Before I started this blog I had already started making a few changes in my life.I'm really trying to increase my families self sustainability and lower our environmental impact. I'm not sure if you realize this or not, but it turns out we only have one planet and we are quite literally and figuratively throwing it in the trash. One of the things I've been trying to decrease is my dependence on plastic products. It's really a small contribution in the scheme of things, but it's one that makes me feel good. An interesting fact about plastic consumption is that only about 9% of plastic is recycled, despite a lot of it being recyclable, and about 79% of plastics end up in the landfill or our environment as just plain pollution. There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic polluting our oceans alone and that's the equivalent of dumping a truckload of plastic waste in the ocean every single minute of the day. Pretty disappointing. Anyway, sorry to get all dark on you, but needless to say, its a real problem and it would be cool if we all did our part.
We're currently working toward a zero waste lifestyle, I'm not sure if we will ever get there considering the state of our worlds product packaging, our current location not really providing a ton of options, and the fact I'm a human and sometimes I just need candy bar. On the bright side, we've already cut a lot of plastic from our lives and its going pretty well. This is just a couple of things we did that I thought were easy, and pretty much anyone could do since any contribution is better than no contribution.
- We cut out disposable razors. Roy hasn't used a disposable in about 6 years. He got really into straight razors, which are pretty cool, but I was never comfortable enough with them to make the switch so I always stuck with plain old disposables. Unfortunately, the standard disposable razor is unrecyclable, so effectively, every time you use one you're just creating more pollution. In the US alone we throw away approximately 2 billion razors each year. Which is a lot. Just to provide a sense of scale, if you have 1 millions seconds that is equal to 12 days, but if you have 1 billion seconds, that is equal to 30 years. So now that you have some perspective about the kind of vast quantity 2 billion is, its quite troubling when you realize that none of them will ever be recycled or decompose. Don't worry though, I have found a very simple solution. It's called a Safety Razor. I switched about a month ago and I honestly love my razor. It's super cute, and I think it shaves well. The best part is, one safety razor lasts around 30 years, so at this point, basically until I'm dead. Also, you can recycle the blades by just putting them into an aluminum can and then recycling the can. The second greatest thing about the Safety Razor is it will save you money. I bought my razor for about $20 and a pack of 100 replacement blades for about $10. That's enough blades to last me 2 or 3 years. If you're interested in this, you can buy them really easy off Amazon. I included a picture of the one I purchased, but they have lots of different looks.
- We also dropped straws, to go boxes, and single use silverware. I'm not saying we're perfect, and if we go out and the to go packaging is paper or cardboard, I'll still use it but I also made a car kit. This is such an easy contribution, the only thing I had to buy was the straws and I think we can agree that they're not really essential, I just like straws. I used a reusable shopping bag to put all my stuff together and make it easy to lug around. Inside I put three medium sized mason jars to hold any leftovers we might have, one pyrex glass tupperware, in case we have something more flat to store, a set of utensils for everyone, a straw for everyone and a straw brush. I like to clean out the straws before we leave if I can. To keep my utensils neat I wrapped them in a handkerchief and secured them with a couple hair tyes. So, in case of emergency, I also have a reusable napkin and hair tyes. (I have short hair, but my kid doesn't and she never brings hair tyes with her anywhere...so unreliable.) Then, voila, I threw it in the trunk. This may seem like a really useless or annoying thing to deal with, but to be perfectly honest, one styrofoam take out container can take over 500 years to degrade, if it does EVER. Think back to how many of those you took home and tossed in the trash since you've been alive. Yah...they're all still out there, chillin, every. single. one. They will still be there when you're grandchildren are dead. Pretty traumatic. If you want some cold hard facts, pretty close to every piece of polystyrene ever made is still on this planet and we are only making and using more, and quite often, only a single time. Its a true waste and its detrimental to our ecosystem.
- Lastly, we said good bye to sponges. Since this blog is probably already too long for a lot of people to read, I'll make this my last tip. I'll probably share more of these ideas in the future, so if you like them, I would love a comment on the subject. Anyway, I stopped using a sponge a little over a month ago as well. About the same time I switched to a safety razor. Most sponges are made of plastic and as I've mentioned, plastic is terrible for our planet. Its estimated a single synthetic sponge has a life span of 52000 years. (uh...YIKES) Outside that, any sponge you purchase that is marketed as anti-bacterial/microbial or order-removing actually contains the chemical and pesticide triclosan. Triclosan is currently labeled by the CDC as a contaminant of emerging concern. It's shown to cause antimicrobial resistance over time and disrupt the endocrine system. (that's the system that regulates your hormones) It isn't filtered by the human body and can be found in your blood, urine, and even pass exposure through your breast milk to your baby. Nearly 58% of our freshwater streams are already contaminated with the chemical. (FYI, it's not just in your sponge) So what do I use instead of a sponge? I just use a rag. I also bought a bamboo scrubber for the extra stuck on stuff. Another great natural product to use in conjunction with your rag would be organic loofah. (If you're in Tehama County like me, we actually have our own organic loofah farm in Corning where you can easily purchase this better for the environment, biodegradable product, and support local economy and farming. Which basically makes you a really awesome human) I've found I like using a rag a lot more than a sponge, I have a ton of them and when I'm done washing my dishes in the evening, I ring it out, wipe down the counters and table with it, then just toss in the laundry basket. It cuts out the need to worry about bacteria at all because it never sits waiting to be used again allowing bacteria to breed indefinitely. Which, by the way, is another down side of sponges. (If you're not polluting your body with triclosan that is...) As a second upside, not only is this switch super easy, it once again, saves you money. I bought my scrubber for $12 and its supposed to last 5 years. I pretty much have an endless amount of rags and its easy to recycle old garments into rags if I ever run low.
Alright, if you read this far, you have my true thanks
and I hope you'll give some or all of these ideas a shot. I'm going to give you a few links now, just to help you in your search for certain products I mentioned. (I get no money from this)
If you want more suggestions just ask!!