Clean(er) Living: Compost Bins, Menstrual Cups, and Other Weird and Wonderful Things

One of the things my husband first loved about me was what he called my "free spirit." When we met, I was a junior in college and still pretty judgmental about things that most young Christian girls are (especially evangelical ones), but I was also silly, spontaneous, and deeply compassionate. Pierce thought those were some of my best qualities. Now, ten years after we started dating and nearly eight years after we got married, my husband still loves my free spirit...only these days it looks, well, different than it did back then.

I may have explained this in a previous post, but after I completed my first Whole 30 in the spring of 2015, I started to view my health and my food in a whole new light. That set off a chain reaction of reading and researching and Pinteresting and Netflix documentary binge-watching which has flipped a lot of my previous beliefs on their heads, specifically those about chemicals in our food and home as well as the outrageously obnoxious amount of waste we produce (both as individuals and as a society).

Now, I'm a total newbie at all of this "zero waste" stuff and I want to make that clear before I continue. After a little less than two years of being a try-hard when it comes to changing my habits - sometimes to boost my own ego, sometimes to hold myself to a made-up standard (there's that evangelical influence again) - I finally feel alright if I'm the only one who cares about this shit. My sweet, sweet husband is totally on board with recycling, using our own shopping bags, and whatever else I want to do, but I've learned since I started this process that it's not fair for me to expect him to care in the same way. And it's definitely not okay for me to take it personal if he doesn't. I've been guilty of both these things and the reason I share them here is because I recognize now - as I've had to in past relationships and circumstances - that what matters to my silly, spontaneous, and deeply compassionate heart might not be on someone else's radar.

If you're reading this post, I'm assuming you're at least somewhat interested in clean(er) living. And if that's the case, then let me encourage you to have some grace for yourself along the way. When I get excited about something, it sort of consumes me for awhile and can be overwhelming to the people I love most, but now I understand that I can make choices for myself without feeling guilty if my spouse or my friends or anyone else make different ones. I hope you'll feel the same way and I hope you'll feel free to share your thoughts in the comments! I'm really just beginning to change old habits, so if you know a better way or have some new info to share on zero waste (or whatever), just let me know!

One of the most immediate changes we've made in our house is a huge reduction in the use of plastic bags. We still line our kitchen garbage can with them, and we reuse Target bags in our small trash cans, but we take our own shopping bags to the grocery store and try our best to refuse plastic bags elsewhere. I'm learning to think, "If I can't fit this in my purse or carry it out of the store myself, should I buy it?"

We've also started (and by this I mean we've literally done it twice) bulk shopping for our groceries. Two nights ago, I went to Sevananda - a natural co-op grocery in Little Five Points - and managed to shop completely zero waste for the very first time! *Fist bump* Everything I purchased was either not packaged, placed in my own jars, or brought home in recyclable or reusable materials.

Then I went to Kroger and had a slightly different experience. I still tried hard to consider every purchase I made, but I didn't have the right jars to get meat from the deli, so I bought packaged turkey and chicken instead. Everything else - save the dill pickle potato chips I devoured later that night and the yogurt I bought for Lucy - was recyclable. It's tough to shop in bulk if you're not used to it! But I'm definitely feeling more equipped for the next trip. One of the things I keep seeing is how many resources recycling uses, despite its major benefits, so reusing or just refusing certain materials is the best way to go. Still, I'm grateful we have recycling services for our neighborhood because we use a LOT of cardboard and still quite a bit of plastic.

A few other changes I've made personally:

-Replaced my old plastic toothbrush with a compostable one from Brush with Bamboo
-Purchased bulk local soap from Sevananda to use in the shower (it's made with tea tree oil and it's great for my face, my body, and even my hair!)
-Donated old plastic items, clothing, and accessories to Goodwill
-Recycled my used planner and purchased a new one I can simply refill each year
-Replaced our plastic cutting board with a wooden one from the thrift store
-Started using pretty rags instead of paper towels to clean or eat with
-Purchased Seventh Generation toilet paper, which is biodegradable and has recyclable packaging
-Invested in a silicone menstrual cup to replace the need for disposable tampons and pads
-Began bringing my reusable cup/jar to coffee shops or just buying/making my own
-Started a compost bin in our backyard and filled it with all kinds of stuff from our kitchen and home

I'll keep sharing as I continue making changes in other areas. I hope this was in some way helpful! Thanks for reading!

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