Humble Beginnings

I thought it quite fitting to start this green journey with a Where-I-Am-Now post. I hope I’ll look back on this in a year and think “Wow, I’ve certainly made progress.” So the state of things at the moment is this. As you can see, there is lots of room for improvement! I’ve included links to the products/brands I use for full disclosure of ingredients, ethics, etc. Although I feel a bit strange putting all of this out there for the world to see, I want to be transparent about the way things look right now. As I said on the What is Green Girl? page, I will be talking about some pretty intimate things, because I hope that my own Green journey will help some of you to see that it’s not so intimidating or overwhelming after all to make the change. We all have to start somewhere, right?

Products

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Skincare, soap, body care. I am currently using Clicks brand Aqueous cream to wash my face, Simply Bee day and night moisturizers, and my own homemade exfoliating “cream” made of some combination of olive oil, honey, and ground up oats/coffee grounds/brown sugar (whatever I have on hand). I use Woolworths earth friendly hand wash, and I alternate between Dove soap, Woolworths body wash, and The Body shop body polish. For body lotion I use Woolworths body butter.

Personal care. I use either Always or Kotex disposable pads, Always or Kotex panty liners, Clicks brand cotton Q-tips and cotton swabs, and Kleenex or Woolworths tissues. I mostly use off-brand toilet paper. My toothpaste is either Colgate or Sensodyne, depending on the budget for that month. At the moment I alternate between Dove spray deodorant and Axe  spray deodorant (don’t judge me, men’s deodorant works really well, okay?).

Makeup. My makeup is grossly unnatural and filled with nasties; mostly Clinique products with Inglot eye shadow.

Haircare. Nature’s Gate Hemp shampoo and conditioner. I don’t use any styling products except the very occasional Tresemmé hair spray and heat defense (maybe once every few months) and I rarely use a hair dryer.

Cleaning products. My cleaning products are a combo of “marketed” Greenness and left over toxic products. I’ve got Method bathroom cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner, Earthsap all purpose cleaner, Probac floor cleaner, Mr. Muscle glass and window cleaner, and Grillex grease cleaner (probably my most toxic product). For dishes I use Sunlight dish washing liquid, and for laundry I’m using Enchantrix detergent and off-brand white vinegar for fabric softener. I use off-brand paper towels for most cleaning, an off-brand sponge for some things, and off-brand dish washing gloves.

Waste

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Part of my goal is to eliminate or at least drastically cut down on the waste in my house. To do this, you first have to analyze where exactly your waste is coming from and what it contains. This will obviously be different for everyone and the following is by no means a comprehensive list of all possible waste; this is what comes out of my house specifically. I’ve split it up into categories so that it’s easier to manage. What can be recycled can differ from city to city, so check with your municipality/local government for specifics. Here is Cape Town’s recyclable items and drop off site list.

Inorganic, non-recyclable waste. (In other words, the waste I want to eliminate completely.) For me, this consists of tissues, paper towels, disposable sanitary products (pads, panty liners, Q-tips, etc), Styrofoam containers, Styrofoam food packaging, napkins, cat food bags (from dry cat food), the screw-on tops of plastic bottles, and sometimes wrapping paper.

Inorganic, recyclable waste. (The waste I want to cut down on, but not necessarily eliminate altogether, since it’s recyclable.) Paper, plastic wrapping, aluminum cans (soda), glass bottles, plastic bottles (though again, not the screw-on tops), pizza boxes, cardboard takeout boxes, aluminum foil, aluminum take out containers, plastic food packaging, and tin cans (canned food).

Organic, compostable waste. (Waste that can be used as compost to create fertilizer and that is not an environmental concern at all if it is composted.) Coffee grounds, tea bags, all fruit and vegetable waste, anything made of flour (stale bread, old cookies, etc – although some people may not want to compost these, since they can attract pests), any grains whether cooked or uncooked, crushed egg shells (must be well crushed), old spices, and outdated pantry food.

Organic, non-compostable waste. (Waste that should be cut down on or disposed of in some other way, which I will go into more in later posts.) Meat, meat waste (bones, fat, gristle, skin, etc), fish, fish waste (scales, bones, etc), any dairy products (milk, butter, eggs, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, etc), grease, and any kind of oil.

Whew, what a novel! Clearly I have lots of work to do. But as you can see, this is a good way to begin. If you would also like to go green, I would suggest that you make a similar inventory of your own products using the categories above, and analyze your waste, again using the above categories. You can’t change what you don’t know. I hope you’ll join me. Until next time!

-africanstardust, aka Green Girl

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