Well, time sure flies when your having fun! Our two months flew by in St. Thomas as we worked at Point Wellness, I teaching yoga and J giving massages. I got to make delicious foods at the delectable Barefoot Buddha Cafe and J headed up the kid’s Shakespeare Festival for Pistarkle Theatre for the second year in a row. And we certainly took time to swim in the crystal clear waters and soak up our fair share of Vitamin D.
So, time apparently also flies when you are conserving! We did not produce Zero Waste, but we did achieve our goal of only 1 paper bag of trash that included mostly things that would break down, like paper and pasteboard.
There was one reusable plastic cup that had broken and I filled it with the random plastic wraps and other bits of plastic that we got stuck with. I bought thick plastic gloves to use while cleaning at work, in lieu of using multiple disposable ones daily, but they became full of holes, so it was kinda like the lesser of two evils, as I had to toss them in the end. Random toothbrush (which was first used to clean the bottoms of my work shoes) and a broken clothes hanger also ended up in the trash.
I was given only ONE PIECE of Styrofoam in this time and I nearly cried when they served it to me. (Styrofoam is my nemesis…and the Earth’s too)! I asked for a salad on a reusable, for here plate and this is what happened:
I took the few glass jars I had purchased and filled them with water and put them in the tank of the toilet to cut down on water usage (even though our toilet used gray water). I had one Guinness beer bottle from St. Patrick’s Day that someone threw away before I was able to pack it and take it home for recycling. But everything else plastic that we ended up with, was cut up by J (for easy packing) and recycled in NJ when he returned home.
This is what we collected while actively saying NO! We did continue to reuse many of the things we got, like taking the plastic cups to the bar with us for drinks, or to the beach with us for smoothies or even taking the paper cups back to our favorite ice cream spot on St. John, Scoops!
We mostly ended up with a lot of plastic ramekins that salad dressings and dipping sauces came in. We found many restaurants had reusable ones but only used them for dinner service. It would be so easy for them to either switch to ones that biodegrade or to use the real ones all the time! We recycled all our cans very easily at Montessori School…so St. Thomians, remember, there is one thing you can recycle, so get to it!
We learned so much during this challenge. Many lessons were unexpected, like how great it felt to not collect things that would be waste. We both felt a deeper connection to nature. A deeper respect grew for our place in the world around us as we began to process the effects of our actions and what choices we could control. We also ate very healthily. It was great to get close to nature and far from processed foods. It was fun to get creative and see all the different dishes we could make with limited ingredients and spices. Once we got going, we never went hungry and we never got bored. We didn’t do it on purpose, but this has become a habit to us now! (It only takes 30 days to form habits and we worked for 60!) It has shaped our lives now and we will continue down this same path when we return to the states. I am sure we will incorporate in some products (beer, coconut oil, etc.) that can be recycled but low waste, low carbon footprint will still be there.
Tried & True
Things I’ll never go back to: Tissues (Kleenex)! I have totally adapted to and love my homemade tissues made from old t-shirts. After a few times, I was hooked. They are super soft, totally reusable, and a big money and resource saver. I personally recommend tie dye or other patterns 😉
Things that have become ingrained: Being prepared! We have formed the habits of carrying with us all things we may need such as reusable shopping bags, bamboo utensils, cloth napkins, reusable cup or mug, and Tupperware for leftovers. Don’t leave home without it or when you’re out you can’t have it!
Things we are cutting out (somewhat sadly): all prepackaged bars such as Cliff, Luna, Kind, etc, and prepackaged trail mixes and chips. I believe I will construct a general letter to companies asking that they come up with sustainable packaging solutions so I can continue to enjoy their products. Then I’ll post it for all ya’ll to download, then we’ll just fill in the names, start sending the emails and hope for some progress! In the meantime, it’s homemade bars, trail mixes and chip alternatives for us.
Peace, Love, & Conservation,