Keira Knightley

Keira Christina Knightley (born 26 March 1985) is an English actress and model. She began acting as a child and came to international notice in 2002 after co-starring in the film Bend It Like Beckham. From 2003 her appearances in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series took her to much greater prominence.

Knightley has appeared in several Hollywood films and earned nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. Two years later she again was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, as well as the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Atonement.

In 2008, Forbes claimed Knightley to be the second highest paid actress in Hollywood, having reportedly earned $32 million in 2007, making her the only non-American on the list of highest paid actresses.

Travel: Glamping to Connect with Nature

At the end of each camping season, I already look forward to the beginning of the next. Last November was no different: When the chill settled in, I dreamed up our Easter break. But this time, instead of a tent pitching expedition, I planned a dog friendly glamping road trip within California.

Our trip was such an incredible experience, I thought I'd share it with those of you who are ready to give glamping a try!

Pigeon Point LighthousePescadero

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

I had read about this place a few years back. Despite negative experiences with Youth Hostels and the fact that this one does not accept dogs, we decided to give the "family room with shared bathroom" a try. On our way there, we stopped at La Nebbia Winery to refill a few bottles for the trip. After boarding Zizou, we checked into the lighthouse to find that the amenities unfortunately did not meet our expectations: Run down and way too expensive for their condition. And to make things worse, the much-anticipated "Jacuzzi-tub on the Pacific" was closed. But I swallowed the price tag when we spotted countless whales offshore: Seeing so many at once was such an unexpected perk! The surrounding setting was beautiful and the coastal winds invigorating. We walked on the nearby beaches, explored tide pools and played football in the (invasive, but nonetheless pretty) ice plants in bloom, filled our mesh bags with tasty strawberries, avocadoes, and peas from a farmstand and had the famously delicious artichoke soup at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero.

Cons: Expensive for what you get
Pros: Whales, whales, and more whales
Ranking: 6 (least favorite)

Treehouse in Santa Cruz Mountains, Watsonville

Leo on the rope bridge leading to the TreeHouse
Zero Waste Lunch

The next day, we slowly made our way down the coast to our next destination. Scott and Leo rode their bikes along Highway One, while Max and I picked up Zizou from the kennel. Then, we took a hike down to a beach, had a picnic with the goodies purchased the night before, sipped a beer in Santa Cruz, and stopped for bulk groceries at New Leaf (happy to find pasta, bummed at having to argue to have my jar filled). We arrived and parked at our host's house in the afternoon. From there, we took a four minute walk on a single track trail, at the end of which the path turned into a roped bridge: It is with delight that we discovered the Treehouse, a little cabin built off the ground amidst a set of redwoods. Leo instantly noticed the Jacuzzi-tub (which would make up for that of the lighthouse), Scott, the unsightly unit in construction nearby. Once inside, the place had everything you'd need: A kitchenette with basic utensils and a bathroom with a shower. After a hot tub soak, we made dinner, watched a VHS tape, and hugged the redwoods indoors :). I fell asleep dreaming of The Little House on the Prairie, wondering what it would be like to live here all year. The next morning, sun rays splashed the cabin as we stretched in bed to the sound of resident birds. We reluctantly left the cozy nest, but looked forward to our next glamping location.

Cons: Unsightly/unfinished unit nearby
Pros: Self contained - a "Little House in The Woods" experience
Ranking: 2

Yurt on Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara

"Poppy" Yurt on Lake Cachuma

Our Zero Waste was put to the test in the hills of Santa Barbara. The day's end caught up with us, as we realized that we needed a few extra groceries. We stopped in a couple of locations along the way, hoping to find a store with minimal bulk, baked goods or a counter to fill our jars, but only found upscale convenience stores with packaged goods. With a little bread left, a head of romaine lettuce, condiments, a lemon and a jar of soon-to-expire homemade salsa (both, a friend's gift), we opted to make the best of what we had - with the help of one food item to carry the salsa. I grabbed what-seemed-to-be-a-paper-bag of Flamous falafel chips, read its "eco" claims, shook it and squeezed it as to detect a hidden interior plastic liner, but I didn't get a clue of any: "Wow,  check this out!", I said to Scott, "a brand finally found a way to package its chips without plastic". With two teenage boys desperately hungry, I put my shopping ethics aside and reluctantly bought the bag. We reached Lake Cachuma before sunset. I quickly noticed that one side of the campground was sheltered from the wind, my online reservation was, of course, for the other. Nonetheless, each yurt was set on the water and offered amazing views of the surrounding hills. After unloading the car through strong gusts of wind, we sat down for a drink and an appetizer of chips and salsa. Shame on you, Flamous, for misleading the consumer with your sneaky plastic bag! Luckily, our evening took a turn for the better. Our campsite neighbor offered us a freshly caught trout. I must have sounded desperate, when I hurriedly accepted;)... I stuffed it with my girlfriend's lemon, Scott prepared the barbecue, the sun sat and the wind died down, as predicted by the park's ranger. A delicious meal of trout, salad and bread, comfortable beds, and, other than the raccoons digging into our compostables, a quiet night... I reflected on the fact that things always even out.

Cons: Yurts can be windy in late afternoon
Pros: Awesome views
Ranking: 4

Tepee in a KOA, Calico

Zizou guarding the Tepee entrance;)

Leo on a "silly bike"
Had we planned to vacation without our dog, I would have been able to reserve a much sexier location for a tepee. I hadn't realized, this one would be set next to the highway. Nonetheless, this KOA was our youngest boy's favorite spot. The activities offered (pool, archery, "silly bike" rentals, fusball and air hockey) were perfect for his age. The location was uncrowded, but what I liked most about it, was the desert being at our fingertips. During our two night stay, we kept busy and had a lovely time. We went to the nearby ghost town of Calico, the Rainbow Basin Natural Area past expanses of Joshua Trees, and a Drive-in movie theater. We bought our food from the local Safeway, the staff of which did not question my jars and bags. The tepee was clean, and despite the noisy location, we slept comfortably on the mattresses provided. As you can imagine, the night sky in the desert is unparalleled and offers unlimited entertainment. Simply put, this was an easy, leisurely stop.

Cons: Proximity to the Freeway
Pros: Proximity to the Desert
Ranking: 3 (Leo's #1)

Oak Flat Fire Lookout, Sequoia National Forest

Oak Flat Fire Lookout

Salad of  foraged miner's lettuce
Out house in the heavens
To access our next shelter, we had to swap cars: Our Prius for a 4x4 rental. After refilling jars and cloth bags at the super friendly Vallarta Supermarket in Bakersfield, a 45 minute drive took us on a dirt road through beautiful cattle land, then veered up a steep hill to a clearing bordered with boulders and miner's lettuce ready to be picked. In the middle of all this beauty, we discovered our night's accommodation: A fire lookout set on top of the world... Hard to believe that we had this whole place, in the middle of nowhere, all to ourselves! The amenities were rustic as we expected them to be, the outhouse cleaner than we would have imagined (and its setting so incredible, I could not stop taking pictures of it under different lights!). The ladder leading up to the cabin isn't for the faint-at-heart (Zizou wouldn't dare go up its steep see-through steps) but the trek up is well worth the effort. The 360 degree views from up there are simply breathtaking. Tears will fill your eyes with pure joy. Needless to say, I loved this place. It way exceeded our expectations.  I fell asleep that night, with dreams of updating the place, of scrapping and painting its window seals, of preserving it for future generations. I even wondered what it would be like to own and treasure one of these.

I read about fire lookouts a decade ago and had since longed to stay in one: An experience that I thought I'd be ready to cross off my bucket list after our stay. On the contrary, after visiting Oak Flat, I am ready to visit many more. 

Cons: Accessible by four wheel drive only 
Pros: Sleeping on top of the world
Ranking: 1 (my favorite)

Under the Stars, Arroyo Seco Campground, Greenfield

Max and Leo ready for bed

No matter how much you plan, sometimes things don't work out as you'd expect. We had planned on staying at the Poso Guard Station that night, but a week before our departure date, the park cancelled our reservation for damage due to a recent storm. So we left on our trip, knowing that our last night's accommodation would be a wild card. Countless propositions and considerations later, we ended up opting for a night under the stars. We would have preferred to sleep in the backcountry, but not finding any viable options along our way home, we stopped at a campground in Los Padres National Forest. We arrived at sundown, with a sign that read "campground full", which it is to be expected on Easter weekend. A friendly chat with the hosts granted us access to a group campsite all to ourselves, near a sink (dishwashing reusables made easy). Fellow campers seemed to care little for either the environment or the facilities. Being grateful to have found a place to spend the night made it easy for us to ignore them. After dinner, the kids made their bed in the open back of our Prius, Scott and I laid on mattresses pads directly on the ground. We fell asleep staring at the stars, recollecting the joys of this wonderful trip and the backpacking trips planned for the summer ahead.

Cons: Careless campers (nasty bathrooms)
Pros: The hosts (accommodated us without reservation in a full campground)
Ranking: 5

As with camping, I found glamping to be such a great way to connect with nature.
Have you tried it? Do you have a site to share with us?

How to Celebrate Earth with your Kids, Everyday

Leo, one special morning
One morning last year, as I was clearing up breakfast after sending my boys off to school, I heard my youngest shout:

-Come here, Mama! You’ve got to see this!

-What is it? I cried from inside.

-You’ll see, but run! You’ve got to hurry!

I ran outside to the front porch and then down a few steps to where my son stood, eyes frozen in one direction.

-What is it? I asked again. 

Without a word, he lifted his arm and pointed towards one of our oak trees. I followed his arm and finger, scanning and squinting through the branches in search for something special. Was it a squirrel? But everything looked in order to me and I was about to ask what had caught his attention, when he murmured:

-Isn’t this beautiful? Look at that green!

Right in front of us, a morning ray of light highlighted the moss-covered limbs of our tree and I had almost missed this magical sight: Nature's brightest green or what Benjamin Moore calls "Paradise Green"...

Paradise Green
Much like that morning, Earth Month or Earth Day is a great opportunity to take a moment out of our busy schedules to pay attention to Nature and be thankful for her gifts. But why celebrate Earth only once a year, when our survival depends on it daily?  Earth Day should be every day of every month, and it can be with the Zero Waste lifestyle! 
    A sustainable future starts at home by raising our kids to be good stewards of the environment. 

    Here are 10 tips for celebrating Earth with your kids, everyday:

    1. Educate your kids about environmental issues. Watch documentaries such as DisneyNature’s Ocean and movies such as The Lorax with an underlying green theme. The more they know, the more they’ll understand the need to reduce waste. For more suggestions, including books, take a look at my kid friendly selection.
    2. Turn down freebies. In our consumerist society we’re pounded with free goods. But every time we accept a freebie, such as a plastic party favor from a birthday celebration, we create a demand to rig more oil and make more plastic party favors. Once home, these items quickly break (making kids cry) and clutter our space and then landfills. Teach your kids to think twice about bringing things into your home and graciously say no to favors that they don't need and won’t last.
    3. Declutter their wardrobes and toy chests. It seems natural to want to spoil our kids with stuff. Yet, decluttering their space is a more environmentally sound thing to do, as it puts precious resources back on the market for others to enjoy while decreasing the depletion of natural resources. Teach them the benefits of decluttering vs. accumulating. Living with less allows them to pick up their room quickly so they have more time to play!
    4. Give them the gift of experiences. Experiences don’t break and last forever. They also teach our kids that beingis more important than having. Consider activities instead of stuff as presents. Examples include tickets to a movie, a show or a museum, gift certificates to the local ice cream or pizza parlor, registration to a skateboarding or dancing class etc. 
    5. Shop the bulk aisle with them. Eliminating food packaging does not just make obvious environmental sense, it makes financial sense (Did you know that when you purchase a packaged good 15% of the price covers the packaging? That money could be used to fund an experience). And it’s better for our kids’ health too -reducing their exposure to processed foods and plastic packaging's toxic leaching. Let your kids fall in love with unpackaged food by letting them explore the bulk aisles and choose their favorite cereal and snack with you. 
    6. Pack Zero Waste lunches. Disposables are not only a waste of resources; they’re a waste of your time and money shopping for them. Keep your money out of the landfill (save it for a family trip) and pack a waste free lunch for them: You probably already have all the reusables you need! A reusable bottle and container, and a dish towel to wrap them in Furoshiki style. The cloth becomes a carrier, a placemat, and a napkin all in one!
    7. Take them on a tour of your local sorting center. Not only will they learn about what happens to their recyclables once they leave the curb, but so will you. You’ll get to see firsthand why plastic bags and shredded paper are a sorting facility’s nightmare.
    8. Include them in composting activities.  There is a composting system out there for every family’s living condition (whether you are an urban, suburban, or rural dweller) and diet (whether you produce meat or veggies scraps). The worm bin in particular, is a great way for kids to witness the cycle of nature: feed the worms and watch them transform scraps into a rich soil amendment, which they can then feed to your plants.
    9. Get out. What better way to teach the importance of conservation than going outside to enjoy nature and understand the reason behind being green! Let your kids connect with the outdoors through hiking, biking, picnicking, camping, etc. They can also participate in litter picking events or habitat restoration projects: Their energy is always welcome!
    10. Have Fun! Environmental awareness should not make our kids feel scared about their future, but give them the strength to want to do their bit for the Earth. Kids respond best to our “lessons” through humor and play. We found that experiences provide a great opportunity for both. Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our family most recent adventures. 

    If you have not already done so, check out my book Zero WasteHome: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste (adapted versions available for the UK and the Commonwealth, France , Quebec and Korea,), for more tips on how to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot at home.

    What time savings?

    Own less + Waste less = Live more
    Exposing our lifestyle to mainstream was bound to attract criticism but we've kept an open mind, realizing that, had we heard about a Zero Waste family a decade ago, we too would have been judgmental and thought, 1)"These people are total hippies", 2)"They must spend a lot of money", 3)"They must spend a lot of time doing this."

    Shattering these preconceptions about our lifestyle has become my vocation.

    Proving that 1) and 2) are false is easy. Photographs of our minimalist modern interior quickly establish that we're not granola. And when I speak of curbing consumption, buying secondhand, buying in bulk, and adopting reusable alternatives, all of which are known to be economical, my audience immediately grasps the truth behind our money savings.

    But I find the third misbelief trickier to break.

    Unlike aesthetics and monetary savings, which can simply be demonstrated with pictures and bank statements, time savings are much harder to tangibly prove. While it seems obvious to me that a life of voluntary simplicity would afford more time,  I sense my interlocutor's doubtful silence (I even hear an unspoken "Yeah, right"), whenever I speak of time savings within the context of the Zero Waste lifestyle. Maybe he/she thinks: "Too good to be true"? Understandably, I propose a fragile argument against the force of ingrained beliefs.  In our fast paced society where marketers lead us to associate fast food and disposables with time savings, I can see how it would be difficult for the skeptic to imagine that a lifestyle which rejects these products would save time. We are all so convinced that we use our time wisely that only change can prove us wrong. Maybe you have to live it to believe it... so I feel it's my duty to support my claims with hard evidence.

    Below is our household's evaluation: On the left is a list of chores that were required to run our previous household; To the right, the time savings that Refusing, Reducing and Reusing have offered in our new household. While I understand that not everyone either 1) Has a pond or and fruit trees to care for; or, 2) Would see these things as chores, I included them for transparency.

    The 5R's take time to implement into one's life, but it's time well-invested considering how much you'll save in the long run. Much of my household's time savings are based on downsizing (house, yard, car, amount of stuff). But they're also the sheer result of going waste free (no trash or recycling to take out, no liners to purchase). We eliminate the need for disposable products (no need to keep buying and disposing of them) and opt for multi-functional ones -for example, our solid soap, which we purchase loose from the grocery store, serves as 1)shampoo, 2)shaving cream, 3)facial cleanser and 4)body soap, so we no longer need to manage the supply and the recycling of these 4 products.

    As you can see from the chart above, the Zero Waste lifestyle is actually more about not doing (i.e, not participating in unsustainable activities) than it is about doing (working on Zero Waste) as one would expect. For me, Not participating in unsustainable activities has made room for living more, along side working a fulfilling full-time job.

    Increased time is the greatest life improvement that Zero Waste can afford. It shouldn't be considered as a perk, but rather a reason for going waste-free.

    What would you do with more time on your hands?

    Amy's story: Zero Waste with Celiac

    Today is a guest post by Amy Sjoquist, who provides tips on combining waste-free and gluten-free living. Please use the comments to share your experience or ask questions on the subject. 

              Hi to everyone out there who is interested in stewarding our beautiful earth and living simply.
    When I came across an interview that Bea gave about her Zero Waste home, I knew that I had just found truth and it required me to do the right thing. Immediately after reading the interview, I hopped on this website, and started the immersion into the Zero Waste lifestyle. But quickly encountered a stumbling block: I have Celiac disease.  How was I supposed to go all in when I have to buy bulk food and I can’t just get 10 baguettes to store in the freezer for the week?  Celiac disease is a very serious illness, and the risk of contamination from buying bulk food is enough to put some of us into a terrifying panic. But I found that I don’t have to renounce the zero waste lifestyle! The key to a gluten-free zero waste lifestyle boils down to taking a few precautionary measures and finding the perfect flour mix (my recipe tastes great and  is super cheap!)

    Here are my zero waste tips for people with Celiac:
    • Make sure your item of choice has been manufactured gluten-free and that its bulk bin is placed far away from a gluten-related product (this may mean going to several stores, which is annoying, but eventually you’ll figure out the good ones) 
    • Ask the store about possible contamination when refilling the bulk bins
    • If you are buying gluten ingredients for a family member, get that last, and make sure it is completely separated from your bulk purchases (this can be a problem when using cloth sacks with draw strings because particles can get down there – easy to solve if the gluten goes on the bottom of the cart, and the gluten-free on top)
    • Talk to the store managers you frequent.  Let them know about your desire to do zero waste with a gluten-intolerance.  Suggest moving the bulk bins around, creating a separate gluten-free bulk section.
    • If your bulk areas have the possibility of contamination, try going without bread or pasta, while you talk to the store managers about rearranging the bulk bins.  Also, visit a gluten-free bakery, if one exists where you are, and get some goodies for a party, or just a special treat using your own containers.  
    • Serve yourself from the back of the bins, where contamination is least likely to happen
    • Go to the store early in the morning before the crowds, for the best opportunity to avoid contamination.
    • When travelling, remember to pack a gluten-free/waste-free snack!

    Gluten-free flour mix recipe
    (Use it in a one on one ratio for any flour recipe; works best in gluten-free recipes)

    • Six cups brown rice flour
    • 1 cup corn starch
    • ½ cup psylium seed husk powder
    That’s it!  To go faster, I don’t even measure– I just get a bunch of brown rice flour, throw on some corn starch and some psylium powder and hope for the best!   I can now have home-made pasta (my husband is a genius with pasta), bread (I LOVE my nut-filled, cinnamon tasting bread, which I don’t make often because of time, but I can make a quick flat bread for lunches, etc.), muffins, pies, quiches, you name it.  The quality of our food is incredible, and my husband says this is the best he has eaten in his entire life – he has zero complaints!