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July’s Zero Waste Wins and Struggles

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

How has your summer been going? After a June marked by concerning heat, New Hampshire’s July has been filled with the opposite weather – lots of cooler temps and RAIN. Unfortunately it seems like a lot of the world has been experiencing a similar situation as well, especially Europe and China, which have seen record-breaking rainfall and fatal flooding. Watching the weather makes me nervous, and then I get especially frustrated with the celebrity billionaires who head into space. Is it necessary? Think of what all of that money and energy could do elsewhere. I was talking to a friend whose husband said that our small zero-waste efforts do nothing compared to the amount of emissions these space joyrides create. It can get depressing. But don’t lose hope, I truly believe our individual actions can collectively create larger results.

For example, this month I took a few minutes out of each day and wrote voter encouragement postcards from my kitchen table. Say what you will, but Democrats place a priority on climate change and protecting our environment. Within his first few months of office, Biden rejoined the Paris climate agreement, started thinking about greener energy infrastructures and halted the building of controversial pipelines. The 2016 and 2020 elections taught us that national contests sometimes really do come down to small differences throughout the country. Every vote counts. If I want larger changes in the world, I need to participate in our elections by supporting my chosen candidate and party. This habit is free, easy and effective. I plan on continuing.

I also continue to successfully make eco-friendlier swaps in my home. This month, I wrote about switching to Reel toilet paper. There was a bunch of initial family reluctance, but the result has been pretty painless. I shared about this swap in a Facebook group and received a response about using a bidet and/or family cloth instead, because Reel and similar brands create a lot of emissions by shipping their products across the world. It’s a valid point. That said, I think one must also know their audience and work within realistic parameters. I don’t see bidets or family cloths entering my home right now. So I’m going to take the win where I can and be happy that I’m hurting less trees than I did a month ago. One step at a time.

Speaking of realistic, I was recently reminded that minimalism/second hand shopping isn’t always attainable. When the girls were younger, I loved buying all types of outfits and treating them like my personal dolls. But now they are older, and have personal preferences (how dare they!), so I stopped buying as much. I’ve since realized that I don’t miss having as many things to clean and put away. My consumption had declined. However my older daughter is off to sleepaway camp and the camp is (understandably) requesting a lot of items. So we headed to Target and bought a little more from Amazon than I normally prefer. When you’re under a time crunch, and need very specific things, you choose the most efficient way to relieve stress. We did use some of what we had at home – such as older towels, most of the clothes etc – but I definitely picked up a lot of new items, plastic bottles of toiletries etc. Do I feel bad about it? A little. But I also know that I need to live my life and no one can be perfect all of the time. Progress, not perfection. I also make weekly stops at the Farmer’s Market and farm stands throughout the summer and fall. Doing what I can, where I can. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Lastly, I miss talking about current events on here so I’m going back to sharing links that gather my attention. Such as this one, which is really making my blood boil. Though I’m not a native Granite Stater, I’ve become very protective of New Hampshire and our natural beauty. We don’t need more landfills, we need new habits. For example, composting is a super easy and cheap way to reduce your landfill consumption. On a positive note, one of our neighbors is taking some steps in the right direction. Let’s hope others follow. – Rachel

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