The Nichols path to helping the environment

Global Warming, also known as Climate Change. It’s a big subject of discussion these days. Is it real or not? Are we really killing our earth with our daily actions? The answers are in the research. The amount of information out there is overwhelming. Just a simple google search can completely open your mind.

Taking care of our planet has always been something I’ve felt very passionate about. Nothing grinds my gears more than a liter bug. Recently I have realized that I have actually only been doing the bare minimum when it comes to doing my part. Needless to say in the past year our family has under gone some major changes to help out as much as we can.

The most extreme change we have made is cutting meat our of our diet. Of course we did this for the overall health benefit, but the root to why I personally became vegetarian is for the environment. Livestock alone is one of the leading factors in our degrading ecosystem. How you ask? The truth is, there are multiple reasons as to why the mass amount of livestock we have is not a good thing, but three key reasons are:

  1. Methane. Animals like cows, sheep, and goats produce methane just by eating. Methane is being released into our atmosphere every time they burp or pass gas. This seems harmless to anyone who isn’t aware of how impactful that truly is. We have had carbon dioxide drilled into our brain as the worst emission. In reality methane is 30 times worse and livestock alone is responsible for 90 tonnes of methane per year.
  2. Feed. The amount of land it takes to grow feed for the animals alone is unimaginable. More than 67% of crops grown in America are used for feed. Meaning more than half the crops you see being grown isn’t being consumed by humans. Could you imagine what we could actually use that land for if it wasn’t being used for food we don’t even plan on eating? The possibilities are endless. Then there is the fact that we are still constantly cutting down much-needed trees to make way for the growing population of livestock. You also have to take into account the amount of water we use to grow these crops, the amount of water consumed by the animals alone (Which is half of the overall consumed water in the entire country), pesticides we spray into the air, and fossil fuels we use the harvest them.
  3. Waste. Most of these animals only absorb one-third of what they eat. Therefore the rest of it is exiting their bodies and littering our earth with fecal matter. The amount exiting is mind-blowing: 500 million tons on average per year! All that waste has to go somewhere right? Want to know where? Our waterways. Livestock waste is a major factor of water pollution in America. All of that pollution doesn’t just affect the fish, it eventually finds its way into our water sources. Aside from our waterways it also affects the air near these mass production farms. Some of them pump their waste into lakes nearby, and then pump from the lake to spray crops/land around the farm. Gross right? The fecal matter being sprayed into the air from the lakes affects the nearby communities causing a list of health issues.

Although being vegetarian is a huge thing you can do for the environment, we didn’t stop there.  I have also made it my mission to cut out as much plastic as possible. It’s been a struggle, but we have come a long way. It’s a work in progress. One huge thing we have done is cut out water bottles. Did you know that Americans alone throw away 29 billion water bottles per year? That’s insane people! Plastic pollution is literally taking over our planet. Out of 400 million tons of trash thrown out yearly 12.8% of it is plastic. This number can easily be taken care of. It’s as simple as recycle, reduce, and reuse. Plastic is non degradable therefore almost every piece of plastic ever created still exists, and will exist for hundreds of years. With that being said here are some easy ways to reduce your plastic usage:

1. Invest in a Brita water filter and reusable water bottles.

2. Reusable grocery bags and produce bags. (I currently have these in my amazon cart. Thanks Bri for calling me out 😁)

3. Instead of packing lunches with plastic bags use reusable containers, silverware, and lunch boxes. Also if you can’t stand the thought of using silverware others use in restaurants bring your own reusable silverware instead of always using to-go silverware.

4. Just say no to straws! Or invest in a reusable one.
5. For the love of all things holy please stop releasing balloons into the air! They travel and end up in our waterways ultimately killing our wildlife or just straight up polluting the ground. Do something much more sentimental for your lost loved ones. You can plant trees in their honor, or even beautiful flower gardens.

6. Recycle, recycle, recycle! And one more time for the people in the back RECYCLE ♻️!!!

I know that this is only the beginning of our journey to being more environmentally efficient. As we continue on this important path of helping out our enviroment I will be sure to keep you updated. In the meantime ask your self what can you do to help save our home? 🌎

Need ideas?

  • Try a meatless diet
  • Use less energy. If possible take all actions to make your house energy-efficient.    The less energy used = less fossil fuels being used
  • Stop littering
  • Recycle
  • Carpool, ride a bike, or walk to your destinations we ever possible
  • Pay attention to what you invest your money into. When you support the big businesses that refuse to be environmentally safe, you are only encouraging them to never change

Resources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327111724.htm

https://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/march/livestock-revolution-environment-031610.html

https://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases/methane-emissions#footnote1_pyicgrw

https://www.vox.com/2014/8/21/6053187/cropland-map-food-fuel-animal-feed

onegreenplanet.org

kids.nationalgeographic.com

Documentaries: Before the flood, Cowspiracy, and What the health

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Daily Thoughts of a Restaurant Shift Leader

Once you move up to management you feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Only to have a heavier weight put in its place. Sure you no longer have to wait on tables, clean unnecessarily because its slow, roll silverware to go home, or do pesky side work.  You have a whole new list of responsibilities that are even more daunting. For instance: floor plans, sales & labor, guest complaints, employee complaints, constant coaching, delegating side work & cleaning duties, pushing sales strategies down your employees throats, food charts, and jumping in where ever your store is sinking at the moment. So I thought it would be fun to share with you my daily actions and thoughts that go through my head on a typical 10-8 shift leading shift.

10 am- Clock in and head to the manager’s office. Spend the next 15-20 minutes getting ready for the day. Which means putting on my wire, looking at the mac card (determine what type of hell I will endure today. Is it going to be smooth sailing or am I  going to be dealing with toddlers for most/all of the day), get the run down from the opening manager (call offs, plans for the shift, & our focus sales wise for the day), then finish my breakfast that my actual toddler at home wouldn’t let me finish. (Sidenote Leo is the only toddler I want to associate with on a daily)

10:30 am- Take a deep breath and walk out onto the server aisle. Check floor plans and side work in both dinning rooms that were put up by the opening manager. Listen to at least 5 of your 14-18 servers complain about the floor charts & side work that you had no hand in. After apologizing to the servers, because I get the struggle, I then head for the dining room.

10:45 am- The calm before the lunch storm. I assess my dinning rooms and how many tables are filled in them. I then begin my constant loop of table touches. Between all of the other things I’m in charge of I have to make my way through the dinning rooms asking everyone how their food/experience is.

11 am- Lunch time. From here until 2pm on average is the busy first half of my shift. It’s a constant state of “What the F**** was I thinking when I chose this path in life” I’m repeatedly calling for someone to run the gazillion trays in the window, seating tables, ensuring all of the tables have been greeted, helping my to-go person set up and take up to-go orders, being as responsive as possible on my wire, making my rounds of table touches, & dealing with guest complaints. With the occasional bathroom break in all of that mess. It also never fails when I have my pants down taking a pee someone calls and needs me over the wire. Can’t I have just two minutes of privacy??

2 pm- Lunch time finally! That is after I cut the floor and put up night-time floor plans. If you are like me a server at heart you take pride in your floor plans and put a lot of actual thought into them. It’s a balance of out times and server strengths. Your floor plans can literally make or break your shift. Once the server aisle is in shape again and no one needs anything from me its time to stuff my face with some food and get a cappuccino in my system. On a good day I’m able to sit down and have a full meal uninterrupted. Good days are far and few between. In my brain I’m just screaming “Seriously people your jobs are not that hard just do them and leave me the hell alone for an hour.”

3 pm- Dead zone. For most restaurants from 2-5 it’s not very busy. This is the time to get prepared for night shift. I’m in charge of making sure all my servers that are on the floor are cleaning and stocking the server aisle as much as they can. You can’t go into night shift without product and half empty ice bins. I’m also pulling each night shifter into the office and giving them the run down of the night. What we want sold and what weaknesses we need to work on. Which is almost always teamwork. Although night shifters are a much more likeable crew in most places you work, they are also mostly staffed with young adults who need direction.

5pm- At this point of the day I’m counting down the hours, but within 30 minutes I wont have a free second to even look at the clock.

5:30 pm- Dinner rush. It’s literally like I’m actually dead and in a constant state off hell. I’m almost for certain that if hell exists this will be my form of punishment trapped in a night shift for eternity. It’s almost always a mess no matter how prepared you think you were. Its like lunch rush, but just a little bit extra. The guest complaints get worse and weirder. Actually the guest in general are mostly weirder. It’s like all people with no common sense are out and about between 5-8, I kid you not. I’m always juggling at least 3-5 things at a time. From long checks to upset servers & guests. It’s a total mystery what will happen next, but I’ve seen it all so nothing surprises me these days.

8 pm- Its time to go!!!!! SIKE! If the ship is still sinking at this time I can kiss all hope of bouncing goodbye. I refuse to leave my team hanging, which I’ve seen done multiple times. If it’s not a total wreck I work on getting my team to clean up the twister of a mess night shift has caused and cut the floor. On a calm night I will leave anywhere from 8:15-8:30. If it’s still busy as all get out I will be lucky to leave at 9:30.

So to sum it all up for you, it takes a very special person to actually enjoy working in the restaurant business. Most of us are honestly just trying make it through the day and pull in money for our families. So before you go all hulk on the person in front of you over some cold mac n cheese or small portion sizes, take into consideration all the things they are juggling in that moment, and use your manners. I promise you when you handle yourself like an adult its going to better for all parties involved.

Road Trips Nichols Style

Road trips, the ultimate pass time if you ask me. It’s something Matthew and I have made a point to do as much as possible. Among our journeys big & small we have learned a few things along the way. For instance don’t judge getting gas on prices, but by how much gas you actually have in your tank. I’d like to take the time to share with you how we have perfected the art of road tripping over the years. Of course some of the things we have done may blow your mind and leave you thinking, oh hell no I will never do that. They are worth sharing none the less in case there are some crazy people out there just like us.

  1. Find you a partner that is nothing like you. Over the years I’ve noticed that opposites really do attract. If you are like me a very go with the flow type person you need someone like Matthew who strives on structure. Matthew spends weeks sometimes even months planning our road trips & vacations. I mean down to the minute what we are going to do. Despite the fact that we almost never follow the plan 100%. (Which is where I come in.) It is nice to have a set path to follow  so when you get off course you can easily get back on.
  2. Packing is an essential part to all trips. Less is always more! Along the road you are going to collect so many nifty things that I promise you will have no need for anything more than just your clothes, blankets, and personal hygiene items. Plus if your anything like us you will need as much room inside as possible. I would highly suggest investing in a hard shell storage for the top of your vehicle. (Don’t bother with the cloth ones. While on the road rain can happen at any moment and you don’t want your things getting ruined. Another lesson we learned the hard way)
  3. The cheaper the better. When on the road Matthew and I try to save money in any way we can. Meaning we never ever stop and pay for a hotel. This is where the crazy comes in. On multiple occasions and in many different places we simply just lay down the back seats to our vehicle and make a bed to sleep in. Granted this can be VERY dangerous so do so at your own discretion. We have slept in truck stops, gas stations, rest areas, hotel parking lots, and airport parking garages to name a few places. If this is way to risky for you I totally understand. My second suggestion would be to pack a tent. The amount of KOA’s on the road is unreal. You truly can’t beat paying on average thirty bucks to have somewhere safe to sleep that also includes showers & laundry facilities.
  4. Attractions, aside from your actual destination pit stops along the way are usually the best part of the road trip. We always go for the historical type. You would be amazed at how much you learn and enjoy stopping at a few of the attractions listed from the brown signs on the interstate. It’s a wonderful way to see a bit of the area you are in that you would never see from stopping only at things directly off the ramps.
  5. Take state routes in place of the interstate when ever you can. You really want to see America? State routes is where it’s at. Of course it is going to take twice the time, but the view is worth it in my opinion. You will be able to drive through towns you would never see if you follow the norm and take the interstate where ever you go. I understand it’s not always practical or even possible, but its worth looking into. While planning your trip see if there is anywhere along the way that you can hop off the interstate onto a state route that will eventually meet back up with the interstate. It’s a great way to slow things down and truly appreciate the land around us.
  6. Last but not least: Stay safe and be prepared. In the world we live in today you can never be too cautious. We never travel with out a weapon of some sort, for protection only. If you plan on taking some sort of weapon be sure to check state laws on said weapon to avoid jail time. When I say prepared I mean for any type of vehicle issues that may occur. It’s always smart to have a basic car tool set in your vehicle at all times that includes but is not limited to: jumper cables, fuses, screw drivers, socket wrenches, ect. Always, and I repeat ALWAYS have a gas jug with you at all times!

The Vegetarian Nichols

As a couple we have always been a little different from the rest. Traveling instead of going to school. Living in our vehicle instead of buying a house. Moving across the country instead of looking into putting roots in our home town. So when it comes to parenthood we also plan on being as far the norm as possible. The one thing we do that we catch the most grief about is being Vegetarian. In all reality though this decision has been one that I feel is our best yet.

We have been clean eaters since we started dating in 2010. Just that switch alone I saw a great improvement in my health and energy. Before Matthew I had the worst eating habits you could have. I’m not even joking when I say I ate 50% junk food and 50% carbs. I was borderline Diabetic and checked my sugar regularly. Needless to say after about a year of better eating habits I no longer feared diabetes in the least. We didn’t stop from there. Over the years we have adjusted out diets multiple times. Getting cleaner with each change. Having Leo in our lives for the past two years has only opened our eyes to more opportunities to be a healthy family. When it was time to start feeding Leo more than just breast milk we only bought foods that were free of as much chemicals as possible.

On July 17, 2017 we decided to make the ultimate switch in our diets and went vegetarian. There were many factors in this choice from reasearch to documentaries, and even the impact it would have on our environment. ( which I will get into at a later date). Almost a year in and I can truly say I feel fantastic and my blood work will back that up! Even after all this time we are still constantly being ridiculed for restricting our son from consuming meat and milk products (minus cheese. We havent been able to give it up just yet.) It’s easy to brush their ignorance off and inform them of all the reasons why we do what we do. Most have simply continued to refuse the facts, but we have also been able to educate a lot of people and help them move forward into vegetarianism. Granted our main reason for being vegetarian is to be as healthy as we can be for our sons, we love to spread the word and try to change as many lives as we can for the better. So on that note here are a few websites loaded with information and a couple documentieres to watch to educate your self on the benefits of being a vegetarian.

Websites:

http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/vegetarian-foods-powerful-for-health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8749.php

Documentaries:

Forks over knives

What the Health

Before the flood