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.

IMG_0039
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.

FullSizeRender (3)
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.

IMG_5508
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?

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

Meat-Free May: Week 3

We are into the third week of Meat-Free May! I am still feeling good and have not eaten meat nor wanted to eat meat. I do have a few health updates that may or may not be related. Because I was at the doctor’s this morning for my annual, I know I lost two pounds. Also my blood pressure, which has never been a concern of mine, was 118/75, so now it is even less of a concern (previously had been 120/80). At some point this week, I remembered that in the past when I was vegetarian or vegan for years-long stretches, I became deficient in vitamin B12, so I did start taking that as a precaution.

IMG_5735
Hiking in the woods near our house!

This week I ate out a lot, but forgot to take photos every single time! We went hiking, biking, went to a show at my son’s school, and I went to a concert and spent a lot of time hanging out with horses. One night I ate Chinese food out at a fancy place. We had an assortment of things, but my favorite was Shao Kao Fu, which is seitan with mushrooms and peanuts. I also ate Thai food out with my family, and had Massaman Curry with tofu and vegetables. And finally I had Italian food out with my family, and I had eggplant rollatini.

FullSizeRender.jpg
These were actually really good!

I’m trying to remember what I ate this week at home and mostly failing. There were a ton of my favorite salad: kale, avocado, cucumber, tahini, and hemp seeds. I made orange seitan with broccoli for the family one day. And I finally got to try jackfruit, which I’ve been curious about for some time. It came four cakes to a pack, so I made them all, and ate two on successive days for lunch. I liked the jackfruit, even though I’ve not into crabcakes that much. I would definitely be interested to try jackfruit in a different format!

IMG_5715
This was my favorite thing I’ve made in a long time, and I ate it two days in a row!

Sustaining the Sustainability Swaps!

IMG_5337

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.

IMG_5528
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!

IMG_5530
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.”

IMG_5531
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!

 

 

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.

IMG_5351.JPG
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!

FullSizeRender
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!