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Growing up in Oregon, I constantly heard wise words from my mother like "lets recycle that," "you can walk," "don't use too much water," "whole wheat is better than white," "no dessert if you don't eat your vegetables," "dark lettuce is better for you than light," "paper over plastic," "don't leave anything behind" and so much more. Her healthy ways got me into many sports and helped turn me into a record-setting track athlete. In 2006, my mother lost a 3 year battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease; something nobody would have ever expected. That was right around the time I joined the Surfrider Foundation in San Diego and had my first child, whom she never met. Now 10 years have passed since losing my mother, yet volunteering for the Surfrider Foundation, and becoming a mother, I've noticed her words have come through clearer than ever. In addition to personal training and triathlon coaching, I have done some blogging to help our planet, and improve lives. I hope you enjoy my content, and join me in my journey for a cleaner planet and promoting happier, healthier lives!

Friday, October 3, 2014


That's right, the title's no joke.  Though it's not actually from me, and you're going to have to do a little help for the environment. ;)  The Surfrider Foundation is giving away a Firewire Surfboard to whoever can make the best art from plastic discarded along our coastline, or anything which could end up there.  (This means no cheating by using your household supplies.  Gotta pick up some waste.)  Our kids are SO excited about this, they're hoping to find enough plastic bottles to build a boat.  Ha, not sure we'll have enough time for that, but we've already picked up some, and will certainly make something.  Here's the link with the full details:


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fruit & Veggie Solutions

A big part of reducing waste in our environment starts in our own fridge.  Fruits and vegetables are the best things to eat, but don't last long, so tend to be frequently wasted.  Of course since they're biodegradable, they're not the big problem for our environment (like all those things packaged in plastic), but they are a waste of money when we don't use them.  So... here's a few fun ways to use them up when they're getting ripe: make smoothies, soups, pizza toppings or dry them!  Then compost the waste.

If you have a bunch of fruit like this, you're likely not going to fit it all in one smoothy.  Though it would be yummy. ;)  All this ripe fruit, I cut into slices between 1/4" to 1/2" thick and threw it into a food dehydrator.  I bought this dehydrator at the beginning of the summer when I realized a lot of fruit was going bad before getting eaten.  Well, it has absolutely paid itself off!  One thing to be careful of with a dehydrator is that they do make some heat.  So, in the summer, I hook it up outside not to heat up the house.  Of course when it gets too cold inside, that's a great time to use it indoors!  Here's how it works...

When slicing fruit, remember that the ones with the most water are going to shrink most.  So cut them in slices a little thicker (like this pineapple).  Bananas don't shrink a whole lot, so can be sliced a bit thinner.  Most fruits take several hours to dry.  Of course fresh fruit works best, but I've found that even fruits that aren't as ripe get sweeter when dried.

Now for the veggies, my healthiest solution is a simple pot of soup.  Just chop them up, and throw them all in with your favorite base.  Add some beans to keep it vegan, or add chicken, etc. if you want meat.

Another great way to use up those veggies is a vegetarian pizza.  This I made with a homemade whole wheat crust.  Yum!  So good with our own fresh toppings that the family didn't even care about the healthy crust. ;)

As for the leftover fruit and veggie scraps, I use a countertop composter to start the composting, then transfer it to my TINY southern California garden outside.
You hardly need any space, and composting reduces the amount of water wasted for garbage disposals, while keeping the entire drainage system less clogged up.  There are many cute countertop compost crocks, but you can always just use a tub that seals, to keep fruit flies away.  Here's what I got off Amazon.com...

I hope this post was informative!  As always, feel free to ask questions, and thank you for reading.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DIY Crafts and Skincare

Oh, it's been a while, only because I've got big ideas and little time.  So, trying to condense a few here, and will share fun stuff when I get to them individually.  What's coming; LOTS of ideas on making gifts and beauty products from home, while saving the planet and your health in the process.  Why buy something if you can make it for less?  It's not just about making, or creating new things, but using what you have, spending less, and creating less waste.  There are hundreds of items we throw away on a daily basis without realizing they may be able to create something we're planning to buy.  Take gifts or skincare products for example.  Why buy a gift if you can create something more meaningful?  And skin products; why buy something filled with toxins when you can make something comparable with natural ingredients from home?  An added benefit, you know you won't be buying something tested on animals.  I'll start with a few ideas here, but will surely add plenty more through this blog as I LOVE to save money and create with what I have.

Before I start on projects, here are some items you may consider saving for specific things:
-Babyfood jars: for Natural home-made skincare or for storing small items like pins, paperclips,  rubberbands, hair clips, bobby pins, twisters, beads, and shells
-Spaghetti or salsa jars: snack jars, fun candles, flower vases, flower pot
-Fabric scraps: book covers, bookmarks, quilts, party streamers, Halloween costumes
-Broken crayons: melt and pour into molds
-Wood chunks: sanding blocks, door stops, wall signs, small shelves
-Toothbrush: cleaning tool or to splatter paint on a painting
-Old tablecloths: cloth for kids to paint on
-Paper scraps: homemade cards, signs

It'll take me a while to get through this stuff, so please send your requests, and I'll get on it. ;)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy 4th!

Woohoo, the 4th of July, Independence Day; many Americans FAVORITE holiday as most get the day off in celebration of our freedom as a nation. What do we do? Party!
Shoot fireworks, dress silly,
hold 4th of July races, parades, 
barbecue, eat American favorites, 
drink, make noise, and be ridiculous...

Yep, we always pick
a fun run or bike race...

Here is a homemade carrot cake I made with cream cheese frosting, sliced strawberries for the stripes and blueberries for the stars (sorry, couldn't quite fit the proper 50!)
So much fun, but one "tiny" little problem, all the celebrating around the country makes a horrible mess!   (And you probably noticed I did not show the ADULT ridiculousness!!!)  I've been trying to find some stats, but between the noise and garbage from fireworks and people, the 4th of July may be the worst holiday for our environment.  (New Years and Halloween are definitely up there.)  BUT, not everyone makes a mess, and those who tend to be the least messy tend to be the ones volunteering to clean up the next morning. Thank goodness for organizations like the Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coast Keeper, many coastal areas have organized volunteer beach clean-ups. We try to attend every year. Here is us from this morning...
Yes, by the time my husband took the photo, we had already been working a couple hours along with many other volunteers, so now the beach looks pretty clean, yipppeeee! You may have noticed we're using reusable gloves and bags to avoid extra unnecessary plastic waste. Yes we found lots of nasty stuff, a couple things we won't mention, but mostly cigarette butts, styrofoam, plastic wrappers, straws and lids. Plus some burried sandals and a couple stray socks. It is always clear there is a TON of plastic waste on our beaches and in ocean.

All that said, I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July, were mindful of the environment, and help clean up the leftovers.  Thank you SO much if you did!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Our Ocean...

The kids and I made this video over the last few days.  It was easy putting together photos of garbage we've taken over the last year or two.  At the time I took the photos, I didn't know if they would ever be used for anything.  I was so happy to put them to use with my children telling the story.  I hope you enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Goodbye Plastic Bags!

Last night my kids and I handed out hundreds of free reusable bags (with other volunteers), compliments of the City of San Diego, and the Surfrider Foundation.  Yep, we LOVE to volunteer for Surfrider, as their efforts always benefit the environment, particularly the world's oceans, waves, and beaches.  We witness visible changes first-hand.
Can you imagine our excitement this night, watching hundreds of people walk out of the store using our cloth bags instead of plastic?  A BIG thanks to VONS for supporting our efforts, for their employees' positive energy, their baggers politely assisting customers with the bags, and them happily taking bags for their own use.  Yes, there were still plenty of excuses like "I don't need them," but the fact remains, plastic bags will soon be gone at check-out counters.

For those one or two out there that "don't believe in reusable bags," the fact is that before a city bans a bag, they do a detailed cost and environmental analysis.  When cloth bags are re-used, they consistently come out ahead for cost and eco-friendliness.  A big THANK YOU to anyone who is using reusables over plastics already.  Here is more information on where bans have already taken place, and what to do if you'd like your city to join in!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Easy, Healthy Summer Yum!

Whole Fruit Popsicles!
 Yes, these popsicles are 100% fruit, no added sugar, colors, water, or anything!  What a great way to use up fruit or juice before it goes bad!  If you're a fan of juicing, don't waste it, put it in some reusable popsicle trays and have it later.  As for these multi-color popsicles, they are simply a layer of pureed strawberries, cantelope, kiwi, and blueberries.  (I would have used mango instead of cantelope, but it wasn't ripe quite yet.)

Here's how I did it...  Using a food processor or blender, puree about 1/2 cup of the fruit you want on the bottom (mine, strawberries.)  Leave it a bit chunky so the top layers don't mix as easily.  I used a food processor for easier cleaning.

Use a spatula to wipe the food off the sides and into the popsicle trays.  If there's extra fruit, put it in a cup to make a smoothie later.

Puree the next fruit, and carefully pour over the bottom layer.  Continue until you have all the layers you want.

Freeze overnight (or a few hours if during the day), and whalaahh!
Use a little warm water to soak the outsides of the trays to loosen the popsicles.  Twisting also helps get them out.

I hope you enjoy!  Have a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Happy BABY, Happy Earth

I'm going to admit a horrible source of waste that I didn't stop until baby #2... DISPOSABLE DIAPERS!  It is estimated that 1,375 Million diapers are used EVERY day, GROSS!  With baby #2, I turned to Fuzzibunz cloth diapers.  WHY not earlier?  I'm still kicking myself, and it's one reason I'm trying so hard to be environmentally conscious now.  I'll be honest, when I thought of cloth diapers, I thought of the old fashioned kind my mother used with fold-up cloth and pins.  I didn't want to think about washing a mess in that?  What changed my mind, (besides the disgusting thought of ALL those disposables going in our garbage bin) was the cost of disposables, and the sight of Fuzzibunz!  I noticed that they were machine washable, they didn't have pins or any folding to do, and they were actually CUTE for babies to wear without having to cover!  They're like the reusable swim diapers that I used with my son, but more absorbant!  AND, my baby
Target Swim Diapers
LOVED them!  They're softer than disposables!  And of course, we saved hundreds of dollars plus kept thousands of diapers from ending up in landfills.

Now, I don't want anyone to read this and rule out all the other types of reusable diapers.  There's hundreds of brands now and so many styles.  There's so many reviews out on the "best" brands, but honestly, there's no best brand for every baby.  Moms know that babies aren't all shaped with the same proportions, they don't all "go" the same quantity every time, and some messes are just so much messier than others.  So, before I chose Fuzzibunz, I actually tried Thursties and a few other brands as well.  I picked what worked best for my child and what was most tolerable for me.  Had I tried on a different child, I may have chosen something completely different.  Here are some other benefits of using cloth diapers:
-Less toxins against babies' skin
-May reduce diaper rashes
-Faster potty-training for some kids as they tend to feel wet easier and want dry
-Cloth feel makes easier transition to underwear

The most important thing to keep in mind, what we choose to diaper our baby with DOES have an environmental impact.  Lets remind others of the economical savings and benefits for our children in addition to the environmental impact to help reduce waste on this planet.
Fuzzibunz Saving Our Planet!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bag It Documentary

From Surfrider San Diego:

Join us for a FREE screening of the award-winning documentary Bag It on Monday, June 2nd from 7-9pm at Bottle Craft, located at 2161 India Street San Diego, CA 92101. Attendees will receive 10% off draft beer and have the chance to win some sweet prizes!

This documentary film follows J. Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Berrier is not a radical environmentalist, but an every day American taking a closer look at our cultural affair with plastics. His journey starts with important but often unasked questions: Are plastic bags really necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? Berrier takes us beyond plastic bags, opening all of our eyes to urgent changes we can each make for the environment and the future of our oceans.

Personally, I can't wait to see it. ;)  Here's a preview...

Bag It Intro from Suzan Beraza on Vimeo.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Save $$ While Saving the Planet

"Think Green" truly has a double meaning.  Look at all the ways you can save money while reducing waste, or getting more fit!  This estimate is for a family of 4 for 1 yr, but easily adjustable to any size family or individual.  Note: most reusable items last many years, increasing the savings.  There's also many brands at different prices for most items.  Many of these were from the Dollar Tree, Walmart, or Target.  Also many people have a good start by reusing grocery store bags as garbage can liners so they don't have to buy any, but when the bag bans hit, better get reusables...

Reusable napkins- (4 for $4) vs 3 meals/day or 4380 regular/yr = about $70
Cleaning cloths ($4 for 16 at Walmart) vs. paper towels 8/day: 2920/yr = $70
Reusable ziplock bags (4 for $20) vs 4 regular/day = 1460/yr = $146
Reusable kitchen bags ($13) vs. 3 regular/week or 156/yr = $30
Reusable water bottles for 4 ($32) vs. 2-8/person/day =  $3,650-$14,600
Cloth diapers 1 baby (12 for $100) vs 6 regular/day = 2190 = $592
Reusable party plates 20/party ($5) vs 20 regular x 6 parties = 120 = $23
Reusable party cups  20/party ($5) vs 20 regular x 6 parties = 120 = $23
Reusable silverware 20 sets ($20) vs 6 parties:120 sets = $30
Reusable gloves for family ($8) vs 1 box regular medical gloves = $12
Reusable feminine products (DivaCup $30) vs $10/12 months = $120
Good mop ($20) vs disposable mop w/replacements = $100

Other ways to save money, energy, and resources:

-Walk or ride a bike instead of driving
-Turn of lights when exiting a room and turn off TV/appliances
-Plant plants that require little water (save water plus $ on your water bill)
-Growing food at home    
-Avoid using oven when hot inside
-Open windows when its hot instead of turning on AC
-Using fire in fireplace instead of turning on heat
-Fishing/hunting- these can reduce an incredible amount of packaging and feed a lot with very little cost.  (Those who know me know I've NEVER been a fan of killing animals, particularly mammals, which is why I hover somewhere between different forms of vegetarianism and vegan.  Though I do admit can be cheaper to catch your own meat!)

Keep posted as I'll also write a post on ways to save $$ and reduce waste for cooking!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Guilt-Free Cookie Making

Or mostly. ;)  Yeah, I know, what is a personal trainer doing writing about cookies?  The way I look at it, since nobody wants to give up cookies completely, and everybody needs SOME fat, why not compromise with smaller serving sizes of home-made natural, nutrient-dense cookies instead of purchasing an over-plasticy packaged tub of over-sized, garbage-filled, nutrient-poor cookies?

Now, how we keep guilt to a minimum: make SMALL cookies.  As soon as the cookies cool, put them into several reusable bags that you can put in the freezer or give away to friends.

 The guilt comes when cookies are in plain view, and magically disappear.  So, keep them out of sight, out of mind.  Also the small freezer bags are perfect for grabbing on the go for the beach, hikes, etc.  I don't recommend cookie jars as they're also in plain view.  This cookie jar, on the other hand, plays the "Jaws" shark tune when you open it.  So at least your family can catch you red handed. ;)

Okay, I know you want to know, here's the recipe for the cookies I just made.  No flour, butter or oil! (Of course I used Natural peanut butter and dark chocolate.)  Delicious!

Planet-friendly tip: Buy buy natural peanut butter in glass jars rather than plastic.

Life Without Plastic Bags?

Approximately 1 TRILLION plastic bags are used worldwide each YEAR!  But plastics are recyclable right?  The fact is, only a very small percentage of plastics are ever recycled, plastics don't decompose, and the majority are either left in landfills or scattered around the Earth.  Approximately 10% of plastic made every year ends up in the ocean.  Many have recognized these facts, leading to a few city-wide plastic bag bans in 16 states, with California leading the country, pushing an entire state-wide plastic bag bill to start Jan 1, 2015.  If you are a California resident, please follow this link to support the measure.  The Surfrider Foundation is also working on several other states, so please check here for yours, and contact your closest chapter.  If your state is not there, please follow this link for two ways to start a ban in your town!

THE DILEMMA: #1: What to use?  #2: If you don't bring home plastic bags, what do you put your household waste in without buying more plastic bags?

My SOLUTIONS: #1: Keep several reusable bags in your car.  When you bring in groceries, shake them out and put back in your car.  Reusable bags are STRONG.  They'll hold much more than plastic and not break.  I have bags I've used for up to 10 years!!!  (Think how much plastic that's saved?)  #2: If you have city garbage pick-up, get a reusable liner or use NO liner and just rinse your garbage can and recycling bin.  In your home, use washable, reusable liners (if you need one at all).  Dump your waste from your house directly into the large garbage bin from your small house cans, shake out or rinse out the liner and you're ready for the next load.
Here are some examples:  PlanetWise Reusable Trash Bag, or lots of great stuff from "moocowmamma".

Also try to compost your food scraps rather than throwing them in the garbage or wasting water and energy on the garbage disposal.  There are countertop compost "Crocks" which start composting your food waste without smelling up your kitchen or attracting fruit flies until you're ready to dump in in your garden or yard.  These are a great idea for people with small or no yards.

Then to help reduce waste, here's my reusable sandwich and snack bags I use...  ChicobagsLunchskinsBlueAvacado clear zip bags, and SlimSnacks.

If you know how to sew, make your own!  If you rinse and reuse on a regular basis, the bags will more than pay themselves off.

Feel free to ask questions, and check back for more, as I'm always searching for solutions!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lets Make a Difference!

As a child I assumed everyone was taught the same lessons as me on the importance of the 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle), not overusing our natural resources, eating healthy local foods, and getting in some exercise.  The more I became educated and the more I traveled, the more I realized how dirty our Earth really is and how many people either DON'T know it, simply don't care, or have just given up.  Those who ignore the environmental issues may think "I won't make a difference," "it won't happen in my generation," or "it's too late."  The fact is, ANYONE can make a difference, and we can all do more, including me.  That said, I'd love to hear your comments and requests as we've all got to work together to make this planet a better place.

Now for my plans; tips on how to get by without single use plastics, environmentally friendly alternatives at the grocery store, transportation solutions, how to SAVE $$ while keeping our Earth happy, how to reduce your water bill with an ocean friendly garden, explanations of why garbage in the ocean impacts us on land, how to hold a fun yet environmentally friendly and healthy party, and since I'm a personal trainer, if requested, I can certainly post plenty of ways to enjoy nature while keeping fit. :)  Let me know what you want most!