I apologize for my long absence from blogging! I took a week long camping trip with my husband in the Netherlands and planned to have a ton of beautiful stories and photos to share, but sadly the actions of a few cast an ugly shadow over our trip and I didn’t feel like getting out the camera or writing. Happily, we still met up with some good friends and once again I was amazed by the strength and support my husband gives me. I am almost rested and recovered, and I have a bunch of blog posts planned in the next two weeks!
First up, I would like to share our brush collection. I am kind of a ‘clean freak’ and it was important to me to be able to keep my home tidy and body healthy in a sustainable way.
Redecker rubber brush. This is fantastic for removing cat fur and dust from my sofa, friction creates a static charge which sticks the hair to the brush. Water breaks this charge, releasing it when you rinse. I love cleaning with science 🙂
Bamboo body brush. I have heard that brushing your skin increases circulation and will naturally moisturize it. I haven’t been using this long enough to recommend it, but I will be sure to post results when I feel ready.
Bamboo comb. I don’t brush my hair but will give it the occasional comb through when dry.
Brush cleaning brush, this is literally just to clean other brushes, but it gets a lot of use!
Dirty brush, we use this in the bathroom to brush away stray litter in between vacuuming. We will also use it in the garden or to brush off camping supplies and boots.
Bamboo comb (2). my husband prefers this size, and I will use it if I have a particularly naughty knot in my hair.
Bamboo toothbrush. I have been using bamboo toothbrushes for about 2 years, and I love them.
Vegetable brush, we use this to clean off veggies. This is useful for store bought veg, but vital if you grow your own. Potatoes and carrots, in particular, come out very muddy!
This is what works for us, and I can think of anything else we would need to add at the moment. I dust with a cloth and use a vacuum to clean the floors. For the kitchen and surfaces, I use a cloth and homemade antibacterial spray. We do have a mop which is plastic, and I am planning to use that until it breaks down.
An important thing to remember is that I moved into a new home with almost nothing. I do not advocate throwing away your plastic items in favor of sustainable ones. Use what you have and replace it with a sustainable option when you need to. Although I find a lineup of bamboo brushes aesthetically pleasing, the real goal is to be kinder to the environment, not to take trendy Instagram photos (that’s just a bonus!).
There is no away – because plastic is so permanent and so indestructible. When you cast it into the ocean, it does not go away.
Sir David Attenborough
I really appreciate the trend of videographers teaming up with scientists and passionate members of the community to create ‘global movement’ films.
A plastic ocean is another documentary that seeks to give people the tools they need to make better choices. I’m already committed to being plastic free so you would think a film like this is preaching to the choir in my case, but I still found fresh information and inspiration to take away.
I knew that ocean plastic was entering the human food supply, but I did not realize to what extent this was already happening. I might be a vegan, but I still care about the millions of people who rely on fishing for their primary source of protein (not to mention my fish loving kitties!).
The biggest concern I hear about using reusable bags, cups, etc is that it’s hard. People are already struggling to juggle work, social commitments, health, kids and a million other little things and they just want to convenience of a plastic bag. Being passionate about a cause removes that mental hurdle, once you incorporate reusables into your life, this ‘new way’ to shop and enjoy your coffee becomes a habit, and it does not feel hard. I compare this to going vegetarian or vegan, the first month is the most difficult, but in time you can’t imagine doing it any other way.
Zero-waste options and alternatives are exploding right now, in my home city of Berlin I have seen two grocery chains introduce a zero waste section in just the past two months. You can’t have missed all the plastic-free July posts on social media. I’m not normally into trends, but this is one that I encourage all people to jump into head first!
You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
I’ve seen so many wonderful documentaries this month, and Chasing Coral stands out as one of the best.
A team of filmmakers and scientists race against the clock to capture coral bleaching, a phenomenon that is destroying our coral reefs at an alarming rate. Coral reefs are the start of life for 25% of all marine species. 500 million people get their food and livelihood directly from coral reefs. An event like this is comparable to losing huge portions of our rainforests every year.
What I didn’t realize before watching this documentary is that water actually absorbs 93% of the heat from global warming. In fact, if the ocean didn’t take in so much of our trapped heat the average temperature on earth would be 50 C (122 F) !
The thing that distinguishes us from our rocky dead neighbor planets is water. Water is life and we must protect it.
I highly recommend this documentary for the message, the beautiful (and possibly some of the last) footage of the reefs, and the passion of the team involved. Even in the darkest hours seeing the men and woman passionately working to make the world a better place is heartwarming and inspiring.
Our first crop of spinach was mercilessly attacked by bugs, so I bought some natural bug repellent plants – mint and lemon thyme – to add to our garden. I also made a mixture of castile soap and water to give the plants a spray every few days. I used about 2 teaspoons of Dr. Bronners soap and 1 liter of water, plus some crushed garlic directly into the bottle. New spinach and cabbage seeds are germinating, and the older tomato, basil, and carrots are still going strong!
There is a wonderful documentary called The Simpler Way currently on youtube. I stumbled across it by accident and found a lot of great information and points here. In particular, a discussion about how the need for perfect, uniform sized vegetables to fit harvesting, cleaning, and packing machines stunts the diversity of our food and puts undue pressure on farmers as well as resulting in enormous food waste.
The story follows a group who form a community in Australia to practice methods of simple living in response to the global environmental crisis. It also features thoughts from thinkers and intellectuals dedicated to the topic.
Some people in the comments have stated that the ability to reclaim wood or find materials for recycling is enabled by our current consumer culture, and therefore this project does not make sense, but I disagree. These people are trying to make a change from where we are now, not some imaginary untouched world. Where we are now is millions (if not billions) of tons of plastic, glass, and wood that could be recycled or reused.
If we do happen to reach some ideal future where there isn’t enough waste to be reused like this, I am sure it won’t be too much trouble to shift our ways of living again!
After a trip to Original Unverpakt yesterday Jonathan and made a trip to the local Bio Company this morning and were delighted to find out that they are now offering unpackaged products! This is a huge step, as Bio Markt is a big chain across Germany. Thanks to low taxes on food and good eating culture many Germans shop in biological supermarkets like this one, so good low-waste food is not a ‘luxury’. I spoke to the staff to share my enthusiasm about the new line, and they also seemed genuinely enthusiastic about unpackaged goods and excited to expand their selection further. The two products we still couldn’t find unpackaged were tofu and soy milk.
In addition to veggies and pasta, I picked up a vegetable brush and well as a couple bathroom supplies. I bought a small comb, pumice stone and body brush. I’ve heard quite a few bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers talk about using body bushes to increase circulation and skin softness (to replace moisturizer) so I decided to give it a go myself and will be sure to report the results here.
This is such a wonderful step in the right direction, and it’s actions like these that continue to give me hope for our future.
Last night Jonathan and I returned home very late from a trip to the Netherlands. We had done a good job of using up food before we left, so the first thing on todays agenda was shopping. Having arrived late and tired from a very emotionally draining weekend, with a pile of laundry, cleaning, and work (from home) waiting for me I was not feeling up to a 2 hour round trip to the zero-waste store so I did a low waste shop at my local bio market.
The biggest difference here is that I bought rice in (recyclable) plastic. I brought my own bags for the veggies and although the tofu is packaged the ones at the zero waste shop also have some packaging.
It’s good to know I can still keep my waste pretty minimal at a ‘normal’ store, and just wait to stock up from the zero waste shop when we get time. This mini-shop will tide us over for a couple days while we recuperate.
We also managed to stay low waste while traveling, although I slipped up and had a Starbucks after one particularly intense incident. We ate a lot of food from our favorite Dutch restaurant SLA (this means salad in Dutch) which has made a commitment to sustainable business. You can’t beat good food and good ethics!