Isn’t our planet amazing?  From the biological processes of life to the vast amounts of natural wonders to the adorable animals we share the world with, our planet is absolutely mind-blowing.  As a traveler, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some of these processes/wonders/animals first hand.  However, I’ve also witnessed some devastating events first hand, as well.  It doesn’t take a scientist to notice that climate change is real.  Record high temperatures have plagued much of the world this winter.  Glaciers around the world are melting at unprecedented rates.  More and more animal species are being put on the endangered species list.  There are masses of rubbish floating in our oceans.  Diseases, droughts, and famine are rampant.  And, yes, while climate change can be a natural phenomenon, many people argue that this particular change is being exacerbated by the habits of humans.  Humans who put comfort or greed in front of the environment.  Humans who live an almost anti eco-friendly lifestyle, either by choice or ignorance.

I was ignorant.  I was the human who lived an anti eco-friendly lifestyle.  I didn’t do it on purpose; I just didn’t realize the extent of the damage being done to our planet.  I did my part to recycle and reduce my energy consumption, of course, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough.  When Sam and I founded The Manini Experience, we vowed to create a company focused on eco-friendly and sustainable travel.  Through our company’s research, I was enlightened to the state of our planet.  And, while realizing the devastation makes one feel utterly helpless and pessimistic, it’s also inspiring.  It inspired me to reevaluate my life and my actions.  It inspired me to change.  And, it inspired me to help others make the change to an eco-friendly lifestyle, as well.

So, here are my vows for living an eco-friendly lifestyle and for improving the quality of life of our planet.

eco-friendly lifestyle What to do in Iceland - moss covered lava field

I Vow to Live a Vegetarian Lifestyle

When people ask me why I recently made the switch to vegetarianism, I answer with two points.  First, the animal industry is cruel.  Unless you’re buying from a local farm, it’s likely that the animal you’re eating was treated very poorly and died in an inhumane way.

Second, the mass production of animals, or intensive farming, takes a heavy toll on the environment.  This production contributes to increased green house gases, water pollution, soil pollution, and more.

While I’m still struggling with the veggie-lifestyle (and admittedly succumb to the temptations of a delicious cheeseburger every once in awhile), I’m confident my bod and my planet will thank me for the reduced meat diet.

I Vow to Limit my Use of Plastic

There are currently 5.2 trillion bits of plastic in our oceans.  To put that into perspective, that’s over 52 times the amount of stars in the Milky Way.

One of the greatest threats to our planet is plastic.  Take a second to look around you.  How many things within eyesight are made of plastic?  Now, guess what happens when you no longer need that plastic thing?  Even if you throw it in the recycling bin, there’s a pretty big chance that instead of being reincarnated into a beautiful plastic piece, it’ll end up in a waterway and eventually into our oceans.

Here are some areas in which I’ve cut my plastic usage:

  • I’m using bar shampoo and soap, rather than buying plastic bottles full of shampoo/soap.
  • I carry a metal water bottle with me 24/7.
  • I have a mountain of cloth grocery and produce bags.
  • I “just say no” to straws and ziplock bags.
  • I take my own glass containers for the grocery to buy things like deli cheese/meats (my fiancé is still a carnivore…for now 😉 ) and bulk items.

I’m obsessed with the online store, Life Without Plastic.  I literally have 57 items on my wishlist.  Check it out for alternative solutions for commonly used plastic items.

Oh and, in case you need a visual for how awful the plastic epidemic is, check out this horrifying video.

The ocean is turning into a dumpster

Did you know there are now 5.2 trillion bits of plastic in the sea? That's over 52 times as many stars in the Milky Way and that's becoming a big problem, especially in places like Indonesia. Read the full story:

Posted by The World on Monday, December 12, 2016

I Vow to Reuse

I have a car full of reusable grocery bags and mesh produce bags.  I carry a metal straw in my purse.  I recently purchased a reusable coffee cup, a set of reusable travel silverware, and a reusable napkin.  I’m buying bulk at the grocery, filling up mason jars with the things I need rather than buying boxes of food.  I use rechargeable batteries.  I have a collapsible container that I carry with me in case I have leftovers at a restaurant.  I even have cloth ziplock bags that can be put in the dishwasher.

By eliminating waste and reusing as much as possible, I’m saving the planet and my wallet!

I Vow to Use Natural Products

I’m channeling my inner hippie and using what little free time I have to make my own soaps, lotions, and cleaning products.  I use natural and eco-friendly materials in order to prevent polluting waterways and soil.  And, bonus, I get to tap into my love of chemistry while experimenting with all these different products and oils!

I Vow to Cycle

I bought a bike!  While my lady parts might be screaming at me (TMI, I know), the planet is thanking me.  I can ride my bike to work, to the store, or to happy hour.  And, when I can’t ride it home, my local bus system has bike racks on the front 🙂

eco-friendly lifestyle - cycling

I Vow to Clean Up

One of my biggest pet peeves is littering.  I’ll never understand why people litter. Why would anyone want to purposely hurt our planet?  I DON’T GET IT!

Anyway, I will always take an extra second to pick up trash I see lying around.  Not only do I want to make this planet beautiful again, I want to protect any animals in the area from ingesting or getting caught in our trash.

I Vow to Support Local

By supporting local farmers and merchants, I’m reducing the need for shipping, packaging, transit, etc.  I’m also contributing to the growth of my local economy, which, although seemingly unrelated to the environment, is a really good thing.

I Vow to Spread the Good Word

It’s only through talking, writing, and sharing that people realize the affect we’re having on our planet.  If it weren’t for amazing bloggers, YouTubers, and scientists, I wouldn’t know most of the stuff I know today and I definitely wouldn’t be living a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  In an effort to pay that knowledge forward, I’ll constantly talk about and share my actions with others and encourage them to think critically about their own actions.  Living in the midwest USA, this won’t be an easy task, but I’m definitely up for the challenge.

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying our air and giving fresh strength to our people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Maybe this post will make you think critically about your actions, maybe it’ll inspire change, but hopefully it’ll encourage you to take a look at your own environmental impact.  What areas of your life are you willing to change for the betterment of our amazing, mind-blowing, incredible planet?

Need more inspiration?  Be sure to check out Manini girl Sam’s vows to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, as well!

About Erica Kay

Manini girl Erica is our professional photographer, travel curator, and adventure designer. When she isn't busy working on Manini stuff, she's running two photography companies, petting her pup, eating her way around the world with her fiancé, or hanging with friends and family.

Join the discussion 34 Comments

  • Tais says:

    What a great post! Small changes in our daily life can mean a lot to our environment. I try to live a more eco-friendly like as much as I can, trying to change some habits. From your list, I can say the one I help 100% is the first one.. I have been vegetarian for more than 4 years and it was the best decision I have made!

    • maniniexp says:

      Good for you! I look forward to the day when I can say “4 years ago…” Does it get any easier? I especially worry about how difficult it’ll be while traveling.

  • Only By Land says:

    I know this is a bad example but in McDonald’s in Hong Kong, one day a week they only give you a cup with you coke, without straw or plastic lid. I know it’s nothing really but it’s a start! You really put it in perspective with the fact that there’s 52 times more pieces of plastic in the ocean than stars in the Milky Way. The worst places for dumping plastic are the 3rd world countries and they seem to continue doing with no sign of stopping.

    • maniniexp says:

      That’s so cool! I wonder why it’s only 1 day a week, though. Glad they’re making an effort and I hope they’ll broaden that effort soon!

  • Amrita Sen says:

    This is simply great… Hats off to you… I wish we all could do atleast a little to save our world

  • Hats off to you for making the change and best wishes so that you could keep it up all your life 🙂 I do my best to be the same but being veggie hasnt turned great. However, that’s something I would like to work on this year 🙂

  • Kelly Duhigg says:

    Love this article!!! As an environmental scientist who is also a vegetarian, I can totally relate to all the points you made here about consuming less animal products and not using as much plastic. I love exploring our world and will use these tips to help me do so sustainabley. Thanks!

    • maniniexp says:

      You’re so welcome! I’m happy to see you’re already doing some of these things and wish you success in doing even more!

  • Hey Erica. If governments of major nations could have same perspective likes yours, then we might have a chance to survive. But sadly, greed is at its peak in G 20 meetings. Nevertheless, great post and I am sure that that you have an excellent carbon footprint.

    • maniniexp says:

      It’s such a sad truth and one that I hope changes sooner than later. My carbon footprint is improving, but it’s not where it should be. My frequent travel doesn’t help with that, but hopefully the things I’m doing here will offset that a bit.

  • Emily says:

    I think everything you’ve listed here is really important; especially being aware of how much plastic we use. Little things like taking your own bottle and straw etc will hopefully help in the long run. And being vegetarian (or eating less meat) is healthier for you and for the environment. It can be hard at first but I’ve now been veggie for 15 years. I keep thinking about going vegan but I’m not sure if I can cope without cake and cheese…. Good luck sticking to your vows!

    • maniniexp says:

      Those little things help tremendously! They definitely add up. Good for you for surviving 15 years of vegetarianism. I agree about veganism – I can’t deprive myself of cheese and ice cream!

  • Nina says:

    This is a great article!! I will try to work on it this year 🙂

  • Meg says:

    AWESOME! I’m glad you’re taking a stance. Living more sustainably isn’t too tough once you get in the habit. I eat nearly 90% vegetarian and just LOVE it. It saves quite a bit of money too. Good luck on your sustainable endeavors!

    • maniniexp says:

      Yeah, I was super overwhelmed at first with the thought of transitioning to this lifestyle. But, you’re right, it hasn’t been too hard. Best of luck to you, too!

  • LC says:

    It’s quite mind boggling to think of how much money can actually be saved with an eco-friendly lifestyle – I’ve reduced costs by using a menstrual cup, shopping secondhand, not buying water bottles and planning meals for the week so I don’t end up wasting food (which is a struggle as a not naturally organised person). Good luck with your vegetarianism!

    • maniniexp says:

      Thanks for your continued inspiration and your willingness to share your ideas. Much of this transition is because of you!

  • This is so inspiring, and you’ve definitely made me think. I haven’t made the switch to vegetarianism, but I am including way less meat and animal products in my diet to try and do my bit. I am really good at recycling, but feel I could do so much more for the planet if I made the effort. Thanks for pushing me!

  • Rhiannon says:

    I really admire all the effort you’re making for the environment! I’ve slowly started to incorporate more plastic-free options in my own lifestyle having been inspired by another blog (Birdgehls, she blogs about the importance of plastic free travel quite a lot!) but it’s tough going. Reading your blog has only emphasised to me just how important it is and that I really should try harder! I mean, it’s not THAT difficult to keep a reusable tote bag with me for groceries, right? I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years now (half my life!) and trust me when I say your body will DEFINITELY thank you for it in the long run 🙂 As I’m sure the environment will too.

    • maniniexp says:

      Birdgehls has been the source of my inspiration, as well! She’s amazing! How do you find traveling as a vegetarian? I think that’s the most difficult part for me. I wish you luck in fighting through the challenge and continuing on with the plastic-free lifestyle!

  • Meghan says:

    I like how manageable some of these steps are! We should all be using less plastic, we can all shop local. Have an awesome time using your bike! I started biking to work at least 2 times a week (when weather permits) to help save on gas and the environment. Great ideas!

  • Sourav Aggarwal says:

    I think everyone should have great thoughts as like yours. Great Idea.!! Saves Money and Protect from Warming Too.

  • John says:

    This is such a good post. It is astounding how pervasive plastic is in our world, especially in food packaging. I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic that I purchase. I am going to check out Life without Plastic.

  • That’s so great you are doing all that you can for the environment. My husband and I are big time recyclers and tend to sell or fix things instead of buying new. It’s mainly for financial reasons, but it has the added effect of being good for the environment!

  • This is a great post and kudos to you. I think we all need to do our bits to make earth a better place. I absolutely agree with your vows and I do practice some of these. Hats off!

  • This is such a beautiful and inspiring post. I was also ignorant like you, yet lived a life much more sustainable life when things were limited. I guess we all need to make changes in our lives to make this world beautiful once again…

  • Nastja Novak says:

    Really great article! I’m trying to keep my footprint as small as possible, but i’m not nearly as good as you. I see i should really try harder than now. Thank you for some ideas!

  • Awesome post!Small changes in our every day life will definitely go a long way and have a positive impact on the world.This was very inspiring to read and made me think a lot about the different habits I could take to help the planet in a positive way.I think the nicest thing about your article is that you show how easy it is to follow these steps.I’m trying to cut more and more on my meat consumption and will soon make the transition into eating vegetarian a 100%.

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