Am not quite sure when it happened. When I started thinking twice and feeling bad about opening an individual cookie pack and automatically throwing it away. Or tasting a couple of ice cream flavours with plastic spoons and binning them. Or buying so many organic products, from rice to pasta to cereals, and not questioning for a second how these healthier products were completely ignoring the harmfullness of its packaging materials.
Somehow it started to ring a bell. I began questioning where it would all end up. To answer this question, I could simply post a picture of the Great Pacific garbage patch, or of a seahorse holding a Q-tip, or of so many other disastrous examples of how plastics, in other words we, are harming our planet, the one where my children and yours, nephews, and neighbours, and brothers and sisters, will grow up.
But I will not. Instead I will tell you about the path I am building, at home, with my family, to change my attitude, the garbagge we generate and my mindset, baby step by baby step. And beware, I am just starting, so don’t put your stakes up to high. Furthermore, I am on the stage of educating, envagalizing almost, both my very young children and husband…!
1 - My first step was to start buying bulk in my own packaging (recycling glass jars from other products). Furthermore, and quite relevant for us as a family, I started buying the wholemeal version whenever available, from rice, to flours, to pasta (not bulk though, as it is still not available in my area). This meant using less processed food thus benefiting our health.
At present, every gram of rice, flours, spices, sugar (I don’t use cane sugar but I’ll tell you that story some other time) we eat is bought in bulk.
In Porto, where I leave, I stock my needs in three specific shops, that differ in terms of price, products available and quality. So depending on what I want I, I choose which one to go to.
They are: Toca do Granel and Grão e Granel, smaller stores focused on bulk, and IdealBio, the best and biggest organic supermarket in my area. There are others, even more traditional and older than these, but these sell organic products which is my choice.
I also buy most of my fruit and vegetables in the market (my favoutrite being the Saturday Morning Organic Market in Parque da Cidade), and when I don’t, I make sure I take my own bag and that I choose the ones not wrapped in plastic.
2 - I started reading Bea Johnson’s “Zero Waste”, and for me that was the REAL beggining. But I am doing so with an very open mind, knowing, for the moment, that I am not ready to let go of everything nor to start producing my own mascara or toothpaste. Give me time, ok ;-)?
3 – Am starting to replace specific toilet products for more eco-friendly versions, for example:
-“Supermarket” Toothbrushes by bamboo toothbrushes. There are several brands around but I’ll mention a Portuguese one, BABU.
- Liquid soaps for solid soaps, the old fashion way. You have tons of natural and handmade choices made right here in Portugal to choose from.
- Shower gel is to be replaced by solid soap as well. Still on the process of choosing a brand (with an equal eco-friendly package) as my daughter has really sensitive and itchy skin.
- Liquid Shampoo and conditioner for solid versions. Actually am happy with the ones I’ve tried (from Lush), although I was disappoiinted when I received them as they were packed in plastic.
Another thing that I am still struggling is how to pratically place them in the shower. Wll keep you posted on new discoveries!
- I have decided to buy an organic cup to use instead of my panties. That will be an adventure, but I have honestly read so many encouraging reviews that I feel ready to take this step!
4 – Bye-bye straws and paper napkins (I’ll use blue roll or fabric napkins instead). In case you don’t have stock, try using an old cloth to make some. Having said that, you can find reusable ones in the market, made either or metal or bamboo.
Hmm... the night is long and this article is long enough… so I'll leave you this and ask you to watch this space for the next chapter, on organic garbagge, home detergents and other steps!