My Green Goals for 2013: Less Bathroom Plastic, More Home-Made Yogurt, Better Compost



I learned a long time ago not to make New Year's resolutions per se. They could be so general and vague, they could also be frustratingly easy to abandon. Without accountability to anyone but myself, it didn't really seem to matter if what I resolved to do oozed away after a month or two (if I even made it that long!). And the "pay back" or reward for keeping my resolutions seemed hard to measure. Sure, I might have resolved to save more energy or use less water, but without actually measuring what I used or what I saved, there wasn't much incentive to use less or save more.

This year is going to be different. I'm not making resolutions, I'm setting goals – specific goals that will have real environmental benefits and that I can measure with real "before" and "after" statistics.

Though I hope I'll reduce my environmental footprint in all sorts of ways this year, I'm only setting three specific goals in the hopes that a narrower focus will lead to broader achievements.

GOAL #1 – MAKE MY OWN YOGURT

Organic_yogurts I eat two cups of yogurt every single day – plain, non-fat, usually Greek-style yogurt that serves as the delicious base for whatever fresh fruit happens to be in season. It's a healthy and mostly eco-friendly breakfast – marred only by the fact that I buy the yogurt in big plastic throwaway tubs. When I was in college, I had an electric yogurt maker and made my own yogurt every week. I also made yogurt by mixing milk and yogurt starter in a bowl, then keeping it in a warm oven for several hours until the whole mixture became yogurt-like. Over the years as I was busy raising kids, running a business and writing books, I've gotten away from making my own yogurt. But I'm appalled at how many plastic yogurt tubs I throw away every week. If I made my own yogurt using milk I can buy in glass bottles from my local food coop, I would go from three or four plastic tubs a week to zero. So one goal for 2013 is to start making my own yogurt.

Do you make your own yogurt? If you have a recipe you love, please share it!

GOAL #2 – USE NO MORE THAN THREE PRODUCTS BOTTLED IN PLASTIC IN MY BATHROOM



Shampoo bottle In my bathroom right now, I have various cosmetics, body lotion, hand cream, face cream, make-up remover, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, shaving gel, toothpaste, curl definer, hair straightener, nail polish remover, and hair color – and they're all in plastic bottles or jars. My kids use different products, so they have almost the same number of products that I have in their own bottles! Beth Terry at My Plastic Free Life has written a great book about ways to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our day-to-day lives. Her personal example has inspired me to figure out how to cut down the number of plastic bottles I use in my bathroom to no more than three. Right away, I can replace the shaving gel and body soap with bar soaps that come wrapped in paper or with no wrapping paper at all. I can buy much larger sizes of products so that I'm using fewer bottles overall. But I'd like to set an even more ambitious goal and figure out how to make my own body lotion, shampoo, hair conditioner, and face cream, for starters. Do you make your own? What do you make, and how do you make it? I can really use your advice!

GOAL #3 – IMPROVE MY COMPOST

Compost bucket My compost is not the best. I use a composting barrel, and ten  months out of the year (March – December), I just collect my kitchen scraps and throw them in the barrel. Then I flip the barrel around a few times and hope the stuff decomposes. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. I've never been very scientific about adding the right proportions of dry and wet material to it so that the compost heats up the way it is supposed to and turns all that food waste into the black organic gold that would make my garden thrive. Right now, the kitchen scraps from the last several months are all lying frozen in the bottom of my barrel. But as soon as the spring thaw hits, I'm going to empty out that barrel and start from scratch. Do you compost? Do you use a barrel? Please let me know what works best for you. I can easily compost 100% of my kitchen scraps, apart from the occasional fish or chicken remains I have. But what I'd really like to aim for is somewhere between two and three big barrels full of rich organic compost to add to my garden by the end of 2013.

So there you have it: use less plastic by making my own yogurt and personal care products, and enrich my garden by creating better compost. Please share your own goals and resolutions for 2013, and come back often to help me overcome the obstacles I find as I pursue my own.

 RELATED POSTS

New Year's Goal – Shift Spending to Eco-Friendly Products and Services

Environmental Resolution: Do Less, Do It Better

 

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8 Responses to My Green Goals for 2013: Less Bathroom Plastic, More Home-Made Yogurt, Better Compost

  1. Kristie January 4, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal goals~it’s motivating! With regard to composting, I feel your pain:) I am a very new composter, about 7 months in. I feel like when I dump yard waste, the dry, it breaks down my wet, kitchen scraps, pretty fast. I live in the Midwest and have no idea what I should be doing with my compost bin now??
    Warm regards-
    Kristie

  2. Jen @ Go Green January 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    I would love to make our own yogurt. Can’t wait to read about how it works out for you!

  3. ponte vedra homes for sale January 9, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    Well that’s really nice that you eat two cups of yogurt every single day – plain which is non-fat..I must say it is very good for health if it is non fat..I didn’t have any resolution for this year but I try to be good with everyone..

  4. nine naturals mom January 13, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    Do you only eat yogurt for breakfast? Does your energy last until lunch time? Wow, i need to try that and I am excited on how you will be making your own yogurt. It is a challenge for me too to lessen plastic bottles not just in our bathroom but the entire household. I hope I could achieve using less of it.

  5. Diane MacEachern January 17, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    Kristie, re your compost: I take a break in the winter because everything is so frozen – the compost, the ground, etc. I do have neighbors who compost year round, but their piles are much hotter than mine. My other challenge is that my compost barrel is in the back of my yard, so to get to it I have to trudge through mud and snow in bad weather. I may try a compost bag on my back porch if I can keep it squirrel proof. I tried worm composting, but wasn’t very successful. Good luck!

  6. Diane MacEachern January 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    Nine Naturals Mom, I eat yogurt and fruit pretty much every morning for breakfast, followed by a cup of green tea or decaf organic coffee. I try to have a combination of fruits, but overall, even if it’s just yogurt and a cut-up orange or apple, I find it is a great breakfast. I eat around 8 – 8:30 a.m. and am definitely ready for lunch by noon. Sometimes I have a bit of a power bar as a mid-morning snack, but generally, the yogurt and fruit does it for me.

  7. Diane MacEachern January 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Jen, I’m going to write up this post soon. It was actually really easy to make my own yogurt – and man, was it good! :-)

  8. Darrell @ Virtual Receptionist Australia April 20, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    Our body needs to have a healthy amount of ”good” bacteria in the digestive tract, and many yogurts are made using active, good bacteria. So, it’s healthy to eat many yogurts even cups every single day.

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