New Year’s Resolution #2: Generate less plastic waste from medicine and supplement packaging.
Okay, before I continue, I have to give the usual caveat: I am not a doctor and nothing I write in this post or anywhere on this blog should be construed as medical advice. I’m writing about my experience only. Your mileage may vary.
Now that that’s out of the way, check out my stash of health-related plastic waste from 2013:
Let’s examine it row by row.
Boosting My Immune System
Top 2 rows: With the exception of the ibuprofen (which I used over several years), all are cold/flu related products. Like I mentioned last week, I got sick a lot in 2013. Granted, I was travelling a lot to give talks and promote my book, so I was exposed to many different kinds of germs. During one bout, I had a fever of 103F! I think the best remedy for a virus is just to crawl into bed, drink lots and lots of fluids, and let my body’s immune system go to work, which is what I did when I could. I don’t believe in treating the symptoms if I don’t have to because the fever, the mucus, the coughing are all ways of getting rid of the microscopic invader.
However, when you have to speak in front of a room full of people and could at any moment break into an uncontrollable coughing fit, you bring out the big guns. A swig of preemptive codeine works every time. But you know what’s even better than codeine for a cough? Not getting sick in the first place! So, this year… well, actually beginning a few months ago… I started really working on strengthening my immune system. How?
1) Getting enough sleep
2) Getting more exercise
3) Eating more whole foods that contain lots of nutrients
(Notice: All of these steps are also helping with Resolution #1: Lose Weight.)
Getting Nutrients From Food Instead of Pills
Bottom Row, left side: Plastic caps from New Chapter brand supplements. I like New Chapter products because most of them come in glass bottles (which is why you only see the caps in the picture) and are made from whole foods. But wouldn’t it be better if I could get the same benefit from eating the actual foods and skipping the pills (and their plastic caps) altogether?
So, I’m eating stuff like this: whole fresh fruits and vegetables that come without plastic packaging; a variety of nuts, seeds, beans, herbs, spices, and a few grains that are sold in bulk bins so I can fill my own container.
By the way, the green stuff in the big, rectangular Life Without Plastic container is steamed kale and steamed cabbage that I store in the freezer. I add some of this green stuff to my smoothie every morning. It’s just easier for me to cook a whole bunch at a time and freeze it, and since I read about cruciferous vegetables being linked to thyroid problems, I don’t eat them raw anymore. To keep the greens from sticking together in the freezer, I freeze individual clumps on a tray before throwing them together in the big container.
Despite these efforts, there are still a few supplements I haven’t quite given up, although I take far fewer of them. Maybe you can help me come up with ideas…
1) New Chapter Bone Strength: I think I have the calcium thing pretty well figured out. I eat a variety of greens containing calcium, a bit of cheese everyday, and something unusual that I will blog about in a future post. I plan to start weight-bearing exercises this year as well. So I probably won’t be replacing this bottle any time soon.
2) Solgar Magnesium Citrate: Solgar products come in glass bottles with metal caps; however, the whole bottle is wrapped in a plastic protective seal. I take one of these every night before bed. And at the risk of giving you TMI, let’s just say there is not enough fiber in the world to do what one of these pills does. And believe me, I have tried. Psyllium Schmyllium. That is all.
3) New Chapter Iron Food Complex: This one is challenging. As a vegetarian (not vegan), I’m not sure how to get enough iron. Now that I am recording all of my foods on My Fitness Pal, I can see how much iron I get each day through food, and I’m coming up short. So many days, I end up taking a half a tablet to make up for the lack. I think I’ll start using my cast iron pan more often. (It’s just such a pain to maintain.) Any ideas?
Solving a Chronic Cornea Condition
Bottom row, right side: Single-use eye drop vials. Ever since February 2005, when I woke up with screaming pain in my right eye, convinced someone had poured metal shavings into it while I slept, I have had an ongoing cornea problem. I’ve been to eye doctor after eye doctor and had all kinds of crazy procedures (scraping with a knife, poking with a needle, and burning with a laser), none of which worked. Unwilling to use so many single-use plastic products, I have been avoiding the eye drops and only using them when the problem is too painful to stand. But I don’t think I’ve been doing my eyes any favors by avoiding the plastic because my vision has been getting worse and worse too.
Fortunately, a few weeks ago, I discovered what I think will be the solution. It’s just one natural ingredient that I can get in a glass bottle. I’ll blog about this one in a separate post too… after I make sure it works long term.
Reducing the Number of Prescription Bottles by Ordering in Bulk
The middle row in the picture contains bottles of an ongoing personal prescription that I will probably be taking for my whole life. But I did find a way to at least reduce the number of bottles. I asked my doctor if he would prescribe several month’s worth at a time. He said he could give me up to 3 months. So, instead of twelve bottles a year, I get 4 bottles with 3-months worth of pills in them. Every bit of plastic reduction helps.
Do you have ongoing medical plastic that you are trying to reduce? What is it? What options have you tried? Or what suggestions do you have for me?