How the heck does plastic end up in the ocean? And how does it affect your health?

It's no secret that the world is facing a huge plastic problem - and we are not talking about that p surgery. Plastic is made of a material that is meant to last forever, yet we tend to through away bottles, straws, and plates after using them only once. What's alarming is that huge amounts of it end up in the ocean. It's not sexy to surf or swim among used plastic bottles, fishnets, and bags. Once you start paying attention to plastic, you see it absolutely everywhere. It's wrapped around food and drinks, it's part of the material of your clothes, shoes, headphones, sports watches and bags, it's in your makeup, toothbrushes, shampoo, and the list goes on. Luckily, it is possible to turn this trend, and a lot of people are already leading the way with zero-waste movements, beach clean-ups, and making really cool sustainable brands.

Why should we care about plastic?

Even though plastic has been hugely practical in many ways due to its eternal lifespan, it has become a major environmental issue for the same reason. According to UNEP, every square kilometer of the world's oceans has 63,320 microplastic particles floating around (1). Toxic chemicals from plastic leach out, and by now almost all people have traces of plastic in their blood (2).

MICROPLASTICS: Plastic particles with the size ranging from 1 nanometer to 5 millimeter (3). When plastic enters the ocean it breaks down due to external forces, for example, water. This in turn makes it harder to see and easier to forget.

Some of the main problems with plastic occur because it never breaks down entirely. The most important issues are:

  1. Fish and other sea animals eat plastic, which in turn can lead to hormonal, reproductive and digestive problems.
  2. Humans are indirectly consuming plastic through eating seafood and fish, which in turn can cause the same problems for humans as for the fish and sea animals at high enough concentrations (4).
  3. Humans are also directly exposed to plastic though plastic bottles, food packaging and chemical additives in cosmetics such as BPA, phthalates, and DEHP which are known to interfere with the human hormonal function (5).
  4. Animals are eating and getting stuck in the plastic litter, fishing line nets, plastic bags, balloons, and straps. Research shows that more than 100 million marine mammals are killed each year due to plastic in the oceans (6).

How does plastic end up on the beaches and in the oceans?About 80% of the plastics come from land-based activities (7) (meaning not from boats and ships). Lots of items have drifted off land from the streets, garbage cans, and landfills and into rivers or directly to the ocean. Ships also lose some cargo when they are out in the sea, or caught in a storm. Ocean currents bring the items far from where they originate.Further, small plastic particles enter the ocean through the drains. Some examples of are microbeads in most kinds of toothpaste, dishwashing powders and synthetic clothing fibers that shed in washing machines (8).

What can we do about it?

The problem and the solution to this start on land. Not only are big manufacturing companies responsible, but every single consumer has the power to change this trend through what we chose to buy and consume. Here are some tips:Five things you can do today

  1. Avoid single-use plastic bottles and buy a BPA-free bottle
  2. Change your tooth-brush from plastic to bamboo
  3. Bring your own bags to the grocery store
  4. #stopsucking on plastic straws
  5. Bring your own cup or box when you are getting take away food or coffee

Five things that need some planning

  1. Choose natural toothpaste and cleaning products
  2. Recycle as much as you can
  3. Try to repair what you already have instead of buying new things
  4. Support environmental friendly clothing brands (such as HallaxHalla)
  5. Check out eco-friendly makeup brands made without chemicals

Photo: @vanhamiesAre you interested in learning more? Check out:We also highly recommend the Netflix Documentary "A Plastic Ocean".Big eco-friendly high five!

6 easy ways to eat like a boss on a budget

One thing we get asked a lot is if it's expensive to buy healthy and sustainable food. Luckily this does not necessary hold true. Incorporating some small tips and tricks can make a huge difference on your wallet, thereby making healthy eating affordable to anyone. But first of all we would like to say that investing in your own health is actually the most important investment you will make. Not only does it make you healthy and happy, but also mother earth. When you first start to incorporate new things into a diet it may be expensive in the beginning, but once you have bought for example quinoa you will have it for a good while!If you are making changes to your diet, it may be a bit overwhelming at the beginning. Therefore, we wanted to make this guide to see how you can start out with a more sustainable and healthy diet, but still remain on a budget.

#1. Planning is key 

Walking into a grocery store hungry can lead to a lot of unnecessary spontaneous food choices. Therefore our first tips is to plan what you are going to buy before going to the store. In addition to saving time and money, this will also contribute to prevent food waste. In Norway, every individual on average throws a way 230 000 tons of food yearly! That means that out of every five grocery bags, one goes straight into the trash. Downloading a app, for example Buy Me A Pie makes planning easy and breasy.

#2. Seasonally based 

Buying products according to the season is also a very good advice to bear in mind at the grocery store as seasonal fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper than exotic and imported. In Norway, potatoes, unions, lemons and carrots are in season all year. Oranges are best from October to May, and melons from June to October. Fall is the best season for root vegetables, and early summer is best for local strawberries.  If you want to find out what is in season right now you can check out this guide for Norway.

#3. Quality over quantity 

Choosing organic food is much better for your health and the environment, and the food will taste much more natural. However, it is not always possible or maybe even affordable to buy organic food. In Norway, organic food is still much more expensive, but luckily due to the increased demand this is starting to change. If you are wondering what is absolutely recommended to buy organic, and what you dont have to worry so much about, you can look at this list: "dirty dozen, clean fifteen". For people eating meat and dairy products, which is actually the most expensive food overall, reducing the quantity and rather investing in quality will contribute to a happier healthier diet and planet.

#4. Buying in bulk

Chickpeas, beans, rice and lentils are cheaper if you chose to buy them in bulk and cook them yourself. Other items you can buy in bulk are spices, nuts and flowers. If you go to stores such as Mølleren Sylvia or Økohjertet in Oslo, you can even buy in bulk without using any plastic to wrap your food. In other countries you have stores such as:

  • Gran, Malmö in Malmö, Sweden
  • Maria Granel in Lisbon, Portugal
  • Unpackaged in London, UK
  • Granel in various locations, Spain
  • Unverpackt, Germany

#5. Online grocery shopping 

If you want to buy superfood, supplements, toothpaste or a great shampoo, we really recommend iherb. Iherb is online store in the US and it takes everything from 1-3 weeks to recieve your items. Depending on the country you order from, different rules and regulations apply so you should always check this out before buying. Sometimes it is better to buy many small packages than one big one. Some of our favorite products from iHerb are Calm magnesium, chia seeds, hemp hearts, raw cacao powder, nutritional yeast and spirulina. Amazon is also a great place you buy food in bulk.

#6. Buying frozen food

Frozen food is usually a lot cheaper than buying everything fresh and berries and vegetables are great to have in the freezer as they don't get bad easily. If you are unable to eat your bananas, mangos, avocados or other fruits, it is also really smart og put them in the freezer before they go bad and use them in a smoothie later on.

3 ways to get rid of plastic straws

By 2050 there may actually be more plastic in the ocean than fish, which is maybe the most depressing thought ever. Then again, we still have 33 years to do something about it! This weekend marked the annual international coastal cleanup, arranged by Ocean Conservancy, and held all across the world. Today we spent a couple of hours cleaning up trash (mostly plastic) at Costa da Caparica in Lisbon.1) Be aware that plastic straws are among the top 10 plastic items found at beach cleanupsAs soon as you become aware of the effect those tiny straws can have, you have taken the very first step. Most of the 1 billion (!!) plastic straws we use every day end up in our oceans, polluting our water and destroying sea life. In fact, all plastic that has ever been produced still exists on this earth.2) If you really, really need a straw, get a reusable one! On eBay and Amazon, you can buy a pack of reusable straws for about 2-3 euros. Also, most health food stores, alternative shops, and larger supermarkets usually sell straws made of more sustainable material as paper, bamboo, glass or stainless steel.3) Say no to straws when you order a drinkRemember to remind the waiter to not bring a straw next time you're ordering that delicious Piña Colada.