Sustainable Goals for the Semi-Nomadic Life

If there’s one thing in life I excel at, it’s passionately choosing careers that require me to constantly move, be in a constant of uncertainty, and flourish in a small community where everyone is connected and knows one another professionally and personally. My experience in Chicago has been no exception. You could argue that other fields are this way, but I’ve never really known anything but a career that thrives on challenging societal norms through storytelling, advocacy, and creativity. Being on the move and constantly relocating can not only be stressful, but it can also make it difficult to practice sustainability constantly. Why? Because sometimes when you’re on the go it’s easy to pick what’s readily available without thinking. Actions like recycling and reusing are not a problem. What is difficult? Although I’m not continually moving every week or two, I tend to spend 3-6 months in one location and then pick up and move again, making it a little more complicated to develop sustainable practices like composting and growing herbs in my home, but for my semi-nomadic lifestyle, there has to be something, right? After consulting several blogs and searching the internet, here are a few more goals I’m working towards for a more sustainable lifestyle:

Packing

  • ALWAYS pack cloth bags. This seems like a given, but I can’t tell you how many times I think I don’t have room for them or forget them entirely. It’s now going on my permanent packing list so it doesn’t slip past me.
  • Pack my reusable lunch tote. I purchased one a year ago after visiting northern Peru and needing a cool drink in the hot desert. I wanted to pack it with me for Chicago but once again didn’t think I had the room. After being in the city for a couple of weeks, I started to realize there were some things I didn’t need and could have made this a priority. It’s going on the permanent packing list as well.

Shopping

  • Look for local farmer’s markets when shopping for groceries. One of my favorite parts of living in a new city is checking out the local farmer’s markets for produce. I’ve done so in Denver and San Diego and was not disappointed. It’s something I can definitely make more of a priority as I continue to explore the world.
  • When looking for clothing or gifts, shop local boutiques. I usually do a good job of following this one, given the fact that I prefer boutiques over chain stores when it comes to a personalized gift. Boutiques always have more unique tastes that I’m looking for and doing the research ahead of time to find one in a new location is key to making shopping locally a priority.
  • Be careful about products I purchase to make sure nothing is tossed out. Currently my roommates have their own compost, which is helpful since I love to cook and can put things like banana peels and avocado shells in the compost instead of the trash. However, if there is no compost option, I’ve been more careful about ensuring that I use everything I purchase. Scouring Pinterest for recipes to use all the celery and carrots I’ve bought to make sure very little or nothing is thrown out is helpful to making sure I don’t throw out produce I could have used in a chili recipe.

Food Storage

  • Use leftover glass containers instead of plastic. Most recently I’ve seen the effects plastic waste has on the environment and have been brainstorming ideas of how to use less plastic. While I’m nervous to take my lunch to work in glass because I’m afraid my klutzy nature will cause me to break the glass container, I’ve come up with a compromise: If possible, reuse and empty glass containers for food storage and use a plastic container to transport food to and from work. It may not be the most ideal situation, but for a clumsy person like me, it will be a good solution.
  • Replace Ziploc bags with reusable sandwich bags and collapsible food containers. After consulting a few blogs, this came to my attention and now I’m convinced it will be my next travel purchase and item on my Christmas list. Amazon has great options for collapsible food containers and Thrive Market has options for reusable sandwich bags. Although I wash out and reuse Ziploc bags (and will need to for carry-on restrictions), I can begin to reduce my use with these sustainable options.
  • Pack a reusable coffee mug and water bottle. Although I don’t always drink tons of coffee, having my own travel mug and water bottle is great for reducing the waste from getting a morning coffee or purchasing bottled water. Plus, it reduces the cost of having to continually purchase coffee, tea, or water.

Other Possibilities

  • Consider toiletry alternatives. Some swear by the Diva Cup, including Adventurous Kate and Joybilee Farm suggests Glad Rag Moon Cup for periods. It will reduce the waste of tampons and pads and your exposure to toxins, so although I’m hesitant, I’m curious to give it a try. Have you tried these options? What would you suggest?
  • Make my own shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste in travel friendly containers. I attempted my own conditioner of tea tree oil and coconut oil with very little luck, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider other possibilities. Since many acquaintances I’ve known recommend making my own toothpaste, I’m definitely curious to give this mixture from Joybilee Farms a shot. Do you know of any other suggestions or possibilities?
  • Replacing plastic with bamboo options. Even though bamboo toothbrushes are known for being expensive, I’ve been told they are well worth the cost. Not only will bamboo decompose, but you also won’t be ingesting bits of plastic as you brush your teeth. Have you given bamboo alternatives a try?

While this list is just the beginning, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other possibilities out there. Taking on too many goals can be overwhelming, which is why I plan on taking small steps and continuing to branch out from here. With each step, I feel more of a connection to where I work and travel and remember the citizen we often forget on Earth: the environment.

What other recommendations would you suggest I try? What steps do you take to travel more sustainable?

13 Comments

  1. ruxandrasoare

    Wow great tips 🙂 so far I haven’t travelled for really extensive periods of time to make use of those 🙂

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m still experimenting and figuring it out, so I figure if I start with these small goals I can get to where I want to be. Thanks for visiting! 🙂

  2. Wioletta

    Great tips! Own shampoo, conditioner etc. this is something what I would like to try make by myself too 😛

    http://www.fashion-utopia.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m looking forward to finding more homemade toiletries recipes, so if you find anything, let me know!

  3. Bella B

    I love farmers markets, little bistros and local shops. It is my favourite thing about shopping! ♡♡

    xoxoBella | http://xoxobella.com

  4. mintnoti

    Love these tips! Checking out local farmer’s markets are one of my favourite things to do too. Have a nice weekend 🙂

    http://www.mintnotion.com

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for visiting! I’m so glad to hear more people love checking out and shopping at local markets!

  5. Anouk

    Great ideas; I like the fact that you make us aware how small actions can make a big impact on our environment in the long run.

    LUXESSED

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks Anouk. I’m glad you see the value in taking more sustainable actions.

  6. Anda

    Good tips. I don’t know if I should feel sorry for you or maybe envy you? On one hand I feel that moving so fast keeps you from developing real friendships and maybe buying things that you’d like to keep for a while. On the other hand, you are free like a bird and if something is not on your liking, you don’t need to stay and there and make things right. You just pick up your suitcases and go.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Hi Anda. You’ve brought up the conundrum of a professional traveler. Although I don’t travel as much as most travel bloggers, I often think I should break free and do my own thing rather than relying on jobs to determine where I’ll go next. On the other hand, it would be nice to stay longer in places to meet more people and set in some roots. It may seem easy to pick up and go, but it gets tiring. As I’ve found I enjoyed going somewhere new for a theatre gig or going various places for my new career path in digital marketing, but it makes it hard to do things like long-term friendships, dating relationships, and shop for extras. Since I am able to stay some places a little longer, I’d like to make these goals work more often to help me adjust and get in a routine.

  7. Mallory [ Miss Malaprop ]

    I definitely try to use reusables as much as possible. I’ve been using alternative menstrual products for years now, and I wrote about this ages ago on my blog. (Just looked it up, and I posted about it back in 2009!)

    I do have a Divacup but it’s only for certain situations (like if I need to go swimming or something). I was never much of a tampon girl, so my go-to is reusable pads. Party In My Pants is my favorite brand for this: it’s a small sister-owned biz based in Wisconsin: http://partypantspads.com

    I was actually starting to have problems / irritation from the disposable products, I think because of all of the bleaching that goes into them, and I never have those issues with the reusables. Using the pads does require either a pretty good stockpile of them or a lot of washing, but it’s totally worth it for me.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Loved hearing your thoughts and insights on this Mallory. I’ll have to check out the reusable pads. I find some friends and family members don’t like maxi pads and get rashes from them sometimes, so the reusable ones might be a better option. I’ll have to check out your thoughts on other menstrual products on your blog.

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