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
I discovered this video made a year ago via the BYO blog. What really does happen to our recycling after it’s picked up from the curb? Much of it is shipped overseas, when it could be better used to provide jobs and source materials here at home. Using Oakland, Northern California, and the Pacific Rim as a case study, this short film is worth the eye-opening 17 minutes!
Also, if you get the chance, see Manufactured Landscapes, a film screening in theaters right now, which shows, among other things, what actually happens to the recycling (much of it hazardous e-waste) after we ship it to China. Michael and I saw it with some friends last weekend and were blown away by both the beauty and horror of the images.… Read the rest
My plastic waste is up a bit this week. Still using things up. This could take a while. I wonder how much plastic we have accumulated in this house.
So, here’s the tally. Items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:
1 Kleenex pocket pack tissue wrapper.Another one. And I still have quite a few left.
8 Refresh Endura single-use eyedrop containers (#4 plastic).
1 Refresh Endura box wrapper.
3 Santa Cruz organic applesauce cups. (#7 plastic) I have 1 more of these left to use up.
1 Amazing Grace bath soap wrapper.We have a few more plastic-wrapped bars of soap left, and then our soap will be plastic-free. I may even learn to make soap!
1 Garofalo spaghetti wrapper. I have 3 more of these, and then I’ll be buying all my pasta in bulk.
1 Trader Joe’s organic brown rice spaghetti wrapper. See above.
1 So Delicious mini frozen sandwich wrapper. Still have a few left in the box.
1 Middle East Baking Co. pita bag. We have 1 more,… Read the rest
So, we’re supposed to eat locally, right? To save transportation fuel, to support our local farmers, and to limit our pesticide exposure. And I’m very lucky to have a weekly farmer’s market just down the street within walking distance. The irony is that at our small Temescal Farmer’s Market, at least half of the vendors are selling prepared foods in plastic wrap or plastic containers. And the other half, the folks selling actual produce, offer only plastic bags to shoppers.
Now, I do bring my own bags with me so that I don’t have to use a new one. And I’ve also been bringing back my green plastic strawberry basket each week and returning it to the strawberry vendor who sells his strawberries al fresco (as opposed to the other strawberry vendor who encases his in clear plastic containers.) But many customers don’t come with their own bags and must use the new plastic bags that are offered. And it’s disheartening… Read the rest
Why avoid plastic? I originally wrote this post in July 2007, just one month into my plastic-free experiment. It’s now May 2015, and in the past 8 years, I have learned a lot more about plastic — where it comes from and what problems are associated with it. Here, then, is an updated summary of why I am still living plastic-free after all these years.
1) Plastic comes from fossil fuels.
According to the U.S. Energy Energy Information Administration, “plastics are made from liquid petroleum gases (LPG), natural gas liquids (NGL), and natural gas. LPG are by-products of petroleum refining, and NGL are removed from natural gas before it enters transmission pipelines.” In 2010, about 191 million barrels of LPG and NGL and 412 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas were used in the United States to make plastic products.
And as we know, oil and gas are non-renewable resources, which means that if we don’t… Read the rest
Do you all know about your local Freecycle™ group? Freecycle™ is a great way to save plastic, and other items, from the landfill. If you have an item that you no longer need, list it on Freecycle™. There is probably someone else out there who could use it. Need an item and don’t want to purchase a brand new one? Post a WANTED ad on Freecycle™. Maybe someone else has it for you.
Freecycle™ is actually a huge organization of groups that operate pretty independently in each city or area. Each group must follow some basic Freecycle™ rules, but then they can make their own rules regarding things like the number of Wanted postings allowed per month (some groups limit Wanted postings; others do not), whether or not pets can be exchanged, and the format of posts.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am a member of 4 different Freecycle™ groups:
06/10/2013 Update: Several organizations have waged a campaign to get companies to eliminate polyethylene micro-beads from their facial scrubs. Please read my updated post to take action and learn about what other kinds of products contain microplastics.
Here is the text of my original article from July of 2007, which was updated in December 2011:
Say what? The little grains in exfoliating scrubs more often than not are made of plastic these days! Plastic that is meant to be rinsed down the drain, where it enters our waterways and the bodies of aquatic creatures. I almost didn’t believe it when I read it in this article: Polymers Are Forever. So I did a Google search, and this is what I found…
MD Formulations Face & Body Scrub contains polyethylene granules.
Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Face & Body Polish contains micro-fine polyethylene beads.
SkinCeuticals Body Polish contains polyethylene beads.
Helen Pensanti … Read the rest
For weeks, I’ve been choosing frozen entrees in pressboard trays (Pressware®) over those in plastic trays, thinking that the only plastic waste was the film overwrap. Now, I find out that the cardboard tray itself is coated with a layer of PET plastic. I found this out through a very nice e-mail exchange and telephone interview with Stephen Moore, CEO of Helen’s Foods.
Before I continue with the plastic talk, I do want to say that Helen’s Kitchen farfalle & basil pesto with tofu steaks is hands down the best tasting frozen meal I have ever eaten. It’s certified organic, GMO-free, vegetarian, and just plain delicious. It would take me a day to prepare something this good from scratch. So it’s with a heavy heart that I continue my report on the product’s plastic content.
According to Moore, and from research I’ve done online, there is basically no way these days to create a frozen entree without plastic… Read the rest
1 Santa Cruz organic applesauce cup. (#7 plastic) I have 4 more of these left to use up.
2 prescription bottles (both #5 plastic).I asked the pharmacist this week if they could take the bottles back to reuse them and was told no. I think it may be against the law in California for pharmacies to reuse prescription bottles. I don’t know if these are recyclable or not, so I’m keeping them to reuse in some other way.
I just wanted to mention a couple of other alternatives to ready-to-drink soy milk.
Alternative #1: Buy powdered soy milk and mix it yourself. I tried this option last week. I bought bulk Giusto’s powdered soy milk from Rainbow Grocery. (Berkeley Bowl also carries it.) I mixed it up before I’d used up my carton of Wildwood soy milk. By the time I was ready to try it a few days later, the powder had separated from the liquid, and the liquid was fizzy and sour-smelling. Soy milk beer anyone? Down the sink it went.
So I figured that since powdered soy milk, once mixed, doesn’t last as long as the stuff with stabilizers and other fancy additives, I’d mix it as I needed it. For the last few mornings, I’ve mixed up a few ounces of powdered soy milk to lighten my tea. And I gotta say…
It’s chalky, just like you’d probably expect. And it separates in the tea, so you have to keep stirring it. I haven’t tried … Read the rest