Our ocean is an incredible, living, inhaling and exhaling being. She reacts and she strives to move forward even though humans are doing so many terrible things to her: packaging peanuts, straws, all types of plastic, fuels, garbage are thrown into her on a minute-by-minute basis.
Dive beneath her beautiful water line and see you the creatures living within her, but you also see the damage being done to her. Corals are bleaching, fish are dying, plastics are wrapped around innocent animals.
It is heartbreaking.
Living on a boat immediately put into perspective for me the amount of damage one human being can do within just a few minutes. A simple 30-minute cleaning routine can wreak havoc on our water systems and the animals living within them. Everything flows back to the sea. Plastic doesn’t disappear. What your purchase, matters.
These facts rolled around in my mind with so much force and weight that I began researching, learning and changing how I clean and how I purchase. I want products that are safe for my body and for our waters, and I want products that clean whatever I’m intending to clean.
I am not an expert on this; I'm just a human being wanting to make changes for the better. In summary what I learned is that all actions have a reaction, just like all products have a response when placed into our environment. What's important to know is the ingredients and the biodegradability of your products. The time it takes to break down is what you're looking at. The longer it takes, the longer the products sit in our environment which means it has more time to do more damage like getting wrapped around a sea turtle or pelican.
Biodegradability can feel like a vague term, but it means (and the definition the Federal Trade Commission endorses) is the product's ability to “completely break down and return to nature.” For marketers in the United States to use the term biodegradable on their products it must mean that it will break down and return to nature in a “reasonable amount of time.”
Then, you want to know what is breaking down and the results of that breakdown. Sometimes when a product starts to break down, it produces more toxins. This is where reading your ingredients will come into play.
Another factor is being aware of how much of the product is being used and how much is being directed into a particular place. For example: A single home soap’s suds will break down in their individual backyard but if the suds are added with everyone else's suds in the same city and everything is thrown into a sewer line and then onto our beaches, then there would be too much soap for the microorganisms to biodegrade. Build up occurs.
So, your individual power lies in:
- Choosing products that label their ingredients
- Recognizing the ingredients as natural (preventing toxic breakdowns)
- Knowing your consumption: how much of it you're using and putting out; where you are throwing it out
- Purchasing products that break down faster and easier
When you’re looking into products, you want to:
- Look at the label for the ingredients.
- If there are a lot of ingredients you do not recognize, then do not purchase the product.
- Purchase products that list ingredients you recognize as natural.
- Purchase products that are packaged in bioplastic (plastics derived from renewable biomass sources such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch or microbiota).
Here is where it’s important to know and use your own power: You decide what you purchase and what will go into our water systems or end up in our landfills. You decide. Cutting back on products full of synthetic chemicals or packaged in petroleum-based plastic will make a difference, even though you’re just one person or one family! It starts to add up!
Here is what we use and why we use it: Please keep in mind I am not asserting that this is the only way or this is "what you should be doing." This post is meant to heighten awareness of what we're using and why!
For cleaning our home (table tops, toilets, shelves, stove, cleaning up messes):
We use Thieves household cleaner + fresh water mix: Thieves is a mixture of clove, rosemary and vinegar. Not only does it make our boat smell of lemon and cinnamon but it simultaneously helps boost a lowered immune system in whomever is cleaning and it won’t harm us or the environment.
Note: If you're looking to open an account to purchase Thieves home cleaner or an air diffuser for clean air, e-mail us at SheenaJeffers@gmail.com.
For cleaning our clothes:
We use soap nuts: Soap nuts are a sustainable natural resource that come from sapindus trees. The dried fruit produces “soap” (saponin). They are hypoallergenic, free of synthetic chemicals, fillers, toxins, dyes and perfumes, and imported only from Fair Trade suppliers.
For cleansing our air and preventing / removing mold:
We use a homemade Tea Tree blend. Tea Tree oil is an antifungal and antibacterial. It has the power to kill all types of molds, but is harmless to humans and animals. We also keep with us white vinegar to clean and prevent any mold that appears.
Diffusing Tea Tree oils also prevents airborne mold.
Note: If you're looking to open an account to purchase an air diffuser for clean air, e-mail us at SheenaJeffers@gmail.com.
Recipe for Spray:
- 4 ounces water.
- 4 ounces vodka.
- 12 to 24 drops of essential oil.
- Measuring cup.
- Spray bottle.
For holding and disposing of our trash:
We use Commit to Green bags made of plant starch - instead of plastic - and it will decompose within 180 days (instead of 1,000 years that it takes a single plastic bag to decompose).
For washing our dishes:
2 cups of liquid castile soap, a few drops of essential oils, 1/2 cup of water.
It feels good to know what products we’re using and also how we are effecting the environment. It’s far more real to us now to make choices, to ask questions, to purchase only what we know will not harm the environment to its max degree.
As an individual, you can make a big impact by making simple changes. Our oceans and our air will clear, and we will leave a cleaner, safer, more stable environment for future generations.