In the past few months I have been reflecting on the different types of lifestyles lived among people I know and the prominence of plastic in consumer culture. Having a toddler, living fairly far from a large city, and not having expendable income, I feel like it would be almost impossible to completely cut out plastic. But just because I can't be a zero waste hero doesn't mean that it's not important to pay attention to how much plastic cycles through my household and think about ways to use less of it. When it comes down to it, as someone who composts and recycles, what waste am I really creating if not just plastic?
I'm not typically one who makes resolutions for the new year since I've always thought it's important to consistently be the best version of yourself, to grow and challenge your thoughts and behaviors, no matter which month it is. But there's just something about life after 30 that makes you want to do the things that other people are doing since you are swimming in a sea of attempting to adult at all points of the day, and things like announcing that you are setting goals is something that you can definitely check of off your adulting list once a year.
So here it is world! I'm an adult, and this year I resolve to prioritize worrying about waste over worrying about my waist. Conveniently, Ellensburg just passed a new bag ordinance giving people like me who know better but don't always do better the kick in the pants we need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Because there's no bad time to save the planet.
I've narrowed down the biggest household waste categories and am tackling them in order of what saves me money first, since that's a terrific motivator. Specialty vegan items (i.e. processed foods that come in fancy packages) are going to have to take a back seat. Eating whole foods is healthier and costs less anyway, am I right?
As anyone who is vegan in Ellensburg probably does, I go grocery shopping at every single store since they each have a different selection and different prices on things. I usually go to Better Life Natural Foods infrequently for harder to find items, but that is about to change. Jonas and I took a trip there this week to check out the bulk section and really take note of what is available. The cashier was nice enough to let me photograph a list of all the items in their bulk bins and I'm hoping to get a list together of all the bulk items that can be bought everywhere locally.
On my list for this trip were ingredients to make this seitan recipe since, much to my dismay, (have you heard about my lord and savior field roast?) I'm going to have to cut down on plant meat favorites. Speaking of which, does anyone have suggestions for how I can make this recipe sans plastic wrap?
A million plastic bottles a minute are bought around the world and while the majority of them might be water bottles, how many am I going through when I buy shampoo, toothpaste, cleaning products, and other "essential" hygiene items? What I found out this week is that I can make 3 ingredient deodorant with things I have in my pantry that I actually like better than any of the stuff I've ever bought. Okay, I'm sold! Check out this recipe, and one part of the reason I need to order wholesale baking soda from the health food store from this point forward.
- 6 tablespoons arrowroot powder (can substitute with cornstarch)
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- optional 20 drops essential oil
Mix arrowroot powder and baking soda thoroughly. If you live in Eburg and it's 21 degrees outside, heat the coconut oil until it becomes liquid and add essential oil to it. I used 10 drops lavender and 10 drops roman chamomile but you can use whatever suits your fancy or omit completely. Stir several times as it cools to keep baking soda incorporated.
The other place where plastic creeps into our lives is toys. I don't really buy toys for Jonas and I've never been a fan of toys made out of plastic so thankfully he doesn't have many but this is a weird level of petroleum addiction where things made of plastic are wrapped in plastic and have nowhere to go but the landfill.
Other than the obvious learning and play that take place using household items and real world experiences, there are simple ways to cut down on plastic waste (and save money too) that don't require simply eschewing toys. We are in a hard core play dough phase so I found a great recipe and an excellent use of the neon food coloring that sits on the top shelf of my pantry without a real purpose. The bonus is that instead of thinking his mom is annoyingly thrifty, Jonas now has way more play dough than I would have ever purchased and it's a much more pleasing texture to work with.
I'm starting to think that I might nail this whole adulting thing by the time I'm 40. I'll keep you posted.
I'm excited to see where I will be with my reduction of plastic use by the end of the year. It's always been a far off dreamy fantasy of mine to live off grid, but I'm pretty sure that lifestyle is reserved for people who understand basics like how electricity works, not just because you're an introvert and want to hide out making art and music all the time.
I'm looking for feedback and shared experiences - please let me know ways you've cut down on waste and any awesome recipes you have to help me replace the stuff I buy in containers!
All photos featured on this blog are copyrighted images. © January Bear Photography, 2018