Leave no trace

Learn simple and effective ways to minimize your impact. 

The weather is getting warmer and with that comes more outdoor activities. As you begin spending more time outside it is important to learn the seven leave no trace principles and utilize them to limit your impact on the earth and make some positive changes. 

The decisions you make while spending time outdoors will impact you, other people, animals, water and the environment for years to come.

In this post I am going to focus on principle number three: Dispose of waste properly.

Carry out what you carry in

This rule is crucial to minimizing your impact on the trails, beach, park, or anywhere outdoors. Whatever you bring must come home with you or make its way to a proper waste/ recycling bin. 
This rule does not only go for energy bar wrappers or plastic water bottles, but food waste as well. Banana peels and apple cores will not decompose at the same rate they normally do if thrown in a land they are not common to. 

Make one piece trash

When opening up that energy bar, or a bag of chips make sure to tear off the edge only slightly to create only one piece of garbage. Ripping it off completely creates a small piece of plastic waste that is likely to get blown away and forgotten about. Potentially ruining the water systems and many habitats. 

Now lets get a little personal, 

How to pack out human and animal waste. 

When nature calls

Urinating outdoors has little effect on the outdoors. But make sure to urinate on rocks, gravel or pine needles when able. This protects the soil and plants and will be less likely to attract animals. 
If you plan on using toilet paper bring only un-dyed and  non perfumed brands. Toilet paper can be buried if already using a cat hole (more on those another time). The best course of action is to pack it out with you. I like to bring a small plastic bag to hold what is being packed out. Burning toilet paper is not recommended as it could lead to causes of wildfires. 

If you need to change your tampon or pad make sure you pack it out with you. If buried they will not decompose and may attract animals digging them up. Campfires will not produce enough heat to burn tampons and will only release toxins into the air. 

Pet waste

If you are bringing your furry companion with you for an adventure make sure to bring poop bags and pack out their waste. Our pets eat a much different diet than the animals in the wild, so when they poop it will not break down in the same way that matches the surrounding environment. Leaving pet waste could lead to unwanted bacteria or parasites, and could even be the cause of algae blooms. 
When your pet makes a number two, bag it up and pack it out with you. Many companies sell smell proof containers that you can store the used bags in. Or all you need is a designated water bottle to clip on your pack and store those stinky bags. 

Make sure to comment if you have any tips for minimizing your waste while outdoors.

Check back soon for when I go over another one of the seven leave no trace principles!

The Benefits of walking

 Living in New York, I like to call this time of the year fool’s spring. One day we are welcomed by the sunshine and weather in the fifties, and the next day slapped in the face with a snow storm. 

As the warm weather is slowly approaching us I have been craving more and more time outdoors.

Taking walks is an activity I begin to find myself doing again after a dull in the winter. And it has many amazing benefits for my physical and mental health. Any form of physical activity will provide a variety of health benefits. According to the CDC regular physical activity will lower your blood pressure, help manage cholesterol and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Our days become so busy that it can be hard to find the time to fit in the recommend thirty minutes of exercise a day. But walking is something that you can do anywhere, any time, with no special equipment or fancy clothes needed. It makes walking the perfect sustainable activity. 

Walking also provides instant mental health benefits. It will help to reduce anxiety, improve depression, and help with better sleep. 

Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, and because of this Harvard health found that it helps prevent against arthritis by keeping your bones and joints strong and lubricated. It also helps to increase your overall muscle strength. 

Whenever I am feeling overly anxious, or my mind won’t stop wondering a walk always helps to bring me back to the present and get me grounded. 

Next time your pillow seems to be the only thing that understands you and you don’t see a point in getting our of bed, remind yourself that you got this. Put on some sneakers and walk right out the door into a better mood. 

For added benefit try walking with a friend, or a four legged companion to provide some company on your journey.

 What is Meditation, and why should I practice?

“The mind is everything. What you think, you become” -Buddha 

Meditation is the act of giving all of your attention to just one thing. Let it be a moment, the way the wind feels against your hair, or focusing on your breath. It is a way of entering a calm and relaxed state of mind. 
With everything going on in the world, it is harder than expected to enter this said relaxed state of mind. But learning about meditation and how to incorporate it into your daily routine will be a beneficial to your mental and physical health. 

Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to the breath, observing it go in and out. Maybe even counting your inhales and exhales. It also involves accepting that your mind will wander, allow it to do so, and finding the strength to bring your mind back to focusing on your breath. When I practice mindfulness meditation I envision my mind to be a bright blue sky and my thoughts to be the clouds. accepting that the clouds are there, and watching them float by, never getting hung up on a specific thought. 

focusing on our breath forces us to be present in the moment, unconcerned about the past and the future. 

Benefits of Meditation

The mayo clinic talks about the benefits mediation has not only on your mental health but your physical health as well. Meditation helps to increase your tolerance and patience and give you tools to deal with stressful situations. 
Meditation will also help your physical health in many ways. It can help manage headaches, control blood pressure and allow you to fall asleep faster. 

Other Types of Meditation

 Mindfulness mediation is just one type of a vast collection of meditative tools. 
Mantra meditation includes repeating an affirmation or a simple word multiple times. Keeping yourself from harmful and distracting thoughts. 
Guided meditation forms a mental scenery or image in your mind, something that is relaxing and calming to you. You can be guided by sights and smells. Or more commonly have an instructor guide you through a visionary experience. 

How do I Meditate?

The first step is acknowledging that you are going to take the next few minutes to meditate. 
Create a quiet setting, turn off all distractions and maybe play some calming music quietly in the background. 
Get into a comfortable position, this could be seated or laying down. Just make sure you are comfortable and can find stillness in whichever position you choose. 
Allow yourself to find a relaxed breath. Let your inhales and exhales come naturally. Try counting your breath, inhale for three and exhale for four. This gives you something to help focus your mind on. 
Have an open mind. Meditation is a skill not easily mastered. It could become boring and frustrating but don’t give up. Keep at it, even if it for three minutes a day, over time you will notice the benefits meditation can bring into your life. 

A zero waste Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is a day of love. A day of celebrating those that you care about. 

It is also a day that produces millions of pounds of waste. Not only are billions of dollars spent on candy, that’s a lot of plastic wrappers, those beautiful bouquets of flowers are also harming the planet. The Seattle times reported that nearly 100 million roses are grown in the United States for Valentine’s day producing almost 10,000 metric tons of Carbon dioxide emissions. 

Keep reading to learn some sustainable ways to celebrate this day of love. 

1. DIY cards

If you are shopping for a card, chances are they are made of a plastic coated paper, covered in glitter and other microplastics. 

Grab some scissors, construction paper, markers and start decorating. Make your card as silly or heartfelt as you would like. Include a poem, five things you love about them or even a simple knock knock joke.

Creating your own card is a meaningful way to tell someone you love them. 

2. A potted plant

Valentine’s day is famously known for a dozen red roses. However, cut flowers have a hugely negative impact on the environment. Most flowers are grown in industrial size greenhouses, require high water use and contribute to chemical runoff.

Show someone you love them with a potted plant, a gift that will last more than a few days. Having plants in your home cleanses the air, can help to reduce stress and boost creativity. 

3. Plan a date 

An experience to share with someone you love is worth much more than a novelty gift. Create memories together that you will have for a lifetime. 

Some ideas could be a hike with a picnic, a trip to the aquarium, homemade dinner, a craft night or even catching the sunset with some blankets and desserts. Special moments like this will bring you closer with someone you love. 

Remember to slow down and enjoy this special day with those around you. 

Three reasons to go outside today

“And into the forest, I go, to lose my mind and find my soul” -John Muir

Being outside on a sunny day, with the breeze brushing your arms and birds singing in the air, does some wonderful things for your body and mind. Keep reading to learn three proven benefits of spending more time outdoors.

Kaaterskill falls, New York

1.You will exercise. 

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. It helps to reduce risk of heart disease as well as other illnesses. And overall improves your mental health and mood. When you take a walk outdoors you are getting great exercise and even using your muscles and making them stronger as you walk against the wind, go up a slight hill, or manage rocky terrain. Try setting a goal to walk for at least twenty minutes a day. 

2. Improve memory. 

Being outside helps to fight against mental fatigue as well as improve memory. Walking outside, or simply enjoying the outdoors for an hour was found to improve short-term memory by twenty percent, a study done by the University of Michigan found that walking outdoors, no matter the season or the weather, does great things for your memory and mental awareness. 

3. Reduce stress. 

Breathing fresh air is an instant stress reliever. Spending time outdoors has been found to have similar effects to a few minutes of meditating. It helps to lower your heart rate and control your blood pressure. Sunlight has been found to increase serotonin levels. This will help you to stay calm and be positive throughout the day. 

There are so many reasons to get moving and get outside, and hopefully these few will motivate you to slow down and take a breath of fresh air. 

Bringing my furry sidekick Lily along always adds extra joy.

How can I be more mindful?

 Three simple things that can be done to slow down your day and become more mindful. 

In this fast paced society it is far to easy to get caught up in a busy lifestyle. Too busy where you have no moments to stop, slow down, and center yourself. Keep reading for my favorite tips to being more mindful. Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment. It is important to be at peace with yourself, open to giving and receiving love and being happier with your day. Below are three exercises to add to your day, or performed any time you are feeling you have lost control of the present moment.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

1. Deep Breathing.

Deep breathing is when you inhale, to fill your lungs as much as you can and letting your belly rise. Studies have shown that deep breathing allows a full oxygen exchange to occur. This slows your heart rate and can lower your blood pressure. Inhale through your nose and count to four. Hold and count to two. And now exhale counting to six. Repeat this at least three times. This exercise will help ground your mind and bring you back to the present moment.

2. Journaling.

I am a big believer in the benefits of journaling. Every night I write about my day. What I am thankful for, what could have been better and how I will improve tomorrow. Journaling is a way for your mind to decompress. Journaling will not only help you sleep better, but it is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.

3. Stretching.

Stretching is a simple mindful activity. You can stretch at any time, any where and it requires no special equipment. Stretching helps to keep your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. As you stretch try and hold for twenty seconds and repeat three times. Stretching should never cause pain. Stretching causes you to slow down and focus on your breathing and the movement.
The link below are some stretches that I do every day:

Always consult your health care provider before making any changes.