Today, I want to write about something that is very, very close to my heart. I’ve always been quite aware of how my behavior affects our planet (as in always turning off the lights before leaving the house, not throwing out food unless it’s absolutely necessary, etc.), but lately I’ve been having even more of a change of heart. There are so many little things you can do in your every day life to make a change, but I realized there are still way too many things I do without even noticing how terrible they are for the earth. Now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with the theme of my blog – traveling (since that’s what contributes so much to air pollution and climate change – just think about how badly a single short domestic flight affects the air with its emissions) – and I was going to write about that at first, but then I decided that I wanted to keep it more general and applicable to every single person for now, not just “chronic travelers” like myself. If you’re adjusting to a sustainable lifestyle altogether, it’s much easier to transfer these habits into your behavior while traveling. So I’m starting another series because this cause is so important to me and I can’t wait to hear your opinions and tips as I am trying to change my lifestyle more and more, both at home and away.
As you may know, I’m currently in the US – a country where you have to pay five bucks a month to be allowed (!) to separate your trash, a country where individually wrapped plastic straws are passed out to you with every single drink in a restaurant, a country where you’re often being frowned upon by cashiers if you say no to a plastic bag (or put more than two items into one bag). So you could say I’m feeling pretty inspired to get as close to a zero waste lifestyle as possible. (Side note: I am not trying to generalize or paint a bad image here, the US will always hold a special place in my heart after having lived there and because of all the wonderful friends and family that always welcome me with open arms. These are merely some facts as well as my personal impressions.) But it’s also something that has me feeling very frustrated whenever I go into any supermarket: there’s plastic everywhere you look. I can feel great about choosing those local mushrooms over the imported ones and paying a few cents more, but then I start feeling like shit (excuse my language but I get so worked up about it) because of the plastic container they usually come in. There are a bunch of vegetables and fruit that you can get without packaging, but what about milk? What about pasta? Medicine? Office supplies? The list goes on and on. Even if you’re eating plant-based, there are still so many products left that you can’t get unwrapped or put in your own container. Especially if you’re on a budget, especially if you’re not living in a big city with a bulk store or zero waste supermarkets. So that’s why I’m so frustrated. I am frustrated, because in our society, you have to go out of your way to live a zero waste lifestyle. You have to make a huge effort and you have to be well off to do so. And that’s what makes me really sad, the fact that instead of it being a given, instead of it being natural, it’s a rare and hard thing to be able to live in a way that doesn’t threaten our planet. I could go on about this for hours, but before I get out of hand, there are some things we can do to slowly introduce less packaged products into our lives, so I want to talk about some of the things I’ve started doing or I plan on beginning to do.
Number one: skin care. I have mentioned this before in my Florida Impressions blog post when I talked about the Naples Soap Company. Not only are you doing your skin a favor when switching to natural skin care, but also the planet. One way to do so is by creating your own products. I have tried about everything on Pinterest and not all of it has worked for me obviously, but I will link you some “recipes” that I’ve tried and that I liked below. Since many DIY projects have failed, I decided to look for the products I couldn’t make myself from companies like Lush. I’m an absolute fan, not just of their famous and beloved bath bombs, but of their other products and especially their ethics as well. Ever since reading an article in one of their catalogues, I’ve been in love with the work they do. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the exact article that left me so stunned anymore because that was over two or three years ago, but here’s some other food for thought. All of my facial skin care is entirely natural except for make up remover, since I haven’t found an adequate substitute for the traditional make up remover wipes yet (if you have a tip for me, please let me know!).
A change that I want to make as soon as I’ve used up all the products I already have (which I’m not going to just throw out since that wouldn’t be very sustainable either), is switching to shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bars from Lush, but there are more companies that are starting to introduce them. They’re zero waste and natural (if you get them from Lush or a similar store) and will last you a very long time. They’re also a lot easier to transport than your usual shampoo bottles so I can’t wait to finally try them.
If you’ve got all these unfinished products sitting around still and are therefore not quite ready to replace them yet, here’s something very simple you can do in the mean time. What does our generation do when we want to know something? Ask our neighbor? Call somewhere to find out? Nope, not really. We’ll just google it real quick. People all around the world make about 3.5 billion google searches per day (for source click here). What if there was a way to do something good without it affecting our daily web search behavior? What if there was a search engine that planted trees for every 45ish searches that you make but it doesn’t cost you a cent? Well, you’re in luck, because there is and it’s called ecosia. It’s free for everybody and it works just like any other search engine – except they plant trees to make a change for nature. Their own servers are run with green power and their business partners and providers are starting to switch to eco-electricity as well. The only thing I could criticize, as I want to be real with you and not just paint a pretty picture, is that for some very specific topics, you may not find sufficient results. In that case, I just switch to google for certain researches and then later go back to ecosia. 99% of the time I don’t have any trouble finding what I’m looking for, if you want to know more, go ahead and check out their YouTube channel. It will only take a couple of minutes out of your day to download the app to your phone and set up ecosia as your standard search engine on your computer, and it doesn’t affect your lifestyle in any way at all, but at the same time you’re being part of making a very important positive change.
This is only the beginning and there is so much more that I want to say and that I’m going to say, but I’m wrapping it up for now. If you need some specific ideas, I’m going to put a list of product substitutes that I use or plan on trying out below. There is a lot more to come on more aspects such as grocery shopping and of course the traveling aspects, so stay tuned. Please leave a comment, send over an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on instagram (@flightsandfreeways) if you want to share the things that you do to live a more sustainable life or have any requests for related topics.
See you soon, Fee.
We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.
Sustainable/ natural products
Moisturizers: rose hip seed oil, aloe vera gel (they should be available at your local drug store)
Toner: Lush Tea Tree Toner Tabs (dissolve them in water to make your own cheap and natural toner, a little bit will go a long way!)
Hair masks: Coconut oil, Lush H’Suan Wen Hua
You can find shampoo bars, conditioner bars and body washes here. I haven’t tried any of these yet so I can’t recommend a specific one. If you have tried them before and have a favorite or if you have a recipe to make your own, feel free to leave a comment.
All of the products mentioned above I have tried and paid for myself, this post was not influenced by a cooperation in any way, I’m just speaking my mind. I am aware that not all of these products are perfect solutions, so I continue to search for better options. (Also yes, I know those are a lot of different skin care products. If you don’t need this much, good for you, I just happen to have always had very problematic skin for as long as I can remember.) I’m always open to hear your take on this subject!