Goodbye Earth Fare, with Love

Earthfare's Hixson, Tennessee store opening
Earth Fare’s Hixson, Tennessee store opening, November 2016. Photo by me

If you haven’t heard already, Earth Fare is closing all of its stores, citing financial troubles. I was completely disheartened by this news! The company sent an email to its customers on Tuesday, writing “with a heavy heart” about the decision to close all the stores after 45 years.

We only have 3 healthy grocery stores in Chattanooga, Tennessee; two Earth Fare stores and one Whole Foods. We will now be down to one healthy grocery store in this region.* It is so disappointing that the southeast is unable to support more stores like these.

Unsafe and Toxic Ingredients

Earth Fare is a healthy and organic grocery store, one which does not sell foods that have a long list of unhealthy or potentially toxic ingredients in them. But here is their general food philosophy:

Earthfare's food philosophy banner

I created a free, downloadable pdf “List of unsafe, unhealthy and/or potentially toxic ingredients in food and products that you should avoid.” You can also view it here.

I was able to buy foods from the bulk bins in my own cloth bags and glass jars at Earth Fare in order to avoid buying plastic. I can do this at Whole Foods too, but again, Chattanooga is going from three stores down to only one that offers features like those.

I Will Miss Earth Fare

Earth Fare is personal for me and I will miss it. Earth Fare is where I shopped while on my journey of learning the value of healthy, natural foods and about the dangerous ingredients in our foods. When my son was born and was in the NICU for 2 weeks, there was an Earth Fare just down the road from the hospital and we ate many meals there during that difficult time. It was the grocery store where I bought organic ingredients to make homemade baby food. And it is still where I buy food to cook for our family.

I plan to shop at Whole Foods as they have a very similar food philosophy. However, they are more expensive than Earth Fare for many things. Also, the Whole Foods in Chattanooga is in a popular area of town so it’s often very busy and crowded, with an equally crowded parking lot.

In the end, life will go on. We have many large environmental and health issues to face! Please subscribe and we can learn together! Thanks for reading. And thanks, Earth Fare, I’m sad to see you go.

 

*I am aware that there is a Fresh Market in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They have a different mission than Whole Foods and Earth Fare. While I am not against shopping there, they do not offer all of the same food philosophies about ingredients.

You Don’t Need a New Year to Reach for Your Goals

Black and white photograph of the beach. Photo by me
Photo by me

Happy New Year!

Many of us get caught up in setting New Year’s resolutions that come from good intentions but get lost in the mix of daily life. We get back to work, get the kids back in school, and the extracurricular activities pick back up. For many people, the credit card bills roll in as well, like a hangover from Christmas. Then maybe working additional hours to pay those bills adds to the inability to work toward those resolutions.

I gave up New Year’s resolutions a few years ago. I heard someone say they didn’t set New Year’s resolutions because they didn’t need a certain date to set goals, and I loved the idea so much that I immediately adopted it! If I decide I want or need to do something, I need to do it right away. I don’t want to wait for someday anymore.

Someday is not a day of the week. —Joshua Fields Millburn

You don’t need a new year to have a clean slate. Give yourself permission to start over now. Allow yourself to start working toward your goal(s) now. Don’t wait until next week, next month, or next year. Let your heart guide you, and live your best life now.

Black and white photograph of a tree branch with a single dead leaf
Photo by Bea Sz. on Unsplash

But how do you start?

Your goals should come from your heart.

What do you really want? I’m not asking what you should be doing, because we all know what we “should” be doing, right? Minimalist Courtney Carver wrote, “Instead of making the new year about everything you want to change, make it about everything you love.” She offers many suggestions in that article including setting a goal of subtracting something you’re doing. What can you remove from your life that isn’t adding value?

Don’t tie your success to the results. When you are hyper-focused on the end of the goal…you discount everything that unfolds along the way. There is great opportunity for growth and joy long before you reach the end. What’s more successful than that? – Courtney Carver

Black and white photograph of a snow covered creek. Photo by Tono Graphy on Unsplash
Photo by Tono Graphy on Unsplash

Start small.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, would say that we need to start with small behaviors and habits in order to achieve bigger goals. New behaviors create a lifestyle change, and our outcomes come from that – not the goals themselves. Start small! He wrote a good article about why resolutions fail.

Make it so easy you can’t say no. – Leo Babauta

Let Go of Guilt

I’ve written this in other posts: let go of guilt. Feeling bad that you didn’t accomplish something or haven’t been putting in enough effort toward a goal won’t motivate you. It just keeps you down.

You’re not gonna feel like doing what you have to do all the time. That’s the truth and it makes you human. Don’t beat yourself up for leaning into the lazy space now and then. Just don’t claim that space as your new identity. You have places to go and goals to crush. – Mel Robbins

Black and white photograph of trees growing in a lake. Photo by Dave on Unsplash
Photo by Dave on Unsplash

My non-New Year’s Resolutions

I want to continue to spend as much time with my little boy as I can. He makes me laugh and experience pure joy and I want to maximize this.

I plan to continue working on my health by creating individual small habits (per James Clear) centered around diet, fitness, and mindfulness.

I want to spend more time writing and I will continue my quest to find alternatives to using disposable items, plastic items, and striving for zero waste.

I am continually working on my journey toward minimalism.

I am continuing to work on building my self-confidence and I’m still learning how to say no. I’ve just downloaded Sarah Knight’s newest publication on audiobook, F*ck No!: How to Stop Saying Yes When You Can’t, You Shouldn’t, or You Just Don’t Want To. I’ve also joined Mel Robbins’ #BestDecadeEver course.

Those are by no means an exhaustive list. They’re just the ones that spilled out of my heart without me thinking too hard about it. Listen to your inner voice for those – that’s where the good stuff is.

Thanks for reading, please subscribe!

Saving the Earth is overwhelming, and now the Rainforest is burning!

Image of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, during the cold season, by David Mark from Pixabay
Image of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, by David Mark from Pixabay

Saving the Earth can feel overwhelming, because it is overwhelming.

I had coffee with a friend recently and she was telling me that it’s hard to know which environmental practices to follow since there are so many problems. She wasn’t sure where to start. I know that most of us feel the same way often. Thank you, Amanda, for inspiring this blog post.

It gets to all of us, even me! Though driven by a genuine heartfelt desire to do everything I can to protect the planet, the animals, and ourselves, even I get overwhelmed. Last week I felt despair and defeat when I learned about the lax environmental policies under Brazil’s President (much like the environmental attitude of our own president) that have resulted in rainforests burning down. These fires were likely intentionally set in order to clear land to use to make profits, and the hot and dry conditions spread them quickly. This week the fires are still burning and the devastation spreads. Scientists indicate that these fires are an 85% increase over last year’s fires.

The rainforests provide 20% of the Earth’s oxygen. Do we really want to do that to ourselves? Deprive ourselves of oxygen? I’m not even addressing the many species that inhabit the rainforests. Or the fact that the rainforest, in essence, cyclically filters the Earth’s air. Or that rainforests help maintain the temperature of the entire planet.

Photo of a rainforest.
Image by Rosina Kaiser on Pixabay

But it’s not really the Earth that we’re trying to save.

It’s humankind and all living creatures that we are trying to protect. We can’t really destroy the planet. The planet will go on without us. But if we keep polluting the ocean, burning down the rainforests, egregiously using up all of the natural resources, and contributing to global warming – yes, we will all die off. Permanently. But the Earth will keep turning.

Image of the Earth from space.
Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

So what can we do?

Keep trying, keep spreading the message. Do as much good as you can. Spread love and kindness and others will follow.

The best thing to do is start simple. More specifically, start with just one thing. Begin with one small mission, such as refusing plastic bags. Buy some canvas bags at the craft store and keep them in your car for shopping. You can use them for any shopping – the grocery store, department stores, pharmacies, bookstores, any store!

If the plastic waste from food and beverages bothers you, I’ve got a list of 11 Ways to go Plastic Free with Food.

Maybe you’re more concerned about the disposable coffee cups you’re using every day. Buy a plastic-free reusable coffee mug (I personally recommend Hydroflask) and bring that to the coffee shop every day. Some shops will even give you a small discount for using your own cup.

Perhaps you’re tired of buying gas for your car from one of the worst industries known to the modern world: Big Oil. They drill and spill and don’t care. Is it time for an electric car? Is this even a viable option? From what I’ve been told by two Tesla owners, it is a viable option. Other electric cars have had limits on travel before requiring a recharge, but Tesla has exponentially improved this. If the unacceptable actions of petroleum companies are what bothers you most, start with this issue by researching electric cars. Personally, I’d like to save up for a Tesla! Might take me a little time though.

The way we trash our own landscapes may be what upsets you. Read my post about Litterati and download the app. Join local trash clean-ups, or just pick up trash in your own neighborhood! Any garbage, especially plastics, prevented from washing down storm drains (which usually end up in the ocean) is a small but important help!

Heart drawn in the soil.
Image by Carla Burke from Pixabay

Just start.

Those are just a few examples. It doesn’t matter what problem you fix first, because any change you make will make a small but oh-so-important difference. You can do this. We can do this. And each time you conquer one challenge, you’ll find yourself motivated to conquer another. It’s addictive, trust me.

This week my newest change is that I joined a green initiative committee at work. I’ve also requested a recycling bin for the office so that I can take the office recyclables home since we do not have adequate recycling.

Many bloggers, myself included, have lists and guides with ways to start. Beth Terry of myplasticfreelife.com has a page called 100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life. I have a list of books, films, Individuals Making a Difference, and websites to help you learn more. Subscribe to my blog and I’ll show you how I’m tackling one problem at a time. Contact me if you have topics you’d like me to investigate or write about. Follow other bloggers too – and we can all work through these problems together.

So what about the rainforests?

I don’t have any great advice on this, except to pay attention to what’s going on and vote for people who aren’t idiots. Here’s a CNN interview with Jeff Corwin (if you’re not aware, I’m a fan of his but more importantly he’s become a symbol of good stewardship in regards to wildlife and environmentalism).

I’m very sad about the rainforests, and I bet you are too if you’re reading this. But staying sad won’t change anything when it comes to environmental issues. Taking action will. Thank you for reading, and please subscribe!

 

Inspiration abounds on Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island after sunrise
Hilton Head Island just after sunrise.

If you read my post about my family’s weekend trip to Hilton Head Island last fall, then you already know how much we love the island. We recently returned from a week-long trip there, and inspiration was all around! Besides the natural beauty of the island and the gorgeous beaches, there are many environmentally conscious things I appreciate about Hilton Head Island.

My son sitting in the surf, looking out at the vast and beautiful ocean.
My son sitting in the surf, looking out at the vast and beautiful ocean.
Sunset on Hilton Head Island.
Sunset on Hilton Head Island.

Plastic bag ban in Beaufort County, South Carolina

They implemented a plastic bag ban last fall, and I am here to tell you that from a tourist’s perspective, businesses have not been hurt by this. People were shopping in all the shops and supermarkets and the plastic bag ban did not seem to deter anyone from spending money. I have not found any studies on the result of this ban in the last 8 months, but I imagine the impact has been huge!

Unfortunately, I did find one article indicating that Target and Walmart are using supposedly “reusable” plastic bags. But since they are made of the same material as regular plastic bags, they defeat the whole purpose. I did not happen to shop at either store while there so I did not witness this first hand. As the article noted, that is disappointing.

At the other shops and stores I visited, I personally received only paper bags when I didn’t have my cloth bags with me. I love it! Can’t we do this everywhere?

Dunes with a palm tree.
Gorgeous dunes on HHI.

Wildlife

There’s a lot of cherished and protected wildlife on the island. We saw all types of birds, including pelicans – my favorite! We saw dolphins, tons of fish, and several types of crabs. There are also bald eagles, alligators, and turtles living on the island but we didn’t personally get to see those this time. The local government’s website educates on sustainable living, the types of local wildlife, native plants, biodiversity, ecosystems, and how everyone can help protect those things.

Pelicans flying in a line over the ocean near sunset.
Pelicans flying in a line over the ocean near sunset.
Baby crab, dark gray.
Baby crab!

Sea Turtle Conservation Efforts

Although we did not see sea turtles this trip, we saw at least 7 cordoned loggerhead sea turtle nest areas. They were marked with orange signs provided by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, which alerts the public about the protection of this endangered species through federal and state laws.

Loggerhead sea turtle nest sign, cordoned and marked by the South Carolina department of Natural Resources.
Loggerhead sea turtle nest, cordoned by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Three loggerhead turtle nests on the north end of the island (Port Royal area), cordoned off by the SC Department of Natural Resources.
Three loggerhead turtle nests on the north end of the island (Port Royal area). The SC Department of Natural Resources cordoned the nests.

Many Atlantic coast towns have laws, regulations, and organizations to protect sea turtle nests. On Hilton Head Island, lights on buildings and hotels cannot shine in the direction of the beach. People are only permitted to use red or “turtle-safe” flashlights on the beach between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. between May and October. They have a volunteer organization that patrols, monitors, and reports on sea turtle nests. They also clean up beach litter and plastics.

I read this article about a Kemp’s Ridley turtle making a nest on Hilton Head Island, a first-time event for the most endangered of all the sea turtle species! Wow!

The Coastal Discovery Museum has an “Adopt-a-Nest” Program, which not only sponsors the protection of a sea turtle nest but also supports the museum’s educational programs. Of course, this idea excited me so I absolutely adopted a nest while writing this post! They emailed me to let me know that my nest will be the 277th one this year and that they’ll keep me informed on the progress of my adopted nest.

Can I inspire you to adopt a nest as well? Just use the link above!

Baby sea turtles on the beach.
Photo by Skeeze on Pixabay.

Coastal Discovery Museum

The Coastal Discovery Museum on the island is a great non-profit and Smithsonian Affiliate, dedicated to educating and protecting the natural resources, history, and ecosystems of the region. Their mission “inspires people to care for the Lowcountry,” through their many programs, exhibits, talks, and tours. What a great organization.

We’ve visited several times in past years but this year we did a Dolphin and Nature Cruise with the museum and really enjoyed it. And yes, we did see dolphins! The museum docent provided a dolphin skull replica and spoke about the anatomy, diet, and lifestyle of the local dolphins. The captain provided a rich tour about the history and nature of the island. Both the captain and museum docent were very knowledgeable and kept the passengers engaged for the entirety of the cruise. They even let each of the kids drive the boat for a few minutes!

My son driving the boat on the Dolphin & Nature Cruise.
My son driving the boat on the Dolphin & Nature Cruise.

Beach Trash

Hilton Head Island’s beaches are very clean and well maintained. And there are both trash and recycling cans up and down the beach. Even so, I still picked up about 300 pieces of trash during my week there. Of course, I logged these through Litterati (see also my post on Litterati). My next post will be about the types of trash I found and what you can do to prevent beach trash and ocean pollution!

Thanks for reading, and please subscribe!

All photographs in this post were taken by me except where otherwise indicated.