I’ve been recycling since the early 1990s and have made a point to buy recycled and recyclable products. We carry reusable grocery bags and keep leftovers in ceramic reusable containers instead of plastic. We don’t buy single use drinks that don’t come in glass or aluminum. We grow a lot of our own vegetables or shop at local farmer’s markets to eliminate waste and packaging. We went back to old fashioned bath soaps produced locally and packaged in paper. We’re committed to composting our food and yard waste. We buy as much food in bulk as we can to reduce packaging waste. We buy used or upcycled products and donate items we no longer need in order to reduce waste. And we recycle every possible thing we can.
However, since Chinese recycling companies stopped taking our plastics last year, I’ve made a commitment this year to work on eliminating single use plastic in every way I can.
In February, when I ran out of shampoo and conditioner, I replaced those empty bottles with bar versions from Ethique.
I bought reusable, compostable beeswax wraps to replace plastic wrap in the kitchen. I bought silicone storage bags to replace the ziplock plastic we have used in the past. I got cloth drawstring bags to take to the grocery store to use for produce instead of the plastic ones the store provides. I bought plant-based, biodegradable kitchen trash bags. And we have a small kitchen compost bin with compostable liners to make it easy to deal with fruit and vegetable scraps. These were not expensive changes to make, and the products are readily available online.
I’ve also actively been looking for skin care products that are not only ethically produced but which are packaged in glass containers with metal lids so every part of it is endlessly reusable. Those are more difficult to find, but the time is well worth spending, and the cost is comparable to other products.
But plastic is far more insidious than we consciously realize. Even if you’re making a point of seeking out foil, paper, and/or compostable packaging, it’s sometimes not obvious that plastic is being used. Nearly all processed foods are packaged with plastic either embedded in the paper wrapping or with a plastic seal over the top. Frozen foods of all kinds all use plastic, often multiple layers of it. While this is done in the name of food safety, the tradeoff is that even if China hadn’t stopped taking our plastic waste, most of this packaging plastic isn’t made to be recyclable.
It’s difficult to combat the flow of plastic that comes into our homes. But it’s difficult primarily because we don’t have alternatives that are convenient or inexpensive. Businesses don’t take eco friendly packaging into consideration for products geared at average consumers. As a result, there aren’t a lot of options on a wide range of products, unless you make a concerted effort to seek out alternatives. That requires time and effort and money many people don’t have.
Glass was once the dominant container for most items in the grocery store. Most people began buying single use plastics not because we wanted them but because companies shifted their products into that type of packaging because it was cheaper to produce and lighter to ship, leaving us with no other options. But the environmental cost of that decision has been devastating to our planet.
We can’t continue living a plastic life. Our planet is not disposable. All that plastic doesn’t just go away. It lingers for centuries. Every ketchup packet used for take out is still around, filling landfills or settling to the bottom of the ocean. We use it for thirty seconds, but it will remain unchanged, choking the life from this planet for hundreds of years into the future. Is it still convenient if it never goes away?
Change can happen, however. If manufacturers see that customers are passionately opposed to something they’re doing, particularly if they voice that opposition on social media where that complaint can gain traction, they will alter what they’re doing and cave to pressure in order to retain market competitiveness.
That’s why I’m not willing to sit back and wait for companies to change their ways on their own. I’m committing to asking about their packaging on Amazon, saying things like “Why is this product packaged in plastic rather than recyclable glass/aluminum/paper?” or “Why are there no bulk options for your product that don’t use individualized plastic wrappers which can’t be recycled?” I ask in the grocery store if they have products that don’t use plastic packaging, and voice my concerns to the store owners directly. When I see ads for products on Facebook or Twitter, and it’s obvious they’re using single use plastics, I comment beneath the post about their choice and voice my reasons why I won’t buy their product until they change their ways.
Yep. I’m that person. I’m going to keep being that person, and I won’t apologize for it. Because it matters for the future of our planet and for the survival of our entire species. I’ll keep speaking up because it’s necessary.
This strategy works. In response to consumer pressure, ALDI is removing single use plastics from the products they sell. After customers pushed for it, IKEA has announced plans to ship products in compostable protective packaging rather than styrofoam. Several cities have banned single use plastics, and the state of Maine banned single use plastic food and drink containers. More are following that trend as awareness grows.
One person changing their shopping habits isn’t going to change the world. But money talks, and if enough people voice their concerns publicly and give pushback against manufacturers so they see it’s going to hurt their bottom line for them to continue making unethical, unsustainable decisions, companies will change what they’re doing. Big corporations rely on our product loyalty, and they will change if they see that loyalty is in jeopardy.
Speak up, and help put an end to single use plastic.
Saying that 2018 was eventful is a huge understatement.
My mom and I were busy traveling to local events as well as several in other parts of the country, and we even went as far as Romania to attend the International Vampire Film and Arts Festival (Some photos from these events are shown below.).
This year is shaping up to be extremely busy as well, and I’ll be on the road (and in the air) a lot. Every month has a major event planned, and I’m thrilled about all of them.
Looks like my suitcase will get a workout.
Sadly, I won’t be able to do everything I wish. I will have to leave StokerCon, Scares That Care, and my beloved Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat for 2020. There just isn’t time and money enough to go to all of the things I’m interested in. I will miss all the folks there, but I promise to be back in the future.
If you see me out at any of this year’s events, don’t be surprised if I have a notebook or laptop beside me. I’ve got several big projects happening this year too. I’m writing two books (Book Four, Flesh and Blood, comes out this fall and the other is still to be determined), producing the audiobooks of the first three novels in The Blood Royal Saga, and Eagle Heights Press will be publishing some other people’s books as well. There are a few other things in the works that I’m not quite ready to discuss yet, but I’ll be talking more about all of the above as they progress, so be on the lookout for those announcements.
The next installment of The Blood Royal Saga is underway. Book Four will be entitled Flesh And Blood, kicking off the next story arch, and I anticipate its release in the Fall of 2019.
To celebrate, I’ve not only made a new cover for the upcoming book, but I’ve also given the rest of the books in the series a fresh new look. It’s been nearly two years since the release of In The Blood, and I thought it was time for a makeover! Hope you enjoy!
I’ve been away from the blogging habit for a while now, spending time focusing on writing books and keeping the things I used to post here in a private journal instead. The last few years have been a whirlwind for me, ushering in huge changes in my life. After a lifetime of working for other people, some of which was literally organized by bells marking the passage of time, becoming my own boss was a huge adjustment. I’d never had the flexibility of setting my own schedule. I didn’t know which hours were my peak hours. I didn’t know how to plan my time accurately. I didn’t know how to find a good work/life balance.
Before I began working from home, I thought I’d done my homework. I’d read books and articles on it. I knew friends who had made the leap. And as for the writing part of it, well, that was easy, wasn’t it? I mean, I had written a first draft of my novel in my spare time while working a full time job and doing some side hustles too. If I was working at it full time, I could easily finish a book every couple of weeks at the pace I normally wrote.
A lot of people think of working for yourself as though it’s like a day off – sitting around at home in your pajamas, listening to music, watching YouTube videos, scrolling through social media while your pet does something cute.
Okay, yes, I’ve done my fair share of that, but most of my time is spent actually working.
Don’t believe me? Okay. Imagine this.
You hear about a place other people like to go. It sounds exotic, and you read up about it on the internet. You watch Rick Steves videos about how quaint the little towns are. You look up how to cook some of the local cuisine. You even learn a little of the language. Finally, you decide it’s time to visit. You buy your plane ticket and reserve your hotel room, and finally the day comes and off you go. Once you arrive in this virtual paradise, you walk around, see the sights, meet some locals, and you think “wow, it would be great to live here.” So you quit your job, pack your things, and move to that magical place. But you don’t know where the good grocery store is, and you didn’t realize how bad the traffic would be, plus the rent is really steep and no one in the area is hiring at anything approaching a living wage. It’s no longer a hobby. You’re not visiting. You live there.
That’s what it’s like starting your own business working from home, especially if you’re a creative person.
You’ll have weeks when you repeatedly wake up, sit down at your desk, eat meals there, and stay until it’s time to go to bed. Working from home is not like a day off at all. It’s the workday that never ends, and if your desk is in your living space, you never really have downtime at all unless your friends, family, or significant others force you out of that space. There is a continual sense that you don’t have enough time.
Every action that requires leaving the house is an interruption. It means taking time to put on pants, for goodness sake! That’s a whole hour of work you’ll miss out on while you’re doing frivolous things like choosing what to wear in public or ensuring that your hair doesn’t look like a haystack.
I knew how to do project management. I knew how to write long projects and how to do the tasks that were required for publishing them. I even knew some things about bookkeeping (though I had a lot of room to learn in that department). But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had no idea what I’d signed up for.
It’s been nearly four years now since I took that leap, and I’ve learned a few things in that time.
As I was putting away my suitcase, I realized I won’t need it again until next spring. I’ve traveled so much this year, I needed a moment to let it sink in that I don’t have any more business trips for the next three months, at least. Whew.
It’s a funny thing, writing a series of books. I knew all along what the last chapter would be, but I was as surprised as anyone else with some of the parts in between. I’ve lived with the story and those characters for so long, I’m not quite sure how to handle not having the urgency behind me to reach the finish line. I’ve worked so hard for so long, and now it’s out there in the world, for better or worse (hopefully, for better). It’s time for me to take a break and write something else for a little while (next year I’ll be working on a stand alone project), but I’m glad I don’t have to say goodbye to my characters for good. I have outlines for much more to come.
Construction is moving steadily on in the office space. Today, they put down subflooring and started work on my roof overhang. Tomorrow, they’ll finish that job and get started on the siding. After that, it’s on to the interior. Wahoo! I can’t wait.
Meanwhile, I’ve been taking care of errands this week, getting a checkup, and generally doing some of the things around the house I haven’t had time to do since my publishing journey began.
On Thursday, I’m at the St. Louis Public Library, and on Saturday, October 27, I’m at the Boonslick Regional Library for a Halloween talk about Dracula and vampires in general. Yay for books!
Next month, I’ll be working on an exciting new book project with my cousin Brianna Carlson and there’s a local author event at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia.
In December, I’m on vacation all month long (the office move will happen then, I hope), and also the audiobook will begin production with Tiffany Flynn. I’m totally thrilled about that too!
That sounds like a lot, I know, but the pace will actually be MUCH more relaxed through the end of the year. I’m grateful for all the good things this year has brought, but I’m ready to have time to catch my breath before I start my next big thing next year.
It’s been a long road to get to this point, but I know it’s only the first stop in a lifelong journey.
Thank you for coming along with me. And for those of you who are new to the series, welcome aboard.
One week until Trial By Blood is available for readers everywhere! The book comes out October 13, and if you preorder now, you’ll have it on the release day!
I’m extremely proud of this third book in The Blood Royal Saga.
Trial By Blood is more exhilarating, more edgy, more suspenseful, more thrilling, and I truly think it will give a satisfying sense of closure to this first story arch.
From here, there are lots of other roads I can take for future adventures in this story world, and that’s exciting too.
Fall is a busy season for me, and I’ll be traveling all around the midwest to meet readers everywhere.
Find me at the 18th Annual Twin Cities Book Festival on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, October 13 (10am-5pm).
Admission and parking is free, and you can even get free metro tickets to the event.
I’ll be at the downtown location of the Saint Louis Public Library, Thursday October 18th (6pm-8:30pm), for a Not So Quiet! Event with a free concert by DRACLA. I’ll be signing books in the main lobby. Have your selfie taken with Marie and pick up some treats while you’re there.
On Saturday, October 27 (10am), I’ll be at the Boonslick Regional Library in Boonville to discuss my Search For Dracula as well as the folklore origins of the vampire myth.
Marie will be there, and I’ll have Halloween treats and fangs, as well as copies of all three books in The Blood Royal Saga.
I’m going to be at the Daniel Boone Regional Library’s Local Authors Open House, Saturday, November 17 (10 am-1 pm). Come by, say hi, and pick up some new books by some amazing local writers.