I have had days where I am too exhausted to clean the leftover hummus out of the recyclable PET container, so I chucked it into the trash. And I felt guilty. But I try to remember something I read recently - I will paraphrase the quote: There is more positive impact on the planet when a lot of people do things less than perfectly, than when just a few people do things perfectly. What this means is that if we can do as much as we can, when we can, in terms of recycling, reducing the amount of single-use plastics, reducing our carbon footprint and buying socially-responsible products, we can be a powerful force in helping this planet, even though we aren't perfect.
For example, we can forgive ourselves if not every recyclable container makes it to the recycling plant when we are not feeling well, but we can be as diligent as possible. We can also ask for assistance from others to get the recyclables to the drop-off point if we don't have regular pick-up service. Again, we can do the best we can.
We can use public transport and ride service vans to lower our carbon footprint. We can also plan our drives around town, running a few errands when we have other appointments. Of course, it depends on our energy that day. But we can also ask a friend or caregiver to accompany us and go into the shops to pick up what we need. We can also be sure our vehicles are in good running order by having them serviced a few times a year. These little changes can make a big difference in what our vehicles dump into the atmosphere.
We can choose produce that isn't wrapped in plastic, buy in bulk using our own containers, purchase products in recyclable containers as opposed to those that can't be recycled at our local center. My local center recycles PET (#1) plastics but only if they are clear. The colored PET items get chucked into the landfill. Find out what can and can't be recycled at your local center; they usually have a list online and/or a printed brochure available to the public.
Try to avoid single-use plastic packaging when possible. One single-use item that ends up in landfills is the good-ol' toothpaste tube. Colgate has recently come out with a vegan toothpaste in a tube made of the same plastic as milk cartons. This is great news; more and more corporations are starting to "get it" about their responsibility to this planet, thanks to public pressure. However, the new Colgate, available in the US and UK, is not cheap. At all. Until socially-responsible items become the norm, you will pay dearly for them.
There is a way around the extra expense: make it yourself! I have been making my own tooth powder for several months now. I am saving a heap of money, my teeth feel like I've just had them cleaned at the dentist, my breath is fresher and no more tubes go into the rubbish!!
My recipe is very simple, and you can adjust the amount easily by doing simple math:
-1 cup baking soda
-4 teaspoons fine sea salt
-2 teaspoons powdered ginger (optional)
-2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon (optional)
-2 teaspoons ground clove (optional)
-stevia or xylitol to taste (optional)
-For extra flavor, you can also add ground mint or sage. (Avoid essential oils - they may be irritating to gums and some should not be ingested.)
-If you need to remineralize your enamel because, like me, you are older and have fine cracks, or you are prone to cavities, you can add 1/2 - 1 cup of food-grade calcium betonite clay. The clay also acts to draw out toxins.
Add the ingredients to an attractive container, give it a good shake to mix it initially, then shake it occasionally in case ingredients have settled. I drop in a small plastic scoop that came in a bag of coffee. When I'm ready to brush my teeth, I use about 1/3 - 1/2 scoop of the powder. I scoop it into a small dish (I picked a particularly colorful and lovely dish from the Pioneer Woman's collection at Walmart for just a couple bucks), wet my electric toothbrush and have at it! Unlike using tooth paste, you will need to spit and refill your tooth brush while brushing. You'll get used to it.
If you need to use fluoride to harden and protect your enamel, use a fluoride rinse after brushing. Remember to buy it in a recyclable clear #1 PET plastic bottle (some come in white bottles that might not be recyclable locally).
This formula without the calcium betonite clay costs just pennies to make. Adding the clay makes it pricier (I paid $16 at my local health food store for a 1-pound clear PET jar), but buying online will save you money (2-pounds for $16).
In coming months, I will share more DIY recipes for health and beauty products that are cheap, easy and more healthy for you and the environment. Meanwhile, try out this tooth powder recipe, share your green ideas and leave your comments below! Happy brushing!
Cameron B. Auxer, your website creator and blogger, is a certified Holistic Health Educator and writer.