Tips

Plastic Freedom: Toothpaste

Continuing our theme of “de-plasticing” our dental hygiene routine, this post will look at toothpaste alternatives.

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Alternative Products

  1. Paste in metal tubes like Davids; most have plastic caps but some are starting to use alternative biodegradable materials like the Goodwell one pictured above. Since Goodwell has updated the packaging to no longer use metal tubes but a recyclable bio-resin from sugarcane packaging.

  2. Toothpaste tablets like these, also very convinient for traveling.

  3. Or toothpaste in a glass jar like Georganics and Nelson’s Naturals (with metals cap), or Uncle Harry’s (with plastic cap but reusable)

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Plastic Freedom: Toothbrush

Sticking with the theme of metal health, the second regularly purchased (and thrown away) plastic item is my toothbrush. I actually have been using Quip for a few years, but I have novel loved the plastic replacement heads and packaging it comes in. I decided to try out Goodwell’s premium toothbrush that also includes a subscription model and replaceable brush heads, but their heads are actually biodegradable!

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Alternative Products

  1. Bamboo toothbrushes with biodegradable bristles like Goodwell’s.

  2. Brushes made from biodegradable plastic alternative materials or recycled (and re-recyclable) materials.

  3. Mechanical or electric toothbrushes with biodegradable replacement heads like Goodwell’s Be Brush (which required no electricity or charging!).

Plastic Freedom: Dental Floss and Flossers

I started my plastic freedom challenge with what I felt was my most wasteful single use plastic - dental flossers. I use at least one everyday and feel a pain of guilt thinking about the thousands that are sitting in a landfill from me alone. So I went on the hunt for plastic-free flosser and floss options and found three.

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Alternative Products

  1. Silk or bamboo floss sold in cardboard or glass. If you go with the glass jar you can purchase refills for it.

  2. Flossers made from biodegradable materials like cornstarch, charcoal or proprietary technology that have been tested (like Goodwell’s).

  3. A water pik (or flosser) which is made form plastic but not single-use. I also have heard of a water pik attachment for the shower.

100 Days to Plastic Freedom

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This year for my annual 100 day project I switched things up from my usual mindfulness challenge. I have been looking to reduce my waste and particularly use of single-use plastics, so I decided to use this as an opportunity to do so.

Each weekday I chose one single-use plastic item I but with some regularity and research alternative products that would produce no plastic waste, and minimal waste generally. I documented each of these in my Instagram stories, but for posterity I want to share that research here. I will call this series of posts my journey to “Plastic Freedom.”

5 Restaurants to Try in Barcelona

I have become pretty good at planning vacations. I scour the internet for the best neighborhoods, museums, shopping and the like. But one thing I tend to struggle with is food. I am the type that can go from having a blast to being hangry in the matter of an hour so being around good food options while traveling is a must. But at the same time I HATE eating at tourist traps. It is the saddest things for me to spend on of my few meals on vacation at a place that over charges you for the poor imitation or watered down version of a local cuisine. That is why I have to share some of the best place I at at on this trip to Barcelona.

For a full foodie day start off with a coffee here. Satan's coffee corner is small, quasi-hidden spot in the gothic quarter serving up rich brunch dishes, pastries, and excellent coffee. Hipster vibes are abound, and they're only compounded by the super slow and apathetic service. But despite this you can't help but feel a little cooler leisurely drinking your coffee here, and the food certainly makes up for it. 

For a proper breakfast head to Bubó Bar, right next door to world renown Bubó patisserie. If you are an eggs and bacon kind of person (like I often am!) you might be hard pressed to find it at other places in Barcelona. Especially if you are looking to avoid the very touristy places. Luckily there is Bubó Bar, situated right in from to Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral. Tables are limited, but their farm fresh eggs and incredible breads and pastries are worth the wait.

If you love a good donut then definitely pop into Chök, located in the heart of Las Ramblas. If you don't love donuts, who are you? No but in all seriousness, there are goodies for everyone here including truffles, churros, and other beautiful and artisanal pastries. Beware though, choosing just one is nearly impossible.

For cocktail hour and tapas you must go to El National. It is located in Eixample neighborhood (read more about Barcelona's various neighborhoods in this post) on the main stretch of Passeig de Gràcia. This parking garage turned high end "gastronomic experience" is beautifully designed and won't break the bank. There are several areas and bars to choose from including a tapas bar, oyster bars, cured meats bar and more.

For dinner you'll need to head to the beach for authentic paella that is rumored to be the best in Barcelona. Xiringuito Escribà is a spot on the boardwalk serving up seafood and sangria like none other I've had before. You can even watch your paella get cooked up in their open kitchen, but likely you'll be more focused on the seaside views or whatever delicious appetizer is in front of you.

Special shout out to Sal for being our foodie guru throughout this trip and leading us to many delicious meals!

 

Minimalist Packing: Summer in Europe

I have wanted to do a minimalist wardrobe packing post of ages! And I am finally organized (with enough photos) to do one. This post is essentially a what I made, what I wore, and how to pack light (one of my travel resolutions!) all in one. Although, it doesn't include the few electronics or toiletries I brought along with me, and for the sake of not droning on forever those will have to wait for another time.

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Clothing

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For my 2 weeks in Europe this September, easy day dresses (that are easy to wash if needed) were my go to. I prefer simple silhouettes that can be worn with any shoe like the ones pictured above and below. The black one on the top left is a tencel number from Zara's Join Life collection, and the one on the right is a just a striped t-shirt dress.

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Again with the easy dresses, and these two I made! If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I love to get my sew on (this girl over here is really getting to her slow fashion). And this summer I challenged myself to make as many garments as I needed to take along with me to Europe instead of buying new stuff. In total, I made 2 dresses, a skirt, 2 tops, a necklace and a bag for this trip! On the left, you'll see I am wearing a me-made grey and white striped linen shift dress with a v-neck, and on the right a boxy cotton number that ended up being perfect for the beach.

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When packing for longer trips I stick to what I love to wear, that generally means denim, stripes, linen, and tees. Some of my most worn tops were a self-made navy striped breton top tee, a self-made black linen top, my Everlane white linen tank and navy boxy tee. I also packed 2 more striped items, one a shirt dress and the other a t-shirt dress, because I can never have enough stripes. On the bottom, I kept it super minimal with a pair of black high waisted jeans, denim cut-off shorts, and a black linen wrap skirt that I drafted and made myself!

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outerwear

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Outerwear can take up a lot of precious real-estate in your carry on so I bring items that are layerable on the plane and can work with every outfit I pack. This year my denim trucker jacket was the savior of cooler mornings and evenings. And an item I never leave at home is my 4-year-old Uniqlo Ultra Light puffer jacket. This thing is light enough to fit under any jacket for added warmth but thin and light enough to get tucked away in the smallest of handbags. When all else fails and I just couldn't bear to wear either of those layers, I would just steal my boyfriends grey cardi, because after all sharing is caring.

Shoes

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Shoes, much like outerwear, is bulky and if you are like me you probably have a very hard time keeping this category to a minimum. But now I have a pretty tried and true method of packing footwear when I am planning a variety of activities. I forget about heels, I may wear them once for a few hours but the nuisance of packing isn't worth it. Instead, I opt for a simple, versatile and comfortable sandal that can be dressed up like my broken in Madewell leather sandals on the left. I also always pack my rubber Havaianas that double as a house slipper and beach sandal. And finally I have a walking/travel sneaker like my Supergas on the right, this is the shoe that will bail you our when your dogs are barking after days on days of exploring.

accessories & bags

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Last but not least the accessories! This is the key to variety in my outfits when I pack light. I usually have a pair of earrings or two, a bracelet and a couple of necklaces tucked away. A scarf, and belt that can be work at the hip or natural waits is always useful. And then a pair (or two) of sunglasses.

As for bags, I am not much of a minimalist, but fortunately, the bags I take can fit within one another and take up very little space. I use a Fjallraven backpack as my hand luggage while traveling. I find that the wrap around zipper just makes accessing all the stuff in my bag so much easier when on the go, and it fits a lot without being heavy or bulky. I also always have simple tote bag squirreled away for those moments when I need to stash a layer or pack up a beach blanket. But for nicer dinners or slightly dressier outfits, I take a small black leather cross body bag. It is simple enough to wear during the day but looks nice enough for a night out. And finally, this year I took a special beach bag I made from a clothesline. Normally I would probably skip this item but since I made it and love it I brought it with me and did get a bit of use out of it on our beach days.

And that is everything! All of this (plus my toiletries) fit comfortably into my lovely Away carry on. I will be writing a review on this suitcase soon, I wanted to use a few times first before posting, and now I finally have seen both the good and the bad and can give a comprehensive review.

I hope this packing summary helps anyone who is trying to pack a bit lighter. Let me know if you have any packing hacks or holy grail items!

A Costa Rican Itinerary

What feels like too long ago, I spent nine glorious days with my sister in Costa Rica. When deciding on where to go within the country we couldn't decide between the Caribbean or Pacific coasts, and missing the rainforest wasn't an option so we decided to get a see of all three! If you are looking for a weeklong Costa Rican itinerary, here it is!

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When & Where to Go

If you are looking to visit many parts of the country as I did, January to April are a pretty safe bet weather-wise. This period is high season but unlike most major beach destinations in the region Costa Rica doesn't feel super touristy. Maybe it's because of the country's strong commitment to eco-tourism, regardless it was quite a treat!

We flew into the capital, San Jose, and spent an evening and half of the next day exploring the city before heading for the Pacific Coast (3 nights) by bas (check out bus schedules here). We decided to go the bohemian town of Montezuma on the Nicoya peninsula. One hour and a half bus trip, a sunset ferry ride, and a second 2 hour bus later and we were there! Next was off to the Rainforest (2 nights). We rode past banana plantations and into the mountains toward Santa Elena, Monteverde. After a day or so of hiking and ziplining across the rainforest canopy, we chose to leave the mountains early to head to laid back Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and spend our last days on the Caribbean Coast (3 nights).

 

Where to Stay

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We stayed in hostels throughout our trip, and we didn't book ahead for any of them except for Hostel Bueko in San Jose. Bueko is an awesome place a little way out of the city center. The key to finding a good hostel are reviews, reviews, reviews. But honestly in Costa Rica you just need a safe place you can lock up during the day while you are out exploring! When I return with more people in town I will probably opt for an airbnb

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What to Do

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Monteverde

Arenal Volcano & La Fortuna

Ziplining over the rainforest canopy

Hiking & butterfly watching

Puerto Viejo

Playa Negra

Punta Uva & Punta Cocoles

Surfing

Montezuma

Montezuma Beach

Montezuma Waterfalls

Tortuga Island & Snorkeling

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Where to Eat

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In Montezuma we managed to eat at Bar Restaurante Moctezuma not once, but twice! Sitting right on the Montezuma Beach the views are undeniably beautiful and they offer all 3 meals a day.

Tree House Restaurant & Cafe is literally a restaurant in a tree! It's a little touristy but has awesome ambiance. And if you are in the area you must go to Taco Taco, we ate there at least three times in the couple of days we were there.

There are many great restaurants in Puerto Viejo's town center, but if you are looking for a fun and more upscale meal try KOKi Beach Restaurant & Bar. The cocktail menu was great and the ambiance colorful and totally beach chic.

Other Things to Know

You will have to pay an exit tax of about $30 USD at the airport, have some cash ready so you aren't caught of guard. Public buses take longer than private shuttles but they are significantly cheaper and you get to see more of the country than you would with private transport. 

¡Pura Vida!