You’ve almost made it to the end of plasticfreejuly! How amazing is that!
It’s time for episode four of our zero waste adventures series to help you stay motivated during the last few days of the month.
Have you read the previous story in our zero waste stories, yet?
Today, we’re sharing Callee’s zero waste story. She describes herself as a vanlifer, entrepreneur, and activist who helps people live an ethical and eco-friendly lifestyle. Callee is also the creator of Bestowed Essentials, blogger at AHippieInAVan.com, and host of the Hippie Haven Podcast. You can follow her on her Facebook community – The Hippie Haven. And as always, all photography rights belong to our guest writer, Callee.
After Bianca, Callee is the second person in this blog post series who makes and sells zero waste soaps! Anyways, here’s what Callee has to say about her journey:
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I always had a reverence for the natural beauty surrounding me: the redwood trees of Northern California, the sea stacks of the Oregon Coast, the green rainforest in the Olympic Peninsula… But despite my love for the area, I knew there was more to see, and I was itching to explore it all.
In 2013, still fresh out of high school and wanting to make a difference in the world, I joined the US Navy, taking my first plane ride to bootcamp in Great Lakes, IL. From there, I spent over a year in beautiful Monterey, California, learning the Arabic language so that I could later serve my country as a translator.
I never did find the fulfillment I was seeking in the military, and in fact, I became very disillusioned with many of the actions the US government has taken in places they never should have been. During my last year on active-duty, I discovered a physically + emotionally healing passion for making my own soaps + beauty products to treat my blemish-prone skin. At the urging of my friends who were overwhelmed with the armloads of extra soaps I kept bestowing them, I started selling my creations online. From there, Bestowed Essentials was eventually born.
After four years and seven days of being a Navy Sailor, I traded in my blue camo uniform for a campervan and hit the road, with my persistent feeling of wanderlust stronger than ever. My business supplies take up nearly half of my van, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. There’s something about nurturing an idea from a small seedling in your mind to a real, beautiful object in your hand that I find great pleasure in, and even more so that I get share that experience with people around the world when they try my products.
My journey to eco-activism began as a rather slow awakening to the imbalance of the world around me. As I heard about Donald Trump cutting funding to the National Parks Service to allocate money for his border wall that would steal away more Native American lands, divide communities, block wildlife migration and destroy ecosystems, my stomach churned. When he severely decreased the size of two national monuments to allow drilling for oil + gas, my head ached. Watching the documentary Plastic Oceans is what finally opened my eyes to the seriousness of mindless consumption and plastic pollution. I realized that while I’d always considered myself to be pretty “hippie”, I wasn’t truly living with respect for Mother Earth.
Now, I have become conscious of the actions I take and the purchases I make. Do they bring value into my life? Do they harm people or the planet? I use a great app called Buycott to avoid giving my money to companies that support groups or ideals that aren’t aligned with my morals. Pausing to reflect before I buy anything, whether it’s online or at the grocery store, has not only saved me a significant amount of money, but it also enables me to vote with my dollar for the future I want to see.
My biggest difficulty in trying to live an ethical + eco-friendly lifestyle on the road is that I am sometimes restricted by the region that I am in. When I’m traveling through areas that don’t have plastic-free or vegan food options, I’m forced to go without or find an alternative (salads + french fries are the vegan traveler’s best friend!). It requires some extra planning to make sure that I have what I need ahead of time, but at the end of the day, the tiniest bit of personal inconvenience means nothing compared to making the best choices for myself and the planet.
The #1 tip I have for someone who isn’t sure how to get started is: just start! The little things truly do matter. Ditch disposable plastics, that’s the easiest step. Think about how many plastic water bottles, straws, coffee cups and grocery bags you use every week / month / year, and replace them with reusables. It’s okay if you forget, it will become habit over time. Next, lead by example. Tell your friends + family how much money you saved by not buying all those single-use products, and encourage them to do the same. Have a friendly chat with your cashier at the grocery store about why you brought your own bags. Talk to the business owners in your area, ask them to go green. Your voice WILL be heard, so speak up. Speak up for a better world.