Every year I look forward to making a significant difference in my health and in my conservation efforts. This was a great year for me, as we tackled the plastic waste monster in our bathroom, Chris got a new kidney, and we started eating healthier for his benefit, if not mine, and I published a couple of books about ZooFit.
The bathroom was an interesting project. For the past 3-4 years, we steadily decreased our plastic waste in the kitchen. First by eliminating palm oil and thus highly processed foods, then just trying to get rid of single use plastics. It took a while, and to be honest, we aren’t perfect at practicing NO plastic waste, but progress over perfection. Tackling the bathroom was a whole new ballgame for us. We used to buy shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles. But while visiting Vancouver over Christmas, we found shampoo and conditioner bars, and lightbulbs came on over our head.
From that day forward, we have worked towards eliminating plastic from the bathroom, one area at a time. We stopped using plastic bottle and non-recyclable products in the shower, getting our soap, shampoo, conditioner, and even shaving lotion in zero waste packaging, or 100% recycled materials.
You can’t talk about eliminating waste in your bathroom without talking about toilet paper. We switched over to Who Gives a Crap, a company committed to environmental and socially economic responsible practices. They use 100% recycled paper for their toilet paper, tissue, and paper towels. And they don’t wrap their products in plastic. It’s a win-win for the company, the environmentally conscious consumer, and the environment.
Our last big project in the bathroom was greening our oral hygiene. This proved to be a little more challenging, especially for me, than we anticipated. Having some severe periodontitis issues means I need to use products I’d rather not because of their wastefulness, such as single use gum and flossing tools. I also had to invest in a water flosser, despite not liking the product made of plastic and using so much water. But the effect on my teeth and gums is impressive. My last cleaning showed my teeth and gums have improved immensely.
Luckily, I’ve found some great small substitutes to make up for my water flosser. I’ve moved away from toothpaste tubes and found powders and tooth tabs can make your smile just as pretty and clean, without the waste ending up in a landfill. For regular flossing, I use silk floss which is 100% natural and biodegradable, and comes in glass packaging.
I am impressed with how quickly we picked up some of these healthy and environmental habits. It goes to show how we build upon our own success. After years of working on eliminating palm oil from our diet, cutting down plastic waste to a bare minimum, and and eating as healthy as possible, I assumed changing some of our hygiene habits would take a while as well. But success rides upon success, and when we pick up one good habit, it leads to other habits developing, making progress easier to achieve, and easier to fit into your healthy lifestyle.
Our lifestyle has gotten noticed by our friends and family. For Christmas this year, we received reusable dryer balls made from sheep’s wool. And a stainless steel straw which folds up and fits in your pocket. These are perfect for us, as we constantly look for how to have a more positive impact on the planet and our well-being.
Some of my progress from this year in my quest to Green My Hygiene, Eat Green, and Clean Green:
- Using my bamboo utensils more often instead of single use plastic forks or spoons.
- As we sit down to a restaurant, asking for water without a straw. If I notice there are straws in other people’s drinks, I try to leave a No Straws 4 Me card with the server, or talk to the manager about reducing their use of plastic straws.
- I get most of my grains (oats and rice, for example), flour, spices, and nuts from the bulk food section. This way, I can reuse containers instead of buying plastic packaging
- When I do purchase plastic containers, I make sure they are recyclable.
- I repurposed most of my containers which are not recyclable on the island. I’ve made sand bags from snack bags, and other products which were unavoidable to get without plastic packaging. Tofu and strawberry containers make decent distance markers, while I have saved quite a few plastic lids to create agility ladders. Next year I’m focusing on presenting to libraries, schools, and community centers to promote Reuse, Recycle, Reduce Your Waist, and to help redistribute my repurposed materials.
- Chris and I have cut down our meat consumption quite a bit from 2017. Of course, Chris had a medical reason, but even with his transplant, we are committed to taking care of this precious gift by eating right. In the past, we used to eat upwards of 8-10 meals a week with meat (including poultry and fish). Now, we are consuming 4-5 meals per week with meat. In 2019, we plan to go 90-95% vegetarian, with the only meat we eat being sustainable seafood. I won’t lie, though, there is likely to be scattered meals containing bacon once in a while, also.
- We got a majority of our produce from our own garden or our CSA. I grew zucchini again, a little spinach (leftover seeds from last year), and kale. There were also several pumpkin which grew on their own accord, which is nice for winter (once they ripen). Our CSA gave us a PLETHORA of tomatoes, greens, and more squash. I may have repeated several recipes, but we used local ingredients.
- With my overabundance of tomatoes this year, I decided to make my own salsa. I made a huge batch, then “canned” it. Still have a few cans if anyone wants to try it. It is low sodium.
It’s been a productive year. What are some of your accomplishments you are most proud of from this year?