Zero-waste champion, Surfrider leader and all around environmental fairy Sarah Bellum has rolled into town on her zero-waste bike tour and is spreading her wisdom and magic. Sarah is the epitome of a fairy with her dainty frame, wavy blond hair, contagious smile and happy-go-lucky attitude. But don’t let that fool you, this girl is smart and tough! Last year she decided to quit her job, crochet her bicycle and ride 1,113 miles from San Luis Obispo, California to Portland, Oregon. Now, halfway through her two-month long journey, she has made a pit stop to check out Arcata for a few days.
Her inspiration for taking on this insane mission in the middle of winter comes from her love of the environment and desire to spread the word about zero waste. “I have always wanted to do a bike tour, and when I crocheted my bike it gave me that extra motivation. I wanted to meet all the mentors of mine and learn about the medicine of traveling slowly on my bicycle,” she explained.
And travel slowly she has, but with a purpose. She has been interviewing activists, trash artists, landfill workers, repair people and whoever else she runs into to learn solutions to plastic pollution and waste. “The purpose of my journey is to learn more about the zero waste movement and waste management and how we are moving forward towards a peaceful and positive revolution with less waste and more fun.”
It seems impossible for Sarah not to have fun as she “makes a game out of being zero waste,” and has committed to being completely waste-free this year from her bike to her toothpaste. Her trusty steed is a 1974 Schwinn bicycle which she fondly calls Miss Mary Jane and resembles something close to a kinetic sculpture. Miss Mary Jane is decked out in 188 crocheted upcycled plastic bags, fenders made from plastic water bottles and wire (found in a dumpster), and panniers from kitty litter buckets! All of Sarah’s other supplies fit into one small kid-sized school backpack.
With her positive attitude and outlook on life, it’s almost no surprise that Arcata has been her favorite stop so far. “I really enjoy the vibes, strong local culture, eco-scene and all the really rad things going on,” stated Sarah. She still has 600 miles to go but has no doubt she will be coming back here for a visit. When asked what she is looking forward to next she said, “I’m excited to see the rugged Oregon coast and explore the forest and mountains up there, and to see my momma in Portland.”
After completing her tour she intends to make a mini trash documentary and write a book about her experience. “I want to write a fictional fairy tale about my journey and turn all the characters I met along the way into animals,” she explained excitedly. Her book idea is more than fitting as she shares the same birthday as Dr. Seuss, who is one of her idols.
And in case you were wondering why this crazy girl didn’t think about El Niño, well she did. She explained how she loves feeling the rain on her face and how it adds a little extra magic to her journey.
So if you see a fairy riding by on a crochet bike, it’s most likely Sarah Bellum and you should give her a wave and cheer her on her way.
To follow Sarah on her tour check our her website and blog HERE.
Delia Bense-Kang serves as the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Marine Protected Area Outreach Coordinator and chairs Surfrider Foundation’s Humboldt Chapter.