The Smoking Reaper

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Worried about the potential health damages cigarettes might do to him, my father quit smoking a couple years ago. Before his abstinence, he had been smoking for over a decade. Cigarettes were a major category of his life for all those years, but he still abandoned it steadfastly. Why? Because smoking kills. 

Many are unaware of the damages that come with smoking, whereas the others are unable to stop smoking. As a hobby, people don’t see the harm; as an addiction, people find it hard to abstain from. How is cigarette-smoking such a bad thing? To begin with, smoking jeopardizes your health, the health of the people around you, and the health of the planet. 

If you were a smoker, smoking cigarettes can induce lung diseases by damaging the airways and the alveoli located in your lungs. The regeneration in your lungs is slow and according to the studies of stem cells in the past few years, there is little to no effective way to regenerate lost bronchioles or alveoli in humans. Smoking damages your lungs while you have little chance to regrow.

Nicotine is a major part in the making of cigarettes. The nicotine-intake from cigarettes decreases the amount of oxygen your heart gets and elevates your heart rate. More stress is put on your heart because of smoking. That’s how smoking induces heart diseases. However, that’s not all cigarettes bring you, they also bring death.

The statistics speak volume. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), more than 1 in 10 deaths worldwide from Cardiovascular Diseases in 2000 were attributed to smoking. “Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States,” the CDC stated. 

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In total, diseases that can be caused by cigarette-smoking are: lung cancer, heart diseases, strokes, aortic aneurysm, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, diabetes… There are many other symptoms triggered by smoking. However, it’s not just the smoker that’s affected by smoking, secondhand smoke kills as well.

According to the CDC, More than 41,000 people die in a year because of secondhand smoke exposure. All these people are going to be gone because there is a smoker in the office, in the hallway, or in the family. You are slowly killing your family if you smoke next to them!

Cigarette smoking also leads to environmental pollution as it releases pollutants into the atmosphere. The cigarette butts are littered everywhere—you would often see them on the ground. The leftover chemicals in cigarettes would also seep into the ground or waterways, inducing further pollutions. By the way, cigarettes can also be an environmental hazard as smokers often fail to put out cigarette thoroughly. When they dump the still lit cigarette butts on the ground, it’s a dangerous fire hazard. In a report from the Los Angles Times, on Nov. 8, 2018, a wild fire in California killed 85 people when it ripped the Butte County apart. 

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In my eyes, smokers are reapers. They come not with a sickle, but with the smoke that chokes, with a fire that burns. If you are one of them, listen to me: the one that’s eventually get reaped is yourself.

Photo credit: DeviantArt.com

How to Have a Zero Waste Period

Surprisingly, one of the top questions I get asked being low waste is what I do when I get my period? I know many girls that have wanted to make a change from using Tampons, pads and panty liners but don’t know the next step. So I thought I would come on here to give a complete guide to having a zero waste period. 

There are many issues with disposable tampons and pads but the top two reasons why we should make the switch is:

  1. For our health: Most mainstream tampon and pad brands use a combination of bleached rayon, conventional cotton, and contain plastics.
  1. For the environment: The average pad contains the equivalent of four plastic bags. And all of the excess product goes straight to landfills and our oceans. 

There are a lot of different approaches on having a zero waste period which personally have been easier and saved me a lot of time. 

Option Number one: Swapping tampons and pads for menstrual cups: 

Menstrual cups are a great option for any female on their period with heavy to low flows. You’re also able to sleep while wearing a menstrual cup which is a great alternative to wearing bulky plastic filled maxi- pads or tampons which are not designed to be worn for more than eight hours of sleep.

My experience over with menstrual cups is good, it takes a while to master the process using it, applying it, but makes life so much easier… now when I’m on my period I barely even notice.

Option Number two: Switching to period panties:

This option is good for girls with light flows to medium, or girls with heavy flows at the end of their cycles. The period panties are just like regular underwear with a thin built in lining to soak up the blood. It’s just like using a pad without the waste, so you just through the underwear in the wash afterwards and then you can reuse it. 

My experience with period panties is some leakage so it is a good option if you have a heavy flow.  You can use reusable pads or the menstrual cup in the beginning of your period and when it gets lighter switch to reusable pads/cloth pads. 

Option Number Three: Reusable pads/cloth pads: They are just like regular pads but you have to wash them out afterwards to reuse.  

I haven’t used reusable pads/cloth pads before but I think it’s a good option to have along with other products. Some women I know use reusable pads and it works well for them.

Overall people have different preferences so not every product could be for you. It could take some adjusting but this is the future trend for our female hygiene products. It will help you and the planet at the same time. So it’s a win/win!

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The painted ladies

On my way home today, I stopped to say hello to the mountains.

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But while I originally had pulled over to say hello to the mountains, I also got to say hello to the painted ladies – the butterflies.

There are hundreds of thousands of them, all passing through and I’m lucky enough to live along their migration path.

No one knows exactly why they choose to come here, but I’m happy they do.

I heard they are headed west. Maybe they’re chasing the sun.

So, as I sat alone outside my car, I blew kisses to the mountains, to thank them for being so magnificent.

Image credit: travelandleisure.com

I blew kisses to the butterflies as they flew by, to wish them good luck on their journey.

It’s days like these when I know I wouldn’t be able to live in a place where the sun seldom shines.

There wouldn’t be nearly enough mountains that compare to Ojai mountains and there definitely wouldn’t be enough painted ladies.

I hope they all reach their destinations.

And if they really are chasing the sun, I hope they catch it.

The story of kale, tangerines, and the realizations I made.

I ate a piece of kale the other day.

It was growing in a garden box at school, so I pulled a leaf off of the plant and ate it.

It was a nice, sturdy piece of kale. It tasted pretty good. I continued munching on it as I walked over to the baseball field.

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Kale can be a nice snack, if you’re into dark leafy greens. But, as many experienced plant-eaters know, raw kale is quite tough to chew.

My jaws were getting a little bit tired, so I switched over to eating a different leaf that I had also picked from the garden box. I’m not sure what plant this was, but it was softer and sweeter than the kale.

As I was chewing, I twirled the piece between my thumb and my pointer finger.

I started to study the leaves. The kale was dark and rough. It was much more aggressively textured than the other leaf.

It was at that moment when I stopped chewing, for I noticed dozens of very tiny, white bugs all along the sides of the leaves.

I swallowed my bite, then tossed the remnants of my half-eaten leaves aside. I decided not to dwell on it too much, because I didn’t want the thought of the bugs to take away from the otherwise positive experience I had eating them.

(I would like to apologize to the innocent lives I took that day. I didn’t thoroughly inspect the leaves before eating them, and that was selfish of me. To the bugs that once inhabited the kale: I am sorry.)

On a completely unrelated note, this morning my parents and I went out to our tangerine trees. It was time to prune them. After about an hour of picking fruit and chopping branches, my dad said to me: “This is a chore that very few other people your age have to do, but you have to remember that it just makes you more cosmopolitan.”

Though I didn’t really enjoy being outside when it was 40 degrees, I did find comfort in the fact that our work would provide more fruit for us next season.

I never realized it before, but I am so thankful that I know how to take care of citrus trees.

I live in a place where I am fortunate enough to grow my own food. I take that for granted.

I hope that I will always have this luxury, bugs and all.

Home

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I’ve lived in the same place my whole life, but I’ve never realized how beautiful it is until recently.

Maybe I just didn’t notice it before or I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it, but lately I catch myself staring up at the mountains.

It has been raining a lot lately. On my drive home, I noticed that the north-facing slopes are so much greener than the south-facing ones.

But Dad says this isn’t supposed to happen. South and west-facing slopes are usually the greenest, at least where we are, because of sunlight and rainwater, he explained. The south-facing Topa Topas are just dry because of their rocky terrain.

I’m not sure why even still I think of the fire when I’m admiring the mountains. Maybe it made me appreciate them more.

The trees still seem like skeletons to me. They are black and withered and don’t really fit in with the bright grass that’s growing in. They used to be so much greener. But at least they are still standing. I’m thankful for that.

There isn’t really much to do in this sleepy town, especially after having been here for sixteen years. But despite that, I can’t think of a better place to have grown up.

Making an Impact by Reducing It

I saw this tweet a few days ago and I think it is something we all need to be more concerned with.

And, it’s not just about climate change, it’s about everything involving the environment. We’ve done a lot of damage. When it comes to bettering our environment, it’s too late for preventative measures. We’re just playing catch up now.

Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. We’re so used to living the way that we do, it’s not always easy to put the planet first.

If you want to reduce your impact or help the planet but don’t know how, here are a few things you can try implementing into your routine:

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  • Say no to plastic. The next time you eat out, tell your server you don’t need straws. Especially, if it’s fast food. There is no reason for you to take a lid and a straw for your drink. Buy glass bottles instead of plastic ones – they’re easier to recycle. If you’re planning on eating out, bring reusable containers to take left overs home.
  • Be mindful of product packaging. For example, buy bar soap instead of liquid soap. This can include shampoos and conditioners; there are plenty of eco-friendly options that don’t use plastic packaging. Don’t buy anything with excessive packaging. Cardboard or paper packages are the best options. Buy in bulk as much as you can.
  • Buy second hand. I understand that, from time to time, it’s nice to treat yourself to a new item and that’s fine. But, for the most part, you can find everything you need at thrift stores and you’ll save money too. There are also plenty of websites where you can buy used items (for those of you who like online shopping).
  • Keep it local. Shop at farmer’s markets and support local businesses. Buy produce that is in season. This reduces the distances that items need to be transported and causes less fuel emissions.
  • Don’t waste food. Shop for groceries using a list and only buy what you need. Don’t cook more food than you can eat. It is better to have no leftovers at all, but, if you do, try to actually eat them later.

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce your impact, do some research. There is so much information out there that can help us be better.

I’m not perfect. I try my best to be conscious of everything I do and the impact it will have, but I still have a lot of ways in which I could be better.

To some people, conservation might seem like a hopeless cause. But as long as we’re trying, if each day we do one more thing that reduces our impact, then, there is still hope.

Breaking News

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The icecaps are melting. Human green house gas emissions have grown 80% since 1970. On average, annually, a women makes eleven thousand dollars and men make twenty-one thousand. A headless chicken named Mike lived for eighteen months after its head was cut off. Toilet paper kills 27,000 trees daily.  By 2050, one million species of animals will be extinct.  But, the problem dominating the internet (not), bringing major social uprising (sarcasm), and (said ironically) causing riots around the world: non-dairy drinks being called milk. *GASP*

Dairy farms protest dairy alternatives such as soy, almond, cashew, and coconut being called milk.  This issue has been taken to congress and brought up with the FDA. It is rumored that the FDA will ban the use of “milk” in the title of non-dairy beverages.

Let’s be real here. There are MUCH bigger problems facing our earth today. People, sit down, pour a nice big glass of almond milk, and email congress or the FDA to say “START DOING SOMETHING NECESSARY WITH YOUR AUTHORITY!”