July 31, 2022

Let’s take the lessons of Plastic-Free July forward into every day of our Lives, with Joy. ~ Michelle Smith

It’s never too late for Plastic Free July!

Hello you, hola con todos/as!

We’re at the end of Plastic Free July and I’d like to share some of my plastic-free practices with you today.

My journey has been in the making for years—it didn’t happen overnight. I have found it to be such an empowering practice. Maybe you feel that way, too?

We know plastic is found literally everywhere nowadays. Plastic breaks down into microplastics and even smaller nanoplastics, which can be found globally, including now, in unborn babies. Microplastics pollution has reached every part of the planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. We consume tiny particles via food and water, and breathe them in.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

Plastic’s everywhere in this to-go, not for-here culture we live in. We know it’s made of climate-crisis-heating petroleum, we know it became popular as a cheap material, yet at what cost? BPA and other toxins, cancer, ocean, River, land pollution are all associated with plastics.

Which is why I make a daily choice to avoid single-use plastic.

Alternatives such as glass bottles/containers, paper, cardboard, foil, pottery are still part of our lives and a great resource. Remember walking in to the local store and exchanging an empty glass bottle for a new one? I do. We can return to such “closed-loop” ways of doing things.

Sugarcane Bagasse, Seaweed, Coconut Husk, Bamboo, Cork and other plant-based materials are growing in popularity, hence more research and development is being done, such as: cellulose derived from cotton, trees, hemp, and wood pulp, which can be transformed into different packaging materials that can be water- and air-resistant. Mushroom Mycelium foam can act like polystyrene foam, though stronger and more durable. And it doesn’t off-gas!

What I would like to share with you today is: start with one room or one item at the time.

That doesn’t mean ditch all plastic items you currently have in your house. If you still have (plastic) things, as I still do, such as shampoo/conditioner bottles, I’ll use them until they are empty. If I can re-use the container, great! If it needs to be thrown-out to be “recycled”, look into what that actually means where you live, and what the proper ways to dispose of it are. Yes, it might be a little bit more work than what you would like, but know that our caring has a huge impact for all of us. 91% of plastic waste has been landfilled or burned, or finds its way into our seas. Only 9% has been recycled. Why be a part of this statistic?

The good news: one step at a time, one room or one item at a time, this process becomes fun and inspiring, as it was for me. So we can practice Plastic Free July every month, and it’s a simple start as a way to take action.

Find below a video where I go through these practices (or if you’d prefer to read, scroll below).

  1. Bathroom (Baño): We wake up and where do we go? To the bathroom. These are daily habits that remind me, and can remind us, that taking care of ourselves can be associated with taking care of others, and our world. Our little actions, all together, matter. This is the first reminder or interaction we have, as we brush our teeth, brush our hair, take a shower, that our actions matter.
    1. I’ve began to transition from plastic Shampoo bottles, to aluminum shampoo bottles and/or shampoo bars.
    2. From plastic Soap bottles, to keeping the bottle and refilling the container with hand-soap. Or better yet, soap bars.
    3. From plastic Tooth Brush to bamboo tooth brush. There are now bamboo electric brushes, that I’m open to trying.
    4. From plastic Toothpaste containers to toothpaste in a glass jar or tabs.
    5. Plastic Floss to non-plastic Wax Floss.
    6. Plastic Hair brush that I’ve used since 2013, to Bamboo Hair brush.
    7. Plastic Mouth rinse bottle to glass mouth rinse drops.
    8. I’m still using my plastic Razors, because I still have blades…one day I’ll transition to Metal Razors. Same as deodorant, I still have one plastic container left, before I transition to glass.
    9. Plastic cotton buds to bamboo cotton buds.
    10. From plastic sunscreen to sunscreen in cardboard or metal.
    11. From plastic lip balm to cardboard lip balm.
    12. From plastic face cream to coconut oil and/or face moisturizer in glass.
    13. Paper rolls wrapped in plastic to single paper rolls (not wrapped in plastic)…and maybe pee cloths someday?
    14. Feminine products in plastic to reusable GladRags and Cotton Menstrual Panties.
  2. Kitchen (Cocina): Where do we go next? Our kitchens. What is your ritual? I like warming up water to sip in my favorite ceramic mug, before tea.
    1. Tea bags can contain or be made with plastics. You might see: “100% plant-based packaging”, “unbleached, biodegradable fiber”, “plant based tea wrapper”, “our tea bags are made of natural biodegradable filter-paper. We do not use see-through bags made with GMO corn or plastic.” You wouldn’t want to mix warm/hot water and plastic, right?
    2. If you’re a coffee drinker, the best practice would be “Tin” coffee, which is so hard to find nowadays. Next best thing, fill your own container in bulk at your local store. Also, a metallic grinder makes a big difference.
    3. We switched from can’t ever recycle chip bags to chips from a zero waste shop, that either come in glass or a huge container. Which can be refilled, every time! Same for granola, plantain chips, dehydrated fruit, pasta, veggie chip mix, nut milks, and so much more.
    4. Keep your grocery bags handy, so when you go to farmers or grocery store, you don’t need to pay for plastic bags.
    5. We switched from wrapping veggies/fruits, leftovers with plastic to wax paper.
    6. From plastic dish soap bottles to Dish block soap.
    7. From plastic dish brushes to compostable/bamboo brushes (in different shapes and sizes!)
    8. From plastic hand-soap bottles, to keeping the bottle and refilling the container with hand-soap. Or better yet, soap bars.
    9. Sorting trash into a landfill, recyclable, industrial compost and garden compost.
    10. Paper towels or napkins that come wrapped in plastic to cloth towels and napkins.
  3. At a restaurant (Restaurantes):
    1. Plan ahead! 🙂
    2. From plastic take-away boxes to Compostable clamshells. Or better yet, bring your own silicone bag or container for leftovers.
    3. Saying no take-away plastic bags, too. We usually carry our own bags already where we can store leftovers.
    4. Asking restaurants (or delivery services) for no plastic utensils, pizza tables, or any kind of plastic. Use your own home-utensils or travel pack utensils.
  4. At a Coffee shop (Cafetería):
    1. Plan ahead 🙂 We all usually have this one drawer in our kitchens, filled with water bottle/coffee mug containers.
    2. Bring your own container, if you really have “to-go”, or if you’re a slow drinker, like I am. Or better yet, enjoy your time and have your coffee/chai “for here”. Baristas are usually super kind about this, you just need to ask.
    3. Wash it off, use it for water…and take it, every where…! No more single-use plastic bottles, ever.
  5. Groceries (Mercado):
    1. Keep your grocery bags handy, so when you go to farmers or grocery store, you don’t need to pay for plastic bags.
    2. Farmer’s Market is a great place to buy from local farmers and businesses…we still find plastic items there, so I’ve become mindful about it and like to support businesses who are making an effort to use compostable instead.
    3. Pick “naked” produce. Most fruits/veggies have clothes on already, so no need to buy them wrapped in plastic.
    4. Nude Foods was a life-changer. We are so lucky to have this business, making these zero-waste efforts even easier.
  6. Laundry (Lavandería):
    1. From plastic detergent jugs to reusable detergent free laundry balls and/or refilling the detergent jug at a zero waste dispenser.
    2. Drying clothes in the dryer (which included single-use polyester or paper sheets) to drying clothes in a rack with the beautiful Colorado sun.
  7. Zero waste markets (Tiendas Zero Waste):
    1. I am so grateful to these places for expanding my mind with the wide item selection, that perhaps I hadn’t even considered before.
    2. Making this journey a bit easier.
    3. Who hire wonderful humans, that are up for inspiring and helping other humans figure the best approach to this plastic-free journey.

Isn’t it amazing that there are so many options? Isn’t it inspiring to see how one item at a time can go replacing another? That is actually compostable, good for the environment, good for you, good for our health and those around us?

Because we are caring beings, I hope that these practices are inspiring to you to begin your own. If you’re an Elephant Reader/Subscriber, I’m sure you’re already practicing most of these. How about then maybe adding another layer, right? We’re always trying to improve ourselves, and that is what makes it mindful and caring of us to ourselves, to others and la Pachamama.

Thank you again for reading or watching this video. If you found this to be of benefit, like, comment, subscribe. I want to be able to bring you more eco-tips, more mindful tips, meditations, and bilingual yoga classes.

If you have any tips/suggestions for this journey, please feel free to share them with me.

PS: If you live or will be in Boulder, Colorado, in August, I’d love to invite you to the Planet-Based Living Festival (https://www.planetbasedlivingfestival.org/) happening on Aug 28, 2022 from 11 am – 5 pm at the Boulder Bandshell, where I will be hosting a few events (bilingual yoga, meditation and a planet-based circle). In addition to my Fall Bilingual Yoga at the Park schedule, for more information: www.instagram.com/michellesmithyoga.

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