Household Sustainability

Household Sustainability

Chapter 5’s assignment has us explore our use of consumables, their cost, and our relationship with them. Like each of these Mind-Science pillars, this assignment arrived at a time when my partner and I had recently decided to support more both our local economy and local sustainability. A month or so back, we bought a compost bin from a local group we found on Instagram. It’s got two bins with worms and the liquid falls to the bottom… it’s definitely a step up from the raised wooden bed we had been tossing all our organic waste into.

Also in that time we started ordering the weekly deliveries from nearby organic farmers. The first farmer delivered in a wooden box, but they didn’t want the box back after the first week. It was also quite expensive, so we found another reasonable farmer with more reasonable prices—the problem was they deliver in one big plastic bag (which is better than several little plastic bags, but still not ideal), so we are asking them if they have an alternative. Everyone likes to use the pandemic as an excuse to use more plastic.

Meanwhile, in the past 3 months we have planted a full-on herb+greens garden in the backyard, my partner uses re-usable pads for her moon cycle, we use citrus peels with water and vinegar to make our own household cleaner, we hire a recycling company to come take our recyclables every 2 weeks (and the fruits of that go towards supporting those in poverty), we bought silk bags for putting things like nuts or legumes while shopping, and imported some reusable diapers (~80% import tax here but it’s been important to us).

our compost bin

We will not see a return on these investments for quite some time—the diapers were quite expensive—but we were never in it for the money. It’s appalling how many diapers babies use and how buying big packs of them (in plastic wraps) is just what we do as a society… what did they use back in the day for baby shits? Not to mention, we have to wash the reusable diapers every day (we have in the neighborhood of 12, which may or may not be as many as needed in one single day). The washing uses water, soap, and power. Are we really making up for the plastic that we’re not buying that way? I don’t know. But I love not having to support these fucking diaper companies that place Disney characters on my child’s bottom.

our diapers hanging out to dry

Back to Budokon. Week 1, we had to chart out a list of things we purchased. I’m doing rough conversions from ARS to USD here, plus this happened to be a week where we didn’t purchase much. It doesn’t help that we’re not really encouraged to go outside here, or go shopping, so just in general our lifestyles don’t encompass much consumerism. As you’ll see in this list, I’ve subjectively labelled what is ESSENTIAL and placed in italics some of my internal commentary. Cost, item, and packaging went something like this:

Sunday - Monday: nothing (quedáte en casa!)

Tuesday - health food store $5 2 bags of dried herbs - plastic bags $10 1 bag garbanzo flour, 1 bag oat flour - plastic bags $10 Acrylic paints - plastic bottles - ESSENTIAL

The thing about things like acrylic paints is there’s no way to buy them otherwise… to explore: how do we satisfy our creative needs while not supporting these non-sustainable industries?

Wednesday: nothing

Thursday - different health food store

  • $30 metal water bottle - cardboard box - ESSENTIAL
  • $10 vegan date almond raw truffles - plastic/cardboard-y box thing
  • $5 lentil vegan chocolate cake - same packaging
  • $10 coconut flour - plastic bag
  • $7 vegan cheese dish thing - foil type container
  • $7 vegan cheese - plastic wrap
  • $10 falafels - plastic bag

  • $30 veggies arrive (packaged in 1 big plastic bag) - ESSENTIAL

Friday

  • $5 skirt steak - plastic bag - ESSENTIAL

This has been the toughest part of everything—REMEMBERING to bring the silk bags or Tupperware when we go buy food!

Saturday

  • $40 MEAT FOR ASADO - plastic bags — ESSENTIAL
  • $4 Dijon Mustard - glass
  • $2 potato chips - plastic bag
  • $1 fruit cup - plastic cup — ESSENTIAL

The potato chips were for guests, as we were shooting a pilot for a YouTube show (“2 gringos trapped in Argentina”)… I’ve never been big on cultural polite-ness but my partner insisted I buy snacks for our team.

Another thought—what constitutes essential? We don’t even know the bare minimum we need to stay alive, especially while Lau is breastfeeding. The more and more I transition into my pure carnivore diet, I feel better not eating plants, cacao, and Yerba mate like before. I really have a lot more energy… but she’s living as a vegan still, she’s breastfeeding, and she has different requirements right now. So the question of essentiality is a curious one.

Week two, we were meant to go on a “7-day consumer spending fast” to encourage our psyche into more environmentally-friendly choices. Had I been living alone, this would have been possible. Living with a partner and a little baby, however, some things are out of my control so we did the best we can.

There were some emotional eating days for my partner (I may or may not have joined in out of sympathy), and when that happened I really wish we had kept Tupperware in the car to package their homemade delicious, raw date-cashew-cacao truffles and chocolate gluten-free vegan lentil cake. It’s kind of silly how these health shops promote the health food but use containers that aren’t recyclable.

What I found really interesting is that some carniceros (butcher shops) don’t want to give me the meat without the plastic packaging. Even with Tupperware. Between covid and culture, it’s too much for them, as generally they put the cuts in plastic automatically. I’ve had to develop relationships with them and stop them in time, in order to even just have them put the orders in my backpack instead of a SECOND plastic bag!

This assignment, coupled with last chapter’s nutrition call-to-action, has been a good kickstart into keeping these things in the forefront of my mind. My desire to purchase anything that isn’t eggs or meat (easy to package sustainably) has significantly lowered, and fortunately our guilty pleasures are home-made and the packaging can be avoided, as long as we remain conscious of our goals.