Sustaining the Sustainability Swaps!

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It’s been a few weeks since my month-long sustainability swaps, so I thought I would check in. The five swaps I made were: (1) Reusable water bottle, (2) Reusable bamboo utensils, (3) Recycled and bamboo paper products, (4) Reusable beeswax sandwich wrapper,  and (5) Reusable wool dryer balls.

All have held up, and I would like to make some more sustainability swaps, but I have to do some more research, which is time-consuming. I thought perhaps I would aim to do one swap per month, as that seems pretty doable. There are a few things I’m in the middle of researching, so if anyone would like to provide personal insight, I would appreciate it!

Here are a couple of things for which I am trying to find alternatives:

  1. Deodorant: Mostly because of the plastic tubes, so any product that replaced this would have to be in some other packaging, but I’m not particularly sweaty and I have sensitive skin, so I am also looking for something with fewer harsh ingredients. I also have an relatively new deodorant I am going to use up first.
  2. Razor: Again, this is all because of the plastic. I am looking to buy a safety razor, but I am very nervous about using a safety razor. Also, I keep finding boxes of razor “heads” in random cabinets, so I am going to use them up first.
  3. Toothbrush: Once again, the plastic. I know there are bamboo brushes out there, but I just bought a new toothbrush a few weeks ago, so I am going to get its full lifespan use out of it before I swap it out.

Since I am participating in Meat-Free May this month, I’ll probably not decide and write about my next swap in June. Looking forward to it!

Meat-Free May: Week 1

It hasn’t been a full week yet, but since I didn’t take notes and am liable to forget, I thought I would check-in how I did for week 1 of Meat-Free May. In short, it went well! Meaning, of course, I didn’t eat any meat, and I felt fine and wasn’t craving it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I generally eat the same two things for breakfast and lunch every day: cereal with almond milk and a banana and kale salad and a peanut butter sandwich. My only weekday deviation was an egg salad with carrots and chips one day, as I was at the DMV all morning and didn’t want to bring my lunch with my.

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Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs: a yummy study in contradictions!

One night for dinner we had spaghetti and meatballs. Having two young kids, this is a staple at our house. They were hesitant when I told them the meatballs might taste differently because they were not meat, but they not only ate everything I gave them, but asked for seconds!

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They ate all this and asked for seconds! And yes, I let them eat in front of the TV, but in my defense, we were watching Kiki’s Delivery Service!

Another meal I put together at home was ready-made Indian stuff, also from Trader Joe’s. It was chana masala (chickpeas with tomato and spices), palak paneer (cheese cubes with spinach puree), and garlic naan (flatbread). This was too much for my older son, so I also made him frozen fish fingers. My younger son is a much more adventurous eater and proclaimed it “spicy, but not too spicy.”

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I was hungry and started eating before taking the photo!

Over the weekend, as predicted, I ate out twice. For lunch Saturday, we had pizza. For dinner Saturday, we went to a large food truck festival called the Queens Night Market. I was walking around and eating too much to take photos, but we mostly all shared everything. We had corn on the cob, a rice cake with eggplant and tomato puree on top, a corn cake with tofu and vegetables cooked into it, a spiralized potato with cheddar seasoning, and fried ice cream. I have to admit that I was nervous there would be no vegetarian options there, but there were plenty. I plan to go back many times this season!

 

 

Meat-Free May!

This month, I am doing another month-long project: Meat-Free May! As you might guess, this means I will attempt to not eat any meat for the month of May. Other people are doing it too, and have written about why you would do it here. The New York Times also has a great article about how what we eat impacts the planet. And yes, there is also a quiz!

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Vegan me a few years ago, visiting an animal sanctuary.

I have a long and twisted diet history, but for the most part, I don’t like eating meat. I don’t care for the flavor and texture of meat as a whole. For a not insignificant portion of my life, I have been vegetarian and sometimes vegan. I am also a minimalist with food choices. What I mean is that the more food choices there are, the more stressed I feel. (I can’t even tell you how stressed I get just looking at a buffet!) I have tried to deal with this by eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. Breakfast is cereal with almond milk and a banana. Lunch is kale salad with oil and vinegar and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

For dinner I will usually eat out about two nights a week, have take-out one night, and cook the rest. Dinner is varied, but usually kid-friendly. If I were single with no kids, I would probably eat the same two things for dinner every other night, like I did through most of my 20s. (If you are interested, these two meals were a flatbread with garlic and vegetables on it, and pasta with oil, garlic, and greens. Now I would probably add a rice and beans to the mix, you know, because I’m so adult.)

For this month, to keep myself accountable, I’ll write how I did every Monday. I assume the weekends will be the problem, as I tend to be out and about with the kids. I also assume I will be eating at least one slice of pizza and one Impossible Burger a week, which is okay by me. Let’s see what happens!

 

 

Sustainability Project Week 5

Because of the way the days fell on the calendar this month, there are five weeks to this month-long project of sustainability swaps. I was happy to do one more swap than I originally intended! For the first week, I stopped using plastic water bottles, for the second, I stopped using plastic utensils, for the third, I stopped using first-use paper products, for the fourth, I stopped using sandwich wraps.

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There were four balls in this pack I got from Trader Joe’s for about $6.50.

This week’s swap is dryer sheets! The internet has a ton of information (whether it’s true or false, I am uncertain) on why dryer sheets are bad for you. I am undecided on that for myself, but the focus of this project is to swap out single-use products for multi-use products. Thus, balls!

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My older son impersonating a fly and showing the size of the dryer balls.

These wool dryer balls were bought in Trader Joe’s, but there are tons of similar products available elsewhere in person or online. Obviously, they don’t have a smell, and I’m not into my clothing smelling like a flower enough to go out and get essential oils to put on them. But they do seem to make the clothing fluffy and also reduce drying time, thus saving electricity. I recommend them!

Sustainability Project Week 4

Recap! Week 1 was single-use plastic water bottles. A person I was with bought one at some point, and I did have a few drinks from it, but then I made sure it was recycled. Week 2 was plastic utensils. I have used my bamboo set at work every day, and only once forgot to tell them not to include them when ordering take-out at home. Week 3 was toilet paper and paper towels. All good there!

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I found this for only $6 at a local farm!

For week 4, I am really happy to be writing about this bee’s wax coated reusable food paper. Just about every day for lunch, I bring to work a kale salad and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Since I don’t use plastic bags, I had been wrapping the sandwiches in aluminum foil, and then trying to reuse it for as many days as possible. But it was kind of gross after two days. I tried wax paper, but it was only marginally better.

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My naked PB&J!

Because it takes me a month to decide on even the most minute purchase, I looked at this and similar products online for a ridiculous amount of time. I was unable to decide if I should just get one or a multipack, what sizes, what pattern, etc. But I was visiting my local farm (yes, there is a farm in NYC, more than one, in fact) and I found a single pack of the large size on sale for $6. I couldn’t argue with the price or the fact that I wouldn’t have to have it shipped to me.

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A perfect wrap!

So, how does it work? It just sort of folds down with the heat of your hands, and when you’re done, rinse it in cold water and hand somewhere to dry. Since one is supposed to last about a year, I’m saving a lot of aluminum foil!

 

Thoughts on MinsGame Spring 2019

Now that the Minimizing Game has been over for about two weeks, I wanted to write a few thoughts I had while going through the process and afterward. If I’m remembering correctly, this is the third time played the Minimizing Game. As always, I was surprised to realize how easy it was to find 492 things to get rid off. I also expected my house to look less cluttered at the end of the month, but sadly no, it does not.

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I didn’t want to post another photo of the stuff I got rid of, so please enjoy this one of a miniature horse. He’s minimized! Get it? Minimized!?!

One thing I noticed about my aesthetic was that I really don’t like objects made of clear glass. I’m talking decor items mostly. I got rid of a bunch of clear vase-like objects I didn’t even know I had and didn’t like. And while I’m not looking to replace all my drinking glasses, I will say that if I had to, I would choose light blue or something else not clear. So obviously, I’ve learned that I should not choose clear glass the next time I have to buy something made out of glass.

The other material I dislike even more than glass is plastic! Why is there so much random plastic crap around? I hate looking at it, and it seems to multiply if left unattended. My children are the main reason we get so much plastic, as it comes mostly from the dreaded goodie bags.

Lastly, as I hinted at in the first paragraph, this was all too easy! I want to have to make some difficult choices and really scrutinize things. Since the last one was in March, I think I will do it again in September. I was thinking about maybe doing August so I could prepare for back-to-school season at the same time, but I am thinking about traveling in August, so maybe September is better. We’ll see how anxious I get about needing to minimize as the autumn rolls around!

Sustainability Project Week 3

It’s the third week of April, and that means I’m going to be writing about my third environmentally friendly swap. For a quick recap, I stopped buying single-use plastic water bottles in week one, and stopped accepting single-use plastic utensils in week two. I am switching it up in week three by focusing on single-use paper products, namely toilet paper and paper towels.

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Kids were excited when I told them to yell the word “Crap!”

No, we are not doing away with these products altogether, although we applaud those that do. We are currently using the brand “Who gives a crap,” which is made from sustainably sourced bamboo and recycled post-consumer waste paper. It costs about as much as regular paper, and I think the quality is the same. If you are interested, find them here.