Monthly Archives: August 2007

Weekend Discussion Question: The Crazy, The Weird, & The Just Plain Useless

I’m getting ready to pack up and leave for Anaheim, CA. By the time you read this, I should already be there. Please send me some nice thoughts on Monday as I am doing my little experiment to see just how much punishment an insufficiently trained body can endure during a half marathon. I’m taking bets. Who thinks I’ll still be able to walk around Disneyland afterwards and who thinks I’ll need to be pushed in a wheelchair?

Who thinks ibuprofen is a good thing even if it comes in a plastic bottle?

I probably won’t blog while I’m down there, but I’ll be taking all kinds of notes on plastics while traveling, plastics in theme parks, plastics in hotels, etc. I’ll post my weekly tally some time on Tuesday after I get back.

So for now, I leave you with the weekend discussion question. Here’s the setup: this week, Michael forwarded me an article from the San Francisco Chronicle, written by a guy so flabbergasted… Read the rest

Store Report: Berkeley Bowl (a response to my letter)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve seen me mention Berkeley Bowl quite a few times. Besides the farmers markets and CSAs, it’s the place to go in the East Bay for produce and bulk foods. A huge store, it caters to those looking for organic, local foods, as well those desiring more exotic fare. It also carries products for mainstream shoppers who just want their Lean Cuisine. I think Berkeley Bowl tries to be all things to all people (although, as you’ll see below, they deny it), and therefore, it’s sometimes great and sometimes falls short.

Berkeley Bowl’s produce department is huge. Their web site says that it’s the largest in Northern California. Unlike Rainbow Grocery, which has a decent produce department of all-organics but also encourages its customers to shop at the farmer’s markets instead, Berkeley Bowl overflows with everything from 30 kinds of locally-grown tomatoes… Read the rest

Reducing Plastic Waste In The Workplace

In addition to blogging about plastic, knitting animals from grocery bags, and training for a half marathon (okay, that one is kind of a fib), I have an actual job in an office. I run the accounting department of a small home care agency in the Bay Area. (What, you couldn’t guess I’m an accountant from the graphs and itemized lists?) And one of the things that I noticed when I returned to the office after starting this project is that we had been tossing out an awful lot of plastic.

We have a little kitchen and make our own lunches. But the “tableware” we use is mainly paper or plastic. Numerous plastic knives, forks, spoons, and cups are thrown away every weekday, so I decided to provide an alternative. First, I went to a thrift store and purchased a bunch of cheap, stainless steel cutlery. I also bought a (plastic) basket to hold it. Since the basket came from Goodwill, I felt fine about reusing it for this purpose.

My main concern was… Read the rest

A House Full of Plastic

Beth, for someone trumpeting about giving up plastic, you sure have a lot of plastic in your house. Just look at this. What gives?

Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve brought something to the office in a plastic container and received the response, “Beth! That’s plastic! I thought you were against plastic!” And some of my attempts to explain that I either bought the item at a thrift store or I am using something I already had have been met with blank stares or outright skepticism. So I feel like I need to spell out, for the sake of clarity, what my goals are in this project and the guidelines I’ve come up with for myself in order to reach those goals.

Fake Plastic Fish Goals:

To reduce the need for new plastic to be produced since petroleum is a non-renewable, polluting resource, and the production of plastic wreaks havoc on our eco-system in all sorts of ways. To keep existing plastic out of our waterways and landfills… Read the rest

Uh oh! Rethinking Jar Lids

After all my hoopla about using hydrogen peroxide to clean the inside of tomato sauce jar lids, I’m now having second thoughts. Sorry to get prematurely excited.

A few days ago, after “bleaching” the tomato stains out of a couple of lids with hydrogen peroxide, I noticed that the smell was not completely gone. So I added another round of hydrogen peroxide and left them in the sun some more. Well, this time, not only did the tomato break down, but so did the coating on the inside of the lid! And that got me thinking…

Could the coating on the inside of prepared foods jar lids be the same stuff (polycarbonate) that lines the insides of aluminum cans these days? And if so, does using hydrogen peroxide on it cause it to leach Bisphenol-A?

I’ve been trying to find information on the web about what that coating is, but I’m having a hard time finding a definitive answer. So I sent e-mails to several companies (Classico, Newman’sRead the rest

Week 10 Results: 5.6 oz of plastic

Week 10 plastic tally. Blogger collects plastic waste and tallies plastic trash in a attempt to live a plastic-free life.

Weekend Discussion Question

For which plastic item are you having the hardest time finding an alternative?

My biggest challenge at the moment is to find a replacement for our Brita faucet filter. We are on our last plastic cartridge. Recall my unsatisfying e-mail exchange with Brita. Their cartridges are recyclable in Europe but not in the U.S., where presumably there is no legal pressure to recycle them.

What is your biggest challenge? … Read the rest

Finally! How to clean pasta sauce jar lids Plus a handy cleaning tool I found

8/28/07 Update: It turns out that cleaning pasta sauce jar lids with hydrogen peroxide is not such a good idea. H202 eats through the coating inside the jar lid. Read more here.

Pasta sauce jars would be a great replacement for plastic food storage containers, if it weren’t for the tomato stain and smell that penetrates the rubbery inside of the lid and causes any food in the jar to take on the taste and smell of the sauce. (Tomato-flavored soy milk, anyone?) For weeks, I tried everything I could think of to clean them out (short of chlorine bleach, which we don’t buy) to no avail. Things I tried: white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, salt, vinegar and baking soda, lemon juice and baking soda, dish soap, scrubbing really hard. I even found a web page dedicated to this very topic, but none of the non-bleach suggestions worked for me.

And then I remembered reading somewhere a few weeks ago about leaving them out in the sun to get the smell out. So… Read the rest

Plastic-Free Shaving with a Metal Safety Razor

Do I look like an antique to you? I must have been twelve or thirteen years old the first time I shaved my legs. I used my dad’s safety razor, just like the one in the picture. But times have changed, and you can’t buy these at the drugstore anymore. I got this one for ten dollars at a local antique store, a great way to find out how they did things in the good old pre-plastic days.

I’ve been using this razor for nearly one month. In fact, I’ve been using the same blade the whole time too. At this rate, the box of 100 safety razor blades that I bought from eBay could last me 8 years! Of course, I don’t shave every day, so your mileage may vary. But just think of all the plastic cartridges and packaging that I am not throwing away.

I waited a month before reporting on this razor because I wanted to make sure I could really use it without hurting myself. It does take a bit of getting used to if you’ve been shaving with light-weight plastic… Read the rest

Direct Action, Part 2: Temescal Farmer’s Market, Revisited

It’s me and Tina, the fake plastic fish, after lying awake for hours Saturday night, stumbling out of bed at 6am, and lugging a card table and folding chair on a mini hand truck half a mile down the street to the Temescal Farmer’s Market. We are located in a great spot in the “free speech” area where shoppers enter and exit the market. We have our table set up and photos displayed. We are psyched and ready to go! Well, I am. Tina is just hanging out, which isn’t much different from what real fish do.

As it turned out, I didn’t need the chair. I spent the entire four hours on my feet handing out “Don’t Think About A Plastic Bag” flyers as folks passed by, with a friendly, “Can I give you some information about plastic?” As I expected, the reactions were mixed: some took the flyer politely; others outright refused or looked away; a few started to walk away until they heard the word “plastic”… Read the rest