It’s hard to believe there’s only one more full week of July. This month has been pretty busy, I don’t think I have had a week night without plans all month. I also went on a camping trip earlier this month, which made me address plastic use in a new environment. Rather than giving a day-by-day account of the past two weeks, I’ll stick with the high (and low) points of plastic use during the last two weeks.
What is grocery shopping?
Between after work meetings, date nights, and a standing Thursday plan to watch The Bachelorette with friends, the past two weeks have been hectic. I either haven’t been home for dinner or haven’t had enough time to cook. I’ve been digging through my pantry for easy meals (like vegetarian taco salads), but I have to admit I have been stopping semi-regularly at Taco Time. One way I try to minimize my impact when getting fast food is going without a soft drink By giving up soda, I avoid the plastic straw and lid, and it’s also healthier. I probably won’t go grocery shopping again in July since I have a trip at the end of the month, but I’m hoping to do a better job of figuring out plastic-free meals for the next few days.
I had a little anxiety about plastic and waste going into my camping trip last weekend. None of the other people I went with are zero waste, and we figured out our plans somewhat last minute. This was my first time camping in years, so I was deferring to the expertise of my boyfriend to plan meals, snacks, and gear. The four of us did the bulk of our shopping at WinCo the night before our trip. I brought my reusable produce bags to the store but didn’t have enough for all the snacks and vegetables we wanted. We also bought meat, hummus, and a box of wine that all came with plastic. I did at least pass up on Cliff Bars, which is a small victory.
While I’d love to be the type of person that makes all my own snacks from scratch, I don’t see that as being realistic. Some adjustments I’d like to make in the future would be buying meat from a butcher (so the paper wrapping could be burned in the campfire) and buying less food. I still struggle to find the line between imposing my values on other people and giving them up entirely so as not to be difficult.
Health comes first
I talked about this a bit on Instagram, but I think medicine is something we need to be more accepting of in the zero waste community (particularly for folks who have a trash jar). My seasonal allergies have been horrific this year, I take an over the counter pill most days, and I’ve had to start using nasal spray on occasion when things are particularly bad. I got a Neti Pot, but it doesn’t pack the same punch as Claritin. I also cut my finger pretty badly this month and used bandages and Neosporin to avoid any infections. Finally, my back has been in pretty consistent pain for the past two weeks. I’ve tried rolling it out with a water bottle, but it just wasn’t effective — so I bought a foam roller. All of these things create waste, but I have to place value on my well-being (and burnout is a real problem for activists/nonprofit professionals, we can’t do our work if we don’t care for ourselves). If you need medicine to live your life comfortably, do it. There are plenty of other ways to reduce your trash.
The best plastic-free thing I did the past two weeks was buying toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap! Before Who Gives a Crap started, the best way to buy zero waste toilet paper was to buy it per roll (which is expensive) or to buy it through a hotel supplier or janitorial store, where you can buy it by the box (which isn’t convenient). Luckily, now we have Who Gives a Crap. Not only are the rolls made of bamboo and shipped plastic free, they also donate 50% of profits for sanitation projects around the world. The toilet paper is great quality and a good price ($30 for 24 3-ply rolls). I would totally recommend this as an alternative to plastic wrapped TP. (PS. don’t forget to recycle toilet paper rolls instead of tossing them into the trash bin in your bathroom).
Right before our camping trip, I ordered a bamboo toothbrush case and tongue scraper from Brush with Bamboo so that I could keep my toothbrush clean while camping. I’m happy with the case, though the lid is snug, making it a bit tricky to open and close. But hey, it fulfilled its basic function of keeping my toothbrush out of the dirt so I can’t complain. I didn’t necessarily need the tongue scraper, but I hate shipping an online order for just one product. I am actually enjoying the tongue scraper, and I’m sure we could all have better oral hygiene routines. I was seriously impressed by Brush With Bamboo. My order arrived with minimal plastic (just the tape on the box), and it got to my house in less than one business week (which was great since I placed my order very close to the day we left for our camping trip). Amazon has convenience down (especially with Prime shipping), so it can be frustrating to wait weeks for products from smaller companies or Etsy shops. I’m glad I found a product that works well and is sold by a company that genuinely cares about the environment, instead of green-washing to get a customer base.
Perhaps the biggest victory of the past few weeks is that I haven’t had any fun-sized candies at the office all month! I’ve heard it takes 21 days to form a habit. Hopefully this habit will stay with me past the end of the month.