To all of my women bosses…

This blog post is dedicated to all of the women bosses I’ve had a chance to work with in my life.

First of all, thank you. Thank you for believing in me in a way that I did not believe in myself at the time.

Generally, I am a very confident and determined person, but sometimes my anxieties and fears get the best of me. For the longest time, I was persuing the wrong career path and was feeling extremely defeated. During this time, I took up a retail job at H&M where the manager, a women, took a chance on me and my “fashionable” mind. I worked this job for a short period of time, but never during this time did I feel belittled or like my voice could not be heard. My opinion, and the opinion of my coworkers, always mattered. She was a great leader.

After I left this job, I moved on to becoming a writing assistant and switched my major to Environmental Studies. While being at this part-time job, I applied for a summer internship with the Latino Heritage Internship Program after my best friend sent it to me. The internship would be in Everglades National Park. I never thought I would even get an interview…I had failed so many times before in my engineering career that I didn’t think anyone could see past my low GPA. Turns out, I never put my GPA in my resume and never got asked about it during my phone interview. I think what gave me a higher change during this interview is my passion. The passion I feel towards being able to educate anyone who wants to hear about ways we can make people care about the earth and our environment.

Weeks later I heard back from the LHIP contact letting me know I had gotten the job. I could not have been more excited. It was in something kind of different, education, but something I had been doing for some time. My writing assistant job was basically teaching kids how to write, so I could do this, right?

Yes, I could do it. And I did. Thanks to the two incredible, intelligent, kind-hearted women who gave me the chance to prove to them and myself that I could do it. I never once felt belittled or like I could not speak up. It was quite the opposite. They made me feel so welcomed and at home. Our team, though it had some men in it, was mainly women. All women who have and continue to inspire to be better. This internship taught me that no matter your background or how long it took, my goals could always be accomplished as long as I am passionate about it. I remember vividly during my last-day presentation that I couldn’t even express everything I wanted to because I started getting choked up. I knew I was going to miss the entire team and the little family we created during the summer. I will always be grateful and thankful. Thanks to my two incredible bosses, I validated that women can do anything and everything, even when the room is full of white men. I will forever be grateful for them and for the chance they took on me.

My second internship came not long after this one ended, where I was recommended to another Girl Boss in the administrative branch of the Everglades. She was in need of an intern who could do a lot of things: reception, help other employees, and anything else that needed to be helped with. At first, I didn’t think I had the time or the emotional energy to do it, but she did everything she could to make the job work with my busy school schedule. She got me a laptop so I can work from home. She let me come in late some days because I had class in the mornings. Everyone in the office always told me: If you ever need anything from her, she will find the solution. Everyone made her seem like THE woman to talk to. And she was. I will always be grateful to her. For always boosting my ego and telling me how valuable I was to the office. I will always be grateful for the other women I was able to work with, who also helped build my confidence and made me feel more validated. They helped me understand that even though I have my insecurities, I am a hard worker and intelligent (sometimes I forget that I am).

That internship led to another internship. Working with giant snakes, nonetheless. On Fridays, while at the administrative internship, I would help out some invasive reptile scientists with some work. And one Friday, I was asked if I wanted to work with them. I had never in my life been interested in snakes, but I learned early on to take any opportunities that are offered to me. I started working for them in May. My boss was another Girl Boss. She created the Ultimate Girl Gang, plus Austin. Not once during my time at this job did I ever get comments about me being a girl. Not once. She taught me to stop caring about what I think people are thinking. To stop limiting myself because of my gender. I know sometimes the gender limitation is a real thing, but I had been creating it for a while in my own head. They all taught me to do what I love no matter what. I will always be grateful for the opportunity that she gave me. That they all gave me. She took a chance on a girl who had never worked with reptiles or anything like it. I didn’t have research experience besides what I did in my classes and she still took the chance on me. I will always, always, always be grateful to the team. As I write this, I have tears in my eyes. Not sad, sad tears, just “I miss you guys” tears. I have never loved driving an hour to work more than I did with this group. Everyone welcomed me and everyone boosted each other up. We all worked hard all of the time. Some days were harder than others…it’s not easy getting pooped on by snakes every day, but I always went home feeling accomplished.

All of the jobs in this national park, thanks to these incredible boss women, I have the job I have now. Not the same Girl Boss energy, but still grateful for the job I have. I get sexist comments almost every week from civilians and sometimes I don’t feel the most welcome, but I am still grateful that because all of the women before gave me a chance, I have a chance now.

Thank you to my H&M manager, Allyson, Yvette, Jackie, Jill, and Charlotte for believing in me.

#PlasticFreeJuly: Days 6-10?

Honestly, I was going to write a blog post for everyday of this month, buuuuut….I already do a lot of things to reduce my plastic waste so I think I’ve hit a wall.

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I can still maybe give some tips and ways that I have kept up with my reduction of plastic waste like having a reusable bag always in my car, that way if I have a random and unplanned trip to the grocery store, like today, I will already have a reusable bag with me.

The other thing I love to talk about is TerraCycle. Sometimes you just can’t replace something in your life or it is just easier for you to buy that one toothpaste at the grocery and maybe cheaper. When this happens, you might want to recycle it, but sadly your local recycling program won’t recycle it. Like mine?

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I’ve been using Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, just because David’s (the beloved one in the Zero Waste Community) can only be bought online and it is a little pricier, too. I love the toothpaste, it is fluoride free and makes my teeth feel really, really clean. It is also reasonably priced and can be bought at Target (the love of my life). I am going to harass anyone I know to give me their deodorant bottles, toothbrushes, toothpaste bottles, mouthwash bottles, and the other accepted items so that I can send it out to be recycled.

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If people won’t do it themselves, I will gladly help them recycle and maybe also convince them to use more environmentally friendly or sustainable in their everyday life. I have slowly made everyone around me use a reusable bottle, which I am so proud of, but then something like my mom going grocery shopping and bringing home a gazillion plastic bags happens and I feel a little discouraged. BUT, it’s okay. I am trying my hardest and I can tell that some people around me are changing their wasteful ways, too.

ANYWAYS, I was feeling a little ranty and in the mood to type something, even though it was kind of empty. If you are in Miami and want to recycle any of the items in the picture above, please, please, please let me know! I will pick them up from you or meet you somewhere. I just want to recycle them and prevent them from going to the landfill!

Until next time,

Dani

Days 3 and 4 of #PlasticFreeJuly

I want to say Happy Fourth of July, but I’m not sure if I’m feeling extremely patriotic. BUT that’s beside the point.

For some reason, this challenge has inspired me to go back to DIYing everything instead of ordering it off of Amazon and making more trash. I’ve been trying to find some zero waste skincare since my new job has required me to sweat almost all day. I forget every day when I come home to wash my face and don’t think I have the proper skincare products anyways for my type of skin.

I’ve always liked rosewater toners since they help balance the face’s pH and helps reduce excess oils, which I produce plenty of. Toners are meant to help remove the rest of the bad things on your face after you’ve exfoliated and cleansed it. It’s supposed to help bring back your face’s pH back to normal. All of the sprays that I’ve used previously or found online are packaged in plastic bottles, which are most likely not recyclable and I really wouldn’t know what to try to use it for.

I have one bottle currently that I can definitely use though, which inspired me to find a recipe online. I say recipe, but it’s really just a methodology on how to make my own rose water that will be good for my skin. So I found one. This one by Going Zero Waste. I went out and got myself some red roses, for decoration and for this recipe. I found myself some witch hazel, which I had never used before, but apparently is really good for cleansing your face.

IMG-1086I put around 6-7 roses-worth of rose petals in a small pot and filled it with filtered water from my fridge. Remember that this is going on your face, so if your tap water isn’t the best, make sure to use filtered water. I set it to simmer on low and covered it with a lid. And left it there to do its thing, for around 30 minutes, checking in on it every so often. You will notice the color of the petals changing and the water’s color changing, too. I poured the water into a sangria bottle we had laying around at home and mixed equal parts witch hazel and rose water. I waited until it had cooled down a little bit and put it in the fridge to cool. Everywhere that I’ve read recommends keeping your rosewater toners and such in the fridges to keep them cool and help maintain their benefits.

The next thing I worked on were cotton rounds. I have been dying to buy some anywhere so I can stop using my towels for cleaning my makeup off. I finally found a good alternative to makeup remover, the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm. It came as a sample in some sort of birthday thing at some point months ago and I still have at least half of it left. It’s a little bit pricier, but it seems to last a surprisingly long time. I do have to disclaim that I don’t wear a full face of makeup, I just wear eye making most of the time, but it seems to do an incredible job of removing that without insane amounts of rubbing or the need for wipes after.

The second thing I’ve found that helps me reduce my waste when it comes to skin care are Makeup Eraser towels. Ulta sells a cheaper alternative, but they are incredible. They have to sides: one to remove makeup and the other to exfoliate. You can use them for months and years and wash them when they get too dirty in the laundry. It’s incredible and I highly recommend it.

Anyways, I decided that it was time to make my own cotton rounds so I could use themIMG-1089 with my new rosewater toner and any other skincare items that I might need to use on my face. I went out to Goodwill, the color of the week was yellow. I looked at the $1 T-Shirt men’s section to find any with the yellow tags that were 100% cotton. I found at least 6 of them and only paid $0.50 for each. I can make so many rounds with just one shirt. I made variations of two pieces, three, and four pieces. I definitely recommend three or four pieces and this way it’ll hold more of the liquid inside. It was fairly easy to get back into the swing of sewing with my mom’s sewing machine. Even the imperfect ones are still useful, so none of them will go to waste.

I am pretty proud of the two things I was able to make today that will help me reduce both my plastic waste and my general waste. If you have any questions about anything in this blog post, comment below or get in touch with me.

Until next time,

Dani

#PlasticFreeJuly: Day 2

Yes, you read that right…day 2. I kind of forgot about this challenge and started a day late. At the end of Day 1, I realized that I desperately need to complete this challenge.

I was in my car on my way home from work and I looked down….

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I had not one…not two…not three, but FOUR PLASTIC STRAWS still in their wrapping.

Image result for fainting gif This gif was me…because how COULD I???

This is how: I am too lazy to make breakfast and stopped at the same fast food place a couple of times a week to buy some breakfast…and every time I grabbed my carton orange juice, I didn’t reject the plastic straw even though I didn’t really need it for my drink. I am just as ashamed as you probably are because my arch nemesis are plastic straws and here I am with FOUR unopened ones in my car. I also haven’t thrown them out or done something with them because of this shame that I feel.

I know I sound dramatic, but let’s be real, it’s a big deal. I don’t know what has changed within me that makes me forget to reject the straw, but whatever it is is not good. I need to go back to my plastic-free lifestyle, hence, this challenge.

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For Day 2, I posted on my Instagram (@latinatreehugger and @danialviz) about my new reusable 12 oz coffee cup. I had been looking for something small to hold my cafe con leche and I found one at Walmart. It’s sealed super tight so it’s really hard for me to spill it since I’m such a clutz. I tried using a mason jar as my coffee cup and burned myself real quick, but this one works great and fits in my lunch bag or the cup holders on the side of my work backpack. 

I have really been making an effort to dedicate some time in the morning to make my own coffee at home if I’m really craving it. So far, so good. I’ve learned how to make my cafe con leche the way that the Cuban viejitas do at those Cuban bakeries.

 

For Day 3, I’m not sure what I’m going to advocate, but I’ll definitely keep this challenge going and I will try to document every day on my blog. Maybe at the end of each week, I’ll record a podcast on the revelations I’ve had during the challenge that week.

Until next time,

Dani

Collecting Things to Recycle in Miami!

Recently I decided that I am going to be collecting razors and their packaging, Febreze air care (not including aerosols), mascara wands, and single-use coffee cups, K-cups, and such. Make sure to email me at latinatreehugger@gmail.com or DM me at @latinatreehugger on Instagram if you have questions or want to drop some off to me!

No-Stink Summer 2019 (and on)

I started working recently in a job that requires me being outside A LOT. And here in Miami, that means heat and 90% humidity almost every day. Most days most of the A/C we get is from the cars we use to drive around and the lunch breaks in the office. It’s also officially summer, which means everyone needs to please, for the love of God, wear deodorant. I don’t want to have to be around stinky people (including myself) this summer. 

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Also recently, I finally finished my last deodorant stick. So, I decided that I would try to find a recipe for a deodorant that could help me stay dry and smelling fresh through my work days.

I googled a bunch of recipes and I decided that I wanted it to be as vegan as possible, so I didn’t want anything with beeswax in it. I found a really great recipe from BeautyMunsta (here). Her recipe only includes coconut oil, corn starch, baking soda, and she uses lemon eucalyptus essential oil. These are all things that most common households have in either their kitchen or anywhere else. I know I had most of these at home and the eucalyptus essential oil can be replaced with any essential you have at home.

So, I started the recipe by doing exactly what she said in her post. I mixed 4 tablespoons (more or less…I couldn’t actually find my tablespoon measure anywhere) of coconut oil, 5 of corn starch, one and one teaspoon of baking soda, and 20 or more drops of the essential oil, which in my case was eucalyptus.

The baking soda and corn starch as supposed to absorb the sweat and neutralize the stink. The coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, it moisturizes the skin, and it will prevent skin irritation and rashes. Something I didn’t know was that the lemon eucalyptus can also work as a bug repellant….so I guess this deodorant can also help keep the bugs away if you live somewhere that’s very buggy, like Miami.

You start by combining the ingredients, except the essential oil, in a pan over a low flame. Stir until everything melts and combines. Then let it cool off for around a minute and pour it into a glass jar. Not plastic because it could melt. Once in the jar, stir in the essential oil and you’re pretty much done.

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At first, my deodorant had a really, really liquidy consistency so I decided to add some more corn starch and some more baking soda. I was extremely impatient and realized that I probably had to let it sit for some time harden up.

I let it cool and harden overnight and VOILA, it worked!

It was not really a paste…so maybe sticking to the original recipe might have made it into a paste, but mine was more of the hardened deodorant consistency that I am used to. The only difference is that this one is in a glass jar and I have to scoop it out with a popsicle stick.

 

So, after I used it a couple of times in places like Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando and my job in the Everglades, I’ve come to the conclusion that it works. I do have to give you a warning that generally when I sweat, I don’t stink so much, but I haven’t been stinking at all at this job that would probably make me smell. I did add too much baking soda, which makes my armpits burn a little when I recently shave them, but it works otherwise. Just follow the recipe from BeautyMunsta and have patience and you should be good to go.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or head over the original recipe’s blog post. Definitely try this and let me know how it goes! Happy summer!

Until next time!

Dani

Episode 6: Plastic-Eating Fungi and Florida

Hey guys! I’m back with a quick podcast episode on some interesting environmental stories that I came across this week. It’s a short one, but do let me know if you have seen or heard of any other news stories that you would like me to dive further into!

Thank you for listening as always!