Many sustainable choices are also financially-savvy

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Photo by Oana Cristina on Unsplash

When it comes to plastic waste, my bathroom shelves rival the kitchen pantry. You name it, it comes sheathed in plastic: moisturizer, shampoo, razor, toothbrush, and feminine hygiene products. But our personal care doesn’t have to contribute to plastic pollution — and it shouldn’t.

As consumers, we hold tremendous collective power to shift demand and influence the types of products that companies produce. This year — in an attempt to do just that — I made a commitment to finish my existing personal care products and begin replacing them with plastic-free alternatives.

Plastic problems

The problem with plastic is simple: of the…

Science-based practices that benefit you & everyone around you

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Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash

Two years ago, I walked away from a toxic work environment. It was so emotionally taxing that it kickstarted my exploration of practices focused on reducing stress and boosting happiness.

I started with my physical health by developing a consistent exercise routine, improving my diet, and setting a regular sleep schedule.

My interest in Eastern traditions also led me to restart my yoga practice and join a meditation group. Meditation provided strategies for cultivating mindfulness. I learned that by focusing on my breath or sensations in my body, I could remain in the present moment. Mindfulness achieved through meditation is…

Climate & biodiversity take center stage

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Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash

Despite limited theatrical releases and cancelled film festivals, 2020 delivered several outstanding environmental films. Many focused on climate change — honing in on solutions that are literally below our feet and documenting efforts large and small to adapt to a changing world.

If there was a single theme of the year, 2020 was an ode to biodiversity — the variety and variability of life on our planet. Healthy, biodiverse ecosystems underpin many of the most impactful climate solutions. Moreover, biodiversity has recently gained recognition as an emerging indicator for both environmental and human health. …

We may not be ready to face it, but we must

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Bornean Orangutan, a critically endangered species. Rohitjahnavi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In what is being called the “sixth extinction,” one million animal and plant species now face extinction within the next few decades. A recent report by the World Wildlife Fund demonstrates that species population sizes have declined by nearly 70% since 1970. Some animal and plant populations in Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced a 94% decline.

Habitat loss, global trade, and climate change are major causes of these declines. These, in turn, are being driven by human population growth and changing consumption habits. In fact, as our population grows and incomes rise, the demand for Western diets heavy…

Let’s do our part to share and preserve our trails

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Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

The coronavirus lockdown has changed so much about how we live our lives. This is especially true when looking for recreational activities that are safe, enjoyable, and widely available. Most health officials have indicated that outdoor activities are some of the safest options given the effects of wind and sunlight on viral particles. As a result, many people have taken to exploring their local hiking trails or camping out in the wilderness for the first time.

For new and regular hikers alike, it’s essential to be aware of the unspoken rules of the trail. Between individual health concerns and soaring…

The cognitive biases holding us back

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In his Atlantic article, “America is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral,” Ed Yong presents a shrewd analysis of America’s many failures in addressing Covid-19. He traces these back to cognitive biases, such as false dichotomies and magical thinking, that have hamstrung our response since March. Many of these same faulty thinking patterns have been present in our national discourse on climate change for decades.

Scientists began measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide over 60 years ago. The data demonstrate rising concentrations of greenhouse gases correlated with industrialization. By 1988, NASA director James Hansen testified in a historic US Senate hearing that, with…

This calls for a shift in shopping habits

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(Photo/Brian Yurasits on Unsplash)

July coincides with a global campaign to raise awareness about plastic pollution. If you are like me, you hold a piece of plastic in your hand countless times a day: packaging, disposable cups, food wrappers, toothbrushes, pill bottles, and the list goes on. As a result, plastic pollution is so ubiquitous that it is hard to imagine how we can solve this problem.

Yet collectively as consumers, we hold profound power over local businesses and multinational corporations alike. They have an acute interest in the choices we make and how we spend our money. …

10 essential items for an effective emergency pack

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Photo: Patrick Hendry/Unsplash

When I moved to Washington, DC a few years ago, I immediately realized that I lived in a global city. Not just the U.S. capital, but the center of American politics, policy and foreign influence. I had moved from Houston, a city that subsequently experienced record-breaking flooding over three consecutive years.

The unique risks of living in these cities crystalized the need to be prepared for emergencies. No matter where you live, the modern world faces more frequent natural disasters, increasing security concerns, and heightened political uncertainty. To prepare for these challenges, it’s important to have a go-bag ready and…

Advice for job seekers on moving forward in difficult times

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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” — Douglas Adams

Chances are you or someone you know has been laid off over the last few weeks. In mid-March, state and local governments ordered non-essential businesses closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. This economic lockdown has led to America’s largest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. I know this all too well because I was laid off in April, marking the second time I’ve been unemployed in a year.

Even in the best of times…

Doing good for the environment can be a win-win

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Here’s what we know: Americans use more energy than we need. Evidence of our excess can be found on our plates, in our homes, and in our choices. The U.S. outpaces the developed country average for waste generation by 41% and energy consumption by 65% (OECD and World Bank data). We waste an estimated $160 billion worth of food every year, a staggering amount that comes out of our own pockets.

These trends don’t just hurt individual finances, they also contribute to the larger issue of climate change. Two-thirds of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are linked to food production, heating/cooling…

Sarah R.

Sustainability-minded writer, climate activist & outdoor enthusiast. @Sarah4Terra

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