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In A Disposable Restaurant Industry, Bagby Beer Company Stands Out by Going Plastic Free!

The Restaurant biz is a notoriously wasteful industry that continues to grow. Not only food waste, but plastic waste as well. In fact, Ocean researchers estimate that some 10 million to 20 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, a large chunk of which comes from straws, plates, forks and cups that consumers carelessly throw away, or can’t recycle. WHAT?! That’s a crazy big number in the name of convenience. If we are going to keep growing these industries, we are going to have to start thinking about what the impact of these every day, seemingly small, choices really are. Pollution and harm to sea life are just a couple of the negative impacts of plastic on our planet. But there is hope! Just as our individual choices matter, the choices of business can make an even bigger positive impact on this dilemma.

San Diego brewery and restaurant, Bagby Beer Company, is precisely the type of company we are talking about. They have taken it upon themselves to make it easier for their customers by taking plastic out of the equation all together. They estimate that they’ve disposed of at least 200,000 plastic straws per year and they are done with that life. Bagby is so cool that they are on and how they are making it a part of their brand culture.

bagby beer plastic free

Did you know that more than 500 million disposable plastic straws are used in the United States every day?

It’s no secret that single-use plastics are a detriment to our environment, and study after study shows that marine life – particularly sea turtles and sea birds – are extremely vulnerable to the constant and perpetual discarding of plastic (especially straws) into their environment. It is estimated that over half of all sea turtles and sea birds have already consumed plastic or other debris, and that this number could swell to over 90% in the coming years.  This is life threatening for them – and for what?

Considering their proximity to the ocean, their personal and company values, and the scale of their business, they made the decision to replace all of the plastic straws with paper ones. Bagby Beer feels that the benefit to the environment, to the community, and to themselves will far outweigh the initial financial impact. The paper straws they have implemented are FDA approved, are completely biodegradable and compostable, are chlorine and chemical-free, and are made in the USA. They are willing to make this commitment, even though it will be more expensive at first, because it is their hope that others will follow suit, and that together there can be a significant reduction to the impact on the environment and the wildlife within it. So rad!

bagby beer plastic free

They’ve even asked their employees to pitch in on the efforts by not automatically providing straws with water or soft drinks, but only when customers request them. Employees are required to bring a reusable covered drink cup to work, instead of using the disposable to-go cups. They are challenging each other to be mindful, and educating one another about what is recycling, and what isn’t. They are also saving ice water to water the plants around their restaurant. They encourage their employees to be a part of the process and welcome suggestions for anything they think will help.

“With great opportunity comes great responsibility. We have a presence in Oceanside and in the craft beer community – we intend to use our position and lead the way in our industry, using Bagby Beer Company as an example that it is possible to do the responsible thing, even if it costs more initially. It feels good to do the right thing!” – Dande Bagby

Pretty cool, right? We are stoked that Bagby Beer is leading the way for breweries and restaurants to go plastic free. The more other restaurants and breweries join the movement, it’s possible the costs will decline, and the easier it will be for everyone to reduce single use plastics in the restaurant industry.

What can you do to help reduce restaurant plastic waste?

  1. When you’re eating out, bring your own glass straw to cut down on plastic straws. It’s a great conversation starter! Or simply skip the straw.
  2. If you work at a restaurant or bar, share this post and see what your place of work can do to eliminate plastic waste. You’d be surprised what a simple suggestion can do.
  3. Bring your own food container with you, restaurants don’t mind and you don’t have to waste food or a plastic box.

If you have to use plastic, check out this video by Good. Recycling starts in the store, so know which plastics are easiest to recycle later.

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Taking Plastic Out of Tooth Care: An Interview With PLUS ULTRA Toothbrush Founder, Christina Ramirez

Adult_Child_Brushes PLUS ULTRA

Plastic Sucks!! And it’s everywhere we look, even our tooth care regimen. We love finding innovative companies that are doing their best to take plastic out of our daily life equation and especially out of our mouths. We were lucky enough to catch up with Christina Ramirez, the vision and hustle for PLUS ULTRA (Founder and CEO).

Start the new year off plastic free and see why you won’t want to use any other toothbrush!

Christina Headshot

What sparked the idea for Plus Ultra?

I came up with the idea for starting a bamboo toothbrush company as part of an assignment in my Global Studies class at UCSB. It wasn’t until years later, while looking over distribution data for toothbrushes when I worked for a News Corp company, that I made my school project my mission and dream.

Over 167 million toothbrushes were being bought each year in the United States alone! The image of all those plastic toothbrushes piling up across the planet set me in motion to reduce plastic waste by redefining the conventional image of a toothbrush. And this was the beginning of what would eventually become PLUS ULTRA.

I started researching and developing the product by getting a job on the ground floor of the most respected, conscious grocer in the country, Whole Foods Market. I learned what consumers wanted, what sold and how a big retailer worked. I started speaking with dentists from UCLA and USC about toothbrush design, which then I took to China to source materials, factories and built the supply chain.

When was Plus Ultra founded and how did your partnership begin?

My vision for the company and desire to make a positive impact started when I was a Global Studies major at UCSB.

After I started the company, I met Brand Strategist and Creative Director, Lenore Mason and we clicked!

Where did the name Plus Ultra come from?

PLUS ULTRA means “further beyond” in Latin. It’s the national motto of Spain and the directive that Queen Isabella gave Christopher Columbus as he set out to find the New World. Today, it is the mantra we’ve adopted to inspire innovation and to remind us to do better.

While at UCSB, I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain to learn about my grandfather’s heritage. Naming the company PLUS ULTRA paid homage to my family, to beautiful Barcelona, and was the essence and core of our vision for the company.

What inspired you to focus on oral care specifically?

In my writing class back at UCSB, I was asked to create and focus on an area that no one else had.  There were NGOs, corporations and philanthropic non-profits that focused on providing those in need with food, vitamins and vaccines, but no one had ever focused on the neglected epidemic of poor oral hygiene.

When I had learned about how many plastic toothbrushes were produced and thrown away each year, my mind was blown! I decided that I was going to do something about it and start a toothbrush company that would make a positive impact on the world.

What has been your biggest triumph as a brand?

Interesting question! I look at all victories, big and small and appreciate them all. For me, it is probably taking a dream and making it a reality. This was my college thesis, and now it is my every day. That’s pretty exciting to me.

What has been your biggest struggle?

When we first launched, the biggest struggle was starting with zero capital and constantly selling out of stock. It was hard to keep up with demand with little production on hand. Now that we are in mass production, scaling and expanding in a sustainable way is struggle. But these are all the good struggles to have!

Where do you hope to see the brand in 5 years, 10 years?

We want to expand our product line to other products of utility, in the personal care category.  Definitely growing to international distribution and opening new channels like airlines (I would love to see our toothbrushes on Virgin Airlines!) is definitely a goal of ours.

Because our company is founded on the principal of creating products that inspire the greater good, I think it is just as important to talk about what we hope to contribute to society. As we grow, we want to give back and solidify partnerships with cool programs and organizations.  Whether teaching kids in schools about oral hygiene or supporting an art project in a town that promotes community- inspiring conscious consumerism and sending positive messages in creative ways is something we hope to continue doing.

Have you noticed a shift in the consumers desire for more sustainable, non-toxic products?

Absolutely! People are learning about the chemicals in plastic and other toxic materials and are shifting their purchasing to cleaner and more sustainable materials. People are concerned about what they are putting on/in their bodies. From shampoo and skin care products to toothbrushes, people are paying more and more attention and reading labels and asking questions. It’s awesome.

Plastic not only can have a negative environmental impact, but can also be harmful if chemicals like BPA leech out from the plastic and into the human body.  Can you touch on your choices to eliminate plastic from the toothbrush equation?

When measured against plastic, there is no contest in terms of bamboo’s more eco-friendly qualities. Not only does plastic release toxins into the environment during production it also never biodegrades but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces eventually making its way into our food and water sources.

The image of a plastic island the size of Texas floating in our Pacific ocean is horrifying. Introducing a plastic-free option to people is exciting. And when customers realize that it is better for them, and better for the planet- they get excited!

Why bamboo?

Bamboo is such an incredible material. It’s sustainable, durable and has anti-bacterial properties.

Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world. Classified as a grass, bamboo can grow up to 3 feet in a day or 1.5 inches in an hour. It is a renewable resource that can be harvested between one and five years, unlike some hardwoods that can take up to forty years to mature.

Bamboo produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than trees so its crops are actually helping to combat climate change.

When measured against plastic there is no contest in terms of bamboo’s more eco-friendly qualities. Not only does plastic release toxins into the environment during production it also never biodegrades but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces eventually making its way into our food and water sources.

The bamboo handle from our toothbrush can be disposed of in an active compost and will biodegrade!

What steps do you take to ensure your products are sustainable?

I have visited all factories and have developed the quality control procedures myself, so I know exactly who is handling our materials and products and have set the highest standards. From raw materials to labor, I am hands on with every single step- start to finish.

Bamboo grows super fast and is becoming a staple. It’s exciting to see these large factories innovate with the shift in demand for better products made from better materials.

Beyond the toothbrush itself making an environmental difference, your company reaches out to support local charities.  Can you tell us more about that?

We support like-minded organizations by helping them spread the good word! We love the work that you do! We also support the work that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Parley do! Telling people about how much plastic ends up in our oceans, beaches and landfills is extremely important to us.

We also recently fundraised for the Whole Kids Foundation, which builds gardens and salad bars in elementary schools to teach kids about healthy eating.

The handle of each toothbrush is emblazoned with a different positive affirmation.  What inspired this design choice and which quote is your personal favorite?

The positive affirmations are unique to our brand. This decision was actually a practical element. Because we don’t use artificial colors or dyes, the affirmations serve as a way to differentiate toothbrushes in the household!

My personal favorite is one of our kid’s toothbrush phrases- the “Cavity Crusher”! And of course, Hello Gorgeous…

What would you say to consumers looking to make non-toxic changes in their life, whether personally or environmentally?

I would say thank you for making a positive impact! Your change matters and contributes the greater good.

Take a look at everything you use on a daily bases, from disposable coffee cups to straws. See if there is a way you can stop single-use waste in your life.

Look in your house, and find products that you use every day like a toothbrush and consider materials that are made with natural materials and require less manufacturing. Then consider the best way to dispose the product.

Where can people learn more about Plus Ultra or purchase their own toothbrush?

Our website is www.livePLUSULTRA.com where people can learn more about our brand and even purchase eco-packs (1-year supply) of our bamboo toothbrushes.

Fans and customers can also stay involved with our facebook and instagram pages:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/liveplusultra

Instagram: @liveplusultra

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Meditation, Yoga and Rock and Roll: My Non Toxic Summer On The Vans Warped Tour

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll… These words are synonymous with the stereotype you think of on the road on a punk rock tour.  But as the Non Toxic Revolution Lead for Vans Warped Tour 2015, I was pleasantly surprised to find a community that had a broader view of what a rock and roll lifestyle means.  I had the joy of talking to kids and teens every day about ways to reduce toxins from their daily lives, and it was incredible to see it in action among Warped Tour’s behind the scenes family.

With my reusable to-go style PlanetBox in hand, on my walk to the production area, I would see Christopher Drew (Never Shout Never) leisurely riding his bike along with his band. Eric, the keyboardist of Metro Station, skateboard by with a reusable, sustainable coffee cup and dinner plate. Andy Biersack (Black Viel Brides) and Juliet Simms playing a friendly game of football and Hari Chrisnas passing out free gluten free, vegan cookies to Warped goers and crew members as a simple “love offering”. I was so impressed by the mindfulness, compassion and awareness within the Warped Tour community.  Despite this, life on tour can still take its toll on your body and mind.  Warped Tour is incredibly fun, but the hard labor, lack of sleep and lack of personal space can be stressful. The turbulent motion of a moving tour bus, shared with 18 people creates a constant buzz of jubilant chatter and road noises, as well as occasional snoring. The work day is a symphony of sweat, along with a cacophony of smells with clashing music and vibrations from various stages.  The elements are harsh—blinding heat, dust, and rain assault your skin every day. 41 cities in 51 days with multiple time changes and constant “FOMO” (fear of missing out).  With all of the distraction, how does one find time to center and ground oneself?  Luckily, on Warped Tour, I found several resources designed to quiet the mind, calm the senses and restore the body.  Even if you’re not on tour—these are some great tips to add wellness to your life.

MEDITATION

Warped Tour had a weekly meditation group led by Buddy Nielsen, of Senses Fail, which was a delight to attend.  Sitting quietly with like-minded members of bands, production, non-profits and catering in a non-judgmental setting was a beautiful way to release thoughts and gently put the mind and body at ease. All levels were welcome and Buddy lovingly guided our sessions with calm, verbal imagery, reminding us to breathe, release any thought that pops up and to gently observe your mind and body.

TRY THIS AT HOME

A great way to do this at home—especially if you are new to meditation is to attend a group or class (often offered at yoga studios) or to search “Guided Meditation for Beginners” or “Guided Visualization” on YouTube.  Explore until you find a group or video that resonates with you.  Be patient and you will feel amazing benefits including stress reduction, stress management, and a greater self-awareness.

YOGA

Nightly yoga was offered by Woody, the bassist of Our Last Night, and often due to the variety of venues, we had the joy of having class outdoors with some great views of water or mountains.  Yoga is great for staying in shape, building core strength, patience, and stress reduction.  You don’t have to be able to do headstands to enjoy the benefits of a stretch session!  I brought a small, melon sized Pilates ball and would do crunches and stretches in the hallway of our bus while people slept (Quirky, but it worked). Often spotted: Lynn and Alex from PVRIS biking it up.

TRY THIS AT HOME

Colleges and community centers often offer inexpensive yoga classes at a variety of levels, but if yoga simply isn’t your thing, cardio exercise can offer similar benefits. So take the dog for a walk, grab your bike and enjoy the weather, shoot some hoops or go for a swim—just don’t forget your non-toxic sunblock!

HEALTHY EATING

TaDa catering, the glorious meal provider of Warped Tour had a huge variety of vegan and gluten-free options at catering, as well as a salad bar. As a vegan, eating my veggies (including dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and broccoli) and having plant-based protein options like beans, quinoa, and veggie burgers, ensured I could stay energized and strong for all the excitement each day had to offer. A fun highlight was bands such as Palisades, Drama Club, and Baby Baby acting as “lunch ladies”, scooping up deliciousness as dinner serving volunteers.

TRY THIS AT HOME

Did you know organic dark leafy greens have been shown to prevent certain types of cancer?  Even if you’re not the biggest salad eater, throw some spinach in your pasta or rice dishes or add some steamed kale to your tacos (everything tastes better with hot sauce). Trust me.

COMMUNITY

The highlight of Warped Tour was the sense of family, community and friendship.  Having a group of people who all share the creativity, passion, excitement, and hard work that is tour life is such an amazing gift. Learning and sharing about your experiences, ups and downs, and daily victories makes the road feel like home. Whether it was sharing some of my Non Toxic Bare Bones Body Care products in the shower line, volunteering to plant trees in Gettysburg, having a dance party on a friend’s bus or watching the sun set over Jone’s Beach with my friend/boss Monica, adventures are sometimes best when shared.

TRY THIS AT HOME

Scared to try yoga or meditation alone?  Invite a friend! Find a cool blog about non-toxic cosmetics?  Share it! Bored on a Sunday afternoon?  Grab a sibling and volunteer!  Stressing out?  Tell a friend you can trust. The people you surround yourself with should make you feel uplifted and empowered. Wellness starts from within but shines outwards. Share the positivity and grow your own community you can be proud of.

Warped Tour is an experience I will never forget, and something I will carry with me year-round with fondness and pride.  If we met at the Non Toxic Revolution booth over the summer, thank you for hanging out, chatting and sharing your stories with me.  I’m so proud of you for your realness, openness, and excitement. Taking steady small steps every day in reducing toxic chemicals, heals your minds, body, and the environment. Together we are a community and a revolution.

Vans Warped Tour 2015

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