There is no way we can deny that humans generate a lot of waste. And it is too the point where our oceans and forests are filling up with trash.
If you don't believe that some people use forests as their own personal trash cans, then I welcome you to come to Seattle and hike on any trail within 1 hour from the city.
I think I can comfortably say that most people would like to reduce their trash usage, but just don't know where to start.
And the thought of changing everything we use can be overwhelming (which is the same feelings I had about it as well).
So in this episode, we talk about the most common everyday items that are used, and how to swap them out for more sustainable options without it feeling overwhelming.
Can We Swap Any Item For a Sustainable Option?
Since sustainability is such a hot topic right now, the demand for items which are eco-friendly or reusable has grown significantly.
For example, now they are making straws out of avocado pits instead of plastic, which reduces plastic consumption and doesn't waste avocado pits.
There might not be a direct alternative for every single item yet, but we can do the best we can with the options currently available.
What To Expect From This Episode
- [2:45] Stephanie Lecovin became a nutritionist and dietitian but her passion was around environmental sustainability
- [6:30] What is the definition of sustainability
- [8:00] Is there a way to predict the future outcomes of different practices we implement now
- [12:00] Is sustainability the same idea as recycling
- [13:45] Can the recycling process create microplastics that cause more issues to the environment
- [16:00] We can clean up the ocean on one end, but the producers are adding more plastic to the other end
- [17:00] What are some sustainable options for clothing
- [18:15] Where can you find dresses to use for special events without having to purchase a one-time use dress
- [20:00] How can you replace ziplock bags
- [21:45] Many people use grocery bags as their garbage bag, what is a good alternative
- [24:00] When it comes to bottled water, is it bad to drink water from a plastic bottle
- [28:15] What are some good options for water sources if you live in an area with bad tasting water
- [30:45] When on the run and the only option is plastic silverware, what can you do
- [33:15] A lot of butcher shops wrap meat in plastic or styrofoam, what is a good alternative option
- [34:45] There are lots of different ways to use cleaning products that are less chemically ridden
- [39:00] Another part of sustainability is food waste
- [43:15] How can we get GMO foods out of our diet
- [48:00] Learn how Stephanie has been able to implement sustainable practices at her local school district
Resources From This Episode
Some of these resources may contain affiliate links, which provides a small commission to me (at no extra expense to you).
- Products that acceptable at local composting facilities- Learn More
- Stink Movie: Documentary about harmful chemicals around us- Watch Now
- Clean line of cosmetics- Learn More
- Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming- Read Now
- Biodegradable Ziplock Bags- Learn More
- Avocado Pit Straws- Learn More
- Berkey Water Filters- Learn More
- The Environmental Working Group has lots of resources- Learn More
Transcript For Episode (Transcripts aren't even close to 100% Accurate)
Bryan:00:00:16We've all seen the videos of animals that are stuck in trash or that seed turtle that had the straw stuck in its nose. And I think we can all agree that these videos are very sad, but how can we help reduce the overall consumption of single use items? What's up everyone? I'm Bryan Carroll and I'm here to help people who have an injury or illness that holds them back from enjoying the outdoors. And I think we can all agree that we want to help the planet to be in better condition when we leave than when we arrived. But the big question is where do we start when preparing for this episode? I was trying to think of all the different products we use every single day that are either single use or it doesn't break down very easily. So in this episode we will walk through a lot of everyday items and how we can find better options that are more eco friendly.
Bryan:00:01:06But before we dive into this episode right now, I am collecting information about what you like and will love to see changed with this podcast. So by taking the survey you will be automatically entered to win $100 gift card to a place of your choosing. That way you can choose to support whatever business you would like. So to fill out the survey, go to summit for wellness.com/survey and it should take you less than two minutes to complete. Now let's dive into my conversation with Stephanie and LA coven. Definitely LA coven is a certified nutritionist and registered dietician who has been working with passion since 2005 on creating systemic change around environmental sustainability, food systems, human health and nutrition. She maintained a private nutrition practice for almost 10 years and taught nutrition at several local community colleges before shifting her focus from private practice to leadership, wellness and sustainability in the Lake Washington school district in 2015 thank you for coming onto the show, Stephanie.
Bryan:00:02:07Thanks for having me. Of course, and I definitely think this is a topic that we should be talking about a lot more, especially since there's all the talk around climate change and people are looking for more ways to just have a more sustainable practices in their daily life. And I think this is a topic that you know, even if we can make small changes, it's going to go a long ways when we have seven plus billion people on this planet. So I'm excited to talk to you more about different ways to start integrating more sustainable practices in our lives. But before we do that, can we dive into your background a little bit and tell us a little bit about being a nutritionist and a registered dietician and some of the projects that you've been working on? Well, I became a certified nutritionist through Bastia university
Stephanie:00:03:00Here in the Seattle area in 2004. I've got my masters in 2004 in nutrition and I became a registered dietician in 2005 and I was in private practice for about 10 years working with people on modifying their diets and taking them on food shopping tours and doing kitchen makeovers. And I loved that work. It was really terrific and I worked a lot with low income people who are on limited incomes and people who are elderly or disabled. And Mmm, it was very fulfilling. But my background prior to that was in environmental studies. And I found that what, where my interest just kept shifting was toward environmental sustainability. And so aye started working. Just little bit by bit. With our school district, I'm on [inaudible] on trying to incorporate different aspects of sustainability into different schools. So it started with some pilot projects where I would work more from the angle of nutrition but also looking at healthier food systems and that's a whole other topic.
Stephanie:00:04:18But really I then got into working with PTA PTSA so that the parent teacher association or, or it's also called PTSA parent teacher student association and that is the largest child advocacy organization in the country. And I became a PTA, PTSA president. And the whole time I was doing that, I, I loved it. But the whole time I was doing that, I was really also trying to work the sustainability angle with the school where, where I was volunteering. And [inaudible] bit the culture of the school started changing, you know, partly I suppose from the work I was doing, but also because times are changing and people are seeing that there's a real need for substantive changes, not just, you know, little bit by bit, but either a little bit by big but on a huge collective impact level. But also at on a larger scale with policy. And so here I am today and I can talk a little bit also about through PTSA, the positions that we've developed and, and where we're going with that.
Bryan:00:05:34Yeah. Well, definitely. And talk about the work that you're doing in this school district a little bit later on because from my understanding it can be very difficult to make changes in school districts just because of resources available and costs and whatnot. And I think a good example of that was Jamie Oliver years ago, probably over a decade ago, trying to make some changes. I forget what state that was, what city that was, but there was a lot of resistance and I think a big changes caused a lot of resistance, which is why, and this episode I want to talk more about small changes that we can start to make because I think if you make too drastic of a change right off the bat, then that's a less sustainable approach for individual people. So making the small changes, I think can have more drastic measures in the long run. So since we're talking about sustainable practices, can you give us a good definition of what sustainable is?
Stephanie:00:06:34I'm sure. So sustainability is, is often defined as meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. So on sort of a practical level living a more sustainable lifestyle would involve making decisions about what we eat, what we buy, the energy we use, the the items we throw away. You know, making decisions that are guided through a lens of sustainability. So you're thinking about the life cycle of let's say a product. So if you're, if you need water, you're thinking about getting your stainless steel water bottle and refilling it rather than going to Costco and getting, you know, a 24 pack of single use water bottles because you're thinking about where those water bottles going after, after I use them.
Bryan:00:07:26And since you mentioned meeting the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations like when plastic started to become a really big thing at that point, people didn't really understand like the longterm impacts that having all these plastics in the world can do. So how can we now look ahead 2030 40 years to see what type of impact what we're doing now can have on the future?
Stephanie:00:07:58Well, that's what people are doing now. I mean, that's what scientists are doing and they are making projections, predictions that that don't give us 30 or 40 years. I mean, they're, they're given us 10 to 12 years before we, not before all of a sudden everything is shot to hell. But before the damage that we've done will be irreparable. So, you know, while, while I do, I've been working with school districts for a while and also as a nutritionist for awhile. And so I know that often people can get overwhelmed by the idea of these huge changes in making huge changes all at once. It makes sometimes the end, the whole idea of climate change for a lot of people, I think can be so overwhelming that they feel incapacitated by the enormity of it. And so we definitely don't, I mean, in, in the work that I do, I definitely don't want to do that.
Stephanie:00:08:54But I think that the time has really passed for the mindset to be, Oh, if I just, you know, make this tiny little change or make that tiny little change, but I go along with life as usual that everything's going to be okay cause it's, it's, that's not really what I'm w what scientists with a huge majority of scientists are telling us. They're telling us that the time is now to make significant changes. Now can we take those changes and boil them down and, and have them be a little bit more gradual in our daily lives? Absolutely. You know, you don't have to start with completely revolutionizing your whole life tomorrow. I think there are definitely ways to incorporate changes no, gradually, but we are needing to kind of fast track them. And this is all for, this isn't like for me, I'm 47.
Stephanie:00:09:46This isn't as much for me. This is for my children. This is for everybody's children and for their children. And so I think we need to understand that. Mmm, okay. Gaining a heightened consciousness around this and start thinking, starting to think about things through the sustainability lens is it's something that at some point soon it's not really going to be optional. So we might as well start to incorporate the changes, you know, as quickly as we can and on level that will have the greatest impact. Not focusing on the things as much, maybe that won't have the greatest impact, but focusing on the things that will have the greatest impact. So that we can change that consciousness, change our culture around waste and around pollution and around life cycle of things. And you know, there is a someone named Paul Hawkin I edited a book called drawdown.
Stephanie:00:10:49He wrote a book called draw down. It's [inaudible] I'm subheading on that is the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reduce global warming. And that was published in 2017. And you know, it's kind of, I have all the sustainability chairs at the schools that I work with. I recommend that everybody get the book too. It's not one that you just sit down, you know, poolside to read, cover to cover. But you can, but it's really, really well referenced and very well done. And it goes through the those changes that can be made to have the greatest impact on climate change. And so two of the top Mmm things on that list and they list a hundred things that can be done and some of them are not things that you and I are doing right. Some of those things are have to do with like global systems or national systems. But but some of those things are really some of the top things. Two of the top things are related to to us and our daily decisions and those are around food choices and food waste. So
Bryan:00:11:54I do recommend that book for anybody interested in really diving into this. So a couple of decades ago we had the big push for recycling. We had the reduce, reuse, recycle, repeat. And now we have sustainability. Are they one in the same or is there differences between the two?
Stephanie:00:12:12I think that sustainability incorporates a lot, a lot more than just reduce, reuse, recycle. But I would say [inaudible] let's say in a school district. But I can also say that if, if I were counseling somebody, let's say about sustainability in there life that I would [inaudible] re I would really put, reduce as reduce and reuse at the top and then recycle is you know, recycling is great, but we've got a major, major issue globally with recycling too. Now, especially with recycling plastics, since we can't send our plastics off to China anymore. There's a major issue with recycling. And so I would say that reducing is number one. You know, reusing is number two, and those are two of the top things that you can do in your daily life. Mmm. In order, you know, to help reduce waste and reduce the impact on climate change. It really comes down to the impact on climate change because all of these sustainability issues do impact climate change. And that's what most greatly affects our survival.
Bryan:00:13:23And I don't know if you know the answer to this question, it just popped in my head. But during the process of converting recycled plastics into other products, does does that end up causing more microplastics that somehow get into the environment and can actually cause more damage to the, the environment by losing track of all those microplastics?
Stephanie:00:13:50Oh, I haven't heard that. I haven't heard that in the recycling process that microplastic pollution has. Cause there are a lot of things causing microplastic pollution though and things that people can
Stephanie:00:14:04Directly impact by their choices and what to do. Things like, just never buy or use glitter good. There's just bad, it's a disaster. And most schools have a ton of glitter. Preschools is fed, you know, like they kill all of them. Black, lots of people like to use a glitter. It's really bad. It gets into the environment and you can't really filter that out. Similarly microfiber, you know, we microfiber causes microplastic pollution and that's a lot of what people buy with clothing and with rags. I mean, I started a green cleaning program at our school, not really, and I was like the head of sustainability and I didn't realize that I shouldn't be using microfiber cloths for the green cleaning program. That's what was recommended by the department of health. And so we ordered all these microfiber cleaning class and then it's one of the sustainability chairs and one of the schools, I brought it to my attention and Oh my goodness, I couldn't believe it.
Stephanie:00:15:07So now we're not, now we're using, you know, repurposed rads rather than microfiber cleaning cloths. So there are a lot of place, but, but basically with plastic when you dispose of class, that plastic, a lot of it ends up in the ocean and [inaudible] Mmm. It takes so long for it to break down, but as it's breaking down, it's getting into smaller and smaller pieces and pieces that you can't just pick up. Not that you can even pick up the enormity of the plastic that's in the ocean because there's so much of it. But it does get smaller and smaller and smaller and it gets into everything.
Bryan:00:15:42Yeah. There's some large operations going on to try and clean up the ocean and all they're doing right now is trying to clean up the big debris and it's taking billions or even trillions of dollars just to clean up the big stuff, let alone the, the tiny microparticles. So I think once it gets to a certain size, I don't think we really have a chance of being able to clean it all up, at least not with what we currently have in place for cleaning up pollution. But
Stephanie:00:16:11Well, and, and on that note, you know, you're trying to clean it up from one end. Well, the producers are producing it at the other end and that, you know, not just a little bit there. This is, you know, what a several trillion dollar industry from what, from what I can remember, a $4 trillion industry, I think is the plastics industry. And they generate more than 300 million tons of plastic a year. So, and about half of that is for single use items. So, you know, you can pull it out, but it doesn't really make sense of you're pulling it out only to be replacing it.
Bryan:00:16:48Right. And since you just mentioned a single use items, let's dive into some common everyday items that people use and what are some ways that people can replace it with a more sustainable option? So since you already talked about microfiber and cloths, let's start right there with clothing.
Stephanie:00:17:10Great. So [inaudible] I recommend that people hit up the Goodwill or the value village or you know, any used clothing stores, consignment stores. There are some, I have some amazing clothes that came from a consignment stores or from Goodwill and you know, when, what one person is done with or has outgrown or what, you know, whatever it is, conserve is great clothing for somebody else, especially when it comes to children. So not buying new is one thing. Mmm. You know, another thing is donating your, your own used clothing or giving to friends or doing clothing swaps. I'm not buying microfiber. So choosing fabrics that are natural fabrics. Mmm. Those are a couple of ideas.
Bryan:00:18:02And since you are in the school system and typically at high schools you have dances, what, what are some good ways to have better options for clothing for dances since a lot of times those are just single use.
Stephanie:00:18:19I would say reaching out to other people, either going to a place like Goodwill and finding something, you know, that, I mean it's so inexpensive, you know, you could get a whole outfit for 10 bucks and so that's one way to go. Another is just borrowing from friends, you know, knowing people in your community. It has a lot of benefits. But then one of the benefits is if you live in a community where there, you know, here in Kirkland, Washington we have by nothing, Kirkland, a Facebook group. We have next door we have, you know, all these online forums where you can post something. And pretty much the minute someone posts someone who needs something posts, someone is responding saying, Hey, I have that. Or yeah, if you can, you can borrow that. Or here, I've, I forgot that I had that in. You can, you know, I found it and you can have it. So I think reaching out to your kids' friends or to their, you know, in their community, in your community, it can be helpful.
Bryan:00:19:20And I'm assuming there's probably places you can rent dresses and whatnot as well cause I know you can rent like tuxedos or suits. So I would assume it's the same for dresses.
Stephanie:00:19:29Yes, it is an, I haven't done this, but I do have friends who for VO very fancy occasions, they've ordered dresses. W H I can find the link. I don't remember the name of the, the company. But you've ordered in your size and it gets delivered to your house and you've got a fancy new dress that you then return at the end. That's awesome. Yeah.
Bryan:00:19:52Okay. So another everyday item that a lot of people use our Ziplocs bag. So what's a good way to replace those?
Stephanie:00:20:00[Inaudible] Okay, so if you first I recommend using a reusable container if you can. A lot of people send their kids food to school. In a Ziploc bag or you know, to sports or whatever, if you know you're going to be getting it back and you can train your kids to bring it back. I recommend using stainless steel containers if possible. But if not, I mean there are times when you know you're not going to be getting it back. So there are bad different types of bags that are compostable. And one example is called bio bag. Another is called lunch skins. But we can post all of this. Mmm. There's also for our in our area, Cedar Grove compounds, composting has, and I know this'll be a link, has a list of Mmm. Different items that they take and that they recommend. And so anybody can really look on that list because I imagine that some of the items are made by Ziploc, so you could just look and then order it on, you know, through, through another vendor. But there are just, there's so many options now of compostable, so you don't have to use single use plastic.
Bryan:00:21:13Is paper a good option or is that not as environmentally friendly?
Stephanie:00:21:20I think paper is definitely a better option than plastic, but reusable is a better option than all of them. So I definitely recommend that.
Bryan:00:21:31So a lot of times people will get grocery bags like the plastic grocery bags and then they will reuse them as garbage bags. So what's a good alternative option to Mmm, using plastic bags for garbage.
Stephanie:00:21:45Okay. So this one's a little bit tricky in that. Mmm. Yeah. The recycling, I think you can put direct, like we have a trash bin, a recycling bin, a compost bin. And the compost bin, we can line with a compostable liner. The recycling, I don't even line, I just put our recycled bulls in there and then I dumped them in our larger recycling bin and I just wipe it out. The trash bin is a little bit different there. You can use a compostable liner. They tend not to be quite as durable. And so I would say that, and I'm open to suggestions if anybody has another suggestion. But what I've notice notices it kinda comes down to the least harmful of the options. Definitely reusing another bag is a good idea. Although I, I highly encourage people never do except a plastic bag when they're out, but to bring their own reusable bags.
Stephanie:00:22:47But if you're using a garbage bag, first of all, I would highly recommend that you not get any sort of garbage bag with a scent on it because that scent is a chemical that can cause asthma and hormone disruption. And I'll, you know, cancer, I mean there, there are a lot of, there are compounds that are very unhealthy and anything that's scented and some of those garbage bags are heavily scented. And then just find the [inaudible] garbage bag that has the least amount of plastic. And again, on that Cedar Grove website, they have some recommendations of garbage bags, but you know, like the, the big dark colored plastic bags tend to be like really big. So only use that if you have a really large trashcan and use something smaller if you have a smaller trashcan. Right.
Bryan:00:23:39And then you mentioned earlier about getting bottled water in, swapping that out. What are some good ways to swap out the bottle of water and also from a health perspective, are there any issues with drinking bottled water?
Stephanie:00:23:55There are definitely issues with drinking bottled water. A 2018 study found microplastics in 93% of bottled water that was tested. That was 259 bottles of 11 brands of water that were tested. So people have a real misconception that drinking bottled water is a healthier thing to do, which I would argue is it's not an environmentally, it's just a disaster. I mean it's a disaster. It will take you five seconds to do an online search on the effects of plastic water bottles and there are caps on, on Marine life. It is, the pictures are just horrendous. And so I think that getting single use plastic water bottles, Gatorade bottles, you know, all of that, I think getting those out is really important. And I'm using a [inaudible] either stainless steel or glass, some, some sort of non plastic water bottle. I mean, it's better to have a, if your only option is a plastic reusable water bottle, then use that.
Stephanie:00:25:00But I would argue that it's worth the investment to get a stainless steel water bottle if possible. And you just reuse it where ever you go. Like if you can go to, if, if I'm traveling, I bring it along, I bring it to the airport empty and now our airport at least has a water refill stations. So once I go through security, I refill my water bottle when I'm, I mean we went traveled around Costa Rica and brought our water bottles and we'd go to restaurants and just refill our water bottles at the restaurant. So we didn't need to buy a new plastic water bottles. The other thing is with coffee cups at least around here in the Seattle area, everyone goes out and gets their coffee and all of those coffee cups and up in a landfill and the lid, the plastic lids end up in the landfill. So I recommend getting a yeah, stainless insulated coffee cup if you can. And never using plastic straws. First of all, you never want to put like a plastic straw in your hot drink because then you're just getting more plastic into your body. But also plastic straws are harming Marine life just terribly as well. So there are compostable straws, there are straws made of avocado pits, their straws made from paper. The avocado pit ones seem to hold up quite well. And we can post that link as well.
Bryan:00:26:29Yeah, I haven't heard of avocado pit straws before, so that's neat. I have to look into that. But I have been using a glass bottle for about 10 years now and I just retired the first one I got and I had that for over nine years, so they last a long time. And that's with dropping them. A lot of people think that, Oh, if you drop it or something, then they're easy to break. They don't break that easy, surprisingly.
Stephanie:00:26:53That's incredible. And you know, I, I do recommend if you get a reusable water bottle that you get one of those brushes that can get like a baby bottle brush that can go inside and clean it because I've seen some pretty gross water bottles. And you don't want to get sick. So just making sure you keep it clean, it just becomes, yeah. Yeah. It's, it's seems like a little change. You have been using a glass water bottle for 10 years. Just imagine how many plastic water bottles you have saved. I mean, you one person, I mean thousands of water bottles and that's from one person you have, you've saved that. So any one person can have that much of an impact. So I really encourage people to take that step. It might seem like a big deal, but you just get used to it. It's not a big deal.
Bryan:00:27:43And I have a followup question with that. So, cause sometimes when you go to certain cities, and I'll just say there might be a certain city called Seattle that has terrible drinking water. And a couple of weeks ago I was at a sporting event there and we bring our water bottles so that we can fill up in the stadiums and the water. It tastes terrible. So we ended up not drinking the water at all. If you live in a place that has very chlorinated water or water that does not have Mmm. Or it tastes very good for drinking, what are some good options to get good quality of water so that you have hi, quality of water for drinking?
Stephanie:00:28:28I would say that having a water filter for home is I'm ideal because a lot of people will drink a majority of their water from home. And so we use it in our home. We use a Berkey, a water filter, and that's a local company here in Redmond. And they F filters work great. And I love our water. But there are tons of different options in terms of great water filters. Now there are also some, I, I don't have these, but there are some water bottles that have Mmm. Built in filters. So you could refill the water from [inaudible] tap that maybe it's, it's heavily chlorinated or it just doesn't taste good and it will be filtering the water that you're drinking. So that's always an option as well.
Bryan:00:29:24Do you know if Berkey removes plastic particles at all?
Stephanie:00:29:29I think it does. I would have to double check. The research I did was we've had it for a few years, so the research I did was a few years ago I would have to double check. And, and so the other thing is you can look the environmental working group has it's ewg.org and they just released a tap water database of, you know, lots of different parts of the country and the chemicals and lots of different cities and the chemicals that you need to be concerned with in each of those areas. In terms of the public drinking water. So you can go in and very easily figure out what chemicals might be of concern in your specific city.
Bryan:00:30:16Yeah, that sounds like a fantastic resource. And just so everyone knows, all of these resources are going to [email protected] slash in 94 and we're going to have a whole list of different resources so you don't have to remember all of this information. It'll be right there in the show notes. Let's dive into let's talk about plastic silverware. So if you go out to grocery stores or places like that, a lot of times they have plastic silverware and you're eating that with usually warm food, which probably is not good cause you'll leave out the plastics into your food that way. But what are some good alternatives to the plastic silverware that places provide?
Stephanie:00:30:59So you could be a total nerd about this guy. I mean, you can bring your silverware and bring durable silverware or even compostable silverware. But it's not, a lot of people now might bring stainless steel straws with them to be able to use those. And you can just like, you can bring your water bottle. You can also bring your silverware and you know, those they sell little kind of nicely presented, a durable silverware that is kind of for on the go, but you don't really need to buy anything special. Just take a fork and spoon and knife from your stash at home and and bring it along if you want. And a lot of places also will have durable, you just have to ask for them. So if, if I'm, I were to go to a place to get a coffee and you know, I'm bringing my stainless steel cup or grade and then all they have out are plastic stirrers or plastic spoons.
Stephanie:00:32:06I'm not putting that in my hot coffee. And so they will have durable and you know, behind the counter. So I will just ask for one and they will always give it to me. To use [inaudible] Mo, a lot of places will have that as well, but you can always bring your own too. There are certain things, there are certain Mmm. Items like this that are Mmm. They just require a little bit more planning and a little bit more thinking. And if you're not used to having to think about these things, it just takes a little bit of time. So you might not do it every time. Maybe you'll just do a 10% of the time and then 25% of the time and then, then you just get used to it and it becomes a habit.
Bryan:00:32:50Awesome. And then a lot of grocery stores they wrap, right? Let's say meat products and styrofoam or plastic to help kinda keep the germs off of the meat and keep it a little bit more preserved when it's sitting out. What are some alternative ways to get products like meat so that you're not dealing with the plastics and the styrofoam?
Stephanie:00:33:13Mmm, it might depend on where you go if you if you can shop at a local butcher, that's even better because I would think that you could bring your own container to a local butcher and they would use it or they would maybe wrap it in paper for you. Mmm. You know, if you're going to Safeway or any kind of standard market and it's, and it's already packaged and it's packaged and styrofoam with plastic. Mmm. I, you can ask them if they can package it in something else for you, but it's kind of already done. But I think the value of speaking up is if you don't speak up, they don't know that it's important to you or important to anybody. So if you say something to them and ask them, ask the, you know, the meat department manager, ask the manager of the store, just tell them that this is a value that you, you know, that one of their customers shares. And have your friends say the same thing. You'd be shocked. I mean, stores do often listen to their customers. And so I would say just talk to them about it and tell them why it's important to you.
Bryan:00:34:27And then what about products for cleaning? Especially like cleaning products around the house or using stuff like, Mmm. What's that called? The hand sanitizer and whatnot. So what are some better options for more glue? Grain cleaning.
Stephanie:00:34:44Okay. Okay. So this is an area that I love. So Oh, certain companies like Clorox and Lysol, Lysol also being a sponsor of the national PTA, which drives me absolutely crazy. They have people convinced that that's something's not clean unless it's Lysol clean or it's got a smell like Lysol or Clorox in order to be clean. And they have people [inaudible] living in fear of germs. And well we should be living in fear of is the chemicals that they are, you know, that we are buying that are supposed to make everything so sanitary and clean. Those chemicals cause hormone disruption, they cause they're shown to cause cancer. I mean there are chemicals in the products that are very harmful. So, so I recommend, first of all, never using disinfectant wipes unless there is a reason to disinfect. And so a reason to disinfect might be in the classroom a child has vomited or in the classroom someone is bleeding.
Stephanie:00:35:55I mean, the blood and vomit are reasons for disinfecting. Or if a, if like kids in the classroom are coming down with the flu, then when all the kids are out of the classroom for a while, maybe at the end of the day I'm an adult can wipe things down with let's say a one Lysol one with Lysol wipes or Clorox wipes. But those are, those should never be used by children. And they should really be used very sparingly by adults, not for regular cleanings. So for, for regular cleaning soap and water is what's recommended by the Washington state department of health. [inaudible] Buy soap, I don't mean like Dawn dish washing detergent, I mean, or dish washing soap. I mean like a, a nontoxic dish. So I'm all natural with no scent. And you know, using a cloth to clean it up or even using paper towels, it's better than a white because if you think about the life cycle thing, again, you know, the wipe, you use it once, you throw it in the trash and then it's it's kinda there forever.
Stephanie:00:36:57And then hand sanitizer. There was a recent study that has shown that Mmm, the, that hand sanitizer does not clean as well, does not clean hands as well. And protect against the flu as well as washing your hands just with water. So that's not even with soap. So you're better off washing your hands just with water, then you are using hand sanitizer. And again if, if you are using hand sanitizer, let's say there's a school field trip or you know, you're out and you, you know, your kids for some reason really need to to clean their hands the hand sanitizers or doesn't exactly clean it. But if you need to do that, let's say you've used a outhouse or something I just recommend getting something that has no scent. It has no fragrance.
Bryan:00:37:53Yeah, there's been studies that have been coming out as well that have been showing that putting hand sanitizer on your hands, you're absorbing it into your system, through your skin. And then it's acting similar to an antibiotic on your microbiome because eventually it circulates to your microbiome and starts killing off the microbiome. And your gut. So there's a lot of impact to your body using hand sanitizer then what was previously thought. So that's definitely an interesting point.
Stephanie:00:38:23Absolutely. And, and with wipes, Mmm. You also, if somebody has asthma, you never, you don't want to be around any of that fragrance, quaternary ammonium compounds or found in, you know, the, the disinfecting wipes and they can trigger an asthma attack.
Bryan:00:38:43And then you talked about that a sustainable practices isn't just recycling, which a lot of these options that we were talking about is kind of reusing and recycling a different things or finding a better alternative to [inaudible] instead of having these out in the world anyways. But another part of sustainability is food and food waste. So can you talk a little bit about that as well?
Stephanie:00:39:11I'm sure. So. Mmm. We Americans waste a tremendous amount of food. And, and, and also that is built in to our system of food production. Okay. With, with food subsidies for corn, you know, for GMO corn farmers and for soy farmers and you know, their subsidies that are built in that food is, you know, overproduced and said to children in schools and a lot of that is going into the trash. So there's, there's food waste incorporated at all levels. So but people can control that in their home environment. So I really encourage people to only by what they're going to eat and then cook what they're going to eat or prepare what they're going to eat and to actually eat it. And if they don't need it, you know, the next best thing to, you know, if you're not eating your food, giving it to someone who can't eat it. If you, you're not doing that, giving it to an animal is the next best. So if you have a dog, that might be an easy thing to do. And then after that, the next best thing would be composting.
Stephanie:00:40:24Yeah. But food waste is, you know, a big contributor to climate change because food wasted food comprises a lot of the of what's in a landfill. And because of the conditions in the landfill, that food is not breaking down quickly. It's breaking down really slowly and it's releasing a lot of methane and methane is four times more powerful as a greenhouse gas then then carbon is,
Bryan:00:40:57And I would also say with all those stacks as food waste, that means were growing more food than we need because of people just tossing all this food. And so people were just getting what it is a need, then we might not have to grow as much. Which one also help in the long run
Stephanie:00:41:17And grow. And that is also what people use to justify the use of of GMOs and the use of chemicals, you know, pesticides, Roundup. And they use that as an IX as an excuse saying we wouldn't be able to feed people, but if people just ate what, what they bought and we didn't waste as much food then then I'll, and also moving, shifting more to a plant based diet. I mean I, I eat meat but I just eat meat that is grown without the use of any know, synthetic, any hormones or antibiotics and meat. That's what we call in our family happy meet. I mean, it's not necessarily happy when it's being slaughtered, but it's living a happy life while it's alive and that's really important to our family. And it, it definitely makes it more challenging for sure. We can't just go anywhere to have dinner. Yeah. We have to look ahead and think about it a little bit more. And depending upon where you live, that might be easier or harder. But I'm moving to [inaudible] eating more plants and less meat is something that Ana, again, on like a big picture level and a collective level can make a huge impact.
Bryan:00:42:32Yeah. We a lot of the food that we have, we raise ourselves and that the animals are happy their entire life until the two second moment where it's all over. But up until that point, they have no idea what's going on and they have the best alives. They get lots of food and they get to eat a lot of the scraps that we have if we have any type of scraps. So they definitely have it a lot better than commercially raised animals, that's for sure.
Bryan:00:43:00Oh, since you had mentioned GMO foods and pesticides and whatnot, can you talk about some ways to make sure that you're getting glyphosate out of your food and also if organic foods are worth the little bit of extra cost?
Stephanie:00:43:18Okay. So organics are one way to get GMOs out of your diet, but there are a lot of people who can't necessarily afford or choose to spend their money in different ways rather than going 100% organic. So you know, we, there are some foods that are more heavily sprayed than others. And again, I would refer to the environmental working group, a website that has a list of the dirty dozen, basically the, the 12 fruits and vegetables that are most heavily sprayed. And then the clean, I don't know this year if they had, they changed it every year, but it might be the clean 15 or something [inaudible] dozen or 15 or so foods that are not sprayed that much typically like in a conventional setting. So if you want to pick and choose which ones you are eating organic, choosing organic with I would go with those that are most heavily sprayed, choose those to be organic.
Stephanie:00:44:21And then the clean ones, you know, maybe you'll choose organic or maybe not. Maybe it depends on what's on sale. It doesn't necessarily have to be organic 100% of time. Obviously if you live in a farming community and you know that there's a farm that does it spray or you go to a farmer's market and you know, they tell you their story and they don't spray but they're not certified organic. I mean to me, I, I tend to trust and I will go with, you know, I will buy the transitional farms food or the food from a place that's not necessarily certified organic, but they, they commit to sustainable farming practices. Yeah. And with meat with me, I mean you've already said it. You're doing what's ideal, right. Which is raising around, well we're not raising our own, but we just choose meat that's grass fed, grass finished, you know poultry that's raised without any antibiotics. Hormones, all of that. Yeah.
Bryan:00:45:21And a lot of small farms can't actually afford the cost to get certified, certified organic cause it can be extremely expensive. So but a lot of times they are very open to people coming and checking out their farms too, especially if they are, I know, sell some of their products so you can go in and kind of take a look around and see how they are doing their practice and see if it's something that aligns with what you want to support, which is really nice
Bryan:00:45:47Are there any other topics or ideas that you want to touch on before we talk about your projects going on at the Lake Washington school district?
Stephanie:00:45:59Sure. So one is maybe the main one is cosmetics because I think that's a place where a lot of people, especially women, but really everybody people are exposed without thinking about it and without realizing it. So, Mmm. Our cosmetics industry here are in our country, we have so little regulation around chemicals in, in all sorts of things including body products and cosmetics. So with shampoos, conditioners, lotions, sunscreens makeup, I mean the list kind of goes on and on and on. And in Europe the regulations are a lot stricter. In fact, in most parts of the world, the regulations are a lot stricter than they are here. And so taking the time to find products that are, that are clean I think is really important. The, there's a company that's really doing a great job of that I would say is beauty counter.
Stephanie:00:47:01It's not, it's a, I don't know if it's considered a multilevel marketing company or not, but it's a it's something that, you know, you have a, somebody who you contact to order from or you can do it all online, but it's beauty counter.com. But they are actively lobbying. Mmm. Congress for stricter cosmetics regulations. And I really think that that says a lot there. They also have a partnership with environmental working group now and they do a deeper dive into where cosmetics are coming from. And by cosmetics I'm also referring to bath and body products. But you can educate yourself a lot on their website as well.
Bryan:00:47:49Awesome. Well, let's dive into some of the projects that you are working on at the Lake Washington school district because it can be tough to make changes at school. So I would love to hear how you've been able to successfully do that.
Stephanie:00:48:03[Inaudible] Okay. So I started planting seeds. I'm not sort of figurative seeds a number of years ago and building relationships at one school and okay. Building community. So getting involved with other people who share these values. And some of them didn't necessarily share the values at the beginning, but as we started working together, they learn more and more and and now they share these values. But I think a lot of the work that I've done has really been based on developing relationships and building trust it at a school, at one school, and then my work expanded through the district. So so I started, as I mentioned before, I was a PTSA president and really built a lot of relationships through that and build a relationship with my principal and really built a relationship with my custodian who, who we just love the custodian, the custodian.
Stephanie:00:49:09That's sort of the person who is boots on the ground every day who can make or break you know, some sustainability efforts. So having the, having the support of your custodian and supporting your custodian at a school is very important. But then also I met with with our school districts, a lead person at the time in sustainability. And I had, by that time I had been sending emails and you know, trying to get somewhere around sustainability issues with some other people at the school district. And it had been very challenging. And so I was just really persistent and there came a time where leadership changed at the district and new people came in and those new people had, ah, we're seeing things differently than the previous people and it was a lot easier just start having meetings and talk about, you know, partnerships and how we can all work together.
Stephanie:00:50:13So sometimes it's really a matter of putting in the time, building a community around the issues that are important to you and figuring out which issues are, Hmm, the most important in your school community. So if the students at your school are really interested in climate change, that's what you want to focus on. I would say focusing, keeping it student-centered is really valuable. And [inaudible] I think get you the most traction with parents because this is all about them. This is all about the kids. And so if we can help to empower them and support them to make changes, that is the most ideal way you can do it. Because as soon as one parent's telling another parent, you should do this, you should do that. That parent's shutting down. But if the kids are excited and they bring something home, a parent's much more open to hearing it.
Stephanie:00:51:14Mmm. The other group to really talk with or the teachers because the teachers are the ones who have the greatest impact on the kids. And the parents will listen to the teachers very often where they might not listen to other parents. And so finding which teachers are on board with different sustainability efforts and which ones. So which efforts there, there's so many different areas of potential interest within [inaudible] within the umbrella of sustainability. So whether it's composting or waste reduction or single use plastics or, you know herbicide free schools they're fragrance-free you know, lead, I mean, there are so many transportation. I mean, there's so many different areas. So if you find people who are interested in any of those areas, I think just finding a place to start and building from there, and not focusing too much on the big picture to start, but just on little successes. And if you can make those little, you know, make little changes at a school, you can then bring that to your school district and start having the conversation at that level.
Bryan:00:52:27And so can you talk about some of the small changes that you were able to implement in the school district and some of your accomplishments in there as well?
Stephanie:00:52:36I'm sure. So last year was my first year serving as the Lake Washington school district, PTSA sustainability chair. So I started in the last fall, so a year ago last fall. And now we have now as you've mentioned, we have [inaudible] chairs at 30 schools. So Mmm. So we meet, I meet regularly with monthly with the school districts, sustainability and lead. And then we, the 30 chairs, not all of them usually show up, but a lot of them do. We meet monthly as well. And the district usually sends at least one representative to that. So, Mmm. Last year I brought in women I know who for the U S EPA. And I also brought in a woman I know who works for Northwest center for alternatives to pesticides. So I brought them into some meetings with the school district to talk about green cleaning and and then the other one to talk about getting out glyphosate, which is the Mmm, cancer causing a component in Roundup, but it's also in other pesticide herbicides.
Stephanie:00:53:55So we had these conversations and one thing that the district decided to do is to take life estate [inaudible] products containing glyphosate, this herbicide out of, out of the district. So they eliminated backed, which was terrific. So now none of our schools are sprayed with glyphosate. Another thing they did is they, they are putting no idle zone signs up at every school. So parents will know and students will know that it's important not to idle. Basically, if you're, if you're going to be somewhere more than 10 seconds, you should be shutting off your car. It's a misunderstanding that it takes more energy to restart your car and causes more pollution. But really if it's more than 10 seconds, just shut your car off. They also did a food share pilot and we did, did that in collaboration with the King County green schools program, which is this amazing program here in King County.
Stephanie:00:54:51And what was, what's currently still happening is a lot of the food that students take from the lunch line ends up in the trash or even in the compost, but it [inaudible] is not being eaten. So they did with [inaudible], the city of Seattle, King County green schools in our district did a food share pilot at five schools to try to figure out how to save food from going into the trash or compost by having a share table. So if a kid, let's say takes an Apple or more likely, takes a piece of fruit that could be peeled. So let's say an orange or takes a, a milk and they don't open it at all. They could put it on the share table and another child who wants that food could come and take it from the shared table. Anything that's left over would go into a fridge and that would be picked up by a local organization that helps to feed families who are hungry.
Stephanie:00:55:45Just if, so, like it satisfies so many different areas, right. You're feeding hungry people and you are keeping food out of the landfill. We're also, our district is also giving stipends to green team leaders who would be staff teachers and staff at all of our elementary schools. So that encourages participation by, by teachers and staff in sustainability projects. They formed a green advisory team and I'll be sitting on that. So there are a lot of different areas where we've made progress in other areas where we're still, we're still working. So waste is going to be a big focus for us this year and single use plastics and and also green cleaning and Mmm. Yeah. Then a few other issues.
Bryan:00:56:36Yeah. I think the stuff you've already accomplished is absolutely amazing. Amazing. And I know there's a lot of people that would probably be interested in I tried to figure out ways to get this into their own school district. So what would be a good place for people to find you or reach out to you to talk about different ways they can get a more sustainable practices in their schools.
Stephanie:00:57:01Okay. I would be happy to have people email me. I would love to build more of a coalition of sustainability chairs, especially through PTSA across the country. So if anybody wants to email me my email, my personal email address is Steph LA [email protected] and Mmm. I would prefer if possible to have a, be focused on schools because that's my main area of focus now. That would be terrific. But I also tend to have some sort of presence that our PTA state convention in Washington state. And and if you're a, if anybody who's listening is involved in our, in the Lake, Washington school district or any of the school districts in Washington state, I would really love to talk with them about sustainability efforts in their district or their school.
Bryan:00:58:03Awesome. Stephanie. Well, thank you so much. Is there any final things you want to say before we fully wrap up here?
Stephanie:00:58:10[Inaudible] Oh, I would just say this can all be overwhelming sometimes even for me and I, this is what I'm living and breathing every day. It can be overwhelming and so I find it to be less overwhelming when I can do something about it. And so that's what gets me to jump into action. And having a support system. So being surrounded by people who not just share these values but also who feel inspired to act on them and to advocate I, I think it's really important to have that support system set up because otherwise you can get burnt out really quickly. And we're in this for the long haul. This is about our kids. And this is about the future of our whole world. So I encourage you to find your inspiration and to make little changes and to stay supported and to advocate, to talk to your city council members, to talk to your state legislators. Don't think for a second that your word doesn't matter and that your voice doesn't matter. It really, really does. They, they will listen if enough people are speaking up.
Bryan:00:59:23Awesome. Stephanie. Well, I, I totally think all of this is extremely important, which is why I brought you on and I think he did a fantastic job of breaking down even the small changes we can make that make a huge impact. And like you said just one person having a glass bottle for a decade saved so many you know, tons of bottled water that could be in the landfills or in the oceans or anywhere really. So one person really can make a pretty big impact. And if we all start jumping on board here, then we can make some significant changes in the world. So thank you so much. Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. I hope this episode gave you some ideas on what you can swap out in your own daily life. That would be a little bit more eco-friendly and we don't have to change everything we do, but even a small change like a reusable water bottle can save hundreds to thousands of single use plastic bottles.
Bryan:01:00:20And we mentioned a lot of different resources in this episode. So you combine all of those [email protected] slash 94 remember you have the chance to win $100 gift card by filling out our podcast survey and this should take you less than two minutes to complete. So go to summit for wellness.com/survey to fill it out next week. We have a fun episode where we talk about different ways to improve your sexual function. So let's go learn a little bit about summer BD. I am here with dr summer BD. Hey dr beady. What is one unique thing about you that most people don't know?
Summer:01:00:57So a lot of people don't know that. I grew up in a logging camp living in a trailer on an Island in Alaska. I was actually born in Alaska and had actually been back practice. I have gone back and forth and practice in Alaska as well. So Alaska is definitely home to me and I think I'm a little bit quirky maybe just based on the type of community and isolation that I grew up in in this logging camp and small little native fishing village on [inaudible] Island.
Bryan:01:01:30That's awesome that you keep going back up there. That's so cool.
Summer:01:01:35Alaska definitely has a unique draw. They say, you know, you can take, you can take someone out of Alaska but you never take Alaska out of them. And I know they say that about other States but definitely it's true for Alaska.
Bryan:01:01:48Well what will we be learning about in our interview together?
Summer:01:01:53Yes. So you and I are going to kind of go over just blood. PRP is how we're using it in orthopedics and sexual health for men and women. And like what some of the considerations are for who is and isn't a good candidate for receiving those treatments.
Bryan:01:02:08And what are your favorite foods or nutrients that you think everyone should get more of in their diet?
Summer:01:02:13Yeah, so you know, obviously as a nature pathic physician, I want people predominantly eating a whole foods diet organic when possible, non-GMO, avoiding pesticides. But when it comes to supplements my three favorite are typically collagen cause I'm doing a lot of orthopedic care and I don't need to be rebuilding tissue. And then vitamin D, I feel like everyone who lives here in the Pacific Northwest especially should be on some sort of vitamin D supplement and monitoring their levels. But we even see low vitamin D and sunny climates too. And then I think probiotics, I think that our environment puts a huge assault on our microbiome and one way to help remedy that is by using a good probiotic at home.
Bryan:01:02:58And what are your top three health tips for anyone who wants to improve their overall wellness?
Summer:01:03:05Well, three is very limiting.
Summer:01:03:08I think that relationships probably are my first go to if you don't have good, strong, healthy, loving, supportive relationships and a community of support. I think all of the other things that you do for health and wellness are good all fall short. I think that people are designed to be in relationship and community and thrive in that. But aside from that, I would say food. Your diet is always King. Exercise is clean and then getting good quality sleep is probably the three, like physical things that people should be doing to improve their overall wellness.
Bryan:01:03:47Episode 95 will be an episode you probably don't want to listen to around your kids. So until then, keep climbing to the peak of your health.
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