The Congruence of My Values

Does it depress anybody else to think about the fact there is no way to completely stop supporting end-stage capitalism/corporatism? That often your values contradict each other, creating a catch-22 situation? Take floss as an example. I’m picking floss because it’s a basic need that can’t easily be substituted. If I buy it locally and inexpensively, it most likely will be from a big corporation like Walmart, who receives corporate welfare from tax payers and sells cheap and low-quality items made by people working in horrible conditions. If I buy it locally from a small-scale seller, it will most likely be overpriced, and unfortunately, I’m not in the place financially where money isn’t an issue. If I buy it from a small-scale seller online, it might be cheaper, but also leave a much bigger footprint, packaged in cardboard and plastic, shipped to me via dirty fuel sources such as a plane, truck, or train. I could buy a bunch of floss at one time so less packaging is used for shipping, but then I’d be cluttering my home with excess items, belying my desire for clean, minimalistic spaces. So how do I faithfully adhere to fighting corporate greed, not overspending, and being eco-conscious? It feels impossible. I don’t know what the answer is. And now I’m realizing I’m writing this post using a smart phone which was probably made using resources pillaged from developing countries and perhaps even using child labor. And “do my best” just feels hollow. It makes me feel weak, unintelligent, and unresourceful. I end up quickly becoming discouraged and saying, “You know what, screw it. I’ll do what’s easiest.” Does anybody else feel the same way, and how do you find peace with the decisions you make and the ways you order your priorities?

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

December 14 is World Energy Conservation Day. Wrapping paper (depending on the type) can’t always be recycled, and recycling uses resources and energy better spent elsewhere. Here are seven alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.

1. Newspaper (For those of us who still have access to newspapers!)

2. Gift bag (Many of us receive gifts in these, and they are easily reusable!)

3. Plastic bag (Many of us still have these floating around the house, even if we’ve already switched to reusable tote bags. This is a great use for them!)

4. Shoe box (You can even decorate them!)

5. Fabric scraps (These are a personalized, shabby-chic, kitschy alternative to wrapping paper!)

6. Make part of the gift the holder, as well (for example, a pretty basket, bowl, reusable tote, or flower pot) or wrap with part of the gift (for example, a blanket, pillowcase, scarf, or beach towel). This is a super fun, resourceful, and non-wasteful alternative to wrapping paper!

7. Hide presents around the house instead of wrapping them or cover them with a sheet, towel, or blanket. Such an obvious alternative to wrapping paper, yet it’s easy to forget about it!

What creative ways have you come up with to wrap gifts and participate in the magic and mystery of the season while committing to sustainable habits?

Sustainable Living

In the past few years, I’ve become more interested in sustainable, less-wasteful living. Not that many decades ago, before the proliferation of easily-attainable, inexpensive, disposable options, Americans were used to living sustainably. It was the only option. However, today many (including myself) rely on paper towels, disposable feminine hygiene products, plastic bags, paper plates, plastic silverware, plastic water bottles, and/or disposable razors, etc. These things are harmful to the planet, costly, and must be bought regularly. Thankfully, there are “greener” options that will save you money, time, and guilt. Some of these I’ve already incorporated into my life and some I’ve yet to try.

Microfiber cleaning cloths and cloth napkins can be substituted for paper towels and paper face napkins. Cloth hankerchiefs can be substituted for facial tissue. Reusable cloth bags can be substituted for plastic grocery bags. An electric razor, safety razor, or using the tip for disposable razor blades I gave in my blog post entitled “Tried & True Life Tips I’ve Picked Up” can replace constantly buying new blades. A menstrual cup (I’ll be doing a blog post about my experience having used one for two years now) and reusable cloth pads can replace disposable pads and tampons. These are just a few of the many replacements I have found. Many, many more can be found through a Google search, which, if you’re like me, you didn’t even know exist (Examples: reusable beeswax wraps and fabric bowl covers for food storage!). Even if you’re not all about hugging trees, saving money by replacing disposable items with non-disposable items and having a way-shorter shopping list each week are pretty nice perks by themselves! I’m also interested in starting my own compost pile and possibly starting to make my own hygiene and cleaning products. There are a lot of areas in which I could improve to live a more sustainable life. There are other ways to be gentler to the planet, such as buying secondhand clothes and local food. I hope to write more on these topics in the future as I incorporate more of them into my life and get more proficient living responsibly and simply, and I hope you’ll challenge yourself right along with me.