June – you rocked.

Hello world of blog readers!

Today I thought I would take some time to sit down and reflect on the amazing month I have just had and share with you some of the many things I have learned and experienced. They say spring is a tough act to follow, but June never fails to disappoint.

This month I knew I was on the precipice of my busiest months of the year (July & August) and so I made a conscious effort to carve out time for myself and to relax and recharge. The reward for this conscious effort to take care of my self has been huge – I feel ready to succeed this summer and ready to rise to the challenge of a couple busy months at work.

When reflecting on the month of June there are 4 themes that come into focus, which I will discuss in this blog: volunteering, sustainability tips, my solo road trip, and of course my Tesla. So let’s dive in; I hope you learn something new!

Adding Volunteering to my Life…

June started off with a great volunteering experience thanks to my continued involvement with the group Green Okanagan (I feel it is worth mentioning, this is not volunteering with the Green Party of Canada, despite having similar sounding names and some overlapping visions). Green Okanagan hosted a town hall discussion in early June in Kelowna regarding the Green New Deal for Canada – a report being delivered to Ottawa in the fall suggesting how Canadians see ourselves moving towards a just society and green, sustainable economic system.

The town hall was organized by a team of volunteers (myself included) and I have to say working with such an amazing team and seeing the night succeed was a very rewarding experience. Some of the key suggestions our 57 participants collectively put forward included investments in public transportation, life cycle accountability for producers of consumer goods, and Canada to meet their commitments to the Paris Accord.

The amazing team of Volunteers (sporting our thrifted t-shirts I was tasked with creating!)

Sustainability Hacks

Another area I have been making changes in during June would be trying to reduce my waste and use of plastic in much of my daily life. I recently began composting and making use of the central compost drop-off bin pilot project here in Vernon. I have found that I can divert much of my household waste from the landfill by mindfully composting and I only regret not doing it sooner!

I have also begun shopping at the bulk foods store for items such as pasta, grains, sugar, coffee, and snacks. I even take glass containers which are re-used from kitchen sauces etc., which makes the bulk shopping completely packaging free! Just take your containers to the weigh scale at the checkout where they will mark the empty weight on the jars.

Not only do I feel great knowing I am not generating unnecessary packaging waste, I have also been saving so much money. For the price of what I used to spend on a bag of coffee ($12), I am able to get 4 or 5 jars full of various goods like Quinoa, sugar, coffee and candy.

Lastly, I have made some significant sustainability alterations to my bathroom products – specifically, ordering a stainless steel razor, using shampoo bars, and finding a recycled cloth makeup remover towel (locally made as well!). These products are working really well for me and made for a very easy transition with zero compromise.

Local Compost Collection Bin in Vernon BC.
Bulk Foods in Re-Purposed Kitchen Glass Recycling and Glass Milk Container.
Shampoo Bar, Stainless Steel Razor, and Re-Usable Makeup Cloth made of Recycled Fibre.

I hope those of you who are looking for small ways you can implement changes at home to green your footprint find the above suggestions useful – remember that when it comes time to vote, your vote is a moral multiplier (it takes your values ex. sustainability, and allows larger changes to occur from the top down, something we know is necessary if we are to achieve the ambitious emissions reduction targets the world needs).

Who’s ready for a Road Trip!?

A few months ago I decided to book a small Cabin on an Organic Farm in Loon Lake as a getaway spot for myself, what a great decision that turned out to be. One of the tendencies I have when single is to travel less because I get caught up in the scarcity mindset (I don’t have a partner to come with me, so it wouldn’t be as much fun). I challenged that thought process by booking what could have also been a romantic couple’s retreat, but for myself. It was also my first chance to take my new Tesla on a mini road trip, and to check out the Kamloops superchargers.

This turned out to be a GREAT DECISION! I have talked to many people who are in relationships and they even agree that solo time and trips are good for all of us, and they are envious that I was able to spend 3 days of quality alone time. During my 2 glorious nights away I was able to write, read, cook, take photos, and relax (oh and sleep, A LOT!). Not to mention, I had zero transportation costs (thank you free Supercharging!) and zero tailpipe emissions. Now that is truly a vacation I can feel good about.

Home for 2 Nights
Loon Lake, BC
Friendly Farm Animals
Kamloops Superchargers – 40 minutes, $0, 225km added range.
Sitting on my front steps, before the mosquitos chased me inside…
Leaving Paradise heading for Home.

Spreading the word, Tesla style.

This month I was fortunate enough to offer plenty of rides to first timers and to attend my second Electric Vehicle car show, this one hosted by the climate club at a local elementary school.

It was great, as always, to connect with other Tesla and EV owners and to showcase our experiences and vehicles to those with questions and those considering making the switch to an EV. The students had also put together some great projects and posters about the subject, and were even on hand to offer to ‘do the math’ for you in making the switch, calculating monthly costs and savings for attendees. Pretty amazing way to spend an afternoon, and always rewarding to see this car living out it’s true potential.

EV Car Show in Vernon on June 22nd
3 x Tesla Model 3s

You made it to the end!

Thank you for reading and I can’t wait to update you all again soon, until then enjoy this beautiful sunset I captured in Lake Country last night.

Until next time,

Olivia.

My First EV Car Show!

Hello Readers!

Since my last blog post it has now been about 8 weeks that I have owned my Tesla Model 3 and just last month I was fortunate to attend a local EV Car Show right down the road from my house.

The show attracted well over 100 people and about 20 electric vehicles were showcased, including models from Tesla, Nissan, Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Kia. It was a great chance for people to ask questions of the owners and to even take a test ride in one of the cars. I loved meeting people who were passionate about Tesla and allowing them their first chance to ride in a Model 3.

Two Tesla Model 3’s (Monty in the middle) and a Hyundai Kona EV.

The EV Car Show was a great opportunity for me to speak with potential and current Tesla owners about some of their main questions and concerns with going electric. I wanted to revisit some of the most common questions here in my blog with the best answer I can provide from my personal experience with owning the car!

Q: Do you have to install a special outlet / plug at home to charge your Tesla?
A: No! I had planned to install a 30A or 50A plug but after pricing it out at $1100 and trialing the slower wall plug option (also known as a trickle charge), I realized that I could make due with wall charging.

My home charging setup – the only additional cost was the cable hanger ($30 on Amazon).

TIP – An easy way to figure out what speed of charger you require is to take your average daily kms, divided by hours the car is parked with access to charging. For example, my car is only driven about 30kms a day on average, and parked for 15-20 hours a day, meaning my recharge speed only needs to be (30/17.5 = 2km/hr). A wall plug will charge at 8km/hr meaning I have enough speed to recuperate all of my kms driven of my average driving habits. When I go on road trips, I will use the Tesla Supercharger network.

Q: How fast are the Superchargers and how much do they cost?
A: The Hope BC Supercharger reached over 450km/hr recharge speed and the Kelowna BC Superchargers typically max out at about 140km/hr, so it varies. That means that in just 15-30 minutes you can be back on the road again with the additional range of between 30-250kms, depending on the charge speed. The cost of such a charging visit in my experience is around $10-$12, but will vary depending on how long you are parked at the charger.

Q: How far can you go on a single charge?
My Standard Range Plus Tesla Model 3 achieves 385km to a charge, but there are many EVs today which have over 400kms range. For instance, the top of the line Model S, X and 3 all travel 499kms to a charge, and the Hyundai Kona or Kia Niro EVs each get over 420kms to a charge.

My navigation system will route me to superchargers if I am on longer road trips than 385kms, making sure you never need to worry about when or where you must stop or how long you have to charge.

I had such a great time taking people for rides in the car and allowing them to experience first hand what driving and owning a Tesla means to me, and I really enjoyed the varying reactions I got when I pushed the accelerator to the floor ;-).

I’ll be showing the Tesla at another event on June 22nd at a local elementary school where students have been writing projects on Electric Cars – very excited! I’m also taking the car on a road trip to Loon Lake near Cache Creek BC next week which will allow me to check out the Superchargers in Kamloops along the way!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Happy travels – Olivia.

Tesla Model 3: Week 1 Review…

Hello Readers!

Last week I took delivery of my Tesla Model 3, and made good on a promise I made to myself that the next vehicle I owned would be electric. Today’s blog will look back on my first week owning the Tesla, what I am loving and what I hope they improve on. Overall, this past week has been like stepping in to the future of driving and the future of transportation – so join me as we go over some of the best bits!

Taking Delivery

Our First Picture Together – meet my new Tesla!

The delivery process took about 2 hours including going over the vehicle features, how to charge, buying insurance, and signing the papers. I had been contacted in the weeks’ prior by my delivery specialist, Jake, who answered all of my questions and made sure I had everything ready to go for delivery day.

I had to travel down to Vancouver to take possession of the Tesla, although previous Okanagan buyers had the option to have the vehicle delivered to their home. I didn’t really find this too much of an inconvenience as I was able to hitch a ride down to Vancouver with family, and it allowed me to see how the car handled a 400+ km road trip right away…queue the range anxiety!!!

First Road Trip & Supercharging

The day after taking delivery I departed Vancouver and typed my home address into the navigation system in the car. It determined that I would have to supercharge in Hope and once more in Kelowna. I had assumed I would also need to charge in Merritt too, it said no need, so I was pleasantly surprised and decided to just trust the car and go for it (I’ve done a lot of research into Tesla cars prior to owning one, and felt confident that the formulas were well tested and wouldn’t leave me stranded on the highway with 0% battery!).

I arrived at the Hope Superchargers and lost my EV charging virginity – what a painless and smooth experience! I simply backed up to one of the stations, opened the charge port, and plugged in. The speed amazed me – 400km/hr recharge and approx. 45 minutes to continue on my journey (perfect, as I wanted to grab breakfast at a cafe around the corner!).

It is worth noting that superchargers are owned by Tesla and will only work for Tesla cars – this was one of the main points of consideration in my choosing the Tesla over other electric manufacturers (whose chargers only go up to 45km/hr max speed). I could see from this very first experience for anyone who enjoys road trips, the Tesla is a clear favourite EV.

‘Monty’ the Tesla enjoying a supercharge in beautiful Hope, BC.
My Tesla App allows me to stay up to date on the charging process.

What I learned from my first Supercharging experience was how seamless the plugging in and charging process was, and how inexpensive. The charge from 190km up to 300+ kms only took about 40 minutes at the cost of only $12 and change. Now keep in mind, superchargers are something I only plan on using on long road trips, not on daily driving. Either way, travelling from Vancouver to Kelowna for $12 was a huge savings for me!

I departed Hope and the navigation system told me I would arrive at the Kelowna superchargers with between 11 and 18 percent battery. This seemed on the low side of desirable, and I have to admit range anxiety did start to hit me on the next leg of my journey.

As the temperature outside fell, so did my navigation system’s range predictions. This is something I was warned of, and it didn’t surprise me. We all know that batteries don’t preform as well in extreme heat or cold, and the outside temperature on this road trip was as low as 0.

I had to cross my fingers that somehow the nav system had taken into consideration the weather (is that even possible?). I continued to watch the distance to my destination and the battery range dance back and forth, telling myself if the range ever dropped below the distance to Kelowna, that’s when I would start to panic. I turned off the cabin heat, turned off the music, and kept to the speed limit or lower, all in efforts to maximize efficiency.

Just as my range anxiety was at it’s height, as I summited the connector highway between Merritt and West Kelowna, something amazing happened….

REGENERATIVE BRAKING. From the top of the connector, down into West Kelowna, my range actually INCREASED. All thanks to the amazing process of regenerative braking, where the energy used to slow the car down on hills (there were many long ones on this stretch) is pumped back into the battery! My range went from 53kms up to 71kms all the while travelling over 30kms of distance, downhill. I was beyond happy!

Coming down off the connector into West Kelowna, range anxiety gone!

I supercharged in Kelowna (another $13) and made it home with plenty of range to spare. I’d accomplished my first trip from Vancouver to Vernon and learned so much about my car along the way. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed and content that I had chosen a vehicle with enough range to meet my needs…

The Tesla App

As you can see from this screenshot, I can control many functions of the car direction from my smart phone (which also doubles as my key). I can preheat or cool the interior of the car, open the trunk(s), lock and unlock the doors, and stop the charging whenever I want. I find myself checking in on the car a little bit too often, but I’m getting better haha.

Over the Air Updates

Day 3 of owning my Tesla, I woke up to find new features had been unlocked. Tesla founder Elon Musk announced that all Tesla’s would now feature autopilot as standard feature and those current vehicles without it (such as mine) were on a 60 day free trial starting now. The value of adding autopilot is about $4000, and I’m sure the trial period is to entice us to upgrade…

This meant that I now had a self-driving vehicle on my hands, for 60 days, free of charge. I was beyond excited, but also nervous to use it right away. The new features included automatic lane-changing, autopilot, summon, and park assist. I have tried most of them out and I’m a huge fan!

Typically, to use autopilot, I will get up to highway speeds and engage it – autopilot maintains a constant speed and keeps the vehicle between the lines (that’s right, it steers itself!); stopping with traffic, changing lanes when I turn my indicator on, and reducing the speed if a vehicle in front is travelling slower. I’ve tested it on several occasions so far and have found it to be very reliable and safe. The car asks you to lightly touch the steering wheel about every 30 seconds ensuring the driver is always alert and ready to take over.

Home Charging

Charging from a regular wall outlet at 8km/hr

Upon arriving home from Vancouver and my supercharging experience(s) I plugged in to a regular wall outlet with the included charging cables and my car informed me it would take over 30 hours to reach a full charge. I have been managing just fine with this set up (I don’t commute, and my daily driving is usually 10km – 100km, leaning on the lower end). I plan on installing a 30amp or 50amp plug soon, which should charge my battery at 30-50km/hr meaning I will wake up to a full charge every day, and don’t even need to plug in every night considering how little I usually drive.

Summary – The Pros

  1. This car is fast. The instant torque surprises everyone who rides in it, myself included. I still smile every time…
  2. The regenerative braking which allows me to drive with only one pedal (the accelerator) 90% of the time.
  3. Over the air updates mean I am getting new features and improvements continuously during my time owning this car…
  4. The handling is superb. It is the smoothest, quietest car I have ever driven.
  5. Cost savings – which I calculated were over 70% compared with driving a gasoline vehicle over a similar distance.
  6. The ease of charging, and the speed of superchargers.

What I would like to see improve (my only critique so far):
1. The door handles (inside and out) take a verbal lesson for every new person who encounters them…

2. If this even counts as a con, the self-driving capabilities make me lazy when I have to take back over control and actually drive… I know, Tesla problems. Also, they aren’t going to be there forever and I will miss them!

Coming up next…

Well there you have it, my first week owning my electric car. One other thing I wanted to mention was the friendly waves I have received from other Model 3 drivers – I’ve never been a member of a car ‘family’ before but it does feel great. I pulled into a parking lot where a Tesla owner and Nissan Leaf owner were standing by their cars talking, and when I opened my door all I heard was two people shout “NICE CAR” to which I replied, “Thanks, I just got it!”. They proceeded to tell me between them they’ve driven over 600,000kms electric with no issues – happy to hear this!

Next weekend I plan on showing the car at an Environmental Fair in Armstrong at Askew’s Foods, and on May 23rd I will be showing it at the Schubert Centre in Vernon for their EV Showcase (come for a ride!).

I’m so excited to share my experience with others and use my car as a catalyst to help more people switch to electric. I’m sure you’ll be hearing plenty about it in future blog posts…

Thanks for reading, questions are welcomed as always.

Olivia.

Goodbye Gasoline, Hello Electric!

Hello Readers,

For those who follow me on social media (@oneearthconsulting), you will have seen my recent post announcing that I have ordered my Tesla Model 3 Electric Car (the biggest, most exciting purchase of my life!). I wanted to write a quick post about some of the preparations I will be making to make the transition from ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) to full electric.

First a short backstory – I placed a reservation and $1000 deposit on the Model 3 about 3 (ironic, I know) years ago and have been waiting for the base model to become available ever since. Last month, ahead of the latest predictions, Tesla made the standard battery Model 3 available to order. I knew it was now or never…

I plan on using the vehicle as a tool to spread awareness and hopefully increase the adoption of zero emission transportation, so prepare to see a lot of Tesla road trip blogs, appearances at local events, and honest feedback on my transition away from gasoline.

When selecting my car, I was mindful to select a model with practical range for my lifestyle. I don’t commute to work, but I do enjoy occasional road trips and didn’t want my range to be a limiting factor. The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range plus features 385 kms of range on a full charge (the base model goes about 354 kms, and the performance and long range models max out at 499 kms). I factored in that 385 kms would easily get me to Tesla Superchargers in Merritt, Revelstoke, Kelowna, or Kamloops, which basically set me up for road trips in the 4 major directions from home. This would even be possible in winter, when range can diminish by as much as 40% due to cold temperatures and heating the interior of the car. I’m confident that I selected the right model for my budget and needs.

I currently drive a very fuel efficient 4 cylinder car, spending only about $140/month (or approx. $1600 / year) on gasoline, but I am still excited to move my transportation spending away from the fossil fuel industry and into a company which only builds 100% electric vehicles. Taking a quick glance at the 2019 fuel consumption guide (link available here) you will see many popular vehicles cost well over $2500 in fuel per year. Compare that with the Tesla Model 3 ‘Mid Range’ (the closest comparison in the 2019 guide as the standard battery only just came out) which only costs about $400 / year or a meager $30 / month in electricity to operate.

That doesn’t even begin to cover maintenance, which aside from a tire rotation, the Tesla will require basically no annual costs to keep it in operation. I was spending about $250 a year on oil changes and routine maintenance – so I welcome the savings there.

In preparation of delivery, I will be adding a 240 volt outlet next to my parking spot which will allow me to charge at home at a rate of about 25 km per hour, plenty to top up my battery overnight.

I plan on keeping this vehicle for as long as I can, maximizing my savings over the long term. I also plan on looking for ways I can use this vehicle as a tool to spread change, and grow my aspirations.

Stay tuned for delivery in about 2 weeks’ time!

Olivia.


Today’s Topic: IMPACT

Hello Readers, and thank you for being here!

Last week I travelled to Victoria, BC to attend the IMPACT Sustainable Travel and Tourism Conference.  The conference fostered plenty of networking, stimulating conversation, and a bigger sense of urgency at just how dire the climate situation is.  One of my goals this winter has been surrounding myself with like-minded people, and 250 of us joining forces certainly didn’t disappoint!

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You’re right, Bob MacDonald, This IS It. 

I want to include a quick story in this blog because I think it really speaks to the experience I had at this conference, particularly when it comes to reinforcing my mission to pursue sustainable tourism:

Back in 2013, when I had first moved to the Island, my then boyfriend took me to a place which I have written about in past blogs – Port Renfrew.  I experienced, for the first time, the magnificent trees at Avatar Grove and the tidal pools at Botanical Beach.  From that day forward, Port Renfrew has always been my ‘happy place’.

Some time after that initial visit, during my time as a grad student in tourism management, I remember talking to that same boyfriend about my idea for a tourism business.  Having fallen in love with Avatar Grove, and knowing that I wanted to share the place with others, I came up with the idea for ‘zero impact tours’.  Essentially, I would use a Tesla or other electric vehicle to offer a tour from Victoria to Port Renfrew to experience the natural wonders of the region, leaving behind no trace and taking only pictures and memories.  (For more on Avatar Grove and why it is so special, check out my earlier blog – Old Growth Tree Tourism)

Fast forward to last week, when I had the opportunity to meet Kevin Belanger – the man who is now turning that dream I had from years ago into his own successful tour business – Tesla Tours.  It was a remarkable experience to talk with someone who shares my same passion for sustainable transportation and tourism and who proved to me that I wasn’t crazy all those years ago, maybe just a little ahead of my time!  I was inspired to work with Kevin and will be looking at ways to collaborate in the near future.

Experiencing Tesla Tours Firsthand 

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A company with a vision I can 100% get behind…

‘Moments that are sacred inspire us to change.’

As I sit here writing this blog, the weather outside is unseasonably warm.  The hills are barely dusted in snow.  Climate Change is happening right now, all around us.  Last week was one of the warmest on record, at a time of year when we are supposed to be at our coldest.  My dad is worried too that his bees will mistakenly think it is spring, starting the queen laying her eggs too early and leaving the developing bees vulnerable to an unexpected cold snap.  Back in Victoria, the cherry trees are already blossoming – something I remember in March and April, not January.  This past summer was the smokiest I have ever experienced, and forecasts predict this may be the new normal.

My eyes have always been open to this crisis, and after my time at the Impact conference, I realize the time to act is now.  The time is now for me to shift into sustainability focused work, to put my passion and skills to work for the most deserving client I can think of – this beautiful, living planet we all call home.

See you on the front lines.  I’ll be the girl in the white Tesla 😉

Olivia.

 

Today’s Topic: Road Trip Reflections

Hello Readers,

I recently returned from a 5000km road trip to Arizona, and along the way I tried to make a few key sustainability choices to reduce my impact as a road tripper.

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Firstly, I knew that with 22+ hours of driving each direction, many stops at coffee shops would be made, and I wanted to ensure I wasn’t throwing away single use coffee cups at every turn.  Therefore, I made sure to pack 2 of my favourite Keep Cup reusable coffee cups to reduce my waste (the previous post talks about these more in depth and provides a link to purchase!).  A great tip I have was taking my reusable cup in to the hotel continental breakfast and filling it up with fresh tea and/or coffee for the road – not only saving on waste but also on cost – a win-win!

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Free tea from the hotel to get going on day 3 – somewhere in Nevada!

When planning for the road trip – we selected the most fuel efficient vehicle we had access to, my 2014 Kia Rio.  We utilized the “eco mode” in the car for all of our driving, as well as cruise control, and managed to get our fuel consumption down to about 6L/100KM or 40mpg approximately.  My dream is that my next long distance road trip can be taken in an electric vehicle.

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Along the way, I made note of how many Teslas we passed – and my final count was around 11.  This number doesn’t include the nearly 30 Model 3 Tesla’s I saw on Interstate 84 in Northern Nevada – loaded onto delivery trucks making their way East to some happy recipients.  That was a great sight to see – especially as someone who holds a reservation for one!  (I’m pretty excited to test drive a Model 3 this week in Victoria, more on that in the closing remarks!).

I was also very pleased to see many wind turbines and solar farms (some of the largest Solar Panel installations I had ever laid eyes on). I was so enamored that I forgot to snag any pictures, but I found some online of the First Solar Copper Mountain facility near Las Vegas.  You can read more about their stats here.

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It was really encouraging to see renewable energy farms along the journey…

I really wanted to try some unique AirBnb accommodations on this trip, and did manage to stay one night in a yurt in La Grande, Oregon.  This was my first experience in a yurt and any fear I had that it would be cold was immediately erased.  This yurt was heated, well insulated, and super comfortable.  It even has private soaking tubs connected to the hot springs on the back deck for a truly relaxing experience.   Listing available here.  I’m really excited to stay in a Tiny House tonight in Victoria – you can be sure I will post about it in the coming week!

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Once safely arrived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona – I took the opportunity to lace up my hiking boots and get out into the desert.  One day in particular, we hiked over 7 miles and my mom (our host) explained all of the different types of Cactus species and that the desert is particularly green this year due to extra precipitation.


The last experience I really would really like to highlight was our visit to the Big Warm Springs in Duckwater, Nevada.  Located on the Shoshone Reservation, this spring is considered sacred to the local indigenous tribe.  I am so happy my travel partner found this hot springs online and suggested we visit, because it was one of the best experiences of the entire trip.  We had the springs to ourselves, and even got a friendly wave from a car load of locals coming to unlock the (nice) washroom facilities. If you’re ever in the area – definitely check it out, it was peaceful and exactly what I needed on such a long drive.

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Relaxing in Big Warm Springs (Duckwater, Nevada) – a Must Do!

Well that about sums up my road trip experience, and although it was not carbon neutral, I believe a few decisions made along the way definitely helped mitigate my impact.

Coming up this week!
I am off to Victoria, BC tonight for the IMPACT Sustainability Conference and I am beyond excited!  I have so many exciting things lined up in addition to this conference which will cover issues around sustainable tourism (my favourite!) – I will also be test driving a Tesla Model 3, visiting a Tiny Home builder, and meeting with a tour operator running Tesla tours in cars powered by the sun!

Hope everyone has a great weekend,

Until next time,

Olivia.

 

Today’s Topic: 5 Earth-Friendly Products to Travel With!

Hello Readers!

Tonight I wanted to share with you some of my favourite reusable and/or biodegradable products which come in handy not only in day to day life, but also when traveling. A few of these happen to be made locally to my area, and I would recommend trying to source similar products made in your local area before sourcing those from further afield.  This, of course, further reduces the environmental impact and who doesn’t love that!?
cd607a06-6553-4f60-8a1f-62104bc5e4f8-470x3351) Biodegradable Phone Case from Pela

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How your Pela Case arrives in the mail! No unnecessary plastic packaging…

We all take our phones along when we travel, poised to take that perfect vacation selfie or wildlife video.  When I recently upgraded my iPhone I went searching the web for biodegradable or recycled phone cases.  The best type I could find, Pela Case, uses a flax-based plastic like material which is compostable and biodegradable.  They are also a Canadian company who recently moved their headquarters to Kelowna, a huge coincidence!

I immediately placed my order and was absolutely thrilled with the product and purchase experience.  Not only is my new case soft and gripped easily in my palm, but the case came in a recycled paper envelope with no unnecessary packaging.  I chose a lavender color from the many on offer, all of which will fit almost every phone out there.  Even better, they also donate 1% of profits to environmental charities.  I felt so satisfied supporting the company and recommend them to everyone the next time you are in the market for a new case you can feel good about.

Take me to the Pela website!

2) Reusable Straws

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A sea turtle pays the price for our over-reliance on single use plastic.

Recently, footage of a sea turtle with a plastic straw wedged in it’s nostril was the wake up call heard around the world – we are throwing away an astonishing number of plastic straws after using them for minutes.  They end up in landfills and in our oceans.

Alternatives to the plastic straw include those made of paper, glass, stainless steel, and even bamboo.  I have switched to the stainless steel version, but it all depends on your personal preference. Reusable straws are simple to carry with you when you travel, fitting nicely inside your bag or purse.  Browse some of the options on amazon.ca now!

3) Reusable ‘Keep Cup’ Coffee Cups

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If you think I have an obsession – well, you’d be correct!

Chances are you go through a lot of takeaway cups of coffee in your daily life.  This is also true when we travel.  Carrying a travel mug or reusable coffee cup such as the Keep Cup will reduce the number of ‘to go’ coffee cups you throw away, a huge win for the environment.  In the US alone, 50 Billion paper coffee cups are thrown away each year!

I really like my Keep Cup as it is the closest look, feel, and performance to a traditional paper coffee cup.  They are available in either plastic or glass, come in some really interesting colours and after 6 months of use mine is still like new.   I recently noticed several single use coffee cups ending up in the garbage at work, so I went and bought a couple extra Keep Cups for everyone to share, and so far they have been a huge hit.  That’s one thing about finding a sustainable product I really enjoy – I just can’t wait to tell everyone I know about it!

I purchased my Keep Cup(s) at Triumph Coffee in downtown Vernon, but they are also available online where you can fully customize your cup!  They make a great Christmas gift.

4. Natural Sunscreen

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Natural Mineral Sunscreens – Ocean and Body Safe!

I have always chosen natural sunscreen when at all possible, as I am hyper aware of chemicals being applied to my skin.  More recently, as one fifth of the world’s coral reefs have died off, there is a growing awareness of the role sunscreen is playing.  Toxic ingredients in conventional sunscreen can kill developing coral, increase bleaching, and even damage the DNA of the reef.  Luckily, there is much we can do!

For now consumers who want to protect their skin without harming corals need to look for “reef-safe” products that are biodegradable, contain mineral sunblocks (with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) instead of chemical blockers, and without nanoparticles (and thus designated “non-nano”).

If you remember back to one of my earlier blogs, I talked about the island nation of Palau and their outright ban on harmful sunscreens, a ban which is about to be passed in Hawaii as well.  Make the change now and your body and the oceans will thank you!

5) Reusable Shopping Bags

Many of us, me included, will indulge in some shopping while we are traveling.  Whether stepping out to the local farmer’s market, grabbing some groceries for the hotel kitchenette, or even indulging in some hardcore retail therapy – you are likely to find yourself in a “would you like a bag for that?” scenario.

My reusable bag of choice are EnviroSax.  I first encountered them about 8 years ago and mine is still working like brand new.  They are so easy to fold up and keep in your purse (and suitcase!) that you will soon find yourself stopping every well-meaning cashier in their tracks with a joyful, “no thanks, I have my own bag!

Envirosax bags are lightweight, portable, waterproof and can last up to five years, each one potentially replacing 5,000 one-use plastic bags over their lifetime!

Shop their website or if you have a Nature’s Fare grocery store near you, that is where I purchased mine for about $7!

So there you have my TOP 5 Sustainable products to travel with – please comment and share your own faves, and I can’t wait to see what everyone else can’t travel without!

Olivia.

Today’s Topic: Take a hike!

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“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time” – John Muir

Hello Readers!

When it comes to sustainable modes of transportation to use when travelling, nothing quite beats good old fashioned boots on the ground hiking.

Whether it’s a casual stroll on mostly even ground, or climbing up (and back down) a mountain, that moment when your feet leave the asphalt and hit the dirt marks the beginning of some of life’s most rewarding journeys…

The quote below the picture at the top of the blog by John Muir (aptly called the ‘Father of National Parks‘) truly embodies what it means to hike responsibly.  Following some simple guidelines can help minimize your impact on the landscape in which you choose to hike:

  1. Follow marked trails and stay on the path – this goes without saying, ensuring you don’t trample sensitive vegetation, and also reduces the overall impact of what can be large numbers of visitors to a trail.
  2. Carry reusable water bottles and food containers – even though you are being responsible and carrying out your garbage, why not opt for containers which you can reuse time and time again?
  3. Make a Donation – the next time you pass by one of those trail donation boxes, throw in some of your loose change and help maintain those trails you love so much.
  4. Bring a friend (and share with them Steps 1 through 3!).

As you can see, hiking is something I have greatly enjoyed for much of my adult life.  That said, I appreciate all kinds of hiking from gentle and short jaunts to gruelling multi-day adventures.  Some of the best hiking I have experienced has to be in my home province of British Columbia but also during my year abroad in New Zealand.

Below are just a few of the highlights from my hiking adventures!

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Halfway through Day 1 on the 4 day, 45km Lake Waikeremoana Great Walk in New Zealand.

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The stunning Lake Waikeremoana

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Day 3 on the Lake Waikeremoana Great Walk

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Overlooking Bethells Beach on the Te Henga walkway in New Zealand.

4 Images Above: the Summit of the Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand

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Abel Tasman Track, New Zealand

Roy’s Peak, Wanaka, New Zealand

Queenstown Hill, New Zealand

And some from closer to home in Beautiful British Columbia:

Stephen’s Coyote Ridge Park, Kelowna

Bear Creek Regional Park, Kelowna B.C.

Goose Lake, Vernon BC

Koksilah River, Shawnigan Lake BC

The best view comes after the hardest climb
Boy have I ever found this to be true!

So whether you are exploring trails closer to home or travelling to some of the best trails in the world, remember to be mindful of the environment and act like nature’s guest – don’t overstay your welcome and clean up after yourself and she will be more than happy to welcome you time and time again.

Happy trails!

Olivia

Today’s Topic: Giddy Up! Horseback Tourism.

Hello Readers,

I sat down this morning with the intention to write about sustainable modes of transportation which can be pursued as a tourist and have a smaller impact on the environment (cycling, hiking, renting an electric car, etc.).  As some of you may know, transportation is the leading contributor to human caused climate change and for better or for worse, transportation / movement is intrinsically linked to tourism.

Tourism, by definition, involves the voluntary movement of people…
and therefore the choices tourists make in terms of their transportation can make the single biggest impact in either increasing or (hopefully) mitigating their carbon footprint.

Because of this close relationship between tourism and transportation, there is a great depth of topics to look at when it comes to sustainable options.  This particular blog will focus on trail riding – the impacts, some of my experiences around the world on horseback (which have been some of my top tourism experiences ever!), saving the other subjects for another post.  In future posts I will cover hiking, cycling, walking tours, ride sharing / group tours, electric and/or hybrid vehicle rentals, snowshoeing and anything else I uncover along the way.  Stay tuned, but for now let’s get back to the horses!

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A group of beautiful trail riding horses in Glenorchy, New Zealand (2016).

Horseback riding remains one of my favourite ways to experience a landscape – it not only allows you to immerse yourself in some of the wildest natural environments, but it also fosters a bond between rider and horse.  It allows people with lower mobility levels the chance to access some hard to reach places, and it is an activity which appeals to people of all ages and riding abilities.

However, horseback tourism can still cause negative impacts on the environment – which is one reason it is important to stay on trails and speak with your host about how they are mitigating potential impacts such as soil degradation and the introduction of invasive species.

Memorable Horseback Riding Experience #1

When I was about 16, I took a multi-day horseback riding trip with my mom and grandma in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Southern Alberta.  The ranch was just outside of Pincher Creek, where I was impressed to see some of the first wind turbines I had ever laid eyes on.

Our 3 night and 4 day riding trip took us up into the mountains where the scenery was absolutely stunning.  We stayed in cabins, went riding every day, and enjoyed the famous western hospitality of our host – which included nightly campfires, comfort food, and of course good story telling.  I will never forget the memories made on this trip with my mom and grandma – three generations travelling together on the trip of a lifetime I am sure.  12 years later, I went to search for Mountain Meadow Trail Rides and was sad to see they have now closed.  Luckily, in Western Canada there is a great selection of guest ranches offering overnight riding trips, you can find out more by clicking here for BC ranches, or here for Alberta.

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3 Generations Enjoying a Trail Riding Holiday in Alberta (2006).

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Experiencing life as a ‘real’ cowgirl, atop my horse Smokey (2006).

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Amazing vista at our first rest stop on Day 1 out of 4 days riding in Alberta (2006).

Memorable Horseback Riding Experience #2

In 2016, during my travels to New Zealand one of the optional activities during my group tour was Horseback Riding in Glenorchy (where many Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed). I am so happy I opted to treat myself to this ride – it was hands down the most scenic place I have ever experienced.  The perfect weather didn’t hurt either.

The nice part about this horseback riding outfitter was they divided a rather large group of riders up into smaller groups based on riding experience. Those with little to no riding experience were taken on a gentler ride, where as I was grouped with the Intermediate and Advanced riders.  We were fortunate enough to experience multiple river crossings, as well as cantering and trotting during our breathtaking 2 hour ride.  The company was Dart River Stables if anyone is curious – click here to visit their website.

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One of many glacial river crossings during a 2 hour ride in Glenorchy, New Zealand (2016).

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A sensory overload riding through fragrant Lupins listening to the clip clop of hooves, NZ (2016).

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My good boy ‘Pete’, a retired racehorse who was retrained for the trails of Glenorchy NZ (2016).

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I couldn’t dream up a more beautiful place to ride a horse, Glenorchy NZ (2016).

Many of the horses at Dart River are saved from the racing industry and given a second chance as trail horses.  The guide explained that one of the most difficult things is training the horses how to walk instead of run, and learning to stay in line instead of racing each other.  I was warned prior to cantering that my horse liked to overtake other horses (he was a true racer!) so I had to be careful to hold him back.  Luckily, Pete was a very well behaved horse that day and he listened to my commands.

 

Memorable Horseback Riding Experience #3

In 2017 I returned to one of my favourite guest ranches in BC – Big Bar Guest Ranch near Jesmond.  I had visited this ranch twice in my teenage years, once on a camping trip with my mom and again when we rented a cabin and invited my brother along.  Both trips I was taken on amazing trail rides, and I couldn’t wait to share this place with someone who had never been on a horse before!

The adventure to Big Bar Guest Ranch starts when your tires leave the pavement and you tackle the over 80kms of gravel road leading you to the ranch.  As soon as I turned into the driveway, the memories of my past visits came flooding back.  We checked in to our rustic country cabin, with beautiful views of the lake and a wood fire to keep us warm.

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Settling in to ranch life at Big Bar Guest Ranch (2017)

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Rustic accommodation with a stunning view from the front porch, Big Bar Guest Ranch (2017).

The next day we went on a beautiful 2 hour trail ride exploring the Caribou region – with an extensive history of ranching and homesteading it is no wonder this area is home to many successful guest ranches offering a chance for tourists to escape the city and experience life on a ranch for a day, a week or even longer.  Visit Big Bar Guest Ranch’s website to learn more: http://www.bigbarranch.com.

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My horse ‘Ruby’ getting ready to leave for our trail ride – Big Bar (2017)

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Horseback Riding is all thanks to these amazing animals!

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Beautiful British Columbia – Big Bar Guest Ranch (2017).

“I can never love the Cariboo enough for all she gave to me. Mounted on a cowpony I roamed the land, not knowing where I went — to be alive, going, that was enough.” – Emily Carr

 

 

There we have a quick, highly personalized look at Horseback Tourism – one of the many low impact transportation options we have when travelling.  As a self-prolaimed farm girl, who grew up riding horses, I take every chance I can to get back on a horse, although it happens much less frequently now than when I was a child.

I find in horseback riding I can reconnect with nature, with myself, and feel a sense of connection to the landscape as well as to an animal.  When it comes to sustainable or ecotourism options, I have found horseback tourism suits my travel personality almost perfectly.

Admittedly, I am a sucker for anything country, and horseback tourism just happens to be one of my favourite ways to connect with that part of myself. As these photos clearly show, I was introduced to the cowgirl life at a very young age!

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Likely my first ever time on a horse – approx. age 3! (1993)

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Throwback to that time my parents threw a Barn Dance when I was about 5! (1995).

Until next time,
Keep exploring and keep asking those tough questions!

Olivia.