Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lenten Lessons in Single-Use Plastic and Low-Waste Living

Let's pick up where we left off, shall we? It's only been two years. 😄 Ah, well. Seasons.

Anyway, in looking at my last posts, it really has been almost exactly two years, and yet I am still wanting to talk about the same stuff, so on we roll!

I've been posting on my personal Facebook page recently about my Lenten journey this year: giving up single-use plastic. I thought about updating there, but decided that some of this information and discussion might be valuable to someone beyond the boundaries of my Facebook page, so I have resurrected my blog. I have been thinking about it for some time now and it seems a good time because I'd like to make some notes even to only myself about what I am learning as I more purposefully make a stronger effort toward zero-waste and a more minimalist lifestyle. I have been reading a lot and thinking a lot and find myself needing to process the things I am thinking about. I expect I will be doing a lot of it here.

But I want to keep things simple for now and just do a review of the things I have tried and learned over this past week of Lent.

I received my conditioner bar in the mail this week from the Olive Blossom Soap Co. on Etsy. I had tried the LUSH "Jungle" conditioner bar a couple of years ago and didn't like it. It has a waxy texture and weighed my hair down. I still have the bar and use it to shave my legs and it does a great job at that. Yes, two years: I am one of those who has very little and very light hair on my legs and I hardly ever shave them anymore.

Anyway, this Coco Pineapple conditioner from Olive Blossom is wonderful! I don't actually find it to smell too much like pineapple, which is a disappointment to me, because I love that fragrance, but it doesn't smell unpleasant; it just doesn't smell like pineapple! But it WORKS brilliantly. It gives a nice slip through my hair like any other conditioner would do and rinses clean.

Olive Blossom also sent me a sample of their shampoo which I tried. It is nice too, but we already use and enjoy the Sun Leaf brand of shampoo bars. Reasons to love these:

1) They are local - made in WACONIA, MN - where my family and I lived for 4 years before we moved to Florida.

2) They come in gorgeous essential oil fragrances.

3) They work brilliantly for both hair and body.

4) Sun Leaf has a wonderful line of products beyond shampoo bars including amazing essential oil blends that I use in my diffuser at work, beautiful reed diffusers that are as pretty to look at as they are to inhale, shaving soap, and more.

On Tuesday I went to the co-op with Eve. I brought along my new bulk bags from this Etsy seller and also brought my new, refillable coffee bags that I bought from another Etsy seller, HoldenHearstShop.  The co-op actually provides paper bags for their grind-your-own coffee, but the cloth bags go one step further and are really lovely.

If you're wondering what the Tare weight printed on the bags means, it is there to let the cashier know to deduct the weight of the bag itself from the bulk food you have inside the bag. It's a great feeling knowing you are only paying for your food and not for the marketing and the packaging that often comes with branded, shelf-stable products.

So, I have these 4 bags that I got in the set I ordered and I have a few more that I made myself about 4 years ago. I embroidered the tare weight on a couple of the bags I made, but others don't have it on there; I just use the stickers the market provides. I write the tare weight on the sticker and then the PLU number of the food item on the sticker as well, and then it's good to go.

I don't actually use these bulk food bags for all of my produce. I don't need to. I only use them for bulk dry goods: grains or nuts or beans. Or I use them for small produce items: grapes, mushrooms, peas. You really don't need to bag all of your produce. I know that some people get uncomfortable thinking about the produce being in a dirty cart (this idea was a new one to me until someone questioned me about it). But produce comes from the earth, rides on conveyor belts, is shipped to its destination, is handled by many people all along the way and even by customers in the store itself. You will be washing your produce anyway; your cart is probably the least of your worries!

Let's see, I also brought a jar for my peanut butter, which I freshly ground at the store. And I filled a couple more jars: one with canola oil and one with maple syrup.

More zero-waste shopping alternatives from the week were:

- receiving a new-to-me, second-hand purse from ThredUp. I am minimizing what I carry with me and hope that this new bag will allow me to carry only my essentials

- finding the majority of my spring wardrobe needs/wants at Goodwill - The few gaps I have left in what I am looking for I will also purchase second-hand from Savers or ThredUp or another thrift store.

On Saturday my good friend, Liz, and I went to a Meetup group in Minneapolis called Minnesota Minimalists: A Group for Aspiring Minimalists. The topic of this month's group was "Thought for Food," and it made for good conversation.  We met at the Wedge Table on Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis. I have been familiar with the Wedge (another food co-op) for over 20 years, but the Wedge Table is a newer entity about .5 miles away from the main store. The Table is a cross between a coffee shop/cafe - with both coffee and beer on tap! - , a convenience store (except with healthy, whole food!) - and a community center with meeting rooms and a full kitchen for community use. It was quite impressive!

I remembered to bring my stainless steel to-go containers twice to places from where I took home food, so that was a win. And finally, today I made my own tofu from scratch! It turned out perfectly and now I will be making more for sure!

This coming week, at Liz's suggestions, I am going to try purchasing some tahini from House of Halva at the amazing Keg and Case food hall on West 7th in St. Paul. House of Halva grinds their own tahini on site and I'm going to see if they will fill a jar for me since I can't seem to find a jar of prepared tahini without a plastic "safety" ring around the top. Keg and Case is a great place to just sit and people watch as well, so maybe I'll get some urban sketching in too!

Liz also mentioned I try Brake Bread, since they make and sell their own, local, fresh bread that I can buy without a bag.

I'll just bring my own on Tuesday.  Brake Bread delivers the bread by bicycle in St. Paul and name all of their breads after something to do with biking. ❤🚲

While trying anything new, like going without purchasing single-use plastic, it can feel challenging for sure. But it also provides a sense of discovery in my own back yard. Living low-waste has me seeking out alternative options. The cool thing is that alternatives are usually out there and they introduce me to new services, new experiences, new people.

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