Think we can't live without plastic? Think again. In 2007 I committed to stop buying any new plastic & I've almost succeeded! Won't you join me? Let's see what plastic-free looks like today… for the health of our bodies, our oceans, our planet. ~Beth Terry
A measure to ban plastic bags from grocery stores and other large retailers in Oakland was unanimously passed by a key City Council committee Tuesday.
The measure, which is very similar to a ban adopted in San Francisco, will be sent on to the full council next week and if approved will take effect in August.
I’m not just keeping my fingers crossed. Here’s my letter to my city councilmember, Jane Brunner today:
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 14:46:11 -0700 (PDT)
From: “Beth Terry”
Subject: plastic recycling in Oakland
To: “Jane Brunner” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Councilmember Brunner,
I have 2 reasons for writing:
1) I read in the San Francisco Chronicle that on Tuesday an Oakland City Council committee unanimously passed a measure to ban plastic bags from grocery stores and other large retailers. The article says that the measure will be sent on to the… Read the rest
Just like Whole Foods, this natural pharmacy contains very few items that are not packaged in plastic. Recycled toilet paper in plastic. Recycled napkins in plastic. Natural cellulose sponges in plastic. Natural cleaning products in plastic. Natural cosmetics, drugs, foods, bric-a-brac in plastic. Here are the few plastic-free items that I found and bought:
2 boxes of BioBags, 3 gallon size. BioBags are made from corn and are 100% biodegradable and compostable. We are going to use them in our kitchen garbage can instead of the plastic grocery bags that we have been using. Hopefully, we won’t be putting much into them anyway. We put all of our food waste into the green compost bin; we put all of our paper, cans, and curbside-recyclable plastic into the gray recycling bin; and since the beginning of this plastic project, I have been saving all the non-recyclable plastic “for later.”
The Pasta Shop in Market Hall Foods. Or as my friend calls it, Markup Hall. It’s pricy, alright. But they do have bulk pasta! All different shapes and sizes! And Market Hall is only a few short blocks from my house right near the Rockridge BART station. Unfortunately, they only offer the standard roll of plastic bags near the bulk pasta. But if you ask at the counter, they will give you paper bags. It was very crowded today, so I didn’t want to try and get into a discussion about bags. I’ll find a less busy time (if there is one) to approach the manager about putting out paper bags as an alternative to the plastic. Most customers will simply take what’s available rather than ask for something different.
At Market Hall’s Cheese Shop, I asked to have my cheese sliced to order and wrapped in paper. However, the merchant wasn’t really clear on the concept. When I got my paper-wrapped cheese home and opened up the wrapper, I … Read the rest
04/14/2008 Update: If you’ve reached this page because you want to know how to recycle Brita filter cartridges in North America, please visit http://www.takebackthefilter.org for more information about the campaign to urge Clorox (owner of Brita in North America) to develop a take-back recycling program for these cartridges!
So I really need your input on this one! What method of water filtration do you use and why? Are you able to recycle the filter? One of the items in my plastic waste pile from last week was a very heavy used Brita water filter cartridge. What to do with it? I checked Brita’s web site and found out that in Britain, they have a recycling program. However, there was no mention of recycling on the U.S. web site, so I sent the following letter and received the following response:
To date, my favorite brand of soy milk has been Silk. In fact, they have a green energy program. The irony is that the symbol of that green energy program is a green plastic cap on the soy milk carton. The name of the campaign: “Green Caps for Green Energy.” As I mentioned in my review of Whole Foods, it’s hard to find soy milk packaged without some plastic. So last week, I sent a note via the contact form on Silk’s web site, and this is the response I received today:
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2007
From: “Beth Terry”
Hi. I am trying very hard to eliminate plastic waste from my life. I have 2 questions regarding Silk soy milk in the carton.
First, is there any plastic coating on the carton? I have been told that today, many milk cartons contain a plastic coating rather than wax. What is the story with Silk?
Second, why is it necessary to have a plastic screw cap on a milk carton? The whole time I was growing up, we opened our milk cartons on … Read the rest
We are no longer in Paradise, kids. I tried to purchase the domain name plasticparadise.com last night, and of course it was not available. It’s actually a directory of plastic items for sale! Not my kind of Plastic Paradise. So I puzzled and puzzled over P words until my puzzler was sore. I went to bed and puzzled some more. Then, some time early this morning, it came to me in a flash: Fake Plastic Fish. Say what?
Just think about all the plastic food you see in the windows of restaurants… especially Japanese restaurants. Plastic food is BIG BUSINESS, and for me it symbolizes what our plastic culture has become. The plastic food in the window often looks better than the actual food on our plates. Here’s an interesting article about the craft of plastic food making in Japan: Plastic Food To Savor With The Eyes.
In the past, fake food was made from wax, as the article explains. Nowadays, it’s made from plastic. So the fake fish on the… Read the rest
I took a walk to the Rockridge Long’s today, or as my friend Christine calls it, the Mother Ship Long’s. It’s huge. With a huge nursery/ gardening center. I wanted to find out if I could buy plants, soil, fertilizer, and other plant necessities in non-plastic containers. Here’s what I found:
1) Plants — just as at Whole Foods, Long’s sells herbs and vegetables in Eco-Form pots, but all the other plants are sold in plastic. I’ll be sticking to seeds until I can find a way to buy plants without plastic.
2) Soil — Nope. Not a single bag of any kind of soil in non-plastic. How do people avoiding plastic obtain potting soil? I won’t be planting anything new until I figure this out.
I took a notebook, pen, and some canvas bags with me today and went on a fact-finding mission to Whole Foods Market on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. I wanted to find out what non-plastic options were available at this hipster natural foods mecca. And mostly what I found were shelves and shelves and shelves of plastic. Unless you stick to the produce or bulk foods sections, which inhabit about 1/4 of the store, you will find it difficult to find much in this store that is not contained in or does not contain some type of plastic. So, here’s a run-down, section by section.
1) Outside — the garden section. I was curious to find out if I would be able to purchase plants for my roof garden that were not contained in plastic pots. While Whole Foods does carry herbs and vegetables grown in biodegradable Eco-Forms pots, all non-edible flowers and plants come in plastic. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to buy another shrub or if must stick to planting … Read the rest
6/20/2007: Nearly all frozen dinners are packaged with some kind of plastic. I say “nearly” because I have not checked them all out. I suspect they all are. The dilemma for me is that I don’t like to cook, and frozen meals are so convenient, and the organic ones that you can get at Whole Foods are actually nutritious or at least better than Lean Cuisine.
Most of the commercial brands come in a plastic tray with a sheet of plastic over the top. Right off the bat, I’ll eliminate those from my diet without hesitation. The healthier brands like Amy’s Kitchen or Organic Bistro (Chicken Citron on Spinach with Herbed Quinoa and Sundried Tomato Edamame. YUM!) come packed in a biodegradable cardboard tray or bowl with either plastic wrap on the top or, in the case of Amy’s, a plastic overwrap which surrounds the entire bowl. At a loss as to whether to continue purchasing these meals, I sent the following letter to Amy’s… Read the rest
Inspired by EnviroWoman’s blog, “Living Plastic Free In 2007” [which has now been discontinued], and by the mountains of plastic waste that I lug into San Francisco to my friend Red’s recycling bin (since Oakland has very limited plastic recycling), and since I have too much free time on my hands while recovering from surgery, I’ve decided to take on my own plastic project. I’m especially motivated by the following heartbreaking photo and article:
This is what happens to much of the plastic that we throw away each day. It ends up inside sea birds and fish and kills them. And makes sensitive chicks like me cry. Plastic Ocean
But I am not making a vow to give up all plastic this year or any year. My project will be a bit different from some of the more extreme “resolution” blogs out there. Instead, I’m looking at this as more of a learning experience… for me and for anyone who cares to follow… Read the rest