A Plastic Ocean

The sky is a hazy gray outside and the sun is still at least an hour away from rising, so the world has not found its colour yet.  The houses are covered in a blanket of snow, the trees are frosted, and if I could see the mountains I’m sure they would have white, speckled peaks.  I’m sitting at the desk in my office with a thick knitted sweater on and the hood pulled over my head.  It’s cold in here.  My cat has just come in and is scratching at the carpet while the baby sleeps in the next room.  The furnace has finally just kicked on and is blowing hot air at my feet.  My coffee is still hot.

Last night as I fed the baby I watched the documentary A Plastic Ocean.

This morning as I fed the baby I read a post by Lindsay from Treading my Own Path about Plastic-Free Living.

Plastic free living…  I think it is probably impossible, but our habits need to change.  A Plastic Ocean left me far from hopeful.  Our plastic obsession is far worse than you can imagine or than you let yourself believe.  In the farthest reaches of the ocean, you will find plastic.  On the most remote islands, you will find plastic.  The smallest creatures in the ocean have plastic in their system.  Seabirds have stomachs full of microplastics.  Whales have ingested plastic that block their digestive system and kills them.

The images of nature being consumed by plastic is disturbing.  What have we done?  This is our fault.  And why was I so late to see it?  I only started living consciously four years ago after watching the Clean Bin Project.  But that was 2013.  What about all the years before that?  I have accumulated my share of plastic and put my fair share of plastic into our waterways and the earth.  For some reason I was never fully aware of the problem.

And now…?  Well, we have been obsessed with plastic since single-use plastics were championed like crazy in the 40s.  We see how detrimental plastic is to our natural world and our own health; do some research into remote villages on islands that began importing food goods.  Where are they to go with all the packaging?  They literally have built their houses on piles of plastic trash.  Then listen to their health stories.

We know plastic is unhealthy for us.  It’s made from oil and chemicals and all sorts of unpronounceable components.  Yet it is the main material for wrapping our food?  Packaging and distributing our water?  We have put convenience ahead of health.

Even sitting in this office right now I know that I am not living plastic-free as much as I wish.  The gray sky I see?  I see it through a plastic framed window.  The houses across the street?  Plastic is a major construction material; what do you think the material comes packaged in?  The chair I sit on?  Is leather, but the arms and legs are plastic.  The sweater I am wearing?  It’s only 60% cotton and 40% acrylic.  The carpet my cat is scratching?  It is probably synthetic and if I peeled it off the ground, what kind of plastics do you think I would find?

The scissors are plastic.  The marker is plastic.  My printer is plastic.  This laptop is plastic.  I just got a text from a friend who got a new phone – that’s plastic.

My point is our plastic use may not ever stop completely, but we can halt our single-use plastics.  We can do a lot to just REFUSE single-use plastics, DEMAND that other material be used, and PUSH our government to classify plastic as hazardous.  Because it is.  And guaranteed it is in our waterways.  Guaranteed it is in our earth.  Guaranteed you are ingesting it.  Guaranteed it is causing health problems.

Practice disciplining yourself to REFUSE.  Plastic drink bottles, straws, bags at the store, to-go cups, Styrofoam take-out containers, cling-wrap, quick snacks in plastic packaging.  You don’t need any of those things.  Refuse them.  And tell the company who makes them that you will no longer purchase from them until they change.  If more of us would say NO, companies will have to change.  If more of us would stop treating plastic like a disposable item, less would damage our natural world.  What is stopping you?

Fortunately, we have activists.  Fortunately, we have people that care.  Fortunately, these people create awareness campaigns that may inspire others to take action, or at least to change their own habits; i.e. Take 3 for the Sea, All At Once, Plastic Oceans, Surfrider, and 5Gyres to name a few.  Thank you to them!  Thank you to you if you have changed even one plastic habit this year!

A Plastic Ocean showed us the severity of the problem.

So what are you going to do about it?  Will you choose to help or to harm?

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cloth diapering

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My pre-pregnancy self thought, “I will cloth diaper!  Most def!”  The reality was that we were far too overwhelmed becoming new parents and did not pre-prep a diaper system to start with our newborn.  It was easier, and yes, more convenient to use disposables until about week 2 or 3.  I did not feel good about it, but as I said before, that was what we needed to do at that time to bump our mental well-being.

I was excited to start cloth diapering though.  I had done so much research about different types of covers, brands, and types of inserts.  I had viewed videos on reviews and fitting and fixing elastics.  I had read FB articles on how to strip and blah blah blah BLAH.  Turns out… it is really not as difficult as I started to believe.  There is just an overwhelming amount of information and opinions out there on cloth diapering… oh, and look at me just adding one more blip!

I stand by the fact that YOU, the parent, need to do what is best for YOU and YOUR baby.  What works for me may not work for you.  I think most of the time the best thing to do is just stop and slowly back away from all that information!  Figure it out on your own.  Although I have to say Anna from made right (here) gave me some awesome tips on cloth diapering.  Momma friends are also a great resource.

My blee blah pieces of advice:

  1. buy second hand cloth diapers; save sooo many dollars
  2. get a collection of various brands to see which fit your bubbah best
  3. also get a collection of various inserts
  4. make peace with doing diaper laundry every other day, depending on your system
  5. once done laundering, pre-stuff your diapers for ease at change time

Second hand cloth diapers:

I found all of my cloth diapers (but one) on mom buy & swap pages on Facebook in my local region.  I got one lot for very cheap, and the other lot generously given to me for free.  I feel fine having my baby reuse another baby’s diapers.  Most of the inserts were in good condition – those that weren’t got tossed.  Ask around.  Share them diapers!

Various brands:

I was fortunate with my diaper lots because they included a variety of brands: bumGenius, SwaddleBees, Beilesen, AMP, Charlie Banana, Applecheeks, gDiaper, and a generic brand called Sweet Doll Baby.  I also bought myself one new cover and inserts from Kawaii.

bumGenius: I have both snaps and Velcro.  We had a few leaks with them in the beginning because baby was just not big enough (we did not get newborn sized diapers), but we doubled up on inserts and it mostly fixed the problem.  Now they fit well.  Do not use diaper rash cream with this brand.  It says so right on the tag, which I read after the fact.  I’m not sure what exactly it does, but the fabric did get a little ruined.

SwaddleBees: There was only one of these in the lot, so I am not sure if they are all made the same.  I found the fabric on the inside to stain very easily and it does not fully come out in the wash like the others.  I would not pass this diaper on to another person.  Fit was OK, but I had to use the thin liners to double, as it did not fit the others.

Beilesen: One size my butt!  They fit well in the beginning, but now are too small, no matter which snap adjustments I make.  And my baby is only three months old and is an average sized baby.  Not sure what’s up with that.

AMP: Again, one size my butt!  Opposite of Beilesen, this diaper was way too big in the beginning and is still too large now.  The Velcro strips also do not cross over to stick to each other, so there is no way to get a snug enough fit until baby is older/bigger.

Charlie Banana: Fits nicely and snuggly and is not bulky like others.  I like the diaper, though I have to use thinner liners because it is too small to fit the bigger ones.

Applecheeks: Oh, these are cute prints, but I was disappointed with these ones despite having heard great things from friends.  They fit okay, but we had leaks every single time.  I tried various combinations of liners, or just single liners, and still we had leaks.  I gave up with these ones *sad face*.

gDiaper: Okay, these are supposed to be a hybrid between a disposable and a cloth diaper.  They have biodegradable inserts that you stick inside a cloth cover.  Sorry, but I have to say…NAH.  These diapers did NOT work for me at all.  Leaks, explosions everywhere.  Liners bunched, blah blah, NEXT.

Sweet Doll Baby: This is a generic brand, and have been my favourite.  They wash well, fit nicely, and I have had the least amount of nighttime leaks with them.

Kawaii: I decided to try this brand because I had not heard of it and it’s Canadian.  This is the only one I bought new – fun print too!  It fits nicely, washes well, and is not that bulky.

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Pictured: SwaddleBees, bumGenius, Sweet Doll Baby, Beilesen, AMP, AppleCheeks

Various inserts:

I have collected inserts of various materials and sizes.  I have cotton, bamboo, hemp, and microfiber.  I also have long ones, short ones, some as big as your head!  I mean long, short, trifolds, and snap adjustable ones that can be long or short.  I combine these in different ways.  I would say the short cotton ones are my favourite, and the microfibers my least favourite.  I like the bamboo ones, but they sometimes bunch, versus the others keeping their shape.

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Pictured: adjustable, bamboo long, snap-ins, cotton long, cotton short

Laundry:

Special detergent?  Unnecessary.  Diaper stripping?  Didn’t do it.  Extra special stain remover?  I have only used once on the SwaddleBees, which didn’t do what I needed it to anyway.  I wash on hot with a pre-soak and use my normal detergent without perfumes, etc.  Seems to be working so far.

Pre-stuff your diapers:

Yeah, do this.  Watch a show on TV or something and stuff them diapers.

I also do not use single-use wipes unless we are out for a longer period of time and need to change baby on the go.  These are wasteful things and are super easy to make.  I found this recipe and use a stack of normal washcloths with them.  Baby’s skin likes it and it is far less wasteful than the normal store-bought wipes.

What’s your diaper system like?  What worked and what did not?  Do you swear by a brand?

 

online shopping and packaging

Online shopping is convenient.  You can find anything and everything, and often you are probably tempted to buy more than you need because of how the internet works nowadays, making all sorts of suggestions, recommendations, or “Others who bought this product ALSO BOUGHT…”.  However, if you are at all environmentally conscious then you will know (and expect) that your online purchase will come with packaging, or more often, excess packaging.

I am a firm believer of shopping locally, or as close to locally as possible, not just to support the local economy, but also to reduce the carbon footprint; why buy a Pink Lady apple in September that has been flown over from New Zealand when there are plenty of varieties in season where you live right now?  Not that I’m discussing apples today, but that’s just one example.  Back to online shopping.

This year we moved into our first home, and with that home came necessary, and probably some unnecessary, purchases.  I would have loved to buy local, however, there are many products I simply cannot get anywhere close to me.  What are my options?  Either I drive four to five hours to the next biggest center and spend my day looking for the items I need/want, or I purchase them online.  It’s a pickle.

Recently I have made online purchasing experiences with Evolatree, Kawaii Baby, Wayfair, and Life Without Plastic.

Evolatree seemed to have a philosophy of environmental friendliness.  From them I purchased a comb made of horn and wood, and one impulse buy.  There was a comment box, so I politely requested minimal or eco-friendly packaging.  The items were both wrapped in plastic after having already been packaged in a paper sleeve and cardboard box.  Both items were delivered in a plastic envelope.  I contacted Evolatree, encouraging them to match their environmental philosophy to their packaging.

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Having become a new parent this year, I was excited to start cloth diapering.  It was recommended by Anna from made right (here) to try various brands and styles of diapers to see what would fit my baby best.  I was able to get all of my diapers second hand, and they included brands like bumGenius, Swaddlebees, Charlie Banana, Applecheeks, and Sweet Doll Baby.  Then I discovered Kawaii cloth diapers that were made in Canada.  I decided to buy one cloth cover, bamboo inserts, and flannel washcloths.  Again, in the comment section I requested little or eco-friendly packaging.

The items were delivered in three separate plastic bags within one plastic envelope.  This is the feedback I sent to them:

Good evening! Just today I received my first order of a Kawaii diaper, bamboo inserts, and flannel washcloths. I love your selection, prices, and designs on your items. I also highly value our environment and our impact on it, which is why I switched to cloth diapers instead of wasteful disposables. I can feel good about using your cloth diapers and inserts. However, your packaging methods could use a healthier alternative. My items were individually wrapped in a flimsy, non-recyclable plastic that was unnecessary; the items could have been packaged into one bag or no bags and just in the mailing envelope. I think your packaging should match your product, so something more Eco-friendly would be fantastic. I’d be delighted to see this change for your company in the future so I can continue to support your business. Kind regards.

This is the response I got:

Hi Nadine.  Thank you for your order with us.  We really appreciate you taking the time to let us know about the packaging.  There is one thing you do not know, once the item is leaving our warehouse, many possible damages could happened during transit once the order reaches the customer. Common damages including truck driver throwing packages onto their trucks and onto the facility sorting belts. Custom officers open the packages for checking, they will not repacked the item properly. Potential rain and snow will damage the products if it is not properly packed. Although the exterior of the packaging is a bit dirty upon arrival but the diapers are clean and properly wrapped. I understand your concern but secure packaging can reduce the number of products that get damaged during shipping.”

I understand their point of cleanliness and all that, but this cannot mean that plastic is the ONLY option for packaging.  What about cardboard?  Or paper?  Or some other more sustainable product than plastic?  Also, instead of using three separate plastic bags, they could have used fewer.  And I really do not see how flimsy plastic will protect items from getting damaged.  It’s not even recyclable!  What do you think?

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I ordered household items from Wayfair.  One item came in a cardboard box with paper “stuffing” on the inside.  The item was made of metal, and for some unknown reason it was wrapped in a flimsy plastic bag.  I do not understand why the bag was necessary considering it was already padded with brown paper and cardboard.  And it was metal.  So how does flimsy plastic protect a metal item?!  There was no “Contact” option that I could see, but there were two options for me to leave a review, in which I stated the packaging would deter me from buying from them again.  Hey, you have to use your power as a customer, right?

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not the metal item from Wayfair…

One happy discovery I made was with Life Without Plastic.  I had been looking forever for a wooden toilet brush, and finally I found it on their site.  Again, I requested little or eco-friendly packaging.  And boy did they deliver!  The item arrived in a cardboard box with brown paper padding, and even the tape on the box was eco-friendly.  No plastic!  It is possible!  This I can compost.  This I can work with!

There is a lot that needs to improve when it comes to shipping and packaging, and I hope that when we voice our concerns or recommendations, companies listen.  All I can do as a customer is to speak up, and stop purchasing from them until they change.  If we all did this…

What wins and challenges have you come across with online purchases and packaging?

diy baby wipes

Soon enough you may notice I am getting into a blogging pattern…in that new life has joined our family so what is relevant to me now is how to ZW with a baby and how seemingly impossible it is to be completely plastic or waste free!  But, as always, there are better alternatives to what you are offered in the store, branded as being essential to raising your baby and claiming they are the only option.  Not so, Huggies!

In the first weeks of baby’s life we did use disposable diapers and baby wipes.  Bah!  We were overwhelmed with the mental demand of a newborn, so we decided to help our mental well-being by adding some convenient products into our lives.  I wasn’t happy about it, but I made peace with it because I wanted anything to be easier, and to me that meant not adding extra laundry onto my already overloaded plate.  Fortunately, we did not need this wasteful convenience long.

We are now fully using cloth diapers, and I have made a wash solution to phase out those wicked wasteful wipes (yes, I will continue to point out my alliteration wins).

  • 1-2 cups of warm water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid Castile soap
  • optional: essential oil; I use 10ish drops of lavender oil

Combine all ingredients and stir until coconut oil has dissolved.  Some people use paper towels to soak in this solution, but to me those are super wasteful, so instead I use washcloths – good old fashioned washcloths!  I found a plastic tub/container, stacked 10 or so washcloths in it, poured the solution over the top, and closed the container.  Done.  Since I launder my cloth diapers anyway, the washcloths jump in with them.

Baby’s skin is happy with the solution and has not shown any sort of reaction.  I find the packaged wipes to be quite wet, so I really like this DIY solution in that it leaves the washcloths damp instead of wet, and they are not as cold!  Gets the cleaning job done without the extra waste.

babies are not plastic free

If you are an eco-warrior parent and managed to go completely plastic free from birth until whenever, I need to talk to you!  Though I did not implement my best efforts, I still think even if I had committed to plastic free or zero waste, I would not have been successful.  From the hospital stay to time restraints to sleep deprivation, I commend you if you were ZW successful with your newborn… and then tell me what superpower you used to manage!

Of course nowadays there are several options for where and how you want to give birth, and some may be more environmentally friendly than others.  Given this was our first baby, we chose the hospital because we were not confident to do anything else; this choice ended up being quite positive and really reiterated the fact that nurses are freaking superheroes!  However…

Some time ago I had jaw surgery and posted about hospital waste.  I realized then that there was no away around waste in a medical capacity.  The same goes for our hospital stay this time around with baby.  There is so much going on, you really are not focused on telling the nurses to refill your reusable cup instead of bringing you more straws and Styrofoam.  We were far too tired and preoccupied with bringing a new human into the world that we did not refuse the hospital food, which of course was served with plastic cutlery and packaging (kind of like on an airplane).  I did not refuse any medications they gave me post-birth that came in plastic packaging, because damn it, I needed them.  And I also did not allow myself to feel guilty about these wasteful choices.

Then you get home and realize this is going to be one crazy ride.  Filled with waste and plastic rubbish!  The first two weeks with baby at home were challenging to put it mildly.  Sometimes things just do not go the way you planned or hoped, and you need to make adaptations, which in my case, often involved plastic.

Disposable diapers.  Yes, I went there, ZW friends.  As a new parent, I had enough on my plate that I did not need to add extra laundry to it through cloth diapering, so we used disposables.  We must have added over 150 plastic diapers to the landfill.  But I can’t feel bad about that because our mental wellness had to come first, and disposables got us through the first weeks of baby’s life.  Convenient?  Yes.  Sustainable?  Hell no.  Happy to report we have been cloth-ing it for several weeks now that we (kind of) learned the ropes and are able to do the laundry and prep involved.  Horray!

Wet wipes.  Again, we used these for a little while, but not as long as the diapers.  We soon switched to washcloths and a DIY wipe solution.  Win!

Bottles.  Is this even possible plastic-free?  Sure, they make glass bottles for babies, but they often have plastic components as well.  Sure, ideally we just breastfeed and avoid all waste, but that is also not always possible when your body does not play along.  Fortunately, I do not have to use bottles much anymore.

Clothing.  I am not talking about plastic microfibers in our clothing, though that is always worth mentioning (why don’t washers have filters yet?!).  I am talking about packaging and tags… typically always plastic.  Fortunately, we have some extremely generous people in our lives, so a lot of our clothes for the wee one are second hand or were given to us.

Transportation.  Oh my goodness!  The child transportation industry is SUCH a money grab!  And as wasteful as the wedding industry.  All the necessary gadgets to move around with baby = crazy.  Car seats expire, cannot be sold used, and have a limited size and weight limit until you need to replace it; sure, you may give it to someone who needs it, but they only have until the expiry date!  And then?  Laaaandfill.  Baby carriers are largely made of fabrics, but the clips are plastic; a wrap would be the alternative, but I went with one my friend gave me, which has clips.  Fortunately, the carriers do not have an expiry date, but you need to make sure you take good care of them so they last as long as possible (oh, who am I kidding, nobody makes things that last anymore).  Strollers or other pushchairs are also often necessary, depending on your activity.  Sure, you could use the carrier everywhere, but what if you want to do some hiking?  Infant hiking backpack it is.  What if you want to go on a brisk walk, which the carrier may not allow for?  Off-roading chariot it is.  Again, I got these second-hand from friends, except for the backpack, which I can pass on to someone else when I do not need it anymore.

We avoided excessive waste and plastics where we could, but we put our mental wellness first, and if that meant using something convenient made of plastic – we did it.  Of course we were not happy about it, but we made peace with it, because your first child is a crazy new experience and you literally have to learn e v e r y t h i n g in a very short time.  It is demanding, exhausting, limiting, and tests every part of you.  It is also indescribably amazing.  So our baby may not be plastic free, but she sure is a gift!

So, fellow eco-warrior parents, tell me what you did to avoid waste during and after pregnancy.  Was it a challenge?  How much did you prep beforehand?

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diy yogurt

A lovely friend of mine gave me a recipe a long time ago to make my own yogurt.  I put it off and put it off until recently when I was really craving some damn yogurt (possibly pregnancy-related, but whatever)!  Being super plastic conscious, store-bought yogurt is not an option for me.  Firstly because once you remove the lid off the tub there is always a flimsy plastic cover that is not even recyclable.  Secondly because recycling is not the answer to our waste problems; refusing is.

Though I use yogurt tubs for storage (my husband, though very eco-conscious now, does not often like my homemade concoctions of sour cream and yogurt and still wants store-bought – I pick my battles!), these can quickly get out of hand and take over our already limited cupboard space.  So I had this recipe… and recently I just decided to go for it.  I needed that yogurt bad!

However, to make yogurt – you need yogurt!  I bought one tub of the most organic yogurt I could possibly find with the least amount of ingredients; this is important when diy’ing your own yogurt.  I had my glass bottle milk and went to work.

What you need:

  • a clean storage container large enough to fit about 3-4 cups
  • a medium saucepan and stirring device
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt
  • tea towels and preferably an oven (fyi: not for baking, just for temp consistency!)
  • some patience as you wait for your milk to boil

How to do it:

  1. Bring 4 cups of milk to a boil in your saucepan; please stir frequently because if you have ever heated cream or milk you’ll know it will burn to the bottom.
  2. Take saucepan off heat and let it cool.  You can use a thermometer for this, but I don’t want to be that precise, so after some time if I can hold my (clean) finger into the milk for about 20 seconds – it’s good to be transferred.
  3. Put your yogurt starter in your container.
  4. Add the lukewarm milk and stir gently.
  5. Wrap up your yogurt container like you’re taking it outside on a cold winter’s day!  I wrap several tea towels around my glass container, then line a loaf pan with another tea towel and place the container gently and upright into it.
  6. Incubate!  Turn on the light in your oven, slide in the loaf pan, and let your yogurt sit.  I usually aim for 10-12 hours to get a nice consistency.
  7. Once it has sat pretty for a long time, remove gently and put in the fridge.
  8. Eat it!

Why I do this:

  • store-bought containers = plastic waste = not cool for the planet
  • recycling = not the best option
  • refusing = better option!
  • know your ingredients
  • just to see if I can

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Have you ever tried to DIY yogurt?  Do you have a tried and true method?  Please share!

PFJ: what worked and what didn’t

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Necessities: reusable straw, travel mug, cloth bag, reusable bottle

Plastic Free July is a wonderful time of year!  I love this awareness campaign and how much momentum it gains every year with more folks joining in the challenge to see how much plastic and other waste they can avoid.  I think I have been joining in the PFJ challenge for three years, and I am trying to improve year after year.  This year, however, was a bit of a challenge, but still not a fail.

There are always two options with Plastic Free July:

  1. Avoid the 4 main culprits: plastic bags, to-go cups, straws, and plastic bottles.
  2. Avoid all sources of plastics.

I have been winning at #1 for a while.  Any shopping trip I always make sure to have my cloth bags on hand, or if I am out with a friend I take a bag for those “just in case” purchases that sometimes arise.  If I am ever at a cafe, typically I am meeting a friend and we have our beverages in the cafe’s mugs or glassware; if I am on the road and think I will need/want a java fix, I always remember my to-go cup.  If I am at a restaurant or other food business, I always ask for, “No straw, please.”  In any beverage.  I have learned you need to assume you will ALWAYS receive a straw unless specified otherwise by you.  Plastic bottles?  Nay!  I always remember my reusable bottle.

This year I really wanted to try my skills at avoiding all plastics.  Overall, if compared to most other “consumers”, I do very well with this.  However, this year I got tripped up by several factors.

What tripped me up this July:

Moving.  We have been living in the same rental place for many years, and this year it was time to make a big adult move and move into our first home.  Unforseeably, my father also managed to sell his home at the same time, so not only were we sorting through, packing up, and moving our own place, but my dad also asked us to come get all of our stuff that he has been housing at his for… thirty years?  That included old toys, books, and crap we accumulated as wasteful teenagers.

I was overwhelmed with the stuff we had to sort through.  Despite donation, giveaway, compost, and recycle piles, the trash pile still continued to grow, including many bits of plastic that were non-recyclable (damn you, non-recyclables!).  I felt defeated!

Gifts.  I recently wrote a post about accepting gifts after ending my teaching year with generous gifts and battling between gratitude and guilt.  Then we had a baby celebration.  It was beautiful because so many of my most cherished women attended and it was just a positive, cheerful environment.  We had agreed that gifts would include everyone’s favourite childhood book, as well as a donation towards a chariot for the baby.  I love my friends.  But they did not follow the rules!  Again, we received many generous gifts, that also came with plastic waste, leading to another battle of gratitude vs. guilt.

A major win was the delicious food everyone brought in mostly reusable packaging.  And the dessert.  My sister made three cakes.  Omg, they were so good.  And the decoration was simply flowers out of my father’s garden:

 

 

What continues to challenge me overall:

There are certain items I have not been able to find in bulk or make myself.  A big one is cheese.  I have read blog posts about ZW cheese, but have not been able to find a solution for myself.  I have not braved making it myself.  There is a cheese shop in the next town over, however, they sell specialty cheese, which are always more expensive; this is a balance I have to find because though my main goal is zero-waste, I also strive for sustainability, and spending $10 on a small piece of cheese does not seem sustainable to my wallet considering how much we love cheese.  So… packaged it is, unfortunately, as there are no cheese delis close by that have accepted my containers *sad face*.

Though I seem to be using less and less, cosmetics still trip me up.  I have been able to make my own blush using tiny amounts of cocoa powder.  I have been able to make my own lip balm, which has lasted me longer than ANY tube of ANYTHING I have ever bought.  I still use mascara though, which comes in non-recyclable packaging, and I have not attempted to make this myself.

Having read many posts about toothpaste, I have been keen to make my own, but have not tried.  Some recipes include special ingredients that I would have to purchase online, which would give me more packaging, as I am unable to find many of these locally.  Toothpaste tubes are annoying.  Here I am brushing my tusks with my bamboo toothbrush and using a plastic toothpaste tube.  Blah.

Let’s face it.  My cat may be cute, but she is not exactly zero-waste.  Her food, though made in Canada, does not come in biodegradable or recyclable packaging, and the only bulk pet food I can find locally are small snacks.  Yes, I could purchase canned food, which is a lot easier to recycle than plastic, however, mentioning sustainability above, the cost does not match what I need.  Also, there’s her own damn waste!  I have been able to find biodegradable litter, but this too is sold in a plastic bag.  Then there is the fact that many cats carry Toxoplasmosis in their waste, which makes me hesitant to bury it outside, which leaves me to toss it in the trash (typically in some kind of plastic bag that my husband has thrown away because daaaaaaaamn, cat waste stinks).

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Damn, she cute.

It wasn’t all challenges though!  Here are some successes:

What I tried new this PFJ to curb my plastic waste:

  • making my own yogurt
  • eating less cheese
  • making my own condiments: ketchup, mayonnaise
  • frequenting the farmers’ market every week and stocking up on local fruit to fill the freezer, veggies sans packaging or twist-ties, and bread in paper bags; the vendors have been wonderful letting me use my own produce bags/containers
  • making dishwasher tabs
  • obtaining our baby items second hand instead of buying new and packaged, such as crib, car seat, etc.

And you?  How did you fare with Plastic Free July this year?  Did you meet your goals?  Try something new?  Keep getting tripped up by something?  Please share!

To top it all off, my friend and fellow blogger, Allie, presented me with this lovely reusable to-go cup to celebrate our PFJ efforts!  Thanks, Allie!

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