Second Blog Post

The countdown has begun! I depart on Aug 20th and I have 5 more shifts to get through at work.

Hilary's packing scattered on the floor

The "packing" has begun. I can't really call it packing, as it's just me throwing things I know I will need into a giant pile in my room. My friend Deirdre expressed surprise that I am a day before packer; however, I explained that since I don't actually have a lot of clothes due to my minimalist tendencies, it's actually hard to pack earlier than the day before because I'm wearing everything!

This time around my packing has definitely been aided by a few friends who's come to the rescue and loaned me stuff (Patti for the bag, Shelly for the water bottle), and Sarah for her no nonsense packing advice! Plus the ultra small sleeping bag and liner for Africa! By borrowing a lot of the major items, I've certainly saved a ton of money, and it's been environmentally friendly.

Speaking of environmentally friendly, I've been making a real effort to reduce the amount of plastic and waste associated with this trip. It's been a difficult balancing act around weight and space, but so far I've been able to borrow, refill, get second hand, or have plastic free alternatives of the following items:

  1. Refilled plastic containers for conditioner, face soap, and laundry soap from the Soap Dispensary. This was awesome because I got to give my friends' plastic bottles a second go around, and saved having to buy new ones and create waste. While I know I can't pack 4 months of conditioner in my bag and the likelihood I will find a refill shop in Minsk is slim, at least I can keep these 3 containers out of the landfill a little longer and reuse them once.
  2. Bringing 2 of my own homemade shampoo bars. Package free!
  3. Borrowed a plastic Nalgene water bottle from Shelly, saving me having to buy a new one. A glass water bottle just wouldn't be practical in my luggage, so it's great to have a used one.
  4. The Diva menstrual cup. I've been a huge advocate of these for 10 years, for both the environmental and cost saving pieces. Small ick factor, large reward. I never travel without it.
  5. My reusable glass mug. I did buy it new, but this is a travel environmental saver! It saves styrofoam on the plane, can be used a water glass anywhere, and cuts down immensely on waste.
  6. Plastic travel adaptors. I haven't been able to find a plastic free alternative, so like the water bottle it's great to get a bunch second hand.
  7. Metal travel utensils are super handy
  8. Sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner

And here's what I've been NOT successful when it comes to being plastic free...We can all use improvement, so here are my areas when it comes to packing. These are the last outposts of my attempts to become plastic free with my cosmetics.

  1. Toothpaste. I've been using refillable toothpaste for about 8 months now and it's great. I take my glass jar to the Soap Dispensary and refill!'s heavy. Very heavy in the context of 20kg of weight and having to pack from 0 degrees to 35 degrees in 50L. Toothpaste is something I can get there, and I just don't have the space to pack a heavy glass jar. The only small sliver of saving grace is that my friend Sarah gave me her 3/4 used tube of it to use so technically it's second hand...?
  2. Deodorant. I've made the switch from anti-persperant to deodorant, and I tried some natural deodorants but they just didn't work for me. So I haven't made the leap yet to refillable deodorant, and as a result have the plastic one here.
  3. Sunscreen. I actually did try and have this refilled, but unfortunately it was too thick for the containers I had brought to use it in. My friend offered to make some, but I am very cautious with sunscreen due to my history as a lifeguard where I was young and dumb and got many bad sunburns in dumb attempts to tan. What I would say to my 20 year old self now! So sunscreen I don't mess with.
  4. Face lotion. I have a history of bad skin, and this lotion with SPF in it has just worked for me and I'm a wuss and don't want to change.

As this is only a 3 month assignment with a few weeks in Africa afterwards, I'm trying to tell myself that I don't need much. I was corrected by a friend of mine who informed me that, actually, Minsk would be quite cold by the date I leave in Nov and I was certainly not going to get away with a rain jacket. My packing has thus shifted, but I am determined to get it into 50L. Foodstuffs has taken a backseat, as I figure 3 months isn't that long. Only 1 bag of coffee is making the cut this time!

So here's to getting in enough clothing to get me from freezing to sweating, and enjoying the last eats of Vancouver! This time next week, I'll be over the Atlantic on my way to Frankfurt, then Minsk.