Before I left I finished a book called “Sleeping Naked is Green” about a self proclaimed “Eco-cynist” twenty-something living in Vancouver who decides to make one green change every day for a year. A lot of the changes are things that I’ve been doing for years: bring reusable water bottles, use a thermos for coffee, reuse plastic bags, stop using paper towels, try to buy local vegetables, reduce meat consumption. Some of the changes are things I’ve been thinking about for awhile: switch to all natural sunblock and shampoo, when it’s yellow let it mellow, use natural cleaners (like vinegar), reuse , rinse water. And some I just would not take on without a fight: unplug fridge and freezer, sell car (wait, I just did that), give up toilet paper…
While planning for my upcoming trips (including this trip to Panama) I’ve tried decided to switch to natural health and beauty products as much as possible. For example, I’ve made the switch to natural sunblock that uses zinc oxide instead of the hormone disrupters like oxybenzone (which is surprisingly in a lot of ‘nice’ brands like Aveeno and Neutrogena). I tried to make this change last year but unfortunately got a tube of oily zinc that made me sweat twice as much and look like a lobster masquerading as a sheep (did not rub in at all!). Luckily I decided to try again and bought some Alba Botanicals on sale which I’m very happy with.
The question that the book has been making me think about is where do you stop? Is it okay for me to make a point of only eating local, seasonal produce, but making exceptions for avocado, coffee, and wine? Reusing water bottles but still buying herbs and meat packed in plastic containers?
A couple that I was talking to here just built this incredible top-of-the-line eco-friendly house with locally harvested lumber, most of which was from their property, insulation that doesn’t off-gas, and many other great things that I wouldn’t describe correctly. But here they are, buying cold water bottles every day and slathering on hormone-disrupting sunblock.
And when I’m traveling, when the only protein options are sugared almonds on my breakfast waffle and questionably sourced chicken, is it better to eat it for my body, or abstain for my conscience? When it’s 97 degrees out on the beach should I pass on the ice cold water?
Of course I think yes, every bit we can do helps. It’s interesting to see what is important to one person is different from the next, even when they’re both being ‘green’ in their own ways.