Yahoo! We have successfully hit 1000 miles! Between San Fran and San Luis Obispo, we hit the sunny and surfy Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and the breathtaking coastline of Big Sur. Cradled between endless rolling hills and vast blue ocean, it’s been nothing short of remarkable. We’ve gotten to visit many friends from our Catalina Island community and see many dolphins and whales frolicking about in the sea, making these very sunny stops even brighter.
While there’s so much we could say about these places, we’re choosing to focus on a different aspect of our trip all together. Enjoy the many pictures below while reading about our attempt to reduce plastic waste while traveling.
You may or may not have read that on our quest to minimize the amount of plastic waste we’re producing, we’re carrying all of our plastic trash until we reach San Diego. If items can be recycled* or composted, we carry them until we can responsibly dispose of them.
*We’re recycling glass and metal but considering all plastic unrecyclable, as sadly the majority of plastic that we put in the recycling bin is never actually recycled.
Following are some examples of how we’ve been tackling this. Consider using these examples as tips for yourself when you go food shopping or get take out. It becomes pretty easy once you get into the habit of paying closer attention!
A significant chunk of our plastic waste comes from food packaging in stores. We’ve been trying to minimize plastic packaging in a variety of ways:
Shopping at food co-ops or natural food stores likely to have local products and bulk sections.
We search along our route what towns may have coops and plan accordingly. We only get as much food as we want to carry until the next planned co-op stop.
Try to only buy from the bulk section.
In normal times, stores let you use your own reusable containers for bulk items. Now, most stores require an attendant to help you bag bulk items and require you to use new bags. We try to use paper bags as much as possible for bulk items, sometimes swiped from the mushrooms in the produce aisle. If there’s no alternative, we weigh our options, and sometimes forgo a product or bite the bullet and use the plastic bag for all it’s worth, reusing it for future products as we go along.
Buy produce without packaging and don’t bag it!
It’s going to be washed later anyways! We simply carry produce until putting it straight into our bags when we get out of the store. If you’re someone who likes to bag your produce, consider reusable produce bag options.
Besides plastic waste here are some other ways we’ve tried to lower our carbon footprint while food shopping:
Buy local products when possible.
The less distance a product has had to travel, the lower transportation carbon footprint that product has.
Buy organic when possible.
Regardless of any health benefits it may have for us, fewer pesticides mean fewer harmful chemicals put into our waterways and environment, and less energy consumed in pesticide production.
Another large amount of our disposable, single use plastic comes from restaurant food packaging. We’re big food lovers and don’t want to miss out on everything so we’ve found some ways to get the best of both worlds... yummy food with plastic free packaging.
Before ordering out, ask what kind of container the food or drink will be served in, and whether there’s another option.
For example, Kate loves bubble tea, which is usually served in a plastic cup, but could be requested to be served in the paper cups usually used for hot beverages, but which can be composted.
Sometimes we just scope out what kind of containers restaurants are using via people’s online review photos, or just looking at what people are walking out with. There is even an app, which is small scale now but that will hopefully gain traction, that reviews restaurants based on the eco-friendliness of their to-go containers: https://app.gojybe.com/home. Check it out! Add reviews!
The easier, but questionable in these times, option is to simply dine in the restaurant.
Many restaurants still have reusable utensils and plates, which is great as long as we can be outside.
Have your fanny pack reusable utensils along with you at all times!!
You never know when there’s going to be an opportunity to eat, so being able to refuse plastic utensils has been very helpful.
A very specific reminder.. When ordering ice cream, always remember to get an edible container, aka a cone, as opposed to a cup. (Trust me, we’ll never make this mistake again)
We’ve definitely forgotten sometimes, or the message has been lost somewhere along the line, and the trash we’re carrying has a sadly substantial composition of quite a few plastic forks.
1000 miles down the road and we can proudly say we’ve only closely filled one gallon sized ziplock, mostly consisting of granola bar wrappers which we still haven’t found an alternative for.
With some persuasion from fellow biker friends met along the trail, we’re considering a future post about the ever so tasty, hearty, light weight, and close to plastic free meals we’ve been making while on the road.