Zero Waste: Hygiene

To supplement the information provided in the video, here is a complete list of the hygiene items we reviewed with price comparisons and links.

  • Aftershave: a little coconut or jojoba oil mixed with you favorite essential oils.
    • While the upfront cost is pretty high–you’ll probably spend around $10 for a bottle coconut/jojoba oil and another $10 for an essential oil while you could easily buy a bottle of conventional aftershave for under $10–they go a long way.
  • Air freshener: our favorite options are sage, palo santo, and incense by JackThreads.
    • Depending on where you live, you might be able to harvest sage for free. Other good options are lavender and pine (don’t burn the lavender though! just make a nice bouquet). JackThreads incense goes for about $7 a container compared to around $4 for Febreze.
  • All purpose cleaner: white vinegar!
  • Body & hand soap: any bar soap!
    • Even organic bar soap options, such as Dr. Bronner’s, are cheaper than most packaged body wash and hand soap products.
  • Condoms: like we said in the video, there aren’t a whole lot of waste free condom options and the priority should always be placed on safe sex, not zero waste. Sustain Natural is a really cool company that offers biodegradable condoms and other organic, reduced waste feminine products.
    • Forget about the price comparison for this one, do whatever you can to practice safe sex. If you have the funds to buy Sustain’s condoms, go for it! If not, hopefully your college or local Planned Parenthood has free options for you.
  • Deodorant: although we didn’t show it in the video, we are following this recipe for DIY deodorant: http://www.trashisfortossers.com/2016/10/zero-waste-deodorant.html.
    • The price of the ingredients plus the time to make the deodorant itself definitely makes this option less accessible. Do what you can!
  • Detergent: white vinegar and baking soda.
    • Remember white vinegar from earlier? Yep, its still $2. Baking soda is even cheaper at less than a $1 (the one we used in the video actually cost 0.74 cents, excuse the typo).
  • Face soap: try to find bar soap that doesn’t irritate your face. Activated charcoal soap works well for us and acts as a natural cleanser.
    • Going for about $5 a bar on the low end, the price is on par if not lower than most other non zero waste options.
  • Floss: floss can be pretty hard. I found a pretty good option at a local store back in Seattle (Puget Consumer Coop) called EcoDent. However, although the box was cardboard, the floss inside was still wrapped in plastic. Wasteland Rebel has a very helpful article on zero waste (and in their case vegan) floss.
    • EcoDent goes for around $3, which is a fairly typical price.
  • Mouthwash: you saw the recipe!
    • As was the case with the aftershave, the essential oils (and potentially gin) are a large upfront cost, however, you’ll be able to make batches on batches once you have all the ingredients.
  • Prescription medication: forget zero waste, just stay healthy. Here’s an article on recycling prescription bottles.
  • Razors: get yourself a safety razor! Or a straight razor if you’re brave.
    • Upfront cost is high ($17) but it’ll last a lifetime if you’re good to it, so you’ll save money in the long run.
  • Shampoo: Lush will reuse their containers! Certain stores also offer bulk options.
    • Lush is veryyy expensive. It’s safe to say that for this item, going zero waste could be too pricey.
  • Shaving cream: coconut oil (try lathering up your bar soap and then adding coconut oil to the mix in your hand). Note: if you have a disposable razor, it will probably clog. Another reason to get a safety razor!
    • You already know the prices for coconut oil, soap, and safety razors.
  • Tissues: handkerchief! You heard the deal.
    • One handkerchief, a lifetime investment, is $4. A single box of tissues is about $2; it’ll pay itself off quick, especially if you have allergies like me.
  • Toothbrush: go bamboo if you’re looking for a traditional option. If you’re feeling adventures, check out Miswak or Neem twigs!
    • A Spry bamboo toothbrush is around $3, only slightly more expensive than a typical plastic toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste: baking soda plus any additives you think might enhance the flavor and texture. We added peppermint essential oil, a little salt, and coconut oil.
    • Zero waste comes out to be cheaper again! Less than a dollar for baking soda compared to around $2 on the cheap end for non zero waste toothpaste.

 

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Day 89 of 159

Carried my camera around Nyon and Geneva for a day to document what 24 hours in my study abroad program looks like.

I’m enrolled in SIT’s Banking, Finance and Social Responsibility program in Switzerland. SIT programs are characterized by homestays and site visits (i.e. field learning). Because I filmed on a Friday, the day is a little different than normal, but the house, commute, campus and thoughts are all there  🙂

City Plaza

To understand the importance and effectiveness of City Plaza as a squat and broader movement, you have to consider it in the context of the larger ‘refugee crisis’ in Greece (I put crisis in quotations here because the sheer number of refugees isn’t the issue, it’s how it has been handled by the European Union). So, before I talk about City Plaza, I want to try and quickly build up some context without over simplifying a complex situation.

Who remembers that time snapchat had a live story on Greece’s referendum vote? Back in 2015, the Syriza government held a referendum that allowed the greek people to vote on the newest debt package presented by the troika (the IMF, ECB, EC). It was the last of three bailout packages extended to Greece during its, and the greater eurozone’s, sovereign debt crisis. The first bailout, of 110 bn-euro, came in 2010 following the drafting of austerity measures aimed to decrease Greece’s budget deficit and immense public debt which had just been recalculated to be 13.6 and 113 percent of its GDP respectively. The second, of 109 bn-euro, followed more austerity measures in 2011. And finally, the third came in 2015 with even more austerity measures to which the Greek people decisively voted NO. However, Alexis Tsipras–current Prime Minister and leader of the Syriza party–quickly ‘renegotiated’ the terms of the memorandum, preventing Greece from defaulting on its debt and keeping it in the eurozone (I use quotations again because renegotiations still ended in more austerity for Greece).

All these austerity measures are key to understanding Greece’s response to the ‘refugee crisis’ (I’ll drop the quotations from here on out, y’all get the point). Many people are critical of Greece’s handling of the crisis. However, although the government’s overall sluggish response has led to failures–including human rights violations in detention centers in Athens and hot-spots on greek islands which should not be overlooked–in the end, the government is made up of individuals and many of these individuals want to help but simply can not. Because a coordinated European response is lacking and its neighbors have closed their borders, Greece has been left to handle a lot of the crisis alone, and crises typically cost. From emergency respondents to camp construction, managing the flow of refugees is not cheap and Greece has very little room in its budget to increase its response. Austerity does not allow for more search and rescue crews and asylum personal (i.e. no more public employees when Greece has just agreed to cut down its bloated public sector in exchange for an 86 bn-euro bailout package–the one snapchat covered). Refugee relocation operations and funding measures specifically for the crisis are technically underway within the EU but are both moving extremely slow (to the point where, as of now, nothing said above is different).

Many NGOs have intervened where the Greek government has not, however, they do not have full autonomy to act as they see fit so funds directed towards them end up sitting unused. After all, even if the government has its failures, Greece is still a democracy with a better voter turnout than the US so NGOs can not just act unilaterally within its borders. Unfortunately, the refugee influx has been accompanied by a rise of extremism in Europe and Greece has not been exempt–Golden Dawn, a fascist, xenophobic party which held 0.3 percent of the vote in 2009, has surged to gain 7 percent today. This opposition to immigration, along with political sluggishness in general, prevents any quick response from NGOs that may have more funds to work with than the Greek government.

So far I haven’t mentioned the EU-TU deal agreed upon this past March and to get on with the good part of this (City Plaza!), I won’t. As far as I know, its potentially illegal under EU law and hasn’t been game changing in anyway besides de facto reinforcing the Dublin Regulations, forcing Greece to process everyone who arrives rather than letting some move on into other parts the EU.

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City Plaza has been so effective because it operates outside the context of Greek politics and EU negotiations by empowering refugees to take hold of their own situation (a solution completely overlooked by the savior-victim hierarchy of most NGOs). City Plaza is an abandoned hotel in Athens that has been occupied by the Economic and Political Refugee Solidarity Initiative. As a member said when I visited this week, it has two parts: the physical space and the idea it carries. The physical space is the seven story hotel that has been repurposed to host over 400 people from tens of countries, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. The idea is the political community that is growing from City Plaza–a movement away from the victim centric view of refugees which often disables them in the society they move into by portraying them only as helpless and vulnerable. As my guide, a migrant from Afghanistan now living in Greece for 12 years, said: “breaking away from migrants as refugees that are solely vulnerable needing help means viewing them as individuals not defined by their vulnerabilities”. City Plaza is also reinventing the refugee acceptance process, moving away from only selecting Syrian war refugees whilst turning away Pakistani economic refugees for instance, in an effort to better support diversity in its camp (e.g. various nationalities, equal gender division, families and single migrants, minors and adults). 

City Plaza reminds me of John Steinbeck’s government camp in The Grapes of Wrath. The code of conduct is the same–no alcohol on the premises, no violence, mutual respect–and sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if some Golden Dawn member tried to sabotage it by starting a fake fight. More importantly though, it is a people driven response that is creating change now while larger institutions still struggle in transition. Although migrants from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Pakistan had absolutely no role in creating their current situation (look to the illegal invasion of Iraq or even further back to imperial deals that divided the Middle East between Euro powers like Sykes-Picot for the cause), they are the best at fixing it. Given the opportunity of self-determination, in just a few months they have created something more effective in managing the refugee crisis than the EU has in the years up till this point.

The Whale

“Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began . . . Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?”

– Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Photos taken at Third Beach, Washington.