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!

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!