As I’ve pursued journeys into discovering myself and living more closely in line with my values, I’ve awoken to my sleeping inner hippy – the part of me that would live in harmony with the earth (and wifi, if possible), wants to dance around in flowing robes to pounding drums (or humming didjeridoos), and commune with the spirits of nature. Don’t fret, I’ll keep keeping most of these urges under strict control, but one of the effects of this awakening was being hit in the face with the reality of my wasteful lifestyle, and lack of environmental responsibility.
My first step was to look to people who I knew were living in line with their truths, the earth, and my values, one of whom I happened to go to high-school with! If you Instagram vegandiverkatt (https://www.instagram.com/vegandiverkatt/), or go to https://myveganexperiment.com/about-me/ or https://oceanpancake.com/, you’ll find her, her work on zero-waste living, and her efforts to save the oceans. She’s also on facebook under My Vegan Experiment. Katt is fabulous, knowledgable, and well travelled, and she has plenty of tips, recipes, and resources to help us be more conscious in our day-to-day lives. I’ve also recently discovered Biome (biome.com.au), a business founded by an earth enthusiast where you can find all the cruelty free, plastic free, ethical, environmentally conscious products, tips, and recipes that you could possibly desire. Another great zero-waste blogger is Brittany Ainsworth, who you can find at litterlessliving.com, on Facebook, and on Instagram. She focuses on translating our daily zero-waste habits to zero-waste travel, zero-waste national holidays, and zero-waste self-care.
I took the step of cutting out as many chemical/plastic products from my routine as possible. I use coconut oil as body and face moisturiser, make-up primer and remover, and toothpaste (in conjunction with a fluoride mouthwash, sadly). Despite the higher cost, I buy organic and local products. I see it as voting with my money! I consume much less meat and dairy – I probably won’t go vegan, but I’ll increase the amount of raw, whole foods in my diet, and steer clear of sugars, processed foods, chemical ingredients, etc.
Cutting out plastic has proven more challenging, and at this stage in my life, I’m settling for re-using my plastic bags and containers until I can dispose of them as responsibly as possible (give them to a second-hand shop? a refuge?) and replace them with tote, glass, or stainless steel alternatives. I do use beeswax food wraps rather than clingfilm, carry my tote bags everywhere, use bamboo toothbrushes, hairbrushes etc., walk around with a stainless steel straw… My main fight is with plastic wrapping around food and products in supermarkets, so I bring little tote bags to put produce and bulk purchases in, and just don’t buy stuff that comes wrapped in plastic. Which, by the way, is everything. Eventually, I will also replace all my hygiene and cleaning products with home-made, all natural, toxin-free alternatives, which will mostly be a heap of fun, and reduce my need for plastic.
I’m also struggling to limit waste/plastic where my artwork is concerned – finding eco-friendly, ethical art supplies has proven difficult and expensive. You could say that I’ve found a niche in the market!
Limiting waste at home is all well and good, but I spend so much time on the move, I need to focus on being ecologically aware on the go as well. Based on the advice of environmentalists like Katt, I travel with my own food, wrapped in cloth or a reusable container, and my own drinks in my reusable water bottle. I should also get a reusable coffee cup. I think my bloodstream is mostly coffee.
I’ve found that focusing on the earth and environment in my life has had positive effects on my body and health, forcing me to read ingredient lists, study provenance, to check what I’m putting in and on my body. My rules? If I don’t know what it is, don’t put it in my body; if it came in a truck or plane, don’t put it in my body; if I can’t put it in my body, don’t put it on my body. Admittedly, this hasn’t been great for the wallet. It is a sad but widely acknowledged truth that buying local, organic, and ethical means spending more money. As a traveller, just come off working on a farm, I’m not exactly flush with cash, but I’ve chosen to prioritise these values, voting with my money, showing what I value. I’m thoroughly aware that it is a very privileged position to be in, and I’m very grateful to be able to make this choice.