

Does your favorite store accept plastic bags for recycling? Let me know in the comments, and I'll be compiling a list and map of stores in Acadiana where you can recycle your plastic bags easily! (And where you can receive discounts for using cloth bags!)
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Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Perfume and Cologne

A signature scent can be a very powerful thing to have, and scents can create strong associations with different stages in life. I mean, we all remember those Cool Water, Very Sexy, and Axe days, right?

But so many popular perfumes and colognes these days rely on artificial fragrances and chemicals, so while they smell good, they can really be bad for us.

However, you can still find your signature scent while spritzing yourself every morning with a fragrance free of parabens, phthalates and other synthetic materials (and I may or may not have typed psynthetic at first...)


By doing a little online research, and utilizing the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database, you can find out whether your favorite scent, or the one you're eyeing at the store, makes the health grade.

About seven years ago, while shopping at Sephora, I tested the Vanilla Grapefruit perfume by Lavanila, and instantly fell in love. It was clean, not too strong but not too faint, not overly girly, and very unique. And all the products Lavanila makes use natural ingredients and are free of parabens and phthalates. (And by the way, their Vanilla Blackberry scent is even better, yet seemingly hard to find these days. I'll be holding on to my rollerball as long as possible!)


I'd been alternating my daily perfume between Lavanila and my go-to Burberry Brit, until I wrote a blog post on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database, and learned just how harmful its ingredients can be. Since then, I've stuck to using my more natural perfume each day (and a few days I'll change it up, since I don't want to waste the Burberry I do still have.)

And yes, I know I'm running out. My bottle of Vanilla Blackberry is on its way!


And of course, for our wedding, I had to use my signature eco perfume. It was the perfect complement to my natural makeup and our garden ceremony setting.



But of course, there are tons of different brands available that make natural fragrances, although I haven't smelled these on my own.


Maybe perfumes and colognes aren't your thing. That's okay! While many natural perfumes use essential oils as a base, you can eliminate the middle man and simply use essential oils as your fragrance.


Just be sure that whichever oil you choose, it doesn't cause a reaction on your skin. Choose ones that don't have to be diluted with a carrier oil.

You can even transfer essential oils to handy rollerballs for easier application. They're super easy to carry in your bag for daily use.

You don't have to sacrifice an amazing fragrance when you commit to cutting out harmful ingredients. Instead, you'll find one that smells amazing and makes you feel good inside!
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Photo Friday | Bucket List

What. A. Week! Who else is super relieved it's Friday evening?

Yesterday, I posted our Hawaii trip recap, but I had to save the highlight for its own post. When we visited Hawaii two years ago, I looked up zipline adventures with hopes that we would be able to do one. Although we had the most active and fun week, we weren't able to fit ziplining in. When we started making the plans for this trip with the family, I mentioned my bucket list goal of ziplining, and we ended up booking an adventure with everyone.

After three hours at CLIMB Works - Keana Farms, a lot of sun, two homegrown tomatoes, an apple banana, and a lot of laughs, we all left talking about how amazing the afternoon was, and we all already want to go back. It was one of the most fun experiences I've had, and I'm even more ready to visit Costa Rica and zipline through the jungle there.



The seven zip lines on the CLIMB Works course start up on a mountain and work their way down, giving you views of mountains, windmills, a large farm, palm trees, banana trees, and the North Shore. What I especially loved is that each line had a different view. Every one was a different distance, with the longest one coming in at almost half a mile long. We were definitely instructed for that one to ride normal and enjoy the view! Some were higher up than others, truly giving us the sense of flying over the tree tops.




Keana Farms, below the ziplines, grows papaya, apple bananas, taro, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and more. With the exception of basil, all of the fruit is sold only to Hawaii vendors, keeping it local.


Adding to the adventure, we rappelled down two different platforms, and rope-climbed up to another platform. The scariest part of the entire day was going for the first rappel, because I can never bring myself to step where there is nothing beneath me, ha. However, the system that CLIMB Works has can put you at ease, because it'll catch you and lower you down.

The rope climb certainly put my yoga practice to use, and I refused to let the guides pull me up, because #girlpower (even if it took me about 45 minutes to get to the top, ha!)


Safety is definitely a priority, and we were all always latched to something while on the platform. The company has also patented a braking system, so there's no worry about coming in too hot, ha! And none of us got stuck in the middle of the zipline, so that was an accomplishment.

At each platform, there would be an infographic sign talking about different elements of the surrounding land. I loved learning a little more about the nearby Kahuku Wind Farm, which produces about 2% of Oahu's energy needs.





Oh, and none of us lost our sunglasses, cell phones, helmets or lunch! :D (If you do zipline, only bring your phone if you have zippered pockets, like my husband thankfully did - which is the only reason we had my phone for photos in the first place!)



And, for about the third video I've ever edited in my life, here's some of the footage from our GoPro of our amazing afternoon at CLIMB Works! (Happy New Year, y'all, and don't expect videos every Friday in 2017!)



If you're planning a trip to Oahu, set aside a day to head to the North Shore, and book a trip at CLIMB Works! It is SO worth it. (And this ain't even sponsored!)

In the meantime, follow CLIMB Works on Instagram to make yourself just a little jealous.
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A Mele Kalikimaka indeed

It's taken a few days, but I'm getting back into my regular work week/real world rhythm...so of course, let's reminisce on our holiday trip to Hawaii!


My husband and I ended up waiting until the Christmas holiday to take our honeymoon, and we chose Hawaii because his brother, sister-in-law and niece live there, and we could combine a honeymoon with a family visit for Christmas. We spent the first three days by ourselves exploring Kauai, then the next seven days on Oahu, where Phillip's dad and stepmom joined us.

Phillip and I love to maximize our vacations, exploring and doing as much as we can. Our goals were to hike, go to the beach, find awesome views, and eat all the poke bowls, and I'm pretty satisfied that we accomplished everything.

In addition, I was determined to make the trip eco-friendly, especially since Hawaii is committed to a clean environment and preserving their natural areas.


Traveling

Airports can certainly be some of the most wasteful places and parts of a trip. Although I'm not great about packing snacks ahead of time (although I did bring home a half-empty bag of sweet onion-flavored mac nuts), I was prepared for drinks with a water bottle and insulated kanteen. My insulated kanteen held lots of much-needed coffee courtesy of the United Clubs. Filling my water bottle at airport fountains saved me from needing a single-use cup of water while on board.



One time I still had single-use? An airplane bottle of sparkling wine. Hey, it was 11am, and we were on our way to our honeymoon! #treatyoself As long as United actually recycles everything in those blue bags like they promise they do...


On our trip home, we had a layover in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. I love that SFO has not only recycling bins next to the trash cans, but also compost bins and waste water bins.

Yoga

Now, y'all know yoga in Hawaii was on the top of my personal goals list. As soon as we booked those plane tickets, I had a Google Keep checklist (go paperless!) started with the different poses I wanted to photograph during our 10 days.

As much as I love my regular hot yoga classes in the little dark room at my gym, not much beats doing a few poses against a Christmas morning sunrise, on an empty beach, or on a zip line platform (and in an international airport's little dark yoga room).

 





 
 

Each morning, I started off on the lanai doing a few sun salutations before we got started with our daily adventures, to warm up and clear my head a bit.

Hiking

One of my favorite parts about our last trip to Hawaii were all of the different hikes we went on, so I was extremely excited for a few new trails, and some of the same ones. While on Kauai, we had plans to hike a portion of the Kalalau Trail on the famous Na Pali Coast. However, the trail was closed while we were there due to construction.

So instead, we headed to the southern part of the island to hike the Canyon Trail in Waimea Canyon. It was incredibly worth it. Having never been to the Grand Canyon, it was amazing to see the place known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It took Phillip and me about an hour to drive the road leading to the trailhead, because we kept stopping at every small lookout to take pictures. The trail itself was challenging enough to be fun, but not too intense.

 


Back on Oahu, we hiked Kokohead as a family, and enjoyed the Christmas tree placed at the top of the mountain. And that's how you know you're in Hawaii hiking on Christmas Eve. However, going down the stairs proved to be more difficult than going up, ha.


And on Christmas morning, my husband, brother-in-law and I got up ridiculously early to hike the Lanikai Pillbox trail. But when you're rewarded with a spectacular sunrise, you know exactly why you were awake at 4:45 and walking a trail at 6:15 by the flashlight on your cell phone. Did I play Mele Kalikimaka three times on the way back down the trail? You bet Santa's butt I did!


Can I pick a favorite of the three hikes? Definitely not.

Other Adventures

After we hiked the Canyon Trail, we stopped at Glass Beach on the southern side of Kauai. It's a small beach in an industrial area (and near a solar farm), and some of the "sand" is actually small, smooth bits of sea glass, from glass bottles and whatnot. It's not much, but it made for a few good photos.


While I know I could have done more, I did pick up litter that we came across to do my very small part!


On our first evening in Kailua, we encountered a group riding Christmas light-decorated bicycles, making me highly jealous.


And, because we're totally cat people, here is our sweet Air BNB kitty. She lives outside at the home and greeted us every time we arrived back. She's totally Dax's new long-distance girlfriend.


Shopping

Last year, Oahu became the last island in the state of Hawaii to ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores, although this article states that thicker plastic bags are considered 'reusable' and are still given out. I had packed one cloth shopping bag for the trip, and ended up buying another in Kailua, so we were able to conserve on many of our shopping or errand trips.

Many stores we visited promoting patrons bringing their own reusable bags - and the selection of cloth bags in stores was to die for. I seriously could have bought another 30 cute bags and donated all my existing ones.




Just as at home, I like to shop local while on vacation. On both Kauai and Oahu, we found a lot of great local stores for our souvenirs and gifts. Some of my favorite items are my Project Aloha super-soft t-shirt, my organic cotton Dwell on Positive Thoughts tank top from Lily Lotus, recycled newsprint gift wrap from Wrappily (a company based in Maui), and locally made soap and chapstick, macadamia nuts and macadamia honey coconut peanut butter from the different shops at the Waialua Sugar Mill.

Travel Tip: If you visit Oahu, take a trip to the North Shore, eat at Dat Cajun Guy (it's legit), and head out to the Waialua Sugar Mill. The former sugar mill now houses a variety of small, locally owned retailers, and it's super peaceful and charming. When we went, it wasn't crowded at all, making us feel like we'd stumbled upon a true hidden gem.

Eating

Dining is probably the area where we were least eco-friendly. While we ate at local restaurants (many of them awesome little hole-in-the-wall places), many of the places used disposable trays and containers. But...at least none of it was styrofoam. I certainly ate my weight in poke bowls and regret none of it, so I was glad that the plastic containers were at least recyclable.

The menu at the Kona Brewing Co. pub in Hawaii Kai shared some of the many ways the brewery reduces, reuses and recycles.


Beyond the packaging and single-use chopsticks, I have to say, all of the food we ate was incredibly delicious. In Kapaa, Kauai, we had lunch at Kenji Burger, and I am still dreaming about the furikake fries. We had this Japanese seasoning blend atop a poke bowl and these fries, and it was enough to send me to the grocery store for a jar to bring home (where I then sprinkled it on egg salad and grilled chicken. #noregrets)


And I discovered a local Hawaiian brew whose mango saison is incredible (and only available in variety packs, of course.)

Organizations

Ever since our last trip to Hawaii, I've been following Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and 808 Cleanups. Both groups are incredibly active in cleaning up both popular and remote beaches and trails, for the health and beauty of the islands. They do so much good work, although it's not glamorous or easy. They also work to educate children about the importance of cleanliness.



This pile of fishnet was sitting at Flagpoles in Kailua, and volunteers with 808 Cleanups came by a day or two later to cut it up and haul it away. The groups do a lot of work rescuing litter like this from the water and beaches around the islands.

 

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii also worked successfully to bring a trash water wheel to the Ala Wai canal, a very polluted waterway in Honolulu.

Although I didn't get a chance to meet anyone from the organizations, I did show my support by picking up a SCH canvas tote bag from the Kailua General Store. I used it as my shopping bag for the remainder of the trip, plus, it served as a beach bag one day, and as a carry-on for a few extra items on the trip home.



Tomorrow, I'll share more about our favorite activity from the trip: zip lining through the forests, over farms, with a view of windmills and the ocean! Okay, maybe I'm the only one who was in awe of zip lining with a view of windmills.









 

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