Direction, Not Perfection

This week I reached out to a mentor of mine, Ruchi Koval (she’s an inspiring author and speaker), with a question about teshuvah. How should I approach doing teshuva for not having kept a mitzvah 100 percent if I still don’t think 100 percent is achievable for me in 5781, I asked. She wrote back, “I think you should make a commitment to improve in a way that is realistic. The goal is direction, not perfection.” When I looked at it that way, I could immediately identify three realistic ways I could improve in that area. 

This blog also definitely has room for improvement! Looking back now on the first six months of the Bal Tashchit Balabusta, I would like to have gotten on a firm posting schedule, and I missed my goal of three posts per month. I’m not sure if either of those things will change in the next six months, but I know I can do some things better than I have been doing them until now. I can also make additional changes to move toward a more sustainable way of life. So here’s a look back at updates to my first six months of blog posts. (All these updates are also noted on the posts themselves.)

In my first post to the blog, I talked about greening up my mishloach manot. I’m already planning next year’s ecologically conscious MM, but I probably won’t be using beeswax wrap that I used again. I find that it just doesn’t stick reliably enough. 

We’re still paper-towel free, but I have found that towels, even when cut with pinking shears, tend to unravel around the edges after a few washes. In the long-term, I hope to learn to sew on a machine so I can finish the edges, but for now, I just trim the loose threads when they start to bother me and toss the rags that have gotten too small to be useful. 

In my third post to the blog, I talked about the creative reuse of food containers. I continue to do this, and I’ve made it easier (and a bit more aesthetically pleasing) by adding removable chalkboard labels to indicate what’s in the container. I also talked about removing labels from jars so they can be used again and recommended using Goof Off cleaner. I now use a combination of heat from a hairdryer to soften up the adhesive. After I’ve removed the label, I apply a paste of equal parts coconut oil and baking soda. Smooth it on, let stand, then scrub off. I find a bamboo scrubber to be a very helpful tool for this job. It’s much less toxic than using unpronounceable chemicals!

Fermenting tomato seeds to plant in the spring

In April, I posted about ways to reuse old shirts. Since then, I refined my design for a Soap Sleeve (a hangable soap holder), cutting a thicker piece at the top for hanging/tying and simply tying the sleeve closed rather than sewing it. 

Sedum. Photo by Martijn Hendrikx on Unsplash

The low-waste table-top garden I planted to cheer myself up thrived over the summer. Along with wildflowers and cosmos from seeds and pretty greens from the tops of carrots I sprouted on my windowsill, I grew three kinds of sedum from cutting my sister-in-law mailed me. On Labor Day, I planted all three in one of my flower beds. They should come back in the spring (one of the things I am working on for the coming gardening season is to avoid buying plants in plastic pots, either by growing things from seeds or cuttings or working out plant swaps via Facebook groups or Craigslist).

Some of the things I’ll be working on in 5781 are low-waste organization and more upcycling (including crafts with kids). If there is some low-waste living area that you’re particularly interested in, drop me a comment. If I have anything in the works for that topic, I can move it to the top of my queue. 


Click here to see the full list of changes I’ve blogged about, and their impact.

Amazon bag ban carbon emissions celery Chanuka Chanukah Chanukka Chanukkah COVID disinfect donuts doughnuts elul energy food waste frum Hannukah Hanukka Hanukkah jewish lag b'omer landfill lashon hara laundry line dry low-waste mishloach manos mishloach manot orthodox passover pesach plastic purim recycle recycling reduce retail therapy reusable reuse shopping single-use teshuva washcloth water zero-waste

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