Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson, and I hope that each time you listen, you feel a little bit more free to live your life exactly the way you want to live it.
Hi there friends. Welcome back to the show. You’re listening to live free creative I’m Miranda Anderson, and this is Episode 107: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
I’m super excited to share one of my favorite sustainability experts with you today. Rupa Singh, who is local to Richmond…I actually met her in person at a conference. And then at another conference, she presented an incredible presentation about beginning your sustainability journey in really actionable, simple, and meaningful ways.
Some of the things that she taught me have transformed the way that I look at reducing reusing and recycling in my own life. Some little life hacks and just some background, understanding about different types of recycling and sustainability that I didn’t understand.
Rupa is the one who pushed me over the edge from a fringe interest in composting to actually having composting our kitchen waste into our backyard compost be part of our regular routine in our regular life in a way that has been so wonderful and so simple.
And I’m excited to share this conversation with you today. We are all at different points along our sustainability journey, whether you occasionally toss something in a recycling bin when you remember, or if you have already committed to a lifestyle of actionable sustainability using eco-friendly products and reusing and reducing as much as possible.
There is going to be something in this episode for everyone who cares even a little bit about reducing your negative impact on the environment, and Rupa shares a whole bunch of different ways that you can make that happen.
And I’m so excited to kick off this week’s episode. I’m going to share a segment that I like to call Pause For A Poem.
Pause For A Poem
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Well, that is certainly a beautiful poem with beautiful imagery. And I love the idea of how we are all connected. We are connected to each other. We’re connected to this Earth that we live on and, whether we like it or not, the choices that we make in our everyday life have an impact greater than just on our self and our own life. And that is one of the things that we’re going to explore a little bit in today’s podcast.
Main Topic: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with Rupa Singh
As we jump into the interview, I just want you to know that Rupa and I are both real moms with real kids recording an interview at home in the middle of a pandemic. So as you hear the delightful children’s sounds in the background, just remember how fun it is that we are all going through the same thing and doing our very best as we go here is my interview with Rupa.
Miranda: Welcome to the show.
Rupa: Thank you for having me.
Miranda: I’ve been so impressed by you. I’m so happy that we met a year and a half ago, maybe. And then being able to sit and watch your talk at rebel about sustainability.
I was just like mind blown by the depth and breadth of your, your understanding, and also your intent, the way that you…I mean…really just like take the principles that you value and you implement them in as many ways as you can reasonably in your real life as a mom with three young kids.
It’s like…I think a lot of people like to think sustainability sounds nice and eco-consciousness sounds nice, but that I’ll have to wait until my family is in a different stage or it’s kind of hard. But here you are, doing it with three young ones.
So tell us a little bit about yourself and about your family and kind of how you got started on, on your sustainability pathway.
Rupa: Yeah, so I think…I’ve been thinking a lot about where my origins and sustainability come from, and I think a lot of it just comes from being an immigrant in this country and not having much. And so…and I’m originally from India…and so it’s very much a country where nothing is wasted.
You use everything until you can’t use it anymore. And it’s just a way of life. It’s not like, Oh, I’m choosing to do this to be a better person. And so I think coming here and trying to fit into the country was kind of like a…have your one foot here, one foot there. “Oh my, my family does it this way, but like, is it really cool to do that in real life here in this country?”
So I think I was rooted in that. But I think as like growing up and I’ve always just had a kind of soft spot for the environment. And then when I moved to Richmond, I really got into the fair trade movement and really kind of saw the impact of our choices on people.
And I owned a business called Love This that was a hundred percent based on goods that were handmade ethically made and telling the stories behind the people that make them and how our negative impact on purchasing things can completely change a person’s life versus making a more positive decision.
And then just…one principle of fair trade was just being a steward to the environment. And so that kind of made me kind of change the way in which I do things at home and making more eco-friendly sustainable, positive impact on planet and people.
And then having kids, it’s just a way…while you’re learning, you’re also teaching so much to your kids. So I just was like, this is just going to be a part of our way of life. Like I don’t want them to know anything else or I want them to know there’s always a choice rather than being on autopilot.
And so I think all of that has just brought me to a place where I’m just like a huge advocate for just low waste, being a more conscious consumer, and just having a choice in every decision you make in your life, rather than just being on autopilot.
M: I love that…well that the idea of, like, the freedom and your choices and being intentional, like pausing and actually aligning a choice and an action with a value that you hold dear is what I am all about and what I talk about all the time and all the different aspects and this, like, stepping into sustainability and and fair trade.
Even in the conscious consumerism, these are…this is an area that I think a lot of people are at least on the fringes aware of. It’s like, if you grew up in the eighties, nineties, two thousands, you know, like, this has been something that is…I think it’s part of even just a regular school curriculum in some cases to talk about, like, very, very basic, not cutting down trees and, you know, like, save the rain forest.
Or I remember even just in elementary school, if you drank too long at the drinking fountains, the person behind you with save some for the whales, you know, like…you have this very understanding of…of energy and of garbage and of manufacturing, like on the very basic level we’re spinning further and further out of control in mass production in commercialism and…the wider, the media, the easier and more accessible.
And it’s just like…at some point you have to…you do have to make a personal choice that you’re going to swim upstream because if you are on autopilot, like the autopilot of society is just spinning down a tube of consumerism.
I love the idea of…this is something that we’re…that is important to you, that you realize this is something that’s going to be important to our family. And that…starts with you. And…how do you actually live so that your kids grow up learning that they don’t have to just like follow all of the baseline of our society, which unfortunately is like pretty…it’s a pretty low bar. They’re like, if you don’t make any conscious choices towards consumer, towards conscious consumerism or sustainability, it’s a pretty low bar.
So let’s talk through some of the basics of what that looks like in, in life and why it’s impact.
R: Oh, okay. So I think sustainability is everywhere, right? And it’s somewhat overwhelming. I feel like you are given choices on like top three tips on how to make your kitchen more eco-friendly or here are all the things they should do in your bathroom or do this and do that.
And so it gets super overwhelming for people. And then you don’t know where to start or like what to do. So sometimes it just handicaps you, you don’t want to do anything.
And then there’s the side of sustainability where the image of sustainability, like the revolution of sustainability, makes people feel like they don’t belong or they can’t play a part in it because the movement is very much led by white, thin, upper to middle class, able body people, beautiful people too.
M: Actually, I’m just going to…I can’t wait to hear more of what you say, but this reminds me of something that, like yesterday or the day before, I was doing something with my husband and I told him I have this image. I think I had made myself like a little “mock”-tail, I made the raspberry shrub and I had put some like garden cucumbers in it. And I had it in my Mason jar with a metal straw.
And I was like, in my mind, this is like such a cool picture but I was in my pajamas, I don’t fit the bill because I would need to be like in a cool outfit, like a handmade shirt, cutoffs with Chocos, out in the wilderness with like a cool straw hat on and a little bit more tan, like a little more sun-kissed than I am. And like a little bit thinner and a little more tone and just like fit that full image of what this like beautiful…I mean, I had that actual thought like, Oh my gosh, I am a little bit too happy, a little bit too motherly a little bit too. I’m not like a cool, I’m not a cool hippie,
I’m a little bit…I’m a little bit extra for fitting the bill of a sustainable eco-friendly person. And sometimes I feel like I don’t blend.
R: That’s so interesting because I just think it’s important that everyone listening, no matter what you like to wear, what colors you like, what your family situation looks like, what your weight is, what your race is. Like every single person on the planet can contribute in the sustainability movement. And it’s okay. You’re not like a beautiful hippie living in Arizona next to the sunset in the cactus, which we all like…that would be great, but like we’re not all that way. And it’s totally okay.
[[M: Hey, friends, I’m hopping in, in post production to, first of all, apologize to Rupa for derailing the point that she was trying to make as I interrupted her with my tangent about my “mock”-tail.
The point that Rupa was trying to get across, that was so important that she emailed me after to say, “Hey, I really want to make sure that this is clear that the sustainability movement has traditionally left out of the conversation. People who are not white, skinny, able bodied, upper to middle class people.”
And I fit right into every single one of those categories. So although my idea of a perfect image of a sustainability person doesn’t fit in my mind 100%, I am absolutely 100% always included in the conversation because of the privileges that I hold as a white thin middle-class able bodied person.
I want to thank Rupa for reaching back out and saying in this racial climate, it is so important to recognize where we hold privilege and who is not in the room, who is lacking in the decision making positions, in the boardrooms, on the faces of advertising. And the companies that are promoting eco-friendliness sustainability, are they including all different backgrounds of people, all different races, all different types of bodies, cultures, gender identities, and really creating an inclusive space in sustainability?
That is not happening right now. And Rupa and I are in agreement that it needs to…that we need to be creating space for diversity and all different types of voices in the conversation about sustainability, just as we do and know that we need to in so many other areas as well. So thank you for Rupa for pointing that out. I wanted to make sure that that point is really clear. And now we’re going to tap back into the interview.]]
R: And what you said, I feel like we…you don’t have to change your whole way of life to make an impact, and you don’t have to fit a certain type of person for your version of sustainability to be celebrated. And it doesn’t have to be. You have to purchase all the things and you can create a sustainable lifestyle that works for you by doing what works for you. Doing something, like I said, it’s just better than doing absolutely nothing.
I fall off the wagon a lot of times. And one way that I keep myself from not doing that is that I’ve given myself a definition of what sustainability means to me. And so that just keeps me on the path. And the definition is, you know, living sustainably means that I’m consciously working at reducing my negative impact on the planet and marginalized communities.
So it doesn’t say that I have to do every single thing. It doesn’t make me feel horrible when I make the wrong decision. It just kind of nudges me in the direction that I want to be at, so that I make better choices that align with my values.
And I’m constantly reminded of where I want to be because marketing, I mean, marketing is everywhere and it will just put you down the river and you forget what you were even want, what you were preventing yourself from doing. So I think having a definition like just helps you be grounded and helps you always come back to what your values are.
M: Yeah. I love that definition too. Just the idea that consciously making choices that are a little better, you know, conscious, like just not even the best or perfect, but just small choices that are a little better, that reduce your impact on the environment and that reduce your negative impact on marginalized communities, which those are so intertwined. And I’d love to, yeah, we can talk a little bit more about that too.
R: No, I think that people get really stuck on, well, not stuck, I guess. Well, an example of kind of just making a simple choice is just resetting your mind. We both have kids and in American culture, birthday party equals all disposable things. Birthday parties equal goodie bags, birthday parties equal presents. I feel like that’s just default, like you’re going to work…we gotta go buy something, gotta wrap it up, and gotta take it to the person.
All that is just like…do you really need to do that? I mean, I understand that it’s kind of like your birthday. You need to be celebrated, but it’s like gifts, gifts, gifts. And I think a lot of parents these days are like, no, no, no. Like we just have too much stuff.
And so I’ve been telling my kids from the beginning, and they’re little so they don’t know this is the way the world is…they don’t know that every birthday party requires this. So I think if you catch it quick enough and you’re able to change that mindset, like, Hey, how do you want your birthday party to be celebrated? Why don’t we just take your friends outside, go for a walk, do a hike. And how about we make things out of nature for each other, like crowns made out of just flowers and sticks. And how about we’d give everyone like a seed packet of flowers that they can grow in their own home.
There’s so many different. There are different ways to do something. We just don’t see it because we’re so used to just being on autopilot. And that’s just one way. But like, if you, every single decision you make, if you just say to yourself, does it have to be done this way?
You don’t have to do it the other way. You know? I mean, we give our kids gifts, you know, and we take goodie bags when we could refuse them. But you know, then it’s like the happiness of my kid just got crushed, but it’s just, they, they know it like, do I actually need this? You know, we have this thing we call like crappy stuff [insert], which is just like my language.
And so they even know that they’re like home, I just looked in this goodie bag and there’s so much [insert] in there. It’s just going to get broken into minutes and we’re going to have to throw it in the trash. I was like, you could have just told them, we just didn’t want it really nicely. And they’re not there yet, but you know, ideas like planted.
M: I love that. Super creative. Think outside the box. And I love that. Like, do we have to do it this way? Or is there a different way? And even that just allows you…Again, it’s like the pause and the conscious decision: Why do we do it this way? Just, is it because it’s convenient? Is it because that’s what people expect? Is it because it’s what we expect?
When we did our year without shopping, birthdays and holidays were like, we came up to that and we’re like, Oh, okay, wait, like, how are we going to approach this? And it was because we had given ourselves sort of this clear definition of not buying anything, then that created a framework that was like, okay, we’re working within this framework of not buying anything new and creating experiences instead.
And it was so fantastic and has influenced the way that we do birthdays and holidays ever since, because we don’t default to just buying a bunch of random gifts. Like usually we’re giving experiences, we’re creating experiences.
I love to the idea of, I mean, I always have kind of laugh, maybe it’s just because of my money mindset and I’ve always sort of thought it was odd going down the party aisle at a store and seeing…you can spend so much money on disposable party goods, like so easily and people do. And I know that there’s like something fun about that.
And I also think that I like eating off of real dishes. I think it feels fancier and more fun to eat off of real dishes. And maybe at a party with a bunch of little kids, you have to kind of rethink how you’re going to do that, which then brings you to like, there’s good, better, best in all these situations.
So maybe if you want to do disposable, what is the better option? Like you you’ve decided I need the convenience. I need the ease. You know, I like just tossing it, but what is a better option than just a standard party plate, it might be a recycled paper plate or a bamboo plate or something that is then made in a way that has a less negative impact on the environment. So you can walk yourself through and realize that you actually have so many options.
R: And I feel like if you did want to like, have this awesome, like Frozen themed party, right. Go ahead and buy all this stuff and like do it, but you don’t have to trash it afterwards. Like you can put it on Craigslist, you can put it on your Buy Nothing group and say, Hey, I have these free decorations. There’s some other kid that wants a Frozen party. Please take it. I don’t want it anymore.
But just don’t default to putting things in the trash can because somebody else wants that stuff. So the happiness of your children and doing something amazing for them? Yes, go ahead and buy that stuff. But just don’t think that has to go in the trash afterwards. Find another way or someone else that will reuse it. Even party plates, you know, I don’t want to have my plates that all these kids might drop or they’re too big. Just ask around. Does anybody have like plastic plates that they just don’t need? Can I just borrow ten plates for a birthday party?
You have options. We just are so individualistic. And like everything that we don’t take advantage of, the resources of our community, you know, we just need to get over that and ask, like, I’m not trying to be cheap and like not buy stuff, but you know, it’s more like, I’m just trying to use the resources that you already have so that I don’t consume more. And it’s not about looking cheap or like being frugal. It’s just about being a steward to this planet, you know?
M: Totally. Yeah. I love that. Thinking of your community and what can you borrow? What can you share? What are things that you don’t use often, that other people don’t use often, that you can kind of collaborate to use together?
R: It’s just asking and not being like, Oh my God, there’s going to be so much trash in the trash can after that party. Oh well, that sucks. No, that sucks. Let me do something.
M: Totally. I love that. So give us some specific aspects of life that can be given a little bit of a sustainability pump up. Like, what are some of the things? Where can people start? What are some of the areas of life that are important to actually be considering some of these options? I know there are alot of areas, but I know that you have some everyday things that have changed your whole life.
R: I would love to give like, swaps, like do this and do that and do that. But the number one thing I feel like you can do to be sustainable is to not consume, right? Because the solution cannot be the thing that it’s going against. So our major issue, why we need to be sustainable is that we’re just consuming way too much stuff.
So I feel like using what you have first…that should be your only option at the beginning. So, you know, examples of that are, I don’t use ZipLock bags on my house anymore. I just, you know, they’re just single use plastics that we just throw away. And so I forever have been wanting to get these Stasher bags, which are already silicone reusable bags. And I waited and waited and waited until they came on sale because they were just too expensive for me.
And they finally came on sale. I bought them and I’ve been using them solely in my freezer. And I didn’t think that’s how I would use them. And then I was like, I didn’t even follow my own advice. If I had just used those…I buy a lot of frozen fruit for my kids. And so they come in resealable bags, they’re basically a Stasher bag.
And I’m like, why didn’t I just use those? Why didn’t I just think about using what I already had to fulfill the purpose that I needed it for.
So in your kitchen, I feel like things that you can change are the amount of water that you spend on dishes. Use your dishwasher. Don’t spend so much time washing your dishes by hand because it wastes so much more water.
Think about the plastic that exists in front of your sink. Like you’re going to have a sponge, you’re going to have this dish soap, dishwashing detergent, like all of those things. Just think about the amount of plastic and the amount of things you’re throwing away, just make some changes in that area.
Again, see, this is my issue. I feel like I don’t want to ask people to buy more things, right. Because it’s like, okay, you can buy a bamboo toothbrush. You can get the powder dish soap instead of the liquid dish soap because it comes in cardboard, and liquid just soap comes in plastic.
You can just go down a spiral of, I don’t want to buy this, but how do I not buy it? And if I do buy it, can I recycle it? But if I can’t recycle it, it’s going into the trash. So it just kind of like, the problem just keeps compounding over and over again. And this is where the overwhelm comes. I don’t know what to do, so I’m going to do nothing. And I don’t even know if I answered your question at all.
M: I think that it’s a good. We were talking earlier, before we started recording about that old adage, reduce, reuse, and recycle. And I don’t think I ever realized growing up that that’s like an actual order of things. Like, it’s not just like three Rs and it’s cute, but this is like where you start: you start by reducing your consumption. And I think that is just a great rule for people who are like, okay, where do I start?
Start by using up what you have to completion before you start buying new things. Allow yourself to go through the things that you have and to use it all up. So for example, I know a lot of people buy, especially right now in the middle of a pandemic, people buy things in bulk. And so maybe you have three things of dish soap underneath your sink or in your pantry that are all kind of random dish soap in plastic containers.
If you’re like listening to this and think, I guess I could buy a really pretty glass container and then buy a big bulk thing to pour into it. So it becomes reusable. But wait to do that until you’ve used up all of the consumable that you have.
I host Live Free From Clutter, which is my five week intentional living course, and we talk about, I mean, it’s a five week shopping pause as well. One of the things we talk about is this. And people always say, well, what about consumable goods? Because I advocate for reducing the non-consumable goods, but what about consumables? Like soaps and even food and makeup and things like that, that you can use up to completion.
But how many of us…are most of us using lotion or something, and then we see a new pretty lotion or a good smelly lotion. And so we get another one. And pretty soon you have like a house full of half used lotion bottles. And it always feels like it’s okay to buy more. I mean, and it is okay, but I’m saying it’s better to maybe use what you have first before, so you can kind of…
The nice thing is you give yourself a little space to even consider how to move forward, because everyone probably most, everyone has enough for now. So use up your Ziploc bags and start reusing them a little bit. If you have bulk paper towels, it’s okay to use them and to use them smartly. You don’t have to immediately go buy…throw them all out and go buy a bunch of recycled or reusable towels. So start with the reducing.
R: Yes, start with what you have. I loved the things that you said about reusables and even reusables, it’s just, you know, use what you already have. We already have a bunch of…everyone probably has a drawer of plastic straws and forks and knives and spoons. You can reuse those.
I know they’re say they’re disposable and they’re single use, but they’re absolutely not. You can use a plastic fork for like a hundred more times before it needs to go in the trash, same thing with water bottles and coffee cups. Like those come freebies all the time, like use that you don’t have to buy a brand new stainless steel or glass one when you already have it.
And my thing for the grocery store, like a lot of people don’t, I mean, tote bags are like everywhere. Now you can just get them anywhere. But if you don’t, if you don’t have them…I used to have the grocery store double paper bag, buy groceries and I would just bring them. They’re like, do you? And I was like, I brought my own bags from last time. Can we please just keep reusing the bags that I have?
Just think about what you already have, like for napkins, you know, I don’t have to go buy a brand new set of cloth napkins. You can number one, absolutely. Find them second hand. Or you can go to a resource like Scrap RVA in Richmond where just go get some fabric, cut it up. And you don’t even, I mean, they fringe at the end, whatever, like it’s fine.
And our containers like containers are the thing that kill me. Everyone has that Tupperware drawer, like blows my mind that we’re going to go to the store, buy a box of plastic and keep reusing it. But we bring plastic in our home all the time: sour cream containers or yogurt containers are nice containers. They’re exactly the same as your Tupperware drawer.
But we think those are disposable. There’s the pretty Tupperware that all matches. Like those aren’t like those I’m going to keep reusing.
So just kind of like making that shift, it’s all about your mindset and how you go about doing things. And I’ll just say, when it comes to plastic, I think everybody kind of is aware that plastic is like horrible. It never goes anywhere. I never biodegrades. It just sits in our life forever, and even recycling plastic has become an issue.
And foreign countries are no longer taking our plastic. And so we’re trying to manage it within our own country, but honestly, like all lot of it is just ending up in our landfills. And so if you’re going to buy plastic, buy the biggest thing possible, because it’s probably going to get recycled.
Little small things don’t even have a chance anymore. So the single tiny, like yogurt containers for individuals, I’m just going to grab it, throw in my lunch bag or to go, like, that’s getting absolutely thrown in the trash. But if you buy the big pint size and just put it in a little reusable container for your individual goods, like that’s going to get recycled.
M: Yeah. I was so interested. So I feel like you are one of the first people that I heard. I’m sure I had heard it before. But during your presentation, you talked about the difference between single use plastic and other like heartier plastics, like recyclable, reusable plastics.
And I didn’t ever really understand that distinction. I thought that whenever recycling, I mean, I knew that the recycling bin had like the different numbers, but I never actually paid attention to them. I was just like, Oh, if it’s plastic, it goes in the recycling container, like easy.
I was like, Oh, when we buy plastic water bottles to go on a picnic, I just make sure I would collect them all and make sure that they went in the recycling bin. And then you told me those just get taken out of their recycling bin at the recycling center in a lot of cases and are put in the trash because they’re not…a lot of them aren’t recyclable depending on where you live, your city and the recycling center that your city contracts with.
Recycling is not like a city service. So it’s not a public service. Recycling is privatized. Would you like to explain that.
R: Yes. So recycling facilities actually have to have a buyer for your stuff. So they need to have a plastic buyer, cardboard buyer, paper, glass, like someone else is wanting your stuff. So if they don’t have a buyer for it, it’s going to go to trash.
Before all plastics were taken and shipped to China predominantly, and it didn’t matter what it was. But now we have a problem with that’s not happening. So it’s up to the recycling facility to find a partner that they can sell it to. And so, and a common misconception with plastic is that it’s not actually recycled. When you say something is recycled, it means that it’s broken down. And when it comes back, it’s a hundred percent the same way it was before.
So aluminum and glass, when you recycle it, glass is broken down, it’s melted. And then it’s formed right back up into another container. It has the same structure that it did before it got crushed.
But plastic doesn’t do that. Every time you meltdown plastic and you build it back up, it loses its strength. So you’re actually down-cycling plastic, which is why, if you can keep it in circulation, if you can reuse your plastic containers in some way, it’s way better than sending it to the recycling facility.
Because at some point, it just…even if you’re buying the largest thing of detergent, at some point it’s going to get to the point where it cannot be recycled anymore. So it’s going to get thrown in the trash.
M: So here in Richmond…this is what I took from that conversation, that enrichment, anything that was like a milk carton container, like a thick milk carton container, anything that was lower than that isn’t even worth putting in the recycling because it will be trashed anyway.
So that made me really start to think about what are the things that I’m buying that come in this true single use plastic, like the bags from the grocery produce that is pre-bagged into plastic clamshells, which is so annoying because I want to buy the berries, I want to buy the greens but not the plastic.
And so we’ve started to look for alternatives and, of course, COVID threw a wrench in everyone’s plans for everything, including sustainability, because my weekly trip to the farmer’s market, that is where I could get my produce without any type of bag, because I would bring my own bags. It’s slowly starting to ramp up again.
Also, we joined a CSA program locally and they use a compostable…so I get greens and stuff, but they use compostable bags that they put them in. So then I actually use those to line my compost thing on the counter…which we should talk about compost in just a second.
But I feel like the knowledge is so empowering that as soon as you know, I didn’t really know to start looking at plastic that way, all the things like everything is wrapped in plastic, everything, everything is wrapped in plastic. And so this is where if you can not buy something because you don’t need it, that means that you don’t have that plastic waste.
Moving on, the second one is reduce, reuse, where if you buy things second hand, especially locally secondhand, then they don’t come wrapped in any sort of packaging. Like not only are you not manufacturing another item, but you’re also not creating more waste through the packaging.
There’s like so many positives, not to mention that it’s usually a little bit less expensive, whether or not that matters to people. Like, I mean, I think people like to save money. You also mentioned that I wanted to just make sure people knew about, and I don’t know how this program is functioning right now with COVID, but Trex is a company and I think there’s multiple companies. And so people can research, just do a little Google search in your own area.
But Trex is a decking company and they take plastic that people donate and they melt it down and mix it with all other sorts of things. And they turn it into light boards that are weatherproof that you can use actually my front deck, my back deck, I wish it was made out of Trex, but it’s not. It’s just, I mean, it’s wood peeling paint. My front one is all made out of Trex and it’s amazing. And it lasts for a long time and it’s like really low maintenance, but the company uses single use plastics to make their boards.
So you can find a Trex donation center near you. Are they still doing it in COVID? I tried to take my plastic into Target and they said they we’re not doing that right now.
R: I don’t, I haven’t actually stepped foot into any stores since COVID started. So I don’t know. Mine’s just like piling up in my screen porch. But one of the things that recycling centers don’t take is flat pack plastic. So that when, when I was talking about the frozen fruit bags, like on the back of that bag, it’ll have a number on it, but that doesn’t mean you can just dump it in your recycling because it’s flat.
The infrastructure that they use in the recycling facility are these amazing like machines and flat plastic will just destroy the machine. It’ll come to a complete halt. So don’t ever put flat plastic in your recycle bin and where you can take it is to these bag inside of like a Kroger or a Target.
And if you look on Trex’s website by country, it shows you the stores that have it, but it’s basically this big plastic trashcan looking thing when you enter the door and it’ll say recycle plastic here. And most of the time, it’s your plastic grocery bags that people that are stuffing in there, but you can do like your bread bags or Ziploc bags, any kind of flat plastic can go in there.
M:…which is nice because some of those things, for as much as you try, some of those things are a little bit unavoidable if you want to eat bread or berries or whatever.
And so that is just an alternative way to make a little bit better choice. They’re like, it can’t go in the recycling, you can hang on to it. And it is a little bit inconvenient. It’s a little bit annoying. You have it piling up in your screen porch. And I had like a bag in my kitchen. I was just like, “Just shove it in there.” And then I tried to take it and they’re like, “We don’t do that.” And I was like, “Oh shoot. Well, what do I do with it now?”
That’s something just to be aware of that there are probably programs that can use some of those things if you just look for it. I know a couple other companies do…there’s a…I can’t think of the name right now…but there’s a company that makes like toothbrushes and things like that. And I know that they take maybe just bottles.
So you, if you want to, and you’re aware in your communities, listeners, you can find out “What do I do with the plastic that my recycling center won’t take, because I probably can do something with it.”
Or just try to try to avoid it. Dave and I were talking recently about the when values come in conflict. Because it’s sometimes hard…what made me think of this as that there’s a new-ish company in our area, in Richmond. I think they’re actually based a little bit further North, but I’m not going to say their name, but they are a hydroponic organic farm.
And they have reached out to me to say, “Hey, we’d love to send you some, you know, like a week…” They do home delivery of groceries and all this organic hydroponically grown food, which is so cool and sustainable. Hydroponic, organic gardening is amazing.
And it is all wrapped in plastic, every single thing that they deliver. And I mean, I’m like on some level, that is the way that they have to do it because that makes it more hygienic, I guess, that they’re like delivering to all these different people. But every single individual thing is in single use plastic.
This is like a value conflict. Because I’m like, I would love the sustainable local, organic food. I’d love to support that company, but I also don’t want to have 18 plastic boxes and bags delivered to my house every week.
And so what I need to do, and I haven’t actually reached out yet. I need to say, “Hey, have you considered using compostable containers because I would love to support your company, but I really am trying to avoid single use plastics.” And they probably have an option of, I mean, it might be a little more expensive or it might be a little bit more logistical or they couldn’t maybe have their cool logo on the top or whatever, but there are compostable options. There are bamboo or like recycled paper options that would probably work. I don’t know.
R: I love that you did that. So that’s, you know, when you have that value conflict and you have to pick one over the other, always use your voice to tell the other why you’re not…why you’re not choosing. “I would love to support your company. And I love what you’re doing, but it’s conflicting with my values. Can you make a change?”
Because if you just make your decision and not say why you’re doing it, then it’s just business as normal. You’ve just done it singularly. This only impacts me. I decided not to do it anymore, but I haven’t told them why, so they can’t do better or maybe they don’t even know. So I love that.
M: The consumers really take the brunt of sustainability choices when…we can do so much, but it really needs to go…the responsibility for that really needs to go back on the businesses, on the manufacturers, on the grocery stores. They’re the ones who need to not wrap their things in plastic, and only have paper bags available, or say, “We don’t bags; you have to bring reusable bags or you can put it all in your cart and put it back in your car.”
Because that top down is really where true systemic change is going to happen. But the only way that that happens is by the consumer using their voice to say, “Hey, I actually love your store, but I really would prefer to see this or that.” Because that change goes to affect everyone who’s then shopping from that store.
R: Yeah. So the idea of a circular economy is that the person who produces the trash is the one that takes responsibility for how it’s disposed of so that nothing gets thrown into the trash.
So it’s kind of like, something is made, it gets consumed, and then when it gets consumed, the product, the person, the brand, the company that makes that product tastes responsibility of how you dispose of it, so it’s not completely going to the trashcan. It’s not completely going in the recycle bin, but either they collect it or they refill it, or they have a system of taking care of their trash fees.
They’ve made the choice to make something that doesn’t fit into a circular economy. They’re saying we’re going to only make it out of number five plastic. But then now you have to figure out what you want to do with that number five plastic. You can’t put it on the individuals to take care of it.
M: Yeah, it’s so interesting. And just something to think about. I feel like in the last few months with the social justice movement, a lot of us are learning to use our voices in new ways regarding equity and racism and things like that. It all ends up connecting because the communities most impacted by the negative choices on the environment are communities of color, communities of lower socioeconomic status.
And so when we speak out and make good choices for the environment, we’re also positively impacting those communities as well. So it all ends up kind of being the same…it’s like the protecting the environment is protecting the people as well.
R: Totally. I think one thing that I always like to talk to people about is, you know, we all make these small changes in our lives. We’re going to take a reusable shopping bag. We’re going to buy a bamboo toothbrush. We’re not going to take longer showers. I’m going to choose my bike over riding my car.
And they’ve all become just like “I’m making all these choices.” But do you really know why you’re actually making that choice? What is the big picture? What is causing us to make all those small changes? It’s consumption and we’ve talked about that. And the way we consume, we consume and consume and consume and we dispose and we dispose. And we just don’t think about how things were made and how things are disposed of.
How things are made is directly connected to energy. The energy that we use to make something is what’s causing a negative impact. And then how we dispose of it is making a horrible impact. So energy and the environment is like everything that we consume is made by energy. Energy is predominantly given to us by power plants, and power plants are burning fossil fuels that put carbon dioxide in the air, which is causing climate change. So that’s energy and the environment.
And then when we talk about energy and marginalized communities, it’s where are these power plants located? Most of the time, if you’re living next to a power plant, you are inhaling a whole lot of air pollution. And they are usually located in vulnerable communities. Like you said, communities of color, less education, lower incomes, more stressors. And so you put the health risk on top of that, keeping those communities further down.
Then also energy and communities, we talk about like who’s making our products, right? Like again, these vulnerable populations that are combating poverty and nutrition and lack of education. They’re subject to exploitation and physical and verbal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and little pay, for our consumption habits. Like those people will never actually use the things that they’re making.
And in these communities, their energy consumption is so low. It’s so low. And they’re taking, like you said, the majority of the burden of a negative impact that our consumption of energy takes up. The only way to combat the climate crisis, and the only way to combat the racial and economic disparities when it comes to energy, is to get rid of the way we use produce energy.
Stop the fossil fuels. Renewable energy is going to be amazing for the environment. Amazing for people. But that requires governments and agencies to choose people and environment over profit.
M:…which, historically, America doesn’t have a great track record with choosing people over profit ever.
R: Yeah. It’s kind of a bummer. I watched the history of plastic movie. And when you watch that, I mean, you just get…it just makes you feel…it’s so overwhelming because, as an individual, you feel like all the changes I’m making doesn’t really matter because the things that I’m trying to combat are so some seeped in money, seeped in the oil industry that it’s so hard to break free of it.
But then you think about using your voice, right? Every company, every brand, every person, you say, “I’m doing this because this is what I believe in. I’m not going to shop there. I won’t spend my money here. I won’t go here with you. I’m not going to take that.” It plants a seed, and every seed eventually will grow into a tree.
M: Yeah. Totally. Even little things. I always hesitate to say anything negative about Target because people love Target. And I love Target, too. I get it. But I was interested…but I don’t shop there a lot because I don’t shop a whole lot. But once in a while we do end up there and it’s a delightful place to wander around.
But a few weeks ago, maybe last month, we were in Utah visiting family. My son lost his…the airline lost his bag. And we were going to be there for two weeks. And so we couldn’t find his bag and they said, “You can have a day’s worth stipend to go get the things he’ll use for the next 24 hours and then call us back.”
It’s day by day. They’ll let you buy things that you need until you get the suitcase back, unless you don’t get it back at all. And my son was kind of excited. I was like, “Oh, that is fun for him because we don’t go buy clothes that often.” It’s just like about twice a year. And usually when we do, this was the kicker for me, I do try to be really thoughtful. So I go to the consignment store, or I buy secondhand, or I buy specifically from online companies that the clothing is made in a sustainable way, or they use organics, or recycled. I try to be pretty conscious about it.
And so I was like, gosh, all of a sudden we’re here. Like he needs a swimsuit. We’re going to swimming with the grandparents tonight. We need this stuff. And it’s, of course, COVID so it’s like every little shop or consignment shop was closed, you know?
So we went to Target, and I was browsing around, and we were just looking for like a swimsuit and a pair of pajamas basically to get him through the day. And I was pleasantly surprised that the swimsuit that I grabbed, it was just Cat & Jack brand, but I flipped over the tag and it was 100% made with recycled bottles. This swimsuit.
And I thought, okay, it’s still made in Vietnam, who knows what the conditions are, but at the very minimum…and I realized that one of the reasons that this totally mainstream fast fashion swimsuit is made with recycled plastic bottles is because the brand recognizes that that’s enticing to the consumer. You feel a little bit better about it.
And I was like, you know what, that’s just an example of a little bit of a movement reaching a higher level company. It’s not just a little boutique company that’s manufacturing with recycled plastics, but somewhere like Target can do that.
I don’t know about all of the different things involved with that, but I was like, well, this feels like a little bit better choice, you know?
R: Yes, that’s awesome. And when I see bigger brands making somewhat of a headway towards being more sustainable. I always–not always–but I try my best to like reach out to them and just say, “Hey, I didn’t realize that you guys were doing this. I think it’s great. Could you maybe take this and put it more as a part of your mission of the company? Make being more sustainable, using more eco-friendly materials as a part of your brand?”
You know, it’s just letting them know that, “Oh, I saw that. I appreciated it. Can you do that more?”
M: Yeah. I love that.
M: I want to talk briefly about compost and food waste, because this was another thing that I was like, I had thought about it. I’d seen it online. I’m like some of the bloggers that I followed had done compost bins and I was like, okay, that’s something I’d like to try.
And I don’t know why. I think I was just too overwhelmed in Texas even get started. Because my kids were all so, so young. And I was like, I don’t really even know where to begin with this. But here I felt like, okay, I think I can try to compost our kitchen waste.
I love hearing from you about like why…and actually I was at a conference in February or March this year where I mentioned it to some friends and all of them were like, I didn’t even know that composting was like, what the point of it was, or how food waste going into either the disposal or to the garbage is worse for the environment than if you compost.
So I’d love for you to just tell us a little bit, give us a composting 101: why it matters and then kind of some easy ways to get started.
R: Yeah. First of all, in my workshop, the one thing I said was like, “If you guys take away anything from this workshop, it’s to compost.” And Miranda started composting. I was like, Yes!
So the big deal with running compost is that when you don’t compost, when you put your food waste into your trash can, it’s first of all gross, your trash bin is gross. And then it goes to the landfill and when food waste doesn’t have sunlight or oxygen, which it doesn’t have in a landfill, it produces methane gas and methane gas is actually worse for the environment than it is carbon dioxide.
So keeping that out of the landfill is one the most amazing thing you can do. And composting is so easy. And so what composting is, is just basically taking organic matter, such as food scraps and taking like grass clippings and leaves and putting them together, and amazing microorganisms will come and break that stuff down to give you amazing nutrient rich soil.
And there’s a lot of like, Oh my God, composting smells and I have creatures coming into it. And if it’s done properly, composting is just…it’s like gold, you know, you’re keeping your food scraps out of the landfill. And then you end up with this amazing soil that you can, or you can choose not to use.
I had a compost bin in my backyard. It was just a plastic tumbler bin and it broke. It was too heavy to turn. Like I never actually took the amazing soil that it gave me out of it for like eight years. And what happens to compost if you’ve never use it, is that it just liquefies. So it just like goes back into the soil. So a lot of people are like, I’m having compost. I don’t know what to do with my soil.
You really don’t have to do anything with it. Just leave it, put it on Buy Nothing Group, or put it on Craigslist, free compost, come and take it. Again, what you don’t want, other people will definitely, definitely want. So composting is amazing.
You can do a backyard compost bin. I know you have a tutorial on how you just made yours from scratch and how your process is. Amazing. I just bought one for like a hundred bucks that sitting in my backyard, it just broke. And I actually put it on my buy nothing group and someone was like, I’ll take it. And I was like, great. I don’t have to put this huge plastic bin into the trashcan. So now I need to figure out what I’m going to do.
But there’s also compost pickups. If you have the disposable income to do that, like there’s two companies in Richmond that do it. I get mine picked up on a weekly basis. It’s amazing. Like that thing fills up.
We’re a purely vegetarian household. So we have so much scraps and I have kids that are like, Hey, I’m not gonnna eat the rest of this. So I’m like, yes, I’m just going to put this in the compost then.
So it’s so good for environment. It’s so good for…when we talk about landfills and food scraps, our landfills are bad. But they’re contained by a lot of our waste, especially our recycling stuff gets shipped to developing countries where they don’t have the infrastructure to take care of the volume of it.
You think about people living in landfills and you think about it not having a boundary and seeping into their water and their soil and their air. You’re protecting the planet, you’re helping the planet, but then you’re also preventing greenhouse gases from going into the air. That’s impacting all communities.
And you’re preventing things from just getting shipped overseas that don’t have to, because your food waste…the amount of food waste that you’re not putting in the trashcan…you’re taking care of your own waste. You’re not putting it on somebody else.
M: Yeah. It’s so interesting because I grew up, we always had a disposal, like a food disposal.
R: Yeah. I need to talk to you about that.
M: And so, yeah. Tell us a little bit about that. What I learned growing up, I think it was just because my dad was afraid that the disposal was going to get clogged. And so he didn’t want…just like a tiny bit of something like the scratch, like the very bottom of the scraps on your plate.
Everything, all of the food went into the garbage cans. You cleared off your plate into the garbage can, and then you rinsed it in the sink. And like the little teeny nubs would get disposed, but everything else went straight into the garbage can. It was a trash compactor. And I just grew up feeling like, “Oh, it’s better for me to put food in the trash than it is to put it down the disposal or to do anything else with it.”
And so I’m like mind blown by that’s completely opposite. Like my food should not go in the trash. It should go into the compost bin or down the disposal. But tell me about the disposal, why that’s not as good.
R: Okay. So we talked about the recycling plant. I think everyone should take a tour of the recycling facility, but I also got a tour of our wastewater treatment plant.
Cleaning water is a really hard thing to do. They do it seamlessly, but it’s a lot of work. And so whatever you put down the drain has to be cleaned. So don’t put your food waste down the drain, like ever, because it’s going to go through our pipes. It’s going to end up in the wastewater treatment plant. And it has to be sifted through. It has to be cleaned.
Everything that’s going down our toilets is being sifted through. But on top of that, we don’t need to put things that don’t belong there. Like our lemon peels and our food scraps, and our lettuce, and our meats, and oils. All that stuff, basically put nothing down your drain except liquid things.
And so food, yes, keep it out of your trash can. And I recommend people doing a trash audit. And if you’re composting, your trash audit is really clean. But if you just for one week, or even for a day, look at the things you throw in your trash can and just kind of lay it out and say, “Oh my God, 90% of my trash bin is food waste.” Can I do something with that? Do I have enough in my budget to get a pickup?
There are also drop off locations in Richmond where you can drop off your food waste to get composted. Or can I set up a backyard compost bin? Or can I get a group of people, if I live in an apartment complex, to come together and buy one together or build one together.
It just makes a difference. It just makes you think about when I throw away something, something, or someone is dealing with it and I’m not. So how can I deal with it before it even goes in there? So getting food out is amazing. And then you think about what else is going in there? How much plastic and recyclables am I putting in there?
Are all these things that are not recyclable…okay, if this is not recyclable, what’s my choice. Can I buy it a different way? Can I actually live with that? Do I actually have to have it? So I think doing a trash audit is a great way to find where you’re lacking or where you can do better
You don’t have to do it all at once. You can just say, “Oh, this is one thing I’m going to tackle and try to see if I can fix that.”
M: Totally. I love that so much. What an interesting idea. I’m totally gonna do that. It’s undecided whether or not I’ll share the results of my trash audit. I don’t want to be eco-shamed online.
But it really is so interesting to just consider, because I think that we are so automatic, like just throw it away, just put it in the trash bin, the recycling, a lot of times our trash or recycling is hidden. Mine in a pullout cabinet the big bins are behind my back fence.
So once stuff goes back there, it just stays there until it gets picked up and taken away. I don’t even have to look at it. So I don’t even have to feel connected to: my family is creating this waste and someone has to deal with it.
But as far as…skipping back to composting…
M: No, no, no, this is so good. I did create a blog post about our method. Because I had kind of started composting using a tutorial that I found that I thought was so great. And I actually had like the RubberMaid thing just in my shed. I was like, “Oh, I don’t even have to buy anything. I just use this storage container that I’m not using.”
And then it didn’t work super well until…I had to figure out how to like troubleshoot it. And I figured out how to troubleshoot it so that it does work really well in my yard. And I have used some of my soil when I did my garden beds, but then I feel like the back compost corner of my yard has just turned into like the most fertile ground ever because I ended up just dumping it on the ground and turning it on the ground.
And I’m like my chickens go in there and hang out. And I’m like, if I ever plant anything back here, it’s just going to go gangbusters because that whole section is like this beautiful soil, but it’s not even like the garden.
And just a word for chickens, I feel like all of the wastes…I will link to the blog post about composting…but when you say organic matter, you don’t mean that the vegetables and fruits have to be organic. You mean that they’re vegetables and fruits, that it’s not meat, it’s not grease, it’s not cheese or dairy products.
Those types of animal products are not compostable on a small scale. I think some big farms and things do do animal composts, but they have an acre that they can do it on. When you’re doing small backyard composting, or even like city composting, it’s just the fruits and vegetables.
And like paper you can do, like a shredded paper towel, or like compostable plates or whatever. If you break them down a little bit.
Between my chickens and my dog, all of our extra food waste can be consumed because the chickens will eat…I actually first toss a lot of my berries that are just a little bit bad that we’re not going to eat them. Chickens will devour those, you know, and then anything else goes into the compost bin.
But I feel like I can kind of cycle through. My dog won’t eat berries, but my chickens will. But my chickens, I don’t want to give them bacon, but my dog will eat the leftover bacon. So it’s kind of like an interesting little micro ecosystem, when you have multiple consumers and multiple producers. Because then the chickens also poop all over the compost pile and that nitrogen is really, really good for it and for my garden.
I can compost all of the chicken poop. I use shredded pine in their coop. If I was just throwing it away, I cleaned their coop every week and a half. It would be a lot of a garden waste, like pine shavings with poop in it, like all the time. But because I’m composting, it’s like I just toss it on the compost pile, or in my bin actually. And then it all gets to be used again.
And it doesn’t actually…it’s kind of like anything, once you kind of start…the overwhelming part is thinking about it. As soon as you start, it feels like, “Oh, this can be so simple and feel so easy.” And it definitely…you feel the shift of responsibility back onto yourself versus like before it just didn’t matter, I just throw it all away and I didn’t have to deal with it like you’re saying.
R: Yeah. You see how much you are throwing away and then how you’re dealing with it. And you see the fruit of your labor. And your right, beginning composting is the worst, because you’re overwhelmed. You don’t know if it’s going to work. And I spend all my time and energy making this thing and what if it just totally sucks.
But it won’t, I mean, it just works out like composting is like magic. It just the sun and oxygen and the microorganisms just like, do their thing. That’s the thing they’re supposed to do.
M: Totally. I think even in terms of the garbage audit, which I think is such a brilliant idea, the same thing starts to happen when you start composting that you are way more aware of the food waste that your family has than if you just toss it all.
Because all of a sudden you’re like, I can cut the carrot all the way to the very tip. I don’t need to like throw away this big chunk. Because I’m like, I don’t really want big chunks of things in there. So I’m like cutting apples and just scooping out the seeds versus like chopping them around. I mean, there’s so many benefits to just, just kind of reassuming responsibility where we can for the impact that we make. And it feels good to do that.
R: It’s not hard. Once you realize wow, this is easy, wasn’t I doing it from the beginning?
One thing about the trash audit, my kitchen trashcan is so tiny now because then I feel it I’m like I’m walking outside with this trash can like eight times a day. What am I putting in there? Like since COVID started our trashcan piles up so much and it’s irritating to me.
I was like, okay, I’m not gonna let COVID do this to me anymore. So I’ve tried to like backtrack. I’m like, what the hell is going in there? And started reassessing again. It’s another way, another point where you can, like, “I’m taking responsibility.” My trashcan is so big and it doesn’t have a bag in it. I have to clean it out if it looks gross in there because something has gone in there that it’s not supposed to.
M: It forces of reckoning of what are we actually doing?
Yeah. I think that’s interesting. And as far as like family culture, again, going back to just where you started at the beginning, the idea of like teaching your kids, that they have choices. And I think that how powerful, one of the most impactful ways to teach our children is through modeling the choices that we want them to believe are important.
The way we live is the way that they start to see is worth the impact and the things that are, that are a little bit trickier a little bit more…I mean, obviously, it’s easier to just, who cares, que sera, I’m going to do whatever I want and someone else can deal with all of the consequences of that.
But we don’t want our children. I mean, I don’t want my kids to grow up feeling like it doesn’t matter what choices they make. Someone else can deal with the impact of the choices of their life.
So as we start to assume responsibility in these ways, our kids start to see that, if nothing else, even if like it doesn’t make this longterm impact, it makes an impact on our family. It makes an impact on the way that my kids are learning that they can have a choice and that they can make a difference. Even if it’s just in these teeny tiny ways.
R: Totally. Yeah. One thing with trash is that the best thing you can do is refuse it to come in your home. So when you say no to like a plastic straw, you can also like when you order takeout, please don’t give me ketchup and Mayo and mustard, the napkins and all the plastic utensils. I just don’t need them.
And even at the takeout, you can say that like, can we not put any extra stuff? I just want the stuff that I ordered. And a lot of times I’ll say why. I like saying why so they can see. Like at the dentist, I never take those little goodie bags. And so every time they see me, they’re like, “Oh yeah, she doesn’t want the goodie bag. She doesn’t take the goodie bag because she’s trying to not to bring extra stuff in her house.”
And they’re saying it to someone else, like as a proud thing. And I’m like, you can just not even offer this to anybody.
M: Yeah. It’s the same thing at like conferences. And I know there’s not a lot of that happening, but as a blogger, I’ve been a blogger for 13 years, I’ve gone to dozens and dozens of conferences. And one of the…10 years ago, one of the most exciting things about it was the swag. And it was like, “Oh, it was like, they give me a bag full of all this stuff from all these companies.” And now I don’t want to take it unless I’m like, “Oh, there’s something that I actually would buy or that’s something that I will use.”
And the same thing with races, I like to run. I like to run races. And I just stopped taking the T-shirts a couple years ago because I just ended up with all these t-shirts that I didn’t actually really care about. I didn’t really want them. And then I would take them and feel like, well, what am I going to do with this? And I’m like, no, I just don’t need that. I don’t need the shirt.
Again, back to our year of not shopping, it was amazing how many things come into your life that you don’t choose. How often people are giving you things, offering you things, sending you home with things that you didn’t choose and that you don’t necessarily want.
And you don’t have to take those things. Like you can say, “Thank you so much. I don’t, I don’t need that.” Or “we’re, we’re going to go without, or I’m trying, like you said, I’m, I’m trying to not have extra stuff. We have so much already.”
You don’t, you don’t have to say yes, just because someone’s giving you something. And I know it’s so enticing when things are free. It almost doesn’t matter what it is, we’re like, “Oh, if it’s free, I should have it. Because the value is all of a sudden that it was a free thing. And you’re like, no, if you wouldn’t buy that thing, why do you want i if it’s free? It’s taking up your mental energy.
R: When you know that something is free, you don’t value it. So you’re like throwing the trash or I don’t want that. I got it for free. I’ve never used it. It’s been sitting here forever and I’m just gonna throw it away now. So once things hold value, you tend to hold on to them for so much longer. And value usually equals I paid a certain amount of money for it. So a cheap $5 t-shirt is not valuable, but a $25 tee shirt, all of a sudden keeping it forever.
M: Totally. It’s so true. Well, are there any other last things you want to share? I’m going to link to that compost blog post. I think I have a couple blog posts. I know I have a list of sustainable companies that I made last year. I think that is just nice.
Again, reduce. So the first step is to not buy stuff if you don’t need it. But when you do, you can take that extra thought of: Where is this coming from? What is it made with? How often can I reuse it before it will wear out? So that list might be helpful as people get started.
And then if you have any other resources. I’ll link to the Netflix show. Is it Netflix? That’s the History [sic] of Plastic.
R: The Story of Plastic? I don’t know if it’s actually on Netflix.
M: I will look for it online, if there’s a link for it.
R: River Blue is really good for water.
M: Thank you so much for sharing your insights and your understanding and your heart with us. I really appreciate you spending this time with me today.
R: Thank you. And thank you for all the ways that you’ve already done all this work to be more sustainable.
M: Little baby steps, right? But we do what we can.
I am going to make sure that I link to your Instagram on the show notes so people can find you and see like the ways that you use your sustainability in a real, everyday life of a mom with young kids and like little things you can do here and there that makes such a difference. So thanks again, Rupa. I’ll talk to you soon.
Okay. Friends is your mind blown, even though I had heard Rupa’s full presentation that she had prepared for this conference, during this conversation with her, I learned even more. It’s so exciting to understand that our small choices can make a big, positive impact, both on the environment and on the communities of people near and far.
My invitation to you today is to make one more choice, one better decision that continues you or furthers you along your journey of sustainability. Whether that’s choosing to reuse something that you already have at home, rather than buying something new, whether it is opting for smaller businesses, more sustainable businesses, or just to go without.
Maybe you want to start composting. Maybe you want to do a trash inventory and find out what you’re throwing away and how you can reduce that impact. One small change will make a huge difference. I really believe that.
As a perfect parallel with this episode about reducing reusing recycling and just being a little bit more intentional about your choices regarding consumption, I’m so excited to announce that the doors will be opening in the next couple of weeks for Live Free From Clutter.
This is my five week intentional living course, and it only opens a couple times a year. This will be the final session of 2020. So in this wild, wild year where our lives have been turned upside down, maybe your heart is yearning for a little bit more peace, a little bit less stress, and a little bit more purpose.
These are what you will find in the five-week intentional living course, as we begin to make space in your personal life for your values to shine for the things that you love the most to take center stage.
So keep your eyes and ears open for that in the next couple of weeks.
Okay. Friends. Thank you so much for being here. Have a wonderful one. Bye.