I'm 50 days into my efforts to minimize my possessions, simplify my life, and reduce my waste. Though I've made a lot of progress, I still feel very much a beginner at all this. I've had to do a lot of research to find alternatives that 1) help me reduce my waste and environmental impact and 2) suit my taste.
THE MOST POPULAR ALTERNATIVE WON'T NECESSARILY WORK FOR YOU
For example, it's been a couple weeks since I wrote about my distaste for homemade toothpaste, and I'm here to say that I still haven't gotten over it. I don't like it. Neither does my husband. I don't think this makes me a bad person or a failure at this project. The internet tells me that I'll "get used to the taste" but I really don't think I will.
Fortunately, I've found a suitable alternative to try: David's Natural Toothpaste , which is American-made and comes in a metal tube. I'm going back to the states for two weeks at the end of June, and though I realize how lame it is, I'm really looking forward to picking up a tube of this stuff and trying it out.
Is it a perfect solution? The tube is metal and fully recyclable, but the cap isn't, so that will be downcycled or go to landfill. There is also the carbon footprint of the production, packaging, and shipping to consider. But it is a better alternative to your average drugstore toothpaste in its plastic tube. so I'll consider it a step forward.
MY WOMAN CRUSH DU JOUR: THE ROGUE GINGER
This brings me to my Friday feature, a lady whose blog piqued my interest when I first started delving in to this world, and not just because we share the rare and beautiful trait of ginger hair.
One of her posts in particular spoke to me, because I feel that in the social media universe of plastic free and zero waste enthusiasts, there can be a lot of competitiveness and sometimes even shaming. While many of us aspire to the picture perfect lifestyle of the fashion savvy woman who still manages only to create enough waste to fit in a mason jar, most of us just aren't there yet.
Transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle takes a lot of work, planning, mindfulness, and research. It doesn't happen overnight. I wrote previously about my desire to chuck out everything in my bathroom and start from scratch in order to keep step with the instagrammers with perfectly minimal bathrooms, but this goes against the very idea of trying to eliminate waste. In The Rogue Ginger's words, I believe in doing the best you can, with what you have got, where you are.
PICK YOUR BATTLES
What is your first priority? To eliminate single use plastics in your life? To eliminate petroleum-based ingredients in your cosmetics? Non-vegan ingredients? Ingredients which aren't tested on animals? To switch to all natural cleaners? To use less electricity? Less water?
I found that I had to choose a place to start (this is what a rookie I was: I started by eliminating bottled water). Sourcing or DIY-ing products that contain only ingredients which line up with your values takes a lot of time and energy. That's not to say it's not worth the effort, but I don't believe that anyone who's trying should be shamed for falling somewhere in the middle of the zero waste/plastic free lifestyle continuum. I believe that any effort is a step in the right direction.
DO WHAT YOU CAN WITH THE TOOLS YOU HAVE
Me, I have grand dreams of growing most of my own food one day, but right now I'm living in a hotel in Bangalore India, so for the immediate future it's just not in the cards. There is also no municipal recycling in Bangalore, so even though the housekeepers in our service apartment tell me that my plastic is going to the correct sorting center, I have little confidence that this is true. So I do what I can: bring my own bags to the market, try to find products that are packaged in glass, reduce what I buy, take short showers, line dry my clothes, and unplug my phone charger when I'm not using it. I have a long way to go to being a self-sustaining homesteader, but I'm doing what I can.