Ocean Currents » Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:30:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 You Spoke and We Listened! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/10/you-spoke-and-we-listened/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/10/you-spoke-and-we-listened/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 14:54:06 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6253

In just 10 months, nearly 11,000 of our ocean friends downloaded and began using Rippl. The response for our iPhone app is incredible—not only are people downloading it, they’re also using it regularly.

Rippl helps you remember to make simple, sustainable choices that save you money and keep the ocean and all its wildlife healthy.

According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of those, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags. Thanks to our family of Rippl users, we’re helping to lower that number.

We’re inspired on a daily basis by the small changes individuals are implementing into their routines. Whether it’s remembering your reusable bag at the grocery store each visit or picking up that piece of trash you see on your commute into work, each action is adding up to make a big difference for the health of our ocean.

We all can use a reminder now and again to help us make smart choices in our daily lives. But Rippl isn’t just a way for you to remember small actions to take to help create a healthier planet, it’s also a way to share your inspiring environmental habits with others.

Starting this week and for the next three months, each tip delivered through Rippl has been created based on a current user suggestion. From ways to reduce your aluminum foil consumption to ideas for cutting down your gasoline use, these tips will not only save you money, they’ll help keep the ocean and all its wildlife healthy.

Haven’t started your Rippl effect yet? Download it today!

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Five Tips for a Low-Trash Super Bowl Tailgate http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/02/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-super-bowl-tailgate/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/02/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-super-bowl-tailgate/#comments Sat, 02 Feb 2013 21:06:39 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4487 Fans at a football game

Image adapted from mattradickal flickr stream

Heading to a tailgate for Super Bowl XLVII? Here are a few quick tips to reduce your trash impact and keep our planet healthy while cheering on your team.

Make your own food: Opt for delicious homemade salsa, grilled meats and salads over store-bought or take out options. You’ll eat (a little) healthier, be able to buy in bulk and can use your own reusable containers to bring everything in.

Cloth beats paper: If cloth were an option in rock, paper, scissors, it would totally beat all three. Bring cloth napkins and towels for clean up and you’ll not only eliminate fly-away possibilities, but you’ll also greatly reduce the trash produced. Make them from cloth in your team’s colors and show some extra team spirit to boot!

Don’t forget the utensils: Plastic utensils are easier to clean because well, you don’t have to, but is it really worth it? Last year during the International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers found enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons to host a picnic for 2.15 million people. Just imagine how much they didn’t find that ended up in our ocean. Make the switch and bring a set of reusable utensils for eating and serving with you.

Bring a keg: The most sustainable option for you 21-and-over beer drinkers is locally brewed beer in a keg. As an added bonus, it also costs less than buying individual bottles or cans. Mini-kegs are great too for those smaller get-togethers. So invest in your own and store it with your chairs and tables, or, for you city-dwellers with less space, rent one from the brewery. We guarantee you’ll be the hit of any party when you walk in with that in your hands.

Skip the throw-away cups: Feel particularly strong about your RSC (red solo cup)? Opt for a reusable one instead – yes, Virginia, they do exist. They stack just as easily and are the same dimension for you ping pong ball throwing aficionados. Or, have everyone bring their own reusable cup for soda, water and other beverages.

Want more ways to reduce the trash in your life? Download Rippl™, our new app that delivers green tips and customizable alerts right to your iPhone.

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Think Outside of the Gift Box http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/16/think-outside-of-the-gift-box/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/16/think-outside-of-the-gift-box/#comments Fri, 16 Nov 2012 15:43:15 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2667 Gift gifting is a major part of US culture. In fact, it’s such a prominent part of our lives; it’s a staple in many studies on human behavior. Psychologists say giving gifts is a complex and important part of human interaction. It helps define relationships and fortify bonds between people. What these studies don’t do, however, is define what a gift needs to be in order to have an impact.

Thoughtfulness really does make a difference. Hate to shop? Don’t like crowds? It’s OK; you can still reap the benefit of giving the perfect gift to a loved one. You just have to think outside the gift box.

According to Recycling Works and the EPA, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons – it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills.

But it doesn’t have to. The increased trash can stop without decreasing your gift-giving ways. Giving an experience or planning a fun activity is a great way to give someone you care about a present without producing piles of trash. Not only does it show them that you’ve truly thought about their interests, but you can reduce your environmental impact and the amount of trash that ends up in our landfills as well.

Here are some fun ideas to try:

  1. Concert or sports tickets
  2. Groupon/Living Social – get a deal and a memory with an activity like a cooking class – be sure to bring your own containers for those delicious leftovers you’ll be sure to have!
  3. Charitable Donation – have a passionate activist in your life? Make a donation to their favorite charity in their name.
  4. Yard work – give your parents a weekend of yard work
  5. House Cleaning – give a friend a virtual house cleaning pass to be redeemed prior to an in-laws visit
  6. Dog walking duties for a week
  7. For a new Mom and Dad: Babysitting for a night out on the town (be extra nice and include a gift card to their favorite restaurant)
  8. Cooking, language or music classes
  9. A weekend of camping or eco-tourism
  10. Plant a tree
  11. Make a slideshow of your favorite pictures together

These gifts don’t require a gift box or any wrapping, which means no stray ribbons will make their way to the ocean, where they could post an entanglement or choking risk to wildlife. Your loved ones will be thankful for the extra thought you’ve put into making the holiday special for them and for the planet.

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Five Tips for a Low-Trash Tailgate http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/25/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-tailgate/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/25/five-tips-for-a-low-trash-tailgate/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2012 19:40:20 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3336

Image adapted from mattradickal flickr stream

Heading to a tailgate this weekend? With football season in full swing, many of you might be going to a tailgate or watch party this weekend. Here are a few quick tips to reduce your trash impact and keep our planet healthy while cheering on your team.

Make your own food: Opt for delicious homemade salsa, grilled meats and salads over store-bought or take out options. You’ll eat (a little) healthier, be able to buy in bulk and can use your own reusable containers to bring everything in.

Cloth beats paper: If cloth were an option in rock, paper, scissors, it would totally beat all three. Bring cloth napkins and towels for clean up and you’ll not only eliminate fly-away possibilities, but you’ll also greatly reduce the trash produced. Make them from cloth in your team’s colors and show some extra team spirit to boot!

Don’t forget the utensils: Plastic utensils are easier to clean because well, you don’t have to, but is it really worth it? Last year during the International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers found enough cups, plates, forks, knives and spoons to host a picnic for 2.15 million people. Just imagine how much they didn’t find that ended up in our ocean. Make the switch and bring a set of reusable utensils for eating and serving with you.

Bring a keg: The most sustainable option for you 21-and-over beer drinkers is locally brewed beer in a keg. As an added bonus, it also costs less than buying individual bottles or cans. Mini-kegs are great too for those smaller get-togethers. So invest in your own and store it with your chairs and tables, or, for you city-dwellers with less space, rent one from the brewery. We guarantee you’ll be the hit of any party when you walk in with that in your hands.

Skip the throw-away cups: Feel particularly strong about your RSC (red solo cup)? Opt for a reusable one instead – yes, Virginia, they do exist. They stack just as easily and are the same dimension for you ping pong ball throwing aficionados. Or, have everyone bring their own reusable cup for soda, water and other beverages.

Want more ways to reduce the trash in your life? Download Rippl™, our new app that delivers green tips and customizable alerts right to your iPhone.

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Time to Charge Up Your Batteries! http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/19/time-to-charge-up-your-batteries/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/19/time-to-charge-up-your-batteries/#comments Fri, 19 Oct 2012 14:23:45 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2665

Credit: JohnSeb flickr stream

Batteries provide energy to many of the products we use and often can’t imagine our lives without – cell phones, laptops, cars. Many of the items we use throughout the day already contain rechargeable batteries. Can you imagine throwing out your laptop battery every time it ran out of juice?

That’s not the case, however, when it comes to smaller devices like the TV remote, or our children’s toys. Every year Americans buy and throw away billions of batteries. According to a study done by MIT in 2010, 80 percent of portable batteries manufactured in the US are alkaline batteries with a global annual production exceeding 10 billion units. Even with legislation restricting disposable battery dumping, today the majority of these batteries go to landfills and some even end up in our ocean.

Don’t believe us? Every year during our International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers find and pick up alkaline batteries on beaches and waterways. The same batteries that powerfully and seamlessly keep our lives running can release deadly toxins into the water our precious wildlife needs to survive.

But there are other options. One solution is to properly recycle your batteries. Another solution that produces less waste is to purchase and use rechargeable batteries. While rechargeable batteries cost more initially, the EPA states they can be reused hundreds of times and last for years, if used properly, so their lifetime is greatly increased.

One study shows for the same quantity of energy produced, rechargeable batteries have up to 32 times less impact on the environment than disposable batteries. Some rechargeable batteries can even be recharged 1000 times or more, saving hundreds of dollars over their lifetime when compared to their single-use disposable counterparts. That’s not the only benefit – since you’ll be buying less, you’ll be creating less packaging waste. Given the estimated number of uses from a rechargeable battery, one pack of rechargeable batteries could equal 93 packs of disposables. That’s a lot of trash you kept out of the landfill by just making the switch for one item. Imagine if you made the switch for all your household AAA or AA battery needs!

There are times, however, when it is best not to use rechargeable batteries. Do not use rechargeable batteries when specific power requirements or battery life is important, like with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, or life support devices.

Have you already made the switch at home? Try it next at your office then. Our IT department only uses rechargeable batteries for us and we love it!

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Paper Towels – What’s the Big Deal Anyway? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/12/paper-towels-whats-the-big-deal-anyway/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/12/paper-towels-whats-the-big-deal-anyway/#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2012 15:00:55 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2646

Credit: Ugglan flickr user

In the United States alone, 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year. Imagine if we collectively worked together to reduce our use of paper towels. The amount of non-recyclable paper trash that ends up in our landfills, environment and ocean could be reduced by the billions. There are few times such a small change can have such a measurable impact.

Not a small change, you say? Worried about germs, you moan? Let’s have a look at the facts:

Fact 1: In 2000, the Mayo Clinic conducted one of the few independent studies evaluating paper towels, cloth towels, hand blowers, and good old air drying. Researchers contaminated participants’ hands and then instructed them to wash with soap and water. Afterward, they had them run their hands under a warm air dryer for a single 30-second cycle, use a cloth or paper towel for 15 seconds, or let them air dry. The scientists found no differences in the efficiencies of removing bacteria from washed hands when hands are dried using paper towels, cloth towels, warm forced air or spontaneous evaporation.

Fact 2: According to the EPA, paper makes up the largest share of municipal waste in the US. Looking for a way to reduce your use in the bathroom? Check out Joe Smith’s technique for a one-towel method.

Fact 3: Paper towels aren’t recyclable in the traditional sense. Paper towels are often made from recycled paper pulp – a non-recyclable product. Then, they are often dirty or wet when we are done with them, which degrades them further and makes them non-recyclable.

Still not convinced? Why not try this experiment – track your paper towel use for one week, making sure to include both actions at home and work. Then, try to reduce that number by 25% the following week. That means if you’re like the average person referred to in Smith’s hand washing video and use four paper towels to dry your hands, try to reduce it to three. I’m guessing you’ll be able to do better than that and go all the way down to one, but you be the judge.

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Start your own Rippl™ Effect http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/17/start-your-own-rippl-effect/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/17/start-your-own-rippl-effect/#comments Mon, 17 Sep 2012 15:00:38 +0000 Sara Thomas http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2965
“What else can I do?”

We’ve heard this question thousands of times from volunteers following the annual success of the International Coastal Cleanup. People get out to their local beach, river, or even in their neighborhood and see the magnitude of the trash problem and want to know what else they can do. We always encourage volunteers to participate in other organized cleanups throughout the year and to think about how they can reduce their impact on the ocean and waterways by consuming fewer one-time use products.

Until now, these recommendations are all we’ve been able to offer…NOT anymore.

After 12 months of a user-focused design process and intensive group testing with volunteers, coordinators, ocean enthusiasts, families, and young professionals, Ocean Conservancy is very excited to announce our first mobile app, Rippl.  We’re energized as much about what Rippl is and will continue to become as we are about the journey we took to get here.

What is Rippl? 
Rippl is a free iPhone application that helps you make sustainable lifestyle choices by delivering weekly green living tips that you can then adapt to fit your busy schedule and needs. Each tip comes with the ability to set up customizable alerts and is designed to conveniently help transform your habits, save you money and live a greener, healthier life by reducing your trash impact.

Always forgetting your reusable bags? Rippl will remind you to grab them before you leave the house. Spend too much on coffee at the local coffee shop? Rippl lets you know when bringing your own mug can get you a discount. This is your first step in forming habits that will save you money and grow a healthy planet by keeping trash out of our landfills and waterways.

Why did we build Rippl? 
One of the biggest pieces of feedback we received from people throughout the course of the last year was that they often know what they can do to help the environment and our ocean, but they forget or it’s inconvenient. So we set out to help first make it easier to remember and second, provide convenient ways to implement these green habits into each of our daily lives. These behaviors build on each other over time, gradually creating a daily set of habits that allow users to live simpler, more fulfilled lives while helping the ocean.

What should you do? 
Download Rippl!

We’re confident that we’re building a community of everyday activists that who are trying to live a more reusable lifestyle, growing a healthy ocean and a healthy planet in the process.

But, this is only the first step. The app will continue to evolve – including building an Android version – as feedback comes in so that it truly can be a tool that suits the needs of its users.

Have a suggested tip? Send it to us! Want to see additional features in the app? Let us know and we’ll develop them out! This is as much a tool to help your daily routine get easier, as it is a tool for us to collectively reduce the amount of trash that could end up in our ocean.

Ready to start your own Rippl effect? Download it today, invite your friends and family to join you, and tell us what you think!

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