I would like to think that I live my life as though every day were Earth Day. I’ve posted before about the daily products I use to reduce my carbon footprint, but I think it’s time to do my yearly review to evaluate what I’m doing, and where I can improve.
This year marks 8 years since I gave up my car. When I had a car, I would still take public transit to work, since finding parking on campus can be very difficult. I used the car on weekends. I found this practice to be too wasteful, so once my car lease expired, I decided to simply go without a car. I used to buy a monthly bus pass, but for the past two years, my employer has provided me with a yearly pass at a reduced rate of 20%. Transit passes are tax deductable, too. I don’t miss owning a car. Buses get me around easily, and I like to walk. When I need a car, for example to go to the airport, or to buy larger items, I rent one from my local car rental company (I get a special university discount). I don’t miss the insurance and car payments, and certainly not the fuelling costs.
I make a lot of my own products, using earth-friendly ingredients, namely:
- Face toner
- Leave-in hair conditioner
- Hand soap
- Dish soap
- Laundry soap
- Dusting spray
- Body powder
- Milk bath (soy based)
- Floor cleaner
- All-purpose cleaner
- Hand cream
- Sugar scrub
- Air freshener
Cleaning: I use microfibre mops to sweep the floors and dust the furniture. A broom works wonders, as well. I use a vacuum cleaner only every two weeks to clean the stairs, which are carpeted, but otherwise simply sweep the wood, cork, and porcelain floors. I use a wet microfibre mop to clean the floors, as well as a steam mop with a reusable microfibre head. As listed above, I make my own cleaning products. I have a sonic essential oil diffuser that helps keep the air fresh, which is important when you live with two cats.
Cooking and dining: I use linen or cotton napkins. I buy organic products whenever I can. For cooking, I use stainless steel or ceramic pots and pans, with the exception of one non-stick pan I use for sauteeing tofu, which tends to stick to all surfaces, and has ruined a few stainless and ceramic saucepans. I make my own dish soap. I run my dishwasher only once a month, as I prefer to hand wash my dishes. I make my own dish washing soap as well, and use white vinegar as a rinse agent. I have not used paper towels for years; instead, I use microfibre cleaning cloths, which can be washed very easily.I have a counter top water filtration system.
Bathroom and laundry: I use cotton eye-make up remover pads and hemp face cloths. My towel, sheets, and duvet cover are made from bamboo fibres. I air dry my laundry, with the exception of sheets and towels. I hand wash many of my clothes. I use vinegar in the laundry in lieu of fabric softener, and use laundry balls in the dryer. I use a fabric shower liner. I have a shower head filter to reduce chlorine in the bath and shower.
Cats: Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about the waste generated by cats. I use clay-based litter. There is another product, which I like very much, which is made from wheat husks, but it’s very expensive, and with two cats, does not last too long. I use biodegradable dog poop bags to collect the waste. Baking soda keeps the litter box fresh.
Shopping and travel: I carry a thermal travel mug with me, as well as a micro cutlery set (spoon, knife, fork, and steel straw), so that I don’t need to use disposable cutlery if I order something to go. I always carry foldable shopping bags with me, as well as larger cotton bags for going to the market and grocery store. I buy local products as much as possible from local businesses, including food, pet food and supplies, clothes, housewares, and so forth. I declutter my home twice a year, but I’m still too fond of buying items I don’t always need. Handbags, jewellery, boots, and coats are my weakest areas. I am trying to use the capsule wardrobe approach, but I am nowhere near where I could be, so this is definitely a work in progress.
Not perfect yet, but I think I’m making a good effort. I’ll continue to look for more ways in which I can live in a more sustainable way.