6 Things I’ve learned attempting plastic free July

Beach covered in plastic rubbish (Lap Sap Wan), New Territories, Hong Kong, China. Reference: matthewwilliams-ellis.com

1. ITS EVERYWHERE

This is something I did realise prior to the challenge but it has absolutely been engrained in me more so now. How’s the guilt walking into the supermarket and seeing more than half of the fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic(unnessecary) as well as hummus, biscuits, breads, frozen berries, PB, dried fruit, grains, pasta etc etc etc could literally go on forever.

2. Farmers markets are the way to go

This makes such big difference in a number of ways:

-Supporting local business’ which I am so for post Australian bushfires and mid pandemic. They deserve our dollar. Not these overseas multi million dollar companies

-Its better quality and I really do think better budget wise

-A whole lot less plastic, I still see a ridiculous amount of items such as mushrooms in a plastic bag with a plastic tie right next to a paper bag full of mushrooms? But generally I think there is less plastic. I’ve even asked stall holders if they’ll recycle the container/plastic bands if I buy the produce and they’ve been fine with it. Unsure if this is okay during covid but hoorah for less landfill.

3. So many people are unaware

I am 25 this year and i’d like to assume most people I associate myself with (20-35) have a pretty good understanding around single use plastics… definitely not the case. It’s really hard biting your lip/not overreacting because NONE OF US ARE PERFECT. But to see people still getting plastic straws with their drinks whilst out or using glad bags/cling wrap on a daily basis….. WOT πŸ™ these people unfortunately don’t know any better/ the repercussions this has and that’s OKAY. We all could do with more education on this topic but the more we work together and share the knowledge the better off we will be. “Its not about all of us being perfect, but all of us being imperfect” I love that quote. And that is where we will see change.

4. Cornstarch tooth brushes are the BOMB

Again like many other humans that are lucky enough to have the money to buy oral hygiene products I have been buying plastic toothbrushes for years. They say we go through 300 toothbrushes in our lifetime. That’s a whole lot of plastic sticks chilling on beautiful coastlines around the world. I’ve also read that plastic tooth brushes take 400 YEARS TO BREAKDOWN compared to cornstarch toothbrushes taking just 12 months! Bamboo are a good idea too but cornstarch seem to last longer, feel more sturdy and keep cleaner! Personal preference.

5. Let glass jars be your bestfriend

Glass jars are amazing! I’ve been using them for homemade coffee scrubs, pot plants, toothbrush holders, trail mix containers, iced coffee cups, bobby pin accumulators lol and to store all of my dry goods in the pantry! If you can ever purchase something eg: peanut butter in a glass jar over a plastic container- do it! So useful in the long run.

6. Every small difference counts

Pick up that chip packet that is making your left eye twitch or that mcdonalds cup(are they not everywhere?!) on your morning walk. If we all had the mentality ‘someone else can do it’ what would get done?! You’ll feel better for it, our streets will be looking more pristine and mama earth will thank you for it!

Lets all do our bit πŸ™‚

7 Things I learned during dry July

31 days of zero booze. Considering what has been consumed during this Covid period this was probably harder than normal. Is there anything better than a red during winter? Ooooooh aren’t we so lucky to have alcohol. So enjoyable and such a good time(when consumed with discretion :p)

In saying all of that though, it has been a really good detox. Something I want to avoid is burning out too early in life. I feel pretty passionate about health at the moment. I really want to take care of my skin as it ages and keep my body as hydrated as possible. Its pretty amazing how adaptable and resilient our ‘homes’ are- they deserve to be looked after.

1. You realise who your supportive friends are

This is definitely true. Hola to those that donated and gave me praise. I hope I’ve never made any of my mates feel uncomfortable due to not drinking, saying no to a drink etc. And I’m absolutely going to be more cautious of this now!

2. Drinking is expensive

SO IS SOFT DRINK!!!??? Lol, but yes alcohol is for sure double the price. It was probably a blessing not drinking during July as I definitely didn’t work a whole lot. It is crazy what they can charge at pubs for softdrinks, $5.50 for a soda water… suuuuuure. Had one or two fizzy drinks then i’d jump on the waters. WooOOoOo rager. It’s pretty insane that a few hundred dollars can be spent over a weekend on the piss.

3. Better for skin health

For myself, absolutely. I felt hydrated the whole month and skin was noticeably more plump. Alcohol really encourages the rosacea on my undereye area and adds some heat to my skin as well. Sandpaper lips vibes after a late night drinking. None of that in July.

4. Fresh mornings

I don’t really think I get horrible hangovers anyway, but the alertness every morning during the month felt great. Also slept really well majority of the month. I for sure have more of a broken sleep/earlier mornings when I am on the drink.

5. Better food choices

I think I remember just about everything I ate during this past month. Alcohol absolutely encourages my appetite (hate going out without eating) so i’d normally be having a big dinner and coming home with pizza 5 hours later. Health. Wealth.

Consumed less(crap) for sure, so many calories in certain beverages also. But hey its worth it every now and then.

6. More active

I have been using a habit tracker the past few months and its been really helpful when it comes to staying on track. 100% was more active as well as productive in July compared to the month of June. Only had 4 ‘less active’ days in the whole month and that’s pretty damn good for me!

7. Drinking activities are F.U.N

So many things are more enjoyable with a drink on hand. Full stop. and was still happy to be in a social setting without a drink. My partner and I did this together and im so glad, would be really hard not give in without the support!

If you’re thinking about it, do It- but have someone to join you. Drinking is a really good time and a very ‘social’ hobby. But it was also reassuring to know I am comfortable in a drinking atmosphere sober. Apparently our cells renew every 4-6 weeks. How cool is that. Alcohol free cells/body after a month, it really is so refreshing to take sometime off every now and then. It doesn’t have to be July either! Everything in balance brings us best results. Just being more consistent with the healthier side of things majority of the time πŸ˜›

How to: backpack healthier

I used to think of holidays/trips/vacations as a time to ‘binge’ and ‘eat whatever I wanted’. But when you happen to be away for longer periods of time this gets very old, very quickly. I’m sure we can all agree that food and trying different cuisines is the best part of travel(and the reason a lot of us do!). But when we are making better food choices and not over consuming we do end up enjoying our time away to the fullest extent! Peace out to feeling lethargic when there is so much we want to see and do. Here are a few things I’ve learnt with more recent trips πŸ™‚

  • Eat something green everyday

Definitely not super hard to achieve, and pretty easy to add to one meal of your day- but this will help with the upkeep of essential vitamins and minerals. Have a juice or smoothie with some kind of melon/spinach in the morning or add a side of buk choy to your dinner. So beneficial for our digestive systems and hydration!

  • Stay hydrated

Easy to achieve but also easy to forget. I will admit its harder in countries with foreign water systems(the plastic hurts our hearts, I know) but hydration, skin health and not passing out due to heat exhaustion is important too. Where you can- refill the plastic bottles. And where you cant- purchase and do your best to recycle. I’d even aim for 4 litres of water a day whilst backpacking, so much walking and if you happen to be like me… the occasional cuppla lunchtime beers. Clear spirits with soda and beers are probably your best options if you are going to… over indulge.

  • Rethink over indulgence

I’m all about making the most of free breakfasts at hostels and love a good buffet splurge every now and then. But possibly limiting REALLY over indulging in these free meals to once/twice a week will help curb that calorie intake and getting into a bad routine at the start of the day. Because when we eat shit in the morning= we generally eat shit for the rest of the day. Opt for all of the beautiful fresh fruit on offer, yoghurt and vegetable stir fries/soups if you happen to be in Asia, yummm.

  • Take a pack

Suitcases are all too easy, and kind of inconvenient if your hopping on and off multiple types of transport. Taking a pack travelling means you’re constantly carrying a bit of weight and its keeping you strong. Plus you can put any important documents/extra money in the pocket against your back- ain’t no pick pocketer getting in there.

  • Don’t Uber

We generally have extra time on our hands while we are away(depending on the trip). Walk to and from, you’ll see more of the region you are visiting and more walking= more calories burned= extra room for a second lunch. Cheering.

Hike when you can, swim when you can, go to yoga when you can. Make it a priority to move everyday while being away! You’ll see more of the gorgeous area that you are visiting, it doesn’t cost a cent and your body will thank you for it!

5 Tips to save for trips

It feels kind of ironic writing a blog about something ‘finance’ related due to the ‘rona and being semi unemployed myself… lets ignore that though πŸ˜‰ here are 5 tips that have helped me save money QUICK in the past, enjoy!

1. MOVE BACK IN WITH YOUR PARENTS

If you’re wanting to save for a longer trip I would highly recommend this. The money us millennials spend on rent is CRAZY! So if there is a way to cut your rent in half(or maybe you’ll be lucky enough not to have to pay anything at all) definitely make the move. Even if its only a few months. Probably not the most ideal situation for most of us but hey- its only temporary. Parents are generally super on board when it comes to helping us achieve goals like this anyway, I know mine are!

2. START SAYING NO

Unfortunately, especially with funds; we cant have our cake and eat it too. We really need to prioritise what’s important, and in this case its having enough coin to feel secure going away with! Going out every weekend isn’t going to impact our bank accounts in a positive way. Just say no. Your true friends will understand. Obviously don’t become too anti-social, but being home means you aren’t spending money(also say no to online shopping). Suggest different ideas to your friends, do a workout in a park together rather than paying for a hefty spin sesh, go on a picnic, invite friends to yours for a few beverages, visit a free museum etc. Do anything but go out for food and drink.

3. PACK YOUR LUNCH

This does go hand-in-hand with tip 2. But I’d say in Australia its not often you could buy lunch for under $15. A standard 5 day work week you’d be spending $75 on food… that’s a zip lining tour in NZ! If you didn’t buy lunch during the week for 6 months you’d save $1,800… return flights to South America! You get my gist. It adds up. Lunches are so easy to make and generally a lot healthier than what you’d purchase out anyway. Less take out bought also means less landfill. Beneficial for your wallet and the environment. Sold.

4. WALK MORE

Whenever you can during this ‘saving period’ do whatever you can to walk from A to B. This may not always be possible depending on where you are living, climate etc. But walking costs nothing and is so valuable for our health. If you have the time try to avoid driving/paying for public transport/Uber. And I would say you’ll be doing a mass amount of walking when you head away so this will prepare you for what is to come. More walking= more time to listen to travel related podcasts like my millennial money. Exercising + learning = winning.

5. HAVE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT

Probably the hardest task for us all… but probably the most rewarding. Sticking to budget you’ve promised yourself you’d stick to does wonders over time. Determine a realistic figure you can put away weekly, whether its $100 or $500. Just make sure you do this consistently. No if’s or but’s about it. Don’t cave for anything. It’ll be so worth it when you’re on the tarmac about to take off to your dream destination. You’ve got this!

What encourages you to save? What tips would you add to this list? Even ways to save money whilst travelling? Would love to hear πŸ™‚

This one time… in Guatemala

The only(known) hot waterfall in the world that flows into a body of cool water. This was incredible and needed after so many cold ‘suicide’ showers

A few years ago i flew to Guatemala city for a month with a mate I was living with in Canada. We basically had return flights booked and not much else. Was such a great way to do it as it was low season when we visited in October. Guatemala was a country I didn’t even know existed until we found cheap flights one day.

Guat’s had really good coffee, super friendly little(emphasis on both friendly and little lol) locals, it was so lush and green(reminded me of being back at home in the tropics!) and a VERY cheap country to travel. Wasn’t for the faint hearted though. It got hot. It is an extremely poor country. There wasn’t really a garbage system and go to transport options are basically busses(we had a 13 hr trip one day, never again). Wouldn’t change a thing though, such a memorable experience.

Blissing out after leaving the start of Canadian winter behind for black sand beaches and 30degree weather

My friend and I had previously done a bit of travel before this trip, but we weren’t oblivious to the fact that we were in what would most likely be considered a third world country. We were going to see some sh*t…

After being in town one day, we decided we’d attempt to walk back to our accommodation(a lot further than we had anticipated) and it started to get a little dark. A Toyota prado(boujee) pulled up beside us and offered us a lift, of course we said yes- it was a free ride with a stranger in a foreign country! Be crazy not to(wouldn’t recommend ppl). We get in and this local 50+ man is smiling but also shaking his head at the same time. We couldn’t really converse as not many locals knew English and we had minimal Spanish. Our driver started saying “arma, arma” which we knew was gun in Espanol… he literally ends up pulling this weapon from under his seat and waves it around. Our hearts sank… He could have killed us then and there. Turned out he was just warning us that it wasn’t a super safe area and lots of people were armed. Makes sense, it was Central America after all. He dropped us to our destination and we couldn’t stop thanking him and attempting to put Quetzal’s(local currency) in his console. He wasn’t having a bar of it and didn’t want a cent of our money. What a legend.

Eating the best homemade hummus and reading communal journal entries at a local cafΓ© in Lake Atitlan

After 478739 bus rides, we were sooooo over it. Probably myself more than my mate lol! We stopped at a hostel on the water for a cold brew. We ended up meeting an older bloke named Guy. Considering he 1) spoke English 2) was Canadian 3) had a bloody infectious personality- we ended up really getting along. He informed us he was headed to Belize in a few days via the water. Offered us two seats on a boat not a bus, we were in. Syd(mi amigo) and I didn’t actually end up telling our families what we’d decided just errrr… incase things went south. I texted my siblings and my parents a short and sweet ‘love you’ before we left the mainland as we didn’t have any service on the boat for four days. Not going to lie I was definitely nervous during the first night we had on the boat, and when I say boat it was basically a catamaran- it was bloody nice. We all had our own rooms and I made sure I locked mine. Turns out Guy was all too much fun. He’d had previous paying passengers(charged us maybe $200US, cheap) so he was super hospitable and quite the chef! We spent everyday playing music, tanning on the front nets, drinking beer and smoking joints. It was a damn wonderful time. A couple from Melbourne ended up joining us on the boat as well as a crazy Norwegian staff member/sidekick of Guy’s(shoutout Jules, Layla + Ruben) We all had a blast!

Guy is definitely yelling at us here for ‘steering wrong’ lol. Note that i apparently needed a pillow to sit on? Haha

After arriving in Belizean waters, we stopped at a very unofficial office in Ambergris Caye and handing our passports over. We got them back and headed to Caye Caulker, probably the coolest little island on earth. But that is a whole different story…

Looking back things could have gone either way, but spontaneity and taking soon to be friends up on offers like these definitely make(or break) your travels. It’s pretty crazy how much trust we can put into people we’ve briefly met, just go with your gut feeling I guess. Ended up that Guy our wild captain was in a boat accident later that year and unfortunately passed away. To think if we’d declined his proposal we wouldn’t have ended up spending a week with one of the most ridiculously insane people i’ll most likely ever come across. He was SO full of life, lived it right that’s for sure.

The whole crew. RIP mate.
Along with coffee, bananas and sugar are the main agricultural exported goods from Guatemala
Cleaning up a beach in the south west of Guatemala, El Paredon. I turned 22 this day.
All of the hammocks + corona’s

I would travel back to Guatemala 100% and cant wait to. I loved how unexpected and unpredictable the whole trip was. Made friends I’ve been lucky enough to see since, ate some really good + also really basic food, made me appreciate all of the small things we take for granted in our commonwealth countries, drank really cheap booze, picked up alot of Spanish along the way, got a good tan and most of all… HAD A BLOODY GOOD TIME!

Advantages of solo travel

This is definitely something we should all do once in our lives. Solo travel does wonders for our independence, self confidence and future friendships. You plan your OWN trip and do the activities YOU want to do. Personally I think there is nothing worse than travelling with someone you don’t travel well with(we’ve all been there), getting dragged around to places you’d rather not be(*cough* museums) or dealing with picky eaters that only want to eat at fast food restaurants we have at home, hell no.

To be honest I feel like most of us like the sound of this, but it is easier said than done. It can be intimidating meeting larger groups of people at hostels, because we are so much more comfortable when we are around humans we know. Makes total sense- but its time to get uncomfortable.

GETTING PREPPED

I’d suggest booking a flight, going to the airport and DOING IT because putting action towards these things are the best way to face our fears. But to build up some pre independent travel confidence:

  • Take yourself out for a meal- this can be daunting for sure but you’ll have to get used to this during your travels, so may as well start now. Bring a book or listen to a podcast(don’t be antisocial on your phone) while waiting for your food. Its a date with yourself. Its a positive thing and we really shouldn’t find this such a difficult thing to do.
  • Mutual friends- we all know someone that has a friend/cousin/uncle/school mate etc that lives in another country. Ask around, if you remember someone mentioning the country/area that you’re going to; pick their brains. There is a 99.9% chance they’ll know someone that you can meet up with while youre abroad. This offers you an instant friend and exploring these places with locals makes your trip so much more of a journey. Local insight is priceless. It makes them appreciate where they live even more, too.
  • Get advice from someone supportive- talk to a parent, sibling or friend that will install more confidence in you. Even better if you have someone around you that has made a simular move/decision. Don’t listen to people that will tell you its a bad idea, if its something you have your heart set on- do it. You’ve got this.

DURING TRAVEL

  • Befriend the person sitting next to you on the plane- this is a bit give or take but if you’ve struck up a conversation with a local you’ve hit the jackpot. It’s also funny how often you run into travellers that have been on the same plane as you. I’ve made some really good friends on flights.
  • SMILE- sounds slightly lame but we’re all attracted to happy people. If you look like your having a good time(which girllll, you will be) you’ll seem so much more approachable
  • Confidence is key- ‘fake it til you make it’ we’ve all heard 1000 times but very relevant motto in this circumstance. Wear what you want, go to the bars/markets/attractions you want to go to, start up conversations with random people. You most likely don’t know ANYONE in the country you’ve just arrived in. If there is a time to truly be yourself, its now πŸ™‚

Moral of this blog, just go. Solo planned trips really have brought me some of my most wild and wonderful friends. Rely on yourself. I promise it’ll be eventful. You’ll be amazed how many more friends you’ll make along the way without the security blanket of your friendship group at home. You’ve got this.

I am currently ISO BORED so if anyone has any blog topic suggestions i’d love to hear them, time is not of the essence. Hope we’re all safe and doing things to benefit ourselves at this time. All my love x