I’m feeling all kinds of feels after listening to my sweet sweet pals interviewed for an episode of The Market Girls podcast, and wanted to touch on some of my thoughts on easy peasy sustainability. The podcast was interviewing Erik and Michael, creators, owners and big dreamers of Sustainabus; a self converted school bus they plan to drive up to Alaska and down the West Coast to the southernmost tip of South America over the next two years.
Powered by wind turbines and solar panels, run on biodiesel (aka restaurant grease, WHAT!?), created from recycled wood found on Kijiji, a toilet that turns your POOP into COMPOST (yes!) and rain water collectors lining the sides (there’s more, but that's all I can remember), this bus isn't your average van conversion. I can’t fully describe my love for this project, or how much these two inspire me, so go give the podcast a listen HERE.
We don’t all have to buy a bus and create a huge green initiative, but there’s absolutely steps we can take everyday to be more gentle on Mama Earth.
It can sometimes be discouraging when looking at the 'natural' alternatives, which can cost considerably more than conventional products. It's often not feasible to make a big lifestyle shift overnight - so don't think of it that way!
There's nothing sustainable about throwing out that week old plastic toothbrush or the half used antiperspirant to buy the natural alternatives. If we focus instead on using up the products that we have and then replacing them one by one as needed, we can make the transition slowly, gently and more realistically.
SO as you run out of these things, as they break, or if you're buying it for the first time, consider these alternatives:
WHO NEEDS PLASTIC TUPPERWARE:
Go for the glass variety instead. Not only will replacing your plastic containers with glass be better for your health (no funky plastic chemicals leaking into your food overtime), but they also last considerably longer than plastic since they're of a much higher quality.
Afraid of spending a bunch of money on glass containers, only to drop them on your tile floor? Instead of buying a new set of glass, you can choose stainless steel containers or focus on purchasing goods that come in glass jars already. My favourite lunch containers come from nut butter and tahini jars that I've scraped clean; free and easy to wash!
BUHBYE PLASTIC WRAP AND ZIPLOCK BAGS:
Have you heard of beeswax paper!? IT'S THE BEST! Totally reusable and made entirely of beeswax, this paper can be wrapped around your half eaten avocado, lemon, bowl of spaghetti or chopped veg to keep it incredibly fresh in the fridge. It's also self adhesive so it creates an airtight seal around whatever you need it to. After each use just wash it clean and reuse it again and again. If you're in the Hamilton area, The Pale Blue Dot sells a wide range of sizes (and a whole bunch of other exciting reusable goodies!).
You can also find great reusable ziplock bags online, like Colibri (they're what a friend used to carry trail mix in and she cleverly coined the name 'nut sac'...let's keep the tradition alive!) or Blue Avocado, which make silicon ones (great for freezing foods!). They have an easy to clean surface on the inside so they can be wiped down between uses or thrown right in the wash for a more deep clean as needed.
NOT ALL MY FOOD HAS TO BE IMPORTED
Choose locally grown and ask questions! Not all produce that isn't certified organic is necessarily sprayed with chemicals. Talk to the farmers at the stalls in your farmer's market and find out their growing practices. Ask questions such as when was the food picked? Was it picked when ripe? Were any pesticides used? This will help you make a more informed decision about whether or not to support that particular stall.
And if the farmer isn't open to answering your questions...you probably don't want to be shopping there. Local produce requires less fossil fuels to get it to its destination, which also means the produce from local stalls probably hasn't been sitting in transport ripening for days instead of ripening on the vine before being picked (yielding a higher nutritional value and smaller footprint!).
GO HOME TAKEOUT CUP
Bring your own container! And this is across the board. Whether you're going to a coffee shop for a takeaway bevvie, getting takeout food, or heading to a bulk store for some goodies, bring a container so you don't have to use the plastic cups, bags or styrofoam provided. There are so many beautiful designs and finding one that excites you and works with your day to day will ensure you'll stick to using it. For example, if you ride a bike (hello bonus sustainable suggestion!) pick something like the Keep Cup that seals well and fits in the water bottle holder on your frame.
PRE-LOVED OR BUST
Shopping second hand is becoming more and more 'trendy' and it's the best. Fast fashion has a huge environmental and social impact on our planet. Giving some garments (or furniture!) a second or third chance reduces the amount heading to the landfill, costs far less to you than buying new and can often mean you're finding something that was made to LAST.
Far too often we head into stores that sell inexpensive, low quality garments that we'll wear for a season and throw out the next. INSTEAD, let's focus on buying pre-loved clothing that is more unique, of higher quality, and pretty fun to hunt for. I recently found the Mexican Blanket of my DREAMS at an antique shop on Ottawa Street in Hamilton (for a mere $18!!), and (AFTER WASHING IT) have been training our pups to lay on it so it smells more like our home and less like someone else's. WE'RE ALMOST THERE - IT'S A FUN PROCESS!
Small daily changes become easier and easier to stick to and before long, they'll be a regular part of your routine. Read articles and educate yourself on how you can go even further in terms of your home, your commute, your lifestyle and your choices. Use your voice and spread the word to those around you because these easy changes can cause a ripple effect, and turn your mind on to thinking that about more of those good good sustainable choices.
Remember your money is your vote! Use it wisely.