Sustainability

Sustainability & How It Looks for Me

When I say sustainability, I’m just referring to environmental sustainability. There are three pillars, social, economic and environmental. I’m only going to be talking about environmental sustainability in this episode. Environmental sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Making choices today that allow future generations to also make choices. Not depleting and destroying everything so the future generations have no choices. I’m going to talk about what things I’ve done to try to reduce my footprint. I’m not about to pretend that I don’t still make a pretty significant footprint, but I want to share with you how it’s on my radar. What’s a footprint? The Google definition is the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc. How do I reduce my footprint? Methods of reducing your carbon footprint include driving more-efficient vehicles (or making sure that your current vehicles are properly maintained), taking public transportation, using energy-efficient appliances, insulating your home to reduce heating and air conditioning costs, consuming food that doesn’t require as much transportation (buying from locally produced shops), and eating less meat, which has a higher carbon footprint than fruits and vegetables. Individuals and companies can also offset some of their CO2 emissions by purchasing carbon credits, the money from which can go into projects such as planting trees or investing in renewable energy (thanks for the information, takepart.com). 

So how have I and my family reduced our footprint? We have definitely spent a lot of effort insulating our home, buying and utilizing energy-efficient appliances (you can also write that off your taxes the year you buy them), and also reusing building materials (repurposed an old stable to build many new things within the house). 

We have always recycled, and I’ve figured out specific requirements by my county and my waste collection company (did you know Fairfax County isn’t accepting glass unless it’s brought to the specific purple recycling receptacles scattered across the county?). My family also participates in recycling, so I’m not a lone soldier in this venture. I’ve also looked at saving up all my plastic contact containers and shipping them to TerraCycle (as they accept smaller “doses” of plastic). I’m not sure if the emissions produced by packaging and shipping would negate the recycling but… if TerraCycle has that option it must be worth it. There are a variety of products I have substituted out in place of greener alternatives (once the original item has been used up; buying more and pitching previous stuff isn’t green). I have started dabbling in reusable plastic snack bags. This hasn’t gone over super well with other family members, but I continue plugging along, encouraging their use where reasonable. We have a ton of white towels that we use a majority of the time instead of constantly going through paper towels. I also live the #totelife (thanks, We Bare Bears), but if I forget my reusable totes, we recycle our plastic grocery bags as bathroom trash bags, returning people’s forgotten leftover containers, etc. I also use them to pad things I ship via USPS. I’ve also been working to get away from Fast Fashion. The fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50 % by 2030  (thanks for the information workbank.org). They have convinced us that there are 52 micro-seasons a year and WE MUST BE PREPARED FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE! Oh my word, that’s ridiculous. Wear what you have, people! If you want to shop, buy used OR buy ethical and sustainable! Or even better… take your friends cast-offs. Maybe they’ll find some of your clothes useful, too.  Do your research. If you’re too lazy to do the research, then find ethical influencers who have worked tirelessly to provide us with lists of ethical brands (ahem, Aja Barber, my fav dame these days). Then support them on Patreon, because, they ain’t working for free, sis.  Yes, I mess up, but… I own it and I move forward. I’m trying. Doesn’t that count for something? I hope to do a future episode on Fast Fashion. 

Another way we help the environment is by planting our own food. We do NOT get all our food from our own backyard by any stretch of the imagination, but we have enjoyed our homegrown tomatoes and bell peppers. We also have all sorts of basil, rosemary, thyme and lavender, blueberries, wild blackberries and wineberries. I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting. We have planted in the past (and hope to again in the future), brussel sprouts, cilantro, Egyptian Walking onions, carrots, snow peas, peaches, plums and various other peppers. I say “we have planted” but really I mean Barrett. He works very hard on our yard and I do nothing. I’m going to put that out there: I DO NOTHING IN THE YARD. BUT  I am  a beekeeper. Right now, I have no bees so I’m a sad bee keeper (whole other episode, I won’t get into it). But, I’m preparing to start 2 new hives this upcoming spring. I don’t keep bees for the honey, I don’t even really eat honey. I just like the challenge, and the satisfaction that comes with a successful year which looks like hives that survive, stick around and make it through the winter. 

There are things I want to be better at or start instituting in our everyday life. The first being composting. We have the rotating barrel but I do believe we’re going about it all wrong and it ends up being a big wreck. Ok, Google, remind me to do research on composting like a champ. Reminder set, thanks. I’m also starting to move towards reusable feminine hygiene products. I’ve had a Diva Cup for years, way before it was cool because I’m a bleeding pioneer. But, I still use tampons at the beginning of my period because it’s annoying to dump the cup out every hour or so. But, you know what else is annoying? Complete destruction of the planet. So, come on, Danielle! I also made my first reusable pad purchase. I’m starting with reusable panti liners for the end of my period. I’ve used up my disposable pads so I plan next period to start with the washable pads FULL FLOW. Wish me luck, folks. Something I’d love to try out is a bidet. It would cut out adult wet wipes use, over using toilet paper, and general waste. It would also be better for our septic system! I’m slowly using up all the toiletries I’ve been accumulating and gifted. I have a few sustainable brands I’ve been eyeing for replacements such as Coco Kind. I haven’t wrapped my head completely around tooth powder or bites (instead of toothpaste) because we don’t go through tons and tons of toothpaste so the tubes aren’t really a contributor to our household waste. Maybe a more sustainably produced toothpaste? Toms? Is that any good? I’m using charcoal tooth powder now, and the grit is real nice for grinding off plaque. It was a gift so I was able to experiment cost free. I’m not sure if I’ll replace it when I run out, though. I also look forward to completing my deodorant so I can go with a more sustainable option. I’ve seen ads on Instagram for a deodorant in compostable packaging that goes into a reusable holder. There’s a few brands doing that so, I’ll see what I settle on. 

Then, finally, there are the things I won’t compromise on: Lysol wipes (but with COVID demand, we’ve run out an been doing ok… so maybe I’m unwillingly compromising), wet wipes (unless we had a bidet), laundry and dish detergent (I need everything to look and more importantly, smell clean) and baby diapers. Sorry fam. Confession, I have a wood burning stove which has way more particulates than our oil burning furnace (we have radiators). It’s delightful in the winter, sorry I can’t compromise. I have babies to keep warm. Other than that, I am always open to learning of a new, greener substitute to any of my everyday products. 


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