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Simple Choices. Better Planet.

Stepping Into Sustainability

  • 4 min read

As soon as I started working on Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children to raise awareness about the delicate state of the ocean and keeping it clean, Heather, my co-editor, told me to watch a movie about how trash-filled the seas are. It was horrifying. So I looked for a non-profit, some kind of ocean clean-up organization, to donate a share of the proceeds to. I found Rozalia Project, and immediately felt better.


For a hot second.

Then I read on Rozalia’s website how groundwater is all connected to the ocean, so any plastic or chemicals that get into groundwater far from shore will eventually end up in the ocean.

Wait, what? I was learning this at the exact same time a developer was trying to build a giant distribution center in the forest behind my house. If built, it would loom over a beautiful clean brook, leeching pollutants into the water. Right now that brook is full of beavers, river otters, ducks and geese. We have a local bobcat (I’ve snapped his picture with my wildlife cam—the otters too!). Yesterday I saw dozens of red-winged blackbirds patronizing the salad-and-worm bar in the nearby swamp. It’s a clean, healthy ecosystem.

So my panic alarms started to go off.

What could I do? Turns out, there were a couple of obvious things. Outside the house, I could fight the developer and call attention to the project. Inside the house, it occurred to me that so many of the household products I was using were either in plastic containers or full of chemicals that might be harmful to the environment. I noticed my Instagram and facebook ads were full of products produced by small companies, mostly in the U.S., that are part of One percent for the planet, The mission of 1% is: because companies profit from the resources they take from the earth, they should protect those resources.

So I did some digging during lockdown, and spent a chunk of my shopping budget on Earth-friendly products rather than what I would usually buy at the supermarket. All with Friends & Anemones (and our 70 volunteer contributors) in mind. This is what I discovered:

I found a laundry soap that comes in sheets, so I don’t have to carry the heavy jugs from the grocery store anymore, nor do I have to recycle those jugs.

I found shampoo that comes in a soap bar, so I’m not buying multiple bottles of shampoo every month or so for my family. The perfumy scents in those shampoos make me sneeze anyway, and the bars have a very gentle earthy scent, if they have one at all.

There are companies that send you cleaning sprays and soaps without the plastic bottles too.

The bees wax wraps are one of my favorites—being a mom, I used plastic ziplock bags for years, and felt like, This is wasteful, right? But everyone else is doing it so … maybe it’s not so bad? Wrong. Single use plastic is always bad. Those bags go into landfills. But …beeswax wraps are so pretty! And they’re compostable when they finally lose their cling, which takes about a year. And then you get new designs!

Swedish dishcloths are all the rage too. I love to keep my counters, sink, and table very clean. My Swedish Dishcloths have replaced 99% of my paper towel use—I do still keep some paper products handy in case the cat throws up (because that’s disgusting).

I got the bamboo toothbrushes and like them. I also got the dry toothpaste but didn’t stick with it—sensory thing. I’d always wondered why dental floss has to be in a little plastic box. Zero waste silk floss comes wrapped around a little cardboard tube, which you put in a re-useable glass container with a metal top with the little slicer on it. It’s awesome and when I finish, I just re-fill, I don’t have to throw the (perfectly good) container away!

I got Patch bamboo bandages too—here on I love them so much—being a person who uses them here and there, I have to say these are literally the best bandages (aka bandaids) I’ve ever used. They don’t split or break and they stick really well and are comfy. It’s a weird thing to have such strong feelings about, I know.

Turned out Lochtree was already allied with Rozalia project, and I’d come full circle. I even bought a Cora Ball, having read about how it stops microfibers from entering the water cycle. Now I feel so much better about so many of the decisions I made when we were locked down and stores were closed. That pause in life gave me time to slow down and think about what I really wanted to spend my money on. It’s important to me from now on to buy from companies that aren’t just profiting from resources they take from the earth, but are also protecting them.

And the distribution center? A group of us did manage to thwart the developer’s plans. We convinced the Planning Board that the warehouse would be against our town bylaws, and they voted it down. Every little movement in the right direction helps.