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I'm not perfect. (I KNOW! Shocking.)
I skip workouts. (MANY workouts). I pop zits. Sometimes I watch Vampire Fiction and delight in the antics of churlish New Jersey Housewives.
(Sadly, I haven't had much time for television lately – so I've been staging my own little vignettes using finger puppets. I call them “The Real Vampires of Paleo Township”)
(Brilliant, babysitter-friendly finger puppets from LaAnt Crafts)
Another thing I do that's not perfect is…I waste things. I buy single-use plastics and non-reuseables. I've gone through more than my fair share of Starbucks to-go cups and I've definitely used a plastic bag or two (contributing to the 500 billion plastic bags consumed annually and an ocean deposit of degrading plastics approximately the size of Texas). Yeouch.
I saw the movie Bag It recently and, aside from being delightful (who doesn't love a self-deprecating narrator with an affinity for crotch jokes), it made me realize that I do some things that are downright lazy.
Lookit. I hate being preached at. I'm not about finger-wagging, whether as a nutrition professional or in environmental matters. I likely won't re-arrange my life such that I produce absolutely no garbage or never use a plastic bag again. But there are a few things I'd be a jerk not to do that are, at the very least, steps up from the alternative. Here are 5 better choices we can make that aren't overly hippie or obnoxious.
Thing Number One: Don't use the disposable cups at the coffee shop.
Aside from the Soy Milk and bad soundtracks, Starbucks does one thing right: they give a discount for bringing in re-usable coffee cups. Let me be an uber-jerk and say this: There's really no excuse for single-use coffee cups. The number of gas-station and coffee-shop cups that must be discarded every day is staggering. Don't make it worse.
If you can afford to buy coffee, you can afford to invest in a re-usable coffee cup. Above: Re-usable vessels for Iced coffee AND hot.
Thing Number Two: Don't buy products built to buttress human ineptitude.
What I mean is, there are certain products that simply scream “I KNOW YOU'RE INCOMPETENT! EMBRACE IT!” Bag It made me realize that the plastic-screw-top carton is one of those products.
Back in “the day” – which was a Wednesday, btw* – people knew how to open cartons. These days, cartons – those remnants of times gone by – are equipped with convenient screw-tops. I contend these screw-tops serve to surreptitiously degrade your self-esteem – because, apparently, you are unable to navigate the difficult world of folding back, then pushing forward to access your full-fat dairy. Let's be real – the first rule of BEING A CARTON is that you open like this:
I understand that this is still a throwaway item. But if I'm going to keep enjoying heavy cream in my coffee now and then, it's going to be from a carton that A) respects my intelligence and B) doesn't generate more waste in the form of a ridiculous plastic cap.
*Not my joke. I think it's Dane Cook's.**
**Please excuse me for knowing AND re-using a Dane Cook joke.
Thing Number Three: Buy stuff that can be reincarnated.
Standard shampoo bottles are generally useless once you're done with them. But Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap – which I use to supplement my “No Poo” regimen – comes in bottles (made from recycled materials) that are easily re-used for pre-made laundry soap extracted from Soap Nuts (see Thing Number Four) or as a shaker for my Apple Cider Vinegar hair conditioner.
Great Marsh Artisan Skincare (a favorite company of mine that produces crap-free products from seasonal herbs that the owner, Amanda, infuses herself) packages their Peppermint Food Scrub in easily re-used mason jars.
When I'm traveling, I snag the miniature mason jars containing jelly and syrup and give them a new life – they're perfect for holding coconut oil lip balm.
Thing Number Four: Quit the detergent. Buy soap nuts in bulk.
(Note: I have an article on soap nuts in the latest issue of Paleo Magazine.)
Soap Nuts are amazing little dried fruits that contain saponin, a natural surfactant. They're perfect for a variety of cleaning tasks, but I love them most for their incredible clothes-cleaning abilities. After using soap nuts to wash our laundry, I could never return to using even the most “green” detergents – they leave residue that is simply filmy, not to mention many are full of icky, unnecessary, and potentially toxic ingredients.
You can purchase soap nuts in bulk here.
Thing Number Five: (Ladies Only)
I'll be blunt. Think of all the waste we create with our tampon applicators and time-of-the-month products. While Lunapads and Divacups aren't right for everyone, we can – at the very least – bear the inconvenience of using applicator-free tampons.
What other ideas or advice do you have for living just slightly
less wastefully more perfectly?
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