Dear this zero waste kick,

So I boarded the train, and I’m never getting off.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Stephanie, do you REALLY care about the environment or are you just a product of your Brooklyn environment?”

I could definitely only be a product of my Brooklyn environment, and that’s fine with me, provided I’m a plastic-free product.Image result for troll meme

Now, let’s review the steps I’ve taken thus far:

Putting the un in unpaper towels, touted as 100% cotton.

This has been a difficult change for me, since I really hate cleaning up food messes. I don’t know, it just grosses me out. I can handle blood, but not food mush. All I want to do is wipe it up, throw away the towel, and be done with it. But if I want to be zero waste, sometimes you’ve got to be willing to get your hands dirty. Like using the same unpaper towel to clean the sink, countertops, and table—just rinsing it between surface wipes. I’m getting used to it every day, but trust me when I say, it’s not an easy change. The lesson? Don’t expect the transition to zero waste to be as simple or as charming as some people make it sound. It’s not.

Remember, you’re doing this for the Earth, not for likes on social media.

Happy toilet, happy bum, happy Earth.

I gave a crap about the Earth when I purchased my first bulk order of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, made out of 100% recycled paper. First thing’s first, recycled toilet paper is not used toilet paper. Imagine. Recycled toilet paper means it’s made from recycled PAPER, like the kind you don’t wipe your butts with. Don’t believe me? Fine, they also offer TP made from bamboo, which is much less likely to have touched other people’s butts. What’s more, your order ships in packaging that’s completely recyclable…and kinda cute. You’ll see. And fun fact – they also sell forest friendly tissues and paper towels, made with bamboo and sugar cane.

Does making my own toothpaste make me a hippy?

Yeah, so I did that… and I’m not regretting it… yet. The thing is, toothpaste tubes are super hard to recycle because, well, they’re hard to clean. And for plastic to be recycled, it MUST be rinsed, and in some cases, scrubbed. In an effort to avoid using toothpaste tubes all together, I decided to make my own, following this recipe. The ingredients are pretty simple: coconut oil, bentonite clay, cacao, baking soda, peppermint oil, and xylitol (for added sweetness). I want to mention that I did look into toothpaste tablets (that dissolve in your mouth), but nothing out there really convinced me to invest, and besides, DIY is fun. What I’m still deciding is if cutting out fluoride is the right or wrong way to go. There’s a big debate going on about the health risks vs benefits of fluoride. Here’s where I stand as of now: The ratio of fluoride to other ingredients in toothpaste is actually very small, so how much of a hit are my teeth really going to take? Especially when there’s allegedly tiny doses of fluoride in our tap water? I’ve learned that you really have to know your teeth. If your teeth are janky, you might want to stick with fluoride for now, until there’s more data out there on more natural ingredients. Because here’s the thing, there’s not much out there to prove organic ingredients work as well, if not better, than ingredients we are used to seeing in our commercial toothpastes. But I really don’t have the authority to say much more on the subject. I just look forward to brushing my teeth with something I made myself. If you’re interested in diving deeper, though, visit this ex-dentist’s DIY blog. She knows things that I do not.

It’s the little things. 

Honestly, this is so true when it comes to living sustainably. Always having my stainless steel straw in my bag in case I give in to my cold brew cravings. And in that case, my own personal, reusable to-go cup. Beeswax wrappers to store food. Using cotton hankies instead of tissues or napkins. Replacing the plastic floss container with a reusable glass one, and trading traditional floss for silk refills. A big step is to bring your own bags to the grocery store and to say no to the plastic ones (which, I might add, are being banned in certain areas around the world as I write this). This is such an easy step to take, so you really have no excuse. More often that not, grocery stores will sell you reusable bags anywhere between 10 cents to a dollar. Worth the investment. Or just order these.

Upcycling. Recycling. Reusing. Reducing. All that stuff works to help rid the world of unnecessary trash and reduce a global, carbon footprint that gets bigger and bigger every day. Think of it this way: Nobody wants to have big feet. At least in our sustainability scenario, we get to choose. Size zero sound alright?

Sincerely,

Stephanie (a.k.a. a brain-washed Brooklynite)

 

P.S. Looking for inspiration?

Blogs:

Trash is for Tossers

Oh, The Things We’ll Make

Online markets:

Package Free

Who Gives a Crap?

Tushy

Zero Waste Store

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Dear Coffee,

I wish I knew how to quit you.

And not because you’re addicting. But because you throw my system way out of whack and yet I pretend I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think we can both agree you are the culprit.

Every day, around 4pm, my blood sugar drops…exponentially. Though manageable, until I find something to eat pronto, I suffer from symptoms of anything from wooziness, to rubbery limbs, to anxiety. If nothing else, it’s inconvenient. And yet, I continue my caffeinated shenanigans. You know what I think it is? It’s living in New York City, where coffee is so damn good, and accessible. And so damn good. Not to mention, my husband prides himself as being a coffee connoisseur. So basically coffee is everywhere, weaved into the very fabric of my life.

I think that if I stopped drinking coffee every morning and every night on the weekends as I am right now (literally right now), my heart wouldn’t beat so fast, I wouldn’t be so tired all the time, I wouldn’t be so irritable, and my blood sugar wouldn’t fluctuate like it does. Seems the solution is simple.

One day I’ll suppose I’ll garner enough conviction to boycott the bean, but for now, all I can do is pretend I have any incentive whatsoever.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

To the concept of friendship,

I thought I would have more to say on this topic given what went down this weekend. But now I’m just sitting here, staring at my computer, dumbfounded by the fact that I really do have nothing to say. Ironically, I think that speaks to what I’d say if I did have something to say.

Let’s try this…

I once thought a friend was forever. And by “once,” I mean last week. Then two of my—who I would have called—close friends visited New York (the city in which I live) and didn’t tell me. I found out the way most people find out anything these days—on social media. Huh, alright then. I’ll spare you the details of my insecurities, but I spent the next day or so brooding over the possibility that maybe I just wasn’t all that likeable, an idea I’d never been comfortable with.

Here’s the thing… Ever since I moved to NYC, I’ve lost touch with a lot of friends. Not all of my friends, but a lot of them. ‘Course, it’s a two-way street. It’s not like I’m ghosting their texts. They just aren’t sending any. And to be honest, that’s fine with me. Having to keep up a virtual relationship stresses me out. Besides, I’m usually under this assumption that regardless of how often we keep in contact over the phone, our friendship will pick up right where it left off when we’re reunited. Apparently, not everyone vibes with that.

So I grabbed coffee with one of these friends on Sunday before she headed back home. I insisted. How could she be in New York and I not see her? To me, that’s absurd, but I digress. Before we parted, I asked her if I had done anything to upset her, that could perhaps explain why she hadn’t reached out to make plans. She shook her head, shrugged. That would have to suffice as my answer. Ok, so I hadn’t done anything wrong, and yet…

I’m not writing this to vent. I’m writing this because this shit happens all the time. To everyone. People suck. Friends suck. I suck. But, listen, and I know this sounds crazy, but we get to choose the people we want in our lives. We get to choose in what relationships we invest our energy. So my friends ditched me, and not just forgot-to-ask-me-if-I-wanted-anything-from-Starbucks-ditched me. No, these two friends sent a message, and given that, I can now do one of two things: 1) Do whatever it takes to win back their favor despite there being allegedly no reason for their shiftiness or 2) think Huh, alright then and take my energy elsewhere. Think about it – that’s two less people I have to feel guilty about not keeping in touch with. It’s great. Not to mention, I win back more energy to spread around the friends who put energy into me. Why waste another second trying to mend something that doesn’t want to be mended? Why not instead pour myself into relationships that fill me up? Relationships that can withstand time and distance? Those are the friends I want in my life. And I have friends like that. Every single one of them deserves my time and my energy. You all know who you are. ❤ So yeah, what went down—or didn’t—this weekend, it sucks. And sure, it had me real low all day on Sunday. But look what came out of it. Insight. Appreciation. And a mantra that really, really suits me. Huh, alright then. My mom agrees.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Dear Boston,

If I have a voice, it’s in Boston. Where it’s cold. Where there’s almost always a reason to cozy up under a blanket in front of a fire. Where it’s old, musty, and dusted with history. Where ghosts walk the streets. Where people go to ground themselves. Tucked away from the rest of the country. Where coffee is warm and oysters are chilled. Where the wind whips in from the harbor, making you remember things you have no business remembering. White sails. Sturdy ships. Second-hand dinghys. Blue coats. Red collars, standing up against the gusts. You see it, too, don’t you?

It’s impossible not to. Here, under the intelligent eye of Boston.

 

 

Dear America,

All I have are words, but they can be powerful when used purposefully.

America, we will get through this.

As humans, we are not without flaws, but some of us have been gifted with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. I know in my heart that Goodness will eventually prevail. I, and so many other Americans, have finally and reluctantly come face to face with the insidious epidemic in society—close-minded bigotry. I wouldn’t even call it “hate.” These people you call hateful don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t realize that they are part of the greater issue—the systemic issue. They don’t realize that what they believe encourages evil. How can we blame them?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m angry. I WANT to blame them.

But, as I sit at my work desk, listening to the piano music of Helen Jane Long, I can’t help but feel some amount of hope for a country as broken as ours this morning.

If Hillary had won the Presidency, I would have never understood just how much work needs to be done here. I would have never resolved to take a more self-accountable role moving forward. I would have never looked ahead and considered how I, alone, could make a difference. Now, I know I can and SHOULD. I HAVE to. If I want to see change, I have to BE that change. I have to MAKE that change. It’s simple.

I walk away from this election enlightened. Disappointed, yes. But, as they say, life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

As of now, I’m setting a real fire under my butt. I’m not going to hide behind the digital walls of social media as I attempt to make a change. I’m going to step across the threshold, sacrifice my vulnerability, and add my voice to the crowds of people demanding equality, change, love, happiness, freedom, and comradery.

After all, we’re stronger together.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Dear the Uber Driver Who Drove Me Through McDonald’s On the Way Home,

You were my age once. I’m sure you understand what it meant to me to have a large, hot, greasy fry in my stomach after a night of both good and irresponsiblity-inducing spirits, but we don’t need to talk about the latter.

The point is… you came in the night like a knight at the helm of a shiny, grey, armored land-boat… equipped with four doors and air conditioning. It was hot, was it not? My God… why did I even venture from my house? If I wanted to come home as wet (from sweat) as I did, I might as well have dived head first into the James River… that is, if the James River was a sweat river. A river of sweat.

But that’s beside the point.

What I’m trying to say is I was nervous about asking you if you’d mind going through the McDonalds drive-thru. It was 2 a.m. and you had a family to get back to. (Ugh, I hate ending sentences with “to.”) I knew that. My friend, Chris, knew that. And yet, the words came tumbling out of my mouth as if of their own volition. “Do you think we could go through McDonald’s?”

I prepared myself for a firm but respectful negative. But it never came. You were more than happy to find a McDonald’s! Oh, happy day! I’m not sure whether it was the elation or the alcohol, but I believe I offered—no, DEMANDED—to buy you a cup of coffee, as you were up late and clean out of caffeine. Plus, let’s be honest, the life of an Uber driver at 2 a.m. on Sunday mornings must really be something. You just never know what characters will pile into your car next. I’d love to read a book compiled of outrageous stories told by Uber drivers. New York Times’ Bestseller list, here it comes!

Anyway, you may not ever read this, but I wanted to thank you. I also wanted to apologize for forgetting your name. But, let’s be real, the minute I got home and inhaled my fries, I was out. But I thoroughly hope you enjoyed your coffee. It’s the least I could do for someone who managed to save me from a hangover the following morning.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Dear The Webbed Creature Squatting in Our House,

By “webbed creature,” I mean you, bat.

Angie, the young lady you quite nearly made piss herself (she might have) a.k.a. my roommate, has named you Brenda. You don’t deserve it, but she’s too compassionate for her own good. And, if we’re being honest, though I haven’t seen you in person (in bat?), you are pretty cute.

But it doesn’t matter…

You’ve still managed to run my roommates and me out of our house. It’s because of you that poor Wellesley has had to sleep, curled up alone in each of our beds, meowing, eating, biding his time. A tragedy. I hope you’ve, at the very least, befriended him. If nothing else, you’ve spiked his curiosity. What is this winged, hoof-less pig defying gravity? Because apparently our cat is familiar with pigs and the concept of gravity but not bats.

Look, you’re probably dead by now. The animal control guys told us you wouldn’t last more than three days. It’s sad really. We may have saved you had you revealed yourself again, but alas! You granted us one appearance, leaving Angie with nothing but nightmares, moist sheets, and possibly rabies—care to pay for the shots she’s now having to withstand? Did you know she can’t drink alcohol for nine months because of you? Because of your GERMS? Well, if you know Angie like I do, you know she will not abide by that. If something happens to her, we’re suing your corpse.

Listen, by the time I finally get home tonight, you better be gone—dead or alive. Either way, we’re selling your body at our yard sale tomorrow and asking for enough cash to pay for the medical bills. Not to mention, the landlord has been making us pay your rent… You could, at least, pitch in some green. And by “green,” I mean drugs. Just kidding. I don’t do drugs. No, really. I don’t. But do you? Have any on you?

Sincerely,

Stephanie