Sunday morning, a week ago, I’m sitting in a cottage in Berkeley with nine other people, eyes closed, watching my breath as thoughts come and go. It’s a meditation retreat, yes, but it’s more than that, and I’m attempting to let go of the agenda I arrived with and relax into the moment. Twenty minutes later, the bell rings, and it is time to introduce ourselves, share food, and plan environmental actions, from a place of centered compassion rather agitation or anger.
The group is the East Bay chapter of Green Sangha, and this is my first time attending their monthly meeting. It’s one of the first moments of real calm I have experienced since I began my plastics project, and I can tell that this communion of like-minded, open-hearted people is what I need.
Green Sangha was founded in 2000 by Jonathan Gustin, who was “concerned about the subtle hostility he found in many peace groups and the ensuing burnout that activism… Read the rest
Plastic is not healthy for humans or bears. (Just look at the stoicism in his eyes as Bear helps me present this week’s tally.) The weight is up a bit this week as I say, “Goodbye,” to the very last bit of plastic toilet paper packaging. Here’s the list:
Non-recyclable items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:
8 Refresh Endura single-use eye drop containers (#4 plastic).
1 outer wrapper from a box of Refresh Endura eye drops.
1 outer bag from a package of Trader Joe’s “Just A Handful Of Dry-Roasted Almonds” individual servings. I found this bag in the back of the refrigerator. It’s hard to believe there was a time when I would buy a bagful of individual bags of nuts.
7 individual plastic bags of Trader Joe’s “Just A Handful Of Dry-Roasted Almonds.” See above.
1 plastic wrap from from around the neck of a bottle of Act fluoride rinse.
I want to try a new thing on the weekends, but first, I need to know how many people actually check this blog on the weekends. (My stats page shows that readership goes down somewhat on the weekends, so I’m not sure if I should blog on those days or give it a rest.) So part 1 of this post is a little poll:
If there is enough interest, I’d like to pose a discussion question each weekend. I’ve been getting great comments from readers, both in the comments section of the blog and also through private email. I wonder if we could expand the discussion to create more of a forum?
The main criterion for participating would be that you need to write your answers as a comment that others can read rather than emailing me privately. I understand that many folks don’t want to provide Blogger with their personal information, and you don’t have to. You can click “Anonymous.” But there is an even better… Read the rest
11/01/2012 Update: This is an old post. Seventh Generation has since replaced the product mentioned in this post with this one: http://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Generation-Bathroom-Tissue-Sheets/dp/B007636DIW/. The pack of 60 500-sheet 2-ply rolls and the pack of 60 1,000-sheet 1-ply rolls are the new subscribe and save, plastic-free options. I will check them out and blog more about them at a later date. Beth
Eureka! One more plastic problem solved! I’ve been leaning towards Seventh Generation individually wrapped 2-ply rolls of toilet paper because they are not only plastic-free, but they also contain the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content I’ve been able to find. The drawback was that this toilet paper is more expensive per roll than the Quilted Northern that we’d been flushing away for years. $1.35 per roll at Rainbow Grocery and .99 per roll at Berkeley Bowl.
I’ve mentioned Rainbow Grocery in quite a few posts, and now I’m going to explain it, so those folks who are not lucky enough to live in the SF Bay Area will know what I’m talking about. Rainbow Grocery makes me wish I still lived in San Francisco. There’s a certain familiar smell and feel that I can only describe as “crunchy” that takes me back to the early 90’s when I’d first moved to San Francisco from Maryland and everything was new and wonderful. And even though Rainbow is no longer in its former location in the Mission District, it still has the same dreadlock-sporting, tattoo-wearing, shaved head, tie-dyed, just rolled out of bed looking staff and customers that make me feel so at home. (Even though I don’t actually look like any of them anymore.)
See the “staff” are all owners of this co-op grocery store, as well as workers. So it’s like it kind of is their home, sort of.… Read the rest
Just because I think plastic bags should be re-used multiple times doesn’t mean I want new ones literally showing up on my doorknob, but that’s just what happened a few days ago. I came home to find this advertising piece from Comcast hanging there in a plastic bag. Talk about instant irritation! “Holy crap!” I shouted to no one in particular. “I go through all this effort to bring my own bags so I don’t have to tote new ones home, and then the bags start coming to me!”
Well, I hadn’t written one of my busy-body e-mails in a while, so last night I sat down to do just that:
Do it like Mea and Jerry of Draper Farms did it this past Saturday night.
1) Invite 100 of your closest friends to your organic farm in beautiful Marin County, CA. (Or 20 friends to your house in the burbs. Or 2 people to your studio apartment in the city. The size of the crowd and the location is no object here.)
2) Arrange long tables outside (or small tables inside) with cloth tablecloths. You can pick them up at a thrift store or Freecycle if you don’t want to use your nice ones outside.
3) Ask your guests to bring a plastic-free dish to share. (Mea and Jerry did not actually request plastic-free in their invitation, but surprisingly, there was very little plastic waste at the end of the night. It must be a testament to the types of friends they have. Others of us might not be so lucky.)
Michael and I brought a pasta salad (spiral tri-colored pasta, olive oil, lemon juice, jalapeno-stuffed olives, cherry tomatoes, roasted orange & yellow peppers,… Read the rest
I love wine. I really do. And I’ve drunk a fair amount of it during the weeks since I started my plastic project. But it wasn’t until I read this article a couple of days ago that it occurred to me that some of the wine corks I’ve pulled have been made of plastic! And those plastic corks didn’t even make it into my weekly tallies. Good lord, was I drunk or something??? How could I have missed them?
Fortunately, I like to save my wine stoppers, so I was able to pull out my collection and count them up. For the record, there are 31 cork stoppers and 11 plastic stoppers: 26% plastic!
So why are plastic corks, in addition to all the usual plastic problems, threatening endangered animals? Because they compete with natural Mediterranean cork forests, which not only provide humans with stoppers for their various libations, but also provide unique habitat for some of the world’s more unusual creatures, such as the Iberian Imperial … Read the rest
If you’re planning on landfilling non-reusable, non-recyclable materials, there really isn’t any point in using compostable bags to do it in. Organic material doesn’t compost or properly biodegrade in landfills. It breaks down anaerobically, producing methane.
It would probably better to reuse one of those pernicious plastic shopping bags, which would ensure that its marine-life killing career would be diverted to a landfill and save the biodegradable, compostable bags for an application that will actually result in their decomposition (like collecting compostable waste) instead of just making us feel better.
I responded with a comment of my own, but I’d like to expand on the issue with a few more thoughts on why using biodegradable bags for garbage is preferable to using plastic grocery… Read the rest