Today is day 9 of plastic free February and I have to say, for the most part going plastic free has been easy. My friend Sara, who is also doing the challenge, and I texted a little last night and agreed that although we see plastic everywhere, it isn’t such a big deal to skip plastic products. Living without plastic is requiring me to be more conscious and as a result I’m making more deliberate decisions. I’ve had to rewire the way I operate and sometimes it can be tricky, but it has also been satisfying. Scientists say that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. I love diving with the fish and I also understand the necessity of biodiversity for life to exist. I don’t want to contribute to the pollution of our ocean so I’ll pass on plastic. In order to avoid plastics, I have to make the slower choices like making my own latte, going to the farmer’s market, and eating homemade food sitting down at home. Sounds pretty good when I see it written.
For the last 6 months, I’ve been traveling all over the world and lived an anything but consistent schedule. I continue to practice asana every day, but the lack of structure has made me a little out of sync. Around the same time I decided to take the plastic free challenge, I started an abhyanga routine, ayurvedic morning practice of brushing and oils. Starting my day with this selfcare ritual has transformed my life. My asana practice has expanded, I’m more awake and aware during the day, and I feel much more grounded. In a way, the plastic challenge and the ayurvedic practices are ritual observances for me. Both through caring for my physical body and committing to less harmful consumption I’m living mindfully and my actions are more directed. I’m feeling more in sync than I’ve ever felt. I’m trying my best to honor the great law of peace of the Iroquois Confederacy that says,
In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.
I’ve gotten a lot closer to the foods I eat and other things I consume. Most premade foods, cleaning products, and beauty supplies come packaged in plastic. I’m still using the products we have at home already and that has made the transition easier because I’m living at my parent’s and my mom prefers to buy costco bulk, but there are still random needs. Instead of buying plastic, I’ve made my own peanut butter, almond milk, and conditioner. I’ve also found a few other cool alternative habits that I’d like to share with you this week. Read on for the recipes and discoveries that I’m finding while living plastic free.
Raw Peanuts/Dry Roasted (about 2 cup)
Peanut oil (small spoonful, you can always add more if it isn’t blending)
Salt (as you like)
Honey (as you like)
Cinnamon (if you like)
Pour all ingredients into a powerful blender (I used a Vitamix) and blend. If the mix doesn’t blend add oil, a little at a time, until you get the desired texture.
The first time I made the peanut butter I put about half a teaspoon of honey in the batch, about 2 cups of dry roasted peanuts, and a little cinnamon. I blended the mix all the way through and it turned out like the ideal creamy peanut butter with a cinnamon kick.
In the second batch used about a tablespoon of honey and 2 cups of raw peanuts. The honey mixed with raw peanuts, made the mixture into more of a paste so I had to add more oil so that it would blend evenly. To make crunchy peanut butter I blended the mixture until it was creamy, added more peanuts, and blended again stopping before the texture was smooth. The second batch turned out a little coarser than the first, but I liked the texture.
I don’t have a finite recipe here and there are a lot of fun things you could do to spice up your peanut butter. If you play around, please let me know how it turns out. Just know you might have to experiment with the proportions of oil, peanuts, salt, and honey. It’s always better to start with a little oil and add as needed. The peanut butter tastes really good on a piece of toasted Noble Bread we buy at the local farmer’s market. I’ve been enjoying it with a homemade almond milk tea latte at the kitchen table at home.
Raw Almonds (about a handful per blender cup)
Fresh Vanilla (1 long piece)
Other spices (as you like, sometimes I use cinnamon and nutmeg)
Boil water and allow the almonds to sit until the water is cool enough to touch. Pinch the skin off the almonds and place skinless almonds in a bowl (I use the blender for less dishes). Soak the almonds in water overnight or a few hours. Blend almonds, dates, vanilla, and any other spice you like with water until texture is smooth and liquid. Strain.
The first two times I made the almond milk I used too many almonds and didn’t strain the mixture. The result was good, but also pretty thick and a little bitter. I watered it down with boiling water and drank it hot, otherwise it might not be something you’d want to drink. I’ve since started using less almonds (a small handful to a full vitamix of water) and straining the milk through a metal coffee strainer. Straining is just a small step but it makes the milk smoother and cuts the bitterness. I’d really recommend giving it the extra patience to wait and strain.
Since most store bought beverages come with a plastic lid and straw, I’ve been making a lot of my own elixirs with the almond milk. It tastes better because I’m taking the moment to make it and its saving me a lot of money from not going to a coffee shop. My favorite is to warm almond milk, boil water, and mix with tea for a homemade latte. I’ve tried it with ginger, green, chai, and yogi detox teas. I love them all. I also have been using the almond milk in a nighttime ayurvedic drink that Lorilee Gillmore made for me. I warm the milk and mix it with a spice blend of cinnamon, cardamom, moringa, and more before going to sleep. It’s a grounding ritual, balances my blood sugar overnight, and tastes really good.
As a side note, Lorilee is an ayurveda expert and practices in the Phoenix area. If you’re interested in learning how to create your own ayurvedic rituals she can help. I’ve been cooking a few of her recipes without any plastic involved. They are nourishing and delicious. Check out her website www.mokshaayurvedaphx.com.
1 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vitamin e oil
1 teaspoon jojoba oil
1 teaspoon argan oil
5-10 drops scent (I used Doterra lavender and grapefruit mix)
Mix all the oils together. I used a kitchen mixer. My coconut oil was hardened so I had to heat it up before mixing.
My recipe is based on the recipe on the Free People blog. I wanted to make my own conditioner to avoid buying a plastic bottle, but I ordered the ingredients from amazon and they came in plastic packing materials. Next time I’ll go to the store. Sprouts and Whole Foods carry all these oils. The oils were in glass bottles, but the lids to all the bottles was made of plastic. Even at the supermarket the glass bottles have plastic lids. I’m not sure how to circumvent this bit of plastic yet.
The first time I used the conditioner it was still in liquid form because I had just made it. I used too much and my hair got really greasy. It was a little discouraging and I wondered if I could swallow my vanity enough to have gross hair to avoid plastic. I washed my hair and tried again with less conditioner and the mix as a solid and it was delightful. Now I put a dime sized piece of oil in the ends of wet hair and comb it through, let it sit while I shave, and rinse it out after. It’s been a week so far using only the oil and my hair feels fabulous.
I still have shampoo, so I haven’t made it yet, but when it comes time I will. Free People has a blog about shampoo so I’ll probably follow their recipe and tweak it. I did run out of face moisturizer and, since it comes in a plastic container, decided to try argan oil on my face. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Now I use 2-3 drops of argan oil on my face in the morning and at night. The oil is light and my skin feels healthy. Argan oil is a nice compliment to the sesame oil I’ve been using on my body for abhyanga in the morning. Here again, going plastic free is helping me create a healthy ritual!
My mom and I have invested in reusable bags from @simple_ecology for vegetables and other bulk foods. I found the California based company on instagram and we ordered a couple different style bags to see which we like best. They’ve all been great. So far we’ve used them for leafy greens and mushrooms but they could be used for all sorts of things. It’s a perfect alternative to plastic with zero waste involved in shopping or storage.
My mom and other friends have been supportive and enthusiastic about lessening their plastic consumption. A few friends who are interested in lessening their plastic footprint have sent me information about plastic alternatives. My friend Emily has wanted to go plastic free for a while and was re-inspired by reading my blog. My friend Sharmyn discovered an reusable and sustainable plastic wrap alternative and sent it my way too. Check it out: https://www.shopetee.com/. I can see how these could be really useful in the kitchen.
While I’m choosing to reduce my plastic consumption out of the belief that small choices everywhere end up mattering in the end, I’m also really happy that it’s raising awareness to the prevalence of plastics. Its meaningful for me to vote ethically with my consumer dollars, but it’s also something if I can inspire others to even rethink even one choice. Little bit by little bit we can make a difference and live in a way that contributes to a mutually successful future. So I’m going to keep trying to make mindful decisions and do the best I can to use less plastic. Plastic free is going to become part of my grounding rituals. I’d love it if you joined me and did the same.