Environment: Starting the Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Introduction

Heartfelt greetings to you all! This month, I have been able to draw inspiration from so many people, places, & things. A special thank you goes out to all of the people who set out each day with the goal of leadership in mind. Whether you are conscious of your role or not, people like you are serving as tremendous examples for our generation and for so many others. It is evident that new beginnings are on the horizon for so many! A new wave of young people are currently in the process of realizing their dreams; witnessing the arrival of their self-actualization brings me joy beyond compare. Soon, we will be in the presence of new leaders, and they will be the ones to set the expectations for progress in the new decade. My hope is that this post will inspire future leaders to keep environmental protection at the top of their priority list. We have to set an example for them, so that they will be an example to us in the years to come. Cheers to future progress!

Bathroom Products

  • DIY Toothpaste Recipe: Coconut Oil, Charcoal Powder, Baking Soda, Peppermint Essential Oil
  • DIY Body Scrub Recipe: Coconut Oil, Fresh Organic Coffee Grounds, Organic Granulated Sugar, Organic Dark Brown Sugar
  • DIY Facial Scrub Recipe: Coconut Oil, Organic Granulated Sugar, Organic Light Brown Sugar, Green Tea Leaves, Ginger, Aloe Vera, Honey
  • DIY Facial Toner Recipe: Filtered Water, Green Tea & Green Tea Leaves, Apple Cider Vinegar, Witch Hazel, Vitamin E Oil

Reasons why you should make the switch…

  • Simply stated, there will be less plastic that needs to be recycled if consumers make more products at home! Recycling companies are actually overwhelmed with the amount of plastic that exists in the world today. As a result, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled properly! The rest is discarded as trash where it eventually ends up in the ocean.
  • News flash! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the ingredients that companies put into skin-care and make-up products. Over eighty years have passed since Congress voted on the original Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act in 1938. Nothing has changed since then! It is incredibly disconcerting to know that most consumers are completely in the dark in terms of the safety of their products. So, I turned my frustration into motivation and began to make my own products from scratch with wholesome household ingredients! Finally, products that support my health and the environment!

“The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market…”

U.S. Food & Drug Administration
  • Perhaps, what I love most about making my own products is knowing with absolute certainty that the ingredients are completely safe to wash down the drain. A significant amount of products, including skin exfoliates and toothpastes, contain tiny plastic beads known as microbeads. Most microbeads escape capture during the water treatment process due to their size. Consequently, these tiny beads wash straight into the ocean where they harm marine life. Consumers can protest the use of microbeads and help the watershed by making products with natural ingredients!
  • Last but not least, you can use these simple recipes to make gifts for your family and friends! It is so fun to sit comfortably at a table while decorating mason jars with glitter, flowers, or bows! Giving gifts mindfully is a beautiful way to express your love and appreciation for another person.

Bathroom Essentials

  • Metal Safety Razor
  • Glass Floss Container
  • Biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrushes
  • Organic Bamboo Wash Cloths

Reasons why you should make the switch…

  • I was shocked to learn that disposable razors cannot be recycled in the United States. What’s worse is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that two billion razors are thrown away every year! Fortunately, I was was relieved to find out that metal razor blades are recyclable. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a metal safety razor for approximately $20 to reduce waste their waste. It’s a one time purchase that people can feel good about because it will last a lifetime!
  • Does the phrase “you need to floss more” elicit feelings of guilt? Well, you will no longer have to feel guilty about throwing away plastic floss containers if you switch to a refillable glass floss container! The bamboo charcoal floss in the picture above is wrapped around a cardboard spool which is 100% biodegradable. When this spool eventually runs out, I will simply purchase another spool to place in the glass container. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a glass floss container with a spool of floss for approximately $10.

“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.

Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring (1962)
  • Did you know that it only takes bamboo products approximately 5-10 years to break down? That’s amazing! Especially considering the fact that plastic toothbrushes never break down. At the rate the world is currently going, marine biologists predict that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. You can make a difference by purchasing a pack of four plant-based bamboo toothbrushes on Amazon for approximately $7 which is about $1.75 per toothbrush. Not bad at all!
  • One day, I was cleaning out my bathroom vanity when I thought about the exorbitant amount of disposable make-up wipes that women use throughout their lifetime. As far as sustainability goes, I really experienced an “AHA!” moment as a consumer. Disposable make-up wipes had been a staple in my beauty routine since I started wearing make-up at the age of fourteen. So, I decided to make the bold switch to eco-friendly washable cloths and cotton rounds. Turns out, the cloth material takes off make-up more effectively than the disposable products ever did. As a college student, saving money on this monthly expense was definitely an added bonus. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a pack of washable cloths and cotton rounds for approximately $25.

Kitchen Tools

  • Metal Straws
  • Sustainable Produce Bags
  • Metal Loose Leaf Tea Infuser

Reasons why you should make the switch…

  • The metal straws shown above are probably one of my favorite purchases that I have made this past year. In addition to the super nifty straw holder, the package also came with a conveniently sized cleaning tool which has turned out to be incredibly useful and efficient. Plastic straws are a nonessential item that negatively impact the environment, research estimates that Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws per day. If you personally don’t like the taste of metal straws, then paper straws are another good option to switch to. However, it is pertinent that paper straw users are mindful that they are still creating waste by throwing away paper straws after one use. In essence, if you do choose buy paper straws, it would be most advantageous to use them in moderation. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a pack of metal straws at a local retailer for about $5, score!
  • For those of you who don’t know, I’ve struggled with digestive issues for more than half of my life. The pain and distress has progressed as I have gotten older, but my issues definitely peaked when I entered college nearly four years ago. Researching how certain foods affect the digestive track in terms of overall health and wellness has turned into a part of my lifestyle. Not by choice, but out of necessity. Two years ago, I started a food diary to track the types of foods that I was consuming so that I could evaluate how they made me feel. At the end of that initial tracking period, I determined that I needed to eliminate fried foods, refined sugars, gluten, and dairy products from my diet in order to function at my highest level. Almost four months ago, I made the decision to take things up a notch, so I completely cut out meat and adopted a vegetarian diet. It’s actually amazing how well my body has responded to all of these changes, I honestly can’t imagine living any other way. Nevertheless, I still found changes that needed to made in other areas of my life. For instance, I began to think about the number of plastic produce bags that would accumulate in my living space overtime. Something had to be done…eco-friendly produce bags were the solution! Environmentally conscious consumers can find theirs for $15.

The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day (1970)
  • Tea has become such a significant part of my daily routine that I can say with confidence that I consume this beverage religiously. With that being said, I was not surprised to learn that, next to water, tea is the second most popular drink in the world! After visiting England this past winter, I made a conscious decision to refrain from purchasing boxes of single use tea bags. Instead, I switched to making herbal tea with loose tea leaves and a tea infuser! This simple switch has allowed me to decrease the amount of waste that I was producing as a consumer, now the tea leaves are the only item that need discarding. The process of making tea with an infuser is also really fun! I was able to find a pack of two tea infusers for $10, what a perfect pair!

Kitchenware

  • Glass Microwave-Safe Tupperware
  • Glass Drinking Cups & Bottles
  • Ceramic Dinner Plates

Reasons why you should make the switch…

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, BPA stands for “Bisphenol A” which is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960’s. Most often, BPA’s are found in plastic containers that are used to store foods and beverages. In recent years, BPA’s have been a major cause for concern as research shows that chemicals in plastic containers can seep into our foods or beverages. One would think that switching to BPA-Free plastic would be a safe bet, however, some BPA-free products have replaced BPA with bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF). Therefore, switching your plastic kitchen Tupperware to glass Tupperware is the the best way to combat impending health problems such as infertility and weakened immune systems that are linked to BPA’s . Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase glass Tupperware for around $5-8.
  • Since plastic takes 1,000 years to break down in the landfill, consumers should consider purchasing glassware because broken cups will eventually break down after they are tossed. In addition, the quality of plastic cups and water bottles degenerates over time but products made with glass are much more durable. If you choose to buy glassware, I can assure you that you will see a greater return on your investment in the long run. Glass products are truly are the optimal choice for your home and the environment. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a four piece set of glasses for an estimated $15-20 and a pack of drinking mason jars for about $10.

“The packaging for a microwavable “microwave” dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes and a landfill dead-time of centuries.”

David Wann, Author of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (2001)
  • Although consumers are often tempted to buy a bunch of cheap plastic plates for their kitchen, it is better to spend more money on a quality product that will last. Ceramic plates are the superior choice because they are durable, micro-wave safe, and dishwasher safe. Ceramic cookware is also incredibly versatile and low maintenance, they can serve a dual purpose as cutting boards and are very easy to clean. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a four piece set of ceramic plates for approximately $25.

Home Tools

  • Wooden Matches
  • Re-chargeable Batteries
  • Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tools
  • Re-Washable Paper Towels

Reasons why you should make the switch…

  • Did you know that Americans on average throw away 350 million disposable lighters every year? One would think that most lighters are recyclable, however, properly recycling disposable lighters is nearly impossible because manufacturers rarely list the materials that they use to assemble this product. Consequently, disposable lighters end up wasting away in landfills with other commonly discarded household items where they are frequently ingested by birds and other small animals. Although matches and lighters both contain chemicals, I feel as though matches are the lesser of the two evils given the fact that they are biodegradable because they are made of wood. According to this list, substituting a box of wooden matches for a single use plastic lighter is the cheapest and simplest switch that you can make this summer. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a large box of matches at a range of $2-5 depending on nearby stores.
  • About three billion batteries are sold in the U.S. every year, you can replace single-use batteries with recyclable rechargeable batteries to bolster the environment and your wallet. Batteries seem to be in almost every device that we use in our households today; flashlights, television remotes, portable speakers, smoke detectors, security cameras ect. Environmentally conscious consumers can participate in the green movement by dropping off old batteries at electronic stores like Best Buy for proper recycling. When you get home, you can feel good about replacing the old batteries with rechargeable ones that will last for years to come. A set of rechargeable batteries costs approximately $15-20 and they are worth every cent!

Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge; it’s common sense.

President Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address (1984)
  • Let’s face it, no one enjoys having to come home after a long day to do the dishes. When you’re tired it is so tempting to clean just a few dishes by running the dishwasher, but the average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle. At best, energy efficient dishwashers use four gallons of water per cycle. We all need good quality tools to help us get the job done, so why not buy sponges and scrubs that help the environment? The company Twist made the first plant-based sponges that are 100% biodegradable. Twist sponges have a plant-based scrubby side and a natural cellulose porous side that are hand sewn together. If you’re not a big fan of sponges, wooden scrubs are another excellent cleaning tool to have in your kitchen. Both tools can break down fairly easily, a pack of Twist sponges cost $4 and wooden scrubs typically cost $5.
  • This last point is for the math lovers…here is a simple cost break down for total money spent on paper towels! (A) If the average four person household uses 2 rolls of paper towels per week (B) a pack of 12 paper towel rolls costs about $15 (C) there are 52 weeks in a year…how much money will be spent on paper towels in a five year period? Well, 2 rolls x 52 weeks = 104 rolls per year. Then, 104 rolls / 12 rolls per pack = 8.5 packs of paper towels. Finally, 8.5 packs x $15 = $130 spent on paper towels per year. So, $130 x 5 years = $650 spent over a five year period. That is crazy! Wouldn’t you rather buy a plane ticket to the west coast than have to spend money on paper towels every month? I know what my answer would be! Last month I finally made the switch to re-washable paper towels…west coast here I come!!

Household || Bathroom || Kitchen

Summer 2019: Top Netflix Documentaries to Watch

Introduction

Warm greetings to you all! As many of you continue to work hard towards your goals this summer, I hope that you will have some well-deserved downtime to rest and reflect. After transferring to the University of Maryland in Spring 2018, I went an entire year without taking a break from school. Last summer, I worked at a law firm during the day and took classes at the community college at night. This past winter, I traveled internationally and spent an entire month abroad to compile a documentary about consumerism in the United Kingdom. Although I am still working at a law firm and taking college classes online, I have gotten better about setting aside time for myself over the past year. Watching documentaries has become a passion of mine and I love to share the stories that they tell with other people. For those of you who struggle with picking a series to watch after a long day at the office, I thought that it would be helpful to assemble a list of the best documentaries that Netflix has to offer. There are three sensational documentaries to choose from per category; Lifestyle, Health, Political Activism, Environmental Activism, Celebrity Stories, Criminal, Historical, Cultural, and Inspirational. Depending on your schedule you can cover this entire list in a month, a season, or a year…Happy watching!

Lifestyle

  • Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
  • Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
  • Social Animals
I have been intrigued by the concept of minimalism for quite some time, mainly because the idea of “living small” is a lot easier said than done. As someone who likes to scan the real estate market on Zillow and attend nearby open houses for fun, I will be the first to admit that I am not only a steadfast dreamer but an unequivocal goal setter. This documentary prompted me to reevaluate my desired lifestyle and to rethink the way that I had originally intended to live. Josh and Ryan have an incredible amount of insightful information to offer younger generations as it relates to the relationship between happiness and consumer culture.
Simply stated: I love this mini-series! Tidying Up is the perfect series for people (like myself) who love to watch home improvement projects unfold on HGTV. As a Japanese organizing consultant, Marie Kondo transforms chaotic and disorganized surroundings into a clean and tidy environment by carefully removing excess clutter. Marie Kondo helps Americans overcome the overwhelming pressure to buy products with one simple message: less really is more! Today, I frequently find myself walking around my apartment asking…“does this item spark joy?” Now, everything that I bring into my living space is out of careful consideration or pure necessity.
Having friends that can contribute to intellectually stimulating conversations has always been important to me. I was with a small group not too long ago when one of my friends posed the question: what types of unhealthy relationships do you think our generation struggles with the most? My answer was simple: social media and food. Now, I will admit that my answer was slightly biased because it came from the female perspective. In the past five years, I have seen countless young women struggle with separating how they think the world sees them from how they choose to see themselves. The documentary Social Animals shows viewers that we are currently in the midst of a crisis of conscience, largely due to the fact that an exorbitant amount of young people use superficial parameters such as likes and followers to calculate their worth. Whether you care about what other people think of you or not, Social Animals does an excellent job of bringing the hypocrisy and outrageousness of social media to light.

Health

  • Heal
  • The C Word
  • What the Health?
Do you know someone who is battling a chronic illness? A loved one who is fighting cancer? Do you feel like your health and needs to get back on track? Perhaps, you have absolutely no idea what it feels like to function at full capacity? This earth shattering documentary explains that our health can be improved through the power of mind. The greatest take away from this film is that invisible energy affects every aspect of our lives. Therefore, mind, body, and spirit are completely interconnected in the process of healing. Doctors in western medicine could learn a few things from holistic healers…make a cup of herbal tea, grab a journal, and take notes from the various speakers that are featured in the film Heal.
The sheer amount of people that are being diagnosed with cancer seems to be growing exponentially every year. Cancer has become the second leading cause of death in the world. In fact, heart disease and cancer contribute to nearly 50% of deaths in the United States. Furthermore, cancer is a disease that many of us fear because very few of us understand the nature of it. Cancer can develop in the body from a multitude of factors that largely have to do with our lifestyle and environment. Recent scientific studies show that diet and exercise can significantly reverse the effects of cancer in the body. In particular, research suggests that cancer patients can make full recoveries by incorporating meditation, exercising regularly, and following a plant-based diet. If you are fascinated by this health crisis and want to learn more about how you can prevent it, The C-Word is an excellent motivator for people of all ages.
The information in this film absolutely shocked me. To be completely honest, this ground-breaking documentary prompted me to become a vegetarian nearly two months ago. The documentary reveals that several scientific studies that determined that meat is directly involved in causing cancer in humans. The director, Kip Anderson, does an excellent job of exposing the lies that corporations feed to the general public that are directly related to diet.

Political Activism

  • 13th: From Slave to Criminal with One Amendment
  • When They See Us
  • Grass is Greener
The documentary 13th is another testament to Ava DuVernay’s exceptional film making abilities. In recent years, DuVernay has become incredibly well known for her work on the films Selma and A Wrinkle In Time. As a director, her focus has most recently shifted towards exposing racial injustice to advocate for criminal justice reform in the United States. This past semester, I was required to watch this for a class that covered the Rhetoric of Black America. Now, I recommend the film to people with the hope that they will acknowledge that racial inequality is an epidemic that continues to plague American society.
The film When They See Us builds on a great deal of information that is provided in the documentary 13th. Since it’s release nearly four weeks ago, the film has stirred up an incredible amount of buzz on social media. This riveting series is based on the Central Park Jogger Case that happened in New York City in 1989. The director, Ava DuVernay, explores the lives of the five young men from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of charges of rape and sexual assault. If you can only afford to watch one documentary this summer, I would strongly recommend When They See Us. Of course, 13th is an extremely close second.
Curious about the historical and cultural significance of the popular drug marijuana? Same. Grass is Greener sheds light on some of the key issues that surround the recreational use and possession of marijuana in the United States. In particular, the documentary covers how the police have targeted the black population for drug charges since the early twentieth century. Grass is Greener is a history lesson with a new spin. Turn on your television and enjoy an evening of “Wow, never knew that!”

Environmental Activism

  • Black Fish
  • Before the Flood
  • The True Cost
Many of us have seen stickers that read “Save the Bees”…but what about “Save the Whales”? Blackfish is the perfect documentary for anyone who ranges from a passionate animal rights activist to someone who just simply hates the thought of putting wild animals in cages for profit. This film educates the public on the true nature of Sea World from the perspective of former trainers. The narratives that they provide about their personal experiences as employees will rock you to you core. There is so much that needs to be done to help these majestic sea creatures, watching this film is the first step that you can take to make a wave of a difference for Orca Whales.
Actor Leonardo Dicaprio released this excellently complied documentary about climate change in 2016. The narrative of the film is so moving that it nearly brought me to tears. After watching the film a few weeks ago, I have recommended it to several friends and they unanimously agree that Before the Flood is unparalleled in terms of its message about environmental activism. In the past few weeks, I have made several donations to the Forest & Sea Fund, joined Citizens Climate Lobby, and have worked on making the transition to a Zero-Waste lifestyle.
Going to the mall just seemed like the typical teenage Saturday outing when I was growing up. I never put too much thought into it. My friends and I would just stroll the enclosed structure of endless merchandise looking for a good way to blow some cash. Looking back, I have distinct memories of browsing racks of clothes in stores like Forever21 and H&M. Yet, it ever occurred to me that, by purchasing a low quality sweater at the cost of $15, I would be negatively affecting someone else half-way around the world. Consumers hold an immense amount of purchasing power, but the sad truth is that many of us don’t use it responsibly. The manufacturing industry exploits women and children in order to keep up with the demands of capitalist consumer cultures like America and the United Kingdom. By watching The True Cost, you will realize how important it is to buy from sustainable and ethical brands, even if it means having to pay more upfront.

Celebrity Stories

  • John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky
  • Gaga: Five Foot Two
  • Amy
When it comes to the iconicized culture of the 1960’s, I firmly believe that The Beatles will be a permanent topic of conversation. More than fifty years have passed since this sensational rock band made its radio debut in England. Now, multiple generations have grown up listening to classic songs such as “Come Together”, “All You Need is Love”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and many more. Let’s state the facts: You can never go wrong with a documentary about The Beatles. With that being said, a feature film about the the lead song writer and his muse is so incredibly right. No doubt, John & Yoko Lennon have one of the most misunderstood relationships in history. While many fans blamed John’s relationship with Yoko for breaking up the band, few realized that a soft-spoken Japanese artist brought color into the life of a deeply distressed musician. Above Us Only Sky tells a beautiful story of the love that they shared. Most significantly, the film allows the audience to experience John’s musical rebirth by highlighting the creative moments that predestined the breathtaking song “Imagine”.
This film is perhaps one of the coolest documentaries on this list! Lady Gaga gives the world an inside look at her life as a creative genius and cultural icon. What I love most about this film is that the tone is completely authentic, this artist is definitely not afraid to be herself both on and off camera! The director makes it feels as though you are spending a day with Lady Gaga, what more could fans ask for?! If you find yourself in the mood for something witty and upbeat, you cannot go wrong with Gaga: Five Foot Two.
Have you ever wondered about the life and death of the once in a lifetime singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse? Back in 2011, many people yearned to know more about Amy Winehouse after they learned about the tragic circumstances that surrounded her death. This documentary covers the astounding artist’s short life in full detail as it combs through her rough childhood, rebellious teenage years, toxic relationships, and unsteady music career. After watching the documentary, it’s incredibly clear that Amy put a great deal of meaning behind her lyrics. Way more than she originally led on. The film will have you listening to songs on her hit album “Back to Black” in a completely different way.

Criminal

  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
  • The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
  • Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
This series is another primary example as to how gun violence is ravaging the country and destroying the lives of good people. Before watching this film, I was completely unaware that the fashion mogul Gianni Versace was murdered outside of his home in Miami Beach, Florida by his stalker Andrew Cunanan. I always thought Donatella Versace was the sole representative and fashion designer of Versace. To my surprise, Donatella was actually second in command but was forced to take over the company after her brother died tragically back in 1997. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story will have waiting in suspense with your eyes glued to the television as you watch a riveting story of love and loss to unfold. Trust me when I say that this series is binge worthy…be sure to stock up on some good snacks before you start it.
I watched The People v. OJ Simpson for the first time two years ago and quickly became hooked…I actually skipped a few of my college classes at the time to finish this riveting series. Not going to lie, it was totally worth it. Until recently, I never fully understood the significance of this murder trial. There are so many complexities to wrap your brain around! Now, there is an entire generation that needs to be properly educated on the OJ Simpson trial. Before this series was released, younger generations had to take it upon themselves to learn about this historical event. Well, problem solved! The People v. OJ Simpson will leave you feeling angry, shocked, and utterly amazed. This series is the perfect hybrid as it serves for the purposes of education and entertainment.
Today, serial killers are not a new phenomenon, but they were to people who were growing up during the 1970’s and 1980’s. As a child, I can recall my parents telling me safety precautions like “don’t trust strangers” or “don’t get into a car with someone you don’t know”. Then, as I got older, the talks got more serious like “if you see sirens behind you, don’t pull over unless you’re positive it’s a law enforcement vehicle” and “don’t go on runs around the neighborhood at night by yourself, always take a friend”. In essence, at the start of a young age I always felt the need to be on high alert for perpetrators. Some people have told me that I lean more towards the side of paranoia, well, in those instances, I just simply recommend this film to them. As far as serial killers go, Ted Bundy was incredibly personable, intelligent, and calculated. The Ted Bundy Tapes reveal the true nature of a man that many young women mistook as perfectly friendly.

Historical

  • The 2000’s
  • The Nineties
  • The Eighties
In recent years, I have embraced the communicator and historian within me with arms wide open. At the end of my second year college at the University of Maryland, I declared a major in communication studies with a minor in history. Pairing communication studies with history has brought so much balance to my life because these disciplines create the perfect blend of theoretical and factual information. Watching a series about the 2000’s turned out to be an incredibly eye-opening experience for me, as the footage allowed me to see some of the most significant events from my childhood through an adult lens. By the end of it all, I realized that I had developed a fascination with the past because my generation was entirely focused on the future. In addition, it never occurred to me that, for so many years, I yearned to study people, more specifically, how people communicate, because I experienced how relationships could built superficially at a young age. For instance, Facebook launched when I was in the first grade and the first generation of the iPhone entered the scene when I was in the fourth grade. My generation was the first to grow up with the internet, social media, and the overwhelming feeling of being completely connected to our peers. If you have questions about who you are today and how you got there…watching the 2000’s is a good place to start.
As a history buff, I found the nineties to be an incredibly interesting decade because I was able to analyze how certain trends and events from the 1990’s inevitably spilled over into the 2000’s. The first episode of this series is all about the dawn of a new age in television when single families started to have multiple TV’s within the same household. Viewers can draw parallels between phenomenons from the nineties to the ones that exist today. The reason why this series is so great is because there is something in it that appeals to everyone; television, music, technology, politics, and so much more! Start streaming this eight episode documentary series about The Nineties if you want to relive the early days of Nirvana, Microsoft + Apple computers, and the Monica Lewinsky & Bill Clinton White House scandal.
My parents always spoke very fondly of the eighties…and now I totally understand why the majority of Generation X absolutely rave’s about this decade. Sure, there were some pitfalls with the Reagan Administration such as their role (or lack of) in the War on Drugs, the AIDS epidemic in homosexual communities, and the Economic Savings & Loan Crisis. On the other hand, can you imagine how amazing it must have been to be a teenager when Saturday Night Live, Michael Jackson + Madonna, and video games like Pac-Man first came onto the scene? What a time to be alive. This documentary series about The Eighties is the perfect program for multi-generational families to watch together.

Cultural

  • Feminists: What Were They Thinking?
  • Homecoming: Beyonce
  • Misrepresentation
In addition to prison reform, women’s rights is an issue that I have only recently begun to understand. Growing up, I always felt as though girls were given the same opportunities as boys in school. So the idea of gender inequality never really resonated with me, in my mind it was a thing of the past. When I finally left my bubble to interact with people in the real world, I quickly began to understand the magnitude of the problem. Feminists: What Were They Thinking provides excellent historical context to the feminist movement because it explains the challenges that the women of past generations have had to overcome. Many of them have sacrificed so much to get us of to where we are today. In truth, women have come a long way but we have so much further to go.
This. Film. Is. Everything. I attended Beyonce + Jay-Z’s concert at FedEx Field last summer for the OTRII tour. Of course, the entire show was nothing short of AMAZING. My post-concert depression lasted for weeks. So, when Beyonce released a film that documented her 2018 Coachella performance in full detail…I could hardly contain my excitement. Homecoming celebrates black culture and highlights the fact that The Queen was the first black woman to headline Coachella in the history of the music and arts festival. The amount of hard work and dedication that she put into making this production for her fans is unfathomable. #BeyHive
The little voice inside my head cried out “Yes, preach!!” about every 3-5 minutes while watching this film. It affirmed many of the feelings that I have had from a young age; being a girl is HARD. Women are judged so harshly because we are measured with impossible standards of beauty. If you are a woman who is looking for guidance or reassurance in terms of self esteem and body image…MissRepresentation is the documentary for you!

Inspirational

  • The Story of God with Morgan Freeman
  • Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
  • Knock Down the House
Who doesn’t love a narrative by Morgan Freeman? There is something about the tone of his voice that is incredibly soothing. His presence alone is honestly, well, Godly. In this series, Morgan Freeman travels around the world to connect with people from different cultures to ultimately tell The Story of God through their eyes. In the first episode, Freeman shows viewers that religious practices across the globe were founded on the theoretical idea of an afterlife. The concept originated in Ancient Egypt and has since spread to places as far as Mexico, Israel, and India. Tune into The Story of God with Morgan Freeman to experience a multitude of diverse religions and cultures from the comfort of your living room couch.
Some of my greatest teachers in life are people that I have never known on a personal level. Maya Angelou is certainly on that list, right next to Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Many of you are likely familiar with her eloquently written memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Well, this documentary accentuates her life’s work perfectly in every way. Although she passed away in 2014, her gracious words continue to live on in our minds. I am so grateful that I got to walk the earth at the same time that Maya Angelou did. Her writing has been a gift to my generation and it will continue to be for so many others. Watch the film And Still I Rise to gain insight and inspiration from one of the most praiseworthy authors of our lifetime.
As a former Government & Politics major, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this documentary is worth the watch. Knock Down the House features several immensely commendable women, including Senator Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who all jump started a grass-roots campaign in an attempt to gain a seat in the U.S. Congress. Their individual stories are incredibly moving and together they represent a new wave of strong-minded political candidates that are determined to rid the government of stagnation and toxicity.

12 Day Trips to D.C.

Life moves incredibly fast. We struggle to keep up with the change of the seasons. The future expects so much of us. Yet, the present waits patiently for us to realize that we would be less troubled by the future if we embraced the moment that we are currently in. Simply stated, it is easy to take the experience of living in an exceptional location for granted when tourist attractions are right outside of your front door. You may not realize it now but somehow we manage to take on more responsibility every year. There is already never enough time in the day to complete all of the tasks that we set out to do each morning. One morning, I woke up and realized that making time for the activities that I enjoy sat at the bottom of my priority list. Well, not any more. This year, I made it a priority to explore a new part of the city every month. So, this summer I encourage everyone to change the background music and scenery in their life. Move to a different beat. Change your tune. Adjust your rhythm. Whistle while you work. Give yourself something to look forward to. Today, I urge you to look at your calendar for this upcoming month and devote one day to exploring your surroundings. Engage in something that ignites your soul and excites your spirit. Discover something that you never knew existed. There is no telling how long you will live in any given place or how many times you will have the opportunity to explore an area on your terms. Below you will find a list of twelve different day trips for the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area that are all accessible via the D.C. metro. I hope that you will enjoy these excursions as much as I have this past year!

Note: an activity that costs money is marked with a ($)…otherwise the experience is entirely free! Have fun!!

Smithsonian (north)

  • Ride the metro to the Smithsonian Station
  • Spend time at the National Museum of African American History
  • Visit the National Museum of American History
  • Explore the National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of African American History
National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian (central)

  • Ride the metro to the Smithsonian Station
  • Tour the Smithsonian Castle
  • Check out the Freer Gallery of Art
  • Visit the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Check out the Arts & Industry Building
  • Tour the Hirshhorn Museum
Smithsonian Castle
Freer Gallery of Art
Hirshorn Museum

Smithsonian (south)

  • Ride the metro to Smithsonian Station
  • Explore the National Air & Space Museum
  • Visit the National Museum of the American Indian
  • Enjoy an array of artwork at National Gallery of Art
  • Check out the plant life at the U.S. Botanic Garden
National Gallery of Art

National Mall

  • Ride the metro to the Smithsonian Station
  • National Monument
  • World War II Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • Vietnam War Memorial
Washington National Monument
World War II Memorial
Lincoln Memorial

Capitol Hill

  • Ride the metro to Capitol South Station
  • Take a tour of the United States Capitol
  • Visit the Library of Congress
  • Step inside of the Supreme Court of the United States
Inside the Rotunda of the United States Capitol
Entrance to the Library of Congress
Supreme Court of the United States

Penn Quarter

  • Ride the metro to Navy Memorial Station
  • Purchase a ticket to the Newseum ($)
  • Visit the National Archives
  • Take a tour of Ford’s Theatre
Newseum | Antenna from the World Trade Center in NYC
National Archives Building
Ford’s Theatre

L’Enfant Plaza

  • Ride the metro to L’Enfant Plaza Station
  • Purchase a ticket to interact with a featured exhibit on display at Artechouse ($)
  • Tour the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • Spend a few hours in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Artechouse | In Peak Bloom Exhibit

Chinatown

  • Ride the metro to Gallery Place Station
  • National Building Museum
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Purchase tickets to a concert – or – a Washington Capitols game at Capital One Arena ($)
National Portrait Gallery | President Barack Obama
National Museum of Women in the Arts | Rodarte Exhibit
Capital One Arena | Washington Capitals

Farragut West

  • Ride the metro to the Farragut West Station
  • Tour the Renwick Gallery
  • Visit the White House & Eisenhower Building
  • Tour Art Museum of the Americas
  • Enjoy a show at DC Comedy Improv ($)
Renwick Gallery
Eisenhower Building

Dupont Circle

  • Ride the metro to the Dupont Circle Station
  • Visit the Phillips Collection
  • Tour the historic Larz Anderson House
  • Shop for books at Kramer Books & Afterwords Cafe – or – Second Story Books
  • Check out the exhibits at the National Geographic Museum ($)
The Phillips Collection
Larz Anderson House

Foggy Bottom

  • Ride the metro to the Foggy Bottom Station
  • Enjoy an afternoon of high tea at the notorious Watergate Hotel ($)
  • Enjoy an evening at the John F. Kennedy Preforming Arts Center ($)
John F. Kennedy Preforming Arts Center | National Orchestra

Georgetown

  • Ride the metro to the Foggy Bottom Station
  • Visit the campus of Georgetown University
  • Rent kayaks along the Georgetown Waterfront ($)
  • Enjoy the shopping & restaurants ($)
Macaroons from Olivia Macaroon | Georgetown