Sustainable Sunday: Plants

peace lily
Photo by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash

We don’t need a few people doing zero-waste perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.

Lauren Singer*

Plants are one of my favorite gifts to receive and high on the “treatchaself” list. They give you oxygen, are something to care for and watch grow, expedite healing, balance out the invisible chaos of electronics that might be wiggin’ you out, create a calming atmosphere, and look nice.

Swap: Instead of something toxic or environmentally-unfriendly, give or buy a potted plant.

Cut flowers usually wilt and stink within a week or so, so people toss them into the compost or, more likely, the trash. (The issue with the latter is that organic compost creates methane gas, which is bad for our environment.) While flower bouquets are a beautiful art form to look at and make recipients feel special, actively growing plants continue to flower- the gift that keeps on giving. Cut flowers are also 1) typically wrapped in plastic and 2) super expensive. For the same investment you can get a plant that keeps on keepin’ on long after the celebratory event has passed. For Valentine’s Day this year, Rick got me a big, bouncy peace lily, and this week it gave us a fresh white bloom. I say “us,” but I’d bet Rick hasn’t noticed it, so… this week it gave me a fresh white bloom!

peace lily
Photo by Maria Eliz on Unsplash

Plants purify indoor air.

I always wonder about quality of air and the fact that so many humans spend so much time indoors. (Me! I’m one of those people.) I wonder how our lungs are effected by all those dust motes floating around, undetected mold, gas/carbon monoxide, and things like candle smoke (another example of something toxic or environmentally-unfriendly we often give/buy). Plants clean the air in the home, give us fresh oxygen, and flourish with the carbon dioxide we emit. Mutually beneficial, we pair well together.

Plants give you something to nurture and care for.

I have another peace lily, my first, obtained along with a white bird of paradise from a nursery in D.C. when Rick and I lived there. The same day Rick got a tiny cactus he named Spike. He’s very proud of Spike when he remembers he has Spike.

This may sound really sad, and usually when things are really sad they end up being funny to me, and I find this funny, but when I was in D.C. I missed the family golden retrievers (in NYC) so much that taking care of plants was a weak but important consolation. I’d tug the massive bird of paradise outside to get some big sunlight just like you’d take a dog out. I remember one time Rick came home and I grinned and fanned my arm out to present the plant on our little patio. “Look who’s having a nice time outside!” (Somebody get this girl a dog…) HA! Rick appeased me with a “Wow! I can tell it’s having a great time out there.”

I also grew mint, basil, rosemary, and cilantro and what I learned was that there’s never enough cilantro, because I eat it too fast, and that mint does not know how to share and is always inviting itself over to other plants’ houses. If you plant mint with another herb, the mint will put its roommate in a choke hold and commit MURDER. The pot will be a mint-only pot soon. And then, my mint plant had the audacity to grow down to the ground, pretending to be minding its own business, and then pop up on the side of the other herbs’ pot! Anyway, mint needs to be in the plant equivalent of the isolation cabin from The Parent Trap (1998).

bird of paradise
Photo by Luca Deasti on Unsplash

Plants nurture you back.

Being able to eat what you grow is immensely satisfying. When I have a yard of my own, I plan to grow lots of food, or at least attempt to. It feeds me physically but also my soul to care for something and watch it flourish. In the meantime, though, I can only grow things indoors and with limited northern exposure. Sadly, my herbs did not make the move back to NYC. But my original peace lily and bird of paradise and Rick’s cactus he forgets about have lived three places and have continued to grow. Well, I have no idea if Spike is growing or even okay. I think he’s okay. I also got an aloe plant at a street fair for $5 and have used it on inflamed skin and sunburns.

Okay, now for something potentially psychosomatic that I believe in: plants countering the invisible chaos of wifi, cellular waves, and electronics in general. Apparently, plants cancel the positive ions that come from electronics, something that apparently makes people wiggy, charged up, and anxious. I’ve heard of a parent requesting a preschool remove the wifi connection due to it causing their child anxiety, and while I’m not ready to go that far, I believe that level of sensitivity to be true for some. For instance, fluorescent lights give me anxiety. The fact the light always moves drives me crazy and makes me feel like I’m about to have a seizure at any moment. (I’m sooo fun at parties.) When fluorescent lights are reflecting off a linoleum floor it’s even worse. My disturbing high school chemistry lab comes to mind. With cell service and wifi there is so much moving through the air, it kinda makes sense to me that something organic would balance it, even if just in the vein of feng shui. Apparently plants, especially their roots and soil, absorb that chaotic energy.

Plants are inherently healing.

I’ve always had a feeling about physical spaces that inform my inner peace, and plants help calm a room… and me. I found a study on the National Library of Medicine website that finds plants enhance healing:

Findings of this study confirmed the therapeutic value of plants in the hospital environment as a noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients. Health care professionals and hospital administrators need to consider the use of plants and flowers to enhance healing environments for patients.

[Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery]

It’s such a bummer to enter someone’s space with nary a plant in sight. Make a small plant your next housewarming or host gift! Here’s a place to start:

30+ Gorgeous Indoor Plants That Are Almost Impossible to Kill

Next on my list are a couple of snake plants. My birthday’s on Saturday- maybe Rick’s reading this. Rick, are you there? Anywho.

Photo by Kara Eads on Unsplash

One small consumption change for you, one small improvement for our environment. What kind of nontoxic, environmentally-friendly treats do you like to give or buy?

Warmest,
Bailey

*Lauren Singer is an environmentalist who does not generate any waste(!). You can shop her store, Package Free, online or at the brick and mortar store in Brooklyn post-pandemic. Read more about Lauren here, and watch her Ted Talk here– she’s inspiring.


Once a month I share a sustainability tip or an easy swap in consumption routine to better care for the planet. Environmentally conscious change doesn’t always have to be expensive, laborious, or extremely time-consuming.

If you like a photo used, please click through the link in the caption to support the artist.


More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Sustainable Sunday: Detergent
Sustainable Sunday: Carrots
Sustainable Sunday: Ziplock Bags


The best way you can support me is to share my blog with friends! Another way to support is on my Patreon where you’ll find exclusive content. Your word of mouth and contribution mean more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Bailey by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website and enter your info into the form. I can also be found on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Last, I leave you with this nice picture of a golden retriever I found.

Photo by Laula Co on Unsplash

Sustainable Sunday: Detergent

Is that not the sexiest, most compelling title you’ve ever read on Bummed Out Bailey?

We don’t need a few people doing zero-waste perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.

Lauren Singer*

We’re talkin’ both dishwasher and laundry detergents, here.

Good Swap

Swap chemical detergents for natural detergents.

Alright, so, you know how I’m poisoning the world by consuming massive amounts of prescription medications that then excrete through my urine, traces of which are never to be fully filtered out of the earth’s finite supply of water, slowly dosing every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a swig of Prozac? Well, our detergents do the same thing, except Tide and Cascade don’t leave you feeling mysteriously balanced like secret-water-SSRIs.

The things humans create and then put on and in our bodies don’t really ever leave us, meaning the royal “us,” meaning the planet. There’s not even a need to use harsh, unnatural chemicals to clean our clothes and dishes, because natural detergents can be just as effective. As a bonus, they’re gentler on our bodies and our ecosystem. You may not know this for a couple reasons:

  1. Hippie-dippy detergent brand X doesn’t have, like, Johnson & Johnson’s dope marketing budget
  2. You haven’t yet broken out into a sad rash from use of conventional detergent

Some brands that I like include Seventh Generation, ECOS, Puracy, and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day.

Products I’ve used and liked:

Dishwasher:

  1. Mrs. Meyer’s Basil Automatic Dish Pacs
    1. Pro tip: The Mrs. Meyer’s basil scent smells like heaven.
  2. Seventh Generation Dishwasher Packs – Free and Clear

Laundry:

  1. Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Pacs (Various Scents)
  2. Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs – Free and Clear

Better Swap

Swap natural detergent sold in flimsy, landfill-or-ocean-bound plastic bagging for natural detergent sold in firm, recyclable plastic containers.

Products I’ve used and liked:

Dishwasher:

  1. Seventh Generation Dishwasher Gel – Free and Clear

Laundry:

  1. ECOS 2X Ultra Natural Laundry Detergent, Lavender
  2. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
  3. Tide Pods Free and Gentle Laundry Detergent
Plath

ICYMI: You can’t Plath yourself in a washer. Photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash


Best Swap

Swap natural detergent sold in firm, recyclable plastic containers for natural detergent sold in metal or glass jars or cardboard boxes.

Products I’ve used and liked:

Dishwasher:

  1. IF YOU CARE* Automatic Dishwasher Tablets
    1. One of my favorite, easiest swaps ever. I’ve subscribed to them on Amazon for years, and have even secretly subscribed my in-laws to them, too, without consultation, because that’s my creepy, sustainable swapping style. I figure if the tablets keep restocking, maybe the unspoken consensus will just be that some box of random tablets seems to be lasting an unusually long time.
    2. Seriously, I’ve used these tablets on five different dishwashers at this point and they’ve worked on… four. Yes, four, not five. I’m in the non-profit business of honesty, here, and my and Rick’s current postage stamp Upper West Side apartment came with a rinky-dink dishwasher that requires a total, complete rinse of dishes before going in. Truly, I’m not sure what it even does except act as bonus kitchen storage, because it seems it can’t even remove a loose breadcrumb. Rick gets all huffy about it and mostly only hand-washes now (with Mrs. Meyer’s basil-scented dish soap, of course), but I’m still holding on, diligently rinsing my dishes until they appear completely clean before placing them in the dishwasher with fresh hope every time. Anyway, the tablets left a speckled powder residue, and the dishes quite literally came out worse than before they went in. Because my dishwasher’s delicate sensibilities cannot make sense of or process tablets or powder, I reverted back to Seventh Generation Dishwasher Gel – Free and Clear and plan to try Dropps‘ pods next.
    3. *The brand name “IF YOU CARE” gives me the giggles because it’s so quietly aggressive. Like, here’s some cleaning products if you even care about anything, ever, you monster. I like to imagine someone sobbing and saying “IF YOU CARE!” at an innocent bystander. [This asterisked information has been gratuitous.]
dirty dishes

Here’s what my dishes look like fresh out of the washer. Photo by Izz R on Unsplash

Laundry:

  1. Dropps Laundry Detergent Pods
  2. The Simply Co. Laundry Detergent

Nary a touch of plastic in sight! Break down the cardboard and recycle or, in the case of The Simply. Co, reuse the glass jars. (After a good wash, of course) I like to use them to store bulk grains/beans/nuts in the pantry.


Can you make your own detergents? Yes. Might the extremity scandalize/spark suspicion in loved ones/housemates? Also yes. Maybe start with a small swap and then venture to the DIY realm someday, if you like. I know! Make it like a cooked frog in boiling water (etc.)- you sneak new things into your household arsenal and, before they know it, whoever you live with is using soap berries that look like dried up, decrepit figs to assuage stains out of their clothes.

Extra Credit

Use reusable wool dryer balls (scented with essential oil of your choice, if you like) instead of one-time-use, mystery ingredient dryer sheets.

One small consumption change for you, one small improvement for our environment.

Warmest,
Bailey

*Lauren Singer is an environmentalist who does not generate any waste(!). You can shop her store, Package Free, online or at the brick and mortar store in Brooklyn post-pandemic. Read more about Lauren here, and watch her Ted Talk here– she’s inspiring.


Once a month I share a sustainability tip or an easy swap in consumption routine to better care for the planet. Environmentally conscious change doesn’t always have to be expensive, laborious, or extremely time-consuming.

If you like a photo used, please click through the link in the caption to support the artist.


More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Sustainable Sunday: Floss
Sustainable Sunday: Carrots
Sustainable Sunday: Ziplock Bags


The best way you can support me is to share my blog with friends! Another way to support is on my Patreon where you’ll find exclusive content. Your word of mouth and contribution mean more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Bailey by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website and enter your info into the form. I can also be found on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Last, I leave you with this nice picture of a golden retriever I found.