This week, I picked native flowers for myself. They even match my tattoo. Gush! Aww, how sweet of me. I shouldn’t have… Romance isn’t dead.
Drinking my coffee in the sun before another intense day at work. Working towards environmental conservation has made a martyr of me. I’m a busy-body. I work all day every day on three separate projects. It’s apt how unsustainable my routine is.
I tell myself that after a big launch in 4 weeks, I’ll claw my way back to a healthy routine. The reality is that this is me always. Working, working, working… What am I working for? Money, environmentalism, people; but mostly something self-fulfilling. I like working. It makes me feel helpful. It gives me purpose. It’s a habit. It’s an addiction.
I suck at self care. I am trying to take 5 mins everyday to do ultra-mega-boring things that are good for me. A little “nothing time” is great for busy people who need more brain space for creativity and processing. It’s not quite meditation and it’s not quite exercise. It’s deliberately dull and unappealing. Want to hear how boring I am? Here goes…
Hello my name is Zoe and I like to feel the wind in my hair, gentle walks in the bushland and:
- Just standing there
- Just sitting there
- Listening to my heartbeat
- Feeling my breath entering my nostrils
- Staring out the window
Sounds dull huh? You’re probably too busy for this too, yeah? Wrong! Prioritise “nothing time” and let your brain juices flowwwww
Are there any mates that can give me advice on zero waste sun protection? Particularly anyone with light brown to dark skin or tattoos. I am at a loss. I want a very high spf sunscreen that doesn’t come in plastic and isn’t chalky. Must be a reliable shield against Australia’s high UV rays.
Here’s a quick comparison:
Before I boycotted plastic, @invisiblezincau was my go to. It offers high protection and is non-greasy and ideal for face. It used to have ethical credentials on #shopethical but has since been marked down. Regardless of its credibility, the chalky residue looks a bit silly over tattoos and light brown skin. Even the tinted versions are very light. My winter skin is fair enough to wear this, but too dark to require it.
I’ve tried @sun.and.earth.zinc but found it offers very little protection and the colour is a strange brown-grey. It made me look dead inside. This is fine colour to match my corpse but while I’m still alive, I need something in the yellow-brown spectrum. Or ya know… just not tinted because one size does not fit all.
Many natural sunscreens don’t display spf. I like that tin packaging is on the rise but no spf makes me reluctant to buy… how can I be sure it’s going to get the job done? I gotta protect my tattoos.
Got a low impact sunscreen that works on dark/tattooed skin? Recommendations welcome. Know stuff about sun protection and nanoparticles? Teach me all the things!
A small sample of the items that keep my partner alive. Sometimes plastic really is fantastic. I look forward to a greater use of glass and bioplastics in the medical industry as we innovate toward environmental sustainability in all sectors. For now, we’ll take what we can get and favour recyclable packaging if the option arises.
This is a post for all my non-vegan earth lovers and for anyone, like me, whose mind is boggled by zero waste dairy. It gets easier. Our approach is to seek out recyclable, reusable or byo packaging and generally eat more plants. While our health and well-being are paramount, we feel that any effort in favour of plant-rich foods should be applauded.
As Michael Pollan says…
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Here’s some food for thought on zero waste dairy:
- Adopt something plant-based: I’m a non vegan ex-cheese snob who loves soy milk, coconut yoghurt, nut butter; and macadamia feta. I’ve tried cashew Parmesan and discovered that it’s easier to make myself. It’s great on roast vegetables. As a result, I’m now cooking with nutritional yeast. It’s not always peachy. When our soy boccocini melted into a ‘pearl jam’ consistency, I must admit I struggled to find it appealing 😜
- Ask questions: By popular demand, a couple of local dairy farmers are now stocking milk in refillable glass bottles. We want to be a voice in that popular demand. For me, it still takes courage, but I’m getting used to saying “I’m trying to reduce my plastic use, would it be ok to put this in my own container?” I’m looking forward to a day when I can buy soy milk in glass too. We also return egg cartons for reuse.
- Avoid plastic: We have found milk, yoghurt and cheese in glass or paper packaging from local suppliers. We buy parmesan in bulk to reduce packaging overall. It’s a conundrum for me that many vegan options are not yet plastic-free in Australia.
- Favour local, ethical farmers: We’re lucky enough to live near ethical farmers. When we do buy dairy, we’ll try to support those that are not only ensuring that animals live well, but they also support environmentally sustainable practises in agriculture. Meat and dairy industries vary across the world, so this one takes a bit of research. I’m forever learning and try to be mindful of bias, propaganda and greenwashing.
- Make it yourself: I experimented with homemade yoghurt and it’s surprisingly easy! Am yet to make vegan milk, but the recipe for almond milk seems like a no brainer.
Plant-based cheese review from a cheese snob!!
My French-influenced upbringing made me a cheese fiend for most of my life. I understood the difference between cheeses before I knew how to multiply. When I was 3, I liked smoked gouda. When I was 8, my preference was brie. Just like a fine cheese, I was well cultured. Later in life, when I lived with my best friend and vegan buddy, I actually found it easy to be vegan at home… except for cheese.
The bocconcini is ok. The texture matches its dairy counterpart. It melts in an unfamiliar and less attractive way though (it looks like ‘pearl jam’ when melted). It’s soy-based but doesn’t have a soy after-taste (note that I might be biased because I love soy milk). It tastes creamy.
In use: Do not melt. Add to salads and serve cold.
The cashew cheese is astoundingly delicious but you can make this yourself for a fraction of the price. Just grind up some cashews, salt and yeast and save a heap of dollaridoos (As a bonus: Add silken tofu for a creamy vegan béchamel sauce). This jar is far too expensive for what it is but I like that they have exposed how easy it is to substitute the flavour of Parmesan sprinkles. To me, this mimics the cheap Parmesan flakes, not the actual cheese block.
In use: Sprinkle on roast vegetables before putting in the oven. Then make your own after this runs out.
I learned that the ultimate zero waste approach to sex is not having kids. I realised that zero waste protection is often invasive. I reluctantly accept that condoms are ok because safe sex is paramount.
Not having kids
Population growth has slowed down since the 60s baby boom. But human impact on the environment is getting worse. Less humans means less environmental problems right?
I would make a great mum. I was 12 when I changed a nappy for the first time. I took great pride in my ability to calm my nieces and nephew and gently rock them to sleep. I love babysitting. I love watching a child’s personality shine through. When friends come to visit; I can cook a meal, entertain their child, and keep an eye on our dog all while socialising and enjoying a glass or three of wine.
My husband and I made the decision to not talk seriously about having kids until we were both 29. It was a handshake agreement that gave me permission to focus on being a twenty-something, binge drinking, full-time worker with a thirst for travel and live music. It’s only now that we’ve hit our 30s that we’re starting to feel a little foggy about what we want.
Protection is invasive
Zero waste protective sex has it’s downsides. Truly zero waste options are the birth control implant, Copper IUD or a Vasectomy.
Motivated by zero waste and health reasons, I decided to go off the birth control pill. I’d been on the pill for almost 15 years. That’s half my life and basically all of my adult life. My hormones are slowly starting to balance out again, but I’m left with a lack of options for the sexy time. How can we prevent getting pregnant without buying single-use plastic packaging or pumping our bodies full of hormones?
- Bar in the arm? No way. I’m done with hormones.
- Barbed wire in the snatch? There’s no way I’m putting a piece of metal in my taco. No thank you…
- Get the snip? Sure! But that’s super invasive and doctors have tried to deter us because they believe we’re too young (we’re both 30).
Condoms are ok
If safe sex is paramount, then condoms are ok. A condom is the best protection against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
We see condoms as part of ‘medical’ plastics. We played it as safe as possible for as long as we could and then finally resorted to buying a fresh pack of love gloves. No glove, no love. Amiright?
How to think about the environment in a sexy way
Accept that the most environmentally-friendly approach to sex is not having kids. Consider package-free contraceptives but know that condoms and packaging are ok because safe sex is paramount. Stay true to your personal values. If you choose to make a tiny human, tell them about zero waste.
I learned that good health is paramount & that it’s ok to create medical waste. I learned the power of self care & mindfulness. I discovered that napping, stretching & eating well is pretty effective. I realised that a healthy recovery sometimes doesn’t require medication.
Be realistic and accept that some medical conditions require waste. Your health is paramount and modern medicine saves lives. Swallow your pride and remember that there comes a time in everyone’s life when the doctor says “Can I have some of your poo?” and you’ve just gotta ignore all the standards you’ve set for yourself and drop the kids off at the plastic pool.
A topic I’d love to hear more about is zero waste sickness. I’ve had great health since starting zero waste because I’m eating well, am looking after myself and am more mindful. But I don’t have a medical condition. So, what about the serious illnesses? What about the times when natural medicine can’t cure you? Sometimes medical plastics are unavoidable.
When my husband, James was 14 years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For 16 years, he has manually injected himself with insulin and tested his blood. Every syringe and single-use blood test strip has been a saving grace that keeps him alive.
Today, he is relieved to have upgraded to a wearable insulin pump that automatically injects insulin and monitors his blood. James reckons he has become part robot and he loves the freedom that this tech has given him.
He has two wearables: His insulin pump and a continual glucose meter. He needs to change the cannula and reservoir in his pump every 3 days. The glucose meter is changed every 6 days. The tech comes with a single purpose applicator to ensure a sterilised and safe application. Unfortunately, this system creates a lot more waste than the manual one. Down the track, there may be opportunities to find a system that produces less landfill. But sadly for now, some waste is essential. I’m just so grateful for modern medicine and to have the best treatment available for my best friend.
Favour recyclable packaging
Ask questions. Explore options. If given a choice by your doctor, take small steps to reduce the amount of single-use plastic required. Avoid blister packs. Favour bulk. Vitamins are often available in glass jars. Headache tablets can be sold in bulk plastic tubs.
My husband was shocked by the amount of single-use plastic required for his insulin pump. He asked his doctor loads of questions and found that this pump can be topped up using the same syringe he’s familiar with (100% plastic) or a vial (glass / metal / rubber). Being inspired by zero waste, he’s opted for glass vials that have a metal and rubber lid and are packaged in paper. Using recyclable packaging makes no difference to his wellbeing, but it results in significantly less plastic coming into our home.
On a slightly less life-threatening note, I have had bouts of mild insomnia at various times in my life. It occasionally gets to the point where a pill is necessary. Rather than purchasing blister packs and plastic containers, I now favour a glass container with loose pills inside. It cures me of my temporary ailment and I now have a jar that I can reuse for toiletries.
If a fork in the road presents itself, and it has no impact on my wellbeing, I try to favour recyclable packaging.
Consider a drug-free remedy
If your doctor says it’s ok, consider not buying a product at all and opt for natural remedies, manual therapy or recovering at a steady pace.
I can get tension headaches from sitting at a desk all day. Rather than taking a painkiller, I go to a manual therapist to solve the problem at its core: knotted shoulders and neck. It works a treat!
I have a special talent at getting food poisoning. It’s really quite remarkable just how many types of food I’ve been poisoned by: milk, bread, beans and prawns. Seafood poisoning was the worst. I thought I’d never recover. When I’ve tried to take a pill for my belly, it’s resulted in further discomfort. Despite my best efforts to speed up recovery, the best remedy for food poisoning has always been hydration, time and a delicate diet of rice, broth, bananas, salted bread and whatever vegetables my body is craving. This is a sickness that takes a great deal of patience and self-awareness.
Sickness varies from person to person, and I trust that the doctor knows what’s best for me. If I’m lucky enough to have the option, I’ll heal without medication.
Look after yourself
Get regular check ups from your doctor, dentist and therapist. Eat well, exercise, take a nap, do some stretches and listen to your mother.
I’ve had this book, “Foods that Harm. Foods that Heal.” all my life. I think it’s shaped me. It offers a reference for what to eat/avoid in certain health situations. My mum would refer to it when I had a sore tummy or a cold. I began to flick through the pages when I experienced the joys of puberty. Today, it’s a reference for a quicker recovery or supporting a change in lifestyle like reducing meat in my diet or increasing exercise. Even though some parts are a little outdated, I’m always learning something new.
I’ve also noticed that I’m stretching more and am mindful and realistic about when I’m run down, so I rest (I vaguely remember my mum telling me about this far out thing called “resting”). I don’t quite know how to explain it but I can see how zero waste is an enabler for good health.
How to be fully sick without feeling bad
Good health is paramount & it’s ok to create medical waste. Look after yourself. Ask questions, explore options, listen to your doctor and do whatever you need to be as healthy as can be.
I learned to ignore my fears and try something new. I used a moon cup and experienced red week without any waste at all. I got to understand my body and listen to my cycle. I learned that disposables are not essential, in fact, they’re a little gross.
Try something new
Compromising current norms and suppressing anxiety may be required to try something new. It’s out of the comfort zone, but worth it if you feel motivated about reducing landfill.
I was mortified by the thought of leaving the cotton pony behind. Switching to a reusable product did not sound appealing at all. I had a good thing going on with tampons. The system worked. It was simple, clean and easy. It was socially acceptable. It’s a lovely gesture to give someone a tampon when they’re in need. We have a stash of pads and tampons at work that anyone can freely take. That’s girl power, right?
Given that this system worked perfectly well for me, there was only one motivation for trying something new: Reducing my landfill waste. I pictured all the used tampons and pads sitting at waste disposal centres around the world. I pictured rats and other scavengers mistaking them for food. I pictured someone sorting through that rubbish and casually uncovering one, like it’s no big deal because they see them ALL the time. I no longer wanted to contribute to this picture.
Switch to a moon cup
Moon cups are available at pharmacies, natural alternative stores and online. They take a bit of getting used too. Expect an adjustment period (ha, get it?), as well as a new sense of empowerment and independence.
When I first experienced one whole red week 100% landfill free, it was life changing. Using a moon cup felt like a huge milestone. The moon cup I have is a Diva Cup, but there are plenty of similar brands making these small and mighty solutions to landfill free periods. The only waste was the recyclable box that it came in – and that’s potentially it for one whole year. Mind blowing!
Something about this gave me a sense of empowerment. I learnt a lot about myself. Achieving the same level of comfort and ease took a couple of days of practise but once I got to that stage, I was really impressed by this product. Had I experienced leaks, I would also invest in period-proof underwear like SheThinx. This was not necessary. The cup alone is all I need.
How to bleed for one whole week without using disposables
Take a deep breath and try something new. Familiarise yourself with your body and your cycle. Consider using a moon cup and/or period proof underwear. Practice makes perfect.
I want to fill my life with as much creative play as possible. Making, experimenting and trying new things is good for our souls. Doing this together strengthens bonds and has the potential to build ritual and knowledge from tasks.
Together is better. We’ve been practising making tortillas, mountain bread, sour dough and naan bread. By shifting dinner from a task to a shared ritual, we’ve change our mindset from “I can’t be bothered cooking” to “let’s cook together”. Being surrounded by modern conveniences, I had lost touch with this way of living.
Quality flour + clean water = freedom. If my partner and I can make these things well, then we‘ll no longer value convenience. Instead, we’ll value quality, core ingredients. It will be more affordable. It will be nutritionally better for us. It will help us tap into traditional cultures and connect with our collective history. It will enrich our lives. It’s a win win win.