Raising the Bar

Looks so innocent, doesn’t it?  A bar of soap.  Simple.  Who would look at it as a solution for climate change.  Well, not by itself.  But once you get on the “what can I do to stop climate change train,” simple things like a bar of soap get on the list of lifestyle changes.  It can become an obsession.  A good one.  Solutions are everywhere once we understand how our lifestyle and the consumer economy impacts the environment.

Let’s take that bar of soap.  Now, this is a new brand that I recently purchased so I don’t know how well it will perform.  My previous brand, that I used to wash my hair daily, lasted three months.  You may think . . . that’s special . . . but if I got the normal size shampoo in a plastic bottle, it may last two weeks if I’m lucky.

There is more processing in the plastic bottle than the bar of soap.  For starters, oil needs to be extracted to make the plastic, then the shampoo is created, sold, and then discarded.  The bottle may or may not get recycled or it ends up in a landfill.  The bar on the other hand has no packaging to create or throw away.  You can also save a boatload of money on the bar versus the bottle.  The bar of soap may have cost $1.50 versus $3-4 per bottle.

There is a documentary called, “No Impact Man,” created by Colin Beavan where he, his wife, and young daughter go on a yearlong experiment to get off fossil fuels.  When I first saw it, I thought, ah, that’s nice.  Then I saw it several years later and had begun changing my lifestyle.  I thought . . . ok . . . I’m not No Impact Man but I am on my way. The seed had been planted.  I totally recommend that documentary.  He also wrote a book by the same name, I believe.

Here are some examples of things to do in your everyday life to reduce your carbon footprint. And, if you aren’t familiar with that term or water footprint, it is how much carbon/pollution or water was used to produce a product or part of our lifestyle.  You may do some of these things already but there are always more to add.

Use a refillable water bottle instead of buying water bottles.  Documentaries like, “Flow” and “Blue Gold” are very helpful to understand why a refillable bottle is the way to go. Bottled water companies are actually stealing water from someone else’s water table.

Use diluted dishsoap in an empty pump container instead of those fancy foam handsoaps. They are tempting because of the fragrances but think of all the plastic containers you will save from the recycling plant. A bar of soap would be equally better.

Use a cloth towel instead of paper towels.

Line dry your clothes.

Wear more layers and use more blankets and turn your heat down in the winter.

Go without air conditioning when possible.

Become a vegetarian and get off dairy, too. This is actually a lifestyle change that can make a really big difference.  A lot of carbon goes into the air to grow food to feed the cow to feed us.  Cows drink a lot of water, too.  I recommend watching the documentary, “Cowspiracy.”

Switch from buying plastic wrap, baggies, and tin foil and use a reusable plastic container instead.

Buy whole fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods.

Eat seasonally.

Reduce coffee and tea or eliminate them.  Both of those are not grown in the US, although there may be a small amount of tea.

Reduce what you purchase, in general, if you really don’t need it or buy it used.

Grow your own fruits and vegetables and can them when possible.

Do I do all of these things?  Not yet.  I am still working on some.  Coffee and tea are tough to give up and eating seasonally is hard, too.  It is a process.  We do what we can when we can.

We also get ideas from other people and friends.  We raise the bar for each other.  I remember when a friend mentioned that she line dried most of her clothes.  I thought that it was nice but didn’t think of doing it myself.  Some six months later . . . it was a Sunday . . . I was out eating breakfast.  All of a sudden, I had to get a drying rack and clothesline.  After breakfast, I purchased those items, set them up in my basement, and haven’t used the dryer since.  That was about five years ago.

Our country does not have a national program to address climate change and resource depletion.  So, it is up to us!

2 thoughts on “Raising the Bar”

  1. Love the way you started with soap and then went on to other ways of “raising the bar.” You are a climate change warrior!


    1. Eileen, I’m obsessed. Well, in our Elgin Green Groups, we would share things that we changed in the way we did things in order to reduce our carbon. When you are in a group and all are moving in the same direction, it is fun. It is truly raising the bar for each other. Like I said in my post, there are things that are difficult to give up or change, like eating seasonally or giving up coffee and tea. And, people may think why go in that direction or make those changes. But, getting on the “reduce your carbon train” makes you think differently about how you live. Coffee and tea travel far to get to us, as do fruits and vegetables out of season, which adds carbon to the atmosphere. If only everyone would get on this train because our government is not going to do anything drastic to address the climate crisis.


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