The Zero-Waste Movement: Fixing it’s Flaws

No one is perfect when it comes to leading an eco-friendlier lifestyle, but we’re all here doing our best and constantly learning and growing through our journeys.  The zero-waste lifestyle has been gaining traction over the years, and although the intentions are good, there are many flaws that should be acknowledged.

What is the key to staying true to the zero-waste lifestyle?

Stop thinking of it as a trend.

Instead of connecting a zero-waste lifestyle to matching storage containers, silicone replacements, and whatever else looks stylish on your social media account, start taking the words ‘zero waste’ as literal as possible.  While it is important to cut out single-use plastics and find products we can reuse, let’s consider the best way to go about this. 

Before making any purchases, stop and take a moment to consider a few things. Is it something you really need? Do you have something at home that can serve the same purpose? Though it’s often not talked about, zero waste items still take up resources and produce emissions when it comes to manufacturing and shipping.

Taking on a new outlook on consumerism is easier than you’d think, and will save money and preserve our resources in the long run. As I and many others have stated before, the most sustainable thing you can do is to use what you already have.

Acknowledging the privilege

Another side of going Zero-Waste is recognizing that it isn’t affordable or accessible to everyone, especially when 40 million Americans still live below the poverty line. While I try to make it to my local zero waste shop when I can, I simply can’t afford to always buy refills or ecofriendly brands. Going green can be expensive, but does it have to be?

In order to make the Zero-Waste movement more inclusive, we have to re-evaluate ways to make it affordable and show others how they can make changes too. We can even start to recognize how those from low income households already have practices in place, and think of ways to learn from that.

Finding Growth

Recognizing the need for improvement is the first step in becoming more conscientious as individuals and a collective. When we address these flaws, it’s my hope that the Zero-Waste movement really will become one that’s more inclusive and better for the environment.

Safety Tips for Every Solo Traveler

One of the most rewarding ways to see this world is as a solo traveler.  Though being an adventurous, mindful, and ethical traveler means looking out for and protecting yourself in the process.  It’s unlikely that something terrible would happen, but there’s always a possibility and preventative measures can help us prepare for the worst. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. These important tips will help keep you safe on your next adventure abroad.

1). Don’t overshare

It’s inevitable to encounter people on your flight, in restaurants, or in the street who will ask about your travel plans.  While these people might have good intentions, it’s best to lie and share as little information as possible.  These lies should include that you’re meeting friends, you used to live in the area, and the location of your accommodation.

Never let strangers know that you’re traveling alone or are unfamiliar with your destination, not even your taxi driver or rideshare.

2). Limit your alcohol

It’s okay to have one drink if you’re out having a meal or want to visit a brewery but limit your consumption. If you’re a lightweight, consider avoiding alcohol altogether. Being intoxicated when you’re alone in a foreign city can lead to potentially dangerous social situations.

Always use common sense and never leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers.

3). Blend in

Don’t draw attention to yourself for the wrong reasons. Never make it obvious you’re lost or pull out a map in the middle of a street, this automatically lets others know you’re a tourist.  Walk with confidence where ever you are, and if you do find yourself lost, stop in a café or shop to look for directions on your phone or ask an employee.

4). Choose your accommodation wisely

Before booking a hotel or hostel, research the safest areas in the city. Make sure the accommodation is central and on a busy street. Places with dimly lit entryways in alleys or side streets are a big no-no. Checking online reviews is a useful way to ensure your lodging has adequate security. If staying in a hostel and sharing a room with others, only book ones that have personal lockers for your important belongings.

5). Hold on tightly to your belongings

Keep purses, backpacks, and wallets to the front of you with a firm grasp at all times, especially when on the metro or bus. Avoid taking cash or wallets out in busy areas, this opens you up to pickpockets, just wait until you’re somewhere safe. It’s also a good idea to avoid carrying a large amount of money and carry what cash you do have in an inconspicuous place like your bra or a hidden pocket.

When someone approaches you about events, donations, or even to offer assistance or simple conversation, walk away. Scammers are very creative and good at what they do, they know how to create situations where you might need help and come off as friendly. They can fool even the best of us, so it’s important to be vigilant and always question other’s intentions.

6). Don’t stay out after dark

If it can be helped, arrive at your destination early to avoid finding your accommodation at night. For the rest of your trip, continue to avoid walking around alone at night and never partake in a city’s nightlife by yourself. It helps to meet other travelers at your hostel or on tours to go out with you, meeting others (SAFELY) is part of the beauty of being a solo traveler.

7). Make copies of your passport

If your passport is lost or stolen, having a copy to give to the embassy will ensure the replacement process goes smoothly. While it’s important to avoid losing your passport altogether by leaving it locked up at your hotel and in a safe place when in transit, you’ll need to have a backup. Make multiple copies and keep one on your body and the others with your luggage in case of an emergency.

8). Call your loved ones

Our friends and family often worry when we’re away, don’t make them fret more than they have to. A simple text every morning and night will let your parents know that you’re okay. Sharing your itinerary, real time location, and accommodation info with them is also an extra security measure. In the unfortunate event that anything should happen to you or your family members can’t get in touch, they will have the right information to give to authorities.

Black Heroes Who Paved the Way for the Travel Community

In honor of Black History Month, I felt it important to highlight those who made a difference for Black travelers today.  Travel is a privilege that hasn’t been accessible or easy for everyone, but these courageous figures fought and worked hard to overcome the struggles of racism and inequality. 

Bessie Stringfield

At just 19 years old, Bessie became the first black woman to travel cross country through the United States on a motorcycle.  This trip was in 1930, a time before the civil rights movement and WWII.  She later completed this trip 8 more times while serving the U.S. Army as a civilian courier during the war, a job left to only a few.  Despite the harsh racism she endured, she bravely kept moving forward and lead an exciting life as motorcyclist, leaving a legacy for other black and female riders to follow.

Victor Hugo Greene

Black and white headshot of Green looking directly at camera with a slight smile on his lips.
Photo from Wikipedia

Most famously known as the author of “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, a travel guide for African American travelers published from 1936-1966. This was during the Jim Crow era when Black people had to worry about what hotels, restaurants, and towns they would be accepted at. Being a Harlem native, Green’s first edition only included information for the New York Metropolitan area. After gaining popularity, later editions went on to include other regions of the United States.

Perry Young Jr.

Black and white image of a handsome Young from the waist up, wearing a shirt, tie, and weather jacket. A N979 helicopter right behind him.
Photo from blackpast.org

After graduating high school, Young decided to become a pilot and worked hard to achieve his dream, earning his private pilot license just 2 years later.  After another 3 years of fighting racial discrimination and trying to break into the industry, the U.S. Army offered Young a job as a flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen.  Despite being recognized for leading the squadron to greatness, he still struggled to find work as a pilot after the war ended in 1944.  Finally, in 1956, he was hired by New York Airways, becoming the first Black pilot for a U.S. commercial airline.