The other day when I was flying back from LA back to Perth, the woman in front of me was watching Keeping up with the Kardashians.
For whatever reason, her screen kept catching my eye.
And, as someone who doesn't keep up with much of ANYTHING in pop culture nowadays- let alone the freaking Karadashians- I clearly had no clue was was actually happening each time the flashy images of beautiful women grabbed my attention.
What I DID know, was that nearly EVERY time I looked up- at least one person on the screen was holding a plastic water bottle.
I don't know about you, but for me- I've realized that I have an almost PHYSICAL reaction when I see someone drinking out of a plastic water bottle.
I think this reaction is especially reserved for those who can clearly afford to drop $20 bucks on a reusable option, instead.
You know, those who actually have a CHOICE in the quality of water they consume.
Which is why it's safe to say that by the plane had landed- I was sufficiently ANGRY at the damn Kardashians for promoting something that's so destructive to our planet.
I could be wrong, but given the brand of water was almost always the same- I'm gathering they were sponsored by this company to use them on the show.
However, this is pure speculation- I don't know it to be true.
But, let's just assume this IS a true statement for moment.
Don't you think there are some big eco brands out there who would also be willing to throw money at that type of advertising?
Don't you think this particular family can afford to just DO THE RIGHT THING, even if they don't make a damn cent from it?
Man, the frustration is real.
I mean, I thought we were past this.
Not only did I think we were past this, but I actually thought that being a little more earth conscious was even TRENDY and COOL at the moment.
Then I realized, maybe this is true to me based purely on the people that I surround myself with (both physically and virtually).
Because, when I thought about it- during my short 8 days in LA, I saw more people drinking out of plastic bottles than I had for my entire two months in Australia.
I didn't get it.
How could a part of the world that's meant to be progressive, trend-setting, and fully developed- also be so far behind ethically?
Does money really speak so loudly, that you can't hear your heart?
That you can't see the deterioration happening all around with your own eyes?
The real question is:
What will it take for us, as a collective, to wake up?
I've said this about a million and one times before, but I'll say it again:
I'm a HUGE believer in that concept that small changes can, and DO, make big differences.
Similar to my blog about transitioning to veganism (click here to read), the intention of this blog is meant to come from a place of compassion.
Compassion for our planet, but also compassion for ourselves as we journey towards a lifestyle that might feel unnatural, or like a lot of extra work.
The point is for all of us to get accumulate knowledge and tools which help us make more informed decisions.
And, look, I know that the intro to this whole post is dripping with judgment- I won't even try to deny that fact to be true.
Not that it's an excuse, but just as an explanation- that judgment isn't coming from a righteous place in thinking that I'm better than the Kardashians because of my lifestyle choices.
It's coming from a place in disappointment in knowing that these women are educated enough to know the state of our planet.
And disappointment in knowing just how influential they really are.
I know my audience size is laughable in comparison, but hey- small changes make differences, right?
So, instead of just complaining about it, I wanted to put something together that can be a reminder to all of us (myself included) of how we can improve as a collective.
Knowing that it's OKAY if you forget your reusable bag one day, or accidentally drink out of a plastic straw without thinking about it.
Just try to do better next time.
Just try to remain mindful even in the mundane moments.
DISCLAIMER: Some of these products were gifted, though not for the purpose of writing a blog to review them. Any brands I name here are ones that I believe in, ones that I use, and ones that I have/would spend full price on.
Due to the Kardashian rant at the beginning, I thought I'd start with water.
I use Klean Kanteen over Hydroflask, because not only am I not too fussed about the temperature of my drinks- but I also just like how much lighter Klean Kanteen is simply because I travel a lot.
I used Nalgene for a long time, which is quite a bit cheaper.
But, at the end of the day, they're still plastic, right?
Plus, I really didn't like how easily those bottle collected mold ( especially whilst living in the tropics).
If buying a reusable bottle is truly out of your budget, or you just don't have any vendors nearby- you can still make a difference with your single-used bottles.
Simply use them more than just that.
More than once!
And when it's time to get a new one, get creative in thinking of ways that you might be able to use the bottle for another purpose.
If you’re living in a place that has contaminated water coming out of the tap, you might think this means you have to buy shitloads of plastic bottles in order to stay nourished.
There are plenty of options here for all price ranges.
There are (on the more expensive side) installed filter devices for sinks, taps, and refrigerators.
And then, there are cheaper options like the handheld Brita filter.
If it’s within your means, you can invest in a distiller.
Or check into water delivery services near you (usually alkalized water companies offer this).
If you’re traveling to an area with unclean water, or just wanted a convenient on-the-go option- then LifeStraw is a great choice (this can also attach to your reusable bottle!).
There's also a new app recently launched called FindTap, which helps people to find places they can refill their bottles near them.
This is worth downloading and using if you're located in the US (especially in LA!!!).
Perhaps all of this sounds way out of your budget, or simply out of reach given where you’re located.
But guess what?
That’s okay, because there’s still the option to REDUCE plastic- even if it’s not eliminated altogether.
The best bet here would be to buy the largest jug of water you can at your local market/shop (usually about 10 liters), along with a stand/dispenser for it to make the pouring process easier.
When that jug empties, you can return it to be refilled and reused.
Again, not eliminating plastic altogether.
Which still makes a huge difference.
This one undoubtedly comes with a bit of controversy.
But, considering I’ve written about it before- I’ll just come out and say it:
Going plant based is better for our environment.
Cutting meat and dairy out might sound damn near impossible for you.
If that’s the case, then why not consider smaller steps instead?
One plant based meal each day.
Or just one day that’s all plant based each week.
For more insight on this transition, check out my 5 Tips Towards Veganism blog.
There are, of course, a ton of wonderful plant-based brands out there.
But want to know what’s better than any of them?
Going to your local farmer’s market to buy fresh, organic produce yourself.
3. SHOPPING & STORAGE
This goes hand-in-hand with food in terms of the shopping/selection process.
There are SO many options for reusable bags nowadays.
Everything from stylish brands like Seed and Sprout and Kappi (both of which I use and love).
To the $1 bags you can buy at check out.
I think the trick for most of us is simply REMEMBERING to bring the damn bags with us, right?
If that’s the case, I’d invest in bunch of the ones that fold into a small ball/shape so you can chuck them in your existing purses, backpacks, etc.
I bought a pack of 20 on Amazon, and keep them everywhere so it’s nearly impossible to forget a bag anymore.
They also come in handy for all the produce I buy, so I don’t have to use those thin plastic bags that the shops provide.
Lastly, if buying a reusable bag truly isn’t within your means- then, same as before, simply use your plastic bags more than once in an effort to reduce your waste.
4. HYGIENE & BEAUTY
Have you ever stopped to think about how much waste we, as women, accumulate simply by having a period?
To be honest, I didn’t really think about it because for the last 8 years I’ve had the IUD- which meant I didn’t bleed enough to need products to contain it.
Now that I’m birth control-free, this topic is really on my mind.
For my first cycle, I went to a local health shop to buy organic, non-bleached tampons with cardboard applicators.
These, of course, were about three times the cost of regular tampons.
But, for me, I thought it was worth it.
Mostly because I didn’t want toxic chemicals going into my vagina, but also because I knew I’d have a menstrual cup by the time my next cycle arrived.
I used Lunette Cup this month, and I have to say it’s a game changer.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it as tell you it’s a super easy adjustment in terms of just getting it in and comfortable.
Because it’s not.
It takes a little practice, and a little getting used to.
But the good news is that once you DO find the right placement- you can keep it in for 12 hours.
AND, there’s zero waste.
You simply wash after each removal, and reuse.
Another option are investing in some period underwear.
I haven’t personally tried these yet enough to recommend one brand over another, but I’ve had friends who rave about them.
I think I’ll try some out at least to sleep in, rather than having something inside of me all night.
If all of these options are out of budget, or simply inaccessible based on your location- the best recommendation I can make would be to use tampons with cardboard applicators rather than plastic.
This alone will make a big difference.
It’s pretty simple- the more natural the ingredients are, the better it is for our planet AND for our bodies.
That’s not to say that everything I use is 100% natural, because it’s not.
But the of it majority is.
Think about it, if it irritates your skin, your mouth, your eyes, etc- how do you think our oceans or soil feel when these products are eventually deposited there?
Dr. Bronner's is clearly a favorite when it comes to hygiene, because I use their soap can be used for my body, face, hair, and also for dishes and other cleaning needs.
This means, I always buy the largest bottle I can find.
Although I use it for just about everything, it still lasts a long time!
You can dilute it as needed.
They now also make a variety of other personal care needs (toothpaste, chapstick, etc).
For deodorant, I use a salt crystal (I forget the brand, and the logo has rubbed off by now- but it’s from Bali).
I love it for two reasons: I’ve found it works the best for smell/sweat.
And also because it essentially lasts forever, which translates to less waste.
For skin, I mostly use oils (coconut oil or almond oil) to moisturize.
And then Tea Tree and Oregano oil for blemishes and/or infections.
I use Apple Cider Vinegar (usually Bragg’s, or any other organic brand I can find) or Rose Water as a toner.
However, everyone’s body and skin is different in how it reacts- so these things might not work for you.
In fact, they might even IRRITATE your skin, so make sure you DILUTE them A LOT if it’s your first time trying them.
Another few favorites:
Paw Paw by Manda for my lips or any other dry areas.
And then, I also JUST (as in the delivery man knocked on my door while I was writing this) received a skincare package from Blessed by Nature, which offers a variety of natural, organic and cruelty-free beauty products.
Lastly, Bioclarity is another awesome option for natural, plant-based skincare.
If these options are out of your reach financially, or if the products just aren’t available in your region- then look into the natural ingredients that ARE available around you, and just make your own products based on your skin's needs.
One of my good friends decided to make her own products, and she even wrote a blog including her tips and mixtures (click here to read).
I want this to stand alone to in an effort to emphasize how important eco-friendly sunscreen is.
Similar to other products, if you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients on the label- how do you think our bodies and our oceans will be affected?
I use brands who protect my skin from getting burned AND protect our reefs from getting bleached/destroyed.
My two favorites are Manda and Surf Yogis.
If you’re unsure on what’s “reef safe” or not, just look at the label.
Oxybenzone is a common chemical in many sun creams that is said to kill coral.
PACKAGING AND TESTING:
One more thing to include here is packaging, because I think we can all see how much unnecessary plastic can come with one simple tube of oil or lotion.
Typically, most brands that are natural (or mostly natural)- will already be pretty tuned into the sustainability of their packaging, as well as the ethics in testing their products.
But it’s always good to double check.
Is the product tested on animals?
Do they use plastic containers?
If you know they DO use plastic, and there AREN’T refillable options once the container is finished- then see if you can reuse that container for something else before throwing it away.
But hey, if you make your own products, then you don’t have to worry about this part at all!
Do you think about where the water goes that runs down your sink?
Do you think about the fact that if we’re using soaps and detergents with toxic chemicals, these will inevitably contaminate our planet?
Similar to the Hygiene and Beauty section- more natural products will be kinder to our bodies and the Earth.
I think I’ve established my love for Dr. Bronner’s already, so that’s already a given for dish and hand soap.
Try to find an eco brand laundry detergent in your area.
But if you can’t, just do your best to avoid the plastic pods.
There are eco brands for all things cleaning (floors, glass, bathroom, etc), and there are also mixtures that you can make yourself for these things, too.
I haven’t made my own cleaning products, so I can’t speak to this concept more than just mentioning it above.
Nowadays, most developed areas offer a biodegradable option for trash bags (these brands will vary depending on your location).
These still take a LONG TIME to break down in landfills, and they tend to be twice the price of “regular” plastic bags- but in my opinion, it’s worth it.
And it’s better than nothing.
The same can be said for the greener brands for ziplock bags, saran/cling wrap, baking paper, aluminum.
If you don’t have a green option available, just see if you can fine tune your awareness of consumption when using these products.
If you’re in a habit of using a lot of paper towels/napkins, perhaps you can switch to reusable washable cloths instead (both for cleaning and eating purposes).
This concept sort of ties everything together into a pay-it-forward concept.
We can help others go a little greener by actually providing them with the tools, products, devices, etc.
See where the need is, alongside this particular person’s interests- and create the perfect eco gift just for them.
This could be anything as simple as taking them out to an amazing vegan meal (or making one from them), to a whole bag full of goodies for the home and body. Remember, small changes make a big difference.
Meaning that even just gifting someone ONE reusable canvas bag might mean that HUNDREDS of plastic bags won’t be used.
The change starts with me.
The change starts with you.
The change starts with US coming together as a collective consciousness.
So, let’s do this.
One step at a time.