Today, October 13th, is a special day for me. If my grandmother were still alive, she would be turning 116! But it is also a special day because it’s the fourth anniversary of our adoption of our cat, Oz! When I clean the litter box, like most people, I use plastic bags. I’ve always saved the plastic bags from shopping for this purpose. But since the great move of the plastic bag ban in NYC, I’m finally out of plastic bags!
After reading a lot of reviews, I bought some biodegradable ones here. Having used them for about a month, I would say they are easy to use, affordable, and big enough. Recommended!
Ever since I got a dog last year, the thing I’ve liked the least about having a dog is (and this is possibly really obvious), is having to pick up dog poop. But even worse still are the plastic dog poop bags. To reduce my use of single-use plastics, I found poop bags made from corn starch. The idea is that the corn starch (and the poop itself, of course) will completely biodegrade. Actually, there are a couple of different brands, but the only brand that I have tried and can vouch for is this one.
The bags themselves are, in my opinion, very similar in quality to the plastic poop bags that I used previously. Meaning that yes, they hold poop, but no, I still cannot easily get them open.
For my July Sustainability Swap, I got some really nice reusable cloth rounds. I bought them in the in-person store, and the only place I can find them online is here. I don’t use them for nail polish removal, only make-up removal (I don’t know if this is incredibly obvious.), so they should last a good long time. I don’t feel like I would do the best job rinsing them by hand, so I just throw them in the washing machine. After about three washes, they still look as good as new. Definitely recommended if you are looking to decrease your consumption of single-use cotton rounds.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.