Going zero waste is an amazing way to kick start your health, give back to your community, help our economy and our planet! Doing a 30 day zero waste challenge is a great way to start your zero waste journey. Doing this challenge has really …
7 Powerful Benefits of Going Zero Waste Worldwide, we are producing 3.5 Billion tonnes of waste every single year. Without significant changes this number will grow 70% by the year 2050. That is less than 30 years away people! The USA alone is producing …
30 Day Zero Waste Challenge
Let’s not just talk about sustainable living, let’s do something about it!
Did you know that without significant action the worlds waste will increase 70% by 2050? Jumping from 2.1 billion tonnes to 3.4 billion tonnes. Most of this waste is coming from high-income countries and households.
Given our vast consumerist society this doesn’t surprise me in the least. What does surprise me is how no one is talking about it!
“As consumers, we have so much power to change the world just by being careful in what we buy.” – Emma Watson
Such a powerful, yet simple message. What I am hoping to gain from this 30 day zero waste challenge is a sense of my own waste consumption. What things can I work on to keep improving my own life and resulting footprint.
Benefits of Zero Waste Living
Many people around the world who are living a zero waste, minimal lifestyle have only great things to say about it. I won’t dive into the benefits of zero waste living in this post but as you can see below, this lifestyle can have a wonderfully positive impact.
- Improve Your Health
- Decrease Your Spending
- Find More Enjoyment in Life
- Help the Planet
How to Start the Zero Waste Challenge
Getting started doing anything is always the hardest part. Same goes for doing a 30 day zero waste challenge.
Are you interested in doing a zero waste challenge yourself? If so, the first thing to do is familiarize yourself with what exactly a zero waste challenge entails.
My Zero Waste Challenge – Day 15 of 30
Before getting started, take some time to clean out everything. I cleaned out my room, my car, fridge, freezer, anywhere and everywhere I might have found old receipts, food waste, containers that were about to be empty, etc.
Now that I am halfway done my 30 day zero waste challenge I can really see how small things add up quickly. Having this fresh start is key to helping keep your waste down for the month.
After reading the beginner’s guide to zero waste I took a trip over to Canadian Tire to purchase a few things I would need for the month.
If I could start over, I’d say do this step prior to starting so you don’t have to keep any packaging or receipts you get.
I purchased everything I needed to compost in a storage tote. Composting is such a huge part of zero waste, and it turns out it’s pretty easy too!
I also purchased some reusable food baggies, and some reusable produce bags. I already had a ton of reusable food wrap and many reusable tote bags. If you don’t have the latter two items these are the four fundamental things I’d say you need in order to be successful during this challenge.
Zero Waste Challenge – First Half Struggles
Once you have your composting bin set up, and you have your reusable items handy you are ready to live your normal life and alter things as needed!
Some of my biggest struggles so far:
- Ordering Takeout with Friends
- Amazon Shopping or Other Online Shopping
- The Gym – Sanitary Wipes
Of course avoiding takeout is easier said than done. It is however much more difficult in the middle of a pandemic when the government is encouraging you to not eat at a restaurant, and when your friends and roommates offer to buy you takeout. Try to order just one thing and ask the restaurant for it to be in a plastic takeout container instead of a cardboard or styrofoam one. That way you can keep reusing it!
I have ordered nothing while in March but I did order something I needed for my computer about a week prior to starting this. My part came in and of course came in a much too large box with a ton of unnecessary plastic packaging. Note to self, online ordering is not ideal unless it’s something you really need and cannot get locally!
The Gym – Sanitary Wipes
This is big, especially with Covid germs being at the top of everyone’s minds. Every gym that I’ve been to always has those single use wipes or paper towels you rip off and spray with sanitizer. I’ve been told that they do not allow you to bring your own cloth in but that hasn’t stopped me… If anyone has a better solution please let me know in the comments below!
Zero Waste Challenge – Easy or Difficult?
This first half has been easier than I expected, but also quite challenging at the same time.
It feels easy because once you have everything you need, the only thing that creates waste are items you’ve previously purchased. Continuing to be waste free would be even easier as time goes on and you are conscious about your future purchases.
The difficult part has been keeping it top of mind consistently. Having a ‘zero waste kit’ in your car has been extremely handy. Having tote bags, produce bags, a coffee mug, reusable takeout containers at the ready. The struggle is keeping it top of mind when you carpool with someone else, or walk to get coffee instead of driving.
What has been keeping me sane is the fact that this challenge is about trying your best and not about being perfect. I am so excited to continue this 30 day zero waste challenge and see what the latter half will bring.
I would love to hear if anyone reading this has ever tried a zero waste challenge. Or if you haven’t would you? Let me know, and stay tuned for my finished zero waste challenge blog post!
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How to Visit the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia
Are you travelling on a budget? Do you really want to see the Amazon? Well the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia is just the place to do it!
When most people think of visiting the Amazon they think of Brazil. However, the Amazon spans over 8 countries in South America and Bolivia is one of the cheapest with just as many animals to see.
Two Options to Tour the Bolivian Amazon
1. The Pampas Tour
This is the cheaper of the two options to the Amazon in Bolivia. Will cost you about $100 USD per person for a three day tour. You get to spend the days drifting along on a very old school riverboat seeing caimans, monkeys, swimming with pink dolphins, and so much more.
Our tour guide was transporting fruit one morning so we had a lot of monkeys jump into our boat and climb all over us in our Pampas tour.
Don’t worry you won’t have to sleep on this tiny boat – you’ll spend each night at a cabin in the jungle listening to the Amazon wild.
2. The Jungle Tour
The jungle tour is more of a “classic tour” to see the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia. It is also the more expensive option at about $250 USD per person for a 3 day tour. Yet still much less than doing it in Brazil.
You will spend your days hiking inside the thick of the jungle. Be aware that this option you do see less animals – you can spend a few hours hiking before seeing a Monkey – whereas in the pampas tour they are generally swinging right by the water line as you float along.
Where to Start?
There is only one town where you can start either of these tour options, and that is in the quaint town of Rurrenabaque [Rur-in-ah-bock-ee]. To get here you can take either a short flight or a long bus ride from La Paz.
My friend and I decided on the flight because it was decently cheap and we had heard the road the bus takes was pretty dangerous. We ended up meeting people who took the bus and said it was fine, but they did get stopped by police a couple of times to “raid the bus”…
Rurrenabaque – Book Your Amazon Tour
If you read my Machu Picchu post, you’ll remember that it is cheaper to book things when you get there. Don’t book your tour until you get into Rurrenabaque, no matter what time of year there will always be great tour companies with spots available.
I would highly suggest staying in Rurrenabaque for 1 or 2 days before hand and again 1 or 2 days after. I would also recommend staying as El Curichal hostel, it had the BEST barbeque dinner (for vegetarians too), a great pool, and an overall amazing vibe with lots of friendly faces doing the same Amazon tours.
This was actually one of my favourite little towns and hostels, I wish we could have stayed there longer!
How Much to Tour the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia?
When you get to these agencies for booking in Rurrenabaque the prices tend to range from 700 Bolivianos to 1200 for the 2 night, 3 day tours. Back in La Paz the average price is around 1400.
There is also a 150 Bolivianos cost to get into the national park so try and negotiate this into your price. The ones for 700 are VERY hard to get and I am not sure if I would trust the food. We did our 3 day, 2 night Pampas tour for 1150 Bolivianos, with the park entrance fee included.
I met a few very lucky people who were able to find a place in La Paz that charged them around 1600 Bolivianos for flight AND a 3-day tour – but that is definitely not common.
My Pampas Tour Experience
I can only speak personally to the Pampas tour, but if you’re looking to see a lot of animals and have a relaxing time, this is definitely the tour to do.
My excursion was with Dolphin Tours and would definitely recommend them. Our tour guide was born in the Madidi Park (The Amazon Forest) and was extremely knowledgeable. Not to mention the food was some of the best Bolivian food I’ve eaten.
We drove out 2 hours, had lunch in a little village and then finished the rest of the way on a 3-hour boat ride. We were able to see sloths, monkeys, caimans, capybaras, a ton of birds, and pink dolphins, and this was just the first day.
That evening we got to our cabin, got fed a nice snack and then headed out to watch the sunset. On the way back to our cabin we did some night black caiman hunting and saw a solid 20 of them in a mere 45 minutes. Once we got back we got fed a delectable dinner and then had time to rest and sleep to the sounds of the animals.
After breakfasting our guide took us out Anaconda hunting. Since we went in June which was the very end of rainy season he said we only had a small chance of actually finding one. Sure enough we saw one! See photos below. Then that afternoon we went piranha fishing, caught a handful and then got to eat them for dinner. I was vegetarian at the time but I did try a tiny piece just to say I did – safe to say it didn’t tasty fishy at all but more like chicken, everyone agreed!
This day was probably my favourite, we got to go swimming with Pink Dolphins in the morning and they were so playful. It was about an hour boat ride from our cabin, apparently away from where all the caimans swim, so we felt pretty safe. After that we had our last delicious lunch and then headed for the boat ride back home. We also saw a ton of capybara’s which are the world’s largest rodent, and man are they cute.
Don’t Miss Your Chance!
My last word of advice is that if you are going to be in Peru doing a Machu Picchu Trek, or in Bolivia seeing the Uyuni Salt Flats, then the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia is so close you can’t miss it!
It was a very action packed, yet relaxing experience, I would love to do it again one day, and I hope you decide to go as well!
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Keep reading more about South America!
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Top Things to do in Cartagena Colombia
After exploring the depths of Cartagena, I can honestly say that it is both such a relaxing and adventurous place. One you definitely have to put on your bucket list.
There are so many things to do Cartagena Colombia. Whether you are wanting to find the best beaches to relax on, visit a volcano, or go on an amazing hike. There is something for everyone!
How Much Time Should You Spend in Cartagena Colombia?
We stayed for 5 days which I thought was a good amount of time to explore the city and surrounding area. My only regret is not exploring the rest of the country due to our pre-booked Machu Picchu Trek. (Read why I would NEVER pre-book Machu Picchu in Advance!)
Are you concerned about the safety of Colombia? Check out what I thought about Cartagena Colombia safety while backpacking with myself and another girl.
Top Things to do in Cartagena Colombia:
This beach won’t give you white sand or turquoise blue waters but if you don’t feel like venturing too far away this beach is a great option. The salty ocean water is always beautifully warm and faces the Caribbean, so you can’t go wrong. This is also an amazing spot to watch the Sunset, see the photo below!
This beach seemed like it had a lot more locals on it, and less vendors than Bocagrande. It’s still nice and close to the town, so you won’t get the white sandy beach, but I’d say worth a visit! You seriously can’t go wrong with any beach that’s on the ocean and a part of the Caribbean.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of Castillogrande, but you can expect the same kind of sand and waters as the above Bocagrande.
Playa Blanca, meaning “White Beach” houses the most beautiful white sand and turquoise waters. But be aware that you will be heavily harassed by locals trying to sell you things. “No Gracias” & “Estoy Bien” will be your two new favourite phrases.
Despite that part, it was BEAUTIFUL. We had the best day, being taken from our hostel at 830am with a one-hour bus ride to the beach, and then left the beach on our bus at 3pm. There are many ways to get to the beach, you can also boat in from Cartagena. The round-trip bus ride cost us $45,000 Colombian Pesos, or $11 USD each and was well worth it.
Tip! Locals will swarm you when you first get to the beach to try and get you to sit at one of their chairs. It’s not mandatory, you can just sit on your towel. But if you stay near the beginning of the beach the prices are a lot cheaper than if you walk further down. Some of the chairs and shade you can get for free near the beginning of the beach.
If you’re looking for an affordable beach to spend the day at, this is the one! We didn’t get a chance to go but I’ve heard great reviews from it. Juan Ballena does excellent tours hear.
This is probably the most popular island destination, and thus of course, your most expensive. A friend I had met from Chicago did a full day tour with scuba diving, lunch and island hopping here for roughly $270,000 COP, or $70 USD.
The beaches on Barú are quaint and intimate, with the exception of Playa Blanca (mentioned above), which is the most expensive of Barú’s beaches. You can’t go wrong here for a relaxing, white sand filled afternoon.
3. Town of Cartagena
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (Castle of San Felipe de Barajas)
This was a great way to spend a couple of hours if you’re looking for something to do in Cartagena. It’s $25,000 COP to get in, $6 USD, and well worth it. This old fortress has so much history and is so beautiful to walk around. You can walk all the way up to the top to get an amazing view of the city and then explore the tunnels underneath.
Cartagena’s Old Town
Cartagena’s Old Town has the best little shops and restaurants and was probably the liveliest place of all of Cartagena. An amazing way to spend an afternoon. Make sure to stop for lunch somewhere and have fun getting lost in all of the cute little streets.
4. Volcano Excursion to Volcan de Lodo El Totumo
Our hostel had a great deal on visiting this mud volcano for the afternoon. I was a little skeptical at first but it turned out to be one of my favourite things to do in Cartagena Colombia!
It’s like something you can never do again, very unique and just outright interesting. It cost us 50,000 COP or about $13 USD for the day. Our hostel arranged the shuttle which took about an hour to drive out to, then you get inside the volcano which is pretty much a giant mud bath, then you get washed off in a river by some local ladies.
An experience I don’t think I’ll need to repeat but I’m happy I did it!
All in all, Cartagena Colombia was an amazing place and I wish I could have spent more time in this beautiful country. If you get a chance to visit Colombia, be sure not to miss this destination along with the other hot spots: Santa Marta and “The Lost City Trek“, Bogota, and Medellin and surrounding cities.
Any things to do in Cartagena Colombia to add that you absolutely loved? Scroll down and comment them below!
Want to read more about South America? Check out more South America destinations here!
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