Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 2)

Last week, I started thinking of all the ways I have incorporated sustainable practices into my life within the last five years (prior to making the goal more intentional and systematic). This week, I thought more about how I can build on those practices:

  • Brushing my teeth with coconut oil. I started this practice about 4 months ago, and I am happy with the results. It is a different experience compared to brushing with toothpaste. I learned to brush with hot water to prevent the drain clogging from the oil. My dentist visits may become unnecessary, as no plaque has formed on my teeth since I began this practice. I do not need to purchase toothpaste at all anymore, thereby saving money, time, and waste. I bought a 30-ounce (reusable) glass jar of coconut oil and still have plenty left after 4 months. Because toothpaste contains fluoride and other toxic chemicals, the oil is a healthier option. I use it for cooking and in my daily smoothies, and I’m certain I will learn other uses for it.
  • Preparing and consuming a daily smoothie. I adopted this practice years ago, abandoned it, and picked it back up a couple months ago. After my daily workout (kickboxing/yoga), I make a smoothie. A few staple ingredients form the base: plain kefir, banana, honey, milled flax seed, nuts (whatever kind I have), and kale. The other ingredients vary but always include some kind of unsweetened frozen fruit or berries. To prevent respiratory and digestive illnesses in the winter months, I always grate fresh ginger root and sometimes lemon into my smoothies. I mainly use raw organic ingredients, and I may throw in anything that is about to go bad. Often, I freeze too-brown bananas for use in my smoothie. This practice contributes to my health, waste reduction, and efficient living goals. Smoothies take about 5 minutes to make/clean up and about 10 minutes to consume.
  • Taking a daily shot of raw organic apple cider vinegar. Prior to starting this practice 2 years ago, I got sick 4 or 5 times every winter and a couple times each summer with either cold or flu. I’ve gotten sick twice total in the past 2 years, and the illness lasted one day each when others around me remained ill for at least a week and, at times, continued coughing for several weeks. This practice eliminates doctor visits, time off work, etc.
  • Purchasing local organic eggs. Years ago, I raised my own chickens until one of my dogs killed them. I plan to raise my own again someday, but for now, I purchase my eggs from some friends of mine who raise free range chickens. We recycle egg cartons and avoid supporting corporate farms. The fresh eggs are so much more flavorful and nutritious than store-bought eggs, which can be up to a month old when purchased.
  • Buying secondhand clothing and other items. I’ve been doing this throughout my life. There’s no reason to buy new clothing etc. when used (and often new) items are available for about a tenth of the brand-new cost. I inspect items carefully for flaws and sometimes purchase items that require a bit of sewing to make them like new again. I find items of greater quality that last longer and allow for a unique style.

Overall, I think this list is a sufficient inventory of sustainable activities for now. It’s important to take stock of how one is already moving toward goals to more effectively select new directions for goal development. From thinking about my current practices, I have realized that I’ve got a solid foundation from which to build a sustainable life. Last week, eating became my top priority, and I ordered a year’s worth of locally produced organic meat.

This week, I researched joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) membership club. I looked at Small Family Farm, Tree of Life, and Two Onion Farm. I was disappointed to learn that my health insurance company discontinued the CSA rebate program and replaced it with a wellness program toward which I can earn points for healthy activities. Points are redeemed for gift cards, which could be used to offset the cost of CSA membership. I need to look into how my health insurance company plans to use the information from my wellness assessment before I partake in the wellness program. Plus, after considering the costs of joining a CSA, I’ve decided that I’m not sure if it is the most economical route for my family. Preliminarily, I think we would waste too much of our CSA share, and I would rather purchase what I know I will use. It’s just as easy (if not easier) to drive to the farmers’ market or the Driftless Market when necessary as it is to pick up a bi/weekly CSA share.

Although I decided against the CSA this week, I moved closer to two other long-term goals—finding healthy recipes and increasing my daily vegetable intake. The Two Onion Farm website lists recipes by vegetable or herb that I can use to plan meals. I have further speculated that I want to create a daily checklist of foods/nutrients for myself to ensure I am covering all bases. The list will reflect my individual preferences and nutritional needs and will contain a variety of options. (Variety is one thing I cannot live without!!) I will continue to look for ways to prepare and store food. A related goal I’ve been carrying for a few years now is to make more staple foods at home. I bought The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making a couple years ago, and I intend to start using it to fulfill next week’s goal.

All suggestions are welcome! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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3 thoughts on “Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 2)

  1. Sarhn

    Brushing your teeth with coconut oil is interesting. I have wondered what people use when they decide against tooth paste. Have you been to the dentist since using coconut?

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    1. April Mwf Post author

      No, I haven’t. When I went to the dentist last November (prior to using coconut oil), the hygienist was amazed at how little build-up I had. I had become a daily flosser since my previous visit. Now, I can’t feel any build-up at all, so I will probably wait longer between visits because my last one was unnecessary. A few people have mentioned a practice they call “pulling” to me. They put coconut oil in their mouths with a bit of warm water and swish it around for 20 minutes. It is supposed to pull all the unwanted bacteria etc. out from between the teeth. I haven’t tried it yet. I think brushing with the oil and frequent flossing produces the same effect. Like I said, using the oil is a new experience and takes some getting used to, but I recommend it. It is more effective at fighting bad breath, reduces exposure to toxic fluoride, and saves on waste. Please let me know how it works for you if you decide to give it a try.

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