An easy way to stop contributing to plastic pollution

Plastic pollution is a major issue we are struggling with globally.  It doesn’t just touch certain people, but really affects everyone!  Often, we use plastic without even realizing it.  And just like that, BAM, we’re contributing to the problem!  That in itself is a huge issue.  And it’s not just plastic.  It’s single-use ‘garbage’ as a whole.  That coffee cup we will discard, the container your cookies come in, the wrapping around a box of chocolates.  We just don’t realize how all this trash is taking over our lives and our planet.  Did you know that there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans? That’s an insane amount!

When we set out to explore South East Asia, we were oblivious to the fact that pollution and plastic use was so inherent.  Litter is everywhere.  People throw out their trash on the streets without even flinching.  This was a real shock to us Canadians, who are so used to recycling and even composting.  We try to create as little waste as possible and littering is just unthinkable back home!

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The biggest issue here however, has to be the plastic bottles.  Most of the water in Asia is not potable.  So the ‘only’ way to stay hydrated is to buy bottles.  And when you’re out exploring in 40+ degrees (Celsius, of course or like 100 Fahrenheit), the amount of water you need is crazy.  Around the world, nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute.  Think about that!  I’m speechless! Especially knowing that only about 10% of that will be recycled, another 10% will be incinerated, which leaves about 80% that end up in landfills or the environment.  Scary!

Not only is this just creating immense amounts of plastic pollution, but it’s also a huge waste of money.  Just some basic math shows us the problem – Your body needs at least 2 litres of water per day.  You will be spending a good $2-3 a day on bottles.  It may not seem like much when you’re on a 2-week vacation, but after a few months of traveling, that adds up to more than we care to count!

Luckily, we (ok, I) love to do research, and came upon many solutions that offer to clean your water to make it drinkable.  Some sterilize water, others just filter it.  But what we came about seemed to be the Holy Grail of water bottles.  The Lifestraw Go did it all.  It filters and sterilizes water so you can drink it from almost anywhere.  A river, a waterfall, a puddle, that gross-looking river… ok you could, but we didn’t try!

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Basically, this is a bottle that has a straw integrated in the cap.  When you drink the water, it gets pulled up the straw where it is filtered and becomes clean drinking water just like that! Magic!!  The bottle (or rather, the straw) will filter out 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoa.  Now that is impressive!

The best thing ever is seeing the looks we get from locals when we ask to fill up our Lifestraw bottle.  They always protest, saying the water is not potable.  But when we explain how our bottle is magic and cleans the water, they are always left in awe!  Now, if only we could tell them how a LifeStraw product can provide up to 8,000 water bottles worth of safe drinking water, that would blow their minds!  Just imagine how much plastic we could save from ending up in landfills and the oceans!  And think about the money we’re saving!  Sure, the bottle was $60CND, but that’s like 20 days of bottle buying.  And because the filter works for so long, we never have to think twice about drinking more water.

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And that’s not all (channeling my best Oprah here).  For every Lifestraw product sold, a school child receives safe water for an entire school year.  At the moment, they are at over 1 million students getting access to clean water thanks to this initiative.  LifeStraw even has a Give Back program to ensure sustainability through comprehensive planning, training, education and follow-up visits.  They take this very seriously!  And we love it!

So if it weren’t clear enough, here’s why we love this Lifestraw Go bottle:

  • You don’t have to buy water bottles ever again! This is a double win because you end up saving money AND, very simply NO MORE FREAKIN’ PLASTIC in the ocean or landfills.  Seriously, that shit will be there long after we’re gone!  How long?  We don’t even know but it’s estimated between 450 years and FOREVER!
  • You can always have drinking water.  Like anywhere, anytime there is water, you can turn it into drinking water. Ok, except ocean water, it doesn’t filter out salt!
  • It’s super easy to transport.  It’s not too big or too small, it’s compact and it has a carabiner so you can attach it to your bag.  Super convenient!

It may seem like we’re in love, and we kind of are, but there are a few drawbacks:

  • You can’t freeze the bottle, so the water is rarely cold.  On super hot days, we miss having ice cold water.  The trick we found is that we fill a different bottle up with water, and leave that in the fridge.  Then we fill our Lifestraw bottle up with that cold water.  So it’s not that bad of a negative point!
  • The next one is a silly one, but worth mentioning.  Sometimes, you just want to chug water.  Like a total savage!  You want to be able to take big gulps to really quench your thirst.  Well, you can’t with this bottle!  It’s always a straw, so you always have to suck.  And it’s always the same rhythm and flow.  So it’s only so much water at a time.  This may not seem like a big issue, but let me tell you, we miss chugging water!

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So there it is.  A simple, cost-effective way of saving our planet, reducing the use of plastic and staying hydrated at the same time.  If this isn’t cool, I don’t know what is.  Ok, to be honest, maybe I actually have no idea what’s cool anymore!

Note:  This is in no way a paid article or partnership with Lifestraw.  These are our honest opinions on a product we have been using for several months now. 

Another note: All the stats provided here were taken from National Geographic’s article on plastic pollution. 


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Why eating bugs is the future of food

Whenever people talk about going to Cambodia, one of the first things they bring up, other than the Angkor Wat Temples, is that you can eat bugs there.  If you know me at all, you know that I’m one curious foodie.  I will eat things that are questionably edible, because, well, what if they’re delicious!?  So when we got to Siem Reap, I knew I wanted to eat bugs.  This may sound strange to some, but to me, it’s not.

Was I grossed out? Yeah, at first, I was, I won’t lie.  But if Michelin-star chef Alex Atala in Brazil serves bugs on his menu, they can’t be that bad!  Especially considering that bugs feed about 2 billion people a day in places like Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Sometimes, they are even considered delicacies.  One quarter of the world’s population can’t be that wrong!

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Picking the biggest, juiciest bugs for me in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Why would I do it?  Well that’s easy!  To me, bugs are the future of food.  We’ve grown our food industry totally out of proportion.  When the meat you eat is pumped with hormones, and the fish you catch comes from polluted waters, going vegetarian was an easy choice for me.  Don’t even get me started on the health benefits and environmentally-conscious reasons for going with a plant-based diet!  So if you want a good source of protein, that is tasty, and that leaves a minimal footprint on our planet, well, BUGS!

So one faithful night in Siem Reap, after a few drinks with friends (yes, liquid courage was required), we set out to find the best bugs the night market had to offer.  Luckily, we were intercepted by a friendly local who took us out to find the best vendor.  If you set out to try some insects, know that a lot of the vendors on Pub Street don’t always use fresh produce.  How long do you think they keep those bugs on sticks when they don’t get sold that night?  Well not this vendor!  She only uses the freshest stuff.  So much so, that another night, when looking for her again, she was nowhere to be found because her farmers had not been able to find any insects that day.  Now that’s integrity!

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Me and my favourite bug lady, right off Pub Street in Siem Reap

As you can see from her smile, she is something special!  Small but feisty, she knows her bugs!  Her crickets are farmed, grown to become food.  Her scorpions are sourced from the jungle, as are her grass snakes.  And her tarantulas, well, they are foraged up from 40cm deep underground.  She runs a tight ship.  She knows when her products are good to eat.  And if you trust her, like I did, you’ll let her pick the bug you’re going to eat.  Yes, she will pick the biggest tarantula, it will have a huge body and hairy legs, but it will be delicious!  She will even suggest eating one that has a large belly full of eggs, those are even tastier!

Like all things food, it’s all about the prep!  She will roast your meal right in front of you to make sure they have the perfect texture.  She doesn’t just serve her bugs plain, that would be boring.  Her crickets are marinated and cooked with lemongrass, chilli and lime juice.  Crunchy with just the right amount of kick!

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Hairy, crispy, delicious turantulas

How did I do it?  Well, the drinks helped the first night, I won’t lie!  But like with any weird meal, you have to get over your conceived notions about them before you take a bite.  I just stopped thinking of the bugs as being gross things.  I trusted this woman and her integrity when it comes to her products.  They are sourced properly, they are prepared with care and they are cooked well.  Can you say that about the food you eat every day?  So when crickets stopped being bugs, when tarantulas stopped being insanely scary-looking spiders, they just became food.  And like I said, I like food (ok, I LOVE food).

How was it?  Well, it was delicious!  So much so that I went back for seconds.  I could have eaten a full bag of crickets. That’s how good they were!

What did it taste like?  That is hard to say!  She said the scorpion tastes like chicken and the spiders like bacon, but I haven’t had either in so long, that it’s hard to say for me.  The spiders’ legs were crispy, like those little bits of fries that are at the bottom of your plate.  The body had a nice texture to it, crunchy on the outside because it was seared on the BBQ, but tender on the inside.  The crickets, my favourite, were like eating the half-popped kernels of popcorn.

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Yummy crickets with some BBQ sauce

Would I have them again back home?  Yes, yes and yes.  Bugs are extremely nutritious.  For example, crickets are a great source of lean protein, vitamins and minerals, containing about 65% protein, omega 3, fatty acids, calcium and vitamin B12.  Other insects can contain up to 80% protein, and have huge amounts of iron (sometimes, more than beef).  Obviously, I would have to find the fresh produce to make sure they are as delicious as hers, but yes, I would not hesitate making bugs a regular part of our meals.  There are even chip companies that make their products with crickets.  This is becoming more and more mainstream, as evidenced by big wig investor Marc Cuban putting his money behind this brand.

If I could, I would have stayed with my bug lady in Siem Reap and helped her sell more bugs.  It’s crazy how people who saw me eating them would stop and stare.  When they saw how much I enjoyed them, going for seconds and thirds, they also joined in.  And without fail, they would all say how delicious they thought these creepy crawly critters were.

So get over your fears, and those preconceived notions about bugs and let’s all eat them together!  Bon appétit!


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Why eating bugs is the future of food