Today, we feature a guest column from Marnely Murray of www.cookingwithbooks.net. Marnley a chef and writer originally from the Dominican Republic who now lives and works on Martha's Vineyard. Today, she shares her lessons from striving to live more sustainably. Enjoy!
They say your thirties are some of the best years of your life. The years when you really become who you’re meant to be, when you’re shedding all those twenty-something year old insecurities and realizing the importance what is and isn’t important in your life. And with that, caring for the Earth comes into play - because when you’re more worried about him/her texting you back after your second date, the Earth takes a step back to let you deal with all of that before she steps in and says, “hey, you need to text me back as well!”.
That’s what happened to me - almost quite instantly - when I turned 30. Four years ago, I came to the realization that I was going to have to step it up in my sustainable living and start texting back Mother Earth more often than my boyfriend. Below, my dear 30-something year old friends, is what I call my how to be sustainable while balancing a stressed out, anxiety driven life. We all have those right? I’m not the only one, right? The great thing about this list is that, once I started applying them to my crazy life of juggling a full time job plus all the side hustles I could manage, my life calmed down a little. I was able to appreciate my surroundings a bit more. I actually reduced my anxiety. Overall, making efforts towards being more earth-friendly made for a calmer life, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone, including Mother Earth.
- I’m all about balance and moderation, but the only thing I saw a huge NO to is buying plastic water bottles. The bottled water industry is a scam itself and adding on to it the plastic waste, it just is a no from me. Investing in a reusable metal water bottle was the best way to go for me. And if I forget to bring my reusable with me? I go thirsty to remind myself to never again forget it.
- At a restaurant, I always say “water, no ice, no straw, please”. No ice is a preference, no straw is because it’s another section of my life I don’t need any more plastic waste or waste overall. If the server replies “oh, we have paper straws!”, I still don’t want them because it’s waste that is unnecessary in my own life.
- At all times, I have in my purse one or two linen cloth tote bags that are tightly rolled up, barely take up any space, but will fit a quick grocery trip if need be. Even though my town has outlawed the use of plastic grocery bags, they still use paper - and again like paper straws, it’s unnecessary if I have reusable tote bags at the ready.
- Finding a plastic free toilet paper that wasn’t soaked in chlorine bleach or toxic fragrances was a goal and that’s when I discovered Elemental Products. They ship my toilet paper in cardboard boxes I can reuse or recycle, nothing more, nothing less.
- I reduced my family’s meat consumption by more than half. Basically, my husband and I have agreed to not purchase raw meat at home (he still buys sausages) and consume a mostly plat based diet there. Since we’re both chefs, our rule applies to being at home - that being said, when we go out to restaurants and we see a delicious bolognese pasta we want to try, we “treat ourselves” to it with no qualms. The meat and dairy industry is responsible for a big amount of the negative impacts in the world, so reducing that consumption ultimately reduces the demand for it.
- I save odds and ends like rubber bands and twisty ties from my produce, egg cartons, crinkle paper from packages I receive in the mail, and the cardboard rolls from the Elemental Products toilet paper, among other things. I collect them all and once a month bring them into my local library that hosts crafting days for kids and use it all up!
- I use organic cotton feminine products. Did you know cotton is the most sprayed crop in the world? To think that we then use that pesticide soaked cotton to make feminine products we put in our bodies is beyond me, so making the switch was one of the first things I did! Ultimately, a reusable menstrual cup is the goal, but working towards that.
- The switch to natural skincare was actually how I started dipping my toes into the sustainable world. The realization that there are no regulations or controls on what goes into our beauty and skincare products was a big red light for me. Switching to natural deodorant, face lotions, and shampoos was the start. The eye opening moment when you realize you actually don’t need a million skincare products to survive and that the marketing behind it is of over-consumption really was shocking. We need less, not more. We are already beautiful.
This list might seem overwhelming to someone that is just starting out - and that’s the last thing anyone needs, more rules on how to be a responsible adult. These all took me 4-5 years to accomplish, do my research, and put into action. Choose one or two of the above and go forth doing the best you can, with the resources available to you.
Follow Marnley on Instagram @marnely_murray