5 things that'll make you slightly more perfect (but not obnoxiously so).

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.

Update: Oh. Mah. Gahd. Stacy just alerted me to these. I’m ordering them NOW!

What other ideas or advice do you have for living just slightly less wastefully more perfectly?

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33 Responses

  1. Not sure about the soap nuts and the diva cup (I really don’t want to have to wear a pad & the cup for fear of leakage issues) but YEAH to the other 3.

  2. I have been on a ‘practicing thrift’ kick lately. I like to get by with out having to run to the store so much… what if we weren’t able to for some reason? I like to practice what it would be like.
    I’m not cheap… there is a difference, you know. I like to invest in sturdy, usable things and cut back on unnecessary throw away products like paper plates, paper towels, plastic whatever. I still have trouble remembering my reusable shopping bags though – but I am trying. I do keep and reuse the plastic ones for other uses such as: packing material for shipping, small trash can liners, cleaning litter boxes and other dirty jobs.
    I love your blog btw… I love the co-mingling of WAPF and primal – right with ya on that. Thanks for adding your perspective to consider… and your clever delivery is a bonus!! Good work.

  3. I was at a Starbucks, and watched as they used THREE disposable cups to make my drink in my reusable container. (one to measure milk, another when they did the wrong milk, and one for the shots..) I found that local shops usually know how to use disposable products better.
    Also, I really dislike the iPad theme that your WordPress uses. Itis hard to navigate, often links do not work, and the bottom of every post is cut off. Mobile themes are great, but I have found all of the iPad themes are not good at all.

    1. Amanda, I noticed this as well! My dad was looking at my site on his iPad and I was utterly confused. I’m thisclose to being finished with a site redesign, so hopefully that’ll help!

      1. I read another blog that complained of this and asked people to do the following:
        How to disable the icky mobile settings: Click on “Appearance” at the left of your Dashboard.
        1) Pick “Mobile,” select “No,” click update.
        2) Pick “iPad,” UNcheck the box, click save.
        See if it help 🙂

  4. I’m dying to get myself a menstrual cup since I learned of them recently from my sister-in-law! I had NO idea these little gems existed a few months ago. I haven’t been able to work it into the budget yet and I’ve had a bulk box of tampons to use up but I’m almost out now so I’ll be buying one soon. I can’t wait! I am in LOVE with the idea that there are options for women that don’t require physical waste.

  5. @Danica, “I really don’t want to have to wear a pad & the cup for fear of leakage issues”- this is delving further into hush-hush-lady-stuff, but you really don’t need to wear a pad with these. Diva Cup is the best because of that, if you run into any multi-day hikers, they will sing the praises of these suckers for hours. No pads + No tampons = no waste, ultra convenience, nothing to carry around with you. I started using the Diva Cup when I was just 15, have used it ever since, never had any issues. Bring an extra one when multi-day hiking with non-diva females, seriously, it will convert any non-believer. Less “spillage” than tampons, can’t praise the diva cup enough.

  6. I am wondering about the economical nature of Soap Nuts. Are they less expensive than regular detergent? I have also read that you can just wash clothes in plain water too and that often times is enough.

  7. Just wanted to share that I finally just placed my first order for soap nuts! Can’t wait to try them. They’ve been in the back of my mind since I tripped across your blog months ago but hadn’t taken the plunge yet. I decided it was time to quit procrastinating. I’d never heard of them before you blog so thank you for sharing; I might never have known otherwise.

  8. I am a HUGE fan of the Diva cup. There is not a drop of leakage ever! And, I can now resume wearing thongs despite the time of the month. It is an awesome invention – so clean, so easy, I could go on and on. Just an FYI – I have birthed three babies. I don’t know how it would work for someone pre-kids. 🙂

  9. I actually like the cream containers with the screw tops. I don’t think it’s an issue with opening the containers as much as it is being able to really close the container tightly. Cream sits in the fridge for a while after opening, so the screw top keeps it fresher longer.
    I will have to look into soap nuts. Have never heard of them before.

  10. I was SO much happier before I read about the cups. It will take me days to shake the mental picture. TMITMITMITMITMI

  11. I am in Tasmania Australia and we discovered the soap nut in Bali recently. How do you do your whites? Does bicarb get the colour of the soap nut out?

  12. Agreed with #1 not that I drink coffee but thing people should be mindful. I gave up drinking out of plastic water bottles a couple years ago and just use my stainless steel container, and love it.
    #2 I will try to be more mindful of, but as I usually only drink water I don’t have to worry about it too much. #3 already get Dr. Bonners soap and love it and wash my hair with no poo regimen so no more waste with shampoo/conditioner bottles. #4 will need to be a later try when i move out on my own.
    #5 I will definitely be getting one and trying, I hate how much waste there is with tampons.
    I do use reusable grocery bags and really thing that is something easy for people to change. and they are so much easier to fill and carry!

  13. If you’re not sure about using the Diva cups or other similar long lasting products, you can always try the disposable ones called Insteads. I gave those a go before I committed to the Diva because I wasn’t sure that I’d like it. Turns out, I love them! With the Insteads, if you’re heavy, you might want a pantyliner because it doesn’t hold as much as a non-disposable cup. After my next pregnancy (we’re trying at the moment), I’m going to invest in a Diva. I think it’s sooo much better than tampons!
    Also, I’m very intrigued by the soap nuts, and I’m actually putting some on my Christmas list! I really hope they work well because they sound awesome. Your blog is great, and I love your delivery 🙂

  14. I love that you saw Bag It, Liz. That movie literally changed my life. I walked out of the theatre in a different mindset and have been there ever since. One of the things I started doing to lessen my impact was (caution, this may be too much for some people!) to ditch the toilet paper for the “pee only” trips to the bathroom. I have started using “pee rags” (for lack of a better term) each time instead of toilet paper. I just took cotton t-shirts, cut into single-use squares and wipe with these. They then go into a cloth holding bag until the next load of laundry. You will not believe how much less TP you’ll go through!
    The other trick I’ve added to the routine is to use glass jars for all the things I buy in bulk at the store. Dish soap, coconut, spices, etc. Just weigh the jar (and add that weight to the label) before filling so they don’t charge you extra. It’s a great feeling to get plastic out of one more part of your life (especially one that touches your food!).
    And one last bit that has changed my ways. . . I was able to get rid of my cleaners by switching to silver-embedded antimicrobial cleaning cloths by Norwex. They are amazing and it’s great to ditch the cleaning agents.

    1. Leah, I use a cloth from Norwex now too! I alternate with the Oil Cleansing Method, and I LOVE the cloths for makeup removal. I’ve just been hesitant to talk about them because I’m not 100% sure about their marketing scheme…thoughts on that are welcome…
      And I love all “out there” ideas, including the “pee rags.” Might seem gross at first, but these are things we need to be thinking about.

  15. I am not one for tampons or the diva cup.. my alternative is cloth pads- like luna pads..
    Some people think its a bit gross ( gotta wash them) but this sensitive girl loves them!!!

  16. Have thought applicator tampons were crazy since I was about 15 (way back when) and was over the “ooooo my body is icky on a monthly basis” Just found your blog and am really enjoying it. Starting on the ancestral nutrition path and am finding WAP interesting reading.

  17. Ok, better late than never, but I just wanted to add that I LOVE my Diva cup. I wish I would have known these existed years ago!

  18. I think a easy thing is to have a few reusable shopping bags. Even some tiny-er ones with drawstrings for fruits.
    We keep them all in one larger bag. They sit by the door or in the car until the next shopping time.

  19. I do most of these things 🙂 I love my diva cup so so much, absolutely no leakage, no odor, no mess and I have had it for probably 5 years now so super economical. It makes me happy every time I walk past that aisle in the supermarket and don’t have to buy anything.
    I used soap nuts for 6 months or so, but found that over time, yucky brownish discolouration built up on my clothes, and there was no way it got the stink out of my dh’s gym gear. I think it seemed to work for a few months as it took a while for the residue to build up 😛 I suppose I could try again though as I have a new awesome washing machine, so that might make a difference.
    Our milk does come in plastic bottles, but they are recyclable, and the milk is raw, organic, locally produced, so I feel OK about that.
    It’s really interesting reading your blog, because a lot of the body care/home care stuff is stuff that I have either done for ages, or tried and given up on (OCM caused me millions of cysts, I so wanted it to work, but I do have good mostly natural skincare), but I am relatively new to the whole paleo thing (I used to be kind of western price-y, but with lots of brown rice etc. and too much sugar).
    Anyway, love the blog, keep up the good work 🙂

  20. I’ve used homemade cloth pads for 7 yrs now. the same ones have lasted me 4 yrs with wash and care. saves lots of $$ .

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