Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to live a packaging-free life.

As 2010 is coming to a close, most of us are reflecting on our actions in the past year and thinking about what we will do in the future

Everyone has the potential and capabilities to change. It is a conscious decision.

Personally, if the change that I desire to make aligns with my ethics, it is not hard. Realize what you put value into; your health? family? grades? the earth? your community? Think about how this resolution (or change) will effect your values.

Do your current actions and practices align with your values? I know that some of mine don't. Especially when it comes to waste production. I have read about the Pacific Trash Vortex, realized the disconnect from the earth when we think linearly instead of cyclically, hear about all of the pollution attributed to landfills (and consumption in general).

Sam's Commitment to Change (my new year's resolution...):
Reduce the waste (trash, packaging, consumerism...) that I produce.

This was a part of my original Low Carbon Diet challenge (and eating the way that I do is inherently less packaging intensive), but I have not been being as conscious as I could be concerning the waste I produce.

I would like to find a way to measure my successes/failures along the way (I know that if I do not set clear rules for myself I will cheat...) although I am not sure how I will do that yet.

Some things that I want to do:

  • Give away 50 things
  • Buy nothing for a week
  • Carry around all of the trash that I produce in a week
  • Choose a day each week to carry around all of the trash I produce
  • Think about the 100 things that I need (I'm definitely not to the point mentally to get rid of all of my possessions except for 100 things but I think that this is a good exercise in realizing what possessions I actually value)
  • Follow the tips below!

Similar to the tips from Darshan's wonderful blog, Minimizing Entropy, I stumbled upon some wonderful advice on how to live packaging free from re-nest. Here they are:

Buy less. Curbing the impulse to shop and learning to live with less will help put you on the path to a packaging-free life.

Buy used. When you do shop, rather than buying new, check thrift stores and salvage shops. Or borrow items through services like NeighborGoods.

Bring bags. Don't forget your reusable shopping bags when shopping at the farmers' market (or grocery store) or any other store!

Get crafty. Take up urban homesteading practices like growing your own food, home canning, and baking bread. Develop a network of friends and neighbors to share your individual efforts.

Buy from bulk. For other foods, shop at farmers' markets, produce stands, butchers, and bulk bins. Bring reusable containers like produce bags and empty jars.

Pack lunch. Take your lunch to class or work in a reusable container with eco-friendly sandwich bags.

Carry provisions. Pack a reusable water bottle and snacks in reusable bags so you don't find yourself running to the vending machine or corner store.

Do it yourself – house cleaning. Making your own cleaning products might not eliminate packaging completely (you still need to procure the ingredients), but it can help you cut down considerably. If possible, buy ingredients like baking soda in or from bulk, and if you're really ambitious, you can make your own white vinegar!

This is where the People's Food Co-op comes in for me- bulk cleaning supplies, you da you da best!

Take a break. Re-think your grooming habits. We're not suggesting you let yourself go, but take a break from hair product, foundation, or anti-aging cream for a week or two and see whether you really "need" it. Chances are, you'll look and feel perfectly fine with less.

Do it yourself – personal health. For the personal care products you do need, explore DIY options. For example, you can use baking soda for toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo. Buying the raw ingredients might involve some packaging, but it's a step in the right direction.

Go the extra mile. It's not for everyone, but you can also eliminate packaging by going toilet-paper free, switching to reusable feminine products, and using cloth tissues.

Shop smart. Inevitably, you will buy some packaged goods, but consider packaging that's reusable and recyclable. Avoid excessive packaging like individually-wrapped produce and look for products in bulk, concentrate form, or refillable containers. If you regularly shop online, you might also consider buying more things locally to reduce packing material waste.

I challenge you to reduce the amount of waste that you produce, or at least become aware of the amount of waste that you produce. Or Atkins be damned, you could adopt a low carbon diet ;)

1 comment:

  1. Samantha,

    You are such an inspiration. You seem to have the will and drive to achieve what you set your mind to, and what you're doing is no easy task. I think a low-carbon diet goes hand-in-hand with reducing trash, thinking locally, reducing consumption, but as importantly, becoming more aware, thoughtful and critical stewards.