Triumph of the Weeds

Personal Audit II

Here is my personal audit for the past year. I’m going to go into detail about each of these categories in future posts, so I’ll be brief for now.

Health and Hygiene
I switched from disposable to non-disposable options for several health and hygiene items (kleenex–>handkerchiefs, acne pads–>muslin facial cloths and soap, q-tips–>ear syringe (with hydrogen peroxide, water, and rubbing alcohol), tampons and pads–>diva cup). Of the disposables I couldn’t get rid of, I switched to multipurpose products when I could, like Doctor Bronner’s soap which replaces body soap, hand soap, face soap, shampoo, toothpaste, as well as several household cleaning products (more on that later) and vaseline to replace blistex, neosporin, hydrocortisone cream, and rash cream. I started using crystal deodorant which reportedly lasts far far longer than the regular kind; it also doesn’t contain the aluminum chlorohydrates that regular deodorants do. I started using a neti pot, which has done wonders for keeping my nose clear; it’s also supposed to reduce the incidence of colds, but I haven’t been using it long enough to see if that’s true. Other items I may not have replaced yet, but I’ve done some research on them and am contemplating what to do about them.

Hair Dying
I’ve streamed lined this process, replacing the disposable gloves with reusable rubber gloves, wrapping my head only with tin foil (which I later washed and reused) and the t-shirt, and leaving out the plastic bags. I’m also going to skip the paper neckbands.

Not much change here, except since I started using the neti pot, I’ve needed my cold supplies (dayquil, coldeeze, airborne, and visine) an awful lot less. Despite the reports of birth control hormones polluting the water, I’m not willing to give up the nuvaring yet. I’ve also done some some preliminary research about herbal remedies and alternative medicine.

Cleaning Supplies
Huge strides were made in this area this year. I’ve started using Clean House, Clean Planet as a guide, so I’ve replaced my old cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda, Dr. Bronner’s, club soda, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, and salt. I’ve started using recycled, unbleached toilet paper and paper towels; I’ve also reduced the number of paper towels I use by opting for washable rags when I can, and using salad tongs and a scrubbie brush for cleaning up pet messes instead. I’ve reduced the amount of toilet paper I use by using cloth wipes for #1. I also switched from disposable dusters to dusting gloves and from disposable lint brush to a reusable one. I still need to find an alternative to disposable mop pads (perhaps a mop pad that can be laundered and reused) and laundry stain stick (maybe hydrogen peroxide, if I can find a safe container to keep in my purse).

Cat Supplies
I changed my cat from Purina to Newman’s Own Organic brand. I figured that if I was changing my own eating habits, it was only right that I do the same for my cat. When I run out of processed cat treats, I’m going to start using canned salmon instead. Pine litter was already a good choice, so no changes needed there. Cat toothpaste I probably won’t change, because the experts are pretty adamant about no substitutes being made. I’ve looked into non-toxic anti-chew sprays, but I haven’t made one yet.

Office Supplies
This area wasn’t a high priority this year, because nothing I had needed replacing. I intend to start buying recycled paper products when the supplies I have run out. I also need to make a better effort conserving paper. I’ve read that’s it’s possible to refill printer cartridges, but I’ve also read that that can be really messy and not very effective, so I’m just going to continue recycling the used ones for now. Rubbing alcohol and a lint free cloth is supposed to be OK for cleaning computer screens but I haven’t tried it myself. I plan to buy a Giottos AA1900 Large Rocket Blaster to replace the canned air I’ve been using once it runs out. I’m not sure what to do about pens/pencils, tape of all sorts, staples, labels, and paste. I also need to figure out how to stop loosing so many pens, cause otherwise buying “green” ones won’t make a bit of difference.

Misc Kitchen/Household Supplies
I switched from regular light bulbs to CFLs, as has everyone else by now. I plan to get usb rechargeable batteries when I run out of the batteries I have. In the kitchen, I stopped using paper napkins, opting to use a handkerchief instead. I’ve continued to reuse plastic baggies as much as I can. There are some reusable options that I have yet to explore, though, and I’ve heard that there are waxed paper baggies to replace the plastic ones should they run out. I’ve opted to replace saran wrap with tin foil when I can and have looked into alternatives like corn husks (or other leaves) for wrapping food. I’ve reused tin foil as much as I can, and bought a silicone baking sheet to cut down even more.

Utility Use
I’ve gained a much greater awareness of my utility use over the past year. I’ve started to air dry my laundry, unplug my electronics when I’m not using them, and take military showers. I also developed a very rudimentary grey water system, catching shower and sink water in order to flush the toilet. When I was living in my own apartment, I didn’t use heat or ac unless I absolutely couldn’t stand it and let the toilet “mellow.” Since I’ve moved into a town house with 2 other girls, I have less control over the utility use, so I can’t do those things, but I’ve been doing the best I can. Since the water is metered in the townhouse, it’s been cost effective enough for me to buy a low flow showerhead. I’ve also covered the windows in my room this winter, but I don’t know how much that’s going to cut down on the gas usage.

This area was not a high priority for me this year, mostly because I haven’t had to replace any of my clothes. I’ve looked into more sustainable clothing options and it looks like they are very expensive and difficult to find. There are also so many factors involved in the production of clothes that it’s a real challenge to determine whether clothing is completely sustainably made. For now, I’m trying to make the clothes I have last as long as I can, and plan to buy clothes second hand when things need replacing. I also intend to learn how to mend clothes as well as make socks and sweaters and such by hand.

Travel and Transportation
The gas crisis meant that I drove less this year than I normally do. I didn’t take any RoadTrips, worked from home when I could and basically didn’t drive unless I absolutely had to. I plan to buy a bike as soon as I can afford it. I’d like to use public transit and Amtrak more, but they usually are incredibly inconvenient or wouldn’t take me where I want to go.

I moved from one suburb to another this year (and I will be moving again in the fall) and I’m still renting, so nothing much changed in this regard.

Waste Production
By switching to reusables and buying fewer packaged foods, I’ve significantly reduced the amount of wasted I’ve produced. I also got more savvy about repurposing my trash items before throwing them out. I started composting, so most of my food scraps, paper, vacuum dust etc were also eliminated from my garbage.

I made vast improvements in this realm, switching from packaged foods and fast food/take out to home cooked foods. I started switching to local and organic rather than conventional foods and started eating more whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. I also vastly reduced the amount of meat I ate, though that was mostly because of economics. In the next year, I intend to start integrate eating pasture raised meat back into my diet though I will probably continue to consume less meat as I have in the past. I’ve started experimenting in making basics from scratch like yogurt and bread.

I lost about 50 pounds this year and my BMI is now down to 32. I’m technically still obese though. I haven’t had another doctors appointment yet, so I don’t now if any of my other stats have changed.

Since changing the type of products that I use, I’ve found that 90% of the inventory of most stores hold nothing of interest to me anymore. Also, I have to shop less for household goods now that I’ve switched to reusables. I’ve been shopping most at the farmer’s market, Whole Foods, natural health food stores, REI, and the thrift stores.

I’ve moved from Greenville to Raleigh. Even though this is also temporary, I’ve made attempts to become more involved in the community by attending events at REI, Whole Foods, and the library. I’m also getting to know and hang out with my roommates a bit.


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