Sustainability in the big city when you are busy

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

It’s time to save the planet!

However, we’ve had warnings for so many many years about our waste buildup and plastics! Is there enough people to do something about it? And even if, lets say we change overnight, what do we do with the products already made with plastic packaging or products made out of plastic? 

Our clothing is made with plastic fibers. There are loads of products made with plastic. Trash bins, toilet brushes, tooth picks, soap dispensers, cheap dollar store products, travel accessories, our televisions, our phones, cups, take-out products, our take-out coffees, prescription/medication bottles, toothpaste, and etc. The list of plastics is a long one. 

A low -medium income family can buy a huge jug of cooking oil for a sale price if there is a promotion price at the supermarket! It’s a steal! Oil can be expensive. $15 for a huge gallon! This jug can last a good time if you are a family of 4. 

Dish washing liquid a small size can go one sale for $1. Yes, in nyc it is $1 for something small. I am sure in another state a small dish washing liquid is 50 cents if it’s on sale. A 16 oz Palmolive can go on sale for $4.99 which is a good sale now. 

The issue with a low-medium income families is that even if there is accessibility for plastic free packaging or buying sustainable products, they are way too overpriced. Working minimum jobs and not having enough leftover for healthcare and rent for that matter makes it tough to purchase sustainable products. 

The best is going green as much as possible. Some families do not even care. If you have a busy lifestyle and a family who has the time to think, where do I purchase plastic free toilet paper? 

People are overworked for low pay. Under appreciated by your boss and high demands for results! No care for your personal life or your personal goals! You do as demanded or someone else can take your place. If you are a great worker, it is worse. Let’s take advantage of that worker even more for low pay! Oh and make sure that excellent worker can’t have a life especially if they are single with no kids! 

Makes sense with the “great resignation” as the news is calling it why these things are happening! Crappy pay by crappy bosses! Bad work life balance! 

Anyway, my point is that working a exhausting job full time and having a family or even without a family, your job wipes out any energy you have to think about sustainability. Some wonderful people out there still try to be green even with their hectic lifestyles but many, do not. It is easy to go to a discount store to buy those $1 cookies to satisfy your craving for treats! 

It is quick and easy. Not many people like to be bothered to talk to any store clerk. It’s just buy and go. Nyc is perfect for this lifestyle. Buy your list of goodies and get out fast. No talking. No hello. Easy and done! 

To avoid plastic wrap cookies it’s great to get treats from a bakery or a store that offers individual servings. Subways, Starbucks, and McDonald’s all offer treats on the go. It can be pricey at Starbucks but maybe a McDonald’s or subways. If you love donuts you can get them at Your favorite donut place. It’s less plastic. May not be exactly plastic free. The paper bags that mcDonalds put their treats in may have thin film of plastics. I didn’t do research on this so, I don’t have the exact answer to this. 

But it is a good option to avoid baked goods wrapped in plastic and made with preservatives. Are fresh baked goods made without preservatives? Maybe I should’ve done more research! 

Individual portions of baked goods are wonderful to control your need for sweets! If you buy a huge box and you are like me, you will want to eat the whole box! I do have high blood sugar so not a good idea! 

And the wonderful chips! This is my weakness! I love chips but now decided maybe I can buy fries somewhere where they are wrapped with paper packaging such as KFC. Making fries at home is great too but then there’s the oily leftover. Either way, all still bad for you. Of course moderation is key. 

People want big portions for less money! It’s sad that our culture is given this and now that’s what they expect. Plastic utensils are also given for free, it is expected. I went to a KFC where a straw wasn’t provided and the customer asked, “you don’t have any straws”? People demand plastic bags and are expected to have these things as a part of customer service. Change is hard for people! 

I used to work cashier and would get complaining customers when no bags are provided. Especially, when they make a large purchase, they expect something! Not many people want to bag their own products. We live in a comfort culture. Things are easy and provided for. 

It makes me sad. I hope people can be educated in how their behaviors are affecting our Earth. They don’t have to change everything in one everyday. They can try to change something! 

I have written before about going green but I realized some issues about going green. I am also used to my “comforts” and changing is tough. Let me list a few things I realized in my changing to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Buying compostable garbage bags. They are so pricey. You can purchase a big box of regular garbage bags on Amazon for $20 but one roll of compostable bags cost you $20. That can hurt the wallet but I’ll try it! I just made a purchase today of two rolls! Ouch! 

Soap bars– I have been using natural bars of soap and am loving it but, I keep my bars in a repurposed glass candle container. I worry about the bacteria that it can hold as I let my bars dry after a shower. Same goes for kitchen bar soaps. 

Another thing is space– I do not have a space for a big bar of soap. I share space with roommates in a small kitchen. But I’ll try it anyway! I just ordered a dish bar soap from Amazon today! $12 plus tax. Gosh! I can easily get dish soap at my local rite aid for way cheaper! I don’t wash dishes so much so buying a small bottle of soap on sale does suffice! 

Water on the go- while at work, there’s no water cooler in retail jobs. You have to buy your gallon of water and drink it when you can. Get all the moneys worth versus travel size bottles. One coworker got saavy. He bought a reusable gallon sized water bottle and filled it up with his own water. Very clever. But seriously, who wants to carry all that water daily?

Fast food cravings. Eating healthy is fantastic for your health but there are times I want a KFC meal. A delicious chicken sandwich meal with fries! I would have to think about the cup the sodas come in. If you order a chicken sandwich with just medium fries and no drink, it costs the same as a meal or maybe a bit more. I still get packaging but not as bad as a restaurant. KFC only has food wrappings and paper box packaging.

(In take out, if you do not live in Brooklyn or Manhattan, you still get the plastic containers for takeout orders. Not all restaurants have the means to switch over to sustainable packaging. )

Snacks– When I was working my exhausting pharmacy job, I wasn’t thinking about the protein bars in plastic wrap or the protein shake in a plastic bottle. I just bought it because I need extra energy to sustain myself in case I don’t get a meal or don’t have enough time to break. I was thinking what was easy on the go and something to carry in my pocket. If you have an exhausting job like my pharmacy job, no one cares if you eat or not. It is your own responsibility to make sure you eat. The customers can wait with all their unappreciative complaints! Even if you please one customer there’s always 20 more who don’t appreciate you! Oh yes and my emotional eating. Eating junk food from stress and depression was another reason I bought many bags of chips. I worked at a store that sold plenty of plastic packaging. So much plastic! 

Supermarket– I was so pleased to see my local key food offers whole coffee beans in bulk. I purchase by the pound which is $9 for a little over a pound. It is pricey but I choose it over prepackaged coffee beans. The down side is if you want a different flavor, the bulk coffee are not flavored. You can buy flavoring or if you want to save, you can purchase flavored coffee in plastic for $7 which is a sale price. Prepackaged coffee can run for $12 to $20 depending on what area you live in. 

Plastics are everywhere in my local supermarket. Honestly, I do not want to take a ride to a far away spot to find plastic free goods. I also do not like ordering because there is so much package theft in my area. So, my best bet is to do as much plastic free as I can which can be limiting in options. If I find bananas without plastic packaging, I buy those. I go to different stores that I know carry certain plastic free items and buy it there. I try to do stress-free shopping as much as possible. Yet, it can still be stressful. 

Milks– I currently can’t find milk that’s plastic free in my area. I tried to make my own milk which is great but, the leftover products of making milk is an issue. I don’t always want to bake with these leftover pulp. I can always compost it but I feel bad. The nutrition is in the pulp!! I do like the hassle free of just buying milk. So for now, I have no choice but buy milk in cartons. 

Carry out coffee! I love Dunkin. I have been purchasing it almost daily because honestly, I’ve been lazy even without a job. I purchase it and take it with me to the park. I haven’t tried asking them to put it in my reusable mug due to Covid. I wished they started doing that again but I doubt it. The carry away cups have thin plastic lining and I feel bad throwing it away after chugging my coffee. So, I am going back to making my own as of today! Plus I should be reducing my caffeine intake. 

Amazon/ online purchases– I am guilty of buying stuff and they come in plastic packaging. I purchase eco friendly stuff I can’t find at my local area such as eco friendly shampoo bars. Sometimes I get it in a box and sometimes such as a shoes purchase, I get it in plastic. Plastic adds up so quickly!! Amazon makes it so convenient now to pick up your packages in lockers to avoid package theft.

Vitamins– I have been searching for glass bottle options which I may not find in my local area. I found multivitamins in glass bottles. I still have plastics because not everything comes in glass. 

Cleaning products– I do not use too much cleaning products so it takes forever to get rid of them. But slowly, I am working on replacing this with eco friendly products but then there are plastic issues. I can purchase vinegar as they come in huge jugs and make them myself. Just there’s still plastic. Heinz makes vinegar in small glass bottles. Is it worth buying those small things? They are like $4 for a small glass bottle versus $5 for a huge gallon. (Sigh). I may do it for this purchase since I need vinegar but oh my pocket. 

Make up Products– Makeup still comes in plastic. I been finding plastic free lipsticks which is great. Makeup removers can be replaced with olive oil. I will try that soon in replacement of my makeup remover. I prefer not to use makeup when I am not working. So, less product usage. Deodorants come in plastic free packaging now so I am excited to go for this option! 

Clothing– I have been using thredup for my seasonal updates. I am so used to changing my clothes so often its hard for me to think about buying good quality clothing for long term. I’ll work on that. I watched a youtube video about fashion waste. It makes me feel horrible about wasting clothing.

Toilet Paper– I had no idea it takes so much water and energy to make paper! I just knew where I can buy it for really cheap. I can buy recycled toilet paper in my neighborhood but they are wrapped in plastic so I opt for the regular rolls that come individually wrapped in paper. Costly than buying a pack on sale and not really environmentally friendly but, I am reducing my plastic use. I guess it’s something. (Sigh)

In these times, you want to purchase things that work for your pocket and are great deals for the value! Speaking of value, I found some deals today on some plastic free items. I spent $19 on some items at the supermarket which got me excited! 

It is the best option to save money in case of an emergency and not spend it all at once to be sustainable. So, there’s an issue here. Plastic free and sustainable products should be easily accessible to get more people to participate. Even if you care for the environment, it’s more affordable buying plastic than a Earth-friendly item depending on where you live. Who would spend $20 on ONE single roll of compostable garbage bags? If you give me 2 rolls for $20 that’s a bit different. 

There’s still a long way to go. My neighborhood is slowly changing its ways as I do not have to go far to buy eggs in a paper carton! However, it is still easy to buy a Dove body wash for $3 in a plastic bottle at a discount store that will last you months versus a $20 soap bar that may last less time. Plastic is everywhere and it’s easy to forget to go green.

Sustainability needs to be more accessible to even lower to middle income communities to have more people participate in being Earth friendly. Even discount stores should consider switching out to plastic free packaging. Wouldn’t it be great? The more accessibility, the more people will slowly change to it and adapt.

It’s up to corporations to make the changes! In the meantime, I hope more and more people look for more eco-friendly products as much as they can until the efforts to save the planet is bigger! We have piles and piles of waste to clean up on this one Earth we have. Reduce, Reuse , and I want to say recycle but recycling is broken right now. Let’s reduce and reuse! 

P.S. On a seperate note- I am proud of my plastic free purchases

Eggs in paper carton
Found this nice size glass vinegar bottle for $2! Yey!!!

Still have plastic but, I am doing what I can! 😀

Plastic products!

Its tough to be plastic free when theres so much going on but making an effort is worth it!