So today, after going through much of my house in preparation for a move, I really felt motivated to write a thought piece. A thought piece on all the junk I’ve been finding in my house, and my plan to avoid more of it in the future!
Let’s start with a list of all the utter junk and garbage I have been finding in my house:
1). Half used, expired, and unusable personal care products (largely leftover from my pre-DIY days).
2). Expired and half used medications.
3). Broken, random plastic items like toys & parts from toys, parts, lids, thingamajiggers that belong to nothing, that “I wonder what this is from?” kind of junk. The kind of stuff you keep for three years, throw out, and then discover what it belongs to three days later.
4). Tupperware containers without lids, and lids without containers. Poor lonely storage items without their romantic partner.
5). Random computer parts, accessories, and old broken cell phones.
The list DOES, unfortunately, go on. However, I am going to stop there, as I think you can get a sense of the kind of stuff I mean. The kind of stuff that really mostly cannot be recycled, up-cycled, or anything. Just garbage. Yes, a few of the containers from personal care products can be recycled, but things like lotion and toothpaste tubes, lip balm dispensers, and all of those lovely impossible to clean, random plastic items are just going to the LANDFILL. And that bothers me, a LOT.
What also bothers me a lot is that I have not been in control of how a lot of these items have entered my home. You know what a lot of people like to give as gifts? Bath and body products! I have never really figured this out. Most people have very personal tastes in these kinds of things to begin with, not to mention skin sensitivity issues, etc. But people seem to love to dish these things out come gifty time. And you smile and nod and say “Ooooh and ahhh, this smells yummy, yada yada…..” But I then am left thinking, great, another lotion to stick in my cupboard. And plastic packaging to eventually hit the landfill. (Ironically, I did give some of my homemade products to family members this year, but all in glass containers, and not wrapped, and with a “love it or lose it, at least you got a nice mason jar” kind of attitude).
Not to mention when you have a toddler, and people then find it entertaining to give your kid crappy little dollar store toys that break in a week, overpackaged big, silly electronic items that flash and are super annoying (and then eventually hit the landfill), and horrible books involving Elmo and other television characters that I have to then sit and read over, and over, and OVER to my very enthusiastic young son.
If you have noticed a pattern here, it’s that I am really, really tired of bringing stuff into my house that I don’t really care for or even use, and then have to shoulder the burden of eventually throwing it in the trash or try ridiculously hard to find an obscure recycling centre for it when it eventually breaks down.
What I am really trying to say is: STOP BUYING ME PLASTIC JUNK!
In fact, please do not buy me anything at ALL with any kind of plastic or non-recyclable material in it unless I have specifically expressed a personal interest in owning it, to you. Directly. I try very very hard to minimize my use of plastic in my house, but it makes its way in there anyway, and then I feel guilty for trashing it.
This is why I make my own personal care and home cleaning products. (Among other reasons, of course). This is why I buy wooden OR second hand toys for my kid. I buy food products in glass or paper packaging if at all possible, and I bring my own bags to the store. I research the products I bring into my home very carefully, considering all sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives before purchasing something. I cloth diapered my child. I use cloth menstrual pads. I compost all of my food waste and use biodegradable garbage bags for any waste that does make it to the trash bin. If I take a drive, I make sure to get everything done in that location all at once, to minimize my footprint. I use a regular vacuum, a regular broom, and regular cloths to clean up messes. No swiffers or paper towels here.
All of this takes some additional effort, and I would hope that people who know me would understand this, but it sometimes doesn’t seem to be the case. I find that many people just don’t think about things like this to this level of scrutiny. I don’t mean to be rude, I don’t mean to be unappreciative, (really, really I don’t) but I really need to stop this influx of plastic into my house, because I am drowning in it. So it is my plea to everyone to please help me with my goal of plastic reduction – this is the biggest gift to me you can give.
Some ideas for gifts to give to us plastic free folks who may challenge your gift giving creativity once in a while:
1). Experiences – Buy us a membership at a place we regularly visit. Movie tickets and a babysitting offer for a night out. A night at the symphony. Something we would probably love to do, but likely wouldn’t buy ourselves, or would appreciate not having to budget for.
2). Bake or cook for me – I would love some of your home baking or cooking! One less meal I have to cook is a big blessing.
3). Buy me a plant for my garden – Please make it one that is easy to care for, and buy it in a compostable or biodegradable pot.
4). Buy me a gift certificate to my favourite Natural foods store, book store, or soap making store. And iTunes. Good ol’ iTunes bucks, we loves us some good new tunes to drown out the children’s songs constantly twirling our brains. Oh, and can you see if they sell gift certificates in paper or electronic format? I don’t know why they started making all gift certificates look like debit cards, but it is extremely unfortunate for our planet.
5). Offer to watch my kid for a bit – Mommy and Daddy don’t get much alone time that doesn’t involve household chores or being too exhausted to do anything at all. We would love for our kid to spend time with you so we can rest our weary minds and return to parenting with our creativity and patience topped up!
Oh, and if you buy me flowers, PLEASE do not bring them to me wrapped in three layers of plastic! Egads! It breaks my heart to have these wonderful, natural, fragrant lovelies brought in my house, only to be shrouded in something that is destroying the good earth they were grown in.
Want to buy something for my kid?
1). Buy him a class or an experience – Yeah, I know it’s more fun for YOU when you give him something flashy that he oogles at immediately after you give it to him. But in all likelihood, he will get more enjoyment (and intellectual benefit) from participating in an activity or event that he enjoys. And we won’t have to factor it into our budget!
2). Buy him wooden, educational toys – Okay, so you want him to have something physical. First of all, you might want to check with me about what he is into lately, as his interests do vary from time to time. Then find him something made sustainably and out of natural materials. Healthier for him, too!
3). Buy him a quality book – By quality, I am hoping it doesn’t involve a cheap storyline with hashed out TV characters. I really don’t want to hear what Elmo has to say for the 100th time.
3). If it’s gotta be plastic, and I have ASKED YOU for it (remember, I have to have asked you for it if it involves plastic) buy it on craigslist – Please, if I have asked for something that involves plastic, can you try your best to find it second hand for me, and then brag to me about the wicked deal you got? I would love that, and my kid can’t tell the difference between new and used toys anyway.
Oh, and please, no more tea. My tea cupboard is ridiculous. Yes, I have a tea cupboard. An entire shelf devoted to tea. I could open my own tea shop here.
Hopefully, if you feel the same way, you can share this article with your friends and family. I am saying it for you, so maybe they won’t take it as hard 😉