On My Mind: Giving Up

by Rachael on November 1, 2010

I’ve given up eating meat. I’ve given up running marathons. I’ve given up eating sushi. I’ve given up following any TV programs (because since Buffy, what’s left?). I’ve (mostly) given up drinks that come in plastic bottles. I’ve given up Nestlé products. Some of these things I’ve given up because I don’t have time for them (marathons, TV). Others I’ve given up on principle (meat, sushi, plastic bottles, Nestlé). I’m planning to give up more, for both reasons.

This summer I wrote about my despair about the ubiquity of plastic — and plastic waste. I wrote that though I am currently not capable of making big, revolutionary changes, I am certainly able to “make small changes, one or two at a time.” Though we haven’t yet figured out urban composting, as I had hoped, I have been methodically replacing my usual personal care products with nontoxic, no-plastic alternatives. For example*:

Not everything needs to be replaced — some things, like (for me) shaving lotion, can be given up altogether. But it’s been difficult to find suitable replacements for some necessities. For example, I’m not willing to give up fluoride toothpaste (though I know that there are cons to fluoride), but I don’t know of any toothpaste that comes in anything but a plastic tube. And for some items, there just aren’t any no-plastic alternatives. Am I ready to give up my contact lenses? Not today.

But I am certainly ready to give up — or change — much more — because I’m not willing to give up on the Critter’s future. Beginning this month, I’m going to formalize my commitment to small changes by making (and reporting on) one small change each month. My inspiration: Hip Mountain Mama‘s One Small Change project, which focuses on reducing our carbon footprint. Also, the Organic Sister has just launched a new Web site, Sustainable Baby Steps, which provides a wealth of resources on sustainable living that I’m sure I’ll be drawing on. (If you like giveaways, BTW, she has a great big one going on now.)

This month’s change: no more disposable tampons or sanitary napkins! Just what you were hoping to hear about, eh?

What small changes have you made?

* The links are provided for your information only; I’m affiliated with none of these companies.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber November 1, 2010 at 1:04 AM

I gave up disposable menstrual products a few years ago. I’ve also gone no ‘poo, and I wash my face with honey.

My big thing right now is cutting down my plastic waste further. I think I’m going to need to step outside of my comfort zone a little more to do this, though. And I find the prospect intimidating. But that probably means it’s the right thing to do.
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Rachael November 1, 2010 at 10:53 PM

I had not heard of using honey as a facial cleanser before!


Seonaid November 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

One (small) thing I can offer: Tom’s of Maine does make a fluoride toothpaste that comes in a metal tube (at least it does where I live.)


Rachael November 1, 2010 at 10:57 PM

OK, we’ve been using Tom’s of Maine, and for years. According to Russ’s link (below), the tubes are coated in plastic. Plus, there’s the plastic cap. On the plus side, though, the aluminum tube itself is recyclable.


Russ November 1, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Tom’s of Maine uses aluminum toothpaste tubes, which can be recycled.



Rachael November 1, 2010 at 10:57 PM

Thanks for the link!


mumsyjr November 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Sounds like an awesome project! That will make good reading for those of us with a less structured version of the same mission. 🙂 Will be interested to hear how you do without the disposable period products…my sister tried a Diva cup and felt it was too uncomfortable, but I can’t draw any conclusions with that because she has some issues in general with the reproductive anatomy.
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Rachael November 1, 2010 at 10:58 PM

I think I’m going to go for the Luna Pads (or an equivalent) rather than the Diva Cup. We’ll see how it goes….


MyGreenMouth November 1, 2010 at 8:57 PM

Awesome project! I love this project! Right now, I use a Preserve toothbrush (alas, it also come in a plastic package). I am considering this for my next toothbrush: http://www.radiustoothbrush.com/sourcetoothbrush.aspx

I use salt deodorant; while it comes in a plastic container, it takes me years to use entirely. I also got dessicated coconut powder as a gift, and it works amazingly, so I think I’d like to make some deodorant using that in the recipe, too.

Oh, and I’m curious about the baking soda/vinegar shampoo. While I dig baking soda solutions, I am on the look out for information about the process of making baking soda. I’m sure I’m excessively interested in this topic due to growing up next to a Superfund Site, Onondaga Lake: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8668.html.


Rachael November 1, 2010 at 11:01 PM

And I really was thinking of baking soda as the solution to all of our problems. You can clean your bathroom with it! You can clean your hair with it! You can use it as deodorant! You can even BAKE with it! *sigh*

Whatever you do find out, please do share.


Hip Mountain Mama November 3, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Awesome! It is great to hear all you have done and that you are committed to make more changes!

p.s. I am going to link to your blog post on One Small Change today so others can see what people are doing to make changes! 🙂


Rachael November 3, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Thanks, Suzy. My goodness, the changes feel so smaaaaaall. Especially when I go to those big box stores (rarely, but I do) and see all the shelves and shelves and shelves of STUFF. But I have to trust that the small changes will add up.


ItsLily November 9, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Rachael – I don’t know what “Though we haven’t yet figured out urban composting” means to you I can tell you that I live within the city limits, on a very small lot and I decided to do composting as part of the One Small Change project earlier this year. In the beginning, I was simply dumping scraps in the garden, but once canning season came about I just had too many to dump on the ground. That’s when I accidently came up with something incredible. I have a 4×8 plot that was a garden until the neighbors trees got too big and blocked the sun. It’s been sitting mostly empty for the past couple of years and I decided to bury my scraps in that plot instead of scattering throughout the rest of the gardens. Each time, I dug a hole next to the previous one, filled it and covered it. Eventually, I had to go back to the beginning holes, but when I dug them up…behold! They were already composted and contained the most wonderful ‘dirt’. And that’s only from the beginning of summer to the end. Amazing. Not sure if this helps, but I’m hoping it might.
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Rachael November 13, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Hi, Lily! Thanks for this suggestion, which I’ll keep in mind to suggest to others. Alas, alas, we have no plot of land of our own. So for us, urban composting will mean storing the scraps in the freezer (in what sort of container?) and then getting it to a community garden or farmers’ market for collection. Yesterday I found (by accident!) a convenient place to bring the scraps, though, so we may be on our way….


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