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Totally in touch with this emotion right now - in fact I just wrote a long rambling guilt post about my most recent eco-sins. The conversation that it generated gave me some food for thought.
The reality is that what we as individuals do is much less important than what "everybody" does. So a big portion of our job as environmentalists is to try to encourage and inspire other people to follow our lead.
But when we cross the line from responsible living to self-imposed misery, I think we do more harm than good to our own cause. If the picture we paint is one of deprivation and suffering for the sake being more "righteous" we're pretty likely to turn people off from wanting to join us - and we're even likely to give ammunition to folks who oppose our views.
Sustainability has to be sustainable for the people too. And people have to live within the realities of the societies that surround them.
That doesn't mean we should give up, but it does mean that we should give ourselves a break when it comes to eco-perfectionism. If everybody on earth lived 1% more sustainably it would have vastly more impact than a few of us hanging ourselves on a sustainably harvested, organically grown, locally produced, plastic-free cross.
1 week, 1 day ago on Is It Cheating to Stock up on Restaurant Burritos?
Wow Beth... you are totally knocking my socks off! My wool socks that is!
I struggle to find natural fibers that are suitable for cycling. I have a pile of base layers, and cycling jerseys that I bought used so I figure that's OK - at least better, but you're totally right about the stink! So I finally broke down and bought a SmartWool base layer last fall and it totally ROCKS! Anyhow, I'm sure you don't quite have to worry about freezing your rear off to the degree that I do here in Denver - especially since one gets a LOT colder on a bike than running because you're moving fast - so it's like riding in a 20mph wind even when there is no wind.
All that being said... have you considered merino wool? It's totally my new favorite fabric - not itchy or scratchy at all, and they make it in a variety of thicknesses. I know that Ibex and Smartwool both make tights and knickers. I think there's probably some spandex in the mix, but it might be worth considering. I've grown to totally depend on my merino wool socks and I wear them year round for cycling. SOOOO much more comfortable than cotton. Anyhow, they do make merino wool tank tops and summer stuff, so I think it doesn't get to hot.
I have yet to find anything wind and waterproof in a natural fiber though. Maybe something made with oilcloth could work, but it would probably have to be custom made since I sincerely doubt there's any commercial cycling wear made from it. So I have purchased a few new items that were synthetic - cycling shoes, wind/rain jacket, warm winter cycling jacket with wind-stop fabric, cycling gloves, and - of course - cycling shorts which are worn without underwear - that's where I draw the line on used clothing! I'd LOVE to hear any thoughts you might have on those areas.
And my other big win was that I found a cage that fits my kleen kanteen water bottle so I don't have to use the plastic ones anymore. Woo Hoo!
Anyhow, sorry to blather. Keep up the amazing work, you're an inspiration in so many ways!
2 weeks, 3 days ago on Running with Less Plastic, Part 1
@BethTerry @EcoCatLady p.s. Scrambled eggs are a fantastic substitute for ground beef in most recipes. They are my go-to food when I'm cooking for CatMan (who is still a vegetarian.)
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?
@BethTerry @EcoCatLady Hey Beth... I actually was a vegetarian until a year or two ago - I had to give it up because a combination of food allergies and sensitivities took soy, most nuts, seeds and legumes, as well as fermented foods off the table - which made it pretty much impossible to get enough protein as a vegetarian!
But, when I initially lost the weight I was a veggie - though I still ate eggs & dairy. Of course, my diet back then was full of processed meat substitutes which I'm not sure I'd recommend even if they didn't come wrapped in plastic. I'm also not wild about soy because it tends to slow down the thyroid gland, which makes losing weight all the more difficult.
Have you ever tried seitan? I think it's basically wheat gluten - but it's a good vegetarian source of protein. It generally comes in plastic, but an Asian grocery store might have it in bulk - I've also heard it isn't hard to make. Other tricks I had back in my veggie days included adding whey or rice protein to things like bread & oatmeal to give them more protein.
Anyhow, best of luck with this - I'm pullin' for you!
Hey Beth - I hear you about the chocolate covered everything in those bulk bins... DANGER ZONE!!!
Anyhow, I just wrote a post about how I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off for the past 20 years. I'm not sure it has much to do with eco-living, except that running most of my errands on foot or bike is a big part of my program. I am decidedly NOT a numbers person, but if you're curious about what worked for me, here's a link:
Best of luck in your journey!
1 month, 4 weeks ago on Lose Weight Through Plastic-Free Living?
Thanks for this review. As a fellow sensitive stiffer, I think I'll pass on the beeswax. But I totally agree about the bowl with a plate on top - works great! For the freezer I generally use either waxed paper or foil with a rubber band around the edge. Not zero-waste, but at least no plastic.
2 months, 2 weeks ago on Can Beeswax Cloth Wraps Replace Plastic Cling Wrap?
@BethTerry @EcoCatLady Oooooo La La! :-)
3 months, 1 week ago on A Tale of Two Plastic-Free Salad Spinners
Ha! Very interesting... and I love the photos! I've never actually owned a salad spinner. I generally just put it in a colander with a dish towel on top and shake like crazy. But maybe I'll give the cloth bag a try. Probably wouldn't work too well when it's below freezing outside though... Maybe I'll reserve that experiment for warmer weather! :-)
I think the key to getting people to change their behavior is to stop trying to appeal to the do-gooder impulse and to focus more on the enlightened self-interest aspect of making better decisions. I was raised as your typical fast food eating, chemical product using, plastic wrapped American. The further I get from that lifestyle the more I've come to loathe it... but it's not for lofty do-gooder reasons, it's because I've come to feel that the highly marketed typical choices are inferior to the "real thing."
The catch-22 here is that I think it requires removing oneself from the hype and the over-stimulation of all of the phony products to be able to realize that the real thing is actually better. I think we've trained our taste buds to accept the toxic soup as good tasting - but once you get away from it for a while, all of those artificial flavors and scents stop seeming yummy and start to taste and smell remarkably, well... artificial! And none of that even touches on the obvious health benefits of making better choices. I won't drink bottled water, but it's only partially because of the environmental impact of the stuff... I just think that it tastes like plastic!
Anyhow, that's my take.
3 months, 4 weeks ago on Thinking About Toothpaste at a Meditation Retreat
Well, my solution to the ice cream dilemma is to just not buy it for home consumption. Truth be told, this has nothing to do with plastic or packaging, and everything to do with self control - an area in which I am sorely lacking! If I buy a quart of ice cream, I'm gonna eat the whole thing. Maybe not all in one sitting, but no way that sucker makes it a week in my home. So, if I really, REALLY have to have ice cream, I go to the ice cream parlor and do it right. That way it really feels like a treat, and I don't have to worry about losing the inevitable self control battle when I hear the siren song calling from the freezer! :-)
5 months, 2 weeks ago on Another Trader Joe’s Rant. This Time It’s Ice Cream.
Thanks for this review! If I ever decide to get another blender I think this will be it! For the moment though, I'm very happy that I decluttered mine and replaced it with an immersion stick blender instead. It's SOOOOO much easier for soups and sauces, which is the main thing I use it for. I've made a few smoothies right in the glass with it too, but you do have to leave some space at the top (ask me how I know...)
p.s. So glad to finally learn what Burning Man is... here I thought it was some sort of sunscreen protest! :-) BTW, what do you do about sunscreen? Is there a plastic free option available?
6 months ago on Why I Love My Blender
Am I the only person who has no earthly idea what "Burning Man" is? I'm gather this is some sort of festival? Can somebody help out the ignorant?
6 months, 1 week ago on Plastic-Free Burning Man — The List, Part 2
Yup, all false.
In terms of what I'm going to change... I know you're probably talking about personal lifestyle changes, but instead I decided to write to my city councilman asking him to support a proposed five cent fee on all disposable grocery bags here in Denver. If I can influence that legislation even in a small way, it will do much more than any personal changes I might be able to make. And, I might make some repairs to a few of my reusable grocery bags too!
10 months, 2 weeks ago on Win a Plastic-Free Book! Take the Quiz & Make a Pledge
@Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator @EcoCatLady Holy Moly! What a riot! It does look like fun, but I think I'd still be afraid of coming down wrong - of course I'm terrified of roller blades for the same reason!
Anyhow, welcome! I look forward to future banter!
11 months, 2 weeks ago on Meet Ericka, My New Intern!
@Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator Ha! It didn't register with me that they were made of plastic... but what are they? They look like some sort of bizarre pogo-stick shoe contraption... Like blade runner feet for people who actually still have both legs? Anyhow... is it a fitness thing? I'm dying to know. Looks like a sprained ankle to me! :-)
I don't have a brilliant solution, but I have a similar issue with jars and other food storage containers. I garden in the summer and then freeze the surplus for use throughout the year. So I have a big collection of mason jars as well as Pyrex and stainless steel containers for freezing.
Problem is that when the freezer is full I have a devil of a time finding a free jar or container for anything, but as I eat through the year's harvest I end up with so many containers that there's no place to put them all! For the moment I've reserved an entire shelf in the basement storage room just for jars & other freezer containers, and it helps - but there's still more schlepping of containers up and down the stairs than I would like.
1 year ago on Beware the Reusable Bag Monster
OMG, I'm totally seething with jealousy over your bag collection. I fear mine are much more um... tattered than yours appear. Pretty much all of my canvas ones are stained and/or frayed - of course I've owned most of them for 20+ years - seriously, I've got one from a food co-op that's changed ownership and names about 5 times since the bag was born. And pretty much all of the freebie plastic ones have been mended several times and patched with duct tape.
I've even managed to wear out my favorite Haida whale canvas bag. Seriously, the handles are more than 50% gone because they're so frayed, the thing is stained beyond all recognition (despite repeated washings,) and the beautiful Haida whale on the front is almost unrecognizable.... but it's my FAVORITE! I've been trying to decide if I should try to repair it or just let it go on to it's next incarnation in the rag bag (snif, snif.)
That's not to say that I don't probably have more bags than I actually "need," but the truth is I'm still searching for the perfect canvas bag. - One with a square bottom and a firm piece of cardboard or particle board that makes for easier packing of heavy items, and with the little loop to hold it open in the bagging rack. I'm sure such a creature exists, but I might have to actually buy one, and that totally goes against my nature. Perhaps I'll try to modify some of the ones that seldom get used before I go acquire something new. I know! I'll steal the handles from one of the yucky ones and sew them onto my beloved Haida whale bag!
Perhaps you should organize a national reusable bag giveaway day or something like that.
1 year, 1 month ago on Beware the Reusable Bag Monster
To be honest, I just did a Google image search for "cat tree" and that one came up. I think it's called the "Contemporary Cat Corner." Looks like you can buy it on this site: http://www.therefinedfeline.com/catemporary-cat-tower-shelf.htm
That's all I know!
1 year, 1 month ago on How to Make a Cat Climbing Tree Without Buying Any New Plastic Materials
Thank you so much for this post Beth. For some reason it is immensely comforting to learn that even a stalwart like you can feel depressed and overwhelmed by the intractable nature of what we're up against. I've always been a bit of a "glass half full" kind of girl, and I fear it's all too easy for me to slide into the depths of despair and cynicism. (I read the book "Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas several years ago and it sent me into a tailspin that took years to get out of.)
And even though eco-perfectionism is not something that will ever be in my future, you've inspired me to make changes that I had never even contemplated before reading your blog.
In the end I think we have to be kind to ourselves and realize that none of us can ever "do enough" to change these problems on our own. But we can keep the faith, and keep encouraging others to change, and who knows which person will end up being the "hundredth monkey."
1 year, 2 months ago on The End of the World is Coming and I’m Still not Buying New Plastic
@Catladytoo @EcoCatLady @BethTerry I have nothing but the deepest appreciation for our military. My father, my boyfriend and both of my grandfathers are veterans. It's the military industrial complex that I have a problem with.
1 year, 2 months ago on What Will It Take To Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem?