Sustainability Project: June 2021

Not stinking up the beach, due to my plastic-free deodorant.

Trying to keep doing these sustainability swaps, with a focus on reducing my use of plastics. Last year, I switched from regular Dove deodorant to a more sustainable one in a glass jar. I liked it, but the jarred product was not pleasant for me to use. I wanted something in stick form. I had heard about Native products, but they didn’t have their deodorant in plastic-free packaging at the time.

But I recently looked again, and now they do! I choose the two ones labeled “sensitive” because I believe myself to be quite a sensitive soul. I like both scents equally. I’ve had no issue with pit stink or skin issues. I may even try non-sensitive formulas next, because on second thought, maybe I’m not as sensitive as I think.

I really hope this company starts using non-plastic packaging for more of their products!

Sustainability Project: May 2021

This photo of my dog at the beach has both water in it and the cause of my increased laundry load.

Almost a year has gone by since I switched my dish-washing detergent. As I mentioned in that post, I was planning to switch my laundry detergent as well, and now I have. I really like the Dropps laundry detergent, but they have a new rose scent, and I might switch to that the next time I order.

Anyway, I have not much else to say about this swap other than I plan to continue with this product, but I also considering trying the laundry strips (made by a different company) in the future.

A Major Sustainability Swap

I have sadly fallen behind on my sustainability swaps that I used to do once a month. Mostly this is due to getting a puppy and quickly realizing that taking care of a puppy is a lot harder than I thought. I am going to try to pick them up monthly again, but it’s possible this may not work out.

When I was 18, my dad really wanted me to drive a stick shift. Right after this was taken, I crashed into the fence. That was the last time I drove stick.

However, since it is Earth Day, and the anniversary of starting these swaps, I wanted to write about a major change. We bought a new car! For the past few years, we’ve leased cars, because once you start to lease a car, it is easier to continue leasing. We wanted to stop doing that and actually own a car. We also wanted something that used less gas. It would have been nice to get a totally electric car, but also too expensive. So we bought a hybrid. I don’t actually have much else to say about that, because I have never been interested in cars. I try to drive as little as possible. However, I am grateful to have a car when I need it, and this hybrid car has not yet needed to be filled with gas in the two months we’ve had it.

Sustainability Project: Summer 2020

With all the pandemic/work from home/no summer camps, I have been very late in writing about the things I’ve been doing to live more sustainably. But since this has been one of the weirdest summers in my life, I’ll give myself a pass and just do one for July/August combined.

Actually, this has been one I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, but I’ve been genuinely terrified. I am talking about a non-plastic, non-disposable safety razor. Have you seen one? They look a bit scary. No, I am not talking about a straight razor, which seems too dangerous for home use.

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This is not me. And that is not a safety razor.

A safety razor is exactly this. That is the actual one that I bought and now use. So far, I have not murdered myself unintentionally with it. I ordered the razor when I realized I was on my last disposable razor blade, and it took me about two weeks after that to use it. Yes, I go a bit slower when shaving with it, but not crazy slow.

Some caveats: my body does not seem to grow body hair quickly or in abundance. Thus, I only shave a few times a month. If I had to do more, perhaps going slowing would annoy me more. Second, I realize I never go out or see anyone, so I could not shave at all if I didn’t want to.

The notion that women shouldn’t have body hair is obviously sexist. However, I also believe that any person, whether they identify as male or female or both or neither can do whatever they want to their own body, including shaving. And I really don’t like seeing body hair on myself, so when I see it, off it goes. And now with a non-plastic razor.

 

Sustainability Project: June 2020

For this month, I am writing about dishwasher detergent. I am #blessed to have my very own dishwasher at home. Since the coronavirus quarantine, I went from eating at home about two breakfasts, one lunch, and five dinners a week to seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and seven dinners a week. And that’s for four people. So it’s a ton of dishes. I would possibly be crazier by now if we hadn’t gotten the dishwasher installed last year.

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My younger son watching the koi outside the columbaria in Green-Wood Cemetery. Yes, I could have uploaded a photo of my dishwasher, but this is more interesting and also water-related.

Initially we used whatever name-brand product we found at the store for dishwasher detergent. But I started to look around for something else and found Dropps. You may know Dropps from their commercial featuring the CEO in a bathtub. That commercial is just for their laundry detergent, but they also have dishwasher detergent pods. They are free of dyes and fragrances and plastics and are shipped in compostable, carbon-neutral packaging. Having used them for about a month now, I will also say I’ve been able to eliminate the use of a rinse agent. These are better than the brand name combined with a rinse agent. As soon as I am out of laundry detergent, I will be trying this brand as well!

Sustainability Project: May 2020

For awhile, I had been looking into using different garbage bags. I don’t love using big-name brands, and I want to get away from all single-use plastic. I finally settled on trying these bags. They are made of recycled ocean plastic that is collected off the beaches. Crazy, I know!

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My kids at Jones Beach in New York last summer. So glad we have clean and beautiful beaches nearby!

Previously, I had used the bag that is probably the most common name in garbage bags and has a drawstring. Not having a drawstring anymore took a bit of getting used to, but not that much getting used to. And as always, I really like it when I’m able to get away from using the more popular brands of household products!

Another Earth Day (or Month) Project

Last April, I started making sustainability swaps, and I’ve both kept up with and continued to do these. So this April, one year after starting this, I decided to write about a big, drastic, and potentially even (a little) life-changing multi-month project.

This story starts more than seven years ago, when we bought a house. The house and having a washing machine inside it is great, but it also fulfilled a dream of mine of having my own outdoor space. Being in Queens, NYC, of course that backyard space is pretty small. And unfortunately, it was also 100% paved, and that cement had been put in about two or three years before we bought the house, so it looked brand new. I thought it would be stupid to bust it up when it looked that good. I tried to have plants in containers, but it never worked out that well, and I didn’t spend that much time out there, because it was bare and dull.

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I didn’t take an official “before” photo but this is indeed the yard before. Most of the cement is to the left, but just looks likes plain cement, so do we even need a photo?

Last fall, only a few days after having my older son’s birthday party in the yard, we busted up the cement! And when I say “we,” I mean paid contractors. I am not operating a jackhammer! I assume everyone knows concrete=bad, but maybe I am wrong. If you want to read about how bad cement is for the environment, you can start here. And personally I couldn’t finish this article because I started crying, but maybe you’ll do better.

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Dramatic photo mid-bust!

Anyway, it’s gone, and I’m so happy! But of course, this bare surface cannot possibly be the end product I was looking for. And it’s not, but I will save the rest of the story for next week.

Sustainability Project: February 2020

It has come to my attention that kitchen sponges are gross. I’ve tried the Scotch-Brite sponge mentioned in the article, and thought it worked just as well as the traditional plastic sponge. However, they are sold wrapped in plastic and have to be replaced every few weeks, so I was still looking for something better.

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Enjoy this photo of a beautiful heart-shaped mushroom.

Fortunately, we do have a dishwasher, so anything we got would not have to be the sole cleaner of dishes. What I landed on was this dish brush. I like the way it looks and the fact it’s made of bamboo and ceramic primarily, with some recycled plastic. Also, it seems like it could last for a number of years. I’ve had it almost a month now, and it shows no signs of wear, although the only items I always use it on are those that can’t go in the dishwasher (my knife, bamboo cutting board, and saute pan). Right now, I got a very large container of dish detergent to add to it, with the thought that buying one large plastic container once a year is better than buying a small one every month.

Sustainability Project: January 2020

I am still attempting to slowing swap out environmentally unsustainable habits for more sustainable ones, but as time goes on, this grows more difficult, as I am running out of ideas. Please send me ideas, if you have them!

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Photos of paper towels are dull, so here is a photo of my younger son, climbing a tree (hey, it’s loosely related!)

For this month, I wanted to work on my use (or over-use) of paper towels. I am well aware that I use too many paper towels, and, once again, I think the problem is I was taught to clean using exclusively paper towels. Before this swap, I probably used a roll of paper towels a week!

In my efforts to cut down, I purchased reusable bamboo towels. I bought these over a month ago, and have only used about three each of the smooth and scrubby type. It says they can be washed in a washing machine, but I haven’t done that. I just wash in the kitchen sink until they look really disgusting, and then use for a final gross task and then throw them out. Usually this final gross task is my cat vomiting up a hairball. I imagine these two rolls will last about a year, which is a significant reduction in the amount of single-use paper in my house.

Sustainability Project: December 2019

One swap I’ve intended to do for awhile was deodorant. I had been buying Degree deodorant since I was a teenager, and I had never properly scrutinized this choice before. I don’t seem to really sweat or smell that much. I had originally decided to do this swap over the summer, but I still had two and a half sticks of Degree deodorant left. (When stuff is on sale, I tend to buy a few extras.) And I’ve also heard it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to natural deodorant, so I did think the best time to do this was the winter. As of today, I still have one and a half sticks of Degree left, so either I am constantly forgetting to put on deodorant, I use much less deodorant than the average person, or these tubes are partly magic. Either way, I stored away the Degree to be used on sweat-heavy days next summer, and made the swap now.

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On a sweaty hike up Overlook Mountain in Woodstock, New York.

In case you haven’t yet looked for yourself, there is a ton of natural deodorant out there to choose from. One big difference between brands is whether or not they use baking soda. As almost everyone knows, baking soda absorbs odors. But it does tend to irritate skin. Since I have sensitive skin, I decided to forgo the baking soda. Also, I obviously wanted a product that came in a non-plastic container. In addition, I am a bit averse to subscription services.

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This image is from their website!

Given all these preferences, I went with Little Seed Farm brand deodorant. The scent I choose was Jasmine Green Tea. The scent is nice and not too floral or overpowering, but I might try a different one the next time. I’ve been using it since the first of the month now, and I haven’t noticed anything like smelly pits or wet armpits. It came with a tiny piece of bamboo that I think you’re supposed to use to remove the product from the container. However, I lost that in the jar almost immediately, and I don’t think you really need it. I personally take a shower at night, and I put all my various creams on right after the shower, so my hands are clean then anyway.

One thing I wonder is if you can use this product on places other than the armpits. Personally, my under-boob area sweats way more than my pits. I don’t see any reason you can’t use this totally natural product there, so I may try it after I’m certain my pits don’t experience any adverse effects.