Sustainability Project: November 2019

A couple of months ago, I switched from standard plastic toothbrushes to bamboo toothbrushes. I thought I would hate it or there would be a long adjustment period that began with disgust and ended with hesitant acceptance. What really happened was I loved it immediately and also thought if I was wrong about the brush, I might also be wrong about the toothpaste being an issue. Thus I began to search in earnest for a toothpaste that was not sold in plastic tubes.

What I eventually decided on was The Dirt Toothpowder. I thought I would be grossed out by a tooth powder, but I absolutely wasn’t! In fact, I found myself brushing for longer and more often during the day because the sensation of brushing my teeth with a powder and a bamboo brush was so pleasant. I bought the super mint flavor in a 6-month glass jar, because the smaller size comes in plastic. I wish I could bring the jar somewhere and just get it refilled, but that’s a problem for six months from now. I’m sure I could use the jars for other things when they are empty, or just recycle them.

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I looked for a photo in which I was smiling and showing my teeth, and the only photos I have like that are ones in which I am holding a cocktail.

One caveat is I have not had a dentist appointment since I started using this tooth powder. I usually get a very bad report, so I’m curious if it will be any better or worse.

Meat-Free for Six Months!

After taking part in Meat-Free May earlier this year, I’ve been vegetarian for just about six months! Honestly, I didn’t think I would still be vegetarian, but once you stop eating meat, it’s a little weird to go back to eating meat. I still don’t miss it, and I have not craved it at all. I have lost six pounds in the six months, but note I was not specifically trying to lose weight, and also note I still eat potato chips. I did have a physical last month, and was told I am pretty anemic. This was not unexpected, as I was anemic before I stopped eating meat too. My cries of, “But I eat kale every day!” fell on deaf ears, and my doctor insisted I start taking an iron pill a day, in addition to my B12 pill.

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This insanely good and decadent lunch consisted of a Creole Grilled Tofu baguette and a dulce de leche doughnut.

In exciting news for me, I found out that every Wednesday the vegan food truck The Cinnamon Snail is parked two blocks from where I work! I used to work by their shop in the Pensy and was sad when we moved offices. But now I have it almost every Wednesday!

What have I eaten these past six months? I’ve eaten at home a lot more, which is good. I’ve gotten in the habit of having the same things on repeat, which the kids actually like (since they like knowing what they will be eating based on what day it is). This also saves a ton of money. Some stuff we have about once a week are: pasta and veggie meatballs, tofu with curry and vegetables, tacos or burritos with beans and rice and cheese, and  frozen pizza (I get regular for the kids and dairy-free for me and my spouse). We order sushi about once a week, and we usually eat out once a week.

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Go soak your oats, as the old saying goes!

I have been trying to eat less eggs and dairy to further reduce my environmental impact, and to that end, I made oat milk! Oat milk is one of my favorite non-dairy milks, but I think the ones for sale in stores are overpriced. Oats are pretty cheap, after all. There are a ton of oat milk recipes to be found online, so I’m not getting into that here, but what I will say is, I didn’t have an advance strainer or cheesecloth, so I just used my colander, and that worked exactly as well as one would expect. (Not that well.) The result was a little too thick. It was okay in coffee, but very good in cereal. I will definitely try again once I invest in a cheesecloth!

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The resulting oat milk, still frothy from the blender!

 

Sustainability Project: October 2019

For the October Sustainability Swap, I focused on cat litter! This is particularly appropriate as our cat, Oz, joined the family two years ago, on October 13, 2016 to be exact. I have lived with at least one cat for most of my life, and I have to admit that I’ve never really thought about cat litter before.

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My kitty Oz, in his favorite spot (my lap)!

When I was young, my parents used whatever litter they used, and I was not involved. When I was 18 and I moved out with my first cat that I adopted myself, my parents actually still bought all my household items, including cat litter. The next time I adopted a cat, I was a full adult, and continued to buy the same litter, just out of habit. (Fresh Step, if you are interested.)

It’s only now that I’ve started doing these sustainability swaps that I have thought about switching cat litters. Why switch? Clumping clay litter doesn’t biodegrade in landfills, and, from what I understand, is not sustainably sourced.

What I started using instead is Feline Pine. This litter is completely biodegradable (it’s pine!) and also sustainably sourced. You can read about that on their website, which is linked above. I have used this litter for a bit, and there is a learning curve to cleaning the litter box. In fact, I had to watch a YouTube video before I could figure it out! But, it doesn’t smell at all, and Oz seems to have taken to it! This is the video I watched: see someone cleaning a litter box!

 

Sustainability Project: September 2019

September is over but I was so busy posting about the Minimalism Game that I forgot to post my monthly sustainability swap. But I didn’t forget to actually do it!

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This cup came in many, many designs, but this was my obvious favorite!

Last month I got this neat insulated cup. It has a top for hot drinks, and also a straw lid for cold drinks. In a parallel but invisible swap, I also started drinking green tea in the morning, instead of keurig coffee at work. This stops me from throwing away a keurig pod, and, since I drink green tea plain, and coffee with milk, it also stops me from drinking milk, something I’ve been trying to cut down on.

In addition to looking really cute, this cup also keeps the green tea hot all morning (if it lasts that long), and my seltzer with ice cold all afternoon. You can get your own here. (No, I get nothing for a click.) Also, yes, my office has a free seltzer machine. Jealous?

Sustainability Project: August 2019

It has been a month since my last sustainability swap and all the previous swaps are still in place, including the one in which I stopped eating meat. Sometimes, I will think about eating meat (usually because someone encourages me to eat meat), and then I will get sad and disgusted and find myself incapable of eating meat. It’s a good thing!

Anyway, this post is about cotton swabs, my August swap! I’m sure by now everyone has seen this photo of a seahorse on a plastic swab. I admit I do still use them for an assortment of things, including the big one you’re not really supposed to do (namely, putting them in my ear). However, that is a habit I’m not really looking to break, so I just need a more environmentally friendly way to possibly damage my eardrum.

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The panda drawing is another plus.

I found these sturdy bamboo and cotton sticks that come in recyclable cardboard packaging. Another thing I’ve grown to really enjoy is not having to buy the big-name brands anymore. And yes, I know the alternatives were always out there, but now that I’m aware of them, it’s easy to steer clear of all the more well-known companies.

 

Sustainability Project: July 2019

I may have mentioned, probably more than once, how I hate the look and feel of plastic. Something that reminds me of this every day, twice a day, is my toothbrush. I’ve wanted to replace my plastic toothbrush for a few months, but a had a new one and I didn’t want to be wasteful by just throwing it away, so I decided to wait.

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All the handles are different colors, but the one I picked at random to use first was green.

But last week, we went away to a near-camping situation, and I had been using the same toothbrush for a few months, so I decided it was time to “treat” myself to a new one on my return. There are many different bamboo toothbrushes to choose from. I went with a brand with very positive reviews and cardboard packaging, but may still shop around when the time comes to pick a new one.

After using this brush for a little more than a week, I have to say I really like it! Some people don’t like bamboo toothbrushes because they don’t like the way they feel in their mouth. But I’ve found I like it a lot more than plastic!

Sustainability Project: June 2019

As I wrote sometime last month, I would like to keep up with the sustainability swaps, and do about one a month. It turned out I did something different than I was thinking about, as I ran out of coffee. Since this post is about coffee, I have to admit something: I have a Keurig.

I bought it a few years ago, after breaking every glass coffee pot I tried to make it work with. I don’t know why I have this problem, but I will also say that I am the only person in the house who drinks coffee from home on a regular basis, so most of the time, if I made a pot, it would go to waste anyway.

Now, of course, I wish I didn’t buy a Keurig. I was weak and annoyed at spending so much money buying single cups of coffee from various shops. But I feel terrible about all the plastic K-cups that go into the landfill. And I did try the kind of K-cup that allow you to peel off plastic part, and then that portion goes into the recycling, but it wasn’t great.

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This is the variety pack!

So after some searching, I found this company: Tayst. The beans are sustainably sourced and the pods themselves are 100% compostable!

The only downside to this plan is that I do not yet have a compost area, as when I bought my house, the backyard was paved. I do have a small front yard, and since coffee is good for plants, and I only drink about three cups of coffee a week at home (most is at work), I am wondering if I can’t literally just bury these little suckers and let them feed the tree that lives there? I plan to try this and see how long it takes them to break down. A possibly fun experiment?

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Just adding this photo of Samir from 7 years ago for fun–but note I still have the same coffee cup!