Saturday, September 18th is National CleanUp Day hosted by Clean Trails. Inspired by the mission to take personal responsibility for caring for our public spaces, I thought what better way to participate than with a beach clean up in my own backyard.
Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine you’re walking along a beautiful beach. The waves are rhythmically crashing on the shore, the sand is warm beneath your feet, there’s a gentle breeze in the air. It’s heavenly…until you accidentally trip over a used plastic water bottle on the ground.
Start to look closely, and there’s trash scattered all along the beach. Some big pieces, like water bottles, as well as small plastic pieces barely visible in the grains of sand.
We have all heard or read the frightening statistics about trash in our landfills and oceans. Visit any local park, hiking trail, or beach and it’s plain to see.
According to Parley, 8 million metric tons of trash end up in our oceans every year. The majority of that trash ends up at the bottom of the ocean or in a gigantic whirlpool of collected debris called a gyre, but some also washes up along shore.
Then, of course, you have the trash that left behind by beach or park-goers. This may be purposely done or by mistake, but either way, it’s there.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the problem. Looking along the beach, it’s clear to see that I could not clean up all the trash in one day by myself. But just because it’s a BIG problem, doesn’t mean that we should do nothing.
I’ve found that one way to cope with the overwhelm that this problem undoubtedly leaves is to find a way to take action in my own little pocket of the world. The action may feel small, and sometimes insignificant, but if everyone did the same, the effect would surely be a great one.
The first way I take action is spending at least 5 minutes of my beach time cleaning up the trash that I see littered among the sand. This couldn’t be easier and is such a simple way to make a direct impact on a shared local space. In fact, according to Clean Trails, studies have shown that the thing that inspires people to pick up litter the most is seeing other people do it. You never know who you may inspire by picking up a single piece of trash.
I keep a pair of gloves in my beach bag to make the beach clean up as safe and sanitary as possible. By keeping gloves handy, I also never have an excuse to not pick up the trash that I walk past.
The second way is to take measures to reduce waste in my everyday life. This is a process and requires some planning and foresight. If you’re not sure where to start with this, allow me to help you! Come along with me on a recent beach clean up. I’ll show you what I found and then recommend some of my favorite eco-friendly products that you can use in your own life to reduce the amount of trash created in your day-to-day life.
Let’s start with a basic one – plastic beverage bottles. Sometimes on my beach clean ups, I find a whole bottle, other times it could be a cap from one or the plastic ring that goes around the top.
Snag a reusable water bottle. I love my Yeti, but you can find options as cheap as $10 at your local store or online. They’re easy to transport, keep your liquids cool, and most importantly, you won’t have to buy those pesky plastic bottles anymore.
I’m a big advocate for keeping up with your oral hygiene, but I avoid these single-use flossers as much as possible. Unfortunately, I have seen these on the beach quite often. I don’t recommend picking these up unless you have gloves or a way to protect your hands!
The refillable floss pod from Quip is my go-to. It’s an investment up front at $30, but with that you receive a sturdy, reusable, refillable pick that comes in its own storage case as well as a floss refill pod. One floss pod replaces up to 180 single-use floss picks. Quip also offers a refill plan for $5 every 3 months, so you’ll never run out of floss.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found shoyu packets, candy wrappers, or pieces of plastic takeout containers buried in the sand or floating in the water.
If you can, pack your food at home. Who doesn’t love a beach picnic anyways? Although it takes a bit more effort, packing your food in glass jars or reusable containers (and leaving all packaging at home) prevents those gusts of wind from carrying any loose packaging down the beach and out of reach.
Of course, living in the world we are in now, masks are a part of our daily lives. As convenient as the disposable masks are, sadly they are made from mixed materials and can’t be recycled. On this particular day, I found three different face masks in the sand within a few minutes of arriving at the beach. Again, be as safe and sanitary as possible when removing these off of the ground.
Opt for reusable masks when you can. I love finding makers online through Etsy with fun designs. And when you buy masks in this way, you directly support small businesses, artists, and makers. A win-win!
Take a close look at the sand beneath your feet and you’ll start to notice tiny pieces of plastic or styrofoam mixed in with grains of sand. Pieces that measure 5 millimeters or less are called microplastics and they wash up from the ocean onto shore. These microplastics are created when bigger pieces of debris break down in the ocean and then wash up on the shore.
Of course, you can’t really “swap” out microplastics. But what you can do is commit to using less of these materials in your day-to-day life. You don’t have to be perfect with this practice by any means. Plastics are extremely prevalent in our modern lives and avoiding them completely would take a concerted – and quite frankly, difficult – effort. But we can all make conscious choices to help decrease the amount of trash we each create.
We only have one planet and it comes down to each of us to take responsibility for the ways in which we care for it. Next time you’re at the park, beach, or trail, it only takes a few moments of your day to pick up any litter you see. Remember to opt for sustainable eco-friendly choices when you can. Together, our small daily choices can add up to a healthier world for all of us.
“Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”
– Congressman Bill Richardson
June is Men’s Health Month. It’s a month that aims to bring more awareness to men’s health issues and encourage men, boys, and their families to seek advice for early disease detection and prevention.
Promoting better health is one of the reasons why Sensei Farms was founded. We have a unique perspective that produce should not only be delicious, but also, always highly nutritious. Which is why we employ a team of health experts and dietitians whose jobs are dedicated to maximizing the nutrition in our products.
Dr. Milton Stokes, one of our health experts and VP of Scientific Affairs, recently joined our team. He has a wealth of knowledge in health and dietetics and even wrote a New York Times Best Seller. He has quite the credentials, so I was “stoked” that he agreed to an interview where he shares his thoughts on men’s health.
Milton, we’re so excited to have you on the Sensei Ag Team! Can you tell us about yourself and what you were doing prior to joining Sensei Ag?
Thanks! I’m thrilled to join a company focused on transforming health. I’m a dietitian, so Sensei Ag’s mission is important to me. Nearly no one in the US eats enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, it’s been called a consumption crisis. I want to help change that.
I’ve worked in agriculture for the last 7 years, and I’ve always been a food and nutrition person. I started out owning a restaurant in Kentucky with my mom. Then I studied dietetics and became a dietitian working in hospitals and nursing homes in New York City providing nutrition care and leading clinical nutrition teams. I also wrote as a freelancer for magazines, newspapers, and web sites, and I had a few book projects—all focusing on food, nutrition, and dietetics in one way or the other. Writing felt like a better way to reach more people to talk about the healthfulness and joy of good food.
In terms of education, I got a masters in public health and did my PhD in communication and marketing where I focused on health communication. For my dissertation I examined the body image of Hispanic females in the context of how much media they were consuming as well as the type of media.
After the PhD, the next natural step felt like it should be teaching, and I had a tenure-track professorship—still focused on food, nutrition, and health communication. In 2013 my students were asking questions about food labeling that led me to do some additional exploration about the topic. I started asking questions to colleagues in the Ag industry, and those conversations opened the door to me working in Ag. While I loved higher education, it felt like the right time to explore food production and agriculture more deeply.
In my work, I saw myself as this connector, someone to bring the nutrition and food community together with agriculturalists. A lot of consumers were interested in how food was produced—or as I like to say, “How does food happen?”—but the people talking about food production weren’t from agriculture; they hadn’t been on farms or talked to farmers or ranchers, and a lot of their information about agriculture was coming from documentaries, which to me, were more like shockumentaries.
I created opportunities to bring these stakeholders together so they could learn from each other and then share that knowledge with societal audiences. What a transformative experience for me!
That is quite a journey! You clearly stay busy. What is a project you’ve enjoyed working on?
One of my favorite projects has been the ongoing work that I’ve done with dietitians, physicians and food professionals in the Philippines. I have attended their annual conferences for a number of years where I was an invited speaker, exhibitor, and organizer of workshops and immersive experiences where I took stakeholders to explore agriculture. We visited a vegetable seed company as well as a row crop farmer. It was very interesting to hear from the growers and plant scientists about the challenges and opportunities in the Philippines. I’ve made some wonderful friendships and see some of my colleagues from the Philippines at nutrition conferences around the world.
What a great example of how health and nutrition is universal. So June is Men’s Health Month. What is “health” in today’s modern world and what does a “healthy lifestyle” look like?
Health is balance, wellbeing, joy, adequate sleep, and good food. Not everyone has attained this or keeps it consistently. There are bumps in the road and barriers. Achieving health takes a lot of resources, and progress can be easily derailed. I work on health every day and see it as a process.
What are a few health areas that men often overlook or should focus more on?
Men don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. The numbers are just so low. I’ve looked at why this is, and other organizations are also focused on this. Despite all that’s been done to communicate the healthfulness of fruits and vegetables, men—and women, too—consume very low quantities. I don’t think we have a knowledge deficit: most people know fruits and vegetables are good for them. But what about taste? I think one barrier is coming from produce that doesn’t perform consistently, and if you think about packaged food or food from quick service restaurants, it’s almost always consistent. Eaters know what they’re going to get when they purchase a meal from one of these restaurants or buy packaged snack foods. What about fresh fruits or vegetables? As a parent, my kids are so disappointed when I cut open a melon that’s hard and bland.
Think of the possibilities if we could produce consistently crave-able fruits and vegetables? This is what makes working at Sensei Ag so exciting! We care about flavor… that experience when you enjoy the perfect tomato, for example. That’s who we are and what we want to bring to more people.
Agreed, that is the Sensei dream. Speaking of your kids, do you have any favorite hacks that help you and/or your family achieve better health?
Plan ahead. Map out your meals so you aren’t stuck last minute trying to figure out what’s for dinner. Planning can help avoid family frustration and fight food waste. And I’m a big fan of convenience foods. I always told my patients when I worked in healthcare that canned and frozen fruits and vegetables were great choices to have on hand. Yes, I love fresh, but frozen mango or frozen blueberries are always ready when I am, and always nutritious. If you can save time and still eat well, go for convenience items.
I really appreciate that response from a dietitian! This has been awesome, thanks Milton. If there is only one thing you’d like our readers to take away or remember, what would that be?
The perfect diet is the one that offers a balance of good-for-you nutrition and deliciousness. Enjoy the food you eat.
Sensei Farms grows food that people want to eat. By design, we deliver the freshest, tastiest produce so that people can experience fruits and veggies at their best. Growing beautiful, delicious peppers, greens, tomatoes and more is only part of our reason for being. As a part of Sensei Ag, Sensei Farms works every day to address the gaps in nutrition, food security and sustainable agriculture. We want communities to have access to fresh and healthy options from a farm that preserves natural resources and optimizes from seed all the way to sandwich (or salad, smoothie, soup, sauce, etc.). Thus, Sensei Farms was built to leverage plant and nutritional science and innovative analytics to provide the highest level of nutrition in a way that supports the clean air, water, resources, people and planet. All of this helped us establish the ultimate feedback loop between agriculture, technology, human health and eating. Oh, and the gold standard for delicious.
Built on Benefits
The list of benefits to the Sensei method of farming are many. Every day we work to grow and learn. To help you get to know us, here are five ways our farm shines:
The proof is in the pudding. Or the salad? The salsa? Gazpacho? For more “proof”, visit our recipe section.