Reuseable K-Cup Photo by Tracy Grathwohl
Happy Earth Day everyone! I hope you’re spending the day enjoying the earth. I celebrate by dancing around a maypole with flowers in my hair, singing “Kumbaya.” I like to live as if I’m in a 70s Coca-Cola commercial.
Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has been adopted by over 140 countries to support environmental protection. Last year, over 100 million people observed the day online to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary.
In elementary school, I took Earth Day very seriously. In my 2nd grade class picture, I wore the Earth Day pin, a green triangle over a blue triangle surrounded by yellow, which signified the land, water, and sun.
You wouldn’t notice my bold environmental statement in the photo, because your eyes would be drawn to my Chiclet-sized buck teeth.
I got braces in 4th grade and eventually the rest of my head grew into my teeth, but my love for the planet has not diminished.
I even wrote a column about how I switched from arboreal old growth, forest sourced toilet paper to sustainable, fast growth, bamboo sourced toilet paper. That’s how much I care. It was a tough decision to make – the hockey pucks’ tushies are sensitive – but it was worth it to save some trees.
After doing that TP research, the Internet Overlords saw fit to send me other ads for eco-friendly products, including more bamboo toilet paper. I don’t understand why the Internet Overlords send us advertisements for things we’ve already purchased. Obviously, bamboo toilet paper is a good product, that’s why I bought it.
If you’re also tired your online ads, just Google “planting gladiolas.” The Internet Overlords will fill your browser with pictures of flowers from seed advertisers. Much prettier than toilet paper.
I didn’t only get ads for sustainable toilet paper. There are many products out there to help reduce our waste. I’ve spent the past year down this ecological rabbit hole.
Did you know you can buy reusable K-cup pods? I always felt guilty putting that plastic pod in the machine. Its useful life is about twenty seconds and then it’s trash. The reusable ones work just as well. Sometimes Mr. Hockey complains that there’s a little sediment in his cup, but he toughs it out, because he’s a hockey guy.
Laundry detergent is problematic too. Its plastic bottles land in the dump and its toxins leech into our water. Buying laundry pods reduced some of the waste, but not the chemicals.
I now use laundry detergent sheets. Every month I’m sent a box of non-toxic detergent that comes in individual 5x7 inch sheets. I just throw one in the wash. It has completely decluttered my laundry room – except for the unmatched socks.
When I was that earnest, buck-toothed second-grader, we only had bar soap. No bottles of body wash or liquid hand soap. We kept one bar on the edge of the sink and one in the bath. Granted, the sink bar got a little dirty when we washed up for dinner, but I haven’t died of dysentery, so it must have worked.
These days everyone has pretty plastic bottles of hand soap on their sink ledges. I tried refilling mine from bulk plastic bottles, which I then threw away. Bulk refills didn’t solve the trash problem. Now I use soap tablets that dissolve in water in a glass dispenser that enhances the swankiest of powder rooms. Remember the Alka-Seltzer ads from the 70s? These tablets work the same way. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh what a relief it is to have plastic free hand soap.
I recently switched from liquid body moisturizer to a moisturizing bar. The manufacturer’s video shows a woman warming the round bar in her hands, then gently rubbing it along her muscular legs and arms. She makes it look so easy. I’m a bit flabbier than the video lady. Sometimes I lose the moisturizing bar in my fat folds. I usually find it. My skin? It’s like I’m seven again.
My toothbrush is made of bamboo and I can change the biodegradable head. My deodorant comes in a refillable dispenser. One of the hockey pucks bought me sustainably sourced cotton swabs. In five months, when I finally finish the two-year old box of 1000 Q-tips I bought at Costco, I’ll be moving to those eco-friendly ones.
We’ve made changes in the kitchen too. We store leftovers in reusable containers, such as silicone zip lock bags and beeswax bags. We’ve reduced our paper towel usage with small flannel cloths that can be rolled onto the paper towel dispenser. We also use old-fashioned rags! Like it was the 1970s or something.
Last year’s vegetable garden was a haphazard mess borne out of covidian panic. This year, we’re getting serious about it. We’ve built raised beds. We’re going to compost, which will reduce our food waste and give us the joy of raising pet worms.
None of this enough. We need to do big things to turn climate change around. But one way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is to decrease our purchase and disposal of plastics.
When I was that sincere second-grader, these wonderful products didn’t exist, except for the rags, bar soap, and pet earthworms. We can’t go back to simpler times. But we can be more intentional about what we buy, use, and throw away.
We can make everyday Earth Day.
Published in The East Hampton Press, April 22, 2021