I’m not about to get up here and pretend like I’m some sort of magic, sustainability master, because I’m not. Truly, I’m just doing my best and I think that’s all we can ask of one another when it comes to choosing more eco-conscious ways of living.
I feel like the flood gates have opened on all the different products we can swap out in our daily lives. The internet is teeming with information about ways to be green. There’s no doubt that this is exciting stuff either. People seem to really be making strides to help reduce their carbon footprint ( A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.), but with how much is put on the market, it can feel daunting to step into.
(Calculate your carbon footprint size here!)
That’s how I felt, at least. I also felt bad for not being able to do the most right away. However, over the past year, I’ve gradually eased into it being patient with both myself and the smallest bit of work it takes to maintain these practices. You don’t need to change everything you’re doing overnight– I actually implore you not to do that. Doing so can create excess and avoidable waste. (i.e Looking for a better alternative to the toothpaste you’re using? Finish off the tubes you have and then scout out something more sustainable). It can also overwhelm the hell out of you! So just keep it cool, take the ride, it’s all going to be okay.
I’m here to share some of the practices I’ve incorporated, when I did so, and a little about them! I hope this can help get you on your feet, or make some sort of difference in your journey. These are only a few bare bones starting points, some of which you may already know. This isn’t the cure all or even the heart the issue our environment faces, but I just wanted to ease those of you who are new into this topic. ( I have a very important message at the end so even if you don’t read this post, at least read that! )
Currently, this is the bulk of what I’m looking at:
From top left to bottom right we have: Solid Conditioner/Bar Soap, Bamboo Toothbrush, Repurposed Glass Jar, Diva Cup, Reusable Tote, Chopsticks, To-Go Mug, Reusable Sandwich Bags, Beeswax Cloth, Reusable Produce Bags– all top a cloth napkin!
Not pictured are my bike, my sneakers, and my water bottle! We’ll get to those, though.
Bar Soap and Solid Conditioner
I’m just going to say it one last time: Use what you have and then make a swap! I think this might be the easiest change to make in terms of products. Bar soap eliminates the plastic used with pump soap and I find, has more wholesome ingredients. Same deal for solid conditioner! (Yes, solid shampoo also exists, btw.) This was one of the very first things I made my transition with.
Bar soap can be found anywhere you’d buy soap pumps, but the beauty this is that there are probably artisans in your community who make it locally. This is a double whammy- support locals, support the planet. BAM!
This is again, an incredibly easy swap to make. It also deals with the plastic problem like the conditioner/soap do. I opted for this bamboo brush for biodegradability reasons. You can, however, find recycled plastic brush handles with disposable heads. Another super rad thing to do (if you’re feeling it) is to write to the company you’d normally purchase a toothbrush from and ask for a plastic free option. This is an option that can be implemented easily and early on as well!
Nat Geo has an incredibly interesting article on the history of plastic toothbrushes that is well worth your while here.
Repurposed Glass Jar/Glass Packaged Products
These two had to go together really because they’re bound by glass and the message is the same. Glass jars are i n c r e d i b l e really because they’re so multi-purpose! If you have old ones lying around, you can use them for just about anything – food storage, product storage, buying in bulk, storing DIY projects, you name it, a glass jar is probably one of the answers. I started seeking out products that came in glass jars specifically for these reasons. Once the product is all used up (like the case will be with this deodorant), you can give it a good wash and it’s onto the next use!
This is not a practice I did straight away. Maybe after a couple months, but only due to lack of knowledge/realization.
Mhmmm, we’re going there. If you’re uncomfortable…I don’t know what to tell you. Before I continue, though:
There are a lot of issues surrounding health management for menstruating humans, and I know this is not an option easily accessible to everybody. It is a huge privilege I’m able to handle mine the way I do.
I’ll be updating this segments with some more inclusive options/resources.
That said, at this point there are a lot of different reusable menstrual cup options on the market. I’ve even seen washable pads/period underwear (which I’ve also used, thank you Thinx).
If you’re a human who experiences a period, you’ve no doubt seen the amount of plastic surrounding regular tampons and pads. Many don’t even stop at the packaging and actually have thin layers of plastic within the actual products. I mean, ew. I don’t want that down there. What’s the point? (there isn’t one).
A menstrual cup, or any sort of alternative product will cost more than your typical products. However, after 4 cycles, you’ve gotten more than your money’s worth. This is not a change I made until very recently – as in January 2020.
However you deal each month, deal it your way! This is Just one option. Again, Nat Geo is coming in hot with some awesome articles, so here’s another one all-out period products!
I don’t have a photo for this one, but you can see it pretty clearly in the original photo. It has sharks on it, and it’s big, so it’s pretty much all I could ask for. This was 100% the first thing I did. I’m sure many us already do this, just remember them when you go to the store, please. Leave them in your car if you have to! Whatever it takes!
If you look close enough, you’ll see that these aren’t mine. They’re my mom’s, but I’m including it because it’s an item we’ve both tarted carrying around more often!
Chopsticks, or any other sort of reusable utensils are an awesome option instead of the single use plastic you get from delivery. Simply tell them you don’t need utensils packed in your order and you’re good to go!
This is another practice I only recently got serious about sticking to last summer.
The to-go mug is in the same vain. You can get them in a myriad of shapes, colors, sizes, insulation abilities. Just ditch the plastic cup at the coffee shop. Not a cool look in your hand or on the sidewalk. Easy switch I’ve been doing for years even before my choice to live more mindfully.
Reusable Sandwich Bags/ Beeswax Cloth/ Reusable Produce Bags/ Cloth Napkin
Last but not least, we have the often seen reusable kitchen items that aim to reduce the use of Ziploc bags, cling wrap, plastic produce bags, and paper towels.
These were not purchases I made until this past month. I still have all the previously listed materials in my kitchen, but in such small amounts it made sense to start replacing.
*A note on beeswax wrap: As yours this, the tacky, waxy hold will fade. Turn your oven on the lowest possible setting, and let the wrap sit on a baking sheet for a few minutes. The wax will warm and re distribute itself. Carefully take it out, and let it cool over a surface with good airflow.
If you loose the tackiness after a while. Warm equal parts pine resin and beeswax pellets, coat the fabric with a thin layer, and let dry! This makes a super fun DIY project, too! (A post on sustainable DIY projects to come!)
I’m almost done. You rock for bearing with me.
My final words are: Bike/scooter/rollerblade/skateboard/walk if you can! Drive if you must, but carpool when you can! To heck with single use water bottles!
You know this, I know you know this. I just want to remind you those are equally valid ways to start on your sustainability journey and ones to be proud of at that! You don’t need fancy substitutes or be the best at monitoring every single choice you make. Know that any step is a good step and pat yourself on the back for thinking of it.
This two (maybe three) part series is set to continue later this week. We’re talking farmer’s markets and food education!
Be Thoughtful. Be Here. Adventure on