Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution


Green Family Vacations You Can Take This Fall

Part of green living involves paying careful attention to your environmental impact, even while away from home. Plane trips and unsustainable mega resorts often place a strain on the environment, which can make your fun vacation feel like a drag before it even gets started.

Travel is a huge component of a healthy, happy life all year round. Taking periodic breaks away from work allows you to re-focus, and vacations bring families closer together. But if you're concerned about your family's eco-footprint, you might be tempted to abandon the idea of a vacation all together. Luckily, you don't have to choose between protecting the environment and enjoying a great vacation.

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Photo by Unsplash

As more people become aware of the impact travel and tourism can have on the environment, organizations and enterprising individuals have found ways to provide an environmentally friendly vacation. Through ecotourism, unconventional vacationing and wise travel planning, you can enjoy your getaway while keeping your environmental impact to a minimum.

You can be kind to the environment while vacationing pretty much anywhere by seeking hotels with sustainable policies and practicing good environmental stewardship — i.e., respecting the natural environment and cleaning up after yourself. But if you're interested in doing more, you can seek out nearby locations known for their outstanding commitment to a healthy earth.

No matter what kind of interests you and your family members have, taking a vacation together will strengthen the bonds you have and deepen your relationships. Why not choose a a green option while you’re at it and strengthen the Earth, too? Here are four green vacation destinations you can visit with your family this fall.

1) Asheville, North Carolina

This up-and-coming city in the Southeast United States combines the best parts of urban and natural life. Surrounded by some of the country's best preserved natural landscapes, Asheville draws visitors in with its ecotourism opportunities. Fall is the perfect time to visit if you want to experience the full beauty of the surrounding mountains as the tree leaves change.

While in Asheville, your family can experience a number of natural wonders. Chimney Rock State Park and Great Smokey Mountains National Park are both located within an hour's drive of the city, and various other forests and wild locations provide ample hiking opportunities.

If you need a break from the outdoors, the city itself also has a thriving artistic community and an array of green restaurants. Progressive young people are drawn to the city and its surrounding area, so be careful, or you and your family might end up moving in!

2) Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon

Breitenbush Hot Springs is a resort run by the members of an intentional community and worker-owned co-op. The staff members are all community citizens dedicated to serving the environment while providing great experiences for their guests. With the exception of a few select dates that you can see on their website, they're open year-round.

At Breitenbush, you and your family can enjoy the beautiful forest surroundings, soak in the natural hot springs and take classes on topics of spirituality and healing. Children are welcome, though those under 12 should be supervised by an adult at all times.

While at Breitenbush, you can rest assured that you're not hurting the environment on your vacation. The community operates off the grid, generating the resort's electricity through hydropower and using the natural heat of the hot springs to provide heating. Its innovative sustainable practices make the resort a great choice for families looking to disconnect and embrace nature.

3) Great Wolf Lodge Resorts

Great Wolf Lodge has hotels across the United States. Though they're best known for their popular and kid-friendly water parks, they also stand out for their commitment to sustainability. As the first hotel chain to achieve Green Seal Certification for its lodging, Great Wolf Lodge is a leader in green tourism.

To limit their environmental impact, Great Wolf Lodge resorts continue to limit water, energy and fuel usage. Some individual lodges have even started battery recycling initiatives. As part of their commitment to sustainability, they also provide environmental education programs for visiting kids.

Though the water parks at the resorts are not Green Seal certified, the company is taking steps to make them greener as well, so a Great Wolf Lodge could be a good vacation spot if you're hoping for a more traditional family vacation.

4) Lake Placid, New York

Instead of New York City, try Lake Placid, New York for your next vacation. The town itself is working hard to reduce its carbon footprint, and with nearby eco-friendly resorts and plenty of natural spots to explore, it's a great place for a family retreat.

While in Lake Placid, take a trip to Adirondack Park and visit The Wild Center with your kids to learn about the Adirondack forest. You can walk on bridges above the treetops, experience the 54,000 square foot museum or go on a guided canoe tour. The center provides both indoor and outdoor hands-on learning opportunities to connect with nature.

Whether you choose one of these destinations or find another green spot near you, it's possible to make your next family vacation both fun and safe for the environment. Ecotourism and sustainable resorts give visitors a more conscientious way to enjoy nature, so get out there guilt-free!

A Quieter Life

Well that was the theory.

The gentle bubble of the river, the faint rustle of leaves in the breeze, the chirps, and calls of the abundant birdlife. And just the other side of the study door metal shrieks against wood as the plumber wrenches up yet another set of the floorboards. Do they come up easily? Of course not. The plumber’s mate moves into position with a cordless cutter, the multitool. I can only begin to describe the noise. Something between the high-pitched whizz of a dentist’s drill and a battalion of the most furious buzzing insects you could ever not wish to meet. Only a gazillion times louder than either of them.

The builder, not to be outdone, attaches plasterboard to the bathroom wall, power driving the screws into the supports. My head is pounding, my teeth are on edge, every muscle in my body taut rigid, willing it all to stop. And then, just as sanity itself teeters on the very edge of breaking point…would you believe it, the volume of dust thrown into the air has set the fire alarm off.

demolition on walls
Stripping back to solid walls. Photo by rusty duck

Hello. I’m Jessica, long suffering renovator from Devon, in the south west of England. A few years ago, my husband Mike and I decided to move to a ‘simpler’ life in the country. To purchase a cottage with a bit of land where I could create a garden.

As with Real Estate agents anywhere I guess, the ones in England do their best to make a property sound appealing. Whether any agent actually used the phrase is a moot point, but a property that would ‘suit a DIY enthusiast’ became the shorthand for any fixer-upper. Ours was definitely one of those. While habitable it was dated and in need of a complete makeover. But things are never quite that simple are they.

bathroom renovation
Bathroom under renovation, temporarily open to the roof. Photo by rusty duck

The cottage could be quite old. Its thatched roof, blackened on the inner surface from smoky open hearths long before the advent of fireplaces and chimneys, with walls constructed from rubble, mud and straw suggest 500 years or even older. My decorating style is rustic contemporary and minimal, our aim to retain those historic features, which do still exist, balanced with the need for modern day practicality.

garden on an incline
The ‘Precipitous Bank’. Photo by rusty duck

The garden we inherited was no walk in the park either. Once upon a time it must have been gorgeous, but in the intervening years it had burgeoned into a jungle. I battle with nettles and thistles taller than me. And that’s only the half of it. The land is open to the countryside, mostly woodland, on a 45-degree slope made of clay. There will likely be posts in the future dedicated to gardening on poor soil, in shade, in an increasingly unpredictable climate and, given the amount of time, effort and frustration dedicated to this mission alone…outsmarting the critters.

A family of deer: Mom, Dad and Baby Deer wander across the lower level of the garden on an almost daily basis. We are blessed. Of course, we’d be even more blessed if that’s where they chose to stay. Who knew deer love to eat roses? Flopsy bunny isn’t going to turn her nose up either. Voles munch my bulbs. Pheasants decapitate the hellebores.

And as for the squirrels, well, we’ve tried everything. Nothing that would harm them of course. But the search for the ultimate deterrent continues. Chilli powder on the birds’ peanuts, industrial strength mesh on the bird feeder, ‘Twirl-a-Squirrel’ (it does what it says on the tin), a sniper with a water pistol. Even water by the bucket load. Which, incidentally, should be another story. Because on that occasion it wasn’t the squirrels getting drenched.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if a person shares, willingly, of her space and provides such an obviously attractive place to live she would earn at least a modicum of respect?

squirrel visiting window
Photo by rusty duck

I am absolutely thrilled that Mother Earth Living has invited me to write about our experience. Will you join me, here in this space, and share in the journey?


Jessica has many years’ experience of house and garden renovation and is currently restoring an ancient thatched cottage in rural England. She also authors the rusty duck blog, a light hearted diary chronicling the ups and downs along the way. You have to laugh or else you’d cry. After all, as Murphy’s Law states: If It Can Go Wrong, It Will.

Guru Donuts: Sweets Done Right in Boise

As tourists and travelers, we can make a profound difference within the environment by choosing to visit destinations and business that support a sustainable environment—Guru Donuts is one of those businesses. Voted repeatedly as the best donuts in Idaho, by Only in Your State and others, there are many reasons why the downtown Boise shop fits seamlessly into an eco-tourism itinerary.

Guru Donuts

Locally Driven

Businesses and growers are completely intertwined in Boise—it’s quite common to see one restaurant featuring something from another and regional ingredients dominating menus. The masterminds behind Guru Donuts knew that their flavors must come naturally, from nearby markets and farmers. Every morning, local flour, eggs, and other closely-sourced ingredients are blended into several mouth-watering variations. Guru Donuts credits the community with their overwhelming success, so they work in return to roll out amazing treats and make environmentally responsible decisions.

Further demonstrating the deep community ties, you can find Guru Donuts at the Boise Co-Op, Indulge Boise, Frog’s Fix Coffee Parlor, and Caffeina Roasting Co.

Guru Donuts Interior

Vegan Selections

Aside from solid old-fashioned cake and raised variations, Guru features a dreamy vegan line made with flax, coconut milk, and demerara sugar—honestly, these may be better than the ones made with eggs and dairy. While flavors interchange seasonally, the Hipsterberry seems to always be on the menu, and is drenched with a blueberry, blackberry, and lavender glaze. The Alice Wonderland raised donut is their take on birthday cake, and the Cinnamon Sugar Twist is warm and traditional.

During each season and on holidays, they are always cooking up something really cool, like Rootbeer Float, Nutella Chocolate Chip, and Raspberry Lemonade flavors!

Hipsterberry

Sustainable Coffee

Donuts and coffee go hand in hand, and the sustainably selected blends pair perfectly with vegan, locally-sourced donuts. Medium roasted Columbia Huila and the bold Organic Big Timber Blend are both roasted in Sandpoint, Idaho, and if you want something more elaborate, the cinnamon-infused Cubano or a latte with house-made syrup hits the spot. Snake River Teas, also local of course, are amazing as well.

Guru Coffee

Location

Another common, environmentally conscious practice you’ll notice is that many businesses share spaces. Guru Donuts is located inside the castle-like, French Chateau-style Idanha Hotel, which has been preserved since its opening in 1901. A lot of the original feel resides within the shop, which has plenty of seating to accommodate the constant flow of sugar lovers.

guru

If you think you might like to plan an eco-tourism trip to Boise, their site has an extensive database for researching restaurants, hotels, museums, outdoor activities, and other things to do. It’s an incredible city that’s intertwined with nature and sustainability—and amazing donuts.

Put Together a Zero-Waste Kit for Zero Dollars

Overall, I have saved money by reducing my waste. I buy less stuff, I buy in bulk, I eat all the food I buy rather than wasting any and so on. But some items do cost more—loose apples versus a plastic bag filled with them or milk sold in a returnable glass bottle rather than in a plastic jug.

Fortunately, some aspects of the zero-waste lifestyle don’t have to cost anything at all, such as your zero-waste kit—the “equipment” you’ll need when you head out into the real world, bombarded by well-intentioned people offering you lattes in disposable cups, plastic cutlery for the catered office lunch, bottled water... It’s a minefield out there!

This kit does require some rudimentary sewing skills. For me, one of the many joys of the zero-waste lifestyle comes from learning to do things for myself.

You likely have many of the items below sitting around in your home.

1. Water bottle

You don’t need an expensive metal water bottle. Yes, they look very nice and work very well. But you could reuse a glass bottle from a store-bought drink. “But glass breaks!” you may say. People don’t seem to worry about glass bottles breaking when they buy kombucha, iced tea, sparkling water and many other beverages packaged in glass.

2. Mug

Similar to the water bottle above, you can get by without an expensive insulated stainless steel travel mug. Packing my own ceramic mug or mason jar has prevented so many plastic mishaps over the years. Those paper take-away cups at your favorite café? They're lined with plastic. Some cafés will provide ceramic cups but many others don’t. Simply bring your own.

3. A small food container

When I can’t finish my meal in a restaurant, I put the leftovers in a jar. I have lunch packed and ready to take to the office the next day. By taking a container to restaurants, I avoid a common zero-waste dilemma—to waste the food or waste the disposable container my server really wants to hand me. 

glass jar
Peanut butter works really well for removing some labels from jars. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

4. Metal cutlery

If you would prefer to take inexpensive utensils on the go, buy some at a thrift shop. Get at least two knives, two forks and two spoons. I see piles of these at my thrift shop and have bought quite a few to use in my cooking workshops. Look for chopsticks too.

5. Cloth napkins

If you don’t have any cloth napkins, sew some. If you have no fabric, go buy an old sheet at a thrift shop. If you have no sewing machine, check your library. Several libraries in my area now have banks of sewing machines available to use on the premises.

6. A bag to put everything in

Most people own reusable shopping bags. If you don’t, you can transform an old t-shirt into one. A few years ago, a fellow blogger, Christina of Little Sprouts Learning, sent me a shopping bag made from an old tank top. Below is a closeup of the inside bottom serged together, with a bit trimmed off the sides and serged to make a flat bottom. Very smart! You’ll need one bag for your kit and several bags for shopping.

tank hem
Flat bottom of a homemade tank top bag. Photo (above and below) by Anne Marie Bonneau.
tank top tote

7. Cloth produce bags

I use these for buying fruits and vegetables and for larger items at the bulk bins, such as oats, beans and rice. I support plastic bag bans but they don’t address the massive amounts of plastic going into the bags. I make my produce bags the same size and shape as standard issue plastic ones. When they get dirty, I toss them into the washing machine. You don’t really need a pattern for these, but you’ll find mine here.

8. More jars

Jars need not be matchy-matchy—or cost a dime. I scored most of the jars in the pic below from recycling bins or restaurants. I use my glass jars at the bulk bins (and for many other purposes). If your store allows you to bring your own containers, ask customer service to mark the weight on them before you fill them. The cashier will deduct the weight of the jar from the total weight of food-filled jar. This way you pay for the weight of the food only.

glass jars for bulk food
Various repurposed jars. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau.

5 Ways to Save Money, Save the Planet and Make Memories This Summer

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Ah summer, so fleeting, but oh so wonderful.

I love all of the seasons and I’m lucky to be able to experience all 4 of them here in New Jersey, but summer is one of my favorites. Partly because I have a lot of great memories from summer’s past, mostly random trips to the Jersey shore or hunting for ice cream. Summer remains for me a time to be more carefree. With summer also comes the desire to make memories that last without jeopardizing the planet or the wallet. With that, here are a few tips for making sure this summer is one you will remember. For more tips, head to my blog The Do Something Project.

Save Electricity and Get Outdoors

One of the best things about summer is the many different opportunities to hit the outdoors. Being outside is not only good for your physical and mental health, but also for the wallet.

I’m lucky enough to call New Jersey my home and we have access to over 130 miles of shoreline and access to many trails and parks so the list of things to do is endless.

When out and about, always turn the AC off. To keep your place cool, draw the blinds to keep the sun’s heat out, leave a fan on or a window open to circulate the air. This reduces the need for electricity, saving you money and reducing the need for resources. Go one step further and unplug unnecessary devices, specifically electronics that still generate heat and use up small bits of electricity.

Take advantage of natural light as well too. Challenge yourself to see how long you can go without turning on a light at home. Get kids involved to help “police” and help them understand that energy costs money.

Don’t forget that the more you move, the better it will be for your health and your future health bills. Being out in nature will also help you appreciate what Earth and your state and city has to offer.   

Pause Your Cable and Head to the Library

Consider pausing your cable for the summer. Most companies have a vacation option where you pay a fee, but won’t have to pay for the full price of the cable subscription service. Ask and if you’ve been a longtime customer, negotiate to make this happen. If you are not home, this is a great way to save a few hundred dollars for a few months. Perhaps, you will get used to not having a cable and cancel it completely when the summer is over.

As an alternative, head to your library or other libraries nearby. I am a big fan of libraries, not only for books, but for everything else they offer.  Our local library is fairly small, but it is networked with other town libraries so it provides us access to a wide variety of resources. We also download music, audio books, eBooks using their apps. Our library provides access to an online learning platform for language and other subjects for free.  Ours also has a Museum Pass Program where you can get a pass for a nearby museum for free. It’s a great way to find entertainment for yourself and your family, all mostly for free. If you are open to venturing out, check out libraries in college towns. Take advantage of the AC and WiFi without being encouraged to spend money on anything. By hitting the library instead of the mall, we reduce the want to buy things which may ultimately lead to clutter, expense and waste. Hitting the library is a win-win!

Bike Around and Explore Neighborhoods

It would be great if all of us could go away all summer, but sometimes that is just not feasible. It’s still possible though to get a sense of adventure by participating in bike tours. Whether you come up with the route yourself, or you have a guide, or you have kids map it out, it’s a fun way to get the family together, get outside and do some exploring. This is a very inexpensive activity especially if you’ve got bikes lying around. If not, consider renting one for the summer.

Biking doesn’t produce any emissions, saves on gas and encourages physical activity. If you are in a neighborhood with family and friends, add stop routes so that you can say hello.

Skip the Disposables and Pack a Zero Waste Picnic

Summer means being out and about. Buying food outside the home can add up pretty quickly so be prepared and get your summer picnic gear ready to go. Unfortunately, disposables, specifically disposable plastic is a big threat to wildlife, rarely gets recycled and adds on to the landfill. Create your own zero waste picnic gear to reduce the waste that is produced. Start with reusable water bottles for you and the family. From there, focus on easy to carry and care for tableware and silverware. Shop at thrift shops so that you can reuse items. You won’t need a full kit from the get go, but identify what your family absolutely needs. Here’s a brief list:

  • Picnic blanket (reuse a sheet)
  • Reusable tableware/silverware
  • A bag or basket to store everything in
  • Storage containers

The next stop is figuring out what kind of food to bring. Perhaps, you can buy food items in large bulk and separating them it into smaller containers to take on your picnics. Check out the bulk section of your grocery stores for other snacks that you can purchase without any packaging. Consider stopping by a farmer’s market and buying in-season, local fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, grabbing a freshly baked bread and some cheese is all you need for a good time.

Get Thrifty with Your Summer Essentials

Summer can get expensive with the seemingly endless things to buy from beachwear, beach gear, outdoor gear, etc. Consider hitting the thrift stores, garage sales and your closets before buying anything new. Thrift stores have a great array of beach toys for kids. You’d be surprised at what’s already out there at a great discount. Need summer shirts? How about doing some DIY and cutting up extra large t-shirts into tanks. Perhaps, it’s time to finally re-purpose those jeans into shorts. 

Keep in mind that we don’t always need everything new to enjoy the summer. A few key staples can go a long way. By getting thrifty, you can save lots of money and you can save some perfectly great items from going to the landfill.

Summer Memories

In the end, remember that summer is all about the memories. This summer, I encourage you to do the things that make you happy, that bring you joy. Remember that living doesn’t have to cost too much. It's your memories, your life! Create a summer story and a summer memory that is sustainable for your wallet and for the planet.

An Attempt for the Extreme

In this part of the world, taking a leave from office without any strong reason is not a common practice. And at the age already considered old by some, and already past mid-life by majority, I still am trying to join more fit people for adventures not considered easy.  I did that for the last week of April. Our destination was South Palawan, Philippines, a big group of islands called our last frontier. The foremost reason in our minds was to photograph butterflies in the wild. We are three ladies from Luzon or North of the Philippines. And we have 2 new male companions who are residents of Palawan. We have joined them in another expedition for butterflies last November.  The three of us are in our 40s, 50s and 60s; maybe you already guess which group I belong.  We are not mountaineers, seafarers, or athletes, but we are bonded by our interest for butterflies, unusual trips, photography and lots of fun.  And we enjoy being together.

My lady friends left home before midnight for our 9:00 am plane. I live in Manila so woke up at 4:00 am before going to the Manila Airport. We were fetched at the Palawan airport by one of the companions there; he is responsible for our itinerary. We rode an ordinary bus for 2.5 hours to their family’s cottage in South Palawan. That was our resident for nights we are on shore. Immediately upon arrival we just deposited our big bags, got our backpacks and camera and hurriedly proceeded to our first waterfalls.  In 40 min by an old army jeep we are in front of the Estrella Falls. My two lady companions took an almost mandated dip in the cold cascading pool.  I refrained from doing so, instead I tried looking for the much-advised presence of luxuriously growing hoyas near the falls. To my dismay no hoya at all was found, maybe every vine is already at the hands of collectors. In fact, it was a hoya collector in Hawaii who told me about it, supposedly growing abundantly on the big tree near the falls!

The following morning we got early for our next stop, camping on a beach at the next town, 1.5 hours from the cottage. We attempted to climb the nearest Peak to our campsite, however we lacked enough time for the necessary clearing of the trail. Nobody seemed to have hiked that peak for the last few years. We went back to the campsite to rest for the night. Next day was another enduring hike to the Tabon Caves Complex, where the first human skull in the country was theorized to have lived. We rented a boat to and from Tabon. The trails to the caves are composed of very steep inclines and undulating paths. But the series of stops and deep breaths led to awesome still growing stalactites and stalagmites, plus a myriad of other finds. There are piles of broken clay pots in some cave corners. Mosses and lichens of different colors make some familiar outlines of figures on the walls.  We visited only 6 of the caves and there still are lots. Some are burial caves, others are dwelling caves and others might be for prayers! The famous Glossy Swifts, which make the famous birds‘ nest soup live in one of the caves. They were so close with us that we were able to get their photos in the nest.  Spelunking is not one of my dream adventures, but it was indeed informative, fun and exhilarating.

formations in cave
A cave at Tabon Caves Complex, Palawan

We were finished at 1:00 pm and with just water and little bread our boat proceeded to our main destination, the Nasirik Island, reached at 2.5 hours. The island is small, almost just a boulder mound and a sand bar with beautiful rock formations at one side, pristinely clear waters and two coconut trees. It is very idyllic, looking really like paradise. Our canned goods are already limited, so we dumped our things and one male companion went out to fish for our meals. He was joined by the boat driver and I guess they also had fun looking for fishes to spear.  Imagine, we were really like pirates accidentally landing on an island, who will not eat if we will not fish for food! That was really an awesome experience. We even had the chance to taste different fish species, broiled and stewed! What a wonderful life. That night was spent more for photography than sleep. Astrophotography was done at midnight, the best spot I’ve seen for the Milky Way. The moon setting on the west horizon was eventually ended by the sunrise, the most spectacular scenes I’ve observed.


camping on the beach
Nasirik Island, South Palawan

beach sunset
Sunset at Mangove Point, Narra, Palawan

On the way back to the mainland, we passed by the Double Islands, called such because 2 islands were joined by a sandbar. Another stop was on an undulating white sandbar that is really captivating. Our next 3 days were spent hiking for waterfalls, butterfly chasing, more river crossings and herping or looking for snakes at night in the forest. I am most thankful for these experiences, and cannot ask for more. At least I can do these before my joints complain of arthritis!

beach with boat on shore
Undulating Sandbar, at the Horizon is the Devil’s Peak

secret waterfalls
Secret Waterfalls

8 Steps to Go Plastic-Free

This July, millions of people around the globe from 159 countries will pledge to consume no single-use, throwaway plastic for the entire month during Plastic Free July. Why?

Plastic pollution clogs our oceans, rivers and waterways; it endangers wildlife; and this pollution has made its way into our food chain. If we continue on our current trajectory, by 2050 we may have more plastic in the ocean than fish.

Such sobering facts propel us to take action. But where to start? If you’re like most people, just thinking back on how much single-use plastic you consumed today alone, you may wonder how you can possibly avoid using the stuff for an entire month.

These steps will help.

1. Conduct an audit. You don’t know if you have a problem if you don’t measure it. Think of dieting. You may stand on a scale to determine if you’ve gained a lot of weight. (“I weigh what?!”) Here, you’ll measure your plastic diet. (“I threw out how many coffee cups?!” And yes, those are lined with plastic.) Once you know where to focus your efforts, you can search for replacements.

2. Refuse the big offenders. The Plastic Free July website refers to single-use plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws as the “TOP 4.” Replace these items with reusables: shopping bags made of natural fibers; metal or glass water bottles; and a ceramic mug or metal thermos. If you enjoy or need to drink with a straw, you can find reusable metal or glass straws in stores and online.

food in reusable bulk shopping containers
Be sure to have stores weigh your jars before you fill them so the cashier can deduct the jar weight when you pay. Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau

3. Build up your reusable arsenal. Next you’ll cut more single-use plastic such as plastic produce bags. I applaud the worldwide plastic shopping bag bans, but most people stuff their reusable shopping bags with piles of plastic produce bags. You can make your own cloth produce bags or you can buy them. And if you need only a few onions or a couple of lemons, for example, you can skip the bag entirely.

4. Eat real food. If you cut the plastic, you cut processed food and eat the real stuff. As a bonus, real food tastes better than processed. You don’t need to cook for hours every day to eat well. As Julia Child said, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients.

fresh farmers market haul
Photo by Anne Marie Bonneau

5. Forgot your own mug to bring to the cafe? Ask for a real one. Want your favorite take-out restaurant to put your food in a container for you? Hand the vessel over, ask your server to put the food in it and give detailed instructions about how to do that and why.

6. Replace the Big Three personal-care products:

• Toothpaste. Let me first say that I am not a dentist. I make homemade toothpaste and homemade tooth powder. In a pinch, I’ll use plain baking soda.
• Deodorant. My homemade deodorant works extremely well and you need only a little bit. It consists of baking soda and cornstarch, with coconut oil as a delivery agent.
• Shampoo. Use a shampoo bar or baking soda, followed by a vinegar rinse. If you dislike how those leave your hair, look for shampoo and conditioner in bulk where you live.

7. Don’t go insane. Once you decide to go plastic-free, you will see plastic everywhere. That’s because it is everywhere. You may start to feel disheartened and hopeless and wonder what’s the point. Birds eat the stuff and die, turtles get entangled in it and die, seals become trapped in old plastic fishing nets and die, fish (which we eat) are full of it and die (when we eat them). WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

But for a moment, just imagine if millions of us worked together to tackle the plastic pollution problem. That would make a huge difference. The good news? That’s what happens during Plastic Free July! And many people continue with the challenge for the rest of the year.

8. Do your best. Don't beat yourself up if you fall short. You will fall short. Just keep trying. It's called a challenge for a reason. However, cutting the plastic is easier than most people realize.







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