pick your paradise and protect it.

Updated: Aug 18, 2019


This sign is everything!! haha! But seriously, though.


I love the ocean.


I absolutely LOVE the ocean.


I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, but the ocean has always been special to me. The ocean just gives me an inner peace that I can hardly explain when I’m near the waves or hear the seagulls call as they soar above the abyss. I don’t think there has ever been a single day that goes by that it doesn’t cross my mind at least once.




Back in June of 2017, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to San Diego, California for the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. At the time, I was working in Type 1 diabetes research. While we were there, the only thing I could think about though, was the ocean. From the moment I knew that I was going on this trip, I began planning out a rough agenda. I figured out what sessions I wanted to attend and from there when I could slip away to spend time by the ocean.


I am so thankful that my husband was able to join me on that adventure. For anyone that knows us personally - other than our daughter, we both love breweries and the ocean. It was perfect! San Diego is home to both!! Thank you to Mission Brewery, Coronado Brewery, Pacific Beach Ale House, and the Gaslamp District in general for keeping our palettes happy! Or at least mine - unfortunately, Bryan had a sinus infection and was constantly reminding me about how he couldn’t taste anything as we explored San Diego’s beer scene (poor guy), but I can vouch for it and say well done, San Diego.



It was such an honor to explore the ADA’s Scientific Sessions since that was the line of work I was in at the time, but from the moment we arrived we needed to get our feet wet - literally. As soon as I could get away from the conference, we got an uber to the ocean. First stop was Mission Beach. If you’re looking for touristy, this is the beach for you. Since we weren’t looking for any I (heart) San Diego T-shirts or group rollerblading on the boardwalk we decided to move on. There was no way I was going to get back in a car though, so we decided to walk to the next beach.


The second our feet touched the sand, the sandals came off. We walked on that beach for what felt like miles and it was amazing. Nothing but the salty air, the waves hitting our feet as the tide rolled in and back out, and the sun beating down on our faces. It was just me, my husband, and the sea - I call this my happy place. The only thing missing was little Lila.



While we definitely spent our fair share of the week on the beach simply soaking in the sun, I want to bring you back to our first day in San Diego.


It was early. I can’t quite remember the time, but the sun was starting to come up and I was hangry because we hadn’t eaten anything before we left Denver. We arrived at our hotel and the first thing I do after checking into our room is turn on the local San Diego news. I just wanted background noise as I fixed my hair and makeup. I figured since we were in a new place, why not see what the locals are up to? As I finished getting myself ready for the day, the news anchors in the background were going over the normal stuff.. Ya know, weather, stocks, crime, etc. Then as I had hoped... A segment about the ocean!!


A group called the Surfrider Foundation partnered with Cerveza Imperial to advertise for a segment on a beach clean up initiative that was happening during our time there. I instantly had a flashback to a video that went viral of a turtle with a straw stuck in his nose. So as I’m putting on my mascara I’m thinking, "it’s not everyday I can say we’re near the ocean and we can help with a clean up." I mean, as parents we were considering this “work” trip a vacation, so volunteering wasn’t the first thing on our San Diego bucket list, but Bryan and I both said, “Why not?! Let’s go!” Save the turtles!

Bright-eyed with gloves and blue bags we showed up to the beach cleanup. As we scoured the beach with about 30 other people, that included several families, the amount of trash that was collected was a humbling first hand experience into the plastic epidemic affecting the ocean. All of us covered about a mile and a half of beach total, grabbing broken pens out of seaweed and the cigarette butts…. Oh my gosh! Cigarette butts galore! I am not sure how many pounds of trash we removed from that beach that day as a collective group, but the organization’s 2017 stats can be found on this website.


Remember though, these stats are just San Diego. Imagine every coastline. Then expand that to other areas... Like trails through the Rockies or beside major highways.


Protecting the ocean and trying to find ways to stop contributing to the massive plastic epidemic has been something that I have become more passionate about over the years. However, this has been something that I have felt like I can’t have an impact on since I’m literally in the middle of the United States. Landlocked. BUT, yes there is a BUT, I’ve realized that just isn’t true (I'm not good at taking "No" for an answer) and that I don’t need to be physically by the ocean to help reduce my impact. My dollars (just like anyone else’s) can drive production for everyday products that use less or no plastic in the same way that they have encouraged production for products that are less environmentally conscious. Hopefully, my research and actions will inspire others to choose the “less plastic” route and become more environmentally conscious.  


So what does it mean to be environmentally conscious? It essentially means showing concern and making conscious choices to better the environment. Think back to first grade when you learned about that triangle on the bottom of every plastic container - reduce, reuse, recycle. Definitely reuse and recycle, but mostly reduce. For example, reduce the amount of things that I buy that are wrapped or carried in plastic or reduce the amount of plastic that I use when I go out to dinner (AKA no straws!!). These are just two examples of reducing waste (I could go on and on), but I think you are starting to get the point.


It is essential we all step out of our comfort zone and remember what we did in elementary school on Earth Day. We should all clean up the trash we see in our neighborhoods, but mostly we can and should learn how to reduce the amount of plastic in our lives that contribute to this problem. Or we can continue to be oblivious and create waste that will still affect all of us eventually. It’s easy to think, "I don’t live by the ocean, my use of plastic won’t be my problem or affect me." False. Where you put your dollars drives future production. So next time the cashier says, “paper or plastic?”.. Choose paper. Or better yet! Bring your own bags! Making conscious decisions like that.


Although I do not live by the ocean, I believe I can make a positive impact. I believe we ALL can make a positive impact in our day to day lives. We need to. The health of the ocean (and the environment in general) will affect other parts of our lives and the environment around us. It’s all connected.


I choose to speak about the ocean because that is an environment that resonates with me, but pick whatever environment resonates with you the most. I’m sure you’ve seen a plastic water bottle on the side of a trail in the Rockies or remnants of trash floating down a river.


Pick your paradise and protect it.



As I mentioned in my most recent birthday post, I want to use this blog to cover and talk about various different things since life isn’t about one particular thing. There are several things in my life that I am passionate about. Trying my best to be more environmentally conscious in my day to day life is one of those things.


My goal with this blog is to find ways to accomplish daily tasks (like cleaning the kitchen, grocery shopping, etc.) while producing less waste. I hope to inspire you all to look at your day to day life and encourage each of you to make changes, as well.


Examples of topics I’d like to cover in my blog:

- Switching one thing a month (on a budget) to a “less or no plastic” alternative

- Skincare, beauty products, nutrition, etc.

- Service and Volunteer opportunities

- Organizations to support

- How you can make a positive impact no matter how small and no matter where you are.


By making changes to my daily life and teaching my daughter how to be environmentally conscious, my hope is that one day I can live to see this world become more and more vibrant every day. I have dreams of seeing the Great Barrier Reef and polar bears in their natural habitat. If I can’t be around to see these incredible wonders simply because my time on this earth has come to an end, I hope that my changes will create a ripple effect so that my daughter and her children and so on will be able to admire and respect the incredible beauty of this world. From every polar bear to every reef. I hope that one day she can walk down the beach and not have to worry about stepping on broken glass or saving a crab from a tangled fishnet.


Just as her mamma always dreamed: just the sand, the sun and the tide. Pure joy, pure peace.



-kyliebee




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