As we close out Plastic-free July, I wanted to do a little send off with some great tips to help remind us that we aren't finished yet. This is a journey we need to be on for awhile, and we need to bring as many friends with us as we can! Morgan Knowles has been working hard on creating her own zero-waste lifestyle for a lot longer than the last 2 months, and I thought she could share some great tips and reminders for whatever level you're at right now!
It is such a pleasure to introduce this beautiful soul, Morgan Knowles or @Mo_seas_. We met through some mutual friends and have been itching to collaborate ever since. I am so inspired by her passion and commitment to the ocean, and I know that you all will be too! This is my interview with her below, but you will find a link at the end to check out her GORGEOUS, BRAND-SPANKING-NEW website for your enjoyment, with in-depth tips on ways to go plastic-free, and a short interview she did with me!
So Morgan, tell us more about yourself...
Morgan: Originally, I fell in love with coral reef ecology in college studying my B.S. in marine sciences and continued to graduate school to follow my dreams of being a scientific mermaid. Unfortunately, after leaving hat pristine reef, I was disgusted by how polluted our reefs were becoming. It was like someone just dumped all their crap and fishing gear on the reef (I even found myself freeing a nurse shark from a hook embedded in its mouth with a 10ft wire leader. Don't EVER do that…I wasn’t being smart). It struck a hard nerve in me and I decided to dedicate the rest of my graduate research into investigating marine debris on the Florida reef tract and our local beaches.
Since then I have been BUSY! I volunteer my time working with local and state municipalities on single-use plastic and marine minded legislation. I am a part-time environmental educator with a local non-profit Youth Environmental Alliance educating the youth on all things environmental. I also get my marine education on with eco-tour snorkeling, SUPing and kayaking, and some other marine side jobs. Because my schedule is so open and i have room for more, ::she says sarcastically:: I try to squeeze in some music time, hanging with my puppy niece and exploring the great outdoors.
Why are you so passionate about making the switch?
Morgan: Practically everyone I spoke to outside of the natural sciences and environmental field had NO CLUE what was really happening. Ya, people complain about trash on the side of the road, but no one is talking about MASSIVE INFLUX of debris piling in our ocean basins. Tens of tons of debris finding its way into the oceans every minute and no one was moving a muscle. I realized this crisis was not going to go away anytime soon and I had a deep gut-wrenching feeling that it was my job to help stop the ignorance.
Not many people get to see what I see at ground zero. I get to hang with critters in places 99% of people will never see first-hand. The only ones seeing it are those who are in it nearly every day. Divers, ocean explorers, scientists, surfers, outdoorsy types, adventurers, wildlife buffs, and wilderness folk would all agree.
Once people started sharing those awful heart-breaking images and videos from a few years back of marine life tangled, choked, strangled and disfigured from debris did people start paying attention ::cue Sarah McLachlan singing “Arms of an Angel”::.
Why did I need to break your heart and rip your soul from your body to make you care about your home? Why did it take that photo of the albatross chick photographed by Chris Jordan (you can get his images free if you go to his site) with a belly full of plastic for you to stop buying single use water bottles? Or that turtle with the straw in its nose? It will never quite sit right with me.
Anyway, I made the switch to change the current trajectory written in the scientific literature. II am not perfect. I don’t know it all. But I am still learning. I am still a student of the plastic-free, zero-waste, sustainability train and I always will be. I want to continue to test my limits through trial and error, keep exploring and help the blue world around me and save the world one clam at a time.
It seems like you are always improving on ways to be more conservation-minded, what is your latest goal? I saw those toilet wipes!
Morgan: Ya, you are so right. it is an ever-evolving oceanic amoeba! Always changing, shape-shifting, adapting to its environment. Things change, people change, new advances in tech combined good old-fashioned reusables make for an ever-changing lifestyle journey.
So, for context readers, I tested out making reusable toilet and makeup wipes few weeks back (now that I reread that, putting makeup and toilet wipe in the same sentence sounds GROSS, but I promise it's not). The funny thing about having a plastic-free bathroom is, no one thinks about toilet paper. Everyone uses it. We all tend to overuse it. Ya, it's paper, and ya, the only plastic is the plastic wrapped bundle, but billions of trees are wasted in the process to wipe your butt. We NEED those trees to a.) breathe b.) cool our planet, shade = less sun, c.) they reduce erosion, d.) create habitat... and the list goes on. I knew toilet paper and paper towels were incredibly wasteful but how do I fix this? It stumped me. So, I started the hunt.
I follow a ton of people on social that practice plastic-free/zero-waste and the term "family cloth" came up a lot. I decided to cut up an old towel into little cubes, hemmed the edges and voila! Mini towel wipes, in small, medium and large, (smalls for the face, bigger ones for below, #1’s only lol J).
Occasionally I dropped some essential oils in the bin just in case it stunk, but it never did. I also lined the bin with a hemp mesh bag (for ease of washing them all together.
If this is pushing it for you, that is okay! It’s a bit out there, but its perfect for me, and makes me feel good about my choice. The beauty in this is YOU have the power to do what YOU want, HOW you want to and WHEN you feel you can. Not everyone can to be plastic-free/zero-waste. But, if we all try our darnedest, that is better than anyone can ask for.
This photo is of Morgan's current giveaway contest going on right now on Instagram.
Can you give examples of 3-5 switches for a plastic-free, reduced waste or zero-waste Life for each cateogry- Beginner, advanced and All-out!
The best advice I can give is to start slow, (Yeah, thinking I could change everything in one or two months was a little crazy, I realize now!). You will start noticing things, spotting single-use plastics everywhere. Don't fear my dear. That's good! That means your brain is working through that plastic habit and critically thinking to problem solve. Our brains crave problem-solving, be creative! It can be devastatingly exhausting and make you feel really isolated without the proper tools (mental and physical). Start small, plan your process, stay calm and enjoy the ride. Pace yourself young Jedi.
Remember, knowledge is power, and as Uncle Ben from Spiderman would say, "with great power comes great responsibility. You got this!
TO READ ALL THE TIPS BROKEN DOWN BY LEVEL, TAKE A QUICK TRIP OVER TO MORGAN'S BLOG TO FINISH READING...