Graduate school is fantastic, but it’s admittedly taking a toll on certain parts of my life. Like this blog. And my eating habits. (When was the last time I spent more than ten minutes cooking?) And, unfortunately, it’s impacting the endearingly hippie-environmental-Lorax-esque lifestyle I’ve tried to adhere to over the last couple of years. I’m finding it harder and harder to be conscious about the amount of water I’m using, whether or not I’ve remembered my reusable bags, and just how much packaging goes into a cereal box. And no, reading hundreds of pages and writing thousands of words a week does not excuse me.
Thankfully, I have friends who remind me what is important. Over an amazing brunch this past Sunday (at the fabulous Betty’s in Buffalo, NY), a couple of college friends, K. and L., pointed me to some of their own efforts to work for social and environmental justice in small, but meaningful ways. K. enthusiastically told me about her latest purchase–a toothbrush from Preserve, a company that reuses #5 plastics to make household items. Best part is that when you’re done with the toothbrush or whatever you’ve ordered from them, you can recycle it again. Brilliant, right? And L. pointed me to Better World Shopper, an easy to use and surprisingly thorough website that ranks companies based on their advocacy, or lack thereof, for human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement and social justice. There are rankings in just about every category you could wish for–everything from cleaning products and clothing to mobile phones and automobiles.
So in an effort to put some of that information to good use, I looked up a couple of the products I needed in the bathroom–a razor and a toothbrush. Turns out that K. was way ahead of me here. Preserve was right at the top of the list for these toiletries and, by a stroke of good fortune, the local Whole Foods carries their products. (Whole Foods got an “A” from Better World Shopper as well.) It was most satisfying to have the cashier slip those necessities into my reusable bag (which I did remember this time) as I checked out of the store.
To be fair, I still have a ways to go in being more intentional about caring for the environment and for the community I live in. Let’s face it, cultivating a greater degree of selflessness is difficult. But this was a small step in the right direction.