Day 4: Chicago

Chicago has always been one of my favorite cities. I think it’s because it most closely resembles New York (tall buildings), Brooklyn (old buildings and janky streets), and Paris (the river). When in a city like Chicago, I’m not going to be cooking much as there is so much food to try, so instead, I eat out at sustainable restaurants.

For breakfast I went to a diner serving local and organic food. I had a good, typical meal and got a tea. Now tea is a complicated beast. This tea was fair trade, biodynamic, and organic which was really great. But my questioning didn’t stop there. If I order tea, which I rarely do because I am a coffee person, I only want it if it comes loose. Why? A lot of tea bags are actually made of plastic and are therefore not biodegradable. Additionally the wrappers, which seem like they are paper, are actually lined with plastic, so also not biodegradable or recyclable. I’m not sacrificing sustainability for a cup or tea, so I like to be sure that the restaurant or care serves it loose. Plus, it tastes better. 

After breakfast I skated around and then checked out Wicker Park. It got warm and so I grabbed a drink to go in my mason jar.

I had a nice dinner out at a sustainable restaurant around Fulton Market and then headed back to my awesome AirBnb (in LOVE with it). Tomorrow I’ll grab a bunch of snacks for the road and for camping and will arrive at my next city stop early next week.

For clothing I wore my black tank, black sweater, boyfriend jeans, and converse.  

Next stop: Seattle, Washington


Day 3: Grand Rapids Michigan

My last day in Grand Rapids was filled with preparing for the next leg of the road trip so this is just a quick update. Using the rest of my products from the farmers market we made blueberry jam and some cucumber, cabbage, and beet pickles! I used some canning jars and packed excess veggies in my stainless steel containers for the road. I also picked up a coffee along the way in my mason jar. Next stop, Chicago!


Plastic Bags

I’m starting a new series called Simple Swaps where I will share videos on easy ways to transition away from disposables and towards a more sustainable lifestyle. My first one: plastic bags.

With an estimated 2 million plastic bags being used and discarded every minute worldwide, we’ve got a serious problemo on our hands. But there’s an easy way you can eliminate your daily use of plastic bags…


Day 2: Grand Rapids Michigan

I woke up this morning in Grand Rapids Michigan, the sun was shining and the air was clean. I took a shower, grabbed my compost bin that I have been collecting since I left New York, and headed to the Fulton Street Farmers Market. Using my reusable bags I picked up some blueberries (jam to be made later), herbs, beets, and summer squash. I snacked on the blueberries as we drove to The Sparrows coffee shop. Then I headed to the beach.

Outfit today: Black shorts, black sweater, black sandals. Bathing Suit.

Breakfast: 1 latte and a shared sourdough cinnamon bun from Field & Fire Bakery. I picked up some bread and donuts as well (package free) from a local bakery. We asked for them to hand us the bread without any packaging, they were so into it!

Lunch: A beach picnic!

Dinner: Grilled some beautiful vegetables from the Fulton Street farmers market!


Day 1: Upstate New York

Today is the first day out… here is how I navigated my meals heading from NYC towards Michigan…

Breakfast: I had peanut butter and fruit package free from a co-op in Rochester

Lunch: I ate at a restaurant in Rochester and put my leftovers in a stainless steel container from Life Without Plastic
Snack: Fresh berries from a farmers market in Rochester in my airtight stainless steel containers
Dinner: Fresh veggies from the farmers market in my produce bags and airtight containers


One Month of Travel, Zero Waste

I am heading out for one month with nothing but a suitcase and some essentials… and I’m going to do the entire thing waste free. Over the next month I will be documenting my journey as well as showing you how I navigate potentially wasteful situations without producing any trash.

The first thing I am staring with is my Zero Waste travel kit. It includes:

Everyday Essentials brought to you by Life Without Plastic


  • 1 bar of soap in aluminum soap container
  • 1 jar of body moisturizer
  • 1 jar of face moisturizer
  • 1 jar of deodorant
  • 1 jar of toothpaste
  • 1 compostable toothbrush
  • 1 contact solution
  • 1 glasses
  • 1 contact case
  • 1 stainless steel razor
  • 1 hairbrush
  • 1 menstrual cup
  • 3 hair ties


  • 3 black tank tops
  • 3 white tank tops
  • 1 black sweater
  • 1 denim shirt
  • 1 black tshirt
  • 1 striped tank top
  • 1 black maxi dress
  • 1 pair white jeans
  • 1 pair boyfriend jeans
  • 1 pair black jeans
  • 1 pair denim shorts
  • 1 pair black shorts
  • 1 gray dress
  • 1 gray romper
  • 1 pair sweatpants
  • 1 leather jacket
  • 1 felt hat
  • 1 pair exercise pants
  • 1 sports bra
  • 1 exercise top
  • 8 pair underwear
  • 1 bra
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 pair leather booties
  • 1 pair leather sandals
  • 1 pair rubber sandals
  • 1 pair converse
  • 1 pair running shoes


  • 1 towel
  • 1 washcloth
  • 1 sleeping bag
  • 1 pillow
  • 1 camera
  • 2 books
  • 1 phone
  • 1 computer

My Firsthand Look at Plastic Pollution on Expedition with 5 Gyres

When I left my apartment on June 1st headed for Miami to embark on an expedition to study ocean plastics in the Atlantic Gyre with 5 Gyres I thought I would be spending a week focusing on the massive plastic pollution problem (that is not discounting the fact that, yes, it’s bad… to learn more, scroll to the bottom of this post). I thought I could come back feeling deflated, depressed, and helpless. That was not the case.

In fact, what I found though this experience was hope, motivation, and a community of people who truly want to solve the issue of plastic pollution.
On my first day I headed to the marina in Miami to hop aboard The Mystic which is a 50 long tons schooner. I got on board and the first night we had a party while docked and I met some of the people I would be traveling with including (counter-clockwise from left to right) Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen, co-founders of 5 Gyres, Jack Johnson musician and co-founder of Johnson Ohana, crew member and pirate Andy, polymer scientist Ryan, David Stover co-founder of Bureo Skateboards, and Josh Resnikoff founder of Cuppow.

On June 2nd we left Miami headed for the Bahamas and the next two days were spent doing manta & hi-speed trawling which captures samples of debris from the surface of the ocean. This is used to see how much plastic could be found and in what quantities at different coordinates along the journey. 
Once we gathered trawl samples, we picked through and looked at the concentration of plastics that we picked up in our trawls.

David and I felt like surgeons carefully picking through all of the debris.
We found a lot of microplastics and microbeads (the exfoliating thingies found in face scrub), as well as pieces of fishing line and microfibers (the fossil fuel based material that makes synthetic clothing).
When we weren’t researching we helped out around the boat. This is a picture of Jaclyn and I raising (quite expertly) a sail.

We spoke at The Island School (this place is INSANE) in Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas at the Youth Action Island Summit which was a 3 day summit where students, scientists, speakers, and activists gathered to talk about and find solutions to plastic pollution. I gave a toothpaste demonstration and we did an ocean cleanup where in hours we collected more than 800lbs of trash within a 1/2 mile stretch of sand.

So I’ve talked a lot about the trip, but what’s the problem with plastic, anyway and how does it get there? A lot of plastic gets washed out to sea and gets caught in one of the 5 gyres in the ocean.

What is a Gyre? Let’s ask 5 Gyres. 

“A gyre is a massive, slow, rotating whirlpool in the ocean that accumulate plastic. In the ocean, sunlight and waves cause floating plastics to break into increasingly smaller particles, but they never completely disappear or biodegrade.”

Why is this plastic in the ocean bad? 

It sickens and kills animals. Animals in the ocean which mistake plastic for food. Eating these particles can get them sick or even kill them. Besides eating them and getting sick, animals can also get trapped or entangled in plastic which can suffocate them.

It is toxic. A single plastic micro bead can be 1 million times more toxic than the water around it. When animals are ingesting plastic, they are also ingesting the toxins on it. These toxins bioaccumulate (move up the food chain as bigger fish eat small fish that eat plastic) which eventually makes its way to our plates. So plastic in the oceans doesn’t just harm fish, it is toxic to humans as well. GROSS.

So what do we do? 

Plastic. is a very difficult thing to remediate. Why? Well, we can’t just make a giant net and collect the 5.25 trillion plastic particles that are in the ocean as some people might suggest. Scientist Marcus Eriksen equated that to trying to stop water from coming out of a hose by mopping it up when instead you should just turn off the hose. That is because there are constantly moving plastics in our oceans that both sink to the ocean floor and float to the surface. In addition, new plastic is always being introduced into our oceans. It is equivalent as well to trying to stop trash pollution in parks by doing cleanups. It might help for a day, but there will always be people introducing new trash. What we need to do is stop plastic at its source, meaning preventing it from getting into the ocean in the first place.

Living a Zero Waste life eliminating plastics has been a huge part of my mission. For tips on simple ways to reduce plastic in your life, check out some of my Zero Waste alternatives. 

This trip was a life changing opportunity that I am immensely grateful to 5 Gyres, Johnson Ohana, and a an awesome group of other sponsors for!