Don’t worry. I’m absolutely not here to lecture anyone. I just want to explain my family’s journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle and help people to see that this isn’t a zero-sum game. It truly isn’t a case of “change everything NOW or do nothing.” Rather, it’s a case of “let’s all do our best and make the changes we can.” It doesn’t necessarily help figure out how to do this if you only see articles from Europe, the USA, or Canada. What you need is someone right here, in Mérida, living as you’re living, running around after children while trying to hold down a busy job, telling you what they’re doing.
So here I am. I’m absolutely a long way from perfect. I’m frustrated at myself for not doing more but I’m also proud of myself for the changes I have encouraged my family to make.
Even when we lived in the UK, we found organic options where we could. Moving to México on the food front was a bit of a cultural shock, to be honest. I’ve never had to read food labels as closely as I do here but actually the benefit of this has been that we no longer really eat anything prepackaged from the supermarket. We have always cooked from scratch and here continue to do so.
We buy our ingredients from slow, local sellers where we can. We don’t eat much meat anymore but if we do, sellers such as Rancho Haltún Xiki provide ethical and quality meat. Meat, by the way, is only allowed in our house every other week to lessen our carbon footprint. Our bread and kombucha only come from Monique’s Bakery. We wouldn’t dream of buying chemical-laden supermarket versions.
We’ve recently signed up for Kuxtal Market as a one-stop ethical and sustainable delivery option. Prior to that, our eggs would come from a local farm, our fruit and veg from local vendors (or the supermarket – fingers crossed we can entirely cut supermarket produce from our diets). The current honey and salt in our house come from the Laguna Rosada outside Progreso. Of course, the traditional markets are also a great option for people with time but if you don’t have that time, there are a number of new delivery options popping up: Kuxtal, Wóolis, the Slow Food Market, and there’s even a brand new app for the main market vendors: Mi Mercado Móvil, created by the local government.
The quarantine period has given us more time to consider how we spend our money on food. As I said above, this is a journey. I admit that we do let our kids eat junk food every now and again but the pandemic gave us an opportunity to talk to the kids and explain that during this period we will only be supporting local restaurants making fresh, healthy food, restaurants that don’t have international backing and actually need the support of locals to make it through this difficult time.
Household products and waste
I can’t stop thinking about plastic waste and how much garbage we, as a species, generate. I am actively working both to cut down on our current household waste and to model the changed mindset for my children. We have bamboo toothbrushes; we use solid shampoo and soap (either from Alternativa Cero or Botika Essentials) in the shower. Even my dental floss is zero-waste (thanks, Ay Granel!). My kids helped me make zero-waste deodorant for my husband and me and we started making zero-waste body scrubs.
Sadly, I’ve yet to figure out great kitchen solutions, but I’m searching out my options and am hopeful that they’ll appear soon. Green Shine offers refillable and more sustainable cleaning product options. Currently, I buy the biggest option from Costco and refill in an attempt to cut down my plastic but Green Shine and I are about to become good buddies as I step my efforts up a notch.
I recently cut up the kids’ old clothing that was too gross to give away. We now use these strips as napkins and for cleaning surfaces. I hope we’ll minimize our paper usage this way.
In normal times obviously my family loves to travel and we try to make our excursions as sustainable as possible. We use local, ethical tour guides such as Co’ox Mayab or Sayachaltún Ecoturismo (both local to Yucatán) if we need a guide.
We try to carry our own cutlery and crockery so that street food and impromptu snacks don’t create unnecessary waste. I will add reusable napkins to my bag when we start traveling again. We always carry our own water bottles and when we use our car, we take extra water with us so we don’t have to buy extra small plastic bottles. I always make it clear that we don’t want Styrofoam packaging and my kids barely bat an eyelid when I refuse straws on their behalf. We do own reusable straws but honestly, I figure it’s easier just to not use a straw at all unless there is a medical reason for doing so.
We absolutely have a long way to go on our zero-waste journey. I began this on my own but as I’ve shown my husband and kids that it is possible, they’re becoming more willing participants. I know that what I do with my kids today will multiply in their actions as they grow into conscientious and thoughtful individuals.
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Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger
Adventure lover who never lost her sense of fun or wonder
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