Vacationing Via Cruise Is Easy; But Watch Out For The Plastic Straws

It has been a while since I posted.  It has been a combination of being very busy at work and very lazy once I get home.  I thought I would post today about our most recent vacation.

Last month I took a vacation and I had wanted to try being Zero Waste as much as possible.  There were some successes and some failures.  But overall, I have learned a few things that I will try for next time.

My husband and I took a cruise on the Norwegian Jade.  It was perfect timing and I really needed a vacation.  I needed a reason to not think about work for a week. Also, to be able to eat and not clean up.

Typically, I only carry my luggage on because I hate the whole checking luggage process as it wastes a lot of time and is a huge inconvenience. This time my husband was going to check his luggage so I just put my stuff in with his.  One checked luggage between the two of us wasn’t bad; but it still created the checked luggage sticker waste that you can’t do anything with besides throw it away.  This was to and from.

We stayed at Best Western Plus JFK Inn & Suites in Houston for two nights in February; one at the beginning of our vacation and once at the end.  The stay was fair but the customer service was wonderful.   The downside of our stay here was that breakfast for my husband and I created a lot of waste since many things were individually wrapped and dishes were all paper and single use destined for the trash.  I couldn’t see any recycling stations for plastic waste so everything we created ended up in the trash.  I was selective in my food choices; but, everything created waste.  The juice comes in individual wrapped plastic containers, the coffee are single serving containers.  If you want a satisfying breakfast you will create waste.

Breakfast Waste

I had brought my reusable coffee cup which I forgot to bring down for breakfast.  I don’t have a zero-waste kit that has sustainable silverware so that is something I will invest in for my next trip.

Once aboard our cruise, we wander around a bit to see where we will be living for the next week.  If you have never cruised before, you should definitely give it a shot.  The food is amazing and there is plenty to do.

Norwegian Cruise

We sat down to lunch, and had our first adult beverage.  Thus far, I felt pretty good about the amount of waste I was producing daily.  Dinner comes out on glass dishware and we have fabric napkins.  We end up eating all they bring out.  Through the cruise dining, we find out that bread comes out with every dinner.  This fills us up before we get to the main course so we eventually request no bread every time we sit down.  We don’t want to waste food, if we can prevent it.

Another thing I noticed is ALOT of the bars on board serve drinks in plastic cups with straws.  I decide that I am not going to order any drinks that come in these cups.  My husband on the other hand did so we ended up producing about 10-15 drinks worth of plastic cups and straws.  Even when I put up a small fight about this with my husband he commented that he was here to enjoy himself and wasn’t going to worry about waste.  I couldn’t argue, could I?  I mean we were on vacation and I was arguing about a few plastic straws.  The cruise line did recycle so I stopped worrying about that.  I just decided to pick my battles.

We stopped at 3 destinations: Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize and Roatan, Honduras.

In Cozumel, we didn’t have anything to do so we just walked around the port area.  We did have an amazing lunch.  Best guacamole ever!

Mexico Lunch

In Belize City we took a bicycling excursion through the rain-forest.  When we made our decision on the excursion types we did, I wanted to choose the type where we were being sustainable and humane.  There were ATV excursions and horseback riding excursions.  I don’t want to produce excessive pollution and I didn’t know what kind of life the horses had so I didn’t want to support that.  Plus I like active excursions because on the ship, granted there is a gym, it’s easier to sit back around a pool than to run.  I needed to get some fitness in somehow.

On our bike excursion my husband got to sample a termite.  He ate a terminate.  I couldn’t fathom doing this.  Apparently they taste like mint?  Who’d have known.

We had some delicious local lunch (plantains are amazing).  We saw a little friend hanging out in the water while we were eating.

Crocadile

After lunch we had some time to relax by a pool in Belize City.  We chose a couple of comfy hammocks.

Hammock

On board the ship again for a couple of days we ate buffet for breakfast and lunch, listened to Bob Marley live music, hung out in the library to read and just relaxed.  It was awesome.

Our last stop was Roatan, Honduras.  It was such a lush island.  We did the Gumbalimba Park excursion.  We got to meet tropical birds and monkeys.  Going into this, me not liking monkeys, I was a bit concerned.  We did get to meet a few birds personally.

Honduras Tropical Bird

It rained the whole time we were out there.  The tour guide said to expect wet and stinky monkeys.  The first time they jump on your shoulder you aren’t really ready.

Honduras Monkeys

We have one more relaxing day before we arrive back in Houston.  We get to tour the Houston NASA Space Station as one final excursion.  We got to see Mission Control…

Mission Control

…and the NASA Training Center.

NASA Training Center

The vacation was much deserved and I learned a lot for my next vacation.

  1.  Be vocal.  Ask for no straws.  The first few times I have done this I get a confused look.  The more you do this the more confidant you will become and easier it will be.  Also, if you have an idea to make an establishment more sustainable, tell them.  I sent an email to the hotel in hopes they replace disposable plates with reusable ones.
  2.  Try new things.  I never thought I would have an enjoyable experience that includes monkeys.
  3.  Travel light.  Over packing only means you will have to unpack more things when you get back.  Most often you don’t need these extra things anyways.  Also, we washed our undergarments and socks in the sink (I brought laundry detergent with me) so I wouldn’t need to bring as much.
  4.  Instead of becoming upset when you are given a drink with a straw, use it as a learning experience and practice ways of asking for no straw.  This can pertain to anything, not just straws.
  5.  Bring along a zero-waste kit.  You can find these online before you travel.  It will take little space in your luggage and you will produce much less waste on your travels.

Do you have additional ideas on how to travel zero-waste?  I would love to hear them!

Some Fun Photos

I am no photographer, but I do love to take pictures.  I think sometimes I do have a good eye for a good shot. Most of the time it’s luck and a lot of patience.  Maybe that is the ingredients to a good photographer.  However, I do not intend on quitting my job and taking pictures for a living.  I do not have the patience to direct a photo shoot, let alone direct people.  But it’s fun to be proud of a good shot once you upload it to your computer.  Here are a couple of my favorites.  Some are recent, some are a little bit older but I came across it while I was searching for it.  I hope you enjoy!

My aunts kitty Fiona.

My foster kitty Pandora.  She got adopted into a loving home.

Duluth, MN in September.

Hay bales in rural Minnesota.

Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park.

Two of my furbabies, Hansel and Gretel.

Skyscrapers in downtown Minneapolis.

Maui Hawaii.

San Fransisco, near the Wharf.

June Photo Challenge

Do you know what is really green?  Partaking in a Photo Challenge.  It is a great way to entertain yourself without using gas.  This is my 2nd challenge and it is a lot of fun.  I wanted to share with you some pictures I have taken so far.

June 2nd: Empty

June 4th: Close Up

June 5th: Sign

If you are interested in participating in this challenge please go here.  I will continue to post as the challenge progresses.

My 30th Birthday Miami Beach

I wanted to do something big for my birthday since I was headed for the big 3-0.  I dreaded this day.  I can’t say why.  Honestly, now that I am 30 I don’t feel any different.  Anyways, so I went on vacation with a friend.  We both wanted a beach vacation so we went to South Miami Beach.  I was there before, but wasn’t impressed.  I realized that when I was there years ago we stayed in a less than ideal location.  This time, we booked a studio condo in south Miami Beach, not a hotel.  I prefer condos so we can eat in the rental as opposed to eating out for all meals.  I dislike eating out often so we bought foods we could eat in the condo.

I feel in love with Miami this time.  Miami has beautiful Art Deco architecture that I admire.  Seeing the buildings at night highlighted in neon is something that I have never seen before.

A couple of things we decided to do on vacation that is a little more green:

  1. We did not rent a car.  We stayed in a location we can walk everywhere.
  2. We didn’t watch TV.  You are on vacation, you don’t need a TV.
  3. We rented bikes to go to further locations.
  4. We took a bus to the airport.  It was cheaper and mass transit is greener.
  5. We recycled.
  6. We packed light.  Actually the first time I have traveled with only carry-ons.

Even when on vacation I am constantly reminded of my impact on the earth.  I try to live with the smallest footprint possible.  I have made a couple of decisions while on vacation.

  1. I want to start eating healthier.  My husband and I have subscribed a 2nd year to a CSA.  We get our organic veggies from a local farm.  Our veggies will travel a lesser distance to reach to us and it’s organic!
  2.  I also want to start composting again.  We used to have a machine that would compost here at home, but we weren’t impressed with the noises or smells that came from it.  We can drop off our veggie scraps at the yard waste collection sites spread out all over the city.
  3. I want to do more biking to get places as opposed to using a vehicle.  With gas going up, I want to save money and pollution by using my bike.

A week in the life….

I was in San Diego for a week of March.  My husband and I go there every year about this time to escape the awful winter.  For the past 9 years we have done all of the main attractions San Diego has to offer.  The San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Balboa Park, the Gaslamp District, the USS Midway, La Jolla, Fashion Valley, Coronado Island, Point Loma, Crystal Pier, Mission Beach and all of the fabulous restaurants along the way.  So this year we went with no plans except eating at all of our favorite restaurants and if something came up that we wanted to do, we did it.

Early in our stay we went to this cool restaurant called Cucina Urbana.  I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere.  It was designed with all re-purposed materials.  It was really inspiring seeing all you can do with waste.

Look at this cool wall that was made out of plywood.  I plan on making one of these with our leftover paint when I get a chance.

The main purpose of my blog is to re-purpose things and to make things that are green.  It is so nice to see restaurants take the initiative to reduce waste.  While I was away on vacation I wasn’t able to post anything but I did get lots of ideas.  I will be posting these ideas shortly.

Eating was the main focus of our vacation, and of course visiting my in-laws which I always look forward to.  I didn’t get too many pictures taken because I have taken pictures of everything already.

We stay on Mission Bay, a walk from Pacific Beach.  Several of the neighbors who have dogs go on a group dog walk.  Sadly, the latter half of our stay was too cold and rainy otherwise I would have taken some fun pics from that.  The last night we were there it ended up being somewhat warm, so I did get a couple of good shots.

I thought this was a cute picture (above) with Ben’s mom holding up Abby, a Maltese. Below B. and Auggie.

I got a lot of shopping in.  I came to realize that I actually enjoy shopping for clothes for my husband more than me.  We went to Banana Republic, with no intention of buying, just to see what kind of clothes we can dress up my husband in.  We had a fun time with that.  My husband definitely enjoys letting me dress him up.  I actually got the okay to get him something pink.  Shocked!

On our last full day we went to a little dessert place called Krasney’s.

I think it would be so cool to own a store that serves desserts like this.  I would probably be hugely overweight though.  A dessert like that above is something we do once a year.  It is truly too pretty to eat.  Below is what I ate.

I was trying to stick to a low sugar diet just before vacation and during the first part.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick to it knowing that Krasney’s was coming up.  This was so worth it though.  I am back to struggling with my sugar addiction.  It is definitely a tough one to break.

Most of our vacation we spent relaxing, reading, shopping and eating.  That is what vacation should be about, right?

My Unique Wedding Experience

One of my good friends, Nadine married herself.  Yes I said it.  You may wonder how that’s possible.  She sent me a link about a year ago to a website on how you can go about throwing yourself a wedding.  She asked me if I would be a guest.  I didn’t hesitate.  Yes!

For a while it seemed forgotten.  Then a couple of months ago I got an excited voice messaging saying the wedding was on and she asked me to be her photographer.  My first time being a wedding photographer.

The ceremony was similar to a typical wedding but excluded the groom.  The purpose of the wedding wasn’t to commit to another person. It was to commit to oneself.  During the vows, Nadine repeated, “I promise to love myself like I love those whom I most treasure.  I promise to kick my own ass when I need it and not expect others to do it for me.  I promise to accept that I am totally responsible for my own happiness,” and so on.

In reality, we all want these things for ourselves too.  Most of us decide not to go as far as marrying ourselves and treating ourselves good usually comes last.  I respect Nadine for going through with the wedding even if there were some who didn’t support it.   This wedding inspired me to treat myself with a little more kindness and to take responsibility for my happiness, like the vows said.

After the vows were said Nadine presented herself a ring that had significance to her.  She uses this ring to remind her of the vows she promised herself.  Several guests offered readings and funny stories to the bride.  And, instead of the symbolic kiss to a husband, Nadine and the audience blew kisses to the whole world.

Nadine had over 40 close family and friends attend the wedding. Everyone there supported her, chanted with her and kissed the world with her in her yoga-New Orleans themed wedding. I was proud to be a part of her special day. <3

A reception included a couple of king cakes in traditional New Orleans fashion (the honeymoon choice of the bride).  Guests chatted over cake, hot tea or coffee while they wandered through the ECCE art gallery in downtown Fargo.

To the brides surprise, the local paper caught wind of this unique wedding and wanted to feature it in the Fargo Forum.  A couple of days later it made the front page.  There has been a lot of media attention on this type of ceremony.  Some people may find it silly but to me, it’s an inspiring way to show to the world that you love yourself.

A Winter Wonderland

I have been very busy making homemade paper today.  While I wait for it to dry, I want to share some pictures I took this morning.  We had 2 full days of fog, and today it was a winter wonderland.  I am usually late to get these types of pictures, but today I managed to get a few good shots.  I really love the contrast of the dark bark to the snow white branches.

It is not often that I get out to take pictures.  Actually my camera usually hibernates through the winter because it’s too cold to be outside.  But Fargo has had an unusually mild winter this year.  We broke many records by being warmer than any time in history.

This time of year seems to be the slowest.  We usually have 5-6 months of cold winter.  I always look forward to my late winter vacation to get away from Fargo for a week.  One full week on the bay of San Diego.  Can’t get any better than that!  Mostly I am excited to see my mother-in-law.  I only get to see her once, maybe twice per year.

The only other parts I love about winter, besides this beautiful photography, is hot chocolate, skiing and getting stuffed at Christmas.  But, I cannot wait until spring.  That is my favorite season.  There is a sense of renewal during spring.  Time to clean up, and start gardening.