I've been meaning to write this post for a few days, but I couldn't think of a fetching title that didn't sound preposterous.
My Sugar Free Minimal Waste Life
I mean, I want to punch me in the face.
But... it's true. Just not in a smug internet kind of way. You won't find me wearing a flowing tunic with Birkinstocks and a beatific smile.
Let's call it:
My Eating Real Food Life. Or, more simply: My Life.
Wait. Shouldn't that be normal?
Less clickbait and sexy, but also less likely to get me eyerolled and rickrolled Foo Fighters-style in the street.
We stopped eating refined sugars four weeks ago, and truly, I've never felt better. My head is clear. My skin is better, I sleep much more soundly and shopping is WAY easier. The first few weeks were absolutely not easier, but I cut myself a break and reintroduced dates into my life and things were a lot better. The girls are coping pretty well too, Millie had a week of asking for toast with honey, or bread and jam every waking moment, but she's moved past that now. Pip couldn't really care less.
Re the minimal waste... well that's a work in progress. We have an elderly septic tank that copes perfectly 99% of the time. The 1% is truly something. Two weeks ago I was out in the rain in my gumboots and work clothes, crowbar-ing the lids off septic access points, washing 'septic scum' off the workshop floor, and poking the innards of my septic tank with a crowbar to see if it was full or simply the victim of a toddler toilet paper incident. It turns out it's a much larger problem than those two involving an overflow pipe connecting to another pipe connecting to another pipe that does not drain into the drainage pit on the road. No one knows where it goes. Then the roof leaked and we kind of forgot about the septic pipe to nowhere.
Since then I have been washing my dishes in a small tub in my kitchen sink and tipping that water out in the paddock or the garden. That works fine for me and I don't worry about kitchen things going down the pipes.
It was also at this time that I listened to The Lively Show episode with Bea Johnson and it got me to thinking about our waste. When we moved to our house in 2009 our municipality had no recycling collection. Once a month we'd load our bins into the car and drive them to the nearest recycling depot. Then we got kerbside recycling pickup and it became easier to put things in the recycling bin and forget about it. We only have a small-ish general waste bin and it's usually full by pick up day.
So, how could I make a change at my end? I already frequent a bulk food shop in my town, the sugar free life meant that we pretty much don't buy pre-prepared packaged food but even sugar free things come in packages. Pasta, cereals, milk - the list goes on.
I gathered all my jars together and went for an expedition to the bulk food shop. After a few mishaps we got the jars weighed and goods paid for. It was so much easier to bring my containers home and put them in the cupboard. There's a larger bulk food shop in the city that I'll investigate to see if I can get things like coffee and cereals too. They have a website but no product list, which is infuriating for a country dweller like myself who has to travel with two small people.
We still use disposable nappies for P's one sleep per day and overnight. That's not too many and I lessen my guilt by remembering how many years I cloth nappied for. Right? I ran out of paper towels and I just didn't buy any more. I have a container of old rags (facewashers, cut up microfibre cloths) that we use as paper towels. Clean up a spill, wash. Dry some spinach, wash. Wipe the bench, wash. Cover up a pineapple in the fridge, wash. It's been effortless so far.
I'm stuck at shampoo and conditioner. I'm intending to purchase Dr Bronner's liquid castile soap (sensitive skin, liquid soap is cleaner for showers and septic systems) for handwashing, dishwashing, hair shampooing, body washing and basic spray and wipe cleaner. After years of having a differently scented awesome product for every occasion, I've infuriated Mr S by declaring 'Soap is soap is soap.' He muttered 'I've been SAYING THAT FOR YEARS.' But conditioner? Everything I've googled is either vinegar or eggs or BOTH. Yikes. Ideas?
Toilet paper we will still purchase. I don't wear makeup so that's not a concern (#makeupfreeselfie EVERY DAAAY), and I'll not be investing in a Diva Cup anytime soon.
I'm googling compostable toothbrushes (YESSSSS I GOT SOME AT EUMARRAH!), but you will need to pry my electric toothbrush from my cold, dead hand. Toothpaste? I'm not terribly keen on bicarb soda mixed with peppermint oil. Again, ideas?**
**I made a mix of 50:50 Bicarb/Coconut Oil with a dash of peppermint oil. There's a chance I might have almost cried whilst brushing my teeth with it, followed by rocking back and forth in the corner. I have purchased another tube of toothpaste and gone back to the drawing board.
Terracycle have some awesome programs that we'll be playing along with, namely the bathroom waste one. I'm hoping Mr S will be able to get on board with the plastic gloves one for his workplace. I'm impressed that there's a Nespresso one too, as Nespresso pods account for a massive amount of coffee related waste.
I've been saving the bags that our bread comes in to take to the local bakery and ask them kindly to put my bread in. My butcher is happy to put meat in whatever I bring to put it in. There's a greengrocer nearby but my local supermarket doesn't have plastic bags so you need to bring your own carry bags regardless.
When I empty my SealPods of their coffee I dry the coffee grounds on baking paper in the oven until they're toasty and dry. Then I use them as a face scrub/wash. It depends on how firm you rub your face with it! BAKING PAPER? It's the staple of my kitchen... I reuse it as much as possible. Do I need to invest in some more SilPats?
It's an interesting journey to think about, and I when I pause I have a highlight reel of my childhood. I realise that my mother with her awesome perm was the original earth saving hipster. She took her shampoo bottles back to the hairdresser for refilling, we didn't have prepackaged snacks for school (I desperately wanted chips like the other kids. BBQ Shapes were a treat!) and was composting well before it was cool. Rock on, Mothership.
It's now Friday as I'm typing this and our general waste bin was picked up this morning. I was very proud of the Smyth household, we produced ONE bag of general rubbish + nappies for the entire week. I'm pretty sure that's a record for us. We didn't recycle any more than normal, nor burn any more paper in our fire. We just consumed less. High five!
It's a work in progress. This week we are trialling using no garbage bag in our bin under the idea that if it's wet, we can compost it. If it's not compostable we can put it in a paper bag and then put it in our bin, or straight in the outside bin. So far, not so bad. I'm keen to see how the next few weeks roll out - I'll keep you posted.