ECOTOPIA SUSTAINABILITY GUIDE
by Pangea Kali Virga
with information from
Debris Free Oceans
LOCAL FARMS AND FARMERS MARKETS and bulk
Supporting small local business, local agriculture, and more while having access to a wonderful community.
Farmers markets offer fresh local produce grown by your community. Local small farm operations are more sustainable then big agriculture which plants things at the expense of soil health, uses dangerous pesticides, and often ships your produce thousands of miles before it gets to your store.
Shopping at your local farmers markets allows you to buy the freshest produce you can find, seasonal items, and more native species.
Find weekly farmers markets in South Florida at...
Legion Park on Saturdays, 9am-2pm
Vizcaya Village on Sundays, 9am-2pm
Pinecrest Gardens on Sundays, 9am-2pm
Coconut Grove on Saturdays, 10am-7pm
Many farmers markets also double your SNAP benefits, making fresh produce accessible for all.
Don't forget to bring your reusable bags for shopping!
I love to go to the farmers markets for my produce, breads, spices, teas, soaps, desserts, spreads/dips, fresh juices, kombucha, great gifts, flowers, and more!
Reduce your waste while creating nutrient-dense soil.
COMPOSTING DROP OFF SITES
Legion Park Farmers Market, Saturday 9am-2pm, weekly
Vizcaya Village Farmers Markets, Sunday, 9am-2pm, weekly
Miami Beach Botanical Garden – drop off Tuesday through Sunday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Back2Earth (Various locations) – drop off any time during normal operating hours
Earth ‘n’ Us Farm (Little River) – drop off during normal operating hours 10am-sunset
Verde Market (Wynwood) – drop off any time during normal operating hours on Saturday and Sunday
Miami Beach Botanical Garden North Beach Composting Hub- open 24-hours for folks to drop. Last Saturday of the month is free compost pick up and workshop day. These workshops revolve around resource management and community resilience.
Fruit and vegetable scraps (peels included)
Coffee grounds and paper coffee filters
Tea grounds (but sometimes not the actual tea bags – the fancy nylon ones are no bueno, but the basic paper ones are OK)
Any kind of plant material – grass clippings, leaves, flowers, broken up twigs, etc.
What you can’t throw in compost
The key thing is no meat, dairy, or fish – or their bones
LEARN MORE ABOUT COMPOSTING AT
everyone is welcome and can sign up for composting classes tat this link below
COMPOSTING TIP- I like to put all my food scraps in a paper bag in my freezer before weekly emptying the compost scraps at my nearest compost drop off, this way I don't have to worry about the heat or fruit flies rotting my compost prematurely. Small kitchen compost bins can be found online too.
Native plants, great for wildlife, for you, and for the health of all.
Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals.
Over the past century, urbanization has taken intact, ecologically productive land and fragmented and transformed it with lawns and exotic ornamental plants. The continental U.S. lost a staggering 150 million acres of habitat and farmland to urban sprawl, and that trend isn’t slowing. The modern obsession with highly manicured “perfect” lawns alone has created a green, monoculture carpet across the country that covers over 40 million acres. The human-dominated landscape no longer supports functioning ecosystems, and the remaining isolated natural areas are not large enough to support wildlife.
Attract and support beautiful butterflies, birds, and more by adding native species to your garden. Enjoy native fruits, herbs, and veggies by planting them in your yard!
Find a list of South Florida Native Plants perfect for your garden at home, or guerilla gardening at this link
You can purchase and learn more about native plants through these local organizations
Earth N Us, has a free seed library at their Little River farm
LEARN ALL ABOUT LOCAL SPECIES, PLANTING, INVASIVES, AND SOUTH FLORIDA BIODIVERSITY ON YOUTUBE HERE
Native animals are a delight to live alongside.
Learning about native animals at your local State and National Parks can be really fun with regular birding tours, hikes, and more.
There are a handful of fabulous wildlife rehabilitation centers around South Florida that are also worth visiting to learn, to drop off injured native wildlife, and more.
Find local native wildlife rehabbers here. These organizations also host fun events and tours!
SPENDING TIME IN NATURE
Fall in love with the South Florida outdoors.
Spending time in nature has been linked to a number of physical and mental health benefits, from improving mood to reduced risk of disease. And you don't have to go to extremes to reap the health benefits of nature; just a little bit of time in fresh air and sunlight can improve your well-being.
The South Florida outdoors is spectacular with tons of options from hiking to kayaking to swimming to snorkeling and more!
Visit your local state parks, often free or under $10 for parking, and options for day visits, camping, and cabin rentals. Many parks have ADA compliant trails too!
Find Camping and Cabin rentals for the State Park system here. Make sure to book well in advance as they fill up quickly. There are many options from huge cabins to primitive tent sites.
Tip: I love the cabins at Oleta State Park!
Find out more about visiting Everglades National Park here, the largest subtropical wilderness in the US!
Don't forget to bring some reef-safe sunscreen, water, and a bag to pick up any litter you find.
NATIVE WILDLIFE REHABBERS
TURTLE PLACE IN BOCA
When you take care of your clothes and mend them, you can keep them out of the landfill for longer, and reduce the amount of clothes you go through over time.
On average each person in the US throws out 80lbs of textiles annually. Most of these clothes end up in landfills.
The fashion industry is one the biggest polluting industries globally and the longer you can hold on to an item the better it will be for the planet.
I made a powerpoint discussing the various steps it takes to make a garment and the labor and environmental costs of these processes along with more environmentally friendly processes. You can find that powerpoint here.
By mending your clothes you can hold on to them indefinitely while adding some original flair.
Learn more about mending and find tons of mending inspiration via these mending influencers here
Learn some mending techniques with this youtube playlist here.
SWAP MEETS AND SHARING EXCESS
Sharing is caring!
Swapping is a fun way to share our excess with our friends, family, and community.
You can host your own swap with friends in your home, attend a local swap, or even create a free pile in a local public space.
Learn how to host your own Swap with this blog step-by-step guide here
Learn about local Swap happenings on this whatsapp chat here.
Follow Pangea Kali Virga on instagram to attend one of their regular swaps.
Follow ReCreate Miami on instagram to swap digitally and in person.
RECYCLING AND DONATION CENTERS
Recyling doesn't have to be complicated. Enjoy drop off stations and more ethical donation centers.
The County Chemical Recycling Center is a great place to drop off items you can't throw out AND a great place to get all the free paint you could ever want. Head to the center to pick up paint and other chemicals others dropped off, totally free! Learn more at this link here.
Most donated clothing often ends up being incinerated, in landfill, or very slowly rotting in a country overseas (see Accra, Ghana)
If you're unable to swap your items you can always drop them off at
CLEAN UPS AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
Join your community to make a difference, all while having a great time!
Beach and park clean ups are a great way to join forces with your community to preserve the beautiful nature we already have access to.
Debris Free Oceans hosts all kinds of beach cleanups like clean up bar crawls, beach cleanups and yoga, snorkeling clean ups, and so much more. They have tons of plastic-free or plastic-upcycling events too ranging from swaps to workshops.
Learn more about Debris Free Oceans here.
Remove trash and invasive plants from the Everglaades with this clean up organization here.
how to make a difference
Donating money to local organizations and making efforts to be more politically active can go a long way in helping save our environment.
Reaching out to your local government officials to let them know how much you value the environment and green spaces via email, call, or office visit helps them know the values of their constituency.When done en masse this collective action can sometimes sway the votes of elected officials. Start your own email campaign with friends
Find a list of officials for Miami and the County here.
Learn about how to pass a plastic-free ordinance in your community with this link here. You can add your business too!
It's time to reconsider our reliance on this material and the oil industry.
Plastic production includes many stages. Extracted fossil fuel inputs are first refined and cracked to form the building blocks of plastic. For example, ethylene is made from crude oil and propylene is made from natural gas. These chemicals are then modified to produce resins: an often sticky substance used to create plastic products. The manufacturing process can be varied according to the necessary characteristics of the output plastic desired.
Plastic, which is a petroleum product, contributes to global warming throughout various stages of its life cycle. While each stage indirectly creates emissions by requiring energy-intensive infrastructure and different modes of transportation, extraction and combustion are particularly potent sources of carbon dioxide emissions.
Plastic recycling is energy-intensive, logistically challenging, ineffective, and counterproductive. In short, the process generates lower grades of plastic that are not as malleable or versatile and it increases environmental, social, and financial injustices borne by marginalized groups at home and overseas.
At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year! Floating plastic debris are currently the most abundant form of marine debris—threatening food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributing to climate change. Plastic waste makes up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments and has been sampled from the shores of every continent.
The best way to tackle the issue of plastic use is to reduce and ideally ovoid plastic in as many cases as possible while upcycling or recycling what we already have produced.
The text above is an excerpt from an amazing and in-depth plastic overview article by Debris Free Oceans.Learn more about what plastics are in the full article by Debris Free Oceans here.
Reducing your impact with some sustainable product swaps!
There are many ways in which we can reduce our impact by swapping out single-use/disposable plastic products for more eco-alternatives.
I love getting things from the bulk store, like Verde Market, where you can bring your own containers and fill them with house and kitchen staples from beans to coffee to spices. Buying bulk in this manner reduces packing waste as you can continuously reuse jars or other packaging you have from home. Do an online search for bulk-stores near you!
Reduce your use for paper by replacing your paper towels with rags or hand-towels! These fabric versions can be rewashed and used for years!
Make sure to bring your recycled totes for shopping and errands so as to not use plastic bags!
Many cooking utensils, plates, bowls, appliances, and more can be found at local thrift stores. The most sustainable option is always second-hand. Carry a set of utensils wrapped in a cloth napkin to make sure you are always prepared and never have to use disposable cutlery.
Replace your sponge with a natural loofah which is totally biodegradable. Loofahs are vine plants and can be found online and locally sometimes in naturalist stores.
Carry a set of metal or bamboo cutlery when on the go so you never need to use plastic disposable cutlery again.
Animal agriculture is about 20% of all the world's carbon emissisons, leads to deforestation, animal cruelty, and labor abuses. Try eating less meat and dairy to reduce your carbon footprint by 40%.
Did you know that going without beef for one year saves 3,432 trees!?
Eating a vegan diet is great for the planet and easy to attain!
There are many regions of the country that have CSA (community supported agriculture) programs where you can access fresh locally grown food during harvesting seasons. CSA’s allow you to invest in a farm in advance of their harvest and gives you access to continuous freshly harvested nutritious produce during the grow season while supporting small local business and regenerative farming practices. Some CSA's have sliding scale rates for families of all incomes and some are even accessible via SNAP benefits. Do an online search for "local CSA" to find options near you.
SUSTAINABLE FASHION FACTS
Buying secondhand, sustainable designers, and more.
Creating clothing is a very labor and resource intensive project. The fashion industry alone is one of the top 3 contributing industries to climate change. From polluting natural water ways for dyeing, or creating droughts for fiber agriculture, or catastrophic labor abuses, to immense carbon foot-prints for shipping and packaging, the industry has a lot to improve upon.
Individuals can also do better! The average American throws out 80lbs of textiles annually! That's a lot of fabric ending up in landfills.
You can learn about the process of making clothing and the various techniques used to reduce the impact of this process on the planet, what you can do about it, and a ton of resources concerning these topics in the FASHION SUSTAINABILITY GUIDE HERE.
Attend a Pangea Kali Virga workshop to learn more about mending skills, swapping, and dyeing to help maintain what you already own and love! These workshops happen year-round, so sign up for the Pangea Kali Virga to find out about upcoming dates. Scroll down to sign up!
WHAT IS GREENWASHING
Don't get lost in fake hype.
Just because something says it is sustainable, or says it has zero waste emissions, or says natural gas, or any other word salad of sustainability terms that doesn't mean it is actually sustainable.
The best way to find out if something is sustainable or not is to consider the following things..
-Is this brand just creating a sustainable line of products in addition to their already unhealthy amount of normal production? Maybe just stick with a brand who tackles sustainability not as a special project, but as a core mission.
-Does this brand have a lot to say about sustainability, but no evidence to back their statements up? Then it's probably just a cash grab from a company wanting to take advantage of the new hype of sustainable living.
-Does this business give back to the community or the earth?
-Do they pay fair wages? Do they allow unions?
--Does this brand have an independent auditor or certification proving committment to their sustainable production or labor practices?
-Does the business have a buy-back program to repurpose or refurbish used goods of theirs?
These are just a few base questions, but with research and practice you can hone a keener eye to spot disingenuine branding!